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Washington Watch: Week 17

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The Drones are Coming...the Drones are Here
This past week, President Obama delivered a major foreign policy speech at the National Defense University in Washington, DC. He addressed the nation's counter-terrorism strategy, including the use of drones for national defense, saying:

"From our use of drones to the detention of terrorist suspects, the decisions that we are making now will define the type of nation -- and world -- that we leave to our children."

It was also released last week that drones have killed at least four Americans.

Many, on both sides of the aisle, are more concerned with domestic -- particularly civilian, use of drones for illegal surveillance. No doubt there will be some good uses for drones in many areas, such as agriculture, but there are also some more threatening scenarios when citizens can use drones for their own purposes.

A little known fact...drones have been used in the real estate industry for awhile. The Los Angeles Times reported in January of last year that the LAPD issued a warning to real estate agents on the use of drones.

"Federal regulations prohibit the operation of unmanned aircraft in U.S airspace without specific permission, though the rules do allow hobbyists to fly model planes in designated areas.
Real estate agents have been posting aerial photos and video of homes for sale in the Los Angeles area, according to the LAPD. The pictures have been taken from several hundred feet off the ground in the city's crowded airspace -- an altitude at which police helicopters often fly.
Seeking to maintain the safety of their pilots as well as people on the ground, LAPD officials are first notifying those who are in the market for photos taken by drones "so they make informed decisions and don't hurt anybody," Gonzalez said."

In a story this year, "Drones Go Mainstream," CNNMONEY reported:

While the American Civil Liberties Union is still finalizing its position on drones, the group has some reservations about how the technology could infringe on citizens' rights.
"The technology of surveillance is becoming retail, and that will pose real challenges to our traditional notion of privacy," said Catherine Crump, an ACLU attorney.
With ever-shrinking size and ever better camera technology, the group is concerned that people acting under the assumption that they're in the privacy of their own homes or yards could be wrong.
While stalking laws or other measures would likely prevent someone from hovering a drone outside your bedroom window, "the airspace is something that anyone can fly through," Crump said. "It's not clear that there's anything restricting someone from flying a drone over the property of others."

The popularity of drones is growing and our leaders in government need to catch up.

Fallout from the Sequester continues.
Some enlightening polls this week:

A growing number of Americans are being affected by sequester budget cuts and they are not happy about it, as reported by ABC News in a poll released this week.

"The federal budget sequester may be dampening a rise in economic optimism: Nearly four in 10 Americans now say sequestration has hurt them personally, up substantially since it began in March - and they're far less sanguine than others about the economy's prospects overall.
Thirty-seven percent in the latest ABC News/Washington Post poll say they've been negatively impacted by the budget cuts, up from 25 percent in March. As previously, about half of those affected say the harm has been "major."

Still, according to the same poll, more and more Americans see the economy as growing.

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Also this week, a joint Washington Post / ABC Poll shows the President's approval rating holding steady amidst the so-called 'scandals' that have come forth. The Republicans in Congress don't fare as well, with the President given a higher percentage when the question was: "Who do you trust to do a better job handling the economy - (Obama) or (the Republicans in Congress)?" Obama received 46%, versus 37% for Congressional Republican's.

On another question which asked: "How about the Republicans in Congress - do you think they are mainly concentrating on things that are important to you personally, or on things that are not important to you personally?" Sixty percent said the Republicans in Congress were concentrating on things NOT important personally.

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Of course...polls are just a snapshot in time and not always accurate, as evidenced in a report in HuffPo from Mark Blumenthal on 2012 election polling: "Gallup Review To Show New Details On What Went Wrong."

Immigration Bill Passes Senate Judiciary Committee.

Christian author Jim Wallis summed it up best in a HuffPo piece, "Nothing Happens in Washington -- Except For This," saying:

"What I have heard after visiting 18 cities in six weeks is that people around the country believe that nothing can happen in Washington, D.C. They are basically right. So I am very grateful today to report the one exception.
On Tuesday, the Senate Judiciary Committee approved a new comprehensive immigration reform bill with a bipartisan vote. Did you hear that: "bipartisan." Amid heartbreaking news of the destruction, grief, and heroism we have seen in Moore, Okla., from one of the worst tornados in American history, millions of Americans found a reason to be hopeful.
This historic immigration bill now goes to the full Senate, where it has a real chance of passing and changing the lives of 11 million aspiring Americans."

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The race to be the next President is starting soon....actually, it has already started:

2016 Campaign Has Begun For Republicans Like Rand Paul, Scott Walker

Hillary Clinton Leads In Iowa 2016 Poll

Pay Attention Democrats.

Chris Christie Reelection Backed Increasingly By Democrats

New LA Mayor-to-be Eric Garcetti, got it..... he and his African-American surrogates touted his early and strong support of Barack Obama during his campaign for Los Angeles mayor. They blasted it all over the air-waves. Garcetti endorsed Obama in Spring of 2007 and became his Southern California Campaign Chairman....not a popular move at the time.

Some Dems may have underestimated the strength of Obama's coattails in 2012.

Obama is not running anymore. At least not 'Barack.'

Washington Watch is a weekly look at President Obama's second term -- and related news on the national scene. For prior weeks of Washington Watch visit: