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The PJ Tatler

Billionaire Steyer Latest to Give Hillary a Pass for Not Taking a Stand

Be nice to her, she’s a girl.

Tom Steyer’s hard green line is turning soft when it comes to Hillary Clinton.

The billionaire climate activist has spent more than $100 million of his personal fortune to support green-minded candidates and ballot initiatives in the past five years, ruffling the Washington establishment while threatening to torpedo even fellow Democrats who don’t hew the line on controversies like the Keystone XL oil pipeline. But he declined repeatedly Tuesday to criticize Clinton, who still refuses to take a stand on Keystone, and whose just-released initial climate proposal is notably short on specifics about issues like fracking and Arctic drilling.

There are two reasons that Mrs. Bill’s handlers keep her on a short leash. The first is that she is incapable of not being off-putting to any human with an IQ over 40. The second is that this allegedly accomplished politician who would be the most powerful woman in the world doesn’t have a lot of opinions on anything other than that she really wants to be President.

Liberals are so desperate to get their first female POTUS (I don’t know why, since gender is a social construct or something) that they’re willing to keep giving this strong feminist icon special treatment.

Those of you who read up a lot on the TPP/TPA brouhaha will remember that Her Madameship is very adept at having strong non-opinions on policy issues.

Posted at 9:06 pm on July 28th, 2015 by

North Korea Upgrades Missile Launch Site

Remember these guys?

Fresh satellite images suggest North Korea has completed upgrades at its main satellite launch site, fuelling speculation of a long-range rocket launch to coincide with a major political anniversary in October.

The US-Korea Institute at Johns Hopkins University said on Wednesday that analysis of the new pictures showed that construction begun in spring 2015 at the Sohae launch centre had been concluded.

As a result, space launch vehicle (SLV) stages – and payload – can be prepared horizontally in a new launch support building, then transferred to a movable support structure and conveyed to the launch pad.

The analysis, posted on the institute’s closely-watched 38North website, will reinforce predictions that the North is preparing a long-range rocket launch to mark the 70th anniversary of the founding of its ruling Workers’ Party on October 10.

There is so much going on in the world that is worthy of daily worry that it is easy to overlook the workers paradise up in northern Asia. If Iran getting a nuke doesn’t keep you up at night, imagine a world where NoKo becomes militarily competent. It may seem unthinkable right now, but the unthinkable seems to be happening on a weekly basis right now.

For the moment we’re probably safe. Unless, of course, Obama decides he needs another foreign policy “victory” for his legacy.

Posted at 8:44 pm on July 28th, 2015 by

GOP Congressman Files Motion to Oust John Boehner as House Speaker

In a move that has reportedly taken Republican leaders completely by surprise, Rep. Mark Meadows (R-N.C.) late Tuesday afternoon filed a motion to try to force Speaker John Boehner from his leadership post.

Meadows was one of four conservative House Republicans  disciplined by Boehner in June for “voting against the party” on trade legislation.

At the time, when contacted by Roll Call, the North Carolina Republican declined to comment.

That was then, this is now:

The resolution states that Boehner has tried to “consolidate power and centralize decision-making, bypassing the majority of the 435 members of Congress and the people they represent.” It accuses the speaker of using the “legislative calendar to create crises for the American people, in order to compel members to vote for legislation.”

The resolution also blasts Boehner of using the Rules Committee to limit amendments.

According to Politico, fellow conservatives have already contacted Meadows to tell him that the move to oust Boehner right now is not a good idea.

Reps. Mick Mulvaney (R-S.C.) and Jim Jordan (R-Ohio), fierce and frequent critics of leadership, thought the move was ill-advised. Some of Meadows’ friends didn’t even see it coming. But just before 6 p.m. Tuesday — a day before the House was set to leave town for its five-week summer recess recess — Meadows offered a motion to vacate the chair, an extraordinarily rare procedural move that represents the most serious expression of opposition to Boehner’s speakership. If the motion passed — most Republicans say it will be hard to cobble together the votes — Boehner would be stripped of the speaker’s gavel, potentially plunging the House of Representatives into chaos.

According to the Washington Post, Meadows said that he won’t press for a vote before Congress leaves town for the August recess.

But in a talk-radio interview Tuesday night, Meadows predicted the House GOP leadership would call lawmakers and drum up a Wednesday vote to save Boehner.

“They will call most of the members tonight and try to bring this up and have a vote on it tomorrow [Wednesday],” Meadows told host Mark Levin, admitting that tactic was only one that Boehner’s team could employ.

“These will be very difficult days. It will not come without retribution and that’s to be understood.”

Meadows has until now taken small steps to undermine the speaker, but with this motion, he has declared “all-out war.”

The problem the congressman is going to have going forward is finding a respected candidate who is effective, can unite warring factions, and who wants the job.

There were unsuccessful efforts in 2013 and 2015 to oust Boehner from his leadership post. In 2013, Rep. Raúl Labrador (R-Idaho) led the effort which came close to having enough votes to be successful. But as Labrador said in a statement, “at the last minute, several members changed their votes to support Boehner.”

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Posted at 7:41 pm on July 28th, 2015 by

WATCH: Kerry Won’t Commit to Following Law If Congress Tosses Iran Deal

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Pressed by a senior House Democrat at today’s Foreign Affairs Committee hearing on the Iran deal, Secretary of State John Kerry would not commit the Obama administration to following the law if Congress shoots down the deal by a veto-proof majority.

Rep. Brad Sherman (D-Calif.) noted that the deal “might be, at most, morally binding on this administration.”

“The IRGC may publicly oppose this deal because that’s the best thing the Iranian government can do to pursue us to support — here in Congress to support the deal or maybe they genuinely oppose it,” he noted.

Sherman asked Kerry point-blank if “Congress and the United States free, under this agreement, to adopt new sanctions legislation that will remain in force as long as Iran holds our hostages and supports Assad.”

“We’re free to adopt additional sanctions as long as they are not a phony excuse for just taking the whole pot of the past ones and putting them back,” Kerry replied.

“You strongly do not want us to override a presidential veto, but if we do that triggers certain American laws… you think it’s terrible policy and you think the rest of the world would be against us. But let’s say Congress doesn’t take your advice and we override a veto and the law that is triggered then imposes certain sanctions. Will you follow the law even though you think it violates this agreement clearly, and even if you think it’s absolute terrible policy?” Sherman asked.

“I can’t begin to answer that at this point without consulting with the president and determining what the circumstances are,” Kerry replied.

“So you are not committed to following the law?” Sherman pressed.

“No, I said I am not going to deal with a hypothetical,” Kerry said. “That’s all.”

Posted at 3:52 pm on July 28th, 2015 by

Kerry Explains Why Iran Deal Isn’t a Treaty: Because You Guys Would’ve Said No!

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Secretary of State John Kerry acknowledged to the House Foreign Affairs Committee today why the administration was insistent that the Iran nuclear deal is not a treaty subject to ratification by the Senate.

Simply put, they counted on Congress not being compliant enough.

“For 228 years the Constitution provided a way out of that mess by allowing treaties to be with the advise and consent of 67 U.S. Senators. Why is this not considered a treaty?” Rep. Reid Ribble (R-Wis.) asked Kerry at today’s hearing.

“Well Congressman, I spent quite a few years ago trying to get a lot of treaties through the United States Senate. Frankly, it’s become physically impossible. That’s why,” Kerry said.

“Because you can’t pass a treaty anymore. And it’s become impossible to, you know, schedule. It’s become impossible to pass. And I sat there leading the charge on the disabilities treaty, which fell to basically ideology and politics, so I think that’s the reason why.”

Rep. Lee Zeldin (R-N.Y.) confirmed Kerry’s answer: “This isn’t a treaty because it was difficult to pass. Is that — is that correct?”

“Well, it’s not — there are a lot of other reasons. We felt, we don’t have diplomatic relations with Iran. It’s very complicated with six other countries. It’s this very complicated process,” Kerry said. “So we thought that the easiest way to get something that had the leverage, had the accountability, could achieve our goal was through a political agreement. That’s what we have.”

Kerry got into a testy exchange earlier in the hearing with Rep. Scott Perry (R-Pa.), who called out the secretary of State’s perpetual response that Congress needs to offer a better option if they don’t like the nuclear deal.

“Mr. Secretary, with all due respect, it is not Congress’s job; this is the administration. And if you would use the treaty process as provided by the constitution, maybe we wouldn’t be in this situation,” Perry said. “Furthermore, you know, you say, ‘Well, this is the only deal we could get, that there’s no better deal.’ Congress has a long history of instituting better deals. Example, 280 treaties, including 80 multilateral accords modified by Congress, including the arms control agreement, SALT II and the Threshold Test Ban treaty that failed to reach a vote and were modified.”

“So there is a history for that, of getting a better deal. And if the ayatollah doesn’t like it and doesn’t want to negotiate it, oh, boo-hoo. We’re — we’re here for America. We stand for America. You represent America.”

“Congressman, I don’t need any lessons from you about who I represent. I’ve represented and fought for our country since I was out of college,” Kerry snapped back. “Don’t give me any lessons about that, OK?”

“Now, let me just make it crystal clear to you. This is America’s interest, because America is the principal guarantor of security in the region and particularly with respect to some of our closest friends. Now, we believe that Iran was marching towards a weapon or the capacity to have a weapon, and we’ve rolled that back, Congressman,” he continued.

“OK, that’s your opinion,” Perry interjected.

“That’s indisputable — no,” Kerry countered. “That’s a fact.”

Posted at 3:22 pm on July 28th, 2015 by

Kerry: No ‘Plan By Iran to Actually Destroy Us,’ But They Do Chant ‘Death to America’

Secretary of State John Kerry said at a House Foreign Affairs Committee hearing on the Iran nuclear deal today that he’s not aware of any Iranian plans to destroy the United States, but he has heard the mullahs call for America to die.

Rep. Ted Poe (R-Texas), who chairs the Terrorism, Nonproliferation and Trade Subcommittee, asked Kerry, “Is it the policy of the ayatollah, if you can answer for him, that Iran wants to destroy the United States? Is that still their policy, as far as you know?”

“I don’t believe they’ve said that. I think they’ve said ‘Death to America’ in their chants, but I have not seen this specific,” Kerry replied.

“Well, I kind of take that to mean that they want us dead. That would seem like that would be their policy. He said that. You don’t think that’s their policy? I’m not mincing words. Do you think it’s their policy to destroy us?” Poe asked.

“I think they have a policy of opposition to us and a great enmity, but I have no specific knowledge of a plan by Iran to actually destroy us. I do know that the rhetoric is — is beyond objectionable,” Kerry said. “I know that we, you know, are deeply concerned with Iran’s behavior in the region, deeply concerned with their past activities.”

Rep. Mo Brooks (R-Ala.) noted that Iranian Brigadier General Mohammad Reza Naghdi, who has previously said “we have no option but to have the Zionist regime wiped off the map,” just three months ago said “Israel’s destruction is non-negotiable.”

Kerry said that “accurately reflects some people’s rhetoric and some people’s attitude.”

“I don’t think it’s possible for Iran to do that,” the secretary of State added.

Pressed again on Supreme Leader Ayatollah Ali Khamenei’s recent rally at which “death to America” was chanted, Kerry said the threats “reflect an attitude and rhetorical excess, but I see no evidence that they have a policy that is implementing that against us at this point in time.”

When Brooks asked if terrorists supplied by Iran would try to kill Americans or Israelis, Kerry replied, “Well, they may. They may.”

Earlier in the hearing, Ranking Member Eliot Engel (D-N.Y.) listed many reasons for his deep “trepidation” about the deal, including Iran’s threats to the U.S.

“Barely a week after the Iranian’s signed the deal with us there was the supreme leader, the ayatollah, chanting, ‘Death to Americans, death to Israel.’ You would think that after an agreement was signed with us there might be a modicum of goodwill that perhaps they would keep quiet for a week or two, or a month, but it went back to business as usual,” Engel said. “How can we trust Iran when this type of thing happens? It is very disconcerting.”

Chairman Ed Royce (R-Calif.) noted that “we’re presuming Iran is going to change its behavior, and that behavior did not change last weekend when they were chanting again ‘death to America.’”

“There is no presumption in here about what Iran will or won’t do. There is one objective. Make sure they can’t get a nuclear weapon,” Kerry countered. “On the backside of that, we have a very robust initiative that will push back against Iran’s other activities.”

Rep. Steve Chabot (R-Ohio) later asked Kerry why, if the deal’s so good, opposition in Israel is so deep-seated.

“We fully understand every Israeli has concerns, have fears. There are concerns about the region they live in, about the nature, the rhetoric that’s used. Death to Israel, death to America,” Kerry replied. “Everybody is concerned. Which is why this is not based on some element of a dream they’re going to change or some element of trust.”

Under questioning from Dem Rep. Alan Grayson (Fla.), Kerry admitted releasing sanctioned funds for Iran may increase Tehran-sponsored terrorism — or at least what we call terrorism.

“We have no way to know. I presume in some places possibly, only in the sense that they are committed to certain things that we interpret as terrorism, they don’t, and we’re going to continue to conflict on those issues,” Kerry said.

Posted at 2:43 pm on July 28th, 2015 by

WATCH: OH Democrat Blasts Planned Parenthood Following Latest Sting Video

State and federal officials in Ohio gathered at the Statehouse in Columbus today to announce their plan to defund and investigate Planned Parenthood in the wake of the latest and most gruesome sting video.

At the rally, state Rep. Bill Patmon, a Cleveland Democrat, announced that he is co-sponsoring new legislation that will “cut off all state funding to Planned Parenthood and other abortion providers that is used for other services.”

Via Cleveland.com:

While Ohio already prohibits state funding from being used to pay for abortions, Patmon said his bill, co-sponsored by Butler County Republican Rep. Margaret Conditt, would ensure the $1.3 million per year given to Planned Parenthood by the state isn’t co-mingled with money used for abortions.

Patmon said the issue is especially important to African-Americans, as 63 percent of the 5,499 abortions performed in Cuyahoga County in 2013 involved black women.

“You hear a lot of demonstrations across the country now about Black Lives Matter,” Patmon said. “Well, they skipped one place – they should be in front of Planned Parenthood.”

The Cleveland Democrat began his speech talking about his own family background, as the son of a Southern woman with an eighth grade education, which he noted made her a prime candidate for what Planned Parenthood was looking for: ”Not much education, a desire to succeed, and being told — ‘you can do this later, let’s get rid of this one.’”

Patmon added, “Well, she didn’t get rid of this one…”

Planned Parenthood, clearly concerned that attempts to defund will gain a foothold, on Tuesday hired “high-profile” Washington PR firm SKDKnickerbocker to help it deal with the ongoing scandal.

Via Politico:

The additional PR firepower reflects the growing pressure on the women’s health organization amid building GOP calls to cut its $540 million in government funding. House Majority Leader Kevin McCarthy (R-Calif.) earlier this week called to halt Planned Parenthood’s federal funding while Congress investigates whether the organization broke a federal ban on profiting from fetal tissue donation. The Senate plans to hold a vote on a defunding amendment from Sen. Rand Paul (R-Ky.) and others that is likely to fail.

SKDKnickerbocker is no newbie to working on Planned Parenthood issues. The Democratically aligned firm is run by well-connected operatives, including Anita Dunn and Hilary Rosen. It also worked with the group during the 2012 election cycle, according to SKDKnickerbocker’s website.

Posted at 2:32 pm on July 28th, 2015 by

Official: Links Between ISIS and Turkey ‘Undeniable’

Never any good news about these guys.

A US-led raid on the compound housing the Islamic State’s “chief financial officer” produced evidence that Turkish officials directly dealt with ranking ISIS members, Martin Chulov of the Guardian reported recently.

The officer killed in the raid, Islamic State official Abu Sayyaf, was responsible for directing the terror army’s oil and gas operations in Syria. The Islamic State (aka ISIS, ISIL, or Daesh) earns up to $10 million a month selling oil on black markets.

They use social media for recruiting, form strategic international partnerships and seem to overcome whatever setbacks befall them. Throughout all of this, U.S. leaders (loosest use of the term possible) assure us that alienating our allies in the region and using a halfhearted approach to attacking ISIS is the best course possible. The Team Lightbringer approach to foreign policy and war is so simplistic it should be written on a wall in crayon.

At present, Turkey is managing to convince NATO and most of the rest of the world that they are actually battling ISIS.

If you’re wonder just how topsy-turvy the world has become, guess who has long been critical of Turkey and its complicity in the rise of ISIS? Crazy Joe the Wonder Veep.

Posted at 2:23 pm on July 28th, 2015 by

In Spanish, Jeb Tells Telemundo About Immigration Plans and His ‘Very Hispanic’ Household

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Jeb Bush went on Telemundo for his first Spanish-language interview as a presidential candidate, telling anchor José Díaz-Balart that coming to the United States legally “has to be easier than coming here illegally.”

“For the 11 million people [here illegally], they must come out of the shadows, receive a work visa, start paying taxes and also pay a small fine, learn English, don’t receive government benefits, but they come out of the shadows and they receive legal status after some time,” Bush said.

On Donald Trump’s comments regarding some of those crossing illegally being drug dealers and rapists, Bush said, “I was hurt hearing somebody speaking in such a vulgar fashion.”

“This makes the solving of this problem much more difficult when we have politicians talking like that,” he said. “Besides that, he was offending millions of people that are here legally. It makes no sense. In a political sense, it’s bad and it creates an environment that is worse.”

Bush also talked about his Mexico-born wife, Columba, and their family, noting that George P. Bush was teased as a child for his brown skin.

“At one point, I had to describe, or tell him that people like him aren’t the majority. You need to accept it, but move on. Because he was really annoyed because he and his friends — we don’t have that problem in Miami, but in other parts of the country, yes. It was a good lesson to remember that we still don’t have a country of complete justice. You can see it in African-American communities too, that there’s still discrimination. But in my life, it’s important to remember that,” Bush said.

His family, Bush noted, is “very Hispanic, in that we speak Spanish in the house.”

“Columba is a good Mexican, proud of her citizenship of this country, of course, but we eat Mexican food in the home. My children are Hispanic in many aspects,” the former Florida governor said. “We don’t talk about it, but the Hispanic influence is an important part of my life.”

Posted at 1:31 pm on July 28th, 2015 by

White House Gives Chilly Reception to ‘Pardon Snowden’ Petition

The White House has responded to a petition asking that NSA leaker Edward Snowden be pardoned.

The short answer: Sorry.

Snowden, 32, is still living in Russia, and has been seeking asylum in Switzerland.

“Edward Snowden is a national hero and should be immediately issued a a full, free, and absolute pardon for any crimes he has committed or may have committed related to blowing the whistle on secret NSA surveillance programs,” stated the petition on the White House’s We the People site.

It racked up 167,954 signatures. The 100,000-signature threshold triggers a personal response from the administration, and this was delivered by Obama’s Homeland Security and Counterterrorism Advisor Lisa Monaco.

“Since taking office, President Obama has worked with Congress to secure appropriate reforms that balance the protection of civil liberties with the ability of national security professionals to secure information vital to keep Americans safe,” Monaco wrote in the reply.

“Instead of constructively addressing these issues, Mr. Snowden’s dangerous decision to steal and disclose classified information had severe consequences for the security of our country and the people who work day in and day out to protect it.”

Monaco added that if Snowden “felt his actions were consistent with civil disobedience, then he should do what those who have taken issue with their own government do: Challenge it, speak out, engage in a constructive act of protest, and — importantly — accept the consequences of his actions.”

“He should come home to the United States, and be judged by a jury of his peers — not hide behind the cover of an authoritarian regime. Right now, he’s running away from the consequences of his actions,” she said.

“We live in a dangerous world. We continue to face grave security threats like terrorism, cyber-attacks, and nuclear proliferation that our intelligence community must have all the lawful tools it needs to address. The balance between our security and the civil liberties that our ideals and our Constitution require deserves robust debate and those who are willing to engage in it here at home.”

Posted at 1:08 pm on July 28th, 2015 by

Gun-Control Senators Ask Dealers to Voluntarily Toughen Background Checks

Unable to move legislation through the last Congress — with a Senate Democratic majority — or this one, gun-control advocates in the upper-chamber have a two-pronged strategy to get stricter regulations.

First, Sens. Richard Blumenthal (D-Conn.), Chris Murphy (D-Conn.) and 11 of their colleagues are asking gun dealers to refuse to sell a firearm to anyone who does not pass a background check on the first try.

That initial background check approves a purchase, denies a purchase, or flags a person who may have a criminal record and warrants further investigation. Then the FBI steps in to review the purchaser in several databases and give a final OK to a gun sale. If the FBI takes longer than 72 hours to complete the review, the “hold” is released and the gun sale can go forward without notification from the seller to the FBI.

If the FBI issues a verdict after the three-day review period and determines the buyer shouldn’t be owning a gun, the ATF is dispatched to retrieve it.

Charleston church shooter Dylann Roof fell into the review category as a drug possession arrest was mistakenly classified as a felony, setting off the alert. A decision was never made during the review period because the wrong arresting agency was listed on his criminal record.

The Senate Dems sent a letter today to Cabela’s, EZ Pawn, and Bass Pro Shops, three retailers that allow sales after the 72-hour period if they don’t hear back from authorities, stressing that even though law gives them a “default to proceed” in these cases it doesn’t mean they have to sell to a buyer.

They argued that over the past five years 15,729 “default” firearms sales have been made to people eventually deemed ineligible to buy a gun.

“Responsible gun retailers can act today to address this unacceptable situation. The law allows retailers to decide whether or not to allow gun sales to proceed after the three-day ‘default period’ has elapsed. You have a duty to ensure that your products do not get into the hands of dangerous individuals like the Emanuel AME Church shooter,” the senators wrote. “…No responsible gun retailer should transfer a gun without first conducting a complete background check.”

On CNN today, Blumenthal said this request for voluntary withholding of gun sales needs “stronger executive action” from President Obama.

“My hope also is that the president will launch a major mental health initiative because ultimately so many of these shooters are dangerous to themselves or other and should not be in possession of a handgun or any gun because they can do such harm as we’ve seen time and again in everyone these horrific tragic shootings, like Newtown, Charleston, Lafayette,” he said.

“If that loophole were closed, and licensed gun dealers were required to wait for all of the background checks to be approved, that sale probably never would have proceeded,” the senator added of Charleston. “So the loophole does matter. On the other hand, the idea that guns should be sold to people who have histories of involuntary commitments or other kinds of very serious mental health issues, I think ought to be seriously examined.”

Blumenthal added that lawmakers should still act as it’s “not just an opportunity, an obligation because Congress becomes complicit, maybe now is complicit in the failure to prevent these very, very avoidable tragedies.”

Posted at 12:50 pm on July 28th, 2015 by

In Defense of Huckabee

GOP presidential candidate Mike Huckabee landed in hot water recently when he had this to say about the Iran deal:

This president’s foreign policy is the most feckless in American history. He is so naïve that he would trust the Iranians, and he will take the Israelis and basically march them to the door of the oven.

CNN’s Nia-Malika Henderson, perhaps echoing the chattering class, says Huckabee “should apologize” for his “despicable” statement, because “you should only bring up the Holocaust when you are talking about the Holocaust.” My father fortuitously left Poland, but his mother, siblings and all his many relatives perished. So, Ms. Henderson, you need not instruct me on Holocaust etiquette.

If you must debate Holocaust usage, consider that early in his administration, President Obama adapted the anti-Israel polemic that the Holocaust justifies Israel’s existence. Enemies of Israel routinely embrace this straw man, only to conveniently reject it as an immoral rationale for Israel’s founding which, in fact, is actually rooted in the millennia of continued Jewish presence there, a subject President Obama meticulously avoids.

Henderson, in her objective journalistic role as CNN’s “senior political reporter,” further assures us Huckabee’s motive here is pumping up his poll numbers. Mr. Huckabee is not my candidate, but I am sufficiently familiar with the depth of his views to know that on all this, he is passionate, not expedient. Long before entering politics, he visited Israel repeatedly. Mr. Obama first visited Israel during his presidential campaign. Mr. Huckabee has been to Auschwitz three times, which is three times more than community organizer Obama.

This Huckabee controversy may help President Obama, because he appears to be the victim of a personal attack, although Huckabee truly is concerned about policy. And this episode distracts attention from the overriding reason this Iranian deal should be fully discussed and rejected: it is contrary to the self-interest of the United States, apart from its ominous implications for Israel. Nonetheless, doubling down, Huckabee says President Obama does not like Israel, an arguable but hardly exotic hypothesis. Barack Obama’s tilt toward the extremist Muslim Brotherhood over moderate Arabs is, at best, a destructive curiosity. In his new book Ally, Michael Oren, formerly Israel’s ambassador to the U.S., documents Obama’s ambivalent, if not hostile, view toward contemporary Israel. Even Isaac Herzog, the opposition leader against Bibi Netanyahu, opposes the Iran deal.

Consider that President Obama miraculously opined that the Jews in the Paris deli terrorist attack simply were randomly killed (what, no “hands up, don’t shoot”?) In other words, President Obama doesn’t (want to) get it. The Iranian leadership, given the opportunity President Obama’s policies will assure it, would use nuclear weapons to extinguish six million Jews concentrated in Israel, the size of Chris Christie’s New Jersey. Such reenactment of the Holocaust would be no metaphor, Mr. Huckabee is correct.

Posted at 11:18 am on July 28th, 2015 by

The New Planned Parenthood Sting Video Is the Worst One Yet

The latest sting video from the “Human Capital” documentary web series produced by the Center for Medical Progress is the most disturbing one yet. The horrific footage includes technicians picking over aborted baby parts, and is being described by horrified viewers on Twitter as “Godless,” “evil,” and “demonic.”  The video also includes new admissions from Planned Parenthood leadership about the illicit pricing structure.

One technician featured in the video fainted on the job on her first day — a reaction apparently not uncommon for people in the industry.

Holly O’Donnell, a licensed phlebotomist, didn’t realize what she was getting into when she took a job as a “procurement technician” at the fetal tissue company StemExpress in late 2012.

“I thought I was going to be just drawing blood, not procuring tissue from aborted fetuses,” said O’Donnell, who fainted in shock on her first day of work in a Planned Parenthood clinic when suddenly asked to dissect a freshly-aborted fetus during her on-the-job training.

O’Donnell, who was “stoked” to get a job with the company, decided to go with the flow on her first day when asked to dissect the fetus. She described taking the tweezers, putting them in the dish, and picking up a leg.

“The moment I picked up the leg, I could just feel — death and pain — I’ve never felt that before — like shoot up through my body.”

It was at that point that she blacked out. When she woke up in the recovery room a little while later, a nurse told her, “Don’t worry, it still happens to a bunch of us.”

For 6 months, O’Donnell’s job was to identify pregnant women at Planned Parenthood who met criteria for fetal tissue orders and to harvest the fetal body parts after their abortions. O’Donnell describes the financial benefit Planned Parenthood received from StemExpress: “For whatever we could procure, they would get a certain percentage. The main nurse was always trying to make sure we got our specimens. No one else really cared, but the main nurse did because she knew that Planned Parenthood was getting compensated.”

Denver’s 9News anchor Kyle Clark called the local Planned Parenthood chapter about their business practices following the the first sting video.

Posted at 10:47 am on July 28th, 2015 by

DNC Seizes on Trump Lawyer Saying ‘You Can’t Rape Your Spouse’

The Democratic National Committee has seized on comments made by one of Donald Trump’s lawyers that spousal rape does not exist.

Michael Cohen, who in addition to being special counsel to Trump and an executive vice president at The Trump Organization has made many media appearances on behalf of the candidate, was contacted by The Daily Beast for an article about an allegation in the 1993 book Lost Tycoon: The Many Lives of Donald J. Trump that the billionaire forced himself on Ivana Trump in 1989.

“You’re talking about the frontrunner for the GOP, presidential candidate, as well as a private individual who never raped anybody. And, of course, understand that by the very definition, you can’t rape your spouse,” Cohen told the reporter.

“It is true,” Cohen added. “You cannot rape your spouse.” He went on to say Ivana “felt raped emotionally.… She was not referring to it [as] a criminal matter, and not in its literal sense, though there’s many literal senses to the word.”

Cohen also warned the reporter to “tread very f–king lightly, because what I’m going to do to you is going to be f–king disgusting.”

Marital rape has been a crime in New York since 1984 and in all 50 states and the District of Columbia since 1993.

Cohen issued a statement to CNN today: “As an attorney, husband and father there are many injustices that offend me but nothing more than charges of rape or racism. They hit me at my core. Rarely am I surprised by the press, but the gall of this particular reporter to make such a reprehensible and false allegation against Mr. Trump truly stunned me. In my moment of shock and anger, I made an inarticulate comment – which I do not believe — and which I apologize for entirely.”

“I have recently read some comments attributed to me from nearly 30 years ago at a time of very high tension during my divorce from Donald. The story is totally without merit,” Ivana Trump told the network in a statement. The Daily Beast notes that their divorce agreement included a gag order about her marriage to Trump.

Democratic National Committee Chairwoman Debbie Wasserman Schultz (D-Fla.) this morning called the Trump lawyer’s statement “a new low.”

“Rape is rape. Full stop. End of story. There is no difference or division between ‘forcible’, ‘legitimate’, ‘marital’ or any other label Republicans slap on before the word ‘rape’. All rape is a disgusting violation, and Americans have fought too long and hard for that to be acknowledged to still have it questioned in 2015,” Wasserman Schultz said.

“It’s a pattern of outrageous comments that must stop, and Republicans should call it what it is – despicable.”

None of the Republican candidates had issued a statement on the comments this morning, but they will likely face the question on the stump.

Posted at 8:54 am on July 28th, 2015 by

Obama: ‘If I Ran’ for President Again, ‘I Could Win’

In an address to the people of Africa from Ethiopia today, President Obama said that he could win if he took another shot at the White House.

But he acknowledged he can’t, as he brought up African leaders who just decide to stay when their terms are through.

Obama said the United States is not “immune from criticism,” but “when we speak out for our principles, at home and abroad, we stay true to our values and we help lift up the lives of people beyond our borders.”

“And we think that’s important. And it’s especially important, I believe, for those of us of African descent, because we’ve known what it feels like to be on the receiving end of injustice. We know what it means to be discriminated against. We know what it means to be jailed. So how can we stand by when it’s happening to somebody else?” he said.

“I have to also say that Africa’s democratic progress is also at risk when leaders refuse to step aside when their terms end,” he added to applause.

“Now, let me be honest with you — I do not understand this. I am in my second term. It has been an extraordinary privilege for me to serve as president of the United States. I cannot imagine a greater honor or a more interesting job. I love my work. But under our Constitution, I cannot run again. I can’t run again. I actually think I’m a pretty good president — I think if I ran I could win. But I can’t.”

Obama said “there’s a lot that I’d like to do to keep America moving, but the law is the law.”

“And no one person is above the law. Not even the president,” he continued. “And I’ll be honest with you — I’m looking forward to life after being president. I won’t have such a big security detail all the time. It means I can go take a walk. I can spend time with my family. I can find other ways to serve. I can visit Africa more often.”

“…I’m still a pretty young man, but I know that somebody with new energy and new insights will be good for my country. It will be good for yours, too, in some cases.”

Posted at 7:06 am on July 28th, 2015 by

The Religion of Peace Forces Hundreds of Pakistani Girls to Convert Every Year

A new report from the Aurat Foundation shows that Muslims in Pakistan force as many as 700 Christian and 300 Hindu girls to convert to Islam every year. Most of these girls are also forced into Muslim marriages.

It quotes statistics from the Movement for Solidarity and Peace Pakistan (MSP), which says that an additional 1,791 forced conversions took place between 2000 and 2012. More than 600 of those converted were originally Christians.

Director of the Aurat Foundation, Mahnaz Rehman, explained that forced conversion and marriage is common in Pakistan, but is largely ignored by police and civil authorities.

Women face significant discrimination, particularly on a religious basis, she added. Those who are forced to marry are often threatened and pressurised by their husband and his family to declare that their conversion was voluntary, even if the case is taken to court.

When MSP first released its statistics last year, its investigation found that forced marriages usually follow a similar pattern: girls, often between the ages of 12 and 25, are abducted, made to convert to Islam, and then married to the abductor or an associate. If a complaint is filed, then “girls are held in custody by the abductors [until the hearing] and suffer all kinds of abuse and violence,” the Aurat Foundation states.

“These cases are never investigated seriously to shed light on the phenomenon and mechanism of the crime.”

Pakistan has begun to face international pressure to reconsider the way it handles forced marriages, forced conversions, and other abuses of girls and young women.

The US Commission on International Religious Freedom (USCIRF) in May urged the Obama Administration to designate Pakistan a “country of particular concern” and blamed the Pakistani government for failing to provide adequate protection to targeted groups.

“Forced conversion of Christian and Hindu girls and young women into Islam and forced marriage remains a systemic problem,” its annual report said. Hundreds of Christians and Hindus are estimated to be victimised each year, it added.

Featured image courtesy of Shutterstock / Zurijeta

Posted at 6:44 am on July 28th, 2015 by

Single-Family Zoning Racist? Seattle Thinks So

As a recently elected city council member, I find many aspects of municipal government unseemly. One such area is zoning, the practice of restricting what can be built on certain parcels of land in order to fulfill a political vision of what-oughta-be. While I understand concerns about depreciation or health hazards if one suddenly finds himself living next to a chemical factory, zoning too often seeks less to protect rights and more to impose an arbitrary communal vision.

Take Seattle, for instance. For over a century, the Washingtonian metropolis has maintained a “strong neighborhood feel” by restricting residential development in many areas to only single-family homes. Want to build a separate living wing to house your elderly mother? Sorry, not allowed. Want to invest in some multi-family rental property? Sorry, can’t do that.

Now, an advisory committee has been working on a proposal to change the decades-old restriction. A draft of their policy ideas was leaked to the press. Among the committee’s motivations for revisiting single-family zoning is concern over “racial and class exclusion.” From the Seattle Times:

“We can still be a city for everyone, but only if we give up our outdated ideal of every family living in their own home on a 5,000 square foot lot,” a draft letter from the committee co-chairs reads.

The draft report notes that “Seattle (single-family) zoning has roots in racial and class exclusion and remains among the largest obstacles to realizing the city’s goals for equity and affordability.”

At first blush, the notion of racist zoning may seem silly. But it’s actually not that far off the mark, as I’ll explain on the next page.

Posted at 6:00 am on July 28th, 2015 by

Another Obamacare ‘Exchange’ Bites the Dust

Vermont, Oregon, Hawaii, now Louisiana: one by one by one they collapse under the weight of their sheer economic impossibility:

Bleeding cash, the Louisiana Department of Insurance (LDI) announced Friday that Louisiana’s Obamacare health insurance co-op will be closing its doors by the end of 2015. It will be the second collapse of an Obamacare health care co-op this year and the third since the Obama administration rolled them out in 2012 as a competitor to commercial health insurance companies.

From the beginning, the Louisiana co-op was fraught with high-paid consultants who were not even from Louisiana, but Georgia. It also suffered from an apparent conflict of interest. George Cromer, its CEO, simultaneously served the Louisiana House of Representatives as chairman of that legislative body’s insurance committee.

Roughly 18 months into its existence, in September 2012, the Louisiana co-op received $66 million from the U.S. Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services. By 2014, the National Association of Insurance Commissioners reported that the co-op had burned through half of its cash and suffered a net operating loss of $23 million. The co-op had only enrolled 17,000 paid subscribers out of a total state population of 4.6 million, according to state census data.

Obamacare has been a colossal disaster, but as I noted here yesterday, that was the whole point all along.

 

Posted at 4:03 am on July 28th, 2015 by

Oh-Oh: MSM Starting to Notice that Hillary! Is Stumbling

Don’t take it from me; take it from Michael Gerson in the Washington Post:

The most surprising revelation in recent presidential polling is not that Donald Trump has low favorability in key states — a welcome indicator of national sanity — but rather that Hillary Clinton’s numbers are almost as bad. Put another way: A vacuous, gaffe-prone, xenophobic, conspiracy-minded reality television star whose nomination, by most accounts, would destroy the GOP has about the same approval ratings in Colorado and Iowa as the prohibitive favorite for the Democratic nomination. A recognition begins to dawn: Democrats may be coronating a wounded queen.

Wee, what was your first cue? The eight years of investigations of the Bill Clinton administration? Or the more recent stuff, like Benghazi and the emails? Should the Democrats be foolish enough to actually nominate the Dowager Empress of Chappaqua for president, their candidate will sure rank as the most corrupt and least-skilled politician ever to stand for national office.

Horse-race polling conducted early in a presidential contest means very little, as President Fred Thompson and President Howard Dean can attest. But while early polls are not predictive of outcomes, they can be indicative of weaknesses. In a recent CNN/ORC poll, 57 percent of adults did not consider Clinton honest and trustworthy. According to an AP-Gfk poll, only 31 percent of likely voters think the word “honest” describes Clinton well. And in a recent Quinnipiac poll of key states, 59 percent of Iowa voters, 55 percent of Virginia voters and 62 percent of Colorado voters did not believe that Clinton is honest and trustworthy.

Clinton’s response? “People should, and do, trust me.” A statement not particularly worthy of trust.

No, people shouldn’t and don’t, not unless they were born yesterday with an Obama baby pacifier in their mouths. Tick, and may I add, tock:

Senior Democrats are seeing what the rest of us see — a Clinton campaign that is burning money and losing ground. At what point do party leaders begin a panicked search for alternatives? Not yet. But when? “When public sentiment consistently falls in this [polling] category,” a former Democratic official told me. “When people say enough is enough and can’t deal with the Clinton psychodrama anymore. They [both Clintons] feel this is the normal condition.”

This former official thinks that Clinton has the month of August to right her listing campaign. If that doesn’t happen, Vice President Joe Biden’s colorful trial balloon may rise. And when a candidate’s main argument is inevitability — as Clinton’s is — doubts are a crack in the ice that quickly spreads.

I still think the Democrat standard-bearer in 2016 will be Elizabeth Warren, who checks all the boxes Hillary! does — female, white, elderly, wealthy, leftist, preachy and schoolmarmish. But she has one advantage that Mrs. Clinton lacks, and which is of paramount importance to the low-information, short-attention-span voters who make up the Democrat base: nobody ever heard of her until last night.

More: 

Why Trump Is Leading the GOP Pack

Posted at 3:46 am on July 28th, 2015 by

Lawmakers to Kerry: Yank Visas for Diplomats’ Spouses from Countries that Don’t Allow Gay State Dept. Spouses

One hundred and twenty-five members of Congress asked Secretary of State John Kerry in a letter Monday to deny visas to diplomats’ spouses if the envoys come from a country that doesn’t recognize same-sex spouses of State Department personnel.

House Foreign Affairs Committee Ranking Member Eliot Engel (D-N.Y.) and House Appropriations Committee Ranking Member Nita Lowey (D-N.Y.) led the letter, which got one GOP signature — Foreign Affairs Subcommittee on the Middle East and North Africa Chairwoman Ileana Ros-Lehtinen (R-Fla.), who has a transgender son.

The lawmakers argued that countries not granting accreditation to same-sex spouses of American foreign service officers are keeping the diplomats from doing their jobs, so they ask that “the State Department reciprocate by denying a visa to the spouse of a diplomat from that country.”

“As you know, the United States Supreme Court recently held that the Constitution protects the right of same sex couples to marry. As the United States continues to make progress toward equality for our lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender (LGBT) community, many countries around the world have yet to address their own discriminatory practices,” the Congress members wrote. “As such, we are writing to express our concerns about recent reports that American LGBT Foreign Service Officers (FSO)s are sometimes denied an equal opportunity to represent the United States abroad because certain foreign governments refuse to recognize their same-sex marriages.”

“As Members of Congress, we believe that when same-sex couples working for the State Department receive equal treatment at home and abroad, our diplomatic corps truly reflects the American ideals of openness, equality, and human rights.”

They noted that the State Department “sometimes declines or discourages LGBT FSOs from assignments to certain overseas posts due to anticipated objections from the host nation, and that some State Department employees have apparently been denied assistance when they try to bring their same-sex spouses into countries that do not recognize their marriages.”

While they didn’t call out countries, a March vote at the United Nations over family benefits for gay employees saw Russia trying to stop the plan, arguing it discriminated against member states. Among the countries siding with Russia were Saudi Arabia, Pakistan, Egypt, Syria, China, and Belarus. Indonesia, which abstained, argued that the UN wasn’t allowing enough input from member states on the matter.

UN Ambassador Samantha Power argued during the vote that Russia was trying to undermine the authority of the secretary-general and stressed that the world body wasn’t making any nation recognize same-sex marriage. UN staff would have to get married in a country where same-sex unions are legal to get the family benefits.

The lawmakers who wrote Kerry on Monday argued that countries which don’t recognize spouses of gay foreign service officers “hamper the professional growth” of the diplomats and “threaten the Department’s ability to ensure that it can place the best, most qualified person in each position.”

“We cannot look the other way when an American diplomatic spouse — any American diplomatic spouse — is discriminated against in this way… In countries that maintain legalized forms of racism, sexism, or other types of bias, we believe the State Department should take a proactive role in demonstrating America’s deep commitment to equality, dignity, and diversity,” they continued.

“The Supreme Court’s decision in United States v. Windsor affirmed that commitment, stating that the federal government has a Constitutional obligation to treat all spouses equally regardless of sexual orientation. The June 26 decision in Obergefell v. Hodges, further demonstrated the Court’s commitment to marriage equality. While we understand the challenge in dealing with foreign governments that discriminate, we call on the State Department to send a forceful message that all American families must be treated equally.”

They should have Kerry’s ear. Last year, he told a gay pride event at the State Department: “Let me be clear: We oppose any effort by any country to deny visas for spouses of American staff. It’s discriminatory, it’s unacceptable, it has no place in the 21st century.”

“And I understand how challenging this issue is for all of you, which is why I’ve sent instructions to ambassadors at posts worldwide to engage at the highest levels on your behalf. Together we pay a price when these rights are trampled on, but together we win when these rights are protected,” he said then.

A gay member of the State Department submitted a question to Kerry about how he was going to do that, noting that not being able to bring a partner to a host country had eliminated about two-thirds of jobs on a bid list at the time.

“We are instructing embassies to inform governments locally that this is our policy and that they need to honor our policy. It’s that simple. And a lot of governments will respond positively; obviously, some won’t. And where they don’t, if they don’t extend recognition and immunities, we’re going to instruct them that we’re also going to begin gathering information on the host government policies and practices on accreditation. And we will make this information that is relevant to assignments – make it easier for employees and all of you to sort of pick and choose and know what the lay of the land is,” Kerry replied.

“But at some point in time, we may have to begin to make it clear to them that that can affect one program or another or the choices that we make. It’s not going to be a normal relationship. This is who we are, this what you have to respect, and that’s the way it is.”

Today at the State Department, press secretary John Kirby said they had not yet seen the congressional letter.

“But if it is as you describe, I’m sure that we will respond in appropriate time in detail to members of Congress,” Kirby said. “…I’m not an expert on visa applications and how they’re administered.”

Asked if the issue had been brought up before the nudge from the lawmakers, he responded, “I’m not aware of it coming up.”

Posted at 10:02 pm on July 27th, 2015 by

#BringBackOurRebels: Obama’s 50-Man ‘Vetted Moderate’ Syrian Rebel Army Vanishes After Training in Turkey

If you thought the farce of American foreign policy under the Obama administration couldn’t get any worse, you need to revise your expectations.

Earlier this month Defense Secretary Ashton Carter briefed Congress on the $500 million program to train “vetted moderate” Syrian rebels to fight the Islamic State.

CNN reported:

The United States has only trained approximately 60 Syrian rebel fighters as of July 3, Defense Secretary Ashton Carter told the Senate Armed Services Committee on Tuesday, saying the number is “much smaller” than the administration hoped to train at this point.

“I said the number 60, and I can look out at your faces and you have the same reaction I do, which is that that’s an awfully small number,” he said.

Carter’s admission highlights the increasing concern over the effectiveness of a program to train a local fighting force to combat ISIS in Syria.

As Politico noted at the time, the price tag for these 60 fighters was $4 million each with half of the $500 million appropriated for Obama’s “vetted moderate” rebel army having already been spent.

So how are our “vetted moderate” rebels faring? No one knows, because apparently they have vanished (HT: Alimhaider).

McClatchy reports today:

The dispute over aims has made it almost impossible for the U.S. and other allies to recruit young Syrians under the $500 million U.S. “train and equip” program. Hundreds of recruits reportedly walked off when they were asked to commit to fight only the Islamic State and not the Assad regime.

The first graduates of the course in Turkey, about 50 recruits, rolled into Syria two weeks ago in four wheel drive pickup trucks. But they haven’t been heard from since.

The U.S. goal was to train at least 5,000 fighters against the Islamic State this year alone.

So after two weeks Obama’s “vetted moderate” army hasn’t been heard from since.

What happened? Some folks on Twitter are exploring the possiblities:

Lest congressional Republicans get too cocky, let me remind them that they are the ones who approved the $500 million for this boondoggle.

Maybe Michelle Obama can get a new Twitter hashtag trending: #BringBackOurRebels.

Posted at 5:46 pm on July 27th, 2015 by

Trump Bows Out of NH GOP Forum

A total of 14 candidates are slated to participate in the “Voters First Republican Presidential Forum” in New Hampshire on Monday Aug. 3, but Republican frontrunner Donald Trump will not be one of them.

The Donald decided to bow out of the forum following a sarcastic editorial that was published in the New Hampshire Union Leader last week.

Here is the opening paragraph from the offending editorial (“The real hero: Clearly it’s Trump over McCain”):

If anyone in America knows heroism, it is Donald Trump, veteran of the Ivy League, Studio 54 and countless harrowing entanglements with legions of gorgeous blondes. John McCain? If only he had Trump’s example to follow early in life.

 The New Hampshire Union Leader is one of the co-sponsors of the “Voters First Forum.”

Candidate Trump bowed out because, an aide said, he was upset with an editorial this week that mocked him for saying that U.S. Sen. John McCain was not a war hero. McCain, shot down by the North Vietnamese, suffered years of torture after refusing to be released early because his father was an admiral.

 

The forum will take place in New Hampshire and be broadcast nationally on C-SPAN.

Joining Bush, Walker, Paul and Sen. Rubio will be Carly Fiorina, Govs. Bobby Jindal, John Kasich and Chris Christie, former Govs. Rick Perry and George Pataki; U.S. Sens. Lindsey Graham and Ted Cruz, former U.S. Sen. Rick Santorum, and Dr. Ben Carson.

Unlike the Fox polling bar, criteria for inclusion in the Voters First Forum are much broader and include active campaign operations with paid staff and local offices in the early states.

The Fox News debate scheduled for August 6 in Cleveland, OH, will include 10 candidates who will qualify based on national polls.

The top 8 candidates according to RealClearPolitics’ compilation of six current national polls are Donald Trump, Jeb Bush, Scott Walker, Marco Rubio, Mike Huckabee, Dr. Ben Carson, Ted Cruz, and Rand Paul.

Seven candidates, Chris Christie, John Kasich, Rick Perry, Rick Santorum, Bobby Jindal, Carly Fiorina, and Lindsey Graham, who are neck in neck in the polls, are vying for those two remaining spots.

Posted at 5:25 pm on July 27th, 2015 by

VIDEO: Boehner Weeps During Golf Channel Interview

The Gold Channel episode of David Feherty’s journey up to Capitol Hill doesn’t run until Aug. 3, but the preview of the interview with House Speaker John Boehner shows the Ohio Republican doing what he does best.

Boehner has shed tears each time he’s taken the gavel at the beginning of a new Congress. His eyes welled up during the 2011 State of the Union address.

He choked up at a Taco Bell Foundation event last year as former Destiny’s Child singer Kelly Rowland marveled that Boehner’s tears were “so sweet.”

He cried in a 2010 interview with 60 Minutes. He got dissed by House Minority Leader Nancy Pelosi (D-Calif.), who’s not a public crier. “You know what? He is known to cry. He cries sometimes when we’re having a debate on bills,” Pelosi told the New York Times years ago. “If I cry, it’s about the personal loss of a friend or something like that. But when it comes to politics — no, I don’t cry.”

In short, Boehner cries a lot. But it’s probably a first for the Golf Channel.

YouTube Preview Image
Posted at 3:49 pm on July 27th, 2015 by

Hillary’s Plan to Fight ‘One of the Most Urgent Threats of Our Time’

Declaring that the “reality of climate change is unforgiving — no matter what the deniers say,” Hillary Clinton unveiled a climate agenda Monday that industry critics immediately branded an “energy poverty agenda.”

“I know there are still people who would rather not hear this.  Some deny climate change exists at all.  Others throw up their hands and say, ‘Sorry, I’m not a scientist,’” Clinton said today in Des Moines.

“Well, I’m not a scientist either. That’s why I think it’s important to listen to scientists. It’s important to heed the warnings based on extensive scientific research to see what’s going on here in our own country and certainly around the world.”

She called climate change “one of the most urgent threats of our time, and we have no choice but to rise and meet it.”

“First, we need to have more than half a billion solar panels installed across the country by the end of my first term,” Clinton said. “Second, we’ll set a 10-year goal of generating enough renewable energy to power every single home in America. Not some homes. Not most homes. Every home in America.”

Clinton added that she’ll reveal her detailed plan on how to achieve these goals and “make America the world’s clean energy superpower” over the next few months.

“And even as we face the threat of climate change head on, we cannot close our eyes to the challenges facing hard-working families in Coal Country, who kept our lights on and our factories running for more than a century. We should guarantee that coal miners and their families get the benefits they’ve earned and the respect they deserve,” she said.

“…I refuse to turn my back on what is one of the greatest threats and greatest opportunities America faces. I refuse to let those who are deniers, who disagree with what we need to do to rip away all the progress we’ve made and leave our country exposed to the most severe consequences of climate change. America needs to lead this fight, not go MIA.”

Former Maryland Gov. Martin O’Malley’s campaign quickly jumped in with his own climate pledges, vowing to go 100 percent renewable energy and end all reliance on fossil fuels.

“Governor O’Malley is opposed to the Keystone XL pipeline because we can’t move to a clean energy future if we continue to rely on dirty, short-term fossil fuel fixes,” said deputy campaign manager Lis Smith. “Real leadership is about forging public opinion on issues like Keystone — not following it. Every Democrat should follow his lead and take a stand to commit to ending our reliance on fossil fuels.”

American Energy Alliance president Thomas Pyle said Clinton’s plan “will raise energy prices on all Americans, especially poor families, the elderly, and those who are still struggling to find work in the Obama economy.”

“Electricity from new wind facilities is three times more costly than existing coal and four times more costly than existing nuclear plants,” Pyle said. “This obvious pander to the national environmental lobby may benefit those bankrolling her run for the White House, but everyday American families will be stuck paying for her ill-conceived policies.”

Posted at 3:09 pm on July 27th, 2015 by

In Praise of the Market Economy

While in Los Angeles for a recent vacation trip, I had the pleasure of walking (!) around the streets of West L.A.

I love the feel of a bustling shopping district. I know it’s fashionable to decry the shallowness and materialism of American consumer culture. On the other hand, I prefer a more positive “glass half full” perspective. I love that a modern market economy makes such a wide variety of goods and services so easily available to ordinary people for such relatively little money.

For less than the price of an hour of labor, an average person in California can enjoy a filling lunch of authentic cuisine from India or Thailand. This would have been impossible to all but the richest of Americans 200 years ago.

Through most of human history, the average person had to spend hours each day in backbreaking farm labor to grow barely enough to feed themselves and their families. Today, our market economy creates such enormous surpluses that people can become artists and scientists and writers and computer programmers and baristas and specialty chefs, etc.

Of course, the economic freedom of a market economy puts the onus on individuals to figure out for themselves what careers they will find most personally and professionally fulfilling. But this is analogous to how the social freedom created by eliminating old school “arranged marriages” in traditional societies places the onus on individuals to figure out what sort of romantic partners they actually want.

Freedom doesn’t automatically guarantee success for any given person. But it does give people an opportunity — provided they are willing to think and plan for their own happiness. Such freedom can be daunting — but it’s far better than having no real choices at all.

It’s true that markets and material goods cannot provide meaning to someone with an empty spiritual life. But a market economy can give people their best chance of seeking and finding their own life purpose and meaning.

And to the extent that modern free-market capitalism has been allowed to function, it has lifted millions of people from poverty who in centuries past would have remained stuck in the rural or urban underclasses. Had I been born 200 years ago, I’d probably be a poor peasant picking rice somewhere in Taiwan, rather than enjoying a fulfilling career as an advanced professional here in the United States.

So the next time you’re sipping on a latte at your neighborhood coffee shop, browsing for a new smart phone at the local Apple Store, or enjoying the aroma coming from the all-you-can-eat lunch buffet at the local Indian restaurant, savor the experience. And savor the market economy that makes it all possible.

Posted at 1:05 pm on July 27th, 2015 by