Augustus Sol Invictus, a candidate running for Senate under the Libertarian Party label, should be a poster boy for 2016 politics.
I mean, really, can it get any weirder than this?
Augustus Sol Invictus is the Florida Libertarian Party’s candidate and has faced other accusations ranging from his support of eugenics, prophesizing a “great war” within America’s borders and drawing support of neo-Nazis.
Invictus, who declines to reveal his given name, is the only Libertarian candidate looking to fill the vacant seat left by presidential hopeful Marco Rubio. His position as the only representative of the party led now-former party chairman Adrian Wyllie to resign in protest.
Wyllie lobbed these claims publicly in a Facebook post on Thursday that included the accusation of Invictus sacrificing a goat, which Invictus denied to Politico.
Invictus, an avowed pagan, sang a different tune on Friday when pressed further on some of his beliefs and practices.
“I did sacrifice a goat. I know that’s probably a quibble in the mind of most Americans,” he told the Associated Press.
“I sacrificed an animal to the god of the wilderness…Yes, I drank the goat’s blood.”
In a Facebook post from September trying to refute the claims that Wyllie and others had placed on Invictus privately, he chose to argue the semantics of the accusations saying that he had never advocated for a “race-based civil war” but did not dispute his prediction of a civil war.
When asked by the AP if he still believed in a war that would alter the course of the world, Invictus claimed the government was already at war with its people and that he was not the only person to foresee a revolution.
Invictus has not been asked further about his campaign receiving support from neo-Nazis. Because in the same September Facebook post, instead of attempting to disassociate himself from hate groups, Invictus doubled down when describing a case he had worked on where 14 neo-Nazis were arrested on charges of paramilitary training.
“It has been said that I associate with neo-Nazis and skinheads. You’re goddamn right I do. I am a criminal defense lawyer, and I am proud of the work I have done for the American Front,” Invictus wrote.
“Every Libertarian in America should be supporting them as victims of an overreaching Government, and for the record, I am proud to call them my friends.”
I like this guy. I really do. He’s honest in a Trumpish sort of way, and what’s not to like about sacrificing a goat to the god of the wilderness? Goats are hideous creatures and if I didn’t like feta cheese so much, I would advocate for their extinction.
Of course, he’s bat guano crazy, but hey! Have you ever listened closely to Bernie Sanders? And how about crazy Todd Akin and his belief in a woman’s magic uterus? There are politicians aplenty who are a couple of shakes short of a real martini.
In a year of unorthodox candidates, Mr. Invictus barely stands out at all. Not with a bona fide socialist, a radical Harvard professor, a celebrity real estate tycoon, a retired neurosurgeon, a couple of ex lawmakers who haven’t held office for a decade or more, and other various and sundry gadflies, hangers on, and wannabe carnival barkers already running for high office.
It’s probably going to get worse before it gets better.
Senator Rand Paul told Fox News’ Media Buzz that, reports to the contrary, he has no intention of dropping out of the 2016 race for the Republican presidential nomination.
Paul also took some more shots at Senator Ted Cruz, after saying last week that the Texas senator was “pretty much done for” in the Senate.
“I think the rumors of my demise are somewhat exaggerated, to say the least,” Paul said Sunday on Fox News’ “Media Buzz.”
His paltry $2.5 million third quarter fundraising haul had sparked expectations that Paul might soon drop out. But he insisted Sunday that he doesn’t need much money to keep up his campaign efforts.
“We run a tight ship around here,” Paul said. “We plan on being in for the long hall, and I think ultimately celebrity will sort of filter out of this.”
Paul also took a shot at Texas Sen. Ted Cruz, one of his GOP rivals for the 2016 presidential nomination.
Five days earlier, he’d said Cruz is “pretty much done for” in the Senate because he’s failed to form personal relationships with his colleagues. Paul repeated that criticism Sunday.
“I think we do have different styles. My style is when I disagree with someone, not to call them a name or be very inflammatory,” Paul said.
“I can be very strong in what I believe in and I’m willing to stand up for that,” he said. “But even (Senate Democratic leader) Harry Reid — who’s on the opposite side — I have pretty good relations with him, even though he’s a Democrat, and I wouldn’t call him a liar or I wouldn’t call him dishonest because I don’t think that furthers the debate, even with people you disagree with.”
Paul may not have much of a chance, but for a major candidate, it’s far too early to drop out. His fund-raising haul may not have been impressive, but he doesn’t need much to compete in the retail-politics states of Iowa and New Hampshire.
Trump is finally showing signs of vulnerability, so the next debate is going to be crucial — especially for candidates in the lower tier. Lightning could strike any of them at the debate, propelling them back into the race.
Stranger things have happened, and Paul just needs to be ready if the spotlight shines in his direction.
Donald Trump flashed his non-interventionist foreign policy credentials on Sunday, staking out a firm position against establishment candidates who favor a more active role for the U.S. military in the Middle East.
On Meet the Press, Trump said that the Middle East would be a more stable place today if the dictators Saddam Hussein of Iraq and Muammar Gaddafi were still in power.
Trump mentioned the countries in comparison to current efforts to drive Syrian President Bashar al-Assad out of power.
“You can make the case, if you look at Libya, look at what we did there, it’s a mess,” Trump said on NBC.
“If you look at Saddam Hussein with Iraq, look what we did there, it’s a mess. It’s going to be the same thing” in Syria, he said.
Asked by NBC’s Chuck Todd if the Middle East would be more stable with Gaddafi and Saddam in power, Trump replied, “Of course it would be.”
Trump, who leads the field of Republicans seeking the presidency in the November 2016 election in public opinion polls, has said he supports Russian efforts to fight Islamic State militants, even though Russia has backed Assad.
Trump said last week Assad might be replaced by someone worse if he were ousted.
Trump’s statement is one legitimate argument about “stability” in the Middle East — an ill-defined concept in a turbulent region. One can also make the argument that Hussein and Gaddafi were destabilizing influences in the Middle East by themselves and the difference between them being in power or out of power is the body count. They were murdering plenty of their own people while they were in power and Saddam threatened his neighbors, so the notion that “stability” would have been served if they remained is seductive but hardly probative.
Both arguments are academic. Arguing counterfactual outcomes to history is an exercise in futility. No one knows what would have happened if we didn’t fight a war with either Libya or Iraq. One or both leaders could have been assassinated. They might have been overthrown. The ingredients for civil war were present in both countries, making arguments of the type made by Trump interesting, but impossible to prove.
More to the point, Trump’s arguments go against the grain of Republican orthodoxy. In fact, Trump sounds positively Rand Paulian in his argument for non-intervention. Is this really the temper of Republican voters?
Perhaps not a majority of Republicans, but the American people are far warier of committing the military to adventures — especially in the Middle East. In this way, Trump has accurately taken the temperature of the voters and will no doubt benefit from the contrast with interventionist Republicans like Marco Rubio, Chris Christie, and Jeb Bush.
There are conflicting reports about a tragic incident in Kunduz, Afghanistan, where a hospital run by the medical charity Doctors Without Borders was bombed early Saturday morning.
The Afghan government claims that there were Taliban fighters in the hospital firing on their troops. DWB says the facility had been secured earlier in the evening and there was no way any of the Taliban could have used the hospital for cover.
Then there’s this NBC News video that appears to show automatic weapons in the windows of the burned-out hospital.
Twelve Doctors Without Borders staff along with seven patients, including three children, were killed after an apparent U.S. airstrike hit the international charity’s hospital in the Afghan city of Kunduz.
Another 37 others were injured in the strike: 19 staff members, including five in critical condition, and 18 patients and caretakers, according to Jason Cone, the executive director for Doctors Without Borders in the U.S. The organization didn’t comment on the identities of the victims, but said all international staffers were alive and accounted for.
Coalition spokesman Col. Brian Tribus confirmed that a U.S. airstrike conducted at around 2:15 a.m. local time on Saturday (5:45 p.m. ET Friday) “may have caused collateral damage to a nearby health facility.” The incident was being investigated, he added.
Tribus said the bombing was targeting “individuals threatening the force.” The U.S. Embassy later described it as a “tragic incident.”
Secretary of Defense Ash Carter said in a statement that U.S. forces, Afghan Security Force and Taliban fighters have all been active in the area surrounding the hospital, and “we are still trying to determine exactly what happened.”
Doctors Without Borders wants an independent inquiry into the tragedy:
“(The bombing) constitutes a grave violation of international humanitarian law,” said Doctors Without Borders, which is known internationally as Medecins Sans Frontieres, or MSF.
The bombardments continued even after U.S. and Afghan military officials were notified the hospital was being attacked, the charity said.
The White House released a statement from President Barack Obama offering condolences to the charity from Americans.
“The Department of Defense has launched a full investigation, and we will await the results of that inquiry before making a definitive judgment as to the circumstances of this tragedy,” the President said. “I … expect a full accounting of the facts and circumstances.”
But Christopher Stokes, MSF’s general director, told CNN that an independent inquiry was needed.
“We need an investigation that’s as independent and as transparent as possible, and we don’t only want the findings to be shared, we want — as well — to be able to read the full report,” he said.
“(T)he results of this investigation are I think important for us but also for the ability of humanitarian actors to continue working and provide lifesaving assistance in Afghanistan.”
The NATO mission in Afghanistan issued a statement saying it had directed a “preliminary multinational investigation known as a Casualty Assessment Team.”
“We anticipate having the results of this initial assessment in a matter of days. Additionally, the U.S. military has opened a formal investigation, headed by a General Officer, to conduct a thorough and comprehensive inquiry,” it said.
Does anyone think the U.S. deliberately targeted a hospital regardless of whether the Taliban was present or not? Apparently, the UN Human Rights chief is entertaining that notion:
“This deeply shocking event should be promptly, thoroughly and independently investigated and the results should be made public,” he said, according to a U.N. statement issued Saturday. “The seriousness of the incident is underlined by the fact that, if established as deliberate in a court of law, an airstrike on a hospital may amount to a war crime.”
Meanwhile, in Syria, Russia is, indeed, deliberately targeting civilians, using unguided ordnance (“dumb bombs”) on urban centers guaranteed to inflict maximum casualties on innocents. And in Yemen, the Saudis recently broke up a wedding party by dropping a few bombs on the festivities, killing at least 131 civilians.
The outrage directed at Russia and the Saudis has been pretty much pro-forma to this point, highlighting the appalling double standard when it comes to blaming America when unintended civilian casualties occur.
Hillary Clinton proposed on Saturday that the military records of gays, lesbians, and transgenders who were kicked out of the military be amended to show they received honorable discharges.
This is a major bone tossed to one of the most important Democratic Party constituencies — an indication that Clinton believes her support of gay rights gives her a leg up on her challengers for the nomination.
“Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell is over, but that doesn’t change the fact that more than 14,000 men and women were forced out of the military for being gay, some long before Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell even existed,” Clinton said, referring to the 1993 law that allowed gays and lesbians to serve in the military if they did not reveal their sexual orientation.
“They were given less than honorable discharges,” Hillary Clinton said. “I can’t think of a better way to thank those men and women for their service than by upgrading their service records.”
Addressing the influential gay rights organization Human Rights Campaign, Clinton thanked gay rights activists for their strong support over her political career and was frank about her own change of heart about gay marriage.
“You helped changed a lot of minds, including mine,” Clinton said to applause. “I personally am very grateful for that.”
Politically active gay and lesbian people are an important constituency for Democrats, in no small measure because of strong financial support for Democratic candidates. Clinton has held several lucrative fundraising parties at the homes of gay supporters this year.
She pledged Saturday to build on the Supreme Court ruling guaranteeing marriage equality, and got in a few digs at Republicans for opposing the expansion of gay rights and legal protections.
“I see the injustices and the dangers you and your families still face, and I am running for president to end them once and for all,” she said to cheers and chants of “Hill-a-ry, Hill-a-ry.”
Someone better versed in military history might be able to come up with a similar case, but I’ve never heard of such retroactive relief for personnel who were clearly in violation of the military code at the time of their discharge. I’m sure there have been individual cases over the years where, after appeal, the status of a discharge was reversed, but an entire class of people?
How far back would the retroactive relief be effective? And what of gay soldiers and sailors who may have committed other transgressions? Rather than issuing blanket honorable discharges, perhaps a process could be created for individual reviews based on the new rules in the code of conduct. That would be fairer to those serving today.
John King, former education commissioner for the state of New York, has been tapped by President Obama to head up the Department of Education. King replaces Arne Duncan, who is resigning to go back to Chicago.
King was incredibly unpopular in New York for pushing Common Core on school districts. He even enraged the teachers’ unions, who called for his resignation. Instead, Obama is going to impose this radical on the rest of the country.
The fall of 2013 was arguably the most difficult period of King’s three-and-a-half year tenure as education commissioner in New York, where, as the state’s first black and first Latino schools chief, he led the implementation of the Common Core standards, controversial state exams aligned to the more difficult material, and teacher performance evaluations based partially on the tests.
After the Oct. 10, 2013, assembly devolved into chaos, King canceled (and subsequently rescheduled under pressure) the rest of his planned statewide tour, accusing “special interests” of co-opting the raucous crowd.
Teachers’ unions, parent groups and some state lawmakers called for King’s resignation. The state’s powerful teachers’ union later held a no-confidence vote to make official their feelings about him. A parent-led and union-boosted testing boycott movement began under his leadership, and subsequently exploded.
Throughout the public unrest and political jockeying, King remained staunchly committed to the Common Core and related reforms. With an even temper and soft, academic speaking style, he framed education reform as a civil rights issue, arguing that raising standards and holding teachers and schools accountable for students’ performance are the only ways to heal an educational system that fails so many children — particularly poor black and Latino boys.
King, 40, is a Brooklyn native who had a difficult childhood and went on to earn degrees from Harvard, Yale and Columbia universities. He later founded a national charter school chain before becoming New York’s youngest schools chief.
He left the New York State education department at the end of last year — to the undisguised delight of his critics — for a federal role. Since January, he has served as a senior adviser to U.S. education secretary Arne Duncan, who the president announced on Friday will be stepping down. King plans to serve for the remainder of the president’s second term.
I suppose we shouldn’t be surprised that the president would name this polarizing radical to run the Department of Education. Viewing education through a racial lens is in keeping with the president’s worldview about the rest of the United States, so King should fit in comfortably with the rest of Obama’s cabinet.
We can expect a greater push by the federal government to impose Common Cores standards on all school districts. Resistance will not be tolerated, as parent groups and even teachers’ unions will be shunted aside in order to nationalize education.
The transformation of America continues, with our schools now in the crosshairs.
A “he said, they said” controversy has erupted over what the U.S. Hispanic Chamber of Commerce says was a scheduled campaign event by Donald Trump to appear at a candidate forum this coming Thursday.
The USHCC says Trump has backed out of the event. Trump says he never agreed to appear. Meanwhile, the two sides trade accusations about lying and being double crossed.
Just the thing to improve The Donald’s relations with Hispanics.
The USHCC promoted the event, sold tickets to it, and even told Politico two days ago how they were going to ambush Trump during the Q&A:
“We’re not going to go easy on him. A lot of people think it’s just going to be this positive thing,” said the group’s communications director, Ammar Campa-Najjar, who went on to share some choice words about the businessman, his ideas and his candidacy. They included “sad,” “absurd” and “broken.”
“I’ve been tight-lipped for a while, but I’ve got to speak up now,” said Campa-Najjar. “It would be funny if it wasn’t so sad that this man is leading in the polls and that this is his idea for a fiscally responsible, fair and feasible plan for dealing with immigrants.”
Citing its $400 billion price tag, Campa-Najjar said Trump’s immigration plan is a fiscal loser. He added, “The deporting thing is so absurd that no one can get behind it and he needs to explain how that’s going to work.”
Campa-Najjar also dismissed the Trump campaign’s claims that Trump already enjoys support among many Hispanics and his belief that he will win over many others.
“When we talk to them, they give the impression they’re doing so well with Hispanics: ‘Oh Hispanics love me,’ and I think that’s, at best, out of touch with reality,” he said.
But Trump told CNN he had no knowledge of the invite:
“I never agreed to do an event. This is the first time I’m hearing about this. I mean, I never agreed,” the Republican presidential front-runner said in a phone interview. “He wanted me to do an event because he probably can’t sell tickets without me. Why would anybody do an event when he’s a negative person?”
Trump added that he plans to be in Las Vegas on Oct. 8 for a campaign rally.
But the Hispanic Chamber is accusing Trump of abruptly pulling out of the event because of concerns that he might be criticized.
“Clearly, the decision to withdraw from the Q&A was motivated out of fear,” said Javier Palomarez, the CEO of the Hispanic Chamber. “This further disqualifies him as a serious candidate in the eyes of the Hispanic community.”
The clash with the Hispanic Chamber comes as the Hispanic community continues to express discomfort and outrage at some of Trump’s statements about immigration. At the launch of his White House campaign, Trump touched off a firestorm by remarking that some Mexicans entering the country illegally are “rapists” and “criminals.” Hispanic leaders have called on the candidate to alter his tone.
Palomarez met with Trump on Sept. 1 at Trump Tower in New York. The two discussed politically sensitive issues like immigration reform and the Republican presidential front-runner’s rhetoric about the Hispanic community. Trump’s heated rhetoric about immigration and Hispanics has drawn wide condemnation for being harsh and racially charged.
And it was at that meeting that Palomarez says Trump personally committed to participate in the Q&A forum this month. In the room when the agreement was made were Hope Hicks, Trump’s campaign spokeswoman, and Michael Cohen, an adviser and attorney for Trump, according to Palomarez.
The Hispanic Chamber had no intention of playing fair with Trump and were going to try to humiliate him — a real “Chief Brody slap” moment. No doubt, Trump advisors read that Politico article and realized what they were in for and tried to change the rules of the Q&A session with the USHCC:
USHCC spokesman Ammar Campa-Najjar said Friday Trump withdrew his participation in the session that has featured three other presidential candidates from both parties and will host a fourth on Tuesday, because Trump was concerned he would be “put on trial” and was unwilling to abide by terms and conditions of the candidate series.
Michael Cohen, an attorney and adviser to Trump, was not immediately available for comment when contacted by NBC News.
In a statement, the chamber said it refused to change the format of the Q&A session, show favoritism, exclude any issues or topics or “grant immunity from objective scrutiny of his policies.”
The chamber said Trump would not have been treated differently than other candidates that have done the sessions or spoken to the chamber’s members.
I call bullcrap on that. Of course Trump was going to be treated differently. They were angling to pull him down and Trump, who might have realized this before he committed to the event, is now in damage control trying to put out the fire.
Then there’s the little matter of his lies to CNN. “This is the first time I’m hearing about this. I mean, I never agreed,” is about as brazen a lie as Obama has ever told. The fact is, the USHCC would not have been promoting the event so heavily unless they believed they had an ironclad commitment from Trump to appear. To claim otherwise is embarrassing.
Despite Russian claims to the contrary, it appears that about 95% of their missions are being directed against US backed rebels, not ISIS.
Britain’s defense secretary Michael Fallon told the Sun newspaper that the Russians were killing civilians to prop up Syrian President Bashar Assad, using “dumb bombs” to target CIA-backed rebels.
Only one in 20 Russian air strikes in Syria are aimed at Islamic State targets, Britain’s defense secretary said on Saturday, warning that Vladimir Putin was instead killing civilians to shore up President Bashar al-Assad.
Russia bombed Syria for a third straight day on Friday, mainly hitting areas held by rival insurgent groups rather than the Islamic State fighters it said it was targeting, and drawing an angry response from the West.
In an interview with the Sun newspaper, British Defense Secretary Michael Fallon said the vast majority of Russian air strikes were not aimed at the militant group at all.
“Our evidence indicates they are dropping unguided munitions in civilian areas, killing civilians, and they are dropping them against the Free Syrian forces fighting Assad,” he said. “He’s shoring up Assad and perpetuating the suffering.”
Prime Minister David Cameron has said he sees a strong case for conducting British air strikes against Islamic State in Syria, but he wants to make sure he has enough support in parliament to gain approval.
He lost a parliamentary vote on the use of force in Syria in 2013. Consequently, British bombing so far has only targeted Islamic State in neighboring Iraq.
Fallon said Putin’s actions complicated the situation in Syria, but the British government had made progress in persuading lawmakers from the opposition Labour party to back strikes in Syria. It would be morally wrong not to do so, he said.
“We can’t leave it to French, Australian and American aircraft to keep our own British streets safe,” he said.
Putin doesn’t give a fig about civilian casualties, nor world outrage at the deaths of innocents. This seems pretty clear by his use of “drop ‘em and forget ‘em” dumb bombs. Killing rebels and their families is the only thing that matters.
President Obama says that Russia’s foray into Syria is a sign of “weakness” and that Russia will slip into the Syrian “quagmire.” Does he really believe that if he says it, that makes it so? Obama is slipping into a fantasty land where he is projecting his own weakness on to President Putin. Meanwhile, the Russian president continues to give the US president the finger while destroying CIA backed militias that have carried the fight to President Assad in the last six months. Putin is targeting the rebel’s most effective fighters, while readying Iranian and Hezb’allah ground forces to engage them. With air power that the rebels can’t match or defend against, the ground forces should make pretty short work of Assad’s most effective enemies.
Looks like Barack Obama truly has transformed America.
Chestnut Place is a condo community of about 60 homeowners in the quiet town of Murray, Utah. Apparently, a couple of members of the homeowners’ association got “tired” of looking at all the American flags being flown by residents so they decided to do something about it.
The made a rule banning the flying of the American flag.
“After the last board meeting, we were leaving and two members of the board and a resident said they were tired of looking at the flag,” said Jo Ann Dugay, who is one of the five board members on the Home Owners Association. “They said ‘is this flag row?’ And that something needed to be done about it.”
Something was: last week those living in the community were warned to take down the flags.
“I’m not taking it down, that’s one thing I won’t do.” said Erin Worthen, one of the residents asked to remove it.
As a result, she was fined $75 and given a notice, which states:
“All exterior decorations must be removed within 10 days following the holiday… Please remove your flag from the common area (Utah Community Association Act. 57-8a-219)”
Worthen said she was shocked at the language on the notice.
“That is not a holiday decoration,” she points out. “People have died for that, it is not a holiday decoration.”
The President of the Home Owners Association was steadfast in her decision to enforce the fine Thursday. She said she was tired of seeing flags, not just the American flag, flying up and down the street all day and night, and 365 days of the year.
“Flags are flown on holiday events,” said Lyn Steinbergen, President of the HOA. “All we are trying to do is regulate when the flag goes up, and when it comes down.”
Homeowners were hoping to address the stipulations at an HOA meeting scheduled for Thursday night, but with the room already full, and the meeting set to take place, board members canceled at the last second.
“The board wasn’t here tonight,” said a lawyer for the HOA. He says one board member was missing and that’s why they canceled the meeting.
But home owners felt the HOA was simply skirting the issue.
“I have a legal right to fly my American Flag, and there’s not a damn thing you can do about it,” yelled a frustrated Worthen.
She said she was fined for the flag as well, and had scheduled to talk about it on the meeting agenda. She believes the board is simply trying to avoid addressing the situation, and believes the HOA President is mostly to blame.
“Because she is not getting her way, she’s going to shut it down,” Worthen said.
The cowardly wretches on the board couldn’t face the wrath of the people. Well, the story has gone viral and I will be surprised if they’re on that board next week.
John Hinderaker and Scott Johnson of Powerline have penned a superior piece in Weekly Standard that revisits the Rathergate story. The reason for the retelling of an 11-year-old incident? On October 16, the Robert Redford-Cate Blanchett vehicle Truth — an incredibly dishonest and disgusting take on Rathergate — will be released to the general public. And judging by many reviews, most of the media appear to have forgotten the specific elements of the story.
Hinderaker and Johnson rely heavily on the report issued by a panel created by CBS News headed up by former attorney general Richard Thornburgh and former AP head Louis Boccardi to perform an autopsy on the story that started it all.
And that story, which aired on September 8, 2004, destroyed the reputation of CBS News and empowered a generation of bloggers and online pundits who proved beyond doubt that the memos supposedly showing that President George Bush received preferential treatment to get a posting to the Texas Air National Guard were laughably — and amateurishly — bogus.
Reading the Hinderaker-Johnson article was like taking a trip down memory lane. The story ignited my own blogging career, as well as the career of many, many others.
Who can forget the Freeper “Buckhead” who was the first to note the proportional spacing of the memos, proving they were not created on a 1970s typewriter, but rather a modern IBM word processor? And of course, there is one of them most famous New York Times headlines in history describing the memos: “Memos on Bush are fake but accurate, typist says.”
The Hinderaker-Johnson article is necessary because of idiotic reviewers like Scott Mendelson. Writing in Forbes, Mendelson shows a shocking lack of curiosity about Rathergate and simply spouts the old, liberal narrative.
The 60 Minutes II report that aired in September of 2004 regarding the nature of President George W. Bush’s tenure in the Texas Air National Guard was probably accurate. That’s what I felt back in 2004; that’s what at least a few journalists and pundits (including a new-to-me Keith Olbermann) were willing to come out and say at the time. And that’s the moral crux of Truth, one which I happen to agree with, which documents the botched reporting that led to the story itself being ignored via a wave of controversy regarding unverifiable documents. The film makes a grand and significant point of how modern journalism has begun obsessing on the minutia or unrelated gossip at the expense of the big picture.
The documents were not “unverifiable.” They were fake. They were totally made up. And the “big picture” is that a national news network made a conscious decision to intervene in a presidential election in a partisan manner. So that “minutia” and “unrelated gossip” exposed the effort for the whole world to see.
The Mendelson review reflects present-day reality about Rathergate: Liberals are still trying to push the narrative that Bush received special treatment because he was rich and someone else went to Vietnam instead of him.
Johnson-Hinderaker destroy that myth among many others. Here are some choice excerpts from the article:
The documents on which the story was based supposedly came from the “personal file” of Jerry Killian, Bush’s commander in the TexANG, who had been dead for 20 years. But where did CBS News get them? Mapes testified that she and her team had been given six documents by Bill Burkett, but where had Burkett obtained them?
The report notes that Burkett gave three explanations, whose implausibility increased in each successive version. He told one intermediary that the documents mysteriously materialized in the mail. He then told Mapes that the documents were provided to him by one George Conn, but that Conn would never admit to being the source. Mapes made virtually no attempt to contact Conn or to confirm this story, which Burkett later admitted was false. That was the state of Mapes’s knowledge when the story aired on September 8.
* * * * * * *
And the tale is bovine, in a tall tale sort of way. Mapes still pretends to believe Burkett. Drawing on the sense God gave them, the Thornburgh-Boccardi panel did not. Killian’s family, as it happens, said such files of his as Burkett purported to pass along never existed. The Thornburgh-Boccardi report drily observes: “It does not appear, based on information available to the Panel, that [Mrs. Killian] was asked whether her husband had personal files, used a typewriter or had a secretary.”
The Thornburgh-Boccardi report also notes that Mapes had learned in the course of her reporting that no influence was used to get President Bush into the TexANG. There was no line of aspiring pilots waiting to fly the difficult and dangerous F-102 in 1968. No pull was needed to secure Bush a spot to train as a pilot.
* * * * * * *
The Rathergate memos had obviously been created recently on Microsoft Word rather than three decades earlier on a typewriter. But their content also revealed them to be fake. In a memo dated August 18, 1973, bearing the colorful subject “CYA,” Killian had supposedly documented Staudt pressuring Hodges and Hodges pressuring Killian to “sugarcoat” the evaluation of Bush. Staudt, however, had retired on March 1, 1972. Staudt was not on the scene or in a position to pressure anyone in the TexANG to do anything.
CBS portrayed Bush joining the TexANG to evade service in Vietnam, yet Mapes had been told by Killian’s son that Bush volunteered to go to Vietnam and was turned down because he didn’t have enough flying time. The Thornburgh-Boccardi report also quotes one of Killian’s authentic evaluations of Bush: “Lt. Bush is an exceptional fighter interceptor pilot and officer.” Contrary to the tenor of the fabricated memos, this is what Killian really thought of Bush.
Historical dramas are always suspect because the genre does not lend itself to factual retellings of events. History, as it happens, is usually pretty boring so Hollywood spices up historical recreations by adding characters, sub-plots, and, wherever possible, a romantic interest.
Rep. Kevin McCarthy, a leading candidate to replace John Boehner as speaker of the House, may have severely damaged his candidacy when he said yesterday that the Benghazi committee had severely damaged Hillary Clinton:
“Everybody thought Hillary Clinton was unbeatable, right?” McCarthy said on Fox News. “But we put together a Benghazi special committee, a select committee. What are her numbers today? Her numbers are dropping. Why? Because she’s untrustable. But no one would have known any of that had happened had we not fought.”
This was a pure gaffe — an inadvertent blurting out of the truth. But some Republicans are saying it calls into question McCarthy’s ability to act as spokesman for the party.
Speaking to CNN’s Wolf Blitzer on “The Situation Room,” Rep. Jason Chaffetz, R-Utah, said McCarthy should apologize, saying the California Republican made an “absolutely inappropriate statement.”
Speaker John Boehner, who is set to retire at the end of the month, sought to provide cover for McCarthy on Thursday. In a statement, he denied that the committee has anything to do with politics.
“This investigation has never been about former Secretary of State Clinton and never will be,” Boehner said.
RELATED: Boehner defends Benghazi panel
Privately, Republicans were outraged by the remarks, saying the House majority leader had given Democrats unfounded ammunition to argue that the committee’s investigation is squarely being driven by politics. Republicans on the committee had tried for months to keep the focus of the inquiry on the administration’s handling of the attacks, avoiding getting into the ins and outs of the various aspects on the email stories.
But in one fell swoop, McCarthy undercut their strategy.
RELATED: Democrats seize on McCarthy’s Benghazi comments
“I might have said it differently,” Rep. Darrell Issa, R-California, told CNN. “Any ancillary political activity that comes out of it is, in fact, not the goal of the committee and is not what the committee is seeking to do.”
Added Rep. Justin Amash of Michigan, “I totally disagree with those comments.” Asked if they could jeopardize his bid for speaker, the conservative Amash said: “I think it should be a concern.”
McCarthy’s comments come at a pivotal moment for the 50-year-old Republican. He is now the leading candidate to replace Boehner during next week’s leadership elections, giving him a major platform to drive the national conversation and shape the agenda for the GOP. And McCarthy’s Benghazi comments could reinforce the impression among some of his critics that his gaffe-prone nature could hurt the party headed into 2016.
Rep. Chris Stewart, a supporter of McCarthy’s who did not see the leader’s remarks, said that the California Republican may need to be cognizant that his comments now are going to be heavily scrutinized.
“Being a majority leader is different than being the speaker,” Stewart said. “There is a bigger microscope.”
McCarthy was the obvious choice to move up the ladder. He still may be if he can limit the damage.
But the Democrats are smelling blood and may demand McCarthy’s scalp as a price for keeping the Benghazi committee up and running. Democrats on the committee could simply walk away and refuse to participate any more. This would pretty much mean the end of the committee and the end of the Benghazi probe.
There is no other candidate who stands out, although it is believed that the two top candidates for majority leader — Reps. Scalise and Price — would probably be interested in the speakership if McCarthy drops out. And then, the scramble begins as some members who may have withdrawn their name from consideration for a leadership position might reconsider if the deck is shuffled.
The election is expected to take place during a GOP conference on October 8.
Just what the GOP nomination race needs: a has-been loser already rejected once by the American people.
It’s hard to tell from the article whether this “boomlet” is coming from Romney’s own people or the eternally clueless donors who think they can find the unicorn under all that cow manure.
But you have to suspect that Ann Romney is sending up a trial balloon to see what falls from the sky. She appeared this morning on the Kilmeade and Friends radio show:
“All I can say is, we are in New York City, Mitt’s been with me a lot today, over the last few days and we have been walking the streets and people are screaming out there windows, I mean people on the street, people stop us on the street, everyone is saying ‘come, get in, jump in’, we hear it, we get a lot of phone calls, people are calling all the time, from our past donors saying ‘it’s time to think about it again’. We are assessing, it’s not like we are making a different decision, we are on the sidelines, we made a decision in January not to jump in. Like everyone, we are mystified by this race and entertained at the same time but there’s a lot of ups and downs in a primary and we went through this too by the way in our race, a lot of ups and downs. It’s a long way from being over. There is going to be a lot changes and I can guarantee you, in not too much more time, the same thing is going to be happening on the democratic side. There is one thing for certain and that is, there is a lot of distrust for Washington right now, a lot of frustration, a lot of anger. It is out there, both on the right and the left, you know we are participating and watching like everyone else is.”
(Brian) Not Ruling it out entirely?
“It’s not even like we are talking about it Brain, I can say other people are talking to us about it but we, Mitt and I are not even ready to talk about it.”
Politics certainly is weird. When the presidential bug bites, its effects appear to be permanent. That’s because there are aspects to campaigning for president that are incredibly seductive: the crowds, the press, the attention, the idea that you can make a difference. All of this speak to the man who has everything, who has accomplished virtually all that can be accomplished in his chosen field.
So, what the hey? May as well play world leader for a few years and get a mention or two in the history books, right?
To stand the pummelling from the press and your opponents, to endure the endless circuit of speeches, glad handing, begging cash from donors, and a thousand other annoyances — one must be possessed of a gigantic ego and supreme self assurance. In Romney’s case, he will probably rule out a run. But for a moment or two today, he must have gotten a thrill from seeing his name connected once again with the presidency.
Are these really the kind of people we want as president?
I don’t know how much of this story to believe, or whether to chalk it up to promoting a new book, Inside IS – Ten Days in the Islamic State
Or, the author, Jurgen Todenhofer, may be reporting accurately what he saw and heard — which is the same as the terrorists spoon feeding him information.
Any way you cut it, this is a disturbing description of Islamic State from a reporter who was allowed to embed with them.
Nuclear annihilation across the globe. This is what a German reporter who successfully embedded with the Islamic State says the terror group is planning. Jurgen Todenhofer released his findings in a book titled “Inside IS – Ten Days in the Islamic State,” reports the UK’s Daily Express.
“The terrorists plan on killing several hundred million people. The west is drastically underestimating the power of ISIS. ISIS intends to get its hands on nuclear weapons,” says Todenhofer, calling the group a “nuclear tsunami preparing the largest religious cleansing in history.”
“They now control land greater in size than the United Kingdom and are supported by an almost ecstatic enthusiasm the like of which I’ve never encountered before in a war zone. Every day hundreds of willing fighters from all over the world come. They are the most brutal and most dangerous enemy I have ever seen in my life. I don’t see anyone who has a real chance to stop them. Only Arabs can stop IS. I came back very pessimistic.”
Whether or not ISIS wants to get its hands on nuclear weapons is not the question. We know they do, and once in their hands, they wouldn’t hesitate to use them.
But for the next decade, it is doubtful they will be able to achieve that goal. Even with the expected proliferation of nukes in the Middle East, those programs would be starting from scratch. They would pretty much have to take the route of Iran since nuclear powers in the west would be prevented from giving them assistance to build a bomb by the Nuclear Non-Proliferation Treaty. This will stretch out development time considerably.
Would North Korea sell them a bomb or two? Or if radicals take over Pakistan, would they make a deal with ISIS? We can speculate about potential sellers but the bottom line is that it would be difficult, if not impossible, to hide the movement of nuclear weapons from those countries. These aren’t suitcase bombs. North Korea, for instance, has been unable so far to miniaturize its arsenal so that they can fit a nuclear device on a warhead. And India, who keeps very close track of Pakistan’s nuclear force, would know immediately if Pakistan was up to something with Islamic State.
That doesn’t lessen the danger from ISIS. But the west is dreaming if they think the weak half measures being used so far can stop or slow down Islamic State.They are going to have to be destroyed. And the question confronting policy makers is simple: Would it be better to confront Islamic State now, while they are relatively small and weak, or wait until they become vastly more powerful and the cost of defeating them skyrockets?
In recent years, archaeologists have claimed to have found the ancient cities of Sodom and Gomorrah. These findings either didn’t pan out, or proved to be inaccurate.
But now, after 10 years of excavations and study, one archaeologist believes he can say with some confidence that he has found the ancient city-state of Sodom.
Now having completed the tenth season of excavations, an archaeological team headed by Steven Collins of Trinity Southwest University, New Mexico, has unearthed a goldmine of ancient monumental structures and artifacts that are revealing a massive Bronze Age city-state that dominated the region of Jordan’s southern Jordan Valley, even during a time when many other great cities of the “Holy Land” region were either abandoned or in serious decline.
Known as Tall el-Hammam, Collins has been leading excavations at the imposing mound, or tel, since 2005.
“Very, very little was known about the Bronze Age in the Middle Ghor (southern Jordan Valley) before we began our excavations in 2005,” says Collins. “Even most of the archaeological maps of the area were blank, or mostly so. What we’ve got on our hands is a major city-state that was, for all practical purposes, unknown to scholars before we started our Project.”
Indeed, according to Collins, when comparing it with the remains of other nearby ancient cities, along with its prime location and dates of occupation, it emerges today as the best candidate for the lost city of Sodom—the infamous city that, based on the Biblical account, was destroyed by God in a fiery cataclysm because of its iniquity.
“Tall el-Hammam seemed to match every Sodom criterion demanded by the text,” he says. ”Theorizing, on the basis of the Sodom texts, that Sodom was the largest of the Kikkar (the Jordan ‘Disk’, or ‘well-watered plain’ in the biblical text) cities east of the Jordan, I concluded that if one wanted to find Sodom, then one should look for the largest city on the eastern Kikkar that existed during the Middle Bronze Age, the time of Abraham and Lot. When we explored the area, the choice of Tall el-Hammam as the site of Sodom was virtually a no-brainer since it was at least five to ten times larger than all the other Bronze Age sites in the entire region, even beyond the Kikkar of the Jordan.”
All major Abrahamic religions mention Sodom in their holy books. But whether the city was actually known as Sodom at the time is unclear. The anecdotal evidence is strong that a very large city-state was destroyed very suddenly somewhere near the first millennium BC. Perhaps if this find proves out to be Sodom, they can decipher what caused its destruction.
What’s truly sad is the difficulty archaeologists have in getting permits to dig in many parts of the Muslim Middle East. The Muslims are terrified that proof will be unearthed that shows the Hebrews had any claim at all to the land of Israel, and sites along the Jordan River especially are usually made unavailable to scientists.
It is especially knotty in Jerusalem because so many places in that ancient city are off-limits to archaeologists that could shed light on Old and New Testament texts. Still, great and significant finds are being made that strengthen the belief of the faithful in the Bible’s truths.
An interesting reaction from Hillary Clinton to Jeb Bush’s remark regarding Democrats offering “free stuff” to minorities to get them to vote Democratic.
She said talk like that is “deeply insulting, whether it comes from Jeb Bush or Mitt Romney or Donald Trump.”
Is she kidding?
Hillary Rodham Clinton says Jeb Bush’s suggestion that Democrats offer “free stuff” to appeal to minority voters is “deeply insulting.”
Bush told a South Carolina audience last week that Democrats offer division and “free stuff,” or government help, to black voters while his message is about “hope and aspiration.”
Clinton took issue with the comments during a Facebook question-and-answer session on Monday. She said rhetoric like that is “deeply insulting, whether it comes from Jeb Bush or Mitt Romney or Donald Trump.”
“I think people are seeing this for what it is: Republicans lecturing people of color instead of offering real solutions to help people get ahead, including facing up to hard truths about race and justice in America,” Clinton wrote on Facebook.
Bush’s remarks drew comparisons to Romney’s comments following his 2012 loss in the presidential election to President Barack Obama, when the former Massachusetts governor told donors that Obama had offered “gifts” to minority voters.
Bush told Fox News on Sunday that his comments were taken out of context and he was making a point that was counter to what Romney had said at the time.
“I think we need to make our case to African-American voters and all voters that an aspirational message, fixing a few big complex things, will allow people to rise up. That’s what people want. They don’t want free stuff. That was my whole point,” Bush said.
“We shall tax and tax, and spend and spend, and elect and elect,” said FDR aide Harry Hopkins. As far as I can tell, they haven’t changed that strategy in the intervening 83 years. The whole point of belonging to the Democratic Party is to partake in the divvying up of the goodies.
Specifically for minorities, Democrats are always coming up with ever more inventive ways to make them more dependent on Democrats being in office. Hillary Clinton can’t deny this, not when her campaign is revving up to scare the daylights out of minorities by claiming Republicans want to cut all those welfare programs — or, “free stuff,” if you’re honest.
All politicians pander to those who can do them the most good. By pretending Democrats aren’t pandering to minorities to get their votes, Hillary Clinton only comes off looking ridiculous.
Russian intervention in Syria may be the beginning of an endgame for President Bashar Assad. The new Russian base at Latakia is smack in the middle of Assad’s Alawite power base along the coast of eastern Syria. Latakia is the largest port in the country and its people have been fiercely loyal to the president.
Recent meetings between Secretary of State John Kerry and Russian Foreign Minister Lavrov have concentrated on how to begin a process of dialogue with rebels fighting President Assad. The rebels have sworn not to talk until Assad is gone, but they may settle for a promise of Assad eventually leaving to rule a rump Alawite Syrian state.
That probably won’t stop an even more fractious civil war as with Assad gone, the dozens of factions and militias will battle for what’s left of the country.
Russia’s military build-up in Syria is aimed mainly at propping up President Bashar al-Assad and helping him reinforce his threatened coastal heartland, where he is seeking to bolster the communities that form his power base as his army falters.
The Russian escalation has ended any prospect of Assad being ousted by military force, despite the near collapse of his army in the face of rebel advances, and will consolidate the de facto partitioning of Syria, most analysts believe.
Residents of the coastal city of Latakia, a stronghold of Assad’s Alawite minority, say the increase in Russia’s military presence began as early as June and, along with it, preparations for an eventual breakup of the country of 23 million people.
The population of Latakia has swollen fourfold during four years of civil war, and the government is now facilitating the settlement of other minorities such as Christians and Shi’ites.
But since most Syrians are Sunnis, those who flee to the coast are not allowed to move their civil registration there, a move designed to prevent the Sunni majority from becoming a threat to the Alawites, an offshoot of Shi’ite Islam.
With roughly two thirds of Syria controlled by mainly Islamist rebels, whether Syrian fighters backed by Qatar, Saudi Arabia and Turkey, or the cross-border Islamic State, it looks inconceivable that Russia could retake territory lost by government forces unless it were to commit ground troops.
That is not on the table so far, analysts say.
What does seem clear is that Russia’s move was prompted by alarm that government forces were losing ground so fast that the survival of the Assad family, for decades Moscow’s closest ally in the Middle East, was in question.
When Islamist rebels started to threaten Latakia, which is near the Russian naval base at Tartous, Moscow’s only naval facility in the Mediterranean, the Kremlin decided to step in.
Iran, too, must be worried because their terrorist militia, Hezbollah, is now the most effective force fighting the rebels and Islamic State. Their casualties are estimated at about 1,000 — a significant number considering the size of their force. But Iran refuses to commit the bulk of the Hezbollah militia, sending only about 7,000 men out of the estimated 20,000 on the payroll.
With the Syrian army near collapse, Assad may soon be forced to retreat to his stronghold in Latakia. At that point, the real battle begins as various rebel forces, jihadist militias, and Islamic State will battle for what remains of Syria.
President Francois Hollande told reporters at the UN that French warplanes struck Islamic State targets in Syria for the first time because ISIS “threatened the security of our country.”
France has a modest role in the air campaign against ISIS in Iraq and had been giving material support to some rebels in Syria, including the Kurds. But with Russia now active militarily in Syria, Hollande apparently believes it’s time for France to take a hand in the conflict.
He said six fighter jets had destroyed their targets near Deir ez-Zor and that more operations could take place in coming weeks to protect France and Syrian civilians.
France had feared strikes in Syria could be counter-productive and could strengthen President Bashar al-Assad, who has been fighting a rebellion against his rule since 2011.
However, France was shaken by a series of deadly attacks by Islamist militants this year, including the killing of 12 people at the office of the satirical weekly Charlie Hebdo in January.
In addition, Paris has become alarmed by Islamic State gains in northern Syria and the possibility of France being sidelined in negotiations to reach a political solution in Syria.
A French diplomatic source said Paris needed to be one of the “hitters” in Syria — those taking direct military action — to legitimately take part in any negotiations for a political solution to the conflict.
U.S. Secretary of State John Kerry is trying to launch a new initiative for a political solution in Syria during meetings in New York this week, diplomats said.
Hollande said he would support those efforts and France would hold bilateral meetings throughout the week with key players in the Syria crisis before a summit with Russian President Vladimir Putin in Paris on Friday.
“France doesn’t sideline anybody, but the future of Syria cannot pass through President Bashar al-Assad,” he said.
Two French diplomatic sources said the idea of creating a buffer zone in northern Syria was one issue that could be discussed over the coming days.
“It’s one of the parameters being looked at,” one source said.
There’s been a flurry of diplomatic activity these past two weeks as Russia’s intervention and the refugee crisis in Europe have fueled a new effort to find some way out of the morass that Syria has become. It won’t be easy. There are so many different actors, with factions uniting briefly only to be fighting each other days later. Al-Nusra, al-Qaeda’s affiliate in Syria, has an on again, off again alliance with the Islamic State. Free Syrian Army has a similar relationship with al-Nusra. And there are a half dozen jihadist militias of varying sizes and abilities who are apparently fighting everybody.
Kerry met with Russian Foreign Minister Lavrov in New York and the two men discussed the dangers of Russian intervention. Russia has several anti-aircraft units at their new air base, even though ISIS has no air force.
“It was a very thorough exchange of views on both the military and the political implications of Russia’s increased engagement in Syria,” a senior U.S. official told reporters on condition of anonymity, adding that the meeting was to prepare for talks between the U.S. and Russian presidents on Monday.
“They discussed the need not simply to de-conflict but, if possible, to get back to the conversation about a way forward on a political transition,” the official added. “They did discuss various ways to look at that.”
De-conflict is a diplomatic term for avoiding unintended incidents or accidents between different military forces operating in the same theater.
Russia has indicated they would be open to a political solution that does not include Assad. But no one doubts that the Russians will see to it that any replacement for him will be just as pro-Russian.
The Iraqi military announced that it would begin to share “security and intelligence” information on ISIS with Iran, Russia, and Syria, a move that further muddies the waters in the war against Islamic State.
Iran and Russia have already agreed to fight “terrorists” in Syria, which could mean that Russia’s commitment to President Assad might include fighting the non-ISIS rebels supported by the U.S. As far as Assad is concerned, anyone who opposes him is a terrorist.
But the de facto alliance of Russia, Syria, Iran, and Iraq will strengthen the hand of President Assad as the U.S. is being shunted to the side in the fight against ISIS.
A statement issued by the Joint Operations Command said the countries will “help and cooperate in collecting information about the terrorist Daesh group,” using the Arabic acronym for the IS group.
Iraq has long had close ties with neighboring Iran and has coordinated with Tehran in fighting IS — which controls about a third of Iraq and Syria in a self-declared caliphate. Iran has sent military advisers to Iraq and worked closely with Shiite militias battling the IS group.
A U.S.-led coalition has meanwhile been conducting airstrikes against IS in Iraq and Syria as well as training and advising Iraqi forces, but U.S. officials insist they are not coordinating their efforts with Iran.
The U.S. also refuses to cooperate with Syrian President Bashar Assad, who Washington has insisted should step down. Russia and Iran have provided crucial support to Assad since Syria’s uprising began in 2011.
The Baghdad-based spokesman for the U.S.-led campaign against the IS group, Col. Steve Warren, said the U.S. remains committed to working with Iraq to defeat the extremists.
“We recognize that Iraq has an interest in sharing information on ISIL with other governments in the region who are also fighting ISIL,” Warren said, using another acronym for the militant group. “We do not support the presence of Syrian government officials who are part of a regime that has brutalized its own citizens.”
U.S. Secretary of State John Kerry, who met with Russian Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov on the sidelines of the U.N. General Assembly on Sunday, said in response to the Iraqi statement that “all of the efforts need to be coordinated. This is not yet coordinated.”
Kerry sounds a little peeved that the U.S. has been shouldered aside by our Iraqi allies. In truth, Iranian President Rouhani is correct when he says that Islamic State won’t be defeated without the government of Syria, which the U.S. refuses to support.
As Russia significantly increases its support of Syria’s Bashar al-Assad, Iranian President Hassan Rouhani told CNN’s Christiane Amanpour on Sunday that backing Syria’s “central government” is the only way to defeat ISIS.
In Syria, when our first objective is to drive out terrorists and combating terrorists to defeat them, we have no solution other than to strengthen the central authority and the central government of that country as a central seat of power.”
“So I think today everyone has accepted that President Assad must remain so that we can combat the terrorists.”
“However, as soon as this movement reaches the various levels of success and starts driving out the terrorists on a step-by-step basis, then other plans must be put into action so as to hear the voices of the opposition as well.”
Since the beginning of the Syrian civil war, Iran has put its full weight behind Bashar al-Assad’s regime, supporting him politically, financially and militarily.
Russia, Iran and al-Assad are united in their opposition to ISIS. But al-Assad, since the beginning of the conflict, has used the term “terrorists” to refer to groups that the United States and other Western powers would consider part of the legitimate opposition.
One of the difficulties in attracting “secular” rebels to the U.S. training program is that recruits are told they will only be able to fight Islamic State, not the forces of President Assad. Since most Syrians want to rid themselves of the dictator, most recruits are from neighboring countries.
Rouhani is being disingenuous when he says that Assad would be eased out down the road. First of all, the Iranians have no say in the matter. Russia has hinted that such will be the case, but that’s not likely unless they can be guaranteed that Assad’s successor is as pro-Russian as he is. Secondly, how likely is it that Iran will abandon Assad after pouring billions into propping him up?
This is another sign of America’s waning influence in the Middle East.
The Clintons are, if nothing else, predictable when it comes to defending themselves against scandals.
It’s never their fault and the press always blows whatever it is they’ve done way out of proportion.
So is anyone surprised when Bill Clinton blames Republicans and the press for Hillary’s own actions in using a private server to store classified information?
In an interview with CNN’s Fareed Zakaria to be aired Sunday, Clinton said of the former first lady and Secretary of State, “The other party doesn’t want to run against her. And if they do, they’d like her as mangled up as possible.”
He likened the controversy over Hillary’s Clinton’s State Department emails to the Whitewater scandal that dogged his own campaign in 1992, in an anecdote about how George H.W. Bush officials contacted him saying, “The press has to have someone every election. We’re going to give them you. You better not run.”
But Bill Clinton rejected Zakaria’s suggestion that the interest surrounding Hillary Clinton’s emails was a “Republican plot.”
“No, I’m not going there, because that’s what the – it’s not a – a plot makes it sound like it’s a secret,” he said.
Bill Clinton also extended fault to other groups, but was hesitant to give specifics. “There are lots of people who wanted there to be a race for different reasons,” he said.
He did, however, attribute some blame to the press, stating that before the race, Hillary Clinton “was the most admired person in public life. Why? Because she was being covered by people who reported on what she was doing.”
“What happened?” he added. “The presidential campaign happened. And the nature of the coverage shifted from issue-based to political.”
He emphasized his wife’s successes and focus on policy issues, saying, “She’s already put out more positions on more issues and said how she would pay for it than, I think, than all the other [Republicans] combined.”
Despite his critiques, Bill Clinton shied away from portraying his wife as the victim, acknowledging the inevitability of such coverage.
“You can’t complain,” he said. “This is a contact sport. They’re not giving the job away.”
Note that Clinton hints at conspiracy and then says flat out that there isn’t one. Same thing when he portrays his wife as a victim, only to say in the next breath that she isn’t.
We’re so used to this tactic by now that we hardly notice it. Reading the words above leads one to the inescapable conclusion that Bill Clinton believes there is a Republican conspiracy against Hillary and that she is a victim — no matter what he said following.
The Clintons have made a living in a political culture where it is OK to refuse to accept responsibility for your actions while blaming others for your problems. It’s a far cry from Truman’s “The buck stops here.” For them, it’s more like “pin the tail on the elephant.”
When the Bay of Pigs went sideways, Kennedy blamed the CIA in private but stepped forward to take responsibility in public. Similarly, when the Iran hostage rescue failed, President Carter took full responsibility (and Secretary of State Cyrus Vance resigned because he disagreed with the mission). These would be alien concepts to the Clintons, who, when confronted with the choice to do what’s honorable or what’s expedient, inevitably choose the latter.
Russia’s ambassador to Poland has angered the highest levels of the Polish government by claiming that Russia’s invasion of Poland at the outset of World War II was “self defense.”
Nazi Germany invaded Poland on September 1, 1939, while the Russians invaded 16 days later. The twin invasions were the result of a secret protocol in the Nazi -Soviet Pact signed August 25, 1939, where the two powers agreed to divide Poland and other parts of Eastern Europe into spheres of influence.
At the time of the Russian invasion, Stalin claimed that Poland had ceased to exist as a state and Soviet troops were moving in to restore order.
In an interview broadcast on the private TVN station, Andreev also said: “Polish policy led to the disaster in September 1939, because during the 1930s Poland repeatedly blocked the formation of a coalition against Hitler’s Germany. Poland was therefore partly responsible for the disaster which then took place.”
Poland’s Foreign Ministry expressed “surprise and alarm” at those comments, and Foreign Minister Grzegorz Schetyna summoned Andreev for a meeting Monday on the matter.
“The narrative presented by the highest official representative of the Russian state in Poland undermines the historical truth and reflects the most hypocritical interpretation of the events known from the Stalinist and communist years,” the ministry said in a statement.
Prime Minister Ewa Kopacz also expressed displeasure with the ambassador.
“The role of an ambassador accredited in a country should be to build to build harmony and friendly relations between countries,” Kopacz said.
Relations have never been easy since Poland, a former Soviet bloc nation, rejected Moscow’s control and embraced the West, joining NATO and the European Union. But tensions have been especially high since Russia annexed Crimea in 2014, a step that Warsaw has strongly condemned.
In other points of contention in recent days, Poland blocked a Crimean official hoping to attend an OSCE conference in Warsaw from entering the country, angering Moscow. Moscow has also protested a Polish town’s dismantling of a monument to a Soviet World War II general, threating Warsaw with “most serious consequences” for that.
Putin is playing the long game in Eastern Europe and this appears to be just one more in a series of provocations. But the Russian president won’t make any overt moves as long as NATO is around. Why should he when he is likely to get what he wants — the disintegration of the western alliance — without having to go to war?
NATO would probably fight to save Poland, but what about Ukraine? When Russia renews the civil war in the next few months, how many Russian “volunteers” will be fighting the Ukrainian government this time? If Putin figures he can get away with it, he may force an end to the conflict and make Ukraine a docile satellite of Moscow.
Poland and other former satellites of the Soviet Union are increasingly in danger and the response so far from the U.S. has been hesitant and inadequate. We appear to be far more interested in not trying to provoke Putin than we are in protecting eastern Europe.
Russia moves its troops around and makes outright threats to Poland and other U.S.-aligned nations. Perhaps it’s time we stopped trying to appease President Putin and make it clear that Russian provocations will be met with resolute actions.
Yes, but which mystery? NASA chose to tease the public by issuing a press release promising big news about Mars at a Monday press conference. Speculation, as you can imagine, is running rampant in the scientific community. Did they find signs of life either past or present?
One thing is sure, it better be good. NASA has raised expectations so that nothing less than Mars-shattering news will justify the dog and pony show on Monday.
No further details are available on the nature of the mystery. However, the lineup for the Monday press conference sports top agency authorities, including NASA director of planetary science Jim Green and lead scientist for the Mars Exploration Program Michael Meyer.
The other guests, relatively unknown researchers from American universities, led the science and tech publication Inverse to speculate.
“Our best guess: flowing water, and the potential for alien life,” the publication wrote late Thursday.
That’s because on of NASA’s featured Monday speakers, Georgia Tech grad student Lujendra Ojha, doesn’t quite match the high profile of the NASA leadership hosting the conference. But, Inverse notes, Ojha was responsible in 2011 for the discovery of “possible flows of salt water on Mars.”
According to a 2011 CNN report, native Nepali Ojha used a computer algorithm to remove visual distortions from satellite images of Mars, and notices slim snaky features that moved over time. All he could guess is that they were water.
“There’s going to be years of research put into this to even prove that this is definitely proof of water. And from that, we can move on: OK if this is water, what are the chances that life could be in these kinds of surroundings?” he told CNN.
Most scientists already agree that the canyons and gullies that cover the Martian surface were once carved by water that flowed across the planet’s now-desolate surface. Now the plant’s poles also sport massive caps of frozen water. But one mystery persists: what happened?
Liquid water on Mars would be a groundbreaking discovery, imagined by scientists for over a century, at least since Italian astronomer Giovanni Schiaparelli captivated the world when he announced the discovery of a massive infrastructure of canals criss-crossing the Martian surface in 1877.
That wasn’t true, of course. Schiaparelli’s crude telescope offered him the sight of a blurry blob constantly moving in distortion.
Actually, Schiaperelli found what he described as canalis, which translates into English as “channels.” It hardly mattered because Schiaperelli saw an optical illusion.
So, is flowing water a big deal? It’s very big. There are several moons in the solar system, including Europa near Jupiter and Enceladus near Saturn, where cracks in the icy surface of what is believed to be massive oceans might suggest liquid water. Because of its binding properties with organic molecules, the presence of liquid water is tantalizingly suggestive that life could be present.
We won’t get any definitive answers on Monday. It will be many months with other scientists testing and retesting that hypothesis before any certainty can be added to the theory. But for amateur space enthusiasts, it only makes us salivate about getting people on board a ship as soon as possible and getting them to Mars.
The Clinton Global Initiative will hold its annual gala tonight to honor Bill, Hillary, and Chelsea Clinton and you would think that anyone who is anybody in politics, business, and entertainment.
Except anyone who is anybody won’t be there. Several notables including President Obama, Facebook founder Steve Zuckerberg, and Elton John have begged off, citing other commitments. And both Janet Yellen and anti-capitalism author Thomas Piketty both declined an invitation to make a presentation on income inequality.
It appears that the foundation, which has raised billions over the years and gave both Bill and Hillary Clinton a highly visible platform to make millions from giving speeches around the world, is losing some of its luster.
The $2 billion affair in New York City titled “The Future of Impact” was intended to attract a star-studded guest list and celebrate the accomplishments of Bill, Hillary and Chelsea Clinton. But instead the event appears to be representative of the respect the Clintons have lost this past year, as Hillary faces questioning about her private email server and the former president may have to step down from his role with CGI.
Obama, who has attended every CGI gala in the past, will skip for the first time this year, citing scheduling conflicts. Obama has yet to endorse a candidate in the Democratic primary, and while he had history working with Clinton while she was his secretary of state, the two-term Vice President Joe Biden may jump into the race soon.
Additionally Federal Reserve chair Janet Yellen and French economist Thomas Piketty were both asked to deliver presentations on income inequality, but both declined. Hillary Clinton may lead a panel on economic opportunity for women, but since she has distanced herself from CGI’s efforts since launching her campaign, her role will be otherwise minimal.
Numerous donors have dropped their sponsorship of the foundation recently, and it has become increasingly difficult for the CGI to raise money. The weekend will focus on bolstering those efforts, but at the hands of Chelsea Clinton, not her parents. The younger Clinton is slated to take the reins of the foundation as her mother steps back from her role during the campaign and her father’s role is called into question.
Greek Prime Minister Alexis Tsipras, Italian Prime Minister Matteo Renzi, Liberian President Ellen Johnson Sirleaf and Ukrainian President Petro Poroshenko are all scheduled to appear at the dinner this weekend.
Any not-for-profit executive can tell you that it is imperative for the organization to avoid even a whiff of scandal. But the stench of wrongdoing coming from Hillary Clinton lately has a lot of donors turning up their noses and withdrawing their support.
If you’re wondering about the viability of the foundation, you needn’t worry. When the Clintons can command a hundred million at a time from foreign governments, there’s not much danger of the foundation going under.
But clearly, the earth has moved and what once was seen as almost magical, has now been exposed as just another self-serving, self-promoting gimmick by Bill and Hillary. Some are backing away, not wanting to be a prop in the Clinton drama whose extended run shows no sign of wrapping up anytime soon.
This story broke earlier in the week and went viral on social media. A school in the Seattle area has banned the game of “Tag” — at least as we know it.
You see, they’ve had incidents recently of kids getting tagged too hard and falling, as well as some disputes as to whether the tagged player was actually “it.”
So in order to protect the “emotional safety” of the kids, they have made up new rules for tag, only confusing the situation more.
“School District bans game of tag to ‘ensure physical, emotional safety of students,’” said the headline on the QFox13 news Web site.
“Elementary schools draw community backlash for ‘hands off’ at recess,” reported the Mercer Island Reporter.
A spokesman for the school district seemed to reinforce the impression with a statement:
“The Mercer Island School District and school teams have recently revisited expectations for student behavior to address student safety. This means while at play, especially during recess and unstructured time, students are expected to keep their hands to themselves. The rationale behind this is to ensure the physical and emotional safety of all students.
“School staffs are working with students in the classroom to ensure that there are many alternative games available at recess and during unsupervised play, so that our kids can still have fun, be with their friends, move their bodies and give their brains a break.”
“Good grief, our kids need some unstructured playtime,” mom Kelsey Joyce told the TV station. “It’s a game that practically everyone has played – but if you go to public school on Mercer Island, keep your hands to yourself.
“I totally survived tag,” said Joyce. “I even survived red rover, believe it or not.”
“I played tag,” said mom Melissa Neher, “I survived.”
Thursday the school district attempted to clarify. What it really has in mind, said a statement, was a “new form of tag-like running games [sic] to minimize the issues of ‘you were tagged/no I wasn’t’ or ‘the tag was too hard and felt more like a hit.’ Tag is not banned,” it insisted. “We plan to support our elementary students with new games and alternatives that still involve running and exercising.”
Running. Exercising. But no mention of touching, however, raising the question of how a child can become “it” without being touched.
“Tag-like running games”? Are they joking? In seeking to look not quite so idiotic, they actually succeeded in making themselves look crazy:
The rules for the new “tag-like” game were not set forth. An “air-tag,” perhaps? A tag-like gesture? A mere shout of “you’re it?”
How close would the existing “it” have to be to the target “it” before a shout of “you’re it” is permitted?
I can imagine what these officials would have thought of some versions of “Town Ball” — one of the precursors to the modern game of baseball that was played in early America by school kids. In at least one version of Town Ball, you have bases and an indeterminate number of players, including a pitcher and the batter trying to hit the ball. But the ball in this case is a rock and if the player hits the rock, the only way get him to make an “out” is to throw the rock at the runner and hit him.
The poor dears in the Mercer Island School District would no doubt have heart attacks if their students played that game.
These school administrators need deep, regular therapy in order to become functional citizens of our society again. Don’t worry, guys. It may take years and cost hundreds of thousands of dollars. But we’ll have you right as rain soon enough.
This just in:
The Mercer Island School District that banned the game of Tag has relented and has decided to reinstate the game.
I still think they were nuts for banning it in the first place.
This is pretty bizarre, especially since the congressman in question pulled the same stunt with President Obama’s water glass at his inauguration.
Pennsylvania Rep. Bob Brady made his way to the lectern in the House chamber after Pope Francis finished speaking and made off with his water glass. With his wife and a couple of aides in tow, Brady went back to his office. What happened next is hard to believe.
The pope sipped from the glass at least three times during his speech, Brady told the Daily News on Thursday night. And as the Holy Father left the chamber – and as many a legislator tried to make contact with him – the congressman calmly headed to the lectern and delicately picked up Papa Francisco’s glass, holding it by two fingers, one at the bottom of the glass and one at the rim.
Brady then walked back to his office, carrying the glass and water and accompanied by his wife, Debra, and two staffers.
(It may be significant to note here that Brady had pulled the same stunt at President Obama’s first inauguration.)
Once he was safely in his office, Brady told the People Paper, “I took a sip out of it.” So did Debra and the two staffers, who snapped pictures to commemorate the event.
“How many people do you know that drank out of the same glass as the pope?” Brady asked.
Not a question we ever dreamed we’d have to answer – but, what, maybe four people?
Brady also spread the holy-water joy to other legislators. He called U.S. Sen. Bob Casey, D-Pa., into his office, and Casey brought along his wife and mother. The three dipped their fingers into the glass. Pictures were taken, joy was in the air.
Brady said he then poured the rest of the water into a bottle and will use it to bless his four grandchildren, who range in age from 7 to 18, and his 1-year-old great-granddaughter.
Where’s the glass, you may ask? Brady is keeping it in a brown paper bag. After the papal visit, he will give it to Philadelphia police to dust it for fingerprints to prove its authenticity, he said Thursday night.
“They’re pretty busy right now.”
The act of the pope simply touching the glass does not make it “holy,” according to Catholic tradition. The pope isn’t Midas where everything he touches is imbued with the Holy Spirit. Unless he goes through the ritual of actually blessing the water, technically speaking it would be as ordinary as tap water.
Apparently none of that matters to Brady, who is going to “bless” his grandkids and great grandchild with the unholy water and keep the unholy glass as a souvenir. It will be interesting to see how the Philly police are going to verify the pope’s fingerprints on the glass, since I doubt they have them on file.
Maybe they can call the Vatican. And while they’re asking, perhaps they could request some more water for Rep. Brady. He might want to irrigate his lawn and make that “holy” too.
John Boehner will be out as speaker of the House at the end of next month because he ended up bringing a knife to a gunfight in his conflicts with House conservatives and the president.
Weak, ineffectual, incompetent — he is, to my mind, the worst speaker in my lifetime. But there is another factor that caused his downfall: an adherence to old-fashioned ideas about responsible governance and a failure to imagine a way to lead his fractious, undisciplined mob of a caucus.
He was not a good advocate. And he left a lot to be desired as an opponent. He was a stumbling spokesman for the party. And he couldn’t articulate a strategy that would defeat the Democrats, who made outmaneuvering him a regular occurrence.
But it’s not all his fault. He wasn’t a good advocate because no one in the Republican Party knows what to advocate for. And he was horrible on the Sunday shows because with no agenda, he had very little to talk about.
John Boehner believed he was sent to Congress to represent his constituents’ interests and help govern the country. These quaint, out-of-step notions of responsible governance fall on the deaf ears of the 50% of the Republican Party that is gloating at his ouster.
Ramesh Ponnuru writing in Bloomberg:
Since taking control of Congress, they haven’t voted on conservative proposals to deal with health care, taxes or higher education. They’ve telegraphed that they’re planning to wait for a presidential nominee to supply a platform. While they wait, congressional leaders including Boehner have tried to get budget bills passed on time and acted on the various priorities of business groups. That M.O. inspires neither conservatives nor voters generally.
But conservative activist groups haven’t had an agenda, either — no list of policies they want Congress to enact or presidential candidates to endorse. And this leads to an unwinnable situation for those rare occasions when Republican politicians do make proposals. Because there’s no generally accepted conservative plan for subsidizing primary education or health care, when Republicans propose something it can always be judged as inadequate when compared to some undefined alternative.
Neither congressional leaders nor conservative activists set policy goals for each year, but in the late stages of the budget-writing process the latter tend to stumble on some demand that they then seek to make the leaders deliver. In 2013, conservatives decided it was time to defund Obamacare; now it’s time to defund Planned Parenthood.
Their vagueness about what they want has also affected the presidential contest. A few groups, it’s true, have asked for specific policy commitments. Pro-lifers have gotten most of the candidates to agree to sign a bill banning late-term abortions, and free-market groups have gotten them to oppose the renewal of the Export-Import Bank’s charter. But for the most part conservatives haven’t been seeking specifics, just badges of identity: signs that the candidates identify themselves as part of the conservative tribe.
An attractive agenda that appeals to a broad range of conservatives and enough moderates to forge a majority coalition: It’s easy enough for a columnist to state that goal, much harder for an officeholder to achieve it. But it isn’t clear that Republicans generally see the absence of such an agenda as a problem. And that’s a major reason to expect that Boehner’s successor will have no happier a tenure than he’s had.
The times changed and Boehner didn’t. When he first arrived in Washington in 1990, there was still a lingering sense of bipartisanship on some issues. And the personality of the House was different. Hardened ideologues were few and far between. If not friendliness, there was comity in the House and pragmatism ruled the day.
Trump the bold. Trump the straight shooter. Trump, who tells it like it is. Trump the sniveling, whining, three year old who blows a gasket if anyone says anything about him he doesn’t like. Marco Rubio on Trump:
“First of all, he takes shots at everybody that gets anywhere close to him, in terms of a poll, or anytime he hits a rough spot that’s what he does,” the Florida senator said of Trump on Kentucky Sports Radio.
“He had a really bad debate performance last week,” continued Rubio. “He’s not well informed on the issues. He really never talks about issues and can’t have more than a 10-second soundbite on any key issue. And I think he’s kind of been exposed a little bit over the last seven days, and he’s a very touchy and insecure guy and so that’s how he reacts, and people can see through it.”
Trump singled out Rubio in two campaign stops in South Carolina this week, labeling him a “lightweight,” sweaty, and financially unsuccessful.
As if to prove Rubio’s point, Trump wants the FCC to fine Fox News analyst Rich Lowry for saying that Carly Fiorina “cut [Trump’s] balls off with the precision of a surgeon.” And he has threatened to sue Club for Growth for running negative ads against him. Boo-hoo, poor Donald. But last night in South Carolina at a candidate forum that was 1/3 empty, Trump went into an epic whine about the media, and hurled insult after insult at his opponents:
But Mr. Trump kept up his grumbling there. He used a news conference before the forum to continue a recently renewed feud with Fox News, mock a conservative group that is airing attack ads against him and complain to an NBC reporter that the network is citing a CNN poll that shows Ms. Fiorina gaining support rather than NBC’s own survey, which shows Mr. Trump holding a larger lead.
And when he took the stage with Mr. Scott, two well-appointed chairs awaiting them, Mr. Trump decided to first stand and offer his own preamble before the question-and-answer session with the senator.
Holding up a printout of a Florida newspaper, he twice read a headline referring to Senator Marco Rubio of Florida and Jeb Bush: “Rubio passes Bush in Florida poll.”
Then, with a flourish, he read the lead of the article, which noted that Mr. Trump was still enjoying a strong lead among Florida Republicans.
“They don’t even put me in the headline, and I’m crushing it,” he said. “The press is very dishonest. Not all of it, but much of it.”
Mr. Trump began his remarks in the first event in almost the exact same way. He noted that he was not in the headline, but concluded by flinging the piece of paper he was reading into the crowd in the fashion of a rock star flicking his guitar pick at a fan.
Perhaps conscious of the empty seats in the back of the room, he repeatedly commented on the size of the audience and said he had added the event to his schedule with little notice.
But, more troubling for a candidate who is heavily reliant on television coverage, there were only a handful of TV cameras in the back of the room, and the national cable stations spent little time on the event. MSNBC carried it for less than four minutes, CNN around six minutes and Fox did not carry the speech at all.
Claiming that CNN added time to the Republican debate last week to bring in more ad revenue, he asserted that the temperature hit triple figures inside the Reagan Library.
“Let’s let these suckers stand up there for another hour in a room that was 100 degrees,” Mr. Trump said, mimicking unnamed CNN executives. “That room was hot. I mean, poor Chris Christie.”
The audience broke into laughs and cheers, and for good measure, Mr. Trump noted that Mike Huckabee and Mr. Rubio were also very sweaty at the end of the debate (“He was soaking wet,” Mr. Trump recounted of Mr. Huckabee).
He can’t criticize Christie, Rubio, or Huckabee based on their policy positions because he’s ignorant. So, like a juvenile, he mocks their physical appearance. I recall that sort of thing was fashionable back in the 4th grade, but I can’t remember a presidential candidate acting so much like a child.
I expect this will occur the day the pope throws open the gates of Vatican City to all who wish to live there.
Invoking Martin Luther King Jr. and his famous “I Have a Dream” speech, Francis made an impassioned plea for the refugees fleeing Syria, saying the crisis is “of a magnitude not seen since the Second World War.”
Noting his own status as “the son of immigrants,” the pope pivoted to a more sensitive subject: The flow of illegal immigrants across the United States’s southern border.
He urged compassion for immigrants, warning not to repeat “the sins and the errors of the past” by turning them away.
“On this continent, too, thousands of persons are led to travel north in search of a better life for themselves and for their loved ones, in search of greater opportunities. Is this not what we want for our own children? We must not be taken aback by their numbers, but rather view them as persons, seeing their faces and listening to their stories, trying to respond as best we can to their situation,” Francis said, according to his prepared remarks.
“Let us remember the golden rule: ‘Do unto others as you would have them do unto you,’ ” he added.
“This rule points us in a clear direction. Let us treat others with the same passion and compassion with which we want to be treated. Let us seek for others the same possibilities which we seek for ourselves. Let us help others to grow, as we would like to be helped ourselves.”
Several Democrats applauded as Francis declared, “We, the people of this continent, are not fearful of foreigners, because most of us were once foreigners.”
Most Republicans did not join in the applause, with GOP presidential candidate Sen. Marco Rubio (R-Fla.), a son of Cuban immigrants, among the exceptions.
The old Cheech and Chong joke about the papal stance on sex — “He no playa the game, he no makea the rules” — applies here. Vatican City is a self-governing enclave of Italy, and yet, you need a pass to get into the area and a permit to live there.
Perhaps the pope could allow 100,000 Syrians to set up camp in St. Peter’s Square? Nothing like showing “compassion” for the immigrants. Of course, the idea is ridiculous but so is telling us to open our border to allow millions to come in. Will the Vatican send cash to help us take care of them?
Germany got what it wanted in the vote on the EU’s plan to resettle 120,000 refugees, but some Eastern European nations aren’t happy at all.
Yesterday, EU interior ministers voted to distribute the refugees throughout 23 EU nations while giving more than a billion euros to nations currently housing the refugees in camps outside of Syria. They also agreed to tightening borders so that economic refugees can be separated from those fleeing war and violence.
But four nations — Hungary, Romania, the Czech Republic and Slovakia — are bitter in their opposition to the plan and may take the EU to court to stop it.
“Those who don’t share our values, those who don’t even want to respect those principles, need to start asking themselves questions about their place in the European Union,” said French President François Hollande as he entered the meeting.
One opponent, Slovakia, upped the ante, warning it would reject the E.U. resettlement decision and threatening to oppose it in court.
“We will go in two directions: first one, we will file a charge at the court in Luxembourg . . . secondly, we will not implement the [decision] of the interior ministers,” Slovak Prime Minister Robert Fico told reporters before leaving for the summit in Brussels.
It was a yet another sign of the deeper challenges facing the 28-nation bloc amid the largest mass movement of people on the continent since World War II.
In July, Greece was nearly kicked out of the euro zone, and it still faces crippling economic problems. Europe has also struggled to keep a united front against Russia in response to the ongoing conflict in Ukraine.
So the leaders who plan meet for dinner on Wednesday may find the canapé discussions less than polite.
Leaders of the four countries that voted against the refugee measure — Hungary, Romania, the Czech Republic and Slovakia — have all condemned the effort as a grave violation of their independence in a bloc that usually prides itself on consensus.
The E.U. leaders plan to focus their talks on broader strategic efforts to ease the flow of the hundreds of thousands of people who have sought haven in Europe this year from war-ravaged Syria and Iraq, but also from other countries as economic migrants seeking jobs and a better future.
The E.U. envoys will try to reach an agreement about bolstering Europe’s external borders to better sort refugees fleeing war from economic migrants who can be deported. And they will seek to boost aid to the countries surrounding Syria to encourage refugees to stay closer to home.
For all the controversy, Tuesday’s plan would find homes for just 20 days’ worth of new arrivals to Europe, a measure of the scale of the crisis and the baby steps the continent has taken to address it. Croatia said Wednesday that more than 44,000 migrants had entered its territory in the last week alone.
The resettlement plan doesn’t even begin to address the crisis. So far this year, more than 450,000 immigrants have poured into Europe — twice as many as all last year. Who knows what the numbers will be by the end of the year.
The EU is being mugged by reality and is still rejecting it. They continue to maintain the fiction that they can continue to act with generosity and goodwill while the evidence is overwhelming that they are in the process of literally being overrun. President Hollande is being radically unfair. The countries who voted against this plan are far smaller than France and Germany, and not as rich. Germany may be able to afford taking half a million refugees, but Slovakia would lose its national character if unregulated migration continues.
The Slovakian government will probably not find relief in the courts, so they will have to decide whether to go along with the German plan or defy the EU and suffer unknown consequences. Hungary may already have gone beyond the point that EU nations will tolerate, and there is talk of sanctions regarding the closing off of their border
The frayed unity of the EU displayed during these last two days may disappear entirely unless the flood of humanity can somehow be slowed to a manageable level.
The case involving sexual assault charges against NHL superstar Patrick Kane took a bizarre twist today as the attorney for the alleged victim says the evidence bag containing the rape kit was left at the front door of the woman’s mother’s house.
Kane, a star member of the world champion Chicago Blackhawks, was accused on August 2 of assaulting a woman in his summer home. The case is currently before a grand jury.
The lawyer for a woman alleging she was sexually assaulted by Chicago Blackhawks forward Patrick Kane said Wednesday that an empty evidence bag was improperly left in the doorway of the woman’s mother’s home.
Thomas Eoannou said the bag at one point contained the rape kit used when the woman reported that she had been assaulted.
“Something seriously has gone amiss,” Eoannou said.
Eoannou said the mother made the bizarre discovery when she came home from work for lunch on Tuesday afternoon. She found the bag folded up between a storm door and her front door, he said.
“It could have been there a day and a half,” he said, because the woman used the back door when she left for work that morning.
He said the bag is authentic, labeled with personal identifying information for the woman, details on where the rape kit was used and the initials of the nurses who administered the kit.
“I have never seen an evidence bag outside of a police lab, a prosecutor’s office or a court room, let alone find one in a doorway of a rape victim’s mother’s home,” he said.
Erie County District Attorney Frank Sedita did not immediately return a message seeking comment from The Associated Press.
The Hamburg Police Department, which has been conducting the investigation, released a statement later Wednesday on its Facebook page, claiming that its handling of the evidence has been “unassailable.”
“In regard to the information conveyed today by Mr. Thomas Eoannou, the Hamburg Police Department will cooperate with any authorized investigation regarding the handling of evidence and the procedure of such,” the statement said. “That said, The Hamburg Police Department has documentation that unequivocally demonstrates that its handling of the evidence and the integrity of its chain of custody of evidence in this case is unassailable. As is policy with active investigations, there will be no further comment regarding this situation.”
The bag was empty, which means either the rape kit has disappeared or someone created a second bag. The chain of evidence is absolutely critical, as we saw in the O. J. Simpson case. Any doubts regarding tampering with evidence could be the difference between an innocent and guilty verdict in a trial.
The police swear their custody of the evidence is “unassailable.” That might be a difficult position to maintain if the evidence bag currently containing the rape kit is found to be problematic.
Wesleyan University, a small liberal arts college in Connecticut, would appear to be the last place a major blow up regarding free speech and freedom of the press would occur.
But an op-ed in the student newspaper, the Wesleyan Argus, that mildly rebuked the Black Lives Matter movement and asked several uncomfortable questions sent the anti-free speech forces on campus into overdrive. They are circulating a petition to cut off funding for the paper until certain “demands” are met.
“The undersigned agree to boycott the Argus, recognizing that the paper has historically failed to be an inclusive representation of the voices of the student body,” the petition reads. “Most specifically, it neglects to provide a safe space for the voices of students of color and we are doubtful that it will in the future.”
The petition, signed by 167 students, alumni, staff and one Middletown community member as of Tuesday night, further lists five demands directed at The Argus. The boycott will include disposing of copies of The Argus on campus and insisting that its funds from the WSA are withheld until the demands are met.
These demands include commitment by The Argus to create work study/course credit positions; a monthly report on allocation of funds and leadership structure; a required once-per-semester Social Justice/Diversity training for all student publications; active recruitment and advertisement; and open space on the front page in the publication dedicated to marginalized groups/voices, specifying that if no submissions are received, The Argus will print a section labeled “for your voice.”
In accordance with the boycott, organizers of the petition declined to comment further.
“On behalf of concerned Wesleyan students we are boycotting the Argus until the demands are met,” organizers of the petition wrote in an email to The Argus. “Therefore we are not available to comment or be quoted in any article published by the same newspaper that we are boycotting for supporting institutional racism.”
Paul Singley, President of the Connecticut Society for Professional Journalists, said he believes that student publications should make a concerted effort to represent the perspectives of all students, but its First Amendment rights should not be threatened by publishing unpopular views.
“That’s what a good newspaper does,” he said. “It shares ideas, it shares
What do these thugs care about a “good newspaper”? They just made the demand to dictate what goes on the front page of the newspaper. These are people who wouldn’t know what “free press” is if it came up and bit them in the behind.
The rabbit hole is getting deeper and blacker for Hillary Clinton’s emails. On Monday, the FBI refused to cooperate with a court-ordered inquiry delving into Clinton’s emails and her private server.
The FBI says they won’t even confirm that they are investigating Hillary Clinton and her emails and therefore, won’t be telling the judge anything about what they have.
Judicial Watch, which along with Citizens United has taken the lead in forcing Clinton’s emails into the open, says no one really knows a) if Clinton’s private server was ever handed over; b) if indeed a server was handed over whether it is the actual server used by Clinton; and c) whether any copies of the server or emails exist at this point.
Is the FBI even conducting an investigation?
Judge Emmet G. Sullivan had ordered the State Department to talk with the FBI and see what sort of information could be recovered from Mrs. Clinton’s email server, which her lawyer has said she turned over to the Justice Department over the summer.
“At this time, consistent with long-standing Department of Justice and FBI policy, we can neither confirm nor deny the existence of any ongoing investigation, nor are we in a position to provide additional information at this time,” FBI General Counsel James A. Baker wrote in a letter dated Monday — a week after the deadline the Justice Department had set for the FBI to reply.
Judicial Watch, a conservative public interest law firm that is pursuing at least 16 open records cases seeking emails from Mrs. Clinton and her top aides, said at this point it’s not even clear what Mrs. Clinton provided, since all that’s been made public at this point are the former secretary of state’s public comments and some assertions, made through her lawyer, to the State Department.
Judicial Watch is prodding the courts to try to delve more deeply into Mrs. Clinton’s emails, and the group said a number of questions persevere about both Mrs. Clinton and top aides such as Huma Abedin, who did public business on an account tied to the server Mrs. Clinton maintained.
“We still do not know whether the FBI — or any other government agency for that matter — has possession of the email server that was used by Mrs. Clinton and Ms. Abedin to conduct official government business during their four years of employment at the State Department,” Judicial Watch said.
“We also do not know whether the server purportedly in the possession of the FBI — an assumption based on unsworn statements by third parties — is the actual email server that was used by Mrs. Clinton and Ms. Abedin to conduct official government business during their four years of employment at the State Department or whether it is a copy of such an email server. Nor do we know whether any copies of the email server or copies of the records from the email server exist,” the group said in its own court filing Monday afternoon.
The emails sent and received by Clinton aides might land one or all of them in jail. Clearly classified information was stored on the unsecured private server.
Judicial Watch did release more than 50 pages Monday of emails it obtained from Ms. Abedin’s account on Mrs. Clinton’s server, and said it was clear she was talking about “sensitive” topics that shouldn’t have been discussed on an insecure account.
Many of those were details of Mrs. Clinton’s movements overseas, such as hotels she was staying at.
“These emails Judicial Watch forced out through a federal lawsuit show that Huma Abedin used her separate clintonemail.com account to conduct the most sensitive government business, endangering not only her safety but the safety of Hillary Clinton and countless others,” said Judicial Watch President Tom Fitton.
If even the courts can’t light a fire under the FBI, it’s doubtful that anything will. And unless there are leaks from the investigation — if there is one — it is probable we will remain in the dark about what, if anything, is found on those servers. Of course, this benefits Clinton enormously because with no new information coming out, the scandal fades into the background of the campaign, and Hillary can continue to dismiss questions on the subject.
A very fortuitous — and convenient — set of circumstances.
Senator Marco Rubio hasn’t wasted any time in taking advantage of Governor Scott Walker’s exit from the campaign. He has already poached Walker’s New Hampshire state co-chair and has asked Benghazi Committee Chairman Trey Gowdy to headline a fundraiser for him in Texas.
Amid reports that Wisconsin Gov. Scott Walker is quitting the presidential race, WMUR.com has learned that his first supporter in New Hampshire has decided to back U.S. Sen. Marco Rubio of Florida.
Cliff Hurst, a former state GOP vice chairman and Manchester Republican Committee chairman, will serve as a state co-chair for Rubio, along with state Sen. Regina Birdsell and attorney Gordon MacDonald.
“I have great admiration and respect for my friend Scott Walker,” Hurst said. “However, it is clear to me that his campaign is going in a different direction at this time. I believe the New Hampshire primary will be critically important to determining who our next president will be.“
Hurst made the comments shortly before the New York Times reported that Walker is dropping out of the race.
Rubio senior adviser Jim Merrill praised Hurst.
“It’s an honor to earn Cliff’s endorsement and for him to agree to serve as a co-chair of Marco’s campaign here in New Hampshire,” Merrill said.
“Cliff is not only one of our state’s most highly regarded grassroots leaders, but is also one of the most decent people I’ve known in my years in politics,” said Merrill. “His past experience as vice chair of the New Hampshire Republican Party, as chairman of the Manchester Republican Committee and as a leader on countless state and local campaigns will be a great addition to Team Rubio in New Hampshire. We look forward to our work together in the weeks and months ahead.”
Gowdy, one of the most respected conservatives in the House, could do Rubio a lot of good down the road. He has yet to come out and endorse Rubio.
Rep. Trey Gowdy (R-S.C.), chairman of the House Select Committee on Benghazi — which has relentlessly examined Secretary of State Hillary Clinton’s role in the attack on a U.S. mission in Libya — will be the featured guest, according to Florida Politics.
Florida Politics also reported that the event, which will charge a minimum $2,000 per couple, will be hosted by real estate investor Harlan Crow and his wife Kathy at their palatial home in Highland Park, Texas, a suburb of Dallas. Crow, an avid art collector, counts works by Renoir, Monet, and Adolf Hitler among his holdings.
Rubio has been moving aggressively to court Wisconsin Gov. Scott Walker’s donors. The event comes a day after Walker’s decision to exit the race and after Rubio’s campaign poached Walker’s New Hampshire campaign co-chair, Cliff Hurst.
Rubio knows that this is his moment for a breakout and he is looking to exploit the Walker exit to its fullest. In addition to trying to attract Walker staff and supporters, grabbing a few of his mega-donors would be very helpful. Harlan Crow, the host of the fundraiser in Texas, is about as big a whale as they come and it would give the Rubio campaign a huge lift if he climbs aboard.
Russian President Vladimir Putin is going to intervene militarily in Syria and he doesn’t care what the US thinks about it.
That the gist of a report submitted by experts at the Congressional Research Service to Congress. They surmise that Putin has reached the conclusion that President Assad and his Iranian allies are incapable of defeating the rebels and Islamic State, and may, in fact, be losing ground.
“Russia’s recent activity in Syria also may be motivated by an assessment that the Syrian military forces are becoming less capable and that Iranian support may be inadequate to preserve the Assad regime,” said the report. “Moscow’s primary intentions may include safeguarding the Assad regime, preserving Russian naval access to Syria, and challenging U.S. policy toward Syria.”
The report added: “Putin’s recent call for an all-out effort against the Islamic State also may stem from the sizable number of jihadist fighters from the North Caucasus fighting in Syria, who may pose a serious problem for Moscow should they return to Russia.”
US policy in Syria is, for all practical purposes, dead in the water, with pitifully small number of bombing missions against Islamic State targets and pitifully few US trained rebels. Putin sees the vacuum and has rushed to fill it, building a huge airbase and shipping tanks, artillery, fighter jets, and now, apparently troops, to confront both the rebels and ISIS.
If Mr. Putin does view the war against the Islamic State as stagnant, he has an ally in Army Gen. Martin E. Dempsey, chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff. Gen. Dempsey told reporters this month that the war is “tactically stalemated.”
Russia’s military commitment to Syria sent the Obama administration scrabbling to adjust a policy battered by both Democrats and Republicans. The administration’s plan to put ground troops in Syria in the form of moderate rebels has basically failed. Fewer than a half-dozen fighters remain in the country after a number of their colleagues were killed.
Pentagon press secretary Peter Cook said Friday that Defense Secretary Ashton Carter spoke by phone with his counterpart, Russian Defense Minister Sergei Shoigu, to ensure that each side understands the other’s intentions in Syria. The call effectively unfroze contact between the two militaries.
Putin is so contemptuous of US power in Syria that he didn’t even feel the need to inform us of his plans to intervene. There are going to be Russian fighter jets aloft at the same time as US bombers and fighters — a situation ripe for misunderstanding. Thankfully, there are so few US trained rebels on the ground in Syria that even if they wanted to fight them, the Russians probably couldn’t find them.
Russian intervention means that the prospects of a political solution removing President Assad from power have dimmed:
Russia has a long history of supporting the Assad family dynasty, which granted it a naval base and gives Moscow an avenue for significant influence in the Middle East and a way to maintain economic and military ties with Iran.
Why Russia would commit troops to prop up Mr. Assad and then agree to his removal is unclear.
“If Russian officials continue to reject the premise of Assad’s ouster as a precondition for a transition or counterterrorism cooperation, U.S. officials may confront a more lasting proxy conflict scenario,” the Congressional Research Service report said.
No one will sit in Assad’s chair unless they support the Russians 100%. Putin’s intervention assures that. As for President Obama, it’s back to the drawing board to try and come up with a policy — the third in 4 years if you’re keeping track — that will degrade Islamic State forces and work to end the civil war that is fueling the greatest migration of people since World War II.
Pope Francis said mass before a huge crowd in Havana’s Revolutionary Square, the site of many 4 and 5 hour harangues by Fidel Castro back in the day. It has always been considered the political center of Cuba and today, Francis eschewed politics for the pastoral. He made a vague reference to avoiding “ideology” when carrying out one’s Christian duty to care for the poor, but beyond that, the pope was silent.
Was this cowardly? We can only compare the this with the behavior of one other pope — John Paul II. In 1979, John Paul visited his native Poland and over the next 9 days sealed the fate of the communist government, although it took a decade for the fall to occur.
John Paul’s exhortations to the faithful to believe in their future and his warnings to the government to stop oppressing the people startled the world and made the Soviets extremely nervous.
But Francis apparently is saving his criticism for the American government. I wonder if he said anything to authorities after they arrested 3 dissidents prior to his mass or the 50 protesters detained in the previous week.
Babalu Blog from an AFP dispatch:
Three dissidents opposed to Cuba’s communist regime were arrested Sunday as they approached Pope Francis shouting “Freedom!” when he arrived to deliver mass on Revolution Square in Havana.
An AFP photographer said the activists — two men and a women — yelled anti-government slogans and resisted by falling to the ground as plainclothes agents arrested them when they tried to get near the white popemobile carrying Francis to the mass, the largest event of his trip to Cuba.
The pope, who was busy grasping the outstretched hands of well-wishers on the other side of his vehicle, did not appear to notice the incident.
The dissidents belong to the Cuban Patriotic Union, said its leader, Jose Daniel Ferrer.
“They went to the square to condemn repression,” he told AFP.
He said there were in fact four activists arrested, two men and two women, and that they were taken to a nearby police station.
In recent years, Cuban authorities have typically released dissidents after a few hours following their arrest.
The one-party communist state bans opposition groups and routinely arrests dissidents who try to protest.
Several leading dissidents have criticized the pope for turning a deaf ear to their requests to meet with him during his visit.
You long for a pope with the clarity to see his mission as a global effort for freedom. The poor must be cared for and given opportunities to escape poverty, but what’s the best way to accomplish that? Free people operating free markets in a free country will do more to end poverty than all the ill-tempered rants against capitalism of a quasi-Marxist pope put together.
The pope will arrive in America on Tuesday. It should be an interesting visit.
Democrat Party politicians are, if nothing else, keen analysts of their own electoral chances. So even though they are cheering on socialist Bernie Sanders and his agenda, they’re smart enough to realize that America isn’t ready for “democratic socialism” and the party is likely to be creamed at the polls in 2016 if he is the nominee.
“No matter how well you think of Bernie — and all of us do — … when the politics of it all hits the road, I don’t feel — and I feel most members don’t feel — that he can be elected,” said Rep. Alcee Hastings (D-Fla.).
The doubts have nothing to do with policy.
Indeed, Sanders’ career-long advocacy for economic and social justice — a vision of wider safety nets, higher wages, universal healthcare and corporate policing — overlaps almost directly with the policy priorities of Rep. Nancy Pelosi (D-Calif.) and her liberal-leaning Democratic Caucus on Capitol Hill.
It’s a convergence the Democrats have been quick to hail.
“I’m proud of what Bernie is saying out there, and it’s a reflection of what we fight for here,” Pelosi said last week.
And yet there remains a lingering sense among many Democrats that a Sanders’ nomination would spell doom for the party in 2016 — a sentiment highlighted by the fact that not a single Democrat in either chamber has endorsed the No. 2 primary contender.
“Bernie Sanders is raising some issues that are important,” Rep. Steny Hoyer (Md.), the Democratic whip and a Clinton supporter, told reporters last week. “But I don’t think there’s an expectation that’s he’s going to be president of the United States.”
The dynamics surrounding Sanders’ campaign present Democrats with an uncomfortable question: If the candidate trumpeting the party’s agenda most loudly and clearly is unelectable, what does it say about the agenda, itself?
Hastings, another Clinton backer, said the answer lies in political expediency. He said he supports Sanders’ economic agenda to a tee. But he also remembers too well the losing presidential campaigns of liberals George McGovern and Eugene McCarthy — both of whom he supported in the Civil Rights era — as well as the saga surrounding Ralph Nader, the consumer-rights advocate turned third-party candidate he blames for securing George W. Bush’s victory in 2000.
“Some argue, and I do, that Ralph Nader cost us that election … and I don’t have time for that. And I think that’s what members are saying: That I don’t have time for fringes, at this point. And that’s where Bernie is, and it’s regrettable,” Hastings said.
“Mine and Bernie’s philosophies regarding the disparity of economic well-being of America’s citizens [are] in direct alignment with each other. I agree with him — [but] I support Hillary Clinton.”
So they agree “to a tee” with Sanders’ economic agenda but don’t think he’s electable? They don’t think a “fringe” candidate like Sanders can win but they agree with his ideas?
This is the demonstrable dishonesty of the Democratic Party in a nutshell. As bad a campaign as John McCain ran in 2008, would the voters have elected Barack Obama if they knew this was what they were going to get? Obama couched his radical “transformation” ideas in soft, soothing rhetoric of “inclusion” and “opportunity.”
What these politicians are complaining about Sanders is that he’s too upfront and honest about his radical proposals to cure income inequality. He hasn’t learned how to blur the truth as Obama has done. It is a deliberate attempt to pull the wool over the eyes of voters and they’ve been very successful in recent elections in doing so.