misreporting iran– The ‘moderate’ is also a liar with blood on his hands.–

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Both groups object to what the media report and how they report it, but they point fingers at different culprits. Neither seemed to notice last week that one big story was narrated the same way by virtually every outlet: the presidential election in a country where chants of “Death to America” are a routine occurrence.

“In the closing stretch of Iran’s presidential race, it’s a moderate reformer against a hard-line cleric,” PBS NewsHour reported in the run-up to Iran’s May 19 election. Those who know anything about life in Iran—or how many of its citizens have been deprived of it in the last few years—should have bristled to discover that the “moderate reformer” was incumbent president Hassan Rouhani. With 57 percent of the vote, he soundly beat “hard-line” challenger Ebrahim Raisi, who garnered 39 percent. (Two other candidates split the rest.) And stories announcing his win invariably included in the headline or first sentence at least one of the same adjectives PBS used. “Iranian President Hassan Rouhani wins re-election in victory for moderates,” CNN announced. “Iran’s moderate president Hassan Rouhani secured his re-election this morning,” CBS News declared, while ABC News reported: “Iran’s President Rouhani wins reelection by wide margin, giving the moderate cleric another term to see out agenda.” An Associated Press story that ran in thousands of outlets was headlined “Iran’s president trounces hard-liner to secure second term.”

It wasn’t just “mainstream” or “liberal” media that covered the story this way. “Iran’s President Hassan Rouhani won re-election by a wide margin Saturday, giving the moderate cleric a second four-year term” was the first sentence of the election report on the Fox News website. The Wall Street Journal began its coverage thus: “Moderate Iranian President Hassan Rouhani won re-election by a wide margin Saturday, defeating a hard-line challenger.

 

You might think that reporters simply forgot to put the word “relative” in front of “moderate” in describing Rouhani—a moderate in Iran could be very different from a moderate in the United States, after all. Rouhani is a cleric who, as head of Iran’s Supreme National Security Council, was a leader in brutally ending student protests in Tehran in 1999. He stated then, “Our revolution needs a thorough cleanup,” and declared the regime would “crush mercilessly and monumentally any move” made by “these opportunists and riotous elements.” The government injured thousands and killed up to two dozen. But his opponent Raisi was part of a four-man “death committee” that executed as many as 30,000 dissidents in 1988.

“Riding a large turnout from Iran’s urban middle classes, President Hassan Rouhani won re-election in a landslide on Saturday, giving him a mandate to continue his quest to expand personal freedoms and open Iran’s ailing economy to global investors.”

Rouhani has brought “significant” progress to Iranian women and is on a “quest to expand personal freedoms”? One woman elected to parliament last year was stopped from taking her seat, apparently because a picture of her without a head scarf surfaced. It’s true that during the campaign, Rouhani paid lip service to the notion of easing prohibitions in one of the most restrictive societies on earth. He did the same thing in the race that brought him into office in 2013—and went on to prove his words were empty. Freedom House summarized the situation in the country earlier this year: “Human rights abuses continued unabated in 2016, with the authorities carrying out Iran’s largest mass execution in years and launching a renewed crackdown on women’s rights activists.” Iran is second only to China in executions.

In analyzing the election, the Wall Street Journal claimed, “Many Iranians gravitate toward Mr. Rouhani because of his relatively tolerant views on freedom of expression.” As Freedom House notes, “News and analysis are heavily censored” in Iran. As are all forms of art. The nonprofit gives some examples: “In June 2016, filmmaker Hossein Rajabian, his brother, musician Mehdi Rajabian, and an associated musician, Yousef Emadi, began serving three-year prison sentences after being arrested in 2015 for allegedly distributing underground music. In October, the writer and activist Golrokh Ebrahimi Iraee was taken to jail to begin serving a six-year sentence for her authorship of an unpublished story about the practice of execution by stoning in Iran.”

Iranian media are not permitted to mention Khatami’s name, quote his words, or show his picture—and he supported Rouhani in the 2013 election. Rouhani promised during that race to free Green Movement leaders under house arrest; they remain in captivity and haven’t even faced trials. No wonder most Iranian voters mentioned in Western media over the last week wouldn’t give reporters their full names. The New York Times, for example, quoted a woman “who did not want to be identified for security reasons.”

Rouhani helped secure the nuclear deal that has allowed Iran to do increased business with foreigners, and he campaigned on the notion that he could open up the economy even more. When Rouhani took office, Iran’s unemployment rate was 16 percent; it’s now 11 percent.

Many commentators claimed the United States could learn from the story they spun of Rouhani’s win. One New York Times piece leading up to the election carried the headline “Iran Has Its Own Hard-Line Populist, and He’s on the Rise.” The national-affairs correspondent for the Nation tweeted that the “worldly & moderate candidate prevailed” in an election with high voter turnout and said, “Lesson for the US!” Jane O’Meara Sanders, the wife of Democratic presidential candidate Bernie, re-tweeted the message and added, “Iranians show the world how it’s done.” Neither mentioned—and it was usually buried in media coverage of the election—that the president of Iran has to answer to someone far more powerful than the United States Congress or Supreme Court. Ultimate hardliner Ali Khamenei remains the head of state in Iran. Days before the election, Rouhani made a point of mentioning “the exalted leader, whose hand I am willing to kiss dozens of times.”

 

source–kelly jane torrance, weekly std, nyt, yousef emadi, mehdi rajabian,jane o’meara sanders,golrokh ebrahimi iraee, ebrahim raisi, cnn, cbs,fox,

why should anyone vote republican-special kind of stupid

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“Establishment Republicans say, ‘Wait till we have a gop President.’ If that happens, they’ll say, ‘Wait till we have a filibuster-proof majority.’” — Rep. Justin Amash (R, MI), on Twitter, 9/2/15  “We can’t pass anything without Democrats.” — Sen. John Cornyn (R, TX), The Washington Post, 5/1/17

True to form. For years, gop voters have been given the “not-yet” treatment. The time never seems right to fight the Democrats. First we were told, “We can’t do anything until we get a majority in the House.” Next the message was, “We can’t do anything until we get a majority in the Senate.” Then came, “We can’t do anything until we get a Republican President.”

Check, check, and check. The conservative base delivered it all. In return, we have gotten … elephant doo. Now it’s, “We can’t do anything without Democrats!” Why should we chase after the leaderless, rudderless, marginalized Democrat Party — when we could wipe them out? What’s the point of winning a majority if you “can’t do anything” with it? What the gop can do, clearly, is float away from their own supposed principles. The pathetic, recently passed Omnibus Bill that funds the budget through September contains zip, zero, nada of the agenda on which Trump ran — and won. No cuts to sanctuary cities, no money for deportation at ice, no money for the wall, Obamacare fully funded. The Republican Party has been given all the levers of legitimate political power — but they’re lost at sea:

  • Trump Agenda Dumped​– slash millions from programs such as the National Institutes of Health and foreign aid.” — The Washington Post, 5/1/17
  • “Hill Spending Bill Unlikely to Fulfill Trump Promises.” — headline, cnn, 4/17/17
  • “It doesn’t mean that you can’t come back to that smaller package and see if there’s not some future way to do it.” — Sen. Roy Blunt (R, MO), claiming that in the vague future Republicans might “see” if there’s a way to “come back” to Trump’s defense increases and border wall funding that they cut from the budget to appease Dems, The Washington Post, 4/1/17
  • “…Democrats [have] leverage to force the gop to abandon plans to attack funding for environmental programs and Planned Parenthood. [That] also allows Democrats to block Trump’s top priority — the wall along the U.S.-Mexico border…” — The Washington Post, 4/1/17
  • “Speaker Paul Ryan, meanwhile, sought to avoid another political landmine [on 3/28/17] by arguing that language defunding Planned Parenthood should be kept out of the spending legislation … The Speaker said he wants to address defunding Planned Parenthood, long a conservative priority, through a special budgetary process that requires only 51 votes to pass the Senate. The Hill, 3/28/17
  • Trump’s controversial request for a military supplemental bill that would include funding to begin construction of a wall along the southern border.” — The Hill, 3/28/17
  • “Capitol Hill Republicans Not on Board with Trump Budget.” — headline, The Washington Post, 3/16/17
  • The Washington Post, Rogers was one of several gop lawmakers “to dismiss Trump’s budget as a pie-in-the-sky wish list with little hope of surviving negotiations in Congress” because of “what they expect to be vociferous opposition from Democrats.”
  • Scripted Failure–[Republican] members who, even though they campaigned on repealing Obamacare, did not want to roll back the architecture of Obamacare…” — Rep. Ron DeSantis (R, FL), on Sirius xm, Breitbart, 5/4/17

“;On [5/2/17, gop] Congressman Fred Upton of Michigan, which Donald Trump won, flamboyantly announced he could not support the Trump-Ryan American Health Care Act-The Wall Street Journal, 5/3/17.

  • “[R]epublicans have not repealed Obamacare because a lot of Republicans do not want to repeal Obamacare.” — Byron York, Washington Examiner, 4/27/17
  • “If I vote for this health care bill, it will be the end of my career.” — anonymous “moderate Republican,” quoted in The Hill, 4/27/17
  • “[W]e have members in the Republican conference that do not want Obamacare repealed, because of their district … I thought we campaigned on repealing it. Now that it’s our turn, I’m finding there’s about 50 people who really don’t want to repeal Obamacare.” — unnamed House Republican, to Byron York, in Washington Examiner, 4/27/17
  • “A pure repeal would get less than 200 votes. It really is one of the biggest shams in history — many of these members would not have been elected without promising repeal, and now they are wilting.” — another unnamed House Republican member, to Byron York, Washington Examiner, 4/27/17
  • One of the reasons we got off to such a slow start … was, we didn’t have committees, because Paul Ryan wouldn’t give anybody a committee assignment, much less a chairmanship, until he won the vote on the floor on January 3rd for speaker … [T]hat was … Machiavellian…” — Rep. Thomas Massie (R, KY), Reason, 3/29/17
  • “Paul Ryan: It looks like the Iran deal is here to stay.” — headline, cnn, 2/4/17

Omnibus Treachery–

  • the Status Quo Protection Act.’ President Hillary Clinton would have been proud of this bill. It tosses out [gop] campaign promises as it continues to fund the … welfare state. It not only rejects President Trump’s calls for cuts to multiple agencies, but it increases their funding … It leaves our deficit at well over $500 billion.” — Sen. Rand Paul, Breitbart, 5/2/17
  • gop leaders eager to focus on health care and tax overhauls bowed to Democratic demands to eliminate hundreds of policy restrictions aimed at curbing regulations…” — Bloomberg, 5/1/17
  • “The White House sought funding to begin building the wall, as well as $18 billion in cuts to domestic agencies, and both demands were rebuffed. The spending deal includes money for Planned Parenthood, despite Republican demands to defund the group … Trump will get $1.5 billion for border security, but it can’t be used for the border wall or additional Immigration and Customs Enforcement agents … There are also no new restrictions on money going to so-called sanctuary cities…” — Bloomberg, 5/1/17
  • “Republicans failed to get a number of conservative provisions in the bill, including one that would have blocked the Labor Department’s fiduciary rule limiting financial advice to retirees … Overall, the compromise resembles more of an Obama Administration-era spending bill than a Trump one.” — Bloomberg, 5/1/17
  • “The Environmental Protection Agency, which Trump has sought to shrink dramatically, would receive … no staff cuts … [W]ithin the Department of Energy … the Office of Energy Efficiency and Renewable Energy … would get a $17 million increase, and the Office of Science … would get a boost of $42 million … The Advanced Research Projects Agency–Energy, which … has been targeted for elimination by the Trump Administration, would get a $15 million increase.” — Bloomberg, 5/1/17
  • “There’s also a new $100 million fund to counter Russian influence in Europe. Notably, agencies Trump has sought to eliminate, like the National Endowment for the Arts and the National Endowment for the Humanities and the Appalachian Regional Commission, would get modest increases…” — Bloomberg, 5/1/17
  • “In addition to the $5 billion in domestic spending, the bipartisan agreement … is packed with Democratic priorities…” — The Washington Post, 5/1/17
  • GOP Surrender History–
  • The President [Obama] has made it very clear he’s not going to sign any bill that includes defunding of Planned Parenthood, so that’s another issue that awaits a new President hopefully with a different point of view about Planned Parenthood.” — Sen. Mitch McConnell, quoted by cbs News, 9/1/15
  • “…[Then-Speaker John] Boehner told the gop caucus … ‘With more active threats coming into the homeland, I don’t believe [a Department of Homeland Security (dhs) shutdown is] an option. Imagine if, God forbid, another terrorist attack hits the United States.’ Okay, but then why did they refuse to fund dhs in the ‘cromnibus’ bill in the first place? … It was transparently a bluff, and both the White House and the Senate’s centrist Democrats knew it. It was guaranteed to fail.” — Hot Air, 3/3/15. Republican leaders had promised that once they controlled both chambers of Congress, they would be in a stronger position to torpedo Obama’s Executive Orders on amnesty. Instead, McConnell capitulated by agreeing to a “clean” funding bill with Senate Dems.
  • “The most charitable theory I can come up with for why Boehner and McConnell thought this goony standoff might work is that they honestly [believed] the Senate’s few remaining centrist Democrats [might come on board after] the gop midterm tsunami … In the end, Boehner and McConnell lost their bet, as centrist Dems stayed loyal to Obama and Reid.” — Hot Air, 3/3/15
  • “These cliffs are disastrous for all of us. Time to move on.” — Rep. Charlie Dent (R, PA), who along with other “moderates” pushed the gop House leadership to cave on its pledge to not fund dhs and risk a shutdown unless Obama’s executive actions on amnesty were stopped, The Hill, 3/3/15
  • I want the American people to be comfortable with the fact that the Republican House and Senate is a responsible, right-of-center, governing majority.” — Mitch McConnell, on the new gop Senate majority after the 2014 elections, in The Washington Post, 1/4/15.

Taunting Dems

  • “Na-na-na-na, na-na-na-na, hey, hey, hey, goodbye.” — Democrats, chanting after the health care vote, “clearly confident that the Republican … ahca would help them a great deal in taking back control of the House in 2018,” according to Business Insider, 5/4/17
  • “I think we had a strategy and it worked. Democrats and Republicans in the House and Senate were closer to one another than Republicans were to Donald Trump.” — Sen. Chuck Schumer (D, NY) after omnibus vote, The Washington Post, 5/1/17
  • “Democrats Confident They Can Block Trump’s Agenda After Spending-Bill Win” — headline, The Washington Post, 5/1/17

source–the atlantic, wikipedia, those stated above, rush

 

 

 

 

 

 

indefensible-

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And while the $65 billion for OCO in 2018 specified in the Trump request might seem like a lot of money, it’s $18 billion less than the $83 billion Congress just approved for 2017. The likelihood that the pace of U.S. military operations will decrease by almost a quarter next year—stepped-up activity in the Middle East alone has already reduced overall munitions stocks to an 18-month supply—is near zero. And here’s another point of comparison: Trump’s 2018 OCO request is almost $10 billion less than the average for each year of the second Obama term.

While in Congress, Mulvaney was a die-hard opponent of OCO, repeatedly describing it as a “slush fund.” In written answers sent to the Senate for his confirmation as OMB director, he vowed to abolish the practice. And not only has he turned the 2018 estimate into a cap, but the Trump budget cuts the annual OCO forecast to just $10 billion by 2022, a figure that all but returns to pre-9/11 levels.

The biggest problem for the Pen-tagon is that the Trump budget approach makes it almost certain that Congress will be unable to follow a normal appropriations process—although you could almost say that continuing resolutions, threatened government shutdowns, sequestration, and last-minute “cromnibus” bills are the new normal. The combination of overall spending reductions and very deep cuts in domestic programs ensures that the Trump proposal is, as Sen. John McCain put it, “dead on arrival.”

This is something that won’t surprise Mulvaney. We’ve seen this movie before, with Mulvaney frequently playing a prominent, if secondary, role. More than likely, he is pleased with the prospect of a congressional trainwreck that will work to constrain federal spending closer to the austere levels set in the Budget Control Act. For budget hawks like Mulvaney, disrupting the Pentagon’s fiscal planning is a virtue.

. Indeed, many Democrats understand the need to begin to repair the military and support the higher defense spending levels outlined by McCain and his counterpart on the House Armed Services Committee, Rep. Mac Thornberry. But not at the cost of further cuts to domestic programs.

source–weekly std, thomas donnelly, oco

rolling back the Obama rules– Why a Michigan farmer thinks D.C. is ‘running like a well-oiled machine

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 A Michigan Farm Bureau map showing areas of the state (in royal blue) falling under federal waterway regulations imposed
by the EPA under Obama. Photo credit: Areas in blue, Michigan Farm Bureau

When Laura Campbell heard about new water regulations emanating from President Barack Obama’s Environmental Protection Agency a few years back, she started calling up maps on her computer.

The EPA was proposing to give itself the authority to regulate any water feature within 1,500 feet of a stream, and Campbell, who manages the agricultural ecology department for the Michigan Farm Bureau, wanted to see how far that authority would reach. Michigan—set amongst the Great Lakes—has lots of water, and thousands of miles of tributaries run in every direction. When she tried to overlay a 1,500-foot buffer onto a map of Michigan’s streams on her office computer in Lansing, it took too much processing power. Everything froze. She finally succeeded in printing out maps on smaller scales and sent them out to the affected farmers.

About 4,000 farmers inundated Campbell with comments and questions. Some sent maps and photos of their fields, wondering if they would need to apply for permits for the fertilizers, pesticides, and plowing involved in everyday farm life. The expansion of the EPA’s jurisdiction, she realized, would put “so much of our farmland under federal control that it would make it difficult for farmers to farm at all.”

The Obama EPA issued the final rule, known informally as the “Waters of the United States” or WOTUS, in 2015. Eighteen states, including Michigan, sued to stop it. Federal courts immediately put the regulation on hold, noting that the new definitions might violate Supreme Court guidance and that the EPA appeared not to have followed proper rule-making procedures.

In February, with the WOTUS rule still in legal limbo, President Donald Trump signed an executive order directing the EPA to take a new look at it—beginning the proc­ess of killing it. In a White House ceremony, Trump called it a “massive power grab” and “one of the worst examples of federal regulation.”

A two-year-old EPA rule that never took effect might not sound particularly important in these times of almost daily political earthquakes. But Trump’s young presidency has seen dozens and dozens of tactical skirmishes against the regulatory state, fights that Trump and his cabinet have been largely winning. It’s not difficult to imagine a scenario under which Trump, battling low approval ratings and investigations, achieves few legislative victories during his presidency and instead points to executive regulatory moves as a major accomplishment—much as Obama in 2014 declared, “I’ve got a pen, and I’ve got a phone” when Congress refused to accede to his plans.

Barring major legislation, the government has two main ways to roll back regulations: executive orders, which usually set in motion a long process for agencies to review rules, and the Congressional Review Act, which allows new rules to be immediately overturned following a vote by Congress and the president’s signature. Trump has signed around a dozen executive orders related to Obama-era regulations and has undone 14 more through congressional acts. In the Obama years, regulators added 488 economically significant rules, according to George Washington University’s Regulatory Studies Center.

The regulations being repealed or reviewed by Trump appointees cut across a wide range of industries. Construction companies cheered the overturning in March of the so-called “blacklisting rule,” which required companies seeking federal contracts to report allegations of labor violations. Energy companies applauded executive orders designed to expand offshore oil exploration and boost coal plants. Tech and telecom companies supported the repeal of rules forcing them to require permission before using customer information to tailor online ads.

If the EPA has the power to regulate the water in his ditches, he worries he would need a permit to apply pesticides to crops within 1,500 feet of a ditch.

“If there’s an invasive insect or fungal disease, we can’t wait two, three, four weeks for a permit, or the entire crop would be lost,” he says. “It’s a significant issue. Our business would not be able to survive.”

Supporters of the rule say farmers’ fears are overblown and that the regulations include protections for ordinary farming. But farmers say they never know how the EPA will interpret and enforce a rule until it actually does.

. “For the previous eight years,” he says, “there was nothing growers would get excited about. When you said ‘EPA,’ they’d say, ‘What’s the next regulation they are going to slap on me?’ ”

Things are getting done. We’ve seen that. We’ve witnessed it.”

It’s hard to match that enthusiasm in Washington itself. Dan Mitchell, senior fellow at the Cato Institute, agrees that the Trump administration has headed in the right direction, and he is encouraged by the installation of free-market champions atop big regulatory agencies. But he’s skeptical that the rollback will continue. Big changes will require legislation, he says. And he’s unsure that the administration will have the courage to withstand the predictable howls of media outrage. The reversals so far, he notes, are minuscule compared with the immense regulatory burden.

source- weekly std, tony mecia, laura campell, wotus, cato, dan mitchell,

corruption as a way of life– sometimes congress acts like a cartel

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Last week the Washington Free Beacon reported that roughly half of Congressman Luis Gutiérrez’s campaign expenditures were paid to his wife, who serves as his campaign manager. What is most noteworthy about this is that Gutiérrez does not really need to worry about campaigning.

Illinois’s Fourth Congressional District, which Gutiérrez represents, is gerrymandered precisely to create a Latino majority. So refined are the district lines that its two halves are connected in one place only by I-294. In his 13 successful races for the seat, Gutiérrez has never received less than 75 percent of the vote. In 2016, unopposed, he received 100 percent. Gutiérrez has no worries about reelection, yet his wife received $12,000 in compensation in the first quarter alone.

Employing one’s spouse or relative can serve as a way around this restriction. The practice is unfortunately common. In 2011 Roll Call reported on several members of Congress who have paid their spouses or relatives—including current members Joe Barton of Texas, William Lacy Clay of Missouri, Mike Doyle of Pennsylvania, Hank Johnson of Georgia, Dutch Ruppersberger of Maryland, and Bobby Rush of Illinois.

This can obviously be a way for members of Congress to monetize their careers—transforming election campaigns into cash for themselves and significant others. There are numerous ways members can cash in on public service, and this is one of the easiest.

Spousal lobbying is another such strategy—and again, it is common. In 2014, an investigation by the Chicago Tribune found that Loretta Durbin, the wife of Senator Dick Durbin, lobbied on behalf of clients who “received federal funding promoted by her husband.” Durbin is hardly the only senator who has a spouse or family member working as a lobbyist. A CBS News investigation from 2010 found 19 federal lobbyists “closely related” to members of Congress.

And spouses who do not lobby can still get in on the action. In 2013, the Huffington Post reported that then-Louisiana senator Mary Landrieu’s husband, a real estate agent, had worked with campaign donors and lobbyists. Again, it is perfectly legal, and Landrieu was not even required to report the contacts in her Senate ethics disclosures.

Prior to the 2008 financial collapse, Fannie Mae, the Federal National Mortgage Association, elevated this kind of practice into an art form. They opened branches across the country and employed relatives of well-placed members of Congress, like the son of then-Utah senator Bob Bennett, who held a key position on the Banking Committee. Fannie Mae’s foundation also lavished contributions on charities connected to members of Congress.

Political scientist Adolfo Santos documented what acute observers have always suspected: Members of Congress who plan to retire and join the ranks of lobbyists often use “their positions to send signals to prospective employers, or [reward] their future employers with favorable legislation.”

Some of these overlaps are no doubt innocent. Maybe most of them are. The problem is, it is impossible to differentiate the blameless from the crooked. Influence-peddling can be a subtle process, one that does not necessarily require an intent to misuse one’s authority. Members of Congress have been cashing in since the very first days of our government. Alexander Hamilton unveiled his groundbreaking Report on the Public Credit in January 1790—an ambitious plan to repay the national debt in full and assume the state debts. Plugged-in speculators received advance notice of its contents prior to its submission to Congress, bringing about a rapid increase in the price of government securities. Many members of Congress were in on the action—dispatching agents to the Carolinas to buy up state debts from holders who did not yet know of Hamilton’s plan. Andrew Craigie, apothecary general in the Revolutionary War, recorded in his diary that Congress suspended debate on the debt assumption plan “because their private arrangements are not in readiness for speculation.”

Writing in 1787, James Madison argued that there were three reasons people sought positions in government: private gain, personal ambition, and concern for the general welfare. “Unhappily the two first are proved by experience to be most prevalent,” he wrote, and those who feel such impulses are often “the most industrious, and most successful in pursuing their object.” When they comprise a “majority in the legislative Councils,” they can “join in a perfidious sacrifice” of the public interest for their personal interests.

Still, these temporary outbursts of voter frustration are hardly sufficient to police bad behavior among legislators. Unfortunately, the issue of public corruption is one where the party system inhibits rather than enhances the public discourse. On many issues, the parties—by taking open, divergent, and (seemingly) principled positions—offer voters a real choice between competing alternatives. But the parties can also function as a cartel. By taking the same position, or by refusing to discuss an issue openly, they can effectively foreclose the public from having a say on the matter. Congressional ethics are one such area of cartel-like behavior—members of both parties engage in the same dubious activities, and neither party ever tries to raise a ruckus over it.

People everywhere love to complain about the rot at the heart of the American body politic, but hardly anybody does the research to see if his own representative is complicit in the corruption. Thus, the same problems persist, year after year.

Corrupt as it may often be, our government is still premised on the republican principle of majority rule—meaning that we get the kinds of leaders we deserve, for better or for worse.

source–weekly std, jay cost, wash free beacon, chicago tribune, loretta durbin, huffington post, adolfo santos,

unhealthy agency-

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Margaret Chan was quite taken by what she saw on her visit to Pyongyang in 2010. North Koreans had “something which most other developing countries would envy,” she noted: a first-rate medical system with plenty of doctors and nurses. Not only that, there were no obesity problems, she enthused, discussing a country with chronic food shortages where a famine in the mid-1990s had killed hundreds of thousands of people.

The musings of a cretinous fellow traveler or a naïve adventure tourist? No, this bizarre apologia for the world’s most repressive dictatorship was delivered by the director-general of the World Health Organization (WHO), a U.N. agency with an annual budget of around $4 billion.

Chan’s decade-long tenure at the top of the WHO has just ended, and it can fairly be called disgraceful. She practiced what the Associated Press, in a remarkably vituperative article in late May, termed “the art of appeasement.” Over the years, the Hong Kong native praised the governments of North Korea, Turkmenistan, China, Russia, and Zimbabwe—human rights horror shows, all.

It would be one thing if these countries, despite their repressive political systems, actually did deliver high-quality public health. The same year Chan lauded North Korea’s medical system, an Amnesty International report called health services in the country “a horror,” citing understaffed hospitals unable to afford sterilized needles. The country faces huge shortages of medicines, patients often undergo surgery without anesthesia, and there is a tuberculosis epidemic. All of this escaped the director-general’s notice.

One of Chan’s last actions in office was a further slap in the face of democratic values: She refused to allow Taiwanese officials to even observe the World Health Assembly in Geneva in May. This move, taken despite protests from more than 10 countries, was to placate the Chinese government, which deeply resents the democratic island. After all, the very existence of free Taiwan gives the lie to Beijing’s propaganda that Chinese people aren’t “suited” to democracy. North Korea, though, was named a WHO vice president at the summit.

The WHO’s remit is to improve public health, largely by combating communicable disease. Under Chan, the organization badly flubbed its response to one of the worst public health crises in years: the 2014 West African Ebola outbreak. Even though cases were multiplying as early as December 2013, it wasn’t until the following August, when more than 1,000 people had died from Ebola, that the WHO declared an emergency. This sluggish response—”late, feeble, and uncoordinated,” in the words of a prominent public health advocate—likely cost thousands of lives.

Earlier in May, the Associated Press had reported that the WHO was overspending on lavish travel. “The United Nations health agency routinely has spent about $200 million a year on travel expenses, more than what it doles out to fight some of the biggest problems in public health, including AIDS, tuberculosis and malaria combined,” reported the AP. “At a time when the cash-strapped health agency is pleading for more money to fund its responses to health crises worldwide, it has struggled to get its travel costs under control. Senior officials have complained internally that U.N. staffers break new rules that were introduced to try to curb its expansive travel spending, booking perks like business class airplane tickets and rooms in five-star hotels with few consequences.”

This is a shame, because the WHO’s mission is an important one. Diseases know no borders, and it is vital that the response to outbreaks like Ebola be globally coordinated. With Chan’s departure and the respected Ethiopian physician Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus taking her place, it is a moment for reform.

Of the roughly $900 million in global government funding that the WHO receives each year, about $100 million is provided by U.S. taxpayers. (The rest of the WHO’s budget is covered by philanthropic donations.) This is what’s known as leverage. The Trump administration should condition further funding on major reforms at the organization: chiefly, more transparency and a respect for democratic rule. That means no praise for repressive dictatorships and no more kowtowing to Beijing’s demands.

source-weekly std, ethan epstein, who, tedros adhanom ghebreyesus

“stupid quotes”- -june

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“He [Trump] won’t leave on his own. Mass action everywhere is what’s needed.” — Michael Moore, on Instagram

 

“Today I gratefully give my mother the gift of having been dead for 25 years and not having to see what a tub of f-ckery our country’s become.” — Joss Whedon, Hollywood director and Trump hater, Mother’s Day message on Twitter

“The Republican Party is the most dangerous organization in human history.” — Noam Chomsky, quoted by bbc on Twitter

“People have a tendency to blame politicians when things don’t work, but as I always tell people, ‘You get the politicians you deserve.’” — Barack Obama, quoted in Time magazine.

“She’s one of the smartest people, she will always be the smartest woman in the room.” — Amie Parnes, reporter for The Hill, on Hillary Clinton, quoted at NewsBusters

“The way things are going, if the next 3 years and 261 days are like Donald’s first 100 days — I wonder if America will ever be ready for a male President again.” — Sen. Elizabeth Warren, nbc News

“Your speaking ability is really thrilling … It’s damn good political salesmanship. It’s rhetoric of the best political kind. You get your audience riled up and you get them roused up. It’s not eating spinach. It’s not the Stations of the Cross. When they’re done with you, they’re happy and they go out and fight.” — Chris Matthews, to Sen. Elizabeth Warren on msnbc’s “Hardball,” quoted at NewsBusters

 

“It’s going to be doo-doo stuck to their shoe for a long time to come.” — Nancy Pelosi, on Republican health care legislation, quoted in the Washington Examiner

source-rush, those stated in the quotes above