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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

‘Clear Politicization’ of U.S. Human Trafficking Rankings as Cuba, Malaysia Get Unwarranted Upgrades

Sen. Robert Menendez (D-N.J.) and other lawmakers blasted the Obama administration for improving the rankings of Cuba and Malaysia on this year’s State Department human trafficking report for political reasons.

Cuba has been Tier 3 — the worst ranking — since the State Department began issuing the report in 2003. Nearly 200 lawmakers lobbied the administration to keep Malaysia at Tier 3 for failing to stop human trafficking. Both appeared in today’s report on the “Tier 2 Watch List.”

According to the State Department, that includes “countries whose governments do not fully comply with the TVPA’s [Trafficking Victims Protection Act’s] minimum standards, but are making significant efforts to bring themselves into compliance with those standards AND the absolute number of victims of severe forms of trafficking is very significant or is significantly increasing; there is a failure to provide evidence of increasing efforts to combat severe forms of trafficking in persons from the previous year; or the determination that a country is making significant efforts to bring itself into compliance with minimum standards was based on commitments by the country to take additional future steps over the next year.”

The Tier 3 ranking is for “countries whose governments do not fully comply with the minimum standards and are not making significant efforts to do so.” These countries include Russia, Iran, Venezuela and Zimbabwe.

Saudia Arabia also got upgraded from Tier 3 to the Tier 2 Watch List, and Egypt got downgraded to the Tier 2 Watch List from the previous year.

In addition to the administration’s rapprochement with Cuba, Malaysia is among the dozen countries entering the final round of negotiations for the Trans-Pacific Partnership trade agreement. A Menendez amendment prohibiting “fast-track” trade deal approval for a Tier 3 human trafficking nation was passed by Congress and signed into law June 29.

It was soon after that lawmakers began to hear rumblings of an upgrade for Malaysia to keep them in the TPP deal. Several senators sent a letter to Secretary of State John Kerry on July 15 protesting any concessions. At the time, the report was already five weeks overdue.

Today, Menendez said “the administration has turned its back on the victims of trafficking, turned a blind eye to the facts, and ignored the calls from Congress, leading human rights advocates, and Malaysian government officials to preserve the integrity of this important report.”

“They have elevated politics over the most basic principles of human rights,” he said. “Upgrades for Malaysia and Cuba are a clear politicization of the report, and a stamp of approval for countries who have failed to take the basic actions to merit this upgrade.”

Menendez noted that even in Malaysia, “members of the Parliament, the legal profession, and human rights activists have urged the United States to support their efforts and to maintain the Tier 3 ranking they tell us Malaysia deserves. Today, we have failed them.”

“In Cuba, adults and children are subjected to sex trafficking and the government continues perpetrating abusive practices of forced labor, coercing tens of thousands of its own doctors and medical professionals to serve abroad under conditions that violate international norms. As the State Department’s own report recognizes that there has been no progress on forced labor in Cuba, any upgrade of the country’s ranking challenges common sense,” the senator continued.

Menendez said he intends “to use all of the tools at my disposal – from hearings to legislation to investigations – to challenge these upgrades.”

“The United States’ commitment and credibility in fighting the scourge of modern day slavery is on the line,” he stressed. “We need to make clear that the TIP report must not be subject to political manipulation.”

Sen. Marco Rubio (R-Fla.), who was among the signatories on the Malaysia letter, said he finds it “difficult to believe that Cuba has been elevated this year from Tier 3 to Tier 2 Watch List solely based on the Cuban regime’s record.”

“It is important that this report be a true reflection of the trafficking situation on the ground and that a country’s rating not be determined by political considerations but by the country’s record on this issue,” he said.

“The report upgraded Malaysia to Tier 2 Watch List despite evidence showing that Malaysia had earned its placement on the lowest rank,” said House Foreign Affairs Committee Ranking Member Eliot Engel (D-N.Y.). “In this regard, I have some serious concerns about this year’s report.”

At a State Department event coinciding with the release of the report this morning, Kerry said he’s “deeply inspired by the efforts that are being made in America and countries on every continent to push back against the bullies and the exploiters.”

“I’m inspired by the leadership that we have seen from our commander in chief, from Congress, from civil society, from the religious community, and from our many overseas partners,” he added.

Rep. Chris Smith (R-N.J.), who was hailed by Kerry at the event as “such a longtime champion” in human rights, in a statement blasted Obama’s “grave disservice to victims of human trafficking in Cuba and Malaysia” for “political reasons alone.”

“This report, the 15th annual report since I first wrote our nation’s anti-trafficking bill, is not only six weeks late,” Smith said, “but it has careened off into a new direction where the facts regarding each government’s actions in the fight against human trafficking are given almost no weight when put up against the president’s political agenda.”

He noted that his Foreign Affairs subcommittee held an April hearing at which “there was no indication in the expert testimony provided that either Malaysia or Cuba had done anything to warrant an upgrade, or to suggest that victims of trafficking are in a better situation in either country than they were last year.”

“It seems quite clear that Malaysia’s role in the TPP and Cuba’s unchecked march to normalized relations have captured the Obama Administration’s ability to properly access the worst of the worst when it comes to fighting to protect trafficking victims and punish the thugs who mastermind this modern day slavery.”

 

Posted at 10:48 am on July 27th, 2015 by

Obama Calls Huckabee Holocaust Comment ‘Ridiculous If It Weren’t So Sad’

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President Obama ripped former Arkansas Gov. Mike Huckabee as “ridiculous” and “sad” after the GOP presidential candidate accused the commander in chief of setting up Jews for the next Holocaust.

Huckabee told Breitbart News that by cutting this deal with Iran, Obama “will take the Israelis and march them to the door of the oven.”

“This is the most idiotic thing, this Iran deal. It should be rejected by both Democrats and Republicans in Congress and by the American people,” he added.

In a press conference with the Ethiopian prime minister today, Obama was asked about Huckabee’s comments.

“The particular comments of Mr. Huckabee are, I think, part of just a general pattern that we’ve seen that is — would be considered ridiculous if it weren’t so sad. We’ve had a sitting senator call John Kerry Pontius Pilate. We’ve had a sitting senator who also happens to be running for President suggest that I’m the leading state sponsor of terrorism,” Obama said.

The Pilate comment belonged to Sen. Tom Cotton (R-Ark.), and Sen. Ted Cruz (R-Texas) said the deal made Obama the leading financier of terrorism.

“These are leaders in the Republican Party,” the president continued. “And part of what historically has made America great is, particularly when it comes to foreign policy, there’s been a recognition that these issues are too serious, that issues of war and peace are of such grave concern and consequence that we don’t play fast and loose that way. We have robust debates, we look at the facts, there are going to be disagreements. But we just don’t fling out ad hominem attacks like that, because it doesn’t help inform the American people.”

Obama suggested that “rhetoric like this, maybe it gets attention and maybe this is just an effort to push Mr. Trump out of the headlines, but it’s not the kind of leadership that is needed for America right now.”

“And I don’t think that’s what anybody — Democratic, Republican, or independent — is looking for out of their political leaders.”

He segued into a broader criticism of the Republican presidential field.

Posted at 8:29 am on July 27th, 2015 by

These Former Dem Senate and House Members are Whipping Their Old Colleagues Against Iran Deal

You may be seeing a lot of promoted tweets and ads — and more to come — from Citizens for a Nuclear Free Iran, whipping against the Iran nuclear deal.

Meet the advisory board for 501(c)(4) CNFI: all former congressional Democrats now lobbying their old colleagues to vote against a bad deal.

There’s former two-term Sen. Evan Bayh (D-Ind.), who decided not to run for re-election in 2010. He sat on the Senate Armed Services and Intelligence committees.

There’s former Sen. Mark Begich (D-Alaska), who was defeated last fall by now-Sen. Dan Sullivan (R-Alaska).

There’s former Rep. Shelley Berkley (D-Nev.), who ran for the Senate in 2012 and lost to Sen. Dean Heller (R-Nev.). She also sits on the board of directors at The Israel Project.

And former Sen. Mary Landrieu (D-La.), who was defeated by Sen. Bill Cassidy (R-La.) last fall. She, like Begich, had a history of defying the Obama administration on Iran sanctions.

The board is rounded out by Sen. Joe Lieberman (I-Conn.), the onetime Democratic vice presidential nominee turned indie after being ousted by an antiwar candidate in the 2006 primary.

Lieberman quickly got cracking on outreach to oppose the deal, telling the House Foreign Affairs Committee two weeks ago he “cannot think of a more consequential vote that you will take” on the security of the United States and the world.

Lieberman noted at the hearing that some will try to convince members of Congress that rejecting the deal would be “catastrophic,” and those people will “intimidate” and “demonize” lawmakers to get approval as members are “pushed and pulled.”

“Those are false arguments and I urge you to reject them,” he said. “…Rejecting this bad deal will not result in war; it will give the administration a new opportunity to pursue a better deal.”

CNFI notes that it was founded this year “in response to concerns surrounding the nuclear negotiations between the P5+1 (the United States, the United Kingdom, China, France, Russia, plus Germany) and Iran.”

“Following public release of the proposed nuclear agreement in July 2015, CNFI began an intensive communications effort to educate the public about the significant flaws and serious consequences of the proposed deal,” the group states.

CNFI is publicly cheering Dems who come out against the Iran deal, including Rep. Juan Vargas (D-Calif.), who outlined his opposition in a San Diego Union-Tribune op-ed.

“It’s stunning, really. Just four days after large crowds in Tehran and across Iran chanted ‘Death to America,’ as they burned our flag in government-led demonstrations, President Obama announced an agreement with the Islamic Republic. The president is right; this agreement is historic, but for all the wrong reasons,” Vargas wrote.

“…Congress is now faced with a decision of monumental importance. Do we accept an agreement that fails to block Iran’s path to nuclear weapons, or do we stand up and say no. I intend to stand up and vote against this deal. This is not a partisan issue. This is an issue of our national security, and the security of our allies and I urge my colleagues to join me in opposing this deal and press for a better deal that will truly end Iran’s nuclear weapons program and make the world safer.”

Posted at 7:55 am on July 27th, 2015 by

Obama Compares Confederate Flag to Domestic Violence as a ‘Bad Tradition’

Addressing an arena of Kenyans on Sunday, President Obama compared the Confederate flag to domestic violence as something that may be a tradition but is better left in the past.

“Every country and every culture has traditions that are unique and help make that country what it is. But just because something is a part of your past doesn’t make it right. It doesn’t mean that it defines your future,” Obama said at Safaricom Indoor Arena in Nairobi when talking about at the state of women and girls in Kenya.

“Look at us in the United States. Recently, we’ve been having a debate about the Confederate flag. Some of you may be familiar with this. This was a symbol for those states who fought against the Union to preserve slavery,” the president continued. “Now, as a historical artifact, it’s important. But some have argued that it’s just a symbol of heritage that should fly in public spaces.”

“The fact is it was a flag that flew over an army that fought to maintain a system of slavery and racial subjugation. So we should understand our history, but we should also recognize that it sends a bad message to those who were liberated from slavery and oppression.”

Referencing the Charleston church massacre, Obama noted that “in part because of an unspeakable tragedy that took place recently, where a young man who was a fan of the Confederate flag and racial superiority shot helpless people in a church, more and more Americans of all races are realizing now that that flag should come down.”

“Just because something is a tradition doesn’t make it right,” he said. “Well, so around the world, there is a tradition of repressing women and treating them differently, and not giving them the same opportunities, and husbands beating their wives, and children not being sent to school. Those are traditions. Treating women and girls as second-class citizens, those are bad traditions. They need to change. They’re holding you back.”

“Treating women as second-class citizens is a bad tradition. It holds you back. There’s no excuse for sexual assault or domestic violence. There’s no reason that young girls should suffer genital mutilation. There’s no place in civilized society for the early or forced marriage of children. These traditions may date back centuries; they have no place in the 21st century.”

Posted at 7:13 am on July 27th, 2015 by

Remember the ‘Affordable’ Care Act? Suckers!

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You remember how the average family was going to save $2,500 a year on “health care,” and how if you liked your plan and your doctor, you could keep them, right? After all, the president of these United States looked us right in the eye and told us so. Well, that was then — the baited hook to get us to fall for the scheme — and this is now:

State-run health insurance markets that offer coverage under President Barack Obama’s health law are struggling with high costs and disappointing enrollment. These challenges could lead more of them to turn over operations to the federal government or join forces with other states.

Hawaii’s marketplace, the latest cautionary tale, was awarded $205 million in federal startup grants. It has spent about $139 million and enrolled 8,200 customers for individual coverage in 2015. Unable to sustain itself, the state marketplace is turning over sign-ups to the federal HealthCare.gov for 2016.

Twelve states and the District of Columbia fully control their markets. Experts estimate about half face financial difficulties. Federal taxpayers invested nearly $5 billion in startup grants to the states, expecting that state markets would become self-sustaining. Most of the federal money has been spent, and states have to face the consequences.

“The viability of state health insurance exchanges has been a challenge across the country, particularly in small states, due to insufficient numbers of uninsured residents,” said a statement from the office of Hawaii Democratic Gov. David Ige, announcing last month that his state’s sign-ups were being turned over to the federal government.

Obamacare never had anything to do with “affordability” or even “health care.” It was merely Obama’s camel’s nose under the tent, in order to seize control of the insurance industry by forcing the citizens to buy their products, then offer substandard, expensive plans and provide taxpayer subsidies for those who — surprise! — couldn’t afford the new mandates. And now you know what the plan really was all along.

Now that the Supreme Court has ruled the Obama administration can keep subsidizing premiums in all 50 states through HealthCare.gov, no longer is there a downside for states turning to Washington. If the decision had gone the opposite way, state exchanges would have been a leaky lifeboat for preserving a major expansion of taxpayer-subsidized coverage under the law. With the pressure gone, “I think you are going to see much more of a hybrid across the nation,” said Peter Lee, who heads California’s state-run marketplace. Covered California fell short of its sign-up projections this year by nearly 20 percent, but Lee says it remains “a solid business proposition.”

Obama knew it, the Democrats knew it, some of us knew it. The Supreme Court knew it, too, and twice the justices could have put this unconscionable fraud to sleep, and twice they failed. Thank you, Chief Justice John Roberts.

Oh, and look: Another Obamacare ‘Exchange’ Bites the Dust

 

Posted at 6:27 am on July 27th, 2015 by

Dowager Empress of Chappaqua’s ‘Campaign’ Gets More Bad Polling News

The betting windows are now open: Hillary! Clinton’s Last Day As a Presidential Candidate. Get your markers down:

Recent surveys suggest that Hillary Clinton may be more reliant on the non-white vote in November 2016 than you might have assumed. A poll released Sunday from NBC/Marist reinforces one from last week by Quinnipiac University that found her to be as unpopular as Donald Trump in key swing states. In Iowa and New Hampshire, Clinton’s net favorability — those who view her positively minus those who don’t — was negative-23 and negative-20, respectively.

Among Democrats, we’ll point out, the numbers were much, much higher, which comports with her first-place position in caucus/primary polling in those states. But among all voters? It sinks, matching what Quinnipiac found in Colorado, Iowa and, to a lesser extent, Virginia. Part of this, as we’ve explained before, is that Clinton’s favorability tends to swell when she’s not running for office and dip when she is… notice, too, that her net favorability now is lower than at any point over the last 10 years.

Now there’s a heckuva candidate: the more you see of her, the less you like her. But it all makes sense. Hillary!’s poll numbers were always high based on sheer name-recognition alone; she’s the Kim Kardashian of politicians, and you can’t avoid her even if you wanted to. But when she waddles into your town, looking for your vote, you check to make sure your wallet is secure and your children are safely at home.

As Hillary! Craters, Democrats Search for Panic Button

 

Posted at 6:02 am on July 27th, 2015 by

Jesse Ventura Won, Trump Can Too, Says Democrat

The Trump phenomenon has been viewed through a particular lens in Minnesota. Voters in the North Star State still remember the unusual third-party gubernatorial victory of Jesse Ventura.

Like Trump, Ventura captured the public’s imagination by flouting convention and dispensing with political niceties. During his 1998 campaign, he called critics names and made grandiose claims. Ventura offered policy proposals that professional consultants would surely advise against, like legalizing prostitution and (ahead of its time) marijuana.

In the end, when the votes were tallied, Ventura came out ahead. His victory remains a beacon held aloft by third-party proponents and rogue activists as evidence of alternative paths to power.

Speaking to George Stephanopoulos about a potential Trump nod on ABC’s This Week, Minnesota Congressman Keith Ellison (D) echoed a point voiced by many in his state. From the Minneapolis Star Tribune:

You know, George, we had Jesse Ventura in Minnesota win the governorship,” the representative from Minneapolis said. “Nobody thought he was going to win. I’m telling you, stranger things have happened.”

Most of the time, when pundits reference Ventura in support of an unconventional candidacy, the comparison proves incomplete. Ventura’s victory was a perfect storm. He struck during a drought of interest, running against candidates from the major parties who failed to excite. He leveraged his celebrity, a not insignificant advantage in a realm where name-ID is currency. Perhaps his biggest advantage was a natural capacity to put on a show. He was a performer after all.

These characteristics don’t frequently coalesce in other unconventional candidates. The argument could be made, however, that they coalesce in Trump. Ellison could be right.

But before Trump supporters get excited, it’s worth noting how Ventura’s victory panned out, both for him and the state of Minnesota, as we’ll explore on the next page.

Posted at 6:00 am on July 27th, 2015 by

McConnell Senate Fails to Repeal Obamacare Yet Again

You’ve been had, folks:

A procedural vote Sunday to repeal Obamacare couldn’t win over a majority of the GOP-led Senate, while a bid to revive an obscure exports agency succeeded, delivering twin blows to conservatives as they navigated a thorny path toward a highway bill that’s raised questions about civility and Republican discord in the august chamber.

Allies of Majority Leader Mitch McConnell kicked off a kooky weekend session by scolding Sen. Ted Cruz, Texas Republican, for flouting the Senate’s rules of comity. The 2016 presidential candidate accused Mr. McConnell on Friday of lying about whether he’d struck a deal to revive the federal Export-Import Bank, which faces a slow death after its charter expired June 30.

“We’re not here on some frolic or to pursue personal ambitions,” Sen. Orrin G. Hatch, Utah Republican, said, adding he worries about the future of the institution.

As I wrote just before the last election, the ideal outcome for conservatives would have been a GOP retaking of the Senate and a loss of McConnell’s seat in Kentucky to Alison Lundergan Grimes. As for Orrin Hatch, I stand by what I wrote over at National Review back in 2012:

Most Republican eyes are on the upcoming Wisconsin June recall election and the fates of Scott Walker and Rebecca Kleefisch, but two other races to watch carefully are the primaries of Senators Dick Lugar of Indiana and Orrin Hatch of Utah. Both men were born in the 1930s and have been in the Senate since 1976. If the GOP is to have a future as a conservative party, it’s time for them to go.

Hatch is the worst kind of Republican establishment figure, who feints to his right when he needs to placate the people he “hates” and then, once safely ensconced in the comfy chair for six more years, resumes pursuit of his first love: Senate “comity.”

Besides, who cares about the “future of the institution,” so aptly characterized by P.J. O’Rourke as a Parliament of Whores?  The Senate was changed irrevocably by the passage of the 17th Amendment, one of the disastrous “Progressive-Era” amendments that also gave us Prohibition and the income tax. Now the Senate is controlled by a bunch of time-serving, bum-kissing, arse-protective hacks determined to squelch any views that run afoul of the Permanent Bipartisan Fusion Party.

As many predicted, the procedural vote to repeal Obamacare received only a 49-43 plurality, well short of the 60-vote supermajority needed to limit debate and advance to an up-down vote. The Ex-Im vote easily surmounted that hurdle, 67 votes to 26, clearing the way for it to be added to the bill later on. Twenty-four Republicans and every Democrat who cast a vote Sunday backed the Export-Import Bank measure, while the Obamacare measure fell short on a party-line vote.

It was the first time the Senate voted on Obamacare repeal in this Congress, although its budget assumed the law’s repeal. While the GOP holds the majority, eight lawmakers — five of them Republicans — missed the weekend vote.

The next time you’re tempted to vote Republican because the Democrats are even worse, stop and ask yourself this: in what way?

Posted at 5:41 am on July 27th, 2015 by

Obama Admin Backs NATO Ally Turkey’s Double Game with Islamic State After Turks Bomb Anti-ISIS Kurdish Groups

A bizarre situation unfolded this past week, one that could possibly drag the U.S. into a new war in the Middle East.

On Monday, a suicide bomber attacked a rally in Suruc, Turkey, targeting a news conference of the Kurdish Federation of Socialist Youth Associations, killing 32. The suicide bomber was identified by Turkish authorities as an Islamic State supporter who had returned from Syria.

In response the Islamist government in Ankara, led by Obama’s pal Recep Erdogan (one of Obama’s top five international friends), launched airstrikes targeting not the Islamic State, but Kurdish groups in Iraq.

This comes as more evidence emerges that Turkey has been playing a double game with the Islamic State. The evidence was obtained in a U.S. special forces raid of a senior ISIS leader in Iraq.

The Guardian reports today:

When US special forces raided the compound of an Islamic State leader in eastern Syria in May, they made sure not to tell the neighbours.

The target of that raid, the first of its kind since US jets returned to the skies over Iraq last August, was an Isis official responsible for oil smuggling, named Abu Sayyaf. He was almost unheard of outside the upper echelons of the terror group, but he was well known to Turkey. From mid-2013, the Tunisian fighter had been responsible for smuggling oil from Syria’s eastern fields, which the group had by then commandeered. Black market oil quickly became the main driver of Isis revenues – and Turkish buyers were its main clients.

As a result, the oil trade between the jihadis and the Turks was held up as evidence of an alliance between the two. It led to protests from Washington and Europe – both already wary of Turkey’s 900-mile border with Syria being used as a gateway by would-be jihadis from around the world.

This is not the first time that Turkey has been caught double-dealing against their U.S. NATO ally. There was the “gas for gold” scheme with Iran that allowed the Islamic Republic to skirt international sanctions, and Erdogan and the Turkish intelligence chief had a photographed meeting with U.S. designated Al-Qaeda global terror financier Yasin al-Qadi.

Curiously, shortly after those reports showing photographs of Erdogan meeting with al-Qadi appeared in the Turkish media, the Treasury Department under Obama removed al-Qadi’s terror designation.

The preferred route of thousands of foreign fighters now in the ranks of ISIS appears to have been mostly coming from Turkey and crossing the border into Syria, bringing complaints that Turkey was not doing enough to combat the group’s growth and that the border was becoming “a two-way jihadist highway.”

But a series of published reports going back to last year seem to show direct and indirect Turkish support for the Islamic State.

  • In April 2014, Turkish media reports showed photographs of ISIS commander Abu Muhammad being treated at the Hatay State Hospital after being injured fighting in Syria. Opposition politicians also claimed that fighters with Jabhat al-Nusra, Al-Qaeda’s official affiliate in Syria, were allowed to stay at the guesthouses of the government’s Religious Affairs Directorate.
  • Last November, Newsweek published an interview with a former ISIS fighter who said that ISIS fighters faced no obstructions entering from Turkey. Meanwhile, ISIS commanders bragged about the “full cooperation with the Turks,” while anti-ISIS Kurdish fighters were blocked by Turkish authorities.
  • This account seems to be confirmed by a report from Aydınlık Daily, which reported in July 2014 that the Turkish intelligence service, the MIT, had transported members of Syrian terrorist groups and their weapons across the border.
  • Two weeks after that report, at an event site approved by Erdogan’s ruling AKP Party and sponsored by a publication known for its ISIS sympathiesa rally was held in Istanbul where video showed speakers openly calling for jihad. There were also reports that recruiting for ISIS fighters took place.
  • In January, Turkish military documents from the Gendarmerie General Command leaked online showed that Turkish intelligence were transporting missiles, mortars and anti-aircraft ammunition for Al-Qaeda and actively obstructed the military from documenting the transfers.
  • The New York Times reported in May that massive amounts of ammonium nitrate, a fertilizer used for making bombs, were being prepared in a Turkish town near Syria and transported across the border. The report quoted an opposition politician who admitted that the fertilizing was not for farms, but for bombs.
  • Reuters reported exclusively in late May that court documents and prosecutor testimony revealed that Turkish intelligence had transported weapons across the border in 2013 and early 2014, aiding the offensive push by ISIS into Iraq in June 2014. Erdogan himself had said that the shipments were aid.

And then there’s this, though it’s unlikely that it’s much of a secret…

Posted at 9:28 pm on July 26th, 2015 by

Alexander After Latest Cruz Clash: Should’ve Learned to Play by the Rules in Kindergarten

In Sunday session, the rift between Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-Ky.) and Sen. Ted Cruz (R-Texas) widened as amendment votes were shot down and Sen. Lamar Alexander (R-Tenn.) gave the junior senator from Texas a lecture on Senate civility rules.

On Friday, Cruz accused McConnell of lying, saying that the leader told him there wouldn’t be a vote on the Export-Import Bank reauthorization. McConnell allowed the vote as part of a deal that included an Obamacare repeal vote.

“It saddens me to say this. I sat in my office, I told my staff the majority leader looked me in the eye and looked 54 Republicans in the eye. I cannot believe he would tell a flat-out lie, and I voted based on those assurances that he made to each and every one of us,” Cruz said then. “What we just saw today was an absolute demonstration that not only what he told every Republican senator, but what he told the press over and over and over again, was a simple lie.”

Today, a Cruz amendment to the highway bill to keep Iran sanctions in force until Israel is recognized as a Jewish state and an amendment from Sen. Mike Lee (R-Utah) to defund Planned Parenthood were blocked from receiving roll-call votes.

McConnell stressed on the Senate floor today that the Ex-Im Bank vote was allowed in part because nearly half of the GOP conference supports it.

“When there is overwhelming bipartisan support for an idea, even if I oppose it, it doesn’t require some ‘special deal’ to see a vote occur on that measure. This is the United States Senate, after all, where we debate and vote on all kinds of different issues,” McConnell said.

“Whatever the outcome, the slots for these amendments will open once the Senate disposes of them. That will open the possibility of considering other important amendments. Let me repeat that. The slots for these amendments will open once the Senate disposes of them.”

Some GOPs have accused Cruz of potentially violation Senate Rule 19, which states in part: “No Senator in debate shall, directly or indirectly, by any form of words impute to another Senator or to other Senators any conduct or motive unworthy or unbecoming a Senator.”

“You learn that in kindergarten: You learn to work well together and play by the rules,” Alexander said, according to Politico. “Another thing you learn in kindergarten is to respect one another.”

Minority Leader Harry Reid (D-Nev.) had a ball today with the GOP discord, saying on the Senate floor it’s “increasing clear that what’s wrong with the Senate today is the same thing that troubled the Senate before Republicans took control – dysfunction in the Republican Caucus.”

Reid said the Obamacare repeal vote was “about the Republican Leader desperately trying to appease his base.”

Cruz said in a statement that McConnell and Reid “operate as a team.”

“The denial of a second, as you just saw a moment ago, which was aggressively whipped by the majority, is an extraordinary measure designed to gag senators and enforce the will of the McConnell-Reid leadership team,” he said. “…To the millions of Americans who rallied in November believing if only we got a Republican majority in the Senate something would be different, this was a clarifying and a sad moment.”

Posted at 5:20 pm on July 26th, 2015 by

Al-Shabaab Bombs Hotel While in Nairobi Obama Gives Kenyans Tips for Combating Terrorism

In what locals are calling the biggest explosion to ever rock Mogadishu, Al-Shabaab struck a hotel in the Somali capital Sunday during President Obama’s visit to neighboring Kenya.

A suicide bomber rammed the gate of the Jazeera Palace Hotel, shearing the side off the six-story building in the explosion.

The hotel is near the United Nations compound. It houses several foreign missions, including China, Qatar, the United Arab Emirates, and Kenya. Journalist Mohamed Abdikarim, who worked for Universal TV, and a Chinese embassy worker were among the dead, a toll that was at least 13.

Jazeera Palace Hotel also had Kenyan management and many Kenyan workers.

“The explosion was so huge that homes near it were leveled. I live 3 KMs away, and paint was blow off some of my walls,” tweeted one Somali political analyst.

In his noontime speech at the Safaricom Indoor Arena in Nairobi, Obama told Kenyans “the United States faces similar threats of terrorism” as they face from Al-Shabaab.

“It is important to remember that violent extremists want us to turn against one another. That’s what terrorists typically try to exploit,” he said. “…Terrorists who try to sow chaos, they must be met with force and they must also be met, though, with a forceful commitment to uphold the rule of law, and respect for human rights, and to treat everybody who’s peaceful and law-abiding fairly and equally.”

Al-Shabaab considers Kenya, which is more than 82 percent Christian and about 11 percent Muslim, to be occupied by the “kuffar” (nonbelievers) and in need of being liberated for Muslims.

“Extremists who prey on distrust must be defeated by communities who stand together and stand for something different. And the most important example here is, is that the United States and Kenya both have Muslim minorities, but those minorities make enormous contributions to our countries.  These are our brothers, they are our sisters,” Obama said. “And so in both our countries, we have to reject calls that allow us to be divided.”

“..People should not be judged by their last name, or their religious faith, but by their content of their character and how they behave. Are they good citizens? Are they good people?”

National Security Council spokesman Ned Price said in a statement that “the United States strongly condemns today’s abhorrent attack in Mogadishu, Somalia, which purposefully and cruelly targeted innocent civilians.”

“Despite the very real progress Somalia has achieved in recent years, this attack is yet another reminder of the unconscionable atrocities that terrorist groups continue to perpetrate against the people of Somalia,” Price said. “As the president underscored during his meetings with Kenyan President Kenyatta over the last two days—and as he will reiterate during his visit to Ethiopia and the African Union, two staunch supporters of the Federal Government of Somalia and the Somali people—the United States remains steadfast in our commitment to work with Somali authorities, our regional partners, and the broader international community to bring an end to acts of terrorism and combat violent extremism in Somalia.”

Posted at 3:27 pm on July 26th, 2015 by

Huckabee: Obama Marching Israel to the ‘Door of the Oven’

The also-rans in the GOP presidential nomination fight are getting a little desperate. Donald Trump is not only grabbing all the headlines and airtime, he’s also sucking the air out of the race, starving all but two or three top candidates.

The rest of the pack have taken to trying to be outrageous as possible to attract a little attention. But Mike Huckabee took “outrageous” to another level by accusing the president of marching Israel to the “door of the oven” by signing the Iran deal.

The agreement is horrible, dangerous, naive, and a colossal blunder of epic proportions. But equating it with the Holocaust is wrong.

CNN:

“This president’s foreign policy is the most feckless in American history. It is so naive that he would trust the Iranians. By doing so, he will take the Israelis and march them to the door of the oven,” Huckabee said.

He continued: “This is the most idiotic thing, this Iran deal. It should be rejected by both Democrats and Republicans in Congress and by the American people. I read the whole deal. We gave away the whole store. It’s got to be stopped.”

Asked to elaborate on Huckabee’s “door of the oven” remark, campaign spokeswoman Alice Stewart told CNN that “the comment speaks for itself.”

Yes it does — badly. If there’s one thing that “Never again” means to Jews it is that the next time, they will not go meekly into the “showers” to be deloused. Israel has its own nuclear weapons and almost certainly has a first-strike doctrine, given that it would only take one nuke from Iran to virtually destroy the New Jersey-sized nation. Huckabee insults the Jews and mars the memory of the Holocaust by making this ridiculous, incendiary comment.

Nor is it proper to equate any American with Nazis. Only back bench, low life louts like Rep. Alan Grayson compare any of their fellow Americans to national socialists. Many in Grayson’s own party called him out for it — rightly.

Huckabee is desperate for attention but this is the wrong way of going about getting it.

Posted at 1:38 pm on July 26th, 2015 by