Well, at least Barack Obama and the Washington Post still like these two clueless idiots. And that’s all they really want.
— Katy (@KatyinIndy) March 7, 2013
Graham and McCain are why more people aren’t Republicans. They are killing the party. Pathetic.
— Dana Loesch (@DLoesch) March 7, 2013
— Greg (@CajunConservatv) March 8, 2013
Former President Bill Clinton, who signed the Defense of Marriage Act in 1996 barring federal recognition of same-sex weddings, called on the Supreme Court on Thursday to overturn the law.
Just weeks before the court takes up a case challenging the law, Mr. Clinton said he had come to believe that the law is unconstitutional and contravenes the quintessential American values of “freedom, equality and justice above all.” In doing so, he joined President Obama in arguing that the law be overturned.
“As the president who signed the act into law, I have come to believe that DOMA is contrary to those principles and, in fact, incompatible with our Constitution,” Mr. Clinton wrote in an op-ed article posted on the Web site of The Washington Post on Thursday evening.
The former president’s argument reflected a broader shift in societal attitudes in the 17 years since the law was enacted. Mr. Clinton was never enthusiastic about the measure, but he was not on record supporting same-sex marriage at the time and, just weeks before his re-election, he felt he had no choice but to sign it. Still, to make the point that he considered it politically motivated, and to call as little attention to it as possible, he signed it after midnight.
In typical Clinton fashion, he goes on to blame the Republicans for something he did, saying that he was forced into it because some of the counter measures were “draconian” (yes, even Rhodes Scholars lack originality when beating dead horses).
But if there’s anything we’ve learned about this particular topic in recent months, it’s that “evolving” is all the rage. After all, in less than a year, President Obama has gone from opposed, to being a states’ rights guy to now favoring full-on federal intervention. At this rate, he may be in a gay marriage by Christmas.
“There is a prospect for a libertarian-right, progressive-left coalition on transparency issues,” said Robert M. Chesney, a law professor at the University of Texas.
Best known in foreign policy circles until now for being on the losing end of 90-to-1 Senate vote last year on Iran policy, Mr. Paul emerged as a voice of populists on the right who are concerned about what they see as an unchecked national security state that too often becomes overinvolved in the rest of the world.
While he has sought to distance himself somewhat from the explicitly isolationist and antiwar stances of his father, Mr. Paul still reflects deep suspicion among libertarians and Tea Party supporters about global entanglements. He has expressed skepticism about foreign aid and the need for overseas military bases, opposes American involvement in Syria and has sought more restrictions on the powers of presidents to wage war.
“There’s a healthy debate in the Republican caucus,” Mr. Paul said when asked about divisions in the party and criticism by Mr. McCain and Mr. Graham. “People are starting to understand that that just by calling someone an enemy combatant doesn’t make them an enemy combatant. Someone has to assess their guilt or innocence, and it’s a pretty important question.”
What was most galling about the petulant antics of McCain and Graham today was just how badly they don’t get any of it: the core issues, the impact it had and the role social media played in the filibuster’s popularity, the fact that it was a good day for Republicans and a host of other things. I disagree that the Republicans are headed towards a permanent minority, but I don’t think they’ll win much while the party is in the hands of dinosaurs like McCain and Graham. Sen. Paul even managed to completely overshadow The Lightbringer’s sham “reach out” dinner, which is really what got the John and Lindsey show going. Here was my tweet from this morning about it (I have no idea why it says 6:06 PM on the embedded tweet, my Twitter page shows the actual time, 10:06 AM):
McCain & Graham thrive on MSM attn when they play nice w/ Obama. Rand Paul stole their thunder last night. They’re acting out.
— SFK (@stephenkruiser) March 7, 2013
The U.S. seized a son-in-law of Osama bin Laden who once served as an al Qaeda spokesman and flew him to New York to face trial, an antiterrorism coup that casts light on the group’s murky relationship with Iran.
Sulaiman Abu Ghaith, who was captured in Jordan, has been talking to Federal Bureau of Investigation agents for several days in New York City, according to multiple people familiar with the case. He was captured after leaving Iran, which has sheltered remnants of the global terror group.
The Justice Department on Thursday unsealed an indictment charging Mr. Abu Ghaith with conspiring to kill Americans, and he is set to appear in federal court in Manhattan Friday morning. It was unclear Thursday if Mr. Abu Ghaith had a lawyer representing him.
The arrest has also reanimated the debate about whether terror suspects should be tried before civilian judges or military tribunals.
There is no official word yet on whether he is being waterboarded or forced to listen to John Kerry speeches as authorities try to extract information.
Also, Mr. President, can we stop pretending that Iran is ever going to play nice?
When the United Nations began renovating its Manhattan headquarters in 2009, one of the first casualties of the construction was the storied Delegate’s Lounge, where for decades the delicate work of diplomacy was aided by a good stiff drink.
The loss of the bar led to protest from diplomats and their staffs, and a temporary outpost was soon established.
That bar is also now gone, but the thirst for liquor at the United Nations is apparently still strong.
This week, an American diplomat offered what he called a “modest proposal” that he hoped would speed along the United Nations’ notoriously protracted budgetary proceedings. He asked delegates to put a cork in it.
“The negotiation rooms should in future be an inebriation-free zone,” the diplomat, Joseph M. Torsella, said.
So far, there seems little chance the suggestion will lead to any change in behavior.
Basically, we’re subsidizing a frat house filled with people who hate us. Kumbaya never sounds good when everyone is hammered.
Yes, I’ve been part of a “fire away” crowd. I agreed with Charles Krauthammer ‘s view that “once you take up arms against the United States, you become an enemy combatant, thereby forfeiting the privileges of citizenship and the protections of the Constitution, including due process. You retain only the protection of the laws of war — no more and no less than those of your foreign comrades-in-arms.” However, given Sen. Rand Paul’s filibuster of John Brennan’s nomination to be our next CIA director, which ended after 13 hours, I’ve reconsidered my view on the subject. Furthermore, it exposed my own shortcomings when it comes to my advocacy for adhering to constitutional principles.
I recently said that the strike on Anwar al-Awlaki, an al-Qaeda propagandist and talent recruiter, was “legitimate.” While there may have been enough evidence to convict al-Awlaki of treason, which would have stripped him of American citizenship, he was never put on trial – even in abstentia– by a U.S. court. I’m not defending him, or weeping over his death, but giving the Executive branch the power to kill Americans without due process is disturbing.
At times, my passion can get in the way. Al-Awlaki was a bad guy, who promoted jihad against the United States, but the legal framework used to justify his demise isn’t honest. As Kevin D. Williamson at National Review wrote last month, it’s not clear if al-Awlaki took up arms against us. The FBI didn’t deem him a serious threat. He was cleared of any involvement in the planning of the 9/11 Attacks, and was invited to the Pentagon for dinner as part of “Islamic-outreach efforts.” He even led prayers at the U.S. Capitol.
Williamson added that the parameters in which one could get their name on the “kill list” are also flawed.
Abdulmutallab [would-be 2009 underpants bomber] had sought out al-Awlaki in Yemen, and al-Awlaki had blessed his bomb plot and had even introduced him to a bomb-maker.
That, according to the Obama administration, is what justified treating al-Awlaki as a man-at-arms, earning him a place on the secret national hit list.
If sympathizing with our enemies and propagandizing on their behalf is the equivalent of making war on the country, then the Johnson and Nixon administrations should have bombed every elite college campus in the country during the 1960s. And as satisfying as putting Jane Fonda on a kill list might have been, I do not think that our understanding of the law of war would encourage such a thing, even though she did give priceless aid to the Communist aggressors in Vietnam. Students in Ann Arbor, Mich., were actively and openly raising funds for the Viet Cong throughout the war. Would it have been proper to put them on kill lists? I do not think that it would. There is a difference between sympathizing with our enemies and taking up arms against the country; there is even a difference between actively aiding our enemies and taking up arms against the country, which is why we have treason trials rather than summary execution.
If al-Awlaki was engaged in a firefight with U.S. troops, then he’s fair game. However, he was on the side of a road eating breakfast. Yet, there’s also the other side who argue that targeted killings can be legal. If al-Awlaki was planning an attack, then his demise in 2011 would’ve been legal.
Deborah Pearlstein wrote in Slate on February 8 that:
The white paper says that the president has some power to use force as part of his “constitutional responsibility to defend the nation.” Indeed, the Supreme Court has recognized that Article II of the Constitution gives the President at least some authority to, as the framers put it, “repel sudden attacks,” without having to go to Congress first for permission—in other words, to play defense in the moment. It’s not hard to imagine an argument that the government targeted U.S. citizen Anwar al Awlaki in Yemen because of a discovery that he was about to launch a particular, sudden attack.
But the paper doesn’t actually make that argument. It’s not just that al Awlaki goes unmentioned. So does Article II. And true enough, the administration has been at pains, in court challenges to its detention power at Guantanamo, to avoid resting its claim of authority on the president’s constitutional power alone—precisely because such claims of authority can be overly broad.
Perhaps another tack, then? There’s also the Authorization for Use of Military Force [AUMF], passed by Congress in 2001, which gives the president the power to use “all necessary and appropriate force” against the organizations responsible for the 9/11 attacks. Since 2001, Presidents Bush and Obama, the Supreme Court, and Congress have all said this “necessary and appropriate force” includes the power to detain, even the power to detain American citizens picked up in Afghanistan. The same logic by which all three branches of government have agreed the law authorizes detention—because detention is a necessary incident of war—supports the argument that it authorizes lethal targeting as well.
But as the executive, Congress, and the courts have also recognized, the power granted by the AUMF only extends as far as what is allowed by the international laws of war. And there are a lot of those laws. For now, let’s just take one of them, and for the sake of argument, state it in a way that gives the administration the widest possible latitude for targeting. According to the relevant treaties, and the International Committee of the Red Cross (the world’s most recognized interpreter of the law of war), members of organized armed groups that do not represent states may be targeted in war either if they are directly participating in hostilities when they’re targeted, or if it was their “continuous function” to prepare for, command, or take part in acts that amount to direct participation in hostilities.
Pearlstein wrote that al-Awlaki could’ve been included in this “continuous function” portion of this law, which would have permitted his killing. However, the DOJ White Paper never mentioned this, which is why there are so many questions.
Joseph Klein reiterated AUMF as a justification in his column for FrontPageMag.com on October 5, 2011, and adds that if al-Awlaki had presented himself to U.S. Courts via our embassy in Yemen – he would’ve been protected from lethal force. He didn’t.
The price of failure in capturing American-born persons of interest is high. If they escape, they become harder to find, and can continue to plot attacks against America. I’m for the drone program. I’m for killing high-level al-Qaeda targets, but if they’re American citizens, and they’re not posing an imminent threat at the time, it should be incumbent upon us to capture, detain, and place them on trial.
Our Constitution was meant to constrain government, and to ensure that certain rights can never be suspended by a usurpatory government. A president assuming the power of judge, jury, and executioner is an awesome power, and one that doesn’t have any congressional oversight as of late.
As I’ve said before, there are legitimate arguments for both sides, but the DOJ White Paper fails in making the case for legal targeted killings against American citizens abroad. As Sen. Rand Paul asked on the Senate floor, what are the limits of presidential power? Furthermore, Sen. Paul said that we know little about some of the people on these kill lists. Concerning the president’s authority to use drone strikes on American citizens within the United States, the answer should be definitely no.
What’s more disturbing is the fact that liberal Democrats seem content with this campaign. After all, we had a conservative Republican lead this filibuster effort. If this was George Bush, articles of impeachment would’ve been brought up. However, while some in the media don’t seem to be willingly to admit their failure in reporting Obama’s hypocrisy, I’m more than prepared to say that I was wrong in my support of killing American citizens abroad without due process.
The War on Terror has plunged us into new areas of warfare and legal theory, but we cannot forget the principles we’re fighting for in our conflict with al-Qaeda. What good is our Bill of Rights if we decide to shred it for a quick kill on one of our fellow citizens? Even the most despicable American deserves the right of due process under the law. John Wayne Gacy, Ed Gein, and Jeffrey Dahmer, some of the most depraved Americans to ever be processed under our justice system, all received a fair trial upon their arrest. Future American terrorists deserve the same treatment. Our Bill of Rights was never meant to be applied to citizens on a case by case basis.
As Williamson wrote today in National Review, the “War on Terror” is not conventional, and requires a myriad of tools, such as law enforcement, intelligence gathering, and military operations, in order to wage it. He also added that the “battlefield is everywhere” mindset shouldn’t be taken literally, and brings us to a place that is in direct conflict with our principles about the freedom and liberty codified in our Constitution. Let’s be smart about this.
Al-Qaeda and its sympathizers are savages who will kill when and where they can; they could strike anywhere, but it does not follow that everywhere is therefore a field of battle subject to the law of war. The Museum of Modern Art and the Mall of America might be possible targets for terrorists, but martial law is not in effect in those locations, nor should it be.
If your government can put you to death without trial — not on the field of battle, but at breakfast — then you are not a citizen at all: You are a subject. And Americans were not born to be subjects.
Our caption writers responded very well to our latest Photo Caption Contest with President Obama stating that he is “not a dictator” while acting like dictators act. (Just ask all the school children who will not be visiting the White House this spring.)
We also expect summer reeducation camps to be in session soon, scattering all you “bitter clingers” far and wide, but do not forget that these were the captions that landed you in that bug infested bunk bed.
There were two Grand Prize winners both writers from the royal court of the Caption Kings. The first from RockThisTown, completing the contest sentence:
“I am not a dictator….but if I had a son, he would look like Qaddafi.”
And from cfbleachers:
“I did not have dictatorial relations with that country.”
Big round of applause (but applaud quietly) or RockThisTown and cfbleachers will lose that rotten potato ration from their evening soup.
Here are the rest of the best, but there were so many great ones.
I am not a dictator, as for proof, ask the two thousand illegals I released, they will vouch for me. Donald Eugene
I prefer the title, “Emperor.” Just Jake
…but I play one on TV.” fortibus85
…which is why I have directed my cabinet to change that through bypassing congress and using executive power creatively and aggressively.
..but I did stay at a Holiday Inn Express Last night
…but my House is closed until further notice
The three above were submitted by contest newcomer, mike7777777.
“I am not a dictator…..I am a god. See all of my true worshipers bowing before me!” (Points to White House Press Pool.) Scottch
…but i hope to change that. hope’n'change. jlw
“I am not a dictator. I just bow down to them.
“Hey, who put the ‘not’ on my teleprompter?”
The two above were from Chris Henderson. (Hey Chris, where is your dad, Don? No entries from him lately.)
Our two grand prize winning Caption Kings also submitted several more great captions. From cfbleachers:
The difference between a benevolent dictator and a tyrant is…the dictator owns all the storytellers.
“I am not a dictator”….”I have people to do that to give me plausible deniability.”
“I am not a dictator.” And, to prove it, I will empty the prisons… before I fill them.
You MUST buy my government insurance, you MUST not protect your borders, you MUST not question me in the press, you MUST turn in your guns…but, I am not a dictator. You’re thinking too small.
If democracy falls in the forest of complicit media, does the lack of sound mean it didn’t happen?
” . . . except in my dreams.”
The founding fathers simply messed up when they didn’t make me one.”
And finally this caption is a little rough (and sort of breaks the rules) but here it is anyway, submitted by hipdeep:
And the obvious: “Not a dictator; just a dic.”
We will see you next time a photo is worthy of a Tatler Photo Caption Contest and if not, you’ll know where to visit me (and please bring along some gluten free bread.)
The supporters of Brett Kimberlin, a convicted bomber who received a fifty year sentence for his crimes, but served seventeen – have targeted the National Bloggers Club and their annual gathering at CPAC known as Blog Bash. You can read more about this guy here. To make a long story short – since most of you probably already know – he’s a radical left-wing activist, who targets anyone trying to expose him or his activities.
Robert Stacy McCain wrote today that according to Ali Akbar, President of the National Bloggers Club, “Kimberlin associate Neal Rauhauser reportedly contacted the party’s venue Wednesday attempting ‘to gather information about Blog Bash, knowing that all of us will be in one room for the first time ever.”
Since its inception in 2010, Blog Bash has grown to become the biggest private party at the Conservative Political Action Conference (CPAC). At last year’s event, New Media entrepreneur Andrew Breitbart was recognized with the “Changing the Narraative” Award, the only journalism award he received during his lifetime. This year, the National Bloggers Club has renamed the award in honor of Breitbart, who died less than a month after being honored at Blog Bash.
The targeting Blog Bash by Kimberlin is hardly coincidental. Andrew Breitbart himself warned before his death that “convicted domestic terrorist” Kimberlin and Kimberlin’s associates “need exposure.” Kimberlin’s tax-exempt organization Velvet Revolution had called for criminal prosecution of James O’Keefe III and Hannah Giles for their 2009 video exposé of the left-wing group ACORN, which catapulted Bretibart’s online news operation into national headlines.
Ali Akbar added on Blog Bash’s website that his staff had:
…been monitoring their online chatter for weeks now. They’ve harassed our sponsors, tried hacking into our personal Twitter and Facebook accounts, and now they’re trying to stop the National Bloggers Club from hosting our annual gathering of bloggers, Blog Bash.
The venue received a call from a man yesterday. Guess what his name is? “Neal.”
He called to gather information about Blog Bash, knowing that all of us will be in one room for the first time ever. He tried scaring them. This is harassment and nothing short of a threat.
I’ve notified our lawyers, the CPAC organizers, and am working with our contracted security firm, local police, and Congressional offices to address the threats brought by supporters of domestic terrorist Brett Kimberlin and “Neal.” I’ve also made the other Kimberlin victims aware of the full details of what we’ve been monitoring for weeks. “Neal” cannot outplay all of us standing together.
We’ve seen this thugs operated before when they forced Robert Stacy McCain and Lee Stranahan to flee from their homes due to threats. Blogger Aaron Walker and wife wife lost their jobs due to pervasive harassment by Kimberlin. You can read about the whole saga on his blog Allergic to Bull. They were also the target, as was RedState’s Erick Erickson, of SWAT-ting, which involves a false phone call that prompts the heavily-armed police unit to pay you a visit. It’s dangerous, and possibly could get you killed in the process. Nevertheless, the conservative blogosphere marches on, and I’m sure this year’s Blog Bash will be an eventful one.
John Brennan was confirmed as director of the Central Intelligence Agency in a 63-34 vote by the Senate today.
The nomination of President Obama’s counterterrorism adviser was famously blocked last night in a nearly 13-hour filibuster by Sen. Rand Paul (R-Ky.), who demanded answers from the administration on domestic use of its drone program.
Attorney General Eric Holder sent a briefly worded response today. Still, Paul voted against Brennan, even though he’d voted to confirm John Kerry and Chuck Hagel.
Sens. Pat Leahy (Vt.), Jeff Merkley (Ore.) and Bernie Sanders (I-Vt.) were the non-GOP “no” votes against Brennan, in a kind of post-filibuster way of standing with Rand.
“While we must aggressively pursue international terrorists and all of those who would do us harm, we must do it in a way that protects the Constitution and the civil liberties which make us proud to be Americans,” Sanders said. “With regard to the use of drones and other methods employed by the Central Intelligence Agency, I am not convinced that Mr. Brennan is adequately sensitive to the important balancing act required to make protecting our civil liberties an integral part of ensuring our national security.”
“I have worked with John Brennan, and I respect his record, his experience, and his dedication to public service. But the administration has stonewalled me and the Judiciary Committee for too long on a reasonable request to review the legal justification for the use of drones in the targeted killing of American citizens,” said Leahy.
“I am troubled that so much of the legal justification for these policies remains secret, preventing Congress, let alone the American people, from weighing the trade-offs,” Merkley said.
Sens. Lindsey Graham (R-S.C.) and John McCain (R-Ariz.), who at one point threatened to block the nomination over unanswered questions about Benghazi, voted to confirm Brennan.
Sen. Marco Rubio (R-Fla.), who joined Paul for part of his filibuster yesterday, also voted for confirmation, asserting that Paul had gotten what he asked for.
“Earlier today, I informed the White House that I would oppose further consideration of John Brennan’s nomination to be CIA director until Attorney General Eric Holder answered Senator Rand Paul’s question about whether non-combatant American citizens could be targeted by drones on American soil,” Rubio said in a statement shortly before the vote. “Now that the question has been answered and the President has acknowledged that he does not, in fact, possess such authority, I intend to support cloture on John Brennan’s nomination and will vote to confirm him.”
President Obama praised the “bipartisan confirmation.”
“The Senate has recognized in John the qualities I value so much—his determination to keep America safe, his commitment to working with Congress, his ability to build relationships with foreign partners, and his fidelity to the values that define us as a nation,” Obama said.
A week or so back I publicly weighed the options between being at CPAC or somewhere else. I’ve chosen to be somewhere else.
First impressions after getting badged are that SXSW is huge, and that it’s very well run. I was in and out of the badge line in no time at the convention center and headed over to the Long Center across the river to see the life-sized model of NASA’s next great space telescope. More about that tomorrow.
As for the huge part, they’re expecting about 250,000 attendees. Austin’s total population is only about 820,000. Traffic in this place is gonna be a nightmare.
If you’re at SXSW tweet at me at @texasbryanp. I’ll be covering it through Monday at least.
It took weeks and a political “root canal,” but Eric Holder has at long last admitted that the President doesn’t have the legal authority to launch a Hellfire missile into Starbucks if one of the baristas has a funny beard and a map.
What a relief.
The question we should be asking however is: Why are we even talking about this in the first place? How did we sink so low as a purportedly free people, that it was ever an issue that the President might have some kind of secret Assassination Power emanating from the Constitution’s various penumbras?
It’d be like watching SportsCenter on ESPN to catch the latest hockey scores, when suddenly Lindsay Czarniak and John Anderson break out with a multimedia presentation on the history of interpretive dance, and how it paralleled the growth of modern jazz.
Why are they talking about this???
So kudos to Rand Paul (with assists from Ted Cruz, Mike Lee, and Rob Wyden) for taking the issue off the table. Before the table gets blowed up good.
And a big, loud, wet raspberry to John McCain and Lindsey Graham, for being the two biggest jerks in the Department of Not Getting It.
Anyone back there in South Carolina have any idea who to primary against Graham in 2014? McCain I believe will retire at the end of his term, but Graham needs to get primaried, good and hard. C’mon, Tea Party — show us what you’ve got.
Democratic senators were targeted by a Code Pink lobbying party on the Hill today as the antiwar group demanded to know why liberals weren’t standing with Sen. Rand Paul (R-Ky.) in his filibuster of the John Brennan nomination.
Bearing a heart-shaped card, flowers and chocolates, Code Pinkers showed up at Paul’s office at 1 p.m. to start the day by thanking the Republican.
Pinkers first stopped by Senate Armed Services Committee Chairman Carl Levin’s (D-Mich.) office, where the senator’s chief of staff reportedly told Medea Benjamin and Co. “it’s ridiculous to leverage a nomination like that.”
“We are Americans who want to see more transparency.
@SenRandPaul is taking a stand, will Democrats??” Pinkers then tweeted.
The group continued on to Sen. Elizabeth Warren’s (D-Mass.) office, where the lawmaker reportedly told Code Pink she needed to do more research on drone strikes. Pinkers also called on Sen. Tammy Baldwin (D-Wis.) and Sen. Ron Wyden (D-Ore.), the only Dem to join Paul on the floor yesterday.
Code Pink interrupted Brennan’s nomination hearing before the Senate Intelligence Committee so many times that chairwoman Dianne Feinstein (D-Calif.) expelled them from the room.
A Democratic senator today urged the Obama administration to impose sanctions on China for allowing illegal shipments of components to Iran that can be used in its nuclear program.
In his letter to Deputy Commerce Secretary Rebecca Blank, Sen. Bob Casey (D-Pa.) said at least two U.S. court cases have demonstrated how Chinese companies and private individuals conspire to violate U.S. export control laws.
In 2012, the U.S. District Court for the District of Columbia indicted Parviz Khaki, an Iranian national, and his Chinese associate, Zongcheng Yi, on six counts of conspiracy, export control violation, fraud, and money laundering charges for procuring and attempting to procure “U.S. goods that can be used to construct, operate, and maintain gas centrifuges to enrich uranium” in Iran, Casey noted.
On May 12, 2012, the District Court of Massachusetts charged Qiang Hu, a Chinese citizen, with one count of conspiracy to violate export controls for allegedly using his position as sales manager at MKS Instruments Shanghai Ltd. to fraudulently obtain U.S. export licenses and sell over $6.5 million worth of MKS pressure transducers, a technology classified as “dual-use” under U.S. export control law. These components were seen in photos from Iranian President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad’s visit to the Natanz enrichment plant in 2008.
“I urge you to consider designating China as a ‘Destination of Possible Diversion Concern’ under Title III of the Comprehensive Iran Sanctions, Accountability and Divestment Act (CISADA). The U.S. and multilateral sanctions against Iran are working, but ensuring that Iran cannot acquire sensitive technology requires all parties to UN sanctions to rigorously and consistently enforce them,” Casey wrote.
The designation would require Chinese companies to apply for special licenses to import controlled or sensitive U.S goods because of the high risk of diversion to Iran.
“China’s failure to address weaknesses in its export controls regime and to enforce UNSC sanctions is a loophole that Iran will continue to utilize, unless we take steps to close it by designating China a ‘Destination of Possible Diversion Concern,’” wrote Casey. “I urge you to consider doing so and request that, should you determine that China does not meet the requirements for the designation, you reply to me explaining your determination.”
Attorney General Eric Holder today sent Sen. Rand Paul (R-Ky.) a letter addressing his filibuster question on drones — one of many questions, at least.
“It has come to my attention that you have now asked an additional question: ‘Does the President have the authority to use a weaponized drone to kill an American not engaged in combat on American soil?’ The answer to that question is no,” Holder wrote.
And that was the entire letter.
“Senator Paul has raised questions about the president’s authority to use lethal force within the United States, which John Brennan and the attorney general have both answered. Today, Senator Paul raised an additional question, and the attorney general has answered it,” White House press secretary Jay Carney said at today’s briefing, reading the totality of Holder’s letter out loud.
“The issue here isn’t the technology. The method does not change the law. The president swore an oath to uphold the Constitution, and he is bound by the law. Whether the lethal force in question is a drone strike or a gun shot, the law and the Constitution apply in the same way,” Carney said. “…You can make sort of wild hypotheticals, but that doesn’t — they don’t change the law.”
“The law is the law and the Constitution is the Constitution. And I think that’s what the attorney general was saying.”
UPDATE: “This is a major victory for American civil liberties and ensures the protection of our basic Constitutional rights. We have Separation of Powers to protect our rights. That’s what government was organized to do and that’s what the Constitution was put in place to do,” Paul said. “I would like to congratulate my fellow colleagues in both the House and Senate and thank them for joining me in protecting the rights of due process.”
Thanks to ObamaCare, You May Soon Get Serious Medical Treatment from People Who Lack Medical Training
The Affordable Care Act, also known as ObamaCare, has transformed the healthcare landscape across America. Though not yet fully implemented, it is already changing the way we buy and access healthcare, mostly in negative ways. Premiums keep going up. Doctors are speeding up their retirements to avoid having to deal with the law. Its push to digitize our medical records may expose Americans to violations of our privacy, and even to misdiagnoses as doctors and nurses are forced to use templates rather than handwritten notes to describe the ailments patients present them.
ObamaCare is also creating chaos in how states deal with which medical personnel are allowed to perform different tasks. The Department of Health and Human Services essentially writes much of the law on the fly, and state legislatures and health departments find themselves regulating between the voluminous law’s many gaps. Chaos presents opportunities, and into those opportunities, some say, consortia of health practitioners are stepping, to take advantage.
Specifically, two groups — nurse practitioners and optometrists — are moving to increase their medical taskings to include many typically done by MDs, without obtaining the years of training that MDs obtain.
Taking the second group first, though most Americans don’t realize it, there is a vast difference in training between optometrists and ophthalmologists. Optometrists typically undergo four years of training to become certified. Some optometry schools do not even require a college degree. Ophthalmologists, on the other hand, must finish college, must finish medical school, and must finish additional internships, residency, and specialization study that can all add up to 12 to 15 years of training.
But optometry groups are moving in California and other states to take on the duties now performed by ophthalmologists and other medical doctors. Kentucky and Oklahoma are among the states that are set to conflate optometrists as if they are equally trained. Optometrist groups are even lobbying, which means donating to politicians, to enable themselves to become primary healthcare providers, monitoring blood pressure and many other conditions far afield of vision. This can and has led to problems for patients.
Republicans who enjoyed a three-hour private dinner with President Obama at the Jefferson Hotel last night — with POTUS picking up the tab — defended the meeting, even with the optics of leaving their colleague Sen. Ran Paul (R-Ky.) to filibuster while acquiescing to the president.
“Last night’s dinner with President Obama and my Republican colleagues was productive and substantive. I hope it will serve as the beginning of a new, long-overdue paradigm where people in elected office actually begin talking to each other about meaningful issues,” said Sen. Lindsey Graham (R-S.C.).
“The discussions with the President about our long-term budget problems were candid and differences in philosophy were apparent. However, also apparent was common ground on how to move forward,” he added. “One thing I am certain of — the perpetual campaign will not solve the nation’s problems.”
Sen. Dan Coats (R-Ind.) on CNN this morning called it “a cordial dinner, but it was a serious dinner.”
“We talked about the subjects we should talk about, the debt and deficit and plunged into more and more debt through out of control government spending. I was glad the president took the opportunity to talk to us personally,” Coats said. “…It did not get contentious, but it was serious and we had, I think, a very adult discussion. Instead of being on the campaign trail, the president trying to make his point, we were working together and talking together about the real essence of our problem and how we can get this thing turned from this never-ending short-term fix fiscal cliff stuff into a long-term solution to our fiscal problem. I was pleased that it was that substantive.”
Graham and Coats were joined by Sens. Bob Corker (R-Tenn.), Kelly Ayotte (R-N.H.), John McCain (R-S.C.), Tom Coburn (R-Okla.), Richard Burr (R-N.C.), Mike Johanns (R-Neb.), Pat Toomey (R-Pa.), Ron Johnson (R-Wis.), John Hoeven (R-N.D.), and Saxby Chambliss (R-Ga.). Coburn, Johanns, and Chambliss have previously said they’re not seeking re-election.
Coburn called the feast “a good experience.”
“It’s something that should have happened years ago, which is part of the problems of this administration. And it’s going to take a while to build the kind of confidence and trust that’s needed. You know if you’ve had years of having somebody put a finger in your eye, and question your motivations, and ascribe to you things that aren’t accurate, that takes some healing. And I think it was very good for the president to have that dinner, and I think he needs to do a whole lot more of that,” he said on MSNBC.
“Because relationships matter. And building trust and confidence, and knowing you’re not going to get gamed is the way you get something done for the American people,” Coburn added.
President Obama is following up last night’s dinner with a dozen GOP senators by asking the House Budget Committee chairman to lunch.
While Sen. Rand Paul (R-Ky.) was filibustering on the Senate floor last night, Obama hustled the senators over to the Jefferson Hotel for a three-hour, uber-private dinner.
Sens. Lindsey Graham (R-S.C.), Bob Corker (R-Tenn.), Kelly Ayotte (R-N.H.), John McCain (R-S.C.), Dan Coats (R-Ind.), Tom Coburn (R-Okla.), Richard Burr (R-N.C.), Mike Johanns (R-Neb.), Pat Toomey (R-Pa.), Ron Johnson (R-Wis.), John Hoeven (R-N.D.), and Saxby Chambliss (R-Ga.) were at the dinner. Obama picked up the check.
The White House updated Obama’s schedule today to add a private lunch there with Chairman Paul Ryan (R-Wis.) and Ranking Member Chris Van Hollen (D-Md.).
Chambliss and Toomey helped Paul with his filibuster before or after the dinner. Later on the floor, Johnson said the meeting was an “excellent dinner.”
“This evening at our meeting with the president, we had an opportunity to express our views on the challenging task of getting our nation’s fiscal house in order,” Hoeven said in a statement.
McCain and Coburn each flashed a thumb’s up to reporters staking out the hotel as they left.
The latest Quinnipiac poll has a mixed bag of news for politicians in both parties. President Obama has slipped a point in the past month, down to 45% approval 46% disapproval. He stood at 53% shortly after his re-election.
Congress continues to be unpopular, and congressional Republicans are more unpopular than congressional Democrats. But on one issue, Republicans have opened a little daylight. Republicans are more trusted on guns than the president, 44 to 42%.
But even with that, there is bad news on the gun front overall. A vast majority — 88% — support “background checks for all gun buyers.” The devil’s in the details on that, and those details are not being explained in the press. Background checks at retail and licensed resellers are already mandated. Such sales make up the heavy majority of all gun sales both inside and outside gun shows. The question is, should private sales also be subject to background checks. Enforcing such a mandate could open the way to national firearm registration as a means of tracking private sales.
A majority of 54% also supports a renewal of the “assault” weapons ban. I put that in quotes, because “assault” is a subjective term that can end up banning many weapons that have no military or “assault” application at all. Despite the left’s rhetoric, the AR-15 is not a military weapon. Semiautomatic weapons are no more powerful than non-semiautos. The media aren’t adequately explaining any of that, either. Overall 54% also say that they back national bans on the sales of gun magazines capable of holding more than 10 rounds. That would render many mainstream self-defense firearms illegal. But overall, enthusiasm for new gun laws is on the decline since late 2012.
Specially green-certified government structures are consuming more water and energy resources than less expensive conventional buildings, a new life-cycle analysis by the National Research Council has found. Shocked, we are.
A recently-released report by the NRC revealed the Department of Defense is spending upwards of 8 percent more on green certified buildings than conventional buildings for design and construction costs while reaping negligible, if not negative, energy rewards.
DOD construction regulations stipulate that new or renovated military structures be built to the specifications established by the Leadership in Energy and Environmental Design program. Twelve other government agencies, including the mammoth Government Services Administration, also mandate adherence.
“Research studies indicate that the incremental costs to design and construct high performance or green buildings typically range from 0 to 8 percent higher than the costs to design and construct conventional buildings,” the 231-page report reads. It also noted that “not every individual … green building building achieved energy or water savings when compared to similar conventional buildings.”
The certification program has weathered intense congressional criticism for restrictions levied on common plastics, like bullet proof glass and polyvinyl chloride (PVC) piping, and a ban most certified US timber, and was forced to table even tighter regulations last year.
Mississippi Sen. Roger Wicker, who requested the NRC study, said DOD should “remain flexible” and abandon its LEED-only standard.
“The findings made by DOD and the National Research Council show that a strict LEED policy for green buildings does not achieve consistent and significant energy, water, or cost savings for military construction across different geographic areas,” Wicker said in a statement.
Amid increasing congressional and industry concerns, some government agencies have expressed an apparent willingness in recent weeks to ease its LEED-only standard.
The GSA, which serves as the landlord for the civilian federal government, published a notice earlier this month that it would accept public comments on the three competing certification systems for green building standards, LEED, Green Globes and the Living Building Challenge.
In its report, though, the NRC recommended DOD maintain its current certification standard. Wicker said the counsel ran counter to the agency’s own findings of diminished environmental and energy benefits.
“I am disappointed that despite negativing findings and mixed results, the NRC recommended DOD continue its LEED policy for green buildings. DOD should consider all the rating systems and standards available and remain flexible in its policies to better ensure energy and water savings.”
A remarkable transformation has occurred in Washington over the last 24 hours. Rand Paul has gone from Tea Party gadlfy to serious statesman, and has moved up the 2016 charts to be mentioned in the same breath as Marco Rubio and Paul Ryan.
Of course, the transition wasn’t that quick. Paul has impressed many Washington insiders with his knowledge of the issues and patience in advancing his ideas.
Jim Geraghty, in his Morning Jolt email, shares some tweets and comments about Paul’s remarkable performance:
John Podhoretz: “Attention everybody in Washington: This is how you make yourself a star.”
Writing at Breitbart, the Ace of Spades declared it genuinely exciting:
I have the same feeling of receding cynicism I did when the Tea Party first exploded on to the scene and began doing things that just weren’t done in America anymore — taking politics seriously, taking the Founders’ legacy to us seriously, showing up at Town Halls to ask their once and future representatives some real questions, engaging, questioning, insisting, demanding.
There was a time 200 years ago when this was commonplace. Americans had just won their liberty and were enthused about it. They treated their civic duty not as a mere duty but as the highest aspiration of political man.
This filibuster excites me for the same reasons — a return to the Old Ways, the ways that actually work, the way American politics is actually supposed to be conducted, with Senators offering thoughtful defenses of their positions and, above all, insisting that this nation is We the People not We the Ministers & Lesser Bureaucratic Warlords of Whatever Current Government the Public Has Had the Folly to Install In Office.
Jon Henke: “Kinda shocking that it takes a filibuster to get back the right not to be killed by our own government without a trial.”
Dana Loesch: “The left just exposed their hypocrisy on waterboarding by supporting drone killing without due process.
Make no mistake. Paul has not abandoned his isolationist views on foreign policy, nor has he moderated what some would consider problematic views on how to cut the budget. But what is far more important is that he is actually reaching people while advocating a message of strict adherence to constitutional principles — a conservative message that resonates with the public.
Rand Paul opened a few eyes in the last 24 hours, proving that he is more than what many thought, and far better than most believed.
It was a meeting of the International Atomic Energy Agency’s (IAEA) board, which, considering the controversy between Iran and the IAEA, was not an unimportant gathering. So when Ambassador Joseph Macmanus walked out after the Iranian envoy made his blood libel against Israel, there was a particular gravity to the action that wouldn’t have been present in another forum.
Officials from Canada and Australia also left the closed-door meeting of the International Atomic Energy Agency’s (IAEA) 35-nation governing board when Iran’s Ali Asghar Soltanieh made his statement during a debate on Syria, they said.
They later returned to the closed-door IAEA meeting, where such action is unusual though it has happened before in other international forums.
Soltanieh was not immediately available for comment. Iran has often criticized Israeli policies towards the Palestinians. It has also said Israel would be wiped “off the face of the earth” if the Jewish state attacked it.
U.S. envoy Joseph Macmanus’s walkout highlighted tensions with Tehran a few hours after he accused the Islamic Republic of a “commitment to deception, defiance, and delay” in addressing IAEA concerns about possible nuclear weapons-related research.
The European Union also used the meeting to call on Iran to stop obstructing an IAEA investigation and give the agency access to sites and documents, regardless of broader talks between Iran and world powers that resumed last week.
Some diplomats say Iran is using its meetings with the IAEA merely for leverage in negotiations with world powers which, unlike the U.N. agency, have the power to ease sanctions that they have recently tightened on the major oil producer.
“Iran is inviting further isolation, pressure and censure from the international community … until it meets its obligations and addresses the board’s concerns,” Macmanus said.
During the debate on Iran, which happened before the board turned its attention to Syria, Soltanieh said the allegations over his country’s nuclear work were “baseless” and suggested the IAEA, not Tehran, was to blame for the failure so far to revive the stalled inquiry.
Saying U.N. inspectors had found no evidence of any diversion of nuclear material or activities to military purposes, Soltanieh told the board: “Nuclear weapons have no place in the defense doctrine of Iran.”
Macmanus accused Iran of “provocative actions”, particularly the installation of advanced centrifuges that would enable it to speed up its uranium enrichment.
This is something every single US diplomat should be told to do if they are confronted with similar statements from anyone — Iranians, Palestinians, Egyptians — it doesn’t matter who. A standard of truth must be maintained in international forums and when an outrageous lie like accusing Israel of genocide is uttered, member states have an obligation to refuse to be part of the promulgation of that lie.
Sometimes, symbolic gestures are necessary.