Only a few aging historians still remember Rep. John J. Rooney, but from the 1940s into the 1970s he was FBI Director J. Edgar Hoover's most powerful enabler. Rooney, a Brooklyn, N.Y., Democrat, led the House appropriations subcommittee that oversaw the Justice Department. He remained Hoover's steadfast ally as presidents from Truman through Nixon came and went.
John Rooney personified an era in which congressional Democrats eagerly aided and abetted the FBI's running amok, as the bureau surveilled political activists who attracted Hoover's ire. Rooney's retirement in 1974 ushered in a radically different age, featuring rigorous and aggressive congressional oversight. A new generation of Democrats, led by principled progressives like Sen. Frank Church and Rep. Otis Pike, courageously proved ready and willing to expose and eliminate the abuse of Americans' constitutional rights that had long been Hoover's political bread and butter. read more
Bari Weiss, New York Times: Imagine this: The author of the most popular book in the country goes on Bill Maher's show and says the following about President Barack Obama: "There is something in the book that I was absolutely sure of but it was so incendiary that I just didn't have the ultimate proof," he says. "I didn't have the blue dress." The host pushes the coy writer for a hint. "You just have to read between the lines toward the end of the book," the writer answers. "When you hit that paragraph you're going to say, 'Bingo!'" Within moments, every person with a copy turns to the last bit. The woman's name jumps out as if it was printed in boldface: Samantha Power, the United Nations ambassador. "The president has been spending a notable amount of private time," the book says, with her on Air Force One. Do I have to tell you what the reaction to this rumor-mongering would be? read more
America's comfort level with the LGBTQ population is declining, according to GLADD, one of the oldest and largest LGBTQ organizations. GLAAD reports a drop of 3 to 4 percent drop in people's reported "comfort levels" with several scenarios, such as learning a family member is gay. "This year, the acceptance pendulum abruptly stopped and swung in the opposite direction," the report states. "More non-LGBTQ adults responded that they were very' or somewhat' uncomfortable around LGBTQ people in select scenarios." The decline is paired with a significant increase in LGBTQ people reporting discrimination because of sexual orientation or gender identity," the report continues. "This change can be seen as a dangerous repercussion in the tenor of discourse and experience over the last year. 2017 brought heightened rhetoric toward marginalized communities to the forefront of American culture." The survey incorporated 2,100 respondents...and has been in place for several years.
Since Attorney General Jeff Sessions was confirmed to head the Department of Justice (DOJ) nearly one year ago, he has been making an impact in which the rule of law has more of a place than it ever did in the Obama DOJ under Eric Holder and Loretta Lynch.
While the White House has confirmed that since the Jerusalem Declaration there has been a complete disconnect between the Palestinian Authority and the Trump administration, it turns out that the previous administration has maintained contact with PA officials. Maariv reported that former US secretary of state John Kerry met in London with a close associate of PA President Mahmoud Abbas, Hussein Agha, for a long and open conversation about a variety of topics. Agha apparently reported details of the conversation to senior PA officials in Ramallah. A senior PA official confirmed to Maariv that the meeting took place. [snip] During the conversation, according to the report, Kerry asked Agha to convey a message to Abbas and ask him to "hold on and be strong." Tell him, he told Agha, "that he should stay strong in his spirit and play for time, that he will not break and will not yield to President [Donald] Trump's demands."