Since We’re So Flush with Cash, the Federal Government is Funding a Study of ‘Misinformation’ on Social Media
Remember “AttackWatch,” the Obama campaign meme to get friends and families to rat each other out for the sake of politics?
Well, it’s back. Only, this time you and I are paying for it, as it has been brought inside the federal government.
The National Science Foundation is financing the creation of a web service that will monitor “suspicious memes” and what it considers “false and misleading ideas,” with a major focus on political activity online.
The “Truthy” database, created by researchers at Indiana University, is designed to “detect political smears, astroturfing, misinformation, and other social pollution.”
The university has received $919,917 so far for the project.
“The project stands to benefit both the research community and the public significantly,” the grant states. “Our data will be made available via [application programming interfaces] APIs and include information on meme propagation networks, statistical data, and relevant user and content features.”
“The open-source platform we develop will be made publicly available and will be extensible to ever more research areas as a greater preponderance of human activities are replicated online,” it continues. “Additionally, we will create a web service open to the public for monitoring trends, bursts, and suspicious memes.”
“This service could mitigate the diffusion of false and misleading ideas, detect hate speech and subversive propaganda, and assist in the preservation of open debate,” the grant said.
“Subversive memes”…? Who gets to define what’s subversive, what is “hate speech” and what is and is not “propaganda?”
There’s a big clue in the name — Truthy — which is taken from Stephen Colbert’s leftwing parody of Bill O’Reilly.
There’s another big clue in what the government wants people to do with Truthy.
The government-funded researchers hope that the public will use their tool in the future to report on other Twitter users.
Pretty much everything that comes out of Barack Obama’s mouth is subversive propaganda. Some of his more acerbic attacks on Republicans can qualify as “hate speech.” But it doesn’t sound like that’s what Truthy is looking for.
The New York Post reports that last night, a young Jewish couple were assaulted in New York City. The assailants made it clear that the attack was racially motivated.
A gang of anti-Semitic thugs roughed up a Jewish man and his wife on the Upper East Side on Monday evening before fleeing in cars flying Palestinian flags, police sources told The Post.
Two cars and multiple motorcycles pulled up to the couple on East 63rd Street near Third Avenue just after 8 p.m., and the assailants began yelling “anti-Jewish statements,” the sources said.
There were no serious injuries. There have been no arrests so far.
Last week, someone hung a gigantic Palestinian flag off of the Brooklyn Bridge. That flag had “Boycott,” “Divest,” “Sanction,” and “Gaza in our Hearts” written on it. There have been no arrests in this breech of security at the bridge.
One of the Senate Republicans in the gang of eight who forged a bipartisan immigration reform bill that passed the upper chamber last year urged President Obama to not take unilateral action in the face of House inaction.
Sen. Marco Rubio (R-Fla.) wrote in a letter to Obama today that he hoped “Senate action on this matter could serve as a catalyst for a humane but responsible reform that could ultimately achieve bicameral, bipartisan support,” but acknowledges the effort is now at a stalemate.
“After the experience of the last 18 months, I have become convinced that there is no realistic path forward on comprehensive reform for the foreseeable future. Instead, it is clear to me now that the only approach that has any chance of success is one that addresses our immigration problems in a series of sequential pieces of legislation,” Rubio wrote.
Those components, he said, would have to address the problems of illegal immigration and a guest-worker program.
“It is my sincere belief that if we can bring illegal immigration under control and modernize our legal immigration system, then the American people and a majority of their representatives in Congress would be willing to reasonably and responsibly address the issue of millions of people currently in this nation illegally. It will not be easy. And it will not be unanimous. But if we can make real progress on stemming the tide of illegal immigration, I am convinced we will have the support necessary to address this serious issue once and for all,” the senator continued.
“All of this is why I have grown increasingly alarmed by news that your administration is considering sweeping executive action to give work permits to millions of people here illegally. If indeed you move forward on such a decision, I believe it will close the door to any chance of making progress on immigration reform for the foreseeable future.”
Rubio offered as example Obama’s Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals (DACA) decision in 2012, which “was a major impediment to passage of the kind of immigration reform our nation needs.”
“No matter what we tried to do to institute meaningful enforcement measures in the Senate bill, opponents pointed to DACA as evidence of your unwillingness to enforce the law. They argued that no matter what we wrote into law on enforcement, your administration would simply ignore it,” he said. “Furthermore, your pursuit of unilateral action in the midst of an election year, without any concern for the policy ramifications, has played a significant role in the humanitarian and security crisis that has been occurring on our border with Mexico.”
Rubio said he understood Obama ”inherited a broken system created after years of poor decisions made by both political parties in Washington.”
“But the cumulative result of six years of your administration’s approach on immigration reform is that, for all intents and purposes, America no longer has an immigration system. Instead, we have unsettling chaos,” he added. “I know you are receiving tremendous political pressure from certain activists to grant another unilateral, temporary and uncertain legal status to millions of additional undocumented immigrants. But to do so, without first taking any serious steps to address the border or protect American workers, will increase the perception of ambiguity in our laws, incentivize more people to immigrate here illegally, and significantly set back the prospects of real reform.”
Rubio stressed that “it saddens me that a nation of immigrants is divided by the issue of immigration.”
“At the heart of this issue are the people who are affected by it: the American worker whose wages are undercut by illegal workers. The rancher who lives in fear from the cartels and the coyotes. The brilliant young chemist who got her Ph.D. but can’t get a green card. The young mother risking everything to give her child a chance at a better life. The ‘dreamers’ who graduated at the top of their class but face an uncertain future. The Border Patrol agent who brought diapers and formula from his home to care for the children that have been pouring over the border. And the men and women across this country who ask, ‘If Washington can’t get this right, can they get anything right?’” he wrote.
“As someone who believes sincerely in the need for reform, is the son of immigrants, and lives in a community of immigrants, I still reserve some optimism that you’ll reject the politics of the moment and remember that the decisions you make will impact the people at the heart of this issue long after your duty to serve them has come to an end.”
You know campaign season has started in earnest when an incumbent accuses his challenger — Sen. Mark Pryor (D-Ark.) vs. Rep. Tom Cotton (R-Ark.) — of leaving us all vulnerable to Ebola:
Jesean Morris, 20, who was wanted in Nebraska for violating the terms of his parole, was arrested Friday after he posted to Facebook a video of himself dumping a bucket of ice water on his head. A tipster who saw the online post and recognized the house shown in the video provided Omaha police with Morris’ exact address, Officer Aaron Thompson told NBC News. Two officers then went to the house and arrested Morris, 20.
The suspect allegedly gave the cops a false name and birth date, knocked out a safety partition in the police cruiser, and spit in the one of the officer’s face, according to an incident report. Morris was booked into jail on the warrant and on suspicion of criminal impersonation, resisting arrest and assaulting an officer.
So…he acted like Travis County District Attorney Rosemary Lehmberg, more or less.
After Monday’s bombshell about the federal government’s system-wide email back-up system broke, there was yet another bombshell.
The IRS “recycled” — destroyed — Lois Lerner’s hard drive in June 2011, just 10 days after Rep. Dave Camp had sent a letter to the IRS inquiring about the targeting of conservative groups that Lerner knew about and may have orchestrated.
The IRS destroyed Lerner’s Blackberry device, too. Even though there is no suggestion that it ever “crashed,” as the agency claims about her hard drive.
Even worse, the IRS destroyed Lerner’s Blackberry after it knew of the crash, and while the congressional investigation was underway.
The Blackberry would have contained all of Lerner’s emails.
The New York Observer picks up the story:
In two elusive and nebulous sworn declarations, we can glean that Ms. Lerner had two Blackberries. One was issued to her on November 12, 2009. According to a sworn declaration, this is the Blackberry that contained all the emails (both sent and received) that would have been in her “Outlook” and drafts that never were sent from her Blackberry during the relevant time.
With incredible disregard for the law and the Congressional inquiry, the IRS admits that this Blackberry “was removed or wiped clean of any sensitive or proprietary information and removed as scrap for disposal in June 2012.” This is a year after her hard drive “crash” and months after the Congressional inquiry began.
The IRS did not even attempt to retrieve that data. It cavalierly recites: “There is no record of any attempt by any IRS IT employee to recover data from any Blackberry device assigned to Lois Lerner in response to the Congressional investigations or this investigation,” according to Stephen Manning, Deputy Chief Information Officer for Strategy & Modernization.
Lerner was issued another Blackberry for Valentine’s Day 2012—also after she came under fire for her targeting of conservative groups.
The IRS was engaged in criminal destruction of evidence. It is engaged in a game of running out the clock and extending the investigation as long as possible now. Lerner’s current Blackberry is apparently in the possession of the Inspector General of the Treasury. Even that Blackberry might have access to Lerner’s old emails. If she used “ghost” accounts, as the head of the EPA did, the Blackberry may show evidence of that too.
We’re learning all of this not because of any congressional investigation, by the way, but because Judicial Watch has gone to court and gotten a judge, Emmet Sullivan, who is not taking the Obama administration’s spin at face value.
Always late to the party, except when it’s an actual party.
The U.S. has started flying surveillance drones over Syria after President Obama authorized the missions, two senior Defense officials told Fox News, in a move that could pave the way for eventual airstrikes against Islamic State targets in the country.
A decision still has not been made, at least publicly, to launch airstrikes in Syria. But the Obama administration would likely need additional intelligence on possible targets should the president take that step.
Sources told Fox News that Obama approved surveillance missions in Syria for the first time over the weekend; they have since begun.
Why is Obama just now doing this? Or, why is he publicizing that he is just now doing this? He is letting the PR get ahead of strategy, supposing that there is a strategy. The world doesn’t need to know when the US is conducting drone flights over ISIS and when it isn’t. But a president with flagging poll numbers who is even taking golf grief from Maureen Dowd needs to look like he’s working on something other than his tee shot.
The ISIS crisis is headed to a bizarre probability — that the United States will end up conducting airstrikes on ISIS positions in Syria that will aid the Assad regime that Barack Obama declared “had to go” not too long ago.
Of course, Obama wanted to intervene in Syria’s civil war early on, to oust Assad, an intervention which would have ended up helping the Islamists — some of whom are now ISIS.
No Big Deal. But 66% of Democrats Support Prosecuting Rick Perry for Doing What Governors Are Constitutionally Allowed to Do.
Two out of three Democrats apparently have no idea what constitutional powers a governor has, and have no idea what the legal system is for (and what it’s not for).
It’s not for jailing people because you do not like them.
I blame the teachers unions.
YouGov’s latest research shows that the public is far more divided over the prosecution of Rick Perry than commentators. 40% of Americans approve of the decision to persue criminal charges against Perry, while 37% disapprove. Opinions on the man himself are similarly split, though opinions tend to be unfavorable (39%) rather than favorable (31%).
Most Democrats (66%) support prosecutors charging Perry with abuse of power, while only 13% disagree. Independents tend to disapprove (42%) rather than approve (32%) of the charges, while Republicans overwhelmingly (67%) oppose the prosecution.
Looking at these numbers, the wrong person could come along and as long as they have a D attached to their name, they could get away with just about anything…
Matti Friedman, a former AP Correspondent, has written a brilliant, must-read analysis of why the mainstream media’s reporting on Israel is skewed, biased, and downright reprehensible:
The lasting importance of this summer’s war, I believe, doesn’t lie in the war itself. It lies instead in the way the war has been described and responded to abroad, and the way this has laid bare the resurgence of an old, twisted pattern of thought and its migration from the margins to the mainstream of Western discourse—namely, a hostile obsession with Jews. The key to understanding this resurgence is not to be found among jihadi webmasters, basement conspiracy theorists, or radical activists. It is instead to be found first among the educated and respectable people who populate the international news industry; decent people, many of them, and some of them my former colleagues.
While global mania about Israeli actions has come to be taken for granted, it is actually the result of decisions made by individual human beings in positions of responsibility—in this case, journalists and editors. The world is not responding to events in this country, but rather to the description of these events by news organizations. The key to understanding the strange nature of the response is thus to be found in the practice of journalism, and specifically in a severe malfunction that is occurring in that profession—my profession—here in Israel.
The 3 page story explains a number of popular misnomers that are the result of mainstream media reporting techniques, including:
- In all of 2013, for example, the Israeli-Palestinian conflict claimed 42 lives—that is, roughly the monthly homicide rate in the city of Chicago. Jerusalem, internationally renowned as a city of conflict, had slightly fewer violent deaths per capita last year than Portland, Ore., one of America’s safer cities. In contrast, in three years the Syrian conflict has claimed an estimated 190,000 lives, or about 70,000 more than the number of people who have ever died in the Arab-Israeli conflict since it began a century ago.
- The West has decided that Palestinians should want a state alongside Israel, so that opinion is attributed to them as fact, though anyone who has spent time with actual Palestinians understands that things are (understandably, in my opinion) more complicated. Who they are and what they want is not important: The story mandates that they exist as passive victims of the party that matters.
- Most reporters in Gaza believe their job is to document violence directed by Israel at Palestinian civilians. That is the essence of the Israel story. In addition, reporters are under deadline and often at risk, and many don’t speak the language and have only the most tenuous grip on what is going on. They are dependent on Palestinian colleagues and fixers who either fear Hamas, support Hamas, or both. Reporters don’t need Hamas enforcers to shoo them away from facts that muddy the simple story they have been sent to tell.
Concluding with, “Many in the West clearly prefer the old comfort of parsing the moral failings of Jews, and the familiar feeling of superiority this brings them, to confronting an unhappy and confusing reality,” the story is a must read for anyone willing to confront the mess of mainstream media and the reality of life in Israel and the Middle East.
During a wide-ranging interview on the topic of Ferguson on The Midday Show on KFAB radio in Omaha, host Clint Bellows offered the following remarkable insight:
You know, Walter, back in the fifties, one of my favorite actors – Gregory Peck – played Atticus Finch in the film adaptation of Harper Lee’s great novel To Kill a Mockingbird. Atticus Finch defended Tom Robinson, an African-American man in the deep south who was accused of assaulting a lower-middle class white woman… of course, he was found guilty and he was sent to prison. Along the way, the officers that were holding him claimed that he tried to escape and they shot and killed him…
This [situation in Ferguson] is To Kill a Mockingbird in reverse, isn’t it? We’ve got a white police officer who has been found guilty in the court of public opinion, including the former attorney general and governor of the state who says the Brown family needs justice. What about this police officer’s situation? We don’t know what happened there, do we?
Indeed, the rush to prejudgment regarding the shooting of Michael Brown by Ferguson police officer Darren Wilson demonstrates precisely the same form of racially-fueled bias critiqued by Lee in her novel. Unchecked, such prejudice portends injustice. It should not matter whether the victim of such injustice is white or black. What should matter is the recognition and protection of each individual’s rights, regardless of their background.
As articulated in the interview, which you can listen to at the link below, the blatant politicization of a criminal justice incident should chill the blood of anyone concerned with the essential guarantees of due process and equality under the law. The adoption of a mob mentality by many in the mainstream media, and – worse yet – highly placed government officials like Attorney General Eric Holder, flies in the face of each institution’s purpose. Government and the press each exist to cut through bias, administrating blind justice and reporting objective fact respectively. When they fail to do so, they become no different then Tom Robinson’s racist persecutors.
(Today’s Fightin Words podcast is on this topic available here. 32:16 minutes long; 31.05 MB file size. Right click here to download this show to your hard drive. Subscribe through iTunes or RSS feed.)
North Carolina County Superior Court Judge Robert Hobgood blocked the state’s new school voucher program, saying it unconstitutionally diverted money from public education to private schools, some of them religious schools.
The state’s Opportunity Scholarship program, expands school choice in North Carolina by providing education scholarship grants of up to $4,200 per year for eligible children who choose to attend private school. The program is designed to give low-income families public funds to help pay private school tuition. It was passed by the state’s Republican-controlled Legislature last year and had already begun operating.
About 5,500 students applied for the annual grants of up to $4,200 per child. More than 1,800 students were chosen by lottery have already accepted Opportunity Scholarships, but not all have enrolled in private schools.
Those supporting the so-called voucher program, say it offers low-income children a choice for a private-school education that better meets their individual needs after the public schools failed to do so. To be eligible, parents had to have their children enrolled in a public school and meet federal income requirements for their children to receive subsidized lunches.
The program was challenged in lawsuits by the N.C. Association of Educators and the N.C. Justice Center, a left-wing advocacy group, and the N.C. School Boards Association, which was joined by 71 of the state’s 115 school districts.
This is essentially a fight to keep doing an awful job and trap poor students in difficult situations. Of course, trapping the poor forever is the cornerstone of liberal politics so that shouldn’t surprise anyone. The leftist response on all matters of education is the one-note, “MORE MONEY!” cry.
There is no moral, or even economic, argument to be made to keep perennially under-performing schools as the only education options for poverty-stricken or at-risk youth.
Unless you’re a school administrator who needs some vacation money, right?
All schoolchildren from the age of seven should be offered sex education lessons to help them make “informed decisions” as they grow up, the Liberal Democrats have said.
David Laws, the Liberal Democrat schools minister, said that both primary and secondary schools should be required to provide sex and relationship education.
The Liberal Democrats want to lower the age at which children are given sex education lessons from 11 to seven, while extending the requirement to hold the classes to all free schools and academies. At present academies and free schools are exempt from having to hold the lessons, which Mr Laws warned is “depriving children of important life lessons”.
It is always worth watching what the socialist freaks are up to in Europe because American liberals slobber over all things Leftist across the pond.
This is one of those issues where I find myself completely overcome with incredulity over the fact that it even came up in the first place. Yes, children need to learn “important life lessons” but sex isn’t one of them at age seven. There is a reason that these things are phased in throughout childhood.
There is a disturbing tendency to hyper-sexualize children in society now. We frown upon cultures that marry kids off in arrangements all the while watching “Toddlers and Tiaras” and little girls painted up like Mardi Gras hookers. It’s time for people to resoundingly scream, “NO!”
On August 18, 2014, San Diego City Councilman Scott Sherman showed in just five minutes that he communicates basic principles more effectively than any Republican presidential candidate in recent memory.
His brief, unscripted remarks came in support of the mayor’s veto of a Democrat effort to force city businesses to increase their minimum wage to $11.50 per hour.
Sherman, perhaps the only member of council who has “signed the front of a paycheck,” found himself in a two-person minority on the veto-override vote, against six Democrats.
Watch the video below, and then help me to understand why this eminently reasonable position fails to persuade Democrats who say they care about jobs.
Judicial Watch just dropped a bombshell in the IRS targeting investigation.
Department of Justice attorneys for the Internal Revenue Service told Judicial Watch on Friday that Lois Lerner’s emails, indeed all government computer records, are backed up by the federal government in case of a government-wide catastrophe. The Obama administration attorneys said that this back-up system would be too onerous to search. The DOJ attorneys also acknowledged that the Treasury Inspector General for Tax Administration (TIGTA) is investigating this back-up system.
We obviously disagree that disclosing the emails as required would be onerous, and plan to raise this new development with Judge Sullivan.
This is a jaw-dropping revelation. The Obama administration had been lying to the American people about Lois Lerner’s missing emails. There are no “missing” Lois Lerner emails – nor missing emails of any of the other top IRS or other government officials whose emails seem to be disappearing at increasingly alarming rate. All the focus on missing hard drives has been a diversion. The Obama administration has known all along where the email records could be – but dishonestly withheld this information. You can bet we are going to ask the court for immediate assistance in cutting through this massive obstruction of justice.
“Jaw-dropping” is right.
The IRS has been telling a tale about the emails not only of Lois Lerner but also several other key IRS targeting scandal figures. That tale has been coming from no less than the current director of the IRS.
In disclosing that Lerner’s (and others’) emails still exist, the DOJ also said, essentially, that it thinks searching for those emails would be too much work.
Would that excuse fly with the DOJ or the IRS, or would they frog-march anyone who used that excuse straight to a squad car?
To date, most of the fighting between Russia’s proxies and Ukraine has been in the north. That changed today.
KIEV, Ukraine – A column of Russian tanks and armored vehicles has crossed into southeastern Ukraine, away from where most of the intense fighting has been taking place, a top Ukrainian official said Monday.
Col. Andriy Lysenko, a spokesman for Ukraine’s National Security Council, told reporters that the column of 10 tanks, two armored vehicles and two trucks crossed the border near Shcherbak and that the nearby city of Novoazovsk was shelled during the night from Russia. He said they were Russian military vehicles bearing the flags of the separatist Donetsk rebels.
In Moscow, Russian Foreign Minister Sergey Lavrov said Monday he had no information about the column.
Russia’s move comes as the Ukrainian government forces have retaken territory from the pro-Russian separatists/proxies. Russia tried to obtain a cease-fire which would essentially have left the proxies in control of the territory they had taken.
Russia sent another convoy of trucks into the north on Friday, and is said to be readying another convoy of Trojan horses — 200 of them.
The Islamic State may have achieved something that no terrorist group before them has managed — they may be a fully fledged combined-arms capable fighting force powered by the use of indigenous natural resources it controls.
Over the past few months, as if to defy President Barack Obama’s characterization of them as “jayvee,” ISIS spread swiftly from Syria deep into Iraq, sweeping through territory that had been controlled or at least patrolled by the Iraqi army.
That army proved to be so weak that its personnel fled their posts. ISIS scooped up American vehicles and weapons left behind by the Iraqi security forces. By July, the Islamic State had reportedly taken 52 155mm M198 Howitzer artillery guns. They have a range of up to 20 miles and can be used in conjunction with GPS for fine targeting. US airstrikes in recent weeks have focused on ISIS artillery, among other things, suggesting that US airmen are targeting some of those former US guns.
It’s also possible that in addition to picking up US vehicles and weapons, ISIS picked up some undeclared Syrian chemical weapons.
Over this past weekend, ISIS attacked and took over a Syrian air base in Raqqa. That has been widely reported. What has not been widely reported is that leading up to the assault, ISIS used drone aircraft for surveillance of the base. Whether or not ISIS captured any usable aircraft at the base (and apparently, they did), and whether they have any trained pilots to operate them or not, the Islamic State already has drone aircraft at its disposal.
The success of the mission in Syria shows that ISIS can coordinate the movements of its ground troops on foot and in vehicles, and its airborne drones. That is a combined-arms capable force. They only thing they’re missing is a navy, but they don’t need that where they are currently operating. If things continue on their current path, ISIS could steal a navy either from Iraq or Syria.
In addition to all of that, ISIS now controls an area that is larger than Britain. It is sparsely populated compared to Britain — about 4 million in ISIS territory versus about 64 million in Britain — but ISIS territory is oil-rich.
A Businessweek article compares ISIS to the “Taliban with oil fields.” The Islamic State may be raking in $2 million a day in revenue from oil sales alone, making it a self-financed and largely self-sufficient terrorist entity that happens to be armed chiefly with captured American-made weaponry. Additionally, ISIS is not as vulnerable to sanctions as previous terrorists groups have been.
“The Islamic State is probably the wealthiest terrorist group we’ve ever known,” said Matthew Levitt, a former U.S. Treasury terrorism and financial intelligence official who now is director of the counterterrorism and intelligence program at the Washington Institute for Near East Policy. “They’re not as integrated with the international financial system, and therefore not as vulnerable” to sanctions, anti-money laundering laws and banking regulations.
In contrast, the late al-Qaeda chief Osama bin Laden was from a wealthy family and enjoyed a network of foreign patrons, and his funding sources were squeezed by financial intelligence officers. The Islamic State “makes their money primarily — if not entirely — locally,” said Patrick Johnston, a counterterrorism specialist at the Santa Monica, California-based Rand Corp.’s Pittsburgh office and co-author of a forthcoming analysis of declassified documents on the Islamic State’s finances.
In addition to all that, an unknown number of ISIS fighters are citizens of the West and carry western passports.
In what many are viewing as a walkback from last week’s comments warning of ISIS’ “apocalyptic, end-of-days strategic vision,” Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff Gen. Martin Dempsey told reporters en route to Afghanistan over the weekend that he would recommend military action against the group only when a threat to the U.S. is substantiated.
Dempsey said, according to the Associated Press, that U.S. officials have seen no ”active plotting against the homeland, so it’s different than that which we see in Yemen.”
“I can tell you with great clarity and certainty that if that threat existed inside of Syria that it would certainly be my strong recommendation that we would deal with it,” said Dempsey. “I have every confidence that the president of the United States would deal with it.”
This morning, Pentagon press secretary Rear Adm. John Kirby told Fox that Dempsey wasn’t told by the White House to soften last week’s tone about the threat.
“There’s been no direction from — from the White House or anybody else to tone down the way we’re speaking about ISIL. And I think we’ve all been very consistently talking about the very real and growing threat that ISIL poses,” Kirby said.
“ISIL is a growing network. They are well resourced. They’re well led. They do pose a regional threat. And to the degree that they are supported by foreign fighters from nations all over the world, including the United States, there is an immediacy to the threat that they pose,” he said. “While, you know, while I think the general feeling is they’re not capable of a 9/11- like-style attack on the homeland right now, they certainly could through the use of foreign fighters impact Western targets, including American targets, if they so choose.”
Sen. Lindsey Graham (R-S.C.) accused President Obama of ”becoming derelict in his duties as commander in chief to protect our homeland by not aggressively confronting ISIL wherever they reside, including Syria.”
“The White House is trying to minimize the threat we face in order to justify not changing a failed strategy,” Graham said in a statement this afternoon. “I fear their foot dragging in confronting increased radical Islamic threats is setting the stage for the creation of an even more powerful ISIL which further terrorizes the region and poses even graver threats to the American homeland.”
“I also fear political pressure is being applied to the military and others to justify President Obama’s reluctance to aggressively confront the threat.”
Graham stressed that Dempsey’s change in tone is “demoralizing to our friends and allies in Jordan, Saudi Arabia and Israel who are worried about the continued strengthening of ISIL.”
“The case has been made. ISIL is a direct threat to the American homeland,” he said. “They must be defeated and they cannot be beaten without attacking their safe haven in Syria. To do otherwise is ignoring reality and placing the American homeland at risk. The stronger they grow over there, the more in danger we are over here.”
At last week’s press conference, Dempsey said they think ISIS “can be contained, not in perpetuity.”
“This is an organization that has an apocalyptic, end-of-days strategic vision and which will eventually have to be defeated. To your question, can they be defeated without addressing that part of their organization which resides in Syria? The answer is no. That will have to be addressed on both sides of what is essentially at this point a nonexistent border,” Dempsey continued.
Defense Secretary Chuck Hagel warned that the Islamic State is “beyond anything that we’ve seen.”
“ISIL is as sophisticated and well-funded as any group that we have seen. They’re beyond just a terrorist group. They marry ideology, a sophistication of strategic and tactical military prowess. They are tremendously well-funded,” Hagel said. “…So we must prepare for everything. And the only way you do that is that you take a cold, steely, hard look at it and– and — and get ready.”
In the days following ISIS’ beheading of American journalist James Foley, rumors that President Obama dragged his feet on the military mission to rescue him have surfaced. Well, those rumors surfaced once the administration leaked the mission itself.
The mission failed, according to the Defense Secretary Chuck Hagel in a briefing last week, because the terrorists had moved their captives.
Toby Harnden reports that the US had developed good intelligence regarding where ISIS was holding Foley. But President Obama delayed the mission by a month.
Pentagon sources said Foley and the others might well have been rescued but Obama, concerned about the ramifications of US troops being killed or captured in Syria, took too long to authorise the mission.
Anthony Shaffer, a former lieutenant-colonel in US military intelligence who worked on covert operations, said: “I’m told it was almost a 30-day delay from when they said they wanted to go to when he finally gave the green light. They were ready to go in June to grab the guy [Foley] and they weren’t permitted.”
Another US defence source said: “The White House constantly goes back and forth on these things. These people are a bunch of academics who endlessly analyse stuff and ordering up another deep-thinking paper but can’t decide what to order for lunch.”
According to Harnden’s report, when US forces arrived they did find a swarm of terrorists there. The captives themselves had been moved to another location.
ISIS emailed a threat to Foley’s life on August 13, five days after President Obama ordered airstrikes on ISIS positions in Iraq. The emailed threat said that Foley would die in retaliation for the airstrikes.
Harnden also reports that President Obama has not viewed the video of Foley’s beheading. Obama was “briefed on its contents” as he flew to Martha’s Vineyard for vacation and several rounds of golf. Obama did make a public statement on the brutal murder, minutes before he made his way to the golf course again.
Over at Hot Air, Allahpundit wonders why Obama would drag his feet on this mission for a month. Obama wasn’t facing re-election, and unlike the bin Laden mission, the mission to rescue Foley would have been in enemy territory — meaning that it carried fewer potential diplomatic downsides. True enough.
Obama reportedly dragged his feet on the bin Laden mission, too. This president seems to be very uncomfortable with command, and with authorizing missions that showcase the power and prestige of the US military. Plus, as the military types note above, Obama is an academic and not a leader. He voted “present” by habit in the Illinois Senate and was a partisan backbencher in the US Senate. Barack Obama is much more comfortable ordering verbal strikes on Republicans than he is ordering air and SEAL strikes on our actual enemies.
Late last week, Texas Gov. Rick Perry’s legal team signaled its intent to file a formal challenge to the August 15th indictment against him. They made good on the promise today, filing a writ of habeas corpus.
A press release from the governor spells out the nature of the challenge:
AUSTIN — Today, Gov. Rick Perry’s legal team filed a pretrial application for writ of habeas corpus seeking to bar the prosecution of Gov. Perry on multiple constitutional grounds.
“Thus, for reasons of constitutional magnitude, including the separation of powers doctrine fundamental to our democratic system of government, Governor Perry should have the same opportunity for relief through habeas corpus in this case if the provisions are merely void as applied as he would have if they were facially unconstitutional,” Governor Perry’s legal team noted in the writ. “Subjecting any sitting Governor to a criminal prosecution and injecting the judiciary into a political dispute would be an unprecedented assault on this cherished separation of powers, and would impose an intolerable and incalculable chilling effect on the free exercise of legitimate constitutional powers by future governors.”
The Texas Tribune has more, including this line from the lawyers’ brief: “This court should not hesitate to dismiss both counts of the indictment and bar the prosecution, immediately if not sooner.”
The Perry team is cashing in on last week’s mugshot. RickPAC is selling this brilliant mugshot T-shirt in its online store.
It’s tempting to knee-jerk condemn all this, but look — a guy carrying an umbrella could be a supervillain.
(CBS/WROC) ROCHESTER, N.Y. – A gun scare on the Rochester Institute of Technology campus is over, with the sheriff’s office saying an umbrella had been mistaken for a rifle.
According to WROC, sheriff’s office gave the all clear at around 9:15 a.m. Friday.
The Great Umbrella Scare put the campus on lockdown. And the police are taking no chances with the budding, umbrella-carrying supervillain.
Authorities were able to track the first year photography student to his residence hall. Stella says he was cooperative and showed authorities an umbrella he had with a samurai-style handle that was mistaken for that rifle.
Stella said the RTS bus driver did exactly what he was supposed to do.
“The good thing is with the RIT alert system we are able to reach out to everybody, all the key stakeholders on campus, to let them know there is a situation,” said Stella.
“It makes me feel safer. I like the whole system we have,” said Kelsey Full, student.
Stella says authorities confiscated the umbrella and the student will only get that back at the end of the school year.
Riddle me this: What right to authorities have to confiscate a harmless umbrella?
Pew Research has released numbers today on the topic of libertarians. The numbers are not current– the survey was conducted April 29-May 27, 2014 among a panel of 3,243 adults but they provide an insight into an alarming misunderstanding of political ideology.
The survey asked respondents to identify what political ideology fits the following definition: “someone whose political views emphasize individual freedom by limiting the role of government.”
Looking just at the first question, which Pew has used to determine whether people who say they are libertarians actually know what the term means, 57% correctly identified the definition of “libertarian” with the proper corresponding ideological label. Looking at the other answers, an astonishing 20% say that someone who emphasizes freedom and less government is a progressive, 6% say that is the definition of an authoritarian and 6% say that is the definition of a communist.
The total number of people who say that the emphasis on individual freedom by limiting the role of government with a label that involves more government regulation and greater involvement (which only comes at the expense of individual freedom) is 32% or 1 out of 3 adults.
Some may argue that the definition of a progressive does involve individual freedom and less government interference in life choices. While that might be claimed in theory, it is certainly not the case in practice. Progressives want to use government force to ensure the outcomes they want, be it proper politically correct thought or larger government programs and redistribution of wealth to ensure equal outcomes. Perhaps the 20% who assume progressivism involves more individual freedom with less government involvement aren’t paying close attention to current legislation and restrictions being advocated by self-proclaimed progressives.
Going back to the Pew survey, 14% of adults identify as a libertarian, but only 11% identify as a libertarian and also correctly define the term. An other interesting finding is that men are twice as likely to identify as libertarian than women: 15% of men compared with 7% of women. Education level also plays a role in identification: adults with at least a college education (15%) are more likely to say they are libertarians than those with some college (12%) or those with less than a high school education (7%). Most notably, both whites and Hispanics are four times as likely to say they are libertarians than African Americans.
Hardly any commentary is needed for this headline:
More White House officials at Michael Brown’s funeral than Thatcher’s
The story is here at Fox News.
This is more than an oversight. This headline carries significance beyond a headshake.
It is a raw example of the moral depravity in the White House under Obama. It is an example of the administration’s celebration and promotion of the lawless. It is a testament to Obama’s personal hostility toward the greatness of the British role in preserving the rule of law, the foundations of liberty, and Margaret Thatcher’s willingness to stare down the Soviets alongside Ronald Reagan and St. John Paul II.
The headline is not an accident. It is a deliberate slight to the era of Reagan, Thatcher, and the moral clarity they brought to the world. Thatcher and Reagan spoke with moral clarity about the evil of redistributive policies and the damage they do to civilization. John Paul spoke with moral clarity about the evil of governments restraining the free exercise of faith. The three renewed the face of the earth.
Michael Brown was caught on video committing felony strong armed robbery. That Obama administration officials at his funeral would outnumber Obama administration officials at Thatcher’s funeral says absolutely everything you need to know about the last six years. Policy after policy advanced by President Obama in some way shares a relation to that headline, and the ideas behind it.
According to a press release, Texas Gov. Rick Perry has added a very big — and very Democratic — name to his legal team.
AUSTIN – Today, lead attorney Tony Buzbee announced the addition of Mark Fabiani to Governor Rick Perry’s legal team. Mark Fabiani joins Buzbee, Ben Ginsberg, Justice Tom Phillips, Bobby Burchfield and David Botsford.
“I’m proud to join Gov. Perry’s outstanding team which has been assembled to fight back against this attack on the rule of law,” Mark Fabiani said. “As we move forward to protect the Texas Constitution and the First Amendment rights of any governor, I am confident this prosecution will be revealed to be contrary to the law and wholly meritless.”
Mark Fabiani is arguably one of the most partisan Democrats in the country. He was on President Bill Clinton’s legal team, and was also on Vice President Al Gore’s legal team during the Florida recount. He is partners with Democrat operative Chris Lehane in a strategic communications company.
Fabiani’s addition to the Perry legal team sends a strong signal that, while Texas Democrats, the Democratic National Committee and some others are still touting the August 15th indictment of the governor, some national Democrats want to be seen fighting against it.
Gov. Perry has gotten very good at trolling Democrats during his 14 years in office. Fabiani’s addition to the legal team raises Gov. Perry’s troll level to master.
Illinois was the 50th state to grant concealed handgun permits. The state only allowed them because a court ordered it to.
So far, here’s the news: Concealed carry permits have surged, and crime has dropped, according to the Washington Times.
Since Illinois started granting concealed carry permits this year, the number of robberies that have led to arrests in Chicago has declined 20 percent from last year, according to police department statistics. Reports of burglary and motor vehicle theft are down 20 percent and 26 percent, respectively. In the first quarter, the city’s homicide rate was at a 56-year low.
“It isn’t any coincidence crime rates started to go down when concealed carry was permitted. Just the idea that the criminals don’t know who’s armed and who isn’t has a deterrence effect,” said Richard Pearson, executive director of the Illinois State Rifle Association. “The police department hasn’t changed a single tactic — they haven’t announced a shift in policy or of course — and yet you have these incredible numbers.”
As of July 29 the state had 83,183 applications for concealed carry and had issued 68,549 licenses. By the end of the year, Mr. Pearson estimates, 100,000 Illinois citizens will be packing. When Illinois began processing requests in January, gun training and shooting classes — which are required for the application — were filling up before the rifle association was able to schedule them, Mr. Pearson said.
More guns, less crime. There’s even a book about that.
The congressman who represents Michael Brown’s district said at his funeral service this morning that lawmakers and activists should now focus as a whole on how law enforcement treats young black men.
Congressional attendees at the service, held at Friendly Temple M.B. Church in St. Louis, included Reps. Hank Johnson (D-Ga.), Steve Horsford (D-Nev.), Al Green (D-Texas), Maxine Waters (D-Calif.) and Emanuel Cleaver (D-Mo.).
Rep. Wm. Lacy Clay (D-Mo.) was bumped off the speaking schedule because the service ran over on time, but his office released the remarks he intended to deliver.
He vowed that the members would stand by the Brown family “regardless of how long and difficult the road to justice may be.”
Clay quoted the book of Isaiah: “I will give you hidden treasures / Riches stored in dark places / So that you may know that I am the Lord.”
“We all favor the sunshine over the darkness, make no mistake about that,” Clay said. “But Michael Brown’s family and the good people of Ferguson — indeed, millions of good people across this great nation — have been in the throes of a dreadful darkness.”
“Michael Brown’s untimely and completely unnecessary death has unleashed a deluge of darkness that at times seems to envelop everything. Dr. King told us ‘darkness cannot drive out darkness, only the light can do that. And hate cannot drive out hate, only love can do that.’ Perhaps the lesson from Isaiah means that even in the midst of our tears, there is a blessing to be revealed, even in the depths of our despair, God has promised to give us treasure from these tragic days.”
The congressman said the “treasure” might be “a great light of truth that Michael left for us to follow.”
“And if we truly want to honor his memory, we need to shine that light towards how local law enforcement deals with young black men and make meaningful changes that end sad, painful events like today,” Clay said. “And we need to shine that light towards the uneven scales of justice and inequality in this country.”
Clay stressed that Brown was his constituent, “bright, talented, full of hope, 18 years old, and ready to start college.”
“He was also male and black and, sadly, that made him a target,” he continued. “So I pray that his senseless killing will be elevated out of the darkness and into the light to finally become an urgent national priority.”
Commemorating the 200th anniversary of burning the White House. Only sparklers this time! pic.twitter.com/QIDBQTBmmL
— British Embassy (@UKinUSA) August 24, 2014
The family of journalist James Foley revealed that a former prisoner of ISIS had smuggled out a letter from their son in June.
Because ISIS had been confiscating every letter that Foley tried to write, he asked his fellow hostage to memorize the letter and recite it to his mother, Diane, after being released.
The grisly video of Foley’s beheading was released last week by the Islamic State, with a warning to President Obama to stop airstrikes against the caliphate.
Foley wrote of remembering “so many great family times that take me away from this prison.”
“I know you are thinking of me and praying for me. And I am so thankful. I feel you all especially when I pray. I pray for you to stay strong and to believe. I really feel I can touch you even in this darkness when I pray,” he said.
“Eighteen of us have been held together in one cell, which has helped me. We have had each other to have endless long conversations about movies, trivia, sports. We have played games made up of scraps found in our cell…we have found ways to play checkers, chess, and Risk… and have had tournaments of competition, spending some days preparing strategies for the next day’s game or lecture. The games and teaching each other have helped the time pass. They have been a huge help. We repeat stories and laugh to break the tension.”
Foley admitted having “weak and strong days.”
“We are so grateful when anyone is freed; but of course, yearn for our own freedom. We try to encourage each other and share strength. We are being fed better now and daily. We have tea, occasional coffee. I have regained most of my weight lost last year,” he said.
He then had specific messages for family members, including his grandmother.
“Grammy, please take your medicine, take walks and keep dancing. I plan to take you out to Margarita’s when I get home,” Foley said. “Stay strong because I am going to need your help to reclaim my life.”
A Mass was held for Foley yesterday in Rochester, N.H. After his 2011 captivity in Libya, Foley wrote how his Catholic faith got him through that ordeal.
Nearly three-and-a-half years ago, before the “Arab Spring” and the plight of Christians became much of a topic, I wrote an article titled “The Silent Extermination of Iraq’s ‘Christian Dogs.’” Revisiting it is useful, as it highlights some important points. The article follows below in italics, with new observations interspersed in regular font:
Last week [April, 2011] an Iraqi Muslim scholar issued a fatwa that, among other barbarities, asserts that “it is permissible to spill the blood of Iraqi Christians.” Inciting as the fatwa is, it is also redundant. While last October’s Baghdad church attack which killed some sixty Christians is widely known—actually receiving some MSM coverage—the fact is, Christian life in Iraq has been a living hell ever since U.S. forces ousted the late Saddam Hussein in 2003.
The important point here is that the plight of Iraq’s Christians did not just begin under the Islamic State, as many seem to believe, but rather from the very first day the (secular) autocrat was removed.
Among other atrocities, beheading and crucifying Christians are not irregular occurrences; messages saying “you Christian dogs, leave or die,” are typical. Islamists see the church as an “obscene nest of pagans” and threaten to “exterminate Iraqi Christians.” John Eibner, CEO of Christian Solidarity International, summarized the situation well in a recent letter to President Obama:
“The threat of extermination is not empty. Since the collapse of Saddam Hussein’s regime, more than half the country’s Christian population has been forced by targeted violence to seek refuge abroad or to live away from their homes as internally displaced people. According to the Hammurabi Human Rights Organization, over 700 Christians, including bishops and priests, have been killed and 61 churches have been bombed. Seven years after the commencement of Operation Iraqi Freedom, Catholic Archbishop Louis Sako of Kirkuk reports: ‘He who is not a Muslim in Iraq is a second-class citizen. Often it is necessary to convert or emigrate, otherwise one risks being killed.’ This anti-Christian violence is sustained by a widespread culture of Muslim supremacism that extends far beyond those who pull the triggers and detonate the bombs.”
Again, more confirmation that the savage persecution of Christians in Iraq—including recent acts of genocide and expulsions—is not a product of the Islamic State, but rather something more homegrown, more—how shall we say?—integral to Muslims unloosed from the grips of secularized dictators?
The grand irony, of course, is that Christian persecution has increased exponentially under U.S. occupation. As one top Vatican official put it, Christians, “paradoxically, were more protected under the dictatorship” of Saddam Hussein.
What does one make of this—that under Saddam, who was notorious for human rights abuses, Christians were better off than they are under a democratic government sponsored by humanitarian, some would say “Christian,” America?
Although I first suggested over three years ago that Christian minorities are the first to suffer whenever the U.S. intervenes in Islamic nations—evincing the types of people the U.S. ends up empowering—this notion is now an ironclad fact, with other examples to add to Iraq, including Libya, Syria, and Egypt under Obama allies, the Muslim Brotherhood.
Like a Baghdad caliph, Saddam appears to have made use of the better educated Christians, who posed no risk to his rule, such as his close confidant Tariq Aziz. Moreover, by keeping a tight lid on the Islamists of his nation—who hated him as a secular apostate no less than the Christians—the latter benefited indirectly.
Conversely, by empowering “the people,” the U.S. has unwittingly undone Iraq’s Christian minority. Naively projecting Western values on Muslims, U.S. leadership continues to think that “people-power” will naturally culminate into a liberal, egalitarian society—despite all the evidence otherwise. The fact is, in the Arab/Muslim world, “majority rule” traditionally means domination by the largest tribe or sect; increasingly, it means Islamist domination.
Either which way, the minorities—notably the indigenous Christians—are the first to suffer once the genie of “people-power” is uncorked. Indeed, evidence indicates that the U.S. backed “democratic” government of Iraq enables and incites the persecution of its Christians. (All of this raises the pivotal question: Do heavy-handed tyrants—Saddam, Mubarak, Qaddafi, et al—create brutal societies, or do naturally brutal societies create the need for heavy-handed tyrants to keep order?)
Again, a reminder that it is not just the Islamic jihadis and other U.S. sponsored “rebels” that persecute Christians, but even the U.S. installed government of Iraq. Moreover, a few months after the above was written, the government of “liberated” Afghanistan destroyed the last Christian church—entirely under U.S. auspices.
Another indicator that empowering Muslim masses equates Christian suffering is the fact that, though Iraqi Christians amount to a mere 5% of the population, they make up nearly 40% of the refugees fleeing Iraq. It is now the same in Egypt: “A growing number of Egypt’s 8-10 million Coptic Christians are looking for a way to get out as Islamists increasingly take advantage of the nationalist revolution that toppled long-standing dictator Hosni Mubarak in February.”
At least Egypt’s problems are homegrown, whereas the persecution of Iraq’s Christians is a direct byproduct of U.S. intervention. More ironic has been Obama’s approach: Justifying U.S. intervention in Libya largely in humanitarian terms, the president recently declared that, while “it is true that America cannot use our military wherever repression occurs… that cannot be an argument for never acting on behalf of what’s right.”
Indeed, and we have since seen what Obama’s “humanitarian” actions in Libya have led to—the empowerment of Islamists and jihadis, evinced from things like the attack on the U.S. consulate in Benghazi and the dramatic rise of Christian persecution. Since Obama “liberated” Libya, Christians—including Americans—have been tortured and killed (including for refusing to convert) and churches bombed. And it’s “open season” on Copts, as jihadis issue a reward to Muslims who find and kill Christians. This was hardly the case under Gaddafi.
True, indeed. Yet, as Obama “acts on behalf of what’s right” by providing military protection to the al-Qaeda connected Libyan opposition, Iraq’s indigenous Christians continue to be exterminated—right under the U.S. military’s nose in Iraq. You see, in its ongoing bid to win the much coveted but forever elusive “Muslim-hearts-and-minds™”—which Obama has even tasked NASA with—U.S. leadership has opted to ignore the inhumane treatment of Islam’s “Christian dogs,” the mere mention of which tends to upset Muslims.
And now the job is largely done, as Christians and other religious minorities are being cleansed from large parts of Iraq, not to mention much of the Islamic world.
Nigeria-based terror group Boko Haram announced in a video released Sunday that it had carved up a town in the West African nation to be part of the new caliphate.
The al-Qaeda affiliate overran Gwoza, a city of about 275,000 in Borno state, the region where the kidnapping of Chibok schoolgirls touched off the #BringBackOurGirls campaign.
Boko Haram terrorists have also been steadily taking towns near Gwoza, driving out Nigerian soldiers sent to guard the villages.
Last week, Boko Haram attacked the Mobile Police Training School. About three dozen policemen were missing after the raid.
“Following the attack launched by insurgents on the Gwoza Training camp of the Nigeria Police Mobile Force (PMF), the Inspector-General of Police, Ag. IGP Suleiman Abba has since ordered the tightening of security around all police facilities in the country in addition to efforts made to further protect the lives of all people in Nigeria and their properties,” Force Public Relations Officer DCP Emmanuel Ojukwud said in a statement.
“Thanks be to Allah who gave victory to our brethren in (the town of) Gwoza and made it part of the Islamic caliphate,” Abubakar Shekau declared in a 52-minute video obtained by Agence France-Presse.
Shekau added that the Boko fighters wanted to someday make pilgrimage to Mecca, but not while the Saudis controlled the holy site.
The leader stressed that Gwoza now has “nothing to do with Nigeria.”
Nigeria has faded to the backseat in Washington as attention has been focused on the heart of the caliphate in Iraq and Syria.
Vice President Joe Biden met with Nigerian President Goodluck Jonathan, who has been criticized for a slow response to the schoolgirls’ kidnapping in April. The majority of the girls are still missing.
The Obama administration has maintained that better economic opportunity in Nigeria will naturally halt the gains of the al-Qaeda affiliate. Activists have criticized the White House for glossing over the true nature of Boko Haram and the threats posed by the terror group.
“The Vice President welcomed the Government of Nigeria’s work to improve its business climate, which continues to attract U.S. investors. The President and Vice President agreed on the importance of deepening trade and investment, and the critical role that access to electricity—including through the advancement of Power Africa—plays in supporting that goal,” the White House said in a readout of the Biden meeting with Jonathan. “Lastly, the President and Vice President discussed Nigeria’s efforts to counter Boko Haram. The Vice President reiterated U.S. partnership in defeating the terrorist threat and the need to pursue holistic approaches that respect and protect human rights. The Vice President also underscored the importance of supporting Nigeria’s effort to improve the socioeconomic and security conditions in northern Nigeria.”
A Disturbing Pattern: Eight Times that Democrats Used Court Shenanigans Against Republicans They Couldn’t Beat at the Ballot Box
The indictment of Texas Gov. Rick Perry on August 15, 2014 has drawn criticism from pundits, politicians and papers all over the country. Some Democrats have disavowed the indictment, going as far as to claim that launching courtroom attacks against their opponents in the GOP is just not how Democrats operate.
But is that the case? Or have Democrats shown a disturbing pattern of using courtrooms to go after Republicans who pose a threat to them?
The following eight cases suggest that Democrats will wield ethics complaints and courtrooms as weapons against Republicans at strategic moments.
Travis County District Attorney Ronnie Earle brought several charges against newly elected Sen. Kay Bailey Hutchison (R) in 1993. Hutchison had previously won statewide election as state treasurer, and was a rising star in Texas politics. She won a special election by landslide to replace Sen. Lloyd Bentsen (D), who had been nominated to serve in the Clinton administration.
Even in 1993 there was talk that Hutchison was a future governor. As a woman with considerable poise in front the press, Hutchison represented a clear and present danger to the Democrats who hoped to build on Gov. Ann Richards’ success statewide. Hutchison came along at a time when Texas was shifting from a reliable Democratic state to a swing state, to becoming the Republican bastion it is today. A conservative, attractive woman who could even charm the hostile Texas media, Hutchison posed a grave threat to the Democrats at a pivotal moment.
Earle’s indictment, built through the Travis County Public Integrity Unit, alleged that Hutchison engaged in felony misconduct and ordered state employees to destroy evidence while she was state treasurer. Hutchison was essentially indicted over Christmas cards.
Hutchison’s attorneys won a change of venue out of heavily Democratic Travis County, to Fort Worth. The case fell apart at trial.
Result: Full acquittal. The change of venue pulled the flimsy case out of Travis County to Fort Worth, where Earle had to give it up. Hutchison won re-election in 1994 and would go on to serve as senator until she retired and Sen. Ted Cruz (R) replaced her in 2012.
The Democrats were by no means finished with legal shenanigans to try to keep their grip on Texas. Republicans finally won the state House in 2002 for the first time since Reconstruction. That empowered them to draw up the state’s electoral map for the very first time, and in the 2003 legislative session, they did just that, with the help of Rep. Tom DeLay. Democrats knew that they would lose the vote that would adopt the Republicans’ new map — a map drawn within the constraints of the law, but which no longer guaranteed the Democrats a majority in the state’s US House delegation.
Eleven Democrats responded by running off to Oklahoma to deny the House the quorum it needed to pass the map as long as they could.
Democrats would get around to punishing DeLay directly a few years later. Read on.
Is the Barack Obama Administration more than a mite out of control when it comes to imposing new regulations? Indeed so.
Is the Obama Administration more than a little off on their regulations assessments? Indeed so.
Speaking of illegal, let’s look at Obama’s Federal Communications Commission (FCC).
The FCC has already twice imposed the Internet power grab that is Network Neutrality. How’d that go?
Have these rebukes stopped Obama, Inc.? Of course not.
They are in fact contemplating an even bigger grab.
Obviously existing federal law doesn’t stop Obama. Do multiple-state laws? It appears not.
And even all of this is but partially representative of how far-reaching and omni-directional is the Obama Administration’s power-grab-intent.
The full scope – and deleterious effect – of which we discuss in the accompanying video.
Please press play, and enjoy.
A bloody assault by Islamic State forces captured the Syrian government air base in Tabqa, today, acquiring “several warplane squadrons, helicopters, tanks, artillery, and ammunition bunkers.” An aviation “squadron,” according to Wkipedia, is “a unit of aircraft that consists of three or four flights with a total of 12 to 24 aircraft, depending on the type of aircraft and the air force, naval or army air service.”
Again, according to Wikipedia, the Taqba air base possessed 12 squadrons of the aging MIG-21 — both combat fighters and trainers. The base also housed about 20 Mi-8 helicopters, probably a mix of transport and gunship models.
So Islamic State possesses several dozen aging, but effective MIG-21 fighters, several helicopter gunships armed with anti-tank weapons, as well as an unknown number of tanks and a lot of ammunition.
Certainly no match for American jets. The biggest question is, do they have the pilots to fly the machines?
Christian Science Monitor describes the battle:
The jihadis launched their long-anticipated offensive last week to seize the sprawling Tabqa facility, located some 45 kilometers (25 miles) from the extremists’ stronghold in the city of Raqqa along the Euphrates River.
After several failed efforts to breach the walls in recent days, Islamic State fighters managed to punch through and storm the air base Sunday, the Britain-based Syrian Observatory for Human Rights said. Government warplanes carried out waves of airstrikes to try to beat back the attack, but those ultimately proved unable to stem the assault.
“Some of the Syrian regime troops pulled out, and now the Islamic State is in full control of Tabqa,” said Observatory director Rami Abdurrahman. “This makes Raqqa province the first to fully fall out of government hands.”
Another activist group, the Local Coordination Committees, also said the extremist group was in control of Tabqa.
The SANA state news agency confirmed that the government had lost the air base, saying troops “are successfully reassembling after evacuating the airport.” It said that the military was still “striking terrorist groups, inflicting heavy losses on them.”
The government had made significant investments in both weapons and manpower to try to hold onto Tabqa, making its fall a both a symbolic and a strategic blow.
Islamic State fighters had been closing in on the base for weeks. When the fight finally came, it was bloody.
The Observatory said that at least 100 Islamic State fighters were killed and another 300 wounded in the fighting, numbers that exclude casualties from the final assault. Abdurrahman said dozens of government troops also were killed Sunday alone.
Tabqa is the latest in a string of bases to fall to the Islamic State group as it strengthens its hold over a vast swath of territory in northern and eastern Syria. Last month, the extremists overran the sprawling Division 17 military base in Raqqa, killing at least 85 soldiers. Two weeks later, they seized the nearby Brigade 93 base after days of heavy fighting.
The group’s trademark brutality was on full display after those victories. They killed army commanders and pro-government militiamen, decapitating them before putting their bodies and heads on display. The Observatory reported similar acts following the fall of Tabqa Sunday.
Since the Syrian military is going to try and take the base back, they probably haven’t destroyed many of the armaments left behind. But the capture of the base is really bad news. IS has proved itself to be resourceful. If they don’t have men who can fly the jets, they can hire people who can train them. The same goes for the helicopters.
If Islamic State now possesses an air force, it could tip the balance their way in Syria and Iraq. The nightmare just got a little blacker.
The New York Post reports that British intelligence has identified the jihadist who beheaded American journalist James Foley.
British rapper Abdel-Majed Abdel Bary, AKA “L Jinny,” is the prime suspect in the murder of Foley, according to sources in MI15. Bary’s father, Adel Abdul Bary, the terrorist charged with participating in the bombings of embassies in Tanzania and Kenya in August 1998, is awaiting trial in New York after an 8 month extradition battle with the US.
Bary joins a list of three other Brits who were identified as possible leaders of the jihadist group nicknamed by former hostages as “the Beatles.”
That list includes the brother of a British doctor once charged with kidnapping two Western war correspondents and a former gang member who converted to Islam before traveling to Syria to wage jihad.
It is now being estimated that up to 20 British extremists a month are heading to Syria and Iraq to take up arms with the ISIS, according to The Sunday Times.
“It is horrifying to think that the perpetrator of this heinous act could have been brought up in Britain,” British Foreign Secretary Phillip Hammond wrote in the Sunday Times.
In addition, Hammond referred to the actions of “John the Beatle” as “an utter betrayal” of everything the British stand for, The Sunday Times reported.
He added that Foley’s death would serve as a “reminder to us all that Islamic extremism in Iraq and Syria is not only causing huge suffering in those countries but is also a barbaric ideology threatening us at home.”
The “root causes” of Bary’s radicalism aren’t poverty and hopelessness. He grew up in a $3 million home in London, and had the best of everything growing up. His rap career never amounted to much but those who know him say he became radicalized when he began attending one of the many radical mosques in Britain. He is disciple of extremist preacher Anjem Choudary, who has expressed a desire to go to Syria and join Islamic State.
Abdel-Majed Abdel Bary, 23, is the latest in a growing stream of young men to join militant groups in the war-torn Middle Eastern country.
He walked out of his family’s £1million home several months ago telling them he was ‘leaving everything for the sake of Allah’.
Friends said Bary – an aspiring rapper on the ‘grime’ music scene – grew increasingly radical and violent after mixing with thugs linked to hate preacher Anjem Choudary.
He has posted a series of photographs online, including shots of him masked and posing with guns under the title ‘soldier of Allah’.
In other messages he called on Allah to ‘grant us martyrdom’, and praised Osama Bin Laden. Bary, whose music has featured on Radio 1, is one of six children of Adel Abdul Bary, 53.
Bary probably won’t be able to come back to Britain. But his friends and other British, French, German and other European terrorists will. You can see why these governments are so worried. Potentially, dozens of trained terrorists dedicated to killing as many civilians as possible will be able to blend in with the population. Intelligence will no doubt identify many of them. But there going to be many who slip through and arrive home unnoticed, only to be heard from when they strike.
The grand jury considering whether to charge Officer Darren Wilson in the Michael Brown case is coming under pressure from politicians and residents of Ferguson, Missouri to do the “right” thing and indict the policeman for murder.
Otherwise…? The unspoken threat that violence would erupt if no indictment is returned isn’t very subtle.
Conditions calmed this week in Ferguson after nights of sometimes violent unrest stemming from the fatal shooting of a black 18-year-old by a white police officer. But a delicate and crucial question lingers: What happens if the grand jury now considering the case doesn’t return a charge against the officer?
The fear among some local residents and officials trying to maintain peace in Ferguson is that failure to charge the officer could stoke new anger among a community profoundly mistrustful of the legal system. Many say they just hope the grand jury’s decision, whatever it is, has irrefutable facts to back it up.
U.S. Sen. Claire McCaskill told The Associated Press she’s pushing for federal and local investigations to be completed around the same time so that all evidence in the case can be made public — a step many consider important should prosecutors decide not to charge the officer. Her office said Friday that the Department of Justice hasn’t given a timeline for the federal investigation, which centers on whether a civil rights violation occurred when officer Darren Wilson fatally shot the unarmed Michael Brown on Aug. 9.
McCaskill, a former prosecutor in Missouri, said she’s hopeful the physical evidence in the case — including blood spatter patterns, clothing and shell casings — will provide “incontrovertible facts” about what happened during the shooting. She said whatever local prosecutors decide, it will be important to explain the decision by providing that physical evidence, and that won’t be possible if the federal investigation is ongoing.
McCaskill said she urged Attorney General Eric Holder during a meeting earlier this week to speed up what is typically a lengthier federal process.
“What we want to avoid is a decision being made without all the information being available to the public also,” McCaskill said, adding that not being able to do so could “create more stress and certainly much more fear that we would be back to worrying about people being able to protest safely.”
It is not likely that the facts will be “incontrovertible.” They rarely are. It is reasonable to assume that some of the evidence will be ambiguous. Some of it may even be contradictory. Judging by the wild disparity in eye witness reports we’ve seen already, it is doubtful that a clear picture of guilt or innocence will be forthcoming.
And what’s the point of conducting a “secret” grand jury proceeding if you’re going to make their deliberations public? It’s another layer of intimidation that is being brought to bear on the grand jurors to do what the mob wants and indict Officer Wilson.
Residents of Ferguson made it clear what the grand jury must do:
“This officer has to be indicted. I’d hate to see what happens if he isn’t. The rioting, the looting, man …,” said resident Larry Loveless, 29, as he stopped at the memorial for Brown where he was killed.
The racial make up of the grand jury is another potential flash point. There are only 3 blacks on the 12-person panel, allowing a decision not to prosecute Wilson to play directly into the racialist’s hands.
The streets of Ferguson may be calm, but the pressure being placed on the grand jury to give into the mob will be hard to resist.
Another ethnic minority is on the verge of being slaughtered by forces of Islamic State. And the UN is asking the international community for help.
The town of Amerli has been besieged for 70 days by IS forces. The 20,000 residents are of the Shiite Turkmen minority and are without power, food, or medicine. The UN’s Special Representative to Iraq, Nickolay Mladenov, is asking the international community to intervene, “to prevent a human rights tragedy.”
BBC reports the victims are part of the Turkmen ethnic group, who comprise roughly 4 percent of Iraq’s population. But as Shia, they are considered apostates by the jihadist group.
“After the attack of Mosul, all the Shia Turkmen villages around Amerli were captured by Islamic State,” resident Ali Albayati said. “They killed the people and displayed their bodies outside the village.”
Albayati said the town has been trying to fend off the militants for 70 days and are now left without electricity and drinking water. And unlike recent U.S. intervention to save members of the Yazidi religious trapped who were trapped on Mount Sinjar in northwestern Iraq, there are currently no plans for a rescue operation.
“The situation of the people in Amerli is desperate and demands immediate action to prevent the possible massacre of its citizens,” UN Iraq envoy Nickolay Mladenov said in a statement.
“I urge the Iraqi government to do all it can to relieve the siege and to ensure that the residents receive lifesaving humanitarian assistance or are evacuated in a dignified manner,” he said.
Most of the town’s residents work as farmers, but male workers have been neglecting crops to fight the militants, BBC reports. As a result, the only food supplies arriving in town come via Iraqi Army helicopters.
“It is a humanitarian disaster,” Albayati said. “Twenty-thousand people in Amerli are fighting off death. There are children who are only eating once every three days. I can’t describe the situation. I just don’t know what to say.”
Prime minister designate Haidar al-Abadi promised aid for the town on Saturday, calling for provision of “all times of military and logistical support for Amerli,” AFP reported.
Iraq’s most powerful Shiite cleric, Grand Ayotollah Ali al-Sistani, also called for efforts to free the village and “save its people from the dangers of terrorists.”
There are no Americans to protect in Amerli, so if the president decides to intervene there, he will have expanded the parameters of our involvement once again. Talk about mission creep — that would be it.
It’s clear that the Iraqi government cannot protect its own people from the bloodlust of IS. And when the UN rep calls on the “international community” to intervene, he’s not talking about France, or Russia. He’s talking about America.
So, do we accept the challenge and expand the war in order to protect Iraqi religious and ethnic minorities? Or do we decline to intervene and watch as thousands are massacred or starve to death in Amerli?
There is something to the argument that we can’t protect everyone — that limiting the mission as the president has done is the smart move. In Iraq on Friday, gunmen burst into a mosque and opened fire with automatic weapons, killing 70 Sunnis. Are we expected to prevent those kinds of massacres as well?
Iraq is de-evolving. It’s the right move not to get trapped by its death throes. But confronting Islamic State and destroying them is a separate issue from saving Iraqi civilians because their own government can’t act. Somebody, somewhere is going to have to put boots on the ground and do the dirty work of grinding IS forces to dust, and destroying the administrative infrastructure they’ve already set up. Killing an entire nation state is going to take time, and will be an extremely bloody affair.
The alternative is to “contain” IS — a dangerous and completely unsatisfactory course of action. But given the reluctance of leaders in both American political parties to intervene by using ground troops, and the even greater reluctance of Europe to offer more than token assistance in any effort to destroy IS, it may be the only course open to us.