Bernie Sanders

The independent socialist senator from Vermont appeared on The Colbert Report and gave his take on what the state of the nation is. Being a socialist, he has little difficulty talking about class and the oligarchy. His condemnation of the way that the very rich have taken over the country and his call for a single-payer system of health were both wildly cheered by the audience.
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Save us from these ‘humanitarians’

Samantha Power, the current US Ambassador to the UN, is one of those ‘liberal interventionists’, people who like to think of themselves as liberals but are always on the look out for ‘good’ wars to wage to show how tough they are, a disease that many Democrats suffer from. It does not seem to bother them that all the other military interventions have been disastrous, not least for the people at the receiving end of our military largesse.
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Laura Poitras speaks!

The notoriously publicity-shy documentarian is making the rounds promoting her Edward Snowden documentary Citizenfour (see my review here) and she appeared on The Daily Show. Jon Stewart makes the same point that I did, that the picture of Snowden that was painted by his early critics has no resemblance to the person seen in the film and that he seems to an earnest, idealistic young man who realized that he had information the people needed to know and was willing to take the risk to tell them. Poitras thinks that history will vindicate Snowden like it has with Daniel Ellsberg
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What the defeat of the NSA ‘reform’ bill means

Last evening the US Senate failed to break a filibuster of the “USA Freedom Act”, the now-common grandiose patriotic name given to legislation that usually signals the opposite of what its intent is. This was supposed to reform the abuses of the intelligence agencies that have been revealed by Edward Snowden and it did tinker with it at the edges but the fact that the bill was supported by the Obama administration should be a good clue that it was pretty much a toothless tiger.
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A very modest suggestion to improve elections

The system of elections in the US is clearly broken.

The way that big money now dominates who gets to be on the ballot, the gerrymandering of districts to ensure that one party gets entrenched, and the barriers to voting that have been erected that seek to make it harder for some groups, especially the young, poorer, and people of color to vote, all are markings of a corrupt system. Various reforms have been suggested, and this article gives some alternatives, all of which have the benefit of slightly loosening the stranglehold that the two major parties currently have.
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Joaquin Castro

Joaquin Castro is a Democratic congressman from Texas. He, like his twin brother Julian who used to be mayor of San Antonio and is now secretary of Housing and Urban Development, represents the next generation of Democratic party leadership. He was interviewed recently on The Daily Show and sounded good. Let’s hope they do better and not sell out as easily as that other once-rising hopeful Cory Booker, who seems to be completely in the pockets of Wall Street.
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Will the oligarchy trigger a revolution in the US?

The political system in the US is, if not actually broken, on the verge of collapse. We have a system where the oligarchy has taken complete control of the system to ensure that only those candidates who are friendly to its goals of vacuuming up as much wealth as it can from the rest of society get on the ballot as representatives of the major parties, so that whichever candidate wins is practically immaterial to them.
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Daniel Larison on the Iraq war

The American Conservative is a publication for US conservatives who are trying to hold on to what used to be an honorable political tradition and not the crazy set of jingoistic and reactionary views that the Republican party now represents. In a recent issue Daniel Larison roundly condemns the Iraq war that George W. Bush started against Iraq and all the conservatives who supported it at the time, not sparing those who now express some reservations
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The mayor and the gang signs

The reports of abuse by police departments all over the country have been gaining increased attention and drawing much needed attention to the need for elected officials to exert greater control over them. Not every one does, with many preferring to turn a blind eye. And when they do something, even to the mere extent of speaking out against police abuses, the police can retaliate against them using their allies in the media, as the mayor of Minneapolis found out.
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