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Rick Moran

Rick Moran is PJ Media's Chicago editor and Blog editor at The American Thinker. His own blog is Right Wing Nut House.
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Judge Vacates Tom Brady ‘Deflategate’ Suspension

Thursday, September 3rd, 2015 - by Rick Moran

The pro football scandal known as “Deflategate,” where New England Patriots quarterback Tom Brady was accused of deliberately deflating footballs to make them easier to throw, took another turn today when a federal judge vacated the NFL’s 4-game suspension of Brady.

U.S. District Judge Richard M. Berman ruled that the commissioner of the league, Roger Goodell, acted improperly in suspending Brady for 4 games after an investigation revealed that the star quarterback probably knew of the scheme to deflate game balls prior to the AFC Championship game in January.

By no means does this “vindicate” Brady because Berman ruled on some technical violations, not on the matter of whether Brady was innocent or guilty.

The NFL plans to appeal the ruling.

Washington Post:

“We are grateful to Judge Berman for hearing this matter, but respectfully disagree with today’s decision,” NFL Commissioner Roger Goodell said in a written statement released by the league. “We will appeal today’s ruling in order to uphold the collectively bargained responsibility to protect the integrity of the game. The commissioner’s responsibility to secure the competitive fairness of our game is a paramount principle, and the league and our 32 clubs will continue to pursue a path to that end. While the legal phase of this process continues, we look forward to focusing on football and the opening of the regular season.”

The league’s appeal means that Brady potentially is risking having to serve the suspension, if it is reinstated, later this season or perhaps beyond. The NFL also seems intent on doing its best to avoid having Berman’s ruling stand as a precedent for future cases of player discipline.

Legal experts had said that Brady and the NFL Players Association faced a difficult task in court because judges generally are reluctant to overturn arbitration decisions. Goodell upheld Brady’s four-game suspension on appeal. The league had imposed the penalty after its investigator, Ted Wells, found that Brady probably was aware of a scheme to use under-inflated footballs during the first half of last season’s AFC title game against the Indianapolis Colts.

The league argued in court that Goodell’s authority in the matter could not be challenged under the terms of the collective bargaining agreement between the league and the union. But the NFLPA contended that Goodell acted improperly, and Berman agreed.

Berman cited in particular the league’s failure to notify Brady that he faced a potential suspension, and the NFL’s failure to allow league counsel Jeff Pash to testify at Brady’s appeal hearing.

“The Court is fully aware of the deference afforded to arbitral decisions, but, nevertheless, concludes that the Award should be vacated,” Berman wrote. “The Award is premised upon several significant legal deficiencies, including (A) inadequate notice to Brady of both his potential discipline (four-game suspension) and his alleged misconduct; (B) denial of the opportunity for Brady to examine one of two lead investigators, namely NFL Executive Vice President and General Counsel Jeff Pash; and (C) denial of equal access to investigative files, including witness interview notes.”

So much for the union’s devotion to the “integrity of the game.”

The New England Patriots are cheaters. They have been caught twice and should have been penalized for the “snowplow” incident in 1982.

The deflated balls almost certainly had no impact on the outcome of that game. But it is symptomatic of a culture where team officials don’t believe they have to play by the same rules as everyone else.

And that extends to their star quarterback as well.

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In Missouri, Transgender Reality Meets Transgender Myth

Wednesday, September 2nd, 2015 - by Rick Moran

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A 17-year-old boy, who wants to identify as a girl, has ignited a huge controversy in a small Missouri town outside of St. Louis by insisting he be allowed to use the girls’ restroom and locker room.

Wanting to be known as Lila Perry, the teen has not undergone gender reassignment surgery. He hasn’t even begun hormone therapy, a precursor to the surgery and a pharmaceutical means of growing breasts in men and adding other feminine physical characteristics.

Instead, Lila wears a wig and a dress — and insists he’s a girl.

Not surprisingly, the girls at the school are extremely uncomfortable and parents are beside themselves.

Washington Post:

If Jenner weren’t already a rich celebrity, would she have received the same support? How would other, less famous transgender Americans be treated?

On Monday morning, a small town in Missouri provided an answer.

For two hours, approximately 150 students stood in front of Hillsboro High School to protest a transgender teen’s use of the girls’ facilities.

And for those same two hours, the 17-year-old transgender teen huddled inside her counselor’s office — with the door locked.

“I was concerned about my own safety,” Lila Perry told the New York Times.

It’s not just her fellow students that are upset over Perry’s use of the girls’ bathroom and locker room. The issue has roiled this town, thrusting a quaint community of about 3,000 into the national spotlight. Last week, a school board meeting had to be moved after too many people attended to discuss Perry. And on Monday afternoon, the protesting students — who comprised about 13 percent of the school — were joined by angry adults.

“This needs to stop before it goes too far,” Jeff Childs, who has a niece and a nephew in the Hillsboro School System, told the St. Louis Post-Dispatch. He and his 21-year-old son showed up to the school with “Girls Rights Matter” painted on the sides and back of his pickup truck.

“I’m not trying to be ignorant, but [the transgender student] is bringing it out in public for everybody else to deal with,” Childs said.

The controversy suggests that in some American communities, the debate over transgender rights lags behind the messages contained in glossy magazine spreads.

You mean, dealing with the reality of an anatomically correct male exposing himself in girls’ locker rooms and restrooms is something that should be “debated”? Thankfully, the parents and students protesting in Hillsboro probably never saw those “glossy magazine spreads.”

Lila’s story is hard to believe:

For Perry, her personal struggle began as soon as she could call herself a teenager. At age 13, Perry began to feel “more like a girl than a boy,” she told the Times.

By the middle of last year, her junior year at Hillsboro High, Perry was ready to come out as transgender. She was tired of pretending to be someone she wasn’t, she told the Post-Dispatch. She began wearing a wig, dresses and women’s makeup, although she has not had gender reassignment surgery.

When school began on Aug. 13, Perry told school administrators that she wanted to use the girls’ bathroom and locker room, instead of the unisex bathroom she had used as a junior.

The school consented, in accordance with guidelines from the U.S. Department of Education’s Office of Civil Rights that say students should be allowed to use facilities in accordance with their gender identification.

So far this year, Perry has been using the girls’ bathroom and locker room, according to local TV station KTVI.

That simple act set off a firestorm of controversy.

“Simple act”? Is he kidding? There is nothing simple about a boy pretending to be a girl who is allowed to share facilities where young girls take off their clothes. In what universe is this considered “simple”?

Elizabeth Price Foley, writing at Instapundit, has the most reasonable take on the controversy:

The 17 year-old student, who goes by “Lila” Perry, has not had any surgery or medical procedures to alter his male body. He wears a wig and wears girl’s clothing. So in my book, that makes him a crossdresser, and merely because he “thinks” he is a female cannot make it so. And of course, in true “victim” mentality, Perry is accusing all of the (actual) young ladies who are protesting his presence in their locker room as bigots:

“There’s a lot of ignorance, they are claiming that they’re uncomfortable. I don’t believe for a second that they are. I think this is pure and simple bigotry,” Perry told local news station KMOV.

This is typical far-left hyperbole, branding those who disagree with you as “bigots.” Transgender should be a label confined to those who undergo surgical alteration of their physical genitalia–you know, those who actually change their gender. It should not be so broad as to encompass those who subjectively “think” they are another sex, whilst still objectively possessing the genitalia associated with their genetic makeup. If it is a term that has any meaning at all, it must be judged by objective, not subjective, standards.

And I’m sorry, but “Lila” is clearly just a dude with a wig, and I wouldn’t want my teenage daughter to share a locker room with him/her/it:

Note the inability of Perry to realize the discomfort of his classmates. That’s because he’s bought into the myth — the myth that there is no difference between the sexes and that gender is  frangible and fluid. Biology is not destiny, nor even defining. And the myth makes all opposition to this gender confusion a crime of bigotry.

Is it really possible for a 17 year old to be certain that he is a different gender than his anatomy says? I think it ridiculous that we take teenagers at their word when they claim to be gay. It is common for teens to be confused about sex. It’s not uncommon for teens to be attracted to members of the same sex.  But in order to know if you are truly transgendered or possess a non-traditional sexual preference, you have to know yourself very well. And I put it to you: How well does a  17-year-old boy know his own mind?

The myth is now apparently accepted on the coasts and in urban America. But for most ordinary Americans who only want to be left alone to live their lives, care for their families, pay their taxes, love their spouse and kids, and lead a normal life, Lila Perry and his ilk are jarring examples of reality trumping a myth. In their America, girls get dressed in a separate locker room than boys…period. Why this rational, reasonable position becomes bigotry says more about those accusing townfolk of being haters than it does the people of Hillsboro.

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Gwen Ifill Celebrates Clinching of Iran Deal

Wednesday, September 2nd, 2015 - by Rick Moran

Gwen Ifill, host of the PBS NewsHour and an infamous shill for President Obama, tweeted out her joy at the news that President Obama had clinched passage of his nuclear deal with Iran.

The non-journalist from a supposedly non-partisan public television network spitefully and sarcastically rubbed the prime minister of Israel’s face into it.

Here’s a response to be treasured:

 

Others were less gracious:

 

 

And an interesting suggestion:

 

Since there is a pretty good possibility that Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu and Israel are likely to “take” a nuclear bomb down the gullet thanks to the ignorant naivete of the president and sycophants like Ifil, that particular tweet might come back to haunt Ms. Ifill one day.

But by then, a Republican will probably be president so Ifil and her Obama worshippers can blame them for their own towering stupidity in blindly following the dangerous legacy-building of their hero.

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Kentucky County Clerk Defies Supreme Court Order to Issue Gay Marriage Licenses

Tuesday, September 1st, 2015 - by Rick Moran

Abraham Lincoln was supposed to have said on the occasion of meeting Uncle Tom’s Cabin author Harriet Beecher Stowe, “So you’re the little woman who wrote the book that started this great war.”

Kim Davis, a lowly county clerk in Kentucky, has singlehandedly reignited the debate over same sex marriage. She is invoking “God’s authority” in justifying her continued denial of marriage licenses to same sex couples. And now, a federal judge has called her and her entire staff into court to explain themselves.

U.S. District Judge David Bunning moved swiftly Tuesday after a lesbian couple asked him to find Rowan County Clerk Kim Davis in contempt. Davis told several couples and a crowd of supporters and protesters that her religious beliefs prevent her from sanctioning gay marriage, and then retreated again, closing her office door and blinds to the raucous scene outside.

The U.S. Supreme Court declined to intervene Monday night, leaving Davis no legal ground for her continued refusal Tuesday morning. Lawyers for the two gay couples who originally sued her asked the judge Tuesday to find her in contempt, but punish her with only financial penalties, not jail time.

“Since Defendant Davis continues to collect compensation from the Commonwealth for duties she fails to perform,” they asked Bunning to “impose financial penalties sufficiently serious and increasingly onerous” to compel her immediate compliance without delay.

Rowan County Attorney Cecil Watkins says the federal court alerted him that a hearing is scheduled for 11 a.m. Thursday in Ashland.

As an elected official, Davis can’t be fired; her impeachment would have to wait until the Legislature’s regular session next year or a costly special session.

Davis rejected David Moore and David Ermold’s license request for a fourth time, and then told them to leave.

“We’re not leaving until we have a license,” Ermold said as reporters and cameras surrounded them.

“Then you’re going to have a long day,” Davis told him, and then retreated into her inner office.

From the back of the room, Davis’ supporters said: “Praise the Lord! … Stand your ground.”

Other activists shouted that Davis is a bigot and told her: “Do your job.”

The sheriff then moved everyone out to the courthouse lawn, where James Yates and Will Smith Jr., who were denied a license for a fifth time, left red-eyed and shaking.

“It’s just too hard right now,” Yates said, choking back tears and holding hands as they rushed to their car.

Devout Christians will no doubt find inspiration in Mrs. Davis’s stand. But if you care a whit about the law and the Constitution, you should be upset and angry. She says her religious beliefs prevent her from carrying out her defined duties. When that kind of conflict occurs, her only recourse is to resign. And when confronted by a court order telling her to issue the licenses, she should either comply or resign.

This is not the same as a baker or a florist refusing to take part in a gay wedding. It’s a matter of a legally binding court order being flouted. You can sympathize, even admire, Mrs. Davis for her stand. But she can’t pick and choose which laws she will obey, and which she will ignore.

Davis is allowing her personal religious beliefs to interfere in the performance of her public duties. “Render unto Caesar that which is Caesar’s,” Jesus said. A very wise man, he. And Mrs. Mills would do well to recall those words when trying to justify her stance.

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What’s the Big Deal About Restoring the Correct Name of Mount McKinley?

Monday, August 31st, 2015 - by Rick Moran

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President Obama has created a controversy by renaming Mount McKinley back to its original Native American name Denali.

I suppose if I were an Ohioan, I wouldn’t be pleased either. You don’t like to see a native son dissed.

Speaker John Boehner seems a bit miffed:

“McKinley served our country with distinction during the Civil War as a member of the Army. He made a difference for his constituents and his state as a member of the House of Representatives and as Governor of the great state of Ohio,” the speaker said in a statement. “And he led this nation to prosperity and victory in the Spanish-American War as the 25th President of the United States. I’m deeply disappointed in this decision.”

Senator Portman isn’t pleased either:

 

But really now, why is everyone getting upset? Mountains, lakes, rivers, big rocks, and tiny streams have all been named by those that first saw them. And I hate to break it to my friends who are throwing a fit over this name change, but the ancestors of the Athabascan Indians have been in Alaska since the end of the last ice age — about 12,000 years ago. For at least the last several thousand years, the Athabascans have called the mountain Denali. This, compared to about 100 years of calling it Mount McKinley.

It looks like hypocrisy to claim the right to name a mountain when you’re about 5,000 years too late to do so.

Think of the tens of thousands of cities, towns, villages, counties, and townships that use a Native American name to identify them or, more likely, the western bastardization of the Native American word.(The official origin of “Chicago” is that it is the French version of the Miami-Illinois word “shikaakwa” [“Stinky Onion”], named for the garlic plant [not onion] Allium tricoccum common along the Chicago River.)

Even states have been named using indian names. Iowa, Michigan, Illinois, Ohio and many more carry the names of tribes that populated the Midwest at the time the white man first arrived.

So what’s the big deal about restoring the proper place name to a mountain? Oh sure, it’s pure pandering by Obama as he looks to bribe another constituency. But in this case, with so many Alaskans agreeing with him, it’s hard to argue against it.

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Jindal: Hillary ‘Literally One Email Away From Going to Jail’

Sunday, August 30th, 2015 - by Rick Moran

Louisiana Governor and GOP presidential candidate Bobby Jindal told ABC’s This Week that Hillary Clinton’s use of a private server for government emails presents serious security problems that may land her in jail.

Washington Examiner:

“With Hillary Clinton, it just seems to be one scandal after another,” the GOP candidate said on ABC’s “This Week.” “She’s literally one email away from going to jail.”

“What I fear is that maybe we’ll have to go to the Chinese and the Russians to actually see her emails,” he said.

“What’s clear is this — if a private in the military had done what they’ve accused her of doing, there would be real consequences,” said Jindal.

The FBI is currently investigating whether Clinton’s use of a personal server exposed sensitive material.

Clinton “shouldn’t be above the law,” Jindal said. “There shouldn’t be a different set of rules for our elected leaders than for the rest of us.”

Jindal continued: “I think the bigger issue here, the bigger scandal here, is the fact that Hillary Clinton seems to think, ‘what difference does it make?’”

A Des Moines Register poll released Saturday found that Sen. Bernie Sanders is now within 7 points of Clinton in Iowa. Clinton’s commanding lead over rival Democratic presidential candidates has eroded in recent months as her email scandal continues to roil her campaign.

Although it sounds like hyperbole, Jindal is spot on. The only thing lacking for Clinton to be indicted is an email indicating she was aware of the sensitive nature of its content. As it is now, she can claim — weakly and unconvincingly — that she was ignorant that information she was passing on was classified. The law says it doesn’t matter if she knew or not, but in practical legal terms, she probably won’t be prosecuted unless there is proof she knew.

DoJ investigators are now putting together email trees trying to find recipients of Clinton emails so that perhaps some can be recovered in that manner. And this is where Huma Abedin and Cheryl Mills become important to Clinton’s defense. If either aide or both take the fall for passing on classified information, Hillary will probably skate.

The contents of the emails they turned over last week to the FBI should prove to be very interesting.

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Glenn Beck’s ‘All Lives Matter’ March Draws 20,000

Sunday, August 30th, 2015 - by Rick Moran

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Saturday, in Minneapolis, Reuters reported:

Several hundred protesters from the Black Lives Matter movement marched to the Minnesota State Fair on Saturday to bring attention to race issues ranging from policing to underrepresentation of minorities at one of the nation’s biggest state fairs.

The mixed-race crowd, including senior citizens and children, chanted slogans along the 1-1/2 mile route and briefly lay down on a bridge south of the fairgrounds

Minnesota media reported the number of marchers at 325.

A few hundred miles to the south, a throng of 20,000, led by Glenn Beck, marched in Birmingham, Alabama, along the same route marched by Martin Luther King. They were there to declare that “All Lives Matter.”

Guess which march received national media attention and which one didn’t.

AL.COM:

Led by conservative activist and talk show host Glenn Beck, more than 20,000 people chanting “All Lives Matter” marched the historic civil rights route from Kelly Ingram Park to Birmingham City Hall this morning.

“It’s about taking our church out in the streets,” Beck said. He said marchers came from as far away as China, Dubai and the Netherlands.

Actor Chuck Norris, a conservative activist known for his martial arts, action movies and TV show “Walker, Texas Ranger,” marched about two rows behind Beck. Alveda King, a niece of civil rights activist the Rev. Martin Luther King Jr., marched in the front row. Bishop Jim Lowe, pastor of the predominantly black Guiding Light Church in Birmingham, co-organized the march with Beck and marched with him at the front. As a child, Lowe attended Sixteenth Street Baptist Church, where the march started, a headquarters church for the civil rights movement in Birmingham. Lowe and his sisters were in the church when a KKK bomb blew up the church and killed four little girls on Sept. 15, 1963.

“Love is the answer,” Lowe said as he marched. “God is the answer.”

Contrast “love is the answer” with what those “Black Lives Matter” thugs were chanting yesterday:

Black Lives Matter protesters marching on the Minnesota state fair on Saturday spewed violent anti-cop rhetoric just hours after a Harris County, Tex. sheriff’s deputy was ambushed and executed at a Houston-area gas station.

“Pigs in a blanket, fry ’em like bacon,” activists with the St. Paul, Minn. branch of Black Lives Matter chanted while marching behind a group of police officers down a highway just south of the state fair grounds.

A couple of hundred activists screaming incoherent hate at America get loving, national wire service coverage (Reuters never mentioned the chant “fry ‘em’ like bacon”) while Beck and 20,000 marchers are literally ignored.

That’s 10 times the number of protestors who ever marched in Ferguson. It dwarfs Black Lives Matter demonstrations held in any big city. A dozen BLM protestors gather on a street corner and the national media is right there.

But 20,000 Americans, black and white,  marching in solidarity sending the simple, obvious, message that “all lives matter” don’t exist in the media world.

You can bet if the Beck marchers had chanted anti-black slogans, the coverage would have been over the top. But I ask you what is more newsworthy: black activists threatening the lives of police — which isn’t reported anyway — or 20,000 Americans who say that love is the answer?

 

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Virginia Teen Sentenced to 11 Years for Assisting ISIS

Sunday, August 30th, 2015 - by Rick Moran

A 17-year old suburban Virginia teenager was sentenced to 11 years in prison for providing material support to Islamic State.

Ali Amin of suburban Washington, D.C., ran a pro-Islamic State Twitter account and assisted one of his friends in traveling to Syria in order to join ISIS. In June, he pled guilty to the terrorism charge, after cooperating with investigators. “I made my decisions, and I am prepared to bear their fullest consequences,” he said.

The 11-year sentence was less than the 15 years the prosecution asked for. The judge cited the age and lack of a previous criminal record as factors in giving the lesser sentence.

Washington Post:

By prosecutors’ account, Amin was an active, sophisticated Islamic State supporter whose efforts not only bolstered the terrorist group’s online propaganda machine but also sent them a real-life fighter. By his own side’s telling, he was little more than a troubled kid who lost himself while seeking acceptance and respect in a sinister, virtual world.

Joe Flood, Amin’s attorney, said he was “disappointed” with the severity of the penalty but “heartened” that the judge showed some mercy. U.S. Attorney Dana Boente said the punishment “sends a serious message that these crimes are extremely harmful to the community, and they’re going to be dealt with harshly.”

Both sides asserted that the case is yet another chilling example of the Islamic State’s ability to woo American youth online: U.S. authorities have accused more than 60 people across the country of being involved in Islamic State activities. Amin’s case is, in ways, emblematic of the phenomenon and, in other ways, uniquely tragic.

Born in Sudan, Amin came to the United States with his mother before he was 2 and later became a naturalized citizen, according to letters, medical records and other materials his attorney submitted to the court.

Life in the United States was not always easy. Amin, who grew up largely in Northern Virginia, was diagnosed with Crohn’s disease as a boy, and the condition was so severe that he would sometimes vomit in front of classmates at school. He was close to his mother — she wrote that he slept in bed with her until about age 13 — but their relationship was also tense at times.

When his mother remarried, Amin became disconnected from many of the extended family members he considered his friends, letters and records show.

In his teenage years, Amin became upset about what he perceived as atrocities against Muslims in the Middle East and set out on a quest, mostly online, to learn more about his faith, according to the letters and records. He did well academically, even getting into the rigorous academic program at the Governor’s School @ Innovation Park. But when health problems drove him out of the program in early 2014, he began spending more time on the Internet. By the time his parents checked his activities, he was communicating with people who seemed to be older Islamic State supporters.

Authorities said they were tipped off to Amin’s communication with Islamic State supporters in February 2014; his mother wrote that the family, at the advice of a religious leader, reached out to law enforcement later that year. Even with FBI agents closing in on him, though, Amin successfully connected a friend, 18-year-old Reza Niknejad, with Islamic State supporters abroad and helped the older teen travel to Syria.

Is this a tragedy? Or just desserts? An intelligent, troubled young man who apparently radicalized himself while searching for his Muslim roots goes over to the dark side and looks to radicalize others, succeeding in at least one instance. He knew what he was doing was wrong. He advocated murdering innocents, and urged his followers to go to war against everything his adopted country stood for.

On the other hand, there is the fact of his youth, his hardly-influential Twitter account with only 4,000 followers, and his idiot (incestuous?) mother who slept with him until he was 13 years old.

I think we were lucky to catch this kid when we did. Think of a bright young man with an engineering degree placed in service to Islamic State where his skills could have caused a lot of bloodshed. Left to his own devices, he may have even decided to carry out jihad in America some day.

So 11 years sounds about right, as does the judge’s instructions after he leaves jail. He “also imposed a lifetime of supervised release and monitoring of Amin’s Internet activities after he leaves prison.” This won’t deradicalize him, but it is likely to prevent him from causing any more trouble.

This was hardly a “tragedy.” But when you consider the young man’s obvious gifts, it’s a sad commentary on how Islamic State can ruin lives.

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Sanders, Carson Gain on Iowa Frontrunners in New Poll

Sunday, August 30th, 2015 - by Rick Moran

Deja vu all over again? It’s beginning to look like 2008 for Hillary Clinton, as the latest Des Moines Register poll shows socialist Senator Bernie Sanders pulling within 7 points of the former first lady in Iowa.

Liberal revolutionary Bernie Sanders, riding an updraft of insurgent passion in Iowa, has closed to within 7 points of Hillary Clinton in the Democratic presidential race.

She’s the first choice of 37 percent of likely Democratic caucusgoers; he’s the pick for 30 percent, according to a new Des Moines Register/Bloomberg Politics Iowa Poll.

But Clinton has lost a third of her supporters since May, a trajectory that if sustained puts her at risk of losing again in Iowa, the initial crucible in the presidential nominating contest.

This is the first time Clinton, the former secretary of state and longtime presumptive front-runner, has dropped below the 50 percent mark in four polls conducted by the Register and Bloomberg Politics this year.

Poll results include Vice President Joe Biden as a choice, although he has not yet decided whether to join the race. Biden captures 14 percent, five months from the first-in-the-nation vote Feb. 1. Even without Biden in the mix, Clinton falls below a majority, at 43 percent.

If this poll doesn’t send Democrats to the medicine cabinet for a dose of Alka Seltzer, nothing will. Hillary Clinton’s campaign is close to being in free fall and the major alternative that is emerging is a 73-year-old senator from Vermont who is a hyper-liberal and avowed socialist.

If there is a better scenario for a GOP landslide, I can’t think of one.

Meanwhile, Ben Carson is riding a wave of support thanks, at least partly, to his devout Christian faith.

The survey found that Carson is buoyed in Iowa by his likable public persona and his vocal Christian faith.

It said that 79 percent likely GOP caucus-goers view the retired neurosurgeon favorably, the highest score in the GOP’s entire 2016 field.

He also leads the hunt for Iowa’s evangelical demographic with 23 percent of their support.

Those numbers are similar to Mike Huckabee’s numbers in 2008 when the former Arkansas governor won the Iowa caucuses. Huckabee is still extremely likeable but his support from evangelicals has fallen precipitously.

What makes the evangelical vote so important is that they make up a disproportionate share of caucus-goers. That bodes well for the retired neurosurgeon, whose surge in Iowa matches his improving position nationally.

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IRS Ordered to Turn Over any Docs Showing White House Request for Taxpayer Info

Saturday, August 29th, 2015 - by Rick Moran

A federal judge ordered the IRS to turn over any documents that indicated White House requests for private taxpayer information.

Judge Amy Berman Jackson issued the order, eliminating the IRS argument that they couldn’t comply because taxpayer information is private.

Washington Times:

“This court questions whether section 6103 should or would shield records that indicate confidential taxpayer information was misused, or that government officials made an improper attempt to access that information,” the judge wrote in denying the IRS’s request to close out the case.

The ruling marks yet another federal judge who has ordered the Obama administration to be more transparent when responding to open-records records. The State Department is facing a barrage of orders from federal judges demanding more cooperation in releasing former Secretary Hillary Rodham Clinton’s emails.

White House officials and federal agencies are allowed, under very select circumstances, to ask the IRS for protected information. But the requests must be carefully cleared.

Questions about potential White House meddling in taxpayers’ private information stretch back to the beginning of the Obama administration, when the then-White House chief economist seemed to describe the tax structure of Koch Industries during a briefing with reporters.

His description was apparently incorrect, but it left some watchdog groups wondering if the White House had quietly sought information on conservatives, such as the billionaire Koch brothers.

Cause of Action sued in 2013 to get a look at whatever requests the White House, or other federal agencies, had made.

The IRS refused, saying even the existence of those requests would be protected by confidentiality laws and couldn’t be released, so there was no reason to make the search.

The judge said Friday, however, that the agency couldn’t use the privacy protection “to shield the very misconduct it was enacted to prohibit.”

“As we have said all along, this administration cannot misinterpret the law in order to potentially hide evidence of wrongdoing,” said Dan Epstein, executive director at Cause of Action. “No administration is above the law, and we are pleased that the court has sided with us on this important point.”

Any White House aide who used an email or letter to transmit a request from the administration to view private taxpayer information belongs in jail for stupidity.  If such emails or letters existed, they were destroyed long ago, along with other incriminating documents.

Unless Jackson demonstrates the kind of bulldog tenacity that Judge Emmet Sullivan has shown in leaning on the IRS to release Lois Lerner’s emails, we’re not likely to get anything of value from the IRS on this front.

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Sanders Joins O’Malley in Charging DNC is ‘rigging’ the Nomination via Debate Schedule

Saturday, August 29th, 2015 - by Rick Moran

Strong words from both Bernie Sanders and Martin O’Malaley at a meeting of the Democratic National Committee where both candidates claimed the party was rigging the process by scheduling only six debates.

O’Malley addressed the DNC’s summer meeting and bitterly denounced the party leadership for holding only 4 debates before the early state caucuses and primaries in February.

Washington Post:

What began as a routine forum of candidate speeches evolved into a surprisingly dramatic day at the Democratic National Committee’s summer meeting, as Sen. Bernie Sanders (I-Vt.) and former Maryland governor Martin O’Malley issued thinly veiled attacks on Clinton and the party leadership.

Speaking from the dais, with DNC Chairwoman Debbie Wasserman Schultz sitting a few feet away, O’Malley blasted the party’s limited number of sanctioned debates as a process “rigged” in favor of the front-runner. The DNC is holding six debates, only four before February’s first caucuses in Iowa, which O’Malley argued is a disadvantage for all the candidates and a disservice to Democrats generally.

“This sort of rigged process has never been attempted before,” said O’Malley, who has struggled to gain traction in the polls. He added: “We are the Democratic Party, not the undemocratic party.”

Sanders — who later told reporters he agreed with O’Malley — lamented low Democratic turnout in last year’s midterm elections and said the party must grow beyond “politics as usual” if it hopes to produce the level of voter enthusiasm required to retain the White House in 2016.

“We need a movement which takes on the economic and political establishment, not one which is part of that establishment,” said Sanders, who is an independent but caucuses with Democrats in the Senate.

Asked later whether he was speaking specifically about Clinton, he told reporters, “I’ll let you use your imagination on that.”

The barbs from Sanders and O’Malley came as Clinton and her campaign flexed their organizational muscle here. The front-runner and her top aides worked aggressively behind the scenes this week to secure commitments from party leaders pledging to be delegates for her in next summer’s nominating convention in Philadelphia.

Clinton’s organizational push sent a clear signal to Vice President Biden, who has been weighing a late entry into the 2016 campaign, that he would begin far behind her.

Watch the look DNC chief Debbie Wasserman Schultz gives O’Malley as she shakes his hand rather awkwardly.

Clinton, meanwhile, held herself above the fray, concentrating her fire on Republicans, saying about the GOP, “The party of Lincoln has become the party of Trump.”

She has retooled her strategy to go on the attack against Trump and the Republicans, hoping to distract people from the ever growing number of questions swirling around the use of her private email server.

It won’t work. The controversy has momentum now, impossible to keep off the front page as the FBI is now seriously looking at Clinton as a criminal suspect.

The risk for the Democrats is that they will go into the fall campaign with a candidate who may be severely damaged by suspicions she mishandled classified information. And with no credible alternative to Hillary Clinton — including Joe Biden — Democrats are becoming more fearful with each new revelation coming from the scandal.

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Bush Campaign in Disarray as Three Top Fundraisers Depart

Saturday, August 29th, 2015 - by Rick Moran

I wanted to use the term “chaos” to describe the state of the Bush campaign today, following the abrupt departure of three key fundraising aides.

But it’s not that bad — yet. Although fundraising has slowed in recent weeks, Jeb is still sitting on a nice stash of cash. And the reasons the fundraisers left have as much to do with personality conflicts as they do with disillusionment with the candidate’s chances.

That doesn’t mean the Bush campaign is humming along smoothly. There are indications that unless fundraising picks back up in the near future, the candidate will be in serious trouble.

Politico:

There are different versions of what transpired. The Florida-based fundraising consultants — Kris Money, Trey McCarley, and Debbie Aleksander — have said that they voluntarily quit the campaign and were still working with Bush’s super PAC, Right to Rise Super PAC. Others said the three, who worked under the same contract, were let go because they were no longer needed for the current phase of the campaign.

None of the three responded to requests for comment. Bush spokesman Tim Miller would only say that “Governor Bush has the widest and deepest fundraising operation of any candidate in the field. Ann Herberger — a longtime aide with more than two decades of experience in state and national politics — will continue to lead the operation in Florida with our team in Miami.”

The departures came at a time of uncertainty for the Bush. While he has had massive success raising money for his Super PAC, he is overseeing an official campaign that has many more staffers but far less money. Earlier this week, the New York Times revealed that it had taken steps to rein in some of its spending and had gone so far as to cut some employee salaries. And POLITICO reported one Bush fundraiser expressed concerns about the slowing pace of the campaign’s fundraising after Bush’s shaky debate performance.

The Bush campaign wasted no time seeking a replacement for the three fundraising consultants and has reached out to Meredith O’Rourke – one of Florida’s top Republican fundraisers who briefly worked for Chris Christie’s campaign in May but left it in July. O’Rourke, who wouldn’t comment, helped Gov. Rick Scott raise about $100 million for his 2014 reelection campaign and also works for Florida Agriculture Commissioner Adam Putnam, who’s likely to run for governor in 2018.

One source attributed the departures to personality conflicts in the campaign, some involving Bush’s finance team.

“They were glad to go. This wasn’t a shock to anybody,” said one campaign source. “There were just some personality problems. It happens when you have a big organization like this, a big campaign. Some of the national people are tough to work for.”

Another campaign source, though, said the three fundraising consultants – who worked on contract and were not staffers – were let go because they weren’t raising enough money relative to how much they had been raising during the last financial quarter.

The drop off in fundraising may just be a seasonal lull, so this is no time for the campaign to hit the panic button. But reading between the lines, you can tell they are very worried. With Trump pulling away in the polls and apparently immune to the normal gaffes that would torpedo any other candidate, they are husbanding their resources while hoping for a Trump meltdown.

Trump may indeed lose support over time but, given what we’se seen so far, a meltdown is improbable. So is Jeb whistling by the graveyard in thinking he can get back in the race?

The remaining debates will be extremely important. As popular as Donald Trump is, he is still getting only about a quarter of the total GOP vote. A strong debate performance by Bush or another candidate coupled with a less than stellar debate by Trump might narrow the gap some.

It’s possible to envision several lesser candidates dropping out even before the first of the year, leaving more money and support for the survivors. It’s not much to hang your hat on if you’re Bush. But at this point, it’s just about all he’s got.

 

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Report: Administration Not Targeting ISIS Training Camps

Saturday, August 29th, 2015 - by Rick Moran

Training camps turning out thousands of Islamic State fighters a month are not being targeted by the Pentagon because of the potential collateral damage.

Bill Gertz of the Washington Free Beacon reports that defense and intelligence officials question the Obama administration’s commitment to destroying ISIS. “If we know the location of these camps, and the president wants to destroy ISIS, why are the camps still functioning?” one official critical of the policy asked.

The camps are regarded by U.S. intelligence analysts as a key element in the terror group’s successes in holding and taking new territory. The main benefit of the training camps is that they are providing a continuous supply of new fighters.

An additional worry of intelligence analysts is that some of the foreign fighters being trained in the camps will eventually return to their home countries in Europe and North America to carry out terror attacks.

A White House spokesman declined to comment on the failure to bomb the terror camps and referred questions to the Pentagon.

Pentagon spokesman Maj. Roger M. Cabiness declined to say why no training camps have been bombed. “I am not going to be able to go into detail about our targeting process,” he said.

Cabiness said the U.S.-led coalition has “hit ISIL [an alternative abbreviation for the Islamic State] with more than 6,000 airstrikes.”

“The coalition has also taken out thousands of fighting positions, tanks, vehicles, bomb factories, and training camps,” he said. “We have also stuck their leadership, including most recently on Aug. 18 when a U.S. military airstrike removed Fadhil Ahmad al-Hayali, also known as Hajji Mutazz, the second in command of the terrorist group, from the battlefield.”

Efforts also are being taken to disrupt IS finances and “make it more difficult for the group to attract new foreign fighters,” Cabiness said in an email.

A Central Command spokesman also declined to provide details of what he said were “operational engagements” against IS training camps.

“Once a target is identified as performing a hostile act, or is part of an obvious hostile force, a training camp for example, we prosecute that target in accordance with the coalition rules of engagement and the law of armed conflict,” the spokesman said.

According to the defense and intelligence officials, one reason the training camps have been off limits is that political leaders in the White House and Pentagon fear hitting them will cause collateral damage. Some of the camps are located near civilian facilities and there are concerns that casualties will inspire more jihadists to join the group.

However, military officials have argued that unless the training camps are knocked out, IS will continue to gain ground and recruit and train more fighters for its operations.

What’s the difference in the number of fighters that will join ISIS if we bomb the camps or don’t bomb the camps? On the one hand, we might anger a few jihadists because we kill a few civilians. On the other hand, ISIS military campaigns meeting with success because we don’t bomb the camps attract large numbers of fighters as well. I would bet the difference is negligible, which leaves the desire to avoid civilian casualties as the number one reason we’re not bombing the camps.

In nearby Yemen, Saudi Arabia is killing civilians by the bushelful, as is the Syrian government and Iran through their proxy Hezb’allah. Modern war guarantees dead civilians. The question isn’t whether civilians die, it’s whether you deliberately target them that creates the moral dilemma.

I guess it depends whether you see the war against Islamic State as a battle to save western civilization or not. If you approach the conflict as trying to rid the world of a nuisance, you might hesitate to risk civilian casualties.

But if you think your future is at stake, it’s a no brainer.

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White House Calls Trump-Cruz Anti-Iran Deal Demonstration a ‘Big Pro-War Rally’

Friday, August 28th, 2015 - by Rick Moran

Proponents of the Iran agreement have made a lot of silly arguments in support of the deal but none more ridiculous than the only alternative to the agreement is war. The extension of that argument is that anyone who opposes the deal actually wants war with Iran — a ludicrous construct born out of truly magical and spurious thinking.

The White House made that point again in a statement criticizing the joint rally to be held by Donald Trump and Ted Cruz September 9 in Washington.

The Hill:

The White House on Friday blasted Republican presidential candidates Donald Trump and Ted Cruz for planning a protest against the Iran deal on Capitol Hill, labeling it a “pro-war rally.”

“Senator Cruz and Donald Trump have announced they are going to hold a big pro-war rally on the steps of the United States Capitol,” press secretary Josh Earnest told reporters.

The phrase is a familiar one for Earnest, who also used it to dismiss an anti-Iran deal event organized by Cruz in July.

The spokesman noted former Vice President Dick Cheney’s plan to slam the Iran deal in a speech next week.

“The same people making the same arguments against the Iran deal were the people who advocated for us getting into the war in Iraq in 2002 and 2003,” Earnest said. “The fault lines of this debate should be familiar to anybody who has been covering American politics for the past 12 or 13 years.”

Supporters and opponents of the Iran deal are ramping up lobbying efforts to sway lawmakers and the public ahead of a key congressional vote in mid-September.

The White House has sought to frame the debate as a choice between diplomacy or military force to cut off Tehran’s path to a nuclear weapon.

Opponents, such as Cruz, say the agreement doesn’t permanently prevent Iran from building a bomb. And they argue the country will use billions of dollars in sanctions relief to destabilize the region and fund terrorist groups that threaten Israel.

The Trump-Cruz event will take place on Sept. 9 on the West Front of the Capitol, giving two of the biggest names in the GOP presidential field a megaphone to attack the deal.

Cheney’s speech will take place one day earlier at the conservative American Enterprise Institute in Washington.

What possible connection does support for the Iraq War have with the Iran deal? “The same people making the same arguments…”? In fact, the half or more of the Democratic Party that were making the pro-Iraq War arguments are supporting the Iran agreement. And unlike the other major pieces of legislation the Obama claims credit for that were passed by a straight party line vote, opposition to the Iran deal is deep, and broad, and bi-partisan.

The president is trying to make this a partisan issue, despite the fact that in opposing the deal, there are already 14 more Democrats in the House and two more in the Senate than there were Republicans supporting Obamacare.

The “pro-war rally” smear is typical of the administration’s argument to support the deal. But in a few years, we are very likely to discover which side was working to avoid a war, and which side was stupid enough to encourage one.

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IAEA Says Iran Built Extension to Parchin Base

Thursday, August 27th, 2015 - by Rick Moran

The International Atomic Energy Agency says that Iran has apparently built an extension on its controversial military base at Parchin. The base has been a much discussed issue recently as it is part of one of the side deals Iran made with the IAEA in the nuclear agreement.

The news raises more questions about just who is going to be inspecting the base and what kind of access the IAEA will have to do its job.

Reuters:

A resolution of the International Atomic Energy Agency’s Parchin file, which includes a demand for fresh IAEA access to the site, is a symbolically important issue that could help make or break Tehran’s July 14 nuclear deal with six world powers.

The confidential IAEA report, obtained by Reuters, said:

“Since (our) previous report (in May), at a particular location at the Parchin site, the agency has continued to observe, through satellite imagery, the presence of vehicles, equipment, and probable construction materials. In addition, a small extension to an existing building” appeared to have been built.

The changes were first observed last month, a senior diplomat familiar with the Iran file said.

The IAEA says any activities Iran has undertaken at Parchin since U.N. inspectors last visited in 2005 could jeopardize its ability to verify Western intelligence suggesting Tehran carried out tests there relevant to nuclear bomb detonations more than a decade ago. Iran has dismissed the intelligence as “fabricated”.

Under a “road map” accord Iran reached with the IAEA parallel to its groundbreaking settlement with the global powers, it is required to give the Vienna-based watchdog enough information about its past nuclear activity to allow it to write a report on the long vexed issue by year-end.

“Full and timely implementation of the relevant parts of the road-map is essential to clarify issues relating to this location at Parchin,” the new IAEA report said.

According to data given to the IAEA by some member states, Parchin might have housed hydrodynamic experiments to assess how specific materials react under high pressure, such as in a nuclear blast.

“We cannot know or speculate what’s in the (extended) building … It’s something we will technically clarify over the course of the year,” the senior diplomat said. The report said the extended building was not the one that some countries suspect has housed the controversial experiments.

“It’s funny that the IAEA claims there has been a small extension to a building … Iran doesn’t need to ask for the IAEA’s permission to do construction work on its sites,” Reza Najafi, Iran’s envoy to the agency, was quoted as saying by ISNA news agency.

Anyone who wasn’t convinced that Iran is thumbing its nose at the rest of the world as this agreement is implemented need only look at their reaction to the IAEA revelations. And the six powers are so committed to seeing this agreement implemented that Iran could send in a report on past nuclear activities written by 10 chimpanzees and it would be meekly accepted by the UN.

If the issues surrounding Parchin are not going to blow up the deal, nothing will. The Obama administration’s eagerness to get the UN to sign off on the deal before Congress now looks like a blunder of epic proportions. The momentum is irreversible and nobody — not the IAEA, the P5+1, or the U.S. Congress — is going to stop the party before it starts.

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NLRB Declares War on Franchises

Thursday, August 27th, 2015 - by Rick Moran

The National Labor Relations Board issued a ruling that revised its “joint employer” standard, making the parent company of independently owned franchises responsible for many labor practices.

The case at issue involved a California Teamsters local who asked the NLRB to declare Browning-Ferris and a staffing agency “joint employers.” The staffing firm, Leadpoint Business Services out of Phoenix, had been supplying Browning-Ferris with temporary workers and the Teamsters wanted the board to recognize the bargaining rights of the subcontracted labor.

But as Reuters points out, the impact of the ruling will severely impact the franchise industry.

The board, in a 3-2 decision that will likely be appealed in U.S. court, said the existing standard, under which companies had to have “direct and immediate control” over employment matters such as hiring and firing to be considered employers, was outdated and did not reflect the realities of the 21st century workforce.

“We will no longer require that a joint employer not only possess the authority to control employees’ terms and conditions of employment, but also exercise that authority,” Board Chairman Mark Pearce wrote.

The decision means large companies that use a franchise model or staffing agencies will in many cases be required to bargain directly with unions and employees, potentially making it easier for them to win higher wages and better working conditions.

Business groups have said such a ruling, which came in the case of waste management company Browning-Ferris Industries Inc, would endanger companies that rely on franchising, contracting and supply chains, and kill jobs.

“Every business-to-business relationship is at risk,” said Michael Lotito, a lawyer at Littler Mendelson in San Francisco who works with industry groups.

The decision came as McDonald’s Corp (MCD.N) is facing a series of NLRB cases brought against dozens of its franchisees around the country. The fast food giant has argued that it is not a joint employer because it does not hire and fire franchise workers, and Thursday’s decision may make it more difficult for the company to make its case.

Unions and others who support the change say it is necessary to bring companies that indirectly control working conditions to the bargaining table and to curb the use of “permanent temps” who are paid less and do not get the same benefits as ordinary employees.

The ruling also means franchises and smaller companies that provide workers will be insulated from liability when labor violations are triggered by corporate policies, said Jeanne Mirer, a lawyer who authored a brief in the case on behalf of the Communication Workers of America and workers’ rights groups.

“Now the arrangement can be put back into balance in a way that gives fuller protections to workers and the leased company,” she said.

The dissenting NLRB members on Thursday said the board had exceeded its authority by redefining employment, and that the ruling would create uncertainty for businesses nationwide.

Just who and what is the NLRB screwing with? Franchises account for more than $2 trillion of America’s economy. There are more than 800,000 franchises nationwide with more than 18 million employees. All of that is threatened by the ruling of the labor board that seeks to destory independent franchise business owners. Why should McDonald’s or Burger King allow any independent actions by a franchisee if they are the ones who are going to be on the hook for any potential labor law violations?

There’s always a chance a federal court won’t see it the way that the NLRB sees it, but in the meantime, if you were thinking about opening a franchise operation, wouldn’t a ruling like this give you second thoughts? The uncertainty generated by this ruling will almost certainly have a negative impact on the franchise industry, thus placing another drag on an already sluggish economy.

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Virginia Shooter Wanted to Ignite a ‘Race War’

Wednesday, August 26th, 2015 - by Rick Moran

The man who killed two journalists on live television in Virginia sent a suicide note to ABC News claiming the killings were in response to the shootings at a Charleston, SC, church that killed 9 people in June.

Bryce Williams, AKA Vester Lee Flanagan, contacted ABC News several times over the last several weeks saying he wanted to pitch a story to them.  He never gave them an idea what the story was. Then today, Williams faxed what he called a “suicide note” in which he claimed the shooting of the reporters was a response to the Charleston killings and that he desired a race war.

ABC News:

This morning, a fax was in the machine (time stamped 8:26 a.m.) almost two hours after the shooting. A little after 10 a.m., he called again, and introduced himself as Bryce, but also said his legal name was Vester Lee Flanagan, and that he shot two people this morning. While on the phone, he said authorities are “after me,” and “all over the place.” He hung up. ABC News contacted the authorities immediately and provided them with the fax.

In the 23-page document faxed to ABC News, the writer says “MY NAME IS BRYCE WILLIAMS” and his legal name is Vester Lee Flanagan II.” He writes what triggered today’s carnage was his reaction to the racism of the Charleston church shooting:

“Why did I do it? I put down a deposit for a gun on 6/19/15. The Church shooting in Charleston happened on 6/17/15…”

“What sent me over the top was the church shooting. And my hollow point bullets have the victims’ initials on them.”

It is unclear whose initials he is referring to. He continues, “As for Dylann Roof? You (deleted)! You want a race war (deleted)? BRING IT THEN YOU WHITE …(deleted)!!!” He said Jehovah spoke to him, telling him to act.

Later in the manifesto, the writer quotes the Virginia Tech mass killer, Seung Hui Cho, calls him “his boy,” and expresses admiration for the Columbine High School killers. “Also, I was influenced by Seung–Hui Cho. That’s my boy right there. He got NEARLY double the amount that Eric Harrisand Dylann Klebold got…just sayin.’”

In an often rambling letter to the authorities, and family and friends, he writes of a long list of grievances. In one part of the document, Williams calls it a “Suicide Note for Friends and Family.”

  • He says has suffered racial discrimination, sexual harassment and bullying at work
  • He says he has been attacked by black men and white females
  • He talks about how he was attacked for being a gay, black man

“Yes, it will sound like I am angry…I am. And I have every right to be. But when I leave this Earth, the only emotion I want to feel is peace….”

Perhaps someone should point out the vicious, hateful rhetoric coming from some “activists” following the Charleston tragedy as a motivating factor for Williams’ act. But I won’t.

This man is obviously mentally ill, but is he responsible for his actions? Like the Aurora, Colorado, shooter James Holmes who was found fit to stand trial despite mental illness, Williams demonstrated no outward signs of an illness that would disqualify him from facing justice.

By taking his own life, Williams closed off any official investigation of his actions and will remain something of a mystery.

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Cruz Becomes the Second GOP Candidate to Attack Megyn Kelly

Wednesday, August 26th, 2015 - by Rick Moran

Presidential candidate Ted Cruz criticized Fox News’ Megyn Kelly for asking a question about deporting illegal immigrants that “every mainstream media liberal journalist wants to ask.”

The Hill:

“If you have a husband and wife who are illegal immigrants, and they have two children here who are American citizens — would you deport all of them? Would you deport the American citizen children?” Kelly asked.

“Megyn, I get that that’s the question you want to ask,” Cruz said after repeatedly listing the steps Congress should take for addressing the issue. “That’s also the question every mainstream media liberal journalist wants to ask. They focus exclusively on 12 million people.”

Kelly then took issue with Cruz’s response, insisting that her question was fair.

“Is it an unfair question?” she asked the Texas lawmaker.

“It is a distraction from how we actually solve the problem,” Cruz responded. “You know, it’s also the question that [President] Barack Obama wants to focus on.”

“But why is it so hard? Why don’t you just say yes or no?” Kelly countered.

Cruz argued that the U.S. must secure its borders and overturn Obama’s executive order on immigration before addressing the issue of birthright citizenship and related deportations.

Cruz’s remarks come as Kelly is also feuding with GOP presidential candidate Donald Trump, the front-runner for the Republican presidential nomination next year.

Trump has repeatedly challenged Kelly’s credibility as a journalist following her questioning of him during the first GOP presidential debate earlier this month.

Cruz and Trump have repeatedly struck a friendly tone toward one another while campaigning for next year’s election.

Cruz has vowed he is avoiding Republican-on-Republican attacks because it is counterproductive to the conservative cause.

Kelly asked a question that many people want an answer to; i.e., specific policy proposals regarding how deportation is going to work. Sure it’s a hard question, but Cruz was obviously unprepared to answer it. So instead of making a fumbling and mumbling response, he attacked the messenger. No doubt good politics but it hardly recommends him as a candidate who can stand the gaff of a long campaign.

The idea that it’s a “liberal journalist” question to wonder how deportation is going to work in the real world is laughable. Are reporters not allowed to ask for any specifics regarding policy? Are they supposed to be fawning sycophants like news personalities at MSNBC and CNN?

Kelly is not going to put on a short skirt and wave pom-poms for the GOP base. She is doing her job, and judging by her ratings, she is doing it well enough for millions of people to tune in every night. She asked a perfectly fair question of someone who wants to be elected to the highest office in the land. Perhaps it’s time for Cruz and Trump to abandon the cheap applause lines attacking journalists and speak intelligently to the issues.

What a change that would be.

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Report: Ukrainian, Russian Carbon Credits Increased Emissions by 600 Million Tons

Tuesday, August 25th, 2015 - by Rick Moran

A report issued by the Stockholm Environment Institute says that a UN plan to reduce emissions by allowing countries to create carbon credits from activities that actually increased emissions pumped more than 600 million tons of carbon into the atmosphere.

BBC:

Under the UN scheme, called Joint Implementation, they then were able to sell those credits to the European Union’s carbon market. Companies bought the offsets rather than making their own more expensive, emissions cuts.

But this study, from the Stockholm Environment Institute, says the vast majority of Russian and Ukrainian credits were in fact, “hot air” – no actual emissions were reduced.

They looked at a random sample of 60 projects and found that 73% of the offsets generated didn’t meet the key criteria of “additionality”. This means that these projects would have happened anyway without any carbon credit finance.

“Some early projects were of good quality, but in 2011-2012, numerous projects were registered in Ukraine and Russia which had started long before and were clearly not motivated by carbon credits,” said Vladyslav Zhezherin, a co-author of the study.

“This was like printing money.”

According to the review, the vast majority of the offset credits went into the European Union’s flagship Emissions Trading Scheme. The authors estimate these may have undermined EU emissions reduction targets by 400 million tonnes of CO2, worth over $2bn at current market prices.

Unlike the Russian and Ukrainian projects, similar offsetting plans in Poland and Germany were said to meet very strict criteria.

“We were surprised ourselves by the extent, we didn’t expect such a large number,” co-author Anja Kollmuss told BBC News.

“What went on was that these countries could approve these projects by themselves there was no international oversight, in particular Russia and the Ukraine didn’t have any incentive to guarantee the quality of these credits.”

Because Germany and Poland had tougher emissions targets to meet, they were very careful with their certificates. This wasn’t the case in Russia and the Ukraine.

With zero oversight by the UN, Russia and Ukraine were able to game the system, gobbling up tens of billions of dollars in the process. China, too, has been caught in the fraud, which garnered them more than $2 billion.

The Russian scheme involved destroying chemicals that contribute to warming, but only after massively increasing their manufacture just to take advantage of the carbon credits:

It concerns the activities of projects that made money from the removal of chemicals HFC-23 and sulphur hexafluoride, which add significantly to global warming.

They found that, in 2011, all three projects in the study significantly and simultaneously ramped up the amount of the chemicals they were destroying.

“As researchers we can not prove the fraud, we can just point to the facts so in the HFC case at the moment when they could gain credits they immediately increased production of this greenhouse gas in order to destroy them, and that lead to them getting many more credits than if they had produced it like they did before,” said Anja Kollmuss.

A green Ponzi scheme. Brilliant.

You have to think that if two or three countries are playing games with the carbon trading market, dozens more are probably doing it as well. What do you expect with no oversight and incompetent bureaucrats overseeing a system that was designed to maximize cheating and fraud?

Saving the world from global warming is in the very best of hands.

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Trump Calls Megyn Kelly a ‘Bimbo’ and Fox News Goes to War

Tuesday, August 25th, 2015 - by Rick Moran

Donald Trump reignited his war with Megyn Kelly and Fox News last night when he fired off a series of tweets that made it clear he wasn’t about to forget what he believes was rough treatment by Kelly at the GOP debate 19 days ago.

Kelly returned from an 11 day vacation last night and, following the airing of her show, The Kelly File, Trump let loose with a few haphazardly aimed volleys.

 

 

“The bimbo back in town”? I’d say any other candidate who used that term to describe any woman would be on a train back to Hoboken by day’s end. But Teflon Don isn’t just another candidate — he’s immune to gaffes. Meanwhile, a tipping point may have been reached with Fox News. The high-profile meeting between Trump and Fox News President Roger Ailes, where a truce was declared between the warring parties, has apparently gone for naught as Fox personalities let loose with a few of their own attacks on Trump.

 

 

Indeed, it’s puzzling why Trump would attack someone with a nightly audience that exceeds by a factor of 10 the total number of fans who have jammed the candidate’s rallies since he announced his run for the presidency. Like Mark Twain said, “Never pick a fight with someone who buys ink by the barrel.” Trump should avoid continuing a feud with the most popular personality on cable news. The only explanation I can think of is that Trump believes his support increases the more he is seen as being under attack — under siege if you will — by the powers that be.

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Banners Near College Frat House Elicit ‘Outrage’

Monday, August 24th, 2015 - by Rick Moran

It’s back-to-school time for America’s colleges, which means another tiresome year of enduring the howls of outrage and cries of despair when someone, somewhere, somehow does something that this aggrieved group or another finds fault with.

Like night follows day or fall follows summer or Laurel follows Hardy, The Ivory Tower Outrage Brigades are once again picking up the cudgel of political correctness and are salivating at the thought of beating some poor miscreant over the head with it.

In this case at Old Dominion College, the party started even before classes began. The Eta Chi chapter of the Sigma Nu fraternity decided to live up to the reputation of frat boys everywhere and hung some banners welcoming freshmen girls to the school.

“Rowdy and Fun. Hope your baby girl is ready for a good time.”
“Freshman daughter drop off.”
“Go ahead and drop off mom too.”

These banners are no doubt in bad taste. And if I had a freshman daughter attending ODU, I might have seriously considered getting out of the car and tearing the banners down myself.

But observe the over-the-top, hysterical reaction.

Now the Sigma Nu Fraternity has suspended the Eta Chi Chapter at ODU pending an investigation into the banners.

Sigma Nu released a message stating their displeasure with the banners saying they condemn the “derogatory and demeaning language used on the banners.”

“Such language has no place in our Fraternity or within any caring community, such as that of ODU. Any Fraternity member found to be responsible for this reprehensible display will be held accountable by the Fraternity,” said Brad Beacham, Sigma Nu Fraternity’s Executive Director in a statement.

ODU officials say they believe the people who live at the private residents are students and say they are investigating. The University sent this statement in full:

“Messages like the ones displayed yesterday by a few students on the balcony of their private residence are not and will not be tolerated. The moment University staff became aware of these banners, they worked to have them removed. At ODU, we foster a community of respect and dignity and these messages sickened us. They are not representative of our 3,000 faculty and staff, 25,000 students and our 130,000 alumni.

Ours is a community that works actively to promote bystander intervention and takes a stand denouncing violence against women. The “It’s on Us” video is just one example of ODU students’ leadership on this topic.

In addition, the University ensures all students receive education on the prevention of sexual harassment and relationship violence.

Any student found to have violated the code of conduct will be subject to disciplinary action.”

Note first that the banners were hung in front of private residences where officials “believe” students live. And the Sigma Nu frat didn’t even wait to find out who was at fault. They pulled the plug on the chapter without even investigating.

The statement from the Student Government Association was even more bizarre:

“An incident occurred this weekend that does not reflect the University’s commitment to the prevention of Sexual Assault and Dating Violence. Not only do these actions taken by a few individuals undermine the countless efforts at Old Dominion University to prevent sexual assault, they are also unwelcoming, offensive, and unacceptable,” said Chris Ndiritu, President of the Student Government Association.

You have to be out of your mind to believe that the banner-hangers had sexual assault or dating violence in mind when they put them up. They may be insensitive louts, but why assume they’re criminals?

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Jewish Reggae Artist Defiant at Festival with Pro-Palestinian Crowd

Sunday, August 23rd, 2015 - by Rick Moran

The Jewish rapper/reggae artist known as Matisyahu demonstrated an unusual degree of courage yesterday when he performed at a Spanish music festival in front of a sea of Palestinian flags and hecklers from the boycott, divestment, and sanctions (BDS) movement.

Previously, Matisyahu had been disinvited to the festival because he refused to take part in a pro-Palestinian video and did not respond to questions about whether he believed in a Palestinian state. But the Spanish foreign minister along with the American and Israeli embassies lobbied the festival organizers and the artist was reinvited.

What happened when he mounted the stage should be made into a Hollywood movie:

Far from boycotting the reggae artist’s gig, the “hate Israel” crowd showed up en masse. And they came bearing flags, immense Palestinian flags, which they waved with gusto from every corner of the 20,000-strong crowd.

As Matisyahu took the mike and looked out to the audience, he was presented with an unmistakably hostile message. It was clear that those who sought to have him banished stood before him in protest. Then the catcalls started, with some chanting, “out, out.” It might easily have been unnerving, disorienting.

But then he began to sing about Jerusalem.

“Jerusalem, if I forget you, fire not gonna come from me tongue. Jerusalem, if I forget you, let my right hand forget what it’s supposed to do.”

And then, as he bounced and twirled around the stage, the most defiant lyrics of all: “3, 000 years with no place to be, and they want me to give up my milk and honey.”

“Tonight was difficult but special,” he later posted on Facebook, along with a clip of the performance.

What courage. Not to be intimidated when the concert organizers demanded he pacify the BDSers, and then to return to the festival’s schedule in defiance of the opposition, and chant Jerusalem on stage with such gusto.

What courage.

Reggae is not my cup of tea but to sing this song with hecklers screaming at him and the flag of the enemy waving in his face is a special moment.

The video is of a live performance so I included the lyrics below:

Jerusalem, if I forget you,
fire not gonna come from me tongue.
Jerusalem, if I forget you,
let my right hand forget what it’s supposed to do.

In the ancient days, we will return with no delay
Picking up the bounty and the spoils on our way
We’ve been traveling from state to state
And them don’t understand what they say
3,000 years with no place to be
And they want me to give up my milk and honey
Don’t you see, it’s not about the land or the sea
Not the country but the dwelling of his majesty

[chorus]

Rebuild the temple and the crown of glory
Years gone by, about sixty
Burn in the oven in this century
And the gas tried to choke, but it couldn’t choke me
I will not lie down, I will not fall asleep
They come overseas, yes they’re trying to be free
Erase the demons out of our memory
Change your name and your identity
Afraid of the truth and our dark history
Why is everybody always chasing we
Cut off the roots of your family tree
Don’t you know that’s not the way to be

[chorus]

Caught up in these ways, and the worlds gone craze
Don’t you know it’s just a phase
Case of the Simon says
If I forget the truth then my words won’t penetrate
Babylon burning in the place, can’t see through the haze
Chop down all of them dirty ways,
That’s the price that you pay for selling lies to the youth
No way, not ok, oh no way, not ok, hey
Aint no one gonna break my stride
Aint no one gonna pull me down
Oh no, I got to keep on moving
Stay alive

[chorus]

Not all fighters for Israel wear the uniform of the IDF.

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Terrorist Is ‘Dumbfounded’ That He’s Taken for a Terrorist

Sunday, August 23rd, 2015 - by Rick Moran

The terrorist who was thwarted in carrying out an attack on a French train by three Americans told his lawyer that authorities have it all wrong. He’s not a terrorist at all, but was only hungry and wanted to rob passengers.

That’s his story and he’s sticking to it.

Reuters:

A gunman who attacked passengers on a high-speed train in France two days ago is “dumbfounded” at having been taken for an Islamist militant and says he only intended to rob people on board because he was hungry, his lawyer said on Sunday.

As details emerged of the gunman’s early adult life in Spain, lawyer Sophie David said her client — now in detention near Paris — also looked ill and malnourished.

French and Spanish sources close to the case have identified him as a 26-year-old Moroccan named Ayoub el Khazzani who was known to European authorities as a suspected Islamist militant.

“(I saw) somebody who was very sick, somebody very weakened physically, as if he suffered from malnutrition, very, very thin and very haggard,” David told BFMTV.

“He is dumbfounded by the terrorist motives attributed to his action,” she added.

David said the man was barefoot and wore only a hospital shirt and boxer shorts for the police interrogation in Arras, northern France, where the train stopped after the incident.

The Moroccan told David he had found the Kalashnikov he had taken onto the train in a park near the Gare du Midi rail station in Brussels where he was in the habit of sleeping.

“A few days later he decided to get on a train that some other homeless people told him would be full of wealthy people traveling from Amsterdam to Paris and he hoped to feed himself by armed robbery,” David said.

The lawyer said the Moroccan had untreated wounds on his face when he spoke to her through an interpreter. He also told David he did not think he had fired any shots before his gun jammed.

Ah! A thousand pardons, Mr. Khazzani. Every thief walks around with an automatic weapon, 200 rounds of ammo, a pistol, and box cutters. Please accept our humble apologies for even thinking you were a terrorist.

Ms. David should be given credit for using a defense that’s never been tried before: the hungry jihadist who only wanted some rich people to spot him a meal. I must say, that kind of thinking takes some moxie for David to think she can pull off.

Khazzani apparently went to Syria last year — I’m sure it was to visit the Roman baths in Bosra.

Not to be outdone by David in absolving Khazzani of being a terrorist, the president of the Muslim community in the Spanish town where the terrorist had lived said, “He was an ordinary young man, he played football, went fishing, he worked to make a living.”

Just the jihadist next door.

This guy’s trial may bear watching if the lawyer and character witnesses are going to be this entertaining.

WATCH: Heroes of the French Train Terror Attack Tell Their Stories

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Detroit Residents Answer Police Chief’s Call to Arm Themselves

Sunday, August 23rd, 2015 - by Rick Moran

In 2013, as Detroit sank into bankruptcy, Chief of Police James Craig made the controversial suggestion that, given shrinking police resources and a spike in violent crime, residents should take a hand in their own personal security by purchasing a firearm.

Since then, there has been a substantial increase in gun ownership in the city and there is some indication that this has led to a decrease in some categories of crime.

Fox News:

“When you look at the city of Detroit, we’re kind of leading the way in terms of urban areas with law-abiding citizens carrying guns,” Craig said recently.

The chief’s call to arms, which first came in December, 2013, has been answered by thousands of men and women tired of being victims and eager to reclaim their beleaguered city. In 2014, some new 1,169 handgun permits were issued, while 8,102 guns were registered with Detroit’s police department – many to prior permit holders who bought new firearms. So for in 2015, nearly 500 permits have issued by the department and more than 5,000 guns have been registered.

“There’s definitely been a “Chief Craig” effect,” Rick Ector, a firearms instructor who runs the blog Legally Armed in Detroit. “His support and endorsement has been helpful.”

Obtaining a concealed-carry permit in the state of Michigan is not difficult compared to states with stricter gun laws. Eligible citizens can meet the state’s training requirement in eight hours, and firearms academies and gun shops within the city offer one-day courses for as little as $99.

Ector said that he and other instructors have seen a steady rise in locals looking to get a permit, to protect themselves either on the street or in their homes. While data showing a relation between increased gun ownership and the crime rate is not available, Ector said legally armed residents are having an effect.

Home invasions have gone down,” he said. “A huge reason was that there was a huge spate of homeowners using their guns against intruders. More people have guns and it’s making burglars cautious.”

The firearms instructor said women are driving growth in his business.

“It used to be that we would only have one or two women in a class,” he said. “Now we are seeing much, much more. This past May, I held a class where we trained 300 ladies.”

Detroit is more than 80% black and there has been a remarkable change in the attitude of black people toward gun ownership:

With a population of about 680,000, some 83 percent of which is African-American, Detroit’s growing embrace of Second Amendment rights has a racial component that is not unique to the city. According to a recent survey from Pew Research Center, 54 percent of African-American residents nationwide now see legal gun ownership as more likely to protect people than to put their safety at risk. That figure was up from 29 percent two years ago.

“If anyone should have the right or need to carry a gun, it should be the African-American community,” Philip Smith, founder of the National African American Gun Association, told Reuters.

What’s changed in 2 years? There has been a spike in crime in big cities the last few years and blacks, like any Americans, see their personal safety in terms of what they can do for themselves. Relying on the police to come save you when someone is trying to break into your home is suicidal. Better to have protection at hand to deal with an intruder yourself.

Is this a trend? Zealous, anti-gun prosecutors will prosecute citizens who use their personal firearm for protection, but that doesn’t seem to deter people from exercising their Second Amendment rights. Restrictive gun laws aside, citizens will almost always choose being safe over getting in trouble with the law.

In Detroit, that appears to be a motto to live by.

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Judge Orders Swift Release of Illegal Alien Minors

Saturday, August 22nd, 2015 - by Rick Moran

A federal judge in California has confirmed a decision made last month that illegal alien children currently held in detention must be released.

The ruling is based on a 1997 settlement where the minors could not be held more than 72 hours unless they posed a flight risk or danger to the community.

Fox News:

Gee gave federal agencies until next Oct. 23 to comply with her order, though the government is expected to appeal the decision, according to the daily Los Angeles Times.

The judge’s ruling comes after an appeal filed weeks ago by the administration of U.S. President Barack Obama, which defended the policy of holding the families of undocumented immigrants in detention centers.

That appeal was in turn a response to a court order last July ordering the release of children in the detention centers of Karnes City and Dilley, both in the state of Texas, and which together have the capacity to hold 2,932 people.

The judge considered that the government had broken the extrajudicial Flores agreement of 1997, stipulating that children should live in the “least restrictive” conditions possible.

The government argued in its appeal that if such a judicial decision were executed, it would eliminate the government’s ability to deport families under any circumstances, which could cause another surge of parents crossing the border with their children. EFE

The difference in the numbers of illegal alien minors in 1997 and today is staggering. There are tens of thousands of children crossing into the country illegally compared to just a few hundred in 1997.

The government would prefer to release the kids to a relative in the US — probably here illegally also — but it is a time consuming process and the numbers of minors flooding over the border are increasing.

Ideally, immigration judges should be hearing these cases almost immediately and deportation should follow shortly thereafter. But the docket for all immigration judges is jammed up for years, making it more likely these kids will see the inside of Donald Trump’s mansion than their home country again.

I don’t know how much more incentive Central American parents need to send their kids here. We’ve already rolled out the red carpet and are placing tens of thousands of them in communities all across the country. We’re even flying them here so they don’t have to run the gauntlet of coyotes and human traffickers in Mexico.

Until an administration takes office that is serious about border security, the problem is only going to get worse.

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Obama’s Legacy: An Old, Weak Democratic Party

Saturday, August 22nd, 2015 - by Rick Moran

Jeff Greenfield has a thoughtful piece in Politico dealing with President Obama’s political legacy, and how the party he leads has gone precipitously downhill since he took office.

When you move from policy to politics, the task is a lot simpler—just measure the clout of the president’s party when he took office and when he left it. By that measure, Obama’s six years have been terrible.

Under Obama, the party started strong. “When Obama was elected in 2008, Democrats were at a high water mark,” says David Axelrod, who served as one of Obama’s top strategists. “Driven by antipathy to George W. Bush and then the Obama wave, Democrats had enjoyed two banner elections in ’06 and ’08. We won dozens of improbable congressional elections in states and districts that normally would tack Republican, and that effect trickled down to other offices. You add to that the fact that we would take office in the midst of the worst recession since the Great Depression, and it was apparent, from Day One, that we had nowhere to go but down.”

The first signs of the slowly unfolding debacle that has meant the decimation of the Democratic Party nationally began early—with the special election of Scott Brown to Ted Kennedy’s empty Senate seat in Massachusetts. That early loss, even though the seat was won back eventually by Elizabeth Warren, presaged the 2010 midterms, which saw the loss of 63 House and six Senate seats. It was disaster that came as no surprise to the White House, but also proved a signal of what was to come.

The party’s record over the past six years has made clear that when Barack Obama leaves office in January 2017 the Democratic Party will have ceded vast sections of the country to Republicans, and will be left with a weak bench of high-level elected officials. It is, in fact, so bleak a record that even if the Democrats hold the White House and retake the Senate in 2016, the party’s wounds will remain deep and enduring, threatening the enactment of anything like a “progressive” agenda across much of the nation and eliminating nearly a decade’s worth of rising stars who might help strengthen the party in elections ahead.

While the Senate is definitely in play in 2016, the GOP has a virtual lock on the House at least until 2020 and perhaps beyond. The last round of redistricting was mostly favorable to Republicans and has given them an enormous advantage in state legislatures across the country. Republicans now control 70% of upper and lower chambers nationwide and 31 governorships.  Fully 24 states have a GOP governor, and Republican upper and lower houses.

One of the consequences of so few Democrats in state government is that the pool of promising candidates for federal office is vastly reduced. Hence, the Democratic Party has now become a party of candidates all eligible for Social Security:

Eight years later, when he leaves office in 2017 at 55, he’ll actually be one of the party’s only leaders not eligible for Social Security. Even as the party has recently captured more young voters at the ballot box in presidential elections, its leaders are increasingly of an entirely different generation; most of the party’s leaders will fade from the national scene in the years ahead. Its two leading presidential candidates, Hillary Clinton and Bernie Sanders are 67 and 73. The sitting vice president, Joe Biden, is 72. The Democratic House leader, Nancy Pelosi, is 75; House Whip Steny Hoyer is 76 and caucus Chair James Clyburn is 75, as is Harry Reid, the Senate Democratic leader, who will retire next year. It’s a party that will be turning to a new generation of leaders in the coming years—and yet, there are precious few looking around the nation’s state houses, U.S. House or Senate seats.

In truth, President Obama did not pay particular attention to building the Democratic Party during his time in office. His own re-election took precedence in his first term, and legacy building has occupied his attention in his second. Then there is the fact that his approval in many congressional districts that aren’t deep, deep blue meant that he would have done more harm than good in appearing beside a candidate.

The Republicans are in much better shape generationally,but the civil war wracking the party now threatens to rend the GOP asunder. And it appears that no matter who is the nominee for president, a whole lot of people are going to be bitterly disappointed.

When Obama leaves office, it is possible that Republicans will be in no better shape than Democrats.

No More Politicians: The Presidency Is Trump’s to Lose

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‘Please Tell Brussels We are Coming, No Matter What’

Saturday, August 22nd, 2015 - by Rick Moran

That quote is from a Syrian illegal alien squatting in a no man’s land near the Macedonian-Greece border. Today, thousands of illegals looking to make their way to western European countries, broke through a police barrier and began to stream northward — a human tide not to be denied that a growing number of countries are at a loss to figure out how to deal with.

Thousands of migrants stormed across Macedonia’s border on Saturday, overwhelming security forces who threw stun grenades and lashed out with batons in an increasingly futile bid to stem their flow through the Balkans to western Europe.

Some had spent days in the open with little or no access to food or water after Macedonia on Thursday declared a state of emergency and sealed its borders to migrants, many of them refugees from war in Syria and other conflicts in the Middle East.

Hundreds remained in a rain-soaked no-man’s land and authorities said they would continue to enforce a regime of rationed access despite the even greater pace of arrivals from the other side in Greece.

Migrants had been pouring across the border into Macedonia at a rate of some 2,000 per day, en route to Serbia then Hungary and Europe’s Schengen zone. Some 50,000 hit Greek shores in July alone by boat from Turkey.

“In this Europe, animals are sleeping in beds and we sleep in the rain,” said 23-year-old Syrian woman Fatima Hamido on entering Macedonia. “I was freezing for four days in the rain, with nothing to eat.”

Thirty-two-year-old Saeed from Syria said of the blocked border: “We know this was not Macedonia and the Macedonian police. This was the European Union. Please tell Brussels we are coming, no matter what.”

Greece, Macedonia, Turkey, Serbia, Hungary — the numbers of illegal aliens are staggering. More than 50,000 illegals came through Greece just last month. Hungary is building a wall to keep them out while the EU bickers about how many illegals each country will take.

This latest wave of illegals comes mostly from the Middle East. There is also an exodus from Africa as tens of thousands of people from Libya and other countries make the perilous crossing of the Mediterranean looking to reach Italy. The EU began a fierce crackdown on human smugglers two months ago which seems to have reduced the flow somewhat, but the crisis refuses to go away.

About 107,500 migrants crossed the EU’s borders last month, with even more expected in August. The conditions that have led to this mass migration of people are, if anything, getting worse. War in Syria, Iraq, Yemen, Somalia, Libya, the Congo, Nigeria — most of the poorest places on earth are emptying out, apparently believing that the European’s inexhaustible goodwill can feed, clothe, house, and employ all of them. The backlash by EU taxpayers has already begun as nativist parties in France and Hungary are making headway.

When will the limit of EU beneficence be reached? Probably when ordinary citizens put their foot down and say, “no more.”

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Parent’s Nightmare: Huggies Wipes Said to Contain ‘Glass Shards’

Saturday, August 22nd, 2015 - by Rick Moran

The children’s care company Huggies is responding to some complaints by parents that their popular baby wipes contain shards of glass or fiberglass.

Within hours of the first complaints appearing on its Facebook page, the company issued a statement:

Hello Huggies Parents,

As some of you may have heard, a concern about our wipes was raised recently on Facebook. We take any concerns about our products very seriously and we are working directly with this parent to learn more about what happened and how we can help. Nothing is more important than the safety of the little ones who use our products.

Families put their trust in Huggies wipes every day, and all of our Huggies products have been thoroughly evaluated to ensure they are safe. In addition, we have stringent quality controls in place, and no glass is used during the manufacture of our wipes. As parents ourselves, we know you may have additional questions or concerns. Please don’t hesitate to contact us at http://bit.ly/8ZuAUH or by phone at 1-888-485-6839.

A mother in Guam was the first to report the problem and made a video that looks pretty convincing:

A mother in Denver also reported glass in her Huggies wipes.

Several other parents also reported the problem so it doesn’t seem to be an isolated incident:

The post was met with more complaints by parents questioning why their babies have rashes since using the wipes.

“We need to check Paisley’s wipes!!” one mother wrote. “That explains the little cuts we’ve been getting and the red rash she has in her diaper area!”

“I found them in my sons wipes as well!” wrote another. “I went to use one to take my makeup off and could feel it scratching my face. Threw the whole pack away.”

“No wonder why my son always crying and avoiding to change the diapers and the rash ….no more Huggies,” wrote another.

Without proof, it’s hard to discover if any of these parents’ claims are true. That last comment is especially dubious, given that babies cry for many reasons and just because the infant has diaper rash doesn’t mean he got it from Huggies wipes.

But there is enough smoke to guarantee a fire unless Huggies can be more convincing. Product tampering is a possibility, as is employee sabotage. There’s even a possibility of parents seeding the wipes with glass shards in order to get a big payday from Huggies.

As a lesson in crisis management, Huggies has so far acted responsibly. But this is the sort of thing that can snowball very quickly unless Huggies can convince parents of the safety of their products.

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Unarmed U.S. Marines Foil Terrorist Attack on French Bullet Train

Friday, August 21st, 2015 - by Rick Moran

Three unarmed U.S. Marines foiled a potentially serious terrorist attack on a bullet train between Amsterdam and Paris when they tackled a Moroccan gunmen armed with an AK-47 and at least 200 rounds of ammunition.

At least one of the Marines was shot and is in critical condition. Two others were also shot, including a Briton and a Frenchman.

Daily Mail:

The 26-year-old Moroccan national, who was known to security services, came out of the toilet brandishing the gun and opened fire. Fortunately, two US Marines were nearby and overpowered him before he could massacre passengers.

The suspected terrorist had at least nine full magazines of ammunition holding almost 200 rounds. He was also carrying a knife.

Unfortunately, one of the Marines was shot and is believed to be in a critical condition.  

Speaking in Arras, French Interior Minister Bernard Cazeneuve praised the Marines for their timely intervention.

He said: ‘Thanks to them we have averted a drama.

‘(The Americans were) particularly courageous and showed extreme bravery in extremely difficult circumstances.’

The man was arrested by police near the town of Arras in northern France. 

Train company Thalys confirmed the incident happened. A spokesman said: ‘The situation is under control, the travellers are safe. The train stopped and the emergency services are on site.’

No one at the SNCF French railways was immediately available to comment on the report.

A report on Twitter said that three US Marines detained the gunman until emergency services arrived.

The incident happened at approximately 6pm local time. 

French newspaper Le Monde is reporting that one Briton may be among the injured.  

The motives behind the attack were not immediately known, although a spokesman for the interior minister said: ‘It is too early to speak of a terrorist link’.

Al-Qaeda in the Islamic Maghreb has been active in Morocco in recent years, so you have to think authorities will be looking closely for any links to that terrorist group.

But this could have gotten extremely bloody without the intervention of the Marines. A moving train is a perfect place for a mass-casualty terrorist attack. Passengers are trapped in a narrow corridor with no place to hide. They can’t get off either. One could easily imagine dozens of dead and wounded passengers before the gunman would have run out of targets.

Kudos to our Marines who performed courageously under fire.

Update:

Well, they weren’t Marines — an airman and a national guardsman from Oregon — but their actions were certainly heroic enough.  This Wall Street Journal story has the details of their efforts to disarm the terrorist before he could get started.

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Another Left-Wing Assault on Religious Freedom

Thursday, August 20th, 2015 - by Rick Moran

BuzzFeed is reporting that 130 radical, far-left organizations have sent a letter directly to President Obama asking him to reverse a Bush-era policy that granted religious organizations an exemption from non-discrimination laws when seeking federal grants

The policy is contained in a Justice Department memo signed in 2007 that concluded the Religious Freedom Restoration Act protected religious groups from being forced to adhere to religious nondiscrimination laws in hiring.

The 130 organizations — including the ACLU, Anti-Defamation League, Human Rights Campaign, NAACP, and Planned Parenthood — counter in their letter to Obama that the opinion “relies on flawed legal analysis” that RFRA “provides a blanket override of a statutory non-discrimination provision.” A copy of the letter was provided to BuzzFeed News.

Members of the group have been asking the Justice Department or White House to rescind the OLC Memo since Obama took office, but this is the first time that the letter has been sent directly to the president. Previous letters were sent to then-Attorney General Eric Holder, as in 2009 and 2014, as well as to the head of the White House Office of Faith-based and Neighborhood Partnerships in 2013.

In the new letter, the group tells Obama:

RFRA was intended to provide protection for free exercise rights, applying strict scrutiny, on a case-by-case basis, to federal laws that substantially burden religious exercise. RFRA was not intended to create blanket exemptions to laws that protect against discrimination.

Yet, in contrast to this, the OLC Memo relies on flawed legal analysis and wrongly asserts that RFRA is “reasonably construed to require” a federal agency to categorically exempt a religiously affiliated organization from a grant program’s explicit statutory non-discrimination provision, thus permitting the grantee to discriminate in hiring with taxpayer funds without regard to the government’s compelling interest in prohibiting such discrimination.

NRO’s David French explains what’s at stake:

In plain English, the letter — signed by the usual alphabet soup of leftist special interests – is asserting that the federal government has a “compelling interest” in prohibiting a religious organization from using religious criteria when hiring its employees, including key leaders of the organization. The Bush-era letter stood for the simple proposition that a religious grantee could only those people who affirm and practice the group’s faith. Unless one is consumed with malice for orthodox faith, this is one of the most common-sense principles imaginable. Precisely what real state interest — much less compelling interest – is preserved by forcing Jewish groups to hire Muslims, Christian groups to hire Hindus, or requiring Christian groups to retain employees who flout Christian doctrine and practice?

Religious charitable organizations tend to be the most effective organizations in the country in helping the poorest and most vulnerable citizens — and in helping those who struggle with drug addiction or are attempting to build new lives out of the ruin of a criminal past. They are effective precisely because of their faith, not in spite of it, and if the government undermines a group’s faith, it will also undermine its faith-based work. A government seeking to intelligently spend money on private grantees would do well to spend money where it will do the most good. But none of that matters to the Left, because somewhere a Christian group — for faith-based reasons – might be asking its employees to dissent from any given doctrine of the sexual revolution. And we can’t have that, because sex is god.

This is precisely the kind of oppression that universities try to impose on Christian student groups — slandering them as virtual segregationists for having the audacity to require Christian faith and practice from Christian leaders. It was sheer exclusionary bad faith when campuses started imposing this rule on Christian groups as early as 2000 — fifteen years ago. And it’s sheer exclusionary bad faith now. Intolerance in the name of tolerance and exclusion in the name of inclusion — the radical is now mainstream.

The left won’t consider the job done until all religious activity in the U.S. is overseen and regulated by the government. Faith of any kind is incompatible with the leftist worldview — except faith in their own moral superiority. Their objection to organized religion is that they view their independence of thought as apostasy.

It isn’t just a question of religious groups disagreeing with the left about some things; it’s that they don’t acknowledge liberals as the arbiters of moral behavior and beliefs.

For this, they must be forcibly brought to heel.

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Whip List Moving in Wrong Direction for Iran-Agreement Opponents

Thursday, August 20th, 2015 - by Rick Moran

Hopes are fading that an expected veto by President Obama of the Iran deal disapproval resolution can be overridden as more red state Democratic senators have come out to support the deal.

At this point, it has even become a question whether Senate foes of the agreement can muster the 60 needed to bring it to the floor.

Washington Post:

Congress is unlikely to override a promised veto by President Obama if both chambers reject a deal to curtail Iran’s nuclear capabilities, according to a Washington Post analysis of where the votes currently stand.

But several things have to happen first.

When both chambers return from the August recess, all 246 House Republicans are expected to vote against the deal, the analysis found. So far, 12 House Democrats have declared they too are opposed — more than enough to pass a resolution of disapproval through the lower chamber.

Over in the Senate, the vote to pass a resolution of disapproval is closer. About 31 Democrats either support the deal or are expected to back it, while 56 senators — including all Republicans plus two Democrats (Sens. Chuck Schumer (N.Y.) and Bob Menendez (N.J.)) — are either overtly against the pact or presumed foes. But as of now, that’s not sufficient to clear the 60-vote hurdle needed to pass the disapproval resolution.

If Congress rejects the deal at first pass, Obama has pledged to veto the resolution, meaning that opponents would then need to corral a two-thirds majority of both chambers to override the president and kill the deal.

But our analysis found that it will be very difficult for the deal’s opponents to override the president’s veto. In the House, rivals of the deal would need 44 of the remaining undecided Democrats to break with Obama, while in the Senate, 10 of 12 Democrats who are still undecided or haven’t tipped their hands would have to defy Obama to overturn the deal.

Given the full-court press from the White House and the fierce lobbying campaign currently afoot, that is a tall order — in the Senate especially.

A key red state Democrat, Senator Joe Donnelly of Indiana, came out in favor of the deal today. Recently, Claire McCaskill of Missouri and Tim Kaine of Virginia also said they’d back the president. The math is now becoming a real problem for treaty opponents, but the fact that the remaining Democrats are still on the fence at this point offers a little hope that the situation can be salvaged.

Even the revelation of the IAEA’s deal with Iran to “inspect” the Parchin military base by using Iranian scientists hasn’t appeared to make much of a difference with those undeclared Democrats. Sad to say that unless something extraordinary emerges that’s in the deal, President Obama will make his “history” while the rest of the world ponders the future of living in a world where Iran has the bomb.

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Family Member Tells CNN that Both of Shaun King’s Parents Were White

Thursday, August 20th, 2015 - by Rick Moran

Shaun King, the Black Lives Matter activist who claims he’s biracial, has been caught in a massive lie as one of his family members told CNN’s Don Lemon that both his parents were white.

Previously, some conservatives had strongly suggested that King was white, only to have the activist deny it and refer to his accusers as racists.

King has received notoriety because of his compelling personal story — now shown to be a tissue of lies. He claims he has been a victim of racism all his life and that he was  “the focus of constant abuse of the resident rednecks of my school.”

His dramatic account of being attacked at his high school because of his race is partly true. Called the “first hate crime in Kentucky,” King was beaten in 1995 — he says because he was black. (Police reports described his injuries as “minor.”)

But the family member told Lemon that King was beaten up because he was a white man dating a black woman. Still a despicable crime, but the facts were cynically altered by King to advance his bona fides with the black activist community.

Mediaite:

“A family member tells CNN that both of King’s parents are white,”Lemon said on Wednesday night’s edition of CNN Tonight.

Conservative websites have also accused King of embellishing or fabricating a racial hate crime during his high school days. The same family member told Lemon that the altercation he had in high school was racially motivated… but because King was “a white guy dating a black girl.”

Lemon also revealed that he had a conversation with King about his racial identity. “Initially he did not answer but later referred to himself as biracial,” he said. “But then when I asked him if that’s what it shows on his birth certificate I did not hear back from him. No answer on that.”

King’s wife defended him:

“Just know this, there is nothing fake about Shaun King. He’s no Rachel Dolezal,” wrote Rai King, referring to the former NAACP chapter leader who passed herself off as black. “What’s white about him is white, and what’s Black about him is Black and always has been from the time he was a child. There’s no spray tan, no fake Black hairstyles, no attempt to make himself appear any more ethnic than he already does. Whatever you think you know about him, you don’t. Whatever you think has been uncovered, hasn’t.”

There’s the question of whether he misrepresented himself to Oprah Winfrey in order to get a scholarship to the all-black school Morehouse College.

King flatly denied Wednesday that he had misrepresented his race to get a scholarship from Oprah Winfrey to the historically black Morehouse College — which declined comment about the situation but said it did not grant admissions or scholarships based on race.

It is blacks themselves who demand “authenticity,” referring to conservatives blacks as “Uncle Toms” — or worse. But they will stand by him, as they mostly stood by that other fake black person Rachel Dolezal. They are as oblivious to their own hypocrisy as they are of objective reality.

In truth, race shouldn’t matter when it comes to standing up for your beliefs. If King, a white person, wants to advocate for his idea of “social justice,” then more power to him. But he should be forthright and honest about his race when doing so. Otherwise, he is simply perpetrating a sham, the victims being the very people he says he wants to help.

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We’re #20! U.S. Sinks Again in Cato’s Human Freedom Index

Wednesday, August 19th, 2015 - by Rick Moran

Cato Institute has published its annual Human Freedom Index, ranking 152 countries in the world according to the level of liberty enjoyed by its citizens, and once again, the U.S. fell in the rankings from the previous year.

Standing 17th in 2014, the U.S. now occupies the 20th spot, reflecting deteriorating economic freedom and a drop in adherence to the rule of law.

Other criteria used in the rankings:

The index published here presents a broad measure of human freedom, understood as the absence of coercive constraint. It uses 76 distinct indicators of personal and economic freedom in the following areas:

Rule of Law
Security and Safety
Movement
Religion
Association, Assembly, and Civil Society
Expression
Relationships
Size of Government
Legal System and Property Rights
Access to Sound Money
Freedom to Trade Internationally
Regulation of Credit, Labor, and Business

The U.S. rank has been declining since 2000 as the war on terror, the war on drugs, and a weakening of property rights have taken their toll on liberty in America.

My co-author Tanja Porcnik and I look at 76 indicators in 152 countries to capture the degree to which people are free to engage in voluntary exchange and enjoy major liberties such as freedom of speech, religion, and association. We also include measures on freedom of movement, women’s freedoms, safety and security, and rule of law. We use data from 2008 to 2012, the most recent year for which sufficient data is available.

Hong Kong and Switzerland top the rankings, followed in order by Finland, Denmark, New Zealand, and Canada. The United States ranks in 20th place, below the United Kingdom (9) and Chile (18). Other countries rank as follows: Singapore (43), India (75), Russia (111), China (132), Venezuela (144), and Zimbabwe (149).

The United States fell from 17th place in 2008 to 20th place in 2012. The decline reflects a long-term drop in every category of economic freedom and in its rule of law indicators. The U.S. performance is worrisome and shows that the United States can no longer claim to be the leading bastion of liberty in the world. In addition to the expansion of the regulatory state and drop in economic freedom, the war on terror, the war on drugs, and the erosion of property rights due to greater use of eminent domain all likely have contributed to the U.S. decline.

We do not measure democracy in the index, though we consider it important. Indeed, we find a strong relationship between human freedom and democracy, a link that merits further study. As such, Hong Kong is an outlier in our index. Its high ranking is due to its traditionally strong rule of law, and high levels of both personal and economic freedom, something that all advocates of freedom, including democracy advocates, should seek to protect. The danger there is that China’s efforts to limit democracy will lead to increasing interference in the territory’s institutions—including on the independence of its legal system and the freedom of its press—which will reduce its overall freedom.

Here are the top 25:

1. Hong Kong

2. Switzerland

3. Finland

4. Denmark

5. New Zealand

6. Canada

7. Australia

8. Ireland

9. United Kingdom

10. Sweden

11. Norway

12. Austria

12. Germany

14. Iceland

14. Netherlands

16. Malta

17. Luxembourg

18. Chile

19. Mauritius

And then finally..

20. United States

Just after the U.S.,

21. Czech Republic

22. Estonia

22. Belgium

24. Taiwan

25. Portugal

The U.S. is tumbling toward banana republic status. And what will our ranking be next year? The EPA is readying thousands upon thousands of pages of new regulations for the oil and gas industry, the waste disposal industry, not to mention new IRS and HHS Obamacare regs coming all the time.

When you have an administration, a Congress, and a Supreme Court that treat the Constitution so shabbily, the rule of law suffers and freedoms fought for over many generations gradually erode and disappear.

This is our fate unless we can turn it around — and do it quickly.

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Codename ‘Flipper’: Hamas Claims to Catch Israeli Spy Dolphin Off Coast of Gaza

Wednesday, August 19th, 2015 - by Rick Moran

Hamas says it has scored a significant counterintelligence coup by capturing an Israeli spy off the coast of Gaza.

Strangely, the spy does little except swim around his cage and eat fish. And he won’t even give his name, rank and serial number.

Hamas claims they caught the spy red handed — er, red flippered? The spy, it seems, is a dolphin.

Times of Israel:

The dolphin was said to have been equipped with “spying equipment” including cameras.

It was captured off the Gaza coast by the naval unit of the Hamas military brigades, the radio report said.

The capture was made several weeks ago.

The Israeli Navy maintains a fleet of Dolphin class submarines. But the Army Radio report made clear that Hamas was talking about a mammal, not a boat.

Spying allegations against Israel involving various creatures are not uncommon in the region.

Twice in recent years, Turkish media have highlighted allegations that birds tagged with Israeli university tracking devices were on espionage missions.

In 2012, an eagle with an Israeli tag in Sudan was captured and touted as a Mossad spy.

Two years earlier, an Egyptian official said Israel-controlled sharks could be involved in a number of attacks on tourists in the Red Sea.

Before we get too carried away in laughing at the terrorists for their stupidity, it should be pointed out that the U.S. Navy has experimented with dolphins for several decades and trained them to perform a variety of tasks. They are apparently adept at sniffing out underwater mines, as well as rescuing downed flyers. Rumors of more sinister uses for them are apparently just that — rumors.

While dolphins are extremely intelligent, they don’t accept military discipline very well and would be poor candidates for any kind of a spy mission. Their loyalty lies with whoever gives them food, which would make them unsuited to undercover work.

But what would dolphins be able to discover about Hamas that an Israeli sub wouldn’t be able to find? The answer, of course, is nothing. Which raises an interesting question about animal Israeli spies in the Middle East.

Do they really believe this crap or are they just throwing stuff out there to rile their people up about Israel? The trouble is, you can’t dismiss the notion that they actually believe Israel can control animals to do their bidding. These aren’t “backwards” countries; they are nations going in reverse. They are de-evolving right before our eyes, retreating far into the past when the natural world was poorly understood and animals possessed magical properties.

Today, it’s dolphins. What will it be next week?

Is Dr. Doolittle Working with Mossad?

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12-Year-Old Girls Ordered by Coach to Throw a Softball Game

Tuesday, August 18th, 2015 - by Rick Moran

It’s things like this that make you wonder if our society hasn’t reached a tipping point and gone over the edge into the abyss of insanity.

A girls Little League softball team from Snohomish, Washington, playing in the national World Series tournament, was ordered to deliberately lose a game against a North Carolina team in order to position themselves to play a softer opponent.

The coach played mostly bench players in the game and ordered everyone who came to bat to bunt.

The injured party in this stinking mess is a team from Iowa that is apparently the class of the tournament. The Washington team took a dive in order to avoid playing them.

The Snohomish club lost the game 8-0, with zero hits—which fit with its larger agenda of not playing quality opponents on the way to a World Series title.

Having already secured a spot in the semifinal, the West squad throttled back its game, knowing a win against the North Carolina team Monday would’ve pushed a club from Central Iowa—apparently the Murderers’ Row of Little League softball—out of the tourney and allowed North Carolina to slide in and take that spot.

The Snohomish coaches did not want this, and as a result, it appears 12-year-old children were baptized in the less-than-subtle arts of game-fixing.

The best part is, the West team’s plot has backfired spectacularly.

Fans watching the thrown game raised hell over the farce, and officials at the Little League World Series headquarters have since concluded that the game’s integrity was compromised.

Responding to protests by Iowa’s coaches, the Little League International Tournament Committee issued a statement Tuesday morning affirming foul play, per the Des Moines Register’s John Naughton.

“The Little League International Tournament Committee recently received credible reports that some teams did not play with the effort and spirit appropriate for any Little League game,” the statement read.

Naughton also spoke with Central Iowa Little League president Chris Chadd, who said the cheating was blatant and the coaches who ordered it are the ones at fault.

“It’s clear to everyone that they basically threw the game,” Chadd said. “It’s not the girls’ fault. It’s the coaches…they should be disqualified.”

After all this hullabaloo, Little League is giving the Washington team exactly what it didn’t want and pitting it against Iowa in a tiebreaker Tuesday with the winner taking a spot in the semifinal.

The team from Iowa played Washington on Tuesday afternoon and won 3-2.

Yes, schadenfreude is a bitch, but what would have happened if the Washington team won? I can understand the impulse not to punish the girls for the sins of their coaches, but if Washington were to advance, they would not suffer the consequences of their blatant cheating.

It’s a tough lesson for anyone to learn at any age, but those coaches should be held accountable regardless of who else might be hurt. The officials should have kicked them out of the tournament, no appeal allowed, and given them a significant ban on participating in future World Series tournaments.

Hard on the girls, but a hard lesson well learned: you will be held accountable for your actions.

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