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Melania Trump Remarks on Values Plagiarized From Michelle Obama

The Intercept - Engl. - Mar, 19/07/2016 - 10:06

A central portion of Melania Trump’s speech to the Republican National Convention on Monday night, about the core values her parents instilled in her and her sister as children, seems to have been lifted almost word for word from the speech Michelle Obama gave on the first night of the 2008 Democratic National Convention.

Speaking about what she learned from her parents, Trump said:

From a young age, my parents impressed on me the values that you work hard for what you want in life; that your word is your bond and you do what you say and keep your promise; that you treat people with respect. They taught and showed me values and morals in their daily life. That is a lesson that I continue to pass along to our son, and we need to pass those lessons on to the many generation to follow because we want our children in this nation to know that the only limit to your achievements is the strength of your dreams and your willingness to work for them.

While the wife of the Republican candidate impressed most cable news anchors and pundits with her supposedly autobiographical address, the passage about ambition and hard work immediately sounded familiar to Jarrett Hill, an interior designer and television producer. Writing on Twitter, Hill highlighted the close similarity of some of Trump’s language to that used by Obama.

Melania must’ve liked Michelle Obama’s 2008 Convention speech, since she plagiarized it.#GOPConvention #RNCinCLE pic.twitter.com/vGmsG9KFx3

— Jarrett Hill (@JarrettHill) July 19, 2016

When he looked again at the transcript of the current first lady’s speech, he discovered that not just a few words, but the whole section appeared to have been borrowed from the earlier speech.

CORRECTION: Melania stole a whole graph from Michelle's speech. #GOPConvention
WATCH: https://t.co/8BCOwXAHSy pic.twitter.com/zudpDznGng

— Jarrett Hill (@JarrettHill) July 19, 2016

Given that video and transcripts of the two speeches are widely available, remixes comparing them quickly followed, along with an outpouring of mockery.

I taught speech for ten years. Even my worst students would not have done this: https://t.co/QhPPC8ENUA pic.twitter.com/co5VveF5cq

— Timothy Burke (@bubbaprog) July 19, 2016

I spliced Michelle and Melania together. Judge for yourself. pic.twitter.com/8hCZeoXH4q

— Andy Baio (@waxpancake) July 19, 2016

The similarities between Michelle Obama's 2008 DNC speech & Melania Trump's #RNCinCLE. First noticed by @JarrettHill pic.twitter.com/yGpN9aJi1z

— Javier Panzar (@jpanzar) July 19, 2016

It was a really touching moment tonight when Melania Trump bared Michelle Obama's soul at #RNC2016 #RNCinCLE

— Peter Montgomery (@petemont) July 19, 2016

Sarah Hurwitz, Michelle's head speechwriter, used to be Hillary's. So the Trump campaign plagiarized from a Hillary speechwriter.

— Jon Favreau (@jonfavs) July 19, 2016

Hello, it's not just about plagiarism. Melania plagiarized the portion about VALUES. #cantmakethisup #RNCinCLE

— David V. Johnson (@contrarianp) July 19, 2016

One place that video of Trump’s speech seemed to be missing was on the convention’s YouTube channel, even though it did feature her husband’s campy appearance to introduce her — which he did to the strains of Queen’s “We Are the Champions,” despite the fact that the band has threatened to take legal action to keep him from using it.

In an interview with NBC News just before delivering the speech, Trump said that she had not worked too hard on memorizing her lines “because I wrote it — with a little help.”

After the convention speech karaoke became the night’s leading news story, a campaign spokesman, Jason Miller, said in a statement that Melania Trump’s “team of writers took notes on her life’s inspirations, and in some instances included fragments that reflected her own thinking.”

Statement on convention karaoke from PR man Jason Miller (presumably no relation to John Miller, Trump's alter ego) pic.twitter.com/LRkSnW2ZXN

— Robert Mackey (@RobertMackey) July 19, 2016

Earlier in the day, Julia Ioffe, who wrote about the former Melania Knavs for GQ, pointed out that the convention program notes incorrectly referred to the candidate’s wife “obtaining a degree in design and architecture at University in Slovenia,” before she went in to modeling.

RNC notes say Melania Trump received degree in design. False. She dropped out after a year, but campaign keeps talking about her degree.

— Julia Ioffe (@juliaioffe) July 19, 2016

As Michelle Broder Van Dyke reported for Buzzfeed, last year Donald Trump suggested that he would have nothing to fear in a hypothetical match-up against Joe Biden since the vice president had been forced to drop out of the race for president in 1988 after a rival campaign leaked video evidence that he had plagiarized an autobiographical passage from a speech by the British Labour leader Neil Kinnock. “I think I’d match up great,” Trump said. “I’ve had a great record, I haven’t been involved in plagiarism.”

At the time, criticism of Biden had been particularly withering because of the fact that he had borrowed details from Kinnock’s family life and passed them off as his own.

Biden’s plagiarism was quickly invoked by Trump’s defenders on social networks, although the fact that it was considered important enough to force him from that race was less discussed.

Get ready for the entire GOP remembering Joe Biden’s plagiarism scandal tomorrow.

— Lisa McIntire (@LisaMcIntire) July 19, 2016

If you want to play that game. Go ask Joe Biden about plagiarism. And he was running for President. Not a housewife.

— FrontRowBrian (@FrontRowBrian) July 19, 2016

Trump supporters pointing to Biden's plagiarism scandal as cover do realize that he ended up dropping out of the presidential race, right? ????

— Taniel (@Taniel) July 19, 2016

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The post Melania Trump Remarks on Values Plagiarized From Michelle Obama appeared first on The Intercept.

Republican Congressman Steve King Sets White Supremacist Tone in Cleveland

The Intercept - Engl. - Mar, 19/07/2016 - 03:01

Steve King, a Republican congressman from Iowa, insisted on Monday that there was nothing wrong with the lack of diversity at the Republican National Convention since, he said, members of other races had contributed relatively little to human civilization.

King’s literal assertion of white supremacy, in response to criticism of the party by the Esquire blogger Charlie Pierce, came during a live appearance on MSNBC, and seemed to stun the host, Chris Hayes, as well as Pierce and April Ryan, American Urban Radio Networks’ Washington bureau chief.

WATCH: Rep. Steve King's response to RNC's lack of diversity #RNCinCLE https://t.co/9iyRf956Gs

— Hardball (@hardball) July 18, 2016

“This ‘old white people’ business does get a little tired, Charlie,” King said. “I’d ask you to go back through history and figure out, where are these contributions that have been made by these other categories of people that you’re talking about, where did any other subgroup of people contribute more to civilization?”

Asked by Hayes if he was arguing that other races had contributed less “than white people,” King added, “than Western civilization itself, that’s rooted in Western Europe, Eastern Europe and the United States of America and every place where the footprint of Christianity settled the world.”

Although Ryan asked, “What about Africa? What about Asia?” Hayes took it upon himself to reply, noting that Western civilization had also contributed “Hitler and Stalin as well.”

King’s remarks were not well received on social networks by non-racists or those with even the slightest grasp of history.

Rep. Steve King's belief that the only contributions to civilization have come from white people is both astoundingly ignorant and racist.

— Imani Perry (@imaniperry) July 18, 2016

Because it's considered rude to call someone or something racist, people often fail to do so. But we can't let comments like that pass.

— Imani Perry (@imaniperry) July 18, 2016

Someone tell this guy that Christianity started in the Middle East. https://t.co/4sQcmSJ1ed

— Farnaz Fassihi (@farnazfassihi) July 19, 2016

@farnazfassihi @ShaunKing I'd point him to early science & math (Arabic), plus astronomy (Mayan/Egyptian) & mapping of the world (Chinese)

— Mary Beth Wallace (@BeffyMar) July 19, 2016

Steve King is mentally stunted i think. He has unmasked himself according to @amjoyshow

— AprilDRyan (@AprilDRyan) July 18, 2016

Steve King's contributions to Western civilization: disputing climate change, opposing stem cell research, denying reproductive rights, etc.

— Laila Lalami (@LailaLalami) July 18, 2016

I think Congressman @SteveKingIA might have forgotten he didn't have his white hood on.

— Dujuan (@common_since123) July 18, 2016

Does anyone have the heart to tell Steve King about Arabic Numerals we are calling NOT IT https://t.co/ASeF3TQanj

— The Gregory Brothers (@gregorybrothers) July 18, 2016

Statements like this used to end careers. Now they're savvy career moves. Either way @SteveKingIA is a rancid bigot https://t.co/UxMxUAaaOK

— Dave Zirin (@EdgeofSports) July 19, 2016

King’s frank defense of the disproportionately white makeup of the Republican party came just days after Speaker Paul Ryan inadvertently drew attention to the same problem, by posting a selfie on Instagram showing the lack of diversity in the party’s current crop of Capitol Hill interns.

There's something about this photo, I can't quite place it… pic.twitter.com/ZahcIHHTva

— Igor Bobic (@igorbobic) July 17, 2016

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The post Republican Congressman Steve King Sets White Supremacist Tone in Cleveland appeared first on The Intercept.

Eine Beleidigung des Generalbundesanwaltes

Rationalgalerie - Mar, 19/07/2016 - 02:00
Der Generalbundesanwalt ist eine Beleidigung für die Justiz : Darf man die Justiz beleidigen? Natürlich nicht. Ich versuche das trotzdem mal: Der Generalbundesanwalt ist gegenüber Verbrechen der Bundesregierung blind. Er ist eingebunden in ein Netzwerk von Treue und Gehorsam gegenüber einer Staatsmaschine, die mit dem Grundgesetz Fußball spielt und...

ARD: Die USA haben immer Recht! - der Schmock des Monats

Rationalgalerie - Mar, 19/07/2016 - 02:00
Gniffke: Ein Gerichts-Hof? Da sage ich doch Mahlzeit! : Neulich, als der Hausjurist des NDR bei Doktor Gniffke, Chef von ARD-aktuell, vorbei kam: „Wussten sie eigentlich, dass die jüngste Entscheidung des „Ständigen Gerichtshofs“ im Verfahren der Philippinen gegen China, von der Washingtoner Anwaltskanzlei Foley Hoag anstrengt und deren...

The Long, Sad, Corrupted Devolution of the GOP, From Eisenhower to Donald Trump

The Intercept - Engl. - Mar, 19/07/2016 - 01:47

The Intercept and our partners at AJ+ produced the video above documenting the GOP’s 60-year-long de-evolution

The Republican Party is poised to nominate a presidential candidate who has built his platform on promises to ban a billion people from entering the United States based on their religious faith and build a gigantic wall south of the border.

But Donald J. Trump is not an accident. The GOP has in the last 40 years relentlessly devolved away from addressing the needs of ordinary people, catering instead to extreme ideologies and the wealthiest donors.

Rather than addressing pressing problems like income inequality and climate change, the modern GOP focuses instead on cutting taxes for the super-wealthy, expanding earth-killing carbon extraction, and endless war.

But it wasn’t always this way. Sixty years ago, the Republican Party was advocating for civil rights and gender equality, a stronger welfare state, and to protect the environment. This is the story of the Republican Party that once was.

A More Social Democratic Republican Party — In 1956

In August of 1956, the Republican Party gathered in San Francisco to re-nominate President Dwight D. Eisenhower as its candidate in the upcoming presidential election.

The party that year adopted a platform that emphasized that the GOP was “proud of and shall continue our far-reaching and sound advances in matters of basic human needs.”

This included boasting that Eisenhower had overseen a hike in the federal minimum wage that raised incomes for 2 million Americans while expanding Social Security to 10 million more people and increasing benefits for 6.5 million others.

Today’s Republican Party has made weakening labor unions a priority, but the 1956 platform noted that under Eisenhower, “workers have gained and unions have grown in strength and responsibility, and have increased their membership by 2 millions.”

A Labor Day flyer used by the Republican Party in 1956

It also touted an increase in federal funding for hospital construction and expanded federal aid for health care for the poor and public housing. The platform also pointed out that Eisenhower had asked for “the largest increase in research funds ever sought in one year” to tackle ailments like cancer and heart disease.

Rather than opposing self governance for Washington, D.C., 1956’s Republicans encouraged it, saying they “favor self-government national suffrage and representation in the Congress of the United States” for those living there. The platform also asked Congress to submit a constitutional amendment establishing “equal rights for men and women.”

The platform boasted proudly of the African Americans who had been appointed to positions in Eisenhower’s administration, and of ending racial discrimination in federal employment. At no point did the document call for any restrictions on immigration; rather, by contrast, it asked Congress to consider an extension of the 1953 Refugee Act, which brought tens of thousands of war-weary European refugees to American shores.

Dwight D. Eisenhower was the face of the Republican Party in the 1950s. He had served as the supreme commander of the Allied forces as they retook Europe from fascist militaries in the decade before. Experiencing two global wars shaped Eisenhower’s worldview, turning him into an advocate of peace.

Eisenhower cut the military budget by 27 percent following the Korean War, and used his bully pulpit to highlight the tradeoffs of military spending. “Every gun that is made, every warship launched, every rocket fired signifies, in the final sense, a theft from those who hunger and are not fed, those who are cold and are not clothed,” he said in a 1953 speech.

In his farewell address in on January 17, 1961, he highlighted the rise of what he called a “military-industrial complex” — a war industry that he cautioned could exert “undue influence” on the government.

Four decades later, when President George W. Bush submitted his defense spending request in 2002, he bragged to Congress, “My budget includes the largest increase in defense spending in two decades — because while the price of freedom and security is high, it is never too high.  Whatever it costs to defend our country, we will pay.”

Nixon’s Confronts Hunger, Protects the Environment

Richard Nixon is hardly remembered as a progressive, but he  was much more aggressive in tackling issues like hunger and environmental protection than the Republicans in power today.

Nixon, acting under pressure from antipoverty activists, asked Congress to improve and expand the Food Stamp program, saying that the fact that “hunger and malnutrition should persist in a land such as ours is embarrassing and intolerable.” His administration sponsored the first and only White House conference on hunger. He increased funding for both Food Stamps and school lunch programs.

The Environmental Protection Agency was a Nixon creation. Nixon used his 1970 State of the Union address to present the country with a choice: “The great question of the 70s is, ‘Shall we surrender to our surroundings or shall we make our peace with nature and begin to make reparations for the damage we have done to our air, to our land, and to our water.'”

Three decades later, George W. Bush began his presidency by sitting out the landmark Kyoto climate treaty and opening up millions of acres of land and sea to carbon extraction. Faced with opposition over nominating a former mining executive as head of the Mine Safety and Health Administration, he used a recess appointment to get around Senate accountability.

Meanwhile, humiliating America’s hungry has become a sport for the GOP. Lawmakers regularly propose onerous and offensive restrictions on public assistance, such as drug testing recipients, something that has proven to be little more than a waste of money.

Reagan’s Amnesty 

When Ronald Reagan signed the 1986 Immigration Reform and Control Act into law, he did something none of the 18 Republican presidential candidates who ran this year endorsed: he granted amnesty to 2.9 million undocumented immigrants.

Speaking at one of the 1984 presidential debates, Reagan explained that he believes “in the idea of amnesty for those who have lived here for some time and put down roots even though sometime back they may have entered illegally”:

Under Trump, demagoguery about immigration has risen to new heights, but it was a path laid out for the real estate mogul by years of politically opportunistic nativism. Whether it was 2012 presidential nominee Mitt Romney’s plan to encourage “self-deportation” or Ben Carson’s comparison between Syrian refugees and rabid dogs, the party has scapegoated vulnerable migrants and refugees for political points.

What Happened to the Republican Party? 

None of this is to argue that Republicans of the past were progress peaceniks. Eisenhower overthrew the democratically elected government of Iran, Nixon began the drug war and prosecuted an unnecessary war in Cambodia, Ronald Reagan helped dismantle America’s labor movement and bloodied Central America.

But the Republican Party of the past at least showed itself capable of responding to domestic and global issues, offering and implementing successful policies to deal with pressing problems like poverty, environmental degradation, and a refugee crisis.

So what happened?

There is no easy explanation, but there are a few key catalysts for the party’s slide into extremism.

One is the role that labor organizing and public activisim played in pushing the Republican Party of the past to endorse progressive policy.

Eisenhower’s more social democratic Republican Party did not exist in a vacuum. In 1954, 28.3 percent of employed workers were in labor unions, the highest in American history (today the number is just over 11 percent).

The 1950s are often portrayed as an idyllic and stable period in American history, but they were also a time of raucous labor actions. The first year of Eisenhower’s presidency saw 437 work stoppages involving 1,000 or more workers; altogether, 1.6 million workers took part in strikes aimed at increasing wages and reducing inequality. By comparison, 2015 saw a paltry dozen strikes of the same size, involving only 47,000 workers.

Richard Nixon’s establishment of the Environmental Protection Agency was preceded by an explosion of environmental activism. Wisconsin Democratic Senator Gaylord Nelson went around the country in 1970 urging activists to engage in a massive environmental demonstration that would match the energy of antiwar and civil rights protests during the prior decade. During the nation’s first Earth Day, April 22, 1970, an estimated 20 million Americans took part in protests, teach-ins, and other educational events aimed at building political will to push the government to protect the environment.

The outpouring of support changed public dialogue in the country. “Conservatives were for it. Liberals were for it. Democrats, Republicans and Independents were for it,” The New York Times noted after the protests. “So were the ins, the outs, the executive and legislative branches of the government. It was Earth Day, and, like Mother Nature’s Day, no man in public office could be against it.”

Alongside the decline of these populist forces that in the past helped shape the Republican Party’s agenda, the country has seen an explosion of capital into the nation’s public elections — funds Republican Party officials have chased as they seek higher office.

Writing to his brother in 1954, President Eisenhower said that the factions in the Republican Party who would seek to eliminate Social Security and other New Deal reforms are comprised of “a few other Texas oil millionaires, and an occasional politician or business man from other areas. Their number is negligible and they are stupid.”

Decades later, Eisenhower’s “negligible” oligarchs emerged in the visage of David and Charles Koch, right-wing oil and gas billionaires. The former actually ran for the Libertarian Party’s vice presidential ticket on 1980 on a platform of completely eliminating the Social Security and Medicare programs.

The election in 2012 was America’s most expensive ever, with $6 billion being spent in federal elections. The Kochs spent over $400 million backing GOP candidates, more than the top ten labor unions combined. Casino magnate Sheldon Adelson spent over $100 million during the year, dragging Newt Gingrich and Mitt Romney far to the right.

Just 18 percent of Romney’s funding came from small donors — those giving $200 or less. And that doesn’t count various outside groups making independent expenditures, which exploded that year. A Demos report on the election’s spending found that “just 61 large donors to Super PACs giving an average of $4.7 million each matched the $285.2 million in grassroots contributions from more than 1,425,500 small donors to the major party presidential candidates.”

This system of political financing from a handful of millionaires and billionaires has corrupted both major parties, but its influence is almost total in the Republican Party. Of the 161 co-sponsors of legislation in the House of Representatives to create a public financing system for Congressional candidates, only one, North Carolina’s  Walter Jones, is a Republican.

This leaves the party out of step with even the more progressive instincts of its own partisans. For example, a majority of self-identified Republicans in America want to see an increase in the minimum wage. No Congressional Republicans have signed onto the current bill in Congress to raise the wage to $12 an hour over a period of time.

Eisenhower’s Party of the Future

In his address to delegates at the 1956 Republican National Convention, Eisenhower boasted of a political party that “attracted minority groups, scholars and writers, not to mention reformers of all kinds, Free-Soilers, Independent Democrats, Conscience Whigs, Barnburners, ‘soft Hunkers,’ teetotallers, vegetarians, and transcendentalists!”

He laid out the vision of a political party that “detests the technique of pitting group against group for cheap political advantage,” calling the Republicans the “Party of the Future.”

Today, the GOP may be facing its worst demographic threat in its modern iteration. Among Latino voters, for instance, the party saw a decline from winning 40 percent of that demographic in the 2004 presidential election to 27 percent with Mitt Romney in 2012. A Univision poll released in mid-July estimated that current presidential nominee Donald Trump is netting just 19 percent of the registered Latino vote.

Ultimately, the Republican Party’s drift away from inclusion and the public interest and towards a coterie of extreme donors and ideologies does have an electoral cost, one that could force reformation or perhaps the birth of a new political party — just ask the Whigs.

Top photo: President Dwight Eisenhower and Vice President Richard Nixon in 1952.

 

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Anti-Trump Dead-Enders Hit a Dead End

The Intercept - Engl. - Mar, 19/07/2016 - 01:07

Party divisions over Donald Trump reached the floor of the Republican Convention on Monday afternoon as anti-Trump delegates attempted a complicated procedural maneuver: petitioning the convention’s chairman to force a roll-call vote over the acceptance of the convention’s rules.

It was an act of desperation.

“I think Trump is the absolute worst candidate that the Republican Party could put forth,” said Craig Licciardi of Flint, an alternate delegate from Texas who said that he supported the roll call vote. (Nearly half the delegates attending the convention are technically “alternates,” who don’t get an actual vote on the floor.)

Like many from his state’s delegation, he wore a Lone Star shirt and a cowboy hat. “He’s a Democrat in disguise,” Licciardi said. “I would hope that everything he says has a measure of truth to it, but it was only a few years ago that he was praising Hillary and Bill as his good friends, and good people.”

Licciardi said that he also took issue with Trump’s character. “His public persona is a projection of who he’s going to be as a president. The flippancy, the insults—it’s just a very base—there’s not a lot of character there to act presidential. You expect a president to have a presence, an aura around him of someone who is mature and level-headed and not a live wire.” Licciardi’s choice for the nominee would be Ted Cruz, he told me.

The demand for a roll-call vote was a last-ditch attempt to “unbind” delegates committed to Trump and allow them to vote their conscience.

Complicating the effort to unseat Trump, of course, was the absence of an alternative.

In the convention hall, Rep. Steve Womack of Arkansas tried to steamroll the dissenters, banging his gavel and pushing the agenda along as chants of “Roll call vote!” repeatedly erupted from delegations including Virginia’s and Utah’s, two of the 10 states (along with Minnesota, Iowa, Washington, Colorado, North Dakota, Alaska, Maine, Wyoming and the District of Columbia) that filed a petition asking for a roll call vote, battling with chants of “USA! USA!” from the Trump supporters.

“Delegates, we come here on our own dime,” said Manette Merrill, from Coupeville, Washington, who was among those pushing for a roll call vote.

The chairman left the stage, the music came on, and for 10 minutes, it looked like the roll call vote had a fighting chance.

Virginia delegate Raymond H. Suttle Jr. of Newport News was among those shouting down the “Roll call vote!” chanters, with their own chants of “Trump! Trump! Trump!”

“As it was explained to us this morning at breakfast, they wouldn’t have won the voice vote,” Suttle told me. “It would have been a litmus test, to see who’s on this side and who’s on that side. Most of the people who were supporting it were [Ted] Cruz people. I could care less about the rules. I’m here to get Trump nominated and get him to win in November.”

On stage, Womack said that three of the states that had filed the petition had since withdrawn. He ignored a few shouts from the floor demanding he name them. The dissenters became quiet, except for a few hollers of “point of information!” from a man standing with the Virginia delegation. (It was also reported that some members of the Colorado delegation walked out.) A few more hits from the chairman’s gavel and the last visible signs of rebellion were quashed.

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Auf Vorstellungsreise in Berlin

German Foreign Policy - Mar, 19/07/2016 - 00:00
(Eigener Bericht) - Mit einer Vorstellungsreise nach Berlin hat der französische Präsidentschaftsbewerber Alain Juppé am gestrigen Montag seine Kandidatur für die Wahlen 2017 vorbereitet. Nach entsprechenden Auftritten seines Rivalen Nicolas Sarkozy in der deutschen Hauptstadt, die, wie es heißt, nicht besonders gut angekommen seien, wird Juppé in Deutschland nach einem Gespräch mit Bundeskanzlerin Angela Merkel sowie nach einem Auftritt vor Wirtschaftsfunktionären ausdrücklich gelobt. Der Kandidat, der Haushaltskürzungen in Höhe von 80 bis 100 Milliarden Euro und drastische Streichungen staatlicher Arbeitsplätze angekündigt hat, sei "einer der wenigen Politiker, die einen Plan haben und Farbe bekennen", urteilt der Hauptgeschäftsführer des Bundesverbandes der Deutschen Industrie (BDI). Ein Manager wird mit der gönnerhaften Aussage zitiert: "Juppé könnte sogar in Deutschland Minister sein." Bereits im vergangenen Präsidentschaftswahlkampf hatte die Partei des damaligen Staatspräsidenten Sarkozy ihr Wahlprogramm in Abstimmung mit der CDU formuliert; Sarkozy hatte sich demonstrativ vom deutschen Ex-Kanzler Gerhard Schröder über die "Agenda 2010" informieren lassen. Pariser Hoffnungen, im Gegenzug zur Unterordnung unter die deutschen Austeritätsdiktate eine führende Rolle in der Außen- und Militärpolitk der EU einnehmen zu können, trügen: In deutschen Medien heißt es, man dürfe die traditionellen Pariser Einflussgebiete etwa in Westafrika in Zukunft nicht mehr "Frankreich überlassen".

Erdogan räumt auf

Hintergrund.de - Lun, 18/07/2016 - 22:28

Tausende türkische Staatsdiener entlassen und Soldaten verhaftet –

Von REDAKTION, 18. Juli 2016 –

Türkische Behörden haben einem Zeitungsbericht zufolge begonnen, als Reaktion auf den gescheiterten Putsch am Freitagabend den auch von der Bundeswehr genutzten Luftwaffenstützpunkt Incirlik zu durchsuchen. Auch Strafverfolger seien beteiligt, berichtete die Zeitung Hürriyet am Montag. Incirlik im Süden des Landes soll Berichten zufolge eine Rolle in dem gescheiterten Putsch gegen Staatspräsident Recep Tayyip Erdogan am Wochenende gespielt haben. Die USA fliegen von Incirlik aus Luftangriffe gegen die Terrormiliz IS. Zuletzt gab es Ärger mit Berlin, weil Bundestagsabgeordnete die deutschen Soldaten dort nicht

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Hillary Clinton’s Citizens United Pledge Doesn’t Matter; Her Small Donor Matching Pledge Definitely Does

The Intercept - Engl. - Lun, 18/07/2016 - 21:02

This weekend Hillary Clinton released a video in which she made specific commitments to reform the U.S. campaign finance system. Unfortunately, she put the least important parts first and the most important part last:

Today I’m announcing that in my first 30 days as president I will propose a constitutional amendment to overturn Citizens United and give the American people, all of us, the chance to reclaim our democracy. I will also appoint Supreme Court justices who understand that this decision was a disaster for our democracy. And I will fight for other progressive reforms including small dollar matching and disclosure requirements.

Presidents play essentially no role in amending the Constitution. Any amendment Clinton proposed would have to be passed by a two-thirds majority in both the House and Senate, and then would have to be ratified by legislatures of three-fourths of the states.

That’s never going to happen. The U.S. has amended the constitution just once in the past 45 years, with the non-earthshaking 27th Amendment prohibiting Congress from voting itself a pay raise that takes effect before the next election. (Moreover, the 27th Amendment was submitted to the states in 1789; it then took 203 years for three-fourths of the states to ratify it in 1992.)

So Clinton’s constitutional amendment pledge is empty grandstanding. Citizens United will either be overturned by the Supreme Court, or it will remain law.

On the other hand, Clinton’s pledge to “fight” for small donor matching funds is genuinely important. Over the past several years almost all Democrats in the House and many in the Senate have signed on in support of the idea, and it would change the dynamics of money in politics in a way that even overturning Citizens United would not.

The concept is straightforward: Small donations to candidates for Congress or president would be matched by public funds at some high ratio.

A bill introduced by Rep. John Sarbanes, D-Md., would match donations up to $150 at a ratio of 6 to 1. So if your neighbor were running for Congress and you donated $50 to her campaign, she would receive an additional $300, for a total of $350.

Even better, if candidates completely renounce taking any donation over $150, Sarbanes’ law would increase the matching ratio to 9 to 1. So if your neighbor were running a campaign fueled purely by small donors, and you gave $50, she’d receive an additional $450, for a total of $500.

As Sarbanes explained in a an interview last year, this would make it more valuable for a representative to attend a house party in his or her district with 30 small donor constituents than to attend a K Street fundraiser.

Small donor matching funds would also make a huge difference in presidential politics. Bernie Sanders would have out-raised Clinton almost 2 to 1 in the 2016 Democratic primary with such a system. Moreover, the extra money from small donors matching would have swamped the money available from Super PACs for both Democrats and Republicans.

So if Clinton is elected next year, don’t judge her commitment to changing big money politics by her pledge on Citizens United. Look at whether she puts real political capital behind making small-donor matching funds a reality.

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Report: NATO Protest Actions in Warsaw

No to NATO - Lun, 18/07/2016 - 20:37

Six organizations of the Polish peace and social movements together with the international Network Not o War – No to NATO conducted the alternative summit “No to War – No to Militarism – Yes to Refugees“ and the demonstration “Money for the Hungry not for Tanks“ in Warsaw from July 8th to 10th. Aim of the protests actions was the continuous delegitimation of the largest military organization of the world which is permanently and worldwide engaged in wars. The international network No to War – No to NATO has been conducting actions of protest and discussions around each NATO Summit since 2009.

The seize of the protest actions was positively surprising after several months of preparation and learning of the specific and difficult situation of the Polish people and social movements particularly of those being in opposition to NATO. More than 150 people from 18 countries – among others from Russia, GB, Belgium and Spain – discussed about actual wars and conflicts, the constitution of peace, social justice and common security in Europe at the counter summit. The demonstration was conducted with more than 300 participants. Considering the Polish repressions against “Putin understanders” and people in opposition to NATO and militarization, the demonstration was surely a success. The police’s tension expressed itself among others in the hindrance of a group of anarchists “armed” with baguettes to participate in the demonstration. Only after 90 minutes the demonstration was able to move towards its destination to the Vistula River.

The participants were united in their demand of the dissolution of NATO. The participants were concerned about the actual dangers of increasing militarism and the increasing militarization of Eastern Europe, particularly because of the permanently rotating troops, the aggressive maneuvers and NATO’s so called missile defense shield. Many participants reflected that a scenario of a “great war in Europe” is not unthinkable anymore. The participants agreed that the peace movement faces it greatest challenges in years. The NATO infused confrontation with Russia, the global projects of armament like the so called missile defense shield and the modernization of nuclear weapons must be terminated in order to give a process of cooperation in Europe a chance. The deployments of NATO-military structures to the western boarder of Russia as well as Russia’s reaction bear the danger of a consciously triggered war or a war by accident. The alternative is a common and cooperative system of security which focusses on the needs of the people. The final plenary of the counter summit demanded the strengthening of OSCE and a new edition of the Helsinki Process as well as a strengthening and democratization of the UN system. A peaceful development is only possible via cooperation of peoples.

The demonstration against NATO happened under the slogan “Money for the hungry not for tanks – No to War and NATO Bases – Moscow Has Already Been, We Do Not Want Washington  – Yes to Refugees and international solidarity”. More than 300 protesters demonstrated colorfully and peacefully, starting at Charles de Gaulle Square, passing the US embassy and ending at the shores of Vistula River in sight of the national stadium, the location of the NATO Summit. Ann Wright, pensioned Cornel of the US Army, called on the US government to disarm and to actively engage in peace with Russia. The rally in front of the US embassy was a highlight of the protests.

On Sunday the participants of the alternative summit discussed about networking and future actions of the peace movement. The discussions centered around international networking and exchange. The weekend of protests was a positive example of both. In the eye of the expansion of NATO military bases to the East exchange between people from Central and Eastern Europe is particularly important. The organizers decided to continue their work in a Polish-German peace network. One idea are common actions of protest at the bases of the so called missile defense shield. A new military base for “Aegis Ashore” is being built in Redzikowo.

Some media institutions stated after the summit that NATO is flexing its muscles. The inner city of Warsaw offered insights in what this means: more than 10,000 police men and security forces turned the city center into a high security area. Blocked main roads lamed the city for hours. The citizens who could afford it spend the weekend elsewhere. At times the city seemed to be in a state of emergency, seemed to be dead. The close connection with the military-industrial complex could be viewed opposite to the Cultural Palace: the weapons manufactor Raytheon advertised largely for their “Layered Missile Defense – Partnership for Protection“.

NATO announced the next location for their summit. Brussels was perceived positively by the participants. In Belgium and Brussels well connected grassroots organizations and a strong peace movement exists. Larger protests seem possible, our preparations have already begun.

Videos, Pictures, press articles can be viewed on www.no-to-nato.org.

Kristine Karch, Lucas Wirl, Co-Chairs of the international network No to War – No to NATO

Reiner Braun, Member of the International Coordinating Committee (ICC) No to War – No to NATO

Berlin, 14.7.2016

 

NATO Protestaktionen in Warschau – Auswertung

No to NATO - Lun, 18/07/2016 - 20:31

Sechs Polnische Organisationen aus der Friedens- und sozialen Bewegung sowie das internationale Netzwerk No to War – No to NATO veranstalteten am Wochenende vom 8. bis 10.7. in Warschau den NATO Gegengipfel „No to War – No to Militarism – Yes to Refugees“ und die Demonstration „Money for the Hungry not for Tanks“. Ziel der Veranstaltungen war die weitere Delegitimierung des größten Militärbündnisses der Welt, das weltweit permanent in Kriege verwickelt ist. Das internationale Netzwerk veranstaltete mit Partnern seit 2009 zu jedem NATO-Gipfel Protestaktionen und inhaltliche Diskussionen.

Nach mehreren Monaten der Vorbereitungszeit, dem Vertraut werden mit dem schwierigen Stand sozialer Bewegungen und im speziellen des Einsetzens für den Frieden in Opposition zur NATO, war die Größe der Aktionen positiv überraschend. Es diskutierten auf dem Gegengipfel mehr als 150 Personen aus 18 Ländern, unter anderem aus Russland, den USA, Tschechien, Polen, Frankreich, Deutschland, Großbritannien, Belgien und Spanien über die aktuellen Kriege und Konflikte, über die Gestaltung des Friedens, soziale Gerechtigkeit und gemeinsame Sicherheit in Europa. An der Demonstration nahmen über 300 Personen teil. In Anbetracht der Repressionen Polens gegen „Russlandversteher“ und NATO-Gegner und der allgemeinen positiven Stimmung gegenüber der NATO und Aufrüstung war auch die Demonstration erfolgreich. Die Nervosität der Polizei zeigte sich auch dadurch, dass die Polizei im Vorfeld die Teilnahme von jungen Anarchist_innen, die sich mit Brot „bewaffnet“ hatten, verhindern wollten. Die Demonstration konnte erst mit einiger Verspätung Richtung Weichselufer starten.

Die Konferenzteilnehmer_innen einte die Forderung nach Auflösung der NATO. Besorgnis riefen die aktuellen Gefahren des erstarkenden Militarismus und die verstärkte Militarisierung im Osten Europas hervor, besonders durch die zwar rotierende aber permanente Truppenpräsenz, die aggressiven Manöver und den sogenannten Raketenabwehrschirm der NATO. Szenarien bis hin zu einem „großen Krieg in Europa“ sind nicht mehr auszuschließen, resümierten viele Konferenzteilnehmer_nnen. Die Teilnehmenden waren sich einig, die internationale Friedensbewegung steht vor den größten Herausforderungen der letzten Jahre. Die von der NATO herbeigeführte Konfrontation mit Russland, die globalen Rüstungsvorhaben wie der sogenannte Raketenabwehrschirm und die Modernisierung der Atomwaffen müssen beendet werden, damit ein Prozess der Kooperation in Europa wieder eine Chance bekommt. Die Dislozierung von NATO-Militärstrukturen an die Westgrenze Russlands sowie die russischen Gegenreaktion birgt die Gefahr eines bewusst oder versehentlich angezettelten Krieges. Ein gemeinsames, kooperatives Sicherheitssystem welches sich an den Bedürfnissen der Menschen ausrichtet ist die Alternative. Auf der Abschlussveranstaltung des Gegengipfels wurde die Stärkung der OSZE und die Neuauflage des Helsinki-Prozesses gefordert sowie die Stärkung und Demokratisierung der UN. Nur durch Kooperationen zwischen Gesellschaften ist eine friedliche Entwicklung möglich.

Die Demonstration gegen die NATO fand unter dem Motto “Money for the hungry not for tanks – No to War and NATO Bases – Moscow Has Already Been, We Do Not Want Washington – Yes to Refugees and international solidarity” statt. Mehr als 300 Demonstrierende zogen bunt und friedlich in Begleitung eines großen Polizeikontingents vom Platz Charles de Gaulle an der US-Botschaft vorbei zum linken Weichselufer in die Sichtweite des Nationalstadiums, Ort des NATO-Gipfels. Ann Wright, pensionierte Cornel der US-Armee, forderte die US-Regierung auf, abzurüsten und sich aktiv für Frieden mit Russland einzusetzen. Die Zwischenkundgebung vor der US-Botschaft war ein Höhepunkt des Protestwochenendes.

Am Sonntag diskutierten die Teilnehmenden des Gegengipfels über Vernetzung und zukünftige Aktionen der Friedensbewegung. Im Mittelpunkt stand bessere internationale Vernetzung und Austausch. Das Protestwochenende in Warschau war ein positives Beispiel für beides, gerade der Austausch mit Menschen aus Zentral- und Osteuropa ist in Anbetracht der Ausweitung von NATO-Militärstützpunkten nach Osten wichtig. Die Veranstalter beschlossen in einem Polnisch-Deutschen Friedensnetzwerk ihre positive Zusammenarbeit fortzusetzen. Gemeinsame Protestaktivitäten zu den Basen des sogenannten Raketenabwehrschirms sind angedacht. In Polen wird gerade eine Militärbasis für „Aegis Ashore“ in Redzikowo gebaut.

Manche deutsche Medien schrieben nach dem Gipfel die NATO lasse ihre Muskeln spielen. In der Warschauer Innenstadt konnte man wieder einmal beobachten wie sich dies konkret ausgestaltet. Über 10.000 Polizist_innen und Sicherheitskräfte verwandelten die Stadt in eine Hochsicherheitszone. Stundenlang gesperrte Hauptverkehrsstraßen ließen die Stadt erlahmen. Wer schlau war und es sich leisten konnte, verbrachte das Wochenende woanders. Teilweise wirkte die Stadt im Ausnahmezustand, wie ausgestorben. Auch die enge Verbundenheit mit dem Militärisch-Industriellen-Komplex konnte beobachtet werden: die Rüstungsfirma Raytheon warb großflächig für ihre „Layered Missile Defense – Partnership for Protection“.

Die Bekanntgabe des Austragungsortes des nächsten NATO-Gipfels in Brüssel wurde positiv aufgenommen. In Belgien und Brüssel gibt es gewachsen und gut vernetzte Friedensorganisationen und eine starke Friedensbewegung. Größere Proteste scheinen möglich, die Vorbereitungen haben bereits begonnen.
Videos, Fotos, Presseberichte der Aktivitäten werden auf www.no-to-nato.org gesammelt und zur Verfügung gestellt.

Kristine Karch, Lucas Wirl, Ko-Vorsitzende des internationalen Netzwerkes No to War – No to NATO
Reiner Braun, Mitglied des internationalen Koordinierungsausschusses (ICC) von No to War – No to NATO
Berlin, 14.7.2016

Donald Trump’s Shotgun Wedding in Cleveland

The Intercept - Engl. - Lun, 18/07/2016 - 18:56

The semi-organized chaos of the opening day of the Republican National Convention in Cleveland may give some hint of what a Trump administration would look like.

The rift between establishment conservatives and Tea Party insurgents was on full display. The billionaire dilettante and presumptive nominee was attempting to pivot from rabble-rouser to peacemaker. It wasn’t going to be easy.

Monday morning’s RNC press conference was scheduled to begin at 9:30 but the trains did not run on time, and it was 9:57 when the two men took the stage, acting like estranged father-in-laws at a shotgun wedding.

Jeff Larson, the convention’s CEO, has the extremely solid build and ingratiating manner of party functionary. Paul Manafort, the seasoned adviser who has taken the helm of Donald Trump’s campaign, has crimson cheeks and an almost robotically sanguine manner. In the past, he has advised the campaigns of presidents Ford, Reagan, Bush, and Bush. Like Trump, he sports a young man’s hair.

Larson spoke first. Monday’s theme would be “Make America Safe Again.”

Larson pledged his heart and prayers to the families of the fallen police officers in Dallas and Baton Rouge. He had a list of the evening’s speakers—Benghazi survivors, the mother of a fallen Navy Seal, Melania Trump, Lt. Gen. Michael Flynn, and the star of “Charles in Charge,” the old sitcom. Larson said that Trump would be arriving in person to introduce his wife, and that he would then fly back to New York and return to Cleveland on Wednesday. He did not demonstrate a clear handle on the specifics of their order, or the schedule.

Manafort’s presence was more commanding. He wore a better suit than Larson, and carried himself like a lord. He dismissed a last-minute push that would allow delegates to vote against Trump as “a non-event.” He said that the convention had four goals: Humanize Trump through “family testimonials that will describe Donald Trump the man … the inner personality.” Indict what he called “the Obama-Clinton years.” Present Hillary Clinton as “the establishment candidate.” And finally, unify the party.

In response to a question from a Univision reporter, Manafort hinted that Trump might soon offer some kind of olive branch to Hispanic voters—two speeches directed at that very constituency, he said, had been delayed by the two police shootings—but he stopped short of promising an apology. The 2016 GOP Platform, he said, would contain a provision about building a wall along the Mexican border.

There was work to be done on the unification front. On Morning Joe, a few hours earlier, Manafort had called the Bush family, who are expected to skip the convention, “people who are part of the past.” He said that Governor John Kasich was “embarrassing the state” by not attending.

At the press conference, he did what he could to walk these harsh words back.  “They were leaders in past administrations,” he said of the Bushes. “While we wanted them here, we understand that they didn’t want to be here, but I also made the point—many of the people who supported Governor [Jeb] Bush in this primary and who served in president Bush administrations were involved in our campaign at all levels. We think the unification has happened. And we hope that when the Bush family decides to participate again in the political process, that they will join us. We would welcome them. We have reached out to them. But, you know, healing takes time.“

Larson stood up behind Manafort, thumbs hooked into his belt, tapping his heel. He looked as though he wanted to interrupt. Manafort did not yield.

“One more question!” Larson finally shouted.

Going…down? https://t.co/EcmWuyy0UJ pic.twitter.com/lvr6NQlGbb

— The Nib (@thenib) July 18, 2016

Top photo: Trump campaign manager Paul Manafort on Sunday.

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Donald Trump Doesn’t Care If He’s a Hypocrite About Mike Pence’s Iraq Vote

The Intercept - Engl. - Lun, 18/07/2016 - 17:56

Donald Trump has condemned the Iraq war as a “disaster,” but showed little concern during a 60 Minutes interview, broadcast Sunday, that his vice presidential candidate, Indiana’s Republican Governor Mike Pence, was an outspoken advocate of that invasion.

After Trump proclaimed that the United States should not have invaded Iraq because it had no involvement in 9/11, interviewer Lesley Stahl reminded him that his running mate, then Indiana Republican Congressman Mike Pence, voted to authorize the war.

“I don’t care,” the real estate mogul replied.

“What do you mean, you don’t care that he voted for [it]?” Stahl asked.

“It’s a long time ago. And he voted that way and they were also misled. A lot of information was given to people,” Trump replied.

Trump’s claim that Pence was misled understates his running mate’s support for the war. Some GOP Members of Congress, such as Rep. Walter Jones of North Carolina, did indeed vote to authorize the war, and then turned against it after it was clear that the stated aims of the war were false.

Pence, on the other hand, supported the war for years, showing up at a Baghdad market in 2007 to advocate for the U.S. troop surge, ridiculously claiming that it was “like a normal outdoor market in Indiana in the summertime.” Just three months earlier, a suicide bomber had blown himself up in the market, killing 88 people.

Trump has excoriated his Democratic rival Hillary Clinton for her support for the war in Iraq. In an interview in January, he let loose on Clinton’s support for the war, saying, “Let me tell you something: She has caused death. She has caused tremendous death with incompetent decisions. … She voted for the war in Iraq.”

“On foreign policy, Hillary is trigger happy,” Trump told a campaign rally in May. “Her decisions in Iraq, Syria, Egypt, Libya have cost trillions of dollars, thousands of lives, and have totally unleashed ISIS.”

This inconsistency surprised Stahl, who pointed to his criticisms of Clinton over the war.

“He’s entitled to make a mistake every once in a while,” Trump replied, referring to Pence.

“She’s not?” Stahl asked, referring to Clinton.

“No. She’s not,” Trump replied.

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Rechter Black Metal im Südwesten

Linksunten Antimil - Lun, 18/07/2016 - 16:27
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Would Turkey Be Justified in Kidnapping or Drone-Killing the Turkish Cleric in Pennsylvania?

The Intercept - Engl. - Lun, 18/07/2016 - 15:23

Turkey’s President Recep Tayyip Erdogan places the blame for this weekend’s failed coup attempt on an Islamic preacher and one-time ally, Fethullah Gulen (above), who now resides in Pennsylvania with a Green Card. Erdogan is demanding the U.S. extradite Gulen, citing prior extraditions by the Turkish government of terror suspects demanded by the U.S.: “now we’re saying deliver this guy who’s on our terrorist list to us.” Erdogan has been requesting Gulen’s extradition from the U.S. for at least two years, on the ground that he has been subverting the Turkish government while harbored by the U.S. Thus far, the U.S. is refusing, with Secretary of State John Kerry demanding of Turkey: “Give us the evidence, show us the evidence. We need a solid legal foundation that meets the standard of extradition.”

In light of the presence on U.S. soil of someone the Turkish government regards as a “terrorist” and a direct threat to its national security, would Turkey be justified in dispatching a weaponized drone over Pennsylvania to find and kill Gulen if the U.S. continues to refuse to turn him over, or sending covert operatives to kidnap him? That was the question posed yesterday by Col. Morris Davis, former Chief Prosecutor of Guantánamo’s military commissions who resigned in protest over the use of torture-obtained evidence:

If Fethullah Gulen is considered a threat to Erdogan & Turkey's gov't doesn't Turkey have a right to drone strike him in Pennsylvania? @CNN

— Col. Morris Davis (@ColMorrisDavis) July 16, 2016

That question, of course, is raised by the fact that the U.S. has spent many years now doing exactly this: employing various means – including but not limited to drones – to abduct and kill people in multiple countries whom it has unilaterally decided (with no legal process) are “terrorists” or who otherwise are alleged to pose a threat to its national security. Since it cannot possibly be the case that the U.S. possesses legal rights that no other country can claim – right? – the question naturally arises whether Turkey would be entitled to abduct or kill someone it regards as a terrorist when the U.S. is harboring him and refuses to turn him over.

The only viable objection to Turkey’s assertion of this authority would be to claim that the U.S. limits its operations to places where lawlessness prevails, something that is not true of Pennsylvania. But this is an inaccurate description of the U.S.’s asserted entitlement. In fact, after 9/11, the U.S. threatened Afghanistan with bombing and invasion unless the Taliban government immediately turned over Osama bin Laden, and the Taliban’s answer was strikingly similar to what the U.S. just told Turkey about Gulen:

The ruling Taliban of Afghanistan today further complicated the status of Osama bin Laden and rejected the ultimatum of the United States that he and his lieutenants be handed over to answer for their suspected role in last week’s terrorist attacks in the United States.

The Taliban’s ambassador to Pakistan, Mullah Abdul Salam Zaeef, said at a news conference in Islamabad, “Our position in this regard is that if the Americans have evidence, they should produce it.” If they can prove their allegations, he said, “we are ready for a trial of Osama bin Laden.”

Asked again whether Mr. bin Laden would be surrendered, the ambassador replied, “Without evidence, no.”

The U.S. refused to provide any such evidence – “These demands are not open to negotiation or discussion,” said President George W. Bush at the time – and the U.S. bombing and invasion of Afghanistan began two weeks thereafter, and continues to this day, 15 years later. The justification there was not that the Taliban was incapable of arresting and extraditing bin Laden, but rather that it refused to do so without evidence of his guilt being provided and some legal/judicial action invoked.

Nor are such U.S. actions against individual terror suspects confined to countries where lawlessness prevails. In 2003, the CIA kidnapped a cleric from the streets of Milan, Italy and shipped him to Egypt to be tortured (CIA agents involved have been prosecuted in Italy, though the U.S. Government has vehemently defended them). In 2004, the U.S. abducted a German citizen in Macedonia, flew him to Afghanistan, tortured and drugged him, then unceremoniously dumped him back on the street when they realized he was innocent, but has refused ever since to compensate him or even apologize, leaving his life in complete shambles. The U.S. has repeatedly killed people in Pakistan with drones and other attacks, including strikes when it had no idea who it was killing, and also stormed a compound in Abbottabad – where the Pakistani government has full reign – in order to kill Osama bin Laden in 2010.

U.S. drone kills of terror suspects (including its own citizens) are extremely popular among Americans, including (in the age of Obama) those who self-identify as liberal Democrats. Yet it’s virtually certain that Americans across the ideological spectrum would explode in nationalistic outrage if Turkey actually did the same thing in Pennsylvania; indeed, the consequences for Turkey if it dared to do so are hard to overstate.

That’s American Exceptionalism in its purest embodiment: the U.S. is not subject to the same rules and laws as other nations, but instead is entitled to assert power and punishment that is unique to itself, grounded in its superior status. Indeed, so ingrained is this pathology that the mere suggestion that the U.S. should be subject to the same laws and rules as everyone else inevitably provokes indignant accusations that the person is guilty of the greatest sin: comparing the United States of America to the lesser, inferior governments and countries of the world.

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Two Delegates Propose Banning Corporate Lobbyists From the RNC, Get Crushed

The Intercept - Engl. - Lun, 18/07/2016 - 14:44

Donald Trump has denounced his opponents as being controlled by “special interests, the lobbyists and the donors,” but a number of pro-Trump delegates helped crush an effort by two members of the Republican Party’s Rules Committee last week to ban for-profit lobbyists from the Republican National Committee.

Republican State Reps. Mary Anne Kinney of Maine and Cindy Pugh of Minnesota introduced an amendment at a Rules Committee session that would ban registered lobbyists for for-profit entities from serving as members of the RNC.

“This amendment is meant to keep those with a financial stake in being on the RNC [out]….Non-profit lobbyists are exempt,” Ted Cruz delegate Kinney explained, saying that lobbyists for pro-life groups, for instance, would not be barred.

“As a state representative, I’ve witnessed first hand the influence of paid lobbyists,” said Pugh, also elected as a Cruz delegate. “Our Republican Party should be giving voice to everyday, hardworking citizens, and not giving in to the voices of insider lobbyists.”

She went on to cite Trump’s own stated posture against lobbyists, and the influence of lobbyists on the Democratic Party — saying that “Republicans need to make a bold statement that we stand in contrast and have higher standards” than their opponents. (The DNC has welcomed lobbyists this year, in a change from the Obama era).

An objection was raised by California delegate Harmeet Dhillon, who works as a corporate lawyer and serves as both a Trump delegate and a vice chair of the California GOP. “Banning people from participating in politics because of their chosen profession,” she said, is “un-American.”

“Once we single out lobbyists, we’re looking at singling out other potential disfavored professions. Such as plaintiffs lawyers, such as used car salesman…such as farmers people don’t like,” she said. Kinney, the delegate from Maine, is a farmer.

Another corporate lawyer, Mike Stuart, the co-chair of Donald Trump’s West Virginia champaign, rose in opposition as well.

“I truly believe that every state should be able to determine its representatives to the RNC. Whether that be three priests, three pastors, three lobbyists, three coal miners, or three coal miners from Southern West Virginia!” he said. “It’s a states’ rights issue.”

Gwen Bowen, a Louisiana Cruz delegate, praised the amendment for its optics. “There’s a lot of lobbyists on this committee right now, and you know we have a media watching,” she said.  “And so we have an opportunity to say the Republican Party is the grassroots party. And it’s the grassroots people who are going to make the decisions for the rules — not the lobbyists, the paid lobbyists.”

Illinois delegate Demetra Demonte, who has voiced frustration with delegates who do not want to vote for Trump, called the amendment “well-intended,” but “not practical. I think it’s going to open up a Pandora’s Box.”

Oregon delegate Solomon Yue protested: “We have conflicts of interest here….You have paid lobbyists, they are paid to lobby for a third party for profits and for favorable regulations. That is crony capitalism.” He said Trump would approve. “Take a look at our nominee Donald Trump’s message, how he got where he is today. I’m supporting this measure.”

But Maine’s Alexander Willet, who was tapped by the Trump campaign to put down any potential convention revolt, made her position clear: “It should be up to the individual states when electing their national committee folks when making that decision whether they want a registered lobbyist or not.”

After 45 minutes of debate, the committee voted down not only the amendment to bar lobbyists, but also an amendment to the amendment that would simply have required that they disclose their lobbying activities to the RNC. Both were defeated along a voice vote, meaning that there was no roll call. Asked for comment on the vote total, RNC spokeswoman Audrey Scagnelli told The Intercept that the Kinney-Pugh amendment was defeated “overwhelmingly.”

Top photo: Anti-corruption protesters march in Washington, D.C. in April 2016.

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