‘We’re getting nothing done.’ John McCain’s no-holds-barred lecture to the Senate

(THIS ARTICLE IS COURTESY OF THE WASHINGTON POST)

 

The Fix

‘We’re getting nothing done.’ John McCain’s no-holds-barred lecture to the Senate, annotated

 July 25 at 3:45 PM
 Play Video 3:54
McCain: Senate debates ‘aren’t producing much for the American people’ right now
Sen. John McCain (R-Ariz.) on July 25 addressed senators days after being diagnosed with brain cancer. He said the Senate has become too partisan. (U.S. Senator)

Not even a week after Sen. John McCain (R-Ariz.) announced he was diagnosed with a particularly brutal form of brain cancer, he stood on the Senate floor in Washington, all 99 senators and the vice president at his attention, and delivered an indictment of the modern era’s hyper-politicized environment, Republicans’ secretive health-care process and a wishful look back at the way things used to be. It was an emotional, no-holds barred moment that came right after the Senate voted 50-50 to debate a health-care vote, requiring Vice President Pence to break the tie. We’ve posted his remarks, as prepared, below and annotated it using Genius. Click on the highlighted text to read the annotations.

Mr. President:

I’ve stood in this place many times and addressed as president many presiding officers. I have been so addressed when I have sat in that chair, as close as I will ever be to a presidency.

It is an honorific we’re almost indifferent to, isn’t it. In truth, presiding over the Senate can be a nuisance, a bit of a ceremonial bore, and it is usually relegated to the more junior members of the majority.

But as I stand here today – looking a little worse for wear I’m sure – I have a refreshed appreciation for the protocols and customs of this body, and for the other ninety-nine privileged souls who have been elected to this Senate.

I have been a member of the United States Senate for thirty years. I had another long, if not as long, career before I arrived here, another profession that was profoundly rewarding, and in which I had experiences and friendships that I revere. But make no mistake, my service here is the most important job I have had in my life. And I am so grateful to the people of Arizona for the privilege – for the honor – of serving here and the opportunities it gives me to play a small role in the history of the country I love.

I’ve known and admired men and women in the Senate who played much more than a small role in our history, true statesmen, giants of American politics. They came from both parties, and from various backgrounds. Their ambitions were frequently in conflict. They held different views on the issues of the day. And they often had very serious disagreements about how best to serve the national interest.

But they knew that however sharp and heartfelt their disputes, however keen their ambitions, they had an obligation to work collaboratively to ensure the Senate discharged its constitutional responsibilities effectively. Our responsibilities are important, vitally important, to the continued success of our Republic. And our arcane rules and customs are deliberately intended to require broad cooperation to function well at all. The most revered members of this institution accepted the necessity of compromise in order to make incremental progress on solving America’s problems and to defend her from her adversaries.

That principled mindset, and the service of our predecessors who possessed it, come to mind when I hear the Senate referred to as the world’s greatest deliberative body. I’m not sure we can claim that distinction with a straight face today.

I’m sure it wasn’t always deserved in previous eras either. But I’m sure there have been times when it was, and I was privileged to witness some of those occasions.

Our deliberations today – not just our debates, but the exercise of all our responsibilities – authorizing government policies, appropriating the funds to implement them, exercising our advice and consent role – are often lively and interesting. They can be sincere and principled. But they are more partisan, more tribal more of the time than any other time I remember. Our deliberations can still be important and useful, but I think we’d all agree they haven’t been overburdened by greatness lately. And right now they aren’t producing much for the American people.

Both sides have let this happen. Let’s leave the history of who shot first to the historians. I suspect they’ll find we all conspired in our decline – either by deliberate actions or neglect. We’ve all played some role in it. Certainly I have. Sometimes, I’ve let my passion rule my reason. Sometimes, I made it harder to find common ground because of something harsh I said to a colleague. Sometimes, I wanted to win more for the sake of winning than to achieve a contested policy.

Incremental progress, compromises that each side criticize but also accept, just plain muddling through to chip away at problems and keep our enemies from doing their worst isn’t glamorous or exciting. It doesn’t feel like a political triumph. But it’s usually the most we can expect from our system of government, operating in a country as diverse and quarrelsome and free as ours.

Considering the injustice and cruelties inflicted by autocratic governments, and how corruptible human nature can be, the problem solving our system does make possible, the fitful progress it produces, and the liberty and justice it preserves, is a magnificent achievement.

Our system doesn’t depend on our nobility. It accounts for our imperfections, and gives an order to our individual strivings that has helped make ours the most powerful and prosperous society on earth. It is our responsibility to preserve that, even when it requires us to do something less satisfying than ‘winning.’ Even when we must give a little to get a little. Even when our efforts manage just three yards and a cloud of dust, while critics on both sides denounce us for timidity, for our failure to ‘triumph.’

I hope we can again rely on humility, on our need to cooperate, on our dependence on each other to learn how to trust each other again and by so doing better serve the people who elected us. Stop listening to the bombastic loudmouths on the radio and television and the Internet. To hell with them. They don’t want anything done for the public good. Our incapacity is their livelihood.

Let’s trust each other. Let’s return to regular order. We’ve been spinning our wheels on too many important issues because we keep trying to find a way to win without help from across the aisle. That’s an approach that’s been employed by both sides, mandating legislation from the top down, without any support from the other side, with all the parliamentary maneuvers that requires.

We’re getting nothing done. All we’ve really done this year is confirm Neil Gorsuch to the Supreme Court. Our healthcare insurance system is a mess. We all know it, those who support Obamacare and those who oppose it. Something has to be done. We Republicans have looked for a way to end it and replace it with something else without paying a terrible political price. We haven’t found it yet, and I’m not sure we will. All we’ve managed to do is make more popular a policy that wasn’t very popular when we started trying to get rid of it.

I voted for the motion to proceed to allow debate to continue and amendments to be offered. I will not vote for the bill as it is today. It’s a shell of a bill right now. We all know that. I have changes urged by my state’s governor that will have to be included to earn my support for final passage of any bill. I know many of you will have to see the bill changed substantially for you to support it.

We’ve tried to do this by coming up with a proposal behind closed doors in consultation with the administration, then springing it on skeptical members, trying to convince them it’s better than nothing, asking us to swallow our doubts and force it past a unified opposition. I don’t think that is going to work in the end. And it probably shouldn’t.

The Obama administration and congressional Democrats shouldn’t have forced through Congress without any opposition support a social and economic change as massive as Obamacare. And we shouldn’t do the same with ours.

Why don’t we try the old way of legislating in the Senate, the way our rules and customs encourage us to act. If this process ends in failure, which seem likely, then let’s return to regular order.

Let the Health, Education, Labor, and Pensions Committee under Chairman Alexander and Ranking Member Murray hold hearings, try to report a bill out of committee with contributions from both sides. Then bring it to the floor for amendment and debate, and see if we can pass something that will be imperfect, full of compromises, and not very pleasing to implacable partisans on either side, but that might provide workable solutions to problems Americans are struggling with today.

What have we to lose by trying to work together to find those solutions? We’re not getting much done apart. I don’t think any of us feels very proud of our incapacity. Merely preventing your political opponents from doing what they want isn’t the most inspiring work. There’s greater satisfaction in respecting our differences, but not letting them prevent agreements that don’t require abandonment of core principles, agreements made in good faith that help improve lives and protect the American people.

The Senate is capable of that. We know that. We’ve seen it before. I’ve seen it happen many times. And the times when I was involved even in a modest way with working out a bipartisan response to a national problem or threat are the proudest moments of my career, and by far the most satisfying.

This place is important. The work we do is important. Our strange rules and seemingly eccentric practices that slow our proceedings and insist on our cooperation are important. Our founders envisioned the Senate as the more deliberative, careful body that operates at a greater distance than the other body from the public passions of the hour.

We are an important check on the powers of the Executive. Our consent is necessary for the President to appoint jurists and powerful government officials and in many respects to conduct foreign policy. Whether or not we are of the same party, we are not the President’s subordinates. We are his equal!

As his responsibilities are onerous, many and powerful, so are ours. And we play a vital role in shaping and directing the judiciary, the military, and the cabinet, in planning and supporting foreign and domestic policies. Our success in meeting all these awesome constitutional obligations depends on cooperation among ourselves.

The success of the Senate is important to the continued success of America. This country – this big, boisterous, brawling, intemperate, restless, striving, daring, beautiful, bountiful, brave, good and magnificent country – needs us to help it thrive. That responsibility is more important than any of our personal interests or political affiliations.

We are the servants of a great nation, ‘a nation conceived in liberty and dedicated to the proposition that all men are created equal.’ More people have lived free and prosperous lives here than in any other nation. We have acquired unprecedented wealth and power because of our governing principles, and because our government defended those principles.

America has made a greater contribution than any other nation to an international order that has liberated more people from tyranny and poverty than ever before in history. We have been the greatest example, the greatest supporter and the greatest defender of that order. We aren’t afraid. “We don’t covet other people’s land and wealth. We don’t hide behind walls. We breach them. We are a blessing to humanity.

What greater cause could we hope to serve than helping keep America the strong, aspiring, inspirational beacon of liberty and defender of the dignity of all human beings and their right to freedom and equal justice? That is the cause that binds us and is so much more powerful and worthy than the small differences that divide us.

What a great honor and extraordinary opportunity it is to serve in this body.

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It’s a privilege to serve with all of you. I mean it. Many of you have reached out in the last few days with your concern and your prayers, and it means a lot to me. It really does. I’ve had so many people say such nice things about me recently that I think some of you must have me confused with someone else. I appreciate it though, every word, even if much of it isn’t deserved.

I’ll be here for a few days, I hope managing the floor debate on the defense authorization bill, which, I’m proud to say is again a product of bipartisan cooperation and trust among the members of the Senate Armed Services Committee.

After that, I’m going home for a while to treat my illness. I have every intention of returning here and giving many of you cause to regret all the nice things you said about me. And, I hope, to impress on you again that it is an honor to serve the American people in your company.

Thank you, fellow senators.

Mr. President, I yield the floor.

Sugba Lagoon: A Must-See Gem in Siargao Island

See the beauty of Sugba Lagoon in Siargao and find out how to get there.

Source: Sugba Lagoon: A Must-See Gem in Siargao Island

Mt. Yangbew, La Trinidad, Benguet, Philippines

18Megapixel

This mountain located in Tawang, La Trinidad, Benguet, Philippines has been blessed with different names by the locals and tourists. It was named Mt. Yangbao, Yambo, Yangbo, Jumbo, Jambo, and some other similar sounding names. But, just this year, 2016, the mountain has been given its official name: “Mt. Yangbew”.

The mountain is a grassland similar to that of Mt. Pulag (3rd Highest Mountain in the Philippines) that is the reason why it is sometimes called the “Little Pulag”. If you cannot climb a 2,922masl mountain, you can go here.

It caters a scenic 360 degrees view……..

READ MORE CLICK HERE

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For China’s Global Ambitions, ‘Iran Is at the Center of Everything’

(THIS ARTICLE IS COURTESY OF THE NEW YORK TIMES)

 

Photo

An Iranian employee at the Pardis Kaghaz Pazh recycled paper factory in Neyshabur, Iran, one of eight factories established by Zuao Ru Lin, a Chinese entrepreneur from Beijing.CreditArash Khamooshi for The New York Times

NEYSHABUR, Iran — When Zuao Ru Lin, a Beijing entrepreneur, first heard about business opportunities in eastern Iran, he was skeptical. But then he bought a map and began to envision the region without any borders, as one enormous market.

“Many countries are close by, even Europe,” Mr. Lin, 49, said while driving his white BMW over the highway connecting Tehran to the eastern Iranian city of Mashhad recently. “Iran is at the center of everything.”

For millenniums, Iran has prospered as a trading hub linking East and West. Now, that role is set to expand in coming years as China unspools its “One Belt, One Road” project, which promises more than $1 trillion in infrastructure investment — bridges, rails, ports and energy — in over 60 countries across Europe, Asia and Africa. Iran, historically a crossroads, is strategically at the center of those plans.

Like pieces of a sprawling geopolitical puzzle, components of China’s infrastructure network are being put in place. In eastern Iran, Chinese workers are busily modernizing one of the country’s major rail routes, standardizing gauge sizes, improving the track bed and rebuilding bridges, with the ultimate goal of connecting Tehran to Turkmenistan and Afghanistan.

Much the same is happening in western Iran, where railroad crews are working to link the capital to Turkey and, eventually, to Europe. Other rail projects will connect Tehran and Mashhad with deep water ports in the country’s south.

Continue reading the main story

Once dependent on Beijing during the years of international isolation imposed by the West for its nuclear program, Iran is now critical to China’s ability to realize its grandiose ambitions. Other routes to Western markets are longer and lead through Russia, potentially a competitor of China.

“It is not as if their project is canceled if we don’t participate,” said Asghar Fakhrieh-Kashan, the Iranian deputy minister of roads and urban development. “But if they want to save time and money, they will choose the shortest route.”

He added with a smile: “There are also political advantages to Iran, compared to Russia. They are highly interested in working with us.”

Photo

Mr. Lin visiting the Khavaran Alyaf Parsian polyester factory. He established his factories along what will be a key part of the “One Belt, One Road” trade route. Credit  Khamooshi for The New York Times

Others worry that with the large-scale Chinese investment and China’s growing presence in the Iranian economy, Tehran will become more dependent than ever on China, already its biggest trading partner.

China is also an important market for Iranian oil, and because of remaining unilateral American sanctions that intimidate global banks, it is the only source of the large amounts of capital Iran needs to finance critical infrastructure projects. But that, apparently, is a risk the leadership is prepared to take.

“China is dominating Iran,” said Mehdi Taghavi, an economics professor at Allameh Tabataba’i University in Tehran, adding that the “Iranian authorities do not see any drawbacks to being dependent on China. Together, we are moving ahead.”

It is not just roads and rail lines that Iran is getting from China. Iran is also becoming an increasingly popular destination for Chinese entrepreneurs like Mr. Lin. With a few words of Persian, as well as low-interest loans and tax breaks from the Chinese and Iranian governments, he has built a small empire since moving to Iran in 2002. His eight factories make a wide variety of goods that find markets in Iran and in neighboring countries.

“You can say that I was even more visionary than some of our politicians,” Mr. Lin said with a laugh. Since 2013, when the “One Belt, One Road” plan was started, he has had dozens of visitors from China and multiple meetings with the Chinese ambassador in Tehran. “I was a pioneer, and they want to hear my experiences,” he said.

Mr. Lin established his factories along what will be a key part of the trade route — a 575-mile electrified rail line linking Tehran and Mashhad, financed with a $1.6 billion loan from China. When completed and attached to the wider network, the new line will enable Mr. Lin to export his goods as far as northern Europe, Poland and Russia, at much less cost than today.

“I am expecting a 50 percent increase in revenue,” Mr. Lin said. He lit another cigarette. “Of course, Iran’s economy will also grow. China will expand. Its power will grow.”

He played Chinese pop music in his car and tapped his fingers on the wheel. “Life is good in Iran,” he said. “The future is good.”

Photo

Iranian and Chinese employees working at the recycled paper factory. Credit  Khamooshi for The New York Times

Iranians who spotted Mr. Lin driving between his factories waved and smiled. Having mastered a few basic phrases in Persian over the years, he said “hi” and “goodbye” to some of his 2,000 employees. Iranians are hard workers, he said, but he does not like their food. “We grow our own vegetables and eat Chinese food,” he said. “Just like home.”

Even when the boss was out of earshot, workers in his factories said that they were very happy with the Chinese. “They pay every month on time and only hire people instead of fire,” Amir Dalilian, a guard, said. “If more will come, our economy will flourish.”

When finished, the proposed rail link will stretch nearly 2,000 miles, from Urumqi, the capital of China’s western region of Xinjiang, to Tehran. If all goes according to plan, it will connect Kazakhstan, Kyrgyzstan, Uzbekistan and Turkmenistan, China’s state-owned paper, China Daily, wrote. Track sizes need to be adjusted and new connections made, as well as upgrades to the newest trains.

In a 2016 test, China and Iran drove a train from the port of Shanghai in eastern China to Tehran in just 12 days, a journey that takes 30 days by sea. In Iran, they used the existing track between Tehran and Mashhad, powered by a slower diesel-powered train. When the new line is opened in 2021, it is expected to accommodate electric trains at speeds up to 125 miles an hour.

Mr. Fakhrieh-Kashan, an English speaker who oversees negotiation of most of the larger international state business deals, said the Chinese initiative would do much more than just provide a channel for transporting goods. “Think infrastructure, city planning, cultural exchanges, commercial agreements, investments and tourism,” he said. “You can pick any project, they are all under this umbrella.”

Business ties between Iran and China have been growing since the United States and its European allies at the time started pressuring Iran over its nuclear program around 2007. China remains the largest buyer of Iranian crude, even after Western sanctions were lifted in 2016, allowing Iran to again sell oil in European markets.

Chinese state companies are active all over the country, building highways, digging mines and making steel. Tehran’s shops are flooded with Chinese products and its streets clogged with Chinese cars.

Iran’s leaders hope that the country’s participation in the plan will enable them to piggyback on China’s large economic ambitions.

“The Chinese plan is designed in such a way that it will establish Chinese hegemony across half of the world,” Mr. Fakhrieh-Kashan said. “While Iran will put its own interests first, we are creating corridors at the requests of the Chinese. It will give us huge access to new markets.”

Iran already has a lot of problems, Is Banking Crisis Next

(THIS ARTICLE IS COURTESY OF CNBC NEWS)

 

Iran already has a lot of problems, and the next one could be a banking crisis

  • Iran’s stock market is up 3 percent in 2017
  • The country’s top fund that takes foreign investment has soared 12 percent
  • But a banking crisis could derail hope of economic normalcy

1 Hour Ago 

A trader speaks with a stock market official beneath the electronic board at the Tehran Stock Exchange, Sept. 15, 2010.

Caren Firouz | Reuters
A trader speaks with a stock market official beneath the electronic board at the Tehran Stock Exchange, Sept. 15, 2010.

Nothing is easy for Iran’s economy these days, and things could soon get even tougher.

The U.S. House of Representatives is expected to pass a bill Tuesday to put new sanctions on Russia, North Korea — and Iran. A Senate version passed overwhelmingly last month.

Iran is being targeted for its activities in Syria, its ballistic missile program and other “destabilizing activities,” according to the Senate’s version of the legislation. Under the terms of the 2015 Iran Nuclear Deal, Tehran is not immune to new sanctions as punishment for activities outside of the country’s nuclear program.

Men use their smartphones to follow election news as posters of Iran's President Hassan Rouhani are seen in Tehran, Iran May 17, 2017.

TIMA | Reuters
Men use their smartphones to follow election news as posters of Iran’s President Hassan Rouhani are seen in Tehran, Iran May 17, 2017.

Ramin Rabii, CEO of Turquoise Partners, Tehran’s largest investment firm for foreign money, said “there is definitely some worry over new sanctions, especially of their impact on business with Europe and Asia.”

There are bright spots, however, for the Iranian economy: “One of President (Hassan) Rouhani’s greatest achievements,” said Rabii, “has been to lower inflation from 45 percent down to a much more manageable 10 percent.”

The next big economic problem?

But that moderating inflation has caused another problem to surface. Lower inflation combined with soaring interest rates — sometimes as high as 25 percent — have the country’s top banking officials warning of a potential crisis.

During the presidency of Mahmoud Ahmadinejad, many banks were pressured into making risky loans with the short-term goal of propping up parts of the economy. Now, many of the recipients of those loans, often small to mid-sized businesses with narrow profit margins, are having trouble keeping up with the payments.

“We have seen a big increase in European corporations coming to Iran, although inflow of foreign portfolio investment is still slow. It’s better than it was, but it is still slow.”-Ramin Rabii, CEO of Turquoise Partners

That said, any crisis that occurs is likely to be less severe than the 2008 catastrophe that struck the United States because Iran generally has much less debt in its economy. But the threat remains significant.

The prospect of a banking crisis is so serious that in a speech earlier this year, the head of Iran’s central bank, Valiollah Seif, warned financial executives that non-performing loans were a threat to all the gains the Rouhani government is making on the economic front. While he has proposed possible solutions, nothing has been agreed upon.

Turquoise’s fund has no bank holdings — Rabii said he exited the sector three years ago. He said he believes the central bank may need to intervene in the next 18 months to stave off a major threat.

Year-to-date, Turquoise’s signature fund is up 12 percent, easily outpacing Tehran’s main benchmark, which is up 3 percent. Turquoise has holdings in Iranian industrials, refined petroleum and the chemical sector.

“We have seen a big increase in European corporations coming to Iran, although inflow of foreign portfolio investment is still slow,” he said. “It’s better than it was, but it is still slow.”

A Different Mexico

Wish I Were Here

Rosarito Beach, Mexico – July 1998

Sometimes I wonder if certain places are imprinted on our souls. Despite all efforts, we are destined to return to these places, over and over, until we’ve learned what we’re supposed to learn.

Once again, this beach. Coarse, dirty sand. Gray-blue waves. Sea mist clings to my skin like scum. Even under this bright July sun everything seems to be covered in a dingy film. I just want to scrub it all off. Once again, I’ve allowed myself to be coerced into coming here. Maya and Deanna’s friend Landy invited us to his family’s vacation home. In the excitement of making preparations, no one noticed my silent hesitation. I didn’t have an excuse to stay behind. I was between jobs. I had the money. Maya rolled her eyes when I told her aboutwhat had happened here before, about what that man did to…

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Les préjugés…

"An Tony'M"

Les préjugés entraînent des comportements de stigmatisation et de discrimination envers les personnes atteintes de maladies ou autres…En d’autres mots, les gens jugent ces personnes négativement et les rejettent ou les évitent souvent. Ainsi, la différence suscite encore aujourd’hui des craintes et de la honte chez certaines personnes..

    “Les hommes ne peuvent s’entendre que sur des préjugés.”

                                                                  Henry de Montherlant

Certaines personnes atteintes d’une maladie trouvent que ces comportements de stigmatisation et de discrimination sont parfois plus difficiles à vivre que la maladie en elle-même.

Les préjugés envers la maladie existent dans la société tout comme chez les personnes atteintes elles-mêmes. Ces préjugés découragent les personnes atteintes de demander de l’aide. Ces comportements reflètent de…

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De quelques métiers pittoresques

Au delà des sentiers

marchande-frites

A côté des commerçants patentés et des travailleurs dûment syndiqués, il existe des originaux qui, sans le moindre capital, arrivent à gagner leur vie, parfois même à s’enrichir, à l’aide de métiers d’une ingéniosité parfois véritablement fantastique. Certains milieux un peu spéciaux de ce qu’on a appelé le bas du pavé parisien offrent une inépuisable mine de types pittoresques qui eussent fait la joie d’un Callot ou d’un Breughel.

Voici d’abord le sculpteur sur viande : il se fait payer assez cher pour adorner de rosaces et de croix de malte les pièces de choix exposées à la devanture des boucheries. Le vernisseur de pattes de dindons qui, bien des jours après leur trépas, conserve aux gallinacées une apparente fraîcheur. le fabricant de crêtes de coq taillées à l’emporte-pièce dans un palais de bœuf. Le même industriel fournit aussi à certains établissements des rognons de coq préparés avec des…

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Impression en 3D d’un cœur en silicone

Nuage Ciel d'Azur

comme celui d’un être humain.

Pour cela, un dispositif gonflable permet, selon la quantité d’air mise sous pression, de gonfler ou de dégonfler la chambre.

. Car si la ressemblance anatomique avec un cœur humain est parfaite et s’il est trois fois plus léger que celui développé par la société de biotechnologie française Carmat,

La course vers le cœur artificiel parfait sera rude, car ‘autres

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Le lien…

"An Tony'M"

Le lien social est une notion fondamentale dans la relation entre les individus, qu’elle soit virtuelle ou réelle”.                                         

                                                                                                    An Tony’M                                  

Cela se définit au XIXe siècle, comme l’expression du paradoxe entre la tendance à l’individualisme et l’instinct de solidarité organique entre les hommes. Une définition qui reste incroyablement d’actualité dans le cadre des relations sur Internet… Dans tous les cas, il régit…

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Daughter of a bookstore Owner

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