Democratic ‘Face Off’ In Iowa

Democratic presidential candidates were in Iowa for the first face-off of the 2016 primary, a contest that remains dominated by Hillary Rodham Clinton, writes the Vermont publication Times Argus.  The event took place on Friday, according to the Kansas City Star.

Besides Hillary Clinton, the forum included Senator Bernie Sanders, former Maryland Governor (and mayor of Baltimore) Martin O’Malley, former Virginia Senator Jim Webb, and former Rhode Island Governor Lincoln Chafee. Each candidate will deliver 15 minutes of remarks.

All five Democratic primary candidates were on the program for a dinnertime fundraiser sponsored by the state party in Cedar Rapids, creating an opportunity for her challengers to confront Clinton before more than 1,200 influential party activists in the crucial caucus state.

Three months into what seems like an “all-but-inexorable” march to the nomination, Clinton has already built a vast campaign infrastructure, establishing a multistory headquarters in Brooklyn, New York, and placing hundreds of staffers across the country, according to Times Argus.

An Associated Press-GfK poll released this week found her standing falling among Democrats, with about 70 percent of Democrats giving Clinton positive marks, an 11-point drop from an April survey. Nearly a quarter of Democrats now say they see Clinton in an unfavorable light.

“I don’t like seeing that, obviously,” Clinton said of the poll, speaking to reporters on Thursday. “But I think people know that I will fight for them. I’ll fight for their jobs, I’ll fight for their families, I’ll fight on behalf of better education and health care.”

She added: “I’m very pleased with the support I have.”

Just 17 percent of the $47 million that Clinton has raised since announcing her campaign came from contributions of $200 or less. In comparison, Vermont Sen. Bernie Sanders has fueled his insurgent challenge to Clinton with small donations, pulling in three-quarters of his more than $15.2 million haul from smaller amounts.

In recent weeks, Sanders has filled arenas with voters eager to hear the message of the self-described “socialist,” who’s become Clinton’s chief rival.

So far, he’s refused to directly criticize Clinton, though he’s questioned her positions on issues like trade, Wall Street regulations and the Keystone XL pipeline.

“I like her. I respect her,” Sanders said on Tuesday, after joining his fellow Senate Democrats at a luncheon with Clinton on Capitol Hill. “It is not necessary for people to dislike each other or attack each other just because they’re running for office.”

(Updated report)

http://www.kansascity.com/news/government-politics/article27472261.html

Nevada College Student Tells Jeb Bush ‘Your Brother Created ISIS’

Secular Talk

When people say George W. Bush “created ISIS,” they do not mean that he “created” them on a secret military base somewhere and brought them together – Alex Jones conspiracy style – in order wreak havoc.  Generally, people mean that Bush “created the conditions” that allowed ISIS to happen.

In a “collapsed” dystopian post-war society with few employment opportunities and many left-over weapons, radical Islam seemed to offer a “way out” for some.

Many joined the group, and were able to gain power and influence in the chaotic situation of post-Saddam Iraq.

Recently, college student Ivy Ziedrich confronted Jeb Bush at a town hall event in Reno, Nevada, about the Iraq war, writes the British newspaper The Guardian.  Ziedrich is a 19-year-old student at the University of Nevada, according to The Guardian.

She questioned Bush amid a group of reporters about his belief that the jihadist group developed because Barack Obama had overseen the withdrawal of US forces from Iraq.

“You stated that ISIS was created because we don’t have enough presence and we’ve been pulling out of the Middle East,” Ziedrich said, shifting blame instead on to the consequences of George W Bush’s invasion of Iraq. “The threat of ISIS was created by the Iraqi coalition authority, which ousted the entire government of Iraq.

“It was when 30,000 individuals who are part of the Iraqi military – they were forced out. They had no employment, they had no income, yet they were left with access to all the same arms and weapons. Your brother created ISIS!”

(Updated article)

U.S. President Barack Obama Meets With Cuban President Raul Castro

Raul Castro and Barack Obama's historic handshake in Panama

U.S. President Barack Obama and Cuban President Raul Castro sat down on Saturday afternoon for talks in a meeting that made history as the first between the leaders of the two old Cold War adversaries for more than half a century.

On Friday evening, the two leaders shook hands. They met at The Summit of the Americas in Panama.

It was their first formal meeting in more than half a century, states the New York Times.  The meeting cleared the way for a normalization of relations that had seemed unthinkable to both Cubans and Americans for generations.

In a small conference room in a Panama City convention center on Saturday, President Barack Obama and Cuban President Raul Castro sat side by side.  Obama said he wanted to “turn the page” on old divisions, although he acknowledged that significant differences between the governments would remain.

“This is obviously a historic meeting,” Obama said shortly after the two sat down. “It was my belief it was time to try something new, that it was important for us to engage more directly with the Cuban government,” quoted the New York Times.

“Over time it is possible for us to turn the page and develop a new relationship between our two countries,” Mr Obama told Mr Castro as they sat next to each other. “We are now in a position to move on a path toward the future,” quoted The Telegraph.

(Updated post)

Obama Will Meet Raul Castro Of Cuba In Panama

MSNBC

President Barack Obama and his Cuban counterpart Raul Castro spoke by phone Wednesday before leaving Washington for the President’s trip to Jamaica and Panama, according to CNN.

The two leaders will meet in Panama at the Summit of the Americas.

Obama is set to meet face-to-face with Raul Castro on Friday. It is the first time the leaders have interacted since their nations agreed to renew diplomatic relations after half-a-century of hostility, states CNN.

Secretary of State John Kerry and his Cuban counterpart Bruno Rodriguez have already met, according to Al Jazeera.  They met on the eve of the summit, on Thursday.

“It was the first time the chief diplomats from the two nations met since 1958, one year before Fidel Castro’s revolutionary guerrillas came to power,” stated Al Jazeera.

How Is The Relationship Between The U.S. and Israel?

IndianExpressOnline

The Strategic and International Affairs editor of the Indian newspaper “The Hindu,” – Praveen Swami – interviews the Israeli Ambassador to India, Daniel Carmon.

They discuss the leaked South African diplomatic cables, and claims Mossad has spoken of on Iran. They also discuss the P5+1 nuclear agreement with Iran.

Carmon stated that the relationship betweeen Israel and the U.S. is “unbreakable.”

Hillary Clinton Reportedly Seeks The Favor Of Elizabeth Warren: NYT

Hillary Rodham Clinton held a private, one-on-one meeting with Senator Elizabeth Warren in December at Mrs. Clinton’s Washington home.  It was a move by the Democrats’ leading 2016 contender to cultivate the increasingly influential senator and leader of the party’s left-wing economic populist movement.

The two met at Whitehaven, the Clintons’ Northwest Washington home, without aides and at Mrs. Clinton’s invitation, according to the New York Times.

Mrs. Clinton reportedly asked for policy ideas and suggestions from Ms. Warren, according to a Democrat briefed on the meeting.   Mrs. Clinton, who has been seeking advice from a range of scholars, advocates and officials, did not ask Ms. Warren to consider endorsing her likely presidential candidacy.

Aides to Mrs. Clinton did not immediately respond to requests for comment, and aides to Ms. Warren could not be reached, according to the NYT.

The conversation occurred at a moment when Ms. Warren’s clout has become increasingly evident.  After the November election, Senator Harry Reid, then still the Majority Leader, appointed Ms. Warren, a to a leadership role in the Senate.

She led a high-profile effort to strip a spending bill of rules sought by large banks.  Also, a patchwork of liberal groups began a movement to draft her into the presidential race.

Shooting At Minnesota City Council Meeting

A man opened fire on police attending a swearing-in ceremony for new officers in New Hope, Minnesota, on Monday night.

Two officers were shot before police returned fire, killing the man. The officers are expected to survive.

The shooting happened right after two newly sworn-in officers left the chambers. It is not known if the two officers who were shot were newly sworn-in.

As a city council member began a discussion of a resolution, a man with a handgun began firing, said Hennepin County Chief Deputy Mike Carlson.

Officials don’t yet know why the man targeted officers. His name hasn’t been released.

The city council records their meetings and video cameras captured the sound of the gunshots, according to CNN.

Video by YouHitNews

The Iowa ‘Freedom Summit’

Texas Sen. Ted Cruz speaking to conservative activists gathered at the Iowa Freedom Summit in Des Moines on Saturday.

Last Saturday, at a Victorian theater in Des Moines, Iowa, at least eight likely Republican candidates for president met to talk to conservative activists.

The event highlighted the party’s challenge: to find a candidate who can win the loyalty of the grassroots base without moving too far to the right and jeopardizing the GOP’s chances of victory in the general election.

Theoretically, it could be a good place for New Jersey Governor Chris Christie.

If he didn’t have so many troubles at home.

Those include investigations into purposely causing a multi-day traffic jam in the town of a mayor he didn’t like, misuse of Hurricane Sandy relief aid, and improper use of bondholders’ funds by the Port Authority.

Party strategists and candidates remember well the lessons of Mitt Romney’s failed 2012 campaign, when he was trapped by his efforts to establish conservative bona fides, at one point calling himself “severely conservative.”

The Iowa Freedom Summit brought together more than 1,000 conservative activists, many of them sought-after for the Iowa caucuses.  The first votes for the GOP nomination will be cast just over a year from now.

The event was sponsored by Rep. Steve King (R., Iowa), a hard-line voice against immigration reform and on other issues, along with the conservative group Citizens United.

According to Rep. Debbie Wasserman Schultz, the Democratic national chairwoman who held a news conference before the event, the gathering was “an extremist ring-kissing summit masquerading as a political forum.”

Right-wingers expressed their views at the forum.

America is “mired in darkness,” said David Bossie, head of Citizens United and a conservative filmmaker who organized the event.

Conservative talk-show host Jan Mickelson began the event by saying that Iowa conservatives were not anti-immigrant, but “what we do care about is illegal gate crashers.”

Former Alaska Gov. Sarah Palin called Obama “an overgrown little boy” for his executive order last year allowing some undocumented immigrants to stay in the country.

The likely candidates, besides Christie, included former Arkansas Gov. Mike Huckabee, Texas Sen. Ted Cruz, former Texas Gov. Rick Perry, Wisconsin Gov. Scott Walker, former Pennsylvania Sen. Rick Santorum, neurosurgeon/pundit Ben Carson, and former Hewlett-Packard Co. chief executive Carly Fiorina.

Amazingly, in a move appearing to defy time, Ted Cruz managed to show up the next day at the Koch Brothers’ right-wing forum in Palm Springs, California.

Heavyweight contenders Jeb Bush and Mitt Romney were not at the Iowa summit.

Christie told the audience that he shared its political values, deriding the “conventional wisdom” that says he’s too moderate for the state that will cast the first votes in the 2016 Republican presidential race.

Christie also cited his two wins in heavily Democratic New Jersey as evidence that Republicans do not have to abandon a “belief in the sanctity of human life” to win in blue states.  He also stressed the need to seek voters everywhere.

“We need a coalition that covers all parts of the country – all ethnicities,” said Christie.

Some in attendance worried that Christie would reach across the aisle. John Graves, 45, of Bluegrass, Iowa, said that Christie’s talk of being able to work with Democrats in New Jersey worried him. He said he would rather have a nominee who stands up for conservative principles rather than rushing to compromise.

There were other conservative stars – Palin, who told reporters in the Des Moines Marriott lobby Friday night she was “seriously interested” in considering a 2016 run; and real estate mogul Donald Trump, who continued his seemingly quadrennial flirtation with a White House campaign.

Rick Santorum seemed to have his parties mixed up and said the GOP should focus less on the investor and business-owning classes and speak to the anxieties of middle-class Americans.

“We need to be the party of the worker,” he said.

“People are more motivated than I’ve seen since 1980,” said Steve Scheffler, Iowa’s Republican national committeeman and president of the Faith and Freedom Coalition, a group of religious conservatives.

“They are concerned that another Obama-like administration will lead to the destruction of our country and our republic,” Scheffler said.

He said that Christie, even if he does not get overwhelming support at first from social conservatives, helped his cause Saturday. “It sends the message that he cares what conservatives think; it sows the seeds of goodwill,” Scheffler said.

Trump brought roars from the crowd when he said the two biggest establishment names were not viable.

“It can’t be Mitt, because Mitt ran and failed,” Trump shouted above cheers. “Something happened to him near the end of the election, which was so winnable. He choked.” He noted that Bush favors a path to citizenship for undocumented immigrants and supports national “common core” education. “The last thing we need is another Bush,” Trump said.

http://www.philly.com/philly/news/20150125_Christie_and_a_crowded_field_address_conservatives_in_Iowa.html#ucOi9pHkxU3AshQj.99

The Other Side Of The Coin? Milwaukee Police Chief Edward Flynn

Video by Ashley Luthern.

Perhaps this video shows the “other side” of the coin and how hard it is to be a police officer.

In November, Milwaukee Police Chief Edward Flynn spoke to reporters after a Fire and Police Commission meeting concerning the shooting of Dontre Hamilton.

Hamilton was an unarmed black mentally ill man who was shot by a Milwaukee policeman last April.

The video has over 6 million hits since the November meeting.

June Donor’s Meeting Between Mitch McConnell, Koch Brothers

The Nation and other sources have obtained an audio recording of Kentucky Senator Mitch McConnell’s remarks at a Koch Brothers’ sponsored meeting between politicians and donors at the St. Regis Monarch Bay Resort in Dana Point, CA.

KochBrothers1
The St. Regis Monarch Bay Resort in Dana Point, CA

The Nation claims that the resort was rented by the Koch brothers for $870,000 for the meeting on June 15th.

In the question-and-answer period following his session titled “Free Speech: Defending First Amendment Rights,” McConnell says:

“So in the House and Senate, we own the budget. So what does that mean? That means that we can pass the spending bill. And I assure you that in the spending bill, we will be pushing back against this bureaucracy by doing what’s called placing riders in the bill. No money can be spent to do this or to do that. We’re going to go after them on healthcare, on financial services, on the Environmental Protection Agency, across the board [inaudible]. All across the federal government, we’re going to go after it.”

(recording below)

McConnell’s pledge to “go after” Democrats on financial services was apparently a reference to changing or getting rid of Dodd-Frank regulation. Dodd-Frank, of course, was legislation passed in 2010 in response to the under-regulation of the financial industry that led to the Great Recession.

McConnell has also been a vocal opponent of the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau in particular, and presumably under his Senate leadership funding for the CFPB would be high on the list for appropriations cuts.

According to the Center for Responsive Politics, Wall Street was the number-one contributor to McConnell’s campaign committee from 2009 to 2014.

McConnell is running against Democrat Alison Lundergan Grimes in a close contest that could determine which party controls the Senate. Total spending in the race is expected to exceed $100 million, which would make it the most expensive Senate election in history.

As of July 21, PACs and individuals affiliated with Koch Industries have given at least $41,800 to McConnell’s campaign committee in this election cycle—a figure that does not include any funding to outside groups that could spend heavily in the race’s closing weeks.

Recently, Grimes has been airing ads that criticize McConnell for “voting seventeen times against raising the minimum wage” and “twelve times against extending unemployment benefits for laid-off workers.” Perhaps unsurprisingly, McConnell himself seems quite proud of this legislative record, at least in front of an audience of wealthy donors. After he lays out his agenda to shrink the federal government “across the board.”

“And we’re not going to be debating all these gosh darn proposals,” said Mitch. “That’s all we do in the Senate is vote on things like raising the minimum wage [inaudible]—cost the country 500,000 new jobs; extending unemployment—that’s a great message for retirees; uh, the student loan package the other day, that’s just going to make things worse, uh. These people believe in all the wrong things.”

In late April, Senate Republicans, led by McConnell, successfully filibustered a bill to increase the minimum wage to $10.10 an hour.

Earlier in the year, McConnell also led a filibuster of a three-month extension of unemployment insurance to some 1.7 million Americans. At one point in the negotiations, he offered a deal to extend unemployment only if Democrats agreed to repeal the Affordable Care Act, even though the ACA does not add to the federal deficit.

Just days before he addressed the Koch brothers’ billionaire donor summit, McConnell was instrumental in blocking Senator Elizabeth Warren’s proposal to help Americans refinance their growing student loan debt.

Warren’s plan would have been funded by a new minimum tax on America’s wealthiest. In response, McConnell has said that “not everybody needs to go to Yale” and that cash-strapped students should look into for-profit colleges. That seemed to be an odd response, considering that for-profit colleges are more expensive than state colleges.

The main thrust of McConnell’s remarks to the Koch conference were about his favorite issue, campaign finance, which he regards as a matter of free speech.

Mitch McConnell:  Do you think he cares about you?