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Monday, Sep 22nd

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So, just how powerful is the Israel lobby in the US?

AIPACThe correct term, as Hagel quickly acknowledged last week, is "Israel lobby".

And that is precisely what it is: one of the most potent advocacy groups in Washington DC, and not only here. Few of its spokesmen were more forceful than Ed Koch, the colourful former mayor of New York who died on Friday. Koch, child of Jewish immigrants from Poland, was a passionate Israel supporter, and accused Obama of "turning his back on Israel" by naming Hagel to the Pentagon, which he called "a terrible appointment".

There are those who claim that the lobby's clout is vastly exaggerated, insisting that far from being a sinister body subverting US foreign policy in one of the world's most unstable regions, it is pushing at an open door. Even without a lobby, the thesis runs, Americans would be overwhelmingly supportive of Israel. Which may be true, but misses the point.

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CIA nominee had detailed knowledge of "enhanced interrogation techniques"

Joshn BrennanJohn Brennan, President Barack Obama's nominee to head the CIA, had detailed, contemporaneous knowledge of the use of "enhanced interrogation techniques" on captured terrorism suspects during an earlier stint as a top spy agency official, according to multiple sources familiar with official records.

Those records, the sources said, show that Brennan was a regular recipient of CIA message traffic about controversial aspects of the agency's counter-terrorism program after September 2001, including the use of "waterboarding."

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The GOP Plan to Steal Elections

GOPI’m optimistic about the Republican Party. Does that surprise you? Well, let me qualify that. When I say I’m optimistic about the Republican Party, I am referring of course to the old joke in which the pessimist says, “Geez, things sure can’t get any worse,” and the optimist replies, “Oh, yes they can!”

When the subject is today’s GOP and the conservative movement, things can always get worse. Having attempted virtually every dishonest and cynical trick in the book under existing rules, they have decided now that the problem is not their dishonesty or cynicism, but the existing rules, so the new task is to change them.

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Colin Powell: GOP has 'a dark vein of intolerance'

Colin PowellWhile continuing to identify as a Republican, former Secretary of State Colin Powell on Sunday criticized the GOP for a series of racist attacks against President Barack Obama.

"There's also a dark vein of intolerance in some parts of the party," Powell said on NBC's "Meet the Press." "What do I mean by that?  What I mean by that is they still sort of look down on minorities."

Powell, who endorsed Obama, pointed to a number of statements that were directed at Obama as evidence that there is still racism within the party.

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Obama allies gather war chest to do battle with NRA

Taking on the NRA

The White House is working with its allies on a well-financed campaign in Washington and around the country to shift public opinion toward stricter gun laws and provide political cover to lawmakers who end up voting for an assault-weapons ban or other restrictions on firearms.

With President Obama preparing to push a legislative agenda aimed at curbing the nation’s gun violence, pillars of his political network, along with independent groups, are raising millions of dollars and mapping out strategies in an attempt to shepherd new regulations through Congress.

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Obama to pick Chuck Hagel for Pentagon

Chuck HagelPresident Barack Obama has settled on Chuck Hagel, a Republican and former U.S. senator from Nebraska, to succeed Defense Secretary Leon Panetta, with an announcement expected Monday, Democratic officials tell POLITICO.

The choice of Hagel, who opposed his party on the Iraq War as a senator, is likely to ignite a raucous confirmation battle because several Democratic interest groups and prominent Republicans have voiced strong opposition since Hagel’s vetting for the job was reported five weeks ago.

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Who paid for the Log Cabin Republicans' anti-Hagel NYT ad?

Anti Hagel adThe gay GOP group confirms the ad was funded by outside donors, but refuses to identify them or their cause.

Last Thursday, the gay GOP group Log Cabin Republicans (LCR) placed a full-page ad in the New York Times that attacked Chuck Hagel as anti-Israel and anti-gay and urged President Obama not to appoint him as Defense Secretary. This was quite a strange event for multiple reasons.

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