Showing posts with label Government Out of Control. Show all posts
Showing posts with label Government Out of Control. Show all posts

March 7, 2017

Is Trump’s ICE After Father of American Fallen Hero Khizr Khan?

Khizr Khan at the Dem. National Convention. He told Trump He(Trump) did not know the Constitution

The father of a fallen Iraqi American soldier who became a household name due to a spat with Donald Trump has been forced to cancel a trip to Canada, owing to his “travel privileges bring reviewed”. 

Khizr Khan spoke at the Democratic National Convention about his son, army Captain Humayun Khan, who was killed during the Iraq war. 

A supporter of Hillary Clinton, he used his July speech to ask Mr Trump if he had ever read the US Constitution, and said that he would gladly lend him his copy. Mr Trump, enraged, then attacked the family – beginning a row that overshadowed the presidential campaign for several days.
Mr Khan, an American citizen born in Pakistan, had planned to speak at a lunch in Toronto on Tuesday in a discussion about Mr Trump's administration.
A US citizen for more than 30 years, Mr Khan, a lawyer, was notified on Sunday evening that his “travel privileges had been reviewed,” according to Ramsay Talks, the company behind the talks, based in Toronto and hosted by Bob Ramsay.

On Monday afternoon Mr Ramsay confirmed on Twitter that Mr Khan would not be speaking.

“Cancelled - Tuesday, March 7 Khizr Kahn talk. Tickets will be refunded,” he said.

Mr Khan, in a statement on Ramsay Talks’ Facebook page, said he had not been given a reason as to why his travel privileges were being reviewed and apologised to ticket-holders for the cancellation. 

"This turn of events is not just of deep concern to me but to all my fellow Americans who cherish our freedom to travel abroad," he said. "I am grateful for your support and look forward to visiting Toronto in the near future."

He told The Telegraph he had no additional comment to make.

It remained unclear why a US citizen would have his travel privileges reviewed – even one born abroad. Pakistan is not one of the six countries listed on Mr Trump’s travel ban, which was instigated on Monday.

US Customs & Border Protection told Reuters that it does not contact travellers in advance of their travel out of the United States. CBP would not comment specifically on the Khan case, citing privacy protections.

February 7, 2017

A Decree is Like an Exec.Order But in Romania the President Has to Rescind

A pro-government protester holds up a baby owl and an image of Romanian President Klaus Iohannis depicted as a Nazi soldier of Hitler's paramilitary SS Schutzstaffel organisation in front of the presidential office in Bucharest, Romania February 6, 2017. Inquam Photos/Octav... REUTERS

Romania’s president on Tuesday tore into the Social Democrat-led government over a corruption decree that has sparked the biggest protests since the 1989 fall of communism, but he backed it to remain in power in a potential reprieve for Prime Minister Sorin Grindeanu.
The government on Sunday rescinded the decree, which critics said would have turned back the clock on the fight against corruption in the European Union member state, but some protesters have pledged to keep up the pressure until Grindeanu resigns.

In a speech to parliament, centrist President Klaus Iohannis admonished the government for issuing the decree a week ago "at night, in secret" without consulting parliament.
But he said the ruling Social Democrat Party (PSD) had won the right to govern in a December election and should continue to do so, a message that may take the sting out of the protests.
Hundreds of thousands of Romanians have taken to the streets for the past week in cities across the country, thronging Bucharest’s broad boulevards in scenes that will not have gone unnoticed elsewhere across Eastern Europe, blighted by corruption and cosy ties between business and politics since the end of communism.

"The prosperity of the Romanian people was not your first priority. Your first concern was to look after the penal files, and thats why Romanians are indignant and revolted," Iohannis told lawmakers.

Despite the crisis, he said new elections were not the answer.
"You have been saying in public that I would like to overthrow the legitimate government. That's false. You won, now you govern and legislate, but not at any price," Iohannis said.
"The resignation of a single minister is too little and early elections would at this stage be too much. This is the available room for manoeuvre."


Though his role is largely ceremonial, the president’s powers include nominating the prime minister after elections and returning legislation to parliament for reconsideration.
PSD lawmakers walked out of the assembly around half-way through the president’s speech. They later returned to approve the government’s 2017 spending plan, setting a shortfall of 2.99 percent of gross domestic product (GDP).

The Romanian leu firmed to a four-month high of 4.4800 per euro, before retreating to trade 0.3 percent up on the day at 4.4910.

Romania, a country of 20 million people and host to a U.S. ballistic missile defence station, remains one of the poorest and most corruption-ridden members of the EU.
The decree would have decriminalized a number of graft offences and shielded many public officials from corruption allegations.

Even after the U-turn, 250,000 protesters turned out in Bucharest on Sunday evening, with some saying they would not be satisfied until the government resigned. 
Around 25,000 rallied again in the capital on Monday evening. It was unclear how many might turn out on Tuesday night, but some protesters have said they will continue until parliament votes on whether to endorse the government’s repeal of the decree, likely by the end of the week.

One minister has already quit over the decree, saying he could not support it, and the Social Democrats have said they expect Grindeanu to decide whether or not to keep Justice Minister Florin Iordache, the architect of the measure.

The government, which holds a big majority, faces a no-confidence motion in parliament on Wednesday, when several PSD sources, speaking on condition of anonymity, have told Reuters they also expect Iordache to submit his resignation.

"For sure, some resignations would be needed and probably inevitable from the government," said political commentator Cristian Patrasconiu. "This is what the street would like to see."
PSD leader Liviu Dragnea said he agreed with the president that an early election would solve nothing.

The governing programme is good," said Dragnea, whose current trial on abuse-of-office charges would have been halted by the decree.  f we let the government govern then the entire country stands to gain."

By Radu-Sorin Marinas and Luiza Ilie | BUCHAREST

(Additional reporting by Luiza Ilie; Writing by Matt Robinson)

October 29, 2013

When Are The Democrats Going to Learn from Ted Cruz?

Senator Ted Cruz (AP Photo/J. Scott Applewhite)

Senator Ted Cruz (AP Photo/J. Scott Applewhite)

In the same manner that Susan Sontag once acknowledged that the 9/11 terrorists were not, in fact, cowards, it is time to admit that Ted Cruz is not as craven as he seems. A fraud, a wacko bird, a fool, an amateur, Jim DeMint without the charm—yes, all the names his fellow Republicans are calling the senator from Texas bear the sting of truth. But you have to give the man this: he has the courage of his convictions and the nerve to use a diversity of tactics to advance them.
Cruz, who keeps a sign once favored by Ronald Reagan that says It Can Be Done in his office, is best understood not as a statesman seeking to build a legislative record but as a right-wing ideological activist working to change the terms of debate. “I’m convinced there is a new paradigm in politics—the rise of the grassroots,” he told National Review’s Robert Costa. “And on Obamacare, I’ve said from the start, that if typical Washington rules apply, we can’t win this fight…. The only way this fight will be won is if the American people rise up and hold our elected officials accountable.”
In the short-term calculation, Cruz was disastrously wrong; no populist revolt against Obamacare was in the making. In fact, his theatrics cost the Republicans a chance to score easy points against the bungled rollout of, as John McCain testily pointed out on CNN. In the medium view, his insurrection escalated a long-simmering feud between theTea Party and the GOP establishment into an all-out civil war that will convulse the party through at least the midterm elections. But in the largest sense, his strategy is working. AsGeorge Packer pointed out in The New Yorker, the government that emerged from sixteen days of a shutdown was dealt a thousand paper cuts, as already overloaded and underfunded agencies became even less efficient, less responsive to the needs of ordinary citizens. Meanwhile, another round of budget cuts and another debt ceiling showdown loom, and Cruz, for one, has already pledged to shut down the government again.
This is bad news for the Democratic Party, whose response to the Tea Party’s histrionics has been to seek the sensible center, playing the soporific role of pragmatic, compromise-seeking adult technocrats. As long as a majority of the GOP is hell-bent on breaking bad, this identity positions the Democrats as contrast winners. But put in the context of historic and rising inequality, shrinking government budgets, unabated unemployment and foreclosure crises, and crumbling schools and roads, Democrats start to look like management consultants in cheap suits brought in to wind down the American empire.
And here’s where Cruz has two things right: the ordinary Washington rules no longer apply, and it will take a people’s insurrection—not Beltway business as usual—to fix what’s broke. But in contrast to Cruz, President Obama has consistently used the shutdown to draw unnecessary distinctions between governance and activism of any sort. At a press conference one day after the shutdown ended, he advised the political class to “stop focusing on the lobbyists and the bloggers and the talking heads on radio and the professional activists who profit from conflict,” as if activists and bloggers from both sides of the aisle were equally responsible for the fiasco. And on October 8, he drew a clumsy analogy between the Tea Party and striking workers:
“When you’re at the plant and you’re in the middle of your job, do you ever say to your boss, ‘You know what, unless I get a raise right now and more vacation pay, I’m going to just shut down the plant’…. How do you think that would go?… There’s nothing wrong with asking for a raise or asking for more time off. But you can’t burn down the plant or your office if you don’t get your way.”
Um, how exactly does the president think the American working class shrank inequality and got a bigger share of the economy, pensions, healthcare and job security during the postwar boom? By asking their bosses really, really nicely? No—they shut it down. From 1947 to 1974, years of unprecedented shared prosperity, more than 41 million American workersengaged in over 8,000 work stoppages to improve their labor conditions. They used tactics like boycotts, working-to-rule, slowdowns and other withdrawals of efficiency; although, notwithstanding Obama’s equation of striking with arson, they did not light any actual factory fires.
That reference was one of the president’s few mentions of workers in recent weeks, which is, frankly, disturbing. Obama now says he wants to focus on things that Republicans and Democrats can find common ground on: immigration (laudable), deficit reduction (deplorable) and a farm bill (uh, OK). But jobs and the economy? That case has been left to be made of late by the party’s bĂȘte noire, Ralph Nader, who in a recent column excoriated the Democrats for inaction on raising the federal minimum wage. And it’s another Green Party politician, Mayor Gayle McLaughlin of Richmond, California, who is using the government power of eminent domain to seize underwater mortgages of local citizens in danger of losing their homes.
Meanwhile, the political spectrum has shifted such that the president’s legacy rests on the fate of a Heritage Foundation–conceived, Mitt Romney–tested healthcare plan. Maybe the administration will resurrect Steve Jobs in time to engineer a flawless exchange website, but the damage to its brand—based as it is on technocratic efficiency—has been done. When Republicans aren’t busy bickering among themselves, they’re hatching plans to further discredit Obamacare, including a potential congressional hearing on the website’s failures. Democrats should, of course, push back against the GOP’s lies and sabotage, but is it too much to ask that at least one Democrat in Congress use this occasion to make the obvious point that a single-payer system would have been simpler and better? I know what a left-wing version of Ted Cruz would do.
George Zornick broke down Ted Cruz's various fabrications about the Affordable Care Plan the earlier this month.

October 21, 2013

The Republican Party Might as well be Called The Christian Republican Tea Pot

Insurgent conservative groups like the Senate Conservatives Fund, the Madison Project and the Club for Growth immediately announced their support for Mr. McDaniel, the chairman of the Mississippi State Senate’s Conservative Coalition and a former Christian-radio host, providing an early glimpse of what the next three years are likely to hold for the Republican Party.
The budget fight that led to the first government shutdown in 17 years did not just set off a round of recriminations among Republicans over who was to blame for the politically disastrous standoff. It also heralded a very public escalation of a far more consequential battle for control of the Republican Party, a confrontation between Tea Party conservatives and establishment Republicans that will play out in the coming Congressional and presidential primaries in 2014 and 2016 but has been simmering since President George W. Bush’s administration, if not before.
In dozens of interviews, elected officials, strategists and donors from both wings of the party were unusually blunt in drawing the intraparty battle lines, suggesting that the time for an open feud over the Republican future had arrived.
“It’s civil war in the G.O.P.,” said Richard Viguerie, a veteran conservative warrior who helped invent the political direct mail business.
The moment draws comparisons to some of the biggest fights of recent Republican Party history — the 1976 clash between the insurgent faction of activists who supported Ronald Reagan for president that year and the moderate party leaders who stuck by President Gerald R. Ford, and the split between the conservative Goldwater and moderate Rockefeller factions in 1964.
Some optimistic Republicans note that both of those campaigns planted the seeds for the conservative movement’s greatest success: Reagan’s 1980 election and two terms as president.
“The business community thought the supply-siders were nuts, and the country club Republicans thought the social conservatives scary,” William Kristol, the editor of The Weekly Standard, said of those squabbles. “That all worked out O.K.”
Far from being chastened by the failure to achieve any of the concessions they had sought from President Obama — primarily to roll back his signature health care law — the conservative activists who helped drive the confrontation in Congress and helped fuel support for the 144 House Republicans who voted against ending it are now intensifying their effort to rid the party of the sort of timorous Republicans who they said doomed their effort from the start.
“This was an inflection point because the gap between what people believe in their hearts and what they see in Washington is getting wider and wider,” said Jim DeMint, a former South Carolina senator and current Heritage Foundation president, who as a founder of the Senate Conservatives Fund is helping lead the insurgency.
Mr. DeMint, a sort of political godfather to the junior Republican representatives who engineered the health care fight and shutdown, said of his acolytes: “They represent the voices of a lot of Americans who really think it’s time to draw a line in the sand to stop this reckless spending and the growth of the federal government.”
But the party’s establishment leaders now have what they regard as proof that the activist wing’s tactics do not, and will not, work.
“The 20 or 30 members of the House who have been driving this aren’t a majority, and too often the strategy — the tactic — was ‘Let’s just lay down a marker and force people to be with us,’ ” said the senior Republican strategist Karl Rove. “Successful movements inside parties are movements that persuade people,” he added. “The question is, can they persuade? And thus far the jury’s out.”
Unlike in the last two elections when they were caught off guard by grass-roots primary candidates, who went on to lose otherwise winnable races, the establishment’s most powerful elements are going to try to pre-empt another round of embarrassing defeats.
The U.S. Chamber of Commerce will decide which candidates to support in the 2014 midterm elections based in part upon whether they voted for the deal on Wednesday to end the shutdown and raise the debt ceiling.
The leading establishment “super PAC” co-founded by Mr. Rove, American Crossroads, has already started a new initiative called the Conservative Victory Project that is quietly working to head off Republican challengers whose victories in primaries, in its determination, would put party seats — or potential party seats — at risk of falling to Democrats in general elections.
But the jockeying for supremacy is making some longtime Republican lawmakers uneasy. Senator Roy Blunt of Missouri said the internal squabbles could weaken the party’s ability to wage battles against Democrats.
“You just can’t win these fights over a long period of time if you’re fighting over how to have the fight,” he said.
At its heart, this fight is the latest chapter of a long-running struggle for dominance between a generally pro-business, center-right bloc that seeks to tame but not exactly dismantle Washington, and populist conservatives who call for more extreme measures to shrink government.
Though the election and re-election of Mr. Obama may have radicalized many conservatives, the base’s fury has its roots in the two terms of his predecessor, Mr. Bush, whose expansion of Medicare, proposed immigration overhaul and 2008 bank bailout left many conservatives distraught.
“People just saw a party that had wandered away from its soul,” said Michael A. Needham, the chief executive of Heritage Action, an offshoot of the Heritage Foundation and perhaps now the most influential lobby group among Congressional Republicans.
But the conservatives’ sense of disillusionment with the establishment did not translate into success in the 2008 or 2012 nomination fights. And the divergent reactions to Mitt Romney’s defeat at the hands of Mr. Obama last year reignited a debate from Mr. Obama’s defeat of Senator John McCain in 2008.
Some establishment Republicans argued that the primary season helped drive Mr. Romney to take more conservative positions than he otherwise would have on issues like immigration. Activists voting against him asserted that he lost because he did not truly embrace conservative principles.
That argument has resurfaced this year in the Virginia governor’s race. The state attorney general, Kenneth T. Cuccinelli II, a Tea Party enthusiast, is trailing Terry McAuliffe, a former Democratic national chairman, in every poll. And Republicans are already pointing to Mr. Cuccinelli’s strident views and the shutdown as the explanation for why the race may be out of reach.
Conservatives reject this line of thinking, arguing that Mr. Cuccinelli’s problem is that he drifted from his roots and ran an overly safe campaign on the economy without responding in kind to Democratic attacks on his social views.
For mainline Republicans, there is an obvious contrast: Gov. Chris Christie of New Jersey is on track to win re-election in a landslide.
“Cuccinelli represents the party of no, and that’s not going to do so well in Virginia,” said Alex Castellanos, a longtime Republican strategist. “Christie is somebody who represents straight talk and a change from business as usual, and he’s going to do very well.”
A Focus on the Senate
The more important intraparty fight will begin playing out chiefly in Senate primaries next year, with the targeting of incumbents like Mr. Cochran; Mitch McConnell, the minority leader; Lindsey Graham of South Carolina; and perhaps Lamar Alexander of Tennessee and Pat Roberts of Kansas.
Their perceived roles as moderating drags on Tea Party-inspired senators like Ted Cruz of Texas and Mike Lee of Utah in the shutdown negotiations has galvanized conservative organizations to elect more such Republicans.
Mr. DeMint said he thought the power of the establishment and its corporate money was waning. “It’s harder to buy influence in Washington now,” he said.
That is certainly true in the House, the bulwark of Tea Party conservatism thanks to the overwhelmingly Republican nature of many of the districts and the less expensive campaigns necessary in them.
As the Republican retreat on the shutdown demonstrated, Mr. Cruz and Mr. Lee are very much outnumbered in the Senate.
“The lesson is, we need more reinforcements,” said Daniel Horowitz, an official with the Madison Project. Groups like his are more reliant on smaller dollar donations than their rivals. The U.S. Chamber of Commerce and Crossroads, for example, can summon large amounts from donors across the business spectrum, many of whom are expressing concern about the latest turn of events on Capitol Hill and are intent on avoiding nominees like Richard Mourdock of Indiana, who unseated Senator Richard G. Lugar, a longtime veteran, in the primary but lost in the general election after making a damaging comment on rape.
“I have seen the problems in some of these primaries where we’ve knocked off some pretty good candidates and it resulted in nothing for us — like Lugar,” said Mel Sembler, a Florida real estate developer and former ambassador who helps Crossroads raise money.
Spencer Zwick, the chief fund-raiser for Mr. Romney’s campaign, said individual donors tell him they are eager to help the establishment wing’s cause however they can. “There are a lot of individual donors who were supportive of Mitt’s campaign who are quietly waiting to figure out how they can play, and I think there’s a lot of appetite to make sure that we nominate candidates who can win general elections,” he said.
The Tea Party-aligned groups say they have an established record of winning primaries against Republican rivals with deep corporate backing. “We’ve always been outspent by orders of magnitude,” said Matt Kibbe, the president of FreedomWorks. And they do have some big donors, like the multimillionaire investor Foster Friess, who backed a failed primary challenge to Mr. Hatch in Utah last year and indicated in an interview last week that he would consider new “opportunities to put young, dynamic people in.”
But two stalwart backers of the movement, the billionaire industrialists Charles and David Koch, did not support the shutdown strategy, and people with knowledge of their thinking say they are unlikely to engage in primary efforts against incumbents.
Such reluctance illustrates a central challenge for the insurgents in their effort to take over the party: unity. And the primary challenge to Mr. McConnell from a wealthy Louisville businessman, Matt Bevin, offers a vivid example of how the Tea Party movement’s hand is weakened when its leaders do not rally around shared goals.
Former Gov. Sarah Palin of Alaska suggested last week that she would try to help defeat Mr. McConnell, and the Senate Conservatives Fund announced on Friday that it was backing Mr. Bevin. But the Club for Growth is still assessing the race because, its president, Chris Chocola, said, Mr. Bevin is “an unproven candidate.”
And when the issue of Mr. McConnell’s race came up at a meeting in New Orleans this weekend of the secretive conservative umbrella group the Council for National Policy, one participant there said, the members were torn: wealthy Hollywood interests have pledged to finance the Democratic challenger, Secretary of State Alison Lundergan Grimes, and some conservatives fear aiding Mr. Bevin only to see him lose the general election.
That lack of a unified conservative challenge may have been at least one factor in Mr. McConnell’s decision to come off the sidelines to engineer the deal reopening the government and raising the debt ceiling with his Democratic counterpart, Senator Harry Reid.
In an interview, Mr. McConnell all but dismissed Mr. Bevin, pointedly calling Ms. Grimes “my real opponent.” He lamented that the party division in Congress “gives me a weaker hand” when negotiating as the minority leader.
Looking to 2016
Regardless of what happens in next year’s midterms, the fight for control of the Republican Party will play out most dramatically in the contest for the 2016 presidential nomination. If a candidate from the insurgent wing is to defy recent history and seize the nomination, he or she will have to run in a fashion that, organizationally, more closely resembles the sophisticated campaigns typically waged by establishment hopefuls.
“If there’s going to be a nominee who reflects their views and values,” said the longtime conservative strategist Ralph Reed, “that candidate is also going to have to be a prolific fund-raiser, build an organization in 30 states simultaneously and have to win the support of other elected officials.”
Asked if the insurgents could nominate one of their own in 2016, former Speaker Newt Gingrich, who saw his own presidential hopes battered by an onslaught of negative TV ads financed by top contributors to Mr. Romney, said, “I think it is still very uphill because of the money.”
The Tea Party forces also lack the sort of singular leadership of a figure like Reagan. And besides overturning the health law and generally seeking to reverse the expansion of the federal government, the hard-liners do not have a cohesive policy plan.
“You have to have a specific agenda,” said Jeff Bell, a policy director in the 1976 Reagan campaign, citing the supply-side tax cuts that were so in vogue with Republicans of that era. “That’s a missing element in today’s conservative revolt.”
What some Republicans hope is that they can find a candidate with the ability to bridge the chasm between the party’s two factions, someone who is acceptable to the insurgents and will benefit from their energy but will also be able to win over swing voters.
Establishment Republicans worry that electing more hard-line conservatives will do little to address what they see as the party’s fundamental challenge with those swing voters.
“We want to elect a majority of senators and the president,” said Mr. Alexander, who is a former presidential candidate, secretary of education and governor. “And in order to do that, we’ve got to persuade the American people that they can trust us with the government. And you don’t do that by shutting down the government and defaulting on the debt.”
Then again, in the eyes of the new-era conservatives, Mr. Alexander is part of the problem.
“It’s my generation’s time to enter this fight,” said Mr. McDaniel, the newly announced Senate candidate from Mississippi. “We’re excited. We love the idea of having this conversation about the future of the country, and the future of our party.”
Jonathan Martin and Jeremy W. Peters reported from Washington, and Jim Rutenberg from New York Times

October 17, 2013

Congress Will Vote on Extension of Debt Ceiling Ending The Crisis For 3 Months

U.S. House Speaker John Boehner speaks to reporters at the U.S. Capitol in Washington, October 15, 2013.
U.S. House Speaker John Boehner speaks to reporters at the U.S. Capitol in Washington, October 15, 2013. 
Cindy Saine 

October 16, 2013

Gay Immigrants Are Left up in the Air by Shut Down

The closure of some government offices during the US shutdown is forcing apart a pair of newlyweds from the US and India
For many refugees, the government shutdown means they may have missed their chance to see a judge - a once-a-year opportunity. The BBC's Anna Bressanin reports on an immigration crisis.
A 36-year-old asylum seeker from Mongolia was looking forward to Monday. Eight years after he had started his efforts to obtain a work permit, he would have the final hearing with the Immigration Court of Chicago.
His lawyer, Keren Zwick, expected the man (he asked to be identified only by his initial U) to walk out of the court on that day with his work permit.
But on Monday the court was closed because of the government shutdown.
Man holding a snapshotThe shutdown has delayed Seref Kalayci's reunion with his children, now in Turkey
He does not know when his hearing will be rescheduled. If a court date is missed under ordinary circumstances, the case is to be sent to the end of the docket. That could mean waiting another year - and perhaps longer.
All hearings at the immigration courts are cancelled during the shutdown - except individuals who are detained. The cancelled hearings include those for asylum seekers and survivors of torture, who in most cases have already been waiting for years.
"I screened U's case first as a paralegal," says Ms Zwick. "Then I went to law school and worked for two years. And now I'm representing him as a lawyer. I feel like his life is standing still, while mine has moved forward. He's still exactly there."
U was an accountant in Ulan Bator, Mongolia, where he lived quietly as a gay man.
   Vanessa Allyn In his request for asylum in the US, he explained that he met someone at work. Unfortunately, the relationship turned violent. When U tried to escape, the man threatened to expose him as a homosexual. Raped and beaten repeatedly for six months, U said that he did not go to the police, given the way that homosexuality is perceived in Mongolia.
He was granted a tourist visa to the US in 2005. Once he was here, he applied for asylum.
Two people sitting at a table in an officeKeren Zwick, an attorney, speaks with her client from Mongolia
There are nearly 17,000 immigration cases in Chicago that are now pending - and about 316,000 cases nationwide.
Eventually, the shutdown will be over. Yet as attorney Vanessa Allyn, who works for an organisation called Human Rights First, explained: "That means that we will go back to a dramatic backlog".
"More resources are put into arresting and removing people," she said. "But the courts that have to process these cases are overloaded with work and do not have enough resources.”

October 13, 2013

Is a US Parliament The Solution?

A view of the German Bundestag, or federal Parliament, in Berlin.
A view of the German Bundestag, or federal Parliament, in Berlin.
Michael Sohn/AP
There are many reasons for the gridlock in Washington. Some are recent developments, as the U.S. becomes more politically polarized. Others are structural, built into the American political system.
Regardless, the extreme paralysis that has recently become the norm in D.C. almost never happens in Western European democracies.
"You're asking: Do other democracies have this problem? And the answer is: Not many," says Jane Mansbridge, a professor at the Harvard Kennedy School.
Mansbridge just finished her term as president of the American Political Science Association. While in that position, she appointed a task force to spend the past year studying how agreements are negotiated in American politics. The group looked at why there's so much stalemate in the U.S. right now.
One question they asked was whether this country can learn lessons from European democracies where there's less paralysis.
"We tried to think about why it is that other countries have had less difficulty in negotiating agreements," says Boston University's Cathie Jo Martin, who was co-chairwoman of the task force. "You don't see these kinds of stalemates happening elsewhere."
One reason for the U.S. tendency toward gridlock is that this country has what Mansbridge describes as "a very strong separation of powers."
The separation of powers is essential to the American political system. The president needs Congress to pass bills; Congress needs the president to sign bills into law; the courts can declare laws unconstitutional.
In most of Europe, things work differently, says Thomas Risse of the Free University in Berlin.
"In most European parliamentary democracies, the prime ministers or the chancellors are not directly elected by the people," Risse says, "but they're elected by the parliament itself, as a result of which they usually have a stable majority."
It would be as if the American president's party always controlled Congress.
Of course, America will never become a parliamentary system. But even setting that aside, political scientists say there are other lessons the U.S. can take from Europe.
Martin has concluded that money shapes the American political system in powerful and unique ways.
"I think the campaign finance issue is probably the single most important difference between America and the rest of the world," she says.
When asked how many other countries with highly functioning democracies have lax donation rules, she replies, "I can't think of any ... almost all countries control finance."
Today in the U.S., if lawmakers don't toe the line, outside groups can threaten to bankroll challengers. President Obama expressed concern about that phenomenon at his most recent White House news conference, while acknowledging that he's not entirely innocent either.
"You have some ideological extremist who has a big bankroll, and they can entirely skew our politics," Obama said.
The political scientists on this project found other ways that European democracies avoid gridlock, too. For example, Mansbridge says Europeans more often hold key meetings in private.
"When you've made a decision, like the Supreme Court, you explain it, but you don't necessarily let the public see everything you do," Mansbridge says.
Republican Rep. Paul Ryan of Wisconsin seemed to take that lesson to heart Thursday, when reporters tried to question him after a White House meeting.
"Can you be more specific about [Obama's] concerns?" a reporter asked.
"I'd rather not, because we're negotiating right now. No offense, we're not going to negotiate through the media. We're going to negotiate straight with the White House," Ryan said.
While many political scientists agree on changes that could help lessen the chances of gridlock in the U.S., they also agree on the likelihood that these changes will happen:
"I have to admit to a fair amount of pessimism," says Martin of Boston University.
"The honest answer is I'm pretty pessimistic," says Alan Jacobs of the University of British Columbia.
Asked how all of this looks from Europe, Risse in Berlin replies, "Pretty dysfunctional, I have to say."
At least on this point, the U.S. and Europe see things exactly the same way.

October 12, 2013

Verdict on ShutDown: Americans Say GOP }}} GUILTY

 With the government shutdown in its 11th day, and just six days remaining to raise the debt limit, Republicans are bearing the brunt of public frustration with Washington’s dysfunction.
A majority of Americans, 53%, place more blame for the shutdown on the GOP according to a NBC/Wall Street Journal poll released late Thursday, with 31% targeting President Barack Obama as more responsible for the shutdown. And in multiple surveys, favorable views of the Republican Party are at never-before-seen lows. In a Gallup survey, just 28% of Americans had a positive view of the GOP, and in the NBC/WSJ poll that number was 24%.
On the flip side, Obama’s approval numbers have ticked up, with a 51% favorable, 47% unfavorable score in the latest poll from the conservative-leaning Rasmussen Reports.
All told, the polling indicates a potentially catastrophic miscalculation by House Republicans, who in the pursuit of pleasing their conservative base have alienated large swaths of the rest of the country. The share of Americans who want a Republican-controlled Congress has dropped to the lowest level since early 2009.
In a closed door meeting this week, Republican Sen. Ted Cruz, who is one of the architects of the GOP’s shutdown strategy to demand the elimination of Obamacare, presented his colleagues with his own take on polling, arguing that if the GOP only stays the course it will improve its standing with the public. But most of his fellow Republicans, who cite almost every public and independent poll, feel that strategy is doomed to failure.
One congressional Republican aide, who would only speak on the condition of anonymity, said the party’s pathway out is clear: “Surrender. If we’re lucky, conditional surrender.”

We Are With You London! 8 Pictures to Remind Everyone

It is with great sadness that we published these pictures to remind every one of two things. First that the british wer...