Pretty little guinea pig (by CAROL BRANSBY)
On Thursday evening, First Lady Michelle Obama encouraged Democratic donors at a fundraiser in Chicago to spend big on Democratic candidates in the midterm elections. At the same event she used the bully pulpit to decry Republicans’ use of large donations in previous election cycles, remarking:So, yeah, there’s too much money in politics. There’s special interests that have too much influence. But they had all that money and all that influence back in 2008 and 2012 and we still won those elections.
The first lady also said:There is something you can do right now today to make a difference, and that is to write a big, fat check. I kid you not. I’m going to be honest with you. That’s what we need you to do right now. We need you to write the biggest, fattest check that you can possibly write.
Okay, you know what you do? You buy yourself a tape recorder, you just record yourself for a whole day. I think you’re going to be surprised at some of your phrasing.
Over 300,000 Detroit residents face water shutoffs due to past due water bills exacerbated by Detroit’s ongoing economic woes—and now you can help them directly! You can help people in Detroit keep the water on by paying one (or more) bills on their behalf. I love it, and this model could be used for so many things, too.
The Social Security Administration has spent nearly $300 million over the course of six years on a new computer system to process 11 million Americans’ disability claims. Now, a new report commissioned by the federal agency indicates that the system still doesn’t work at all. After repeated delays, it is unknown when it will be complete, who is responsible for delivering the finished product, or what the final bill will be. A group of House Republicans blasted the failure in a letter Wednesday, calling the project an “IT boondoggle.”
In spite of these major uncertainties, former Social Security assistant deputy commissioner Terrie Gruber, who has been appointed to review the project, took an optimistic perspective, saying, “We are absolutely committed to deliver this initiative and by implementing the recommendations we obtained independently, we think we have a very good prospect on doing just that.”
A Pew Research Center poll from March revealed that millennials have a record lack of confidence in the beleaguered Social Security agency; more than half do not believe they will receive any Social Security benefits, and only 6 percent expect to get benefits at the rate current retirees receive them.
This is my second piece for The American Conservative, and I’m pretty excited about it. Check it out:
The Guantanamo Bay detention center briefly reasserted its presence in the public consciousness this month with the news that a single Navy nurse refused to participate in the force-feeding of detainees on hunger strike. Quietly feted by civil liberties advocates, the story quickly slipped off the radar. The Pentagon confirmed that the nurse “has been temporarily assigned to alternate duties with no impact to medical support operations”—in other words, the torturous force feedings, instituted in 2006, will continue unabated.
Gitmo currently houses 149 inmates. Fewer than 20 detainees have been charged, and 78 are cleared for release—a status some have held for more than half a decade. About 45 prisoners are scheduled for indefinite detention, never to see a day in court.
The tepid response to the nurse’s moral stand is not surprising. Despite the fervor of outspoken antiwar protesters during the Bush years, the broader public has never cared much about the welfare of those imprisoned in Guantanamo Bay, innocent or no. Support for closing the facility peaked at 51 percent in early 2009. That high corresponded with the first inauguration of President Barack Obama, who took office trumpeting his intentions to put an end to Bush-era abuses like Guantanamo, which he labeled a betrayal of American ideals.
A year after the inauguration, the Obama administration’s now-extensive history of Gitmo excuse-making was well underway. “Political opposition” caused the President to break his promise.Temper your expectations, an anonymous White House official suggested, “The president can’t just wave a magic wand and say that Gitmo will be closed.” But of course—of course!—it’s still going to happen.
Come 2011, we found the President admitting that the facility won’t be closed in the near future. “[W]ithout Congress’s cooperation, we can’t do it,”he said. “That doesn’t mean I stop making the case.” And that narrative—the “I reallywantto close Guantanamo, but Congress just won’t let me!” line—has persisted ever since, typically with a heavy dose of partisan undertones. As Obama moved an issue he once called vital to the restoration of the United States’ moral authority to the backburner, public opinion followed his cue. By 2010, only 39 percent supported closing the prison. Today, just 27 percent are on board.
What’s fascinating about this unwillingness to close Guantanamo Bay as observed in government and citizens alike is the way it encapsulates the charade of modern American politics: a GOP that abandons its support for limited government out of fear, and a Democratic Party whose civil libertarianism is built more on partisan rancor than ethics.
Click here to see a litany of equally appalling (and illiterate) thoughts from other anonymous police officers on this tragic story.
Just more evidence that police brutality is systemic, not anecdotal.
President Obama said at a fundraiser in Seattle on Tuesday that he doesn’t tune in for TV news, because there’s little such programs can inform him of that he’s not already aware of. “Whatever they’re reporting about, usually I know,” the president reportedly said.
As conservative critics have been quick to point out, this is a surprising statement, because Obama has racked up an extensive record in recent years of claiming ignorance of major developments until seeing them reported in the media. The list of topics on which he or his staff have claimed such ignorance include the Petraeus investigation, the DOJ seizure of APphone records, health insurance cancellations, ObamaCare website troubles, requests for additional security in Benghazi, IRS targeting of political groups, and the Fast and Furious scandal. Additionally, the NSA denied on Obama’s behalf his knowledge of the agency’s spying on German Chancellor Angela Merkel.