Monday, December 19, 2016
Do-gooders agree with Putin
Middle-Eastern realities are different
The head of a Scottish aid charity has condemned the UK’s “naive” intervention in Syria and suggested Bashar al-Assad, the country’s president, should be allowed to regain control so that stability — and ultimately peace — can be restored to the war-torn region.
Alistair Dutton, director of the Scottish Catholic International Aid Fund (Sciaf), said British efforts to end fighting had backfired and served only to strengthen opposition forces and prolong the six-year conflict.
“British foreign policy in Syria is appalling,” said Dutton. “It is naive to the point of being totally unrealistic and everybody I speak to in the region says we have got it wrong, and we are only making the situation worse and prolonging the war.”
North Carolina GOP strips powers from incoming Democratic governor
North Carolina Republicans stripped the incoming Democratic governor of some of his authority on Friday and were on the cusp of an even greater power grab, an extraordinary move that critics said flies in the face of voters.
Just last week, it appeared Republicans were ready to finally accept Democrats’ narrow win in a contentious governor’s race. As it turns out, they weren’t done fighting. In a surprise special session in the dying days of the old administration, some say the Republican-dominated legislature has thrown the government into total disarray, approving two bills aimed at hamstringing incoming governor Roy Cooper’s administration. One of them was signed into law by the current governor.
Cooper, the current attorney general, has threatened to sue. And many in the state are accusing Republicans of letting sour grapes over losing the governor’s race turn into a legislative coup.
"This was a pure power grab," said retired school librarian Carolyn White, 62, a long-time demonstrator who was arrested as part of the "Moral Monday" protests against GOP-led legislative policies. "I got arrested two years ago. Did it make any difference? No. But just like the civil rights movement, it’s forward together. You just have to keep going forward."
The protesters were so loud that the Senate and House cleared the galleries — a highly unusual move. More than 50 people were arrested this week, and as demonstrators were led away from the Legislative Building, some chanted "all political power comes from the people." Those that remained could only watch the debate through windows or listen online.
Hundreds stomped their feet and yelled outside the gallery, causing several Republican lawmakers to note they were having trouble hearing during the debate. Democrats repeatedly stated their objections.
"The kindergartners are getting rowdy," GOP Representative Dana Bumgardner said. He said Democrats were "creating out of thin air a talking point for the next election."
Republican Governor Pat McCrory, who lost to Cooper by about 10,000 votes, quickly signed into law a bill that merges the State Board of Elections and State Ethics Commission into one board composed equally of Democrats and Republicans. The previous state elections board law would have allowed Cooper to put a majority of Democrats on the elections panel.
The law also makes elections for appellate court judgeships officially partisan again.
Another bill that received final legislative approval would force Cooper’s Cabinet choices to be subject to Senate confirmation. McCrory must decide whether to sign that law, passed by a General Assembly that has repeatedly tugged him to the right even though he campaigned as a moderate in 2012 as Charlotte’s former mayor.
Republicans insist the legislation is simply adjusting the constitutional powers already granted to the General Assembly. Many provisions had been debated for years but had either gotten blocked or the Democratic viewpoint previously won out.
Democrats said it was an attempt by the GOP to cling to power a week after the Republican incumbent conceded.
"I really fear that we have harmed our reputation and integrity this week," said Representative Billy Richardson, a Democrat.
Republicans gained power of both legislative chambers in 2010 for the first time in more than a century, and they have veto-proof majorities, holding 108 of 170 seats even though the state has been more closely divided in recent statewide and federal elections.
North Carolina is a presidential battleground state that Barack Obama won in 2008 by just over 14,000 votes. Four years later, Mitt Romney edged Obama by about 92,000 votes. Donald Trump won in November.
GOP legislators have been able to expand their majorities thanks to approving redistricting maps in 2011. But nearly 30 of those legislative districts were struck down last summer. A federal court has directed updated maps be approved by March 15.
Cooper ran on a platform of defeating Republicans’ agenda, saying he would work to repeal a law known as House Bill 2 that limits LGBT rights.
"Once more, the courts will have to clean up the mess the legislature made, but it won’t stop us from moving North Carolina forward," Cooper said in a statement late Friday.
Republicans pointed to past sessions of the General Assembly, when it was dominated by Democrats. Democrats stripped the powers of the first and only GOP lieutenant governor of the 20th century in the late 1980s. But Democrats said there’s been no such widespread effort to limit the power of an incoming executive before he took office in such a session.
Still, Republican House Speaker Tim Moore said, "just because you disagree with something doesn’t mean it’s unconstitutional."
Gingrich: 'Drop The Term News Media,' They Are The 'Propaganda Media'
In a speech about President-elect Donald Trump and his incoming administration, former House Speaker Newt Gingrich (R-Ga.) explained that Trump is a highly successful marketer, which the mainstream media -- what he called the "propaganda media" -- do not understand and will not understand until they accept that they are dealing with a very talented and intelligent person.
“This is not easy," said Gingrich on Tuesday at the Heritage Foundation in Washington, D.C. "I’m just telling you, one of the great disgraces of the propaganda media we have -- all of us on the right should describe it the 'propaganda media,' drop the term ‘news media’ until they earn it -- and begin to realize that the propaganda media cannot come to grips with the level of talent that they’re dealing with.”
"People forget who Donald J. Trump is," said Gingrich. "[P]eople in the elites couldn’t figure out that this is a guy who’d made his entire living marketing to consumers. That he had thought every day, ‘How do I get you to come to my golf course? How do I get you to come to my hotel? How do I get you to come to my casino? How do I get you to buy my tie? How do I get you to watch my TV show?’"
"So, he has this intuition," said Gingrich. "We were talking about debating one day and he said, ‘What is your advice?’ I said, ‘I don’t have any advice.’ I said, ‘You’re a better debater than I am.’ Because – and he’s a totally different debater than I am, I’m not denigrating myself, I’m okay – but he intuits the audience in a way I can’t do. I cannot get the rhythm the way he does."
"And so, you had low-energy Jeb, which, by the way, is totally untrue," siad the former House Speaker. "Jeb Bush is a perfectly fine guy, was a great governor of Florida, is a good friend of ours. But he [Trump] said it in such a way that it stuck. It stuck to such a degree that it got inside Jeb’s head. And Jeb ends up running around New Hampshire, literally running, to prove he’s not low energy."
Commenting further on Trump's debate style, Gingrich related, “I was asked one time, as part of this process, I was on Bill O’Reilly one night in the very heat of the primary season, and O’Reilly said to me, ‘Why don’t the Republican candidates attack Trump? He’s clearly the frontrunner, they need to attack him.’ I said, ‘Bill, Donald Trump is the grizzly bear in The Revenant [movie].’ If you get his attention, he will get awake. When he gets awake, he will walk over, bite your face off and sit on you. The other candidates watch him do that and go, ‘not me, oh no, no, no. Let the bear eat. It’s okay. I don’t want to bother him.’ And that started with ‘low-energy Jeb’ [Bush]."
"All these people, the news media, and this is a major part of the watershed that we’re in the early stages of, and why I so much wanted to come here and share with you today," said Gingrich. "This is a genuine watershed."
"There is an old world that’s much deeper than just liberalism," he said. "And there is the post-Nov. 8 world, if we can make it real. I tell everybody the Trump rally has to be turned into the Trump reality. There’s a big gap in those two. It’s going to take a lot of work."
Britain to require loyalty oath for all public office holders
All holders of public office will have to swear an oath of allegiance to British values in an attempt to combat extremism. Sajid Javid, the communities secretary, said it was not possible for people to play a “positive role” in public life unless they accepted such basic values as democracy, equality and freedom of speech.
He intervened after a damning report by Dame Louise Casey, the government’s community cohesion tsar, which warned that some Muslim communities were living in extreme isolation from the rest of society and some did not share British values such as tolerance.
Writing in The Sunday Times, Javid says he will enact Casey’s proposal that those in public office make a pledge of allegiance.
Israel's Ambassador Repudiates the Discredited SPLC
Last night, Israel's formidable Ambassdor to the United States Ron Dermer issued a clarion call to freedom loving people in this country and around the world to reject efforts aimed at suppressing our most fundamental liberty, our constitutional right to free speech.
Ambassador Dermer took specific and pointed aim at the Southern Poverty Law Center, an organization once known for championing that and other freedoms, but now discredited as a political warfare arm of the Red-Green axis, radical leftists, and their Islamic supremacist allies.
The SPLC tried very hard to silence Ambassador Dermer as well, demanding that he not participate in the Center for Security Policy's Awards dinner last night. His address condemning such censorship, and the prime move behind it, was a profile in courage to be applauded and shared by all who cherish freedom.
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Posted by JR at 1:22 AM