The House today passed an amendment to train and equip Syrian rebels, with more Democrats than Republicans opposing President Obama’s request.
The House vote was 273-156 after more than six hours of debate that revealed no party-line divides. Eighty-five Democrats were opposed along with 71 Republicans. (See the yeas and nays here.)
“The amendment to the continuing resolution, according to a summary by the office of sponsor and House Armed Services Chairman Buck McKeon (R-Calif.), allows the Defense Department ‘to train and equip appropriately vetted elements of the Syrian opposition and other appropriately vetted Syrian groups or individuals.’ Additionally, this amendment would strengthen Congressional oversight by requiring detailed reports, including progress reports on the plan, vetting process, and procedures for monitoring unauthorized end-use of provided training and equipment. It would also require the President to report on how this authority fits within a larger regional strategy.”
McKeon lauded the bipartisan vote after the amendment’s passage.
“This authority would allow those forces to fight ISIL terrorists. The president requested this authority and — after we shaped it to include robust oversight mechanisms — the House gave it to him. I hope the Senate quickly follows suit,” McKeon said.
“While we voted to approve the authority in large numbers, none of us believe that this program alone can achieve the president’s objective to ‘degrade and destroy’ ISI,” he added. “A more robust strategy will be required from the president to do that. I hope that, with the support of Congress and the American people, he adopts one.”
Rep. Ileana Ros-Lehtinen (R-Fla.), past chairwoman of the House Foreign Affairs Committee, voted for the amendment while stressing it still doesn’t present a comprehensive strategy against ISIS.
“I am afraid that this misguided approach will preempt many to acquiesce and take a deal that would undermine our national security and leaves Iran with enrichment capabilities,” Ros-Lehtinen said.
Rep. Cory Gardner (R-Colo.), who’s locked in a tight race to unset Sen. Mark Udall (D-Colo.), voted for the amendment as “ISIL is an imminent threat to the safety of our nation and our interests.”
“They have kidnapped and murdered Americans, threatened attacks on American soil, and are actively pursuing recruits in the United States,” Gardner said. “We must not sit back and watch while this terrorist organization continues to threaten our citizens, our government, and our way of life. Today’s action by the House of Representatives sends a clear message that we will not stand idly by while terrorists attempt to intimidate us.”
Some of the GOP “no” votes came from Tea Party conservatives such as Rep. Mick Mulvaney (R-S.C.).
“The only choice I was given was to approve (or disapprove) a plan that would arm groups we know very little about,” Mulvaney said in a statement. “…The Administration has been completely incapable of defining what ‘victory’ looks like. I think ‘when will we know it will be over?’ is a reasonable question to ask. The answers have been frighteningly ambiguous to, worse, completely unreasonable.”
Rep. Michele Bachmann (R-Minn.), another “no” vote, said Obama’s “failure to convince the American people, coupled with turning a blind eye to this ongoing conflict, has once again left the United States without any good options.”
“President Obama has the right conclusion – defeating the Islamic State – but a flawed strategy filled with half-measures to reach it,” she continued. “The Islamic State declared war against the United States, and President Obama has asked the U.S. Congress to follow him in a Vietnam-style slow walked response. I will not.”
“Either the United States chooses to decisively defeat this brutal evil with all available resources, or we will have to answer the next generation’s questions regarding why we failed to defeat the totalitarian evil of our day.”
Upon returning from Vietnam, Secretary of State John Kerry testified before Congress about the war and chucked his medal at the U.S. Capitol the next day.
Today, Kerry told antiwar protesters they should be against ISIS in part because of the lack of social services they offer to women.
Kerry began his testimony before the Senate Foreign Relations Committee backdropped by Code Pink protesters seated in the gallery rows. They held signs including “There is no military solution” and “No beheading. No bombing.”
“You know, as I came in here, obviously, we had some folks who spoke out and I would start by saying that I understand dissent. I’ve lived it. That’s how I first testified in front of this country in 1971. And I spent two years protesting a policy,” Kerry said. “So I respect the right of Code Pink to protest and to use that right. But you know what, I also know something about Code Pink.”
“Code Pink was started by a woman and women who were opposed to war, but who also thought that the government’s job was to take care of people and to give them health care and education and good jobs,” he continued.
“And if that’s what you believe in — and I believe it is — then you ought to care about fighting ISIL because ISIL is killing and raping and mutilating women. And they believe women shouldn’t have an education.”
Kerry noted that the Islamic State sells off girls “to be sex slaves to jihadists.”
“There’s no negotiation with ISIL, there’s nothing to negotiate. And they’re not offering anyone healthcare of any kind. You know, they’re not offering education of any kind,” he said. “For a whole philosophy or idea or a cult, whatever you want to call it, that frankly comes out of the Stone Age, they’re cold-blooded killers, marauding across the Middle East, making a mockery of a peaceful religion.”
“And that’s precisely why we are building a coalition to stop them from denying the women and the girls and the people of Iraq the very future that they yearned for. And frankly, Code Pink and a lot of other people need to stop and think about how you stop them and deal with that.”
At this point a protester began chanting, “The war invasion will not protect the homeland!” She was led from the room by security.
“There’s no invasion. The invasion was ISIL into Iraq,” Kerry retorted. “The invasion is foreign fighters into Syria. That’s the invasion. And it is destructive to every possibility of building a state in that region. So even in a region that is virtually defined by division and every member of this committee understands the degree to which these divisions are deep in that region.”
It’s known colloquially as “Who Hit John,” “The ‘Crature’,” and “John Barleycorn.” It’s name is derived from the Gaelic for “Water of Life” — for which those of us who imbibe the elixir from time to time (or more often) heartily agree.
Whatever you want to call it, Scotch Whiskey is Scotland’s proudest achievement. In a nation of 5 million people, $6.5 billion in Scotch is exported annually. That accounts for fully 20% of all exports in the country. It’s the third biggest industry in Scotland behind financial services and oil.
But the industry operates in a global marketplace where more mundane concerns than achingly smooth taste and a complex bouquet are of paramount importance. Cheap credit, trade barriers, and a reliance on the UK to help promote their product have most distilleries in Scotland worried about the vote on independence.
Members of Scotland’s best-known industry are watching the vote for independence with serious trepidation.
Lack of certainty about Scotland’s currency, interest rate levels and membership in the European Union—which eliminates trade barriers in its largest market—all compete for the top of the list of worries.
Mike Younger, one of the few Scotch executives who will speak to the media, is finance director for Macleod Distillers, makers of Glengoyne Single Malt. He is solidly in the “no” camp. “I’m nervous,” he said, “because the results could be quite difficult for business.”
Scotch whisky is the third-largest contributor to Scotland’s GDP after the oil industry and financial services. And it acts as perhaps the No. 1 ambassador for Scottish culture. Nine out of 10 bottles are sent overseas.
Scotch can only be made in Scotland, just as Champagne can only be made in the Champagne region of France. In Scotland, it’s officially called Scotch Whisky (no “e” at the end!).
And precisely because it is an export, Scotch is particularly vulnerable to the unknowns that will come about if the Scots vote yes for independence.
David Williamson is the spokesperson for the Scotch Whisky Association. Officially, the group is not taking a side, but Williamson said that “At the moment, the consensus within the Scotch industry is that the potential risks outweigh the advantages.”
Back on the factory floor of Macleod, Younger said he’s worried because he thinks credit will become less available, and more expensive, in what will be a much smaller country, “simply because the full scale of the Scottish banking system at that point will be much smaller and less well defined and less capable than the much richer system that we have across the UK in its entirety.”
The potential rise of trade barriers is another concern. Currently, Scotland, as part of the United Kingdom, is part of the European Union, and faces no trade barriers in member states. The leaders of the “Yes” campaign have promised that Scotland would remain in the European Union, but just today, Spain said it would block Scotland’s membership.
The US imbibes more than twice as much Scotch as any other nation — $1.32 billion to France’s $600 million. If the distilleries are worried, so should be Scotch drinkers. There’s not much danger of an interruption in supply, as much as there may be significant price increases and availability issues for some of the more popular brands.
In its latest report, “Going Scot-free”, the bank notes that while many have argued independence has the “potential” to boost sales of Scotch, it believes the “overall short-term impact on the industry will be negative.”
The bank highlighted five key areas which will be impacted, one of which would be the industry’s ability to access EU export markets, which currently account for 37% of Scotch sales, as a result of its temporary loss of EU membership and free trade agreement with member states.
While Scotland would be expected to re-apply for EU membership, the country would likely to shut out until at least 2018, leaving the Scotch sector at risk of seeing higher import tariffs in its core markets for at least two years, competition from other spirits categories and its competitiveness in key EU markets.
“The Scottish government would also have a mountainous task in procuring new trade agreements with non EU export markets following independence,” warned the bank.
It has been suggested that Scotland could instead join the European Economic Area (EEA) and the European Free Trade Association (EFTA), giving it full access to the EU market without required membership to the EU, however foregoing any influence on it which could prove uncomfortable for a newly independent country.
The loss of the British pound would also raise uncertainly with a change in currency likely to lead to an “increase in foreign exchange risk for Scotch exports”, according to the bank.
Should independence be established, the Rabobank warned it was likely interest rates would rise which could create a “serious challenge” within an industry built on inventories stored up for decades with smaller companies likely to be hit hardest.
The pro-independence leaders have dismissed the concerns of the distilleries, saying that Scotch has been around for at least 800 years and it’s not going anywhere. That may be true. But it looks like Scotch makers are in for a rough ride if the “yes” vote wins tomorrow.
Pelosi Refuses to Say that We’re at War with ISIS, Has No Trouble Declaring that There Is a ‘War on Women’
Great stuff from the folks at CNS News. House Democrat leader Rep. Nancy Pelosi turned up on MSNBC today. Ronan Farrow asked her a simple question: Are we at war with ISIS?
The Obama adminstration has had trouble answering that one, but they have finally come around to admitting that yes, we are at war with ISIS.
Pelosi twists herself around words to stay away from calling it a “war.”
But other “wars” that the Democrats just made up…Pelosi has no trouble declaring that they’re real.
Today’s House Select Committee hearing on Benghazi was short of fireworks or revelations. But former Obama Homeland Security official Todd Keil was asked directly whether the State Department’s Accountability Review Board, which was hand-picked by then Secretary of State Hillary Clinton, was as “fiercely independent as she and members of that board have claimed.
Rep. Jim Jordan (R-OH) asked Keil “What’s your overall impression of the ARB report?”
Keil replied, “Ambassador Pickering referred to the ARB as being ‘fiercely independent.’ In that same hearing, Admiral Mullen admitted to Oversight and Government Reform that he was reporting on ARB proceedings to staff of the State Department, outside of the precepts and requirements of being a member of the ARB.
“I don’t think that fits anyone’s definition of being ‘fiercely independent.’”
Keil is a 27-year veteran of global security operations and management, according to his bio. President Obama tapped him in December 2009 to serve as Assistant Secretary for Infrastructure Protection at the Department of Homeland Security. He also served in the US State Department’s Diplomatic Security Service for over 22 years.
A week ago today, President Obama touted Yemen and Somalia as examples of successful counterterrorism. He made the claim en route to offering his strategy for dealing with the Islamic State in Iraq and Syria.
US national security officials tell a different story about those two countries, according to The Hill. They are not successes.
“Al Qaeda’s official branches in Yemen and Somalia continue to remain extremely active,” National Counterterrorism Center Director Matthew Olsen told lawmakers during a hearing.
Olsen said in prepared remarks that the Yemen-based group was the Al Qaeda affiliate “most likely to attempt transnational attacks” against the United States, according to Reuters.
“Of course, over the past five years Al Qaeda in the Arabian Peninsula has sought on three times to take down an airplane bound for the United States,” he said at the hearing.
Secretary of Homeland Security Jeh Johnson echoed Olsen’s remarks, warning that while ISIS was the “most prominent terrorist organization,” his Department has to stay focus on a range of terrorist threats.
“From my homeland security perspective we have to stay focus on a range of threats. Al Qaeda in the Arabian Peninsula, for example, is still active,” Johnson said.
Obama overrode his generals in crafting the ISIS strategy he rolled out a week ago, just as he overrode them when he pulled US troops out of Iraq. Is he listening to his own national security officials?
The US energy industry has been warning for years that the Obama EPA’s caps on carbon emissions will lead to several bad outcomes for Americans, including skyrocketing energy prices and even brownouts and blackouts.
The EPA’s Janet McCabe was testifying in the House today on the agency’s plan to cap carbon emissions. And then the power went out.
If there’s a unifying message Washington is trying to publicly send about the referendum that could split Scotland from the United Kingdom, it might be “c’est la vie.”
Administration officials have been stressing that it’s the UK’s business, refusing to give much of an opinion when asked about Thursday’s crucial vote.
The polling margin is decidedly toss-up. A Sunday Times poll from Sept. 9-12 found 46 percent yes, 47 percent no, and 7 percent undecided. A Telegraph poll conducted Sept. 12-15 found 43 percent in favor of secession, 47 percent saying no and 9 percent undecided. The video of ISIS beheading Scottish aid worker David Haines was released in the early morning hours UK time on Sept. 14.
A Scotsman poll conducted Sept. 12-16 found the “no” vote at 45 percent, with “yes” at 41 percent and 14 percent undecided. A Panelbase poll taken Sept. 15-17 found the “no” votes pulling head, at 50 percent to 45 percent on the “aye” side; five percent were still undecided.
By any measure, it’s too close to call.
When asked in Paris on Monday about the upcoming vote and its broader implications for Europe, Secretary of State John Kerry eschewed a characteristically verbose response.
“No, no. Honestly, I — anything I would say to that effect would be — become part of the campaign, and it’d be inappropriate for me to say anything at this point,” Kerry said.
“I will say this: that we’ve — just that the president has said — I think the president said in the past at various locations the strong and united and proactive United Kingdom has been an important player and an important contributor. But he and I and no one in our government are commenting on this vote.”
White House press secretary Josh Earnest noted that President Obama was standing next to British Prime Minister David Cameron at the G-7 meeting in Brussels when he gave the definitive White House meme on the referendum.
“You recall that what the president said was he said that — that from the outside, the United States has a deep interest in ensuring that one of the closest allies that we’ll ever have remains strong, robust, united and an effective partner with the United States,” Earnest said Monday.
“So, this is a decision for the people of Scotland to make. We certainly respect the right of individual Scots to make a decision about the — along these lines. But, you know, as the president himself said, we have a — we have an interest in seeing the United Kingdom remain strong, robust, united and an effective partner.”
“United” — so does that mean Washington does have a position on the vote?
“Flames of War,” coming soon! Complete with President Obama vowing no more Iraq war and the Mission Accomplished banner. ISIS ups its production value with its latest threats (Rambo-style explosions in the trailer, fake flames, no beheadings):
Robert Gates was President Barack Obama’s first Secretary of Defense.
On CBS this morning, Gates made his first public comments on the Islamic State since Obama announced his strategy for “degrading and destroying” ISIS without putting any US troops in ground combat against them.
Gates said, ”The reality is, they’re not going to be able to be successful against ISIS strictly from the air or strictly depending on the Iraqi forces or the Peshmerga or the Sunni tribes acting on their own. So there will be boots on the ground if there’s to be any hope of success in the strategy. And I think that by continuing to repeat that [there won't be troops on the ground], the president in effect traps himself.”
After predicting that there will be US boots on the ground if we’re to defeat ISIS, Gates continued: ”I’m also concerned that the goal has been stated as ‘degrade and destroy’ or ‘degrade and defeat’ ISIS. We’ve been at war with al Qaeda for 13 years. We have dealt them some terrible blows, including the killing of Osama bin Laden, but I don’t think anybody would say that after 13 years we’ve destroyed or defeated al Qaeda. And so I think to promise that we’re going to destroy ISIS or ISIL sets a goal that may be unattainable. as opposed to devastating it or as the vice president would put it, following them to the gates of hell and dealing them terrible blows that prevent them from holding territory. Those are probably realistic goals.”
The Islamic State currently holds territory that is roughly the size of the United Kingdom. The UK itself might shrink if Scottish voters approve a referendum to secede from the union.
Watch Gates’ comments on Obama’s anti-ISIS strategy.
Gates’ comments come alongside a new CBS News/New York Times poll showing that Obama’s approval rating on handling terrorism is at a new low.
Is it ISIS or ISIL? The French government has found its solution.
The term ISIL, meaning the Islamic State in Iraq and the Levant, references the eastern Mediterranean region stretching from Turkey to Egypt, swallowing up Syria, Lebanon, Israel and Jordan. After establishing their “caliphate,” the terror group dropped the Levant from its name and simply went with Islamic State.
The Obama administration, from the Pentagon to the State Department to the White House, consistently uses ISIL. A majority of members in Congress, on both sides of the aisle, also use ISIL in their press releases. Hearing names juggle between ISIS and ISIL. The British government uses ISIL as well.
Houses Democrats eventually decided in caucus to use ISIL, reportedly in part out of deference to women named Isis.
Governments are unified about not legitimizing their border-busting caliphate by calling them the Islamic State, or IS. The use of Islamic State is usually prefaced by “so-called” or “self-professed.”
ISIS, which generally has been favored by a majority of news outlets including The New York Times and ABC News, stands for the Islamic State in Iraq and al-Sham — parts of Turkey, Jordan, Lebanon and Syria, which formed Greater Syria, after a caliphate was formed in the 7th century. Al-Sham can also be interpreted to mean the same territory as the Levant or to simply refer to Damascus.
After President Obama appeared on Meet the Press earlier this month, host Chuck Todd theorized why the administration uses ISIL. “Obviously we refer to it at NBC News as ISIS. The Obama administration, president, says the word ISIL,” Todd said. “The last S stands for Syria, the last L they don’t want to have stand for Syria.”
Maureen Dowd called it “a bit odd that the administration is using ‘the Levant,’ given that it conjures up a colonial association from the early 20th century, when Britain and France drew their maps, carving up Mesopotamia guided by economic gain rather than tribal allegiances. Unless it’s a nostalgic nod to a time when puppets were more malleable and grateful to their imperial overlords.”
While the successor to al-Qaeda in Iraq sees Islamic State, ISIS, or ISIL as legitimizing their caliphate aims, they take Daesh as an insult.
The formal name of the group is al-Dawla al-Islamiya al-Iraq al-Sham. Take the “D,” an “A,” and the “Sh,” and that’s where the loose acronym Daesh comes from.
It was first pegged by Arabic media and quickly caught on among Free Syrian Army and Kurdish fighters, civilians in the region opposed to IS, Twitter Kurds, and governments in the region that want to dis’ the Islamic State. It’s also used in Israel.
The great part is the term’s multiple meanings among IS opponents, as the word sounds like the Arabic term for trampling or crushing underfoot: daes. It can also sound like Dahes, explained France24, which can either mean “one who sows discord” or refer to the Dahes wal Ghabra war in the pre-Islamic period of Arabia.
France thinks that’s just perfect.
Stressing that “this is a terrorist group and not a state,” Foreign Minister Laurent Fabius told reporters last week that he will be using the Arabic term — and he urged news organizations to do the same.
“The Arabs call it ‘Daesh’ and I will be calling them the ‘Daesh cutthroats,’” Fabius said.
The latest press release from the Ministry of Foreign Affairs leaves out the “cutthroats,” but holds fast to the Daesh vow — while attempting to train people on the term.
“M. Laurent Fabius, Minister of Foreign Affairs and International Development, had a meeting today with his British counterpart, Mr Philip Hammond,” said a Tuesday statement. “During this first bilateral meeting, the ministers took stock of the common battle against Daesh [ISIL], support for a solution to the crisis in Ukraine, the priorities for the European Union following the appointment of the new Commission, and the fight against the spread of the Ebola epidemic.”
“There can be little political ambiguity behind the French government’s decision to deploy Daesh as a linguistic weapon,” noted France24.
And IS/ISIS/ISIL goons really hate Daesh:
Several residents in Mosul, Iraq’s second-largest city which fell to the extremist group in June, told The Associated Press that the militants threatened to cut the tongue of anyone who publicly used the acronym Daesh, instead of referring to the group by its full name, saying it shows defiance and disrespect. The residents spoke anonymously out of fear for their safety.
Last month, the Associated Press ruled that it would not use ISIL in stories anymore except in direct quotes, telling Poynter: “About a month ago ISIL changed its name, so our approach is to refer to them on first reference simply as ‘Islamic militants,’ ‘jihadi fighters,’ ‘the leading Islamic militant group fighting in Iraq (Syria), etc.’ On second reference, something like ‘the group, which calls itself the Islamic State,’ with ‘group’ helping to make clear that it is not an internationally recognized state.”
What do you think they should be called?
— Asaf Ronel (@AsafRonel) September 17, 2014
— Ruwayda Mustafah (@RuwaydaMustafah) September 17, 2014
— Tony Karon (@TonyKaron) September 17, 2014
— Peter Spooner (@pjspooner) September 17, 2014
A Republican and a Democrat have joined forces in the House to reform the controversial program that gives surplus Defense Department equipment to local police departments.
More than 8,000 federal and state law enforcement agencies actively participate in the program, the DoD told a Senate hearing last week, in 49 states and three U.S. territories. Among the “controlled property” distributed to law enforcement over the past 12 months are more than 92,000 small arms, 44,000 night-vision devices, 52,000 Humvees, and 617 MRAPs.
On Tuesday, Reps. Hank Johnson (D-Ga.) and Raul Labrador (R-Idaho) introduced the Stop Militarizing Law Enforcement Act.
The bill aims to “prevent transfers of equipment inappropriate for local policing, such as high-caliber weapons, long-range acoustic devices, grenade launchers, armed drones, armored vehicles, and grenades or similar explosives.”
It ends a provision in the program requiring that departments are supposed to use the military equipment within a year, postulating that this creates an incentive where police use the equipment in inappropriate circumstances.
It also requires that departments can account for all equipment granted by the federal government, noting that in 2012 a sheriff was busted for re-gifting his Humvees and other military equipment.
“Militarizing America’s main streets won’t make us any safer, just more fearful and more reticent,” Johnson said in a statement. “Before another small town’s police force gets a $750,000 gift from the Defense Department that it can’t maintain or manage, it behooves us to press pause on Pentagon’s 1033 program and revisit the merits of a militarized America.”
The issue of police militarization heated up as a result of the protests in Ferguson, Mo., over the shooting death of 18-year-old Michael Brown.
“Our nation was founded on the principle of a clear line between the military and civilian policing,” said Labrador. “The Pentagon’s current surplus property program blurs that line by introducing a military model of overwhelming force in our cities and towns. Our bill would restore the focus of local law enforcement on protecting citizens and providing due process for the accused.”
Republican senators selected Sen. Mike Lee (R-Utah) to lead the conservative agenda in upper chamber starting in the 114th Congress.
Sen. Pat Toomey (R-Pa.), who has served as the chairman of the Senate Steering Committee for the past two years, will step down from the post at the end of this year.
“Mike Lee is a knowledgeable and principled movement conservative, and he has done a terrific job as vice chairman of the Steering Committee this Congress,” Toomey said in a statement. “I’m pleased to hand the gavel to him. I look forward to continuing to work with Mike, and my colleagues, to advance innovative conservative ideas that help create jobs and grow the economy.”
The conservative caucus meets each Wednesday to plan its agenda.
Lee has made a conservative war on poverty a centerpiece of his personal policy agenda.
“I am honored by the opportunity to chair the Senate Steering Committee,” said Lee, who has been serving as vice-chairman of the caucus. “Senator Toomey has been a courageous and principled leader and I hope to maintain the standard he has set.”
“The Senate Steering Committee will continue to develop and promote conservative solutions and facilitate vigorous discussion and debate on the issues that matter most to the country,” he added. “I look forward to leading this effort and very much appreciate the support of my colleagues.”
Toomey fell out of favor with some on the right after co-sponsoring a gun-control compromise bill in spring 2013 with Sen. Joe Manchin (D-W.Va.), which ultimately failed.
Senate Conservatives Fund president Ken Cuccinelli called Lee “a principled leader and a true champion for the conservative movement.”
“SCF was proud to endorse Mike when he ran for the Senate in 2010 and we are very glad that he has been named Chairman of the Senate Steering Committee,” Cuccinelli said in a statement. “Mike has continued to be a strong voice for our nation’s Constitution and the need for limited government. We’re excited to see him continue to fight for conservative policies in this new position and stand ready to help steer the Senate in the right direction.”
Europe is living through a new wave of anti-Semitism. The president of Germany’s Central Council of Jews calls it the worst the Continent has seen since World War II. He may well be right. Attacks on synagogues are an almost weekly occurrence, and openly anti-Semitic chants are commonplace on well-attended marches from London to Rome. And yet it is here, in Germany, where the rise in anti-Semitism is most historically painful.
On Sunday, thousands of people marched through Berlin in response, and heard both Chancellor Angela Merkel and President Joachim Gauck denounce the resurgence in anti-Jewish hatred.
We’ve seen this before, of course. But there’s an important difference this time. The new anti-Semitism does not originate solely with the typical white-supremacist neo-Nazi; instead, the ugly truth that many in Europe don’t want to confront is that much of the anti-Jewish animus originates with European people of Muslim background.
Until recently, Germany has been unwilling to discuss this trend. Germans have always seen Muslim anti-Semitism as a less problematic version of the “original” version, and therefore a distraction from the well-known problem of anti-Jewish sentiment within a majority of society.
Actually, most of Europe has been unwilling to discuss the potential pitfalls of anything having to do with the growing numbers of Muslims in several countries. England is practically overrun. In fact, if Scotland does break free, England plans on suing for custody of the al-Qaeda cells.
There has been some disturbing evidence of anti-Semitism at anti-Israel protests all over Europe, so it has become more difficult to just sweep it under the German skinhead rug. The truth had to be admitted.
It was just strange to find it in the Times.
NASA has chosen Boeing and SpaceX to build the vehicles that will transport its astronauts to the International Space Station, putting the two American companies on a course to take over a job that NASA has recently relied upon Russia to perform: carrying out manned space flights.
NASA Administrator Charles Bolden says vehicles from the two companies are expected to be ready for service by 2017.
Announcing its decision Tuesday, the space agency included these details:
“The Boeing Company (Boeing) and Space Exploration Technologies (SpaceX) have each presented to us designs that will allow us to fly crews to the International Space Station in just a few years. Respectively, the vehicles are Boeing’s CST-100 and SpaceX’s Dragon. The total potential contract value is $4.2 billion for Boeing and $2.6 billion for SpaceX. The spacecraft will launch from Kennedy Space Center — Cape Canaveral complex.”
It is pretty impressive and exciting that SpaceX, a twelve year old private company, is part of this deal, if only to reassure us that the entrepreneurial spirit can still achieve great things.
Let’s hope involvement with the government doesn’t screw that up.
Senate Armed Services Committee Chairman Carl Levin (D-Mich.) turned in an epic gavel-wielding, gavel-banging, gavel-pointing performance today in combat with the antiwar group Code Pink at a hearing on ISIS.
A sampling of the Levin Smackdown:
LEVIN: OK. Would you — we’re asking you again to please sit down, and if not, we’re gonna ask you to leave.
LEVIN: No, thank you. Thank you for — would you please now leave?
LEVIN: Would you please now leave?
LEVIN: I’m asking you to please leave.
LEVIN: You’re acting very war-like yourself.
PROTESTER: No more war.
LEVIN: Would you please leave?
PROTESTER: (OFF-MIKE) We do not want war. No military solution to this. No more war. No more war. No military solution.
LEVIN: We’re asking you nicely. We’re asking you nicely to please leave the room.
LEVIN: Look, we’re asking you nicely. Would you please leave the room. Thank you.
LEVIN: We ask you for the last time. Thank you very much.
PROTESTERS: If the U.S. (inaudible) the way for ISIL. U.S. military will not be (inaudible) and its counterproductive.
LEVIN: General Dempsey, as soon as the noise is removed from the room…
PROTESTERS: … war. We’ve had 13 years of…
LEVIN: We would ask all of you to avoid these kind of outbursts. They’re not doing anybody any good, including hearing what this testimony is, and they’re not doing you and whatever your cause is any good either.
LEVIN: Thank you very much. Would you please — I’m asking you nicely to please leave the room.
PROTESTER: Please, Senator. (inaudible) the issues. Bring in (inaudible).
LEVIN: Thank you very much. Good-bye. Good-bye. Thank you.
LEVIN: Would you please — please be quiet?
I’m asking you now to please leave the room.
Please remove this lady.
LEVIN: Please remove her. The disruptions are not gonna be acceptable to anybody.
LEVIN: I ask you to remove the lady. Please remove the lady from the room. Thank you very much (inaudible).
When singled out for heckling, Sen. John McCain (R-Ariz.) chuckled and quipped, ”I always appreciate special attention from this group, Mr. Chairman.”
As a former Dallas Cowboys fan, I half want the Washington Redskins to win the Super Bowl this year — just so the media will have to twist themselves into knots avoiding using the name.
That will be fun to watch.
Demagoguing Democrats aren’t fun to watch. Sen. Maria Cantwell has figured out a new way to attack the issue. She is threatening to pull the NFL’s non-profit status, according to AP.
In a news conference that featured Native American, civil rights and religious leaders, Sen. Maria Cantwell took aim at the NFL’s pocketbook by announcing she will introduce a bill to strip the league’s tax-exempt status because it has not taken action over the Redskins name. While prospects for such a bill becoming law would be tenuous, the inevitable hearings before lawmakers would enhance the spotlight on a movement that has gained substantial momentum over the last two years.
I’d bet that most Americans don’t know that the NFL is a non-taxpaying non-profit. Should it be? The League, which by law is a “trade association” among the teams, rakes in hundreds of millions of dollars — apart from the teams’ earnings — every year. The NFL commissioner makes nearly $30 million per year. Now the NFL is embroiled in a whole bunch of scandals in addition to the Redskins’ name controversy. It’s the perfect time for politicians to threaten them.
Cantwell may have stumbled into something here.
At the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention this afternoon, President Obama vowed that America would take on the “daunting task” of trying to stop the Ebola outbreak while keeping the virus from spreading to the States.
Obama said the work of the CDC “and our efforts across the government is an example of what happens when America leads in confronting some major global challenges.”
“Faced with this outbreak, the world is looking to us, the United States, and it’s a responsibility that we embrace,” he said. “We’re prepared to take leadership on this to provide the kinds of capabilities that only America has, and to mobilize the world in ways that only America can do. That’s what we’re doing as we speak.”
Before flying to Atlanta, Obama met with Dr. Kent Brantly, the missionary who contracted Ebola while treating patients in Liberia. Brantly was cured after taking experimental drug ZMapp and flying back to the U.S. for supportive care.
Brantly appeared this afternoon before a joint hearing of the Committee on Health, Education, Labor, and Pensions and the Subcommittee on Labor, Health and Human Services, Education and Related Agencies, Committee on Appropriations.
The doctor described seeing cases come in during June and quickly “spiraling out of control.” He said he appealed for help from the international community but “our pleas appeared to fall on deaf ears.”
“This has been in eye of the government for months,” Brantly told senators. “We can’t afford to wait months or even weeks for action.” Tens of thousands will die at the current rate of infection, he warned, if the response lags for a couple of months.
The response to the Ebola outbreak thus far has been “sluggish and unacceptably out of step with the scope and size” of the problem, he stressed.
Brantly called the outbreak “a fire straight from the pit of hell” and warned that Americans shouldn’t think the physical buffer of the Atlantic Ocean “will protect us from the flames of this fire.”
At midnight, the White House announced a broader anti-Ebola strategy to use “the unique capabilities of the U.S. military and broader uniformed services to help bring the epidemic under control,” including “command and control, logistics expertise, training, and engineering support.”
“U.S. Africa Command will set up a Joint Force Command headquartered in Monrovia, Liberia, to provide regional command and control support to U.S. military activities and facilitate coordination with U.S. government and international relief efforts. A general from U.S. Army Africa, the Army component of U.S. Africa Command, will lead this effort, which will involve an estimated 3,000 U.S. forces,” the White House said.
“First and foremost, I want the American people to know that our experts, here at the CDC and across our government, agree that the chances of an Ebola outbreak here in the United States are extremely low,” Obama said today.
“We’ve been taking the necessary precautions, including working with countries in West Africa to increase screening at airports so that someone with the virus doesn’t get on a plane for the United States. In the unlikely event that someone with Ebola does reach our shores, we’ve taken new measures so that we’re prepared here at home.”
The president remarked on his meeting with Brantly, saying the doctor “looks strong and we are incredibly grateful to him and his family for the service that he has rendered to people who are a lot less lucky than all of us.”
Obama called Ebola “now an epidemic of the likes that we have not seen before.”
“It’s spiraling out of control. It is getting worse. It’s spreading faster and exponentially. Today, thousands of people in West Africa are infected. That number could rapidly grow to tens of thousands. And if the outbreak is not stopped now, we could be looking at hundreds of thousands of people infected, with profound political and economic and security implications for all of us,” he continued.
“…And we’ve devoted significant resources in support of our strategy with four goals in mind. Number one, to control the outbreak. Number two, to address the ripple effects of local economies and communities to prevent a truly massive humanitarian disaster. Number three, to coordinate a broader global response. And number four, to urgently build up a public health system in these countries for the future — not just in West Africa but in countries that don’t have a lot of resources generally.”
Obama compared the command center that the U.S. will set up in Liberia to “our response after the Haiti earthquake.”
Major Gen. Darryl Williams, commander of Army forces in Africa, arrived on the ground in Liberia today to start setting up the headquarters.
“We’re going to create an air bridge to get health workers and medical supplies into West Africa faster. We’re going to establish a staging area in Senegal to help distribute personnel and aid on the ground more quickly. We are going to create a new training site to train thousands of health workers so they can effectively and safely care for more patients. Personnel from the U.S. Public Health Service will deploy to the new field hospitals that we’re setting up in Liberia,” Obama said. “And USAID will join with international partners and local communities in a Community Care Campaign to distribute supplies and information kits to hundreds of thousands of families so they can better protect themselves.”
The president stressed a global response needs to happen “faster than they have up until this point.”
“This is actually something that we had announced several months ago at the G7 meeting. We determined that this has to be a top priority; this was before the Ebola outbreak. We anticipated the fact that in many of these countries with a weak public health system, if we don’t have more effective surveillance, more effective facilities on the ground, and are not helping poor countries in developing their ability to catch these things quickly, that there was at least the potential of seeing these kinds of outbreaks. And sadly, we now see that our predictions were correct,” Obama said.
“…The reality is that this epidemic is going to get worse before it gets better. But right now, the world still has an opportunity to save countless lives. Right now, the world has the responsibility to act — to step up, and to do more. The United States of America intends to do more. We are going to keep leading in this effort.”
Sen. Lamar Alexander (R-Tenn.), ranking member on the Senate health committee, said “the spread of this disease deserves a more urgent response from our country and other countries around the world than it’s now getting.”
“We must take the dangerous, deadly threat of Ebola as seriously as we take ISIS. Let me say that again. We must take the dangerous, deadly threat of the Ebola epidemic as seriously as we take ISIS. I think I have a reputation as a senator who’s not given to overstatement. I don’t believe that’s an overstatement,” Alexander said.
“…This is one of the most explosive deadly epidemics in modern time if we do not do what we know how do to control it.”
The UK Guardian has published an editorial on how to deal with the Islamic State from Bradley/Chelsea Manning.
Manning is currently serving 35 years in Leavenworth for leaking classified intelligence during the Iraq war.
The strategy itself sounds like the one Obama first offered, between the lines, last Wednesday. That may be why it got past Manning’s jail cell and out to the Guardian.
Manning counsels “containment,” allowing ISIS to maintain the territory it currently holds. That will, in Manning’s reckoning, let them fail as a state, divide and disintegrate. It may take years, even decades. Manning doesn’t specify a timeline. It only took the Soviet Union more than 70 years to fail as a state. Caliphates have come and gone in the Middle East over the years, but some of them have lasted centuries.
The Islamic State has armor (ours), aircraft that it may or may not not be able to fly (Syrian) and it pulls in about $2 million a day from oil. Its presence also exacerbates the Kurdish issue: The longer Iraq’s central government remains weak and its territory divided, the longer the Kurds have to maintain their own security — and fosters their own feelings toward independence from Iraq, Turkey, etc.
Manning never lays out what to do if ISIS decides to outgrow its boundaries, or if Syria’s secular dictator falls, or ISIS’ presence crushes the Baghdad government, or Iran intervenes on the ground, or any number of other scenarios that are far from science fiction including ISIS launching strikes outside its territory. ISIS has threatened to do that. Manning does not address that.
Obama never came out for containment, in fact he said that his strategy would eventually “degrade and destroy” ISIS. But he did hold up Yemen and Somalia as examples of what he believes are successful counterterrorism fights.
Terrorists have had free or nearly free run in both for decades now. They are occasionally degraded in drone strikes, but never destroyed.
As for Manning, he (he was a guy at the time) took it upon himself to break his oath and the law in leaking sensitive information that the military had entrusted to him. Manning did this largely out of spite against the military’s gay policies (cluebat: ISIS’ gay policies aren’t friendlier).
Why does the Guardian believe that the opinion of such a person is worth printing? Why does such a person have the ability to communicate with media?
According to her Linked-In profile, Kazantsev interned at Planned Parenthood in Hempstead, New York. Her job duties at the company that snuffs out of the lives of young baby girls? “Assisted delivery of programs in local public schools, teaching children about mutual respect & self-esteem” and “Conducted research on Planned Parenthood Education.”
Kazantsev worked for the abortion giant just outside New York City proper for three months, from February 2013-April 2013. One month later, one of the Planned Parenthood abortion clinics in New York City botched an abortion. The incident occurred at the Margaret Sanger Center Planned Parenthood in New York City, New York.
Ambulances are usually only called to abortion clinics in the event of life-threatening medical emergencies. There has been a trend to bypass the 911 exchanges and call ambulance companies directly in order to keep pro-life groups from obtaining potentially damaging information about the abortion complications though open records requests.
In 2012, Planned Parenthood in New York City was also found to be willing to go along with arranging abortions for victims of sex trafficking.
That’s from LifeNews, and there’s more at the link.
Margaret Sanger was a Nazi-sympathizer who believed in eugenics and also believed in exterminating “human weeds” — working class people, racial minorities. Sanger was a segregationist who also wanted government to have control over who could and could not have children. Margaret Sanger, founder of Planned Parenthood, was a monster. The business/lobby that Sanger founded is built on aborting babies in substandard clinics. Right now Planned Parenthood is opposing over-the-counter contraception. Why? It’s bad for their business.
Over the course of the last week plus, the Obama administration’s story on the Islamic State has evolved — the put it kindly. Are we at war? Is it just counterterrorism? What would success look like? What would failure look like? Who’s in the coalition and what will they be doing?
If you’re seeking a straight answer, the Obama administration is probably the last place you’d go for one.
Back in my day, we rode our bikes far away from home and played all over the place without adult supervision.
But in this day, a mom in Austin, Texas, let her 6-year-old son play around a bench about 150 yards from his home’s front porch. The bench is visible from that porch. He knew how to get back home. The boy was never in any danger, until a neighbor and the busybody city got involved.
He’d been out there for about 10 minutes when Roy’s doorbell rang. She opened it to find her son —and a woman she didn’t know. As Roy wrote on her blog HaikuMama last week, the mystery woman asked: “Is this your son?”
I nodded, still trying to figure out what was happening.
“He said this was his house. I brought him home.” She was wearing dark glasses. I couldn’t see her eyes, couldn’t gauge her expression.
“Yes. He was all the way down there, with no adult.” She motioned to a park bench about 150 yards from my house. A bench that is visible from my front porch. A bench where he had been playing with my 8-year-old daughter, and where he decided to stay and play when she brought our dog home from the walk they’d gone on.
“You brought him home… from playing outside?” I continued to be baffled.
And then the woman smiled condescendingly, explained that he was OUTSIDE. And he was ALONE. And she was RETURNING HIM SAFELY. To stay INSIDE. With an ADULT. I thanked her for her concern, quickly shut the door and tried to figure out what just happened.
It didn’t end there. These things never do, as you’ll see on the next page.
On Sunday, NBC’s Today show offered three tips if you find yourself subjected to a home invasion. A long-time New York City police officer serves as the subject-matter expert.
His three tips are:
- Keep your car keys handy where you sleep, and if there’s a home invasion, hit the horn button to create a lot of noise.
- Keep a can of hornet and wasp spray handy, and if the invaders enter your room, spray them with it to render them temporarily blind.
- Sleep with all your bedroom doors open so everyone in the house can hear everything that’s going on.
Notice what NBC’s expert leaves out: Firearms. Your Second Amendment rights never occur to NBC.
Here’s the video.
The first point might create lots of noise, but might also alert your invaders that you’re awake. A simple push of the button that you pushed will silence the car. The invaders might panic initially, but they’ll know that they can control the noise by controlling you. Americans are now so used to car alarms going off at all hours that we hardly ever respond to them, so pushing your car alarm button isn’t likely to bring the neighbors out and it won’t alert the police.
Let’s analyze the last two points on the next page.
Defense Secretary Chuck Hagel and Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff Gen. Martin Dempsey told the Senate Armed Services Committee that they haven’t thought ahead yet to what happens when Bashar al-Assad starts striking Free Syrian Army forces tasked by the U.S. to fight ISIS.
Sen. John McCain (R-Ariz.) first pointed out at this morning’s hearing that training and equipping approximately 5,000 FSA fighters in one year seems like a inadequate response” to the strength of “some 31,000,” ISIS fighters, “metastasizing in a very rapid fashion into a much larger force.”
“And, obviously, this group of 5,000, as you mentioned, in unit size deployments will be back in Syria fighting against ISIL. They will also be fighting against Bashar Assad, which they’ve been doing for a number of years before ISIL was ever a significant factor,” McCain told the Pentagon leaders.
“Now, they will be fighting against Bashar Assad, and Bashar Assad will attack them from the air, which he has done and with significant success, not only against them, but there’s been 192,000 people who have been slaughtered in Syria since the onset,” the senator continued. “If a — if one of the Free Syrian Army is fighting against Bashar Assad and he is attacking them from the air, would we take action to prevent them from being attacked by Bashar Assad?”
“Well, we’re, first of all, not there yet, but our focus is on ISIL and that is the threat right now to our country and to our interests and to the people of the region. So what we are training these units for, yes, as a stabilizing force in Syria, as an option, but the first focus is, as I just said, as the president laid out in his statement to the country,” Hagel replied.
“We are now recruiting these young men to go and fight in Syria against ISIL, but if they’re attacked by Bashar Assad, we’re not gonna help them?” McCain asked.
“They will defend themselves, Senator,” Hagel said. “We will help them and we will support them, as we have trained them.”
“If we were to take Assad off the table, we’d have a much more difficult time forming a coalition,” Dempsey said. “But I think what you’re hearing us express is an ISIL first strategy. I don’t think we’ll find ourselves in that situation, given what we intend to do.”
“You don’t think that the Free Syrian Army is going to fight against Bashar Assad who has been decimating them? You think that these people you’re training will only go back to fight against ISIL?” McCain continued. “Do you really believe that, General?”
“What I believe, Senator, is that as we train them and develop a military chain of command linked to a political structure, that we can establish objectives that defer that challenge into the future. We do not have to deal with it now,” Dempsey said.
“That’s a fundamental misunderstanding of the entire concept and motivation of the Free Syrian Army. That — it is Bashar Assad that has killed many more of them than ISIL has,” said McCain. “And for to us say that we are going to go in and help and train and equip these people and only to fight against ISIL, you’re not gonna get many recruits to do that, General. I guarantee you that. And that’s a fundamental fallacy in everything you are presenting the — this committee today.”
Dempsey acknowledged that he recommended aiding Syrian opposition forces back in 2012, when President Obama overruled the Pentagon, State Department and CIA.
“You know that for policy reasons, the decision was taken in another direction,” Dempsey said.
McCain asked Hagel if he was concerned about security on the southern border. “We received testimony from our homeland security people that our border is porous and the people who are now free to travel to the United States and also other radical elements, might cross our southern border to attack the United States,” the senator said.
“I’m always concerned about our border,” Hagel responded. “…We — we can improve our border security.”
Sen. Joe Manchin (D-W.Va.) warned that the “alarming” number of coal plants shutting down due to EPA regulations portends a looming energy crisis.
The Government Accountability Office reported yesterday that “power companies now plan to retire a greater percentage of coal-fueled generating capacity and retrofit less capacity with environmental controls than the estimates GAO reported in July 2012.”
“About 13 percent of coal-fueled generating capacity—42,192 megawatts (MW)—has either been retired since 2012 or is planned for retirement by 2025, which exceeds the estimates of 2 to 12 percent of capacity that GAO reported in 2012.”
The GAO added that the Department of Energy, the Environmental Protection Agency and the Federal Energy Regulatory Commission has only taken “initial steps” over the past two years to interact on the question of how EPA regulations could affect energy reliability.
Thirty-eight percent of plant closures were centered in West Virginia, Ohio, Pennsylvania and Kentucky.
“The number of coal-fired plants that are being forced to shut down is alarming, and I truly believe we are setting ourselves up for a major electric stability crisis in this country,” Manchin said in a statement. “The GAO report verifies the dangerous impact the EPA’s proposed rules are having on our electrical grid and our economy, and it should be an eye-opener not just for West Virginians, but for hard working individuals and families across America who depend on coal for reliable and affordable energy, especially during the harsh winters when the grid is pushed to capacity.”
The senator said the report “should also clearly demonstrate that it is time for the Department of Energy to accelerate available grants and loan guarantees for advanced fossil fuel projects.”
“I will do everything in my power to continue pushing all relevant federal agencies to live up to their responsibilities to ensure the reliability of our national electricity system,” Manchin added.
“It is long past time that these agencies recognize that we will rely on fossil fuels for decades to come, and rather than simply forcing plants to close, we need to figure out how to help them run more efficiently. If we don’t, prices will soar and the grid will fail.”
On Sunday, Drudge Report’s headline and caption was “We’re Back” under the photo that is the subject of our latest contest. At the very least, the caption should have read “We’eeerr Ba-aaaccckkkkk” with a link to ominous music.
Then, “HILLARY CLINTON IN IOWA STIRS 2016 SPECULATION” was the AP piece‘s headline that Drudge used for his link. (Only read the AP piece if you care about the boring details of retiring Iowa Senator Tom Harkin’s annual steak fry fundraiser.)
So to save you time, here is the best line. When Hillary Clinton was asked about why she was at the Iowa steak fry, she joked that she was, “here for the steak.”
Oh, that Hillary really knows how to generate media attention! Her speech was a big, playful tease about her 2016 presidential ambitions that is one official announcement short of a done deal.
In addition to writing a more colorful caption than, “We’re back,” your mission is to answer the following questions:
What was Hillary saying to Bill the moment this photo was taken?
What was Bill smiling about?
Why did Bill’s shirt match the table cloths at the steak fry?
Was Bill also just there “for the steak?” (He is supposedly a vegetarian since his heart attacks.) If so, that sounds fishy.
Should Hillary’s “joke” about being in Iowa “for the steak,” stand as her first official lie of the 2016 presidential campaign?
Bonus question: What will be her second official campaign lie?
With chaos reigning throughout the world, and now, according to the Pope, WWIII has already begun, (albeit “piece mail” he says) I know how important the answer to these questions are in the big scheme of life. So get cracking!
There is so much at stake.
President Obama made a guarded call for more gun-control measures on the one-year anniversary of the Navy Yard shooting.
Aaron Alexis, a contractor who had red flags that should have been caught in a security clearance check, went on a September 2013 shooting rampage at the Navy Yard, killing 12.
“One year ago, our dedicated military and civilian personnel at the Washington Navy Yard were targeted in an unspeakable act of violence that took the lives of 12 American patriots,” Obama said in a statement this morning.
“As we remember men and women taken from us so senselessly, we keep close their family and friends, stand with the survivors who continue to heal and pay tribute to the first responders who acted with skill and bravery,” he continued. “At the same time, we continue to improve security at our country’s bases and installations to protect our military and civilian personnel who help keep us safe.”
Defense Secretary Chuck Hagel today announced in March reforms crafted in response to the shooting, including automated checks on cleared personnel that will pull information from law enforcement and “other relevant” databases.
“One year ago, 12 Americans went to work to protect and strengthen the country they loved,” Obama said. “Today, we must do the same – rejecting atrocities like these as the new normal and renewing our call for common-sense reforms that respect our traditions while reducing the gun violence that shatters too many American families every day.”
The Senate opened this morning with a special prayer for the victims delivered by Chaplain Barry Black.
“One year ago this city bore witness to a terrible tragedy at the Navy Yard,” tweeted D.C. Mayor Vincent Gray. ”Today, we remember the 12 lost and honor their memory.”
A new report from the Government Accountability Office found that the administration has skirted policy intended to keep taxpayers from paying for elective abortions under Obamacare.
The Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act requires the qualified healthcare plans offered in the exchanges, and the plans may offer abortions. However, the law prohibits the use of federal funds to pay for “non-excepted abortion services” — abortion services that take place in instances where there is not rape, incest, or the life of the mother involved.
“There are 23 states with laws restricting the circumstances under which QHPs may provide non- excepted abortion services as a covered benefit in 2014, and 28 states with no such laws. Among the 23 states with restrictions, 17 have laws that do not permit the coverage of non-excepted abortion services by QHPs, and 6 states permit the coverage of non-excepted abortion services only in limited circumstances, such as to prevent substantial and irreversible impairment of a pregnant woman’s major bodily function,” the GAO report states.
The GAO found that in 5 states (Connecticut, Hawaii, New Jersey, Rhode Island, and Vermont), all QHPs cover non-excepted abortion services.
In 15 states (Alaska, Arizona, California, Colorado, the District of Columbia, Georgia,
Maine, Maryland, Massachusetts, Montana, New Mexico, New York, Oregon, Texas, and Washington), some QHPs cover non-excepted abortion services. In 8 states (Delaware,
Illinois, Iowa, Minnesota, Nevada, New Hampshire, West Virginia, and Wyoming), no QHPs cover non-excepted abortion services.
“Of the 18 issuers offering QHPs that cover non-excepted abortion services from which we
obtained information, all but three issuers indicated that the benefit is not subject to any restrictions, limitations, or exclusions,” the report adds.
“PPACA requires that QHP issuers providing non-excepted abortion services coverage notify
enrollees at the time of enrollment that those services are covered. While most issuers
from which we collected information indicated they were notifying enrollees that abortion
services were provided as a covered benefit, four issuers indicated they were not disclosing this information to enrollees.”
The GAO said it presented its report to the Department of Health and Human Services, which “stated that, based upon our findings, additional clarification may be needed and CMS will use our findings to address issues of concern to better ensure that stakeholders understand the laws and regulations governing the provision of non-excepted abortion services coverage.”
“The American people deserve an administration committed to carrying out the law – not usurping it,” House Republican Conference Chair Cathy McMorris Rodgers (R-Wash.) said in a statement. “Disappointingly, today’s report marks one more example of the president’s disregard for the law and for hard-earned taxpayer dollars.”
“For decades, both Republicans and Democrats have believed that taxpayer dollars should not fund elective abortion,” she said. “Yet this report highlights Obamacare’s unlawful dismissal of these bipartisan measures.”
McMorris Rodgers referred to the No Taxpayer Funding for Abortion and Abortion Insurance Full Disclosure Act of 2014, which passed the House in January and has since been sitting in the Senate.
“We must come together to protect hardworking taxpayers across the country, which is why I was proud to support bipartisan legislation that corrects this abuse – and I am hopeful the Senate will take up this important legislation,” she said. “We must put an end to this unacceptable executive overreach.”
The White House has decided to up its anti-Ebola effort in West Africa, allocating 3,000 U.S. forces to Liberia “to help bring the epidemic under control.”
A Sept. 12 update by the World Health Organization reported 4,366 confirmed, suspected or probable cases of the Ebola virus, with 2,218 deaths as of Sept. 7. Cases are centered in Guinea, Liberia, Nigeria, Senegal and Sierra Leone.
The virus was introduced into Senegal on Aug. 20 by a person who traveled overland from Guinea.
“There has been no indication of any downturn in the epidemic in the three countries that have widespread and intense transmission (Guinea, Liberia, and Sierra Leone), with a surge in new cases in Liberia a particular cause for concern,” the WHO said.
More than 300 healthcare workers have contracted Ebola, and nearly half of those have died.
“Every outbreak of Ebola over the past 40 years has been contained, and we are confident that this one can—and will be—as well,” the White House said in a late-night fact sheet that declared partnerships with the affected countries and United Nations to combat the virus “just as we fortify our defenses at home.”
“The United States has applied a whole-of-government response to the epidemic, which we launched shortly after the first cases were reported in March. As part of this, we have dedicated additional resources across the federal government to address the crisis, committing more than $175 million to date,” the statement said. “We continue to work with Congress to provide additional resources through appropriations and reprogramming efforts in order to be responsive to evolving resource needs on the ground. Just as the outbreak has worsened, our response will be commensurate with the challenge.”
A key cog in the strategy will be using “the unique capabilities of the U.S. military and broader uniformed services to help bring the epidemic under control,” including “command and control, logistics expertise, training, and engineering support.”
“U.S. Africa Command will set up a Joint Force Command headquartered in Monrovia, Liberia, to provide regional command and control support to U.S. military activities and facilitate coordination with U.S. government and international relief efforts. A general from U.S. Army Africa, the Army component of U.S. Africa Command, will lead this effort, which will involve an estimated 3,000 U.S. forces.”
“Many” of the forces will be stationed at an intermediate staging base “to facilitate and expedite the transportation of equipment, supplies and personnel,” the White House added.
“Command engineers will build additional Ebola Treatment Units in affected areas, and the U.S. Government will help recruit and organize medical personnel to staff them… The United States Public Health Service Commissioned Corps is preparing to deploy 65 Commissioned Corps officers to Liberia to manage and staff a previously announced Department of Defense (DoD) hospital to care for healthcare workers who become ill. The deployment roster will consist of administrators, clinicians, and support staff.”
USAID will jump into the program with a campaign to “provide communities and households with protection kits, appropriate information and training on how to protect themselves and their loved ones.”
Currently, “more than 100″ personnel from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention are on the ground in the region. The Obama administration has asked Congress for an additional $30 million to send more CDC workers and supplies.
Obama is also asking for an additional $58 million for the National Institutes of Health to develop an Ebola vaccine that has entered stage one clinical trials.
“Earlier this month, President Obama released a message to the people of West Africa to reinforce the facts and dispel myths surrounding Ebola,” the White House added. “The video was transcribed into French, Portuguese, and other local languages and was distributed to television and radio stations across the region. Tens of thousands of West Africans viewed or listened to the message.”
At home, the administration said the CDC is “working closely” with Customs and Border Protection and “assisting with exit screening and communication efforts in West Africa to prevent sick travelers from boarding planes.”
“Despite the tragic epidemic in West Africa, U.S. health professionals agree it is highly unlikely that we would experience an Ebola outbreak here in the United States, given our robust health care infrastructure and rapid response capabilities,” the fact sheet states. “Nevertheless, we have taken extra measures to prevent the unintentional importation of cases into the United States, and if a patient does make it here, our national health system has the capacity and expertise to quickly detect and contain this disease.”
According to reports, the House Armed Services Committee is currently preparing an amendment to arm and train the Syrian rebels that will be voted on this week. If passed, the bill will be attached to the continuing resolution to fund the government until December. **UPDATE** The amendment has been posted.
The most troubling element to the proposed amendment is a provision allowing the Obama administration to arm and train rebels with ties to terrorism. The “vetted moderate rebel” groups supported by the administration are known to be partnering with designated terrorist organizations, and the passage of this amendment would give congressional blessing to such arrangements.
According to The Hill:
The measure includes several provisions intended to satisfy Republicans and Democrats worried about giving the administration blanket authority to arm and train rebel groups, who would be used in the fight against the Islamic State in Iraq and Syria (ISIS).
It would require Defense Secretary Chuck Hagel to submit the administration’s plan for training the moderate opposition 15 days before the commencement of any such activities, the aide said. That requirement was put forward by the administration, the aide added.
After that, Hagel would have to submit an update to lawmakers every 90 days.
That will be the extent of oversight by Congress — notification by the Pentagon.
But then there’s this:
The Pentagon would be required to list every individual they are recruiting, and would have to provide information on their backgrounds, including any possible links to terrorist organizations, according to the aide.
But the bill would not prohibit people with links to terrorist groups from actually participating in the program, the aide said. Such a blanket prohibition could make it tougher to recruit people for the training program.
Remarkably, this amendment is being billed by Republican leadership and the D.C. media as limiting Obama’s powers.
As I’ve been reporting here at PJ Media the past two weeks, considerable evidence is mounting that the “vetted moderate rebels” that the U.S. has already sent weapons to are allying with ISIS and other terrorist groups on the local level.
On September 3, I reported that the Free Syrian Army (FSA) — the main rebel group fighting the Assad regime — recently allied with ISIS and Jabhat al-Nusra, al-Qaeda’s official affiliate in Syria. A FSA commander later confirmed my reporting on their alliance near the Lebanon border.
Then on September 9, I reported on one of the first rebel groups to receive heavy weapons from the CIA earlier this year, Harakat al-Hazm, which has also allied with Jabhat al-Nusra.
And this past weekend I reported that the Syrian Revolutionaries Front (SRF), which had been billed as “the West’s best fighting chance against Syria’s Islamist armies,” has signed a peace deal with ISIS according to both Arabic and English media reports. The head of SRF yesterday published a denial — in English (meaning, for Western audiences) — of those reports. And yet, the Wall Street Journal reported in May about SRF’s open cooperation with Jabhat al-Nusra.
So with this House amendment, Republicans would be endorsing the Obama administration’s existing policy of arming and training Syrian rebel groups known to be working with terrorists, which would effectively give Obama political cover in the case of more U.S. weapons ending up in the hands of ISIS and other terrorist groups.
They don’t call the GOP “the stupid party” for nothing.
House Minority Leader Nancy Pelosi (D-Calif.) said she believes Hillary Clinton would be one of the best prepared candidates for the presidency, who “just happens to be a woman.”
Clinton told the crowd at Sen. Tom Harkin’s (D-Iowa) steak fry over the weekend that she’s “thinking” about running for the Oval Office. She brought along campaigner-in-chief Bill Clinton to the early caucus state.
“First of all, we have to find out if Hillary is going to run. She seemed very ready in Iowa at the steak fry,” Pelosi told MSNBC today.
“If she decides to run, which I think she will, she would be one of the best qualified people to enter the White House,” she said. “Really, she has been a senator and she has seen firsthand as first lady what the job entails. She has been secretary of state. She really brings so much experience to it.”
Pelosi said she doesn’t think it will hurt Clinton’s candidacy that she’s been hedging on the question for so long.
“I think she is handling it exactly correctly because we have an election coming up, midterms, most — many people don’t even know their midterm elections, they’re so focused on 2016 — but very, very important elections, hopefully to reelect a Democratic Senate to support President Obama to make strides in the House,” she said.
“And we always hope we can win and work hard for that. But it’s appropriate for any announcement of that kind to come after the midterms. She said next year is that — the impression you got from that is that she would make an announcement next year.”
Pelosi wouldn’t announce which midterm candidates Clinton may choose to help, ”but it is in the public domain that she will be doing events — a couple of events for us, end of September, middle of October, and we are very excited about that.”
“I can just imagine the excitement that is generated from that,” she added.
The White House today withdrew the nomination of Debo Adegbile to lead the Civil Rights Division at the Department of Justice.
Nominated in January, Adegbile was rejected by the Senate in a March vote 47-52, with Democratic Sens. Heidi Heitkamp (N.D.), Joe Manchin (W.Va.), Mark Pryor (Ark.), Joe Donnelly (Ind.), John Walsh (Mont.), Chris Coons (Del.) and Bob Casey Jr. (Pa.) joining with Republicans.
It was the first cloture failure on a nomination after Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid (D-Nev.) detonated the nuclear option and put a simple majority threshold in place.
Reid switched his “yes” vote to “no” at the last minute, allowing him to resurrect the nomination down the road.
Adegbile’s nomination was hotly contested because of his defense of cop killer Mumia Abu-Jamal. Adegbile was the director of litigation for the NAACP Legal Defense Fund when it took up Abu-Jamal’s case on appeal.
Reid argued that Adegbile shouldn’t be punished for guilt by association because he “didn’t step into one courtroom on behalf of the murderer.”
President Obama lashed out at the Senate at the time, calling the nomination block ”a travesty based on wildly unfair character attacks against a good and qualified public servant.”
Despite the reserved ability to bring the nominee back to floor, Adegbile was scarcely mentioned in recent months.
Former Massachusetts Sen. Scott Brown (R), whose New Hampshire strategy against Sen. Jeanne Shaheen (D-N.H.) focuses heavily on the president’s record, said in a statement that he was ”pleased” Obama “has finally withdrawn” the nomination.
“His controversial representation of a convicted cop killer is offensive to law enforcement and victim’s rights groups, not only here in New Hampshire but around the country,” Brown said. “Just as troubling as President Obama’s nomination of Mr. Adegbile was Senator Shaheen’s support for it. This was another example of Senator Shaheen putting the President’s agenda ahead of doing what was right. Thankfully, a bipartisan majority of senators stood together to block consideration of this ill-conceived appointment.”
Adegbile has joined law firm Wilmer Cutler Pickering Hale and Dorr LLP.
Attorney General Eric Holder released a video message today to announce a new pilot program intended to ”bring together community representatives, public safety officials, religious leaders, and United States Attorneys to improve local engagement, to counter violent extremism and – ultimately – to build a broad network of community partnerships to keep our nation safe.”
The program “in cities across the nation” will be a cooperative effort between the Department of Justice, the White House, the Department of Homeland Security, and the National Counterterrorism Center.
Holder said last week’s 9/11 anniversary was “a solemn reminder of our most important obligation: to ensure America’s national security and protect the American people from a range of evolving threats.”
“Today, few threats are more urgent than the threat posed by violent extremism. And with the emergence of groups like ISIL, and the knowledge that some Americans are attempting to travel to countries like Syria and Iraq to take part in ongoing conflicts, the Justice Department is responding appropriately,” he said.
“Through law enforcement agencies like the FBI, American authorities are working with our international partners and Interpol to disseminate information on foreign fighters in Syria and Iraq, including individuals who have traveled from the United States. We have established processes for detecting American extremists who attempt to join terror groups abroad. And we have engaged in extensive outreach to communities here in the U.S. – so we can work with them to identify threats before they emerge, to disrupt homegrown terrorists, and to apprehend would-be violent extremists. But we can – and we must – do even more.”
Members of Congress have relayed the estimated number of Americans fighting for ISIS as between 100 and 200, acknowledging that there’s still much we don’t know.
Holder said the new program is intended to “work closely with community representatives to develop comprehensive local strategies, to raise awareness about important issues, to share information on best practices, and to expand and improve training in every area of the country.”
He added that since 2012 U.S. Attorneys have attended “more than 1,700 engagement-related events or meetings to enhance trust and facilitate communication in their neighborhoods and districts.”
“This innovative new pilot initiative will build on that important work. And the White House will be hosting a Countering Violent Extremism summit in October to highlight these and other domestic and international efforts. Ultimately, the pilot programs will enable us to develop more effective – and more inclusive – ways to help build the more just, secure, and free society that all Americans deserve,” Holder continued.
“As we move forward together, our work must continue to be guided by the core democratic values – and the ideals of freedom, openness, and inclusion – that have always set this nation apart on the world stage. We must be both innovative and aggressive in countering violent extremism and combating those who would sow intolerance, division, and hate – not just within our borders, but with our international partners on a global scale. And we must never lose sight of what violent extremists fear the most: the strength of our communities; our unwavering respect for equality, civil rights, and civil liberties; and our enduring commitment to justice, democracy, and the rule of law.”
The State Department got into the PR war to discourage Americans from joining with a “Welcome to the ‘Islamic State’ Land” video.
Here is the headline:
Texas governor’s race heats up over new book
The race for Texas governor entered a new chapter this week with the release of a memoir from Democratic candidate Wendy Davis that rekindled attention on abortion and led to an ethics complaint from her opponent, Republican Greg Abbott.
Abbott, currently the state’s attorney general, is accusing Davis of misusing campaign contributions to promote the book called “Forgetting to Be Afraid,” in which Davis, a state senator, reveals she had terminated two pregnancies.
“Senator Davis’ book promotion has gone from ethically questionable to outright unlawful,” Abbott campaign spokesman Matt Hirsch said.
The gubernatorial race, which is set to be the most expensive in the state’s history, has heated up this month with both campaigns reaching into their war chests to start spending heavily on TV advertisements.
Davis campaign spokesman Zac Petkanas called the complaint frivolous and said it shows “how worried Greg Abbott is about the power of her story.”
The most recent RealClearPolitics polling average on this race has Abbott up by double digits, so “the power of her story” had better come with a wizard.
Wendy Davis is a creation of the abortion-on-demand obsession of the MSM. They created a gubernatorial candidacy out of whole cloth for her because she spent several hours championing their pet issue during a filibuster. Can you imagine this kind of breathless reporting about any Republican candidate who spent an entire race trailing so badly in the polls?
The purpose Wendy Davis serves is to prove that the Democrats will go to any lengths to lie about their abortion goals and that the press will dutifully aid them in doing so.
Secretary of State John Kerry encouraged getting past the “tortured debate” of whether the U.S. is at war with the Islamic State, backtracking on comments made last week.
Kerry previously told CBS News that “war is the wrong terminology” to describe the fight.
This was followed by the Pentagon and State Department saying that the U.S. is at war with ISIS.
Kerry was asked about his assessment Sunday for CBS’ Face the Nation.
“I think there’s, frankly, a kind of tortured debate going on about terminology,” Kerrys said. “What I’m focused on obviously is getting done what we need to get done to ISIL. But if people need find a place to land in terms of what we did in Iraq, originally, this is not a war. This is not combat troops on the ground. It’s not hundreds of thousands of people. It’s not that kind of mobilization.”
“But in terms of al-Qaeda, which we have used the word war with, yes, we went — we’re at war with al-Qaeda and its affiliates. And in same context, if you want to use it, yes, we’re at war with ISIL in that sense,” he continued. “But I think it’s a waste of time to focus on that. Frankly, let’s consider what we have to do to degrade and defeat ISIL. And that’s what I’m frankly much more focused on.”
Kerry also sought to tamp down rumors that the U.S. would be coordinating its campaign with Syria’s Bashar al-Assad.
“We will certainly want to deconflict to make certain that they’re not about to do something that they might regret even more seriously,” he said. “But we’re not going to coordinate. It’s not a cooperative effort. We are going to do what they haven’t done, what they had plenty of opportunity to do, which is to take on ISIL and to degrade it and eliminate as a threat.”
On his travels to build a coalition, Kerry said he was “extremely encouraged to hear from all of the people that I have been meeting with about their readiness and willingness to participate.”
“I can tell you right here and now that we have countries in this region, countries outside of this region, in addition to the United States, all of whom are prepared to engage in military assistance, in actual strikes, if that is what it requires,” he added. “And we also have a growing number of people who are prepared to do all the other things. People shouldn’t think about this, this effort just in terms of strikes. In fact, as some have pointed out, that alone is not going to resolve this challenge.”
Kerry said some nations have offered to put boots on the ground.
“But we are not looking for that, at this moment anyway. The answer is, yes, there are some that have said that. There are some that are clearly prepared to take action in the air alongside the United States, and to do airstrikes, if that’s what they’re called on to do,” he said.
“What we’re doing right now is putting together the whole package. And it’s not appropriate to start announcing, well, this country will do this, this country will do that.”