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Dem Lawmakers: ‘And I’m Proud to Serve Under President…What’s His Name?’

Hey, Democrats! How about giving some props to your party leader, your president, by talking about him on the House or Senate floor?

What’s that? President “who”? My, how the worm has turned.

Washington Post:

When President Obama took office in 2009, congressional Democrats were euphoric. With control of the House, Senate and the White House, and high public approval for their new party standard bearer, Democrats eagerly embraced Obama and all the long-awaited policy initiatives he’d surely help them achieve.

In that first month, congressional Democrats mentioned Obama during floor speeches 200 or so more times than Republicans. In the next year and a half, the parties referred to the president at similar rates, sometimes with the Republicans having more to say, other times the Democrats.

One can reasonably assume that when the Democrats speak of the president publicly it’s in a favorable way and when Republicans do it’s, well, not quite as glowing. As positive public opinion of Obama began to dip after his first year, the spread between how often Republicans and the Democrats invoked Obama grew wider. Put simply, the Democrats weren’t mentioning Obama by name nearly as much as Republicans.

This chart from the Sunshine Foundation tells the tale at a glance. The Democrats have almost stopped mentioning the president in public debates, according to the Congressional Record.

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The gap between how many times the Republicans anhd Democrats have mentioned Obama has considerably widened in the last year.

Much has been written this election cycle about the Democrats distancing themselves from Obama ahead of the midterm elections. Some Democratic candidates in tough races regularly emphasize their differences with the president. And Obama is persona non grata on the campaign trail (unless it’s inside private high-dollar fundraiser dinners).

If the number of times they bring him up in front of the C-SPAN cameras is a measure, the Democrats detachment from the president is even evident on Capitol Hill – where every spoken word is recorded forever, so it’s especially crucial to choose them carefully.

Politicians are feral when it comes to their survival, so it’s not surprising that Democrats would have stopped talking about an unpopular leader. The problem is that history shows it won’t matter. Trying to run away from your party leader is a futile strategy and Democrats are likely to find that out in November.

Posted at 3:38 pm on September 20th, 2014 by

What Did Turkey Trade for Hostages?

Turkey is celebrating the return of 49 of their citizens held for 101 days by Islamic State. The hostages were captured when the Iraqi city of Mosul fell to the terrorists.

Turkey’s state run news agency Anadolu reported that “no ransom had been paid and “no conditions were accepted in return for their release.”

But many observers weren’t buying that explanation.

The official explanation “sounds a bit too good to be true,” said Sinan Ulgen, a former Turkish diplomat who chairs the Istanbul-based Centre for Economics and Foreign Policy Studies. “There are some very legitimate and unanswered questions about how this happened.”

The hostages — whose number included two small children — were seized from the Turkish Consulate in Mosul after the Islamic State group overran the Iraqi city on June 11. Turkish leaders gave only the broadest outlines of their rescue Saturday.

Prime Minister Ahmet Davutoglu said the release was the work of the country’s intelligence agency rather than a special forces operation.

“After intense efforts that lasted days and weeks, in the early hours our citizens were handed over to us and we brought them back,” Davutoglu said.

Davutoglu was the star of the homecoming ceremony Saturday, flying the hostages back to Ankara on his plane and delivering an impassioned address to the crowd. Families rushed the aircraft to greet their returning loved ones. The ex-hostages emerged wearing clean dresses and suits and showed little sign of having been held captive by fanatical militants for more than three months.

The hostages’ joyous reunion at the airport came as an enormous relief after the recent beheadings of other hostages — two U.S. journalists and a British aid worker — by the Islamic State group. The gruesome deaths briefly reignited a debate over whether the U.S. or British government should pay ransoms to free hostages.

Turkey’s state-run Anadolu Agency reported no ransom had been paid and “no conditions were accepted in return for their release,” although it didn’t cite any source for its reporting.

The agency said the hostages had been held at eight separate addresses in Mosul and their whereabouts were monitored by drones and other means.

The Iraqi government said it had no information about the rescue.

The hostages declined to answer all but the most general questions, although a couple hinted at ill treatment or death threats.

While the Turkish government broadly hints at some kind of cloak and dagger operation, the truth may be as simple as the government of Prime Minister Erdogan trading their pledge not to allow anti-ISIS forces uses of their bases and not joining the coalition for their prisoners.

What is certain is that the release of the hostages hasn’t changed Turkey’s mind about the coalition:

Turkey had been reluctant to join a coalition to defeat the Islamic State group, citing the safety of its 49 kidnapped citizens, but Stein said he doubted Turkey would suddenly adopt a much more muscular attitude toward the organization. Turkey might feel freer to advertise its existing efforts against the group, he said, citing its efforts to control oil smuggling across the border. But he said Turkey would not open its air bases to U.S. aircraft operating against the group.

“There will some changes, but not as much as people hope,” he said.

ISIS has hardly been restrained from killing fellow Muslims so there has to be another reason the hostages lives were spared. Whatever that reason was, Turkey — a member of NATO at present — still won’t allow their allies to press the fight against ISIS from their soil.

Posted at 1:55 pm on September 20th, 2014 by

Pope Francis Selects Spokane Bishop to Head Up Chicago Archdiocese

In the first big move by Pope Francis to put his imprint on the American Catholic church, the pontiff named Blase Cupich, the Bishop of the diocese of Spokane, to lead the 2.2 million Catholics of the archdiocese of Chicago.

Cardinal Francis George, the current archbishop, announced he was stepping down last May after he was diagnosed with cancer for the third time since 2005. Since then, George has said that he believes the cancer will take his life.

Bishop Cupich is considered a “moderate” in church circles and is said to mirror the opinions of the pope about de-emphasizing issues like abortion and gay marriage. While Cupich is said to be opposed to both, he is expected to bring a different style of advocacy to the debate.

Chicago is the third largest diocese in America and is considered one of the most influential in the nation, with innovative lay outreach programs and the largest private school system in the country.

Associated Press:

Cupich, 65, is a native of Omaha, Nebraska, where he was ordained a priest. He holds degrees from the Pontifical Gregorian University and The Catholic University of America. He was appointed bishop of Rapid City, South Dakota, in 1998, and served there until 2010, when he was appointed to Spokane.

In a 2012 essay in the Jesuit magazine America, Cupich said the U.S. bishops “rightly objected” to the original narrow religious exemption in President Barack Obama’s requirement that employers provide health insurance that covers contraception. But Cupich called for a “return to civility” in conversations about religious liberty and society.

Cupich also served as chairman of the U.S. bishops’ child protection committee at the height of the clergy sex abuse crisis and as church leaders were putting in place a toughened policy on disciplining guilty priests.

“While the outrage to the (government) decision was understandable, in the long run threats and condemnations have a limited impact,” Cupich said. “We should never stop talking to one another.”

Cupich has also defended Francis’ views on the economy and emphasis on fighting poverty, which some Catholics and others have criticized as naive and against capitalism.

“Instead of approaching life from the 30-thousand-feet level of ideas, he challenges policymakers and elected officials — indeed all of us — to experience the life of everyday and real people,” Cupich said at a conference last June on the Catholic case against libertarianism. “Much like he told religious leaders, Francis is saying that politicians and policymakers need to know the smell of the sheep.”

A Francis clone in the 3rd largest diocese in America would certainly have an impact on the hierarchy. Catholic bishops tend to be more liberal than their leaders both in the US and Rome and the notion that a more pastoral archbishop will have such a high profile position can only encourage the bishops in their attacks on wealth and capitalism.

But there is no difference of opinion regarding the contraceptive controversy, except perhaps in the manner in which Cubich will approach the administration.

In a letter last year on the Obama administration’s birth-control coverage rule for employers, Bishop Cupich said faith-affiliated groups should never be forced to provide services that the church considers morally objectionable. However, he condemned threats by some U.S. church leaders that they would shut down social-service agencies over the Affordable Care Act.

“These kind of scare tactics and worse-case scenario predictions are uncalled for,” he wrote in a letter to diocesan employees. “I am confident we can find a way to move forward.”

Is Pope Francis sending a message to the American Catholic church? “I think he sent a pastor, not a message,” Cupich says. Nice thought, but irrelevant. Of course popes send messages. But what kind of message he is passing along won’t be known until Archbishop Cubich has a chance to place his own stamp on the Chicago Catholic church.

Posted at 10:56 am on September 20th, 2014 by

Defense Secretary Hagel to Review Pentagon-NFL Ties

Secretary of Defense Chuck Hagel has asked for a Pentagon review of the military’s involvement in the National Football League. The review comes in the wake of several domestic violence complaints against NFL players.

The connection between the NFL and the military goes back decades, and the connections are considerable.

CNN reports:

The Army alone spends some $10 million a year buying advertising from television networks broadcasting NFL games. Games are also broadcast by the Armed Forces Network to troops deployed overseas.

Military support for the NFL games includes: providing ceremonial units at games for colors ceremonies; military personnel singing the national anthem, and other units providing drill teams or flyovers. Military personnel, including wounded warriors, often appear at NFL events honoring those who serve.

The Army and the NFL also have a agreement to share information and resources to better understand traumatic brain injury, which is a major medical issue both for wounded troops and football players. They are working together on awareness of TBI as well as research into treatment. The military has been sharing some of the lessons learned on TBI from the last 13 years of war, specifically.

Another program, NFL Play 60, has seen players visit military bases to encourage children to be more active as least 60 minutes a day to help prevent childhood obesity.

It is clear the White House is also closely monitoring the NFL controversy, with one senior administration official calling recent abuse allegations “deeply troubling” and stressing the league’s obligation to “(get) control of the situation.”

“Many of these professional athletes are marketed as role models to young people,” the official said. “So their behavior does have the potential to influence these young people. So that’s one of the many reasons it’s important the league gets a handle on this and have zero tolerance.”

Just how is the NFL supposed to “get control” of the domestic violence committed by their players? There are more than 1300 NFL players on 30 rosters across the league. Six players have been accused of domestic violence in recent months. While that is six too many, the question has to be asked: is domestic violence in the NFL so serious and so widespresd that it must become a federal issue?

No doubt women’s advocates would love to make it one. Already several big money advertisers like Anheuser-Busch and Nike are looking closely at their relationship with the NFL. A pullout by those two giants would hit the league where it hurts the most: advertising dollars.

There are legitimate questions about how the league has handled specific cases — most notably, the Ray Rice clocking of his girlfriend in an elevator. But how can you blame anyone, especially Commissioner Roger Goodell, for the actions of players off the football field? The only way this campaign against the NFL makes sense is if you consider the enormous amount of money at stake, and the high-profile nature of the crimes, which aids women’s groups in fundraising and marketing.

Posted at 5:48 am on September 20th, 2014 by

Government at Work: Kid Gets Detention for Sharing School Lunch

When good habits are bad, or something.

A 13-year-old California boy was reportedly placed in detention for sharing a school-prepared lunch with another student.

Kyle Bradford, a student at Weaverville Elementary School in Weaverville, Calif., was disciplined after sharing his chicken burrito with a friend who didn’t like the cheese sandwich he was given by the cafeteria, KRCR-TV reported.

“It seemed like he couldn’t get a normal lunch so I just wanted to give mine to him because I wasn’t really that hungry and it was just going to go in the garbage if I didn’t eat it,” Bradford told the website.

The Trinity Alps Unified School District, however, has rules that prohibit students from sharing food — claiming that students can have allergies their classmates may not be aware of, according to the website.

When in doubt, overreact — that is the way of school administrators. I am sure we can partially blame the lawyers for that. However, I also think this has to do with the liberal fantasy of being able to have rules that make every little bad go away in childhood.

I will now leave you with the immortal words of Susan Powter:

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Posted at 4:13 pm on September 19th, 2014 by

Obamacare Exchange Site Doesn’t Work Well, NPR Blames Insurance Company For Pointing It Out

Yeah, THAT’S the probblem.

Iowa and South Dakota are the two states where the ACA insurance marketplaces have struggled the most. In both states, just 11.1 percent of residents eligible for subsidized insurance signed up for it — the lowest rates in all 50 states and the District of Columbia, according to data from the Kaiser Family Foundation. (KHN is an editorially independent program of the foundation.)

What happened in Iowa and South Dakota? The answer lies in commerce, not politics.

The individual insurance market in both states is dominated by one insurer, Wellmark Blue Cross and Blue Shield. Wellmark BCBS chose not to sell on the ACA exchanges in the first year, locking out its consumers from buying subsidized plans from the company. And it has decided to stay out of the Iowa and South Dakota exchanges for Year 2.

Competitors claim that Wellmark BCBS is cleansing its risk pool by staying off the exchanges because “presumably” poorer, less healthy people would be there. The company counters that the federal end of the system is so problematic it prevents them from adequately serving their customers.

Wellmark BCBS cited technical problems with the back end of HealthCare.gov as a reason it is staying out of the market in 2015. A spokeswoman said data discrepancies in the enrollment process could affect consumer subsidies and eligibility.

“How data is transferred between the system, government entities and ultimately, health insurers continues to be problematic,” Wellmark BCBS Public Relations Manager Traci McBee writes in an email. “Because we rely on this information to serve our members, we need to ensure the information we receive is timely, secure and accurate.”

Wellmark says despite not selling on the exchange in 2014, it sold more ACA-compliant plans through its website and insurance agents than any of its competitors did in the two states.

That the company claims it can be more “timely, secure and accurate” with the federal bureaucracy out of the way seems like a…sane reason.

Posted at 3:31 pm on September 19th, 2014 by

Obama on International Relations: ‘Even the Folks Who Badmouth Us Look to Us’

Congress has recessed to prepare for November’s midterm elections, and President Obama warned the DNC Women’s Leadership Forum today that “in the coming weeks, the American people will see two very different visions of this country.”

One is the top-down economy and the other “says that our economy grows best from the middle out… and in case you didn’t figure it out, the second vision is better.”

“We do better when we embrace an economic patriotism that says we’re all in this together,” Obama said.

The president said his pitch for “getting rid of policies that belong in the Mad Men era” isn’t political.

“It’s not politics in the narrow, cramped sense, but, yes, it’s politics in the big sense of us organizing ourselves to try to move our country forward,” Obama continued. “The work we do is bigger than partisan politics. And I believe that for all that is wrong with our politics right now, there’s so much that’s right with America that if we could just create a government and a politics that spoke to common sense and what was important for ordinary Americans, we’d do great.”

“…America isn’t the party we belong to — we’re not born Democrats or Republicans.  America is the values we share:  hard work and responsibility, and sacrifice, and looking out for one another.”

He called one brand of politics “mean and nasty and polarizing” and another sense of the word “having a common vision for the future.”

Obama asked the Democrats to “choose hope,” because “hope is what gave soldiers courage to storm a beach.”

The president also touched on foreign policy, stressing that with all of the challenges “America remains the one indispensable nation in the world.”

“Even the folks who badmouth us look to us,” Obama said. “America is leading the effort to rally the world against Russian aggression. America is leading the fight to contain and combat an Ebola epidemic in Africa. America is leading the coalition that will degrade and ultimately destroy the terrorist group known as ISIL. And as Americans, we welcome these responsibilities; we don’t shy away from them.”

Posted at 3:26 pm on September 19th, 2014 by

Woman Declared Brain-Dead After Being Hit By Cyclist In Central Park

Heartbreaking.

A cyclist pedaling a $4,000 racing bike at high speed through Central Park slammed into a suburban mom in town shopping for her daughter’s birthday present — leaving the woman brain-dead, sources said.

Jill Tarlov, 59, of Fairfield, Conn., the wife of a CBS executive, was in a crosswalk near 63rd Street when Jason Marshall, 31, came barreling along West Drive at around 4:30 p.m. and yelled for her to get out of his way, law enforcement sources said.

Tarlov was rushed to New York-Presbyterian Hospital/Weill Cornell Medical Center, where she was declared brain-dead, the sources said.

This is a terrible, and wholly avoidable tragedy. Cyclists in every city I visit seem to be getting bolder and more lacking in regard for pedestrians and traffic laws in recent years. They’re allowed to ride on sidewalks here in LA, so they randomly jump from there to the street and back without much warning. It’s a dicier proposition for me to walk a block to 7-11 than to get on the 405 and drive fifteen miles.

Posted at 3:15 pm on September 19th, 2014 by

Roger Goodell Promises to Right the Ship

This still needs Condi.

During a news conference on Friday, NFL Commissioner Roger Goodell promised that the league “will get our house in order.”

Goodell announced that former FBI Director Robert Mueller will lead an investigation of the way the league handled the Ray Rice case, and he said that at the end of the process the league will implement new conduct policies.

“I promise you that any shortcomings he finds will lead to swift action,” Goodell said. “The same mistakes will never be repeated.”

Goodell has faced intense criticism over the league’s handling of off-field violent behavior from some of its players. The issue came to a very public head when a video surfaced showing Rice, a star for the Baltimore Ravens, punching his then-fiancee.

As long as Goodell has the support of owners, he should have some breathing room to be more proactive. In a radio interview this morning, I mentioned that Goodell can’t get a complete grip on this until the surprises stop. He thought the Rice situation was handled, then the second video surfaced. Just when damage control was settling in there, the Peterson incident became public. Before almost anything could be done about that, a second allegation was made known. Then the Dwyer story happened. Goodell and the league have been reeling and on their heels in a purely reactive mode because of all of this.

They need the surprises to stop before anything substantive can be done. The PR department needs to be paid more too.

In other not-so-good news for the league, the Dept. of Defense is looking into its connections with the NFL.

Posted at 2:46 pm on September 19th, 2014 by

Sorry, Food Babe, But Starbucks’ Pumpkin Spice Latte Does Not Have a ‘Toxic’ Dose of Sugar In It

If your neighborhood is anything like mine (or any other neighborhood, frankly), there’s a Starbucks in it, and that Starbucks was crowded with a line of cars around the block a week or two ago. That’s when the coffee chain rolled out its popular pumpkin spice latte drink.

I’m not a fan of that drink, but evidently everyone else who lives within about five miles of a Starbucks is. There were huge lines.

The pumpkin spice latte even got its own official Twitter feed.

 

The “verify” crack comes courtesy of Vani Hari, aka the “Food Babe.”

When Starbucks rolled its seasonal pumpkin spice latte out, Hari was ready with a damning infographic to attack the drink and you, if you drink it.

hari-latte

 

Geez, didn’t Basher Assad just declare a bunch of these things chemical weapons and ship them out to be destroyed?

Look, it is a little problematic that the pumpkin spice latte doesn’t contain any actual pumpkin. I’ll even side with the Food Babe that a lot of this artificial stuff is bad. High fructose corn syrup is nasty stuff, in my opinion, and I avoid it as much as possible. By the way, it’s in pretty much everything.

But HFCS isn’t in that latte. It has 50 grams of sugar, which Hari describes as “toxic.” See the graphic above.

50 grams of sugar is a lot for one grande drink, but it’s a sweet drink. The grande is also a fairly big drink — about 16 ounces. So the grande pumpkin spice latte’s 50 grams tracks with the 39 grams of sweetener that’s in a 12-ounce can of Coke.

And 50 grams of sugar is nowhere near “toxic.” It’s about 3.5 tablespoons. Many, many people put nearly as much in a regular sized cup of coffee without thinking twice about it.

I suppose if someone did the Super Size Me thing and drank nothing but grande pumpkin spice latte drinks every day every time they got the urge, they wouldn’t feel very good. It would be bad for them. But no reasonable person is going to do that. So the sugar in the drink is not, in any way, “toxic.”

Healthy eating and living are good things. I’ve changed my own diet recently to get more nutrients and fewer processed items into my body.  Nothing to do with the Food Babe or any fad, I just want to lose a few pounds and be healthier. Fewer meats, more fruits and vegetables, more grains, you probably have heard the drill by now. If you haven’t, look into it. Yes, quinoa can be made edible. So far, about a month in, the results are inconclusive. But I’m sticking with it, with only an occasional dabble into a sweet item like a seasonal latte. And my grill is standing out back neglected. I need to rectify that soon.

This Food Babe is verging on becoming a Food Nazi, though. Hari makes her way through life being hot, and throwing out hyperbole. I get it, that’s how the Internet works. Hot gets you gigs on networks even if you don’t really know what you’re talking about. But Hari twists facts on ingredients when she lacks any sort of scientific background.

But before anyone enlists with the #FoodBabeArmy (yes, that’s a real thing), it’s worth pointing out that Hari is not a chemist or a scientist in any way. She’s an activist. More power to her, Army of Davids and all that, but reader beware. Now that she is a public figure and a known crusader, her livelihood will depend on her ability to “uncover” more things like non-toxic doses of sugar in a coffee drink. Having already successfully launched her “quackmail” campaigns against beer, Chick-Fil-A, Kraft, Panera, Subway and now Starbucks, who’s next?

Posted at 2:27 pm on September 19th, 2014 by

Catalonia Parliament Approves Independence Referendum

Prior to the independence vote in Scotland, there were predictions that, win or lose, the vote would encourage other regions of Europe and around the world to seek independence in order to fulfill the national aspirations of their people.

Several European enclaves have been agitating for independence for decades — even centuries. Many of them have their own history, culture, and language that predate their assimilation. The Basque may be the most notorious of these independence seekers since the armed wing of their revolutionary party — the ETA — used to routinely carry out terrorist attacks. The ETA laid down their arms in 2011, but the desire for independence has not lessened.

Italy’s South Tyrol and Sardinia, Belgium’s Flanders, France’s Corsica, the United Kingdom’s Wales and Northern Ireland — all of these and a dozen more have expressed an interest in gaining independence.

And that’s just Europe. There are dozens of separatist movements in Africa and Asia that also have been cheered by events in Scotland. While independence may have lost, the fact that a vote was held in the first place has leaders of separatist movements around the world hopeful that they can be more successful.

The next turn of the screw for Europe will apparently be in Catalonia, the richest and most productive area of Spain. Within hours of knowing the outcome of the Scottish vote on independence, the Catalonian parliament voted to hold their own referendum on independence in November, thus directly defying the national government in Madrid which has threatened to take legal action against the autonomous region.

Wall Street Journal:

A day after a majority of Scots voted against secession from the U.K., the parliament in the wealthy, industrial Spanish region of Catalonia approved a law to allow for its own, albeit nonbinding, referendum on independence.

The 106-28 vote Friday set Spain on a path toward a legal and political crisis. The central government in Madrid has vowed to block the referendum, which it says is unconstitutional.

After the law is published in the coming days, Catalonia’s regional president, Artur Mas, is expected to sign a decree formally convoking the referendum for Nov. 9. At the Spanish government’s request, the Constitutional Court is then expected to issue an injunction to halt the vote.

Mr. Mas has expressed misgivings about going ahead with the referendum in violation of Spanish law because the vote might lack international credibility. Another way for him to satisfy pro-independence groups clamoring to cast ballots would be by calling early regional elections as a proxy vote.

During the Catalan parliament’s 2½-hour debate, many speakers took note of the historic nature of the proceedings.

“Democracy without liberty is a sham and we want to vote—not a sham,” said pro-referendum congresswoman Dolors Camats.

Albert Rivera, leader of the Citizens’ Party and an opponent of the referendum, said that those advocating it were being irresponsible. “This isn’t a day of celebration, but of worry because these separatist movements have a sword over Europe’s head,” he said.

Catalan separatists complain that the government in Madrid drains the region of tax revenue without offering sufficient respect for its language and culture. Spanish government officials maintain that Catalonia receives economic benefits from being part of Spain and has plenty of autonomy under the constitution.

While there is certainly resentment against the perception that Madrid is stifling their national character, Catalans have an economic bone to pick with the Spanish government — especially after the last few years of “austerity” budgets that put most of the burden on the region:

The pro-independence forces claim that Catalonia’s fiscal imbalance with Spain’s national budget amounts to $20 billion (US dollars) per year, according to figures from the Catalan government’s finance minister. This office claims that Catalonia—origin of a quarter of Spain’s exports—suffers an insufficient investment and financial disadvantage since it generates nineteen percent of Spain’s GDP and receives back eleven percent in expenditure from the central government. Indeed, with a population of 7.5 million out of 46 million, Catalonia is, after Madrid, the second-wealthiest of Spain’s seventeen so-called autonomous communities, as stated in the last available Spanish government’s National Statistics Institute account, which excludes the Basque Country and Navarre because they benefit from a special fiscal regime due to their historic “foral” tradition. However, Catalonia is also the most indebted autonomous community among the communities.

Madrid responds to Catalan complaints by claiming that Catalonia receives special assistance from the Spanish government, outside of money from the national budget, in the form of ad hoc loans to make payments not previously planned for. (The central government is in fact its only lender, since Spanish law blocks access by the autonomous communities to shop for loans on international markets.) Spain also insists that solidarity must be at the core of relations among its regional governments. But this has proven a double-edged sword since the separatists claim that Catalonia is discriminated against within this community, noting that Spanish investment in Catalonia (i.e., annual government budgeting for the region) will drop twenty-five percent compared to an average decrease of 7.2 percent for the nation as a whole during the current belt-tightening effort to stop the country’s economic free fall. Catalan nationalists refer to this imbalance as “plunder.”

With Barcelona, one of the jewel cities of Europe and a vital hub of finance and commerce as Catalonia’s capital, it is not likely that the Spanish government will allow independence for the region even if a vote for independence is successful.

Besides, it appears likely that the Catalans themselves are wary of even holding a vote if it contravenes Spanish law:

Just 23 percent of those surveyed in a Metroscopia poll published in El Pais said Catalonia should press ahead with the referendum, even if it is declared illegal. This is the stance of Mas’s coalition partner, the separatist party ERC.

The poll showed 45 percent of those surveyed believed Catalonia should respect the decision of the court and 25 percent said the region should look for other legal ways to redraw its relationship with Spain.

A NC Report poll, published in La Razon newspaper, showed 55 percent of Catalans would not support the referendum if declared illegal. Both polls surveyed 1,000 people.

The wealthy region of 7 million people has its own language and cultural identity and has long sought greater self-rule. Central government spending cuts during a deep recession have helped fuel independence sentiment.

The Metroscopia poll found just 27 percent of those polled wanted full independence from Spain, with 42 percent wanting Catalonia to form a part of Spain but under new terms. Many Catalans want more power over taxes and welfare spending.

The Catalonian people share a common dream with other small European enclaves of distinct ethnic minorities: they want their culture and history back, as well as some sense that they have their hands on the levers of economic and political power to help direct their national destiny. If this can be accomplished within the framework of remaining attached to their current parent country, that would probably be satisfactory to the majority.

If not, we are going to see more votes like the one in Scotland.

Posted at 2:07 pm on September 19th, 2014 by

Hillary Clinton-The Family Values Candidate?!?

Everybody needs a gimmick.

Clinton hasn’t spoken much publicly about the impending birth of her first grandchild, but Friday, that’s how she anchored her argument.

“I’ve been thinking a lot about family, because as you know, I’m on grand-baby watch. And I think a lot about this new member of our family and what he or she can look forward to,” Clinton said.

“The Democratic Party is at its best, just like America is at its best, when we rally behind a very simple but powerful idea: family.”

How can she call it a “grandbaby” if it isn’t here yet? Aren’t the Democrats the ones always telling us that it’s not a baby until it’s born. Hillary really needs to get on message here.

Sure, if the kid can survive the womb gauntlet the pro-abortion Democrats have created, then it is all about family, right?

RIGHT?

Clinton is setting up the narrative for 2016. It is obvious she is going to lead with the “War On Women” nonsense, despite the fact that leaning on her more-hawkish-than-Obama foreign policy credentials might serve her better by the time 2016 rolls around. However, the focus on the former will enable her to play the gender card every time she feels put upon, which will be always.

Posted at 1:14 pm on September 19th, 2014 by

House Dem Slams Obama’s ISIS Plan: ‘Arming Semi-Bad Guys to Kill Barbarically-Bad Guys’

It’s fair to say that Rep. Emanuel Cleaver is a critic of President Obama’s plan to arm Syrian rebels to fight ISIS. He voted against the plan, and then he appeared on MSNBC to trash the plan.

Cleaver called the congressional vote authorizing arming the rebels a vote “to arm semi-bad buys to kill some barbarically-bad buys to teach all the world that bad guys should not kill.” Cleaver pointed out that we don’t even know who many of the rebels are or why they’re fighting.

Having said that, Cleaver says he has no plans to spend the next month “bashing” Obama because the president “had no good options.”

Plus, the president is a Democrat and there is an election on.

Cleaver didn’t say that last part. It was implied.

Posted at 12:21 pm on September 19th, 2014 by

Does Fear of Radical Muslims Intimidate The American Press and Legal System?

Brendan Tevlin was driving home all alone in his car when he became a casualty of war from 6,000 miles away. Brendan did not know who it was who killed him or why. What did he do to have 8 shots pumped into his car killing him instantly? He died because an empowered Ail Muhammad Brown thought he had the right to kill for his religion, To Brown it says in the Quran Chapter 17.33,  “Killing by right has five sections” and Brown chose the section covering the, “Willful murder for retribution.” The police, the press, and the Federal Government refused to call it a terrorist attack.

On September 13, 2013 in an address to the world the Al Qaeda leader Ayman al-Zawahri urged small-scale attacks inside the United States. Lone wolf terrorists attacks have been going on for a long time.

Another example of a lone wolf attack was Nidal Malik Hasan, a U.S. Army major and psychiatrist, who shot and killed 13 people on November 5, 2009 at Ft. Hood Texas. The Federal Government called what happened at Ft. Hood a “Workplace Violence incident.”  Again nobody at any level of government or law enforcement or the press would challenge the government assertion it was not an act of terrorism. Why is it that in both cases the government refuses to call these acts as terrorism?

Our Federal government doesn’t have the skill to follow long wolf terrorists. Jeffrey Simon is a visiting lecturer of political science at UCLA, an expert on terrorism and political violence, says in his book, “Lone wolf Terrorism, Understanding the Growing Threat.” “What makes lone wolves so dangerous is their ability to think outside the box. Since they operate by themselves, there is no group pressure or decision-making process that might stifle creativity. Lone wolves are free to act upon any scenario they can dream up. This freedom has resulted in some of the most imaginative terrorist attacks in history.

Our government is quick to call something racist and dispatch significant resource to make sure justice is done. A young black man was killed in Ferguson and the Attorney General of the United States, Eric Holder went to Ferguson in person to insure that the full weight of the Federal Government was brought to bear to insure justice was served. Has he been in Newark? Has he visited the parents of Brendan Tevlin? Did President Obama call the Tevlin parents and express on behalf of the nation sorrow for their loss? Did he tell them, “We will not tolerate brutal attacks on American citizens and Mr. Brown will be prosecuted to the full extent of the law.”

It is clear from the confession Ali Muhammad Brown he did not believe he had done anything wrong when he killed Tevlin and 3 or possibly 4 others in Washington. So he believes that he is not guilty because his faith tells him he can kill.

How is it that the local and state police refused, along with the Justice Department to call this at least for now, a lone wolf terrorist attack? The problem for the government is that it can’t follow the, “Lone Wolf Terrorists.” Innocent people were killed just like Brendan in the Boston Marathon bombing again by two lone wolfs.

So back to the question, why did the press not cover this story? First of all unlike Ferguson, which was a white police officer killing a black young man and potential racism, in Brendan’s case this was a Black Muslim terrorist killing a white man. The press knows that terrorists, as was demonstrated with the murdering of Brendan Tevlin can kill you for any reason. If you have interfered with the goal of Islam then the terrorist has the right to kill you. Look what happened to the two reporters that were beheaded in ISIL If you’re a reporter for TV or newspaper do you want to take the chance of risking your life by condemning the act of terrorism? Why take the risk of speaking out about Islam and ISIL. I have no doubt that the fact that the race had the wrong spin, black on white gave them the chance to gloss over the story and in turn pass on the story.

Brown has not said that he was a supporter of ISIL but he did say that he was a devout Muslim and his killing was retribution for American sins in the Middle East. I wonder if the press and the Treasury will change if an American reporter is beheaded on American soil? Brendan Tevlin I have never met you but my brain tells me that you would have made America a better place, we can’t afford to loose any more good guys like Brendan, because the government is afraid to call something what it is.

 

Posted at 11:10 am on September 19th, 2014 by

(VIDEO) Scarborough Wants ‘A Certain Network’ To Cover Christie’s Bridgegate Clearing Like It Did Allegations

Wishful thinking. MSNBC was hyperventilating about Christie’s culpability as recently as a week ago.

Posted at 10:59 am on September 19th, 2014 by

Missing From The Plans To Destroy ISIS: Debate And A Plan To Destroy ISIS

From The Federalist.

This indulgence so overwhelms our ruling class’s perception of reality that the recipes put forth by its several wings, little different from one another, are identical in the one essential respect: none of them involve any plans which, if carried out, would destroy the Islamic State, kill large numbers of the cut-throats, and discourage others from following in their footsteps. Hence, like the George W. Bush’s “war on terror” and for the same reasons, this exercise of our ruling class’s wisdom in foreign affairs will decrease respect for us while invigorating our enemies.

The WSJ’s recommendations, like the Obama administration’s projected activities, are all about discrete measures—some air strikes, some arming of local forces, etc. But they abstract from the fundamental reality of any and all activities: He who wills any end must will the means to achieve it. As in Bush’s war, as is the custom in Washington nowadays, our ruling class’s several sectors decide what actions they feel comfortable undertaking about any given problem, while avoiding reasonable judgment about whether these actions will actually fix the problem. This is the very definition of irresponsibility. But they call it “strategy.”

This is a pretty spot-on analysis of what ails us when it comes to foreign policy. As long as wars are fought to preserve the borders of politicians’ comfort zones thousands of miles away rather than focused on the destruction of an enemy, the enemy has an advantage. Modern American leaders rightfully praise the World War II military members as “The Greatest Generation”. Perhaps they should dust off a history book and familiarize themselves with the decision making and methods used to win that war.

As for the lack of debate, I lay that at the feet of the Democrats, specifically the Clintons. Any person with an ability to perceive reality knows that Hillary’s bemoaning of “the politics of personal destruction” back in the day was pure projection. American politics had always been rough and tumble, but the Clintons took the demonizing and destruction of political enemies to another level. Now Democrat politicians have no compunction whatsoever about labeling (libeling?) Republican foes as Nazis, terrorists or grandma-killers. Who wants to debate with these little Alinskys?

The Republicans don’t get a free pass on this, however. More of them need to be bold in condemning the ridiculous accusations coming out of the mouths of their Democrat counterparts.

Good luck with that.

Posted at 10:43 am on September 19th, 2014 by

Do Democrats Have an ‘October Surprise’ Up Their Sleeves?

Democrat strategist Bob Beckel warned Republicans that the Democrats have a surprise coming, during yesterday’s episode of The Five.

“I’ll tell you: I would expect an October surprise,” Beckel said on Thursday. “I think I know what is — I’m not going to say it, but I think I know what it is — and it is going to shake things up, and it has to do with national security.”

Video at the link.

What could it be?

The Democrats’ base no longer vote on national security, or at least they don’t vote in favor of national security. What could the Democrats come up with that would help motivate their base and bring moderates around to their side?

I can’t think of much. Perhaps the capture of Mullah Omar or a major ISIS leader. But if that’s a planned “October surprise,” unveiling it at some strategic point means the actual act has already been accomplished — and it’s being kept under wraps for political reasons. That will backfire.

If it’s Obama’s amnesty, we already know all about that. It’s baked into the election now. It’s not helping the Democrats.

So what could it be?

 

Posted at 10:13 am on September 19th, 2014 by

The Crazy Joe the Wonder Veep Gaffe Machine Keeps On Rolling

Use your words, Joe

Speaking at a Democratic National Committee event for women’s leadership Friday, Vice President Joe Biden gave a positive shout out to Bob Packwood, a former U.S. senator who was ousted from Congress following sexual harassment accusations.

Biden made his remarks at Marriott Marquis in Washington, D.C. The event was dubbed the Women’s Leadership Forum Breakfast.

Making the point that present day Republicans do not compromise with Democrats, Biden said the GOP was once “involved” with expanding voter access. “Guys like [former Maryland Sen.] Mac Mathias and Packwood and so many others,” Biden said. “It wasn’t Democrats alone.”

The Washington Post broke the story in the 1990s of several women who claimed Packwood sexually harassed them. Packwood resigned sometime after.

“So I’m not joking,” Biden said. “This is not your father’s Republican Party or your mother’s Republican Party.”

Biden’s ill-timed, Bidenesque comments come two days after having referred to Asian as “the orient” and opportunistic bankers as “Shylocks,” a term offensive to some Jewish groups.

Seriously, who lets this guy off-leash? I am now almost looking forward to this clown getting enough money to make a serious run at Hillary just for the theatrics. Between his constant bumbling and her shrill overreaction to everything, I’ll have enough material for five years. Elizabeth Warren will have to become a fake Native American juggler just to get stage time during the primaries.

Go, Joe, go!

UPDATE: BuzzFeed‘s White House reporter quickly ran interference for Biden on Twitter, pretty much saying Packwood’s support of Title IX makes the remark OK, despite all of the harassment and abuse:

 

Posted at 9:12 am on September 19th, 2014 by

Gohmert: We Don’t Need to be Helping the ‘Moderate’ Islamists

Rep. Louie Gohmert (R-TX) offered some common sense during the debate over whether the US should arm and train the so-called moderate rebels in Syria.

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Gohmert notes that despite more than a decade of working alongside the US, Afghanistan jihadists keep killing Americans. They just killed four more.

Are we smart enough to separate moderates from radicals in the Syrian rebel groups, supposing that there even are any moderates?

Posted at 8:59 am on September 19th, 2014 by

Russia Turns Up to Cause Trouble in Scotland’s Independence Vote

Scotland voted against leaving the United Kingdom Thursday. The vote wasn’t even that close — 55-45 voted for Scotland to reject going its own way.

But the Russians showed up and are behaving boorishly, according to the Guardian.

Russia has said the conduct of the Scottish referendum “did not meet international standards”, with its observers complaining the count took place in rooms that were too big and that the procedure was badly flawed.

In an apparent attempt to mirror persistent western criticism of Russia’s own elections, Igor Borisov – an accredited observer – said the poll failed to meet basic international norms.

Among their objections, the room where votes were counted was too big.

 He said the room where he watched the count on Thursday night was a cavernous “aircraft hangar” next to an airfield. It was difficult to see what was going on, he said, adding: “The hangar is approximately 100m by 300m. There are tables, with voting papers stacked upon them, but the observers are stuck around the perimeter. Even if you want to, it’s impossible to tell what’s happening. It’s also unclear where the boxes with ballot papers come from.”

Borisov said the US state department, the UK and other western countries loudly hectored the Kremlin about Russia’s supposed democratic deficiencies. But in this instance, he said, London and Edinburgh had not “fully met” the requirements of a proper referendum.

“Nobody was interested in who was bringing in the voting slips. There were no stamps or signatures as the bulletins were handed over,” he said.

The Russians wanted Scotland to vote for independence. Evidently they saw that as somehow justifying their annexation and fake vote in Crimea this past spring.

That, plus the fact that Scotland National Party leader Alex Salmond, leader of the independence movement, admires Russia’s Vladimir Putin a little bit. So an independent Scotland might have become friendly to the Russians, right on the rest of the United Kingdom’s doorstep.

 

Posted at 8:49 am on September 19th, 2014 by

Sanders: ‘I Do Not Want to See This Become…War Between Christianity and Islam’

The 22 senators who voted against arming Syrian rebels in the continuing resolution came from each party and had different reasons for their objections.

Sen. Bernie Sanders (I-Vt.), who may be contemplating a run for the White House, told MSNBC he voted “no” because “I do not want to see this become a war between east and west, a war between Christianity and Islam, a war between the United States and ISIS.”

“The bottom line is, we will not be successful until the countries of the Middle East themselves become engaged and are prepared to take on this terrible organization called ISIS,” the senator argued.

Sanders brought up the wealth of those nations as one reason why they should pick up the fight.

“Saudi Arabia has the fourth largest military budget in the world. They spend more than the United Kingdom and France. If we talk about ISIS being a threat, they are most definitively a threat to the countries around Saudi Arabia and around Egypt. Those are the guys who are really threatened. Where are they? Where is Kuwait? Where are — where is Turkey?” he said.

“So, I do not want to see this be a war between the United States and ISIS. These guys have got to the commit both militarily and financially. Last point on this issue. It turns out, of course, that the Saudi family is worth hundreds of billions of dollars, one of the wealthiest families in the world,” Sanders continued. “You tell me why taxpayers in the state of Vermont who cannot afford to send their kids to college are in a sense subsidizing the efforts of one of the wealthiest families on earth. Does not make a lot of sense to me.”

Sanders said he supports President Obama in the overall strategy to conduct airstrikes against ISIS and forge an international coalition, “but we are not yet there.”

“I hear many of my colleagues, especially the Republicans, criticize the president because ‘he did not have a strategy for ISIS,’” the senator said. “Well, I remember a President and a vice President Bush and Cheney, they had a strategy. They were forceful. They were bold. They took action. And, they committed the worst foreign policy blunder in the modern history of the United States. The result of which we are trying to deal with today.”

“Let me tell you what the nightmare is. The nightmare is that a U.S. fighter plane gets shot down or some American soldiers are taken captive. The war hysteria rises in this country. Our troops get sent into battle. You are already seeing Republicans are talking about boots on the ground.”

Posted at 8:10 am on September 19th, 2014 by

The Kingdom Is Still United: Scots Reject Independence

So the United Kingdom is still united, and in the end it wasn’t that close. The people of Scotland rejected independence early this morning, with the No campaign prevailing by a relatively comfortable 55% to 45%. The margin of victory was around half the lead the No vote had enjoyed in the early stages of the campaign, but it was far more decisive than recent polls, one of which put the Yes camp narrowly ahead, had suggested.

Britain’s Conservative Prime Minister David Cameron said the independence debate had been “settled for a generation.” He added: “So there can be no disputes, no re-runs; we have heard the will of the Scottish people.”

President Obama, who angered Yes campaigners by expressing his hope that Scots would stay with the UK, tweeted that he “welcomed” the result.

A vote for independence would have been cataclysmic for British politics; however, the reverberations from the No vote will still be far-reaching, and while supporters of both sides were celebrating or drowning their sorrows into the wee small hours, Cameron, along with politicians from all parties on both sides of the border, woke up this morning with a different kind of hangover — they must now turn their attention to dealing with the complex political and constitutional issues thrown up by the result.

With polls tightening in the run-up to the referendum, Cameron, along with other figures in the No campaign, including Scot and former Labour Prime Minister Gordon Brown, made increasingly generous promises about the extra powers that would be devolved to the existing Scottish Parliament if Scots rejected independence. These include full control over the setting of income tax and other tax rates, and more powers over welfare spending.

Conservative MPs, with backing from their Liberal Democrat coalition partners and some in the Labour Party, are now demanding that if Scotland is effectively granted “home rule” then similar powers must also be devolved to England, Wales and Northern Ireland, and Cameron appeared to accede to those demands when he spoke this morning.

The result could be something like a federalized United Kingdom, and devolving powers to England would finally bring about a resolution of the so-called “West Lothian question“ – the anomaly whereby Scottish MPs sitting at Westminster can vote on taxation and other matters affecting England, but English MPs have no say on matters devolved to the Scottish Parliament.

There are no plans for a separate English Parliament, but it’s likely that proposals will be put forward to enable “English only” parliamentary sessions, with English MPs legislating on matters relating only to England, and Scots MPs excluded. That would in all probability mean Ed Miliband’s Labour Party would be outvoted by the Tories on English matters – even if Labour won an overall majority in next year’s general election – because of Labour’s reliance on large numbers of Scottish MPs.

The referendum campaign highlighted the growing disconnect between the UK’s London-based political establishment and the rest of the country. And if Cameron does make good on his promise of greater devolution for England it would be bad news for Nigel Farage’s UK Independence Party, which has portrayed itself as the party of localism and regionalism, and which has criticized Cameron for promising so much to Scots at the apparent expense of the rest of the UK.

Posted at 7:56 am on September 19th, 2014 by

So Now We’re Going to Arm the Syrian Rebels

President Obama has wanted to arm Syria’s rebel groups all along. Now, thanks to the ISIS threat, he has his wish.

Do we even know who many of the Syrian rebels are, and what their long-term goals are? Not really. But Congress has voted to arm them anyway.

WASHINGTON — Legislation requested by President Barack Obama authorizing the military to arm and train moderate Syrian rebels fighting Islamic State militants in the Middle East is headed for his signature after a sweeping Senate vote.

The bipartisan 78-22 tally Thursday blended support from Obama’s close Democratic allies and some of his fiercest GOP critics, including top Senate Republican Mitch McConnell of Kentucky. It put leading contenders for the 2016 GOP presidential nomination on opposite sides. Some of Obama’s liberal allies defected.

Best-case, it will take five or six months to get them trained. During those five or six months, our border will remain as open as it is right now.

Best-case, the Syrian rebels help drive ISIS out of Syria. But given how many of them are allied with ISIS, as Patrick Poole has reported here, the best case isn’t the way to bet.

The Free Syrian Army has been working with ISIS.

The Syrian Revolutionaries Front has been working with ISIS.

Just one more reminder — Sen. John McCain quickly hired Syrian rebel apologist Elizabeth O’Bagy after she was busted for faking her credentials. McCain has been the leading GOP voice for arming the Syrian rebels. The Syrian Emergency Task Force that O’Bagy worked with up to a year ago had ties to the Muslim Brotherhood and its offshoots.

Both John Kerry and John McCain failed to vet her and the SETF before using them as experts. What are the odds that the two Johns’ vetting of rebel groups in Syria is any better?

So, best-case scenario, the Syrian rebels defeat ISIS. Then what? These rebels will now be armies in the field equipped and trained by the US military, and they will be armed with US weapons. They won’t be a state security force like the useless Iraqi military. They won’t be a cohesive pro-American force like the Kurds.

I hope Congress included a very generous buy-back program in its legislation authorizing arming them.

Those weapons will stay in the field after ISIS is beaten, even in the best case scenario. And then what?

 

Posted at 7:34 am on September 19th, 2014 by

White House Clearly Relieved at Scottish Referendum Result

The White House expressed satisfaction this morning at Scotland’s vote to stay within the United Kingdom, with one congressman stressing it was an important decision from a security standpoint.

“We welcome the result of yesterday’s referendum on Scottish independence and congratulate the people of Scotland for their full and energetic exercise of democracy,” President Obama said in a statement. “Through debate, discussion, and passionate yet peaceful deliberations, they reminded the world of Scotland’s enormous contributions to the UK and the world, and have spoken in favor of keeping Scotland within the United Kingdom.”

“We have no closer ally than the United Kingdom, and we look forward to continuing our strong and special relationship with all the people of Great Britain and Northern Ireland as we address the challenges facing the world today,” he added.

The White House repeatedly said it wouldn’t step into the middle of referendum. On Wednesday, Obama issued a personally signed tweet saying, “The UK is an extraordinary partner for America and a force for good in an unstable world. I hope it remains strong, robust and united.”

British Prime Minister David Cameron, declaring “the people of Scotland have spoken,” admitted that a “yes” vote “would have broken my heart.”

“Now the debate has been settled for a generation or as Alex Salmond has said, perhaps for a lifetime,” Cameron said. “So there can be no disputes, no re-runs – we have heard the settled will of the Scottish people.”

“We now have a chance – a great opportunity – to change the way the British people are governed, and change it for the better… Just as the people of Scotland will have more power over their affairs, so it follows that the people of England, Wales and Northern Ireland must have a bigger say over theirs.”

Cameron acknowledged the campaign “stirred strong passions.”

“It has electrified politics in Scotland, and caught the imagination of people across the whole of our United Kingdom,” he said. “It will be remembered as a powerful demonstration of the strength and vitality of our ancient democracy. Record numbers registered to vote and record numbers cast their vote. We can all be proud of that. It has reminded us how fortunate we are that we are able to settle these vital issues at the ballot box, peacefully and calmly.”

House Foreign Affairs Committee Chairman Ed Royce (R-Calif.) called the outcome “a welcome vote.”

“The Scottish people’s decision to remain part of the United Kingdom will allow our robust cooperation on security, humanitarian, and economic issues to continue uninterrupted,” Royce said. “I look forward to further deepening the exceptional relations between our countries.”

Posted at 7:16 am on September 19th, 2014 by

Bookies Call the Scottish Referendum; Here are Odds on the U.S. in 2016

The bookies were right as Scotland voted “no” in the independence referendum, so what do they have to say about American politics? Irish bookmaker Paddy Power currently has the odds of a Democrat winning the White House in 2016 at 4/6, with Republicans at 6/5 and independents (Sen. Bernie Sanders, maybe?) at a longshot 50/1. How are individual names faring in the betting pool, though?

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They’re also thinking in the shorter term: Republicans are 1/80 on retaining control of the House with 11/1 odds for the Democrats, and the GOP is 8/13 on gaining control of the Senate with Dems at 6/5.

Posted at 6:42 am on September 19th, 2014 by