— Jeb Bush (@JebBush) February 27, 2015
When Florida Governor Jeb Bush said we should give the 11 million people who are in the country illegally a “path to legal status,” CPAC attendees roared their approval, as if they had just been told by Oprah Winfrey that they would all be receiving a new car at the end of the show.
That seemed a bit odd, since the mere mention of Jeb Bush’s name had drawn boos from those in attendance at CPAC — the Conservative Political Action Conference — earlier in the day on Friday:
Tremendous boos from CPAC crowd at mention of Jeb Bush, Rick Santorum, Donald Trump & Chris Christie. Cheers for Scott Walker & Rand Paul.
— Zach Noble (@thezachnoble) February 27, 2015
news: audience stacked with Rand Paul fans boos Jeb and Christie, cheers Rand Paul
— Peter Hamby (@PeterHambyCNN) February 27, 2015
Jeb Bush & Christie get boos, few cheers at CPAC when Hannity asks
— Jeremy Diamond (@JDiamond1) February 27, 2015
Braveheart got more cheers at this @cpacnews speech than Jeb and Christie. So there's that.
— Ben Kamisar (@bkamisar) February 27, 2015
But then something changed:
— Alex Leary (@learyreports) February 27, 2015
Mostly cheers for Jeb, smattering of boos. #CPAC2015
— Guy Benson (@guypbenson) February 27, 2015
Jeb Bush got booed at 11am and suddenly at 2pm there were cheers for him – crowd switch? #CPAC2015
— Lynda McLaughlin (@LyndaMick) February 27, 2015
It sounds like Jeb Bush’s supporters are taking CPAC pretty seriously this year. Emails provided to Slate show that backers of the former Florida governor are busing supporters from downtown Washington D.C. to CPAC in National Harbor, Maryland, and organizing to get them day passes into the event.
One of the emails that went out this morning was from Fritz Brogan, a former advance man for then-President George W. Bush who (per the Washington Post) co-hosted a fundraiser for Jeb’s Right to Rise PAC earlier this month. A Bush insider confirmed to Slate that Bush’s Right to Rise PAC is helping organize the transportation.
Keep this in mind when the CPAC Straw Poll results are released on Saturday. Each paid entrant is allowed one vote in the poll and attendees need only check in at the door in order to be eligible to vote.
Boris Nemtsov, a prominent critic of President Vladimir Putin, was shot down crossing a bridge in Moscow not far from the Kremlin.
Nemtsov was shot seven or eight times from a car, according to authorities. He was killed just two days before he was to lead a massive opposition rally in Moscow.
Naturally, Putin condemned the killing — as he has condemned all the murders of politicians, journalists, and artists who have criticized him over the years.
Police cars sealed off the bridge close to the red walls of the Kremlin and Red Square, and an ambulance was on the scene.
“Nemtsov B.E. died at 2340 hours as a result of four shots in the back,” an Interior Ministry spokeswoman said by telephone.
A police spokesman on the scene said Nemtsov had been shot at from a passing white car that fled the scene. The woman was being interviewed by police.
Mikhail Kasyanov, a fellow opposition leader, told reporters at the bridge: “That a leader of the opposition could be shot beside the walls of the Kremlin is beyond imagination. There can be only one version: that he was shot for telling the truth.”
Kasyanov, a former prime minister under Putin, called Nemtsov a “fighter for the truth”.
Nemtsov had been quoted as saying he was concerned that the president might want him dead over his opposition to the conflict in Ukraine. Sunday’s opposition march is intended as a protest against the war in east Ukraine, where pro-Russian rebels have seized a swathe of territory.
Putin’s spokesman, Dmitry Peskov, told Russian news agencies that the president had expressed his condolences and ordered the security agencies to investigate. He said Putin had called it a “brutal murder”.
Another opposition figure, Ksenia Sobchak, said Nemtsov had been preparing a report on the presence of Russian troops in Ukraine. The Kremlin strongly denies allegations by Kiev and Western capitals that it has sent troops and advanced weaponry to back the rebels.
Peskov said Putin had called it a “brutal murder”.
Like other opposition leaders, Nemtsov was a fighter against corruption. In other reports, he condemned massive overspending on the Sochi Winter Olympics by the Russian authorities and listed the many state buildings, helicopters and planes that Putin has at his disposal.
Nemtsov was also one of the leaders of mass rallies in the winter of 2011-12 that became the biggest protests against Putin since the former KGB spy rose to power in 2000.
A leading opposition politician is killed while walking along a busy Moscow street. It’s clear that Putin doesn’t care who knows he’s a murderous thug. His position is so strong and his supporters so enamored of his leadership that even large protests won’t come close to weakening his grip on power.
The protest scheduled for Sunday was to be the biggest Moscow has seen since the protests of 2011-12 following the sham election that brought Putin back to power. But Nemtsov’s murder is an act of intimidation designed to show the protestors the fate of those who oppose the Russian dictator. Will the Russian opposition be bullied by Putin’s murderous acts?
We shouldn’t blame them if they are.
“Get a grip.” I examined earlier the way Harry Reid is making Mitch McConnell dance, now it seems that Grandma Nan is hoping to achieve similar results with Boehner. My dream world involves Republicans who win elections then act like it after they do.
Former Florida Gov. Jeb Bush knew he would face a firing squad of sorts at the Conservative Political Action Conference today, and did so describing himself as a “practicing reform-minded conservative.”
Some walked out at the beginning of the speech, led by a Tea Party supporter carrying a Gadsden flag, but the house was still packed as his detractors stayed to boo or heckle the governor.
Bush had just as many supporters, who frequently jumped to their feet to applaud the governor. Love him or hate him, the CPAC crowd was hanging on his every word.
With no opening remarks, Bush conducted the interview Q&A style with Sean Hannity, standing instead of seated as some previous speakers were.
Bush quipped that he used to be mad at his mom for saying the White House had seen enough Bushes, but “since that time she’s had a change of heart and that’s all right by me.”
“I have to show what’s in my heart. I have to show I care about people and their future. It can’t be about the past,” he said of the family legacy.
Conservatives in Washington, he said, “have been principled in opposing the overreach” of the Obama administration, but “need to start being for things again.”
“It’s good to oppose the bad things but we need to start being for things.”
Being for the right policies that stimulate economic growth will bring out voters who “don’t know they’re conservative,” Bush argued. “We will be able to get Latinos and young people and other people you need to get to get 50.”
Responding to boos over his immigration policy, Bush said his critics should read his book, Immigration Wars, before casting an opinion on his positions.
“A great country needs to enforce its borders,” he said, adding that he also wants to “narrow family petitioning” to a spouse and minor children “so it’s the same as every other country.”
“There is no plan to deport 11 million people. We should give them a path to legal citizenship” where they work and make a contribution to society, he said.
The division in the crowd was most evident at this point, with some booing and heckling while others were standing and applauding.
“The simple fact is this nation needs to start growing again … we need to change the subject to high sustained economic growth,” Bush said. Of the argument that U.S. citizens should get jobs before immigrants, he replied, “You either believe that the pie is static, that’s the left’s point of view… someone’s benefit is someone else’s detriment” or growing the economy “at a rate that looks more like the ’80s.” His target? Four percent.
“There’s going to be opportunities for all. We don’t believe in the government divvying it up to get our crumbs.”
Bush stressed that he doesn’t agree with President Obama’s executive actions. “The Congress ought to pass a bill that does not allow him to use that authority.”
On Common Core, he said “our standards have to be high enough… our students need to be career-ready.”
“In this Department of Education there is a risk they will intrude” on the states and localities, he said. “…The federal government role, if any, is to provide incentives for more school choice.”
Bush, who eliminated the affirmative action system in Florida, said there are now more minorities in the college system there than in the previous “discriminatory” one.
On fighting ISIS, he stressed that “we can’t disengage in the world and have a good results.”
“We’ve managed to mess up every relationship in the world” under Obama, “even Canada, which is hard to do.”
By restoring trust between critical coalition countries such as Egypt and the White House, Bush said such power could put a “noose” on ISIS and “take them out.”
He endorsed Senate Foreign Relations Committee Chairman Bob Corker’s (R-Tenn.) idea of creating a safe zone for the Free Syrian Army and said he didn’t want conditions on boots on the ground in order to allow intelligence and special forces capability to “make a difference.”
He panned the Iran nuclear negotiations, adding “there should be no light between us and Israel” and calling Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu’s address to a joint session of Congress “very important.”
Bush was also asked about his “Terry’s Law” efforts in the Schiavo case. “I acted on my core belief that the most vulnerable in society should be at the front of the line,” he said.
When Hannity said he was going to pose a question he was asking of all the politicians who joined him on stage during the conference, Bush quipped, “Boxers.”
The end of Bush’s Q&A session differed from the other 2016 hopefuls in that he shook hands and took selfies with the crowd.
He only controls 46 seats, but Harry Reid is acting like he has 60.
Reid’s uncompromising posture during the flap over homeland security funding and his emerging plans for an upcoming fight over immigration make clear he’s doing little to change the hardball style that defined his tenure as majority leader. This despite losing control of the chamber after last fall’s Democratic debacle and tamping down a coup among centrists seeking his ouster.
The 75-year-old Reid, who may seek reelection next year and is in his second stint as minority leader, is betting that Republicans are so nervous about being blamed for a crisis in Washington — as they have been repeatedly before — that they will capitulate again.
Naturally, his unyielding stance has maddened Republicans.
The new Senate majority leader, Mitch McConnell, wanted to initiate a lengthy floor debate on a House-passed Department of Homeland Security funding bill. But Reid surprised Republicans by rallying his caucus on four separate occasions to block the measure from even coming forward — demanding McConnell drop contentious immigration provisions. After a month of inaction in the Senate and up against Friday’s funding deadline, McConnell ultimately bent to Reid’s demands.
As Ace of Spades HQ put it yesterday, McConnell is only Majority Leader “when Reid let’s him play the part”.
This is the problem with the “Ted Cruz is a hothead” crowd, which is led by McConnell: they worry more about how things will play out in the media than doing what is actually right for the American people. That is precisely why McConnell’s victory speech after November’s election immediately took a dig at Cruz and not the Democrats.
My PJTV colleague Scott Ott stated it brilliantly earlier this week: Republicans love to play defense even when they are on offense.
The GOP gets savaged in the press not just because the MSM is biased, but also because it is so awful at getting out in front of something or counter-punching. The messaging is forever muddled or nonexistent, and letting Admiral Ackbar’s mushmouthed cousin McConnell drone his way through an explanation that’s really designed to curry favor with the New York Times is never anything short of disastrous.
Freeze this moment in your minds for the next time conservatives mount a primary challenge to an entrenched candidate and the establishment starts babbling about “experience” or “knowing how to get things done”.
The CPAC audience was packed to hear the winner of the confab’s straw poll the previous two years, and Sen. Rand Paul (R-Ky.) didn’t disappoint his faithful.
Paul’s address was delayed by Senate votes, and he showed up in jeans with rolled-up shirt sleeves to ask, “Will you, lovers of liberty, rise to the occasion?”
They did rise to their feet, waving “stand with Rand” signs distributed outside the ballroom.
“When politicians accept censorship, when politicians accept imprisonment without trial, when politicians accept torture, even of the innocent, as necessary, then lovers of liberty must rise,” the senator said. “We must rise and stand with our forefathers who stared down the king. We must rise as free men and women and reclaim our birthright. We must protect and defend the Constitution against all enemies — foreign and domestic!”
Paul declared “our freedom is at risk from a Supreme Court that fails to protect our liberty.”
“In the mistake of the century, Justice Roberts affirmed the power of government to force you to buy insurance. Justice Roberts argued that we must presume Obamacare constitutional,” he said. “I’ve got a better idea. Why don’t we presume liberty? Just as we are presumed innocent, so too we should be presumed free!”
The opthamologist vowed to “make it my mission” to repeal “every last bit” of Obamacare.
“To defend our country, we need to gather intelligence on the enemy. But when the Intelligence Director lies to Congress, how are we to trust them?” Paul said. “Are we to trust them to collect and hold every American’s phone records? I say, that your phone records are yours. I say the phone records of law-abiding citizens are none of their damn business!”
Paul took plenty of shots at presumed Democratic nominee Hillary Clinton, arguing the former secretary of State’s “abdication of responsibility, her refusal to provide an adequate defense for Benghazi, her dereliction of duty should forever preclude her from higher office.”
“It’s time for Hillary Clinton to permanently retire,” he added.
Paul said he envisions the perfect national defense as “unparalleled, undefeatable, and unencumbered by nation building.”
“We must realize, though, that we do not project strength by borrowing money from China to send it to Pakistan. It angers me to see mobs burning our flag and chanting ‘death to America’ in countries that receive our foreign aid. I say it must end. I say not one penny more to these haters of America.”
Chants of “President Paul” interrupted the senator’s speech.
He talked about the “two Americas” described by Martin Luther King Jr. and the “undercurrent of unease” he found on his trips to “trips to Ferguson, Detroit, Atlanta, and Chicago. “…Those of us who have enjoyed the American Dream must break down the wall that separates us from ‘the other America.’”
Paul brought up the case of Kalief Browder, a Bronx teen who spent three years at Rikers Island without charge after being accused of taking a backpack.
“It is not the desire for wealth that drives us — what drives us is the desire for freedom,” he said. “The history of man is a history of men and women striving to restrain the power of government and expand the realm of freedom.”
Among the field of potential presidential hopefuls speaking to the Conservative Political Action Conference today, Donald Trump touched on foreign policy while pitching his business cred to do a better job negotiating than diplomats do.
Someone in the audience yelled “you’re fired!” at The Apprentice host at the beginning of the speech, which Trump brushed off.
“A lot people think I’m doing this for fun. I’m not doing this for fun… Washington is totally broken and it’s not going to get fixed until we put the right person in that top position,” Trump said.
With an eye toward lawmakers in Congress, he declared “the Republicans have to toughen up.”
“If I decide to run and win, nobody would be tougher” on ISIS, Trump vowed. “…I’d just hit them really hard.”
One of the foreign policy problems, he said, is “we have diplomats doing our negotiating” and diplomats “know nothing about negotiating.”
Asked where he was on deciding to run for president on a scale of 1 to 100, Trump replied, “75 to 80 — I am really inclined. I want to do it so badly.”
Declaring that “we have two more years of peril to go,” former UN Ambassador John Bolton focused his Conservative Political Action Conference speech on a searing criticism of Hillary Clinton.
“Hillary and her husband were a year ahead of me in law school,” Bolton told the crowd. “I have been burdened with them 20 years longer than the rest of the country… in short, I am ready for Hillary.”
“Her four years at the State Department demonstrate that she is not fit to be the president of the United States…. On national security issues Hillary’s record is indistinguishable from Barack Obama’s.”
To a conference renowned for putting foreign policy on the back burner, Bolton stressed “why national security issues must be at the center of the issues” in 2016. “I fully expect to play a role in that debate one way or the other.”
He called an impending nuclear deal with Iran “the biggest act of American appeasement in contemporary history.”
“President Obama has the worst relationship with Israel since the state of Israel was created in 1948.”
Fox News host Greg Gutfeld will be developing a new weekend program for the cable news network with a bit of an edge to it, with a “whimsical nature and political satire.”
Fox announced the new show for Gutfeld, currently in development, in a press release today. Fox News EVP of Programming Bill Shine said, “We are confident that Gutfeld’s distinct perspective and knack for humor will start a valuable dialogue and be a refreshing addition to the weekend line-up.” The show, Fox says, will “focus on his strong libertarian values and social commentary.”
However, this new role for Gutfeld means he will be leaving Red Eye, the late night Fox show he’s hosted since 2007. Fox News says “a variety of rotating guest hosts” will fill in during the transition period. Gutfeld will continue to co-host The Five and regularly appear on The O’Reilly Factor.
Good for Greg. He’s a good guy and deserves the widest possible audience.
Sen. Marco Rubio (R-Fla.) indicated at this morning’s Conservative Political Action Conference that if he decides to run for president he’ll focus squarely on that instead of a backup plan to stay in the Senate.
But he demurred on where he is in the decision-making process, refusing to answer Sean Hannity’s question on where that decision is on a scale of 1-100.
The senator did stress why he would run for the highest office in the land.
“America doesn’t owe me anything, but I have a debt to America that I will never be able to repay,” Rubio told the CPAC crowd, elaborating on the history of his parents’ immigration from Cuba. “For me, America isn’t just a country, it’s the place that literally changed the history of my family.”
Now, he asked, “What kind of country we are going to be?”
“Sometimes you wouldn’t know we’re an exceptional nation by listening to the left… by listening to the president,” Rubio said. “When was the last time you heard about a boatload of American refugees arriving on the shores of another country?”
“God is still blessing America,” he said, but “our allies no longer trust us and our enemies no longer fear us” as President Obama “treats the ayatollah in Iran with more respect than the prime minister of Israel.”
“Today our nation is on the road to decline,” but “we are one election away from triggering another American century.”
Rubio stressed the need for regulatory reform, repealing and replacing Obamacare, and placing a focus not just on college but vocational training. “We shouldn’t be stigmatizing those vocational careers,” he said. “…Not everyone should be forced to get a four-year degree in order to find a job.”
He advocated a Sunni force including Egypt, Jordan, Bahrain and other nations in the region to take the fight to the Islamic State, “and you will wipe ISIS out.”
“Imagine if we had a president who understood that the way to defeat ISIS is not to find them a job,” the senator said.
On President Obama’s immigration executive actions, Rubio stressed that it’s not a question of policy but of constitutional authority. Noting that he wants to cut taxes but wouldn’t approve of doing it unilaterally, he said, “I don’t know where [Obama] suddenly found the constitutional power to do this.”
Rubio also addressed critics of his participation in the Senate Group of Eight that forged an immigration reform compromise.
“It wasn’t very popular; I don’t know if you know that from some of the folks here,” he quipped.
He said the comprehensive agreement addressed problems that must by tackled, including visa overstays, more fencing needed along the border, and an immigration system that “can’t continue to be based on family alone” but brings in more highly skilled workers.
Rubio said he learned from the process. “What I’ve learned is you can’t even have a conversation” about legalizing those currently in the country illegally “until future immigration is brought under control.”
The only way people will agree to a step-by-step immigration reform is if the government follows through on the first steps, he said. “The only way forward … you can’t just tell people we’re going to secure the border, we’re going to get e-Verify, you have to do it.”
Asked about how the GOP caucus is performing in the Senate, Rubio cited a “dispute” between those who think the job is about managing the government rather than improving the system.
Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-Ky.), who has addressed the conference in past years, is not a speaker at this CPAC.
On 2016, Rubio said he hasn’t “made that decision yet” and must “decide through careful prayer.” He added “I don’t want to be in politics my whole life” — quipping he’d like to do other things like maybe own an NFL team.
The senator even got in his standard water joke, a self-deprecating reference to his notorious sip in his 2013 State of the Union response. Hannity noted that some of the sleepy morning crowd may have stayed up too late last night drinking. “There’s nothing wrong with drinking, Sean,” Rubio said as he took a swig of water.
Rubio faced a lightning round for his quick reaction to a few names:
Hillary Clinton? “Yesterday.”
Bill Clinton? “Really yesterday.”
The chairman of the Senate Environment and Public Works Committee wielded a snowball on the Senate floor today to counter statements by the Obama administration that have ranked climate change as the greatest global threat.
“Despite a long list of unsubstantiated global warming claims, climate activists and environmental groups will cling to any extreme-weather related headline to support their case for global warming and to instill the fear of global warming in the American people,” Sen. Jim Inhofe (R-Okla.) said.
“President Obama is using a similar tactic in order to scare Americans into supporting his extreme climate change agenda. In a recent interview, President Obama agreed that the media overstates the dangers of terrorism while downplaying the risks of climate change. His press secretary, Josh Earnest, later reiterated that President Obama believes climate change affects far more Americans than terrorism,” he continued. “According to the President, the biggest challenge we face IS NOT the spread of Muslim extremists in Syria, Iraq, Egypt, Algeria, Libya, Tunisia, Afghanistan, Pakistan, Somalia, Yemen or Nigeria.”
“It is not Russia aggression against NATO and the US as well as its invasion of Georgia and the Ukraine. It is not the expansion of Iranian influence and sponsorship of terrorism throughout the Middle East, or its pursuit of a nuclear weapon and a system to deliver it. It is not North Korea’s continued development of its nuclear weapon stockpile and improving their delivery systems to include the January 23 launch of a submarine launched ballistic missile called the KN-11. It is not the continued capture and killing of reporters, missionaries, businessmen, Christians, and other non-Muslims, in what has clearly been a religious confrontation being pursued by Islamic extremists.”
Obama’s position “that global warming is our biggest problem is underscored by the fact that he won’t even publicly state that the 21 Egyptians executed by ISIL were Coptic Christians,” Inhofe said. “And he goes out of his way to downplay the actions and dangers of ISIS, even though the group continues to terrorize the world.”
“…According to the president, our biggest threat is not the continued threats made by extremists against the United States and its citizens. It is not the successful attacks carried out in the United States in places such as New York, Boston, and Fort Hood or potential attacks of lone-wolves or sleeper cells against soft targets like the Mall of America, which is the most recent subject of an ISIL threat.”
Inhofe said that “even as these atrocities are taking place, President Obama is telling the world that climate change is a greater threat to our nation than terrorism.”
“This is just another illustration that this president and his administration is detached from the realities we are facing today and into the future.”
The snowball was allowed on the floor as a prop by unanimous consent. It was eventually chucked at Sen. Bill Cassidy (R-La.), who was presiding over the Senate, and caught by a page.
Louisiana Gov. Bobby Jindal had an offer for President Obama at today’s Conservative Political Action Conference.
“I’ve got a deal for you,” Jindal said in his early evening speech while talking about Obama’s references to the Crusades. “I’ll keep an eye out for the medieval Christians. Why don’t you do your job and go after the Islamic terrorists?”
The potential 2016 candidate referenced his recent trip to London, where he irked critics by citing no-go zones in Muslim neighborhoods and called out clerics for not doing enough to stop extremism. “They didn’t like it,” the governor said, adding that he stressed Islamic extremists aren’t martyrs but “these individuals are going to go straight to hell exactly where they belong.”
Jindal also took issue with recent words from the State Department about the nature of the ISIS fight. “How have we won victory in any war other than killing our way to victory?” he said.
“We don’t need a war on international poverty; we need a war on the evil that is radical Islamic terrorism,” he said.
Jindal spoke of his parents’ immigration from India and how others must assimilate too. “We used to be a melting pot; now the politically correct crowd says we’re a salad bowl,” he said.
“By the way, I am tired of hyphenated Americans …we are all Americans.”
Jindal spent considerable time hammering at domestic policy as well as terrorism.
“We must repeal every single word of Obamacare — not a little bit, all of it,” he said. “While Republicans in Washington are about to wave the white flag of surrender on amnesty they’re about to wave the white flag of surrender on Obamacare.”
“This election wasn’t about getting a nicer office for Sen. Mitch McConnell … this election was about taking our country back and that starts by repealing Obamacare .”
The governor also stressed the “need to remove Common Core from every classroom.”
Asked about his plans for the next presidential election, Jindal said regardless of whether he is the candidate “in 2016 it is not an option for us to not win this election.”
“Anyone thinking about running for president… they need to think about what they would do if they were elected president,” he said. “I want a leader that remembers what they promised us when they asked us to vote for them.”
“There will be a price” all right – and Americans will pay it.
Elliott Abrams hits the nail on the head with his Weekly Standard piece “U.S. and Israel: The Manufactured Crisis“. In it he succinctly details the reasons why Obama has absolutely no problem creating a crisis in order to foment hatred of Israel among the American electorate:
Three reasons: to damage and defeat Netanyahu (whom Obama has always disliked simply because he is on the right while Obama is on the left) in his election campaign, to prevent Israel from affecting the Iran policy debate in the United States, and worst of all to diminish Israel’s popularity in the United States and especially among Democrats.
Hopefully Abrams is correct in his observation that Obama’s attempts may backfire big time in Israel:
Historically, an Israeli prime minister loses domestic support when he cannot manage relations with Washington. This year may be the exception, the time when Israelis want a prime minister to oppose U.S. policies they view as dangerous. They may also believe that the Obama administration is simply so hostile that no prime minister could avoid confrontations.
Now, for the truly horrifying reason as to why it is imperative that Netanyahu win the elections in Israel:
The administration is desperately seeking a deal with Iran on terms that until recently were unacceptable to a broad swath of Democrats as well as Republicans. One after another, American demands or “red lines” have been abandoned. Clearly the administration worries that Israeli (not just Netanyahu, but Israeli) criticisms of the possible Iran nuclear deal might begin to reverberate. So it has adopted the tactic of personalizing the Israeli critique.
New Jersey Democrat Robert Menendez co-sponsored a bill that would apply sanctions against Iran. He was one of many Dems warned by Obama not to “bow to [Jewish] donors” earlier this year. Obama’s crafted his marching orders for more than just party bigwigs. The P.R. campaign began with the War on Muslims tagline followed by a useless conference on the extremism that has no name. In classic disinformation style, Obama not-so-subtly painted Netanyahu as the extremist holding the anti-Iran card in a trumped up war against the Ayatollah’s moderate minions.
Here is Abrams’ imperative statement, emphasis my own:
The third Obama administration reason for building up this crisis is also deadly serious: it is to use the current tension to harm Israel’s support in the United States permanently. All opinion polls in the last several years show a partisan edge in support: overall support for Israel is steady and high, but its composition is changing. More and more Republicans support Israel, and the gap between Democratic and Republican support levels is growing. President Obama acts as if he sees this as a terrific development, one that should be enlarged as much as possible before he leaves office. That way he would leave behind not just an Iran deal, but weakened support for Israel on Iran and everything else. Support for Israel would become less of a bipartisan matter and more a divisive issue between the two parties.
Forget the pandering about patriotism. This is pure evil at work.
With a raised voice and rolled-up shirtsleeves, Wisconsin Gov. Scott Walker vowed to create more jobs and opportunity to a standing-room only crowd at the Conservative Political Action Conference today.
He also fielded a handful of questions from the audience, including one on how he’d handle the threat of ISIS.
“Sometimes people in the media don’t understand that as a governor I get a threat assessment from FBI,” Walker replied, adding, “I want a commander in chief who will do everything in their power” to ensure that the threats posed by radical Islamists “do not wash up on American shores.”
“If I can take on 100,000 protesters I can do the same across the world,” Walker said, without offering specifics.
One of those opponents interrupted the speech, yelling “you suck” and something about American workers. “They come from Wisconsin as well,” Walker quipped, shouting down the protester and bringing the crowd to its feet.
His speech hinged largely on his successes as governor, but he touched briefly on foreign policy.
“We have a president…whose former secretary of State actually gave a reset button to the Russians! To the Russians!” Walker exclaimed.
“We need a president, a leader who will stand up and say we will take the fight to them and not wait” for ISIS to attack, he said. “…We need a leader who will stand with Israel.” Referencing next Tuesday’s address to a joint session of Congress by Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu, Walker said the country needs a leader who “understands” that when a prime minister visits to make a case on Iran’s nuclear threat “we should show him our respect.”
“We need to show the world that in America you have no greater ally and no greater enemy,” the governor said before reverting to domestic policy.
That was largely a message of liberation from government control.
“In America we celebrate our independence from the government, not our dependence on it,” Walker said, touting his accomplishments in Wisconsin on concealed carry, castle doctrine, and voter ID.
“Our school scores are better … because we put the power back in the hands of the hard-working taxpayers.”
In reference to a 2016 run — he stressed that his lawyers said he needed to note they’re still in the exploratory stage, something followed by chants of “run, Scott, run” — Walker said “we need to go back to look at the great founding principles of this country.”
“Not to go back in time… but to use that as a guide,” he said.
“They tried to recall me. They made me their No. 1 target,” Walker said of his electoral experience, adding that it would help “should we choose to run for the highest office in the land.”
“I’ve been running three times in the last four years.”
House Speaker John Boehner (R-Ohio) got both cheeky and testy with the media today when pressed on what his caucus will do with a “clean” Department of Homeland Security funding bill that breaks off the de-funding of President Obama’s immigration executive actions.
The Senate let the “clean” appropriations bill proceed on a 98-2 cloture vote yesterday. The two “nays” came from Sens. Jim Inhofe (R-Okla.) and Jeff Sessions (R-Ala.).
But the caucus is already splitting further on the bill. Sen. Roy Blunt (R-Mo.), a member of the GOP leadership, said he won’t vote for a bill that doesn’t block the immigration funding.
“At least 22 times, President Obama said he didn’t have this authority. At least half a dozen of my Senate Democrat colleagues publicly agreed and objected to the president’s executive amnesty. We must uphold the Constitution and the law,” Blunt said.
“President Obama is more likely to sign legislation that is attached to funding the department, which is why I still believe the House-passed bill was the right approach to addressing this problem.”
Boehner battled back against the White House characterizing the rifts as a Republican fight. “All Republicans agree that we want to fund the Department of Homeland Security and we want to stop the president’s executive actions with regard to immigration,” he said.
Still, the speaker is noncommittal about what the House will do with the scaled-back version of their bill.
“House passed a bill six weeks ago. It’s time for the Senate to do their work,” Boehner said. “I don’t know what the Senate can produce or what they can’t produce. If they produce something, we’ll decide what we’re going to do after we see it.”
Will he be able to persuade his caucus to vote for the bill? “When I see what the Senate actually passes, then I’ll know,” he replied.
Does he feel that this is challenging his speakership? “No. Heaven sakes, no. Not at all.”
“The courts have stopped the president’s executive action, at least temporarily. But having said that, I think there’s a role for Congress to play in defending the Constitution and upholding the rule of law. And we intend to do that,” he added.
At the next question, Boehner replied, “If ands and buts were candy and nuts every day would be Christmas.”
Pressed further about the DHS funding expiring this weekend: “We passed a bill to fund the Department of Homeland Security six weeks ago — six weeks ago. It’s time for the Senate to act. We passed a bill to fund the department six weeks ago. How many times do I have to say it?”
Reporters were frustrated that he kept answering the questions the same way. Boehner responded to the next one with air kisses toward a male reporter.
“That’s just a kiss, that’s all,” he quipped.
“Several,” the reporter replied.
On the other side of the aisle, Senate Minority Leader Harry Reid (D-Nev.) and House Minority Leader Nancy Pelosi (D-Calif.) held a joint presser to accuse Republicans of seeking a DHS shutdown.
If House Republicans “send over a bill with all the riders in it” after the Senate passes a clean version, Reid said, “they’ve shut down the government.”
“We are not going to play games. We’ve been working for a month to come up with a clear funding proposal the president can sign, so they can — they can put all the riders on it they want, we will not allow that to take place,” he said.
“I think what they’re demonstrating, though, is that immigration is not the reason they’re shutting down the government, it was the excuse they were using. Because now, they have an out from what the judge did — said in Texas, and now they still want to shut down government,” Pelosi said. “So understand, shutting down government is their motive, and that’s what they have to be held accountable for.”
The Pew Research Center has released a report on the “Latest Trends in Religious Restrictions and Hostilities,” which found that harassment of Jews is growing worldwide despite a downward trend of harassment of other religions. Writes Pew:
In recent years, there has been a marked increase in the number of countries where Jews were harassed. In 2013, harassment of Jews, either by government or social groups, was found in 77 countries (39%) — a seven-year high. Jews are much more likely to be harassed by individuals or groups in society than by governments. In Europe, for example, Jews were harassed by individuals or social groups in 34 of the region’s 45 countries (76%).
Yet more evidence that Europe is on a trend mirroring the social change of the 1930s.
Barry is not about to let a little pissant federal judge in Texas stop him from “fundamental transformation” of the American ethnic makeup, nos
A confident President Obama said Wednesday he won’t be stopped by “one federal judge,” telling a Miami crowd he’ll move ahead with his controversial executive action on immigration and vowing his administration will become even more aggressive in the weeks and months to come.
At a town hall meeting hosted by Telemundo and MSNBC, the president also threatened to veto GOP-backed legislation that would undo his immigration action. That measure is expected to come up for a vote later this week.
Mr. Obama took executive steps last year to halt deportations for millions of illegal immigrants, but a federal judge last week blocked the amnesty program, ruling that the president overstepped his authority. The administration is appealing that decision, and, in the meantime, Mr. Obama gave no indication that he intends to slow his unilateral immigration-reform agenda because of the court ruling.
These last two years of the Obama administration are going to be hell on earth.
The biggest showman in America, Donald Trump, is making his usual quadrennial noises about running for president:
This time, Donald J. Trump says, he really means it. The billionaire real-estate mogul, who has long amounted to a one-man sideshow in GOP presidential politics, said in an interview Wednesday that he is “more serious” than ever about pursuing a run for the White House in 2016.
In recent days, Trump said, he has hired staffers in key primary states, retained an election attorney and delayed signing on for another season as host of NBC’s “The Celebrity Apprentice” because of his political projects. “Everybody feels I’m doing this just to have fun or because it’s good for the brand,” Trump said in an interview with The Washington Post. “Well, it’s not fun. I’m not doing this for enjoyment. I’m doing this because the country is in serious trouble.”
The moves are the most significant steps yet by Trump, 68, toward a bona fide presidential bid, which he considered briefly and flamboyantly in 2011 before deciding against a run. The looming question, however, is whether he can convince Republicans that he is more than a celebrity bomb-thrower and instead is sincere in his consideration of a campaign.
I think we already know the answer to that. Meanwhile, here’s some exclusive kampaign video:
Hillary Clinton’s Charity Took Major Donations from Dirt-Poor Nations That Received U.S. Taxpayer Aid
Embattled presumptive Democrat presidential nominee Hillary Clinton is taking some rhetorical sniper fire for her charitable foundation, which received large contributions from several nations while she was secretary of State.
1) A potential presidential candidate becomes beholden to certain foreign nations.
2) A Secretary of State whose private foundation grows in prestige from foreign donations, while those same nations lobby the State Department for special treatment on human rights.
Both questions merit vigorous exploration, but for two of the Clinton Foundation’s “donor nations” there’s a third, perhaps more troubling, specter: taxpayer money laundering.
Algeria and the Dominican Republican each contributed to the Clinton Foundation, and both are recipients of U.S. development aid.
In the year 2010, Secretary Clinton’s foundation received $500,000 from Algeria designated to help Haiti in the aftermath of an earthquake. But the U.S. Agency for International Development (USAID) reports that Algeria received from U.S. taxpayers a total of $8.58 million in development assistance that same year — three-quarters of it as “emergency response” money.
At the same time, as the Post reports, Algeria spent another $422,097 lobbying the U.S. government, largely to take the heat off for human rights abuses in the 99% Sunni Islamic North African country.
So, in effect, U.S. taxpayers gave Algeria money to pressure us to stop hassling it about human rights, and we also gave Algeria money to curry favor with Madame Secretary by buffing the global reputation of Hillary Clinton’s private foundation. (This is not to minimize any good work that the Clinton Foundation may have done in Haiti. That’s irrelevant to this question.)
The real issue: Should needy nations like Algeria make contributions to other needy nations, channeled through the charitable foundation of the sitting U.S. secretary of State, while needy nation #1 is also lobbying us over human rights abuses — all with U.S. taxpayer dollars?
Meanwhile, the perennially impoverished Dominican Republic (DR) also donated to the Clinton Foundation during Hillary’s stint at State. Meanwhile in 2010 the DR received $35.52 million in U.S. development aid.
No matter what kind of accounting gymnastics one might perform, the fact of the matter is that U.S. taxpayers gave the DR and Algeria money that they then channelled to, or through, the Clinton Foundation.
There are, certainly, more troubles soon to emerge for a presidential hopeful with a foundation laid on such shifting sands of geostrategic relationships.
For example, Ukraine’s second-richest billionaire, Victor Pinchuk, a steel king whose wealth flows from trade with Russia, is also a major donor to the Clinton Foundation. When President Hillary Clinton takes the 3 a.m. phone call from Mr. Pinchuk, how will she tell him that the United States stands with those who want an independent Ukraine, rather than a Russian puppet?
New Jersey Gov. Chris Christie stood by his temper in a Q&A at the Conservative Political Action Conference today, noting that the White House should be told to shut up.
Fielding questions before the audience of conservative activists from radio host Laura Ingraham, Christie was asked about Wisconsin Gov. Scott Walker’s seesaws on social issues and asked how he would be as a socially conservative candidate.
“I just stand on my record. I’m pro-life. I ran as a pro-life candidate,” he said, adding that he was the first New Jersey governor ever to speak at a pro-life rally on the steps of statehouse.
“People make certain assumptions because … you’re a Republican from New Jersey. Don’t believe what the media will tell you that you can’t get elected as a pro-life candidate.”
Ingraham asked him about some of the descriptors that even his friends use about him: “explosive,” “short-tempered,” “hot-headed.”
“Here’s the word they miss: the word they miss is passionate. I’m the son of a Sicilian mother and an Irish father which means in my household I got to learn about dispute resolution really early,” Christie said. “…I care about fighting for the people I represent. I care about the fights worth fighting.”
He stressed that he has no political consultant in his ear “like Charlie Brown’s teacher.”
And of his October comments to a heckler at a press conference? “Sometimes people need to be told to sit down and shut up… there’s so much ridiculous stuff being spewed out of the White House someone should say just shut up.”
Christie also answered questions about education and focusing on the middle class as far as job creation.
He was also asked about his deep polling deficit among potential 2016 candidates.
“Is the election next week?” Christie quipped, citing his big totals in gubernatorial races. “I’m not worried about what polls say 21 months before.”
If he runs, the governor said, he’ll wage a “hard-fighting” campaign. “I’ll take my chances on me,” he said. “I’ve done pretty well so far.”
Christie cited early polls for the 2008 election that showed a race between Hillary Clinton and Rudy Giuliani.
He also said he’s not concerned about Jeb Bush’s fundraising power. “Sometimes those special interests, more than anything they hate the truth,” he said.
Yesterday Christie held his 128th townhall meeting with no screened questions. “That the kind of interaction we should have with the people we’re working for.”
Asked what he gave up for Lent, Christie quipped he told his priest he was giving up the New York Times — but was told to give up something he’d actually miss instead.
This can’t be true, can it?
Earlier this month, New Yorkers watched an inferno tear through a warehouse full of old government records from the bygone paper era. Many probably felt relief in thinking that such records are now often digitized and therefore not at risk of being accidentally incinerated. Yet as Gov. Andrew Cuomo’s administration is showing this week, many records are vulnerable to another form of destruction: deliberate deletion.
In a memo obtained by Capital New York, Cuomo officials announced that mass purging of email records is beginning across several state government agencies. The timing of the announcement, which followed through on a 2013 proposal, is worth noting: The large-scale destruction of state documents will be happening in the middle of a sprawling federal investigation of public corruption in Albany. That investigation has been looking at state legislators and the Cuomo administration.
Cuomo’s move to purge state emails follows a similar move he made as state Attorney General. International Business Times confirmed that in 2007, he put in place a mass deletion policy for emails in the New York Attorney General’s office that were more than 90 days old, making it difficult for the public to know how — or whether — his office investigated bank fraud in the lead-up to the financial crisis of 2008. In the Cuomo administration’s announcement this week, the governor’s chief information officer, Maggie Miller, justified the new email purge as a cost-saving measure aimed at “making government work better.”
But former prosecutors and open-government advocates interviewed by IBTimes say the move seems designed to hide information.
No kidding! But it’s all par for the course for America’s most brazenly thuggish governor. His presidential hopes may be going up in smoke, and the U.S. attorney is hot on his heels, but by God this gangster isn’t going down without a fight. You can practically hear him snarling, “Come and get me, coppers!”
Here’s how Hollywood imaged the last days of the Cuomo administration inside the governor’s mansion in Albany:
Poor Washington Post hack Dana Milbank can’t stop frothing at the mouth over the perceived threat Wisconsin Governor Scott Walker poses to his profession, his party and his president. But give the poor guy a break: the Obama administration will finally be over in less than two years and then what are DNC operatives like Milbank going to do?
Here’s Milbank at a recent television appearance, explaining why he’s so passionate about defending Barry’s honor as a patriot and a Christian:
The Obama administration has selected its representative to address the American Israel Public Affairs Committee conference beginning Sunday in Washington.
National Security Advisor Susan Rice will be facing a highly skeptical crowd to pitch the White House case for the twice-extended Iran nuclear negotiations and impending deal framework.
In addition, UN Ambassador Samantha Power will be addressing the conference.
The White House made clear Monday that President Obama isn’t interested in attending the giant conference, which sold out for the first time ever. More than 16,000 pro-Israel activists will be converging upon the Washington convention center.
Obama last addressed the conference in 2012, when he was stumping for re-election votes.
In 2013, Vice President Joe Biden address AIPAC. Biden is heading to Uruguay “the first week in March,” according to the White House, for their presidential inauguration and will also hold meetings in Guatemala.
Last week, the State Department said Secretary of State John Kerry, who spoke at the conference last year, will be out of town at an undetermined location.
The conference coincides with Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu’s March 3 address to a joint session of Congress. That’s also the lobbying day of the conference, when thousands of pro-Israel activists will flood Capitol Hill.
Netanyahu will address AIPAC Monday morning.
In an interview with PBS aired Tuesday, Rice called Netanyahu’s congressional address “destructive.”
“The relationship between Israel as a country and the United States as a country has always been bipartisan. And we’ve been fortunate the politics have not been injected into that relationship. What has happened over the last several weeks, by virtue of the invitation issued by the speaker and the acceptance of it by Prime Minister Netanyahu on two weeks in advance of his election is that on both sides there has now been injected a degree of partisanship, which is not only unfortunate, I think it’s destructive of the fabric of the relationship,” Rice said.
“It’s always been bipartisan. We need to keep it that way. We want it that way. I think Israel wants it that way. The American people want it that way. And when it becomes injected or infused with politics, that’s a problem.”
Aboard Air Force One en route to Miami yesterday, White House press secretary Josh Earnest said Rice “was referring to is how reducing the U.S.-Israeli relationship to just a relationship between two political parties is destructive to a relationship between our two countries that for generations had been strengthened through bipartisan cooperation, not just in this country but in Israel.”
“I think it is entirely consistent with what the president has already said, that the U.S.-Israel relationship has been strengthened because you have seen leaders in both parties in both countries signal their strong support for that relationship,” Earnest added. “And allowing this relationship to be subjected to party politics does weaken the relationship. It’s not good for that relationship.”
Other speakers at AIPAC include House Majority Leader Kevin McCarthy (R-Calif.), Democratic House Whip Steny Hoyer (D-Md.), Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-Ky.), Sen. Robert Menendez (D-N.J.) and Sen. Lindsey Graham (R-S.C.).
More than half of the Senate and two-thirds of House lawmakers are expected to attend, according to AIPAC organizers.
Secretary of State John Kerry was asked by Rep. Ted Poe (R-Texas) at today’s House Foreign Affairs Committee hearing whether he would define ISIS as “Islamic radical terrorists.”
“Well, I think many of them are. Not all of them. But many of them are. And certainly, the top leadership, al-Baghdadi and folks around him, are formulating their concept of the caliphate — of the caliphate on the basis of their interpretation of Islam,” Kerry said.
“To the degree they are establishing a caliphate and hanging some of their notions of — of organization and discipline and — and — and battle based on that, there is a component of it that is a distorted sense of — of — of Islam.”
“But also, there’re a lot of criminals and thugs and adventurers and thrill-seekers and — involved in this. There’s a kind of criminal anarchy in all of it, notwithstanding whatever basis they want to claim with respect to Islam.
And — and it is important in coming at this that you not empower them through the language we use to be able to make the argument to their people that, in fact, we’re at war with Islam and they’re building that up as a recruitment tool and we create our own problem. I think that’s what people are trying to be sensitive to here.
Now, when you get into the deep analysis, yes, there are clearly very distorted sense of radical extreme Islam being put forward. The victims are anybody who stands in their way or people who are different or who have different beliefs. They can be Christians. They can be Yazidis. They can be officers and police officers who are Sunni and — and trying to stand up for their village or their town, in Mosul.
I mean, they go out and kill the mayor. They kill young kids. They’ll kill, you know, people they think are apostates.”
Kerry was also asked why ISIS does what it does.
“They do this for power and for the extension of their — the leaders for their misguided notion of their caliphate and their desire to be the power that is defining not only their version of Islam but to have the power within that region to run the show,” he said.
Rep. Jeff Duncan (R-S.C.) asked Kerry to “define ISIL.”
“Well, ISIS is self-defining. They are the combatants and those who have pledged allegiance to them who have formed a caliphate, fly a flag, wear their black uniforms and are engaged in a struggle both within Syria and Iraq, most directly, but also in what they call distant provinces as they try to establish their caliphate,” Kerry replied.
Chicago Mayor Rahm Emanuel failed to muster 50% of the vote in the city’s non-partisan mayoral primary, which means he will face off against second place finisher, Cook County Board Commissioner Jesus “Chuy” Garcia on April 7.
Four years ago, Emanuel swept to an easy victory. But a rising murder rate, controversy over the closing of 50 public schools, and a $20 billion pension shortfall that threatens to bankrupt the city, has taken its toll on his popularity. Emanuel won only 45% of the vote while the relatively unknown Garcia took 33%.
More than the issues, there is a sense in Chicago that Emanuel is too cozy with the elites and has lost touch with ordinary Chicagoans. Blacks are upset over the school closings and the gang violence that makes their streets almost unlivable. Hispanics flocked to Garcia’s banner, and some analysts think that he has a chance to knock off the incumbent.
Mayoral underdog Jesus “Chuy” Garcia has a fighting chance in an April runoff election against well-funded incumbent Rahm Emanuel but political insiders say he must broaden his coalition beyond the Hispanic voters and disgruntled teachers who boosted him so far.
Garcia must also persuade tough-minded Chicagoans that he can do a better job than the mayor at keeping trains running and police on the streets as the city’s budget gap balloons past $1 billion.
The sometimes abrasive Emanuel displeased enough voters to help Garcia force the first mayoral runoff since Chicago adopted a non-partisan election format in the mid-1990s. Both candidates are Democrats.
While the mild-mannered Garcia appealed to many in the first round, “Chicago does not need a nice guy. … We need someone who can deal with enormous financial difficulties,” said Paul Green, professor of policy studies at Roosevelt University.
However, Emanuel, once seen as certain to win re-election, is vulnerable after getting substantially less than the 50 percent of votes he needed for an outright win in Tuesday’s first round.
The former White House chief of staff and investment banker will go head to head in the April 7 runoff against Garcia, a county commissioner and former Chicago alderman.
Garcia’s base is in the city’s poorer neighborhoods, and he has to overcome a reputation as being reluctant to slash spending. Emanuel, who did best in the wealthy lakefront on Tuesday, must play down his reputation for arrogance.
Garcia, who got very few endorsements from people with clout, will court non-committal public unions, wealthy liberals and working-class African Americans and white ethnic voters.
Emanuel has made things so bad in Chicago that voters may feel he’s the only one who can get the city out of its budget and fiscal mess. They may also see Emanual as better able to handle the new Republican governor in Springfield, Bruce Rauner, who wants to trim state payments to the city by a whopping $300 million.
That almost certainly won’t happen, as Democrats in the legislature are already circling the wagons to protect the pension and benefits of public unions, and will see to it that not a dime is cut from the state’s payments to Chicago. But Rauner may look to Emanuel as an ally in his efforts to reform the state pension system, giving the mayor some leverage he can use to extract more cash from the state.
Emanuel should win the runoff. But stranger things have happened in Chicago politics, including a little known alderman named Harold Washington defeating incumbent Jane Byrne in the Democratic primary in 1983. Washington, the only black mayor in the city’s history, came out of nowhere to beat Byrne, the Democratic establishment’s candidate. He did it by uniting north shore liberals, unions, and minorities — the same coalition that Garcia wants to form to beat Emanuel.
Contrary to popular belief, lightening does strike in the same place.
Secretary of State John Kerry told a congressman today to stop making fun of what State Department spokeswoman Marie Harf said.
At this morning’s House Foreign Affairs Committee hearing, Rep. Steve Chabot (R-Ohio) asked Kerry about Harf’s comments last week, in which she said “we cannot win this war” by killing ISIS and job development was one facet of the plan to combat extremism.
In clarifying her comments on CNN, Harf then said her argument about getting to the “root cause” of terrorism “might be too nuanced an argument for some.”
“Harf espoused the interesting proposition that we should create a jobs program for people who might be inclined to support groups like ISIS, jobs for jihadists. She didn’t call it that, but I will,” Chabot said in his questioning of Kerry. “And just where will these jobs come from? I guess not at the mall. It’s apparently too dangerous to work there now. And are these shovel-ready jobs, or are they yet to be created, like Keystone Pipeline jobs?”
“And Mr. Secretary, did Ms. Harf consult with anyone else in the State Department, yourself or anyone, before announcing this new initiative? If not, who did she consult with?” the congressman continued. “I realize that according to Ms. Harf, many of us are not nuanced enough to grasp the wisdom of such an enlightened proposal, but I and, I’m sure, some of my colleagues would appreciate some insight on where in the heck this idea came from.”
Kerry said that’s not what the deputy press secretary was saying “if you take the full breadth of what Marie Harf was talking about.”
“In fact, what she was talking about is the notion that if all we do is have a military approach to the problem of violent religious extremism, whether it’s Islamic or other — or whether there’s violent extremists, we’re going to fail,” he said. “You will have the next secretary of State or the one thereafter, a continuum of presidents coming to you with new acronyms for new groups that are a new threat.”
“And everything that came out of our White House summit on violent extremism underscored the fact that there’s one component that you have to do for sure, which is the military. You have to take ISIS fighters off the battlefield the way we are, and that’s for certain. But if you don’t want them just replenished, like the three kids from Britain who just traveled ostensibly to Syria to join up.”
Kerry called it “a spreading cancer” that “is not going to be eliminated by just shooting at people once they finally get to the battlefield.”
“Everything that came out of the conference we just had the other day pointed to the need to deal with prevention,” he said, referencing last week’s conference on violent extremism hosted by the White House.
Chabot tried to get in another question, but Kerry interjected, “Don’t — don’t make fun — don’t make fun of what she was talking about.”
The latest entry in the Scott Walker Media Deracination Sweepstakes comes from a nasty piece of work named John Cassidy in the New Yorker:
Let’s stipulate up front that Scott Walker, the governor of Wisconsin, is an odious politician whose ascension to the Presidency would be a disaster.
With a lede like that, you know you’re in the presence of a True Believer whose President Precious has just been attacked by… somebody, somewhere, somehow. And he doesn’t like it one bit; in fact, it frightens him.
Set aside, for a moment, his repeated refusal, in the past few days, to say whether he believes that President Obama loves America, or whether he believes that the President is a Christian, and look instead at Walker’s record running what used to be one of America’s more progressive states. Having cut taxes for the wealthy and stripped many of Wisconsin’s public-sector unions of their collective-bargaining rights, he is now preparing to sign a legislative bill that would cripple unions in the private sector. Many wealthy conservatives, such as the Koch brothers, who have funnelled a lot of money to groups supporting Walker, regard him as someone who’s turning his state into a showcase for what they want the rest of America to look like.
But just how threatening is he? If you’ve been following the political news during the past week, you may well have the impression that he’s stumbling in his campaign for the 2016 G.O.P. nomination. Among the political commentariat, the consensus of opinion is that Walker’s repeated refusal to distance himself from Rudy Giuliani’s incendiary comments about Obama, and his subsequent encounter with the Washington Post’s Dan Balz and Robert Costa, during which he appeared to question Obama’s religious faith and took some shots at the media for asking him silly questions, weren’t merely reprehensible: they were serious gaffes that raised questions about Walker’s political abilities…
Rather than deflecting the reporters’ queries about Obama’s beliefs, as other Republicans had done, Walker used them to send a none-too-subtle message to Republican voters. His refusal to say whether Obama was a Christian wasn’t merely a shot at a hostile media. As Dana Milbank, of the Washington Post noted, it allowed Walker to “wink and nod at the far-right fringe where people really believe that Obama is a Muslim from Kenya who hates America.” Milbank also wrote that Walker was “refusing to grant his opponent legitimacy as an American and a Christian.”
In a more just world, Walker’s indecent and craven antics would disqualify him from playing any further role in the Presidential race. But in the current political environment, his tactics, far from hurting him, may well bolster a candidacy that is already thriving.
Surely this man Cassidy is insane. What other explanation can there be? But if Scott Walker can make the Left foam at the mouth by the simple act of not answering a stupid question to which there is no answer anyway, he’s my kind of guy.
Politico screams this warning on the front page today, above the fold: Congress Inches Closer to DHS Cliff!!
The exclamation points are mine.
For those not paying attention, including readers of Politico, the House passed a funding bill for the Department of Homeland Security that fully funded the agency save for a small number of components that will carry out President Obama’s unilateral immigration amnesty.
All of the important components of DHS are funded by the House. All of the components that will implement lawlessness are defunded. That’s how the Constitution was designed to work.
The “cliff” that Politico warns against is not millions of illegal aliens staying in the United States. The “cliff” the nation is about to plunge over is a federal agency possibly closing down for a few days.
The only reason this could happen is because Senate Democrats (and Senate Republicans who went along with them) place greater importance on importing millions of foreigners into the United States and making sure people who should be working to deport them are paid for not deporting them. Thus, the House and Senate are liable to disagree.
The cliff the nation is about to plunge over is bureaucrats not being paid immediately. We know, of course, they will all eventually be given backpay, as all federal employees are after every shut down. It’s a vacation without having to ask for a vacation. Where do I sign up?
Back to Politico’s front page alarmism. Cliffs imply catastrophe. Think Thelma and Louise. Unless the guy driving the bread truck in Peoria gives more money to the beltway lawyer who should be deporting an illegal alien, the nation will go over the cliff.
Only in Washington would that nonsense fly.
But down lower on the front page of Politico, we find this piece headlined “Reality Check on Net Neutrality.”
There Alex Byers lectures us:
The escalating fight over the Federal Communications Commission’s net neutrality rules is sprouting a classic feature of Washington political battles — bombastic rhetoric designed to stir up partisan passions. Both supporters and opponents of Chairman Tom Wheeler’s proposal have turned to dramatic language to shape the debate, painting ominous pictures about the future of the Internet and turning a wonky regulatory issue into a full-blown D.C. brawl.
The senator behind the Assault Weapons Ban bill and a House Republican have teamed up for new gun-control legislation — to ban terrorists from buying guns.
Sen. Dianne Feinstein (D-Calif.) introduced the Denying Firearms and Explosives to Dangerous Terrorists Act of 2015 in the upper chamber with co-sponsor Sens. Sheldon Whitehouse (D-R.I.), Chuck Schumer (D-N.Y.), Dick Durbin (D-Ill.), Richard Blumenthal (D-Conn.), Barbara Boxer (D-Calif.), Jack Reed (D-R.I.), Bob Menendez (D-N.J.), Kirsten Gillibrand (D-N.Y.), Chris Murphy (D-Conn.), Elizabeth Warren (D-Mass.) and Ed Markey (D-Mass.).
Rep. Peter King (R-N.Y.), the former chairman of the House Homeland Security Committee, introduced the bill in the lower chamber with 14 co-sponsors, Feinstein’s office said.
“Under current law, known or suspected terrorists on terrorist watch lists are prohibited from boarding airplanes, but they are legally allowed to buy firearms and explosives anywhere in the United States. That makes no sense,” Feinstein said in a statement. “The Kouachi brothers, responsible for the attacks in Paris, were on U.S. terrorist watch lists, including the no-fly list. However, if the brothers had instead been in the United States, they would have been able to legally purchase weapons.”
“Sadly, this situation isn’t rare,” she continued. “Individuals on the consolidated terrorist watch list who sought to purchase a weapon in 2013 and 2014 cleared the background check in 455 out of 486 attempts. We need to close this dangerous loophole and keep weapons out of the hands of terrorists.”
That report, which included individuals on no-fly lists, was compiled by the Government Accountability Office.
Studying a 10-year period from 2004 to 2014, the background check clearance rate was 91 percent of attempted transactions, or 2,043 of 2,233 times, according to the GAO.
The bill would give the attorney general discretion to “deny the transfer of a firearm” if he or she “determines that the transferee is known (or appropriately suspected) to be or have been engaged in conduct constituting, in preparation for, in aid of, or related to terrorism, or providing material support or resources for terrorism” and “has a reasonable belief that the prospective transferee may use a firearm in connection with terrorism.”
It includes international and domestic terrorism.
If someone thinks they were wrongly denied the ability to buy a weapon or explosives under the terrorism statute, he or she would be able to first complain to the Justice Department, then file a lawsuit against the DOJ.
In such a lawsuit, the Justice Department would be able to keep classified information deemed to compromise national security.
King said “common sense dictates that the federal government stop gun sales to suspects on the terrorist watch list.”
“Federal law already prohibits nine categories of dangerous persons from purchasing or possessing firearms, including the mentally ill and criminals,” he said. “Yet, after almost 14 years, we still allow suspected terrorists the ability to purchase firearms.”
With funding for the Department of Homeland Security running out at the end of the week, Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-Ky.) confirmed he’s acquiescing to Democrats’ demands to break immigration demands off of the DHS appropriations bill.
A vote on a “clean” DHS bill isn’t scheduled yet, and it would then have to be approved by the House.
Speaker John Boehner (R-Ohio) told reporters after a closed caucus meeting today that he’s just “waiting for the Senate to act.”
“The House has done its job to fund the Department of Homeland Security and to stop the president’s overreach on immigration. And we’re waiting for the Senate to do their job. Senate Democrats have stood in the way now for three weeks over a bill that should have been debated and passed. So until the Senate does something, we’re in a wait-and-see mode,” Boehner said.
Asked if he’s concerned about “rebellion” from upset conservatives, he replied, “I’m waiting for the Senate to pass a bill.”
Asked what he thinks of McConnell’s plan, Boehner said, I”‘m waiting for the Senate to pass a bill. There’s a lot — I don’t know what the Senate is capable of passing. And until I see what they’re going to pass, no decision has been made on the House side.”
House Republicans aren’t publicly signaling much on which way they’d go if presented with a bill that excludes their effort to defund President Obama’s executive actions.
“We have a right to fund or not fund anything,” Rep. Darrell Issa (R-Calif.) told MSNBC this morning.
“Every time somebody talks about a shutdown, they talk about the budget, they talk about everything, they always point to the of the purse. Well, the power of the purse says we want you to do and we will fund 100 percent of keeping America safe, we just won’t fund visas and work permits for illegal immigrants. It’s that simple,” Issa said.
“It’s a pretty straight forward understanding. He has no authority to grant work permits, therefore, we will not fund granting work permits for people who are unlawfully here. We’re happy to do immigration reform, but we have to have a willing partner.”
Issa added that “right now, the speaker has said that he’s staying with needing to make sure that the president’s unlawful act is not funded. And I realize there’s a federal judge in play, but again, the president would like funding for longer than that federal judge’s stay may be in effect.”
McConnell said on the Senate floor this morning that “later this week, the Senate will consider a bill from the senior senator from Maine that’s about as reasonable as you can get.”
“Obviously, President Obama was right to refer to the kind of overreach he took in November as ‘ignoring the law.’ And Senator Collins’ sensible bill focuses simply on preventing that most egregious example of executive overreach from taking effect. It’s as simple as that,” he said. “Her bill isn’t tied to funding for DHS either. So there are no excuses left. Democrats should join us in voting for this common-sense legislation.”
“In the meantime, we’ve offered Democrats the chance to prove they were serious about something else: funding the Department of Homeland Security.”
Sen. Joe Manchin (D-W.Va.) told Fox that “we’re not playing politics” if McConnell breaks up the bill.
“I told the Republicans I would support their movement. And I think that’s a rational way to move. You give them both to the House. And Democrats are afraid the House is going to do a different thing, basically play a gotcha game and make some amendments,” Manchin said.
“I don’t think the House would pass up the ability it to vote for a clean Homeland Security. If they do that and they put their immigration bill, basically repealing the president’s executive order, they’re truly playing politics at the highest level and putting their politics ahead of the security of our nation. I just don’t think good people will do that.”
D.C. delegate to Congress is upset that Capitol Police have been shooing sledders away from Capitol Hill during the recent snow dumps.
“Sledding on U.S. Capitol Grounds is one of the oldest traditions in the nation’s capital,” Del. Eleanor Holmes Norton (D) wrote yesterday to Senate Sergeant at Arms Frank J. Larkin. “Although I understand that sledding has been banned for years, what I do not understand is why the U.S. Capitol Police have recently decided to enforce this Scrooge-like ban.”
“Because the Capitol Police Board issues the regulations, I am reaching out directly to the Board to request that sledding be permitted on U.S. Capitol Grounds,” she said.
“The District of Columbia received enough snowfall to bring out sledding children and their parents last week. Left to enforce the ban for no good reason, some U.S. Capitol Police turned away families invoking security. Because of high-residential density, there are few places to sled in the city, and the grounds of the U.S. Capitol – the Hill – provide a perfect sledding venue. The sledding ban appears to be arbitrary.”
Norton pointed out that “there is so little snow here that there will not be frequent sledding and, therefore, no significant damage to Capitol Grounds.”
“Moreover, the public is not barred from walking or playing games on the grounds. I understand that there may be reasonable limits placed on sledding, but an absolute ban on sledding in the little snow the District has on the grounds of the People’s House and the Senate is unseemly and unnecessary,” she added.
“Americans should be able to sled on ‘America’s front lawn.’ I am asking that the Capitol Police Board remove the ban on sledding from Capitol Police Regulations.”
Norton asked for a response within 30 days.
— Jaimee C (@jmee16) February 17, 2015
Hitler, in the form of Mein Kampf (My Jihad, er, Struggle), which will once again be legally for sale in Germany:
The book that once served as a kind of Nazi bible, banned from domestic reprints since the end of World War II, will soon be returning to German bookstores from the Alps to the Baltic Sea.
The prohibition on reissue for years was upheld by the state of Bavaria, which owns the German copyright and legally blocked attempts to duplicate it. But those rights expire in December, and the first new print run here since Hitler’s death is due out early next year. The new edition is a heavily annotated volume in its original German that is stirring an impassioned debate over history, anti-Semitism and the latent power of the written word.
Following the war, there has been a complete ban on Nazi regalia, mementos, etc., in Germany (not that there aren’t plenty of secret rooms filled with souvenirs of the Thousand-Year-Reich in private homes). Now the most notorious book of the 20th-century will be back on the shelves:
The book’s reissue, to the chagrin of critics, is effectively being financed by German taxpayers, who fund the historical society that is producing and publishing the new edition. Rather than a how-to guidebook for the aspiring fascist, the new reprint, the group said this month, will instead be a vital academic tool, a 2,000-page volume packed with more criticisms and analysis than the original text.
Still, opponents are aghast, in part because the book is coming out at a time of rising anti-Semitism in Europe and as the English and other foreign-language versions of “Mein Kampf” — unhindered by the German copyrights — are in the midst of a global renaissance.
“I am absolutely against the publication of ‘Mein Kampf,’ even with annotations. Can you annotate the Devil? Can you annotate a person like Hitler?” said Levi Salomon, spokesman for the Berlin-based Jewish Forum for Democracy and Against Anti-Semitism. “This book is outside of human logic.”
I beg to differ. The real horror of the National Socialist state was that it was entirely all too human and, by its own lights, eminently logical. That it seduced the most civilized nation in Europe is to Germany’s eternal shame. But hiding Hitler’s turgid, soporific prose (especially in German; the English translations are actually marginally better, literarily) does nobody any good: sunlight really is the best disinfectant.
Two prominent Senate Democrats invited Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu to sit down with their caucus while he’s in town next week — he said thanks, but no thanks.
Senate Minority Whip Dick Durbin (D-Ill.) and Sen. Dianne Feinstein (D-Calif.) extended the invite to the prime minister on Monday in a letter first reported by Bloomberg.
Netanyahu accepting the invitation to address a joint session of Congress, they wrote, “sacrifices deep and well-established cooperation on Israel for short-term partisan points — something that should never be done with Israeli security and which we feel could have lasting repercussions.”
“To maintain Israel’s dialogue with both political parties in Congress, we invite you to a closed-door meeting with Democratic senators during your upcoming visit to Washington,” Durbin and Feinstein wrote. “We believe such a venue would be a wholly appropriate opportunity to discuss the range of issues that face our two countries.”
Reuters obtained the decline, which wasn’t released publicly by Netanyahu’s office.
“Though I greatly appreciate your kind invitation to meet with Democratic Senators, I believe that doing so at this time could compound the misperception of partisanship regarding my upcoming visit,” he wrote.
Netanyahu stressed that he agreed “wholeheartedly” of the bipartisan foundation for strong U.S.-Israel ties. “I also fully understand the importance of bipartisan support for ensuring that our alliance remains strong in the future,” he wrote.
“I can assure you my sole intention in accepting it was to voice Israel’s grave concerns about a potential nuclear agreement with Iran that could threaten the survival of my country.”
Netanyahu said he’d be happy to meet with senators when all of them are welcome in the meeting room.
Here’s your feel-good story of the day.
The IRS said yesterday that it has fewer resources available to audit your tax returns.
Budget cuts forced the IRS to reduce the number of audits last year to the lowest level in a decade — and it could go down even more this year, IRS Commissioner John Koskinen said Tuesday.
“The math is pretty simple,” Koskinen said in a speech to the New York State Bar Association. “There are fewer audits because we have fewer auditors. Audits fell in virtually every individual category and across income levels.”
The number of audits last year was only 1.2 million tax returns, which is less than 1% of all returns filed. That is the lowest rate of auditing since 2004.
Koskinen said the IRS is down more than 2,200 revenue agents since 2010.
Last year, a little more than 11,600 revenue agents examined returns, and Koskinen is warning that the number of agents will decline again this year.
Congress has cut the agency’s budget by $1.2 billion since 2010.
The IRS budget for the year ending this September was $10.9B.
A senior State Department official was arrested yesterday for allegedly soliciting sex from a minor, Fox News is reporting.
Fairfax County Police officials say Daniel Rosen was arrested by a county detective about noon at his Washington, D.C. home after he allegedly sought to arrange sex with a minor. The detective, a female officer working in the county’s Child Exploitation Unit, had been posing as the minor in online exchanges with Rosen, police said.
Rosen is the director of counterterrorism programs at the State Department.
He was arrested and charged with one count of Use of a Communications Device to Solicit a Juvenile.
The police notified Rosen’s employer, as is usual in these situations.
Department spokeswoman Jen Psaki said late Tuesday, “We are aware that a State Department employee has been arrested and charges have been issued.
“For issues related to Department personnel and for privacy reasons, we are not able to confirm the identity of the individual or specific charges.
“His security clearance will be suspended and he will be put on administrative leave while this proceeds to its end through any judicial process. We are following standard procedure in this case.”
A source told Fox News that the police had obtained a warrant to search Rosen’s phones for additional evidence.
Rosen has been working at the State Department since 2008, according to his LinkedIn profile.