Timothy Egan of the New York Times asks aloud why the Republican Party is cheering on the failure of things that hurt regular people—not just their political opponents:
It’s hard to remember a time when a major political party and its media arm were so actively rooting for fellow Americans to lose. When the first attempt by the United States to launch a satellite into orbit, in 1957, ended in disaster, did Democrats start to cheer, and unify to stop a space program in its infancy? Or, when Medicare got off to a confusing start, did Republicans of the mid-1960s wrap their entire political future around a campaign to deny government-run health care to the elderly?
Of course not. But for the entirety of the Obama era, Republicans have consistently been cheerleaders for failure. They rooted for the economic recovery to sputter, for gas prices to spike, the job market to crater, the rescue of the American automobile industry to fall apart.
While Egan notes that the Obama administration has made a lot of mistakes in his rollout of the health care plan, the media attention appears to be misplaced: "But where were the news conferences, the Fox News alerts, the parading of people who couldn’t get their lifesaving cancer treatments under the old system? Where was the media attention when thousands of people were routinely dumped once they got sick? When did Republicans in Congress hold an oversight hearing on the leading cause of personal bankruptcy—medical debt?"
11:18 // 3 months ago
The Supreme Court on Tuesday agreed to hear a pair of cases on whether corporations may refuse to provide insurance coverage for contraception to their workers based on the religious beliefs of the corporations’ owners.
The cases present a new challenge to President Obama’s health care law. The Supreme Court in 2012 upheld another part of the law, one that requires most Americans to obtain health insurance or pay a penalty.
The Obama administration has exempted many religious groups from the law’s requirements for contraception coverage. But it said for-profit corporations could not rely on religious objections to opt out of compliance with the law. The lower courts are divided over whether such corporations may object to generally applicable laws on religious liberty grounds.
Lower courts have been split on the subject so far, setting up the Supreme Court battle over whether or not the Affordable Care Act can require for-profit companies to provide their employees with insurance coverage for contraceptives. How do you see this ending?
16:46 // 3 months ago
Egypt’s interim president on Sunday banned public gatherings of more than 10 people without prior government approval, imposing hefty fines and prison terms for violators in a bid to stifle the near-constant protests roiling the country. The new law is more restrictive than regulations used under the rule of autocrat Hosni Mubarak, overthrown in Egypt’s 2011 uprising that marked the start of unrest in the country.
Another terrifyingly disappointing move from the country of Egypt. The country is often looked to as an example in the MENA region and now there’s this rather alarming set of news. They’re clearly hurting the right to protest in a detrimental way.
11:12 // 3 months ago
When the media and members of Congress say the NSA spies on Americans, what they really mean is that the FBI helps the NSA do it, providing a technical and legal infrastructure that permits the NSA, which by law collects foreign intelligence, to operate on U.S. soil. It’s the FBI, a domestic U.S. law enforcement agency, that collects digital information from at least nine American technology companies as part of the NSA’s Prism system. It was the FBI that petitioned the Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Court to order Verizon Business Network Services, one of the United States’ biggest telecom carriers for corporations, to hand over the call records of millions of its customers to the NSA.
But the FBI is no mere errand boy for the United States’ biggest intelligence agency. It carries out its own signals intelligence operations and is trying to collect huge amounts of email and Internet data from U.S. companies — an operation that the NSA once conducted, was reprimanded for, and says it abandoned.
Essentially doing the work the NSA can’t do and working together to ultimately put together the massive surveillance programs we’ve learned about over the last few months.
There’s also this: The United States government says Americans have no right to challenge the NSA (er, FBI) surveillance. As a huge fighter for freedoms myself, this is all outrageous.
15:29 // 3 months ago
Afghanistan’s president declined to sign a security deal approved by a group of Afghan elders, delaying the process to plan for a United States’s military presence after 2014.
Hamid Karzai said Sunday he would not sign the Bilateral Security Agreement unless the conditions of “security,” “peace” and “a proper election” on April 5 had been met, the Associated Press reports. The Loya Jirga, a national consortium of Afghan leaders and tribe elders who overwhelmingly approved the deal, urged Karzai to approve it before the end of the year.
President Barack Obama’s administration has warned Afghanistan leaders that if the deal is not approved before next year, it could compromise the agreement to allow U.S. soldiers to remain to train and assist government security with a mounting Taliban insurgency.
The never-ending debate over the United States and Afghanistan relations continue. Political differences over the long up-and-down history between the two nations have delayed reaching a such agreement on Afghanistan security provided by the U.S. past 2014.
12:50 // 3 months ago