Addressing a joint session of Congress this morning, Ukrainian President Petro Poroshenko said he’s willing to negotiate to bring peace to his country but draws the line at anything that compromises Ukraine’s sovereignty.
“Over the last months, Ukrainian have shown that they have courage to stand up to the most powerful enemy. We will never obey or bend to the aggressor,” Poroshenko said. ”We are ready to fight, but we are people of peace, and we extend the hand of peace to Russia and the Russian-inspired separatists.”
“I am ready to do my utmost to avoid the further escalation and casualties, even at this point when the war has already started feeding on itself. Sooner or later, I’m absolutely sure peace will return to the Ukrainian homes.”
Despite “the insanity of this war,” he said, “I am convinced that peace can be achieved sooner rather than later, and I’m ready to offer the separatists more rights than any part of Ukraine had ever had in the history of nation.”
“And I’m ready to discuss anything except one thing: Ukrainian independence, Ukrainian territorial integrity, Ukrainian sovereignty,” Poroshenko stressed, garnering applause from the U.S. lawmakers. “And I am confident if this war is about the rights and not about the geopolitical ambition, the solution must and I am sure, will be found.”
“Ladies and gentlemen, in 1991, independence came to Ukraine at a very low cost and peacefully. Yet the more real this independence become, the higher grew its cost. Today, the cost is as high as it gets.”
The president said Russia’s invasion has taught his country to “learn the value of independence and to recognize the true friends.”
His country needs “to root out the seeds that drain Ukraine’s potential,” Poroshenko said, including those problems “largely inherited from the era of Soviet Union — decay, corruption, bureaucracy and the self-preserving cynicism of political elites.”
He asked Congress ”to create a special fund to support investment of American companies in Ukraine and to help us with the reforming of our economy and our justice system,” a request met with applause. “And I assure you that all aid received from the west will be utilized by non-corrupt institution and that the new generation of official will make sure that the funds are distributed effectively.”
“By supporting Ukraine, you support new future of Europe and the entire free world. By supporting Ukraine, you support a nation that has chosen freedom in the most cynical of the times. In Ukraine, you don’t build a democracy. It’s already exist. You just defend it.”
Poroshenko reference New Hampshire’s motto: “Live free or die.”
“Live free or die was the spirit of the revolutionary on the Maidan during the dramatic winter months of 2014 with a significant presence of the member of United States Congress,” he said. “And we thank you for that.”
“Live free or die are words of Ukrainian soldiers standing on line of freedom on this war. Live free must be the answer with which Ukraine comes out of this war. Live free must be the message Ukraine and America send to the world while standing together in this time of enormous challenge.”
Secretary of State John Kerry acknowledged at Wednesday’s hearing before the Senate Foreign Relations Committee that the Islamic State is “pumping oil and selling it to the tune of a million dollars a day to fund its brutal tactics.”
But he was evasive when Sen. Dick Durbin (D-Ill.) asked Kerry who was buying the oil. “Who are they selling it to? Which countries are transiting…”
“We have raised with a number of countries in the region the question of how they could possibly be getting oil out of the country. It’s being smuggled out. And what — that’s part of the approach here is to deal… ” Kerry replied before Durbin interjected, “Through which countries do you believe it’s being smuggled out?”
“Well, it’s being smuggled out from the border countries of Syria, obviously, which means either through Turkey or through Lebanon or south…”
“Now, are they joining us in the effort to stop this smuggling?” Durbin asked.
“They are, but, obviously, Turkey has difficulties right now, has 49 hostages that are being held, and they’ve talked about that publicly,” Kerry responded. “And Turkey is — you know, we’ve had some conversations with them, and those conversations will continue.”
In January, the Telegraph reported that Bashar Assad was buying ISIS’ oil and funding the terrorist group. Al-Qaeda affiliate Jabhat al-Nusra already admitted last year that Assad was buying their oil from Deir Ezzor province.
And an opposition lawmaker in Turkey said his government is buying ISIS’ oil
Ali Ediboglu, a Republican People’s Party member of parliament representing a border region, told Taraf, “$800 million worth of oil that ISIS obtained from regions it occupied this year [the Rumeilan oil fields in northern Syria — and most recently Mosul] is being sold in Turkey.
“They have laid pipes from villages near the Turkish border at Hatay. Similar pipes exist also at [the Turkish border regions of] Kilis, Urfa and Gaziantep,” Ediboglu said. “They transfer the oil to Turkey and parlay it into cash. They take the oil from the refineries at zero cost. Using primitive means, they refine the oil in areas close to the Turkish border and then sell it via Turkey. This is worth $800 million.”
President Obama has had a close working relationship with Recep Tayyip Erdogan, the former priem minister who recently became president.
Rep. Brad Sherman (D-Calif.) asked Kerry at today’s House Foreign Affairs Committee hearing if we could bomb the oil fields or refineries to help deprive ISIS of its $1 million-per-day revenue.
“Um, I haven’t heard any objections,” Kerry responded before Chairman Ed Royce (R-Calif.) said he’d run out of time and could submit a more detailed answer to the committee in writing.
Kerry did hint, though, at the Assad-ISIS alliance: “We have evidence that Assad has played footsie with them.”
An Islamic State supporter in Australia had grisly plans.
The Australian Broadcasting Corporation reported that the plan involved kidnapping randomly selected members of the public off the streets in Sydney and Brisbane, beheading them on camera, and releasing the recordings through Islamic State’s propaganda arm in the Middle East.
Later Thursday, Attorney General George Brandis confirmed that a person born in Afghanistan who had spent time in Australia and is now working with the Islamic State group in the Middle East ordered supporters in Australia to behead people and videotape the killings.
“If the … police had not acted today, there is a likelihood that this would have happened,” Brandis told the Australian Broadcasting Corporation.
The plan was disrupted.
But, why Australia? They’re not leading the coalition of the unwilling to fight ISIS in Iraq and Syria.
One possible reason that Australia was chosen — handguns are banned there. ISIS operatives there would know that they would be extremely unlikely to face an armed opponent, instead of a hapless victim.
The raid has smoked out another potential problem for Australia.
Uthman Badar, a spokesman for the Islamist group Hizt ut-Tahrir, warned of a growing unrest within Australia’s Muslim community.
“We are tired of being made scapegoats. The government is the terrorist,” he said in front of supporters wearing anti-government placards, according to News.com.au.
“We would be fools to think we can now wake up and feel safer,” he added. “We are not fools to be deceived. There is anger in the community. We have been victimized for years and years.”
Here’s Uthman Badar’s Twitter feed. He apparently engineered the “snap protest” that has run interference for ISIS.
— Manny Tsigas (@mantsig) September 18, 2014
— Matthew Snelson (@matthewsnelson7) September 18, 2014
Badar justifies “honor killings,” despite the chant above about keeping women safe.
His group is already banned in many countries for its radicalism. It’s time for Australia to follow suit.
MarketWatch reports today that President Barack Obama will exert tight personal control over U.S. airstrikes against the Islamic State in Syria.
The U.S. military campaign against Islamist militants in Syria is being designed to allow President Barack Obama to exert a high degree of personal control, going so far as to require that the military obtain presidential sign-off for strikes in Syrian territory, officials said.
The requirements for strikes in Syria against the extremist group Islamic State will be far more stringent than those targeting it in Iraq, at least at first. U.S. officials say it’s an attempt to limit the threat the U.S. could be dragged more deeply into the Syrian civil war.
So far, Obama has handled the ISIS threat as primarily a political, not a national security, matter. He only spoke to the American people to reveal his strategy to deal with the group once the beheadings of two Americans enraged the public. Obama himself merely offered a brief statement after the beheading of James Foley, and then went straight out to play golf.
Thus far, Obama is publicly limiting the U.S. military role against ISIS to air power and “advisers” on the ground. Those “advisers” will assist the Kurdish peshmerga, the Iraqi military, and even Syrian rebels. Those American “advisers” are said to have no combat role. But the number of those advisers has already grown, from a few dozen early on to nearly 3,000.
Yet the war against the Islamic State shows no sign of progress. Overnight, ISIS captured 16 villages in Syria.
Ever since the 1970s, every time U.S. forces have engaged in any overseas conflict on the ground, Democrats and the media have warned that America could be entering “another Vietnam.” When President George H. W. Bush ordered U.S. troops into Panama to capture dictator Manuel Noriega, some Democrats warned of “another Vietnam.” At the beginning of the 1990-91 Gulf War and at the outset of the 2003 Iraq war, many Democrats warned that America was blundering into “another Vietnam.”
But none of those wars ended up resembling Vietnam. Panama and the first Gulf War featured overwhelming U.S. force that won those wars quickly, with very few U.S. casualties. The 2003 Iraq war versus Saddam Hussein’s military was actually over quickly too, but Islamist insurgencies (some of which were backed by Iran) dragged out the military action and the country’s recovery. By 2009, Iraq was relatively stable and quiescent. More than 3,000 American troops died in the second Iraq war, but that number is dwarfed by the 59,000 killed in Vietnam.
Obama inherited that stable Iraq, and withdrew U.S. forces too quickly. The Islamic State has arisen out of the Syrian civil war and the vacuum of power that Obama left in Iraq.
Now Obama is slow rolling America’s entry into the war versus the Islamic State. His strategy of limiting U.S. forces’ role to “advisers” mirrors how U.S. presidents from Harry Truman to Lyndon Baines Johnson slowly increased America’s military role in Vietnam, especially following the French defeat at Dien Bien Phu in 1954. Within two years of that defeat, a small number of American military “advisers” were on the ground in Vietnam training the South Vietnam military. In 1962, there were 12,000 American troops in Vietnam, officially in non-combat roles. Two years later, there were 15,000 American troops in Vietnam.
In 1965 Johnson authorized Operation Rolling Thunder, a massive bombing campaign against the north. That same year, Johnson’s advisers determined that bombing alone would not be enough to win the war. Operation Rolling Thunder, though, was never intended to achieve victory. Its aim was to disrupt supply lines from the north into the south, by North Vietnam to the Vietcong guerillas. Operation Rolling Thunder slow rolled across two years, to including bombing more strategic targets in North Vietnam.
Operation Rolling Thunder was closely controlled by the White House and at times targets were personally selected by President Johnson. From 1965 to 1968, about 643,000 tons of bombs were dropped on North Vietnam. A total of nearly 900 U.S. aircraft were lost during Operation Rolling Thunder. The operation continued, with occasional suspensions, until President Johnson, under increasing domestic political pressure, halted it on October 31, 1968.
President Johnson escalated the U.S. role in Vietnam once it became clear that the advisory role plus U.S. air power would never defeat Ho Chi Minh’s communist forces. By the end of 1965, Johnson had sent 184,000 troops into Vietnam, and the “advisory” role was changed to combat.
The slow-rolled war dragged on until U.S. withdrawal in 1973, and the final defeat of South Vietnam in 1975. The victorious communists hunted down, imprisoned, tortured and murdered hundreds of thousands in South Vietnam, sparking a refugee exodus in the late 1970s and early 1980s.
During the Vietnam air war, President Johnson even personally selected bombing targets. President Obama, according to the MarketWatch report, is set to repeat that in selecting targets in Syria.
There are many obvious differences between Vietnam and the fight against the Islamic State, with Islam being the most obvious. The differences in the terrain — jungles in Asia, desert in the Middle East — is another.
But the similarities even at this stage of the ISIS fight are haunting, as we’ll explore on the next page.
During Wednesday’s House Select Committee on Benghazi testimony, one witness dropped a major revelation.
The bombshell came during discussion of just what the facility in Benghazi, Libya actually was. Was it a consulate? Was it something else? Its actual status has never been clear.
Former Homeland Security official Todd Keil told the panel that the the State Department classified it as a “Special Mission Compound.”
Under questioning from Rep. Peter Roskam (R-IL), Keil revealed something startling about “Special Mission Compounds.”
Namely, that according to the State Department and government security nomenclature, there is no such thing as a “Special Mission Compound.”
Rep. Roskam asked Keil, “What’s a Special Mission Compound?”
Keep in mind, Mr. Keil has a career spanning 27 years in global security, and 22 years serving in various positions in State Department diplomatic security.
Keil replied to Rep. Roskam, “I don’t know. To be honest, from our review, Under Secretary Kennedy, in authorizing that, made up that term in order to avoid the OSPB security standards.”
Under Secretary Patrick Kennedy is a career State Department official. The Bureau of Diplomatic Security answers to him. The OSPB is the Overseas Security Policy Board. It is charged with helping the State Department comply with a 1986 law.
Kennedy was among the high-level State Department officials who signed off on creating the facility in Benghazi, and who repeatedly denied requests for more security there. In 2013, Regional Security Officer Eric Nordstrom testified before the House that the Benghazi facility never met the department’s security standards. Keil’s revelation explains that: Under Secretary Patrick Kennedy made up a new term to avoid having to meet security standards. The question is, why?
Kennedy answered directly to then Secretary of State Hillary Clinton. He also supervised the selection of the staff for the Accountability Review Board, which Clinton convened in the aftermath of the September 11, 2012 attack. The ARB never interviewed Clinton, and kept its focus below Kennedy’s level.
Another State Department official, former Deputy Assistant Secretary Raymond Maxwell, has alleged that prior to the ARB’s investigation, Hillary Clinton loyalist Cheryl Mills led a basement team in scrubbing documents to remove anything that could implicate or embarrass Clinton and other high-level officials.
Four Americans, including US Ambassador to Libya Christopher Stevens, died in the terrorist attack on the facility in Benghazi on September 11, 2012.
ISIS released this morning what it said would be the first in a video “series” featuring another British hostage — not being executed, but delivering a case against the “Western media” portrayal of the Islamic State and the U.S.-British refusal to pay ransom.
Titled Lend Me Your Ears, the first video reveals veteran photojournalist John Cantlie, who has worked for the The Sunday Times, The Sun the Telegraph and more. He was first captured in Syria in July 2012, was shot trying to escape (“every Englishman’s duty,” he later wrote), and was rescued within a week by the Free Syrian Army.
Cantlie extensively talked about his experience after that, detailing between 10 to 15 British captors among the al-Qaeda-linked cell and threats that he would be beheaded, including “mock executions” where captors would torture prisoners and sharpen their knives.
In today’s video, Cantlie sits at a desk in an orange jumpsuit, and says he was abducted in November 2012.
Previous videos of ISIS have include hostages delivering statements criticizing their countries before they were beheaded, but have given indications that the statements were coerced. For example, Miami journalist Steve Sotloff spoke of “what little I know about foreign policy” in his video — but he wrote for Foreign Policy magazine, among others, and deeply covered the Arab Spring countries.
ISIS appears to have heard the skepticism and makes Cantlie address it directly.
Cantlie notes in the video that “many things have changed” since his kidnapping, including the “expansion of the Islamic State… a land mass bigger than Britain and many other nations.”
“Now, I know what you’re thinking. You’re thinking, he’s only doing this because he’s a prisoner. He’s got a gun at his head, and he’s being forced to do this, right?” Cantlie says, making a gun-firing gesture toward his head with his fingers.
“Well, it’s true. I am a prisoner. That I cannot deny. But seeing as how I’ve been abandoned by my government and my fate now lies in the hands of the Islamic State I have nothing to lose. Maybe I will live, and maybe I will die.”
He says that “over the next few programs” he will lay out facts that can “save lives.”
He then makes a pitch against “another conflict” in Iraq and says he’ll show how the news organizations he used to work for “twist and manipulate the truth.”
Cantlie also said he’d detail what really happened when “many European prisoners” were released by ISIS “and how they British and American governments thought they could do it differently than every other European country” — a clear reference to the hefty ransoms paid by other nations. “They negotiated with the Islamic State and got their people home, while the British and the Americans were left behind.”
“It’s very alarming to see where this is all headed,” Cantlie adds, “and it looks like history repeating itself yet again.”
“There is time to change this seemingly inevitable sequence of events, but only if you, the public, act now.”
Cronyism. Or Crony Capitalism. It’s actually Crony Socialism – because it actually has nothing to do with capitalism.
Crony Socialism is not an unfettered free market where the best ideas and companies win. It’s the government warping and distorting the market: favoring with absurdly tilted policies some ideas and companies – and thus inherently dis-favoring everyone else in said sector.
How much you pay to watch TV has been a Crony Socialist nightmare mess since basically the creation of cable TV. Thanks to government meddlesomely messing with the market.
The Cable Television Consumer Protection and Competition Act of 1992 (also known as the 1992 Cable Act) is a United States federal law which required cable systems to carry most local broadcast channels and prohibited cable operators from charging local broadcasters to carry their signal.
Get that? Cable companies are required by law to deliver all local broadcast stations in every channel package. Cable companies must then sit down with broadcasters and pretend to negotiate a “free market” deal for how much they pay for those stations.
If you and I sat down to negotiate a price for my widgets – after the government has mandated that you purchase my widgets – don’t you think I’m going to inflate the price of my widgets?
And broadcasters are thanks to government a monopoly – in the sense that they alone carry the product cable companies are mandated by government to purchase. And thus their prices are perpetually on the rise.
Of course the more cable companies pay for these local stations – the more we pay for them.
And cable companies—and thus you—are required by government to pay rigged prices for a product that you used to get for free with a rooftop antenna or a pair of rabbit ears.
Government mandates rarely go well. Government is now mandating that everyone buy health insurance – how’s that going?
ObamaCare will increase average individual-market insurance premiums by 99% for men, 62% for women; ObamaCare will raise premiums for 65% of small firms; ObamaCare taxes add billion to rising premiums.
And broadcasters know: when your cable bill goes up, you don’t get mad at the broadcasters for overcharging for their channels – you get mad at your cable company for having to pass those costs on to you.
As sweet as this broadcasters’ deal is – it ain’t anywhere near all.
The Broadcasters are actually the beneficiaries of decades of government good grace – well beyond the uber-tilted Cable Act.
They received free from government charge their spectrum – the airwaves they use to broadcast. Surely something the cellular phone companies have eyed as they’ve paid the government tens of billions of dollars for their spectrum.
And now we have the looming spectrum incentive auction. Where Broadcasters get to sell their spectrum – that they, again, received for free – to the cell phone companies (via the government middle man).
I’m sure a company like Verizon - a cell phone company who with Fios is also a television Provider – is thrilled to pay Broadcasters for spectrum the latter received for free, while also having the government tilt the Retransmission rules against them, in the Broadcasters’ favor.
The Broadcasters have a pretty sweet omni-directional Crony Socialist deal going. Little wonder they are fighting so hard against any changes to it.
If we can get an injection of Free Market (Food and Drug Administration [FDA] approval-pending) anywhere into this Crony Socialist organism – we should absolutely take it. The “Local Choice” bill now before the Senate would do just that.
Taking a novel approach to broadcast retransmission consent, Senate Commerce Committee Chairman Jay Rockefeller (D-WV) joined forces with ranking committee member John Thune (R-SD) in unveiling a proposal that would allow subscribers to multichannel video program distribution (MVPD) services to select the local broadcast channels they want while permitting MVPDs to bill subscribers directly for licensing fees connected with the broadcast channels of their choice.
Any roll back of any Crony Socialism is a turn in the right direction.
Once upon a time, Slate got very upset by any hint of a Jewish stereotype. But that was before Vice President Joe “Archie Bunker” Biden’s latest doozy complaining “unscrupulous bankers” were a bunch of “Shylocks.”
There is not a mention (so far) of Biden’s latest gaffe to be found at Slate today.
That wasn’t the case when George Lucas introduced us to the slave trader Watto in Star Wars: The Phantom Menace.
In a piece headlined “The Merchant of Menace,” Slate was quick to attack Watto:
There, they attempt to repair their broken spaceship but are stymied by the hook-nosed owner of the local parts shop–Watto–who also happens to have a thick Yiddish accent! (To hear an example, click “Great.”) Psychological manipulations that work on almost everyone fail with Watto–”Mind ticks don’ta work on me … only money! No,” he cries–and the heroes get what they want only through the bravery of a gifted slave boy (Anakin Skywalker). At the end of the desert planet sequence, Anakin is emancipated but separated from his mother, who still belongs to Watto. Even in a galaxy far away, the Jews are apparently behind the slave trade.
By now the hypocrisy of the legacy and left-wing (but I repeat myself) media is no surprise. When a Democrat vice president brazenly uses “Shylocks” as a slur to condemn bankers, and thereby conjures the most sinister anti-Semitic narrative of the last 500 years, Biden gets a pass. Perhaps if he had added that the “Shylocks” also ”control the media” or have horns, there might have been some attention paid at the once vigilant Slate. Perhaps not.
The same sort of hypocrisy is on display at Talking Points Memo. TPM features an attack on a Republican candidate for U.S. Senate for website plagiarism. Just a month ago, TPM was busy defending Fareed Zakaria. Thanks, guys, you make posts like this one so easy to write.
A few weeks ago I wrote about Julio Pino, a tenured Kent State professor who openly supports Hamas on his Facebook page and calls for the destruction of Israel. The convert to Islam also wrote, “MESSAGE MY WAY FROM ZION: While we were educating the world your parents and their ancestors were giving BLOW JOBS to apes!! THAT’S A FACT jack!!” and vowed that he would not work with his fellow professors who support Israel saying, “Collaborate with no one who collaborates with Israel, and let her or him know why. I have started with the head of our ‘Religious Studies’ program, who sends student-dupes to Israel every year.”
Kent State did not respond to my request for a comment about the Facebook posts and Adam Hirsh, Assistant Director of Hillel at Kent State declined to comment on the posts, instead referring me to a statement the group made earlier in the month about Dr. Pino’s “repeated hate rhetoric.”
Basically, the incendiary Facebook posts were met with a yawn. Just more bigoted rantings from Kent State’s resident anti-Semitic scholar.
But, oh, the outrage at Kent State this week when Urban Outfitters tried to sell a vintage Kent State sweatshirt that appeared to be blood-spattered! Many students were upset, saying it reminded them of the May 4, 1970 shootings of four students by members of the National Guard. In fact, the Plain Dealer reported that Kent State students were “collectively disgusted” by the shirt.
“I was just appalled,” said Marvin Logan, president of Undergraduate Student Government. “As a member who represents the entire student population, I felt for our community. May 4 is a sensitive topic. It’s a part of our legacy and should not be taken lightly.”
“How could somebody be so insensitive?” asked Jerry Lewis, a professor emeritus of sociology at Kent State who witnessed the Kent State shootings. “Even if you don’t know the parents like I do or you don’t know the wounded students, 13 people were shot protesting, legally protesting. (That) should be enough to make you outraged by the sweatshirt.”
Congressman Tim Ryan, a Democrat who represents Kent, even felt the need to weigh in on the controversial sweatshirts. ”It is deplorable for Urban Outfitters to exploit the pain and suffering of this national tragedy for their gain,” Ryan said in a press release. “May 4th was a seminal and transformational moment in American history and we should never lose sight of its immense impact. Those who cannot remember the past, are condemned to repeat it,” said Ryan (or was it Santayana?)
Likewise, the university was outraged at the insensitivity of Urban Outfitters. ”We take great offense to a company using our pain for their publicity and profit,” the university said in a statement Monday. “This item is beyond poor taste and trivializes a loss of life that still hurts the Kent State community today.”
Kent State spokesman Eric Mansfield said he has been contacted by media from around the world about the shirts. Urban Outfitters also called to let him know the company was posting an apology on Twitter. “Urban Outfitters sincerely apologizes for any offense our Vintage Kent State Sweatshirt may have caused,” the company posted on Twitter. “It was never our intention to allude to the tragic events that took place at Kent State in 1970 and we are extremely saddened that this item was perceived as such.”
Mindy Farmer, who was leading freshman students through the May 4 Visitor Center as part of their First Year Experience class this week said, ”There was nothing but outrage,” about the sweatshirts. “May 4 was a sad event and we are seeing nothing but support (for the university). They have a sense of history and for that we are grateful.”
Farmer told the Plain Dealer that the Urban Outfitter sweatshirt incident is a teachable moment for students.
“We are the right place to combat ignorance,” she said.
Activists who organized the dormant Occupy Wall Street movement are suing another activist for control of the main Twitter account, and one of the plaintiffs says there was no other option but to turn to litigation to solve the dispute.
The conflict centers around @OccupyWallStNYC, one of the main Twitter feeds that distributed information during the movement’s heyday in 2011. The OWS Media Group filed a lawsuit against organizer Justin Wedes on Wednesday, which is also the third anniversary of the beginning of Occupy Wall Street. The group, led by activist Marisa Holmes, is seeking control of the Twitter account as well as $500,000 in damages.
Back in the days when Occupy Wall St. was stinking up public spaces from coast to coast, we were treated to narrative onslaught about the organic nature of the movement. It was supposed to have sprung from nothing more than the frustration of some college youth, all of whom seem to have been homeless rather than in school. It was often contrasted with the Tea Party movement, which the MSM and Occupy people were forever saying was astroturfed by, you guessed it, THE KOCH BROTHERS.
As with most things having to do with progressives, reality was the opposite of what they were saying. I had the chance (lucky me!) to travel around the country and encounter more than one Occupy group. Some had a heavy union presence in charge, others were run by professional organizers/agitators. I met one in Madison, WI (I’d infiltrated the camp with the Gateway Pundit Jim Hoft. We didn’t lie but we weren’t terribly open about who we were.) who rolled her eyes and laughed when I asked if she ever spent the night at the camp.
It faded out as quickly as it came into being, because it was fake. But think back and remember that almost everyone in the media, as well as the highest ranking Democrat in the House, and the President lied to us about the group.
Vice President Joe Biden said on Wednesday his use of the term “Shylocks,” which some consider anti-Semitic, was “a poor choice of words.”
His statement came a day after the national director of the Anti-Defamation League issued a mild rebuke of the vice president’s use of the word, saying Biden “should have been more careful.”
At a Tuesday conference marking the 40th anniversary of the Legal Services Corporation, Biden recalled anecdotes from his son’s experience serving in Iraq and meeting members of the military who were in need of legal help because of problems back at home.
“That’s one of the things that he finds was most in need when he was over there in Iraq for a year,” Biden said. “That people would come to him and talk about what was happening to them at home in terms of foreclosures, in terms of bad loans that were being … I mean these Shylocks who took advantage of, um, these women and men while overseas.”
I’m just playing by their rules here. If a Republican had said the exact same thing MSNBC would have it on a 24/7 loop and the Hitler comparisons would be on. Biden’s history, especially since becoming Vice President, is one huge body of evidence that he doesn’t think before, during or after speaking. Sure, he’ll get around to an, “Oops, shucks…” insincere apology like this when his handlers have point out his latest gaffe, but he is held to absolutely no standard whatsoever by the media or the Democrats. Conservatives and Republicans barely hold him to one. Most I talk to dismiss him or say they find him “amusing”.
Nothing funny about a guy who never thinks being that close to the nukes if you ask me.
The House today passed an amendment to train and equip Syrian rebels, with more Democrats than Republicans opposing President Obama’s request.
The House vote was 273-156 after more than six hours of debate that revealed no party-line divides. Eighty-five Democrats were opposed along with 71 Republicans. (See the yeas and nays here.)
“The amendment to the continuing resolution, according to a summary by the office of sponsor and House Armed Services Chairman Buck McKeon (R-Calif.), allows the Defense Department ‘to train and equip appropriately vetted elements of the Syrian opposition and other appropriately vetted Syrian groups or individuals.’ Additionally, this amendment would strengthen Congressional oversight by requiring detailed reports, including progress reports on the plan, vetting process, and procedures for monitoring unauthorized end-use of provided training and equipment. It would also require the President to report on how this authority fits within a larger regional strategy.”
McKeon lauded the bipartisan vote after the amendment’s passage.
“This authority would allow those forces to fight ISIL terrorists. The president requested this authority and — after we shaped it to include robust oversight mechanisms — the House gave it to him. I hope the Senate quickly follows suit,” McKeon said.
“While we voted to approve the authority in large numbers, none of us believe that this program alone can achieve the president’s objective to ‘degrade and destroy’ ISI,” he added. “A more robust strategy will be required from the president to do that. I hope that, with the support of Congress and the American people, he adopts one.”
Rep. Ileana Ros-Lehtinen (R-Fla.), past chairwoman of the House Foreign Affairs Committee, voted for the amendment while stressing it still doesn’t present a comprehensive strategy against ISIS.
“I am afraid that this misguided approach will preempt many to acquiesce and take a deal that would undermine our national security and leaves Iran with enrichment capabilities,” Ros-Lehtinen said.
Rep. Cory Gardner (R-Colo.), who’s locked in a tight race to unset Sen. Mark Udall (D-Colo.), voted for the amendment as “ISIL is an imminent threat to the safety of our nation and our interests.”
“They have kidnapped and murdered Americans, threatened attacks on American soil, and are actively pursuing recruits in the United States,” Gardner said. “We must not sit back and watch while this terrorist organization continues to threaten our citizens, our government, and our way of life. Today’s action by the House of Representatives sends a clear message that we will not stand idly by while terrorists attempt to intimidate us.”
Some of the GOP “no” votes came from Tea Party conservatives such as Rep. Mick Mulvaney (R-S.C.).
“The only choice I was given was to approve (or disapprove) a plan that would arm groups we know very little about,” Mulvaney said in a statement. “…The Administration has been completely incapable of defining what ‘victory’ looks like. I think ‘when will we know it will be over?’ is a reasonable question to ask. The answers have been frighteningly ambiguous to, worse, completely unreasonable.”
Rep. Michele Bachmann (R-Minn.), another “no” vote, said Obama’s “failure to convince the American people, coupled with turning a blind eye to this ongoing conflict, has once again left the United States without any good options.”
“President Obama has the right conclusion – defeating the Islamic State – but a flawed strategy filled with half-measures to reach it,” she continued. “The Islamic State declared war against the United States, and President Obama has asked the U.S. Congress to follow him in a Vietnam-style slow walked response. I will not.”
“Either the United States chooses to decisively defeat this brutal evil with all available resources, or we will have to answer the next generation’s questions regarding why we failed to defeat the totalitarian evil of our day.”
Upon returning from Vietnam, Secretary of State John Kerry testified before Congress about the war and chucked his medal at the U.S. Capitol the next day.
Today, Kerry told antiwar protesters they should be against ISIS in part because of the lack of social services they offer to women.
Kerry began his testimony before the Senate Foreign Relations Committee backdropped by Code Pink protesters seated in the gallery rows. They held signs including “There is no military solution” and “No beheading. No bombing.”
“You know, as I came in here, obviously, we had some folks who spoke out and I would start by saying that I understand dissent. I’ve lived it. That’s how I first testified in front of this country in 1971. And I spent two years protesting a policy,” Kerry said. “So I respect the right of Code Pink to protest and to use that right. But you know what, I also know something about Code Pink.”
“Code Pink was started by a woman and women who were opposed to war, but who also thought that the government’s job was to take care of people and to give them health care and education and good jobs,” he continued.
“And if that’s what you believe in — and I believe it is — then you ought to care about fighting ISIL because ISIL is killing and raping and mutilating women. And they believe women shouldn’t have an education.”
Kerry noted that the Islamic State sells off girls “to be sex slaves to jihadists.”
“There’s no negotiation with ISIL, there’s nothing to negotiate. And they’re not offering anyone healthcare of any kind. You know, they’re not offering education of any kind,” he said. “For a whole philosophy or idea or a cult, whatever you want to call it, that frankly comes out of the Stone Age, they’re cold-blooded killers, marauding across the Middle East, making a mockery of a peaceful religion.”
“And that’s precisely why we are building a coalition to stop them from denying the women and the girls and the people of Iraq the very future that they yearned for. And frankly, Code Pink and a lot of other people need to stop and think about how you stop them and deal with that.”
At this point a protester began chanting, “The war invasion will not protect the homeland!” She was led from the room by security.
“There’s no invasion. The invasion was ISIL into Iraq,” Kerry retorted. “The invasion is foreign fighters into Syria. That’s the invasion. And it is destructive to every possibility of building a state in that region. So even in a region that is virtually defined by division and every member of this committee understands the degree to which these divisions are deep in that region.”
It’s known colloquially as “Who Hit John,” “The ‘Crature’,” and “John Barleycorn.” It’s name is derived from the Gaelic for “Water of Life” — for which those of us who imbibe the elixir from time to time (or more often) heartily agree.
Whatever you want to call it, Scotch Whiskey is Scotland’s proudest achievement. In a nation of 5 million people, $6.5 billion in Scotch is exported annually. That accounts for fully 20% of all exports in the country. It’s the third biggest industry in Scotland behind financial services and oil.
But the industry operates in a global marketplace where more mundane concerns than achingly smooth taste and a complex bouquet are of paramount importance. Cheap credit, trade barriers, and a reliance on the UK to help promote their product have most distilleries in Scotland worried about the vote on independence.
Members of Scotland’s best-known industry are watching the vote for independence with serious trepidation.
Lack of certainty about Scotland’s currency, interest rate levels and membership in the European Union—which eliminates trade barriers in its largest market—all compete for the top of the list of worries.
Mike Younger, one of the few Scotch executives who will speak to the media, is finance director for Macleod Distillers, makers of Glengoyne Single Malt. He is solidly in the “no” camp. “I’m nervous,” he said, “because the results could be quite difficult for business.”
Scotch whisky is the third-largest contributor to Scotland’s GDP after the oil industry and financial services. And it acts as perhaps the No. 1 ambassador for Scottish culture. Nine out of 10 bottles are sent overseas.
Scotch can only be made in Scotland, just as Champagne can only be made in the Champagne region of France. In Scotland, it’s officially called Scotch Whisky (no “e” at the end!).
And precisely because it is an export, Scotch is particularly vulnerable to the unknowns that will come about if the Scots vote yes for independence.
David Williamson is the spokesperson for the Scotch Whisky Association. Officially, the group is not taking a side, but Williamson said that “At the moment, the consensus within the Scotch industry is that the potential risks outweigh the advantages.”
Back on the factory floor of Macleod, Younger said he’s worried because he thinks credit will become less available, and more expensive, in what will be a much smaller country, “simply because the full scale of the Scottish banking system at that point will be much smaller and less well defined and less capable than the much richer system that we have across the UK in its entirety.”
The potential rise of trade barriers is another concern. Currently, Scotland, as part of the United Kingdom, is part of the European Union, and faces no trade barriers in member states. The leaders of the “Yes” campaign have promised that Scotland would remain in the European Union, but just today, Spain said it would block Scotland’s membership.
The US imbibes more than twice as much Scotch as any other nation — $1.32 billion to France’s $600 million. If the distilleries are worried, so should be Scotch drinkers. There’s not much danger of an interruption in supply, as much as there may be significant price increases and availability issues for some of the more popular brands.
In its latest report, “Going Scot-free”, the bank notes that while many have argued independence has the “potential” to boost sales of Scotch, it believes the “overall short-term impact on the industry will be negative.”
The bank highlighted five key areas which will be impacted, one of which would be the industry’s ability to access EU export markets, which currently account for 37% of Scotch sales, as a result of its temporary loss of EU membership and free trade agreement with member states.
While Scotland would be expected to re-apply for EU membership, the country would likely to shut out until at least 2018, leaving the Scotch sector at risk of seeing higher import tariffs in its core markets for at least two years, competition from other spirits categories and its competitiveness in key EU markets.
“The Scottish government would also have a mountainous task in procuring new trade agreements with non EU export markets following independence,” warned the bank.
It has been suggested that Scotland could instead join the European Economic Area (EEA) and the European Free Trade Association (EFTA), giving it full access to the EU market without required membership to the EU, however foregoing any influence on it which could prove uncomfortable for a newly independent country.
The loss of the British pound would also raise uncertainly with a change in currency likely to lead to an “increase in foreign exchange risk for Scotch exports”, according to the bank.
Should independence be established, the Rabobank warned it was likely interest rates would rise which could create a “serious challenge” within an industry built on inventories stored up for decades with smaller companies likely to be hit hardest.
The pro-independence leaders have dismissed the concerns of the distilleries, saying that Scotch has been around for at least 800 years and it’s not going anywhere. That may be true. But it looks like Scotch makers are in for a rough ride if the “yes” vote wins tomorrow.
Pelosi Refuses to Say that We’re at War with ISIS, Has No Trouble Declaring that There Is a ‘War on Women’
Great stuff from the folks at CNS News. House Democrat leader Rep. Nancy Pelosi turned up on MSNBC today. Ronan Farrow asked her a simple question: Are we at war with ISIS?
The Obama adminstration has had trouble answering that one, but they have finally come around to admitting that yes, we are at war with ISIS.
Pelosi twists herself around words to stay away from calling it a “war.”
But other “wars” that the Democrats just made up…Pelosi has no trouble declaring that they’re real.
Today’s House Select Committee hearing on Benghazi was short of fireworks or revelations. But former Obama Homeland Security official Todd Keil was asked directly whether the State Department’s Accountability Review Board, which was hand-picked by then Secretary of State Hillary Clinton, was as “fiercely independent as she and members of that board have claimed.
Rep. Jim Jordan (R-OH) asked Keil “What’s your overall impression of the ARB report?”
Keil replied, “Ambassador Pickering referred to the ARB as being ‘fiercely independent.’ In that same hearing, Admiral Mullen admitted to Oversight and Government Reform that he was reporting on ARB proceedings to staff of the State Department, outside of the precepts and requirements of being a member of the ARB.
“I don’t think that fits anyone’s definition of being ‘fiercely independent.’”
Keil is a 27-year veteran of global security operations and management, according to his bio. President Obama tapped him in December 2009 to serve as Assistant Secretary for Infrastructure Protection at the Department of Homeland Security. He also served in the US State Department’s Diplomatic Security Service for over 22 years.
The Daily Mail has new photos of the incident that led to Django Unchained actress Daniele Watts’ confrontation with police.
Watts initially claimed that police arrested her for kissing her white boyfriend, Brian James Lucas, in public. But then a tape of her confrontation with police came out — and it’s Watts who plays the race card, even saying that as a black actress she “raises awareness” of race issues.
The police officer simply told Watts that someone called the police about lewd activity taking place in a public area, so he had to investigate, and he had the right to ask for Watts’ identification. She refused to provide that, escalating the confrontation.
The photos in the Mail show Watts sitting on her husband, straddling him, with the car door open as it is parked on the street.
Eye witnesses have come forward to say that Watts was grinding on her boyfriend, and that she had her shirt up and her breasts exposed. See the photo on the next page and just for yourself.
A week ago today, President Obama touted Yemen and Somalia as examples of successful counterterrorism. He made the claim en route to offering his strategy for dealing with the Islamic State in Iraq and Syria.
US national security officials tell a different story about those two countries, according to The Hill. They are not successes.
“Al Qaeda’s official branches in Yemen and Somalia continue to remain extremely active,” National Counterterrorism Center Director Matthew Olsen told lawmakers during a hearing.
Olsen said in prepared remarks that the Yemen-based group was the Al Qaeda affiliate “most likely to attempt transnational attacks” against the United States, according to Reuters.
“Of course, over the past five years Al Qaeda in the Arabian Peninsula has sought on three times to take down an airplane bound for the United States,” he said at the hearing.
Secretary of Homeland Security Jeh Johnson echoed Olsen’s remarks, warning that while ISIS was the “most prominent terrorist organization,” his Department has to stay focus on a range of terrorist threats.
“From my homeland security perspective we have to stay focus on a range of threats. Al Qaeda in the Arabian Peninsula, for example, is still active,” Johnson said.
Obama overrode his generals in crafting the ISIS strategy he rolled out a week ago, just as he overrode them when he pulled US troops out of Iraq. Is he listening to his own national security officials?
The US energy industry has been warning for years that the Obama EPA’s caps on carbon emissions will lead to several bad outcomes for Americans, including skyrocketing energy prices and even brownouts and blackouts.
The EPA’s Janet McCabe was testifying in the House today on the agency’s plan to cap carbon emissions. And then the power went out.
If there’s a unifying message Washington is trying to publicly send about the referendum that could split Scotland from the United Kingdom, it might be “c’est la vie.”
Administration officials have been stressing that it’s the UK’s business, refusing to give much of an opinion when asked about Thursday’s crucial vote.
The polling margin is decidedly toss-up. A Sunday Times poll from Sept. 9-12 found 46 percent yes, 47 percent no, and 7 percent undecided. A Telegraph poll conducted Sept. 12-15 found 43 percent in favor of secession, 47 percent saying no and 9 percent undecided. The video of ISIS beheading Scottish aid worker David Haines was released in the early morning hours UK time on Sept. 14.
A Scotsman poll conducted Sept. 12-16 found the “no” vote at 45 percent, with “yes” at 41 percent and 14 percent undecided. A Panelbase poll taken Sept. 15-17 found the “no” votes pulling head, at 50 percent to 45 percent on the “aye” side; five percent were still undecided.
By any measure, it’s too close to call.
When asked in Paris on Monday about the upcoming vote and its broader implications for Europe, Secretary of State John Kerry eschewed a characteristically verbose response.
“No, no. Honestly, I — anything I would say to that effect would be — become part of the campaign, and it’d be inappropriate for me to say anything at this point,” Kerry said.
“I will say this: that we’ve — just that the president has said — I think the president said in the past at various locations the strong and united and proactive United Kingdom has been an important player and an important contributor. But he and I and no one in our government are commenting on this vote.”
White House press secretary Josh Earnest noted that President Obama was standing next to British Prime Minister David Cameron at the G-7 meeting in Brussels when he gave the definitive White House meme on the referendum.
“You recall that what the president said was he said that — that from the outside, the United States has a deep interest in ensuring that one of the closest allies that we’ll ever have remains strong, robust, united and an effective partner with the United States,” Earnest said Monday.
“So, this is a decision for the people of Scotland to make. We certainly respect the right of individual Scots to make a decision about the — along these lines. But, you know, as the president himself said, we have a — we have an interest in seeing the United Kingdom remain strong, robust, united and an effective partner.”
“United” — so does that mean Washington does have a position on the vote?
“Flames of War,” coming soon! Complete with President Obama vowing no more Iraq war and the Mission Accomplished banner. ISIS ups its production value with its latest threats (Rambo-style explosions in the trailer, fake flames, no beheadings):
Robert Gates was President Barack Obama’s first Secretary of Defense.
On CBS this morning, Gates made his first public comments on the Islamic State since Obama announced his strategy for “degrading and destroying” ISIS without putting any US troops in ground combat against them.
Gates said, ”The reality is, they’re not going to be able to be successful against ISIS strictly from the air or strictly depending on the Iraqi forces or the Peshmerga or the Sunni tribes acting on their own. So there will be boots on the ground if there’s to be any hope of success in the strategy. And I think that by continuing to repeat that [there won't be troops on the ground], the president in effect traps himself.”
After predicting that there will be US boots on the ground if we’re to defeat ISIS, Gates continued: ”I’m also concerned that the goal has been stated as ‘degrade and destroy’ or ‘degrade and defeat’ ISIS. We’ve been at war with al Qaeda for 13 years. We have dealt them some terrible blows, including the killing of Osama bin Laden, but I don’t think anybody would say that after 13 years we’ve destroyed or defeated al Qaeda. And so I think to promise that we’re going to destroy ISIS or ISIL sets a goal that may be unattainable. as opposed to devastating it or as the vice president would put it, following them to the gates of hell and dealing them terrible blows that prevent them from holding territory. Those are probably realistic goals.”
The Islamic State currently holds territory that is roughly the size of the United Kingdom. The UK itself might shrink if Scottish voters approve a referendum to secede from the union.
Watch Gates’ comments on Obama’s anti-ISIS strategy.
Gates’ comments come alongside a new CBS News/New York Times poll showing that Obama’s approval rating on handling terrorism is at a new low.
Running back Adrian Peterson will not play for the Minnesota Vikings until his legal issues are resolved, the team said early Wednesday.
It’s a reversal of course for the Vikings. The team had earlier said that Peterson, who is facing a child abuse charge, would practice this week and could play in Sunday’s game against the New Orleans Saints
In a statement early Wednesday, the team said Peterson has been placed on the NFL’s Exempt/Commissioner’s Permission list, which will require him to “remain away from all team activities.”
Vikings: Peterson won’t play on Sunday Should fans stop watching NFL games? Lemon: I don’t condone what Peterson did
“While we were trying to make a balanced decision (Monday), after further reflection we have concluded that this resolution is best for the Vikings and for Adrian,” said a statement from owners Zygi and Mark Wilf. “We want to be clear: we have a strong stance regarding the protection and welfare of children, and we want to be sure we get this right.”
The “balanced decision” on Monday came before the Vikings’ main sponsor, Radisson, backed off from its financial involvement with the team.
This is just another response from the NFL’s upper echelon that shows how remarkably out of touch they are with the people who spend money on their product. Roger Goodell shouldn’t have had to see the second Ray Rice video to know what Rice did was heinous, and the first allegation against Peterson should have been enough for the Vikings to keep Peterson suspended for a while. It seems as if they’re all trying to gauge the public’s tolerance for off the field violent behavior.
Or they’re just kind of dumb.
Is it ISIS or ISIL? The French government has found its solution.
The term ISIL, meaning the Islamic State in Iraq and the Levant, references the eastern Mediterranean region stretching from Turkey to Egypt, swallowing up Syria, Lebanon, Israel and Jordan. After establishing their “caliphate,” the terror group dropped the Levant from its name and simply went with Islamic State.
The Obama administration, from the Pentagon to the State Department to the White House, consistently uses ISIL. A majority of members in Congress, on both sides of the aisle, also use ISIL in their press releases. Hearing names juggle between ISIS and ISIL. The British government uses ISIL as well.
Houses Democrats eventually decided in caucus to use ISIL, reportedly in part out of deference to women named Isis.
Governments are unified about not legitimizing their border-busting caliphate by calling them the Islamic State, or IS. The use of Islamic State is usually prefaced by “so-called” or “self-professed.”
ISIS, which generally has been favored by a majority of news outlets including The New York Times and ABC News, stands for the Islamic State in Iraq and al-Sham — parts of Turkey, Jordan, Lebanon and Syria, which formed Greater Syria, after a caliphate was formed in the 7th century. Al-Sham can also be interpreted to mean the same territory as the Levant or to simply refer to Damascus.
After President Obama appeared on Meet the Press earlier this month, host Chuck Todd theorized why the administration uses ISIL. “Obviously we refer to it at NBC News as ISIS. The Obama administration, president, says the word ISIL,” Todd said. “The last S stands for Syria, the last L they don’t want to have stand for Syria.”
Maureen Dowd called it “a bit odd that the administration is using ‘the Levant,’ given that it conjures up a colonial association from the early 20th century, when Britain and France drew their maps, carving up Mesopotamia guided by economic gain rather than tribal allegiances. Unless it’s a nostalgic nod to a time when puppets were more malleable and grateful to their imperial overlords.”
While the successor to al-Qaeda in Iraq sees Islamic State, ISIS, or ISIL as legitimizing their caliphate aims, they take Daesh as an insult.
The formal name of the group is al-Dawla al-Islamiya al-Iraq al-Sham. Take the “D,” an “A,” and the “Sh,” and that’s where the loose acronym Daesh comes from.
It was first pegged by Arabic media and quickly caught on among Free Syrian Army and Kurdish fighters, civilians in the region opposed to IS, Twitter Kurds, and governments in the region that want to dis’ the Islamic State. It’s also used in Israel.
The great part is the term’s multiple meanings among IS opponents, as the word sounds like the Arabic term for trampling or crushing underfoot: daes. It can also sound like Dahes, explained France24, which can either mean “one who sows discord” or refer to the Dahes wal Ghabra war in the pre-Islamic period of Arabia.
France thinks that’s just perfect.
Stressing that “this is a terrorist group and not a state,” Foreign Minister Laurent Fabius told reporters last week that he will be using the Arabic term — and he urged news organizations to do the same.
“The Arabs call it ‘Daesh’ and I will be calling them the ‘Daesh cutthroats,’” Fabius said.
The latest press release from the Ministry of Foreign Affairs leaves out the “cutthroats,” but holds fast to the Daesh vow — while attempting to train people on the term.
“M. Laurent Fabius, Minister of Foreign Affairs and International Development, had a meeting today with his British counterpart, Mr Philip Hammond,” said a Tuesday statement. “During this first bilateral meeting, the ministers took stock of the common battle against Daesh [ISIL], support for a solution to the crisis in Ukraine, the priorities for the European Union following the appointment of the new Commission, and the fight against the spread of the Ebola epidemic.”
“There can be little political ambiguity behind the French government’s decision to deploy Daesh as a linguistic weapon,” noted France24.
And IS/ISIS/ISIL goons really hate Daesh:
Several residents in Mosul, Iraq’s second-largest city which fell to the extremist group in June, told The Associated Press that the militants threatened to cut the tongue of anyone who publicly used the acronym Daesh, instead of referring to the group by its full name, saying it shows defiance and disrespect. The residents spoke anonymously out of fear for their safety.
Last month, the Associated Press ruled that it would not use ISIL in stories anymore except in direct quotes, telling Poynter: “About a month ago ISIL changed its name, so our approach is to refer to them on first reference simply as ‘Islamic militants,’ ‘jihadi fighters,’ ‘the leading Islamic militant group fighting in Iraq (Syria), etc.’ On second reference, something like ‘the group, which calls itself the Islamic State,’ with ‘group’ helping to make clear that it is not an internationally recognized state.”
What do you think they should be called?
— Asaf Ronel (@AsafRonel) September 17, 2014
— Ruwayda Mustafah (@RuwaydaMustafah) September 17, 2014
— Tony Karon (@TonyKaron) September 17, 2014
— Peter Spooner (@pjspooner) September 17, 2014
A Republican and a Democrat have joined forces in the House to reform the controversial program that gives surplus Defense Department equipment to local police departments.
More than 8,000 federal and state law enforcement agencies actively participate in the program, the DoD told a Senate hearing last week, in 49 states and three U.S. territories. Among the “controlled property” distributed to law enforcement over the past 12 months are more than 92,000 small arms, 44,000 night-vision devices, 52,000 Humvees, and 617 MRAPs.
On Tuesday, Reps. Hank Johnson (D-Ga.) and Raul Labrador (R-Idaho) introduced the Stop Militarizing Law Enforcement Act.
The bill aims to “prevent transfers of equipment inappropriate for local policing, such as high-caliber weapons, long-range acoustic devices, grenade launchers, armed drones, armored vehicles, and grenades or similar explosives.”
It ends a provision in the program requiring that departments are supposed to use the military equipment within a year, postulating that this creates an incentive where police use the equipment in inappropriate circumstances.
It also requires that departments can account for all equipment granted by the federal government, noting that in 2012 a sheriff was busted for re-gifting his Humvees and other military equipment.
“Militarizing America’s main streets won’t make us any safer, just more fearful and more reticent,” Johnson said in a statement. “Before another small town’s police force gets a $750,000 gift from the Defense Department that it can’t maintain or manage, it behooves us to press pause on Pentagon’s 1033 program and revisit the merits of a militarized America.”
The issue of police militarization heated up as a result of the protests in Ferguson, Mo., over the shooting death of 18-year-old Michael Brown.
“Our nation was founded on the principle of a clear line between the military and civilian policing,” said Labrador. “The Pentagon’s current surplus property program blurs that line by introducing a military model of overwhelming force in our cities and towns. Our bill would restore the focus of local law enforcement on protecting citizens and providing due process for the accused.”
Republican senators selected Sen. Mike Lee (R-Utah) to lead the conservative agenda in upper chamber starting in the 114th Congress.
Sen. Pat Toomey (R-Pa.), who has served as the chairman of the Senate Steering Committee for the past two years, will step down from the post at the end of this year.
“Mike Lee is a knowledgeable and principled movement conservative, and he has done a terrific job as vice chairman of the Steering Committee this Congress,” Toomey said in a statement. “I’m pleased to hand the gavel to him. I look forward to continuing to work with Mike, and my colleagues, to advance innovative conservative ideas that help create jobs and grow the economy.”
The conservative caucus meets each Wednesday to plan its agenda.
Lee has made a conservative war on poverty a centerpiece of his personal policy agenda.
“I am honored by the opportunity to chair the Senate Steering Committee,” said Lee, who has been serving as vice-chairman of the caucus. “Senator Toomey has been a courageous and principled leader and I hope to maintain the standard he has set.”
“The Senate Steering Committee will continue to develop and promote conservative solutions and facilitate vigorous discussion and debate on the issues that matter most to the country,” he added. “I look forward to leading this effort and very much appreciate the support of my colleagues.”
Toomey fell out of favor with some on the right after co-sponsoring a gun-control compromise bill in spring 2013 with Sen. Joe Manchin (D-W.Va.), which ultimately failed.
Senate Conservatives Fund president Ken Cuccinelli called Lee “a principled leader and a true champion for the conservative movement.”
“SCF was proud to endorse Mike when he ran for the Senate in 2010 and we are very glad that he has been named Chairman of the Senate Steering Committee,” Cuccinelli said in a statement. “Mike has continued to be a strong voice for our nation’s Constitution and the need for limited government. We’re excited to see him continue to fight for conservative policies in this new position and stand ready to help steer the Senate in the right direction.”
On the next page, you’ll find the most cogent analysis of what fueled the terrorist attacks on 9/11 and why we now find ourselves facing a new iteration of the same enemy. Elan Journo, fellow and director of policy research at the Ayn Rand Institute, talks with interviewer Steve Simpson about the confused foreign policy which has led to the longest war in American history.
Journo begins by accurately identifying the enemy, an essential prerequisite to engaging and defeating them. He tells Simpson:
ISIS originated as one of the insurgent groups in Iraq. And they, like a lot of the insurgent groups – the ones that survived were the ones that were better at killing Americans and better at doing savagery. They went into Syria and they became stronger. They are basically now marching to the beat of the Islamist goal, which is to create a regime based on Allah’s laws on Earth, which is what the Taliban did, which is what the Iranians see themselves as doing. So, in that sense, [ISIS is] not unique. They’re basically part of the same enemy.
Indeed, in failing to accurately identify and destroy the enemy which attacked us on 9/11, we merely “scattered them,” as Journo puts it. That’s why we find ourselves facing ISIS today.
The question becomes: why have we failed? How has the most powerful military force on Earth been unable to defeat the relatively ragtag practitioners of Islamic totalitarianism? Journo attributes the failure to our self-crippling morality:
The conventional morality that people take for granted is that you should be selfless.
Now, that sounds crazy in the context of war, because obviously – most people’s healthy reaction is, if [enemies] come after you, you have to defend yourself. [Most people] have self-respect enough to believe in that. But when push comes to shove, [most people] are conflicted, because a lot of people accept the ideas of altruism, of self-sacrifice as a moral idea. Now, put that [idea of altruism] in the context of trying to defend yourself. In fact, that is the doctrine that colors the [conventional] views of how to conduct war…
So take Iraq. The goal there was not to eliminate whatever threat Saddam Hussein posed… It was to rebuild Iraq so that the Iraqis would be lifted out of poverty and would get elections and so-called freedom. That was to serve the Iraqis. That did not serve American interests. Our interests are served by eliminating those who want to kill us.
… People don’t realize that the rules under which the [American] soldiers operate are so restrictive that sometimes they cannot defend themselves, let along eliminate the threat. And so, we put our soldiers in harm’s way. We tie their hands. And then we’re surprised that there’s an insurgency that grows fiercer and more bold, and that Iraq is a mess. Well, you have to look at the ideas that shape the policy.
Since World War II, the West has pursued a policy of restraint in the face of aggression, fueled by various altruistic notions. One of those notions is that we need to free populations under oppression and teach them the virtues of democracy.
That, in essence, was the Bush doctrine. It proceeds from the presumption that, given the opportunity to vote in free and fair elections, people will elect a state dedicated to liberty and justice. Journo swats that presumption down with ease:
The Israeli-Palestinian conflict is a small-scale version of the West versus the Islamist movement… Under the Bush doctrine of bring democracy all over the place, the Palestinian territories were subject to that. The Bush administration pushed for Hamas to be allowed to run in elections. And Hamas in fact won by a significant margin, enough for it to be unequivocal. And it was a free and fair election… So, in effect, the Bush doctrine here is illustrated in its failure, in ushering Islamists [our enemies] into power.
Simpson responds, “So much for the wonders of democracy.” Indeed, democracy provides only that a voting majority gets their way. It does not ensure that the way they pick will be just.
Check out the whole video, plus my podcast commentary, on the next page.
Ladies and Gentlemen, your late night moment of, “Yeah, they’re all crazy on that side.” Gulf…sea…hey, bodies of water are hard to tell apart!
— ThinkProgress (@thinkprogress) September 17, 2014
Europe is living through a new wave of anti-Semitism. The president of Germany’s Central Council of Jews calls it the worst the Continent has seen since World War II. He may well be right. Attacks on synagogues are an almost weekly occurrence, and openly anti-Semitic chants are commonplace on well-attended marches from London to Rome. And yet it is here, in Germany, where the rise in anti-Semitism is most historically painful.
On Sunday, thousands of people marched through Berlin in response, and heard both Chancellor Angela Merkel and President Joachim Gauck denounce the resurgence in anti-Jewish hatred.
We’ve seen this before, of course. But there’s an important difference this time. The new anti-Semitism does not originate solely with the typical white-supremacist neo-Nazi; instead, the ugly truth that many in Europe don’t want to confront is that much of the anti-Jewish animus originates with European people of Muslim background.
Until recently, Germany has been unwilling to discuss this trend. Germans have always seen Muslim anti-Semitism as a less problematic version of the “original” version, and therefore a distraction from the well-known problem of anti-Jewish sentiment within a majority of society.
Actually, most of Europe has been unwilling to discuss the potential pitfalls of anything having to do with the growing numbers of Muslims in several countries. England is practically overrun. In fact, if Scotland does break free, England plans on suing for custody of the al-Qaeda cells.
There has been some disturbing evidence of anti-Semitism at anti-Israel protests all over Europe, so it has become more difficult to just sweep it under the German skinhead rug. The truth had to be admitted.
It was just strange to find it in the Times.
NASA has chosen Boeing and SpaceX to build the vehicles that will transport its astronauts to the International Space Station, putting the two American companies on a course to take over a job that NASA has recently relied upon Russia to perform: carrying out manned space flights.
NASA Administrator Charles Bolden says vehicles from the two companies are expected to be ready for service by 2017.
Announcing its decision Tuesday, the space agency included these details:
“The Boeing Company (Boeing) and Space Exploration Technologies (SpaceX) have each presented to us designs that will allow us to fly crews to the International Space Station in just a few years. Respectively, the vehicles are Boeing’s CST-100 and SpaceX’s Dragon. The total potential contract value is $4.2 billion for Boeing and $2.6 billion for SpaceX. The spacecraft will launch from Kennedy Space Center — Cape Canaveral complex.”
It is pretty impressive and exciting that SpaceX, a twelve year old private company, is part of this deal, if only to reassure us that the entrepreneurial spirit can still achieve great things.
Let’s hope involvement with the government doesn’t screw that up.
The top beer sponsor is weighing on the NFL for its handling of a string of highly-publicized abuse scandals involving star players.
On Tuesday, Anheuser-Busch — a big spender in Super Bowl advertising whose Bud Light brand is the official beer of the league — issued a highly critical statement of the NFL.
“We are disappointed and increasingly concerned by the recent incidents that have overshadowed this NFL season,” said the beverage maker in a statement released by a spokesperson. “We are not yet satisfied with the league’s handling of behaviors that so clearly go against our own company culture and moral code. We have shared our concerns and expectations with the league.”
Those “expectations” were not disclosed in the statement. However, NFL commissioner Roger Goodell has been widely criticized over his handling of the domestic abuse scandal involving Baltimore Ravens player Ray Rice and child abuse allegations leveled at Minnesota Vikings player Adrian Peterson.
The company’s brand, Bud Light, has been the official beer of the NFL since 2010, when it replaced MillerCoors as the premier sponsor. Anheuser-Bush has been a top spending brand with the league from 2009 to 2013, spending $149 million during five Super Bowls, according to Nielsen statistics released in January.
This is where the calls for Goodell’s job will really heat up. His job is to manage the league’s image so the sponsor money keeps rolling in without interruption. If one of its biggest sponsors expresses concern, the problem has become unmanageable.
On a somewhat smaller scale, Radisson “suspended” its sponsorship of the Minnesota Vikings after they reinstated Adrian Peterson and another allegation of child abuse surfaced.
If more sponsors begin grumbling soon, all of Roger Goodell’s damage control to save himself will probably be for naught.
When the federal government began trimming subsidies to the New York City Housing Authority (Nycha) more than a decade ago, the agency let the its repair list grow, to the point where overdue fixes and upgrades now run into the billions of dollars. U.S. taxpayers cover 80% of the agency’s funding.
But Jayne Merkel, seeing the rundown state of NYC public housing, and the still-high unemployment rate, synthesized a great idea, and it was published Monday as an op-ed in the New York Times. (Yes, the very one.)
Why couldn’t Nycha train tenants to do basic maintenance? Nycha’s professional staffs would still do the complicated work — roof repair, for example — but with some solid training, almost anyone can replaster a wall. At the same time, training for such work can be a first step toward a steady job.
Of course, this could never happen, because…unions.
But let’s run with that idea anyway. Some 650,000 New York Citians live in housing paid for (in part or whole) by taxpayers, according to Crain’s New York. They live there, many don’t have full-time jobs, and yet some $18 billion in repairs and upgrades languish on a government wait list. What would be wrong with teaching a new skill to some of the beneficiaries of this federal entitlement, and letting them spruce up their own surroundings?
While the idea may appeal to both fiscal conservatives and residents of the decaying structures (for differing reasons), the greatest benefit of such a project would be what it does for the sweat-equitists who do the work.
In Marvin Olasky’s book The Tragedy of American Compassion, he quotes U.S. Surgeon General Thomas Parran (1936-1948) , who told a Senate committee that…
“…self-reliance, the satisfaction of work, the joy of acquisition, the sense of equality, the opportunity of leading a normal family life” were vital to good health. He noted that our destitute citizens [must have] an opportunity of a livelihood earned by individual effort. I emphasize useful work; no other type fills the mental needs [or repairs] losses to human character and mental health….
Parran’s concerns echoed those of his boss.
In November 1933 [Franklin] Roosevelt stated, “When any man or woman goes on a dole something happens to them mentally and the quicker they are taken off the dole the better it is for them the rest of their lives.” And early in 1935 Roosevelt added, “We must preserve not only the bodies of the unemployed from destitution but also their self-respect, their self-reliance and courage and determination.”
Later that same year, FDR said, “Most Americans want to give something for what they get. That something, in this case honest work, is the saving barrier between them and moral disintegration. We propose to build that barrier high.”
With inspiration from FDR and his surgeon general, I’d like to take Ms. Merkel’s concept a step further.
Every resident of public housing should help to maintain the common areas and facilities, in addition to cleaning his or her own residence, as a condition of the lease. That work can range from raking leaves, to rewiring a breaker box, depending on ability. This not only relieves budget problems, but fosters a sense of community, and chases off the deadbeats who want merely to live off the exertions of others. (I believe the latter cohort comprises a relatively small cluster.)
It’s time to restore dignity to the folks who’ve fallen on hard times with a plan that just might reduce their numbers, by increasing their employment prospects.
Senate Armed Services Committee Chairman Carl Levin (D-Mich.) turned in an epic gavel-wielding, gavel-banging, gavel-pointing performance today in combat with the antiwar group Code Pink at a hearing on ISIS.
A sampling of the Levin Smackdown:
LEVIN: OK. Would you — we’re asking you again to please sit down, and if not, we’re gonna ask you to leave.
LEVIN: No, thank you. Thank you for — would you please now leave?
LEVIN: Would you please now leave?
LEVIN: I’m asking you to please leave.
LEVIN: You’re acting very war-like yourself.
PROTESTER: No more war.
LEVIN: Would you please leave?
PROTESTER: (OFF-MIKE) We do not want war. No military solution to this. No more war. No more war. No military solution.
LEVIN: We’re asking you nicely. We’re asking you nicely to please leave the room.
LEVIN: Look, we’re asking you nicely. Would you please leave the room. Thank you.
LEVIN: We ask you for the last time. Thank you very much.
PROTESTERS: If the U.S. (inaudible) the way for ISIL. U.S. military will not be (inaudible) and its counterproductive.
LEVIN: General Dempsey, as soon as the noise is removed from the room…
PROTESTERS: … war. We’ve had 13 years of…
LEVIN: We would ask all of you to avoid these kind of outbursts. They’re not doing anybody any good, including hearing what this testimony is, and they’re not doing you and whatever your cause is any good either.
LEVIN: Thank you very much. Would you please — I’m asking you nicely to please leave the room.
PROTESTER: Please, Senator. (inaudible) the issues. Bring in (inaudible).
LEVIN: Thank you very much. Good-bye. Good-bye. Thank you.
LEVIN: Would you please — please be quiet?
I’m asking you now to please leave the room.
Please remove this lady.
LEVIN: Please remove her. The disruptions are not gonna be acceptable to anybody.
LEVIN: I ask you to remove the lady. Please remove the lady from the room. Thank you very much (inaudible).
When singled out for heckling, Sen. John McCain (R-Ariz.) chuckled and quipped, ”I always appreciate special attention from this group, Mr. Chairman.”
As a former Dallas Cowboys fan, I half want the Washington Redskins to win the Super Bowl this year — just so the media will have to twist themselves into knots avoiding using the name.
That will be fun to watch.
Demagoguing Democrats aren’t fun to watch. Sen. Maria Cantwell has figured out a new way to attack the issue. She is threatening to pull the NFL’s non-profit status, according to AP.
In a news conference that featured Native American, civil rights and religious leaders, Sen. Maria Cantwell took aim at the NFL’s pocketbook by announcing she will introduce a bill to strip the league’s tax-exempt status because it has not taken action over the Redskins name. While prospects for such a bill becoming law would be tenuous, the inevitable hearings before lawmakers would enhance the spotlight on a movement that has gained substantial momentum over the last two years.
I’d bet that most Americans don’t know that the NFL is a non-taxpaying non-profit. Should it be? The League, which by law is a “trade association” among the teams, rakes in hundreds of millions of dollars — apart from the teams’ earnings — every year. The NFL commissioner makes nearly $30 million per year. Now the NFL is embroiled in a whole bunch of scandals in addition to the Redskins’ name controversy. It’s the perfect time for politicians to threaten them.
Cantwell may have stumbled into something here.
At the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention this afternoon, President Obama vowed that America would take on the “daunting task” of trying to stop the Ebola outbreak while keeping the virus from spreading to the States.
Obama said the work of the CDC “and our efforts across the government is an example of what happens when America leads in confronting some major global challenges.”
“Faced with this outbreak, the world is looking to us, the United States, and it’s a responsibility that we embrace,” he said. “We’re prepared to take leadership on this to provide the kinds of capabilities that only America has, and to mobilize the world in ways that only America can do. That’s what we’re doing as we speak.”
Before flying to Atlanta, Obama met with Dr. Kent Brantly, the missionary who contracted Ebola while treating patients in Liberia. Brantly was cured after taking experimental drug ZMapp and flying back to the U.S. for supportive care.
Brantly appeared this afternoon before a joint hearing of the Committee on Health, Education, Labor, and Pensions and the Subcommittee on Labor, Health and Human Services, Education and Related Agencies, Committee on Appropriations.
The doctor described seeing cases come in during June and quickly “spiraling out of control.” He said he appealed for help from the international community but “our pleas appeared to fall on deaf ears.”
“This has been in eye of the government for months,” Brantly told senators. “We can’t afford to wait months or even weeks for action.” Tens of thousands will die at the current rate of infection, he warned, if the response lags for a couple of months.
The response to the Ebola outbreak thus far has been “sluggish and unacceptably out of step with the scope and size” of the problem, he stressed.
Brantly called the outbreak “a fire straight from the pit of hell” and warned that Americans shouldn’t think the physical buffer of the Atlantic Ocean “will protect us from the flames of this fire.”
At midnight, the White House announced a broader anti-Ebola strategy to use “the unique capabilities of the U.S. military and broader uniformed services to help bring the epidemic under control,” including “command and control, logistics expertise, training, and engineering support.”
“U.S. Africa Command will set up a Joint Force Command headquartered in Monrovia, Liberia, to provide regional command and control support to U.S. military activities and facilitate coordination with U.S. government and international relief efforts. A general from U.S. Army Africa, the Army component of U.S. Africa Command, will lead this effort, which will involve an estimated 3,000 U.S. forces,” the White House said.
“First and foremost, I want the American people to know that our experts, here at the CDC and across our government, agree that the chances of an Ebola outbreak here in the United States are extremely low,” Obama said today.
“We’ve been taking the necessary precautions, including working with countries in West Africa to increase screening at airports so that someone with the virus doesn’t get on a plane for the United States. In the unlikely event that someone with Ebola does reach our shores, we’ve taken new measures so that we’re prepared here at home.”
The president remarked on his meeting with Brantly, saying the doctor “looks strong and we are incredibly grateful to him and his family for the service that he has rendered to people who are a lot less lucky than all of us.”
Obama called Ebola “now an epidemic of the likes that we have not seen before.”
“It’s spiraling out of control. It is getting worse. It’s spreading faster and exponentially. Today, thousands of people in West Africa are infected. That number could rapidly grow to tens of thousands. And if the outbreak is not stopped now, we could be looking at hundreds of thousands of people infected, with profound political and economic and security implications for all of us,” he continued.
“…And we’ve devoted significant resources in support of our strategy with four goals in mind. Number one, to control the outbreak. Number two, to address the ripple effects of local economies and communities to prevent a truly massive humanitarian disaster. Number three, to coordinate a broader global response. And number four, to urgently build up a public health system in these countries for the future — not just in West Africa but in countries that don’t have a lot of resources generally.”
Obama compared the command center that the U.S. will set up in Liberia to “our response after the Haiti earthquake.”
Major Gen. Darryl Williams, commander of Army forces in Africa, arrived on the ground in Liberia today to start setting up the headquarters.
“We’re going to create an air bridge to get health workers and medical supplies into West Africa faster. We’re going to establish a staging area in Senegal to help distribute personnel and aid on the ground more quickly. We are going to create a new training site to train thousands of health workers so they can effectively and safely care for more patients. Personnel from the U.S. Public Health Service will deploy to the new field hospitals that we’re setting up in Liberia,” Obama said. “And USAID will join with international partners and local communities in a Community Care Campaign to distribute supplies and information kits to hundreds of thousands of families so they can better protect themselves.”
The president stressed a global response needs to happen “faster than they have up until this point.”
“This is actually something that we had announced several months ago at the G7 meeting. We determined that this has to be a top priority; this was before the Ebola outbreak. We anticipated the fact that in many of these countries with a weak public health system, if we don’t have more effective surveillance, more effective facilities on the ground, and are not helping poor countries in developing their ability to catch these things quickly, that there was at least the potential of seeing these kinds of outbreaks. And sadly, we now see that our predictions were correct,” Obama said.
“…The reality is that this epidemic is going to get worse before it gets better. But right now, the world still has an opportunity to save countless lives. Right now, the world has the responsibility to act — to step up, and to do more. The United States of America intends to do more. We are going to keep leading in this effort.”
Sen. Lamar Alexander (R-Tenn.), ranking member on the Senate health committee, said “the spread of this disease deserves a more urgent response from our country and other countries around the world than it’s now getting.”
“We must take the dangerous, deadly threat of Ebola as seriously as we take ISIS. Let me say that again. We must take the dangerous, deadly threat of the Ebola epidemic as seriously as we take ISIS. I think I have a reputation as a senator who’s not given to overstatement. I don’t believe that’s an overstatement,” Alexander said.
“…This is one of the most explosive deadly epidemics in modern time if we do not do what we know how do to control it.”