The mad genius behind the film franchises Airplane! and Naked Gun thinks the Iran nuclear deal is terrible. So he set about making a satirical video, using as his inspiration the erectile dysfunction ads created by Cialis.
“Every prescription drug ad follows the same basic pattern—5 seconds of how amazing and wonderful the drug would be, and then 25 seconds of all the miserable side effects,” Zucker said in an interview with the Washington Free Beacon.
Born out of the realization that the Iran deal similarly does little good and has countless lasting side-effects was Zucker’s latest ad, which mirrors most closely the commercials for erectile dysfunction pill Cialis and portrays President Barack Obama, Secretary of State John Kerry, and Hillary Clinton negotiating with Iran’s “death to America”-shouting Mullahs.
The soothing music and calm voice, hallmarks of any drug commercial, are indicative of the message from the administration that there is no need to panic over news that Iran will get $150 billion in sanctions relief and that U.S. inspectors won’t be able to access Iranian nuclear sites.
“We had the announcer read the ad in a very soothing fashion, just like in the ads,” said Zucker. “The salesmen of this Iran deal, just like prescription drugs, want to make sure that nobody is panicking. But I am panicking.”
Zucker compared Obama to Leslie Nielsen’s Frank Drebin character in Naked Gun, who famously waved his hands telling onlookers that there was “nothing to see here” even as explosives burst into the sky behind him.
Surely, Mr. Zucker can’t be serious.
Yes, he is serious. And don’t call him Shirley.
If Obama is Frank Drebin, how about John Kerry as Lloyd Bridges’character Steve McCroskey in Airplane (“I picked a helluva week to quit drinking/smoking/glue sniffing”)? Hillary could play the Barbara Billingsley role of “Jive Lady” (“Oh, stewardess. I speak jive”).
And Ayatollah Khamenei would be perfect in the Sonny Bono role of the mad bomber in Airplane II.
The remake is coming soon to a theater near you.
Illinois is now into the third month without a state budget, and spending decisions are being made increasingly by the courts.
A slew of lawsuits have been filed by state employees, municipalities — even lottery winners — all of whom are waiting for cash and benefits the state would normally be paying out. But with no sign of the budget impasse being breached, the state now runs the risk of running even larger deficits because the spending authorized by the courts is based on revenue from 2015 — the last year of a tax increase that brought in an extra $6 billion. That increase has since been repealed, leaving the state in an even more perilous fiscal state.
In the weeks since fiscal 2016 began on July 1, U.S. and state judges have ordered Illinois to pay its workers and adhere to federal consent decrees mandating certain healthcare and social service programs.
That has put $14 billion of state spending under judicial control, according to Illinois Budget Director Tim Nuding. It has also placed the state on a path to spend more than its estimated fiscal 2016 revenue of $32 billion. The courts have ordered spending at levels in place in fiscal 2015 when revenue totaled about $36.6 billion due mainly to higher income tax rates that expired on Jan. 1.
“The courts in many ways are running our government because the legislature has failed to pass a balanced budget,” Nuding told a state Senate hearing last week.
Governor Bruce Rauner sent a memo to lawmakers on Thursday, warning that the longer it takes to resolve the budget impasse with Democrats, “the cuts we will have to make become deeper and what we ask of taxpayers will be steeper.”
Illinois and Pennsylvania are the only two states still fighting over a budget past their July 1 deadline, according to the National Conference of State Legislatures. Arturo Perez, an NCSL analyst, said the fact that neither state was able to put temporary spending measures in place has opened the door to court intervention.
RISK OF MORE JUDICIAL INTERVENTION
Lottery players in Illinois who have won prizes of $25,000 or more and who have not been paid since July 1 due to the lack of a budget filed a class action in federal court. The winners are seeking $288.4 million plus interest and a suspension of certain lottery ticket sales.
Several labor unions including Illinois’ biggest, the American Federation of State, County and Municipal Employees Council 31, this week asked a St. Clair County Court to force the state to fund healthcare coverage after it stopped paying claims, according to AFSCME spokesman Anders Lindall.
“There is a substantial possibility that state employees will forego needed medical care, either because they will not be able to afford to pay for the care up front at the time of service, or because they fear that medical care providers will demand such payments up front,” the unions’ complaint states.
In a notice on Friday, Illinois said it will resume payments for its self-insured plans once a budget is approved.
Only about 11% of the Illinois budget cannot be released by the courts. But with the expiration of the tax increase, judges are spending based on a higher baseline. This will lead to about a $5 billion hole that lawmakers will have to fill, thanks to the state’s balanced budget law.
There hasn’t been a meeting between Rauner and Democrats since May. And the governor, who was elected with a clear mandate to change the fiscal fortunes of state government — partly by reining in union power — refuses to budge. Democrats have been content to offer a budget that was $5 billion in the hole and then sit back and watch as Rauner is blamed for the impasse.
Eventually, Rauner is going to have to start laying off state workers, even though he explicitly promised he wouldn’t. If that happens, Rauner will be forced to cave in to Democrats and sign the kind of budget they want.
Dark days ahead for Bruce Rauner and his reform ideas.
Twenty scientists from research centers and universities have penned a letter to President Obama asking him to prosecute global warming skeptics under the RICO Act.
The RICO Act is usually employed by federal prosecutors to go after mobsters and drug cartels, although it has also been used against pro-life groups.
It appears that as global warming hysterics are losing the argument, they are getting more and more desperate. Earlier this year, Democrats in Congress suggested the RICO Act be used for similar purposes, with one congressman even organizing a witch hunt to drive global warming skeptics from college campuses.
Scientists from several universities and research centers even asked Obama to use the Racketeer Influenced and Corrupt Organizations Act (RICO) to prosecute groups that “have knowingly deceived the American people about the risks of climate change, as a means to forestall America’s response to climate change.”
RICO was a law designed to take down organized crime syndicates, but scientists now want it to be used against scientists, activists and organizations that voice their disagreement with the so-called “consensus” on global warming. The scientists repeated claims made by environmentalists that groups, especially those with ties to fossil fuels, have engaged in a misinformation campaign to confuse the public on global warming.
“The actions of these organizations have been extensively documented in peer-reviewed academic research and in recent books,” the scientists wrote.
But these riled up academics aren’t the first to suggest using RICO to go after global warming skeptics. The idea was first put forward by Rhode Island Sen. Sheldon Whitehouse, who argued using RICO was effective at taking down the tobacco industry.
“In 1999, the Justice Department filed a civil RICO lawsuit against the major tobacco companies… alleging that the companies ‘engaged in and executed — and continue to engage in and execute — a massive 50-year scheme to defraud the public, including consumers of cigarettes, in violation of RICO,’” Whitehouse wrote in the Washington Post in May.
Special: Doctor Recommended – Fix Eye Bags Without Surgery, Do This Daily
“We strongly endorse Senator Whitehouse’s call for a RICO investigation,” the scientists wrote to Obama. “The methods of these organizations are quite similar to those used earlier by the tobacco industry. A RICO investigation (1999 to 2006) played an important role in stopping the tobacco industry from continuing to deceive the American people about the dangers of smoking.”
“If corporations in the fossil fuel industry and their supporters are guilty of the misdeeds that have been documented in books and journal articles, it is imperative that these misdeeds be stopped as soon as possible so that America and the world can get on with the critically important business of finding effective ways to restabilize the Earth’s climate, before even more lasting damage is done,” the scientists added.
Calling these bozos “scientists” is like calling an astrologer a cosmologist. If scientists throughout history had had their mindset, mankind would still be looking to invent the wheel.
In short, they are the “anti-scientists” who are not only trying to deny people who disagree with them a forum to initiate a debate, but are actively seeking to punish apostates because they disagree with many of the near-religious tenets of global warming advocates.
Just what are they afraid of? They already stifle, belittle, and rage against the work of skeptics, keeping their papers out of journals, attacking them on campus, denying them tenure, and driving them out of their chosen field. Next comes jail. What’s after that, the stocks? Perhaps they would want to execute a few of the skeptics to make an example of them.
The irony is that the hysterics, who no doubt pride themselves on being good scientists, have just proved they are not scientists at all, but rather shills for a theory based on predictive models that have so far shown themselves to be wildly inaccurate.
With Germany and Austria having closed their borders so that exhausted government workers can catch up with the paperwork in processing tens of thousands of refugees, bottlenecks have been forming in the Balkans as Hungary desperately tries to keep its border secure and Serbia tries to keep the migrants moving through its country into Croatia.
But now Croatia, inundated with more than 17,000 refugees in just a couple of days, is closing its border as well, saying they can handle no more. It appears now that all avenues leading north have been blocked, and authorities are using increasingly harsh measures to control the human tide.
Late Friday Slovenian police used pepper spray to push back asylum seekers at a border crossing west of the Croatian capital of Zagreb. Early Saturday the Slovenian police allowed about 850 to board buses to a migrant processing center in Brezice.
Other refugees made it to a kind of no-man’s land between the two counties. At the Croatian village of Harmica a few hundred Syrians, Iraqis and Afghanis were camped on a bridge over the Sutla River. They were bottled up by a phalanx of Slovenia riot police, who urged patience. Two buses were slowly making round trips, taking the travelers to a migrant reception center in Slovenia.
From there, neither police, Red Cross volunteers nor refugees could say what the next stop would be. On the bridge rumors circulated via social media that some were already on their way to Austria, news that lead a group of Iraqis start singing.
The refugees have been forced to devise new routes across the Balkans, using word of mouth, the kindness of strangers and instinct as borders opened then rapidly closed.
The latest obstacle was Croatia, which staggered under the weight of the influx after initially opening its arms to the refugees.
By late Friday, the nation had taken in more than 17,000 asylum seekers. Hundreds more were arriving every hour, even though the prime minister warned that the nation of 4.2 million could handle no more.
As many 1000 asylum seekers were shipped Friday night from Croatia to Hungary via a special train, accompanied by 40 Croatian police. This move was answered by howls of protest by Hungarian officials who accused Croatia of abetting human trafficking.
Hungarian government spokesman Zoltan Kovacs told Sky News the move to shove asylum seekers toward Hungary showed “the Croatian system for handling migrants and refugees has collapsed, basically in one day.”
“What we see today is a complete failure of the Croatian state to handle migration issues,” he said.
The 1,000 refugees brought into Hungary on Friday night were put on an onward Hungarian train soon after they arrived unannounced at Magyarboly train station, station staff said Saturday morning.
The 40 Croatian soldiers who accompanied them across the border were sent back on foot after the Hungarians impounded the train, the staff said.
Is the Euro-project disintegrating before our eyes? The stresses placed on EU members and pressures being exerted by Germany to have nations like Slovenia, Croatia, and Hungary take in their “fair share” of refugees are generating a growing resentment. And it’s not at all clear that a consensus on any plan to accept the migrants can be reached:
Central and Eastern European countries have blocked E.U. attempts to spread asylum seekers throughout the continent. But Germany alone expects to take in 800,000 asylum seekers this year, and possibly up to 1 million.
The disparity has some German leaders suggesting that they should force the wayward E.U. nations to take in refugees. Imposing requirements by majority rule, rather than by consensus, is an option under E.U. law, but it has never before been used for an issue of such sensitivity.
“It cannot be that Germany, Austria, Sweden and Italy bear the burden alone. European solidarity does not work that way,” German Foreign Minister Frank-Walter Steinmeier told Germany’s Passauer Neue Presse newspaper.
If Germany tries to impose its will on this issue, it is likely to split the EU into several pieces. How is Germany going to enforce any plan to settle the migrants? At the point of a gun? I don’t think so.
It would be ironic indeed if Germany, the biggest supporter of the EU on the continent, were to be the cause of its collapse because of their wrongheaded immigration policies that encouraged this mass migration of refugees.
Volkswagen has some explaining to do.
In what might be the most ambitious scheme ever to game government emissions inspections, the German car company placed a “defeat device” in 480,000 of its vehicles that turned off emissions controls while the car was on the road, but turned them back on when they were inspected.
Volkswagen can face civil penalties of $37,500 for each vehicle not in compliance with federal clean air rules. There are 482,000 four-cylinder VW and Audi diesel cars sold since 2008 involved in the allegations. If each car involved is found to be in noncompliance, the penalty could be $18 billion, an EPA official confirmed on the teleconference.
A U.S. Volkswagen spokesman said the company “is cooperating with the investigation; we are unable to comment further at this time.”
The feature in question, which the EPA called a “defeat device,” masks the true emissions only during testing and therefore when the cars are on the road they emit as much as 40 times the level of pollutants allowed under clean air rules meant to ensure public health is protected, Giles said.
The EPA accused Volkswagen of using software in four-cylinder Volkswagen and Audi diesel cars from model years 2009 to 2015 made to circumvent emissions testing of certain air pollutants.
The cars are not facing recall at this time, the EPA said. VW did not indicate on Friday how it will address the issue.
The EPA has the authority to order VW to recall the vehicles. However, that process could take up to a year, depending on the complexity of the issue, an EPA official said.
The diesel-powered vehicles involved from the 2009 to 2015 model years are the VW Jetta, VW Beetle, VW Golf and the Audi A3, as well as the VW Passat from model years 2014 and 2015.
VW in North America has heavily marketed its vehicles as being “clean diesel.”
In a television commercial that has aired frequently this year in the United States, VW says it is the “No. 1 diesel car brand in America,” brags its cars are “clean diesel” and asks viewers, “Isn’t it time for German engineering?”
Chances are, Volkswagen is not going to owe the entire $18 billion. Some sort of settlement will be reached. But you have to wonder how they’re going to fix all 482,000 cars. You can’t have vehicles on the road spewing 40 times the legal amount of pollutants. The company is going to pay for their trickery and pay heavily.
If I had stock in Volkswagen, I’d dump it in a Dusseldorf minute.
The Vatican has taken issue with some of the guests invited to meet the pope at the White House during his visit to the U.S. next week.
In a shocking display of boorishness, the White House has invited a controversial nun who has been silent about abortion, a gay Episcopal bishop who was once in a same-sex marriage, and a transgender woman who heads a Catholic organization for transgender rights.
Also, there have been no invitations to anti-abortion activists.
Why does the president want to show up the pope?
According to a senior Vatican official, the Holy See worries that any photos of the pope with these guests at the White House welcoming ceremony next Wednesday could be interpreted as an endorsement of their activities.
The tension exemplifies concerns among conservative Catholics, including many bishops, that the White House will use the pope’s visit to play down its differences with church leaders on such contentious issues as same-sex marriage and the contraception mandate in the health care law.
The White House didn’t respond to requests for comment on the Vatican’s reaction to the ceremony’s guest list. White House press secretary Josh Earnest told reporters Thursday he was unaware of the names of individuals on the guest list, but cautioned against drawing any conclusions on specific guests “because there will be 15,000 other people there too.”
In the last few days, several people have acknowledged or made public their receipt of invitations to the event, which will be held on the White House’s South Lawn on the morning of Pope Francis’ first full day in the U.S.
Among the expected guests is Sister Simone Campbell, executive director of Network, a self-described “Catholic social justice lobby” in Washington.
A spokesman for Network, Joe Ward, said in an email message that the organization was unaware of any tension with the Vatican over the invitation to Sister Campbell.
In 2012, the Vatican’s doctrinal office cited ties to Network as one of its reasons for ordering an overhaul of the Leadership Council of Women Religious, an umbrella group that claims about 1,500 leaders of religious orders, representing 80% of U.S. nuns. That decision drew wide protests in the U.S. The overhaul ended in April, having effected few substantive changes.
Bishop Gene Robinson, who has also been invited to the pope’s welcoming ceremony, is a former Episcopal bishop of New Hampshire and the first openly gay Episcopal bishop in the U.S. He is also an ex-spouse in a same-sex marriage. He didn’t respond to a request for comment.
Another guest, Mateo Williamson, is a former co-head of the transgender caucus of Dignity USA, a group for LGBT Catholics. He said the Vatican’s disapproval of his presence at the ceremony “speaks to the necessity for continued dialogue” between transgender Catholics and the church hierarchy.
Is Obama ignorant of Catholic doctrine regarding same sex marriage, transgenderism, and abortion? Of course not. This is the gigantic pettiness of the man who seeks to embarrass his guest to make a domestic political point about “tolerance” and “diversity.”
Donald Trump has come under fire from both parties for his failure to respond to a question from a man at a townhall meeting that suggested President Obama was a Muslim and wasn’t born in the U.S.
Trump tried to answer without answering but his response did not come out as he intended.
We have a problem in this country. It’s called Muslims,” an unidentified man who spoke at a question-and-answer town hall event in Rochester, New Hampshire asked the mogul at a rally Thursday night. “You know our current president is one. You know he’s not even an American.”
A seemingly bewildered Trump interrupted the man, chuckling, “We need this question. This is the first question.”
“Anyway, we have training camps growing where they want to kill us,” the man, wearing a “Trump” T-shirt, continued. “That’s my question: When can we get rid of them?”
“We’re going to be looking at a lot of different things,” Trump replied. “You know, a lot of people are saying that and a lot of people are saying that bad things are happening. We’re going to be looking at that and many other things.”
The real estate mogul did not correct the questioner about his claims about Obama before moving on to another audience member.
Trump, a notorious birther himself, proved to be too inexperienced to slough off the question and move on. Obviously taken aback by the looniness of the questioner, he tried to be polite but ended up appearing to say, in effect, “I’ll look into that”:
Candidates meet all sorts of idiots on the campaign trail. Click, if you dare, to the next page to see a few more that showed up at that town hall..
The Commerce Department’s inspector general has issued a report showing that dozens of Census Bureau employees are billing the government for hours they didn’t work, defrauding taxpayers of more than $1.1 million.
The 40 officials were supposed to be performing background checks on the census personnel who walk door-to-door throughout the country to collect information about Americans. Instead, they “engaged in pervasive misconduct over several years,” according to an investigation by the Commerce Department’s inspector general.
The watchdog found at least one employee in the Census Bureau’s employment office who “used his official position as a personal hiring vehicle for friends and their families.”
That employee, who was not identified, “was involved in a sexual relationship” with a contractor he personally interviewed, hired and supervised.
He also launched a year-long campaign to get a job at the Census Bureau for his friend’s son, an effort that was apparently unsuccessful.
The inspector general found that dozens of employees claimed to have worked at least 19,162 hours during which they actually did not work at all between 2010-14. The “time and attendance abuse” drained nearly $1.1 million.
But after a whistleblower alerted the agency watchdog to the billing scheme, census officials attempted to “intimidate” anyone who was cooperating with the inspector general investigation.
Another unnamed employee repeatedly called the whistleblower a “coward” and a “chickens—,” among other names.
“At an office social event held for a [census employment office] employee, this employee held a knife in his hand to cut the cake and, while making a stabbing motion with his arm, said something to the effect of, ‘This is for who went to the OIG!’” the inspector general said.
Other employees of the office lied to investigators from the watchdog’s office, violating federal laws that bar officials from making false statements to inspectors general.
Beyond the widespread misconduct, the watchdog found “disturbing” evidence that many staff members were not performing adequate background checks on the prospective employees and contractors of the Census Bureau. For example, the inspector general discovered the staff had shared among themselves their boss’ password, allowing them to sign off on their own work rather than have it verified by management.
You might expect something like this from the Chicago political machine, not the US government. They’re supposed to have checks and balances to prevent this sort of thing. I guess if the manager is stupid enough not to guard his password, anything can happen.
Note the culture of corruption, the intimidation of whistleblowers, and the ease with which the scofflaws were able to game the system. While large corporations have personnel problems, I daresay that regular and detailed audits would have discovered this kind of fraud fairly quickly.
Instead, it took 4 years before the crimes came to light. Whenever I read stories like this, it makes me wonder how many other departments and agencies have similar gamesmanship going on with federal employees. Incompetent management leads to crimes of opportunity and the federal government has that in abundance.
What got into Ann Coulter last night during the debate? Over a period of about two hours, she tweeted vile, anti-Semitic statements, dissed evangelicals, and accused the GOP candidates of “pandering” to Jews, anti-abortion activists, and evoking the memory of Reagan.
How many f—ing Jews do these people think there are in the United States?
— Ann Coulter (@AnnCoulter) September 17, 2015
She suggested that all the pro-Israel talk was “to suck up to evangelicals.”
Maybe it’s to suck up to the Evangelicals.
— Ann Coulter (@AnnCoulter) September 17, 2015
All GOPs = prolife, pro-Reagan, pro-Israel. Pandering on all 3 tonight was EPIC. https://t.co/lZ0ZUtVdSf
— Ann Coulter (@AnnCoulter) September 17, 2015
I like the Jews, I like fetuses, I like Reagan. Didn’t need to hear applause lines about them all night. https://t.co/4guFehK0CM
— Ann Coulter (@AnnCoulter) September 17, 2015
Coulter’s star has fallen precipitously the last few years and as it has descended, she has sought to become once again the edgy provocateur that aided her rise to the top of political punditry.
But as I pointed out several years ago, once you start down the road of going “over the top” to please your fans, you fall into a trap. How can you top “over the top”?
In the end, this is Coulter’s dilemma. And the great trap she has set for herself as she has climbed the ladder of success to achieve fame and fortune. In this celebrity, media soaked age where the ravenous appetites of the news nets, “lifestyle” shows, and political talk radio are constantly demanding more and more controversy, more and more outrageous personalities to fill the time and attract more audience, the danger for any one personality like Coulter is that yesterday’s jaw droppers and head shakers can’t be repeated. She must come up with entirely new derogatory sobriquets to call her political opponents and ever more outrageous metaphors to describe her political pet peeves. By definition, she must go “over the top” on nearly a daily basis.
This way lies madness. Once people like Coulter start down this road it can only end in one way; you become a caricature of yourself. The barbs that once zinged your opponents with razor sharp wit causing even your political enemies to chuckle will lose their edge and end up as simple, hurtful, name calling more akin to playground epithets and hardly worthy of approbation except by your most rabid fans.
Hence, jokes about Bill Clinton’s sexual escapades morph into daydreaming about assassinating a President. And spot on, uproariously funny critiques of racialsm and the stupidity of identity politics segues easily into ethnic slurs. She has little choice if she wishes to remain atop the rickety pyramid of notorious celebrity she has carved out for herself. To do less would disappoint her numerous acolytes whose immaturity allows for giving her standing ovations when she casually refers to Arabs in a politically incorrect way.
Trying to hide the embarrassing news for weeks, a CENTCOM commander has finally come clean on the numbers of US trained Syria rebels actually fighting.
Out of the 54 original fighters trained by the US, General Lloyd Austin told a Senate hearing that “we’re talking 4 or 5″ who are left. The rest have been killed captured, or deserted.
And there are only about 200 fighters being trained by the US now. This means the $500 million program which was supposed to train more than 5,000 rebels this year has fallen “astoundingly short” as ABC News points out.
No more than five U.S.-trained Syrian rebels are fighting the Islamic State, astoundingly short of the envisioned 5,000, the top U.S. commander in the Middle East told angry lawmakers on Wednesday. They branded the training program “a total failure.”
After the first 54 fighters were sent in to fight in July, a Syrian affiliate of al-Qaida attacked the group, killing several and taking others hostage while many fled. Asked how many remain, Gen. Lloyd Austin told the Senate Armed Services Committee, “It’s a small number. … We’re talking four or five.”
Congress has approved $500 million to train Syrian fighters, and officials have said fewer than 200 are going through training now. One of the problems has been that many Syrian fighters want training and equipment to fight the government forces of President Bashar Assad, but the U.S. program is limited to rebels who agree to only battle the militants.
The stunning admission from Austin came as defense officials scrambled separately to respond to allegations that they skewed intelligence assessments to give a rosier picture of conditions on the battlefield.
The Obama administration was already struggling to defend its military strategy to “destroy and degrade” the terrorist group with an air campaign and programs to train, assist and equip local forces. Lawmakers and Republican presidential candidates have assailed the administration, contending that it has had limited or no success in fighting the militants.
“We have to acknowledge this is a total failure,” Sen. Jeff Sessions, R-Ala., said about the training. “I wish it weren’t so, but that’s the fact.”
Austin told committee members that the U.S. was looking at better ways to deploy the Syrian forces, but he admitted the U.S. was not even close to reaching its goal of training 5,000-plus in the near term. He predicted it would take years to defeat IS and to restore stability in Iraq and Syria.
“OK. So we’re counting on our fingers and toes at this point when we had envisioned 5,400 by the end of the year,” lamented Sen. Claire McCaskill, D-Mo.
Defense Secretary Ash Carter said earlier this year that the training program was a ”critical and a complex part” of the effort to defeat ISIS. Apparently, too complex for some.
It’s all smoke and mirrors anyway. Austin revealed perhaps a little more than he wanted to when responding to questions about the invisible US trained rebel army:
“We should expect that there will be occasional setbacks along the way, particularly in the early stages,” he said. “And our partners, not us, are in the lead. It is taking a bit longer to get things done, but it must be this way if we are to achieve lasting and positive effects.”
“Leading from behind” — again.This is not about winning, it’s about running out the clock. Take a look at CENTCOM’s airstrikes today and tell me we’re trying to win:
* Near Mar’a, one airstrike struck an ISIL tactical unit.
* Near Abu Kamal, two airstrikes struck two ISIL oil field wellheads.
* Near Al Baghdadi, one airstrike destroyed three ISIL rocket rails.
* Near Bayji, two airstrikes struck one large and one small ISIL tactical units, and destroyed three ISIL vehicles.
* Near Fallujah, one airstrike struck an ISIL tactical unit and destroyed three ISIL rockets.
* Near Hit, one airstrike struck an ISIL tactical unit.
* Near Kirkuk, one airstrike struck an ISIL tactical unit and destroyed an ISIL fighting position.
* Near Mosul, two airstrikes struck an ISIL tactical unit and destroyed an ISIL heavy machine gun and 12 ISIL fighting positions.
* Near Sinjar, two airstrikes struck two ISIL tactical units and destroyed an ISIL motor tube and three ISIL fighting positions.
* Near Sultan Abdallah, one airstrike struck an ISIL tactical unit and destroyed an ISIL fighting position
Vehicles…rocket rails…”tactical units”…I understand the desire to avoid civilian casualties, but this is ludicrous. The most powerful air force in the world reduced to blowing up pick up trucks and homemade rocket launchers. Pathetic.
Meanwhile, ISIS continues to fend off the Iraqi army in front of Ramadi as the “offensive” to retake the city hasn’t even gotten started. This is another place the Obama administration is treading water, hoping the Iraqis can hang on until he’s out of office.
This is what passes for grand strategy in the White House.
There is an excellent article from the print edition of National Review that was posted online due to its timeliness. The author, Stephanos Bibas, is a professor of law and criminology at the University of Pennsylvania and has also served as a federal prosecutor.
Bibas explodes many of the liberal myths about “mass incarceration” — not the least of which is that people are in jail because they committed a crime, not because police are roaming the streets herding people into prisons. Somehow, the liberal narrative about mass incarceration never gets around to the fact that most felons are in prison for committing violent crimes.
Two days later, Obama became the first sitting president to visit a prison. Speaking immediately after his visit, the president blamed mandatory drug sentencing as a “primary driver of this mass-incarceration phenomenon.” To underscore that point, he met with half a dozen inmates at the prison, all of whom had been convicted of nonviolent drug offenses. Three days earlier, he had commuted the federal prison terms of 46 nonviolent drug offenders, most of whom had been sentenced to at least 20 years’ imprisonment.
The president is echoing what liberal criminologists and lawyers have long charged. They blame our prison boom on punitive, ever-longer sentences tainted by racism, particularly for drug crimes. Criminologists coined the term “mass incarceration” or “mass imprisonment” a few decades ago, as if police were arresting and herding suspects en masse into cattle cars bound for prison. Many blame this phenomenon on structural racism, as manifested in the War on Drugs.
Indeed, as Bibas points out, the truth of the matter is pretty much the opposite:
President Obama’s and Alexander’s well-known narrative, however, doesn’t fit the facts. Prison growth has been driven mainly by violent and property crime, not drugs. As Fordham law professor John Pfaff has shown, more than half of the extra prisoners added in the 1980s, 1990s, and 2000s were imprisoned for violent crimes; two thirds were in for violent or property crimes. Only about a fifth of prison inmates are incarcerated for drug offenses, and only a sliver of those are in for marijuana. Moreover, many of these incarcerated drug offenders have prior convictions for violent crimes. The median state prisoner serves roughly two years before being released; three quarters are released within roughly six years.
For the last several decades, arrest rates as a percentage of crimes — including drug arrests — have been basically flat, as have sentence lengths. What has driven prison populations, Pfaff proves convincingly, is that arrests are far more likely to result in felony charges: Twenty years ago, only three eighths of arrests resulted in felony charges, but today more than half do. Over the past few decades, prosecutors have grown tougher and more consistent.
In other words, as the public demanded a better law enforcement and justice system, we have gotten more bang for the buck. Prosecutors have slapped felony charges on offenders more often, thus sending more people to prison.
Despite what the activists complain about, taking violent felons off the streets has had a huge impact on the drop in violent crime, making neighborhoods and communities safer.
But after destroying the liberal narrative on mass incarceration, Bibas takes conservatives to task for not supporting the kinds of reforms that would, if not rehabilitate, make it less likely that a felon would end up back in prison.
The Texas Nationalist Movement is gathering signatures to place the question of whether the state of Texas should secede from the United States and revert back to an independent country on the Republican primary ballot next March.
And here we go again. The TNM is totally peaceful, but totally wrong on the question of secession. No state — even Texas, which existed as an independent country for several years before joining the union — can secede. The issue has been decided by both law and blood.
But that apparently won’t stop some folks from making fools of themselves.
The Nederland-based Texas independence group is circulating a petition aimed at getting a non-binding vote onto the GOP primary ballot over whether “the state of Texas should reassert its status as an independent nation.”
Their goal? 75,000 signatures from registered voters by Dec. 1 — more than the 66,894 the Texas Secretary of State’s office says the group needs to get the language on the ballot.
Even if the Texas Nationalist Movement gets enough signatures, such a vote would be little more than symbolic. Academics agree that Texas cannot secede from the United States, and point to a post-Civil War Supreme Court ruling, Texas v. White, as evidence.
But that hasn’t stopped the Republican Party of Texas from rolling its eyes at the secessionists. Texas GOP communications director Aaron Whitehead said the Republican party certainly doesn’t welcome outside groups trying to doctor the party ballot.
“Historically the executive committee of the Republican Party has chosen what goes on this,” Whitehead said, “and it’s party preference that it stays that way.”
The Texas Nationalist Movement, which hasn’t yet verified how many signatures it has, doesn’t buy the argument that the state can’t secede. Daniel Miller, the group’s president, points to the state Constitution, and in particular, the provision that gives Texans the right to “alter, reform or abolish their government in such manner as they may think expedient.”
Miller said the group is going around the state party because past interactions with the GOP weren’t fruitful.
“We have had our hand slapped,” Miller said. “We have been rebuffed, and not just us as an organization, but essentially anyone in any position inside the party that has advocated for this position has been rebuffed.”
Whitehead said there is zero relationship between the GOP and the secessionists, and added that his response to such a ballot proposal would be the same if it were “a resolution giving everybody a unicorn or a resolution for secession.”
If the Texas Nationalist Movement does get the signatures it needs, the Secretary of State’s office says it will be the first time a referendum from a citizen group is put on the Republicans’ statewide primary ballot. Miller acknowledges a majority vote for the referendum wouldn’t be binding, but hopes it would be enough evidence of support to get state leaders to take the issue seriously long-term.
Wikipedia says that the TNM has grown significantly in recent years:
Until about 2009, the group was dismissed by most news organizations in Texas and elsewhere, lumped in with other anti-government and anti-income tax protestors. Since that time, the organization’s membership has significantly increased as it gained visibility from the prominence of the Tea Party movement and after Texas governor Rick Perry’s comments in response to a large crowd chanting “Secede, secede!” Miller reports that membership rose again in 2012, especially a couple of weeks before the November presidential election, increasing 400 percent from then until early 2013, with web traffic up 9000 percent, but did not give specific numbers.
A few years back, a Russian professor predicted the breakup of the United States in 2010. We all laughed and made fun of the crackpot.
I’ve got good news about the Special Operations forces military exercise designated Jade Helm 15. You may recall the many conspiracy theories surrounding the exercise, mostly centered on the notion that the Special Operations forces were rehearsing for a government takeover of Texas in advance of declaring martial law. That theory was buttressed by a map showing several southwestern states marked as “hostile territory.”
Well,, you can relax…mostly. The Pentagon announced that the exercise is now over.
“At this time, we do not have any lessons learned to share since we have not yet conducted an after-action review of the exercise, but we do believe the exercise overall was a success,” Nagl said in an e-mail.
As initially detailed in planning documents, the exercise was to include elite service members from four military branches. It eventually was reduced to include 200 Special Operations forces and an additional 300 support personnel for most of the exercise, with about 700 hundred members of the Army’s 82nd Airborne Division traveling to Texas to train as part of Jade Helm for about five days in August.
The story began garnering attention in March, after planning slides for the exercise, likely prepared for government officials in Texas, began circulating online. They labeled Texas, Utah and a section of southern California as hostile territory, and New Mexico as uncertain territory leaning hostile.
The military has routinely held training exercises like Jade Helm in the past. But this one took on a life of its own before it even began. An informational meeting attended by citizens and local government officials in Bastrop, Tex., in April generated national attention after several people accused the federal government of preparing for a takeover.
Texas Gov. Greg Abbott (R) ordered the Texas State Guard, a militia he oversees, to monitor the exercise. He said he did so to address the concerns of Texans, but was mocked by some critics for giving voice to conspiracy theories.
Abbott was laughed at, but he was only being prudent. Not about a possible military takeover but because of the growing hysteria fanned by radical right-wing websites and talk show hosts. The way things were going, it was not impossible for an armed confrontation between citizens and soldiers. So Abbott’s statements were designed to lower the temprature.
One such website posted “evidence” that the government was getting ready to hand the southwest back to Mexico:
“Report Of Foreign Tanks Coming Into US From Mexico As Jade Helm 15 Aligns Perfectly With ‘Aztlan’ States – Is The US Preparing To Give 7 States Back To Mexico?”
I’m sure the conspiracy-theory nutcases and paranoids will crow about stopping this nefarious plan by shedding light on it. The loons forced the government to alter their plans thanks to their vigilance and farsightedness, we’ll be told.
You can’t challenge the delusions of the delusional so there’s no sense in trying to reason with them. But perhaps it’s not entirely their fault. Perhaps they believe America has become a country where such a thing is possible.
I still think that’s loony tunes, but when you have a president who routinely skirted the law and prorogued Congress, a fevered imagination can take flight, posting all sorts of possibilities.
But truthfully, most should have known better.
In Jim Geraghty’s “Morning Jolt” email, he talks about the praise bestowed on Donald Trump by Rush Limbaugh:
Rush read aloud a good portion of last week’s article, “The Words Donald Trump Doesn’t Use,” and concluded . . .
I must say, as the Mr. Big of the vast right-wing conspiracy, the headline, the words Trump doesn’t use, in my humble — and I do have humility — opinion, misses the point about Trump. I will admit, Trump doesn’t talk about liberty. But he sure as hell practices it, doesn’t he? I mean, there doesn’t seem to be any limits or boundaries out there. He’s not constrained by political correctness. He has escaped the surly bonds of that. That’s liberty and freedom. He’s not constrained by onerous local, state, federal laws. He’s made billions of dollars despite them. He’s made millions of dollars with a reality TV show, which is the belly of the pop-culture beast. I mean, he’s swimming around in the bowels of it in there, folks, doing a reality TV show. I mean, that’s like living with Jerry Springer.
He doesn’t avoid the media. He goes wherever they throw a camera or microphone in his face. Rolling Stone, he’ll go anywhere. He engages when some would suggest that he head for the bunker. I think to his supporters — and I’m not trying to be contentious here — I think to his supporters, Trump embodies. I think people wish they had the courage and the guts or whatever to be as free as Trump is. Free to speak his mind. Free to do what he thinks. This is before people start judging it.
Limbaugh repeats the carefully crafted narrative about Trump — the fearless buccaneer tycoon, who through brains, skill, and sheer chutzpah has amassed a fortune that few can match.
In the immortal words of Defense Secretary Albert Nimzicki from the film Independence Day, “That’s not entirely accurate.”
In essence, Trump represents everything that’s wrong with capitalism today. He did not beat the market by means of his superior negotiating skills, or any gifted insights into business opportunities, although like all successful people, he lucked out on occasion.
The Socialist vs. The Tycoon. Mr. Green Jeans vs. The Celebrity Insulter. The Radical vs. The Extremist.
Is it possible that we’re headed for the most bizarre, the most distressing, the most unthinkable presidential race in history?
A Donald Trump vs. Bernie Sanders contest in November of 2016 is no longer the stuff of nightmares and late-night talk show hosts’ monologue jokes.
It is the year in the western world of the “un-politician.” The establishment, or the elites, or whatever you want to call them have just about exhausted whatever influence and power they wielded over ordinary citizens due to a nauseating combination of incompetence, cronyism, and corruption. Alex Tsipras in Greece, Pablo Iglesias in Spain, Jeremy Corbyn in Great Britain, and Bernie Sanders and Donald Trump in America — these men are connected by their outsiderness, their disconnect from the power structures that have failed the masses so spectacularly.
Trump tops his nearest Republican rival, Dr. Ben Carson — another outsider — by 28 points in New Hampshire, 15 points in South Carolina, and 4 points in Iowa. Sanders is beating Clinton by a whopping 22 points in New Hampshire, 10 points in Iowa, and is losing to Clinton is South Carolina by 23.
The German government has finally been mugged by reality and will reimpose border controls that were lifted — to much praise and fanfare — last month. At least temporarily, only those with valid visas will be allowed into the country. They have also stopped all trains coming into the country from Austria.
How long the pause in continuing their open-borders policy will be is up in the air. The German states most affected by the crisis, including Bavaria, are stretched beyond their limits in trying to care for the flood of humanity. The government says that this pause will allow the states to catch their breath and replenish stocks needed to feed, clothe, and house the refugees.
But it may be longer. There is a growing backlash from ordinary Germans who are growing increasingly alarmed that their government’s heart is cashing checks its people can’t afford.
The emergency measures are designed to give some respite to Germany’s federal states who are responsible for looking after refugees. There is also discussion inside the government about sending troops to the border with Austria, to reinforce security, Der Spiegel reports.
The move comes amid extraordinary scenes at Munich’s main train station over the weekend and a growing backlash inside Germany over the decision last week by the chancellor, Angela Merkel, to allow unregistered refugees to enter the country.
On Saturday, 13,015 refugees arrived at the station on trains from Austria. Another 1,400 came on Sunday morning. The city’s mayor, Dieter Reiter, said Munich was “full”, with its capacities completely exhausted. Some refugees slept on the station concourse on Saturday night.
Germany’s surprise move comes amid bitter division inside the EU over how to deal with the tens of thousands of refugees arriving in Europe, in the continent’s worst refugee crisis for 70 years. On Sunday, east European countries again insisted they would not accept a plan for mandatory refugee quotas.
Interior ministers from the EU’s 28 states are meeting in Brussels on Monday. They will discuss a plan set out last week by Jean-Claude Juncker, the European commission chief, to redistribute 160,000 asylum seekers across the bloc. The refugees would be allocated to each country on the basis of its size and wealth.
Germany, Austria and France support the proposal. But they face opposition from other EU states including Hungary, Slovakia, the Czech Republic and Poland. On Sunday, the Czech prime minister, Bohuslav Sobotka, said: “I think it is impossible to retreat. Our position is firm.”
Greek authorities, meanwhile, say 28 people have drowned, half of them children, after their wooden smuggling boat capsized in the Aegean sea. The incident happened before dawn on Sunday off the Greek island of Farmakonisi. The Greek coastguard pulled 68 people out of the water. Another 30 managed to swim to land.
Hungary’s prime minister, Viktor Orbán, has blamed Berlin for the crisis, and Merkel’s decision to open Germany’s borders. Budapest is racing to complete a fence on its border with Serbia, where 4,330 people crossed on Saturday. On Tuesday, it introduces tough laws which make crossing the border punishable with jail.
The head of the Iranian atomic-energy program announced that surveys of potential uranium sources within the country have yielded an unexpectedly high amount of reserves of the ore.
Previously, it was believed Iran had nearly tapped out its recoverable uranium ore from existing mines. But a nationwide aerial survey reveals far more ore than was thought.
Any indication Iran could become more self-sufficient will be closely watched by world powers, which reached a landmark deal with Tehran in July over its program. They had feared the nuclear activities were aimed at acquiring the capability to produce atomic weapons – something denied by Tehran.
“I cannot announce (the level of) Iran’s uranium mine reserves. The important thing is that before aerial prospecting for uranium ores we were not too optimistic, but the new discoveries have made us confident about our reserves,” Iranian nuclear chief Ali Akbar Salehi was quoted as saying by state news agency IRNA.
Salehi said uranium exploration had covered almost two-thirds of Iran and would be complete in the next four years.
Uranium can be used for civilian power production and scientific purposes, but is also a key ingredient in nuclear weapons.
The July deal between Iran and world powers will lift international sanctions on Iran in exchange for at least a decade of curbs on the country’s nuclear activity.
The U.S. State Department said any new reserves of uranium discovered in Iran will be under the same monitoring as existing mines under the nuclear agreement.
“Any violation of that commitment would be met with the appropriate response,” State Department spokesman John Kirby said in a statement.
After decades of effort, Iran – which has consistently said its program is for peaceful purposes – has achieved a full nuclear fuel cycle, ranging from the extraction of uranium ore to enrichment and production of fuel rods for nuclear reactors.
Sanctions on companies taking part in Iran’s uranium mining industry will be lifted when the agreement is implemented.
Salehi said uranium extraction was set to begin at a new mine in the central province of Yazd, according to IRNA.
Some Western analysts have previously said that Iran was close to exhausting its supply of yellowcake – or raw uranium – and that mining it domestically was not cost-efficient.
A report published in 2013 by U.S. think-tanks Carnegie Endowment and the Federation of American Scientists said the scarcity and low quality of Iran’s uranium resources compelled it “to rely on external sources of natural and processed uranium”.
It added: “Despite the Iranian leadership’s assertions to the contrary, Iran’s estimated uranium endowments are nowhere near sufficient to supply its planned nuclear program.”
That report points up the difficulties in predicting when Iran could achieve a nuclear breakout. We just don’t know and Iran is not going to be forthcoming in telling us how much uranium they have, how pure it is, and whether it would be profitable enough to mine.
Is this a game changer? No, but it should be significantly worrisome to those in and out of government who wish to prevent Iran from going nuclear. One way to potentially control the Iranian nuclear program would have been to limit its access to foreign sources of uranium. At the very least, we’d be able to better keep track of how much uranium they had on hand. Now, the Iranians are only constrained in how much uranium they take out of the ground by how closely their mining program is monitored.
And like everything else in the Iran deal, it doesn’t inspire confidence that we have to depend on that inspections regime to keep the Iranians at bay.
A thirteen-year-old Maryland middle school student was arrested and charged with second-degree assault after kissing a classmate on a dare.
A 13-year-old Baltimore middle school boy is facing a second-degree assault charge as a juvenile after he allegedly kissed a classmate without her permission.
Baltimore County police officers and Baltimore County school officials responded to a report of an assault between two eighth-grade students this week at Pikesville Middle School, local Fox station WBFF reported.
School officials said the boy kissed the 14-year-old girl when some of his classmates dared him to.
No one was injured in the incident and school officials said they would handle any disciplinary actions, such as suspension or expulsion from the school, WBFF reported.
The incident has some parents questioning the severity of the boy’s punishment.
“I don’t know if an unwanted kiss is a second-degree assault of a person,” on parents of a Pikesville student told WBFF.
Another parent suggested school officials should have called the parents of the children in to discuss the issue together, rather than call the police.
There is a temptation to minimize this incident because of the age of the boy. We shouldn’t. The young man acted in an inappropriate manner and he needs to realize that in no uncertain terms.
Having said that, what knucklehead administrator called the police? How is this a police matter? To criminalize inappropriate behavior is ridiculous and I’d love to hear the reasoning of the school in charging a 13-year-old boy with assault.
I think the idea of calling in the parents of both children to handle the matter is more to the point. A suspension of the boy for a few days is appropriate, but beyond that, are you going to try to convict the kid, giving him a criminal record?
I swear I don’t understand why school administrators constantly overreact to every little thing that happens at their schools. Common sense and logic don’t seem to be a requirement when applying for an administrative position at a U.S. public school.
A suburban Chicago woman accused the office supply giant Office Depot of refusing to photocopy a flyer containing an anti-abortion prayer. What was the store’s rationale for refusing to copy the prayer?
Last month, Maria Goldstein, 42, ordered 500 copies of “A Prayer for the Conversion of Planned Parenthood” at an Office Depot in Schaumburg to distribute at her parish the following Sunday. The handout also included statistics about abortion in the U.S. and at Planned Parenthood, a non-profit organization that provides women’s and reproductive health services.
The prayer, composed by the Rev. Frank Pavone, national director of Priests for Life, an anti-abortion group, calls on God to “Bring an end to the killing of children in the womb, and bring an end to the sale of their body parts. Bring conversion to all who do this, and enlightenment to all who advocate it.”
The prayer also decries “the evil that has been exposed in Planned Parenthood and in the entire abortion industry.”
Karen Denning, a spokeswoman for Office Depot, said company policy prohibits “the copying of any type of material that advocates any form of racial or religious discrimination or the persecution of certain groups of people. It also prohibits copying any type of copyrighted material.”
“The flier contained material that advocates the persecution of people who support abortion rights,” Denning said.
But Goldstein said the goal of the weeklong prayer and fasting campaign that took place last month was not to persecute but to change hearts. The campaign came amid calls by politicians to end public funding for Planned Parenthood in response to hidden-camera videos by anti-abortion activists who accused the nonprofit organization of trafficking fetal tissue.
That excuse is giggle worthy. A prayer equals “persecuting” Planned Parenthood? Get serious.
The CEO of Office Depot apparently saw the stupidity in his employee’s position and issued an apology:
“We sincerely apologize to Ms. (Maria) Goldstein for her experience and our initial reaction was not at all related to her religious beliefs,” Office Depot Chairman and CEO Roland Smith, said in a statement, the Chicago Tribune reports (http://trib.in/1Kb5StR ). “We invite her to return to Office Depot if she still wishes to print the flier.”
Goldstein, of Rolling Meadows, was invited to use the use the self-serve copy machines at Office Depot, Denning said. But Goldstein said that would have been an inconvenience, so she went to another shop to run her copies.
“I feel discriminated against,” Goldstein said.
Thomas Olp, a lawyer for the Chicago-based Thomas More Society, a public interest law group that represents Goldstein, sent a letter Thursday to Smith, asking the company to reconsider its policy and fill Goldstein’s copy order.
Goldstein told the Tribune on Friday that she hadn’t had time to process the company’s latest response.
“I need to take a step back and pray about it,” she said.
I recognize the liability of Office Depot for printing incendiary stuff, but a prayer? And stretching the point about “persecuting” anyone because of an effort to change someone’s mind on abortion is ridiculous. My guess is that the clerk at Office Depot who refused to photocopy the prayer is pro-choice and didn’t like some of the references in the prayer.
They can’t even claim that the prayer is discriminatory because it’s non-denominational. Needless to say, Office Depot should take a second look at that policy and train employees in enforcing it.
After suffering a humiliating and devastating defeat in the parliamentary elections last May, the British Labor Party took stock and did some soul searching. Ed Miliband resigned his position as party leader and several prominent Labor MPs lined up to succeed him.
But none of them counted on a little-known backbencher, an avowed socialist named Jeremy Corbyn.
Indeed, oddsmakers gave Corbyn a 200:1 shot of winning the leadership post. But Labor Party members apparently believe that they key to winning back power is to move to the left — way, way, way to the left. In this, they got their wish in Corbyn. who won a landslide victory in the 3-month long election for Labor Party chief.
He told BBC News he had been a “bit surprised” by the scale of his victory but his campaign had showed “politics can change and we have changed it”.
He will now select his shadow cabinet – but without a string of existing members including Ms Cooper, Tristram Hunt and Rachel Reeves – who have all ruled themselves out.
He has also hinted that he wants to change the format of Prime Minister’s Questions – he faces David Cameron across the despatch box for the first time on Wednesday – suggesting other Labour MPs might get a turn.
The Islington North MP won on the first round of voting in the leadership contest, taking 251,417 of the 422,664 votes cast – against 19% for Mr Burnham, 17% for Ms Cooper and 4.5% for Ms Kendall. Former minister and Gordon Brown ally Tom Watson was elected deputy leader.
Corbyn supporters chanted “Jez we did” as he took to the stage, putting on his glasses to deliver his acceptance speech.
The left-winger, who has spent his entire 32 year career in the Commons on the backbenches, promised to fight for a more tolerant and inclusive Britain – and to tackle “grotesque levels of inequality in our society”.
He said the leadership campaign “showed our party and our movement, passionate, democratic, diverse, united and absolutely determined in our quest for a decent and better society that is possible for all”.
“They are fed up with the inequality, the injustice, the unnecessary poverty. All those issues have brought people in, in a spirit of hope and optimism.”
He said his campaign had given the lie to claims that young Britons were apathetic about politics, showing instead that they were “a very political generation that were turned off by the way in which politics was being conducted – we have to, and must, change that”.
It’s not surprising that young people would flock to Corbyn. He uses the magic words “diverse,” “injustice,” and “inequality,” which are dog whistles to the youth of the west who have been programmed to respond positively no matter who is making those arguments.
And just who is Jeremy Corbyn and how far left is he really?
The BBC has an excellent rundown of Corbyn’s actual policy platform. It includes, among other things, renationalizing Britain’s railroad system and energy companies, abolishing tuition for British universities, and imposing rent controls to deal with Britain’s affordable housing problem. He’s even open to reopening the coal mines that used to be a big part of Britain’s economy. It’s essentially a throwback to the unreconstructed socialism — the real thing, way beyond Bernie Sanders — of the old-school British Labour Party, which used to be way more into the idea of the government controlling huge sectors of the economy.
Some of Corbyn’s ideas are more appealing than others. Most importantly, he wants to end Britain’s austerity spending cuts, which damaged the UK’s recovery from the Great Recession. He also proposes something called “people’s quantitative easing,” in which the Bank of England would print money to invest in infrastructure projects. This won him praise from the Financial Times‘s Matthew Klein, who described it as a good way to get money into the hands of ordinary Brits and thus stimulate the economy.
Corbyn’s positions on foreign policy are more extreme. He wants to withdraw from NATO, abolish the UK’s nuclear arsenal, and has suggested that Blair could face a war crimes trial for his role in the Iraq War. His position on Ukraine echoes the Kremlin’s:He’s written that Russian expansionism “is not unprovoked” and that “the obsession with cold war politics that exercises the Nato and EU leaderships is fueling the crisis.”
Notoriously, Corbyn once referred to members of Hamas and Hezbollah as “friends,” and invited Hamas representatives to speak in Parliament. Here are the comments, from a 2009 speech he gave as a patron of the Palestine Solidarity Campaign:
It will be my pleasure and honor to host an event in Parliament where our friends from Hezbollah will be speaking. I’ve also invited our friends from Hamas to come and speak as well. … So far as I’m concerned, that is absolutely the right function of using Parliamentary facilities.
Al Qaeda leader Ayman al-Zawahiri is apparently a little miffed that Islamic State has grabbed most of the publicity when it comes to evil deeds and evildoers. Plus, he’s upset that Islamic State leader Abu Bakr al-Baghdadi went ahead and set up his very own 10th-century caliphate without consulting him.
Accordingly, al-Zawahiri has declared war on ISIS because they “did not consult Muslims” before al-Baghdadi proclaimed himself “Caliph.”
“Abu Bakr al-Baghdadi and his brothers did not leave us a choice, for they have demanded that all the mujahideen reject their confirmed pledges of allegiance, and to pledge allegiance to them for what they claim of a caliphate,” he said, further accusing the Islamic State leader of “sedition,” according to the U.K.’s Mirror.
The Islamic State was formally renounced by al Qaeda shortly before it started making huge territorial gains in Syria and Iraq in the summer of 2014, but Zawahiri, who succeeded Osama bin Laden in 2011, seems to have taken it a step further this week.
The Islamic State grew out of the former al Qaeda in Iraq, which throttled coalition forces and the civilian population of Iraq in the middle of the last decade.
The Washington Examiner reported earlier this month on how al Qaeda and its affiliates have begun fighting the Islamic State in Syria and elsewhere, and that former General David Petraeus, made famous by his “surge” in the Iraq War and leading a “counterinsurgency” in Afghanistan, thinks the U.S. should consider siding with an al Qaeda group, al-Nusra, fighting the Islamic State in Syria.
There is nothing new about this, as al-Qaeda/al-Nusra in Syria and Islamic State have been at loggerheads for most of the civil war, fighting several pitched battles. They reached a truce of sorts last year, but it fell apart in short order.
The two terrorist groups want to dominate a Syrian failed state. But elsewhere, al-Qaeda affiliates are being confronted by a growing Islamic State presence in places like Yemen, Afghanistan, and Libya. Is there room for two publicity-seeking terror groups in the same country?
The ideological differences don’t seem to matter as much as the personality conflict. Al-Zawahiri thinks Baghdadi is too big for his britches and needs to be taken down a peg or two. Baghdadi obviously thinks he should be the leader of radical Islamists and is willing to fight to prove it.
As long as they’re busy killing each other, they’ll have less time to make trouble elsewhere.
Former Texas Governor Rick Perry is out of money, out of staff, and now out of the presidential race.
Perry will tell members of the Eagle Forum that his second campaign for the presidency is over. The writing has been on the wall for a couple of months as his entire paid staff resigned or were let go and fundraising dried up.
“When I gave my life to Christ, I said, ‘your ways are greater than my ways. Your will superior to mine,’ Perry will tell the audience at the Eagle Forum’s summit, according to prepared remarks. “Today I submit that His will remains a mystery, but some things have become clear. That is why today I am suspending my campaign for the presidency of the United States.”
Perry becomes the first 2016 presidential candidate to suspend their campaign.
In an interview last month, as the campaign stopped paying staffers amid mounting money woes, Perry’s team insisted it saw a path forward that would keep the former Texas governor’s candidacy alive through to the start of next year’s caucuses and primaries.
“At the end of the day, it’s not the national poll numbers that will dictate who our nominee is,” said campaign manager Jeff Miller. “It’s who can perform well in these early states.”
The Perry campaign reported raising $1.14 million in the second quarter of this year and on July 15 reported having $883,913 on hand.
Meanwhile, Perry’s well-funded allied super PACs expanded their operations to compensate for the campaign’s shortcomings. The Opportunity and Freedom PACs, which had raised nearly $17 million and initially planned to focus on paid television advertisements, also said it would be building a ground game in Iowa.
But Iowa campaign chairman Sam Clovis quit earlier this month.
“I feel bad for the campaign and I feel bad for Governor Perry because I think he’s a marvelous human being, he’s a great man and it was my honor to be a part of this, but it was just time to move on,” said Clovis.
Perry had struggled to rise in polls, and failed to qualify for last month’s prime-time debate in Cleveland — a clear setback. He appeared in the undercard debate, only to see Fiorina, a former technology executive, have what many observers considered a breakout performance.
Perry is certainly a talented politician but in both 2012 and today, he was never able to harness his gifts and present himself as a viable candidate. At times in 2012, he appeared unprepared and ill at ease. This time around, he was never able to break from the pack and offer anything that would allow him to stand out.
As of now there are at least two other candidates running vanity campaigns. Jim Gilmore and Lindsey Graham don’t have a prayer and frankly, never did. But they don’t need money or paid staff to get TV face time.
Perry was an intriguing candidate who probably won’t be considered for the vice presidential nomination. With Texas in the bag and other conservatives who could bring a state with them if they joined the ticket, Perry will be on the sidelines when the 2016 campaign begins in earnest.
Donald Trump’s signature campaign promise — to deport all illegal aliens — will take from eighteen months to two years, according to the candidate. Trump told Alabama Republicans that the time frame was doable with “really good management.”
The Alabama Republican Party hosted the dial-in call with Mr. Trump Thursday night as part of series with the 2016 presidential candidates. Ben Carson, Jeb Bush, Carly Fiorina and Texas Sen. Ted Cruz have also participated.
On the call, Mr. Trump was asked for details about how long it would take to round up illegal immigrants living in the U.S., with the questioner asking if five or ten years was an appropriate timeframe. Mr. Trump said his two year benchmark could be met with “really good management.”
“We have to get them out. If we have wonderful cases, they can come back in but they have to come back in legally,” Mr. Trump said in an audio clip posted on YouTube Thursday night by a person on the call.
Mr. Trump’s plan has been denounced by Democrats and many rival Republicans, who have called it impractical and immoral, among other criticisms.
Mr. Trump said he would remove illegal immigrants from the country “so fast that your head will spin,” and long before he could embark on his plan to build a wall spanning the 1,900 mile border between the U.S. and Mexico.
Mr. Trump also attacked Mr. Carson, and said the neurosurgeon couldn’t achieve the same results on immigration.
“It wouldn’t work for him because he has absolutely no management capability,” Mr. Trump said.
The two men have led some recent GOP polls, and Mr. Trump has stepped up his attacks of the neurosurgeon this week. Mr. Carson, in response, questioned the depth of Mr. Trump’s faith during a rally Wednesday night.
Zach Bowman, the director of voter engagement for the Alabama GOP, confirmed that call the call took place and that Mr. Trump laid out the timeline for his immigration proposal. Mr. Trump also stated that he would release a tax plan in the next three weeks, Mr. Bowman said.
A spokeswoman for Mr. Trump didn’t immediately return a request for comment.
So how would this human round-up work? In practical terms, think of how many additional agents and bureaucrats would have to be hired to capture, process, and deport 11 million people in 2 years. Let’s give a nice round estimate at 250,000 new employees at ICE. That would make them one of the largest agencies in the federal government.
And you can say goodbye to to any semblance of budget control. The round ups will be expensive, although perhaps we could draft local law enforcement to help out. But then we have to build all those concentration camps to keep the illegals penned up so they don’t escape before we can deport them.
And speaking of deportation, just how are we going to get the illegals back home? Maybe we could ask their governments to come pick them up. More likely, we’re going to have to put them on planes, trains, and buses.
How many casualties can we accept in rounding them up? Dozens? Hundreds? Thousands? Perhaps we should give some thought to the notion that there will be resistance to the round up and deportations. How many illegals are we willing to kill? How many agents are we prepared to lose?
And then what do we do with them when we get them where they belong? Do we just dump them by the side of the road? Let them off at the bus station? Perhaps we could charter some special trains — you know, with lots and lots of boxcars. As long as they have enough straw, it shouldn’t get too bad inside the cars.
What do you think would be the total cost of this operation? A hundred billion? Two hundred billion? And then we spend another $100 billion to build a wall.
Is Donald Trump an idiot? Or a liar? Judging by his belief that he could move 11 million people in 2 years out of the country, I would question his intelligence. By contrast, it’s taken 4 years of civil war, terrorism, and ISIS to send 11 million people moving out of Syria. The fact that he apparently doesn’t understand the human or economic cost of this reckless, inhuman effort — an effort that he has made painfully obvious to which he has not given a scintilla of thought — should disqualify him not only from the presidency, but from civilized company.
This is not a question of having “compassion” for illegals. “Compassion” by government for this group or that has resulted in catastrophe more often than not. It is a question of governance — the practical result of politics. It’s a political goal to deport 11 million illegals. But it matters hugely how that goal is put into the practical language of government — a language Trump is too ignorant to understand and too lazy to learn.
Arizona law enforcement authorities said that a bullet hole found in a semi-trailer truck was the 11th such attack on interstates in the last two weeks. There are two additional possible shootings that occurred earlier this morning that are under investigation.
Officials are unsure if all the attacks are connected, or even if there is only one shooter involved.
Seven attacks have involved gunfire, and the others “projectiles” that have not been positively identified, a DPS spokesman said in an update Thursday afternoon. BB or pellet guns are suspected in at least three cases, officials said earlier.
Windows have been shattered and doors pierced, but no one has been hurt in the sniper attacks that began Aug. 29. Nonetheless, truckers and motorists are on edge.
In the latest confirmed shooting, a driver found a bullet hole while inspecting his tractor-trailer about 9:40 a.m. PT Thursday at a warehouse off eastbound I-10 at 83rd Avenue in west Phoenix, the DPS said. It’s not known when or where the truck was hit.
Just before 6 a.m. a motorist reported one of his windows was shattered, possibly by a BB or pellet, while he drove eastbound near 83rd Avenue, a DPS spokesman told the Republic.
Investigators were also checking a tractor-trailer around 11:30 a.m for a possible gunshot at a truck stop about 16 blocks away.
A $20,000 reward is being offered for information leading to the arrest of the shooter or shooters.
In a statement Thursday, Gov. Doug Doucey said he was receiving updates from the head of the DPS, Col. Frank Milstead.
“The safety of Arizonans is our No. 1 priority, and we are committed to apprehending those responsible for these crimes,” Doucey said. “I ask all Arizonans to stay alert and contact authorities with any information that could lead to the arrest and prosecution of responsible parties. I assure you, this is the top the priority for the Department of Public Safety and the state of Arizona.”
It sounds like one shooter began the rampage but there is now at least one copycat. Would someone who uses a rifle switch to a BB gun? That doesn’t sound likely.
These highway sniper attacks are beginning to occur with alarming regularity. At the end of August there were several attacks in southern Michigan. In the spring, there were a series of shootings on Colorado interstates. And last year, there were more than 20 shootings on Missouri highways.
The two worst cases involving highway snipers were in Ohio in 2003 when 24 attacks occurred, killing one driver. And the infamous 2002 Beltway snipers who gunned down 10 people and seriously wounded 3 before being arrested and convicted. John Allen Muhammad (then aged 42) and Lee Boyd Malvo (then aged 17) were tried, with Mohammad being sentenced to death and executed. Malvo is serving six consecutive life terms.
You hope they catch the Arizona sniper sooner rather than later before he kills someone.
One of the most knowledgeable and respected political analysts in the country has changed his mind about Donald Trump, now believing the real estate tycoon is for real and is in it for the long haul.
Stuart Rothenberg first thought that “once Iowa Republicans start to see the caucuses as an opportunity to select the next president, rather than an opportunity to express their frustration and anger, they will turn away from Trump (and other outsiders) and toward politically experienced, mainstream contenders.”
But with the recent rise in Trump’s favorable rating, and after speaking with GOP strategists in Iowa, Rothenberg now believes Trump is a viable candidate.
Trump’s favorable rating jumped from 27 percent in the May Selzer & Company’s Iowa Poll for the Des Moines Register and Bloomberg Politics to 61 percent in the August 23-25 Selzer survey. At the same time, his unfavorable rating dropped from 63 percent to a more manageable 35 percent.
Trump’s positioning improved in other ways, as well. In May, a clear majority of likely Iowa Republican caucus-goers — 58 percent — said they could never support him. That number fell to 29 percent in the most recent Selzer poll.
Remarkably, more likely caucus attendees said they could never vote for Kentucky Sen. Rand Paul (43 percent), New Jersey Gov. Chris Christie (48 percent), Ohio Gov. John R. Kasich (40 percent), former Florida Gov. Jeb Bush (39 percent), former Texas Gov. Rick Perry (35 percent) and former Pennsylvania Sen. Rick Santorum (35 percent) than said they could never support Trump for president.
Trump’s image in Iowa has improved at the same time his flaws, shortcomings and liabilities have become more apparent. For now, however, many voters just don’t seem to care. The Trump persona is compelling.
A friend of mine who has spent many years in politics recently emailed me from a Florida airport after sitting next to two women who were lifelong Democrats but intended to vote for Trump.
“They think someone needs to fundamentally change the political culture. They believe his policies are less important than his no-bullshit posture. Amazing,” he wrote.
Veteran Republican strategists involved in the GOP race (and working for other candidates) now tell me they believe Trump is in the race for the long haul and can and will win delegates, starting in Iowa, given that contests before March 15 are required to award delegates on the basis of proportional representation.
Trump’s early strength among the party’s most conservative and frustrated voters could help him amass a substantial number of delegates in the South (which has many early March contests).
So, I can no longer simply dismiss Trump (and the other “non-politicians”) as evidence of a Republican temper tantrum that will automatically fade into oblivion. Indeed, GOP insiders are worrying that Trump could well earn himself a speaking slot at the party’s convention, adding to the party’s general election challenges.
The significance of Rothenberg’s about-face is that most pollsters and non-GOP analysts are still saying Trump will flame out, melt down, or otherwise implode due to his boorish, insulting manner. But Rothenberg has discovered that Trumpbots simply don’t care what the candidate says, even if it’s offensive, bigoted, or factually incorrect. This contributes to his belief that Trump’s numbers are for real and will translate into delegates once the voting begins in Iowa.
Rothenberg also gives a thumbnail sketch of several candidates and where they stand at this point in the race. Read the whole analysis in Roll Call.
Brandon Judd, president of the National Border Patrol Council, told a congressional committee that less than half the border is under “operational control.” He also testified that about one in five illegal immigrants caught at the border have a criminal record.
While the president says the border has never been more secure, Judd’s testimony exposes the immigration crisis and places it in stark relief. In short, 60% of the American border is made of Swiss cheese and government pronouncements about how secure it is aren’t worth squat.
All told, 91,000 criminal aliens caught by the Border Patrol were deported last year, compared to about 486,000 total illegal immigrants caught.
Nearly half of the criminal aliens deported had aggravated felonies on their records, Mr. Judd testified to the House Oversight Committee.
“This is the challenge we are facing at the border today. There are those who will point to lower apprehension rates and tell you the border is secure. Border Patrol agents, however, throughout this nation will tell you the border is not secure and the southwest border certainly is not safe.”
Asked by Chairman Jason Chaffetz, Utah Republican, how much of the border is under “operational control,” meaning the government is poised to deter or apprehend illegal entries, Robert L. Harris, director of Customs and Border Protection’s joint task force in charge of combating border violence, said he couldn’t answer.
But Mr. Judd said based on what he hears from his union’s line agents across the border, “I would say we would be lucky if we’re 40 percent.”
The Obama administration has been bragging about the increased number of apprehensions at the border and the apparent drop in the number of illegal immigrants overall. But there are fewer immigration cases because there are fewer jobs in the U.S., and border apprehension figures are inflated by the recent spate of illegal immigrants from Central America who cross the border and allow themselves to be caught.
The fact is, if 60% of our border is not under the government’s control, it doesn’t matter how many illegal immigrants are caught and deported. More than half the border is virtually undefended, and thousands of violent felons are walking into the U.S. ready to prey on American citizens.
What a massive indictment of President Obama’s border-control efforts.
A remarkable blog post was written Professor of Ethical Leadership at New York University’s Stern School of Business Jonathan Haidt, highlighting an article by sociologists Bradley Campbell and Jason Manning delving deeply into the question of why microaggressions, safe spaces, trigger warnings, and other recent phenomenon have emerged on college campuses.
The sociologists examined the preceding 300 years of moral culture and came to some surprising conclusions.
I just read the most extraordinary paper by two sociologists — Bradley Campbell andJason Manning — explaining why concerns about microaggressions have erupted on many American college campuses in just the past few years. In brief: We’re beginning a second transition of moral cultures. The first major transition happened in the 18th and 19th centuries when most Western societies moved away from cultures of honor (where people must earn honor and must therefore avenge insults on their own) to cultures of dignity in which people are assumed to have dignity and don’t need to earn it. They foreswear violence, turn to courts or administrative bodies to respond to major transgressions, and for minor transgressions they either ignore them or attempt to resolve them by social means. There’s no more dueling.
Campbell and Manning describe how this culture of dignity is now giving way to a new culture of victimhood in which people are encouraged to respond to even the slightest unintentional offense, as in an honor culture. But they must not obtain redress on their own; they must appeal for help to powerful others or administrative bodies, to whom they must make the case that they have been victimized. It is the very presence of such administrative bodies, within a culture that is highly egalitarian and diverse (i.e., many college campuses) that gives rise to intense efforts to identify oneself as a fragile and aggrieved victim. This is why we have seen the recent explosion of concerns about microaggressions, combined with demands for trigger warnings and safe spaces, that Greg Lukianoff and I wrote about in The Coddling of the American Mind.
Later this month I will write a blog post laying out the implications of this extraordinary article. But first I want to make the ideas in the article widely available. It’s a fairly long article, so I provide below an outline of its main sections with extensive quotations from each section. My hope is that you can read the text below and get 80% of the value of the article in just 7 minutes.
The article is available for $30 so the 7 minutes you spend reading Professor Haidt’s summary are well worth it.
Briefly, this is all a form of social control. Victims are a lot easier to control than non-victims, so making virtually everyone — except white males — a victim guarantees adherence to a political and cultural agenda.
As we dissect this phenomenon, then, we first address how it fits into a larger class of conflict tactics in which the aggrieved seek to attract and mobilize the support of third parties. We note that these tactics sometimes involve building a case for action by documenting, exaggerating, or even falsifying offenses. We address the social logic by which such tactics operate and the social conditions likely to produce them – those that encourage aggrieved individuals to rely on third parties to manage their conflicts, but make obtaining third party support problematic. We then turn to the content of the grievances expressed in microaggression complaints and related forms of social control, which focus on inequality and emphasize the dominance of offenders and the oppression of the aggrieved.
We argue that the social conditions that promote complaints of oppression and victimization overlap with those that promote case-building attempts to attract third parties. When such social conditions are all present in high degrees, the result is a culture of victimhood in which individuals and groups display high sensitivity to slight, have a tendency to handle conflicts through complaints to third parties, and seek to cultivate an image of being victims who deserve assistance.
If we are indeed in a transition to a different moral culture that, as Reason’s Ronald Bailey points out, “combines both the honor culture’s quickness to take offense with the dignity culture’s use of third parties to police and punish transgressions,” then we’re in trouble. Writes Bailey, “The result is people are encouraged to think of themselves as weak, marginalized, and oppressed. This is nothing less than demoralizing and polarizing as everybody seeks to become a “victim.”‘
Read Haidt’s entire blog post.
In a new biography of Donald Trump due out later this month, the deal-making presidential candidate says that his attendance at the New York Military Academy gave him “more training militarily than a lot of the guys that go into the military.”
I guess that’s sort of like Obama getting all that foreign policy experience by simply living in Indonesia for a few years.
In truth, Trump hasn’t said or done anything outrageous in recent days so this eyebrow-raising comment on his military service will serve to give his numbers another boost.
Donald J. Trump, who received draft deferments through much of the Vietnam War, told the author of a forthcoming biography that he nevertheless “always felt that I was in the military” because of his education at a military-themed boarding school.
Mr. Trump said that his experience at the New York Military Academy, an expensive prep school where his parents had sent him to correct poor behavior, gave him “more training militarily than a lot of the guys that go into the military.”
That claim may raise eyebrows given that Mr. Trump, now a Republican presidential candidate, never served in the military and mocked Senator John McCain, a decorated naval aviator, for his yearslong captivity during the Vietnam War.
“He’s not a war hero,” Mr. Trump said in July. “He’s a war hero because he was captured. I like people that weren’t captured.”
Mr. Trump described his education, business life, marriages and childhood in extensive interviews with Michael D’Antonio, a Pulitzer Prize-winning former reporter at Newsday. Mr. D’Antonio’s biography of Mr. Trump, “Never Enough: Donald Trump and the Pursuit of Success,” will be published on Sept. 22.
According to the book, Mr. Trump attended the New York Military Academy after years of rowdy and rebellious behavior at Kew-Forest, a more traditional prep school in Queens. Mr. Trump once recalled giving a teacher at Kew-Forest a black eye “because I didn’t think he knew anything about music.”
He arrived at the military academy — where tuition now reaches $31,000 a year — for eighth grade in 1959 and remained for high school. Like all students at the Cornwall-on-Hudson, N.Y., campus, he wore a uniform, participated in marching drills and was expected to conform to a hierarchy imposed by instructors, some of whom had served in the military.
Despite sitting out Vietnam because of deferments followed by a high draft lottery number of 356 out of 366, Mr. Trump said that he endured the rigors of real military life.
“My number was so incredible and it was a very high draft number. Anyway so I never had to do that, but I felt that I was in the military in the true sense because I dealt with those people,” he told Mr. D’Antonio.
The author seemed taken aback by this claim. Not many of the academy’s alumni “would compare military school with actual military service,” he wrote. “But the assertion was consistent with the self-image Trump often expressed.”
Few presidents — even those who served — were genuine “experts” on the military, so the gap in Trump’s knowledge is not critical, just as the gap in foreign policy knowledge by President Obama wasn’t detrimental to his campaign.
But I find it fascinating that both candidates used a similar means of blunting criticism. Apparently, living overseas or attending a military school allows you to obtain expertise via osmosis. Knowledge kind of soaks in like plant roots sucking in water.
If I were advising Mr. Trump, I would tell him to employ the response he used on Hugh Hewitt’s show regarding his lack of knowledge of the military:“I will be so good at the military, your head will spin.”
Former CIA director Leon Panetta offered his rationale for supporting the Iran nuclear agreement, and at least it had the benefit of being totally original.
Or, it has the distinction of being the looniest rationale to support the deal.
Former Secretary of Defense Leon Panetta admits that the Iran deal is bad, but says it provides an opportunity for the U.S. to become more aggressive in dealing with the Iranian regime.
In an op-ed in the Los Angeles Times on Friday, Panetta, a Californian who also served as head of the CIA, says that “the Iran deal provides the United States with an opportunity to define a policy of strength, not ambivalence, in the Middle East.”
Yet President Barack Obama has done the opposite, using the Iran deal as an way to cement Iran as a regional power, in pursuit of what he calls a “new equilibrium.”
Panetta’s argument is for a dramatic shift in Obama’s stance.
He concedes that critics of the Iran deal are right:
In itself, the Iran deal would appear to reward Tehran for defying the world, make funds available for its extremist activities and generally make it stronger militarily and economically. Although the agreement provides for a temporary delay in Iran’s nuclear enrichment capability, it allows Tehran to retain its nuclear infrastructure and obtain sanctions relief. The risk is that Iran could become an even bigger threat to the region.
He adds: “Let’s face it, given the situation in the Middle East, empowering Iran in any way seems like a dangerous gamble.” The deal, he says, is motivated by the fear of war, not sound strategy.
However, the deal could work if Obama would “make clear that the fundamental purpose…is not just to constrain Iran’s nuclear ambitions but to build a strong coalition that will confront both Iran and terrorism in the future.”
To that end, Panetta advocates several steps. First, the deal should be enforced harshly. Second, the U.S. must keep a strong military presence in the region. Third, the U.S. should expand its intelligence capabilities. Fourth, the U.S. should “[m]ake clear that force is an option.” Finally, the U.S. should build ties with regional allies.
The problem: Obama is explicitly opposed to most, if not all, of these steps. Panetta’s argument is really for a tougher president.
Got that? Accept the deal but prepare for war.
Earth to Leon: What’s wrong with rejecting the deal and preparing for war? What earthly reason is there to accept the agreement, given your criticism of it?
Panetta is a party man through and through, and is probably bucking for another go as a cabinet official in a Democratic administration in 2016. Hence, he can list all the reasons why the deal shouldn’t be accepted by Congress, but advocate for it anyway using the weakest rationale we’ve heard so far.
Hillary and Leon deserve each other.
I’ve heard that vice presidents are mostly invisible, but Joe Biden believes that the American people are brain dead.
This is Biden’s description of the economy under his boss, President Obama:
Sounding very much like a candidate for president, today Vice President Joe Biden spoke at an AFL-CIO Labor Day event in Pittsburgh, Pa. “I’m mad, I’m angry,” Biden thundered, attacking the U.S. economy as “devastating for workers.”
Biden, who is openly considering running against Hillary Clinton in the Democratic primary, thanked “my friend” Richard Trumka, president of the AFL-CIO. ”
“There wouldn’t be a single basic right, from a 40-hour week to sick leave, there wouldn’t a single basic right out there … but for labor,” Biden said. “You build the middle class. That’s not an exaggeration.”
The vice president also attacked growing inequality.
“Let me tell you something, man,” Biden said. “The tax code’s not fair. The wealthy aren’t paying their fair share.”
Usually, in a crap economy such as we have today, a candidate from the party holding the White House will sort of tip toe around the issue, realizing that talking about the economy reminds voters who is in charge.
But Biden is counting on the “low-information voter” to believe him when he says the economy is “devastating” for workers and that he’s mad about it. Is he banking on voters believing Obama is from a different party. How else do you explain it?
For the record, every effort by Republicans to reform the tax code to make it simpler and fairer has been laughed off by our comedian in chief. And Biden forgot to mention that the top 1% of wealthy people in America pay nearly half of all income taxes (24% of all taxes). And the top 10% pay nearly 70% of income taxes (53% of all taxes).
Taxes are a real social justice issue. It’s unfair that so many pay nothing while others pay too much. Maybe if Biden, Clinton, Sanders, and their Social Justice Warriors concentrated on that rather than stirring up envy and hate over their more successful neighbors, everyone would be happier.
Perhaps Biden is a Republican plant. Or maybe he’s just really, really stupid. Given what we know about Biden, I’d go with the latter.
As a writer, I have a reverence for the English language — indeed, for language in general. Whether written or spoken, the intent of language is simple: communication. Without it, we’d still be living in caves — or worse, we may have died out as a species like the Neanderthals.
But there is a movement afoot to flip the notion of language as a means of communications and turn it into a weapon of political correctness. The goal is not to enlighten, but to deliberately obscure meaning in order to accommodate insane ideas.
Perhaps the craziest use of language is to obscure the simple, biological fact that there are two and only two real genders. “Gender neutral” pronouns are all the rage on college campuses as students are encouraged to reject the two-gender reality and substitute an amorphous mess of made-up definitions of gender that are entirely up to an individual to concoct.
Gender-neutral pronouns like ze and xyr have pulled the University of Tennessee into the national spotlight and the crosshairs of legislators, but the school is far from a radical outlier.
Instead, it is one of many colleges across the country that is looking for ways to accommodate students who don’t identify as strictly male or female. Steps taken recently at Vanderbilt University, Harvard University and the University of California system, among others, represent a more aggressive push for gender-neutral pronouns than the column posted last week on Tennessee’s website. That post explained the use of gender-neutral pronouns and encouraged students and professors to discuss them.
At Vanderbilt in Nashville, a more familiar gender-neutral pronoun was added to the student handbook in August. Variations are used as single-person pronouns alongside forms of he and she. A statement in the handbook said the addition was made in an effort to create “a community that is welcoming and inclusive to individuals of all gender identities and expressions.”
Student leaders at Vanderbilt also are working with administrators to allow students to indicate the pronouns they use on class rosters and housing assignments.
MTSU spokesman Jimmy Hart said the university added the glossary as a resource for students, not a policy, echoing UT’s response to its own web post in which Pride Center Director Donna Braquet suggested students and professors should ask each other what pronouns they use, including gender-neutral options like ze or xe.
Despite UT’s insistence that the post was not meant to become a mandatory directive, Republican lawmakers have reacted with outrage. State Sen. Bo Watson said the pronouns were a “ridiculous suggestion” and called for legislators to investigate the post.
Rather than elicit outrage, this saddens me beyond measure. To abuse language in this fashion — to advance false theories and insane practices — should concern anyone who respects the ability of language to bridge the gaps of understanding. Frankly, I don’t care if some poor, deluded kid thinks he/she is a different gender than what their biology says. The fact that they don’t recognize the damage they are doing to themselves and the art of communication doesn’t obviate the need to fight this assault on common sense and communication.
What’s interesting is that some of those women who think they are a different gender than female will make damn sure to check the box “Female” when applying for an affirmative-action scholarship or loan. After all, political correctness can take you only so far in life.
Former mayor Rudy Giuliani penned an op-ed in the New York Post, fiercely criticizing the policies that he believes have led to the homeless crisis.
“We had a strategy that worked. Why was it abandoned?”asks Giuliani. Good question, your honor:
The so-called “progressive” view, that people have a right to live on the sidewalk, is not only legally devoid of any merit but is inhumane, indecent and dangerous. As is the case in many other policies — redistribution of wealth, social engineering, weak national defense — it’s a contradiction to describe this stance as progressive. It should properly be regarded as retrogressive.
People living on the street, urinating and defecating there, marked the Dark Ages of Western civilization. In a humane, decent and civilized city, the problems of the homeless are dealt with through intervention rather than denial.
My analysis of social policy always begins with how I would treat my child, sister, brother or friend if they fell on hard times. Suppose I found someone I loved living on the streets. What would I do? Let him remain there because he wants to and claims some fictitious legal right to do so? Or would I find out what was wrong and intervene, even if a bit of tough love was necessary?
The plan we followed was simple and effective. We didn’t need a task force to devise it, and it should be utilized now by New York City before we become a homeless haven like we used to be.
The police should approach every person attempting to sleep on the sidewalk and tell them they are not allowed to use the streets as a bedroom and toilet. If he only needs a place to stay, that can be provided. If he needs a job, the city should help him find one as my New York City Job Agency did, or if private work can’t be found, he can be required to work for the city for the legal limit of 20 hours a week.
This will instill or maintain a work ethic — easily lost if you get something for nothing. It will also teach and reinforce that you must contribute to earn money.
If the problems are more severe, then referrals can be made to alcohol and drug rehabilitation programs and for mental evaluation to determine if therapy and medication can be helpful.
In addition to homelessness, the city has regressed back to the ’70s as topless panhandlers clog Times Square, public urination and defecation is rampant, the murder rate is on the rise, and a new scourge — synthetic marijuana — is turning many New Yorkers into “zombies”:
It was early afternoon when the man with the twitching legs was dragged from the ground into an ambulance. Another man selling books washed away the vomit.
A man named Charlie Medina sat at the same spot a few days later, unable to remember his name before he fell into a trance with his jaw open and his eyes dilated.
And the lovers. They were unable to find a room. One pulled off the other’s shirt and her bra, then started to kiss her bruised breasts while a small crowd gathered to watch.
The people here on this stretch of 125th Street in East Harlem may change, but the drug remains the same: K2, also called synthetic marijuana, a potent mix of herbs and chemicals that has become widely used among homeless people in New York City.
A joint of K2 goes for a dollar or two, far cheaper than food. Many bodegas on 125th Street sell it. A marijuana joint, by comparison, costs about $5. Crowds of up to 80 or 100 homeless people come in on buses from a nearby shelter on Randalls Island, drawn by heroin recovery clinics nearby, and spend the day there under the influence of this cheaper narcotic. The block between Park and Lexington Avenues appears at times to be a street of zombies.
Can you really blame Mayor de Blasio? The radical leftist has put his stamp on all aspects of city life, especially changing the “broken windows” policing strategy that Guiliani alluded to. The contrast between what Giuliani believes and what de Blasio believes is striking and simple: Rudy believes in freedom with responsibility. De Blasio believes in freedom without responsibility.
It is that difference that is making life miserable for New Yorkers.
It’s been three days since a King Cobra snake belonging to Mike Kennedy, host of the Discovery Channel’s reality show Airplane Repo, escaped from his cage in Orlando and set the neighborhood on edge. Indeed, most of the city appears to have gone a little nuts.
A local school went on near lockdown with students being kept inside. Pets are being kept on a short leash, and people are calling the Florida Fish and Wildlife Conservation Commission with false reports of sightings.
Actually, experts say the snake probably hasn’t gone very far. But the 10-acre property is heavily wooded and the snakehunters aren’t making much progress.
The owner of the escaped animal, Mike Kennedy, had permits for the snake, the commission said in a statement. Florida requires a license to “capture, keep, possess or exhibit any poisonous or venomous reptiles.” Kennedy stars on the reality television show Airplane Repo. “Traded two baby crocodiles for two king cobras today,” Kennedy wrote on his public Facebook page in December 2014. Kennedy said he’s very concerned about his snake’s wellbeing and believes the search is “over the top.”
Ten experienced snake handlers searched the home the snake escaped from but were unable to find it. The property spans 10 acres, allowing for many snake-size hiding spots. Four additional commission officers were stationed at the perimeter of the property to keep an eye out for the snake. Other officers were sent to a nearby elementary school, for fear the cobra had slithered into a classroom. A commission biologist created a capture plan for the cobra, but thus far it’s been unsuccessful.
Box traps are being used to try to bait the cobra into returning. The snake’s favorite food was used.
“The traps are set and we’re hopeful for a positive result. We will remain vigilant in the area and continue to monitor the trapping and search efforts,” the commission said in a statement.
For the record, King Cobras are among the most venomous snakes in the world. A single bite can fell an elephant. This one is pretty much a baby — only 8 feet long. Full-grown cobras can grow to 18 feet.
The Onion chimed in with its own singular brand of humor:
Oh sure, the one time Florida needs Zimmerman, he's MIA. Some neighborhood patrol there, George. #cobrawatch
— mjp3md (@mjp3md) September 6, 2015
A King Cobra snake, a venomous species that can kill an elephant with one bite, is currently on the loose in Orlando, FL, with officials confirming that the licensed owner violated protocol by waiting to report the escape for a full day after the snake went missing. What do you think?
“This is exactly why cobra ownership should be left to only the most serious amateurs.”
“Florida residents must be fearing for their elephants’ lives.”
“I always wait 24 hours to report a missing snake. Sometimes they’re just blowing off steam.”
U.S. intelligence is suggesting that evidence shows a Russian military buildup in Syria, including the construction of a large air base outside of Latakia — a stronghold of President Bashar Assad.
If true, it represents a substantial escalation of Russia’s role in the Syrian civil war, previously confined to the delivery of weapons, cash, and intelligence.
The presence of an air base also suggests that Russia may employ air power against the Islamic State and perhaps even rebels supported by the U.S. This would put President Putin on a collision course with the United States.
Russia is building a military base in Syrian president Bashar al-Assad’s heartland, according to American intelligence officials, in the clearest indication yet of deepening Russian support for the embattled regime of Bashar al-Assad.
The anonymous officials say Russia has set up an air traffic control tower and transported prefabricated housing units for up to 1,000 personnel to an airfield serving the Syrian port city of Latakia.
Russia has also requested the rights to fly over neighbouring countries with military cargo aircraft during September, according to the reports.
The claims, which will raise fears that Russia is planning to expand its role in the country’s civil war, will ratchet up tensions between Moscow and Washington over the future of Syria and its brutal ruler.
Mr Obama on Friday met King Salman of Saudi Arabia to repeat their demand that any lasting settlement in Syria would require an end to the Assad regime.
It leaves the US and Russia implacably opposed in their visions for Syria.
ohn Kerry, Secretary of State, telephoned his Russian counterpart to express US concerns on Saturday.
“The secretary made clear that if such reports were accurate, these actions could further escalate the conflict, lead to greater loss of innocent life, increase refugee flows and risk confrontation with the anti-Isil coalition operating in Syria,” the department said.
The new US details came in the week that Vladimir Putin gave his strongest admission yet that Russia was already providing some military and logistical support to Syria.
“We are already giving Syria quite serious help with equipment and training soldiers, with our weapons,” he said during an economic forum in Vladivostok on Friday, according to the state-owned RIA Novosti news agency.
Until now, Russia’s backing has included financial support, intelligence, advisers, weapons and spare parts. Mr Putin insisted it was “premature” to talk of a direct intervention.
However, images emerged last week that appeared to show a Russian fighter jet operating over Syrian soil and videos of combat troops speaking the Russian language.
We’re not likely to go to war if Russia starts bombing the rebels. But it may force the U.S. to declare its intentions regarding President Assad. The coalition air forces have been careful not to bomb positions occupied by the Syrian army precisely because of Russia’s support for the Syrian regime. But if Putin starts going after the “secular” rebels we’re training and supporting, that could very well change.
Why the escalation by Russia? President Assad’s army has been slowly, relentlessly ground down by attacks from Islamic State and the Syrian rebels. In short, he is losing in slow motion and President Putin may be looking to reverse the momentum of the conflict in advance of peace talks with rebel leaders.
As a location, Latakia is about as safe as it gets in Syria. The Alawite-dominated province is thought to be Assad’s last redoubt and it is heavily fortified and protected. Putting an air base there could serve as a signal to President Assad that his Russian allies won’t abandon him no matter what.
Austria and Germany have decided to open their borders to tens of thousands of Syrian refugees, thus temporarily easing a crisis for the EU.
But human rights advocates point out there are several countries closer to Syria that could help the situation even more. They are rich, Muslim, and could certainly give a big assist to other countries who are taking in hundreds of thousands of the refugees, by donating money to the cause.
The fabulously wealthy Arab states of the Persian Gulf have, so far, not accepted a single Syrian refugee. You read that right. Qatar, United Arab Emirates, Saudi Arabia, Kuwait, Oman and Bahrain have refused to admit one single Syrian migrant. Combined, they have contributed about $1 billion to the relief effort, compared to America alone which has given more than $4 billion.
So why would Muslim Arabs turn away their brethren?
Gulf states have cited possible security concerns, and worries that Syrians might eventually compete for jobs. But to the Syrians, the answer is simple: they are not welcome.
“Gulf countries have closed their doors in the face of Syrians,” Yassir Batal, a Syrian refugee who fled to Germany, told Bloomberg.
The voyage to Europe necessitates a dangerous and often disastrous ending for the refugees. They must pay smugglers exorbitant fees for space on either overcrowded rubber dinghies or unseaworthy vessels, and thousands end up drowning in the Mediterranean Sea.
But the only Arab countries Syrians may enter without a visa are Algeria, Mauritania, Sudan and Yemen.
In theory, Syrians can enter the Gulf states if they have either a work permit or a tourist visa, but the refugees believe that there are unwritten restrictions in place that make it difficult or impossible to obtain a visa in practice, BBC Monitoring reported. Even in the best of conditions, the process of obtaining a visa is costly.
The Gulf states say they aren’t open to accepting more refugees because of security concerns. Most Syrian refugees that are in the Gulf states are there because they’ve overstayed their work visas.
It is virtually impossible to gain citizenship in a Gulf state, and these countries favor hiring unskilled workers from Southeast Asia and the Indian subcontinent, the BBC reported. The Syrians, who are usually fairly well educated, would compete with jobs with Gulf state locals.
Despite these barriers being put in place by Gulf states, there are also reasons why Syrians aren’t seeking out refuge in those countries. Although they are escaping the terror of Islamic State militants and a country wrecked by chemical weapons from an ongoing, five-year civil war, Syria was a remarkably free and educated country in its heyday. Syria’s capital, Damascus, was once the “playground” in the region, a city where alcohol, Western dress and education were freely available.
The Gulf states, on the other hand, have harsh laws restricting citizens’ freedoms to talk, dress, and interact. In Saudi Arabia, for instance, women are not allowed to drive cars. And in Qatar, people can be fined for uncovering their knees, cuddling, or playing a song with “indecent phrases.”
And Syrian refugees might tempt young Arabs in those countries to loosen their ties, kick back, and maybe have some fun. Can’t have that, can we?
The real reason these Gulf Arab states are not taking in refugees is the same one worrying many politically incorrect Europeans in places like Hungary and Serbia, whose “right-wing” governments are resisting the settling of the refugees: the migrants would change the national character of their nation.
Nearly 90% of residents in those 6 Arab countries are guest workers, mostly from East Asia. They are held, for all intents and purposes, as slaves. Most are indentured servants, unable to leave until their contract is up. They are kept in horrible conditions, sometimes beaten, sometimes worked to death. To add a couple of hundred thousand more foreigners to the mix would make for an incendiary situation.
In short, the Gulf Arabs are terrified that taking in their fair share of refugees would lead to chaos, even revolution. But that doesn’t mean they can’t open their overstuffed coffers and feed the refugees living in squalor in Turkey, Iraq, Jordan, and Lebanon. The World Food Program just announced that they are forced to cut food rations to one third of Syrian refugees due to lack of funds.
The monarchies of the Gulf states are being exposed as pious hypocrites, preaching that Islam is love while cynically withholding assistance to people in dire need. It’s time they got off their thrones and did something useful with their riches.