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Russia’s Near-Miss with Commercial Jet ‘Show of Force’ That Warrants Response

Russia denies Sweden’s claim that one of its military planes nearly hit a commercial jetliner over international airspace on Friday, but one congressman said Washington needs to take the near-collision as a serious threat from the Kremlin.

Rep. Adam Kinzinger (R-Ill.), an Air Force pilot, said he doesn’t believe Russia as they try to sweep the incident under the rug.

“Look, especially when it comes to commercial airliners, flying close to each other is not something that you do. This is obviously the Russians’ attempt to show power and show that they have the teeth of a bear, to try to bully their neighbors, and it’s just — it’s ludicrous,” Kinzinger told Fox.

“I mean, any time you come near — the Russians can basically claim that the Ukrainians shot down the airliner out of Ukraine, but we know that they did it. And that’s what’s going to happen,” he continued. “They are going to go harass these airliners and, some day, there’s going to be something that happens where maybe a Russian jet collides with an airliner again and they have to answer to that.”

“But, no, I’m not buying that this is no big deal. It’s a show of force by the Russians and we’ve been seeing this now for the last year.”

Sweden and Denmark summoned their ambassadors from Moscow to protest the incident, according to The Moscow Times. Danish Foreign Minister Martin Lidegaard said it was “completely unreasonable that civilian lives are put in danger in this way.”

The Russian intelligence plane had turned off its transponder to cloak itself from radar in the region. The Scandinavian Airlines flight involved was headed from Copenhagen to Poland.

“There were no prerequisites for an air accident,” Russian Defense Ministry spokesman Major General Igor Konashenkov said.

Kinzinger said the first step is calling attention to what Russia is doing.

“The Russians are trying to intimidate folks. We need to show the Russians that not only are we going to be intimidated, we’re going to respond with increased NATO presence and flights along the Russian border and in the sea. This is going to be important to do. I think when you see jets — Russian jets intercepting airliners, let’s shadow with NATO jets, if we can do that,” the congressman said.

“But ultimately, again, it’s bringing shame to the Russians. You’re not showing us that you’re tough. You’re showing us that you’re reckless, doing this with innocent airline passengers, and getting yourself in a position where you may collide. I’m a pilot. I know one mistake can lead to a collision. It’s very dangerous and reckless, and not a good neighbor.”

Kinzinger added that “turning off your IFF, your squawk, your transponder is also showing a hostile intention in some cases.”

“So, look, the Russians are not being good neighbors. They are trying to show off. But it should be very clear that while there won’t be a shooting war between the West and Russia, their military would be dispatched quite quickly if, in fact, it came to that,” he said.

“When I was in Kurdistan with the military — I was there I think in 2006 — I remember the Russian jets flying over our base as a show of force. It was a frog-foot jet. And they’ve been doing this for a while. But they’re really stepping it up. So if they claim it’s a response to sanctions, maybe in their mind, it is, but this is not new. The Russians under Vladimir Putin have decided that they want to try to rebuild the pieces of the Soviet Union. And this is part of that. It’s provocation. It’s show of force. And I think the West needs to respond, not by escalation but showing that we won’t be bullied.”

Posted at 7:59 am on December 16th, 2014 by

ABC Poll: Almost 2/3 Say CIA Torture Was Justifed

The media freak-out over the Senate’s CIA torture report is squarely at odds with the opinion of the American public. ABC News has released a new poll this morning that asks about American opinions on torture.

Fifty-nine percent of Americans say “the CIA’s treatment of suspected terrorists was justified” and more than half think “it produced important, unique intelligence.” Only 2 out of 10 Americans reject torture entirely.

Almost half of Americans are aware the treatment is, in fact, torture, while 38% don’t consider the treatment to be torture at all.

One reasons for the support of torturing terrorists is that more than half (53%) say the torture resulted in important information that could not have been obtained any other way.

Gary Langer writes: “It’s a critical point: Among those who think the CIA interrogations produced unique information, 85 percent say its treatment of suspected terrorists was justified. That drops precipitously, to 28 percent, among those who say the approach did not produce important information.”

The survey also reveals “substantial” misgivings about the release of the report.

  • Americans by an 11-point margin, 47-36 percent, are more apt to see it as unfair rather than fair in its description of what occurred.
  • The public by 52-43 percent feels more that it was wrong to release the report because it may raise the risk of terrorism by stirring anti-American sentiment – as critics say – than right to release the report in order to expose what happened and prevent a recurrence.
  • Additionally, Americans by 57-34 percent oppose criminal charges against officials who were responsible for the agency’s interrogation activities.

One point the public does agree with the report about is that the CIA did mislead the public, the White House and Congress about their activities. (Kind of interesting that they still think the torture is justified, eh?) Four out of ten say the CIA was justified in misleading people about the torture.

Basically, the majority doesn’t want to take torture off the table; 58% say it can be sometimes or often justified.

As in most politically sensitive opinions surveys, there are partisan differences on torture. Eighty-two percent of conservative Republicans say the torture was justified while at the other end of the political spectrum, only 38% of liberal Democrats think the same.

Posted at 7:51 am on December 16th, 2014 by

Oh, God, Please No: Jeb Bush Is Running for President

Well, it’s semi-official: Jeb Bush is “actively exploring” running for president:

Merry Christmas and Happy Hanukkah!

Like many of you, our family was blessed with the opportunity to gather together over the recent Thanksgiving holiday. Columba and I are so proud of the wonderful adults our children have become, and we loved spending time with our three precious grandchildren. We shared good food and watched a whole lot of football.

We also talked about the future of our nation. As a result of these conversations and thoughtful consideration of the kind of strong leadership I think America needs, I have decided to actively explore the possibility of running for President of the United States.

In January, I also plan to establish a Leadership PAC that will help me facilitate conversations with citizens across America to discuss the most critical challenges facing our exceptional nation. The PAC’s purpose will be to support leaders, ideas and policies that will expand opportunity and prosperity for all Americans.

In the coming months, I hope to visit with many of you and have a conversation about restoring the promise of America.Best wishes to you and your families for a happy holiday season. I’ll be in touch soon.

Onward,

Jeb Bush

Just what America needs: three presidents in one family, and the prospect of another Bush/Clinton election. A total disgrace to the American ideal. Jeb and the rest of the clan should reconsider before he embarrasses himself further.

Posted at 7:23 am on December 16th, 2014 by

Obamas ‘Looking Forward’ To 17-Day Hawaiian Vacation. We Are, Too

If it’s Christmas, it must be time for the Vacationer-in-Chief to head out on a largely taxpayer-funded holiday trip “home” to Hawaii. And sure enough:

The first family is returning to Hawaii for their seventh straight Christmas vacation, a 17-day break President Obama is “eagerly looking forward to.” The White House has announced that the president and his family with depart Washington on Friday and is expected to return Jan. 4.

“On Friday, the first family will depart the White House en route to Honolulu, Hawaii — a flight that I know the president himself is eagerly looking forward to,” said spokesman Josh Earnest.

According to Pacific Business News, “Obama has rented a private home in Kailua on past holiday vacations, and typically spends his time working out at the nearby Marine Corps Base Hawaii, playing golf, catching up with Punahou School classmates and dining out at such restaurants as Alan Wong’s Honolulu, [Morimoto] at The Modern Honolulu and Buzz’s Original Steakhouse in Kailua.”

George Washington never had it so good. And neither do you.

Posted at 7:14 am on December 16th, 2014 by

131 Dead in Pakistan School Massacre; No Mention of Taliban in White House Condemnation

Taliban terrorists stormed a school in Peshawar, Pakistan, today, killing at least 131, according to Pakistani newspaper Dawn.

President Obama released a statement condemning the “heinous” attack on the Army Public School, but didn’t mention the Taliban by name.

“The United States condemns in the strongest possible terms today’s horrific attack on the Army Public School in Peshawar, Pakistan. Our hearts and prayers go out to the victims, their families, and loved ones,” Obama said. “By targeting students and teachers in this heinous attack, terrorists have once again shown their depravity.”

“We stand with the people of Pakistan, and reiterate the commitment of the United States to support the Government of Pakistan in its efforts to combat terrorism and extremism and to promote peace and stability in the region.”

A statement issued by the U.S. Embassy in Islamabad also didn’t mention those responsible. “The United States strongly condemns senseless and inhumane attacks on innocent students and educators, and stands in solidarity with the people of Pakistan, and all who fight the menace of terrorism,” it said.

“Few have suffered more at the hands of terrorists and extremists than the people of Pakistan,” the statement added, saying “that is why it remains essential for the United States and Pakistan to continue to work together to secure peace and stability in the region.”

According to Dawn, initial reports said eight to 10 Taliban staged the attack and by the end six were killed. At least 100 of the dead are children, both boys and girls and mostly in their early teens, and “scores” are injured. The Pakistani Army said they have responded with airstrikes in Khyber.

DG Inter-Services Public Relations (ISPR) Maj-Gen Asim Bajwa tweeted that the terrorists planted IEDs in the building, which were delaying the rescue of survivors.

Pakistani Prime Minister Nawaz Sharif said the country would observe a three-day period of mourning. “These were my children. This is my loss. This is the nation’s loss,” he said.

A Pakistan Taliban spokesman told CNN that the latest attack was “revenge for the killing of hundreds of innocent tribesmen during repeated army operations in provinces including South Waziristan, North Waziristan and the Khyber Agency.”

Malala Yousazai, the Nobel laureate who was shot in the head by Taliban in 2012 for lobbying for a girl’s right to education, issued a statement saying she was “heartbroken by this senseless and cold blooded act of terror in Peshawar that is unfolding before us.”

“Innocent children in their school have no place in horror such as this,” the 17-year-old said. ”I condemn these atrocious and cowardly acts and stand united with the government and armed forces of Pakistan whose efforts so far to address this horrific event are commendable.”

Over the weekend, the Afghanistan Taliban called for an international investigation into the human rights standards of the United States after the Senate Intelligence Committee Democrats released a lengthy report criticizing enhanced interrogation techniques used in the war on terror.

“We call on the international community as well as those international organizations that call themselves champions of human rights, to examine America’s ongoing policy in light of these human rights standards,” the group said.

This harrowing account was relayed by a 16-year-old survivor to an Agence France-Presse reporter:

“Someone screamed at us to get down and hide below the desks,” he said, adding that the gunmen shouted “Allahu akbar” (God is greatest) before opening fire.

“Then one of them shouted: ‘There are so many children beneath the benches, go and get them’,” Salman told AFP.

“I saw a pair of big black boots coming towards me, this guy was probably hunting for students hiding beneath the benches.”

Salman said he felt searing pain as he was shot in both his legs just below the knee. He decided to play dead, adding: “I folded my tie and pushed it into my mouth so that I wouldn’t scream. The man with big boots kept on looking for students and pumping bullets into their bodies. I lay as still as I could and closed my eyes, waiting to get shot again,” he said.

“My body was shivering. I saw death so close and I will never forget the black boots approaching me. I felt as though it was death that was approaching me,” Salman added further.

…As his father, a shopkeeper, comforted him in his blood-soaked bed, Salman recalled: “The men left after some time and I stayed there for a few minutes. Then I tried to get up but fell to the ground because of my wounds. When I crawled to the next room, it was horrible. I saw the dead body of our office assistant on fire,” he said.

“She was sitting on the chair with blood dripping from her body as she burned,” Salman added.

It was not immediately clear how the female employee’s body caught fire, though her remains were also later seen by an AFP reporter in a hospital mortuary.

Posted at 6:57 am on December 16th, 2014 by

[WATCH] WaPo: Top Lie of the Year is Obama’s ‘ISIS/JV Team’ Spin

The Washington Post‘s Glenn Kessler appeared on Morning Joe to discuss some of the top lies of 2014. Kessler writes the Fact Checker column at the Washington Post, where he evaluates the veracity of political claims making the headlines.

Joe Scarborough pushed Kessler to pick the single biggest lie of the year, to which Kessler responded: “I look at the issues that resonate with people and are biggest issues. One of the major things was Barack Obama saying he was not specifically referring to ISIS, when he referred to a J.V. team… I got a hold of the actual transcript, with his interview with the New Yorker and it was pretty clear he was talking about ISIS.”

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Over at the Washington Post, Kessler wrote about the lie:

President Obama repeated a claim, crafted by the White House communications team, that he was not “specifically” referring to the Islamic State terror group when he dismissed the militants who had taken over Fallujah as a “JV squad.” But The Fact Checker had obtained the previously unreleased transcript of the president’s interview with The New Yorker, and it’s clear that’s who the president was referencing.

Kessler gave Obama a four Pinocchios rating for trying to spin his ISIS statement.

Posted at 6:24 am on December 16th, 2014 by

Too Good to Check: Boy Genius Makes $72 Mil in the Market!

Another bogus story in what used to be the legitimate media, this one featuring a stock-picking boy wonder named Mohammed Islam at New York’s Stuyvesant High. Honestly, you can’t make this stuff up. Or, then again, maybe you have to in order to get a story in a newspaper or magazine these days:

It’s been a tough month for factchecking. After the Rolling Stone campus rape story unraveled, readers of all publications can be forgiven for questioning the process by which Americans get our news. And now it turns out that another blockbuster story is —to quote its subject in an exclusive Observer interview—”not true.”

Monday’s edition of New York magazine includes an irresistible story about a Stuyvesant High senior named Mohammed Islam who had made a fortune investing in the stock market. Reporter Jessica Pressler wrote regarding the precise number, “Though he is shy about the $72 million number, he confirmed his net worth is in the “’high eight figures.’” The New York Post followed up with a story of its own, with the fat figure playing a key role in the headline: “High school student scores $72M playing the stock market.”

And now it turns out, the real number is … zero.

Journalism always gets thing wrong. Lying at the top levels of officialdom too often goes unchallenged. But never in more than forty years in this business have I seen such abject credulity on the part of reporters. Some stories, it seems, really are too good to check. But, hey, it’s all fun and games until somebody loses his reputation or worse.

The saddest quote from the New York Observer piece, debunking the New York Magazine piece:

Mohammed, you’re from Queens and you go to this elite public high school. Is this a hobby of your parents as well or would you be the first person in your family to pursue high finance? 

Mohammed Islam: In my immediate family, just me.

So what did your parents think when they’re reading that you’ve got $72 million? 

Mohammed Islam: Honestly, my dad wanted to disown me. My mom basically said she’d never talk to me. Their morals are that if I lie about it and don’t own up to it then they can no longer trust me. … They knew it was false and they basically wanted to kill me and I haven’t spoken to them since.

Nice work, New York. The original story is here.

 

Posted at 5:50 am on December 16th, 2014 by

Sen. Reid Could Ram Up to 88 Federal Judges Through the Senate before Adjournment

“The highest in two decades.”

Democrats are primed to confirm up to 88 of President Obama’s judicial nominations through the Senate before the year’s close.

Thanks to Reid’s weakening of the Senate filibuster, Republicans have had little power to stop Obama’s nominations.

So far, the Senate has approved 76 federal appeals court and district court nominees. Last year, the Senate only confirmed 43, and in 2012 49 were confirmed. The new confirmations will really expand Obama’s influence over the judiciary.

“He’s changed the face of the judiciary,” said Russell Wheeler, who studies the judiciary for the liberal-leaning Brookings Institution. “Whether or not that will have a long-term impact, I think, is another question.”

It probably will have a long-term impact and we’ll hear about it when one of these jokers makes a ridiculous ruling. The Associated Press writes, “Another measure of Obama’s impact is on federal appeals courts, which have enormous influence on their regions of the country and can be conduits for cases to reach the Supreme Court. When he took office, 10 of the 13 appeals courts had more judges appointed by Republican than Democratic presidents. Now the balance has switched, with Democratic-appointed majorities on nine of the courts.”

If the Senate ends up confirming all 88 of Obama’s picks, it will be the most number of confirmations since Bill Clinton had 99 confirmations in 1994.

Although the establishment talking points blame Senators Ted Cruz and Mike Lee for Reid’s “opportunity” to get these nominations approved, it was always Reid’s plan to get as many of these folks through the system before control of the Senate is turned over to the Republicans.

Cruz spokesman Phil Novak confirmed that Reid was planning on going on a spree of confirmations: “Everyone knows Harry Reid planned to jam forward as many nominees as he could.”

 

Posted at 5:46 am on December 16th, 2014 by

What’s Moving Millennials Into the Pro-Life Camp?

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Millennials areincreasingly more pro-life and supportive of restrictions on abortion” than their Boomer and Gen-X parents. 

Blame science.

“There’s a window into the womb with ultrasound. Just having the look into the womb you can see, even in the first trimester, the early development of the child — you can see the humanity of the child,” Rose said. “Now that we have that imagery and it’s more prevalent, people are having that personal encounter with the child, so it’s easier to recognize their human rights.”

…”Years ago, it was the case that advocates for abortion would talk about the ‘thing’ growing in a woman’s womb as a lifeless blob of tissue,” Monahan explained. “And I think our advances in sonography and ultrasounds, and even our understanding of fetal development has dispelled those myths.”

She continued: “We know that, from the moment of conception, a baby has all of its DNA that it needs for the rest of its life. It has everything inherent that it will need for later on. Really, the only difference [between the preborn and adults] is in size and development.”

When most millennials were in the womb, ultrasound technology was still relatively new to pregnancy. Mothers of Gen-X/millennial crossovers most likely only had an ultrasound if there were suspected complications with the pregnancy. Today, however, those crossovers and their fellow millennials will have an ultrasound as early as 8 weeks to confirm pregnancy, including fetal heartbeat. One-dimensional sonograms will continue throughout the pregnancy. Parents will also have the option to have a 3-D or 4-D ultrasound done so that they may see their smiling baby in the womb.

Abortion is at an all-time low in the United States. And while abortion advocates are quick to note that the majority of women who are required to view sonograms before their abortions will choose to proceed with the abortion, the reality is that the majority of abortions in America are being performed before an 8 week ultrasound can be done. The women who abort after the ultrasound are in the minority that is growing smaller by the year.

Posted at 5:40 am on December 16th, 2014 by

The ‘I Can’t Breathe’ T-shirt You’ve Been Waiting For

cant_breathe_maryjo

So the company making all those silly “I Can’t Breathe” t-shirts pays its employees $6 an hour.

Liberal hypocrisy is always a bountiful source of unintentional humor.

For intentional humor, you have to turn to the right:

Veteran blogger Sondra K. posted a pic of the t-shirt above.

Unfortunately, it doesn’t seem to be a real t-shirt design, just a gag.

Why?

Posted at 4:34 am on December 16th, 2014 by

Saving the New Religious Refugees

In the 1800s, London became a haven for tens of thousands of Russian Jews fleeing their czarist homeland. Today, a similar scene takes place in the United Kingdom, but this time the refugees are Muslim converts to Christianity fleeing persecution in England or the Middle East.

Many Muslims who convert to Christianity face threats of death and harm, and friends and family turn them away. One organization in particular, Christian Concern, is helping converts find safe haven in homes, churches, and other places in the UK.

Christian Concern believes thousands of Muslims are anxious to convert and in need of housing so they can get back onto their feet after suffering verbal — and sometimes physical — attacks from families, friends and co-workers.

“We are motivated by a deep sense of love and compassion for those that feel trapped in a situation from which they cannot escape,” said Andrea Williams, the group’s chief executive.

“The penalty for converts at best is to be cut off from their family; at worst they face death,” she added. “This is happening not just in Sudan and Nigeria but in East London. The government has failed to deal with the rise in anti-Christian sentiment.”

Some of these converts are like Shokit Ali Sadiq, whose wife is also a Christian. He and his family received safe haven thanks to members of their church. Sadiq now works to convert others from Islam to Christianity, and he says that many Muslims want to convert but are afraid to do so.

“There are hundreds of people out there who want to leave Islam,” said Sadiq. “But they’re frightened of making their desire known.”

Others are like a woman who went unnamed for her interview. She faced physical attacks from other women after becoming a Christian. She prays that “one day my own family will have me back.”

Twenty-three-year-old Ali, whose former friends stabbed him and left him for dead when he converted in Pakistan at age 17, fled to England, where these same young men from his hometown tracked him down and threatened him again. He now works at a store and lives essentially in hiding,but he is hopeful that he can return to Pakistan one day to do the same work that saved his life.

“My life’s ambition,” he said, “is to return and start a charity that would provide safe houses for Muslims who convert to Christianity.”

This post uses a modified image from Shutterstock.

Posted at 6:14 pm on December 15th, 2014 by

Largest Immigration Detention Center in U.S. Opened

More like a “Welcome Center”.

Jeh Johnson, the secretary of Homeland Security, came to this South Texas outpost on Monday to inaugurate a 50-acre detention center that will hold as many as 2,400 migrants caught crossing the Southwest border illegally, becoming the largest immigration detention facility in the country.

Though President Obama has offered work permits and protection from deportation to millions of unauthorized immigrants, he also ordered new policies to reinforce border security, hoping to prevent a new surge of illegal crossings. Mr. Johnson presided over the opening of the center in Dilley, 85 miles northeast of Laredo, to draw more attention to the border security pieces of the president’s executive actions, in response to the furor those actions caused.

Yay, border security, right?

Eh…

The center is specially designed to house migrant women and their children, from babies to teenagers, as their deportation cases move through the courts.

Standing on a barren dirt roadway lined with cabins in a fenced-in compound, Mr. Johnson delivered a blunt message to migrants without legal papers considering a trip to the United States. “It will now be more likely that you will be detained and sent back,” he said.

“More likely!” Well, they’re certainly putting their feet down now. Below is a picture of part of this “We mean business!” detention facility (no, really):

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Posted at 5:50 pm on December 15th, 2014 by

‘Despite NRA’s Negative Onslaught,’ Controversial Surgeon General Pick Squeaks Through Confirmation Vote

Dr. Vivek Murthy, a Harvard Medical School instructor who founded Doctors for Obama (which changed its name to Doctors for America), was nominated by President Obama to be surgeon general in November 2013.

The 37-year-old’s nomination stalled amid opposition in the upper chamber, yet was one of the flurry of nominees whose cloture votes were pushed through in the extended weekend Senate session. Today, Murthy was barely confirmed 51-43, with six senators not voting.

The only Republican to vote for Murthy’s confirmation was Sen. Mark Kirk (R-Ill.). Among the nays were Democrats Joe Donnelly (Ind.) and Joe Manchin (W.Va.).

“Our surgeon general serves as America’s leader on public health services and chooses what health policies we should prioritize. For that reason, I don’t believe it’s appropriate for America’s number one doctor to participate in political activism,” Manchin said. “It is essential that the surgeon general gains the public’s trust, so this position must be separated from the political arena.”

“After meeting with Dr. Murthy, I don’t question his medical qualifications; I just question whether the public will believe that he can separate his political beliefs from his public health views,” he added. “I am wary that his past comments and political involvement will have an impact on his leadership capabilities and effectiveness. For these reasons, I am unable to vote for his confirmation as the United States’ next surgeon general.”

The National Rifle Association issued a legislative alert Friday warning that the long-delayed confirmation of Murthy, who has equated gun violence with a “public health epidemic,” was imminent.

“The coordination between the Brady Campaign and those seeking to engineer Dr. Murthy’s confirmation heightens already significant concerns about his willingness to politicize the office of Surgeon General to promote gun control,” the NRA’s Chris Cox wrote to Senate leaders.

Democratic senators who have traditionally supported gun rights but were defeated in midterms — Sens. Mark Begich (Alaska) and Mark Pryor (Ark.) — voted for Murthy. So did Kay Hagan (D-N.C.), who ran unsuccessfully on a 2nd Amendment platform.

Obama issued a statement praising the confirmation of the Doctors for Obama leader. “As ‘America’s Doctor,’ Vivek will hit the ground running to make sure every American has the information they need to keep themselves and their families safe,” Obama said. “He’ll bring his lifetime of experience promoting public health to bear on priorities ranging from stopping new diseases to helping our kids grow up healthy and strong.”

“Vivek will also help us build on the progress we’ve made combatting Ebola, both in our country and at its source,” the president continued. “Combined with the crucial support for fighting Ebola included in the bill to fund our government next year, Vivek’s confirmation makes us better positioned to save lives around the world and protect the American people here at home.”

Sen. Richard Blumenthal (D-Conn.), who was in Hartford earlier in the day marking the two-year anniversary of the Sandy Hook school shooting, said the NRA had “spun a specious smokescreen” on Murthy’s nomination, “working shamefully and tirelessly to block him simply because he stated the obvious fact that gun violence is a public health issue.”

“Despite the NRA’s negative onslaught, today the United States gets a great surgeon general and a superbly qualified public health leader,” Blumenthal said.

But Sen. John Barrasso (R-Wyo.), one of the physicians serving in Congress, said in a floor speech today that while Murthy has “impressive academic credentials and I’m sure he will be a fine doctor,” they’re “simply not sufficient qualifications for this important job.”

“Is Dr. Murthy a renowned expert in treating patients or researching diseases? No, not at all. He’s not. Has he actually built a career teaching medicine or leading public health organizations? No, not yet. In fact, Dr. Murthy only completed his medical training, his residency, in 2006, just eight years ago,” Barrasso said. “Now, I speak as someone who has actually practiced medicine for 25 years, who has been an instructor of surgery at Yale Medical School that Dr. Murthy attended. And I saw that being a doctor is about much more than going to school.”

“The majority of his career has been spent not as a doctor treating patients but as an activist, an activist focused on gun control and political campaigns. Even former Surgeon General Richard Carmona has said that Dr. Murthy doesn’t have the medical experience to serve in such an important position. Let me point out, Dr. Carmona is a Democrat.”

Americans, Barrasso argued, “don’t want a doctor who might let political ideology get in the way of treatment and their best interest.”

“Americans don’t want a Surgeon General who might use this position of trust to promote his own personal campaign against the Second Amendment of the Constitution,” he said. “This is just another example of President Obama giving someone an important job based solely on their support of the president’s political career.”

Though Sen. Chuck Schumer (D-N.Y.) said he didn’t think Murthy would get confirmed until Sens. Ted Cruz (R-Texas) and Mike Lee (R-Utah) sent the Senate into weekend session with their cromnibus objections, Lee told Fox today that wasn’t the case.

“Look, this is an outgoing Democratic Senate majority. It would’ve been political malpractice for [Reid] to adjourn for the year without getting these things through,” Lee said. “I can guarantee you not one person will be confirmed as a result of this that would not otherwise have been confirmed.”

 

 

 

 

Posted at 5:39 pm on December 15th, 2014 by

Do We Have to Pick a Side? Al-Qaeda Front Captures Syrian Military Installation

From The Daily Star in Lebanon:

BEIRUT: Syrian jihadi and rebel militias overran a sprawling government military base in Idlib province Monday, achieving the year’s biggest victory against the regime of President Bashar Assad.

The Nusra Front, Al-Qaeda’s affiliate in Syria, along with the powerful Ahrar al-Sham militia and other allies, seized the Wadi Deif base after a fierce, two-day push that sent hundreds of regime troops fleeing the area, as regime warplanes pounded the area in a bid to secure their retreat.

The Syrian Observatory for Human Rights, an anti-regime monitoring group based in Britain, said 31 government troops were killed in the assault on the base, along with a dozen fighters from the Nusra Front and its allies, although some pro-Nusra social media outlets said nearly 80 rebels had been killed.

A military commander from Ahrar al-Sham claimed in a video statement that around 200 regime troops were killed in the offensive, while several hundred were wounded.

That’s always been the tricky part of dealing with the never-ending turmoil in this part of the world-it’s often a “lesser of two evils but, wow, they’re both really evil” proposition (see: Egypt). One bad actor will just step in and take the place of another, and whatever ill the new bad guys sow will be blamed on the United States for either being too proactive or too inactive.

If there is a solution to what the West can do to “help” in Syria, it has yet to be discovered, probably because almost every foreseeable outcome with the current players is so unpalatable.

Posted at 5:39 pm on December 15th, 2014 by

Men Who Like Spicy Food Are More Alpha

My chili is bigger than yours.

Alpha males tend to thrive in cutthroat offices—and restaurants that douse their food in hot sauce.

A study by researchers from the University of Grenoble found that men who preferred spicier foods also tended to have higher testosterone levels than men with milder tastes. In the study, published in the journal Physiology & Behavior, 114 men from age 18 to 44 were polled on whether or not they liked spicy foods, and were later served a dish of mashed potatoes which they were allowed to season with however much hot sauce and salt they wanted.

The researchers found that men with higher testosterone levels tended to use more hot sauce and indicated a greater preference for it. There was no relationship between testosterone and the amount of salt used. High testosterone levels in men have long been linked to dominant and competitive traits.

The conundrum is that many deliciously spicy foods also leave one with breath that doesn’t go over well on a date.

Which is why I am a huge consumer of Altoids.

Posted at 4:57 pm on December 15th, 2014 by

Pope Bites Dog! Maybe…

Remember that story about Pope Francis promising some distressed moppet whose dog had just died that good bowsers go to Heaven too? Bogus. The American Interest has the details, while the increasingly untrustworthy New York Times has the correction. First, the details:

A recent controversy over whether Pope Francis said that dogs go to heaven shows how deeply the media has bought into its own narrative about the pontiff’s brand of feel-good religion. Last week many media outlets reported that Francis told a boy whose dog had died that, “one day, we will see our animals again in the eternity of Christ. Paradise is open to all of God’s creatures.” He was said to have supported this statement by a reference to a passage in Bible written by St. Paul. Reaction was swift: spiritual but not religious types got the warm fuzzies, while Catholic traditionalists sighed heavily under the burden of having such a Pope.

But the whole story was completely false. Pope Francis not only never said it; he never talked to a boy with a dead dog at all… The media has fallen in love with their own creation—the softhearted, easygoing, liberal pope they’ve long been waiting for—and are willing uncritically to run a story, any story, that puts him on display.

Oh, noes! It gets worse. The Religion News Service debunks here:

Yes, a version of that quotation was uttered by a pope, but it was said decades ago by Paul VI, who died in 1978. There is no evidence that Francis repeated the words during his public audience on Nov. 26, as has been widely reported, nor was there a boy mourning his dead dog.  “There is a fundamental rule in journalism. That is double-checking, and in this case it was not done,” the Vatican’s deputy spokesman, the Rev. Ciro Benedettini, told Reuters on Saturday.

But hey — the story was too good to check! Which is why a red-faced Times had to backtrack on its entire front-page story – which began with this by now-obligatory lede, “Pope Francis has given hope to gays, unmarried couples and advocates of the Big Bang theory. Now, he has endeared himself to dog lovers, animal rights activists and vegans” – with this instant classic of a correction:

Correction: December 12, 2014. An earlier version of this article misstated the circumstances of Pope Francis’ remarks. He made them in a general audience at the Vatican, not in consoling a distraught boy whose dog had died. The article also misstated what Francis is known to have said. According to Vatican Radio, Francis said: “The Holy Scripture teaches us that the fulfillment of this wonderful design also affects everything around us,” which was interpreted to mean he believes animals go to heaven. Francis is not known to have said: “One day, we will see our animals again in the eternity of Christ. Paradise is open to all of God’s creatures.’’ (Those remarks were once made by Pope Paul VI to a distraught child, and were cited in a Corriere della Sera article that concluded Francis believes animals go to heaven.) An earlier version also referred incompletely to the largest animal protection group in the United States. It is the Humane Society of the United States, not just the Humane Society.

That correction is almost as embarrassing as this one (scroll all the way down. Sheesh.

 

Posted at 4:42 pm on December 15th, 2014 by

Priceless: North Korea Wants U.S. Held Accountable for Human Rights Abuses

Opposite Day!

North Korea on Monday asked the United Nations Security Council to add the issue of torture by the U.S. Central Intelligence Agency to its agenda and to establish an investigation to ensure those responsible are held to account for human rights abuses.

The request by Pyongyang came as two-thirds of the 15-member council push for the human rights situation in North Korea to be added to the agenda. A U.N. report in February detailed abuses in North Korea that it said were comparable to Nazi-era atrocities.

Once an issue is on the Security Council agenda, it can be discussed by the body at any time.

Wow, who would have thought that this Democrat hit piece designed as a “Senate report” would just give ammunition to various low-life global actors?

Oh yeah, everyone.

First, it was China taking Dianne Feinstein’s gift and faking out a claim on the moral high ground.

The NoKos were busy reveling in all the havoc they wrought at Sony last week so they took longer to respond. The UN is the Devil’s Playground for the the most horrific regimes on the planet and, if I am not mistaken, now exists solely as an oversized water cooler for the international community to gather and complain about the United States and then ask the US to pick up the check.

Why are we still there again?

Posted at 3:55 pm on December 15th, 2014 by

New Caption Contest: Matt Drudge Tweets About NSA Dirt on Boehner in Obama’s Christmas Sacks

Credit: Matt Drudge

Credit: Matt Drudge

Our newest caption contest shows our Beloved Leader bearing gifts.

The photo is from a tweet by Matt Drudge of Drudge Report fame with the caption:

“Obama got EVERYTHING. NSA dirt on Boehner must be incredible. Chicago wins.”

For some insight behind Drudge’s tweet, read Bridget Johnson’s report on the $1.1 trillion spending bill passed last Thursday by a close vote of 219-206 in the House of Representatives averting a government shutdown.

So, what is the “NSA dirt on Boehner” that Obama is carrying? What other gifts is Obama giving our nation, his friends and his enemies? Bold and brash speculation is your mission — should you choose to accept it.

Now here are the winners of our last contest where you were asked to comment on Romney Beats Clinton in Quinnipiac Poll – Third Time’s the Charm?

Credit: Speechgeek

Credit: Speechgeek

The winner was RockThisTown with:

2016? It took Reagan 3 tries too . . . but you’re not Reagan.

The runner-up was Kuce, who wrote:

The 3rd time’s the charm, but I’m not seeing Prince Charming.

Ouch, that hurt.

Finally, for our new contest, PLEASE try to be nice to our president before he flies off to Hawaii on Dec.19 for his annual Christmas vacation (costing taxpayers millions of dollars). We all know the poor guy works so hard at the White House watching ESPN every morning and meeting 61 times with Al Sharpton.

 

 

 

 

Posted at 3:29 pm on December 15th, 2014 by

Final Report From the Lima Climate Conference

The United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change meeting in Lima, Peru, took about two extra days to finish a new agreement, concluding early Sunday morning. The agreement will form the foundation of the global climate agreement due in Paris next December that is to replace the 1997 legally binding Kyoto Protocol.

The Lima Call for Climate Action calls on countries to submit their Intended Nationally Determined Contributions (INDCs), the measuring and reporting indices, starting in March 2015. Measuring and reporting greenhouse gas emissions is a high priority because it is the data necessary for the UN’s passionate desire to eventually tax carbon that would amass trillions of dollars annually for redistribution around the globe.

Even with the U.S. on board for INDCs, China and India pushed back, because they know that a tax on greenhouse gas emissions would greatly increase their cost of luring new industries.

The Lima agreement calls for emissions reduction targets and requires all countries to quantify both greenhouse gas emissions limits and  proposed contributions to the UNFCCC’s Green Climate Fund that is to amass $100 billion annually by 2020, growing to $500 billion annually by 2050. The UNFCCC secretariat will publish the contributions.

Ignoring the fact that the earth has not warmed since 1998, non-governmental organizations accused the fossil fuel industry of being “the biggest barrier to progress.” They complained that the Lima Call for Climate Action stopped short of declaring an end to the use of fossil fuels by 2050, but hope to gain further commitments when the UNFCCC meets again in February and June. The NGO, 350.org, accused rich countries of, “dragging their feet on everything from finance to emissions reductions” but celebrated the “goal’s inclusion in the draft text is a win for the fossil fuel divestment movement.”

Americans can breathe a sigh of relief at the conclusion of this year’s UNFCCC, but we must remain vigilant to observe future global plans that would have a tremendous impact on our standard of living.

Posted at 3:26 pm on December 15th, 2014 by

The Next Democrat Candidate for President? Elizabeth Warren

Besties

Besties

Bet on it.

It’s enough to make you feel sorry for Hillary Clinton. Well, almost. Her presidential campaign of celebrity and inevitability got off to a rocky start, mostly through her own mistakes, as when she claimed they were “dead broke” when she and Bubba left the White House.

But her gaffes were mere speed bumps compared to the real threat forming now. Massachusetts firebrand Sen. Elizabeth Warren emerges from Washington’s budget clash as the undisputed champion of the rising left, and will almost certainly challenge Clinton for the 2016 nomination. The polls say it’s Hillary’s turn, but I’m starting to believe 2016 could be 2008 all over again, with Warren taking the nomination from her the way Barack Obama did.

Hillary Clinton is a very poor retail politician, who got her lunch eaten and her head handed to her by somebody named Barack Hussein Obama, a man of zero accomplishment who had barely registered on the national radar screen until a couple of years earlier. By contrast, Hillary has been around since Watergate and was in our faces throughout the two terms of the Clinton administration. And yet she still lost.

You just know the Democrats are going to want to keep up their “historic” electoral accomplishments, which means they must nominate a (rich, white, elitist, one-percent member of the Harvard faculty) woman. And that’s going to be Fauxcahontas, the gal from Oklahoma who sets moonbats’ heart all a-flutter with her faux populism. Writing of the recent budget battle in the Senate, Kevin Williamson notes over at NRO:

Senator Elizabeth Warren, the millionaire Massachusetts class warrior who has made the vilification of Wall Street bankers her second-favorite pastime (right behind prospering on the largesse of Wall Street lawyers, the gentlemen and scholars who funded her very generously compensated position at Harvard and fill her campaign coffers) did not exactly make the issue her hill to die on, but the fight did provide her an excellent opportunity for grandstanding.

Flat-footed Hillary hasn’t got a chance. 

 

Posted at 2:19 pm on December 15th, 2014 by

What’s My Motivation?

sydney islam

An invader, not an ‘immigrant’

The bodies aren’t even cold yet in Sydney and already the media is tiptoeing around the elephant in the room to discover the crazed Islamic “political refugee” from Iran’s motivation. Who cares? Everything you need to know about the shooter’s “motivation” I just listed in the first sentence. Naturally, Australia’s Muslims are already whining about a “backlash”:

Religious leaders and ordinary Australians sought to defuse communal tensions on Monday, after a siege at a Sydney cafe by a gunman who forced hostages to display an Islamic flag raised fears of a backlash against the country’s Muslim minority.

Within hours of the attack on the Lindt cafe in the centre of the city, a Muslim group reported that women wearing the hijab had been spat on and the right-wing Australian Defence League called on followers to protest at two major mosques. The protests did not materialise and little is known about the true motives of the gunman.

But in the harbourside city, home to half of Australia’s 500,000 Muslims, police moved on a man shouting anti-Islamic abuse at the scene of the ongoing siege. The man strode up to a police cordon and shouted: “Someone is going to die here because of Islam! There is no such thing as moderate Islam. Wake up and smell the coffee.”

The siege coincides with growing concerns in Australia about the dangers posed by Islamist militants, with the country’s security agency raising its national terrorism public alert to “high” in September. The same month, anti-terrorism police said they had thwarted an imminent threat to behead a random member of the public and days later, a teenager in the city of Melbourne was shot dead after attacking two anti-terrorism officers with a knife.

Vox populi, vox Dei, as the old saying goes.

 

Posted at 1:18 pm on December 15th, 2014 by

Iran’s State-Owned TV Points Sydney-Siege Finger at ‘Terrorism Supporters’ U.S., Israel

Iran tried to distance itself from the Iranian cleric who took over a cafe in Sydney, saying Man Haran Monis’ actions had nothing to do with Islam.

The 49-year-old, who called himself Sheikh Haron, was killed when police stormed the Lindt cafe after a 16-hour standoff. Australian authorities said they were forced to move in when they heard shots being fired inside the chocolate shop.

Monis was killed. Two hostages were killed, and a police officer was shot in the face yet is expected to survive.

The Iranian sought political asylum in Australia in 1996.

Iran’s Foreign Ministry spokesperson Marziyeh Afkham expressed alarm about “unclear and imperfect news about the Iranian refugee,” according to the official Islamic Republic News Agency, which didn’t carry the story of the shooting until the government had something to say.

IRNA said the “psychological conditions of the person, who took refuge in Australia two decades ago, had been discussed several times with the Australian officials.”

Iran’s state-owned Press TV said Afkham “emphasized on Monday that recourse to inhuman methods and terrorism has nothing to do with the divine religion of Islam.”

“She noted that the Australian police have been totally abreast of psychological conditions of the hostage taker, who had immigrated to Australia about two decades ago.”

Iran further tried to tie him to ISIS, noting that “the hostage taker had described Iran and the supporters of the Syrian President Bashar al-Assad as terrorists.” Monis was wearing a Shiite headband when he took over the cafe, yet reportedly asked for an ISIS flag during negotiations.

“Some blame the incident on those who support terrorism, including the United States, Israel, and certain regimes in the Middle East region that support such Takfiri groups as al-Nusra Front and ISIL,” Press TV reported.

The semi-official Fars News Agency ran with the headline: “Sydney Hostage-Taker Says He is ISIL Member.” Fars said the generic jihadi flag being waved by Monis was that of al-Nusra.

“The formerly Shiite Muslim underlines that he has converted to Sunni Islam, stressing that Shiites are blasphemous people,” read the Fars story. “He also underscores that the war in Iraq is not a sectarian strife, but a war between the Muslims (i.e. ISIL) and the hypocrites.”

After immigrating to Australia, Monis went to court over hateful letters written to the families of soldiers killed in Afghanistan. He was out on bail on charges of being accessory to the murder of his ex-wife, and subsequently faced more than 50 charges of indecent acts and sexual assault related to his “spiritual healer” practice.

On his website, Monis posted a statement dated December 2014, “I used to be a Rafidi, but not anymore. Now I am a Muslim, Alhamdu Lillah.”

“Islam is the religion of peace, that’s why Muslims fight against the oppression and terrorism of USA and its allies including UK and Australia. If we stay silent towards the criminals we cannot have a peaceful society,” he said in a statement dated Dec. 14. “The more you fight with crime, the more peaceful you are. Islam wants peace on the Earth, that’s why Muslims want to stop terrorism of America and its allies. When you speak out against crime you have taken one step towards peace.”

Posted at 1:00 pm on December 15th, 2014 by

How to Solve Poverty: Write a Check!

Who knew the “problem” of “income inequality” (to use a couple of current Marxist buzzwords) could be solved so easily? And here the answer was staring us in the face the whole time, at least according to Betsy Isaacson at what’s left of Newsweek, the near-dead magazine that once told us “We Are All Socialists Now“:

 In the United States—as in all of the world’s wealthier nations—ending poverty is not a matter of resources. Many economists, including Timothy Smeeding of the University of Wisconsin (and former director of the Institute for Research on Poverty) have argued that every developed nation has the financial wherewithal to eradicate poverty. In large part this is because post-industrial productivity has reached the point where to suggest a deficit in resources is laughably disingenuous. And despite the occasional political grandstanding against welfare, there is no policy, ideology or political party that is on the books as pro-starvation, pro-homelessness, pro-death or anti-dignity. Yet, poverty continues to exist…

But there may be a solution. Some might see it as radical, but advocates, both libertarian and liberal, are suggesting straight up cash: a guaranteed subsidy to everyone. “We’ve got to a technological level now where no one needs to work the traditional 40-hour week,” says Barbara Jacobson, chair of Unconditional Basic Income–Europe, an alliance of European citizens and organizations that advocate for such subsidies.

A simple cash subsidy—$15,000 per year (which is about what the average retiree gets annually from Social Security) for every household, say—would give the poor and middle class a financial floor on which they could live, take care of their loved ones and maybe, says Jacobson, “think about what really needs doing, what they would like to do, what they have trained to do, as opposed to simply what someone might hire them to do.”

The gist of the argument here is that we inefficiently spend just about as much money servicing the poor via existing programs, so why not just give them a check? This obscures the hidden argument beneath, which is about the meaning of work and the value of one’s labor in the marketplace. Because to Leftists, there ought not be a marketplace at all.

And here silly you thought this kind of thinking went out with the Soviet Union. Marxism is like a pestilence, a virus that refuses to die. What will it take to finally throttle it?

Posted at 12:24 pm on December 15th, 2014 by

Of Course: NY Magazine Story of 17-Year-Old Market Whiz Debunked

Folks, we should know this by now: if a story appears with a sensational headline yet with few, if any facts or background, presume it’s false. When journalists actually do stumble across stories that obviously require verification, we know to do the verification, and to include the verification in the article. We don’t write 300 words and move on.

On December 14, New York Magazine’s Jessica Pressler included 17-year-old Stuyvesant High School student Mohammed Islam as “Number 12″ in the magazine’s annual “Reasons To Love New York” series. The article went global quickly, including coverage in the NY Post and NY Daily News. It was Facebook’s most popular topic earlier today.

From Pressler’s article:

Late last year, a rumor began circulating at Stuyvesant that a junior named Mohammed Islam had made a fortune in the stock market. Not a small fortune, either. Seventy-two million.

An unbelievable amount of money for anyone, not least a high-school student, but as far as rumors go, this one seemed legit. Everyone at Stuy knew that Mohammed, the soft-spoken son of Bengali immigrants from Queens and the president of the school’s Investment Club, was basically a genius.

Mo, a cherubic senior with a goatee and slight faux-hawk, smiled shyly. “He’s quiet today,” said Patrick Trablusi, who was seated with Mo and Damir at a table littered with empty glasses. “Humble.” And tired: “This is our third meeting of the day,” Damir said, signaling to the waitress for another round. “We saw a real-estate agent, a lawyer, you …”

“Next we’re going to see a hedge-fund guy,” Patrick said. The friends locked eyes and started to giggle.

“He basically wants to give us $150 million,” Mo explained, a blush like a sunset creeping over his cheeks.

Giggling high schoolers locking eyes and blushing. Sounds legit.

So does this Facebook page Islam posted just a few hours ago referring to himself as a “public figure,” and on which his latest post states:

It has came to my attention that some people disprove of my spending habits. As a young man I am just beginning to make friends and understand the world, develop philosophy- but later in life I promise that I will lead a humble existence and dare not to spend lavishly and needlessly.

Posted at 9:46 am on December 15th, 2014 by

Warren Leads Effort to Lift Ban on Gay, Bisexual Men Donating Blood

Sen. Elizabeth Warren (D-Mass.) and other lawmakers are lobbying the Department of Health and Human Services to scrap “outdated” polices on blood donation by gay and bisexual men.

The policy on MSM — men who have sex with men — being banned from donating blood is “because MSM are, as a group, at increased risk for HIV, hepatitis B and certain other infections that can be transmitted by transfusion,” the FDA says in a Q&A.

“FDA’s primary responsibility with regard to blood and blood products is to assure the safety of patients who receive these life-saving products,” the website explains. “…FDA’s deferral policy is based on the documented increased risk of certain transfusion transmissible infections, such as HIV, associated with male-to-male sex and is not based on any judgment concerning the donor’s sexual orientation.”

Warren, along with Sens. Tammy Baldwin (D-Wis.) and Tom Harkin (D-Iowa) and Reps. Mike Quigley (D-Ill.) and Barbara Lee (D-Calif.), wrote a letter to HHS Secretary Sylvia Burwell today asking that the blanket prohibition be replaced with an individual risk analysis.

Seventy-five other members of Congress signed the letter.

They noted that on Nov. 13 the HHS Advisory Committee on Blood and Tissue Safety and Availability recommended changing the lifetime ban to a one-year restriction after an MSM encounter, contingent on the “implementation of a blood safety surveillance system.”

“However, such a policy still prevents many low-risk individuals from donating blood,” they wrote. “If we are serious about protecting and enhancing our nation’s blood supply, we must embrace science and reject outdated stereotypes.”

The senators said the one-year-ban proposal “like a lifetime ban is a categorial exclusion based solely on the sex of an individual’s sexual partner — not his actual risk of carrying a transfusion-transmittable infection.”

“The ACBTSA’s proposed policy change would, in practice, leave that lifetime ban in place for the vast majority of MSM, even those who are healthy and low-risk. Both policies are discriminatory, and both approaches are unacceptable. Low-risk individuals who wish to donate blood and help to save lives should not be categorically excluded because of outdated stereotypes.”

They also charged that the recommendation to hinge any change in the MSM blood donation policy to the establishment of a blood safety surveillance system “is an arbitrary condition that will inevitably result in further unnecessary delays.”

“To be clear, a comprehensive surveillance system for our blood supply is a critically important initiative to protect the blood supply from Hepatitis, HIV, and emerging diseases, and is long overdue….Years of HHS inaction on this issue is problematic, but so is the fact that ACBTSA has now suddenly chosen to make such a system a precondition of revising the donation policies specific to MSM.”

Posted at 9:39 am on December 15th, 2014 by