“Republicans Are Addicted to Koch [Brothers]” – Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid (D)
Wall Street firms are threatening to cancel GOP fundraising over banking tax proposal
Wall Street firms are threatening to turn off the money hose that fuels Republican election campaigns, according to a recent article in Politico. One GOP lobbyist told Politico that “commitments for big-dollar fundraising have been “canceled for the foreseeable future.”
What happened? Rep. Dave Camp had proposed a tax bill that would cut into the profits of large private equity firms.
Lobbyists from the big banks, among them Bank of America, Goldman Sachs, and JPMorgan, are trying to stop the proposal in its tracks.
And they seem to be quite successful. House Majority Leader Eric Cantor (R-Va.) backpedaled and told lobbyists that Camp’s proposal was just a “draft.”
At the same time, Democrats are rubbing their hands over potential campaign funds coming their way. The head of the Consumer Bankers Association put it this way:
[T]here’s no doubt some champagne corks were unleashed in Democratic circles last night. They got an early election gift
Democracy in America, 2014.
UK Parliament questions Guardian Editor Alan Rusbridger’s patriotism in anti-terrorism hearing
On December 3, 2013 the Guardian’s editor-in-chief Alan Rusbridger had to testify before the House of Commons of the British Parliament in a hearing on anti-terrorism.
One of the rather stunning questions asked by Chair Keith Vaz was whether Rusbridger “love[d] this country [the UK].”
We live in a democracy and most of the people working on this story are British people who have families in this country, who love this country. I’m slightly surprised to be asked the question but yes, we are patriots and one of the things we are patriotic about is the nature of democracy, the nature of a free press and the fact that one can in this country discuss and report these things [emphasis mine].
With us or against us – the excluded middle
Behind the questioning of Rusbridger’s “patriotism” because he, as a journalist, does not agree with the government’s national security narrative, lies the logical fallacy of the excluded middle. Either you agree with total surveillance of the world’s citizens in the name of national security or the terrorists win.
The possibility that there might be excesses in the surveillance architectures of the so-called Global War on Terrorism (there are!) , that much of what is being done in this area has probably more to do with gaining illegitimate advantages through economic espionage, or that there might be approaches that actually help fighting terrorism without eroding civil liberties does not occur in this line of thinking.
An uninformed citizenry cannot correct its government
The elephant in the room is this: Had it not been for Snowden, we the people of the world would never have known about the extent of surveillance against innocent citizens. Democracies rely on an adversarial press to keep the government in check.
Since the summer of 2013, the Guardian has been releasing articles based on the NSA leaks by Edward Snowden, exposing the indiscriminate mass surveillance by the American NSA, the British GCHQ, and other intelligence agencies of the world’s citizens.
Read, see, and hear more:
[Audio and article] “Guardian editor Alan Rusbridger appears before MPs – live coverage.” (Paul Owen, Guardian, 2013/12/03) – Summary of the hearing and an audio recording can be found here.
“Highlights from Guardian editor’s Parliament hearing.” (Kristen Hare, Poynter.org, 2013/12/03) – Many more questions to and answers from Alan Rusbridger.
“MPs question Guardian editor Alan Rusbridger’s patriotism over Edward Snowden leaks.” (Ian Burrell, The Independent, 2013/12/03)
The progressive talk show The Young Turks reports on the hearing here:
Website ‘Constitute’ enables comparison of constitutions around the world
Are you currently writing a new constitution for your imaginary new nation? Would you like to find out more about similarities and differences between, say, the United States Constitution and the Basic Law for the Federal Republic of Germany (the Grundgesetz)? Here is a new handy tool for you.
The Comparative Constitutions Project (CCP) has recently launched the new website Constitute which enables users to compare the texts of constitutions from around the world.
Constitutional texts can be searched for specific passages or browsed by topics. The search results can be filtered further and downloaded for later consultation.
At the moment (September 2013, the scope of the project encompasses “the constitution that was in force in September of 2013 for nearly every independent state in the world.”
The project is supported by Google Ideas, the Indigo Trust and IC2.
I like the idea that Google supports this project with funding. Unfortunately, as the Snowden leaks have revealed, Google is also among the biggest tech companies subverting the US’s and other nations’ constitutions by enabling the totalitarian surveillance ambitions of the NSA.
Everyone involved in intelligence should use this website and reconsider whether the bureaucracy they are serving actually protects their respective constitution.
Hungarian Prime Minister Orbán Compares German Chancellor Merkel To Nazis
Nazi comparisons remain popular, but in most cases they are absolutely inappropriate and not based on facts.
Latest case in point: Hungarian Prime Minister Viktor Orbán made a thinly veiled reference linking German Chancellor Angela Merkel’s criticism of Orban’s authoritarian tendencies to Nazi Germany’s invasion of Hungary in 1944.
To be fair, Merkel’s rhetoric about not bringing in the cavalry was perhaps not the best wording against the historical background.
Nevertheless, in my opinion, Orbán’s remark was absolutely absurd and willfully deceptive, coming from a politician whose party has been actively working to erode democracy in Hungary while tolerating open antisemitism and violent neo-fascist movements.
There are valid criticisms of Angela Merkel and her party, for sure, but comparing her to the Nazis is certainly not one of those. Judging by the recent political record, it is instead Viktor Orbán and Fidesz, who have exposed themselves as some of the true enemies of democracy in the midst of Europe.
Viktor Orbán may score some political points with his nationalist base using such rhetoric, but he should make no mistake: the rest of Europe knows what he is up to.
The slipping of Hungary into authoritarianism must be stopped.
“The Fog of Amendment.” (Kim Lane Scheppele, New York Times, 2013/03/12) – On the Hungarian parliament’s constitutional amendment that does away with an independent judiciary.
“Reaktionen auf Nazi-Vergleich: Vereint gegen Orbán“. (Florian Gathmann, Spiegel Online, 20.05.2013)
“Ungarns Regierungschef brüskiert Deutschland mit Nazi-Vergleich” (tagesschau.de, 20.05.2013)
“Ungarn: Parlament entmachtet Verfassungsgericht.” (Stern.de, 11.03.2013)