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Hillary: Planned Parenthood Videos ‘Obviously… Disturbing’

Hillary Clinton called the undercover videos of Planned Parenthood brokering aborted body parts “disturbing,” but the Republican National Committee pounced on her remarks as too little, too late.

Clinton told the New Hampshire Union-Leader that she’s “seen pictures” from the videos “and obviously find them disturbing.”

“Planned Parenthood is answering questions and will continue to answer questions. I think there are two points to make,” Clinton said. “One, Planned Parenthood for more than a century has done a lot of really good work for women: cancer screenings, family planning, all kinds of health services. And this raises not questions about Planned Parenthood so much as it raises questions about the whole process, that is, not just involving Planned Parenthood, but many institutions in our country.”

“And if there’s going to be any kind of congressional inquiry, it should look at everything and not just one (organization).”

That could be a reference to some congressional Democrats’ call to investigate the Center for Medical Progress, which shot the undercover footage and has been releasing the videos.

Clinton told the New Hampshire paper that she’s “well aware that passions are very high.”

“I have said for more than 22 years that abortion should be legal, safe and rare,” she said. “As first lady, I led an effort to try to lower the number of teenage pregnancies and we succeeded, and as president I will continue to work toward that so that women are fully empowered, they can afford to make responsible decisions, and I hope we will be successful at that.”

RNC press secretary Allison Moore said “it should not have taken a third video showcasing Planned Parenthood’s barbaric side business of selling fetal body parts for Hillary Clinton to change her tune.”

“Instead of condemning these horrific revelations, Hillary Clinton has stood by Planned Parenthood despite weeks of unsettling headlines,” Moore said. “Rather than lead, Hillary Clinton has once again shown herself to be someone who will do or say anything to get elected. Perhaps that’s also why she has yet to spell out what limits, if any, she supports on abortion.”

Sen. Bernie Sanders (I-Vt.) focused his comments on criticizing Senate Republicans to cut off support for Planned Parenthood, calling it “an attack on women’s health.”

“The current attempt to discredit Planned Parenthood is part of a long-term smear campaign by people who want to deny women in this country the right to control their own bodies,” Sanders said.

“Let’s be clear: Federal funding for Planned Parenthood does not pay for abortions. The vast majority of government funding that Planned Parenthood receives is through Medicaid reimbursements. Cutting that funding will be devastating to the health needs of millions of women who desperately need the quality services Planned Parenthood provides.”

Not everyone in the Democratic caucus is on board with that view.

Sen. Joe Manchin (D-W.Va.) signed on to a letter to the Department of Health and Human Services demanding an investigation of Planned Parenthood to determine if they’re breaking organ trafficking laws.

Sen. Tim Kaine (D-Va.) called the videos “very troubling.”

“Look, there are laws against sale of fetal tissue,” Kaine told radio host John Fredericks. “This is the kind of thing that is extremely troubling. The only cautionary note that I would throw into the mix here, is that there has been some prehistory of people going into Planned Parenthood offices, and taping interchanges, and then editing them favorably to make a point. And in fact, the reason I know this is one of these happened in Richmond a couple of years ago where somebody went and tried to tape an interchange with a Planned Parenthood staffer and kind of edited it to make it seem pretty scurrilous. You’ve got to get the full facts if this video was, as is, or, whether there’s been some nefarious editing to it”.

“But certainly, kind of a discussion about sale of fetal tissue issue in that way post-abortion would be highly troubling and it ought to be looked at,” the senator added.

Sen. Joe Donnelly (D-Ind.), an anti-abortion Dem who has only a 20 percent rating with NARAL, told CBS affiliate WSBT-22 that he “found the comments made in the video disgraceful and disturbing and he fully supports an investigation into Planned Parenthood’s practices.”

Senate GOP leaders were to hold a press conference this afternoon on a new bill to defund Planned Parenthood.

Posted at 9:56 am on July 29th, 2015 by

Cotton Stands by Characterization of John Kerry as Pontius Pilate

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Sen. Tom Cotton (R-Ark.) is standing by his comparison of Secretary of State John Kerry to Pontius Pilate.

Cotton originally made the comments last week on MSNBC. “So John Kerry acted like Pontius Pilate,” he said. “He washed his hands, kicked it to the IAEA, knowing that Congress would not get this information unless someone went out to find it.”

Last night on CNN, Cotton noted that “for 2,000 years, Pilate has been a parable for someone who washed his hands of his responsibility.”

“And at the end of these negotiations, it appears that John Kerry washed his hands of his responsibility to reach an agreement on all of the critical issues. Two of those critical issues are where Iran tested allegedly detonators for nuclear weapons at a military base and their other past weaponization work,” the senator said.

“Apparently, we couldn’t reach an agreement on the central issues and we kicked it to the IAEA to have these two secret side deals with Iran. We don’t know what is in those deals. We don’t know if it is going to provide adequate inspections and verifications of Iran’s obligations. I don’t see how Congress can go forward without knowing the details of those two central agreements.”

Pressed on whether he tone down the “name-calling,” Cotton refused to amend or retract his statement.

“Secretary Kerry had a responsibility to represent America’s interests and to reach an agreement on every single point. He did not. He apparently washed his hands and kicked it to the IAEA, even though Iran has thwarted the IAEA for years on this very issue,” he said.

Cotton is facing Kerry at this morning’s Senate Armed Services Committee hearing, where Kerry wasn’t on the witness list but showed up uninvited to testify with Energy Secretary Ernest Moniz and Treasury Secretary Jack Lew in tow.

The Arkansas freshman also sits on the Intelligence Committee.

“I can tell you there is virtually no clarity from the administration about these secret side agreements. At first, the existence was secret, but the contents are still secret. There’s been published reports, for instance, just earlier today that we are going to allow Iran to take samples of soil or other environmental elements themselves and send it to the IAEA,” Cotton continued.

“That would be like the NFL letting football players take their own urine samples for drug testing and mail to it Roger Goodell. The American people wouldn’t accept that as a credible system. I don’t see how Congress can accept this as a credible inspection system until we know the exact details that are in those two secret side agreements.”

Posted at 8:24 am on July 29th, 2015 by

Harf: The More We Tell People About Iran Deal, ‘The More They Like It’

State Department senior advisor Marie Harf said the administration is confident that polls will swing in their favor on the Iran deal because “when the questions are asked, the more information you give people about the deal, the more they like it.”

“And I think that that’s an important trajectory that we certainly find heartening when it comes to some of these polls. I also think that there is a general mistrust in the United States that’s not unfounded based on the history here that just doesn’t trust Iran,” Harf told CNN.

“And so I think that people are naturally inclined to be skeptical. And that’s why this deal isn’t based on trust. It’s based on verification of all these nuclear steps Iran has.”

According to the latest CNN poll, 52 percent of Americans surveyed think it’s a bad deal and just 44 percent said Congress should approve the nuclear accord.

Harf also insisted that the agreement between the International Atomic Energy Agency and Iran, which the Obama administration doesn’t have a copy of, wasn’t a “secret” agreement.

“Members of Congress are going to be briefed in detail. Some already have been briefed in detail,” she said. “Every aspect of the safeguards confidential to use a technical term, agreement between the IAEA and Iran. They are referenced in the joint comprehensive plan of action. So these aren’t secret. They are there. The existence of them is widely known publicly, has been since we announced the deal.”

Every member of Congress, she said, is “entitled to be briefed” on the provisions.

“Now, the IAEA does business in a certain way. With every country it has these kinds of agreements, including us, including the U.S. They keep some information out of the public domain for very good reasons in terms of how you protect nuclear technology secrets, in order, basically, to not let this information get out,” Harf added.

“…Our experts are comfortable with that arrangement, and they can brief Congress on that, and they will.”

Posted at 6:55 am on July 29th, 2015 by

Congresswoman Ignores Planned Parenthood, But Outraged Over Shot Lion

Democrat Congresswoman Betty McCollum, who serves the St. Paul area in Minnesota, responded promptly to news that a local dentist shot a popular lion in Zimbabwe. From MPR News:

“To bait and kill a threatened animal, like this African lion, for sport cannot be called hunting, but rather a disgraceful display of callous cruelty,” McCollum wrote in a statement. “For those of us committed to ending poaching of iconic African species I strongly believe the U.S. Attorneys’ Office and U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service should investigate whether U.S. laws were violated related to conspiracy, bribery of foreign officials, and the illegal hunting of a protected species or animal.”

The man believed to have killed the lion has claimed that his hunt was “legal and properly handled and conducted.” Critics, including McCollum, dispute that characterization.

Minnesota state Representative Nick Zerwas, a Republican, took to social media to question why McCollum was so responsive to the killing of a lion while completely ignoring troubling revelations about Planned Parenthood. He wrote:

So…. Let me get this straight. After weeks of information and after the release of three videos showing Planned Parenthood ppl bargaining the sale of baby organs.

Pretty much SILENCE from the left…

Now the SAME DAY of news of a lion hunt, and she is calling for an investigation into the LION HUNT… IN AFRICA…

WHERE HAS SHE BEEN? And why not investigate the sale of human organs!!!!

Others in the state have leveled similar criticism at McCollum. How morally confused most one be to prioritize the hunting of a lion over the systematic slaughter of unborn children for profit?

Posted at 6:00 am on July 29th, 2015 by

Would Cat-Lovers Give Up Their ‘Pets’ to Save the Earth?

I think we all know the answer to that question. But don’t take it from me — take it from the New York Times:

Jennifer L. McDonald is an ecologist by profession and a cat person by avocation. Some years ago, Tiggy, her ginger-and-white shorthair, would bring home freshly killed mice and shrews for her consideration. Dr. McDonald, now an associate research fellow at the Center for Ecology and Conservation at the University of Exeter in England, was curious about the impact of pet cats like Tiggy on wildlife. Fewer mice might be nice. But cats, natural hunters, pounce on birds and rabbits, too.

“You can’t pick and choose a cat’s prey,” Dr. McDonald said. If owners realized how much prey their pets killed, she wondered, would they be willing to contain their cats to protect wildlife? She and her associates studied the question. The answer, published recently in the journal Ecology and Evolution was unequivocal and emphatic.

No.

And not just “no,” but “hell no.”

Dr. McDonald surveyed owners in two British villages about cats they allowed to roam outdoors. Owners were asked to predict the amount of prey taken by their cats and document the actual killings. Owners in one village were then asked whether they believed pet cats had an ecological impact.

Researchers also asked owners about their willingness to keep cats indoors during prime hunting time, from dusk to dawn. The idea was flatly rejected, with some owners providing unsolicited commentary: “My cat chooses for herself whether to stay in or go out,” one wrote. Pointing to “a dissociation between actual and perceived predatory behavior,” the researchers concluded that “the cat owners in this study reject the proposition that cats are a threat to wildlife.”

Of course they do. Because this is what your brain looks like on toxoplasmosis, the parasite that lives in cat feces and can affect the brains of cat-owners, especially women, turning them into cat-hoarders.

Since 1992, a series of studies have been carried out in the Czech Republic comparing the personality characteristics of individuals who have anamnestic antibodies to T. gondii, and are thus assumed to have a latent infection, and those without such antibodies. The personality questionnaires used in these studies have been Cattell’s 16-personality factor (16PF) questionnaire2–6 and Cloninger’s Temperament and Character Inventory (TCI) personality test.7,8

Consistent and significant differences in Cattell’s personality factors were found between Toxoplasma-infected and -uninfected subjects in 9 of 11 studies, and these differences were not the same for men and women. After using the Bonferroni correction for multiple tests, the personality of infected men showed lower superego strength (rule consciousness) and higher vigilance (factors G and L on Cattell’s 16PF). Thus, the men were more likely to disregard rules and were more expedient, suspicious, jealous, and dogmatic. The personality of infected women, by contrast, showed higher warmth and higher superego strength (factors A and G on Cattell’s 16PF), suggesting that they were more warm hearted, outgoing, conscientious, persistent, and moralistic. Both men and women had significantly higher apprehension (factor O) compared with the uninfected controls.

See also: “How Your Cat Is Making You Crazy,” As the article notes, it’s not simply Krazy Kat Ladies who are risk; we all are:

After an infected cat defecates, Flegr learned, the parasite is typically picked up from the soil by scavenging or grazing animals—notably rodents, pigs, and cattle—all of which then harbor it in their brain and other body tissues. Humans, on the other hand, are exposed not only by coming into contact with litter boxes, but also, he found, by drinking water contaminated with cat feces, eating unwashed vegetables, or, especially in Europe, by consuming raw or undercooked meat. Hence the French, according to Flegr, with their love of steak prepared saignant—literally, “bleeding”—can have infection rates as high as 55 percent. (Americans will be happy to hear that the parasite resides in far fewer of them, though a still substantial portion: 10 to 20 percent.) Once inside an animal or human host, the parasite then needs to get back into the cat, the only place where it can sexually reproduce—and this is when, Flegr believed, behavioral manipulation might come into play.

Meanwhile, New Zealand has the right idea.

Posted at 5:44 am on July 29th, 2015 by

Men Arrested in String of Pizza Delivery Robberies

In DeKalb County, a suburban area east of Atlanta, at least ten pizza delivery drivers became robbery victims. Callers posing as customers would order pizzas, lure drivers to a fake address, and rob and beat them.

One of those drivers was Equeill Williams, who told his story to WSB-TV reporter Liz Artz.

“Four guys came around the corner. They had guns. They told me to drop to the ground,” Williams said. “I didn’t know what to think. I just laid there, I blacked out.”

Police say in all the cases the suspects took the pizza, cash, wallets and in several cases the delivery driver’s car.

Williams told Artz he thought he was going to die as he lie on the ground at the Marquis Chase Apartments.

“This is the end. I mean it was really scary,” Williams said.

According to Dekalb County Police Department Detective Chastity Cantrell, authorities have arrested four men in conjunction with the robberies, but one is still at large. Police are on the hunt for 33-year-old James Coley, who may have fled to Oakland, California, though some sources say he is still in Georgia.

Cantrell said it’s unusual to have one group commit so many similar type robberies.

“They do a couple, they stop, go to something else, one after the other after the other,” Cantrell said.

Williams told Artz he’s out of the delivery business. He was one of the first victim’s. Artz showed him a picture of victim No. 7, who we are not identifying. The man spent days in the hospital.

“I feel like compared to that, I feel like I’m blessed,” Williams said.

Police told Artz as for the driver’s safety, they should call before going to the door. If no one answers, don’t go to the door and if your gut tells you something is wrong, listen to it and leave.

DeKalb police said they reached out to all the business affected by the robberies and offered a safety seminar. Only one business has responded.

Featured image courtesy of Shutterstock / Yuriy Rudyy

Posted at 5:34 am on July 29th, 2015 by

Left Arguing Over How Many More Entry-Level Jobs to Destroy

Ho-hum; another day, another “minimum wage” argument, as if there were a giant pot of money hidden away somewhere that could be tapped in the name of “fairness.”  Isn’t there?

Democrats are divided on how much to lift the nation’s minimum wage, an issue that has long united the party. Presidential candidate Sen. Bernie Sanders (I-Vt.) is pushing to raise the federal wage from its current $7.25 an hour to $15. But budget experts warn such a hike could eliminate millions of U.S. jobs. Many liberals on and off Capitol Hill have embraced the $15 figure, seeing it as an important remedy for addressing the nation’s growing income disparity. Democratic leaders, however, have been reluctant to back it, rallying instead around smaller increases.

Senate Minority Leader Harry Reid (D-Nev.) and House Minority Leader Nancy Pelosi (D-Calif.) want to push the minimum wage to $12 per hour. President Obama has edged his support to higher levels in recent years, from $9 to $10.10 and now $12. Hillary Clinton, the Democratic presidential front-runner, backed $15 per hour for New York fast-food workers on Friday but hasn’t specified a wage floor for the nation. The various positions underscore the tightrope party leaders are walking on the minimum wage increase, a concept highly popular among voters.

As anybody with even a rudimentary understanding of economics knows, the real “minimum wage” is $0.00, which the amount I’m willing to pay in a free economy for work that I don’t really need or care to have done. To force me to pay more than that is the mark of a command economy, which means that I am forced to subsidize works that is of little or no real value.

The Congressional Budget Office (CBO), Congress’s official score-keeper, issued a report last year estimating that, while an increase in the minimum wage to $10.10 would hike incomes for roughly 16.5 million workers, it would leave another 500,000 unemployed. A former CBO director said this week that a hike to $15 per hour would eliminate “many more jobs … because it would cut much further into the distribution of wages.”

“The effect is not linear, it rises much faster,” said the ex-CBO chief, who requested anonymity.

I bet he did. Let’s cut to the chase. The Left doesn’t care how many jobs are lost to minimum-wage hikes; in fact, they’re a feature, not a bug. Because the real push here is for a guaranteed minimum income — something, believe it or not, floated in 1969 by the Nixon administration — provided by the dwindling ranks of suckers private-industry taxpayers who will be forced at gunpoint to pay until the entire country collapses.

Posted at 5:14 am on July 29th, 2015 by

Unhappy McConnell Dresses Down Fractious GOP Senators, Then Fobs Them Off

Mighty Mitch, having bamboozled not only Kentuckians but the entire nation into returning him as Senate majority “leader,” is displeased with his caucus:

Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell got his hands on something he believed to be damning: An email from Sen. Mike Lee’s aide to conservative activists plotting to use an Obamacare vote as a political weapon. So McConnell quickly summoned the GOP to a closed-door session in the Senate’s Mansfield Room Monday night. And he made sure his caucus read the email, placing a copy on every Republican senator’s chair before they arrived. A lawmaker in the room described the mood as “combative.”

One GOP senator after another objected to the Lee aide’s tactic and called for GOP unity, including party leaders like John Thune of South Dakota and the retiring Dan Coats of Indiana. Two senators in tough reelection races — Sens. Ron Johnson of Wisconsin and Kelly Ayotte of New Hampshire — were vocal, as was Sen. John Cornyn (R-Texas), sources said. The email, Republican leaders believed, was what they needed to marginalize conservative hardliners who had thrown their plans into disarray the last several days.

Let’s go down the list. Coats is a time-serving non-entity who’s shuffling off to the old folks’ home. Thune had promise, but that seems to have vanished in the windswept wasteland of whichever Dakota he’s from. Johnson of Wisconsin is actually a good guy and a good conservative with a good chance of losing his seat, but Ms. Ayotte flashed her true colors by aligning with the McCain-Graham axis and has disqualified herself from future consideration on a national ticket. In short, who cares what they think?

The sitdown appeared to be an effort by McConnell to impose order in his caucus after days of infighting, initiated by Cruz, who accused McConnell of “lying” in a hard-charging series of floor speeches and public statements. Cruz, along with Lee, have sought to use arcane Senate procedures to force through simple majority votes on a range of conservative causes — to take a hard line on Iran, defund Planned Parenthood and repeal Obamacare.

But Lee, extending an olive branch of sorts, decided not to push the matter Monday night. And GOP senators said during the session that using the filibuster-proof reconciliation process remained the best bet to move a repeal of Obamacare this year, attendees said.

Well, no rush, guys. Here’s McConnell’s super-awesome plan to repeal Obamacare with just 51 votes, coincidentally announced after the Monday night -come-to-Jesus Senate confab:

Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell championed a renewed push to bypass a filibuster and repeal Obamacare with 51 votes on Tuesday, he announced in a joint statement with Utah Senator Mike Lee, one of the most conservative Republicans in the chamber. ”Republicans are united in working to repeal the broken promises of Obamacare,” McConnell said in the statement, adding that the Senate will “continue our effort to use reconciliation … to fulfill the promise we made to our constituents.”

Lee, who has often been at odds with McConnell, has long advocated using Senate procedures to try and kill the president’s health care law. “A Senate vote to repeal Obamacare on a simple majority basis through reconciliation is the best way to pursue that goal,” Lee said in the statement. “The Majority Leader and I are committed to using reconciliation to repeal Obamacare in the 114th Congress.”

Yeah, right. And here’s why it won’t work:

McConnell does not have the authority to decide unilaterally that a given law can be repealed through reconciliation; instead, parliamentarians, the umpires of Senate procedure, interpret the relevant rules and precedents whenever a disagreement arises. Much of Obamacare does not qualify for reconciliation under the Byrd rule, the regulation that governs the process. Some Republicans believe that McConnell has done more to deter colleagues from pushing for a full repeal than he did to convince the parliamentarians that it would be possible under the Byrd rule. “Internally, they’ve been aggressive in terms of, whenever this subject comes up, saying we can only do so much,” says one senior GOP Senate aide.

We’re being played. Again.

 

Posted at 4:44 am on July 29th, 2015 by

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

Be nice to her, she’s a girl.

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

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

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

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

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

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

North Korea Upgrades Missile Launch Site

Remember these guys?

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

GOP Congressman Files Motion to Oust John Boehner as House Speaker

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

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

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

That was then, this is now:

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

WATCH: OH Democrat Blasts Planned Parenthood Following Latest Sting Video

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

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

Via Cleveland.com:

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

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

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

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

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

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

Via Politico:

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

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

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

Official: Links Between ISIS and Turkey ‘Undeniable’

Never any good news about these guys.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

White House Gives Chilly Reception to ‘Pardon Snowden’ Petition

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

The short answer: Sorry.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Gun-Control Senators Ask Dealers to Voluntarily Toughen Background Checks

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

In Defense of Huckabee

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

The New Planned Parenthood Sting Video Is the Worst One Yet

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Featured image courtesy of Shutterstock / Zurijeta

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

Single-Family Zoning Racist? Seattle Thinks So

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

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

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

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

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

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

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