The first Cuban-American to be elected to Congress slammed the administration today for making yet another concession to the Castro regime by allow Fidel’s niece to attend a gay rights forum in Philadelphia.
“I’m not sure if the Obama Administration is unsympathetic to the issue of human rights abuses in Cuba under the Castro regime or if it is being deliberately obtuse. Mariela Castro is the standard bearer for the oppressive Cuban dictatorship that has been wantonly violating people’s human rights for over 50 years. To allow her to come to the U.S. yet again so she can proliferate the Castro propaganda machine is appalling,” said Rep. Ileana Ros-Lehtinen (R-Fla.), a longtime critic of the regime.
The State Department denied the visa last week but quietly reversed course days later.
Mariela Castro is the director of Cuba’s National Center for Sex Education and will be receiving an award from the Equality Forum.
“While Mariela receives an award for LGBT issues, we must be reminded that there are no rights at all to speak of in Cuba for any Cubans, gay or straight, under Ms. Castro’s uncle and father. While the Cuban people continue to suffer under the repressive Castro patriarchy, Mariela and the rest of the Castro inner circle live a life full of luxury; a life that is non-existent to most Cubans. For a person like Mariela Castro to attend a conference on civil rights for lesbians, gays, bisexual and transgender people, and to receive an award, is shameful, pathetic and a ruse. The words ‘equality’ and ‘human rights’ don’t exist in the vocabulary of the Castro tyranny,” Ros-Lehtinen continued.
“The Administration needs to wake up to the grim reality that is the nightmare of everyday life for most Cubans, and it must start recognizing that the human rights abuses that occur on a daily basis in Cuba should be reprimanded, not rewarded.”
The government of Kazakhstan, which has been making big strides as the most westernized of the former Soviet ‘Stans, stressed today that two of its citizens weren’t charged with committing terrorism but just helping one.
The country is about half Muslim, but is officially secular and most of its Muslims practice mystic Sufi Islam that tolerates other religious beliefs.
Dias Kadyrbayev and Azamat Tazhayakov, friends of Boston bombing suspect Dzhokhar Tsarnaev, appeared in court yesterday. Both were in the U.S. on student visas and are accused of obstructing the investigation by destroying evidence.
“We would like to emphasize that our citizens did not receive charges of involvement in the organization of Boston marathon bombings. They were charged with destroying evidence,” Kazakhstan’s foreign ministry said today.
“At present, our citizens receive the necessary consular assistance. Their guilt has not been proven and the investigation is ongoing. Both Kadyrbayev and Tazhayakov cooperate with the investigative bodies and provide them assistance,” the ministry continued.
“As we have repeatedly stressed, Kazakhstan strongly condemns any form of terrorism. The Kazakhstan side is cooperating with the U.S. law enforcement bodies in their investigation.”
Kazakhstan used the less-than-flattering publicity from Borat to boost its tourism industry and is still reaping the benefits. Draws include the mountain resort of Burabai, the Grand Canyon rival Charyn Canyon, and the Soviet-era Baikonur Cosmodrome where the country plans on selling rides into space.
Organizing for Action is planning on delivering petitions to Congress next week demanding that gun legislation be brought up again.
Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid (D-Nev.) yanked his bill after the failure of amendments dampened its chances of passing.
“Two weeks ago, 45 senators sided with the gun lobby and voted to block the expansion of background checks for gun sales. Every single one of those senators expects the issue to fade away — that, over time, we’ll all forget,” President Obama’s campaign manager, Jim Messina, wrote in an email to supporters. “We won’t, and next week, OFA will hand congressional leaders physical proof of it: the names of hundreds of thousands of people who aren’t backing down.”
The email redirected to a petition form on the OFA site:
To: Majority Leader Harry Reid, Minority Leader Mitch McConnell, Speaker John Boehner, Minority Leader Nancy Pelosi
The vast majority of Americans from all corners of the country are united in support of expanded background checks for gun sales. I’m calling on you to listen to the American people and act to keep guns out of the hands of criminals. It will make our communities and schools safer. Please take action to expand background checks today.
“I’ve spent enough time in Washington to know that the way you win a fight like this, faced with some of the most powerful special interests, is just to refuse to give up,” Messina added.
When asked at this week’s press conference if his second-term agenda, including gun control, had lost juice, Obama wryly quipped, “Maybe I should just pack up and go home. Golly.”
“Republicans control the House of Representatives. In the Senate, this habit of requiring 60 votes for even the most modest piece of legislation has gummed up the works there,” he said. “And I think it comes to no surprise, not even to the American people, but even members of Congress themselves that right now things are pretty dysfunctional up on Capitol Hill.”
Vice President Joe Biden drew parallels with the movie Deliverance while addressing a benefit dinner for a volunteer legal group that helps domestic violence survivors.
Biden’s daughter-in-law, Kathleen Biden, is a co-chair of the group. Calling him “Pop,” she introduced the veep to the crowd packed with even more Bidens.
According to the White House pool report, he peppered his speech with family stories and told the audience that his granddaughter implores him to stop referring to them as his daughters in public because “people will think something’s wrong.”
“All you women out there: Daughters are wonderful. Granddaughters are better,” Biden said. ”When they’re 12 to 14, a dad puts his beautiful little daughter to bed. And then the next morning, there’s a snake in the bed.”
Biden talked about his work in Congress on the Violence Against Women Act when he brought up the Deliverance reference.
“After those guys tied that one guy to the tree and raped him, man-raped him in the film, why didn’t the guy go the sheriff?” Biden asked. “They don’t want to get raped again by the system.”
Clocking in at nearly two hours, former President Bill Clinton gave the first in his new lecture series at Georgetown University yesterday in a speech that meandered from terrorism to public service.
Clinton said this century “requires every thoughtful person to try to do some public good.”
“Most people get in real trouble and abuse power when they forget that the purpose of their power is not to impose their will on others but to let other people be empowered to live their own lives better,” he said. “Or as I always say, have better stories.”
He spent much of his time sharing stories of poor relatives growing up in Arkansas and said “it’s a mystery” how he ever became president.
“When I was born in Arkansas at the end of World War II, I think our per capita income was 56 percent of the national average. Only Mississippi was poorer. No one in my direct family had ever been to college,” Clinton said.
“And I’m not trying to romanticize poverty,” he said after singing tales of his uncles and grandparents. “I like everybody who gets rid of it. That’s not what I’m trying to do. I’m trying to get you not to belittle people who know less than you do, have less than you do, are less credentialed than you are.”
“…Don’t ever romanticize poverty. It’s way overrated. But don’t denigrate the people who live in it because there is a mountain of evidence that there is a lot of dignity there. And I saw those stories when I was young.”
Clinton also related a tale of a Catholic priest asking him in college if he’d ever thought about becoming a Jesuit.
“And I asked him if I had to become a Catholic first,” he said. “And he said ‘what do you mean?’ I said, ‘I’m a southern Baptist. I’m not eligible.’ He said ‘I read your test papers. It’s not possible. You think like a Catholic.’”
“But nonetheless I was who I was and I didn’t become a priest. And I think life worked out pretty well for both of us,” Clinton added.
The former president claimed there’s just “one remaining bigotry in America.”
“I mean, the people are organizing massive living patterns in this country around being with somebody that agrees with them,” Clinton said. “…So do I think it matters what purposes there are to your politics and what policies you adopt and how you conduct politics in or out of the public arena? Oh, I think all that matters. But you have a much better chance of living both a successful and a rewarding life of service if you begin by finding something to learn from everybody you run into. If you begin by believing there is a certain inherent dignity to people who will never be on television, never be in a newspaper article, are just a statistic to most people who talk about politics.”
Not many politicians get endorsed by Sen. Rand Paul (R-Ky.) and Hustler publisher Larry Flynt in the same day.
“Mark has proven during his time in office that watching out for taxpayers and holding the line on spending are his top priorities,” Paul said of the controversial former governor in a statement put out by Sanford’s campaign yesterday.
“What we absolutely cannot afford is someone like his opponent, who will be yet another vote for a return to the Pelosi speakership, for disastrous programs like Obamacare, and for more spending and debt,” added Paul, who is thought to be attempting to make inroads in South Carolina for a potential presidential run. “I am pleased to endorse Mark and stand with him in this race.”
The National Republican Congressional Committee withdrew funding from the famed Appalachian Trail hiker last month when Sanford’s ex-wife, Jenny, accused him of trespassing on her property in violation of their divorce agreement.
FreedomWorks PAC has stepped in to give Sanford some cash.
“Mark Sanford will be a consistent vote to get spending under control, pass a balanced budget amendment to the Constitution, repeal and replace ObamaCare, and make the tax code fairer and simpler for all Americans,” FreedomWorks PAC President Matt Kibbe said in a press release.
The special election for the old House seat of Sen. Tim Scott (R-S.C.) is Tuesday. An April 22 PPP poll had Elizabeth Colbert Busch pulling ahead of Sanford.
Flynt said in a press release that he sent a maximum contribution of $2,600 to the Sanford for Congress campaign and “extended a personal invitation to Sanford to meet with him and shake his hand.”
The porn magnate called the philandering governor “the sex pioneer of our time.”
“No one has done more to expose the sexual hypocrisy of traditional values in America today. Sanford’s open embrace of his mistress in the name of love, breaking his sacred marriage vows, was an act of bravery that has drawn my support,” Flynt said.
“My endorsement has not been an easy decision for me. Even though Mark Sanford has emerged as the leader against sexual hypocrisy in American politics, he is a liar. He lied to his gubernatorial staff. He lied to his wife. He lied to his children. He lied to the people of South Carolina and to the press,” Flynt continued. “Despite his journey down this Appalachian Trail of deceit, I support him not for his character, but for exposing the hypocrisy of traditional values. The liar has exposed the greater lie.”
Just after the House Oversight and Government Reform Committee announced a highly anticipated Benghazi hearing a week from today featuring testimony from State Department whistleblowers, and just a day after President Obama said he was “not familiar” with any retaliation against the whistleblowers, the FBI released pictures of three people who were at the U.S. consulate when it was attacked.
“The United States Federal Bureau of Investigation appreciates that the Libyan people and the government of Libya have condemned the September 11, 2012 attacks on U.S. Special Mission personnel and facilities in Benghazi, Libya,” the FBI said in an Arabic release featuring the images.
“The FBI is now asking Libyans and people around the world for additional information related to the attacks, which resulted in the deaths of four Americans, including the U.S. ambassador to Libya,” it continues.
The “seeking information” links are at the bottom of a long list of unsolved cases.
“We are seeking information about three individuals who were on the grounds of the U.S. Special Mission when it was attacked. These individuals may be able to provide information to help in the investigation,” the FBI says about the Benghazi trio.
The FBI also released several images of the terror attack scene.
A trio of GOP senators today called on President Obama to release the names of the Benghazi survivors.
Congressional sources told PJM weeks ago that some of the survivors of the Sept. 11 are believed to still be recovering at Walter Reed, including a potential amputee. But the Hill has remained largely in the dark about the tales the survivors have to tell.
Sens. Lindsey Graham (R-S.C.), John McCain (R-Ariz.) and Kelly Ayotte (R-N.H.) told Obama in a letter that they need to talk to those survivors now.
“In light of your comments yesterday about the Benghazi attacks, we again request your Administration immediately provide the names of the Benghazi survivors to Congress so we can conduct interviews to gain a clearer understanding of what happened before, during, and after the attack,” they wrote.
“This information will allow Congress to meet its oversight obligations and will help ensure our government is taking the proper steps to protect American lives abroad and prevent future terrorist attacks.”
“Please ensure these names are provided to the appropriate committee(s) for possible interviews and correspondence,” the senators concluded. “While we respect that the names of certain survivors may need to be kept confidential, we’re confident any privacy or national security concerns will be addressed by the appropriate committee(s).”
The “explosive” hearing at which State Department whistleblowers are expected to reveal new details surrounding the Benghazi attacks and the administration’s role before and after has been set for a week from today.
“Benghazi: Exposing Failure and Recognizing Courage” will be May 8 at 11:30 a.m., House Oversight and Government Reform Committee Chairman Darrell Issa (R-Calif.) announced this morning.
“This Administration has offered the American people only a carefully selected and sanitized version of events from before, during, and after the Benghazi terrorist attacks” said Issa. “Not surprisingly, this version of events casts senior officials in the most favorable light possible.”
“Last October, the Oversight Committee exposed State Department denials of security requests made by our diplomats in Libya and forced the Obama Administration to concede that there never was a protest of a YouTube video. Next week’s hearing will expose new facts and details that the Obama Administration has tried to suppress.”
Witnesses are to be announced.
Asked about a report that State Department employees were being warned not to testify on Benghazi, Obama said at a press conference yesterday he was “not familiar” with what the reporter was asking about.
“I’m not familiar with this notion that anybody has been blocked from testifying,” said Obama. “So what I’ll do is I will find out what exactly you are referring to.”
Issa noted four letters have been sent to the administration since mid-April asking that information be made available to the whistleblowers’ laywers.
“Even if the president really doesn’t know anything about someone wanting to come forward, his position should be that whistleblowers deserve protection and that anyone who has different information about Benghazi is free to come forward to Congress,” the chairman added. “The president’s unwillingness to commit himself to protecting whistleblowers only aids those in his administration who are intimidating them.”
The Oversight hearing comes a day after the Senate Foreign Relations Committee considers the nomination of Obama’s pick for ambassador to Libya, Deborah Kay Jones.
House Oversight and Government Reform Committee Chairman Darrell Issa (R-Calif.) countered President Obama’s assertion that he’s “not familiar” with Benghazi whistleblowers being blocked from testifying by noting four letters sent to the administration since mid-April asking that information be made available to the whistleblowers’ laywers.
“I’m not familiar with this notion that anybody has been blocked from testifying,” Obama told a reporter at today’s press conference. “So what I’ll do is I will find out what exactly you are referring to.”
“A lawyer for Benghazi whistleblowers has publicly stated that the State Department is blocking her client’s ability to talk freely with counsel,” Issa said in a statement afterward. “Over the past two weeks, I have sent four letters requesting that this administration make information available about how lawyers – who already have security clearances and are representing Benghazi whistleblowers – can be cleared to fully hear their clients’ stories. I have yet to receive any response from the Obama administration.”
“Even if the president really doesn’t know anything about someone wanting to come forward, his position should be that whistleblowers deserve protection and that anyone who has different information about Benghazi is free to come forward to Congress,” the chairman added. “The president’s unwillingness to commit himself to protecting whistleblowers only aids those in his administration who are intimidating them.”
Issa sent letters on April 16 to the Defense Department, State Department and CIA, and another letter to the State Department on April 26.
After Obama’s press conference, Sens. Lindsey Graham (R-S.C.) and John McCain (R-Ariz.) renewed their call for Senate leadership to appoint a joint select committee to investigate the Benghazi attack and the administration’s role.
“Revelations about witnesses being afraid to testify and military assets that could have been deployed in a timely fashion justify appointing a joint select committee,” the senators said in a joint statement.
“In light of these new revelations it is imperative that we learn everything we can from what happened before, during and after the attacks. We cannot allow those who serve our nation to feel abandoned when under attack, or by Congress afterwards… As with any investigation, the longer we delay, the harder it is to find the truth. We have already waited too long.”
Journalists asked the President about important 2nd term agenda items this AM, but continued to ignore the climate crisis. Why?
— Al Gore (@algore) April 30, 2013
For the record, Obama’s press conference this morning launched with questions about Syria, Benghazi and the Boston bombings.
Sen. Lindsey Graham (R-S.C.) quickly fired back at President Obama today for accusing the senator of citing evidence of a decline in national security just to make headlines.
At this morning’s press conference, Obama was asked about Graham’s assertion that Benghazi and the Boston Marathon bombings are critical examples this security slip.
“No, Mr. Graham is not right on this issue. Although I’m sure it generated some headlines,” Obama said.
“The FBI investigated that older brother. It’s not as if the FBI did nothing. They not only investigated the older brother, they interviewed the older brother. They concluded there were no signs that he was engaging in extremist activity. So that much, we know,” the president added.
Graham rapidly responded to Obama’s comments.
“With all due respect Mr. President, Benghazi and Boston are compelling examples of how our national security systems have deteriorated on your watch,” the senator said.
“In Benghazi, multiple requests for increased security were denied and numerous warnings from Ambassador Stevens about the growing threats from al-Qaeda were ignored by Washington. For over seven and a half hours during the attack our Americans in the field were abandoned. After the attack, your administration provided misleading information to the American people,” Graham continued.
“In Boston, both the FBI and CIA were warned by the Russians about a radical Islamist in our midsts. Once enrolled in the system as a potential terror suspect, the older brother was able to travel back to Russia unimpeded by DHS or any of our intelligence agencies. Agencies under your control were unable to coordinate the information they received on the Boston terrorists.”
“If Benghazi is not an example of system failure before, during and after the attack what would be?” Graham said. “If Boston is not an example of a pre-9/11 stovepiping mentality what would be?”
President Obama said a “chain of custody” on Bashar al-Assad’s chemical weapons needs to be established before making good on his red-line promise to take action.
At an impromptu press conference this morning, Obama gave a vague response that a “game-changer” would mean putting into action a strategy of “rethinking” policy.
“I think it’s important to understand that for several years now what we’ve been seeing is a slowly unfolding disaster for the Syrian people,” Obama said, claiming in the next breath that the U.S. has not simply been a “bystander” to the carnage.
Obama wouldn’t say whether a game-changer has taken place but acknowledged “what we now have is evidence that chemical weapons have been used in Syria.”
“We don’t know how they were used, when they were used, who used them. We don’t have a chain of custody to establish what exactly happened,” he said. “I’ve got to make sure we have the facts.”
The president claimed “if we end up rushing to judgment” support of the international community would be lost. France and Britain have already declared Assad has used chemical weapons.
When pressed on what a game-changer means, “By game-changer I mean we would have to rethink the range of options that are available to us.”
Asked about a report that State Department employees were being warned not to testify on Benghazi, Obama said he was “not familiar” with what the reporter was asking about.
“I’m not familiar with this notion that anybody has been blocked from testifying,” said Obama. “So what I’ll do is I will find out what exactly you are referring to.”
The president did give a lengthy answer at the end of the press conference, though, praising NBA player Jason Collins for coming out of the closet and being a role model to kids.
Obama said Collins can say, “I’m still 7 foot tall and can bang with Shaq.”
D.C. delegate to Congress compared NBA player Jason Collins’ coming out yesterday to the first African-American to play Major League Baseball.
“I have just read Jason Collins’ account of his decision to come out. I can only thank Jason for bringing the guts he has shown here on the basketball court to the much more difficult task of writing in the first person as the first active gay athlete in a major American team sport,” Eleanor Holmes Norton (D-D.C.) said this morning.
“I saw the movie 42 on Saturday. Today, I saw Jason Collins in the Jackie Robinson tradition – causes and generations apart – yet cut from similar cloth,” she continued. “I hope my fellow African Americans, some of whom are coming haltingly to LGBT equality, will see the kinship.”
Collins, a center with the Washington Wizards, has played with six teams since 2001 and will be a free agent in July.
At yesterday’s White House press briefing, spokesman Jay Carney gave comment for the whole of 1600 Pennsylvania Ave.
“I can certainly tell you that here at the White House we view that as another example of the progress that has been made and the evolution that has been taking place in this country, and commend him for his courage, and support him in his — in this effort and hope that his fans and his team support him going forward,” Carney said.
Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-Ky.) responded to President Obama’s White House Correspondents Dinner joke about having a drink together.
“Recently, I had dinner—it’s been well publicized—I had dinner with a number of the Republican senators. And I’ll admit it wasn’t easy. I proposed a toast—it died in committee,” Obama said. “Of course, even after I’ve done all this, some folks still don’t think I spend enough time with Congress. ‘Why don’t you get a drink with Mitch McConnell?’ they ask. ‘Really? Why don’t you get a drink with Mitch McConnell?’ I’m sorry. I get frustrated sometimes.”
Assuming Obama is more a wine sipper than a beer drinker, McConnell pulled up an empty chair for a response — with a nod to Clint Eastwood:
— Team Mitch (@Team_Mitch) April 29, 2013
Rep. Peter King (R-N.Y.) said believes the Boston bombing would have turned out differently had the FBI known in 2011 about the wiretapped conversation in which Tamerlan Tsarnaev and his mother talked jihad.
“There’s no doubt that if the Russians had given the FBI the information they had regarding the mother and the son and their views on the mother’s radicalization and the son’s radicalization, it would have dramatically changed the investigation,” King said.
U.S. officials said they were notified about the call only after the bombing.
“It would have caused the FBI to go further, and to, again, get to the bottom of this a lot more quickly, and possibly headed this entire disaster off,” King said.
The former Homeland Security Committee chairman also said there’s “no way of knowing” if the Russians are being forthcoming now.
“They don’t want to give us any information which is going to give away any of their sources, any of their methods. So, it’s sort of a bit of a dance here. They want to give us as much as they can, which helps them, but they don’t want to give us anything which would give us an idea as to how they do their intelligence.”
That includes spying on the United States.
King said Meet the Press Sunday that he believes the FBI gave Tsarnaev the benefit of the doubt during its 2011 interview with the Chechen immigrant after Russia’s tip.
“I’m just saying there were two other instances that I thought if the FBI had looked further, and if they had realized that — how often do you find someone having three separate coincidences regarding possible terrorist activity? And I thought they were too quick to close that out,” King said. “And also, they should have done more as far as going to the local mosque, going to the imam and just checking him out a lot more than they did. It was — to me, there was enough smoke there that — you know, whether or not there was fire, there was enough smoke that that investigation should have been kept more active.”
He also said the brothers must have had outside help in the bombing.
“And I have no evidence of it, but when you find, you know, this many bombs put together so well — getting all the equipment, getting all the devices, putting it together, assembling it — it’s very difficult for me to believe that two people could have done that on their own, especially living in a tiny apartment with his wife and his daughter, the other brother going to school. Just too much — too much that was perfectly synchronized here for this just to be two — you know, two guys doing it on their own,” King said.
“I believe that there had to be some sort of facilitation, at least, possibly co-conspirators, but certainly other people involved. I mean, again, no guarantees, but if I had to bet right now, I would say yes, one way or the other, we are going to find that other people were involved.”
New Jersey Gov. Chris Christie (R), who famously embraced President Obama after Hurricane Sandy and days before the presidential election, had more praise for the president today.
“Listen, the president has kept every promise that he made. And — and the fact is that is that that’s what I was saying at the time. I was saying at the time was, I was asked about how how was the president doing. And I say he’s doing a good job. He’s kept his word,” Christie said about Hurricane Sandy relief on MSNBC today.
“And so, everybody knows that I have about 95 percent level of disagreement with Barack Obama on issues of principle and philosophy, but the fact is, we have a job to do. And what people expect from people they elect is to do their job. And that’s why they hate Washington so much.”
Christie said Washington is hated because Americans see it as a place where politicians prefer arguing and “being right” to getting the job done.
“The president is guilty of that. The Congress is guilty of that. What we did, the president and I did at the time was, we saw suffering together,” the governor continued.
“And when you see that, you’re either going to step up and be responsible or you’re not. And we stepped up and were responsible together. And since that time, I have to say everything that they promised they would do, they’ve done. And so, I don’t have any complaints or arguments with them this morning on the issue of Sandy relief.”
Former President Bill Clinton, who just joined Twitter this month, applauded the decision of NBA player Jason Collins to come out as gay.
Collins, a center for the Washington Wizards, wrote a lengthy piece for the May 6 issue of Sports Illustrated explaining his decision.
“I didn’t set out to be the first openly gay athlete playing in a major American team sport. But since I am, I’m happy to start the conversation. I wish I wasn’t the kid in the classroom raising his hand and saying, ‘I’m different.’ If I had my way, someone else would have already done this. Nobody has, which is why I’m raising my hand,” Collins wrote.
Many well-known names quickly rallied to his defense on Twitter, including Clinton.
“I’m proud to call Jason Collins a friend,” Clinton tweeted, linking to a longer statement at his foundation’s website.
“I have known Jason Collins since he was Chelsea’s classmate and friend at Stanford. Jason’s announcement today is an important moment for professional sports and in the history of the LGBT community,” Clinton said. “It is also the straightforward statement of a good man who wants no more than what so many of us seek: to be able to be who we are; to do our work; to build families and to contribute to our communities. For so many members of the LGBT community, these simple goals remain elusive. I hope that everyone, particularly Jason’s colleagues in the NBA, the media and his many fans extend to him their support and the respect he has earned.”
Jason Collins quietly paid tribute to Matthew Shephard, a young gay man who was murdered in 1998, when he changed his number to 98 in 2012.
— Michael Skolnik (@MichaelSkolnik) April 29, 2013
It was obvious. Jason Collins is the only guy in the NBA not defending a paternity suit. #gaydar
— David Burge (@iowahawkblog) April 29, 2013
A House Democrat defended the White House’s fudging of the red line regarding Syria’s chemical weapons by saying Bashar al-Assad might just be testing his sarin instead of killing civilians and claiming Russia can rein in the regime.
On ABC’s This Week Sunday, House Intelligence Committee Chairman Mike Rogers (R-Mich.) said the evidence he’s seen on the chemical weapons is conclusive enough to believe the red line, at which President Obama promised he’d take action, had been crossed.
“And there is also classified information that we have, that I think strengthens the case that in fact some small amount of chemical weapons have been used over the course of the last two years. And the problem is, you know the president has laid down the line. He — and it can’t be a dotted line. It can’t be anything other than a red line. And more than just Syria, Iran is paying attention to this. North Korea is paying attention to this,” Rogers said.
“So I think the options aren’t huge, but some action needs to be taken. And if you think about the destabilizing impact. Right now, the chemical weapons have been small in use. If you have a larger use, the refugee and humanitarian crisis that comes from that is huge,” he added.
Rogers’ counterpart on the committee, ranking member Dutch Ruppersberger (D-Md.), was asked why Assad would use the sarin in such a small area.
“Well the first thing, he could be testing. We’re not sure. But whatever that is, it’s — it is a red line, and you don’t kill people with chemical weapons,” Ruppersberger said.
The White House has contended it needs a UN investigation before taking any action as promised.
“And it’s not just about the United States and where we stand, it’s at — that the whole world and those countries around there,” Ruppersberger continued. “I think a key player here, is Russia. I think Russia can stand up and make a difference. And they have before in the last couple of — within the last month, Russia I’m sure went to Assad and said, look you don’t cross this line. And I — and I think at this point we — that’s where we are.”
Rep. Jan Schakowky (D-Ill.) said she appreciates Obama’s “deliberative approach” to the red line.
“We certainly want to finish the investigation,” she said. “But he said, it’s not an on and off switch, but it is — it has changed his calculations. And of course, he’s looking into all of the options. But, you know to — to imply that maybe we’re not doing enough, or we’re not doing anything, I think also is a mistake.”
Rogers said “indecision has lessened the number of options we have available” and allowed al-Qaeda to “attach themselves to the secular units” of the opposition forces.
“That causes a huge problem for us. And here’s the biggest problem, and why at least our leadership, and this is not about military intervention alone, how often is the Arab League actually asking us to show leadership with them, to help coordinate their resources on the ground in Syria?” Rogers added. “It doesn’t happen very often. Why?”
Sen. Chuck Grassley (R-Iowa) said that anyone voting for the Group of Eight immigration proposal as written would “be buying a pig in a poke.”
The Senate Judiciary Committee, of which Grassley is ranking member, began weighing the lofty bill to arise from bipartisan negotiations.
“But this isn’t going to be the issue that comes up on final passage. In fact, the group of eight said that this was only a starter. They know it’s going to be amended in committee,” Grassley said Sunday on Bloomberg.
“Maybe even some of those group of eight think it needs to be changed someplace. And so we don’t really know what we’re going to be voting on. But I know that from one respect, we ought to be legislating and not delegating. And this bill delegates too much authority to the secretary of Homeland Security.”
The senator said whether the bill evolves into something he could support depends on the amendments.
Among the provisions Grassley supports are the national eVerify to screen current workers and the H1-B visa to bring higher skilled workers.
“The bottom line of it is there’s been some fraud in it, or maybe some incentives or not enough care, to take care of out-of-the-country companies hiring people and outsourcing jobs. I think we ought to prevent the outsourcing of jobs, do it in a way that provides the necessary professional help that we need that H1-B is, and then make sure that — that there’s a good faith effort,” he said. “And those are legal terms that has to be in the bill that every company in America makes a good faith effort to hire an American before somebody emigrates here for that purpose.”
Grassley said Republicans shouldn’t support the bill simply in a quest to win Hispanic votes.
“I think it’s very important for us to pass this bill from the standpoint of our sovereignty and our borders being secure. I think it’s very important that we advance our economy, as immigration can advance our economy,” he said.
“I think this is a very necessary thing for us to do that opens the door to various minority groups within the United States. But what’s really going to win over people coming here from other countries is economic opportunity. And I think Republicans have a philosophy that does well in that way. That we’re – that we respect their family values, their work ethic and their spiritual values. And it seems to me that we have a lot to learn from these very immigrants, a lot to learn.”
President Obama quipped at the White House Correspondents’ Dinner Saturday night that he’s “not the strapping young Muslim socialist” he once was as gray has salted his hair.
“And yet, even after all this time, I still make rookie mistakes. Like, I’m out in California, we’re at a fundraiser, we’re having a nice time. I happen to mention that Kamala Harris is the best-looking attorney general in the country. As you might imagine, I got trouble when I got back home. Who knew Eric Holder was so sensitive?” he said.
He mentioned the Jay-Z Cuba trip controversy, adding, “I’ve got 99 problems and now Jay-Z is one.”
Obama then started digging into the press corps. “I know CNN has taken some knocks lately, but the fact is I admire their commitment to cover all sides of a story, just in case one of them happens to be accurate,” he said. According to witnesses, the CNN table got a good laugh out of this.
“Some of my former advisors have switched over to the dark side. For example, David Axelrod now works for MSNBC, which is a nice change of pace since MSNBC used to work for David Axelrod,” the president continued. “The History Channel is not here. I guess they were embarrassed about the whole Obama-is-a-devil thing. Of course, that never kept Fox News from showing up. They actually thought the comparison was not fair — to Satan.”
Obama quipped that Buzzfeed “was just something I did in college around 2:00 a.m.”
He claimed the best “tell it like it is” political “news” source in town is his propaganda arm at the official White House website.
The president also joked that chief Romney backer Sheldon Adelson “would have been better off offering me $100 million to drop out of the race.”
“I know Republicans are still sorting out what happened in 2012, but one thing they all agree on is they need to do a better job reaching out to minorities. And look, call me self-centered, but I can think of one minority they could start with. Hello? Think of me as a trial run, you know? See how it goes.”
After members of his administration said the “red line” for Syria and chemical weapons had most likely been crossed, President Obama had to face the cameras to explain his red-line wavering before a meeting with Jordan’s King Abdullah today.
“What we have right now is an intelligence assessment. And as I said, knowing that potentially chemical weapons have been used inside of Syria doesn’t tell us when they were used, how they were used. Obtaining confirmation and strong evidence, all of those things we have to make sure that we work on with the international community,” Obama said.
The White House has said it wants the UN to launch its own investigation and rely on those findings.
“And I think that, in many ways, a line has been crossed when we see tens of thousands of innocent people being killed by a regime. But the use of chemical weapons and the dangers that poses to the international community, to neighbors of Syria, the potential for chemical weapons to get into the hands of terrorists — all of those things add increased urgency to what is already a significant security problem and humanitarian problem in the region,” he said.
The death toll is estimated to be more than 70,000.
“So we’re going to be working with countries like Jordan to try to obtain more direct evidence and confirmation of this potential use. In the meantime, I’ve been very clear publicly, but also privately, that for the Syrian government to utilize chemical weapons on its people crosses a line that will change my calculus and how the United States approaches these issues,” Obama continued.
“So this is not an on or off switch. This is an ongoing challenge that all of us have to be concerned about. And we’re going to be working with the international community and our partners to keep our eyes on what’s happening on the ground, to gather any evidence of potential chemical weapon use and, at the same time, to continue to help with a moderate and inclusive opposition to help bring about the day when the Syrian people can once again focus on living their lives, raising their children, starting businesses, and obtaining basic freedom and human rights.”
President Obama gave a speech slamming critics for trying to turn Planned Parenthood “into a punching bag” while notably avoiding the word “abortion” in the entire address.
“The fact is, after decades of progress, there’s still those who want to turn back the clock to policies more suited to the 1950s than the 21st century. And they’ve been involved in an orchestrated and historic effort to roll back basic rights when it comes to women’s health,” Obama said.
“Forty-two states have introduced laws that would ban or severely limit access to a woman’s right to choose — laws that would make it harder for women to get the contraceptive care that they need; laws that would cut off access to cancer screenings and end educational programs that help prevent teen pregnancy,” he continued. “In North Dakota, they just passed a law that outlaws your right to choose, starting as early as six weeks, even if a woman is raped. A woman may not even know that she’s pregnant at six weeks. In Mississippi, a ballot initiative was put forward that could not only have outlawed your right to choose, but could have had all sorts of other far-reaching consequences like cutting off fertility treatments, making certain forms of contraception a crime.”
Obama called state efforts to reduce abortion “an assault on women’s rights.”
“When you read about some of these laws, you want to check the calendar; you want to make sure you’re still living in 2013,” he added, evoking laughter from the conference crowd at the Marriott Wardman Park Hotel in Washington.
The president also used the event for a campaign-style pitch about the benefits of ObamaCare.
“If Americans don’t know how to access the new benefits and protections that they’re going to receive as we implement this law, then health care reform won’t make much of a difference in their lives,” Obama said. “…We’ve got to spread the word, particularly among women, particularly among young women, who are the ones who are most likely to benefit from these laws. We need all the women who come through your doors telling their children, their husbands, and the folks in their neighborhoods about their health care options. We need all the college students who come through your doors to call up their friends and post on Facebook talking about the protections and benefits that are kicking in.”
He apologized that he “could not be at the party yesterday” as he was still in Texas: “I understand it was a little wild.”
“But as all of you know, obviously, we’ve gone through a pretty tough week and a half, and I was down in Texas, letting the people of West, Texas, know that we all love them and care about them in their time of grieving,” Obama said, getting a round of applause from the crowd.
“No matter how great the challenge, no matter how fierce the opposition, if there’s one thing the past few years have shown, it’s that Planned Parenthood is not going anywhere. It’s not going anywhere today,” he said. “It’s not going anywhere tomorrow.”
A military policeman has been sentenced to 16 years behind bars for selling secret documents to an undercover FBI agent he thought was a Russian official.
William Millay, 23, of Owensboro, Ky., was stationed at Joint Base Elmendorf-Richardson near Anchorage when he was arrested in October 2011. He pleaded guilty to soliciting another individual to commit espionage.
Millay apparently went to other persons at the base to get support for his plan to sell secrets to the Russians.“Some of the individuals he made statements to did not take him seriously, but some did,” said Special Agent Derrick Criswell. “Still, no one came forward to report his activity.”
Millay became a cause celeb last fall on the Daily Paul, with members charging that the government wasn’t being forthcoming about his status and sucked him into a “black hole.”
The FBI said Millay had “white supremacist tattoos on his body” that “likely reflect his ideology,” but believe he was motivated by greed in the attempted espionage.
“This case really drives home the point that the insider threat is alive and well,” said Special Agent Sam Johnson, who supervises a national security squad in our Anchorage Division.
“Money was what he was after. He was willing to sell sensitive information—to potentially endanger his fellow military members as well as the security of the country—for a payday.”
Millay dropped secret documents about military technology at a prearranged spot for a payment of $3,000.
“This has been a significant case for Alaska,” Johnson said. “It’s the first known espionage arrest and prosecution that I am aware of in the state. And if it can happen here, it can happen anywhere.”
Sen. Marco Rubio (R-Fla.) said on the Senate floor that if people have issues with his compromise immigration reform bill, just change it.
“If you believe that what we have today is broken, if you believe that the status quo on immigration is chaos and a disaster. If that’s what you believe, as I do, then let’s solve it. And the way you solve it is by working together. In essence, don’t just be against it, offer ideas to change it,” he said.
Some conservatives have taken issue with the main crux of the bill, though, calling it amnesty to legalize illegal immigrants already in the country.
“If you believe our laws are not being enforced and we need to pass laws that force the administration – this one and a future one – to enforce our laws, let’s change it. I’m all ears. I’m all open-minded about that and so are my colleagues. But let’s not leave it the way it is, because the way it is chaos. It’s bad for our country,” Rubio said.
The senator chided his colleagues that their job “is not just to come here and criticize.”
“Our job is not just to come to the floor and make speeches, or go back home and give speeches, or do television interviews. Our job’s not just to poke holes, our job is to plug holes too. Our job here is not just to criticize, but to make better,” he said.
Rubio said the legislation “is not an effort to force anything down anyone’s throat.”
“This bill that we’ve worked on is a starting point. It’s not a take it or leave it proposition. It never has been,” he added.
“Let’s come up with a solution that modernizes our legal immigration system so it’s good for our economy, that once and for all forces the administration – this one and future ones – to enforce our immigration laws, and that once and for all deals with the 11 million people that are here illegally in a way that’s fair and compassionate. But also fair to the people that did it right, and also a way that ensures that this never ever happens again,” Rubio said. “And I hope when we come back here in a few days we’ll begin to work on that together, for the good of our country and the future of our great nation.”
Connecticut’s senators are weighing their next gun-control steps after Majority Leader Harry Reid (D-Nev.) yanked the bill in the wake of the failure of key amendments.
And they’ve admitted they’re discussing how the Boston terrorist attack plays into their effort.
Sens. Richard Blumenthal (D) and Chris Murphy (D) drew criticism during the gun-control debate for having families from the Newtown shooting at press conferences, lobbying on Capitol Hill, and filling the gallery during votes.
Tomorrow, the pair have media availabilities at a legislative office in Hartford and a high school in Bridgeport — complete with students — to discuss “the path forward” for gun-control legislation.
In the Hartford meeting, according to Blumenthal’s office, they’ll be “addressing the ramifications of the Senate vote on gun violence legislation, filibuster reform, and the impact of the Boston bombing on the continued legislative effort.”
Gun-control proponents decried the 60-vote threshold for amendments that doomed most add-ons including the Manchin-Toomey substitute language on background checks.
At Bridgeport’s Bassick High School, “the senators will join Connecticut Against Violence and 700 Bridgeport students for a forum on the negative impacts of gun violence.”
Sen. Chuck Schumer (D-N.Y.) said at a Christian Science Monitor breakfast this morning that the legislation will likely be resurrected soon.
“I think we’re going to bring this bill back before the end of the year and I think you may find some changes,” said Schumer. “Lots of senators who thought it was safe to vote against it are not so sure any more.”
D.C.’s delegate to Congress is bristling at a Republican congressman comparing District residents who voted for budget autonomy to kids.
In a Tuesday special election, residents overwhelmingly approved a measure to spend local tax dollars without approval of the federal government, even though voter turnout was less than 10 percent.
Congress could pass a disapproval resolution to stop it, but the charter amendment may end up in court regardless.
Rep. John Mica (R-Fla.), a member of the House Oversight and Government Reform Committee, compared it to giving kids reign over funds.
“Well, when my kids were young teenagers, they always wanted budget autonomy too,” said Mica after a hearing.
“As long as they are minding their P’s and Q’s, so to say, I think the government can back off. But we must remain vigilant.”
“Because I know John Mica well and could not verify the full remarks, I placed a phone call to him, but he was not in. As of this evening, I have not heard from him, but I will certainly make every attempt to speak with him,” Del. Eleanor Holmes Norton (D-D.C.) said.
“At the hearing, on an unused federal building in D.C., Representative Mica apparently made mention of the city’s budget surplus, and said that the federal government was ‘bankrupt.’ It was surprising to have the reporter indicate that Representative Mica referred to the District and District residents as ‘kids’ and ‘young teenagers,’” Norton continued. “John has been a friend and even when we have disagreed, he has never been patronizing or insulting. Therefore, I would like to ask him whether these were in fact his words. If so, I would hope he would explain them or express regret.”
With her latest stab at renewing the assault weapons ban a no-go, Sen. Dianne Feinstein (D-Calif.) is going back to the drawing board — or, back to the farm.
Her latest legislative effort focuses not on Sig Sauers, but on chickens.
Feinstein (D-Calif.) today introduced the Egg Products Inspection Act Amendments of 2013, a bipartisan bill to establish a national standard for the humane treatment of egg-laying hens and the labeling of eggs.
Senate Agriculture Committee Chairman Debbie Stabenow (D-Mich.) and Sen. Susan Collins (R-Maine) are cosponsors of the legislation. Rep. Kurt Schrader (D-Ore.) introduced a companion bill today in the House.
“This bill is the product of an agreement between the Humane Society of the United States and the United Egg Producers, which represent 88 percent of the nation’s egg industry,” said Feinstein. “It addresses a patchwork of divergent state laws by establishing a national standard for the humane treatment of egg-laying hens.”
The legislation will:
- Outlaw the practice of starving chickens to increase egg-production;
- Require conventional battery cages to be replaced with new housing systems that nearly doubles the space for each egg-laying hen;
- Require that, after a phase-in period, all egg-laying hens be provided with “environmental enrichments” such as nesting boxes and scratching areas;
- Require labeling on all egg cartons to inform consumers of the method used to produce the eggs, including “eggs from caged hens,” “eggs from hens in enriched cages,” “eggs from cage-free hens” and “eggs from free-range hens;” and,
- Prohibit the transport and sale of eggs that do not meet these requirements.
“This legislation is entirely consistent with California’s Proposition 2, which California voters overwhelmingly passed in 2008,” Feinstein added. “Prop 2 requires egg producers to increase cage size by 2015 so birds can stand up and extend their wings. This legislation maintains that requirement and deadline for California egg farmers; other states must comply with that standard by 2029.”
Defense Secretary Chuck Hagel has picked up where his predecessor left off, and that includes having to answer lingering congressional questions about the Sept. 11 attack on the U.S. consulate in Benghazi.
House Armed Services Committee Chairman Buck McKeon (R-Calif.) now wants Hagel to turn over the unredacted version of events from the Pentagon point of view that night to his committee.
“I am writing to request your assistance in providing to the committee the classified version of the Department of Defense’s time line for the attack that occurred in Benghazi, Libya on September 11-12, 2012,” McKeon wrote to the former senator.
“The committee has requested this timeline from The Joint Staff. However, The Joint Staff has indicated that there would be delay in delivery of this timeline due to a requirement to coordinate it within the interagency.”
McKeon stressed that the DoD document is “critical to ensuring that the committee has a comprehensive understanding of the events that transpired” that day when four Americans were killed.
“It is also critical for the committee’s ongoing oversight activities. A delay in providing this classified timeline to the committee would hamper both of those requirements. Therefore, I request that this timeline is provided to the committee immediately,” he wrote.
The full-court press comes as the House Oversight and Government Reform Committee announced it will resume hearings next month into the deadly Benghazi consulate attack.
“Next month, the Oversight Committee will convene a hearing on the Benghazi terrorist attacks to examine evidence that Obama Administration officials have attempted to suppress information about errors and reckless misjudgments,” said Chairman Darrell Issa (R-Calif.) yesterday. “The American people still don’t have the full truth about what happened both before and after the murders of four brave Americans.”
This round will focus on information revealed to the committee by administration whistleblowers.
Sen. Chuck Grassley (R-Iowa) charged today “we may have a 9/11 situation all over” in terms of communication failures between government agencies over Tamerlan Tsarnaev — weaknesses that were supposed to have been fixed after the Sept. 11, 2001, attacks.
“Is homeland security talking to FBI? Now, this person left the United States January 2012 — the older brother did, to go back to Russia. And the FBI didn’t know that. We’re told by the Department of Homeland Security that there was — they used word the word, ‘ping.’ Let’s say there was an alert about his leaving. Well then how come the FBI didn’t know it?” Grassley said today on Fox.
“They brag about the technology that’s spelled into this bill to help in the future,” he noted of immigration reform legislation. “There’s no amount of technology that is going to work if the Department of Homeland Security’s not talking to the FBI.”
Sen. Lindsey Graham (R-S.C.) was told in a Sunday night briefing with an FBI assistant director that they didn’t know about Tsarnaev’s 2012 trip to Russia because an airline had misspelled his name, while Homeland Security Secretary Janet Napolitano told an appropriations subcommittee yesterday that her department knew about his departure but not his arrival back in the states six months later because he’d dropped off the FBI’s list.
“You get one story from the FBI and another story from DHS, and that’s a major problem — was the same problem we had between the FBI and the CIA before 9/11, only then the law didn’t allow them to talk to each other to prevent terrorism, let each other know about terrorism,” Grassley said. “In this particular instance, we should be over that hurdle, learning a lesson from 9/11.”
The senator noted that intelligence agencies need to be talking with each other and talking with the right people.
“Don’t you think the problem is political correctness itself, that when it comes to our national security and — and terrorism, and the war on terrorism, that — that political correctness ought to have a lower priority?” Grassley said.
“…And that’s where you get back to this issue, should they be tried in law enforcement or should they be treated like an enemy combatant. And when you say ‘enemy combatant,’ we don’t mean sending them to Gitmo. We just mean take every opportunity you can to get every bit of information you can out of them before they’re actually prosecuted. And [Dzhokhar Tsarnaev] is going to clam up now.”
A New York Democrat is laying the blame for long flight delays and furloughed air traffic controllers at the feet of corporate jets.
Sen. Kirsten Gillibrand today announced legislation to close a tax loophole for corporate jets and use that funding to reinstate air traffic controllers nationwide, claiming the levy on corporate jets would solve the problem of long waits for flights.
“Instead of protecting tax breaks for wealthy corporate jet owners who don’t need them, we should be keeping commercial air travel fully operational for middle class families and small businesses,” Gillibrand said. “These wasteful tax breaks are blowing a hole in our budget, adding to uncertainty and slowing economic growth. Closing this loophole is just common sense, and will save us billions of dollars that we can invest right now to keep control towers up and running, keep flights on time, and keep our economy on the move.”
Flights at New York’s JFK and LaGuardia airports on Monday were delayed up to two hours or longer as a result of furloughs, causing cranky passengers and furious lawmakers.
The FAA has had $232 million cut from the FAA operations budget for Fiscal Year 2013, which funds air traffic control. This set into motion furloughs of one day each pay period for the agency’s workforce, including 15,000 air traffic controllers.
The furloughs went into effect Monday, and the FAA said more than 1,200 flights were delayed.
Gillibrand said her bill would raise $2.702 billion over the next 10 years to pay for air traffic controllers and more by making the recovery period for airplanes not used in commercial or contract carrying of passengers or freight seven years instead of the current five years.
President Obama spent much of his first term decrying corporate jets as an example of the corporations enjoying tax breaks.
Another campaign promise not kept today by President Obama — from the 2008 campaign, that is.
Obama had promised early in his first presidential campaign that he would call the mass killing of 1.5 million Armenians genocide if elected. “The facts are undeniable,” Obama said in a Jan. 19, 2008, statement. “An official policy that calls on diplomats to distort the historical facts is an untenable policy. As a senator, I strongly support passage of the Armenian Genocide Resolution (H.Res.106 and S.Res.106), and as president I will recognize the Armenian Genocide.”
Turkey hotly opposes any such recognition, and there’s even a large Congressional Caucus on Turkey and Turkish Americans, more than 150 lawmakers strong, to oppose the regular legislative efforts to officially use the term genocide.
Every year in his presidency, Obama has avoided using the term, and today was no exception.
“Today we commemorate the Meds Yeghern and honor those who perished in one of the worst atrocities of the 20th century. Ninety-eight years ago, 1.5 million Armenians were massacred or marched to their deaths in the final days of the Ottoman Empire. We pause to reflect on the lives extinguished and remember the unspeakable suffering that occurred,” Obama said in a statement. “In so doing, we are joined by millions across the world and in the United States, where it is solemnly commemorated by our states, institutions, communities, and families. We also remind ourselves of our commitment to ensure that such dark chapters of history are not repeated.”
“I have consistently stated my own view of what occurred in 1915, and my view has not changed,” he continued. “A full, frank, and just acknowledgement of the facts is in all of our interests. Nations grow stronger by acknowledging and reckoning with painful elements of the past, thereby building a foundation for a more just and tolerant future. We appreciate this lesson in the United States, as we strive to reconcile some of the darkest moments in our own history.”
The Armenian National Committee of America seems to have accepted this latest avoidance of the term as business as usual at 1600 Pennsylvania Ave., though the group was no less disappointed in the once-again broken campaign promise.
“Sadly, President Obama chose today not to lead, but rather to follow Ankara’s gag-rule on his Administration’s condemnation and commemoration of the Armenian Genocide. His public retreat, under Turkish pressure, comes despite his own pledges to acknowledge this crime and our government’s record, dating back more than half a century, of having recognized the Armenian Genocide as a clear case of genocide,” ANCA Executive Director Aram Hamparian said.
“Our president’s complicity in Turkey’s denial of truth and its ongoing obstruction of justice will not derail our progress toward a truthful, fair, and comprehensive international resolution of Turkey’s still unpunished crime against the Armenian nation.”
Turkey has paid D.C. lobbyists handsomely over the years to work against the Armenian Genocide resolutions that surface each Congress. Turkey has recalled its ambassador in a huff whenever the bill has made it out of committee.
A dozen members of the Texas congressional delegation sent a letter Tuesday to three gun manufacturers urging them to pack up and move operations to the Lone Star State.
The members drafted the letter after a Connecticut-based rifle manufacturer, PTR-Precision Technologies Inc., announced would move 40 jobs out of the state due to “unintended consequences” of newly passed gun control legislation there.
The invitation to come to Texas was extended by GOP Reps. Joe Barton, John Carter, Mike Conaway, Blake Farenthold, Ralph Hall, Sam Johnson, Randy Neugebauer, Pete Sessions, Lamar Smith, Steve Stockman, Randy Weber and Roger Williams.
It was sent to PTR-Precision and New Haven-based firms The Marlin Firearms Company and The Mossberg Corporation.
“In Texas, we are committed to protecting our right under the constitution to own and use guns …The business-friendly environment in Texas prompted CEO Magazine to name Texas the best state in the nation for doing business, eight years in a row. Texas lawmakers have paved the way for business through reasonable regulations, low taxes, a skilled workforce, cutting-edge infrastructure and the advantage of being a right to work state,” the letter states.
“…We encourage you to relocate to Texas, where we can provide a business-friendly environment that encourages innovation and understands the right to bear arms. We look forward to calling y’all Texans!”
The House Oversight and Government Reform Committee announced it will resume hearings next month into the deadly Benghazi consulate attack.
This round, though, will focus on information revealed to the committee by administration whistleblowers.
“Next month, the Oversight Committee will convene a hearing on the Benghazi terrorist attacks to examine evidence that Obama Administration officials have attempted to suppress information about errors and reckless misjudgments,” said Chairman Darrell Issa (R-Calif.). “The American people still don’t have the full truth about what happened both before and after the murders of four brave Americans.”
“Our hearing will examine new facts about what happened and significant problems with the administration’s own review of Benghazi failures,” Issa continued. “While President Obama and his administration may be inclined to give free passes to senior officials who bungled their responsibilities, this committee will expose what they did and hold them accountable to the public. Getting the full story is critical to ensuring that this does not happen again.”
A date for the next hearing will be announced soon. Citing concerns about possible retaliation whistleblowers could face at the hands of administration officials, Issa won’t publicly name those who have been in contact with the committee.
The announcement follows yesterday’s release of a joint report by five House committees on Benghazi.
A group of Democrats are charging that the “war on women” includes the ban on abortions in military medical facilities.
The Dems today introduced the Military Access to Reproductive Care and Health (MARCH) Act of 2013, which would allow women in the military to use their own money to pay for abortions in military medical facilities.
The last defense budget chipped away at the military’s abortion ban on base, which since 1988 had been allowed only if the woman’s life was in danger but now extends to cases of rape or incest.
“This legislation would help to respect our servicewomen’s right to privacy while ensuring that they receive the best medical care possible in a timely manner,” said Sen. Kirsten Gillibrand (D-N.Y.), chairwoman of the Senate Armed Service Subcommittee on Personnel.
Proponents claim women would risk shoddy care if they went off-base for abortions.
“Women serving in foreign countries deserve access to safe and legal health care, which in many cases is not available off the military base,” said Sen. Frank Lautenberg (D-N.J.). “Women in the U.S. military shouldn’t have to forfeit their rights when they serve abroad, and this legislation would bring unjust treatment to an end.”
“Our women in uniform continue to play increasingly critical roles in our military and there is no reason for them to be excluded from the same types of health care services available to those in the private sector,” said Sen. Patty Murray (D-Wash.).