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Abe Sauer, a frequent commentator on gun culture and concealed-carry weapon permit holder, sees no change since then:
Attempts to implement gun control failed nationally; the NRA’s “good guy with a gun” solution has become a wedge issue for Tea Party activists to challenge moderate incumbents and even resulted in the recall of state legislators who were successful in shepherding some regulations through. …
School and workplace shootings have continued unabated since Sandy Hook. And yet no meaningful gun legislation has been passed
As the U.S. military begins to wind down its engagement in
Afghanistan, it awaits a signing on a security agreement with Kabul on the
numbers of U.S. and NATO troops who’ll remain. Obama, in the speech, said “a
small force of Americans could remain in Afghanistan … to carry out two narrow
missions: training and assisting Afghan forces, and counter terrorism
operations to pursue any remnants of Al Qaida.” The U.S. commander in
at least 10,000 troops, in contrast to the White House, which is said to
prefer a smaller number of around 1-2,000.
As it is, it’s not clear if current
Afghan President Hamid Karzai will sign any such agreement before the national
elections scheduled for the spring. Rather than attempting to maintain a
positive relationship with Washington, Karzai has been openly critical of U.S.
military action in Afghanistan. This week the Afghan government held a press
the U.S. of bombing a village recently and killing women and children, yet
the photographic evidence produced was for victims of a strike from three years
Elizabeth Goitein, co-director of the Liberty and National Security Program at the Brennan Center, says the moment for government redemption is fading fast:
The government attempts to reassure us by citing its internal oversight mechanisms and the lack of evidence (thus far) of willful overreach. But any system that relies so heavily on self-policing courts failure. …
The window of opportunity to rein in these activities is small and closing. If Congress and the public give their blessing to the recently revealed programs, they will become the new baseline for permissible surveillance. We must decide now whether we want our union to become a surveillance state.
For more, read “The real state of the union: Civil liberties.”
In 2012, perhaps in a
bid to soothe Israeli nerves as neighboring Arab nations rose up in revolt,
Obama made his first State of the Union reference to Israel, calling the
alliance between Washington and Tel Aviv “ironclad” and “the closest military
cooperation between our two countries in history.”
This year, as Secretary of
State John Kerry attempts what many view as a long-shot effort to forge a new
peace deal with the Palestinian leadership, and amid a debate over whether two
countries can even emerge out of the occupation, Obama made his first reference
to Israel as “a Jewish state,” one that “knows America will always be at their
Obama reiterated a claim he made after the killing of Osama bin Laden in 2011 that Al Qaida was “on its heels”, claiming the group’s core leadership was “on a path to defeat,” while acknowledging “the threat has evolved,” as Al Qaida affiliates and “other extremists take root in different parts of the world.” He mentions Yemen, Somalia, Iraq and Mali, and Syria. Emboldened in Iraq, Al Qaida has taken over swathes of territory in Anbar province, while providing support to fighters attacking the Assad regime. In Mali an Al Qaida affiliate recently revealed documents detailing its bid to establish a caliphate in the African state.
But rather than being on the path to defeat, the group and the affiliates it has spawned continues to launch attacks. Al Shabab, an offshoot of Al Qaida, controls large parts of southern Somalia, Al-Qaida in the Arab Peninsula was suspected last year of backing a plot to attack U.S. facilities across the Middle East and prompted an emergency closure of more than two dozen diplomatic buildings in the region. It has emerged as the most dangerous of all the affiliates, according to a recent report from the Council of Foreign Relations.
In 2012, a year after the Arab uprisings, Obama hailed “a wave of change [that] has washed across the Middle East and North Africa, from Tunis to Cairo; from Sana’a to Tripoli.” He pledged to “support policies that lead to strong and stable democracies and open markets, because tyranny is no match for liberty.” Two years later, Libya and Egypt have disappeared from the speech, and Obama’s language on democracy has become broader and vaguer: “From Tunisia to Burma, we’re supporting those who are willing to do the hard work of building democracy.” With an army general climbing to power in Egypt on the backs of several mass killings and Libya the scene of lawlessness that led to the death of a US ambassador, Obama’s administration has been hard-pressed to find a bright spot.
Obama made clear that, “In Syria, we’ll support the opposition that rejects the agenda of terrorist networks,” with no indication as to how. Similarly, he made no call on the regime of Bashar al Assad to step down. In 2013 he promised, “We’ll keep the pressure on a Syrian regime that has murdered its own people."In 2012, he said “ Syria, I have no doubt that the Assad regime will soon discover that the forces of change cannot be reversed, and that human dignity cannot be denied.”
“In America, the test of any political movement is not what that movement is against, but what it is for. The founders made a point at Boston Harbor, but they made history in Philadelphia’s Independence Hall.”
“Today, Americans know in their hearts that something is wrong. Much of what is wrong relates to the sense that the ‘American Dream’ is falling out of reach for far too many of us. We are facing an inequality crisis — one to which the President has paid lip-service, but seems uninterested in truly confronting or correcting.”
“But where does this new inequality come from? From government — every time it takes rights and opportunities away from the American people and gives them instead to politicians, bureaucrats, and special interests.”
“Throughout the last five years, President Obama has promised an economy for the middle class; but all he’s delivered is an economy for the middle-men.”
“We have a new generation of leaders in Washington with positive, innovative ideas – thoughtful policy reforms to, as my friend Senator Ted Cruz says –“Make D.C. listen.” Reforms to help poor families work their way into the middle class, to help middle-class families start to get ahead, and to level the playing field and put corporate and political insiders back to work for the rest of us.”
“All of these proposals within this new conservative reform agenda, along with many more to come, mark the road to Philadelphia. These principles and these policies will work - and will put Americans back to work. Not just by cutting big government, but by fixing broken government. Not just by making government smaller but by promoting bigger citizens, stronger families and more heroic communities. Our goal should be an America where everyone has a fair chance to pursue happiness - and find it. That’s what it looks like when protest grows into reform.”
"We hope the president will join us in a year of real action - by empowering people, not making their lives harder with unprecedented spending, higher taxes and fewer jobs. As Republicans, we advance these plans every day because we believe in a government that trusts people and doesn't limit where you finish because of where you started. That is what we stand for - for an America that is every bit as compassionate as it is exceptional." - Rep. Cathy McMorris Rodgers, R-Wash., in the official GOP response.
"The president's willingness to take bold executive action on immigration reform is an important step, but Congress must act to take the broader, permanent action that is needed. Beyond the important result of keeping families together, immigration reform will strengthen our economy and allow law enforcement officials to focus on catching real criminals." - Rep. Jared Polis, D-Colo.
"Americans know in their hearts that something is wrong. Much of what is wrong relates to the sense that the `American Dream' is falling out of reach for far too many of us. ... We are facing an inequality crisis - one to which the president has paid lip-service, but seems uninterested in truly confronting or correcting." - Sen. Mike Lee, R-Utah, speaking on behalf of the Tea Party Express.
"While the president's policies are proving to be some of the most blunder-prone in history, the 59 state legislative chambers led by Republicans are implementing major reforms that are having a positive impact and statewide Republican officials across the nation are leading with decisive action. No matter how hard President Obama tries to claim that 2014 will be a `year of action' his track record of lies to sell Obamacare and his botched leadership of a dysfunctional Washington make us hope his actions will be limited at best." - Rep. Bill McCollum, R-Fla.
"We were hopeful that President Obama would outline an ambitious new plan or offer more forms of executive relief to stop deportations. The president did not even mention a word on deportations. Although Obama had sympathetic rhetoric, we have seen this fall through before when he was not able to reform immigration in his first year as promised." - Cesar Vargas, co-director of the Dream Action Coalition.
House Speaker John Boehner responds to President Obama's address:
“After five years, President Obama is clearly out of ideas. With few bipartisan proposals, Americans heard a president more interested in advancing ideology than in solving the problems regular folks are talking about. Instead of our areas of common ground, the president focused too much on the things that divide us – many we’ve heard before – and warnings of unilateral action. The president must understand his power is limited by our constitution, and the authority he does have doesn’t add up to much for those without opportunity in this economy.”