Today is the 200th anniversary of the writing of the “Star Spangled Banner,” an event commemorated in Baltimore this weekend — the site of Fort McHenry whose defense against a pitiless British bombardment inspired Francis Scott Key to write the stirring words that eventually became our National Anthem.
Every school child in America knows the story — or, at least, they used to. Today, I’m not so sure. With such short shrift given to the uplifting parts of our national narrative, Key’s remarkable, emotional story may have become something less than a footnote in history books.
Key was on a mission approved by President Madison to negotiate an exchange of prisoners with British Admiral Alexander Cochrane, including a good friend of Keys who had been captured a few days earlier. The attack began on the morning of September 13, with the British launching huge mortar shells and Congreve rockets against the fort. The rockets were more of a psychological weapon at that time as they were very loud but not very destructive. Not so the mortars that arched over the walls of the fort causing few casualties but wreaking havoc on the fort’s infrastructure.
The British plan was to silence the fort’s big guns that would have made any attempt to sail past McHenry into the harbor a suicide mission. Once in the harbor, the ships would then support a ground force whose job was to take the city of Baltimore.
It was a good plan, but dependent on the ability of Cochrane’s ships to either so demoralize the Americans that they surrendered, or cause so much damage that the the fort could not effectively resist. Cochrane believed Key would be useful to negotiate the fort’s surrender so he allowed him to reboard the sloop that brought him to the admiral’s flagship and join the fleet that was bombarding McHenry.
Key had a birdseye view of the bombardment. By all accounts an emotional man, Key watched and fretted while the fort took a pounding for more than 24 hours, as nearly 2000 shells and 1000 rockets pummeled the works. Toward morning, the fort’s defenders replaced the storm flag that had flown throughout the battle with the huge 46′ by 32′ flag that now resides in the Smithsonian.
But Key couldn’t see in the dim light and because smoke obscured his view. Finally, as dawn broke, Key caught sight of the huge flag and was so filled with gratitude and patriotism, that he wrote the poem “Defence of Fort M’Henry” which was later put to music — “Anacreon in Heaven” – and the rest is history. The “Star Spangled Banner” become the official anthem of the US in 1931.
There have been numerous complaints through the years about the anthem; it’s too “martial”; it’s hard to sing; the song is inappropriate because it was originally a drinking song (not true, but it’s a good story); the lyrics are overwrought.
Steve Vogel, author of “Through the Perilous Fight: From the Burning of Washington to the Star-Spangled Banner: The Six Weeks That Saved the Nation”, debunks several myths about the anthem in a recent column for the Washington Post:
Rather than martial chest-thumping, Key’s first verse is a long question, wondering not just whether the flag still flew over the fort but whether the young nation would survive. In the dark hours before dawn, the guns fell quiet. For Key, the silence was dreadful, a sign that the fort may have fallen. The second verse captures Key’s relief at spotting the American flag “in full glory reflected” at first light.
The rarely sung third verse is angry and vengeful, rejoicing that the enemy’s “blood has washed out their foul footstep’s pollution.” Perhaps the lyrics reflect Key’s emotion after watching the British attempt to incinerate Baltimore. Key takes a more pious tone in the fourth and final verse, celebrating the return of peace and the end of “war’s desolation.”
The man who wrote this most patriotic of American songs in fact deeply opposed the war. Key had been dismayed by the U.S. declaration of war in 1812, considering it foolhardy for the young nation to take on one of the most powerful militaries on Earth.
Politico’s Ted Widmer wonders if it isn’t time to replace the “Star Spangled Banner” with a song that’s easier to sing, and with a less problematic history. Apparently, Key owned slaves and was a vigorous defender of the abomination. Should this disqualify him and his creation?
Two hundred years after that long night in Baltimore, is it time to rethink the Star-Spangled Banner? It has its merits—to drown out bad news with bluster, brass and percussion worked in 1814, and the song continues to radiate personality, even as most of us try and fail to sing along with its awkward leaps over one-and-half octaves. It feels right that the city that gave us Hairspray also surrendered this essential bit of national theater. The music has entered so deeply into our consciousness that even its parodies can seem beautiful—much as the Jimi Hendrix version, inflammatory at the time, has acquired a great dignity of its own.
But the story of Key’s nearness to slavery cannot easily be forgotten, especially in an era that demands more accountability, and offers to tools to find it. Critics over the years—I am hardly the first—have been brutal about the Star-Spangled Banner’s many shortcomings. The New York Herald Tribune dismissed it as “words that nobody can remember [set] to a tune that nobody can sing.” In 1918, a woman named Kitty Cheatham denounced the words as “German propaganda” (because they undermined the Anglo-American alliance), and saw the music as a product of “darkness,” “degeneracy,” and “the carnal mind.” Christian Science leader Augusta Stetson called it a “barroom ballad composed by a foreigner.” A 1965 writer thought it “as singable as Die Walkure, as American as ‘God Save the Queen’”; the columnist Michael Kinsley has ripped its “empty bravado” and “mindless nonsense about rockets and bombs.”
Perhaps—like Old Glory herself—the unsingable song is here to stay. But if not, we have a worthy contender waiting in the wings: “America the Beautiful,” a stirring piece of music, easily sung and irrefutably composed by U.S. citizens.
Like all of us, Key was a product of his times. The fact that he supported slavery is only one aspect of his character, and to condemn him unmercifully for a sin shared by tens of millions of Americans north and south seems harsh and arbitrary. Using that logic, no American born before 1865 deserves recognition for anything. It cost the US 600,000 lives to wrench the institution of slavery from our midst — a horrible price to pay and illustrative of just how difficult it was to escape the institution’s historical trap.
Certainly Key should be criticized for his views on slavery, especially when you consider the growing abolitionist movement in America during his lifetime. He could have changed but he didn’t. That’s a black mark on his character that history will not wash away.
But why besmirch his heartfelt patriotism and sheer relief that Baltimore was saved and possibly, the war with it? The emotional lyrics to the “Star Spangled Banner” are a celebration of American values and a demonstration of the American character. It is as much a part of American history as any icon we possess.
Surely we can find room for Francis Scott Key in the pantheon of American heroes despite his flaws, and celebrate his creation no matter how hard it is to sing. For the sake of our children, we have to.
Not 24 hours after the brutal video showing the beheading of humanitarian aid worker David Haines was released, the British government said it would seek justice while stressing that ISIS doesn’t represent Islam.
The killer shown in all three ISIS beheading videos — Haines, James Foley, Steve Sotloff — speaks with a London accent.
“David Haines was a British hero. The fact that an aid worker was taken, held and brutally murdered at the hands of ISIL sums up what this organisation stands for,” British Prime Minister David Cameron said in a statement today. Haines, a former Royal Air Force engineer, was kidnapped 18 months ago, and the prime minister said ”the whole country, like his grieving family, can be incredibly proud of what he did and what he stood for in his humanitarian mission.”
“They are killing and slaughtering thousands of people, Muslims, Christians, minorities across Iraq and Syria,” Cameron said of ISIS. “They boast of their brutality. They claim to do this in the name of Islam. That is nonsense. Islam is a religion of peace.”
“They are not Muslims. They are monsters. They make no secret of their desire to do as much harm not just in the Middle East, but to any countries or peoples who seek to stand in their way or dare to stand for values they disagree with.”
Cameron said “the British people need to know that this is a fanatical organisation called ISIL, that has not only murdered a British hostage: They have planned – and continue to plan – attacks across Europe and in our country.”
He said they will confront the terrorist state “in a calm, deliberate way – but with an iron determination” with allies.
“The United States is taking direct military action. We support their efforts,” Cameron continued. “British Tornadoes and surveillance aircraft have been helping with intelligence gathering and logistics. This is not about British combat troops on the ground. It is about working with others to extinguish this terrorist threat. As this strategy intensifies, we are ready to take whatever steps are necessary to deal with this threat and keep our country safe.”
“…It falls to the Government, and to each and every one of us, to drain this poison from our society and to take on this warped ideology that is radicalising some of our young people.”
Deputy Prime Minister Nick Clegg issued a shorter statement calling Haines’ beheading “a crime of the most horrendous kind.”
“This murderous organisation calls itself Islamic State,” Clegg said. “But it is not a state, it is a brutal terrorist outfit whose actions are an affront to every peace loving Muslim around the world. No religion could possibly justify such grotesque acts.”
The Islamic Society of Britain sent a letter to Cameron vowing that they “shall take every opportunity to continue to say clearly and loudly ‘not in our name and not for our faith’.”
“We do not believe the terror group responsible should be given the credence and standing they seek by styling themselves ‘Islamic State’. It is neither Islamic, nor is it a State. The group has no standing with faithful Muslims, nor among the international community of nations. It clearly will never accept the obligations that any legitimate state has, including the responsibility to protect citizens and uphold human rights,” the Islamic Society wrote.
“So we believe the media, civic society and governments should refuse to legitimise these ludicrous Caliphate fantasies by accepting or propagating this name.”
They proposed that “Un-Islamic State” could be an “accurate and fair alternative name to describe this group and its agenda – and we will begin to call it that.”
“We are sure that most British Muslims would agree that ‘Un-Islamic State’ is a considerably more fitting label for this poisonous group – and hope that our fellow citizens will join us in that,” wrote the organization. “We know that this would be one small, symbolic step and that we must all work together to build the inclusion and integration in British society that would repel these poisonous ideas. But we believe that it would help and look forward to your response.”
President Barack Obama’s approval numbers appear to be in freefall across the board as his most vigorous supporters in the past are now abandoning him
President Obama, plagued by growing disapproval ratings, is now losing support from his liberal base as the country appears to have given up on his administration and Washington, according new polling data.
Once their hero, now only three-quarters of African Americans and Democrats support the president.
One reason, according to Zogby Analytics: Jimmy Carter-style malaise is settling in.
“There is clearly a growing amount of angst and malaise and it appears to be nonpartisan,” said pollster John Zogby, who provides the weekly Secrets report card on the president.
In a new poll, he said that if the 2012 election were held today, Obama would tie Republican Mitt Romney at 40 percent. Zogby noted that both men have lost support among allies.
For Obama it’s obviously worse because he has the Oval Office and needs public support to push through a new anti-terrorism policy, a developing plan to grant amnesty to illegals and continued efforts to bolster the sour economy and employment.
Zogby reported that Obama “is losing, at this point in time, significant chunks of his base. He won 61 percent of the vote of 18-29 year olds in 2012 but now has only 47 percent of their support. He is down nine points among Democrats (from 82 percent to 73 percent), 12 points among moderates (54 percent to 42 percent), 11 points among Hispanics (71 percent to 60 percent), and 13 points among African Americans (91 percent to 78 percent),” said Zogby on his company’s blog.
This news doesn’t necessarily work in the GOP’s favor. Republican candidates are not going to pick up 25% of the black vote, or 50% of the youth vote. The GOP may see marginal improvements in gaining votes from Obama’s base across the board, but it’s probably not going to be a difference maker.
Turnout among most of those groups is historically low in off-year elections anyway. What is worrying Republicans, though, is the same turnout machine that brought the president victory in 2012 will increase the historical share of the vote among youth, minorities, and fervid Obama supporters.The same social networking infrastructure is in place from 2012 and even a small increase in votes among the Democrats’ base supporters might save one or two vulnerable Democratic senators.
But if Zogby is right and many in the president’s base have given up on him, all the social network goosing in the world won’t matter in the end.
After the third ISIS beheading video was released Saturday, Secretary of State John Kerry announced that a former commander of coalition forces in Afghanistan would be coming on board to help lead the administration’s coalition-building effort against the Islamic State.
“The United States has asked one of our most respected and experienced military experts, General John Allen, to join the State Department to serve as Special Presidential Envoy for the Global Coalition to Counter ISIL,” Kerry said in a statement tonight. “In this role, General Allen will help build and sustain the coalition so it can operate across multiple lines of effort in order to degrade and ultimately destroy ISIL.”
Last year, Allen became the fourth Afghanistan commander to leave under President Obama. He was scheduled for a February 2013 transition to be Commander of United States European Command and Supreme Allied Commander, Europe, but retired instead.
“General Allen is a patriot and a remarkable leader. His extraordinary career in the military speaks for itself,” Kerry continued. “Whether as the top commander of NATO’s ISAF forces in Afghanistan during a critical period from 2011-2013, or as a deputy commander in Anbar during the Sunni awakening, or as a thinker, scholar, and teacher at the U.S. Naval Academy. And he has done significant public service out of uniform since he returned to civilian life. His commitment to country and to service has really been enduring.”
“Most recently we worked together very closely in designing new approaches to meet the long-term security needs of the state of Israel, and I could not be more pleased than to have General Allen coming on board now fulltime at the State Department.”
Deputy Assistant Secretary of State Brett McGurk, who said earlier this month that an ISIS strategy included the belief that Sunni tribal leaders will get “sick and tired” of the terror group and kick them out of territory, will serve as Allen’s deputy senior envoy with the rank of ambassador.
“Not only has Brett been back and forth to Baghdad and Erbil almost every month this past year, but he has also spent a number of years over the past decade posted in Iraq as a top advisor to three different ambassadors,” Kerry said. “Brett is one of our foremost experts on Iraq, and he will be integral to this effort’s success. Both General Allen and Ambassador McGurk will begin work immediately.”
President Obama said in a statement this evening that the United States “strongly condemns the barbaric murder of UK citizen David Haines by the terrorist group ISIL.”
“Our hearts go out to the family of Mr. Haines and to the people of the United Kingdom. The United States stands shoulder to shoulder tonight with our close friend and ally in grief and resolve,” Obama said.
“We will work with the United Kingdom and a broad coalition of nations from the region and around the world to bring the perpetrators of this outrageous act to justice, and to degrade and destroy this threat to the people of our countries, the region and the world.”
Haines, 44, worked for the aid group ACTED and had previously helped the needy in South Sudan and Libya. He was seized in March 2013 shortly after crossing into Syria. He served in the Royal Air Force for more than a decade, service cited by his executioner in the video, “A Message to America’s Allies,” released today.
The Scotsman leaves behind his wife, Dragana, who has been living under police protection in Croatia, and 4-year-old daughter, along with a 17-year-old daughter in Perth from his first marriage.
The executioner is the same Brit as in the videos showing the deaths of American journalists James Foley and Steve Sotloff.
“This British man has to pay the price for your promise, Cameron, to arm the Peshmerga against the Islamic State,” the terrorist says. “Ironically, he has spent a decade of his life serving under the same Royal Air Force that is responsible for delivering those arms.”
“Playing the role of the obedient lapdog, Cameron, will only drag you and your people into another bloody and unwinnable war.”
Like the previous two videos, nothing shows the Brit executioner doing the actual killing. The Haines video shows a knife being pulled across his throat, then cuts away to a grisly shot of the victim’s body.
At the end of the David Haines video another man in an orange jumpsuit is threatened: Alan Henning. “If you, Cameron, persist in fighting the Islamic State, then you, like your master Obama, will have the blood of your people on your hands,” the executioner says.
One Syrian activist tweeted that Henning was part of a British humanitarian aid convoy, abducted in Al Dana by ISIS when they occupied the city.
“The murder of David Haines is an act of pure evil. My heart goes out to his family who have shown extraordinary courage and fortitude,” tweeted British Prime Minister David Cameron.
“We will do everything in our power to hunt down these murderers and ensure they face justice, however long it takes.”
The next hostage under threat by ISIS. Notice they picked a less identifiable landscape than Foley murder. pic.twitter.com/bKLK6qKAK0
— Bridget Johnson (@Bridget_PJM) September 13, 2014
The Islamic State has now beheaded another western hostage. The Mirror reports:
A new video has been released by militants purporting to show the 44-year-old aid worker being executed.
The second hostage to be executed was freelance journalist Steven Sotloff.
A video of the 31-year-old’s beheading emerged just weeks after his fellow captive James Foley was also killed.
In the footage, the executioner – again believed to be man nicknamed Jihadi John – said: “I am back, Obama, and I am back because of your arrogant foreign policy towards the Islamic State, because of your insistence on continuing your bombings and … on Mosul Dam, despite our serious warnings.”
The executioner is believed to be the same London-accented British jihadist who butchered the two Americans, James Foley and Steve Sotloff.
These serial killer jihadists are cowards. They take journalists and aid workers hostage. They refuse to show their faces on camera while they taunt the free world. The fact that all three hostages have recited anti-American or anti-British statements before their murders indicates that the helpless hostages have been tortured and brainwashed for years in captivity.
British PM David Cameron reacts:
The murder of David Haines is an act of pure evil. My heart goes out to his family who have shown extraordinary courage and fortitude.
— David Cameron (@David_Cameron) September 13, 2014
We will do everything in our power to hunt down these murderers and ensure they face justice, however long it takes.
— David Cameron (@David_Cameron) September 13, 2014
President Obama’s strategy is not going to stop ISIS. Two of our so-called allies in Obama’s strategy have now allied with ISIS. The Iraqi army is clearly not ready. The Arab states are only promising money and training for Syrian “rebel” troops, so far. Yemen and Somalia, the two countries Obama himself held up as models of successful counterterrorism, are terrorist playgrounds.
Raymond Ibrahim wrote recently about why these terrorists specifically choose to behead their victims. Beheading “infidels” and those cast as “enemies of Islam” has a specific origin in Islamic history.
The New Georgia Project, an independent group set up by a major donor and adviser to the campaign of Democratic Senate candidate Michelle Nunn, is under investigation by the state’s attorney general for voter fraud.
We know this is impossible because there is no such thing as voter fraud, right? So, the story is either a hoax, or a very bad joke.
Secretary of State Brian Kemp (R) said in a memo, reported by WSB-TV, that his office has “received numerous complaints about voter applications submitted by the New Georgia Project,” an organization launched to register and turn out voters to the polls.
“Preliminary investigation has revealed significant illegal activities, including forged voter registration applications, forged signatures on releases, and applications with false or inaccurate information,” Kemp wrote in the memo.
Nunn is running against Republican David Perdue for a Senate seat left open by the retirement of Sen. Saxby Chambliss (R-Ga.). Democrats see the race as a pick-up opportunity in a year where they are largely playing defense.
Most polls have shown a close race, with Perdue leading Nunn by three points in the most recent survey, conducted earlier this month.
Republicans are seizing on the allegations against the New Georgia Project to tarnish Nunn, suggesting the group was part of a larger effort by Democrats to “expand the electorate by any means necessary.”
“The serious allegations of illegal activities and potential fraud from liberal voter registration groups are outrageous and should be investigated to the fullest extent of the law,” said Perdue spokeswoman Megan Whittemore.
The New Georgia Project and its parent organization, Third Sector Development, were issued subpoenas this week demanding documents relating to the allegations be turned over to the Georgia Election Board by Sept. 19.
Third Sector Development is run by Georgia House Minority Leader Stacey Abrams (D), who has contributed to Nunn’s campaign and was listed on an official campaign strategy document as a proposed member of a group of potential policy advisers.
Abrams said in a statement she was “saddened” by the subpoenas, and that the group is working to comply with them.
“The abrupt release of this subpoena saddens me as I know the efforts of this organization have been done with the mission of increasing voter registration and engagement in the most disadvantaged and underserved groups in the state,” she said.
Democrats are framing the illegal activity as part of the process to register poor people and minorities. Apparently, we are supposed to put up with a little fraud in order to “enfranchise” more people.
Beyond that, the New Georgia Project is a shadowy organization. When they first appeared, even the NAACP was worried about them — with good reason:
Is the New Georgia Project a legitimate organization? That’s the question NAACP leaders have, saying the organization is under investigation by state election officials. The group has been going door-to-door offering to register voters, but they’re not registered with the state.
NAACP leaders spoke out at Franklin Square to remind people to be cautious with their personal information. “If you see a volunteer with those five letters, NAACP, you can count that they are well trained and they can hold voter registration information in strict compliance with the law and they can assist every citizen with the right to vote,” said Francys Johnson, Georgia NAACP President.
The New Georgia Project claims to be helping register voters. They set up in an office building off Skidaway Road. We went there Friday, but no one was there. Representatives of the group told employees it’s a non-profit organization.
“I truly am worried about some of the people whose information we’ve collected,” said Brad Jones, a Savannah State student recruited to register voters at $11 per hour. Jones says he was instructed to collect full names, social security numbers, birth dates and more. “I’m really not sure what’s happening to this information. That’s what I really want to know because I really don’t think this is a legitimate business.”
Jones says he was instructed to tell people to vote at their polling station at Roosevelt School. But voter registration officials say that place doesn’t exist. When going door-to-door, people are supposed to be given the option to mail the form themselves so strangers don’t get their information. Jones says he was not instructed to give that option.
That was back in June. Now, the NAACP is asking the Georgia secretary of state to drop the subpoenas and halt the investigations. Apparently, giving away your social security number to a total stranger doesn’t bother them very much anymore.
So far, 12 counties have reported voter fraud from the New Georgia Project. Democrats are charging a conspiracy to suppress minority voters. Rational people are wondering what took the secretary of state so long to investigate.
When I was growing up in the 1950s, corporal punishment was not only commonplace, it was an accepted adjunct to raising good, obedient children.
“Spare the rod and spoil the child” may have been a euphemism for “child beating” even back then. But spanking was considered an important part of child rearing, and few parents would have thought that it was abuse, much less unnecessary.
Taking a rod to a child’s backside — or a razor strop, or a paddle — might be stretching the point. But it was considered to be a parent’s absolute right to discipline his child any way he saw fit — even if that meant leaving marks on the child’s body.
Times have changed and striking a child anywhere for any reason can get you in trouble with state child service authorities. Some may think we’ve gone too far in protecting children while interfering with the right of parents to raise their child by their own lights.
If you believe that, allow me to introduce you to Adrian Peterson.
Peterson is not only star running back for the NFL’s Minnesota Vikings. He is the best back of his generation, a marvel of speed, power, and shiftiness. Yesterday, authorities in Texas handed down an indictment of Peterson for child abuse.
His unsettling and sometimes shocking explanations for beating his son with a tree branch because he misbehaved remind us that socioeconomic and cultural differences in parental attitudes toward child rearing are still with us, despite efforts to eradicate child beating disguised as “discipline.”
The “whooping” – as Peterson put it when interviewed by police – occurred in Spring, Texas, in May. Peterson’s son had pushed another one of Peterson’s children off of a motorbike video game. As punishment, Peterson grabbed a tree branch – which he consistently referred to as a “switch” – removed the leaves and struck the child repeatedly.
The beating allegedly resulted in numerous injuries to the child, including cuts and bruises to the child’s back, buttocks, ankles, legs and scrotum, along with defensive wounds to the child’s hands. Peterson then texted the boy’s mother, saying that one wound in particular would make her “mad at me about his leg. I got kinda good wit the tail end of the switch.”
Peterson also allegedly said via text message to the child’s mother that he “felt bad after the fact when I notice the switch was wrapping around hitting I (sic) thigh” and also acknowledged the injury to the child’s scrotum in a text message, saying, “Got him in nuts once I noticed. But I felt so bad, n I’m all tearing that butt up when needed! I start putting them in timeout. N save the whooping for needed memories!”
In further text messages, Peterson allegedly said, “Never do I go overboard! But all my kids will know, hey daddy has the biggie heart but don’t play no games when it comes to acting right.”
According to police reports, the child, however, had a slightly different story, telling authorities that “Daddy Peterson hit me on my face.” The child also expressed worry that Peterson would punch him in the face if the child reported the incident to authorities. He also said that he had been hit by a belt and that “there are a lot of belts in Daddy’s closet.” He added that Peterson put leaves in his mouth when he was being hit with the switch while his pants were down. The child told his mother that Peterson “likes belts and switches” and “has a whooping room.”
It seems apparent that Adrian Peterson experienced similar beatings as a child and was only “whooping” his son as he had been “whooped” as a boy. This becomes clear with Peterson’s bewilderment at thinking that anyone thought his intentions and motivations were anything but legal and proper.
Peterson, when contacted by police, admitted that he had “whooped” his son on the backside with a switch as a form of punishment, and then, in fact, produced a switch similar to the one with which he hit the child. Peterson also admitted that he administered two different “whoopings” to his son during the visit to Texas, the other being a punishment for the 4-year-old scratching the face of a 5-year-old.
In an interview with Houston police, Peterson was very matter-of-fact and calm about the incident, appearing to believe he had done nothing wrong and reiterating how much he cared about his son and only used “whoopings” or “spankings” as a last resort. He offered up information that the police didn’t have and was incredulous when asked if some of the numerous wounds and marks on the child were from an extension cord, saying, “Oh, no, I’d never hit my child with an extension cord. I remember how it feels to get whooped with an extension cord. I’d never do that.”
Peterson also said, “Anytime I spank my kids, I talk to them before, let them know what they did, and of course after.” Peterson also expressed regret that his son did not cry – because then, Peterson said, he would have known that the switch was doing more damage than intended. He didn’t realize the “tip of the switch and the ridges of the switch were wrapping around [the child’s] legs.” Peterson also acknowledged that this was administered directly to the child’s skin and with the child’s pants pulled down.
It would be a mistake to ascribe this attitude to black America only. It is more a product of one’s socioeconomic strata and tradition than a condition based on race. From what I can discover, Peterson grew up in a lower middle class home with loving parents. While his parents divorced when Adrian was seven and his father was convicted and given an eight-year sentence for money laundering when he was thirteen, Peterson maintained close contact with his father, even speaking to him before every game in high school despite him being in prison.
Obama’s hope to do anything of substance in Syria took another severe blow yesterday as the U.S.-backed and armed Syrian Revolutionaries Front (SRF) struck a peace deal with ISIS, according to both Arabic and English language news reports.
The SRF had only a few months ago been deemed by the U.S. foreign policy establishment as “the West’s best fighting chance against Syria’s Islamist armies.”
Now AFP reports:
Syrian rebels and jihadists from the Islamic State of Iraq and Syria have agreed a non-aggression pact for the first time in a suburb of the capital Damascus, a monitoring group said on Friday.
The Syrian Observatory for Human Rights said the ceasefire deal was agreed between ISIS and moderate and Islamist rebels in Hajar al-Aswad, south of the capital.
Under the deal, “the two parties will respect a truce until a final solution is found and they promise not to attack each other because they consider the principal enemy to be the Nussayri regime.”
Nussayri is a pejorative term for the Alawite sect, an offshoot of Shiite Islam to which President Bashar al-Assad belongs.
According to media reports, other groups joining the ceasefire with ISIS include Liwa Ahrar Turkman al-Golan, Liwa Hittin and Liwa al-Umma al-Wahida.
When seeking U.S. heavy weapons, including TOW anti-tank missiles, SRF commander Jamal Maroof was full of bravado, declaring war against ISIS. In May, McClatchy reported that SRF and other “vetted moderate rebel” groups had received TOW missiles from the U.S. and posted videos of their use.
But as soon as weapons were being delivered to Maroof’s SRF forces, he was giving interviews to Western media making clear that “al-Qaeda is not our problem.”
A May 2014 report by Jenan Moussa of Al-Aan notes that Maroof runs SRF in a cave with his three wives and children:
During that interview where Maroof talks about receiving U.S. military aid and his soldiers receiving U.S. training, there is one curious artifact in the background, as you’ll see in the photo on the next page.
Much has been written over the last few days about Ted Cruz’s appearance at the first summit of a new organization, “In Defense of Christians.” The organization is working to form an alliance of leaders to preserve and protect some of the world’s oldest Christian groups. What may be most curious about this organization is how they are now covering up exactly who makes up their board.
The incident in the news that brought this group front and center occurred as the result of Cruz walking away from the podium after stating that those who will not stand with our ally, Israel, will not have his support. You can view more here. His attempt to suggest that all religious bigotry (including anti-semitism) was a problem did not seem welcome to some in this audience. Watching his preliminary words before he left the stage helps put it in context.
Among the many opinions out there, Mark Tooley and his commenters appear to be aware of the political and nationalist aspect of being a Mideast Christian, which helps clarify the reaction to Cruz from some of the audience:
It’s no secret that many Mideast Christians generally aren’t big fans of Israel. I learned this firsthand during the 2006 Israel war on Hezbollah, when my discussion at church with a Lebanese Christian nearly escalated to a shouting match.
Sometimes American Christians romanticize overseas persecuted Christians into disembodied noble souls unaffected by terrestrial concerns. But they, like everybody else, have histories, loyalties, resentments, grievances, and political calculations. Generally, most Mideast Christians cannot further imperil themselves by ever seeming politically to sympathize with Israel or the West. But their notions are not just for appearances. Many Mideast Christians are Arab nationalists. And whether for survival or genuine sympathy, some church leaders over the years have aligned with repressive regimes, like Assad’s and Saddam’s.
Mideast Christians, in other words, are not necessarily planning to ever be on board with Israel and may very well continue to align with terrorist groups and leaders as they see fit.
An article from the Free Beacon outlines some of the concerning associations found within this group and its’ summit speakers, for example:
Funding for the conference was provided by Clinton donor and Lebanese-Nigerian billionaire Gilbert Chagoury, according to organizers. The wealthy businessman pledged $1 billion to the Clinton Global Initiative in 2009.
Chagoury is also reportedly backer of Lebanese politician Michel Aoun, Hezbollah’s top Christian ally in the country, according to U.S. diplomatic cables published by WikiLeaks.
Maronite Patriarch Cardinal Bechara Raï, who was scheduled to speak during the same keynote slot as Cruz on Wednesday evening, has called Israel an “enemy state that is occupying Lebanese territory” and defended Hezbollah’s right to attack the Jewish state.
Others at the summit have also aligned themselves with the Iranian-backed terrorist group. Syriac Orthodox Church Patriarch Moran Mor Ignatius Aphrem II posted photos from his meeting with a “high level delegation from Hezbollah” on his official Facebook page last week.
See their article for even further examples, all of which would have been of reasonable concern to those, like Cruz, who feel anti-semitism must not be tolerated any more than the abuse of Mideast Christians.
Yet, the In Defense of Christians website felt it necessary to post yet again on the incident on Sept. 12th, taking a new slant which insinuates that Cruz turned a peaceful and productive event into a political one:
In last night’s Solidarity Gala Dinner, Senator Cruz chose to stand against the small and vocal minority of attendees who disagree with his views on Israel rather than standing with the vast majority of those who attended the gala and support both Israel and the Middle East’s Christians.
For those who do choose to listen to the entire video, it seems clear that Cruz was being shouted down loudly enough to make speaking difficult and that those doing the shouting had no intention of joining him in denouncing anti-semitism. The Sept. 12th post on their website suggests Cruz could have spoken in a way that may have been more pleasing to the audience:
Yesterday, 17 Republican and Democratic Senators and Representatives addressed this same audience, referring to peace and unity with Muslims and Jews—themes expressed throughout the conference with the resounding support of those present.
It seems like it would have been disingenuous for Cruz to gloss over that deeply held belief in order to appease an audience.
The Democrats’ leader in the House, California Rep. Nancy Pelosi, is either dishonest, drunk, or losing her mind.
Soopermexican caught this tweet from Pelosi, which he calls “brutal stupidity.”
— Nancy Pelosi (@NancyPelosi) September 12, 2014
As the multimillionaire Pelosi surely knows, individuals and corporations (which are artificial people under the law) can change their addresses and thereby change their tax burdens. It happens every day. I know that from personal experience. I moved from high-tax Maryland to low-tax Texas a few years back and gave myself a very nice raise and bought a bigger house than I’d had up north even though my salary at the time didn’t change much. Dollars go farther in Texas than they do in California, in part because Texas doesn’t tax its citizens violently and with prejudice. That’s why so many of Pelosi’s fellow Californians and their companies are fleeing her state for Texas. It happens every day.
So, brutal stupidity. Or she’s just lying to her low-information voter base. Or she’s drunk or has lost her mind and is raving crazy loony tunes nuts. You make the call.
We’re not done yet, though, as you’ll see on the next page.
I thought that the recent passage in California of the “yes means yes” bill was extremely problematic — especially for males, who are basically at the mercy of women when it comes to initiating a sexual encounter. The temptation to engage in false accusations for purposes of revenge or pique will be great, and given the temper of the times, rather than an incident becoming a “he said, she said” issue, it is likely to be a “whatever she said goes as the truth” matter.
That California law defines consent as “an affirmative, conscious and voluntary agreement to engage in sexual activity.” And it covers each step of the sexual encounter — from kissing to petting, to intercourse. Madness.
But Ohio State has gone California one better. If you’re a Buckeye male, it’s not enough that you get “consent” for every sexual act. You have to agree with your partner on why you are having sex.
Have they gone bat guano crazy?
Hans Bader of the Competitive Enterprise Institute writing at the Liberty Unyielding blog:
Ohio State applies an impractical “agreement” requirement to not just sex, but also to a much broader category of “touching” that is sexual (or perhaps romantic?) in nature. First, it states that “sexual assault is any form of non-consensual sexual activity. Sexual assault includes all unwanted sexual acts from intimidation to touching to various forms of penetration and rape.” Then, it states that “Consent is a knowing and voluntary verbal or non-verbal agreement between both parties to participate in each and every sexual act. . .Conduct will be considered “non-consensual” if no clear consent . . . is given. . . .Effective consent can be given by words or actions so long as the words or actions create a mutual understanding between both parties regarding the conditions of the sexual activity–ask, ‘do both of us understand and agree regarding the who, what, where, when, why, and how this sexual activity will take place?’”
College students, barely out of their teenage years with little sexual experience, are now expected to glean “consent” by the actions and supposed intent of their partner. If you kiss a girl without permission, that is considered a sexual assault — even if the girl liked it.
Bader takes us through the practical consequences of the policy:
This “agreement” requirement is impractical, because unlike sex (where there is generally an implicit agreement among the participants before it can even happen, since sex is difficult to do without active cooperation), no one agrees in advance – verbally or non-verbally – to have someone touch them in a particular place while making out. No one ever says, “may I touch your breast” before doing it while making out. They may (and usually do) welcome (and enjoy) it after it occurs, but they don’t specifically “agree” to it in advance (indeed, they may have expected the touch to occur in a different place, even if they found it pleasant). The very process of making out is a gradual escalation of intimacy step by step, without constant discussion or an endless series of agreements. That may be impossible under Ohio State’s policy, not just because it requires “agreement” (rather than mere “acquiescence”) but also because it expresses hostility to the concept of “consent to one form of sexual activity” being a signal of receptiveness to other, slightly more intimate “forms of sexual activity.” But that’s exactly what happens in making out: when you acquiesce in one form of touching or other “sexual activity” long enough, that signals a likely willingness to engage in slightly more intimate forms of touching — although you are free to rebut that presumption of willingness at any time simply by saying “no” or physically conveying your unwillingness. Such fluid interaction is threatened by Ohio State’s definition, which states that that “Consent to one form of sexual activity does not imply consent to other . . . sexual activity,” that there must be “agreement between both parties to participate in each and every sexual act,” that only “clear consent” counts, and that “Consent can never be assumed, even in the context of a relationship.”
With so much going on prior to intercourse, can a woman having a sexual encounter under these circumstances ever use the excuse that she and her partner got “carried away” and had unprotected sex leading to an unwanted pregnancy and an abortion? If you’re going to slow down the process of becoming intimate, what excuse do you have for not using a rubber? Or some other form of contraception?
That’s a side issue, to be sure. But Bader’s practical guide to sex at Ohio State (and other schools that will likely adopt similar policies) is a clear warning to males; know your partner well before even initiating a kiss. Is she mentally stable? Does she have relationship issues? If you’re only interested in a casual encounter, is she OK with that? A woman who discovers that her sexual partner from the night before was not interested in a long term relationship and only wanted to “hook up” for the night, is that grounds for charging him with sexual assault?
This may be the zenith of political correctness on college campuses. To take perhaps the most joyous, fulfilling act a human being can perform and turn it into a laborious, awkward, artificial, and dangerous encounter is the height of stupidity.
You have to wonder if the people who developed this policy ever had sex themselves.
I am of two minds about this story. Certainly, we can all relate to the desperation of the parents of Steve Sotloff and James Foley. They were willing to do anything to get their children back — as any of us would do in a similar situation. The fact that the government apparently threatened both families with prosection if they tried to raise ransom money seems harsh and arbitrary.
But the government is forced to think not only about present hostages, but any future hostage taking of Americans by the terrorists. It seems logical that paying ransom for hostages only encourages more hostage taking. Recall in Lebanon in the 1980s when the U.S. bartered arms for hostages only to see more hostages taken by the terrorists.
But there is more to this story. Specifically, White House lies about being in “constant contact” with the families of hostages. That’s not the story the families are telling. And the manner in which the message about potential prosection was delivered is more reminiscent of a threat delivered by a mafioso than a caring, compassionate government.
The mother of slain American journalist James Foley said she wasn’t necessarily surprised that the U.S. government threatened her family with prosecution should they raise money to pay her son’s ransom, but she was astounded by how such a devastating message was delivered.
“I was surprised there was so little compassion,” Diane Foley told ABC News today of the three separate warnings she said U.S. officials gave the family about the illegality of paying ransom to the terror group ISIS. “It just made me realize that these people talking to us had no idea what it was like to be the family of someone abducted… I’m sure [the U.S. official] didn’t mean it the way he said it, but we were between a rock and a hard place. We were told we could do nothing… meanwhile our son was being beaten and tortured every day.”
Earlier this week five current and former officials with direct knowledge of the Foley case confirmed the alleged threats were made.
“It was an utterly idiotic thing to do that came across as if [the U.S. official] had the compassion of an anvil,” said a former official who has advised the family.
At times, Diane Foley said the family “had to beg” the government for information on their son.
“We were an annoyance, it felt, at some level… They didn’t have time for us,” she said.
Today White House spokesperson Josh Earnest said that government officials were in constant contact with the Foley family and declined to comment on the alleged ransom warnings, telling reporters he’s “not going to be in a position to detail the kinds of conversations that took place so often between members of the administration and the Foley family.”
“It is a long standing policy of this administration, it was the policy of previous administrations that ransoms should not be paid to terrorist organizations,” Earnest said before referring more specific questions about the Foley’s situation to the Justice Department.
Secretary of State John Kerry today told reporters that he was “really taken aback [and] surprised” by Foley’s allegations. “I can tell you that I am totally unaware and would not condone anybody that I know of within the State Department making such statements,” Kerry said.
The family of Steve Sotloff, the other murdered American, was also threatened directly with prosecution at a White House meeting.
Sources close to the families say that at the time of the White House meeting the Sotloffs and Foleys — after receiving direct threats from IS — were exploring lining up donors who would help pay multimillion-dollar ransoms to free their sons. But after the meeting those efforts collapsed, one source said, because of concerns that “donors could expose themselves to prosecution.”
Although European hostages have been freed through ransom payments that have run into the millions of dollars, the Obama administration has taken a hard line against any such payments, viewing the transfer of cash as a violation of federal laws that forbid providing “material support” to a terrorist organization.
“They’ve been stricter than any administration on this,” said a former law enforcement official who has been working with the families of IS hostages.
Barfi said that within a few hours of the White House meeting, he was at a separate meeting with State Department officials. One of those officials repeatedly mentioned the “material support” law and made it “clear,” said Barfi, that criminal prosecutions could result if ransoms to the IS terrorists were paid.
Such explicit threats made to parents who “had to beg” to get any information about their children points to an administration that employed clod-hoppers as liaisons to the families. No doubt it was a tough job to inform the families of the law and the potential penalties that would have come with raising ransom money. But it’s obvious from statements made by both families that the administration blew it. The situation called for striking the right balance between showing compassion and imparting the matter-of-fact information about potential prosections. The White House chose people without tact or empathy to deliver their message and struck out.
Even though they’re right about the policy.
A California state senator convicted on eight felony counts of perjury and voter fraud was sentenced to 90 days in jail on Friday in one of three ethics scandals involving Democratic lawmakers in the most populous U.S. state.
Senator Roderick Wright of Los Angeles was convicted in January of lying about whether he lived in the district he sought to represent, the first in a string of criminal proceedings against three state senators this year that effectively cost Democrats their two-thirds majority in the California Senate.
“This is not what I call a victimless crime,” said Judge Kathleen Kennedy, who denied Wright’s request for a new trial in Los Angeles Superior Court.
She said Wright was no longer eligible to hold elective office in California.
It has been a rough year for California Democrats but you’d hardly know it if you kept to mainstream news sources. If three Republicans in a GOP controlled state had been indicted for voter fraud and/or public corruption the press would have nonstop, breathless “CULTURE OF CORRUPTION” coverage.
That’s good news about no being able to hold future elective office. At the moment, Wright is still employed, but leadership has asked him to step down.
Meanwhile, Richard Alarcon, the L.A. city councilman convicted of voter fraud and perjury (along with his wife-ah…family), has found a judge to buy him a little time.
Lastly, Leland Yee, who did pretty much everything but start his own al Qaeda cell, merely remains on suspension while the FBI investigates him.
Chances are, Elizabeth Warren has already answered your question.
The freshman Massachusetts Democratic senator has been everywhere the past few months, appearing on an impressive list of Sunday shows and cable news programs, chatting up late night talk show hosts and crisscrossing the country on a book tour to promote her latest biography, “A Fighting Chance.”
But if you thought the media blitz may have loosened up the popular liberal — famous on Capitol Hill for her strictly-on-message persona and her aversion to making small talk with the D.C. press corps — think again.
Drinking-game keywords for this piece are “discipline” and variations of “focus.” If you do a shot each time one comes up, you’ll be hammered before you’re through reading it.
There is no real reason for this post beyond giving some free PR to Fauxcahontas and subtly embarrassing Hillary Clinton by stepping away from the “inevitable” conversation. This is more of a love letter than a political opinion piece. Even when the writer brings up what could be considered a “negative,” the point is followed up by more praise.
Despite all of the “inevitable” chatter elsewhere, the Warren contingent among the Democrats grows stronger every day. She’s already far more well-known and liked than a certain senator from Illinois was this far out from the 2008 election, the last time Hillary Clinton was “inevitable.”
If the MSM shifts too much more of its affection away from Hillary, she’ll fall apart in a hurry. She’s just not very good under pressure.
Hard choices for the Democrats indeed.
It’s not the latest reality television show but real life for the Palin clan, at least according to reports from bloggers.
A vaguely worded police report is less specific about what actually happened at a weekend social gathering in Alaska.
The facts seem to go something like this: Members of the Palin family, including Sarah Palin, the former Alaska governor and 2008 Republican vice presidential nominee, attended a party Saturday night in Anchorage, where a large brawl broke out. It was also Todd Palin’s 50th birthday.
Anchorage police confirmed they “responded to a report of a verbal and physical altercation” near a home in Anchorage where a party was taking place.
I grew up in a small town, where Saturday night fights are more common than winter colds. Yet this story is everywhere today. This isn’t news, it’s a stalker-like obsession. My theory for why it continues is this: liberal women secretly wish they could be as attractive and feminine as Sarah Palin, while liberal men wish they could be as tough as she is.
It is rather enjoyable to watch the way she still haunts them.
The Obama administration spent Thursday (the 13th anniversary of 9-11, by the way) arguing that the United States is not at war with the Islamic State/ISIS/ISIL.
The White House spokesman said it wasn’t a war. Secretary of State John Kerry and his spokeswomen at the department also said that it’s not a war. Kerry, for his part, called it…what was that again?
Right — it’s a “heightened level of counter terrorism operation.”
Well, today, the White House and the Pentagon have finally come around. This thing we’re doing against ISIS is, in fact, a war. Take a look.
An old book that most people don’t pay much attention to these days says “A double-minded man is unstable in all his ways.”
CNN interviewed Diane Foley, mother of American journalist James Foley. ISIS beheaded him and posted the video online on August 19.
Foley is calling the Obama administration out:
“I think our efforts to get Jim freed were an annoyance” to the U.S. government, Diane Foley told CNN’s Anderson Cooper in an interview that aired Thursday. “It didn’t seem to be in (U.S.) strategic interest, if you will.”
Officials told Foley family members “not go to the media,” and that the “government would not exchange prisoners,” or carry out “military action” to try to rescue her son, according to Diane Foley.
As we now know, the Obama administration did exchange five hard-core Taliban for Bowe Bergdahl. The administration was aware that Bergdahl may have deserted his post in Afghanistan prior to his capture.
And as we now know, the Obama administration did attempt a rescue of Foley. That rescue failed, because President Obama dragged his feet before greenlighting the mission.
Diane Foley says that the administration threatened the family.
She added that the family was told many times that raising ransom “was illegal (and) we might be prosecuted.”
Diane Foley could become to Barack Obama what Cindy Sheehan was to George W. Bush — if the media decided to do that. But we all know that that’s not going to happen.
On Thursday, CBS pulled the use of a Rihanna song from the opening of its Thursday Night Football game between the Baltimore Ravens and the Pittsburgh Steelers, avoiding starting the broadcast with the voice of someone who’s been the victim of domestic violence days after a shocking video surfaced of former Ravens running back Ray Rice hitting his then-fiancee.
Many have pointed out that Rihanna’s involvement in the broadcast was an unfortunate choice in light of the scandal over the Rice incident and the NFL’s treatment thereof, which was the focus of most of the pre-game show. Now Chris Brown has linked his 2009 pre-Grammys Rihanna attack to the Ray Rice scandal.
On Thursday, MTV News’ Sway Calloway asked Brown, who was sentenced to five years of probation and one year of counseling after pleading guilty to assaulting Rihanna, what advice he had for Rice.
Brown, who has a history of violent behavior, said it’s all about anger management.
“I think it’s all about the choices you make. With me, I deal with a lot of anger issues from my past — not knowing how to express myself verbally but at the same time not knowing how to cope with my emotions and deal with them and understand what they were,” he said. “For me, dealing with my anger issues and understanding myself and the life I’ve been through, where I’m headed and where I want to be has helped me focus on what’s really important and not F up. For anybody who’s going through that situation or anybody who’s dealing with it — it’s all about the choices. Every situation is different but it’s all about the choices you make and how you control your anger.”
In the never-ending tale of people making stupid decisions during this Rice story, the executive who thought, “Hey-let’s see what Chris Brown thinks…” just jockeyed him or herself into the top ten.
Presumably, MTV was unable to get clearance for an in-cell interview with OJ Simpson to see what sage advice he had for Ray Rice.
Here’s an idea: let’s not give serial abusers a public forum to cover their you-know-whats.
Chris Matthews is skeptical. Tom Friedman wonders where the Chinese are.
And that’s just a start. Others in the mix include Chuck Todd, Ed Schultz, Tom Brokaw, and Jim McDermott.
For a mind-bender on a par with that Bill Maher clip we posted yesterday, some of the Democrats’ criticisms sound like some of ours — that the strategy that the president laid out is too wimpy, and is very unlikely to work.
Take a look.
On Thursday, the Greg Abbott campaign filed a complaint with the Texas Ethics Commission. The complaint asks the Commission to look into state Sen. Davis’ (D) book tour, which she is running simultaneously with her campaign for governor against Abbott.
The complaint concerns a trip that Davis took to New York earlier this week, to launch her book. Her campaign paid for that trip, but Davis says the book was not launched now, timed to help her campaign.
Then why did her campaign pay for the trip? That’s what the TEC is being asked to look into.
Davis has dismissed the complaint as “frivolous.” Charges do tend to fly, and the TEC can find itself in the crosshairs, as elections draw near and we’re within two months of the Abbott-Davis showdown.
But do the charges have some merit? The Abbott campaign is forwarding comments by a trio of Texas election law specialists, which strongly suggests that the charge do have merit.
The first is from Tripp Davenport, a former TEC chairman. He says ”There’s definitely questions to be raised,” Davenport said. “The appearance of it, based upon what I know — I think there is some merit to it.” He even added that either Davis’ lawyers don’t know what they’re doing, or they let her “push the envelope,” knowing that any TEC action will not come until after the election.
The second is from another former TEC commissioner, Ross Fischer. He told reporter Karina Kling, “In Texas law you can’t use campaign funds and convert them to personal use.” He added that Davis may end up having to pay for the trip out of her own pocket.
The third is from election lawyer Roger Borgelt. He says that the violation is clear: “Given the facts and how things appear, with this trip being 95 percent about the book tour, I don’t know how it could be anything but a personal trip.” But her campaign picked up the bill.
The Davis campaign says that they were careful to follow the law, but the quotes above cast doubt on that. Davis, a Harvard-educated attorney herself, has already come under fire, and an FBI investigation, for other alleged ethical lapses.
In a move that has many anti-Islamist Egyptians concerned, the government has again allowed the Salafis to return to preaching in mosques and on television.
Salafis are Muslims who profess to follow as literally as possible the teachings and habits of Islam’s prophet and his companions.
Soon after the June 2013 revolution in Egypt, which saw the ousting (and subsequent imprisonment) of the Muslim Brotherhood, Islamic supremacist groups—chief among them the Salafis—were banned from preaching.
The logic was that they were the primary actors responsible for inciting the nation’s more zealous Muslims to attack government targets, Coptic Christian churches, etc.
Accordingly, their access to mosques and other outlets were severely curtailed.
According to Nabil Zaki, the former spokesman for Assembly Party of Egypt, this new move allowing the Salafis, particularly the Nour party, to make a comeback
is a major setback that will make it that much harder for the government to combat reactionary thinking—and this, after the Egyptian public had made great strides against such thinking…. Permitting the Salafi sheikhs to ascend to the pulpits again revives the bitter experiences of confronting this form of thinking, bringing us back to square one.
Zaki and others also warned that this decision coincides with parliamentarian elections, meaning that the Salafi clerics will again use their influence and religious rhetoric to sway voters towards a more “reactionary,” that is, Islamic, agenda.
Earlier this week, the left-leaning Austin American-Statesman editorialized that it’s time that Texas establish driver’s licences for illegal aliens.
In the editorial, the paper calls for Texas to join the 11 states plus the District of Columbia in granting driver’s licenses to those who are in the state illegally. This issue cost California Gov. Gray Davis his job a few years back, in that Democratic state. It’s fair to say that it would be a very controversial move in Texas as the Republican-controlled legislature gets set for its 2015 session, and presumed Gov. Greg Abbott (R) presides over his first session. Presumed Lt. Gov. Dan Patrick (R) would also be presiding over his first session, in the Texas Senate.
The Statesman avoids the politics and pitches a case for road safety.
While not everyone who drives without insurance is living in the U.S. illegally, allowing undocumented immigrants the option to drive legally would make Texas roads that much safer.
A bipartisan bill recognized that in 2013. HD 3206 would have allowed undocumented immigrants to drive legally in Texas and addressed concerns about voting, security and other rights reserved for legal residents.
Under that measure, undocumented immigrants living in Texas would have been issued a special “Texas resident driver’s permit” that looked different from a regular driver’s license. The permits wouldn’t have been used for any federal purposes, such as going through airport security. It would have allowed undocumented drivers, who are already on Texas roads, to drive legally and get quality auto insurance, a huge problem when you consider that currently more than 2.5 million, or 14.3 percent, of vehicles in Texas lack coverage. In Travis County, 120,125 vehicles (more than 13 percent) are not insured.
Not all of those uninsured cars belong to illegal aliens, of course, in Travis County or statewide.
HD 3206 did not fare well in the last legislative session. It got out of committee but died on the calendar. But its backers intend on bringing it forward again next year, even though the state legislature is likely to be even more Republican than the 2013 edition.
There is much to unpack in what the bill proposes, and the Statesman endorses.
The mere fact that the driver’s license for illegal aliens would look different from other state driver’s licenses and would not be used “for any federal purpose” means that the state will end up creating a database of all illegal alien drivers in the state, or at least of those who apply for this particular license. The federal government might become interested in that data, if it ever gets around to securing the border. Would the state of Texas refuse to provide that information to the federal government, if it is ever asked to?
It also means that any illegal alien holding such a license would still have a reason to flee the scene of an accident in many non-sanctuary jurisdictions. Police will recognize the license and might arrest the holder to process for deportation. The fact that it could not be used for “any federal purpose” is meant to assure Texans that they will not be used in voter registration. It also means that the license cannot be used as a form of ID for entering federal buildings, boarding aircraft or writing checks.
Illegal aliens will know all of this. They will also know that in order to obtain the special license, they will have to take a driver’s ed class. They will have to either fill out a special form identifying themselves as present in the country illegally, or they will have to check a box on a form that everyone fills out, that does the same thing. Along the way of getting this special license, they will have to identify themselves to government officials as breaking immigration law.
Or they could buy a fake license on the black market, as many have done for decades. Or they could take their chances and drive without a license at all, as many have done for decades.
The special new illegal alien license would also, according to the editorial, enable them to purchase car insurance to comply with state law. In that process, they will identify themselves to the insurers as illegal aliens. Insurers will be knowingly selling products to people who are breaking the law and who might pose flight risks. Besides that, illegal aliens can already purchase car insurance, if they choose to.
The Statesman gets into none of these weaknesses in the plan it supports. Neither do any of the plan’s persistent backers.
New Jersey prosecutor Jim McClain deserves to have his name publicized from coast to coast. According to the DC Examiner, McClain is turning the power of the state against a law-abiding mom, 27-year-old Shaneen Allen, and he is trying to throw her in prison for more than three years.
The mother of two drove into New Jersey from Pennsylvania, where she lives and holds a concealed handgun carry permit for her family’s protection. She was stopped by police in New Jersey for a minor traffic offense, and voluntarily disclosed that she had a handgun in her glove compartment. She showed her concealed carry permit to the officer.
The officer arrested Allen, and she faces prison time for “unlawful possession of a firearm and ammunition.” They appear to be prosecuting her for having the gun accessible to the passenger compartment, and not in the trunk.
Allen was recommended for a pre-trial intervention program that would have allowed her to avoid jail time as a first-time offender. But no, Jim McClain rejected that idea. He is putting her through the ordeal of trial, and if convicted, she faces a minimum 3.5 years in prison.
Jim McClain doesn’t prosecute all first-time offenders equally. He is the same prosecutor who let former Baltimore Ravens running back Ray Rice off the hook for domestic abuse, despite clear video evidence that Rice punched his then fiancee and knocked her out cold.
McClain blames the state’s domestic abuse law for the leniency on Rice. What’s his excuse in the Allen case? He could have been lenient with her but he chose not to be.
Drudge is fronting this major story from CNN. The thrust: ISIS is even bigger than previously believed.
A CIA assessment puts the number of ISIS fighters at possibly more than three times the previous estimates.
The terror group that calls itself the Islamic State “can muster between 20,000 and 31,500 fighters across Iraq and Syria,” a CIA spokesman told CNN on Thursday.
Analysts and U.S. officials initially estimated there were as many as 10,000 fighters, including those who were freed from prisons by ISIS, and Sunni loyalists who have joined the fight as the group advanced across Iraq.
“This new total reflects an increase in members because of stronger recruitment since June following battlefield successes and the declaration of a caliphate, greater battlefield activity and additional intelligence,” the spokesman said.
To put that into some perspective, a division in the US military ranges from 10,000 to 18,000. So ISIS’ numbers equal a couple of US divisions, or a corps. With the proper combined arms strategy and decisive command, the US military could wipe ISIS off the battlefield fairly quickly.
That would require a decision to put those troops in the field to do the job, of course.
ISIS doesn’t respect any secular national boundaries, and it recruits globally. Its recruitment efforts are slick and apparently effective.
A simple way to assess the strategy that President Obama outlined Wednesday is to ask, will it kill ISIS fighters faster than the group is able to recruit new ones? So far, the answer is obviously no. Their numbers may be triple the previous estimate.
Since the president touted Yemen and Somalia as models of effective counterterrorism, have we been able to kill al Qaeda and al-Shabab recruits in those countries faster than the groups find new recruits?
It doesn’t seem likely, does it? We drone kill terrorist leaders in both countries with some regularity, but the groups survive, elevate new leaders, and go on holding territory and staging attacks — and recruiting new terrorists.
To understand why the Islamic State not only decapitates its “infidel” captives, but also mutilates and mocks their corpses—and all to sadistic laughter—one need only turn to the Koran and deeds of Islamic prophet Muhammad.
The Koran exhorts believers to “Fight them [those who oppose Islam], Allah will torment them with your hands, humiliate them, empower you over them, and heal the hearts of the believers, removing the rage from their hearts” (Koran 9:14-15).
As usual, to understand the significance of any Koran verse, one must turn to the sira andhadith—the biography and anecdotes of Muhammad, respectively—for context.
Thus we come to the following account concerning the slaughter of ‘Amr bin Hisham, a pagan Arab chieftain originally known as “Abu Hakim” (Father of Wisdom) until Muhammad dubbed him “Abu Jahl” (Father of Stupidity) for his staunch opposition to Islam.
After ‘Amr was mortally wounded by a new convert to Islam during the Battle of Badr, Abdullah ibn Mas‘ud, a close companion of Muhammad, saw the “infidel” chieftain collapsed on the ground. So he went to him and started abusing him. Among other things, Abdullah grabbed and pulled ‘Amr’s beard and stood in triumph on the dying man’s chest.
According to Al-Bidaya wa Al-Nihaya (“The Beginning and the End”), Ibn Kathir’s authoritiative history of Islam, “After that, he [Abdullah] cut his [‘Amr’s] head off and bore it till he placed it between the hands of the Prophet. Thus did Allah heal the hearts of the believers with it.”
This, then, is the true significance of Koran 9:14-15: “Fight them, Allah will torment them with your hands [mortally wounding and eventually decapitating ‘Amr], humiliate them [pulling his beard], empower you over them [standing atop him], and heal the hearts of the believers, removing the rage from their hearts [at the sight of his decapitated head].”
The logic here is that, pious Muslims are so full of zeal for Allah’s cause that the only way their inflamed hearts can be at rest is to see those who oppose Allah and his prophet utterly crushed—humiliated, mutilated, decapitated. Then the hearts of the believers can be at ease and “healed.”
This is surely one of the reasons behind the Islamic State’s dissemination of gory videos and pictures of its victims: the new “caliphate” is trying to heal the hearts of every believer inflamed for the cause of Allah.
If this sounds too farfetched, consider the following picture of a decapitated “infidel” from the Islamic State’s websites. The Arabic caption to the left says “healing for hearts”—a clear reference to the aforementioned Koran verse… Click for images and to keep reading
Taking the floor of the Senate to debate a proposed amendment to the Constitution of the United States, Texas Republican Senator Ted Cruz laid out an ironic case. The amendment, which would effectively overturn the Supreme Court’s decision in Citizens United, has been championed by Democrat Senator Al Franken. The junior senator from Minnesota, who faces his first attempt at re-election this year, built his name working as a comic performer on Saturday Night Live. Yet, if Franken’s proposed constitutional amendment enabling arbitrary limitations upon corporate speech were to be ratified, SNL’s political satire – a staple of the program for decades – could potentially become illegal.
Cruz goes on to compare the proposed speech limitations to the banning of books, stating that “advocates of government power, statists, have long favored silencing the citizenry.” It shouldn’t surprise us then, Cruz argues, that “the party of government power over every aspect of our lives would take [that idea] to the final conclusion of giving government the power to silence political speech and to [effectively] ban books.”
Cruz strikes the right tone with his incisive remarks. Indeed, the intended effect of Franken’s proposed amendment is the restriction of both speech and association, sacred freedoms protected by the First Amendment. “Money isn’t speech,” the argument goes, a strawman which imagines that someone somewhere thinks cash is literally a statement. Yet, the effect of restricting campaign spending is unquestionably restricting speech.
In his advocacy for the amendment, Senator Franken likes to wield anti-corporate rhetoric, as if corporations are alien invaders from another planet rather than the collective agency of several individuals exercising their rights as human beings. Like the “money isn’t speech” strawman, we constantly here some variation upon “I’ll believe a corporation is a person when Texas executes one.” Yet, not one person anywhere has ever claimed that a corporation is a literal natural person. Instead, the claim of corporate personhood has always been that, as a product of voluntary contractual agreement between individuals with rights, corporations ought to be regarded as persons under the law. But hey, when you’re out to “ban books” as Cruz puts it, you’re probably not going to let little facts like that get in the way of an effective piece of fraudulent rhetoric.
Check out the video on the next page.
Don’t call it a war, says Marie Harf at the State Department.
Don’t look for any definition of “victory,” says Josh Earnest at the White House.
It’s…whatever John Kerry means here.
— SalenaZito (@SalenaZitoTrib) September 11, 2014
Whatever it is, we’re losing potential coalition partners.
— Ali Weinberg (@AliABCNews) September 11, 2014
When did our foreign policy get lined up like a running Fawlty Towers gag?
Update: According to a “Senior Administration Official,” Saudia Arabia shares an “extensive border with Syria.”
ISIL has been I think a galvanizing threat around the Sunni partners in the region. They view it as an existential threat to them. Saudi Arabia has an extensive border with Syria. The Jordanians are experiencing a destabilizing impact of over a million refugees from the Syrian conflict, and are profoundly concerned that ISIL, who has stated that their ambitions are not confined to Iraq and Syria, but rather to expand to the broader region.
This post is not one of our usual caption contests, but I can not stop you from turning it into one.
Why no official contest? Honestly, this enlarged still image from President Obama’s ISIS speech last night with the White House drapes as a backdrop scares the heck out of me, that’s why.
Instead, I will just report what Drudge has posted on his site:
That’s it. Enough said. Is it getting hot in here?
But wait, your temperature will rise too when you refer back to our last caption contest.
Remember the doctored ISIS video with Obama’s resemblance to “that guy” in the History Channel’s Bible miniseries? (Cue The Twilight Zone music.)
Today, I was planning on posting all the winners from that contest (there were so many great ones), but now there is a mysterious knock at my door and some black helicopters have just landed on my lawn…..
The Syrians had taken the stance that any US airstrike on IS on Syrian land would be an act of war against Syria.
[Syrian Deputy Foreign Minister Faisal] Mekdad openly expressed support for airstrikes on Syria — an option detailed by President Barack Obama in an overnight speech — by saying his administration has “no reservations whatsoever.”
But he said cited the need for logistical coordination with the U.S. before any airstrikes so “there should be no mistakes,” and said “it is a must” for Obama to call Assad.
He even suggested that Syria could join the US in a coalition against IS that includes Russia, China and Iran.
Mekkad doesn’t want the US working with the Free Syrian Army, though.
When it came down to international law, Mekdad was most concerned about Obama’s plan to arm rebel groups in Syria.
“Betting on other forces in Syria is a very big mistake,” he warned.
Texas Public Policy Action has announced the Texas Government Waste Contest. The contest runs from September 3 through November 14, 2014.
“Even in Texas there is an incredible amount of wasteful spending, political favoritism, and crony capitalism. This contest will help to expose waste and cronyism,” said TPPA Executive Director Nathanael Ferguson. “By creating a compendium of government waste we will arm taxpayers with the information they need to focus elected officials on solving problems and working to affect change.”
According to TPPA’s press release, contestants will submit their story of government waste in an essay or a original creative video. Entries should be submitted here: www.TexWaste.com. You can also find out more about the contest at that link.
Winners in each category will get $4,000 for first place, $2,000 for second and $1,000 for third.
All entries are limited to Texas, either state or local government.
Where’s my prize?
Warning that the ISIS threat is the same “if not worse” than the threat faced by America from al-Qaeda on Sept. 10, 2001, House Armed Services Committee Chairman Buck McKeon (R-Calif.) argued this morning that the “minimalist approach” outlined by President Obama would not work.
McKeon traveled last week through the Middle East, meeting with ministers and heads of state.
“I listened, and I asked questions. They gave me blunt answers and some hard truths,” he said. “Our allies are on the front lines of terrorism.There is a genuine sense among the leaders I talked with that America is disengaging from the region and concerns about American credibility, at a time when credibility counts.”
“Our relationships with these allies in the region are at a tipping point. What is also notable is that these allies are ready to bear the burden of the fight. They know their very existence, and stability in the region, depends on defeating ISIL.”
The chairman said the strategy needs to be “one that pins ISIL down and knocks them out.”
“The president has said the threat is not imminent to the homeland. Well, exactly when does the threat become imminent? Why wait until it does?” McKeon said. “We must have a comprehensive strategy that stops any plot against US citizens or our interests now.”
A “go-slow strategy” just gives ISIS ”space to thrive and grow and blend with the population” as 500 foreign fighters a month come to join their ranks and the terror group rakes in $85 million a month from oil revenue alone.
“Soon all that will be left is a cowering population unable to resist the caliphate,” McKeon said. “…We have to get into those Sunni villages with Special Operations Forces to rebuild relationships. Because if the moderate Sunnis slip through our fingers, they’re gone – and with them, our chances for success. We have to reconnect the intelligence links and security forces’ capabilities that were lost when we left Iraq.”
He added that the strategy can’t focus on Iraq first and must encircle the caliphate. “Any strategy that allows ISIL to squirt out into Jordan, Lebanon, or Turkey will only make the fight more difficult,” he said. “A coalition force, empowered by the Americans, could do just that. And once they are encircled and eliminated, we need that territory held by those friendlies. This is the only way to get this done and done right.”
Obama has “finally started” building that coalition, McKeon said.
“The Kurds, the Iraqis, the Turks, the Emeratis, and the Jordanians all have military capability. They all want to knock ISIL on its back. They need our help, they want our help, and we owe them our help,” he said. “Ignoring their pleas is a quick way to end up friendless with little, if any, U.S. influence left in the region. Let’s not forget that our allies around the world are watching and wondering if they can ever trust the U.S. again.”
“The president needs an A-team of diplomats and soldiers on the ground, ushering every player towards the same purpose – not just this week, but on a sustained basis…. We’re holding the starter pistol; the time to pull the trigger was yesterday.”
McKeon called it a “red herring” to assume that “boots on the ground” means a large occupying force. “In fact the best way to ensure that we never have to drop an entire maneuver Corps into Iraq is to be smart about using the right boots on the ground today,” he continued. “The president may not admit it, but he has already made this distinction. He has inserted Special Forces, trainers, advisors, and security forces. This is the right decision. But more can be done.”
“This will take troops. It will not take divisions. But there’s no way around it; American boots will be standing on sand. Americans will be shot at, and they will be shooting back. There’s simply no other way to do this.”
The chairman cautioned that “wars are not won by counterterrorism alone – the 1990s proved as much.”
“The president wants to use a light footprint now in hopes that he doesn’t need a heavy footprint later. This approach was not terribly successful in Libya, which has fallen into chaos. It has short-term benefits, though. It will be cheaper in blood and treasure –for now,” he said. “I want our coalition to go all-in now, so that we do not risk having to use enormously more blood and treasure later. I would much rather fight ISIL in Iraq and Syria today than fight them in Iraq, Syria, Jordan, Lebanon, and Kurdistan tomorrow. Fortune favors the bold.”
During today’s White House press briefing, a reporter asks spokesman Josh Earnest a simple question: “What does victory (over ISIS) look like here?”
Earnest turns the serious question into a joke: “I didn’t bring my Webster’s Dictionary with me.”
Let’s briefly go over what we’ve learned recently.
The president does not believe that the Islamic State is Islamic.
The president claimed that national security is his highest priority, yet he has not secured the border and has no intention of doing so.
The president has replaced “Don’t do stupid sh*t,” his previous foreign policy guidestar, with “If you threaten America, you will find no safe haven.” That’s hardly a new principle to American foreign policy, though it is evidently new to Barack Obama.
The president believes that Yemen and Somalia are models for effective counterterrorism against Islamic State. Terrorists freely operate in both countries, though they are subject to the occasional setback via US drone strike. Drone operations in both countries, using that term loosely, show no signs of actually destroying the terrorist groups operating in them.
The president who accused Bush of “going it alone” in Iraq refuses to consult Congress, and is going into his non-war versus Islamic State with a much smaller coalition than Bush had going into Iraq.
Among the coalition he has assembled is the Free Syrian Army, which is known to be in alliance with IS — the enemy.
The president, through his spokesman, has not even defined what victory over IS will look like.
Oh yeah, this is going to work out real well.
Declaring “an F-16 is not a strategy,” House Speaker John Boehner (R-Ohio) t0ld reporters at a press conference today that Republican leaders will “make a decision sometime next week on how we will proceed” with President Obama’s ISIS plans at the congressional level.
“I support the president’s plan to train and equip Iraqi security forces and the Syrian opposition. But I remain concerned that those measures could take years to fully implement, at a time when ISIL’s momentum and territorial gains must be halted and reversed immediately,” Boehner said of the “questions and concerns” that remain after last night’s speech.
“We stand ready to work with the president to put in place a plan that would destroy and defeat ISIL. Members are getting briefed as we speak on a range of options that the president is contemplating. Those briefings and consultations will continue,” he said.
Boehner said he believes “it’s in the institution of the Congress’ interest to speak on this question” of what intervention will look like.
“Now, normally in such a case, I’ve been through this a few times over the 24 years that I’ve been here, the president of the United States would request that support and would supply the wording of a resolution to authorize this force. And, at this point in time, we’ve not gotten that request and we’ve not seen that language,” the Speaker said.
“I think that we’re at the beginning stages of building of the kind of support that’s necessary from the nation to carry out this plan and to carry it out successfully.”
Boehner said “the only request that has come from the White House at this point” is the Title X authorization to train and equip Syrian rebels under the Defense Department instead of the CIA.
“I can tell you, in our conversations this morning, a lot of our members don’t feel like the — the campaign that was outlined last night will accomplish the mission that the president says, and that is to destroy ISIL,” he added. “And so frankly, a lot of our members think a lot more needs to be done than what was laid out last night.”
Congressional leaders went to the White House on Tuesday to discuss what the president would be asking for. Boehner said Obama made his “specific request to have the ability to train Syrian rebels” at that meeting.
“I wanted to make sure that members have ample time to have the conversation about this — started today — and it will continue,” he said.
“…Based on all the information that I’ve looked at, the Free Syrian Army has, by and large, been very well vetted by our intelligence officials. Today they’re in a fight against Assad, they’re in a fight against ISIL, and they’re in a fight against another al-Qaeda affiliate in eastern Syria. And they’re about to get run over.”
The Speaker stressed that “airstrikes alone will not accomplish what we’re trying to accomplish.”
“And the president’s made clear that he doesn’t want U.S. boots on the ground. Well, somebody’s boots have to be on the ground,” Boehner said. “And so I do believe that what the president has asked for as the commander in chief is this authority to train these Syrian rebels, and frankly we ought to give the president what he’s asking for.”
Boehner was asked if Obama should have publicly taken any chance of troops off the table.
“Listen, we only have one commander in chief. He laid out his plan. I would never tell the enemy what I was willing to do or unwilling to do. But he is the commander in chief. He made that decision,” he replied. “At this point in time, it’s important we give the president what he’s asking for. And — and we’ve got to keep our eye on the ball. The issue here is about defeating a terrorist threat that is real and imminent.”
This video feels like it might have come from a parallel universe. Only, it’s not, it’s our universe, which 13 years after 9-11 still has not come to grips with the nature and origins of the people who attacked us.
Who are they? What motivates them? Why can they raise such incredible amounts of money and recruit fighters from all over the world? What ideas do they believe in? President Obama himself declared, last night, that the Islamic State in Iraq and the Levant is not, in fact, Islamic. Obama says this at the same time he uses the group’s chosen name, which recognizes that their territorial aims are far greater than the huge territory that they currently hold.
Charlie Rose agrees with Obama on all that, even in the face of a barrage of facts put on the table by Bill Maher.
Rose plays the moral equivalency game at one point, suggesting that Christians are just as prone to violence as Muslims. Maher attempts to set him straight on that, too.
Show this video to your liberal friends. It will cause great confusion, hopefully leading to a breakthrough at some point. If it’s acceptable for Bill Maher to say the same things that Robert Spencer has been writing about on Jihad Watch (and PJ Media) for ages now, then just maybe an understanding of jihad can go mainstream.
Don’t miss the video on the next page.