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An American president’s most important power is not the veto pen or the ability to launch missiles. It is the bully pulpit. When a president speaks, the world listens. That is why Barack Obama’s credibility matters. If people do not believe what he says, his power to shape events withers. And recent events have seriously shaken people’s belief in Mr Obama.
The same kinds of politics that influence other aspects of society also help explain why some countries, such as the United States, suffer repeated banking crises, while others, such as Canada, avoid them altogether. A country does not choose its banking system; it gets the banking system it deserves, one consistent with the institutions that govern its distribution of political power.
Ultimately, what stands in the way of meaningful change is the Controlled Substances Act. As long as it is in place, the Justice Department will bring forward marijuana prosecutions. President Obama is unlikely to spend political capital pushing to change federal law. The man marijuana reformers elected in 2008 will likely leave office in January 2017 having changed as little as possible.
All of our current knowledge about surveillance is thanks to one man, Edward J. Snowden. It’s embarrassing that democratic European countries, where the rule of law should reign supreme, have until now shied away from confrontation with the United States and have preferred to place Mr. Snowden’s fate and security in Russia’s hands.
One of the reasons American hypocrisy is so effective is that it stems from sincerity: most U.S. politicians do not recognize just how two-faced their country is. Yet as the United States finds itself less able to deny the gaps between its actions and its words, it will face increasingly difficult choices — and may ultimately be compelled to start practicing what it preaches.
Democrats have watched as one calamity after another has befallen what was once the most promising Democratic administration since John F. Kennedy’s. Yet all is not lost. The Obama administration has not exactly bungled its way through five years of power.
There are those who scorn the idea that the American government is dysfunctional. Despite the fact that it left the world teetering on the edge of an economic catastrophe, they say everything is working just fine. American government’s purpose is to allow a fractious minority to stop the will of the majority. We shouldn’t be surprised when it succeeds.
The word many Mexicans now use to describe Washington reflects a familiar mix of outrage and exasperation: berrinche. Technically defined as a tantrum, berrinches are also spoiled little rich kids, blind to their privilege and the effects of their misbehavior. A common question crossing continents remains quite simple: The Americans aren’t really that unreasonable and self-destructive, are they?
A world “government” could never have democratic legitimacy, but the idea of world government can illuminate a sensible path for capturing the benefits of a more effective global polity. Given a fully interdependent global market, we should worry less about the risk of bad rules and policies from imperfect global institutions and more about how to exploit these institutions’ potential to lock in policies at home and abroad that minimize risks and maximize opportunities for people everywhere.
As the government shutdown grinds toward a potential debt default, some of the country’s most influential business executives have come to a conclusion all but unthinkable a few years ago: Their voices are carrying little weight with the House majority that their millions of dollars in campaign contributions helped build and sustain. To some extent, the Chamber of Commerce itself, along with other lobbying groups, helped create the conditions for Washington’s impasse.
Novelist John Lancaster, given access to the Snowden Files, discusses his impressions. At a moment of austerity and with a general sense that our state’s ability to guarantee prosperity for its citizens is in retreat, that same state is about to make the biggest advance ever in its security powers. Our spies and security services can, for the first time, monitor everything about us, and they can do so with a few clicks of a mouse and – to placate the lawyers – a drop-down menu of justifications. Looking at the GCHQ papers, it is clear that there is an ambition to get access to everything digital. And yet nobody, at least in Britain, seems to care. Snowden’s revelations are not just interesting or important but vital, because the state is about to get powers that no state has ever had, and we need to have a public debate about those powers and what their limits are to be.
By using the Espionage Act to punish Bradley Manning, the Obama administration has shown how far it will go to intimidate leakers. It is political despotism to use this act in a trial that has to do with neither espionage nor sabotage. His sentencing is a stain on the president’s legacy and on America’s global reputation.
The president’s economic initiatives – food stamps, manufacturing, infrastructure, raising the debt ceiling, appointing a new chairman of the Federal Reserve – have mostly ended in either neglect or shambles. After five years, the Obama Administration’s stated intentions to improve the fortunes of the middle class, boost manufacturing, reduce income inequality, and promote the recovery of the economy have come up severely short.
A new research study shows that partisanship can undermine our very basic reasoning skills. People who are otherwise very good at math may totally flunk a problem that they would otherwise probably be able to solve, simply because giving the right answer goes against their political beliefs.
The Kerry-Kissinger meeting, and the public outcry against the proposed attack on Syria to which both men are publicly committed, should be viewed through the lens of another Sept. 11…1973. On that day, 40 years ago, the democratically elected president of Chile, Salvador Allende, was violently overthrown in a U.S.-backed coup.
The US Senate rejects multilateral treaties as if it were sport. The US still wields influence in the UN Security Council and in international financial and trade institutions, but when it comes to solving global problems beyond the old centers of diplomatic and economic power, the United States suffers the self-inflicted wound of diminishing relevance.
Metaphors are used in communicating policy, but also influence behavior through systemic causation. Conceptual metaphors and scenarios have real inferences that may or may not fit the world. America will act, or act by not acting. There will be real-world consequences in either case. From infanthood on we experience simple, direct causation. Systemic causation by contrast cannot be experienced directly, it has to be learned. To President Obama, “Syria” is not primarily about direct causation. It is about systemic causation as it affects the world as a whole. But the president has not made this clear, and he could not possibly do it in one speech, given that most people don’t viscerally react to systemic causation, and many don’t understand it at all. We need to keep track of the metaphors and scenarios we use so that we can better see the consequences of our actions.
In American courthouses this summer, a vitally important struggle over the First Amendment’s scope is taking place between the Obama Administration and the press. At issue is whether the Administration will fulfill a recent pledge to end its heavy-handed pursuit of professional journalists’ sources. The ripest case concerns a Times reporter, James Risen.
The National Security Agency is winning its long-running secret war on encryption, using supercomputers, technical trickery, court orders and behind-the-scenes persuasion to undermine the major tools protecting the privacy of everyday communications in the Internet age, according to newly disclosed documents.
The great battle of the 20th century was between the state and business. And the state was likely to win because the thinkers and bureaucrats at its service were better at occupying the moral and intellectual high ground. Today the problem is not the marginalisation of business but its excessive influence.
It’s odd that Obama, who once talked about being a transformational president, did not want to ensure that his allies and his aims were imprinted on the capital. Instead, he has teed up the ball for Hillary. Some of the excitement about Barack Obama was the prospect of making a clean start. Yet Obama ushered in the return of Clinton Inc. and gave it his blessing.
It is estimated over 10 million beehives been wiped out since 2007, as part of a phenomenon known as Colony Collapse Disorder. Two Congressional Democrats have co-sponsored new legislation called the Save America’s Pollinators Act of 2013 to take emergency action to save the remaining bees in the U.S., and in turn, the U.S. food supply.
After service as a Royal Marine and as an intelligence officer for the UK security services, Paddy Ashdown was a Member of Parliament (MP) from 1983 to 2001, and leader of the Liberal Democrats from 1988 until 1999; later he was the international High Representative for Bosnia and Herzegovina from 2002 to 2006.
People act from wellsprings of emotions, values and non-conscious fears and longings much more than they do from rational calculations of costs and benefits that, in an ideal world, should underlie their relationship to politics and social change. The more leaders understand people, what makes them tick and what they need and fear, the better able they are to connect with their real interests.
The court may be primed for a reinterpretation of its own rulings on metadata, which can be even more revealing than content. Congress has shown little appetite for clarifying these issues, and has reliably voted to expand, not limit, the surveillance powers of the executive branch. President Barack Obama’s position on the issues is not only a continuation of his predecessor’s, but a change from the views he held as a candidate.
We often focus our energy on the nuts and bolts of what’s wrong with the world, what has to be fixed immediately, but perhaps it’s time to try a different approach. Everyone has their own dream of the world as it should be, and every dream is open to endless interpretation. The world will never look exactly like our mythic dreams. But we can’t get to any better future unless we first imagine that future, together. A political dream is a magnet that pulls us toward our goals.
The Bipartisan Policy Center carries weight with the media and Congress, but its ‘research’ is little more than PR for moneyed interests. Among other examples, the BPC issued a report on America’s Energy Resurgence with over fifty policy recommendations. The chief outside consultant on the report was William Klinefelter, a lobbyist whose major clients include ExxonMobil.
Within a decade, the U.S. will likely deploy an aerospace shield, advanced cyberwarfare capabilities, and even vaster, more omnipresent digital surveillance networks that will envelop the Earth in an electronic grid capable of blinding entire armies on the battlefield, atomizing a single suspected terrorist, or monitoring millions of private lives at home and abroad.
Soon after President Obama appointed him director of national intelligence in 2009, Dennis C. Blair called for a tally of the number of government officials or employees who had been prosecuted for leaking national security secrets. In the previous four years, 153 cases had been referred to the Justice Department. Not one had led to an indictment.
The New America Foundation is a nonprofit, nonpartisan public policy institute that invests in new thinkers and new ideas to address the next generation of challenges facing the United States. The foundation’s mission is animated by the American ideal that each generation will live better than the last. That ideal is today under strain.
If officials are going to make rules for Americans, those officials should be Americans, democratically accountable to voters. Given the recent history of international meddling of this kind, even when a treaty is non-self-executing (that is, its implementation requires the passage of a law), this is not merely a theoretical concern.
The NSA programs represent a troubling increase in state power, even if—so far, and so far as we know—they have not occasioned a troubling increase in state wrongdoing. The harm is to the architecture of trust and accountability that supports an open society and a democratic polity. The harm is to the reputation of the United States as such a society, such a polity.
Viewed in isolation, the Supreme Court term that just ended had elements of modesty, but Chief Justice Roberts is a canny strategist with a tough side whose methodical approach has allowed him to establish a robustly conservative record. When the court struck down a part of the Voting Rights Act, Roberts harvested seeds he had planted four years before.
In an opinion brimming with a self-confidence that he hides behind a cloak of judicial minimalism, Chief Justice John G. Roberts Jr., writing for a conservative Supreme Court majority in Shelby County v. Holder, cripples Section 5 of the Voting Rights Act. The decision is characteristic of a pattern in the Roberts court, in which the conservative justices tee up major constitutional issues for dramatic reversal.
In defending the NSA’s sweeping collection of Americans’ phone call records, Obama administration officials have repeatedly pointed out how it could have helped thwart the 9/11 attacks. Former Vice President Dick Cheney has invoked the same argument. They have all ignored a key aspect of historical record.
Progressive Democrats in Congress are ramping up pressure on the Obama administration to release the text of Trans-Pacific Partnership, a secretive free trade agreement with 10 other nations, amid intensifying controversy over the administration’s transparency record and its treatment of classified information.
While the public and media are not allowed to see the text of the Trans-Pacific Partnership, and members of Congress only receive limited, heavily restricted access, 600 corporations, including some of America’s worst corporate citizens, have been advising the president and suggesting amendments with full access to the documents.
Various NSA defenders beginning with President Obama have sought to assure the public that NSA surveillance is done under robust judicial oversight and that they do not target Americans. These claims are highly misleading, and in some cases outright false As part of the FISA court approval process, the NSA must submit a document describing how communications of US persons are collected and what is done with them; indeed, the principle purpose of the 2008 FISA Amendment Act was to allow government collection of Americans’ international communications. The Obama DOJ has repeatedly thwarted any efforts to obtain judicial rulings on whether this law is consistent with the Fourth Amendment.
Like industries that preceded it, Silicon Valley is not a philosophy, a revolution, or a cause. If this new generation of smart, wealthy, successful tech leaders want to make a difference in terms of policy, it’s the right idea to leave their cool headquarters and gorgeous campuses and actually engage.
Far from being a passive victim, the United States has fostered as rich a tradition of illicit trade as any other country in the world. Since its founding, the United States has had an intimate relationship with clandestine commerce, and contraband capitalism was integral to the rise of the U.S. economy.
Verizon has been supplying the National Security Agency (NSA) with phone records for all domestic calls, and the NSA and FBI are datamining nine technology companies, extracting audio, video, photographs, e-mails, documents and connection logs enabling analysts to track a person’s movements and contacts over time.
Mr. Obama has used some of the same aggressive powers in the name of guarding national security as his predecessor, even at the expense of civil liberties. Rather than dismantling Mr. Bush’s approach to national security, Mr. Obama has to some extent validated it and put it on a more sustainable footing.
They assembled on the 40th floor of the tallest building in Seattle last week, the ex-Mexican president and the businessman who wants to be known as the Bill Gates of Bud. On the table: a pie bigger than the sky. It would involve drugs, suppliers and retailers, and laser-targeted marketing for buyers willing to pay a premium.
The struggle in Iceland is ongoing, but the nation’s people have achieved monumental results in a relatively short amount of time due to the nature of their movement building – five goals should be sought in the US: Strive For Unity, Turn a Few Central Demands into Goals, Be the Banks, Be the Government, Crowdsource a New Constitution.
With the decision to label a Fox News television reporter a possible “co-conspirator” in a criminal investigation of a news leak, the Obama administration has moved beyond protecting government secrets to threatening fundamental freedoms of the press to gather news. Obama administration officials, accusing a reporter of being a “co-conspirator,” on top of other zealous and secretive investigations, show a heavy tilt toward secrecy and insufficient concern about a free press.
The Centrist Party need not be a mush of compromises between extreme positions. It should take the best of each party and ditch the nonsense. The Centrists will be fiscally sensible, socially progressive, and committed to the kinds of compromises that will appeal to the tens of millions of voters, particularly younger voters, who are currently without a political home.
As founders of the Common Sense Coalition, we came together in 2011 because we share a belief that our country has serious problems and that the current political environment leaves little hope of solving them. As we began to explore the consequences of inaction, it became clear that the America we leave our children would be greatly diminished, if we didn’t act.
No Labels is a growing citizens’ movement of Democrats, Republicans and everything in between dedicated to promoting a new politics of problem solving. No Labels promotes its politics of problem solving in three ways: by organizing citizens across America, providing a space for legislators who want to solve problems to convene and by pushing for common-sense reforms to make our government work.
The Obama administration, resolving years of internal debate, is on the verge of backing a Federal Bureau of Investigation plan for a sweeping overhaul of surveillance laws that would make it easier to wiretap people who communicate using the Internet rather than by traditional phone services, according to officials familiar with the deliberations.
The $85 billion in federal budget cuts known as sequestration are beginning to be felt far from the nation’s capital, some programs are coping, some are struggling and others appear to be out of luck. While not everyone is feeling the pain, the good-news stories are eclipsed by the bad. At issue for many programs is politics — specifically the politics of President Obama’s health care law.
The United States’ gross domestic product expanded at a 2.5 percent annual rate in the first quarter; but this figure masks disturbing signs: an economy whose recovery has failed to match the pace of past expansions may now be facing a deceleration in its own modest growth rate.
Repealing laws by failing to fund their enforcement or implementation works because the public doesn’t know it’s happening. The strategy bolsters the Republican view that government is incompetent – the public doesn’t know the reason why the government isn’t doing its job is it’s being hollowed out.
The Supreme Court’s business decisions are almost always overshadowed by cases on controversial social issues. But the business docket reflects something truly distinctive about the court led by Chief Justice John G. Roberts Jr. They have been, a new study finds, far friendlier to business than those of any court since at least World War II.
America’s 50 states are competing to find the best formula for regulation and taxes and introducing sweeping reforms to that end. These changes will become systematic only if promoted at the federal level.
Names make news, but names also make opinions. In politics, the naming is almost always with malice (or niceness) aforethought. “Entitlements” – or “entitlement programs” – is now the standard descriptor for what ought to be called, more accurately and less tendentiously, social insurance.
Thatcher was a breaker of consensus, not a builder of it. And she did not care about everybody. She seemed not to care about the poor and the near-poor, whose misfortunes she tended to regard as failures of character. The moral high point of her tenure was a passionate speech on global warming, delivered at the United Nations in 1989.
Joseph Stiglitz is an American economist and a professor at Columbia University. He is a recipient of the Nobel Memorial Prize in Economic Sciences and the John Bates Clark Medal. In 2011 he was named by Time magazine as one of the 100 most influential people in the world.
Stuart Taylor, Jr. examines how the federal government and the eighteen states (plus the District of Columbia) that have partially legalized medical or recreational marijuana or both since 1996 can be true to their respective laws, and can agree on how to enforce them wisely while avoiding federal-state clashes that would increase confusion and harm communities and consumers.
In November, two states, Colorado and Washington, passed ballot initiatives — by strong margins — to legalize marijuana use. Avoiding a state-federal train wreck over marijuana policy will not happen automatically. Finding a cooperative path requires creativity and energy from both levels of government. But the alternative won’t satisfy anyone, at least not for long.
However one feels about Thatcher’s politics, there’s no question that she chose crusades and framed arguments with great care. For her pragmatism, much of today’s Republican right would have panned Thatcher as “socialist,” “statist” and, heaven forfend, “European” — though they now hail her.
In 2001, George W. Bush signed a military order concerning the “Detention, Treatment, and Trial of Certain Non-Citizens in the War Against Terrorism.” Suspected terrorists could be imprisoned without charge, denied knowledge of the evidence against them, and, if tried, sentenced by courts following no previously established rules.
Justice Ruth Bader Ginsburg turns eighty this month. There is some irony in Ginsburg’s reputation for reserve, because she is, by far, the current Court’s most accomplished litigator. Ginsburg, during the 1970s, argued several of the most important women’s-rights cases in the Court’s history.
Republicans and Democrats’ fibs rest on ill-concealed contempt for an undeserving other: the feckless poor, the immoral rich, those who live in states of the wrong partisan hue. Mutual dislike is the dirty secret that best explains European paralysis. American politicians have no business stoking it in their far more ambitious union.
FREE-THE-WEED campaigners speak not of “legalising” marijuana but of “taxing and regulating” it. The ballot measure they placed before Colorado’s voters last November, which won the support of 55% of them, was called the Regulate Marijuana Like Alcohol Act and contained provisions for a 15% excise tax.
Mr Obama named the officials charged with fulfilling his climate policy: Gina McCarthy, his choice to head the Environmental Protection Agency, and Ernest Moniz, the prospective new secretary of energy. Their selection suggests that Mr Obama is indeed serious about tackling climate change, but not doctrinaire in his approach.
Discusses how government, and the Democratic Party, changed after the New Deal, with the onset of the Cold War and the disenchantment of Southern Democrats. Discusses the history of worries about the emergence of a new ruling class composed of bureaucrats and technocrats.
Study shows that in the United States, voting rights do not translate into much actual political power. You could predict what the government would do based on the preferences of the top 10% income level. When the preferences of middle class and poor income levels diverged from the affluent, there was no impact at all on the policies that were adopted.
Secure World Foundation envisions the secure, sustainable and peaceful uses of outer space contributing to global stability on Earth. SWF works with governments, industry, international organizations and civil society to develop and promote ideas and actions that achieve the secure, sustainable, and peaceful uses of outer space.
The Supreme Court on Tuesday turned back a challenge to a federal law that broadened the government’s power to eavesdrop on international phone calls and e-mails. The ruling illustrated how hard it is to mount court challenges to a wide array of antiterrorism measures, including renditions of terrorism suspects to foreign countries and targeted killings using drones.
A dream Obama would point out that the issue is not size but sclerosis of government. The future has no lobby, so there are inexorable pressures favoring present consumption over future investment. The crucial point is not whether a dollar is spent publicly or privately, it’s whether it is spent on the present or future.
The U.S. government faces a tough fiscal future. Absent significant changes to current taxation and spending policies, debt held by the public will mount within two decades to levels never before experienced by this country. The consequences for the American economy and for the nation’s place in the world could be severe.
Now, more than ever, the United States might be tempted to pull back from the world. That would be a mistake, since an engaged grand strategy has served the country exceptionally well for the past six decades — helping prevent the outbreak of conflict in the world’s most important regions, keeping the global economy humming, and facilitating international cooperation.