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 on: October 17, 2017, 07:14:38 PM 
Started by Crafty_Dog - Last post by Crafty_Dog

 on: October 17, 2017, 06:32:58 PM 
Started by Crafty_Dog - Last post by ccp

 on: October 17, 2017, 06:32:25 PM 
Started by Crafty_Dog - Last post by ccp
don't expect the MSM to report on THIS 24/7 like they do bashing Trump in every way the can dream up.

I first heard of this on Rush radio this afternoon:

 on: October 17, 2017, 02:01:04 PM 
Started by ccp - Last post by Crafty_Dog

 on: October 17, 2017, 01:41:27 PM 
Started by ccp - Last post by Crafty_Dog

 on: October 17, 2017, 01:27:22 PM 
Started by Crafty_Dog - Last post by Crafty_Dog
The Citizens United Disaster That Wasn’t
Critics warned that a flood of corporate money would irreparably taint politics. No such thing happened.
Photo: Getty Images
By Floyd Abrams
Oct. 16, 2017 6:56 p.m. ET

When the Supreme Court announced its 2010 decision in Citizens United v. Federal Election Commission, the public condemnation from certain quarters was fierce. The notion that a corporation would spend large sums of money to support or denounce a political candidate struck many Americans as deeply troubling. Some saw the court’s 5-4 ruling, which held that corporate political spending is protected by the First Amendment, as constituting a grave threat to the democratic fabric of society.

“Starting today, corporations with large war chests to deploy on electioneering may find democratically elected bodies becoming much more attuned to their interests,” Justice John Paul Stevens wrote in a 90-page dissenting opinion. He retired from the Supreme Court at the end of that term and later suggested a constitutional amendment to overturn the ruling.

Many of Citizens United’s harshest critics imagined a nation controlled by multibillion-dollar corporations that would dictate business-friendly legislation to paid-for lawmakers. A New York Times editorial predicted that the ruling would “thrust politics back to the robber-baron era of the 19th century” by allowing “corporations to use their vast treasuries to overwhelm elections.” The Washington Post warned that “corporate money, never lacking in the American political process, may now overwhelm both the contributions of individuals and the faith they may harbor in their democracy.” The San Francisco Chronicle warned that “voters should prepare for the worst: cash-drenched elections presided over by free-spending corporations.”

Since those predictions, two presidential and four congressional elections have come and gone. There’s now solid data, filed with the Federal Election Commission, showing how much money corporations have spent in recent elections. It turns out the apocalyptic forecasts were not just inaccurate but utterly insupportable.

It is true that in the wake of Citizens United many groups sprang up that are permitted to spend unlimited sums supporting or opposing candidates and issues. These so-called super PACs have proved themselves a political force. But the money they have spent since 2010 has not come primarily—or even mostly—from corporations.

Super PACs across the political spectrum raised $1.8 billion between Jan. 1, 2015, and Dec. 31, 2016, according to data analyzed by the Center for Responsive Politics. Of that, $1.04 billion came from individual donors and $242 million from unions, trade associations, politically active nonprofits and other organizations. Only $85 million was contributed by business corporations. The table nearby shows the top 20 donors. Among the Top 40 contributors to super PACs during the 2016 election cycle were eight unions and only one corporation.

These numbers do not include donations to campaigns from corporate political action committees. That money comes not from the corporate treasury but from people employed by the company or otherwise connected to it. In any event, corporate PAC donations are on the small side compared with the numbers above—$1.9 million to presidential candidates in 2008 (before Citizens United), $855,348 in 2012 and $942,116 in 2016.

The data suggest two conclusions. The first was summarized by Brooklyn Law School Professor Joel Gora after the 2012 election: “The predicted wave of corporate financial political intervention never materialized. Of all of the super PAC independent expenditure spending that escalated in the 2012 election, very little of it came from corporate contributions.” That remained true in 2016 and probably will into the foreseeable future.

The second is that corporations remain conservative—with a small “c.” Fear of public disapproval limits their appetite for potential controversy, so they do their best to steer clear of high-profile political entanglements. A comment often attributed to Michael Jordan captures this attitude: “Republicans buy sneakers, too.” The unwillingness of large corporations to offend their actual or desired customers is difficult to overstate.

Despite the bombastic rhetoric and dire predictions, corporations and their vast treasuries have not dominated elections post-Citizens United. In fact, corporations have donated a comparatively small percentage of the money spent in political campaigns since 2010. It would be nice if those who expected a darker world would acknowledge that fact.

Mr. Abrams represented Sen. Mitch McConnell in the Citizens United case and participated in oral argument in the Supreme Court. An extended version of this article will appear as a chapter in “The Free Speech Century,” to be published next year by Oxford University Press.

Appeared in the October 17, 2017, print edition.

 on: October 17, 2017, 01:23:44 PM 
Started by captainccs - Last post by Crafty_Dog
second post:

The Global Consensus Against the Iraqi Kurds
Oct 17, 2017

By Kamran Bokhari

Iraqi government forces took control of the Kurdish-dominated city of Kirkuk on Oct. 16, part of a growing dispute between the Kurdistan Regional Government, which held an independence referendum last month, and the government in Baghdad. While Iraq’s disintegration as a country has been apparent for years now, this latest dispute indicates that the situation isn’t going to get any better. It’s unlikely that Iraqi Kurdistan will achieve independence, even though the majority of voters supported independence. What’s more, this issue has drawn in a number other countries, most notably Turkey and Iran, which encouraged Baghdad to quell the growing Kurdish separatist movement.

Long at Odds

The latest reports suggest that Baghdad’s security forces are facing little resistance from the forces of the Kurdistan Regional Government, which governs Iraq’s northern Kurdish region. The KRG has controlled the oil-rich Kirkuk province, just south of Iraqi Kurdistan, since 2014, when Iraqi forces abandoned the area as Islamic State fighters approached. Iraqi soldiers have now taken over key energy and military installations. Much of this can be blamed on divisions among the Iraqi Kurds themselves – the region’s second-largest party, the Patriotic Union of Kurdistan, cut a deal with Baghdad and Tehran and withdrew its forces from the region when the Iraqi army advanced. The move comes three weeks after 93 percent of Iraqi Kurds voted in favor of independence in a referendum held by the KRG, which wants to form an independent Kurdistan that would include areas well south of the current autonomous Kurdish region, including Kirkuk.
Members of the Iraqi Kurdish security forces stand guard at a checkpoint in Altun Kupri, 25 miles south of Irbil, the capital of the autonomous Kurdish region of northern Iraq on Oct. 16, 2017. SAFIN HAMED/AFP/Getty Images

Baghdad and Irbil have long been at odds. After the fall of Saddam Hussein’s regime in 2003, Washington helped the country devise a new political system that would allow the Shiites – who are a majority in Iraq – to dominate the central government and the Kurds to enjoy regional autonomy. But this new polity suffered from two main flaws. First, it marginalized the Sunni minority, which led to a massive insurgency that resulted in the rise of the Islamic State. Second, it led to a bitter struggle between the Shiites and the Kurds, as the Kurds continued to push for more autonomy, especially over the right to export hydrocarbons and expand their power southward.

For many years, the friction between the Shiites and the Iraqi Kurds was contained because of the Sunni insurgent threat. The two sides engaged in multiple rounds of negotiations to resolve their dispute over control of oil and gas resources and revenue sharing. But they were never able to reach an agreement. Landlocked, the KRG needed partners to help it export oil without the assistance of the central government; it therefore forged close ties with bordering Turkey.

Baghdad was furious with both Irbil and Ankara, but it could do little to disrupt the arrangement between the Iraqi Kurds and the Turks. This became the status quo, until the Islamic State emerged in 2014 and seized Iraq’s second-largest city, Mosul. When the Iraqi army retreated from Mosul, which is just south of Iraqi Kurdistan, it presented both a threat and an opportunity for the Kurds.

It was a threat because it left the Kurds vulnerable to an IS attack. It was an opportunity because the departure of Iraqi forces from the region could allow KRG forces to seize additional territory. The failure of the Islamic State to expand into Kirkuk left this region firmly under the KRG’s control. After a three-year struggle, the liberation of Mosul last July created the conditions for the Kurds to make a move toward full sovereignty. And with the IS threat receding, the conflict between the Shiites and the Kurds became the biggest challenge facing the country.

Broader Implications

If Iraqi Kurdistan were to move from being an autonomous region in Iraq to an independent state, it would have serious implications for the security of neighboring states, especially Turkey and Iran – the region’s two strongest powers. The Turks and the Iranians are locked in a long-term struggle for influence in Iraq and Syria, as well as the wider Middle East. When Turkey helped the KRG with energy exports, it was actually an attempt to counter the influence of Iran, which sees the Shiite-dominated government in Baghdad as an ally.

But when it comes to Kurdish independence, the Turks and the Iranians actually have some interests in common. Both countries have their own Kurdish separatist movements – although the movement is stronger in Turkey, which has the largest Kurdish population of any country in the Middle East. They both, therefore, opposed the Iraqi Kurds’ move toward independence. It would be in both their interests for the Iraqi government to retake Kirkuk.

Buoyed by Turkey and Iran, Baghdad is pushing ahead to contain the Iraqi Kurds. It is also deeply encouraged by the fact that the United States opposes the Kurdish move toward sovereignty. The KRG has been a key ally of Washington – in many ways, a far closer partner than the Iraqi central government given Baghdad’s close ties with Tehran. But Kurdish independence is not in the American interest because it would further aggravate the existing conflicts in the region. If Washington supported the creation of an independent Kurdistan in Iraq, it could encourage the Kurds in Syria and Turkey to also push for independence, which would create far more problems between Turkey and the United States.

The U.S. will therefore try to mediate a truce between Baghdad and Irbil, but it will mainly try to stay out of the issue as it did when Iraqi forces took Kirkuk from the KRG. Turkey and Iran will be much more deeply involved given that it has more direct implications for them. Both want to prevent the Iraqi Kurds from claiming independence and from expanding southward. But that is the extent of their shared objectives.

In the end, the Iraqi Kurds will remain pawns in the power struggle between regional and global powers. As for Iraq, it will continue to be a failed state – internationally recognized as a country but effectively unable to act like one.

The post The Global Consensus Against the Iraqi Kurds appeared first on Geopolitical Futures.

 on: October 17, 2017, 01:20:02 PM 
Started by captainccs - Last post by Crafty_Dog
Assault on the Kurds
Defeat for the U.S. allies in northern Iraq is a victory for Iran.
Iraqi forces advance towards the city of Kirkuk during an operation against Kurdish fighters, Oct 16.
Iraqi forces advance towards the city of Kirkuk during an operation against Kurdish fighters, Oct 16. Photo: ahmad al-rubaye/Agence France-Presse/Getty Images
By The Editorial Board
Oct. 16, 2017 7:01 p.m. ET

A central tenet of the Trump foreign policy, a work in progress, has been that the U.S. would rebuild its relationship with America’s allies. That commitment is being put to the test in northern Iraq.

On Monday Iraq’s army, assisted by Iranian forces, launched a major assault on the Kurds in the northern Iraqi city of Kirkuk. Across the length of America’s recent history with Iraq, we have had no more reliable ally than Iraq’s Kurds and their fighting force, the Peshmerga.

So far the Trump Administration has said little about the attack on the Kurds. “We’re not taking sides, but we don’t like the fact that they’re clashing,” President Trump told reporters at the White House Monday. “We’ve had, for many years, a very good relationship with the Kurds, as you know. And we’ve also been on the side of Iraq, even though we should have never been in there in the first place. But we’re not taking sides in that battle.”

But if the U.S. allows one of its most visible allies to be defeated in the Middle East, make no mistake: Other allies in the region will notice and start to recalculate their relationship with the Trump Administration.

The Iraqi Kurds, to be sure, have contributed to their current plight. Kurdish President Masoud Barzani went forward with a needless independence referendum last month, despite pressure from the U.S. not to hold the vote. The pro-forma vote gave the Baghdad government a pretext to play the nationalist card and retake Kirkuk.

Kirkuk is a multi-ethnic city that lies just south of Iraq’s Kurdistan, an autonomous region whose borders abut Iran and Turkey. The Kirkuk region is also rich in oil. The Kurds gained control of Kirkuk in 2014 after Iraq’s army famously fled under attack from Islamic State, which seized control of Mosul in June that year.

After the Iraqi forces abandoned the region, the Peshmerga became the primary reason that Islamic State was never able to consolidate its control of northern Iraq. Arguably, the Kurds, backed by U.S. air power, saved Iraq by giving Iraqi Prime Minister Haider al-Abadi time to reconstitute his nation’s army into a fighting force capable of driving Islamic State out of Iraq’s major cities, with the help of the Peshmerga.

Possibly the phrase “no good deed goes unpunished” originated in the Middle East. Having taken back Mosul from Islamic State, Mr. Abadi now wants to drive the Kurds back into their northern Iraqi homeland. But the strategic details of this attack on the Kurds are important. Iraq’s offensive includes Iran. According to the Washington-based Institute for the Study of War, Iranian-backed militias and the 9th Iraqi Armored Division moved toward Kirkuk last week to support the Iraqi army.

The Abadi government in Baghdad is under constant pressure from Shiite Iran to align itself against the interest of Iraq’s Sunni populations in the north and west. It follows that after Iraq’s progress on the battlefield against Islamic State, Iran would encourage the Iraqis to drive the Kurds out of Kirkuk.

Notice this is all happening within days of President Trump decertifying the Iran nuclear deal, based in part on the assumption that Europe will support U.S. efforts to resist Iran’s ballistic-missile program and its penetrations across the Middle East. But what will the Europeans or our allies in the Middle East conclude if we abandon one of our oldest regional allies, the Iraqi Kurds?

The U.S. no doubt has lost much of the political leverage it had before the Obama Administration pulled out of Iraq in 2011. But abandoning the Kurds to an Iraq-Iran Shiite alliance would only deepen U.S. losses.

Before Iraq and the Kurds go to war, the U.S. could insist that Iraq reaffirm the autonomy of Iraqi Kurdistan and also that it work out an agreement to share revenue from the region’s oil reserves. The alternative to such a modus vivendi for Prime Minister Abadi is a capable Kurdish fighting force in a state of permanent insurrection.

The U.S. owes a debt to the Kurds. Abandoning them now would damage America’s credibility, and not least Mr. Trump’s ability to enlist allies against Iran’s expansion across the Middle East. The assault on Kirkuk matters.

 on: October 17, 2017, 11:38:19 AM 
Started by Crafty_Dog - Last post by G M

October 17, 2017
Holy Crap: Investigation Found Widespread Bribery and Kickbacks by Russia to Increase Their American Uranium Holdings During Obama Administration... While Hillary Was Approving Uranium Sale to Russia
Big, big story from Jonathan Solomon and Allison Spann.

FBI uncovered Russian bribery plot before Obama administration approved controversial nuclear deal with Moscow

Before the Obama administration approved a controversial deal in 2010 giving Moscow control of a large swath of American uranium, the FBI had gathered substantial evidence that Russian nuclear industry officials were engaged in bribery, kickbacks, extortion and money laundering designed to grow Vladimir Putin’s atomic energy business inside the United States, according to government documents and interviews.

Federal agents used a confidential U.S. witness working inside the Russian nuclear industry to gather extensive financial records, make secret recordings and intercept emails as early as 2009 that showed Moscow had compromised an American uranium trucking firm with bribes and kickbacks in violation of the Foreign Corrupt Practices Act, FBI and court documents show.

They also obtained an eyewitness account -- backed by documents -- indicating Russian nuclear officials had routed millions of dollars to the U.S. designed to benefit former President Bill Clinton’s charitable foundation during the time Secretary of State Hillary Clinton served on a government body that provided a favorable decision to Moscow, sources told The Hill.

The racketeering scheme was conducted "with the consent of higher level officials" in Russia...

Rather than bring immediate charges in 2010, however, the Department of Justice (DOJ) continued investigating the matter for nearly four more years, essentially leaving the American public and Congress in the dark about Russian nuclear corruption on U.S. soil during a period when the Obama administration made two major decisions benefitting Putin’s commercial nuclear ambitions.


"The Russians were compromising American contractors in the nuclear industry with kickbacks and extortion threats, all of which raised legitimate national security concerns. And none of that evidence got aired before the Obama administration made those decisions," a person who worked on the case told The Hill, speaking on condition of anonymity for fear of retribution by U.S. or Russian officials.
It's worse than that, even -- it appears that Obama and Holder deliberately under-investigated and restricted the charges to as anodyne a list as possible so as not to alert the public (or even Congress) as to the full nature of the corruption.

 on: October 17, 2017, 11:26:30 AM 
Started by Crafty_Dog - Last post by Crafty_Dog
I too dislike McCain, but IMHO his having brain cancer does not enter the conversation.

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