Senator Chris Murphy Wants U.S. Led Probe Into Shireen Abu Akleh’s Death

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Senator Chris Murphy(D-CT) appeared on MSNBC Prime(07/13/22) to discuss President Biden’s trip to the Middle East, and especially his trip to Saudi Arabia which has drawn condemnation, given Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman’s implication in Washington Post Columnist Jamal Khashoggi’s brutal murder. During his interview , Senator Murphy also delved into another controversial topic, and that is, the killing of Palestinian-American journalist Shireen Abu Akleh by Israeli troops.

An investigation conducted by the Israel government into Akleh’s killing concluded that IDF troops shot her by accident. Naturally, this conclusion has generated a lot of criticism from around the globe, and especially from press freedom advocates. Senator Murphy is calling for an independent U.S. led investigation into Shireen Abu Akleh’s death.

Asked by host Ali Velshi why it was important for the U.S. to conduct an independent investigation, Senator Murphy responded(video at 4:57):“Senator Murphy told host Ali Velshi(video at ):”First and foremost, any time an American dies overseas, we should apply the highest degree of scrutiny to make sure we get to the bottom of the story as to how an American citizen was killed, and in this case, given that it might have come at the hands of foreign security forces, that inquiry is even more important. We are simply asking that we do a thorough review that we are not confident the Israeli authorities have done themselves. So I think it’s important to get to the bottom of this even if the bottom involves some unsavory truths about what an important ally of the United States may have done, or elements of their security forces may have done to contribute to this American’s death.”

Bottom line folks, Israel has been, and remains America’s closest and dearest foreign ally. Ordinarily, Yours Truly would be inclined to accept Israel’s explanation of Shireen Abu Akleh’s death at face value but where, as here, the death in question is of a U.S. citizen, Yours Truly has no choice but to agree with Senator Murphy, that the United States needs to conduct its independent investigation. however unpleasant the results may be. Israel and the United States will forever remain close friends, so there’s no harm in finding out the truth behind Shireen Abu Akleh’s death. The Biden administration owes her family the truth regarding the circumstances of her death overseas.

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Is It Time To Go To Non-Partisan Primaries To Address Growing Polarization?

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A segment on MSNBC’s 11th Hour w/ Stephanie Ruhle(06/22/22) delved into the very interesting discussion as to whether, given the staggering levels of polarization in the country, we should change adopt a non-partisan primary voting system. Ruhle’s guest Nick Troiano, Executive Director of Unite America, says this change, which is already in place in several states, notably Alaska, would incentivize candidates to look for support beyond their party affiliation thus making them more likely to seek bipartisan solutions to problems. Unite America is a national organization trying to bridge the growing partisan divide by supporting political reforms and candidates who put people over party.

Troiano told 11th Hour host Ruhle(video at 1:22):“I think we spend a lot of time focused on who we elect, not enough time focusing on how we elect, because it’s the systems of our elections that are really pushing our parties further and further apart, and I think our politicians, as a result, are much more polarized than we the people. We’re not seeing the types of solutions and bipartisan policy making in Congress as the American people want and deserve, and the core reason of that is because of our system of partisan primaries. In the last election, it was only 10% of Americans who elected 83% of Congress, because the vast majority of our elections are decided not in the general election in November, but in the primary election, and that problem is getting even worse this election cycle after the latest round of redistricting. We’re going to have the least competitive elections of our lifetime. It’s going to lead to the least accountable Congress of our lifetime. So if we want different outcomes out of Congress, we have to change the process, and fortunately, there’s a growing movement to do that at the state level all across the country.”

Below are some of United America‘s suggested reforms

Troiano singled out the primary system in Alaska as the “best example” of what should be emulated nationwide, if we are going to address the growing polarization problem. He said: “Senator[Lisa]Murkowski was one of the 14 Republicans who voted to advance the bipartisan gun legislation. She’s the only Republican up for election this year, and what’s notable is that this is the first time where the Senator doesn’t face a partisan primary. She’s standing for election in front of all Alaskan voters because in 2020, Alaskans adopted a ballot measure that replaced both parties primaries with a single non-partisan primary. So all the candidates compete in one election, all the voters get to participate on that ballot, the top four finishers go to the general election and through an instant runoff, whomever wins the majority of support gets elected, and so it gives voters more voice and choice in elections, and it incentivizes candidates and leaders to campaign and be responsive to the whole constituency, not just the 10% who may vote in a partisan primary. Now imagine if additional states were to adopt this reform, we can have dozens of our elected leaders in Congress finally being able to be responsive to the majority of Americans and not the political extremes.”

Troiano also said non-partisan primaries would encourage more people to throw their hats into the political ring without fear of being labeled “spoilers”, something he acknowledged, keeps a lot of otherwise good candidates from both parties, on the sidelines.

Bottom line folks, non-partisan primaries is a very interesting suggestion indeed, which Yours Truly hopes, will be given serious consideration given the crippling levels of polarization in our politics today. Simply put, when the likes of Boebert(CO) and MTG(GA) start showing up in Congress, then reasonable people will agree, that the selection system is surely broken!!

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Senator Mike Lee Says He Reached Out To State Legislators Re 2020 Elections To Clarify Rumors, Not To Influence Them

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Senator Mike Lee(R-UT) appeared on Fox News Sunday(06/19/22) to discuss the floundering bipartisan gun control negotiations currently going on in the Senate in the wake of the horrific shooting at Robb Elementary school in Uvalde, Texas, which left 19 children and two of their teachers dead. The interview then turned to the January 6th investigation, and specifically, Senator Lee’s alleged involvement in efforts to overturn the 2020 election results. When host Shannon Bream asked Senator Lee about claims that he was involved in the scheme to create fake Trump electors in the states, Senator Lee gave a very interesting response. He said he reached out to legislators in various states only to clarify certain rumors about efforts to withdraw or reallocate electors, but denied ever trying to influence any of them to create fake electors for Trump.

The question now is whether the January 6th Committee will take Sen. Lee’s assertion as the truth, or dig deeper to find out whether he did indeed pressure state legislators on Trump’s behalf, conduct that constitutes a crime in most states.

Host Shannon Bream(video at 6:04):“Your own text messages have come up with respect to Mark Meadows. They’ve been highlighted. Here’s what the Salt Lake Tribune said about that…’New court filings raise questions about Sen. Mike Lee’s involvement in attempts to overturn the 2020 election.’ Your response?”

Senator Mike Lee:“Well, first of all,look, I knew how bad Joe Biden would be as President. I knew what a disaster he would be in the Oval Office, and there were some uncertainty in the wake of the election. As we approached the end of December, there were rumors that continued to circulate, suggesting that some states were going to be reallocating, withdrawing and reallocating their electoral votes. Because Congress has a role in that, and I as a Senator would be required to certify those, I wanted to find out. So I communicated with Mark Meadows to try to find out whether the rumors were true. I couldn’t get answers, so I reached out to state lawmakers in various states, not trying to influence anyone, simply trying to find out whether the rumors were true. The rumors weren’t true, no state had any intention of withdrawing it’s slate of electoral votes, that made it an easy decision on my part to vote to certify the results of the election.”

There’s no other way to interpret Senator Lee’s remarks on Fox News Sunday other than(I’ll be happy to stand corrected of course), he admits reaching out to state legislators in various states regarding electoral college votes, but that his outreach was only limited to his desire to clarify some rumors. He never influenced any of the state legislators to come up with a scheme to create fake electors for Trump.

Any reasonable person presented with Senator Lee’s explanation–that his outreach to state legislators was only limited to clarifying some electoral college rumors–will take issue with it, and at the very least, would be inclined to apply some “trust but verify” principle to it. Hopefully, this is exactly what the January 6th Committee will do with Senator Lee’s explanation.

Asked whether he would sit down and talk to the January 6th Committee if asked, Sen. Lee responded:“Oh sure…I’d always be willing to talk if they want to talk.”

Bottom line folks, efforts by Senator Mike Lee and his sidekick Senator Ted Cruz(R-TX) to overturn the 2020 election results, deserve further scrutiny by the mainstream media, now that the January 6th investigation is heating up. Hopefully the January 6th Committee will take Senator Lee up on his offer to sit down with them, because something tells me his explanation, that he reached out to legislators in various states only to clarify some rumors, will be debunked. The Committee should do the same for Senators Ted Cruz and Lindsey Graham(R-SC), who have similar charges leveled against them. Simply put, the public is hungry for suit-and-tie insurrectionists to also face the music for their efforts to overturn the 2020 election results.

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Senator Jeanne Shaheen Introduces Additions To The HAVANA Act Of 2021

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President Biden signing the HAVANA Act on 10/08/2021

There were some interesting developments this week in the directed energy weapons front, the biggest one being news that Senator Jeanne Shaheen(D-NH), a senior member of the Senate Armed Services Committee, has introduced additions to the HAVANA Act of 2021, seeking to make it easier for victims of the attacks to get the medical care they deserve. Details of Sen Shaheen’s additions are included in this 06/16/22 press release sent out by her office.

Senator Shaheen said this about her additions:“No American injured in the line of duty should be forced to fight for or justify their need for medical attention. That’s why I’ve worked across the aisle for years to secure medical benefits for those suffering from ailments as a result of directed-energy attacks. I appreciate the desire from members on both sides of the aisle to make this a priority in the fiscal year 2023 defense legislation cleared by the committee, which will provide substantial funding to investigate the nature of these injuries so we can better care for those afflicted. I also appreciate the inclusion of my provision requiring the Pentagon to produce a report on anomalous health incidents to inform and improve our military’s ability to respond to the threat of AHIs. We need to have confidence in the safety we provide to U.S. personnel and their loved ones when we station them around the globe, which is why it is paramount that we get to the bottom of these attacks to prevent future instances and ensure care to those recovery.” 

The press release from Senator Shaheen’s office comes on the heels of news reports that a piece of legislation introduced by a bipartisan group of lawmakers, seeks to impose criminal penalties on the harmful use of drones. The lawmakers involved are Reps. Mike Gallagher (R-Wis.), Dina Titus (D-Nev.), Josh Gottheimer (D-N.J.) and Peter Meijer (R-Mich). Among the harmful conduct the bill seeks to penalize, is weaponizing drones with firearms and electromagnetic pulse devices or using them to interfere with aircraft, cars and boats.

This of course raises a whole host of interesting questions, chief among them, whether members of Congress have known all along, that drones armed with electromagnetic pulse devices, could be used to assault civilians? Or are these weaponized drones only used to assault government employees? Hmm, certainly a line of inquiry that the mainstream media could pursue further.

Another interesting development this week, was the unsurprising revelation by a leading national security lawyer, Mark Zaid, that the CIA is not helping out very much with the effort to get to the bottom of directed energy attacks. This prompted the frustrated Zaid to send out a tweet asking, ” What is the CIA hiding?”. Zaid has previously asserted, and backed up his assertions with a document bearing an NSA letterhead, that the agency has been aware of microwave attacks on political dissidents, way before the attack on our diplomats in Cuba.

Bottom line folks, any news that efforts are being made to get to the bottom of directed energy weapons attacks, like we got this week from Sen Shaheen’s office, is welcome news. It cannot be left unsaid however, that there are serious questions among members of the public, as to whether the Pentagon in particular, and our national security establishment generally, are totally clueless about directed energy weapons, and who may be using them for nefarious purposes. It would be very helpful if the government, to the extent possible given classification issues, would level with the public about some of these concerns. Another issue the government seriously needs to level with the public about, is whether regular civilians(not government employees) have also been victims of directed energy weapons attacks, and who’s behind such attacks. Radio silence on this issue is not helpful at all, and is instead spawning wild conspiracy theories.

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VP Kamala Harris’ Biggest Moment(Yet) On The International Stage

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U.S. Vice President Kamala Harris delivered the keynote address at the Munich Security Conference in Germany on 02/18/22. The Munich conference is arguably VP Harris’ biggest moment on the international stage, and her most consequential speech to date, given it’s timing–the looming Russia-Ukraine conflict. It’s also impossible to ignore the historical significance of the moment, given the fact that she addressed the Munich conference as the first female VP of the United States, and the first woman of color to represent the United States in that capacity.

VP Harris traveled to Munich Germany with a bipartisan group of lawmakers and foreign policy heads. Ukraine’s President Volodymyr Zelensky also attended this important international conference, even as Putin’s Russia is on the cusp of invading his country. The Russians skipped the Munich conference.

VP Harris laid out the seriousness of the moment in her opening remarks: “I’m certain we all recognize, this year’s gathering is unlike those of the recent past. Not since the end of the cold war, has this forum convened under such dire circumstances. Today, as we are all well aware, the foundation of European security is under direct threat in Ukraine. Let us remember from the wreckage of two world wars, a consensus emerged in Europe and the United States. A consensus in favor of order, not chaos, security, not conflict…That the rule of law should be cherished, that sovereignty and territorial integrity of all states must be respected, and that national borders should not be changed by force.”

There is no question that the text of VP Harris’ historical speech in Munich will feature in many political science and history classes in years to come, as one of the defining moments in the relationship between NATO countries and Russia.

Bottom line folks, as Yours Truly said earlier, this is easily VP Harris’ biggest moment on the international stage, and reasonable people will agree, she shone bright. With the eyes of the world trained on her, she delivered a great speech, that clearly conveyed the danger Putin’s Russia poses to Europe and the rest of the world, without sounding alarmist. All in all, VP Harris, you represented President Biden, and America, exceedingly well in Munich!!

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Senator Kyrsten Sinema Addresses Criticism By Progressives Over BIF And Build Back Better

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Senator Kyrsten Sinema(D-AZ) in an interview with Arizona’s ABC 15(11/19/21)

***Updated 12/3/21 to include Sen Sinema’s interview with CNN’s Lauren Fox***

On the day the House passed the Build Back Better Act(Nov 19), Senator Kyrsten Sinema(D-AZ) sat down for an interview with Arizona’s ABC 15(KNXV), to discuss what lies ahead for the historic bill in the Senate. It is no secret that a lot of Democrats, especially Progressive Democrats, have been very upset with Senators Sinema and Joe Manchin(D-WV), over what they perceive as a coordinated effort by the two Senators to derail President Biden’s legislative agenda.

Asked by the ABC 15‘s host about the sharp, even personal criticism she regularly receives from Progressives regarding her perceived obstruction of the Build Back Better Act and other key Democratic legislative proposals(voting rights etc), Senator Sinema responded: “When I first was elected to head to Washington DC and represent Arizona about 9 years ago, I promised to be a work horse, not a show horse, and that’s exactly what I’ve done over these last 9 years. In the 3 years that I’ve served in the United States Senate, I’ve been known for just putting my head down and doing the work. And my experience is, if you want to negotiate and get to an agreement on difficult topics, the best way to do that is to build trust, and when you’re building trust with someone, you work one on one, you solve the problem, you stay focused, and you don’t get distracted by the noise outside. Now, I know that a lot of folks wanted to hear that noise outside, but they probably didn’t have the same goal as me, which is to negotiate and pass a historic infrastructure bill into law, and I guess I would just say the proof is in the pudding. Here we are today, the bill has become law, and we move on to the next topic, which is to implement it for the benefit of every day Arizonans. So while there are some who may not like this approach, it works, and I think it represents what Arizonans elected me to do, which is to put my head down, get the work done, and deliver results for every day families. “

There’s no other way to interpret Senator Sinema’s response, especially her work horse versus show horse analogy, other than she looks at her Progressive critics as a bunch of drama kings/queens who are either unwilling or unable to do the hard work of negotiating with the opposing party(Republicans)to advance legislation. Senator Sinema added that her approach, which involves quietly negotiating with Republicans produces results, as opposed to the unproductive “noise” which she attributed to Progressives.

In what could turn out to be a problem for the Build Back Better Act in the Senate, Senator Sinema later in the interview, raised concerns about the bill worsening the already alarming inflation problem. It’s highly likely that Senator Manchin will also raise similar inflation concerns, which may lead to the gutting of some popular Progressive items like paid family leave from the Build Back Better Act. A gutted Build Back Better Act may prove non-palatable to House Progressives thereby killing the bill, or extending it’s passage well into 2022, a tough election year for Democrats.

Bottom line folks, it was good to see Senator Sinema, often shrouded in secrecy, talking extensively to the media about her stance on the Build Back Better Act and other issues important to her constituents. Hopefully this is the beginning of a more “public” Senator Sinema.

Senator Sinema has since sat down with CNN’s Lauren Fox(12/2/21) where she expressed similar reservations about the House-passed Build Back Better Act

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Extreme Gerrymandering In Ohio Called Out

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CNN’s Reality Check w/John Avlon did a segment(11/19/21) featuring an extreme gerrymandering case currently playing out in Ohio. Back in 2018, Ohio voters overwhelmingly backed(75%) an amendment to the state’s constitution that would ensure redistricting was carried out in a bipartisan fashion. Ohio’s congressional district maps were to be drawn by a bipartisan 7-member redistricting commission. The idea behind a bipartisan redistricting commission was quite simple–to create competitive district maps which would in turn reduce political polarization. Basically, politicians will shy away from radical ideas/conduct if they know they can be easily beaten at the polls.

Well, it turns out Ohio Republicans have since reneged on their support for a bipartisan redistricting commission, and are now using the Republican-led state legislature to come up with an extremely gerrymandered map, one that will give them a 13-2 advantage in congressional seats(86%R-14%D), even though Trump’s 2020 win in Ohio was only 53%-45%. No reasonable person would ever conclude that Ohio is an 86R-14D state, yet this is exactly what the new congressional map being pushed by state Republicans attempts to achieve–a total fraud and willful disenfranchisement of Democratic-leaning voters.

Even more repugnant is the way the Republican-led Ohio state legislature ended up being responsible for drawing the congressional maps. According to John Avlon, Republican members of the bipartisan redistricting commission simply refused to show up for duty, thereby crippling the commission because it was unable to convene meetings. With the bipartisan commission deliberately crippled, the redistricting job fell back to the partisan Ohio legislature, which drew the extremely gerrymandered map–a sad state of affairs indeed.

John Avlon said: “Ohio Republicans just decided to disregard the state constitution and the will of the voters. A seven-member redistricting commission had a month to work on a fair map, but Republican members refused to participate, and so the commission couldn’t convene. The power to draw the lines fell back to the Republican-controlled state assembly, who proceeded to do exactly what the constitutional amendment forbade. They cracked and packed minority communities, dividing counties and cities for their own partisan advantage. For example, Hamilton County, home to Cincinnati, which voted for[President] Biden by a 16-point margin, will be divided into 3 congressional districts, with Black voters offset by White Republicans.”

This is just the latest example of how state Republicans are actively disenfranchising Democratic-leaning/minority voters while Democrats in Washington are still dithering over abolishing the filibuster, and coming up with a federal voting rights law. A federal voting rights law is the only solution to the rampant GOP gerrymandering.

Bottom line folks, time is of the essence. Democrats need to abolish the filibuster immediately and pass a federal voting rights law. The two Senate holdouts, Kyrsten Sinema and Joe Manchin, must be confronted with this troubling Ohio gerrymandering case, and be forced to explain why a filibuster carve out for a federal voting legislation is not the appropriate way to go, given the dire circumstances.

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35 GOP Senators Who Voted Against A Bipartisan Jan 6th Commission

05/28/21 will be memorialized in History textbooks, as one of the most shameful days in U.S. Senate history, as 35 Republican Senators voted to kill via filibuster, a bill to establish a bipartisan commission to investigate what led to the January 6 Attack on the United States Capitol Complex, aka DC insurrection. The final vote tally was 54 yeas, 35 nays, with 11 Senators not voting. 60 yea votes were needed to overcome the filibuster.

The violent insurrection by former President Trump’s supporters on Jan 6th, was an attempt to stop a joint session of Congress from certifying the results of the electoral college, officially making Joseph R. Biden Jr the 46th President of the United States. During the violent insurrection, most of which played out on live TV, sitting members of Congress could be seen frightened for their lives, and being ushered into safety by Capitol Police officers. Five people lost their lives that day, including one Capitol Police officer, and many others had to be rushed to local DC hospitals with serious injuries.

January 6th 2021 will go down in history as one the lowest points in American democracy for several reasons, chief among them, the fact that it shattered America’s towering reputation around the world, as the only country where a peaceful transition of power was a guarantee, following every presidential election. On January 6th, the world watched with disbelief, on live TV, as violent Trump supporters fought to prevent the transition of power to the 2020 presidential election winner, Joe Biden.

Given the seriousness of the events that transpired on January 6th, any reasonable person would have expected U.S. Senators to vote overwhelmingly(all 100 of them) in support of establishing a bipartisan investigative commission, as has happened in previous national tragedies like the terrorist attacks on 9/11/2001. Instead, 35 GOP Senators, out of fear of upsetting former President Trump, found a way to vote against such a commission–a total shame.

Because this is one of the most shameful votes in U.S. Senate history, It is only fair that the names and faces of the said GOP Senators be memorialized for future generations. Below is a handy list of the 35 Senators.

Bottom line folks, something is seriously wrong when sitting members of the United States Senate, whose very lives were threatened on January 6th, filibuster the formation of a bipartisan commission to investigate the incident, simply because they are afraid to upset former President Trump, whose election fraud lies led to the incident. It is not only the epitome of political cowardice, but a total dereliction of their oaths as U.S. Senators, to defend the U.S. Constitution. It also inevitably raises the question as to whether the 35 GOP Senators are trying to cover up their direct or indirect involvement with the violent 6th insurrection.

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