Archive of Articles for January, 2014

The History Of Rev. Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. And The F.B.I.

[ Posted Monday, January 20th, 2014 – 18:41 UTC ]

Almost immediately after Martin Luther King formed the Southern Christian Leadership Council (S.C.L.C.) in 1957, the F.B.I. began a trail of internal memos warning that the group was "a likely target for communist infiltration." Within a year, King had his own personal F.B.I. file. But it wasn't until 1962 that surveillance of King would be ratcheted up -- which was approved personally by Attorney General Robert F. Kennedy. By November of 1963, all of King's phones -- both at home and at the S.C.L.C.'s offices -- would be wiretapped.

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Friday Talking Points [287] -- In Other News...

[ Posted Friday, January 17th, 2014 – 18:07 UTC ]

Before we begin this week's political wrapup, please be advised that President Obama's speech on reforming the National Security Agency won't be covered here today. Obama just gave the speech this morning, and we feel it is too important to offer up snap judgments, preferring instead to let it percolate for a few days before commenting on the substance of the speech or the newly-announced policies.

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Obama Should Announce Ban On National Security Letters

[ Posted Thursday, January 16th, 2014 – 17:38 UTC ]

President Obama is slated to give a momentous speech tomorrow, on the subject of what changes should be made to the National Security Administration and all of the other alphabet-soup agencies which provide intelligence to the federal government. Much attention has been paid to the N.S.A.'s activities, due mostly to the revelations from Edward Snowden. But there's one subject which Obama should address which has been discussed for years -- ending the blatantly unconstitutional practice of issuing "national security letters." Obama should take the opportunity tomorrow to announce he is adopting one of the key recommendations his oversight commission proposed: forcing judicial oversight of national security letters. In plain terms, making them similar to all other search warrants, to comply with the Fourth Amendment.

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Snowden, The Pentagon Papers, And COINTELPRO

[ Posted Wednesday, January 15th, 2014 – 17:32 UTC ]

President Barack Obama is scheduled to give a speech later this week where he will outline changes to be made to the National Security Agency and their ability to collect information. This will be a pivotal speech in the realm of national security and how the federal government operates, especially with regards to the privacy of its own citizens. There is no mistaking the truth, however, that this presidential shift in attitude has come as the result of one man's actions: Edward Snowden. Without Snowden's revelations about the N.S.A., we simply wouldn't be at this point in history.

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Pay It Forward

[ Posted Tuesday, January 14th, 2014 – 16:57 UTC ]

New Jersey's governor was just in the news, but because it was unrelated to all the other Chris Christie stories circulating right now, it likely will be ignored by most of the public. Democratic officeholders and candidates for office would do well, however, to pay it a bit more attention. Because this is seems like a tailor-made issue for Democrats to campaign on this fall (and beyond).

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Christie's Chances

[ Posted Monday, January 13th, 2014 – 18:04 UTC ]

We return to our occasional series of "Wildly Early 2016 Presidential Speculation" articles, because of Washington's current obsession over how much damage Chris Christie has done to his chances to become the next Republican nominee for president. Has Christie hurt his chances beyond all repair? Or will (as some of his supporters are beginning to claim) the entire episode actually help out Christie, two years from now?

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Friday Talking Points [286] -- Bullygate

[ Posted Friday, January 10th, 2014 – 17:43 UTC ]

Welcome back to our regular Friday roundup of politics! We've been on hiatus for quite a while now, since we took two weeks off to dole out our year-end awards, and then last week we were just sick as a dog, which precluded all rational thought (much less trying to type coherently). So we've got a lot to cover this week, and our apologies in advance for all the stuff we're bound to have missed in the past month.

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Bridgegate? Really?

[ Posted Thursday, January 9th, 2014 – 17:35 UTC ]

New Jersey governor Chris Christie is in full damage-control mode today, in a desperate attempt to salvage his political career from the depths of a rather ugly scandal. To this end, Christie gave a rather extraordinary two-hour press conference where he concentrated mostly on himself (as is his normal style). Whether he'll be successful at distancing himself from the ugliness or whether it'll sink his future chances of attaining higher office remain to be seen, at this point. But since the rest of the political universe seems to adequately be covering this key question, I thought I'd take a bigger-picture sort of viewpoint today, to ask a crucial question of my own: "Bridgegate? Really?"

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Reality Enters The Political Conversation

[ Posted Wednesday, January 8th, 2014 – 18:11 UTC ]

The dawning of the new year may usher in a seismic shift for at least two subjects in the political arena, because for the first time both proponents and opponents will be forced to frame their arguments based on actual, verifiable reality rather than just wildly overblown hopes or fears. The outcomes are uncertain at this point (since the new year is barely a week old), but the shift towards discussing hard data and facts rather than "this or that might happen" should be a welcome one, if only because we've had so much previous speculation (both good and bad) on the issues of Obamacare and marijuana legalization. From now on, asserting the inevitability of any particular outcome will become impossible, because there will be proof rather than just unfounded supposition. Which should be a welcome change to anyone wishing to intelligently weigh the benefits and drawbacks rather than just exchange political spin.

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An Immodest Statue Idea

[ Posted Tuesday, January 7th, 2014 – 18:21 UTC ]

In short, if I had the time, money, and energy to propose a statehouse monument somewhere (where a Ten Commandments display already exists), what I would propose is a honkin' big statue to honor the god of Venus. Create a "Temple of Venus" group and sue to erect a gigantic statue of a beautiful nude female, arising from the waves! Hey, I warned you this was going to be an immodest proposal, right up front.

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