Get PJ Media on your Apple

The PJ Tatler

No Big Deal. But 66% of Democrats Support Prosecuting Rick Perry for Doing What Governors Are Constitutionally Allowed to Do.

Tuesday, August 26th, 2014 - by Bryan Preston

Two out of three Democrats apparently have no idea what constitutional powers a governor has, and have no idea what the legal system is for (and what it’s not for).

It’s not for jailing people because you do not like them.

I blame the teachers unions.

YouGov’s latest research shows that the public is far more divided over the prosecution of Rick Perry than commentators. 40% of Americans approve of the decision to persue criminal charges against Perry, while 37% disapprove. Opinions on the man himself are similarly split, though opinions tend to be unfavorable (39%) rather than favorable (31%).

Most Democrats (66%) support prosecutors charging Perry with abuse of power, while only 13% disagree. Independents tend to disapprove (42%) rather than approve (32%) of the charges, while Republicans overwhelmingly (67%) oppose the prosecution.

Looking at these numbers, the wrong person could come along and as long as they have a D attached to their name, they could get away with just about anything…

 

Read bullet |

How Much of a Threat Are ISIS?

Monday, August 25th, 2014 - by Bryan Preston

The Islamic State may have achieved something that no terrorist group before them has managed — they may be a fully fledged combined-arms capable fighting force powered by the use of indigenous natural resources it controls.

Over the past few months, as if to defy President Barack Obama’s characterization of them as “jayvee,” ISIS spread swiftly from Syria deep into Iraq, sweeping through territory that had been controlled or at least patrolled by the Iraqi army.

That army proved to be so weak that its personnel fled their posts. ISIS scooped up American vehicles and weapons left behind by the Iraqi security forces. By July, the Islamic State had reportedly taken 52 155mm M198 Howitzer artillery guns. They have a range of up to 20 miles and can be used in conjunction with GPS for fine targeting. US airstrikes in recent weeks have focused on ISIS artillery, among other things, suggesting that US airmen are targeting some of those former US guns.

It’s also possible that in addition to picking up US vehicles and weapons, ISIS picked up some undeclared Syrian chemical weapons.

Over this past weekend, ISIS attacked and took over a Syrian air base in Raqqa. That has been widely reported. What has not been widely reported is that leading up to the assault, ISIS used drone aircraft for surveillance of the base. Whether or not ISIS captured any usable aircraft at the base (and apparently, they did), and whether they have any trained pilots to operate them or not, the Islamic State already has drone aircraft at its disposal.

The success of the mission in Syria shows that ISIS can coordinate the movements of its ground troops on foot and in vehicles, and its airborne drones. That is a combined-arms capable force. They only thing they’re missing is a navy, but they don’t need that where they are currently operating. If things continue on their current path, ISIS could steal a navy either from Iraq or Syria.

In addition to all of that, ISIS now controls an area that is larger than Britain. It is sparsely populated compared to Britain — about 4 million in ISIS territory versus about 64 million in Britain — but ISIS territory is oil-rich.

A Businessweek article compares ISIS to the “Taliban with oil fields.” The Islamic State may be raking in $2 million a day in revenue from oil sales alone, making it a self-financed and largely self-sufficient terrorist entity that happens to be armed chiefly with captured American-made weaponry. Additionally, ISIS is not as vulnerable to sanctions as previous terrorists groups have been.

“The Islamic State is probably the wealthiest terrorist group we’ve ever known,” said Matthew Levitt, a former U.S. Treasury terrorism and financial intelligence official who now is director of the counterterrorism and intelligence program at the Washington Institute for Near East Policy. “They’re not as integrated with the international financial system, and therefore not as vulnerable” to sanctions, anti-money laundering laws and banking regulations.

In contrast, the late al-Qaeda chief Osama bin Laden was from a wealthy family and enjoyed a network of foreign patrons, and his funding sources were squeezed by financial intelligence officers. The Islamic State “makes their money primarily — if not entirely — locally,” said Patrick Johnston, a counterterrorism specialist at the Santa Monica, California-based Rand Corp.’s Pittsburgh office and co-author of a forthcoming analysis of declassified documents on the Islamic State’s finances.

In addition to all that, an unknown number of ISIS fighters are citizens of the West and carry western passports.

Read bullet |

Is White House Pressuring Pentagon to Downplay ISIS Threat?

Monday, August 25th, 2014 - by Bridget Johnson

In what many are viewing as a walkback from last week’s comments warning of ISIS’ “apocalyptic, end-of-days strategic vision,” Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff Gen. Martin Dempsey told reporters en route to Afghanistan over the weekend that he would recommend military action against the group only when a threat to the U.S. is substantiated.

Dempsey said, according to the Associated Press, that U.S. officials have seen no ”active plotting against the homeland, so it’s different than that which we see in Yemen.”

“I can tell you with great clarity and certainty that if that threat existed inside of Syria that it would certainly be my strong recommendation that we would deal with it,” said Dempsey. “I have every confidence that the president of the United States would deal with it.”

This morning, Pentagon press secretary Rear Adm. John Kirby told Fox that Dempsey wasn’t told by the White House to soften last week’s tone about the threat.

“There’s been no direction from — from the White House or anybody else to tone down the way we’re speaking about ISIL. And I think we’ve all been very consistently talking about the very real and growing threat that ISIL poses,” Kirby said.

“ISIL is a growing network. They are well resourced. They’re well led. They do pose a regional threat. And to the degree that they are supported by foreign fighters from nations all over the world, including the United States, there is an immediacy to the threat that they pose,” he said. “While, you know, while I think the general feeling is they’re not capable of a 9/11- like-style attack on the homeland right now, they certainly could through the use of foreign fighters impact Western targets, including American targets, if they so choose.”

Sen. Lindsey Graham (R-S.C.) accused President Obama of ”becoming derelict in his duties as commander in chief to protect our homeland by not aggressively confronting ISIL wherever they reside, including Syria.”

“The White House is trying to minimize the threat we face in order to justify not changing a failed strategy,” Graham said in a statement this afternoon. “I fear their foot dragging in confronting increased radical Islamic threats is setting the stage for the creation of an even more powerful ISIL which further terrorizes the region and poses even graver threats to the American homeland.”

“I also fear political pressure is being applied to the military and others to justify President Obama’s reluctance to aggressively confront the threat.”

Graham stressed that Dempsey’s change in tone is “demoralizing to our friends and allies in Jordan, Saudi Arabia and Israel who are worried about the continued strengthening of ISIL.”

“The case has been made.  ISIL is a direct threat to the American homeland,” he said. “They must be defeated and they cannot be beaten without attacking their safe haven in Syria. To do otherwise is ignoring reality and placing the American homeland at risk. The stronger they grow over there, the more in danger we are over here.”

At last week’s press conference, Dempsey said they think ISIS “can be contained, not in perpetuity.”

“This is an organization that has an apocalyptic, end-of-days strategic vision and which will eventually have to be defeated. To your question, can they be defeated without addressing that part of their organization which resides in Syria? The answer is no. That will have to be addressed on both sides of what is essentially at this point a nonexistent border,” Dempsey continued.

Defense Secretary Chuck Hagel warned that the Islamic State is “beyond anything that we’ve seen.”

“ISIL is as sophisticated and well-funded as any group that we have seen. They’re beyond just a terrorist group. They marry ideology, a sophistication of strategic and tactical military prowess. They are tremendously well-funded,” Hagel said. “…So we must prepare for everything. And the only way you do that is that you take a cold, steely, hard look at it and– and — and get ready.”

Read bullet |

Obama Reportedly Waited 30 Days to Launch Rescue Mission for Foley

Monday, August 25th, 2014 - by Bryan Preston

In the days following ISIS’ beheading of American journalist James Foley, rumors that President Obama dragged his feet on the military mission to rescue him have surfaced. Well, those rumors surfaced once the administration leaked the mission itself.

The mission failed, according to the Defense Secretary Chuck Hagel in a briefing last week, because the terrorists had moved their captives.

Toby Harnden reports that the US had developed good intelligence regarding where ISIS was holding Foley. But President Obama delayed the mission by a month.

Pentagon sources said Foley and the others might well have been rescued but Obama, concerned about the ramifications of US troops being killed or captured in Syria, took too long to authorise the mission.

Anthony Shaffer, a former lieutenant-colonel in US military intelligence who worked on covert operations, said: “I’m told it was almost a 30-day delay from when they said they wanted to go to when he finally gave the green light. They were ready to go in June to grab the guy [Foley] and they weren’t permitted.”

Another US defence source said: “The White House constantly goes back and forth on these things. These people are a bunch of academics who endlessly analyse stuff and ordering up another deep-thinking paper but can’t decide what to order for lunch.”

According to Harnden’s report, when US forces arrived they did find a swarm of terrorists there. The captives themselves had been moved to another location.

ISIS emailed a threat to Foley’s life on August 13, five days after President Obama ordered airstrikes on ISIS positions in Iraq. The emailed threat said that Foley would die in retaliation for the airstrikes.

Harnden also reports that President Obama has not viewed the video of Foley’s beheading. Obama was “briefed on its contents” as he flew to Martha’s Vineyard for vacation and several rounds of golf. Obama did make a public statement on the brutal murder, minutes before he made his way to the golf course again.

Over at Hot Air, Allahpundit wonders why Obama would drag his feet on this mission for a month. Obama wasn’t facing re-election, and unlike the bin Laden mission, the mission to rescue Foley would have been in enemy territory — meaning that it carried fewer potential diplomatic downsides. True enough.

Obama reportedly dragged his feet on the bin Laden mission, too. This president seems to be very uncomfortable with command, and with authorizing missions that showcase the power and prestige of the US military. Plus, as the military types note above, Obama is an academic and not a leader. He voted “present” by habit in the Illinois Senate and was a partisan backbencher in the US Senate. Barack Obama is much more comfortable ordering verbal strikes on Republicans than he is ordering air and SEAL strikes on our actual enemies.

Read bullet |

Perry’s Legal Team Calls for Indictment to be Thrown Out

Monday, August 25th, 2014 - by Bryan Preston

Late last week, Texas Gov. Rick Perry’s legal team signaled its intent to file a formal challenge to the August 15th indictment against him. They made good on the promise today, filing a writ of habeas corpus.

A press release from the governor spells out the nature of the challenge:

AUSTIN — Today, Gov. Rick Perry’s legal team filed a pretrial application for writ of habeas corpus seeking to bar the prosecution of Gov. Perry on multiple constitutional grounds.

“Thus, for reasons of constitutional magnitude, including the separation of powers doctrine fundamental to our democratic system of government, Governor Perry should have the same opportunity for relief through habeas corpus in this case if the provisions are merely void as applied as he would have if they were facially unconstitutional,” Governor Perry’s legal team noted in the writ. “Subjecting any sitting Governor to a criminal prosecution and injecting the judiciary into a political dispute would be an unprecedented assault on this cherished separation of powers, and would impose an intolerable and incalculable chilling effect on the free exercise of legitimate constitutional powers by future governors.”

The Texas Tribune has more, including this line from the lawyers’ brief: “This court should not hesitate to dismiss both counts of the indictment and bar the prosecution, immediately if not sooner.”

The Perry team is cashing in on last week’s mugshot. RickPAC is selling this brilliant mugshot T-shirt in its online store.

RickPAC_Donate_Wanted-Tshirt_400x400_v1.1

Read bullet |

One in Three Adults Think Libertarian Means the Opposite of What Libertarian Means

Monday, August 25th, 2014 - by Liz Sheld

Pew Research has released numbers today on the topic of libertarians.  The numbers are not current–  the survey was conducted April 29-May 27, 2014 among a panel of 3,243 adults but they provide an insight into an alarming misunderstanding of political ideology.

The survey asked respondents to identify what political ideology fits the following definition: “someone whose political views emphasize individual freedom by limiting the role of government.”

Libertarians topline

 

Looking just at the first question, which Pew has used to determine whether people who say they are libertarians actually know what the term means, 57% correctly identified the definition of “libertarian” with the proper corresponding ideological label.  Looking at the other answers,  an astonishing 20% say that someone who emphasizes freedom and less government is a progressive, 6% say that is the definition of an authoritarian and 6% say that is the definition of a communist.

The total number of people who say that the emphasis on individual freedom by limiting the role of government with a label that involves more government regulation and greater involvement (which only comes at the expense of individual freedom) is 32% or 1 out of 3 adults.

Some may argue that the definition of a progressive does involve individual freedom and less government interference in life choices. While that might be claimed in theory, it is certainly not the case in practice. Progressives want to use government force to ensure the outcomes they want, be it proper politically correct thought or larger government programs and redistribution of wealth to ensure equal outcomes. Perhaps the 20% who assume progressivism involves more individual freedom with less government involvement aren’t paying close attention to current legislation and restrictions being advocated by self-proclaimed progressives.

Going back to the Pew survey, 14% of adults identify as a libertarian, but only 11% identify as a libertarian and also correctly define the term.  An other interesting finding is that men are twice as likely to identify as libertarian than women: 15% of men compared with 7% of women. Education level also plays a role in identification: adults with at least a college education (15%) are more likely to say they are libertarians than those with some college (12%) or those with less than a high school education (7%).  Most notably, both whites and Hispanics are four times as likely to say they are libertarians than African Americans.

Read bullet |

Moral Depravity at White House: Accused Robber vs. Maggie Thatcher

Monday, August 25th, 2014 - by J. Christian Adams

x

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Hardly any commentary is needed for this headline:

More White House officials at Michael Brown’s funeral than Thatcher’s

The story is here at Fox News.

This is more than an oversight.  This headline carries significance beyond a headshake.

It is a raw example of the moral depravity in the White House under Obama.  It is an example of the administration’s celebration and promotion of the lawless.  It is a testament to Obama’s personal hostility toward the greatness of the British role in preserving the rule of law, the foundations of liberty, and Margaret Thatcher’s willingness to stare down the Soviets alongside Ronald Reagan and St. John Paul II.

The headline is not an accident.  It is a deliberate slight to the era of Reagan, Thatcher, and the moral clarity they brought to the world.  Thatcher and Reagan spoke with moral clarity about the evil of redistributive policies and the damage they do to civilization.  John Paul spoke with moral clarity about the evil of governments restraining the free exercise of faith.  The three renewed the face of the earth.

Michael Brown was caught on video committing felony strong armed robbery.  That Obama administration officials at his funeral would outnumber Obama administration officials at Thatcher’s funeral says absolutely everything you need to know about the last six years.  Policy after policy advanced by President Obama in some way shares a relation to that headline, and the ideas behind it.

 

 

Read bullet |

New Addition to Gov. Perry’s Legal Team Is Sure to Confound Democrats

Monday, August 25th, 2014 - by Bryan Preston

According to a press release, Texas Gov. Rick Perry has added a very big — and very Democratic — name to his legal team.

AUSTIN – Today, lead attorney Tony Buzbee announced the addition of Mark Fabiani to Governor Rick Perry’s legal team. Mark Fabiani joins Buzbee, Ben Ginsberg, Justice Tom Phillips, Bobby Burchfield and David Botsford.

“I’m proud to join Gov. Perry’s outstanding team which has been assembled to fight back against this attack on the rule of law,” Mark Fabiani said. “As we move forward to protect the Texas Constitution and the First Amendment rights of any governor, I am confident this prosecution will be revealed to be contrary to the law and wholly meritless.”

Mark Fabiani is arguably one of the most partisan Democrats in the country. He was on President Bill Clinton’s legal team, and was also on Vice President Al Gore’s legal team during the Florida recount. He is partners with Democrat operative Chris Lehane in a strategic communications company.

Fabiani’s addition to the Perry legal team sends a strong signal that, while Texas Democrats, the Democratic National Committee and some others are still touting the August 15th indictment of the governor, some national Democrats want to be seen fighting against it.

Gov. Perry has gotten very good at trolling Democrats during his 14 years in office. Fabiani’s addition to the legal team raises Gov. Perry’s troll level to master.

Read bullet |

Chicagoland: Crime Drops Dramatically after Concealed Carry Permits Surge

Monday, August 25th, 2014 - by Bryan Preston

Illinois was the 50th state to grant concealed handgun permits. The state only allowed them because a court ordered it to.
So far, here’s the news: Concealed carry permits have surged, and crime has dropped, according to the Washington Times.

Since Illinois started granting concealed carry permits this year, the number of robberies that have led to arrests in Chicago has declined 20 percent from last year, according to police department statistics. Reports of burglary and motor vehicle theft are down 20 percent and 26 percent, respectively. In the first quarter, the city’s homicide rate was at a 56-year low.

“It isn’t any coincidence crime rates started to go down when concealed carry was permitted. Just the idea that the criminals don’t know who’s armed and who isn’t has a deterrence effect,” said Richard Pearson, executive director of the Illinois State Rifle Association. “The police department hasn’t changed a single tactic — they haven’t announced a shift in policy or of course — and yet you have these incredible numbers.”

As of July 29 the state had 83,183 applications for concealed carry and had issued 68,549 licenses. By the end of the year, Mr. Pearson estimates, 100,000 Illinois citizens will be packing. When Illinois began processing requests in January, gun training and shooting classes — which are required for the application — were filling up before the rifle association was able to schedule them, Mr. Pearson said.

More guns, less crime. There’s even a book about that.

Read bullet |

Congressman at Brown Funeral Advocates ‘Meaningful Changes’ in How Cops Deal with Young Black Men

Monday, August 25th, 2014 - by Bridget Johnson

The congressman who represents Michael Brown’s district said at his funeral service this morning that lawmakers and activists should now focus as a whole on how law enforcement treats young black men.

Congressional attendees at the service, held at Friendly Temple M.B. Church in St. Louis, included Reps. Hank Johnson (D-Ga.), Steve Horsford (D-Nev.), Al Green (D-Texas), Maxine Waters (D-Calif.) and Emanuel Cleaver (D-Mo.).

Rep. Wm. Lacy Clay (D-Mo.) was bumped off the speaking schedule because the service ran over on time, but his office released the remarks he intended to deliver.

He vowed that the members would stand by the Brown family “regardless of how long and difficult the road to justice may be.”

Clay quoted the book of Isaiah: “I will give you hidden treasures / Riches stored in dark places / So that you may know that I am the Lord.”

“We all favor the sunshine over the darkness, make no mistake about that,” Clay said. “But Michael Brown’s family and the good people of Ferguson — indeed, millions of good people across this great nation — have been in the throes of a dreadful darkness.”

“Michael Brown’s untimely and completely unnecessary death has unleashed a deluge of darkness that at times seems to envelop everything. Dr. King told us ‘darkness cannot drive out darkness, only the light can do that. And hate cannot drive out hate, only love can do that.’ Perhaps the lesson from Isaiah means that even in the midst of our tears, there is a blessing to be revealed, even in the depths of our despair, God has promised to give us treasure from these tragic days.”

The congressman said the “treasure” might be “a great light of truth that Michael left for us to follow.”

“And if we truly want to honor his memory, we need to shine that light towards how local law enforcement deals with young black men and make meaningful changes that end sad, painful events like today,” Clay said. “And we need to shine that light towards the uneven scales of justice and inequality in this country.”

Clay stressed that Brown was his constituent, “bright, talented, full of hope, 18 years old, and ready to start college.”

“He was also male and black and, sadly, that made him a target,” he continued. “So I pray that his senseless killing will be elevated out of the darkness and into the light to finally become an urgent national priority.”

Read bullet |

British Embassy Trolls America to Mark War of 1812

Monday, August 25th, 2014 - by Bridget Johnson

Read bullet |

Foley Letter Described 18 Hostages in His Cell, Power of Prayer

Monday, August 25th, 2014 - by Bridget Johnson

The family of journalist James Foley revealed that a former prisoner of ISIS had smuggled out a letter from their son in June.

Because ISIS had been confiscating every letter that Foley tried to write, he asked his fellow hostage to memorize the letter and recite it to his mother, Diane, after being released.

The grisly video of Foley’s beheading was released last week by the Islamic State, with a warning to President Obama to stop airstrikes against the caliphate.

Foley wrote of remembering “so many great family times that take me away from this prison.”

“I know you are thinking of me and praying for me. And I am so thankful. I feel you all especially when I pray. I pray for you to stay strong and to believe. I really feel I can touch you even in this darkness when I pray,” he said.

“Eighteen of us have been held together in one cell, which has helped me. We have had each other to have endless long conversations about movies, trivia, sports. We have played games made up of scraps found in our cell…we have found ways to play checkers, chess, and Risk… and have had tournaments of competition, spending some days preparing strategies for the next day’s game or lecture. The games and teaching each other have helped the time pass. They have been a huge help. We repeat stories and laugh to break the tension.”

Foley admitted having “weak and strong days.”

“We are so grateful when anyone is freed; but of course, yearn for our own freedom. We try to encourage each other and share strength. We are being fed better now and daily. We have tea, occasional coffee. I have regained most of my weight lost last year,” he said.

He then had specific messages for family members, including his grandmother.

“Grammy, please take your medicine, take walks and keep dancing. I plan to take you out to Margarita’s when I get home,” Foley said. “Stay strong because I am going to need your help to reclaim my life.”

A Mass was held for Foley yesterday in Rochester, N.H. After his 2011 captivity in Libya, Foley wrote how his Catholic faith got him through that ordeal.

Read bullet |

A Disturbing Pattern: Eight Times that Democrats Used Court Shenanigans Against Republicans They Couldn’t Beat at the Ballot Box

Monday, August 25th, 2014 - by Bryan Preston

The indictment of Texas Gov. Rick Perry on August 15, 2014 has drawn criticism from pundits, politicians and papers all over the country. Some Democrats have disavowed the indictment, going as far as to claim that launching courtroom attacks against their opponents in the GOP is just not how Democrats operate.

But is that the case? Or have Democrats shown a disturbing pattern of using courtrooms to go after Republicans who pose a threat to them?

The following eight cases suggest that Democrats will wield ethics complaints and courtrooms as weapons against Republicans at strategic moments.

hutchisonSen. Kay Bailey Hutchison, 1993

Travis County District Attorney Ronnie Earle brought several charges against newly elected Sen. Kay Bailey Hutchison (R) in 1993. Hutchison had previously won statewide election as state treasurer, and was a rising star in Texas politics. She won a special election by landslide to replace Sen. Lloyd Bentsen (D), who had been nominated to serve in the Clinton administration.

Even in 1993 there was talk that Hutchison was a future governor. As a woman with considerable poise in front the press, Hutchison represented a clear and present danger to the Democrats who hoped to build on Gov. Ann Richards’ success statewide. Hutchison came along at a time when Texas was shifting from a reliable Democratic state to a swing state, to becoming the Republican bastion it is today. A conservative, attractive woman who could even charm the hostile Texas media, Hutchison posed a grave threat to the Democrats at a pivotal moment.

Earle’s indictment, built through the Travis County Public Integrity Unit, alleged that Hutchison engaged in felony misconduct and ordered state employees to destroy evidence while she was state treasurer. Hutchison was essentially indicted over Christmas cards.

Hutchison’s attorneys won a change of venue out of heavily Democratic Travis County, to Fort Worth. The case fell apart at trial.

Result: Full acquittal. The change of venue pulled the flimsy case out of Travis County to Fort Worth, where Earle had to give it up. Hutchison won re-election in 1994 and would go on to serve as senator until she retired and Sen. Ted Cruz (R) replaced her in 2012.

The Democrats were by no means finished with legal shenanigans to try to keep their grip on Texas. Republicans finally won the state House in 2002 for the first time since Reconstruction. That empowered them to draw up the state’s electoral map for the very first time, and in the 2003 legislative session, they did just that, with the help of Rep. Tom DeLay. Democrats knew that they would lose the vote that would adopt the Republicans’ new map — a map drawn within the constraints of the law, but which no longer guaranteed the Democrats a majority in the state’s US House delegation.

Eleven Democrats responded by running off to Oklahoma to deny the House the quorum it needed to pass the map as long as they could.

Democrats would get around to punishing DeLay directly a few years later. Read on.

Read bullet |

Does Islamic State Now Have an Air Force?

Sunday, August 24th, 2014 - by Rick Moran

A bloody assault by Islamic State forces captured the Syrian government air base in Tabqa, today, acquiring “several warplane squadrons, helicopters, tanks, artillery, and ammunition bunkers.” An aviation “squadron,” according to Wkipedia, is “a unit of aircraft that consists of three or four flights with a total of 12 to 24 aircraft, depending on the type of aircraft and the air force, naval or army air service.”

Again, according to Wikipedia, the Taqba air base possessed 12 squadrons of the aging MIG-21 — both combat fighters and trainers. The base also housed about 20 Mi-8 helicopters, probably a mix of transport and gunship models.

So Islamic State possesses several dozen aging, but effective MIG-21 fighters, several helicopter gunships armed with anti-tank weapons, as well as an unknown number of tanks and a lot of ammunition.

Certainly no match for American jets.  The biggest question is, do they have the pilots to fly the machines?

Christian Science Monitor describes the battle:

The jihadis launched their long-anticipated offensive last week to seize the sprawling Tabqa facility, located some 45 kilometers (25 miles) from the extremists’ stronghold in the city of Raqqa along the Euphrates River.

After several failed efforts to breach the walls in recent days, Islamic State fighters managed to punch through and storm the air base Sunday, the Britain-based Syrian Observatory for Human Rights said. Government warplanes carried out waves of airstrikes to try to beat back the attack, but those ultimately proved unable to stem the assault.

“Some of the Syrian regime troops pulled out, and now the Islamic State is in full control of Tabqa,” said Observatory director Rami Abdurrahman. “This makes Raqqa province the first to fully fall out of government hands.”

Another activist group, the Local Coordination Committees, also said the extremist group was in control of Tabqa.

The SANA state news agency confirmed that the government had lost the air base, saying troops “are successfully reassembling after evacuating the airport.” It said that the military was still “striking terrorist groups, inflicting heavy losses on them.”

The government had made significant investments in both weapons and manpower to try to hold onto Tabqa, making its fall a both a symbolic and a strategic blow.

Islamic State fighters had been closing in on the base for weeks. When the fight finally came, it was bloody.

The Observatory said that at least 100 Islamic State fighters were killed and another 300 wounded in the fighting, numbers that exclude casualties from the final assault. Abdurrahman said dozens of government troops also were killed Sunday alone.

Tabqa is the latest in a string of bases to fall to the Islamic State group as it strengthens its hold over a vast swath of territory in northern and eastern Syria. Last month, the extremists overran the sprawling Division 17 military base in Raqqa, killing at least 85 soldiers. Two weeks later, they seized the nearby Brigade 93 base after days of heavy fighting.

The group’s trademark brutality was on full display after those victories. They killed army commanders and pro-government militiamen, decapitating them before putting their bodies and heads on display. The Observatory reported similar acts following the fall of Tabqa Sunday.

Since the Syrian military is going to try and take the base back, they probably haven’t destroyed many of the armaments left behind. But the capture of the base is really bad news. IS has proved itself to be resourceful. If they don’t have men who can fly the jets, they can hire people who can train them. The same goes for the helicopters.

If Islamic State now possesses an air force, it could tip the balance their way in Syria and Iraq. The nightmare just got a little blacker.

Read bullet |

Report: Brit Intelligence ID’s Foley Beheader

Sunday, August 24th, 2014 - by Rick Moran

The New York Post reports that British intelligence has identified the jihadist who beheaded American journalist James Foley.

British rapper Abdel-Majed Abdel Bary, AKA “L Jinny,” is the prime suspect in the murder of Foley, according to sources in MI15. Bary’s father, Adel Abdul Bary, the terrorist charged with participating in the bombings of embassies in Tanzania and Kenya in August 1998, is awaiting trial in New York after an 8 month extradition battle with the US.

Bary joins a list of three other Brits who were identified as possible leaders of the jihadist group nicknamed by former hostages as “the Beatles.”

That list includes the brother of a British doctor once charged with kidnapping two Western war correspondents and a former gang member who converted to Islam before traveling to Syria to wage jihad.

It is now being estimated that up to 20 British extremists a month are heading to Syria and Iraq to take up arms with the ISIS, according to The Sunday Times.

“It is horrifying to think that the perpetrator of this heinous act could have been brought up in Britain,” British Foreign Secretary Phillip Hammond wrote in the Sunday Times.

In addition, Hammond referred to the actions of “John the Beatle” as “an utter betrayal” of everything the British stand for, The Sunday Times reported.

He added that Foley’s death would serve as a “reminder to us all that Islamic extremism in Iraq and Syria is not only causing huge suffering in those countries but is also a barbaric ideology threatening us at home.”

The “root causes” of Bary’s radicalism aren’t poverty and hopelessness. He grew up in a $3 million home in London, and had the best of everything growing up. His rap career never amounted to much but those who know him say he became radicalized when he began attending one of the many radical mosques in Britain. He is disciple of extremist preacher Anjem Choudary, who has expressed a desire to go to Syria and join Islamic State.

Bary has already been photographed holding one severed head. The Daily Mail ran a profile of the budding jihadist last December:

Abdel-Majed Abdel Bary, 23, is the latest in a growing stream of young men to join militant groups in the war-torn Middle Eastern country.

He walked out of his family’s £1million home several months ago telling them he was ‘leaving everything for the sake of Allah’.

Friends said Bary – an aspiring rapper on the ‘grime’ music scene – grew increasingly radical and violent after mixing with thugs linked to hate preacher Anjem Choudary.

He has posted a series of photographs online, including shots of him masked and posing with guns under the title ‘soldier of Allah’.

In other messages he called on Allah to ‘grant us martyrdom’, and praised Osama Bin Laden. Bary, whose music has featured on Radio 1, is one of six children of Adel Abdul Bary, 53.

Bary probably won’t be able to come back to Britain. But his friends and other British, French, German and other European terrorists will. You can see why these governments are so worried. Potentially, dozens of trained terrorists dedicated to killing as many civilians as possible will be able to blend in with the population. Intelligence will no doubt identify many of them. But there going to be many who slip through and arrive home unnoticed, only to be heard from when they strike.

 

 

 

Read bullet |

Ferguson is Calm, But What if There’s No Indictment?

Sunday, August 24th, 2014 - by Rick Moran

The grand jury considering whether to charge Officer Darren Wilson in the Michael Brown case is coming under pressure from politicians and residents of Ferguson, Missouri to do the “right” thing and indict the policeman for murder.

Otherwise…? The unspoken threat that violence would erupt if no indictment is returned isn’t very subtle.

Associated Press:

Conditions calmed this week in Ferguson after nights of sometimes violent unrest stemming from the fatal shooting of a black 18-year-old by a white police officer. But a delicate and crucial question lingers: What happens if the grand jury now considering the case doesn’t return a charge against the officer?

The fear among some local residents and officials trying to maintain peace in Ferguson is that failure to charge the officer could stoke new anger among a community profoundly mistrustful of the legal system. Many say they just hope the grand jury’s decision, whatever it is, has irrefutable facts to back it up.

U.S. Sen. Claire McCaskill told The Associated Press she’s pushing for federal and local investigations to be completed around the same time so that all evidence in the case can be made public — a step many consider important should prosecutors decide not to charge the officer. Her office said Friday that the Department of Justice hasn’t given a timeline for the federal investigation, which centers on whether a civil rights violation occurred when officer Darren Wilson fatally shot the unarmed Michael Brown on Aug. 9.

McCaskill, a former prosecutor in Missouri, said she’s hopeful the physical evidence in the case — including blood spatter patterns, clothing and shell casings — will provide “incontrovertible facts” about what happened during the shooting. She said whatever local prosecutors decide, it will be important to explain the decision by providing that physical evidence, and that won’t be possible if the federal investigation is ongoing.

McCaskill said she urged Attorney General Eric Holder during a meeting earlier this week to speed up what is typically a lengthier federal process.

“What we want to avoid is a decision being made without all the information being available to the public also,” McCaskill said, adding that not being able to do so could “create more stress and certainly much more fear that we would be back to worrying about people being able to protest safely.”

It is not likely that the facts will be “incontrovertible.” They rarely are. It is reasonable to assume that some of the evidence will be ambiguous. Some of it may even be contradictory. Judging by the wild disparity in eye witness reports we’ve seen already, it is doubtful that a clear picture of guilt or innocence will be forthcoming.

And what’s the point of conducting a “secret” grand jury proceeding if you’re going to make their deliberations public? It’s another layer of intimidation that is being brought to bear on the grand jurors to do what the mob wants and indict Officer Wilson.

Residents of Ferguson made it clear what the grand jury must do:

“This officer has to be indicted. I’d hate to see what happens if he isn’t. The rioting, the looting, man …,” said resident Larry Loveless, 29, as he stopped at the memorial for Brown where he was killed.

The racial make up of the grand jury is another potential flash point. There are only 3 blacks on the 12-person panel, allowing a decision not to prosecute Wilson to play directly into the racialist’s hands.

The streets of Ferguson may be calm, but the pressure being placed on the grand jury to give into the mob will be hard to resist.

Read bullet |

In Iraq, Turkmen Targeted for Slaughter by Islamic State

Sunday, August 24th, 2014 - by Rick Moran

Another ethnic minority is on the verge of being slaughtered by forces of Islamic State. And the UN is asking the international community for help.

The town of Amerli has been besieged for 70 days by IS forces. The 20,000 residents are of the Shiite Turkmen minority and are without power, food, or medicine. The UN’s Special Representative to Iraq, Nickolay Mladenov, is asking the international community to intervene, “to prevent a human rights tragedy.”

Fox News:

BBC reports the victims are part of the Turkmen ethnic group, who comprise roughly 4 percent of Iraq’s population. But as Shia, they are considered apostates by the jihadist group.

“After the attack of Mosul, all the Shia Turkmen villages around Amerli were captured by Islamic State,” resident Ali Albayati said. “They killed the people and displayed their bodies outside the village.”

Albayati said the town has been trying to fend off the militants for 70 days and are now left without electricity and drinking water. And unlike recent U.S. intervention to save members of the Yazidi religious trapped who were trapped on Mount Sinjar in northwestern Iraq, there are currently no plans for a rescue operation.

“The situation of the people in Amerli is desperate and demands immediate action to prevent the possible massacre of its citizens,” UN Iraq envoy Nickolay Mladenov said in a statement.

“I urge the Iraqi government to do all it can to relieve the siege and to ensure that the residents receive lifesaving humanitarian assistance or are evacuated in a dignified manner,” he said.

Most of the town’s residents work as farmers, but male workers have been neglecting crops to fight the militants, BBC reports. As a result, the only food supplies arriving in town come via Iraqi Army helicopters.

“It is a humanitarian disaster,” Albayati said. “Twenty-thousand people in Amerli are fighting off death. There are children who are only eating once every three days. I can’t describe the situation. I just don’t know what to say.”

Prime minister designate Haidar al-Abadi promised aid for the town on Saturday, calling for provision of “all times of military and logistical support for Amerli,” AFP reported.

Iraq’s most powerful Shiite cleric, Grand Ayotollah Ali al-Sistani, also called for efforts to free the village and “save its people from the dangers of terrorists.”

There are no Americans to protect in Amerli, so if the president decides to intervene there, he will have expanded the parameters of our involvement once again. Talk about mission creep — that would be it.

It’s clear that the Iraqi government cannot protect its own people from the bloodlust of IS. And when the UN rep calls on the “international community” to intervene, he’s not talking about France, or Russia. He’s talking about America.

So, do we accept the challenge and expand the war in order to protect Iraqi religious and ethnic minorities? Or do we decline to intervene and watch as thousands are massacred or starve to death in Amerli?

There is something to the argument that we can’t protect everyone — that limiting the mission as the president has done is the smart move. In Iraq on Friday, gunmen burst into a mosque and opened fire with automatic weapons, killing 70 Sunnis. Are we expected to prevent those kinds of massacres as well?

Iraq is de-evolving. It’s the right move not to get trapped by its death throes. But confronting Islamic State and destroying them is a separate issue from saving Iraqi civilians because their own government can’t act. Somebody, somewhere is going to have to put boots on the ground and do the dirty work of grinding IS forces to dust, and destroying the administrative infrastructure they’ve already set up. Killing an entire nation state is going to take time, and will be an extremely bloody affair.

The alternative is to “contain” IS — a dangerous and completely unsatisfactory course of action. But given the reluctance of leaders in both American political parties to intervene by using ground troops, and the even greater reluctance of Europe to offer more than token assistance in any effort to destroy IS, it may be the only course open to us.

Read bullet |

The Feminist Response to Ferguson

Sunday, August 24th, 2014 - by Susan L.M. Goldberg

marxfem

Ms. Magazine has published one professor’s feminist response to the violence (can we call them “race riots” or is that too 60′s?) in Ferguson, MO. Loaded with the language of critical theory, Professor Williams cites numerous historical resources ranging from 1892 – 1977 in order to defend “reproductive justice” and rail against what she (of course) believes to be racially motivated “police brutality”. Her conclusion (again, based on research dating from 1892-1977) is the textbook leftist response that leaves the casual reader with a yawn:

Police brutality cuts across race, class, gender and sexuality. Feminists that believe in reproductive justice must speak out for the rights of mothers and fathers to parent their children without fear that police and self-appointed neighborhood watchmen will deprive them of a future. Feminists must also ensure that women and sexual minorities that are subject to profiling and police violence are not subsumed by male-centered narratives of racial trauma and oppression. And feminism is not just about women’s oppression. As advocates for social justice, feminists should respond to undue acts of police violence against women and men.

Yada, yada, yada. It’s odd how she begins by distinguishing between “white” police officers (who are presumably male) and “black and brown men” (what about burnt sienna, sandalwood, or any of Crayola’s 72 other colors?), but by the end has fallen into the classic feminist language pattern of railing against “male-centered narratives of racial trauma and oppression.” It could easily be argued that Al Sharpton, Jesse Jackson, and the rioters in Ferguson are subjecting us law abiding citizens in all our 72 colors to a “male-centered narrative of racial trauma and oppression.” But, that doesn’t fit the Professor’s well-written screed of contempt against the white colonialist oppressors she’s being paid to hate.

Just as there must always be a boss and a prole, there must always be the oppressor and the victim if social justice is to survive and thrive as the lay movement du jour. Social Justice can’t save you if you don’t need saving, and without its redemptive power, it can’t compete with Biblical faith. Therefore, feminists are forced to defend the men they otherwise despise whenever their situation fits the victim narrative of social justice. This doesn’t mean that social justice feminists have had a change of heart, merely that the men placed before them suit their need.

Media gatekeepers following the social justice narrative have ensured that audiences have gotten their fill of violent images of “black and brown” (and even…white!) men and women rioting in Ferguson. Yet, when asked if the shooting of Michael Brown was “justified”, 64% of the viewing audience responded that they “didn’t know enough to say.”

Like sacrifices made to an ideological god, the lawbreaking population of Ferguson is praised in their 15 minutes of fame leading up to the altar. Law abiding bystanders look on as the flames wash the color from their faces, turning  their once bright and brilliant world into a desperate, so-called “just” canvas of black and white. And the majority of Americans, subjected to the narrative of social justice through media and education, don’t know enough to stand up against this cultural tyranny.

 

Read bullet |

‘Jihadi-Cool’ in Great Britain

Saturday, August 23rd, 2014 - by Rick Moran

British Muslims are blaming a subculture of “jihadi-cool’ for seducing many of their young men into joining the Islamic State camp. The issue arose when James Foley’s executioner surprised the world by speaking in the clipped accent of a Londoner.

Everything trendy starts in London and eventually crosses the ocean, so the chances are pretty good we’re going to see it here. But how can terrorism be “cool”?

Washington Times:

An adviser to the Muslim Council of Britain said Thursday that a “jihadi-cool” subculture is inspiring young British men to join the Islamic State group in its quest to create an Islamic caliphate in the heart of the Middle East.

Iqbal Sacranie told BBC radio that the “jihadi-cool” subculture “is the real challenge,” Retuters reported Thursday. “This is a problem that affects all of us, and it will only be dealt with more effectively if all of us are working together on this.”

The United Kingdom has roughly 2.7 million Muslims, and the Muslim Council of Britain that Mr. Sacranie advises has over 500 affiliated national, regional and local organizations, mosques, charities and schools at its disposal to help handle Muslim affairs in the United Kingdom.

During his interview with BBC radio, the adviser went on to say that the majority of Muslims in the community believed that what the Islamic State group preaches is “totally alien to Islam.” He also asserted that families were reporting to the authorities when they discovered their sons had traveled to the Middle East to fight, Reuters reported.

Ghaffar Hussain, managing director of the counter-extremism Quilliam Foundation, talked to Reuters about the United Kingdom’s predicament, saying that it was only a matter of time before men who fought in Iraq and Syria started planning attacks for Europe.

“It is disturbing that people born and raised in Britain and who have gone to the same schools as us could have been essentially indoctrinated to the extent where they can justify raping women and chopping heads off,” he said, BBC reported. The Quilliam Foundation bills itself as “the world’s first counter-extremism think tank.”

Alienated youth will seek out cliques and groups that make them feel powerful. Islamic State appears unstoppable at the moment and that’s got to be attractive to lost boys.

It is believed that there are several dozen American citizens attached to Islamic State forces. Like Great Britain, authorities here are worried that radicalized Americans will arrive home and wreak havoc with terrorist attacks. While law enforcement has been very good at breaking up potential terrorist attacks — except for those of the “lone wolf” variety — the terrorists only have to be successful once to cause a lot of damage.

That’s why it’s better to kill them over there.

Read bullet |

Obama’s Newest, Bestest, Buddy: Bashar Assad

Saturday, August 23rd, 2014 - by Rick Moran

Not really, of course. But, as the Obama administration contemplates conducting air strikes on Islamic State positions in Syria, you might recall what several leading Democrats have said about the dictator that has hekped kill 191,000 of his own people.

In a recent column, the Wall Street Journal’s Bret Stephens recounted some of the paeans to Assad: In a March 2011 interview, Hillary Clinton implied that Assad was a “reformer.” In 2007, Nancy Pelosi, over strong objections from the State Department, visited Syria, and said, “The road to Damascus is a road to peace.” Senator John Kerry predicted that “Syria will change as it embraces a legitimate relationship with the United States.”

Several other prominent Democrats made fools of themselves when visiting Syria, falling all over themselves to praise Assad. Nancy Pelosi actually thought Assad was a key to peace in the region. He is — but not quite the way that Nancy was thinking. Assad’s idea of peace would require the mapmakers of the world to make a slight change on the world’s charts; remove the State of Israel.

So perhaps we shouldn’t be too surprised that President Obama wants to go after IS in Syria, thus benefiting a man who gassed his own people.

New York Times:

The Obama administration is debating a more robust intervention in Syria, including possible American airstrikes, in a significant escalation of its weeks-long military assault on the Islamic extremist group that has destabilized neighboring Iraq and killed an American journalist, officials said Friday.

While President Obama has long resisted being drawn into Syria’s bloody civil war, officials said recent advances by the Islamic State in Iraq and Syria had made clear that it represents a threat to the interests of the United States and its allies. The beheading of James Foley, the American journalist, has contributed to what officials called a “new context” for a challenge that has long divided the president’s team.

Officials said the options include speeding up and intensifying limited American efforts to train and arm moderate Syrian rebel forces that have been fighting both ISIS as well as the government of President Bashar al-Assad. Another option would be to bolster other partners on the ground to take on ISIS, including the Syrian Kurds.

But American officials said they would also take a look at airstrikes by fighter jets and bombers as well as potentially sending Special Operations forces into Syria, like those who tried to rescue Mr. Foley and other hostages on a mission in July. One possibility officials have discussed for Iraq that could be translated to Syria would be a series of unmanned drone strikes targeting ISIS leaders, much like those conducted in Yemen, Somalia and Pakistan.

Whether Mr. Obama would actually authorize a new strategy remained unclear and aides said he has not yet been presented with recommendations. The president has long expressed skepticism that more assertive action by the United States, including arming Syrian rebels as urged in 2011 by Hillary Rodham Clinton, then the secretary of state, would change the course of the civil war there. But he sent out a top adviser on Friday to publicly hint at the possibility a day after the chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff said ISIS could not be defeated without going after it in Syria.

Wait a minute, Mr. President. Aren’t you forgetting something? No, not your golf clubs. I’m talking about deferring to Congress to authorize the expanded military action.

As a former constitutional law professor, you probably remember that it’s Congress that declares war in this country. I know such details aggravate you, and I know how much Congress irritates you. But really, Mr. President. Couldn’t we just this once do things by the book — or rather our founding document — and not wing it like you always do?

Saying we’re not assisting Assad by bombing IS in Syria is like saying you didn’t cheat on your wife because the woman you had sex with didn’t mean anything to you. It may be true but it’s not the point. I’m sure the Syrian rebels will appreciate our splitting hairs on this one.

Read bullet |

Three Dog Recipes for the White House Chef

Saturday, August 23rd, 2014 - by J. Christian Adams

Over at Rule of Law, I have this review of David Horowitz’s latest book Take No Prisoners: The Battleplan for Defeating the Left (Regnery, 2104). Horowitz describes how Republicans and conservatives must learn to do political battle differently. He notes that too often, they are just too polite, too bland and too oriented toward discussing complicated policies.

Below are three recipes for dog should the White House chef get any special requests for old times sake. What that has to do with Take No Prisoners, you’ll just have to find out.

1. Anjing Panggang

(This just might be the spicy Indonesian treat President Obama used to eat)

One small dog
1 cup vinegar
3 tbsp salt
6 cloves garlic
20 spicy Thai peppers
3 pureed tomatoes
3 cups lemon juice
Burn off the fur over hot charcoal.
Carefully remove the skin while still warm and set aside for later. (It may be used in other recipes.)
Cut dog up into sections, about 12 to 16 large pieces.
In a food processor, mix all the marinade ingredients together. Put dog pieces into this marinade in a large container, then let it sit for at least 2 hours.
Put dog pieces on a charcoal grill, cover and let it burn over warm coals. Flip and baste occasionally for about 1 hour or until meat is tender.

 

2. Wu’uk Rica-Rica

(Also Indonesian. Perhaps Obama enjoyed rica-rica as well as Anjing Panggang)

4 to 6 pieces of dog.
2 tablespoons lime juice
2 medium chopped tomatoes
2 kaffir lime leaves
1 stalk of lemongrass
2 stalks basil
Red chili paste
3 teaspoons of grated ginger

Marinate dog in lime juice and salt for 30 minutes
Heat oil in wok and saute the chili paste and tomatos, lemon grass, sugar, salt, some water and lime leaves.
Add dog and cook until half done.
Grill dog on charcoal grill and serve with sauce.

 

3. Bosintang (“Woof-woof soup”)

Because this dish is Korean and not Indonesian, it is less likely this recipe would conjure culinary memories for the President. But if the White House chef wants to move dog away from the main course and to an appetizer, this might be a hit.

1/2 pound of sliced dog meat
2 cups of gravy
¼ cup of chopped green onion
1/8 chopped leek
¼ pound taro soaked in water

Sauce: teaspoon salt, crushed garlic clove, teaspoon chopped mint, ¼ teaspoon red pepper, water, teaspoon crushed ginger.

Boil dog meat with gravy and taro
Add vegetables and sauce and continue cooking for one hour
Add pepper and serve

Read bullet |

White House Issues New Contraceptive ‘Fix’ for Religious Companies

Saturday, August 23rd, 2014 - by Rick Moran

The thrust of these “workarounds” and “fixes” is that the administration is trying to give devout people an “out” on contraception coverage, ostensibly to assuage their consciences.

Isn’t that insulting? You would think that objections to paying for contraception for employees is a black and white issue — either you do (no matter who pays for it), and violate your beliefs or you don’t and keep faith with God.

But these guys don’t get it. Is it because many on the left are used to compromising with their own moral precepts — that they can rationalize away moral dilemmas by finding their own “out” to satisfy their consciences?

MSNBC:

The Obama administration has issued a new set of rules to provide contraceptive access to women whose employers object to their insurance plans covering birth control, which is required under the Affordable Care Act.

The new policies are intended to fill gaps left by two Supreme Court moves: The landmark Hobby Lobby decision saying contraceptive coverage violated the religious liberty of a for-profit corporation, and a preliminary order in Wheaton College v. Burwell. With today’s regulations, employees of for-profit corporations like Hobby Lobby will be able to access an “accommodation” where the insurer directly provides the cost-free coverage with no financial involvement by the employer. That accommodation was originally limited to religiously-affiliated nonprofits like Little Sisters of the Poor; houses of worship are fully exempt.

For nonprofits like Wheaton College that object to even that accommodation – which involves them signing a form to their insurer – the Obama administration has created a new accommodation to the accommodation. (Yes, it gets complicated.)

“The rules, which are in response to recent court decisions, balance our commitment to helping ensure women have continued access to coverage for preventive services important to their health, with the Administration’s goal of respecting religious beliefs,” Health and Human Services Secretary Sylvia Burwell said.

For the non-profits that object to the form – arguing that signing it triggers the very birth control coverage they oppose – the new rule allows those employers to write to HHS directly, instead of filling out the form. The Supreme Court first suggested the letter-writing option, and so far the litigants have accepted it. But there was some dispute among legal scholars before about whether the letter would result in actual coverage for the women who worked at those companies. The new rule clarifies that it does.

HHS is also seeking comment on exactly how to structure its accommodation for for-profit companies like Hobby Lobby, which is only one of 193 corporations that have sued for an exemption from covering contraception.

The more the administration tries to satisfy those who don’t want to compromise their religious beliefs, the more they appear out of touch with the main issue; religious freedom. While we should “render unto Caesar what is Caesar’s,” when such collisions take place between the state and religion, it would seem logical that the 1st Amendment trumps any effort to force people to violate their beliefs.

It’s a self-evident position for the Godly. And since the exemption touches only a tiny number of all insureds, you would hope the administration would stop fighting and start accommodating.

As long as Hobby Lobby and others continue to win in court, the administration is tilting at windmills trying find a “solution” for the insoluble.

Read bullet |

Iraq’s Sunni Bloc Walks Out of Talks Following Mosque Massacre

Saturday, August 23rd, 2014 - by Rick Moran

The Sunni bloc in Iraq joined talks to form a new government last week following the selection of Shiite Prime Minister-designate Haidar al-Abadi. There was hope that a more inclusive government would emerge, taking away one of Islamic State’s primary recruiting tools; Shiite oppression of Sunnis.

It is not to be. Yesterday, Shiite gunmen burst into a crowded mosque north of Baghdad and slaughtered at least 73 worshipers, and wounded dozens more.

There were reports that authorities prevented help from reaching the stricken mosque. This prompted the Sunni bloc to walk out of talks to form a new government.

Bloomberg:

Basem al-Samarraei, deputy governor of Diyala province, said the mosque attack in the village of Bani Wais that killed at least 73 people was carried out by members of a Shiite militia after a gathering of Shiites was targeted by roadside bombs.

The casualties at the mosque included the local imam, women and children who were killed as they tried to save relatives from the gunfire, eyewitness Mahmoud al-Shimmary said in a telephone interview.

Hours later, Sunni politicians withdrew from the talks with Shiite Prime Minister-designate Haidar al-Abadi, lawmaker Talal al-Zuba’ay said by phone, in a major blow to reconciliation efforts. He said security forces had barred rescue teams attempting to reach the mosque.

“These Shiite militias are massing across the country and killing people based on their identity,” Zuba’ay said. “What is happening will create a volcano that once it explodes, no one will be able to stop.”

The offensive by Islamist State, a former offshoot of al-Qaeda, combined with political instability in Baghdad, has heightened concerns that Iraq may descend into the sectarian warfare that flared after the removal of autocrat Saddam Hussein after the 2003 U.S. invasion.

Today’s strike took place after three roadside bombs targeted a Shiite political gathering 15 kilometers (9 miles) from the Musab bin Omair mosque, killing four bodyguards of local official Sadiq al-Zargoushi, Deputy Governor Samarraei said. Shiite militias then attacked the mosque, with four gunmen opening fire, he said.

The mosque, about 120 kilometers northeast of Baghdad, is in an area under government control but close to territory held by Islamic State, the Associated Press reported.

Whether this was an emotional response to the attack on Sunni politicians or a planned attack carried out to stir the religious pot is unknown. The Iraqi government has responded by ordering an investigation:

The speaker of Iraq’s parliament says an investigation is under way into an attack on a Sunni Muslim mosque that killed scores of people and escalated sectarian violence.

Salim al-Jabouri told reporters Saturday in Baghdad an investigative team has been given two days to find out who is responsible for what he called “the vicious crime and massacre.”

Friday’s attacks on a Sunni mosque northeast of Baghdad appeared to undermine the Shi’ite-led central government’s effort to bridge Iraq’s sectarian divides and forge a united front against Islamic State militants. At least 60 people were killed as they attended weekly prayers.

Witnesses and Sunni religious officials blamed members of a hardline Shi’ite militia for the attack, but some government military commanders said they suspect Islamic State militants were responsible for the carnage.

I doubt that any “official” Iraq investigation will satisfy the Sunnis. Mistrust runs too deep. But Sunnis have a stake in a united Iraq and their self-preservation may eventually overcome their anger at the massacre, bringing them back to the table. They don’t want to live under the heel of IS terror any more than other Iraqis. But time is working against the politicians in Baghdad and the longer they delay in creating a new government, the more the threat from IS grows.

Read bullet |

Bureaucratic Incompetence Rewarded: HealthCare.gov Overseer Gets New Gig

Friday, August 22nd, 2014 - by Stephen Kruiser

The wheels on the failure bus go round and round

The U.S. chief technology officer who oversaw the troubled rollout of Healthcare.gov is stepping down and moving into a new role recruiting top Silicon Valley talent into government, a source familiar with the situation said on Friday.

Todd Park, a successful tech entrepreneur who became a top advisor to President Barack Obama, will move to the West Coast as part of a White House team at the end of the month, the source said on condition of anonymity because the news has not been made public.

In his new role, Park will help channel ideas from the tech community, as well as keep government updated on how technology is evolving, the source added.

They do all of this with straight faces too. He is responsible for one of the more high profile screw-ups in the history of bureaucracy, which is quite an accomplishment. As a reward for being unable to marshal the vast resources of the federal government to execute a task the average college nerd to do for a few hundred bucks, Park will now be the guy looking for people who hopefully have more talent than he does.

What could go wrong?

Read bullet |

Morocco Claims To Have Arrested Two ISIS Jihadists

Friday, August 22nd, 2014 - by Stephen Kruiser

Home grown, apparently.

Morocco said on Friday it had arrested two Islamic State jihadists who had been planning to leave for IS training camps in Syria and Iraq to prepare attacks at home.

The two, whose identities were not disclosed, “planned to receive military training” before taking action in Morocco, “under the Islamic State’s plans to expand its field of operations,” an interior ministry statement said.

While the world mostly twiddles its thumbs or completely buries its head in the sand, ISIS proceeds apace with its expansion plans. Thankfully, some officials are still working to thwart them.

Meanwhile, here is an interesting read on why Team Lightbringer insists on using “ISIL” instead of “ISIS”.

Read bullet |

Gov. Perry Will Challenge Indictment Next Week

Friday, August 22nd, 2014 - by Bryan Preston

Gov. Rick Perry’s attorney, David Botsford, met with special prosecutor Mike McCrum in the chambers of Visiting Judge Bert Richardson today to discuss the August 15 indictment of the governor. Richardson appointed McCrum to investigate Perry’s veto, and McCrum led the grand jury in indicting the governor.

The Texas Tribune reports that Botsford informed the judge that he will file a challenge to the indictment on August 29. Botsford said that the challenge will be based on the First Amendment — Perry’s right to free speech — and his constitutional veto power.

As things stand, Perry has been indicted by a grand jury, which included at least one partisan Democratic Party activist, for telling the people of Texas what he intended to do, and then carrying out the action he described. We live in strange times when transparency and standing by your word, in order to remove a prosecutor who was guilty of drunk driving, have become indictable offenses.

On Thursday, Travis County Judge Julie Kocurek raised the stakes in the case, threatening Perry for — again — speaking, and invited anyone in the county to file another complaint against him which could open up yet another grand jury investigation. Heavily Democrat Travis County has no shortage of people who might file such a complaint just to harass the Republican governor. Texans for Public Justice, the Soros-funded group that filed the original complaint, exists for that very purpose.

The prosecutor says that he doesn’t expect Gov. Perry to go to trial on the August 15 indictment until next year. That would drag the case into the time Perry might be running for the GOP presidential nomination for the 2016 election.

Read bullet |

‘Sports and Leisure Activities are a Good Way for Release,’ White House Says of Obama Golf Optics

Friday, August 22nd, 2014 - by Bridget Johnson

Back in Martha’s Vineyard for another week of vacation, President Obama hit the golf course for more than four hours directly after giving a statement Wednesday on the beheading of American journalist James Foley.

He hit the links again Thursday for more than four hours.

Today, White House deputy press secretary Eric Schultz was asked by reporters just why he kept golfing during times of crisis.

“I am not going to get into the president’s mindset on that. I will say that, generally, I think that, you know, sports and leisure activities are — are a good way for release and clearing of the mind for a lot of us,” Schultz replied.

“The president did give a powerful statement in this auditorium Wednesday afternoon. I think that anyone wondering his views on both the situation with ISIL, that video, or his concern for the Foley family should go back and review that statement. It was delivered from the heart, it was candid, it was honest, and it was open,” the spokesman said.

“And I think anyone trying to assess how seriously he takes the gravity of that situation should go back and watch that or read it or listen to it again.”

But what about the optics of Obama laughing on the golf course after giving a statement about the Foley tragedy, Schultz was asked.

“I understand you’re asking about the optics. But let me just take a minute to explain how we approach this,” he responded. “First and foremost, the president is focused on doing his job. And to us, that’s paramount. And what I think you’ve seen is just because the president is in a different location doesn’t mean he’s not doing his job. And I don’t think anyone in this room who’s been covering this or following the president for the past few weeks could deny that the president’s been deeply engaged on issues both domestic and abroad.”

“It’s important for us to understand, and I think that’s been evident, is that the issues the country is facing, both on the international stage and back here at home, have absolutely captured the president’s attention while we’ve been here.”

Read bullet |

White House Explains Why It Swapped 5 Taliban for Bergdahl But Wouldn’t Consider Foley Ransom

Friday, August 22nd, 2014 - by Bridget Johnson

White House deputy press secretary Eric Schultz was asked at today’s press briefing why the administration was unwilling to negotiate with terrorists in James Foley’s case, yet traded five Taliban for the release of Sgt. Bowe Bergdahl.

“I think, again, what the president made clear at the time of the Guantanamo transfer was that his commitment to the men and women that serve overseas is a bedrock one, that we will leave no man or woman behind. That’s what he was keeping faith with, and that’s something that’s unshakeable for him,” Schultz said.

“As we’ve made previously clear, the administration determined that it was lawful to proceed with a transfer in order to protect the life of a U.S. servicemember held captive and in danger for almost five years, notwithstanding that Congress did not receive the 30 days’ notice. Again, we disagree with GAO’s conclusion and we reject the implication that the administration acted unlawfully.”

A brother and sister of the slain journalist told Katie Couric that the U.S. could have done more to free Foley, including considering a $100 million ransom demand made by ISIS before his death. But Michael Foley also appeared to reference the Bergdahl swap.

“We are sitting on prisoners for example in Guantanamo. It doesn’t have to be financial,” he said. “There’s ways to do it… I just feel strongly that more can be done, moving forward.”

Before Schultz delivered the regular briefing, Deputy National Security Adviser Ben Rhodes delivered probably the strongest administration assessment of Foley’s beheading, calling it a “terrorist attack.”

“When you see somebody killed in such a horrific way, that represents a terrorist attack. That represents a terrorist attack against our country and against an American citizen, and I think all of us have the Foley family in our thoughts and prayers,” Rhodes said.

“The fact of the matter is, we’ve actually seen, you know, ISIL seek to advance too close to our facilities, certainly for our own comfort. And so the president’s decision to take military action a number of weeks ago was out of direct concern that if they were able to get into Erbil, that they could pose a threat to our personnel and our consulate there. So, we have seen them posing a threat to our interests in the region, to our personnel and facilities in the region, and clearly, the brutal execution of Jim Foley represented an affront, an attack, not just on him, but he’s an American and we see that as an attack on our country when one of our own is killed like that.”

Read bullet |

White House: Russia Facing ‘Additional Consequences’ for Latest Invasion Not Called Invasion

Friday, August 22nd, 2014 - by Bridget Johnson

The White House vaguely warned today that Russia would face “additional consequences” for its latest incursion into Ukraine.

The Russian Foreign Ministry, however, issued its own lengthy statement earlier today calling ”endless delays hampering the initial deliveries of the Russian humanitarian relief aid to southeastern Ukraine” simply “intolerable.”

“It is no longer possible to tolerate this lawlessness, outright lies and inability to reach agreements. All pretexts for delaying the delivery of aid to people in the humanitarian disaster zone have been depleted. The Russian side has decided to act. Our humanitarian relief convoy is setting out towards Lugansk,” the Russian MFA said.

“We are warning against any attempts to thwart this purely humanitarian mission which took a long time to prepare in conditions of complete transparency and cooperation with the Ukrainian side and the [International Committee of the Red Cross]. Those who are ready to continue sacrificing human lives to their own ambitions and geopolitical designs and who are rudely trampling on the norms and principles of international humanitarian law will assume complete responsibility for the possible consequences of provocations against the humanitarian relief convoy.”

In a statement this afternoon, National Security Council spokeswoman Caitlin Hayden confirmed that “in violation of its previous commitments and international law, Russian military vehicles painted to look like civilian trucks forced their way into Ukraine.”

“While a small number of these vehicles were inspected by Ukrainian customs officials, most of the vehicles have not been inspected by anyone but Russia. We condemn this action by Russia, for which it will bear additional consequences,” she said.

Furthermore, Hayden confirmed that the Red Cross was not escorting the convoy “and has no role in managing the mission, a condition that all parties had agreed would be required.”

“Under the agreed terms, the mission should have been accomplished by sending a small number of inspected trucks in to drop their supplies and return to Russia within 24 hours by the same approved route by which they entered,” she said. “That is not what is taking place. As we and governments around the world have said all along, Russia has no right to send vehicles, persons, or cargo of any kind into Ukraine, whether under the guise of humanitarian convoys or any other pretext, without the express permission of the government of Ukraine.”

At the White House press briefing, Deputy National Security Adviser Ben Rhodes said they “think this is part of a pattern that we’ve seen in recent weeks and that we’ve highlighted of Russian support to armed separatists in eastern Ukraine that, again, violates Ukraine’s sovereignty and destabilizes the situation.”

“So we are, again, deeply concerned about this. We’re in touch with the Ukrainian government,” he said. “We will be in touch today with our partners at the U.N. Security Council to discuss next steps.”

Hayden said “the primary barrier to the delivery of the humanitarian aid has been the lack of security guarantees from the Russia-backed separatists.”

“Russian military vehicles piloted by Russian drivers have unilaterally entered the territory controlled by the separatist forces Russia has been training, supplying, and reinforcing for months. The Ukrainian humanitarian assistance convoy was prevented from delivering much needed assistance to Luhansk city,” she said.

“At the same time as Russian vehicles violate Ukraine’s sovereignty, Russia maintains a sizable military force on the Ukrainian border capable of invading Ukraine on very short notice. It has repeatedly fired into Ukrainian territory, and has sent an ever-increasing stream of military equipment and fighters into Ukraine. As a result, the international community has been profoundly concerned that Russia’s actions today are nothing but a pretext for further Russian escalation of the conflict. We recall that Russia denied its military was occupying Crimea until it later admitted its military role and attempted to annex this part of Ukraine.”

Hayden added that if Russia “really wants to ease the humanitarian situation in eastern Ukraine, it could do so today by halting its supply of weapons, equipment, and fighters to its proxies.”

“It is important to remember that Russia is purporting to alleviate a humanitarian situation which Russia itself created – a situation that has caused the deaths of thousands, including 300 innocent passengers of flight MH17,” she said. “…Russia must remove its vehicles and its personnel from the territory of Ukraine immediately.”

Read bullet |

Obama’s ‘Whole Life is a Fantasy Camp!’

Friday, August 22nd, 2014 - by Bryan Preston

This is a good read on Obama’s habit of squeezing presidentin’ in between parties, fundraisers and rounds of golf, by Matthew Continetti at the Beacon.

Attacking the president for vacation is usually the job of the out party. But these days it is the job of all parties. Ukraine, Syria, Iraq, ISIL, Ebola, child migrants on the border, racial strife in Ferguson, an American murdered by the caliphate—critics say the president who danced to every song at Ann Jordan’s birthday party seems remote and aloof from, and even mildly annoyed by, such concerns.

I disagree. Not with the judgment that Obama is detached, dialing it in, contemptuous of events that interfere with his plans. I disagree with the idea that this August has been different, in any meaningful way, from the rest of Obama’s second term. For this president, the distinction between “time off” and “time on” is meaningless. For this president, every day is a vacation. And has been for some time. He is like Cosmo Kramer of Seinfeld. “His whole life is a fantasy camp,” George Costanza says of his friend. “People should plunk down $2,000 to live like him for a week.” Imagine what they would pay to live like Obama.

Uncomfortable with all of the golf on Martha’s Vineyard? It is but a fraction of Obama’s habit. Since 2009, the president has played more than 185 rounds, typically with Wall Street cronies such as Robert Wolf and sports celebrities such as Alonzo Mourning, Tony Kornheiser, and Michael Wilbon. So devoted to golf is Obama that he wears Game Golf, which tracks how well a golfer shoots. Game Golf is not something you wear as a lark. You use it to study and hone your game. The hours on the course are just the start; there are also the hours spent analyzing results at home. Obama is not golfing like an amateur. He’s golfing like a man who wants to join the PGA tour.

That’s a lot of golf. More golf in six years than even some avid golfers will play in a couple of decades. And chances are, they’re nowhere near as busy as the President of the United States.

Obama came into the presidency promising that he would give all of himself to the job, and his outside interests would go away.

Now, his outside interests rule and being president seems to have gone away. He’s quick with a quip about whatever is happening in the sports world, and he can appreciate fine, expensive foods with the richest. But don’t ask him about foreign policy or any of his administration’s scandals. He only learns about those from the news — when they bother to report on them.

 

Read bullet |

Pentagon Details Russian Incursion into Ukraine, IS Threat, and a Disturbing Incident with a Chinese Fighter

Friday, August 22nd, 2014 - by Bryan Preston

Earlier Today, Pentagon press secretary Rear Admiral John Kirby delivered a press briefing on Russia, Ukraine and the ongoing Islamic State threat in Syria and Iraq.

Adm. Kirby criticized Russia for sending a column into Ukraine’s territory under the guise of humanitarian aid. He said that the Russians have massed more than 10,000 troops on the Ukraine border, and that they are combined-arms capable, very ready and very capable. Russia, Kirby said are continuing to add troops to the forces massed border region. Kirby also accused Russia of directly assisting the separatists in Ukraine with armor and anti-aircraft missiles. It was a Russian anti-aircraft missile fired by separatists that shot down Malaysian Airlines Flight 17 over Ukraine.

Kirby also detailed an incident involving a US P-8 anti-submarine aircraft and a Chinese fighter jet over international waters near Asia on August 19. The P-8 was on a “routine mission” according to Adm. Kirby. Kirby said that the Chinese fighter brought its wingtips to within 30 feet of the American aircraft, and it rolled in front of the P-8′s nose to show its weapons load to the US pilot. The Chinese aircraft made three close passes, and Kirby described its actions as “very dangerous” and “unprofessional.” Kirby said that the US government has made its concerns about the incident known to the Chinese government.

The Chinese incident follows several in which Russian bombers have penetrated US airspace.

Kirby revealed that US air forces have conducted 93 airstrikes against the Islamic State in Iraq, but at the same time insisted that there is no military solution to the threat that IS poses. “Good governance,” Kirby said, is what will ultimately defeat the Islamist terrorist group.

The Islamic State has thousands of fighters, and uses American weapons and vehicles that were left behind when Iraqi army units abandoned them. IS’s spread has only been slowed by military action so far — Kurdish peshmerga forces fighting it on the ground, and US airstrikes damaging it from above.

Under media questioning, Adm. Kirby admitted that the State Department has requested 300 more security forces for its facilities in Baghdad. The Pentagon, Kirby said, is evaluating that request but has made no decisions. He said that he knows of “no specific threat stream” that cause the State Department to make the request. The US currently has about 1,000 troops in Iraq, acting as security forces and advisers with no combat role.

Kirby also addressed the use of military vehicles by local police, an issue that has grown more prominent during the unrest in Ferguson, MO. Kirby said that most of the equipment that the Pentagon transfers to local police is not tactical, but office equipment and communications. He did acknowledge that the Pentagon provided two Humvees to the Ferguson Police Department, but they were “soft skinned,” not armored. He said that most of the gear in Ferguson that appears to be military gear from the Pentagon is not military gear and did not come from the US military.

You can watch the entire briefing here.

Read bullet |

VIDEO—Sen. Harry Reid Launches Racist Jokes Before Asian Audience

Friday, August 22nd, 2014 - by Bryan Preston

Daily Caller has a story on this remarkable video of Sen. Harry Reid speaking before the Las Vegas Asian Chamber of Commerce. In it, Sen. Reid engages in ethnic humor. First he jokes about Asians being smarter than everyone else — a racial stereotype, albeit a positive one. Later, he jokes that he “can’t keep his Wongs straight.” That joke has a bit more bite. Would Reid joke to a white audience that he can’t keep his Smiths straight? Is he suggesting that all Asians look alike?

I’m asking as the husband of a Japanese woman…

Sen. Reid has a history of making racial remarks, as when he noted that Barack Obama was a viable black presidential candidate because he is “clean and articulate.” He had to apologize directly to Obama for that one.

The Senator’s efforts did not help his chosen candidate for Nevada lieutenant governor. He sought the Asian Chamber’s endorsement for Democrat Lucy Flores. But the Chamber backed Republican Mark Hutchison instead.

More: This shouldn’t go without a mention. Democrats in Kentucky have been attacking Sen. Mitch McConnell’s wife, Elaine Chao — because she is Asian.

And, during his first run for governor, Louisiana Democrats launched a series of racist attacks on Bobby Jindal by referring to his given name, Piyush.

More: Reid has a long history of making racist and, frankly, idiotic remarks. That very history prompts the Washington Post’s Aaron Blake to grant him “gaffe immunity.”

A Republican with a similar history — there aren’t any, by the way — would be driven from office.

Read bullet |

Travis County Judge Shows Why Gov. Perry Cannot Get a Fair Trial There

Friday, August 22nd, 2014 - by Bryan Preston

Travis County Judge Julie Kocurek is trying to shut Gov. Perry up. Or throw even more legal problems his way.

A Travis County grand jury indicted Perry last week, on two counts that criminalize free speech and the governor’s constitutional veto power.

The governor spoke out about the charges against him, as is his right, on Saturday.

Perry said, “I am confident that we will ultimately prevail, that this farce of a prosecution will be revealed for what it is, and those responsible will be held accountable.”

That last part has Judge Kocurek fuming.

A state district judge from Austin said Thursday that she intends to protect members of the grand jury that indicted Gov. Rick Perry from any threats — veiled or direct — from the governor or anyone else.

Judge Julie Kocurek, the judge of the 390th District Court, said Perry’s comments Saturday, a day after the indictment, could be construed as a threat and a possible violation of the law. Kocurek, as the administrative presiding judge of all criminal courts in the county, said that “no one is above the law,” and the public needs to know that grand jurors are legally protected from any threat. “I have a duty to make sure that our members of the grand jury are protected,” Kocurek said. “I am defending the integrity of our grand jury system.”

Perry was clearly referring to the Travis County DA’s office and the Public Integrity Unit, through which he was indicted, in his Saturday comments, not the grand jury. The Travis County Public Integrity Unit has engaged in political prosecutions for decades. Under DA Ronnie Earle, it even went after Democrats now and then if they had crossed Earle. The Perry indictment follows the Delay and Hutchison cases and is seen by most as revenge by Travis County DA Rosemary Lehmberg, who was caught drunk driving in April 2013. Perry’s veto threat was aimed at restoring the PIU’s credibility by getting Lehmberg to step down. She refused. Democrats backed her, because if she resigned, Perry would get to appoint her replacement.

Perry’s whole involvment has been an attempt hold Lehmberg and the Travis County DA’s office accountable. Not the grand jury. No one has threatened anyone on the grand jury, though revelations after the indictment have suggested that politics played a role in their decisions.

Judge Kocurek is a former Republican, appointed to the bench in 1999 by Gov. George W. Bush. She later switched parties. Her misunderstanding of Perry’s obvious statement looks forced and convenient. It may be a set-up to use the law to muzzle the governor as he faces the charges.

The Texas Penal Code that outlaws obstruction and retaliation says that anyone who “intentionally or knowingly harms or threatens to harm” a grand juror can face a second-degree felony, which is punishable by up to 20 years in prison.

If a citizen files a complaint against Perry for violating the statute, the governor could face another grand jury investigation.

Watch Soros-funded Texans for Public Justice rush in to file a complaint.

As I keep saying, Travis County’s judiciary, its district attorney’s office and its jury pool are so tainted that he cannot receive a fair trail there.

 

Read bullet |

New York State Fines Farms for Declining to Host Gay Weddings

Friday, August 22nd, 2014 - by Bryan Preston

Your own private property is no longer safe.

ALBANY—Two farmers in rural Rensselaer County must pay $13,000 in fines and restitution after they rebuffed a lesbian couple who inquired about getting married at their farm, a state agency ruled.

Jennifer McCarthy and her now-wife Melisa (nee Erwin) found Liberty Ridge Farm, which overlooks the Hudson River in Schaghticoke, several miles north of Troy, on the internet and hoped to rent it for their wedding ceremony and reception. Cynthia Gifford, who along with her husband offer a corn maze, market and events at the 100-acre farm, told Melisa McCarthy her same-sex marriage would cause “a little bit of a problem” because the Giffords have a “specific religious belief regarding marriage,” according to court papers.

McCarthy and her wife brought a complaint in conjunction with the New York Civil Liberties Union, saying Liberty Ridge Farm was a public accommodation and the Giffords’ actions were unlawfully discriminatory under state law.

While the McCarthys never entered into a rental contract for the facility, an administrative law judge ruled Gifford “implicitly rescinded the invitation” when she learned Melisa McCarthy’s spouse-to-be was also a woman.

No contract is no protection. The mere inquiry is enough to cost thousands.

“The policy to not allow same-sex marriage ceremonies on Liberty Ridge Farm is a denial of access to a place of public accommodation,” Judge Migdalia Pares wrote. She said the Giffords should pay $3,000 to the women—$1,500 each—for “mental anguish each suffered as a result of respondents’ unlawfully discriminatory conduct.” Citing “the goal of deterrence” as well as the Giffords’ clear stance against same-sex weddings, Pares fined the Giffords an additional $10,000.

So, the judge is proactively punishing thoughtcrime.

My prediction that the current trajectory of this issue will end up with churches declining to support any weddings in their facilities is looking better and better.

The goal here, for some but by no means all same-sex marriage supporters, is to destroy the church or drive it underground. We’re a long way from that, but not as far as most seem to think. They’re making progress.

 

Read bullet |

Legal Analysis: Perry Indictment Will Get Thrown Out by a Judge, or Rejected by a Jury

Thursday, August 21st, 2014 - by Bryan Preston

Rick Reed is a Democratic attorney in Austin, TX. A criminal defense attorney, he has analyzed the indictment of Gov. Rick Perry.

Reed knocks out one misconception about the indictment right off the bat. According to Reed, it does not allege two felonies. Rather, it alleges that Gov. Perry committed one felony and one misdemeanor.

I won’t quote the analysis, as it suffers if any part is taken out of context. It’s brief at just four pages, and it’s a good read for a legal analysis. You can read the entire analysis here.

The final paragraph deserves a quote, though:

“Whether this indictment will die a quick death from a judicial ruling granting a motion to quash or one prolonged by a jury trial ending in acquittal, only time will tell. One thing, however, is certain: it cannot survive both judicial and juror scrutiny.”

My only quibble with that is, if the indictment gets past a judge, a jury made of Travis County’s finest is literally capable of anything. Sen. Kay Bailey Hutchison escaped the Travis County DA’s flimsy charges against her in 1993 by getting her trial moved to Fort Worth. The jury took about 30 minutes to acquit her. Rep. Tom Delay’s trial stayed in Austin, and he lost — even though the law and the facts were clearly on his side. A judge later agreed and threw the convictions out on appeal. By then, Delay’s career was destroyed and the Democrats had flogged him hard enough that they took over control of the US House of Representatives.

Some disclosure on this analysis is probably in order. After Travis County DA Rosemary Lehmberg’s arrest for drunk driving, Rick Reed filed charges against her for abusing her power. The charges alleged, correctly, that Lehmberg threatened the processing officers when she tried to get Sheriff Greg Hamilton involved. The evidence of abuse of power was crystal clear. Yet a grand jury refused to indict Lehmberg, despite the clear and unambiguous evidence of her abuse of power, which was captured on video tape.

So Reed is not new to any of this. The grand jury’s failure to indict Lehmberg, and another grand jury’s evident eagerness to indict Perry, provide ample evidence that Rick Perry cannot get a fair trial in that county. The jury pool is beyond tainted against him. It is poisoned against him.

More: While we’re on the subject of the indictment and the Public Integrity Unit, the question has come up several times — How did a county DA get such widespread jurisdiction over elected political figures all over the state?

The answer: Former DA Ronnie Earle asserted jurisdiction on his own. Earle is no longer there, having retired in 2008. Lehmberg is his successor. After indicting Perry, the PIU’s days in Travis County may be numbered. There will be a strong push in the next session of the legislature to disband it or move it to the state attorney general’s office. The incoming lieutenant governor, state Sen. Dan Patrick, sponsored a bill to do just that in the last session, but it failed due to some political games in the state House.

Read bullet |