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What Type of Syrian Jihadist Rebel Are You? Take This Quiz!

September 10th, 2014 - 12:46 pm

Fox News is reporting that President Obama, according to a White House aide, intends to arm the, eh, “moderate” Syrian rebels so as to use them as ground troops should the U.S. conduct airstrikes within Syria:

One year to the day since addressing the American people about possible strikes against the Assad regime in Syria over its chemical weapons attack, President Obama is coming back to the American people with a drastically different — and strategically complex — plan to combat a drastically different enemy.

The president, when he speaks from the White House Wednesday night, is expected to on one hand seek Congress’ support in arming and aiding the moderate Syrian opposition. But he is also keeping the door open for possible airstrikes in Syria, something that might require tacit cooperation from the Assad regime.

The target this time is not the Assad government, but the Islamic State, which has in the year since Obama’s last address evolved into Assad’s most formidable enemy — as well as a threat to the Iraq government and the West.

The result could be Obama’s trickiest task yet in the Middle East.

The circular reasoning and preposterous on-the-ground situation stem directly from Obama’s months of dawdling with Assad last year, his “Red Line” period, during which he had a moment to crush Assad with the aide of a burgeoning, legitimately moderate force. Yet by the time he was ready — strike that — forced to act to save his reputation, the moderates had been all but left out of the equation, as what would balloon into ISIS was taking shape. Had Obama armed the Assad opposition at that point, he would have been arming ISIS.

The lesson to be learned here: Obama fundamentally misunderstands the Middle East. He fundamentally misunderstands Islam, jihadism, and the motivations of every single actor in the Middle East, including Israel. As such, if there is a military action to be taken in the Middle East that is in the best interests of the United States — or the collective consciousness of the world that rejects evil, rejects the atrocities of both Assad and ISIS — then the United States is going to have to do the job itself, or at least lead the force.

That’s right: the U.S. needs to take the lead, and you’re with us or against us. Right, John Kerry? Eh … :

The effort to defeat the Islamic State taking hold in Syria and Iraq could involve “nearly every country on earth,” Secretary of State John Kerry told reporters on Wednesday. He was speaking in Iraq, one of the stops on his coalition-building trip:

“Nearly every country on earth could have an ability and an interest to join in this effort, whether by providing military assistance, by helping to track and stop the flow of foreign fighters, helping to track and stop the flow of money — all of these are things that sustain ISIL’s terrorism and all of them are things that are subject to impact by other countries in the world,” Kerry told a news conference after meeting with the new Iraqi leaders.

Obama intends to literally repeat his tentative, morally subjective policy from last year with a fresh enemy. What does it take to convince these men that the rest of the world’s actors tend to operate with their own agenda, and that their agenda invariably involves gaining ground on the United States?

Arming the Syrian opposition so as to reduce the footprint of the United States in the conflict is not ethical. It’s a policy that traces directly to a leftist world view of the United States as the world’s bully. Yet the smaller we get, the more tentative, the harder it gets to distinguish who we can trust elsewhere.

You don’t need every country in the world to crush ISIS, Mr. Kerry. You need moral clarity.

The commentariat has thoroughly exhausted every analogy for measuring the State Department’s astounding inability to measure the sound of their comments. I’ll just post this here as the latest example:

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Does she believe she’s doing a wonderful job? Is she getting commendations from her colleagues behind the scenes? References to the State Department’s self-parodizing seem redundant at this point.

Take a break sometime this evening to watch this, then let us know in the comments if Coach Dave Belisle from Cumberland, Rhode Island didn’t just make your day.

This is why I watch sports. Or anything, really:

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Brad Thor, bestselling author of 13 military thrillers and an unabashed conservative, is currently touring the country to promote his latest: Act of War. I caught up with him to discuss the inspiration for the book — in promotional material, he mentioned his desire to explore the Marcus Luttrell tragedy — and to have him share his thoughts from the tip of the spear of the culture war. 

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Steinberg: You’re not overtly political in the book, you don’t refer to liberals or conservatives, the words “Democrat” and “Republican” don’t appear in the book, but you certainly come away with a strong message about which orientation has their facts right in terms of national security. Do you have a prime motivation of shaping the culture, or are you focused on writing excellent military thrillers?

Thor: Yes, it’s important that we start from the beginning, which is first and foremost that I am an entertainer, David. I would never open a deli that says no blacks, no Jews, no gays, no libertarians, no Republicans. I would never hang a sign on my business — I’m a small-business owner — that says this group is not invited. That’s number one.

Number two, do I have a particular view of the world, of what I think is successful and what history has proven successful? Yes, I do. I write political thrillers, so politics are part of the thrillers, and it just so happens that certain political parties have certain ideals. I’m not going to hide it — I’m a conservative through and through.

I’m in the business of making money, not necessarily statements, with the books. Can you find a particular point of view in certain characters in the books? Absolutely. Now those particular opinions matter in D.C., and those opinions are prevalent in the military and other spots in the intelligence world. The same problems we have battling liberal ideology in social media and the popular culture, that battle exists in the intelligence world, it exists in the military world. That is the great clash of ideas — what ideas are going to advance our republic. Is it liberalism, is it conservatism, is it something else?

I would be derelict in my duty of writing authentic political thrillers if I didn’t put those ideas on the field of battle, and allow everyone to sit back with me and watch how they play out.

Steinberg: The big reveals, the big plot turns in the book, you are pulling them precisely from present day news. Now, it’s not the Law and Order example, where they draw from some event that occured that isn’t necessarily political, and just go from there. What I see in Act of War is, you’re taking the news of the day, the policies of the current administration, and then you try to nail exactly how those policies are affecting national security personnel.

Thor: My job as a thriller writer is to beat the headlines.

I want you to read one of my books, and first and foremost be entertained, say “wow, that was a great thriller.” But I want you to close the book a little bit better informed, maybe with some questions of your own.

One of the nicest emails I get from readers is when someone says “wow, I read your thrillers with my laptop open” — I like to call my style “faction,” David — the nicest emails are when people say “I like to read your thrillers with my laptop open because I don’t know where the facts end and the fiction begins.”

Yes, it’s not Law and Order. I’m not taking a case that already happened. What I’m doing is looking at the state of affairs. I wrote this book over the last year, so I was sitting at my laptop back then, thinking: “Where are we going to be a year from now? How do I make this book as current as possible when it comes out? How do I write a book 12 months before it comes out and make sure that its current?”

So there’s a lot of trying to peer over the horizon and read the tea leaves. You know, I nailed the whole NSA thing before Snowden in my book Blacklist.

In my book The First Commandment, on page one, it’s not four high-value Guantanamo detainees we swapped, its not six, it’s five, exactly five, on page one of the First Commandment. (Ed. note: I checked up on this. Whoa.)

So I pride myself on being able to beat the headlines, and I do that by just being a voracious consumer of the culture, the news, I watch Washington. I’m saying to myself “history doesn’t repeat, but it rhymes,” and history is a good guide of where we’re headed because people ignore it.

Steinberg: If PJM readers aren’t familiar with your background: you’ve done precisely this in a more clandestine manner before, correct? You’ve worked with the Department of Homeland Security.

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Yesterday morning, I reached out to the Brat team to see if they would be making any statement on the situation in Israel today. I forwarded along a link — then hosted at the top of the Drudge Report – to yesterday’s statements by Philip Gordon, the White House’s coordinator for the Middle East, in which Gordon criticized the Israeli government for not currently negotiating with Mahmoud Abbas. (PJ Media’s Ron Radosh criticized Gordon here, and The Times of Israel editor David Horovitz did so here.) I had heard from some — very few, but some — conservatives who were concerned about the loss of Eric Cantor regarding the only issue they trusted Cantor on, and I thought asking for a response to the statements by Philip Gordon might yield a good barometer of Brat’s Middle East intentions.

Moments ago, Brat’s team emailed back with his comments:

Statement of Dave Brat regarding the recent speech at the Israel Conference on Peace in Tel Aviv given by Philip Gordon, the White House coordinator for the Middle East:

“I am deeply troubled by the remarks from the Obama Administration, both for the incompetence in Middle East affairs that the remarks demonstrate and for the narcissism inherent in suggesting that the Obama administration knows how to protect Israeli citizens better than Israel does.

“The White House just rebuked Israel for supposedly ‘not taking advantage’ of the opportunity to negotiate with Palestinian Authority President Mahmoud Abbas just weeks after Abbas welcomed Hamas — the terrorist organization now attempting to murder Jewish civilians with missile strikes on their cities — back into his ‘unity government.’

“The White House has criticized Israel’s government for not offering concessions to the very terrorists who have driven Israeli citizens into bomb shelters and who choose to operate from residential areas, using innocent bystanders as human shields.

“Most Americans recognize Israel’s right to defend itself from the terrorist regime sworn to its destruction. Unlike the administration, we reject the idea that terrorist missiles are somehow the fault of Israel’s government and that all would be well if only Israel sacrificed even more of its security.”

After the skin-crawling exploitation of black voters in Mississippi, the GOP’s current leadership wing gives a second demonstration, this time in Virginia, of just how committed they are to “a big tent,” or to the GOP’s vitality in general. The Senate majority matters, the House majority matters. But this party’s leadership is infested with the same disregard for Washington’s intended purpose as any Clintonian.

Third parties fail. But what cost does remaining aligned with this generation of GOP leadership take from the cause of liberty and transparency?

Recall, last week Eric Cantor said: “Of course I’ll vote for David Brat … I want a Republican to hold this seat.” Video:

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This week? He sends Ray Allen — read anything I’ve published at PJM the last few months for background on this Tammany Hall-style thug — to proxy a budget vote for the seat Cantor really really earnestly hopes the GOP holds. On the next page is  local Virginia blogger and grassroots organizer Jamie Radtke with the details. Do read to the end — as a member of the GOP, of any stripe from McCain to Cruz, I do hope Radtke’s coverage encourages you to reclaim your party from these rent-seeking parasites…

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Back in March, Redstate’s Erick Erickson revealed that Republican Main Street Partnership — a PAC headed by liberal Republican Steve LaTourette – would be sponsoring an early April weekend retreat at Amelia Island in Florida. The retreat’s sole purpose was to discuss strategy for Republican incumbents facing primary challenges from conservative/tea party upstarts. (Shortly after receiving the exposure from Erickson, the listing from Main Street Partnership’s “Events” page disappeared.)

John Boehner, Eric Cantor, and Kevin McCarthy were all slated to attend the retreat; Boehner dropped out at the last minute. But Cantor did attend, headlining the event. Main Street Partnership has done a bang-up job of keeping the event’s occurrences under wraps since then — little information and no recordings have leaked from the conference. However, Eric Cantor’s campaign stands as a useful guide to the goings-on back in April.

Cantor was the headliner, and his campaign took a definable tack following the event. Again and again, Cantor labeled Dave Brat a “liberal” — a “liberal college professor”; a guy serving on Tim Kaine’s economic board; etc. — and Cantor presented himself as an anti-amnesty champion. Essentially, Cantor’s game plan for the campaign was to consistently describe his challenge from the right as a challenge from the left. While his campaign carried out a number of dubious tactics at the grassroots level and at GOP district conventions for winning the support of politically active Seventh District Virginians, his plan for reaching the “low-information voter” was to reframe the contest.

That is, to fabricate the contest. Cantor did not make any attempt to convince voters that his “moderate” path was the best way forward for the district; he instead assumed a mantle of constitutional conservatism that bore no resemblance to his actual record or platform. And he absolutely refused to debate or to respond to Brat’s charges or platform in any manner.

And that was it. He lost terribly, for various reasons I’ve covered for months here, but he primarily lost because his ads and mailers didn’t fool a soul, revealed him to be a dishonest politician to anyone paying even a moment’s attention, and because he gave Brat a tremendous boost in name recognition among people who already knew Cantor had no business claiming to be a conservative warrior.

So: based on Cantor’s campaign, we have to assume Amelia Island’s “summary for policymakers” consisted of the following:

a) Label your opponent a “liberal.” The conservative base won’t turn out if the opponent is assumed to be, well, another version of you. And your likely underfunded opponent will not have the resources to combat the charge.

b) Tie your opponent to a well-known Democrat whom the district’s GOP voters universally despise.

c) Don’t debate.

I’m sure they prettied it up with pseudo-professional D.C. lingo to pass themselves as experts — “executables,” “achievables,” etc. — but the above three points must have been Amelia Island in a nutshell. And we have significantly more evidence of that based on the current campaign of Richard Hanna (R-NY), the Main Street Partnership member from New York’s 22nd facing a tough combatant Tuesday in stalwart conservative Claudia Tenney. Hanna also happens to be the second-biggest recipient of donations from Main Street Partnership for this election cycle.

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Plenty of uninformed-to-inane coverage is assumed when a big event occurs that most reporters have little background on, and it is always assumed from the practitioners of “conservative anthropology” — see the expected lunacy from Debbie Wasserman Schultz, and the Huffington Post’s “Crusaders!” angle. However, most of the Fox News coverage last night on Dave Brat’s victory demonstrated a decent grasp on the race, though no one has really nailed the story yet.

The best angle I’ve seen so far came a short while ago from local Virginia blog The Bull Elephant; blogger and locally prominent conservative Jamie Radtke offered the “Top Ten Reasons Eric Cantor Lost.” She is perfectly correct in that Brat’s victory was not simply a matter of amnesty or anger at the “GOP establishment,” but a perfect storm of several factors, including timing, and the most important factor being local anger at the behavior of Cantor’s campaign team.

Think of the Villanova-Georgetown championship in 1985, or even the Red Sox taking out my Yanks in 2004: everything had to go perfectly. The majority leader does not get resoundingly defeated for the first time in American history any other way.

Bret Baier, Sean Hannity, et al focused heavily on immigration last night, including the very recent and horrifying images of hopeful DREAMers being abandoned in Arizona. These images very likely proved to seal the deal for Brat, as he was able to connect Cantor’s comments last week of it being time to finish negotiating with Obama on an amnesty deal. Brat’s response received national — read “MSM” — coverage, and Cantor’s comments, reported at Breitbart, lived in the upper right corner of Drudge for several hours over this past weekend. (Interestingly, the link connecting Cantor’s quote to the Arizona shelter fiasco disappeared at some point, though the other links stayed up.) 

The Daily Caller commissioned a Vox Populi poll that showed Cantor leading 52%-40% with 9% undecided. They released the poll on June 6, and the results dated back to June 2. This was the one and only poll released to the public regarding this race. Believing that the Arizona images affected the race in Brat’s favor following this poll is a very small leap of faith, especially considering the poll itself is assumed to have accomplished two goals for Brat, according to Brat insiders:

1. The Daily Caller poll results came a week after Ray Allen, Cantor’s blustery campaign chief, had stated that his internal polling showed Cantor up by about 34 points. Whether or not Allen was telling the truth — I believe he was not, as his concurrent choice to spend bazillions on direct mailings smearing Brat as a “liberal college professor” are not the actions of a man thinking he is comfortably ahead — the Daily Caller poll allowed Team Brat to tell supporters that, according to Allen’s own admission, Brat had just made up 22 points in one week.

Don’t underestimate the message that sent to Brat’s grassroots. A 22-point swing is an Anthony Weiner-level cratering of one’s support.

2. Undecideds break 80% for the challenger. The Daily Caller poll reasonably placed Brat in a 52%-48% race, with a stated 4% margin of error.

Trust me: the Daily Caller poll was huge in Brat’s office. At that point Friday evening, all informed observers knew the worst possible outcome for Brat was losing by five or fewer. If you were completely caught off-guard, you likely hadn’t seen that Daily Caller poll.

About that potential 22-point cratering: I believe it was a much smaller drop in support, though I cannot know for sure, yet I definitely know that the cause of that horrible stretch for Cantor was only mentioned tangentially so far in the major wrap-ups of the elections.

Laura Ingraham — who headlined a pro-Brat event on June 2 — mentioned last night that one of those Ray Allen mailings made the wildly dishonest claim that Cantor was “stopping the Obama/Reid plan to give amnesty to illegal aliens.” As evidence, she referred to the fact that just last year Cantor took a three-day speaking tour with the chief amnesty supporter in Congress, Rep. Luis Gutierrez (D-IL), and that the intent of tour was discussing their shared ideas for “comprehensive immigration reform.”

But the key event of the election, which occurred during the Cantor crash week, was this: on May 28, Rep. Luis Gutierrez came all the way to Richmond to appear at the Virginia Capitol building for the purpose of declaring Eric Cantor to be “the one man standing in the way of immigration reform.”

Of course, the Allen mailers proclaiming the exact same message had gone out just a day or two before.

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The candidate who did not lie in his campaign material, did not attempt to disenfranchise voters at several county conventions, did not help install a paid advisor as party executive director, did not headline a retreat discussing how to effectively marginalize his party’s base, and did not employ a crooked, Tammany Hall thug as chief adviser just won, and the Republican Party, having chosen the path Cantor exemplified, has the opportunity to be a more representative party and to change course before November.

Over the past few months, I have done little but cover this race and the Renee Ellmers/Frank Roche race in North Carolina. I intended to expose for PJ Media readers the insiders game that the “GOP Establishment” vs. conservative/Tea Party rift has become, putting it this way back on March 18:

Were my money and resources at stake, no current House GOP member better embodies the party’s leadership rot than he: his incessantly measured, strategically incoherent tacking reveals a party now guided by advisor-class tutelage, not conservatism. Additionally, his status as party-protected and groomed future speaker establishes the taking of his seat as a viable means for delivering a message to leadership.

Eric Cantor has earned his primary challenge, and I would suggest to national donors that Dave Brat is the predictably conservative challenger worthy of your interest. And with Cantor’s favorables low and VA-7 possessing a conservative soul, Cantor’s incumbency doesn’t present the imposing challenge the party might otherwise assume of it.

The tenancies of Cantor and other “establishment” Republicans deserve sunlight. I intend to provide some here at Self-Evident over the following weeks with this “Moderate Danger” series. I expect these postings will expose the situation in a manner not generally considered during the typical “RINO” vs. conservative debate, at least in terms of winning:

Always, we argue of which strain of Republican is more palatable on Election Day. Instead, we should first be discussing and exposing — from local sheriff races to presidential primaries — just how many roadblocks the GOP lays down in the path of viable conservative candidates.

And this, on March 19:

The problem with a GOP leadership consisting entirely of moderates arises in its tendency to muscle out conservative representatives from conservative districts — and I believe this stems from moderate ideology being more slanted towards statism in general, though that’s a separate topic. But leadership simply is not allowing conservatives to be accountable to their electoratesAnd worse, the establishment is violating its pledge to remain neutral during primary season. 

Leadership does not allow Tea Party/conservative representatives to serve their districts in the manner each district prefers, and with accountability to his or her campaign platforms and promises which secured electoral victory.

That’s the root. Tactics.

I figured the Cantor/Brat primary would exemplify the muscling-out of conservatives, and I was right. I received pressure individually, I began to hear skin-crawling accounts of behind-the-scenes thuggery, and I was able to expose some of it for you. I wrote about 50% of what I heard, I wish I could have written all of it to give you a better picture, but trust that there was quite a bit I held back with to protect sources.

I also have confirmation that these pieces did manage to put a stop to some of the chicanery, and wish I could share that as well.

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On April 24, I reported that Ray Allen — Eric Cantor’s campaign chief and the founding partner of political direct-mail firm Creative Direct, LLC — had received $1.13 million in compensation from the Republican Party of Virginia (RPV) for the year 2013. The party had issued that amount to Creative Direct; the amount represented the single largest expenditure for the party that year. Allen’s company was given the contract to handle direct mailings for the party.

At issue is the appearance of a “fixed” primary environment for Eric Cantor’s opponent, Dave Brat. Yet further examination of the RPV’s finances reveals that the situation with Eric Cantor’s long-time campaign chief is much more lucrative than previously reported, and began far earlier than 2013.

Dave Brat is not the first Cantor challenger to face a party and an incumbent with the appearance of alignment against his campaign’s fortunes. Every Cantor opponent has faced that situation.

Cantor was first elected to the House of Representatives in 2001. Dating back to 2001, firms owned by Allen — or Allen himself — have received a whopping total of $12.3 million in payment from the Republican Party of Virginia. The chart below breaks down the payments according to whether they were issued by the state RPV Committee or the Federal RPV Committee:

          Year                  State           Federal
2014 $26,144
2013 $1,130,790
2012 $41,723 $1,498,181
2011 $2,196,142 $23,158
2010 $83,112 $313,960
2009 $2,246,965
2008 $200
2007 $952,023
2006 $21,627 $369,219
2005 $1,204,648
2004 $22,292 $325,392
2003 $243,184 $134,366
2002 $61,918
2001 $1,390,782
Sub Totals $9,621,550  $2,664,276.00
Total $12,285,826.00

 

The most troubling aspect of the payments relates to Allen’s behavior this year regarding “slating,” the procedural maneuver of disenfranchising most delegates at a district convention in favor of a handpicked slate of delegates to vote in contests for district chairman. Thousands of Virginia Republicans were disenfranchised by Allen’s efforts — and Allen’s only goal was to install Cantor-friendly chairmen around the state. Donors to the Virginia Republican Party do not simply have an appearance of conflict to worry about, they have a primary season’s worth of Allen’s party-splintering behavior to consider along with the information that Allen was paid $12.3 million of their donor contributions.

Considering the party has made Allen wealthy via donor contributions, his recent encounter with the RPV seems all the more distasteful. On May 15, I reported the following:

Sources tell PJ Media that House Majority Leader Eric Cantor’s long-time top consultant, Ray Allen, has “angrily” stated to multiple individuals that he intends to bankrupt the Republican Party of Virginia (RPV), to install his own people throughout all levels of RPV’s State Central Committee, and to rebuild the RPV with money from Eric Cantor’s donors. 

Ray Allen is considered the “brain trust” of Eric Cantor’s Young Guns, which has spent hundreds of thousands of dollars and has hired staff with the intention of retaking control of the RPV at all levels. (Eric Cantor and Ray Allen lost control of the RPV in 2012, when Tea Party/conservative candidates won seats at all levels of the party, taking majority control from Cantor allies.) In this effort to reclaim the majority, Ray Allen has helped orchestrate the parliamentary procedure of “slating” at several RPV conventions this season.

Further, Allen’s Creative Direct is responsible for the deceptive mailers sent to Seventh District voters over the last two weeks. The mailers position Cantor to the right of Dave Brat on amnesty, and refer to Brat as a “liberal college professor.” Politifact, rarely an ally of conservative candidates such as Brat, gave them a rating of “mostly false” and “false.”

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Interestingly, the RPV itself appears to have expressed concern regarding conflicts of interest with the Cantor team recently — just not in the case of Ray Allen, a conflict that has been allowed to continue for over a decade.

Shaun Kenney, the recently installed Executive Director of the RPV, was revealed to have been on the payroll of Cantor’s campaign both before and after his appointment. Kenney’s political consulting firm, K6 Consulting, was listed on Cantor’s FEC filings. Since that disclosure, Kenney has been entirely absent from his political website Bearing Drift, where he had promoted Cantor in recent months.

Allen’s payments represent a far larger conflict of interest to the RPV than Kenney’s. The payments to K6 were significantly smaller, and Kenney’s visible work for Cantor appears to have been limited to blog posts.

If the party is concerned about conflicts, why was the comparably insignificant conflict halted immediately, yet the $12.3 million relationship with Allen and his firms allowed to continue for 14 years?