NEW YORK – Robert Redford will play Dan Rather in a film about the former CBS anchor’s disputed report about President George W. Bush’s National Guard service.
The film, titled Truth, will be adapted from the memoir Truth And Duty: The Press, the President, and the Privilege of Power by former CBS producer Mary Mapes, said the production company, Mythology Entertainment. Cate Blanchett is signed on to play Mapes.
But I hope truth is subject to no prescription, for truth is truth though never so old, and time cannot make that false which was once true. – Edward de Vere, 17th Earl of Oxford, 1603
If you followed the 2004 presidential campaign, you probably recall the “disputed” 60 Minutes report claiming that George W. Bush shirked his duties and failed to follow orders as a young Texas Air National Guard officer. The segment was discredited when the “military memos” on which it was based were exposed online as forgeries. CBS News received a well-deserved black eye, and long-time anchor Dan Rather, producer Mary Mapes and several others lost their jobs.
There is no need to review the technical evidence about the memos, except to note that 1970s-era typewriters lacked word processing features such as superscripts, kerning (adjusting the spaces between letters to improve readability), proportional spacing and mathematically centered titles. A detailed account of the scandal, which became famous as “RatherGate,” can be found here.
To many, the debunking of the 60 Minutes segment For the Record was a brilliantly effective exercise in free speech that prevented a slanted hit piece from influencing a national election. But to Mapes and Rather, it was a profound injustice that should never be allowed to happen again.
The online takedown of For the Record a decade ago was a watershed moment for the Internet, showing that ordinary citizens could effectively fact-check and counter old media political narratives. This failed to please “gatekeepers” such as former CBS News executive Jonathan Klein, who harrumphed that “you couldn’t have a starker contrast between the multiple layers of check and balances [at 60 Minutes] and a guy sitting in his living room in his pajamas writing.” But the evidence pointed the other way: all the professional media outlets, with their vaunted fact-checkers, vetting processes and layers of editorial review, overlooked the glaring problems with the documents. Most tried for nearly two weeks to defend the politically useful story.
For the Record did not reveal how CBS News had obtained the memos, which were attributed to Bush’s former commanding officer, Lt. Col. Jerry Killian. The source turned out to be one Bill Burkett, a former Texas Army National Guard officer with a history of mental problems who had made previous false claims about Bush’s military service. Burkett later told investigators that Mary Mapes put him in touch with senior Kerry officials so he could “provide the campaign with strategic advice on countering the Swift Boat Veterans for Truth.” Mapes herself kept in contact with top Kerry campaign advisor Joe Lockhart as she worked on the segment, though she later claimed the topic was never discussed. Perhaps it was just a coincidence that the Kerry campaign was ready to launch a multi-million dollar national TV ad campaign targeting Bush’s National Guard service (“Operation Fortunate Son”) right after For the Record was televised.
Patterns of behavior
It is impossible to know how many bogus news stories have been broadcast over the years. For the Record wasn’t Dan Rather’s first rodeo. In his 1988 CBS News documentary The Wall Within, Rather interviewed six “combat veterans” who claimed to have committed gruesome crimes in Vietnam, and now, traumatized, were living in the woods in Washington State.
Researcher B.G. Burkett (no relation to Bill Burkett) used Freedom of Information requests to discover that five of the men had never served in combat. The sixth, a former ammunition handler, was a diagnosed paranoid schizophrenic who had spent months in military prisons. Dan Rather enthusiastically reported his impossible story of murdering, skinning, and stacking the corpses of dozens of Vietnamese men, women and children. B.G. Burkett would later write the landmark book Stolen Valor to help debunk the media-inspired wave of phony Vietnam atrocity stories. The book noted that Dan Rather, who claimed to have been a two-tour Marine, had actually failed the physical requirements and been discharged after just four months.
Portraying Vietnam veterans as psychologically devastated war criminals unable to function in society was a standard leftist propaganda theme for decades. John Kerry’s central role in creating this “poisonous image” was the primary reason he was considered unfit to serve as commander-in-chief by most of his fellow Swift Boat veterans. However, it took Hollywood to fully inject the Left’s slanderous narrative into the culture. In his book Vietnam at the Movies, Michael Lee Lanning analyzed how films such as Apocalypse Now, Platoon, and Hearts and Minds presented American soldiers as “brutal killers who routinely commit atrocities and pursue genocide.”
Free speech online
In an era largely defined by electronic communications, it is easy to forget that the Internet and its social media derivatives, all less than a generation old, represent the greatest advance in the ability of ordinary people to obtain and disseminate information since the printing press. Totalitarians of all kinds inevitably want to control, manipulate, or shut these channels down.
Worldwide, Internet censorship is becoming the rule rather than the exception. A 2013 study by Freedom House found that “an increasing number of countries are passing new laws that criminalize certain types of political, religious or social speech….” A sharp rise was noted in the use of paid government commentators “to manipulate online discussions by trying to smear the reputations of government opponents, spread propaganda, and defend government policies….” The U.S., while categorized as “free,” was docked 12 out of 40 points in the “violation of user’s rights” category (online protections, restrictions, surveillance, repercussions for online activity, and limits on privacy), and scored just 83 of 100 points overall, down from 88 in 2012.
President Obama supported and recently signed into law the National Defense Authorization Act, a provision of which (Section 1021) allows American citizens to be arrested and detained indefinitely by the military, even if their actions were protected by the First Amendment.
The U.S. State Department joined with the 57-member Organization of Islamic Cooperation at the United Nations to pass “Resolution 16/18 to Combat Intolerance based on Religion or Belief,” which advances the OIC’s goal of criminalizing free speech on topics related to Islam.
Muslim Brotherhood agents have been invited to help develop America’s national security policies, with the result that many federal agencies disallow any mention of Islamic terrorism. Our military has become so fearful of offending Muslims that Maj. Nidal Hasan, the Fort Hood jihadi mass-murderer, received plum assignments, glowing reviews and promotions from the Army, despite being both professionally incompetent and an obvious security threat.
Further guidance on the limits of speech comes from Mr. Obama, who informed the UN General Assembly in 2012, “The future must not belong to those who slander the prophet of Islam.”
Say what you will about the Tea Party, it has not only given voice to those who hold dear conservative values, but to paraphrase Mr. Newton, it has engendered an equal and opposite reaction from those who inhabit the left side of the political spectrum. Ironically, this vociferous differentiation has placed greater import on the new electoral power brokers, independent voters.
Nothing bad happens when Americans get fired up about the political process, regardless of whether they spin to the left or the right, or mark time in the middle. Feeling pressure to take a political position typically manifests in becoming a more knowledgeable voter. If America is to ever solve its many challenges, those solutions will be demanded by an informed electorate who hire representatives to serve them, rather than anoint a self-serving political class.
Something good would happen if small business stakeholders were as politically organized and influential as other single-issue groups, like unions. If small business were a country, Wikipedia would describe Small Business USA like this: Population: 125 million (owners, employees and dependents). Economy: Largest on the planet. Contribution to society: Significant. Organized political influence for its own interests: Negligible.
What’s wrong with this picture?
With so much to contribute, Small Business America has many reasons to catch the tide of electoral fervor and become more involved in the political process.
Most of my immediate family are and were small business owners (different kinds, there is no “family business), and I know from that experience that they tend to be more conservative. The small business owners they do business with tend to be the same.
The point here about the SBA having political influence that is inversely proportional to its economic clout is important and one that isn’t talked about much. If ever a time existed to address it, it’s now. So many of the progressive left boondoggles that have been passed and are being fought for place and undue burden on small businesses. Boeing can absorb the ever-escalating costs of the PPACA without blinking an eye because it will have an easier time of spreading around how it passes those costs on. Joe’s Construction, however, will not.
The $15 an hour minimum wage is something that is championed by people who, by and large, have never run a business in their lives and think most money can be “POOFED” into existence by governmental mandate. This is another progressive favorite that disproportionately affects small biz owners.
Large industries (health care, insurance, etc.) and Big Labor all have powerful political lobbies. The Small Business Association has a seat at the table but it’s WAY at the end where almost no one can hear it and the good stuff is gone by the time the serving dishes are passed down there.
It would be good for the country if:
a) The SBA upped its political clout and,
b) One of the two major parties (hint, hint) gave them something to vote for again.
State Dept. Inspector General Finds ‘Appearance of Undue Influence and Favoritism’ in Internal Probes
The Office of the Inspector General at the State Department released a report revealing “an appearance of undue influence and favoritism by Department management” in three out of eight internal investigations reviewed.
“The appearance of undue influence and favoritism is problematic because it risks undermining confidence in the integrity of the Department and its leaders,” the OIG report said.
“In May 2011, [Bureau of Diplomatic Security] was alerted to suspicions by the security staff at a U.S. embassy that the U.S. Ambassador solicited a prostitute in a public park near the embassy. DS assigned an agent from its internal investigations unit to conduct a preliminary inquiry. However, 2 days later, the agent was directed to stop further inquiry because of a decision by senior Department officials to treat the matter as a ‘management issue.’ The Ambassador was recalled to Washington and, in June 2011, met with the Under Secretary of State for Management and the then Chief of Staff and Counselor to the Secretary of State. At the meeting, the Ambassador denied the allegations and was then permitted to return to post. The Department took no further action affecting the Ambassador.”
The OIG found that not enough evidence was collected to confirm or refute the allegation of misconduct, including no interview of the ambassador by DS.
The second case “concerned a DS Regional Security Officer (RSO) posted overseas, who, in 2011, allegedly engaged in sexual misconduct and harassment.”
“At the time the investigation began, the RSO already had a long history of similar misconduct allegations dating back 10 years at seven other posts where he worked,” and the OIG found that “notwithstanding the serious nature of the alleged misconduct, the Department never attempted to remove the RSO from Department work environments where the RSO could potentially harm other employees.”
The third case “involved the unauthorized release in mid-2012 of internal Department communications from 2008 concerning an individual who was nominated in early-2012 to serve as a U.S. Ambassador,” a nominee whose name was then withdrawn.
“OIG did find that the Assistant Secretary of State in charge of DS had delayed for 4 months, without adequate justification, DS’s interview of the nominee, and that delay brought the investigation to a temporary standstill.”
House Foreign Affairs Committee Chairman Ed Royce (R-Calif.) said the “unusual role played by State Department top management handling these internal investigations of potential criminal acts is disturbing” and he’s “pleased” that new Inspector General Steve Linick “took it upon himself to reexamine this issue.”
“Today’s report demonstrates why having a permanent Inspector General is critical to overseeing government operations. Unfortunately, the State Department lacked this accountability during the first five years of this Administration. With no top cop on the beat for nearly 2,000 days, I’m not surprised that management went off the rails in this case,” Royce said.
“Luckily that’s not the case today. I’m proud of the role that the Committee played – on a bipartisan basis – to get a permanent Inspector General in place to oversee the State Department’s operations.”
Bridget Johnson reported earlier that President Obama has appointed Ron Klain to become Ebola czar.
Klain’s career is not in medicine, epidemiology, or any field related to disease control or prevention.
Klain is a laywer, a K Street lobbyist, and a career Democrat party operative. Klain is not a doctor. He is a Democrat loyalist.
Not only was he involved in Al Gore’s 2000 election recount as Bridget reported, Klain was involved in the Obama administration’s Solyndra debacle.
In January 2012, ABC News reported that Klain, then Vice President Joe Biden’s chief of staff, was right in the middle of the administration’s poor and controversial handling of Solyndra’s bankruptcy.
Senior White House officials knew in late October 2010 that government-backed Solyndra was planning to lay off nearly 20 percent of its workforce just prior to the congressional elections the next month, recently released e-mails show.
E-mails released by the White House last week showed that Heather Zichal, an energy aide to President Barack Obama, relayed the news about the Fremont-based solar firm’s planned layoffs to top White House officials, including Communications Director Dan Pfeiffer and senior adviser Valerie Jarrett and Vice Presidential Chief of Staff Ron Klain.
Later in the same story…
Obama visited Solyndra in May 2010, as e-mails showed his top advisers, including Jarrett and Klain, knew about Solyndra’s precarious financial condition. During his visit, Obama hailed Solyndra, telling factory workers, “The true engine of economic growth will always be companies like Solyndra.”
In another story, ABC details Klain’s role:
On May 24, 2010 — two days before the president’s visit — California businessman Steve Westley emailed senior White House adviser Valerie Jarrett, referencing the audit and saying the visit might “haunt him in the next 18 months if Solyndra hits the wall, files for bankruptcy, etc.”
Jarrett reached out to Ron Klain, then the chief of staff to Vice President Biden, saying that “we clearly need to make sure that they are stable and solid.”
Klain contacted Energy Department officials and then wrote back to Jarrett, saying “Sounds like there are some risk factors here – but that’s true of any innovative company that POTUS would visit. It looks like it is OK to me, but if you feel otherwise, let me know.”
“I’m comfortable if you’re comfortable,” Jarrett wrote back.
Responded Klain: “The reality is that if POTUS visited 10 such places over the next 10 months, probably a few would be belly-up by election day 2012 – but that to me is the reality of saying that we want to help promote cutting edge, new economy industries.”
By October, Summers, Klain, and director of the Office of Energy and Climate Policy Carol Browner wrote a six-page memorandum to the President about the loan guarantee program, detailing the fights between the Department of Energy and OMB and giving the president four options to deal with the program, one of which would have terminated it altogether, seeking congressional approval to move the funds into a Department of Energy grant program.
The Washington Post reports that Klain “dismissed auditor’s concerns about Solyndra’s solvency” in 2010, “reasoning that all innovative companies come with risk.” In Solyndra’s case, the risk was borne by the US taxpayer in the form of government-backed loans.
Solyndra filed for bankruptcy in August 2011, just over a year after Klain dismissed concerns about its viability, and failed to warn President Obama about its financial condition.
President Obama has begun to explain why he is making sure that the United States does not impose a travel ban on people coming from the three Ebola-stricken countries to here.
Those countries are Liberia, Sierra Leone and Guinea. A Liberian man flew to the United States in September, bringing Ebola with him. He infected two nurses, and as many as 1,000 people are now being sought or monitored for having contact either with him or with the two nurses.
In a White House photo-op, Obama explained “I don’t have a philosophical objection, necessarily, to a travel ban if that is the thing that is gonna keep the American people safe.”
Obama claimed that in all discussions that he has had with experts in the field, those experts have told him that if there is a travel ban, some people might slip across borders to travel from another, non-Ebola country. Because that possibility even exists, there should be no travel ban at all.
Watch his remarks here.
Obama did not name any of the experts who he claims have told him of this scenario — a scenario that has become increasingly unlikely after several African countries closed their borders with the Ebola-stricken countries.
The president’s use of “necessarily” to qualify his thoughts indicates that he does have a philosophical objection to a travel ban. His default position will be to keep travel open to roughly 150 people per day coming to the United States from West Africa, unless circumstances force his hand. Today the president gave the first hint that that could happen.
Africa itself is less hesitant about imposing travel bans, closing borders and making other moves to keep Ebola from spreading. Morocco hosts the Africa Cup of Nations international soccer tournament in January. That country is now reportedly lobbying to get the tournament delayed until the Ebola outbreak is over. Some reports say that Morocco has already withdrawn from hosting. The Sierra Leone team no longer plays any qualifying games in its home country.
Secretary of State John Kerry told a belated Eid al-Adha celebration at the State Department yesterday — postponed because of his travel — that if he went back to college today he would “at least minor, if not major, in comparative religion.”
“I have found in my journeys through the world over these 29-plus years as a senator and now in the year and a half, year and three-quarters I’ve been Secretary of State, there is no place in the world where in one way or the other it isn’t affecting an outlook,” Kerry said.
“And even in places where people are nonbelievers or people have a different philosophy rather than one of the major religions of the world, there are themes and currents that run through every life philosophy, every single approach, whether it’s Native Americanism or Confucianism or – you can find that there’s been this passage through history from the scriptures – from the Qu’ran, from the Torah, from the Bible – that all come together, and even from other places, where they’ve been incorporated and inculcated through the sermons and preachings and teachings of religious leaders,” he added. “And we know this today.”
Kerry called the global situation “a very complex time, and there are many currents that are loose out there that have brought us to this moment.”
“The extremism that we see, the radical exploitation of religion which is translated into violence, has no basis in any of the real religions. There’s nothing Islamic about what ISIL/Daesh stands for or is doing to people,” he said.
“And so we all have a larger mission here. And obviously, history is filled with that. I mean, you go back to the Thirty Years’ War in Europe and other periods of time, Protestants, Catholics, others who have fought. It’s not new to us. Tragically, it’s more prominent because media is more available today, the messaging is there, everybody is more aware on an instantaneous basis of what is happening. And of course it’s exploited by people who engage in this.”
Kerry lobbied for a two-state solution in the Middle East and reflected “deeply on how we will deal not just with the manifestation of the symptom, which is what the violence and the extremism is, but with the underlying causes which go to this question of governance and corruption and a whole issue of how you meet the needs of people.”
“And that’s where our partnership has to be not just for peace but for prosperity, shared prosperity, where everybody has an ability to be able to find a job, get the education, be able to reach the brass ring, and it is not just reserved for a privileged few,” he continued.
“And finally, we have to build a partnership for sustainability of the planet itself, and that brings us to something like climate change, which is profoundly having an impact in various parts of the world, where droughts are occurring not at a 100-year level but at a 500-year level in places that they haven’t occurred, floods of massive proportions, diminishment of water for crops and agriculture at a time where we need to be talking about sustainable food.”
After huddling with a handful of advisers Thursday afternoon, President Obama told reporters he cold be open to the idea of an Ebola czar.
On Friday morning, CNN reported that Obama would name lobbyist and former Vice President Al Gore’s and VP Joe Biden’s chief of staff Ron Klain to the position.
The Democratic Party operative has worked as a lawyer since leaving the White House in 2011. He led the legal team fighting for Gore in the 2000 recount and was portrayed by Kevin Spacey in HBO’s Recount.
A day after pulling together his cabinet to talk Ebola, Obama met with Health and Human Services Secretary Sylvia Burwell, White House Chief of Staff Denis McDonough, National Security Advisor Susan Rice, Assistant to the President for Homeland Security and Counterterrorism Lisa Monaco, and Centers for Disease Control and Prevention Director Dr. Thomas Frieden.
“The President’s advisors detailed for him the status of the investigation into how the Dallas healthcare workers were exposed to the virus and updated him on the contact tracing process, which allows health officials to identify and, as necessary, monitor all individuals who may have come into contact with the patients following their exposure,” the White House said in a readout of the meeting. “They also discussed the steps the President ordered to enhance the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention’s ability to respond rapidly, safely, and effectively upon the diagnosis of an Ebola case domestically.”
Obama told reporters that he had spoken with Ohio Gov. John Kasich, “who is on top of it,” regarding the trip of nurse Amber Vinson to the state while she was symptomatic.
“We don’t know yet exactly what happened,” he said of how the healthcare workers contracted Ebola from Liberian patient Thomas Eric Duncan, mirroring the CDC’s head-scratching at how the protective system failed.
Obama also spoke with Texas Gov. Rick Perry, and said Perry had “legitimate concerns in terms of making sure that the federal government is surging the kinds of resources that they need in order to handle any eventuality there, to make sure that folks not just at Texas Presbyterian, but potentially at other health care facilities, have the training and the equipment that they need.”
The president addressed the idea of a travel ban “because I know it’s been a topic consistently in the news.”
“I don’t have a philosophical objection necessarily to a travel ban, if that is the thing that is going to keep the American people safe,” he said. “The problem is, in all the discussions I’ve had thus far, with experts in the field, experts in infectious disease, is that a travel ban is less effective than the measures that we are currently instituting, that involve screening passengers who are coming from West Africa.”
“…If we institute a travel ban instead of the protocols that we’ve put in place now, history shows that there’s a likelihood of increased avoidance. People do not readily disclose their information. They may engage in something called ‘broken travel,’ essentially breaking up their trips so they can hide the fact that they have been to one of these countries where there’s a disease in place. And as a result, we may end up getting less information about who has the disease. They’re less likely to get treated properly, screened properly, quarantined properly, and as a consequence, we could end up having more cases rather than less.”
Hunter Biden, son of Vice President Joe Biden, has been kicked out of the US Navy Reserve.
The son of Vice President Joe Biden says he is “embarrassed” after being discharged from the Navy Reserve earlier this year — reportedly after testing positive for cocaine.
The Wall Street Journal, citing people familiar with the matter, reported Thursday that Hunter Biden’s short-lived military career ended because he failed a drug test after reporting to his unit in 2013. According to the Wall Street Journal, the Navy discharged him in February of this year.
Biden said in a statement to Fox News that he respects the Navy’s decision but did not specify why he was discharged.
“It was the honor of my life to serve in the U.S. Navy, and I deeply regret and am embarrassed that my actions led to my administrative discharge,” he said. “I respect the Navy’s decision. With the love and support of my family, I’m moving forward.”
The 44-year-old was given a commission as an ensign in the Navy Reserve in 2013. He was kicked out earlier this year, yet the story is just now getting into the media. Was it covered up?
Drug use seems to run in Joe Biden’s family, though the media have never made as much of that as they attempted to make of everything that the Bush daughters did or didn’t do.
Officials at the Centers for Disease Control now say that Amber Vinson, the nurse who contracted the Ebola virus in a Dallas hospital, may have exhibited symptoms earlier than originally reported.
During a press conference in Summit County on Thursday, Dr. Chris Braden with the CDC said, “We can’t rule out that she might have had the start of her illness on Friday.” He said the CDC received new information today that gives them reason to include Vinson’s flight from Dallas to Cleveland on Friday, October 10, in their investigation.
“This new information now is saying that we need to go back now to the flight that she took on Friday the 10th and include them in our investigation,” Braden told reporters on Thursday afternoon. “We’re talking with many people who may have been around her and talking with her when we can,” he said, adding that Vinson is “not very well” at this time so investigators need to be judicious in questioning her.
Braden said it is difficult to identify exactly when her symptoms began because they were not typical for the Ebola virus. “She didn’t have a fever — even when she presented for evaluation and was diagnosed — that reaches the cut-off,” he said. “That makes it a little bit hard to go back and say, ‘Well, if she had some comments that she was feeling funny, does that count?’” He said it is difficult to make such judgements when gathering information about public health decisions. CDC Director Thomas Frieden told Congress on Thursday that his agency gave Vinson permission to fly because her temperature did not reach the cut-off.
“We’re always getting more information and learning, which is why you may see a change in the context that we’ve identified,” Braden said.
He also said that passengers on the flight from Dallas to Cleveland will now be “included in the investigation.”
During press conferences in Cleveland and Akron on Wednesday, officials gave conflicting dates for when Vinson arrived in Cleveland. The Cleveland Department of Public Health said she flew on Wednesday, the 8th. Other officials said she flew into Cleveland on Friday, the 10th. Dr. Margo Erme from the Summit County Public Health Department said they were not sure about the timeline. “We have gotten conflicting dates too, so we are actually looking at getting the manifest from the airline to actually confirm that because we have actually heard both.”
In addition to the quarantine of Vinson’s stepfather’s home, the Ebola “scare” has caused a variety of closings and disruptions in the area. Several Cleveland-area school were closed this week for cleaning after a teacher and a student reported they were on the flight with Vinson from Cleveland to Dallas. Two village halls also closed for the same reason. Several area hospitals put nurses who were on the Frontier Airline flight on paid leave as a precaution and Sherwin-Williams announced that three employees who work at the headquarters in Cleveland will be working from home until it can be determined that they are not infected with the Ebola virus.
A senior State Department official in Vienna told reporters that, after hours of talks on Wednesday, the hangup keeping Iran and the P5+1 from arriving at a nuclear deal remains “sort of everything.”
“We know where we are headed. We know what we each want the objective to be and we’re trying to narrow those gaps. But we have to do so in a way that ensures that all of the pathways to fissile material for a nuclear weapon are shut down,” the official said on background, adding there are “possible” solutions on the horizon in regard to the Arak heavy water reactor and “many elements” to be dealt with including uranium enrichment at Natanz and Fordow.
“And then we want to make sure we shut down the covert path, and that is largely done through very specific and very meaningful and concrete verification and monitoring mechanisms. And each one of these pathways has layers and layers of detail, and you have to understand every one of those layers to know whether what you think you’ve gotten really works.”
Secretary of State John Kerry and his Iranian counterpart, Foreign Minister Javad Zarif, met late into the evening “about whether Iran is willing to take verifiable actions to show the world that their program is indeed exclusively for peaceful purposes.”
Iran also met separately with EU representatives. The State Department official said Iran “thinks it’s important to meet with the United States from time to time because not only do we hold a number of the sanctions that are of greatest interest to them, but we – they are also very interested in our views on what needs to be accomplished.”
The official compared the negotiations to “an amoeba that sort of moves in and out until all of the pieces lock into place.”
“We’ve been chipping away at some of the issues. Everyone has put ideas on the table to see if we can move the ball forward. We have and continue to make some progress, but there is still a substantial amount of work to be done.”
Kerry said this week that he doesn’t know if the administration will extend the deadline — yet again — for an agreement by Nov. 24.
He quipped at a press availability in Paris on Tuesday that he’s “glad that all the pundits and speculators are doubting whether or not” a nuclear deal with Iran “can be reached” by the target date.
The official today said they’re keeping an eye on Nov. 24 because “if you take the pressure off yourself, then you never have to make hard decisions.”
“And deadlines help people to make hard decisions, and there are hard decisions to be made here. And we must. So we are all keeping the pressure on ourselves, and that includes Iran,” the official continued.
“In terms of mood, in a professional way, we all know each other pretty well now. You can tell when the deputy foreign minister jokes. He reads the transcripts of these backgrounders, and when he can joke, ‘Why don’t you just hand over the last one? You’re going to say the same thing,’ it’s reached a level of we know each other well enough to make jokes.”
The State Department official acknowledged that joking around with the Iranians “will not get an agreement done.”
Zarif said today that “experts” from Iran and the P5+1 “will discuss issues related to their differences in the negotiation within the next one or two weeks.”
“There are outstanding differences, but it doesn’t mean that these differences cannot be resolved,” Zarif told reporters, according to Fars News Agency. ”…Everyone believes that this issue can be settled since, actually, Iran’s nuclear program is a peaceful program and a reality on the ground.”
The State Department official wouldn’t put a number on how far along they are in negotiations.
“You can’t put a percentage on it, because even if you thought you were 75 percent of the way or even 98 percent of the way there, that last two percent may be the most important 2 percent there is, may be the glue that puts it all together. So can’t put a percentage on it.”
Centers for Disease Control and Prevention Director Tom Frieden told a House panel today that they “will consider any options to better protect Americans,” but White House press secretary Josh Earnest reiterated that a travel ban is “not something that we’re considering.”
The White House’s reluctance to entertain the idea comes as lawmakers on both sides of the aisle are getting louder, asking why even interim measures such as blocking non-essential travel or blocking travel for non-citizens can’t be considered.
“Currently, when individuals do travel from West Africa to the United States, they are screened prior to departure in West Africa. They are screened again once they enter this country. And they are subjected to heightened screening if they have traveled in these three west African countries in the last three weeks or so,” Earnest told reporters today.
“That is an indication that we are taking the necessary steps to protect the American public. That is our core priority. And that is why the president has directed that these heightened screening measures be put in place at the airports where 94 percent of travelers from western Africa arrive in this country.”
Earnest argued that putting into place a travel or visa ban “would provide a direct incentive for individuals seeking to travel to the United States to go underground and to seek to evade this screening and to not be candid about their travel history in order to enter the country.”
“And that means it would be much harder for us to keep tabs on these individuals and make sure that they get the screening that’s needed to protect them and to protect, more importantly, the American public,” he continued. “So we want to keep those lines of — of transportation open so that those individuals who seek to enter this country — and again, it’s a relatively small number, about 150 a day that enter this country. We want to make sure that those individuals are subjected to the heightened screening measures that the president put in place a week or two ago.”
He also stressed the administration refrain that it’s “important for us to keep this line of transportation open because commercial transportation is critical to ensuring that supplies and equipment can get to the region.”
“I know nothing about the commercial airline industry. But ostensibly, you’re not going to fly a bunch of planes to West Africa and then fly them out of there while they’re empty,” Earnest said. “So as a practical matter, you know, putting in place that travel ban would make it harder for the international community to respond to this incident and to mobilize the personnel and equipment that’s necessary to stop this outbreak at the source.”
The press secretary also denied a report from Rep. Tim Murphy (R-Pa.), who said that Frieden told him one of the reasons behind the reluctance to enact a travel ban is the desire to not harm the economies of the “fledgling democracies” in West Africa.
“It’s not. The reason that the travel ban in the view of this administration is not appropriate right now is because it’s not in the best interest of the safety of the American public. Again, people who are traveling from those three countries to the United States right now are subjected to intensive screening both on the ground in those three countries, but also upon arrival here in the United States of America,” Earnest said.
“If we were to put in place a travel ban, it essentially would drive those individuals underground. And it would make it easier for them to evade detection. They wouldn’t be screened at the airport before they left. And it would be harder to ensure that they were being screened when they arrived in this country.”
When asked how it would drive people underground, Earnest replied, “I don’t mean literally underground.”
“I mean that they would be below the radar of the transportation system, that they would now have an incentive to be less than candid about their travel history. If knowing that they could not travel to the United States by saying that they’d been in Liberia, individuals are much less likely, if they’re planning to travel to the United States, to disclose the fact that they’ve been in Liberia,” he said.
“What people need to have the facts about is the facts that there are screening measures that are in place to ensure that individuals who are traveling from West Africa don’t currently exhibit symptoms of Ebola when they try to enter the country. That’s much harder for us to do if we put in place a travel ban, because people will attempt to circumvent that ban and it will make it harder for us to ensure they get the screening we believe is necessary.”
Once again, Islamic State Muslims are pointing to Islam in order to justify what the civilized world counts as atrocities.
According to an October 13 report in the Telegraph,
Islamic State jihadists have given detailed theological reasons justifying why they have taken thousands of women from the Iraqi Yazidi minority and sold them into sex slavery.
A new article in the Islamic State English-language online magazine Dabiq not only admits the practice but justifies it according to the theological rulings of early Islam.
“After capture, the Yazidi women and children were then divided according to the Sharia amongst the fighters of the Islamic State who participated,” the article says.
As for “theological reasons” for sex slavery “according to the Sharia,” these are legion—from male Muslim clerics, to female Muslim activists. Generally they need do no more than cite the clear words of Koran 4:3, which permit Muslims to copulate with female captives of war, or ma malakat aymanukum, “what”—not whom—“your right hands possess.”
The article continues:
But most of it [Islamic State “article” or fatwa] is devoted to theological justifications for Islamic State behaviour, citing early clerics and the practices of the Prophet Mohammed and his Companions during the early years of Islamic expansion.
Indeed, while many are now aware of the Koran’s and by extension Sharia’s justification for slaves, sexual or otherwise, fewer are willing to embrace the fact that the prophet of Islam himself kept and copulated with concubines conquered during the jihad.
One little-known story is especially eye-opening:
During Muhammad’s jihad on the Jews of Khaybar, he took for himself from among the spoils of war one young woman, a teenager, Safiya bint Huyay, after hearing of her beauty. (Earlier the prophet had bestowed her on another Muslim jihadi, but when rumor of her beauty reached him, the prophet reneged and took her for himself.)
Muhammad “married” Safiya hours after he had her husband, Kinana, tortured to death in order to reveal hidden treasure. And before this, the prophet’s jihadis slaughtered Safiya’s father and brothers.
While Islamic apologists have long tried to justify this account—often by saying that Muhammad gave her the honor of “marriage” as opposed to being a concubine and that she opted to convert to Islam—they habitually fail to cite what Islamic sources record, namely Baladhuri’s ninth century Kitab Futuh al-Buldan (“Book of Conquests”).
According to this narrative, after the death of Muhammad, Safiya confessed that “Of all men, I hated the prophet the most—for he killed my husband, my brother, and my father,” before “marrying” (or, less euphemistically, raping) her… Keep reading
A nurses union is trying to collect petition signatures urging President Obama to use his executive authority to mandate Ebola-protection standards among all healthcare employers.
National Nurses United said Obama’s action would be “the only way to adequately confront Ebola crisis” by mandating ”uniform, national standards and protocols that all hospitals must follow to safely protect patients, all healthcare workers, and the public.”
They’re asking for:
– Optimal personal protective equipment for Ebola that meets the highest standards used by the University of Nebraska Medical Center
– Full-body hazmat suits that meet the American Society for Testing and Materials (ASTM) F1670 standard for blood penetration, the ASTM F1671 standard for viral penetration, and that leave no skin exposed or unprotected and National Institute for Occupational Safety and Health-approved powered air purifying respirators with an assigned protection factor of at least 50 — or a higher standard as appropriate.
– There shall be at least two direct care registered nurses caring for each Ebola patient with additional RNs assigned as needed based on the direct care RN’s professional judgment with no additional patient care assignments.
– There will be continuous interactive training with the RNs who are exposed to patients. There will also be continuous updated training and education for all RNs that is responsive to the changing nature of disease. This would entail continuous interactive training and expertise from facilities where state of the art disease containment is occurring.
– If the Employer has a program with standards that exceed those used by the University of Nebraska Medical Center, the higher standard shall be used. The Ebola pandemic and the exposure of health care workers to the virus represent a clear and present danger to public health. We know that without these mandates to health care facilities we are putting registered nurses, physicians and other healthcare workers at extreme risk. They are our first line of defense. We would not send soldiers to the battlefield without armor and weapons.
America, the union argued, “should be setting the example on how to contain and eradicate the Ebola virus.”
“Nothing short of your mandate, that optimal safety standards apply, will be acceptable to the nurses of this nation.”
Two nurses who treated Liberian patient Thomas Eric Duncan in Dallas have fallen ill with the Ebola virus.
Briana Aguirre, a registered nurse at Texas Health Presbyterian Hospital, told the Today show that “we never talked about Ebola and we probably should have.”
“They gave us an optional seminar to go to. Just informational, not hands on. It wasn’t even suggested we go … We were never told what to look for,” she said.
Aguirre said the “chaotic” scene after Duncan was admitted included the patient initially being placed in an area with “up to seven other patients.”
“I’ll be honest, I threw a fit. I just couldn’t believe it,” she said of their protective gear that left gaps uncovered. “In the second week of an Ebola crisis at my hospital, the only gear they were offering us at that time, and up until that time, is gear that is allowing our necks to be uncovered?”
The California Nurses Association got a hand from Sen. Bernie Sanders (I-Vt.) today:
— Martha Wallner (@MWallner_) October 16, 2014
Welcome to consequences, Natalie Tennant.
The West Virginia Democrat is running for Senate in West Virginia. Thanks to Obama, that’s a red state now.
Tennant was indirectly asked today if she voted for Obama.
And she refused to answer clearly. “I voted for the Democrat Party,” Tennant allowed, before launching into a long criticism of Obama’s EPA policies, to create some distance between herself, her own party, and him.
In his Washington Times column today, Joseph Curl writes that President Barack Obama could have kept Ebola out of the United States with a few simple words: “No one from West Africa gets into the country.”
It’s hard to argue with that. Had there been a travel ban from West Africa’s Ebola zone to the United States, Thomas Eric Duncan could not have flown here by way of Brussels. Two American nurses would not now have Ebola, straining Texas Presbyterian to the point that they have had to be flown across the country to two of the nation’s four Ebola-ready hospitals.
But the Obama administration has not imposed a travel ban from West Africa’s Ebola zone to the United States.
During today’s Ebola hearing in Congress, Rep. Fred Upton (R-MI) quizzed Centers for Disease Control and Prevention Director Tom Frieden about that.
Dr. Frieden insisted that if we ban travel from the three Ebola-stricken countries, exposed people can just slip into nearby countries and fly from there, and we will be unable to monitor them here.
That’s highly debatable. Several African countries have closed their borders with the Ebola-stricken countries, and they have credited better border security with helping block the spread of Ebola. The borders are porous, true, but the CDC’s argument is now that because we cannot stop all air passenger travel from all of Africa, we cannot stop any of it from the Ebola hot zone.
Upton said, “I looked at the legal language, does the president, does he have the legal authority to impose a travel ban because of health reasons including Ebola, is that not correct?”
Frieden whiffed, “I — I don’t have legal expertise to answer the question.”
As the head of the CDC, Frieden surely knows that presidents do have such authority.
Rep. Steve Scalise (R-LA) asked Frieden about the White House’s involvement.
“Have y’all had any conversations within the White House about a travel ban and whether or not the president has the authority? Because many of us have said the president does have the authority to do it today,” Scalise said.
Frieden did not answer, saying instead that CDC “would consider” a ban.
Scalise asked again: “Have you considered that? Have you ruled it out? Have you had conversations with the White House about a travel ban? That’s a yes or no question. Have you had conversations with the White House about a travel ban?”
Friedan against refused to answer directly: “We’ve discussed many aspects.”
Scalise asked again if Frieden has discussed a travel ban with the White House: “I can’t speak for the White House.”
Scalise tried several more times, to ascertain if the White House is discussing the lack of a travel ban with the CDC.
Frieden repeatedly refused to answer.
Watch the exchange here.
Russian President Vladimir Putin is mounting a diplomatic blitz on the sidelines of a summit of European and Asian leaders in a bid to escape Russia’s worst crisis with the West since the Cold War.
Putin on Friday will discuss Ukraine over breakfast with Ukrainian President Petro Poroshenko and key European leaders on the sidelines of the 10th ASEM summit in Milan. He may also meet privately with Poroshenko.
The West has imposed a series of economic sanctions against Russia since its annexation of the Crimean Peninsula in March and its support for a pro-Russia insurgency in eastern Ukraine.
One wonders how much Bad Vlad will be crossing his fingers behind his back while making assurances to Merkel, et al. He marches to his own drummer, and that drummer is usually preceded by a bullet or two.
In a dangerous world ridden with crisis fatigue, it would be comforting to find that sanctions alone are working in this case.
If not, we’ll always have something new to panic about tomorrow.
One of the physicians serving in the Senate called on President Obama to withdraw his 37-year-old nominee for surgeon general, an appointment that has stalled amid opposition in the upper chamber.
Vivek Murthy, a Harvard Medical School instructor who founded Doctors for Obama (which changed its name to Doctors for America), was nominated in November 2013.
Rear Admiral Boris Lushniak has been acting surgeon general since Regina Benjamin’s resignation in July 2013.
Sen. Rand Paul (R-Ky.) put a hold on Murthy’s nomination in February, noting “the majority of Dr. Murthy’s non-clinical experience is in political advocacy.”
“Historically, the Surgeon General of the United States has been a position with the purpose of educating Americans so that they may lead healthier lives, rather than advancing a political agenda,” Paul wrote at the time to Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid (D-Nev.). “Dr. Murthy has disqualified himself from being Surgeon General because of his intent to use that position to launch an attack on Americans’ right to own a firearm under the guise of a public health and safety campaign.”
Sen. Mark Begich (D-Alaska) was among Democrats telling the White House he would “very likely vote no” on Murthy, and the nomination hasn’t come to the floor.
Reid could bring Murthy up for a vote after midterm elections, though, and argue that the nomination needs to be pushed through quickly because of the health crisis.
Sen. John Barrasso (R-Wyo.) today urged Obama to pull the nomination, arguing that now more than ever American needs an experienced surgeon general.
“Americans are justifiably worried about the spread of Ebola and concerned that it could reach their families. In the middle of growing uncertainty, President Obama and his team need to do everything possible to give the American people more confidence that their government is working effectively to prevent any more people from contracting this deadly virus,” Barrasso said in a statement.
“Now more than ever, our nation needs to have an experienced and effective Surgeon General to help coordinate the government’s Ebola strategy.”
The senator, who as an orthopedic surgeon was president of the Wyoming Medical Society, noted that “it has been clear for almost a year that the president’s nominee Dr. Vivek Murthy is not the right person for this consequential job.”
“His nomination has stalled in the Senate for months because members from both sides of the aisle are concerned that Dr. Murthy is primarily known for his advocacy for gun control and his fundraising capabilities on behalf of the president. These ‘qualifications’ will not solve the wide range of public health problems currently facing Americans,” he said.
“It is now time for President Obama to immediately withdraw Dr. Murthy’s nomination and promptly nominate an experienced professional who can help prevent the spread of Ebola and tackle other serious health challenges. Americans deserve a Surgeon General who has substantial experience in managing complex crises and delivering patient care.”
Lawmakers on both sides of the aisle have been calling on Obama to bring in a former surgeon general to held coordinate the Ebola response.
Sen. Bill Nelson (D-Fla.) today joined Sen. John McCain’s (R-Ariz.) call for an Ebola czar.
“If there’s a will, there’s a way,” Nelson said. “This person should be at least temporarily based in a White House war room with direct authority from the president – someone like former Surgeon General Richard Carmona, who has the requisite medical background and who served in that position under former president George W. Bush.”
President Obama continues to refuse to impose a travel ban on those seeking to enter the United States who came from Ebola-ravaged countries. Yet when I attempted to enter the United States from New Zealand, I was prohibited from bringing packaged seeds from the delicious Queensland Blue pumpkin. In fact, all totally harmless vegetable seeds from foreign countries are prohibited and, as in my case, confiscated at the border.
When I attempted to enter the country with pre-packaged Queensland Blue seeds in 2003, the delicious squash was common in Australia and New Zealand, but seeds were not widely available in the United States. At Los Angeles, I was forced to surrender the seeds to an agriculture inspector at customs.
Queensland Blue seeds are harmless, and the vegetable is is commonly eaten across Australia and New Zealand.
The same can’t be said about Ebola, and only people who were in West Africa could bring it into the United States, which is precisely what happened. I called for a travel ban two weeks ago on The Kelly File.
Among those supporting a travel ban are Sen. Ted Cruz, Speaker John Boehner, and the American people, overwhelmingly, as Katie Pavlich notes.
Contrary to reports, the CDC has less power to block the border than does President Obama personally. Federal law gives the president personally (not the CDC) the power to bar entry into the United States to all people who have been in West Africa in the last 30 days. I detailed this power here. News reports which place that power with the CDC are giving President Obama a pass. President Obama can issue an executive proclamation without any involvement from the CDC or other bureaucratic agencies.
If we are to believe the administration’s excuses for not doing so, health care workers can still be given special permission to enter West Africa on military flights.
Yet we are treated to the latest round of untrustworthy excuses from the CDC today in Hill testimony. Among the latest excuse why banning travel is a bad idea is that the American government wouldn’t be able to monitor and track people who might have Ebola. Tell that to the American people when the people that President Obama allowed into the country infect Americans in increasing numbers.
Fan-Gate: Chris Wallace Says that Charlie Crist Demands a Fan When He Appears on Fox (Updated: Rule-Breaker!)
During last night’s Florida gubernatorial debate, there was a mini-debate over a fan.
Former Gov. Charlie Crist (D) did not get an allowance in the rules for having a fan behind his podium, but he snuck a fan onto the stage anyway. It was positioned just in front of and between his feet, angled nearly straight up.
Current Gov. Rick Scott (R) made a big deal out of the fan, and even delayed the debate to protest the fact that Crist had snuck it onto the stage.
Scott initially looked like a buffoon for making an issue of the fan, but Fox’s Chris Wallace told Brian Kilmeade today that this is not the first time that Charlie Crist’s insistence of having a fan close-by has come up.
Wallace told Kilmeade, “We’ve had Charlie Crist on Fox News Sunday, and he demanded a fan when he was [on].”
Kilmeade laughed, “He did?”
“Absolutely,” Wallace replied. “The man clearly sweats a lot, and he needs to have a fan to keep him cool.
Wallace added, “I don’t know whether he really needs it or whether he psychologically needs it, but he does need it.”
Maybe it’s not sweat. Maybe Crist has some other need to blow air past himself to points away from other peoples’ noses. And maybe Scott delayed the debate to bring whatever drives Crist to demand fans everywhere out into the open.
Is Fan-Gate somehow connected to Charlie Crist’s tangerine complexion?
I really have no idea. I just know that when Lex Luthor debates Orange Benedict Arnold and sneaking fans around is the issue, no one really wins.
Well, other than late-night comics. They’re gonna love this.
Update: Debate organizers say that Crist broke the rules with his fan sneaking. Why was he so desperate to have a fan, yet not have the rules specify that he could have one? Hm.
A source with deep knowledge of Florida politics tells me that Crist insists on having fans around him because he sweats. A lot. A whole lot. Buckets, one supposes.
Being both orange and sweaty doesn’t make for a good TV image.
First Lady Michelle Obama is not a dietitian by profession, she is a lawyer. She also studied sociology.
Here is a photo of one of Michelle Obama’s FDA-mandated school lunches. It’s from Oklahoma.
The school superintendent is not impressed.
Chickasha superintendent David Cash agrees the skimpy lunches need to be addressed.
“You’ve got in some cases little kids that their only two meals are breakfast and lunch at school and they’re getting you know a grand total of 1100 calories. That’s not enough,” Cash says.
The new lunch complies with lunch regulations championed by First Lady Michelle Obama and implemented by the USDA.
Mrs. Obama’s school lunches have come under massive criticism for being tasteless, for lacking a real variety of foods that kids will actually eat, and for being too small, as above. Schools are still struggling to adapt to the FDA-enforced, Obama-approved school lunches. Many schools around the country have opted to dump the First Lady’s lunches.
In addition to being too small, too boring, and filling up trash cans without filling up kids’ bellies, there may be another problem with these lunches.
They’re mostly raw.
Cooked food enables humans to have bigger and smarter brains, according to this 2007 article in Scientific American.
Richard Wrangham has tasted chimp food, and he doesn’t like it. “The typical fruit is very unpleasant,” the Harvard University biological anthropologist says of the hard, strangely shaped fruits endemic to the chimp diet, some of which look like cherries, others like cocktail sausages. “Fibrous, quite bitter. Not a tremendous amount of sugar. Some make your stomach heave.” After a few tastings in western Uganda, where he works part of the year on his 20-year-old project studying wild chimpanzees, Wrangham came to the conclusion that no human could survive long on such a diet. Besides the unpalatable taste, our weak jaws, tiny teeth and small guts would never be able to chomp and process enough calories from the fruits to support our large bodies.
Then, one cool fall evening in 1997, while gazing into his fireplace in Cambridge, Mass., and contemplating a completely different question—“What stimulated human evolution?”—he remembered the chimp food. “I realized what a ridiculously large difference cooking would make,” Wrangham says. Cooking could have made the fibrous fruits, along with the tubers and tough, raw meat that chimps also eat, much more easily digestible, he thought—they could be consumed quickly and digested with less energy. This innovation could have enabled our chimplike ancestors’ gut size to shrink over evolutionary time; the energy that would have gone to support a larger gut might have instead sparked the evolution of our bigger-brained, larger-bodied, humanlike forebears.
Dr. Wrangham worked with Dr. Jane Goodall when she proved that primates other than humans are capable of making and using tools. He is no rookie or crank. He has been studying his cooked food theory for 10 years now. Many in other fields dismiss his idea, but he has pulled together considerable support for it.
What would it take to convert a chimpanzeelike ancestor into a human?” Fire to cook food, he reasoned, which led to bigger bodies and brains.
And that is exactly what he found in Homo erectus, our ancestor that first appeared 1.6 million to 1.9 million years ago. H. erectus’s brain was 50 percent larger than that of its predecessor, H. habilis, and it experienced the biggest drop in tooth size in human evolution. “There’s no other time that satisfies expectations that we would have for changes in the body that would be accompanied by cooking,” Wrangham says.
The problem with his idea: proof is slim that any human could control fire that far back.
As they say in science when they’re being honest and fair, absence of evidence is not evidence of absence. It just means that there is a gap in what has been verified.
So far, Wrangham has found that no current human group anywhere eats all of their food raw. Everyone cooks, across all human cultures. Modern humans need a lot of high-quality calories to support our high-functioning brains. We need cooked food to get those high-quality calories. Raw meat as seen in the Obama lunch above therefore doesn’t help much, according to Wrangham’s research (Wrangham has been working on this idea longer than Obama has been First Lady). Cooking saves energy that humans would otherwise have to spend chewing more food for longer periods — because “Heat alters the physical structure of proteins and starches, thereby making enzymatic breakdown easier.”
It’s not a slam dunk. There remains little evidence that our ancestors controlled fire far enough back to fit his theory. There are other dietary questions yet to be answered.
Whatever is the case, pretty much no one but Michelle Obama likes her school lunches — and she doesn’t even have to eat them.
Food for thought…
A week ago we reported that conservative group American Commitment was poised to win a video contest organized by leftwing groups MoveOn.org and MAYDAY.US.
At that point, American Commitment’s video was well ahead of all of the competition.
As of now, it has earned roughly 15 times the votes of its nearest competition.
MoveOn.org and MAYDAY.US apparently don’t like losing their own contest to a conservative video that skewers one of the left’s big money men, Tom Steyer.
Suddenly, the contest rules have changed!
American Commitment released a statement on the trickery.
The contest rules previously stated: “Contest ends at 5:00 p.m. ET on Thursday, October 16, 2014. The sooner you post your video, the more time you’ll have to get votes.”
The contest rules have now been altered to say: “Contest submissions ends [sic] at 5:00 p.m. ET on Thursday, October 16, 2014. The sooner you post your video, the more time you’ll have to get votes. The 24-hour voting period begins on Thurdsday [sic] at 5pm ET, and ends on Friday at 5pm ET, October 17th, 2014”
That’s a major change in the voting period for the video contest. It negates all of the votes that the videos racked up since the contest actually began.
“MoveOn.org and MAYDAY.us have unfairly changed the rules in the middle of the game in a desperate attempt to stop our video from winning the competition,” said Phil Kerpen, president of American Commitment in a statement emailed to the Tatler. “Our entry about America’s number one fatcat campaign contributor, Tom Steyer—shines a spotlight on him and on the role hypocritical liberal billionaire contributors play in stoking feigned outrage about conservative donors. Americans have overwhelmingly supported our ad with their votes, and MoveOn.org and MAYDAY.us should respect the democratic process by letting these votes stand—and then put some of their own big money behind airing the ad on TV.”
Here is American Commitment’s video entry, which has pulled in 15 times the votes of any of its competitors — before MoveOn.org moved to change the rules.
This episode is just a small window through which we can see the contempt that many on the left actually have for fair voting, and even for rules that they establish that later become inconvenient to them.
Louisiana Gov. Bobby Jindal, who used to run the state’s Department of Health and Hospitals and served at HHS in the Bush administration (and who may be eyeing a 2016 run), just unleashed on President Obama on Twitter:
.@BarackObama came into office promising competent govt, but his tenure has been anything but competent.
— Gov. Bobby Jindal (@BobbyJindal) October 16, 2014
The latest nightmare caused by the incompetence of @BarackObama is his detached response to the Ebola crisis.
— Gov. Bobby Jindal (@BobbyJindal) October 16, 2014
.@BarackObama is committing malpractice on his administration’s response to the Ebola crisis.
— Gov. Bobby Jindal (@BobbyJindal) October 16, 2014
.@BarackObama seems to be more focused on getting through the 24-hour news cycle than actually solving the Ebola problem.
— Gov. Bobby Jindal (@BobbyJindal) October 16, 2014
Every day comes with another press conference and another admission from the White House about what they should have done differently.
— Gov. Bobby Jindal (@BobbyJindal) October 16, 2014
First @BarackObama said it was unlikely that Ebola would reach the United States. Then it did.
— Gov. Bobby Jindal (@BobbyJindal) October 16, 2014
Then @BarackObama said it was unlikely that Ebola would spread. Then it did.
— Gov. Bobby Jindal (@BobbyJindal) October 16, 2014
People want to trust the so-called experts in DC, but reality always turns out to be a complete 180 from the White House’s talking points.
— Gov. Bobby Jindal (@BobbyJindal) October 16, 2014
The United States has just four Ebola-equipped hospitals. One of those is in Bethesda, Maryland, and Nina Pham is being transferred to there from Texas Presbyterian today.
DALLAS — Nina Pham will be transferred from Texas Health Presbyterian Hospital Dallas to a hospital in Bethesda, Md., family members confirmed Thursday morning.
A 26-year-old nurse, Pham was the first person to contract Ebola on U.S. soil.
Family confirmed they didn’t request the move. Sources say the decision was made due to staffing issues at Texas Health Presbyterian Hospital. The family says they’re OK with the move.
Pham will surely get the best care there. She has been given a blood transfusion from Ebola survivor Dr. Kent Brantly and is reported to be doing well. She has even Skyped with family from the Dallas hospital.
The staff issues that WFFA’s story mentions but doesn’t detail are very serious.
Ebola puts a heavy burden on hospitals. It takes about 20 full-time and fully trained and fully protected ICU staff to care for just one Ebola patient. Texas Presbyterian reportedly had to ship several ICU patients to other area hospitals while it cared for Thomas Duncan, because of the staffing issues that Ebola creates and for the safety of those other patients. If Texas Presbyterian doesn’t send Pham and Vinson to other, Ebola-ready hospitals, its ICU is effectively shut down. And Pham and Vinson would not get the best care that is available.
Three of the four Ebola-ready hospitals currently have Ebola patients, or will once Pham arrives in Maryland. She will be there, Vinson is now at the one in Georgia, and NBC photographer Ashoka Mukpo is at the one in Nebraska. That just leaves the one in Missoula, Montana without an Ebola patient.
The Obama White House is scrambling.
And it’s about to make a couple of bizarre, yet consequential, decisions.
While at the same time, he keeps ruling out sending troops to fight ISIS.
This should be too obvious to have to bother pointing out, but if Obama sends additional US troops to fight Ebola, he will have deployed more boots on the ground to fight a virus than he has deployed to fight an Islamist army that threatens to take Baghdad.
Obama has insisted that there is no military solution to ISIS.
But there is a military solution to Ebola…?
Only one of the two threats actually consists of an army on the ground that uses weapons to kill people. The other is a microscopic thing that replicates itself. The US military’s engineering, security and medical capabilities are considerable. But even they cannot shoot or bomb Ebola.
Two — the Obama CDC is looking into blaming Ebola nurse #2 for getting on that commercial airplane that the CDC allowed her to get on. Fox got wind of that blame game move today.
White House correspondent Ed Henry reports that the CDC now says that Amber Joy Vinson was “not entirely forthcoming” about the fever that she had before boarding that flight from Cleveland to Dallas.
It’s difficult to see how that could be the case. The CDC itself reported that her fever was 99.5 and that it therefore did not meet the CDC threshold of 100.4. The CDC knew that Vinson had been exposed to Ebola. What could she have withheld when she called the agency, more than once, to see if she would be allowed to fly?
Watch the segment.
The Department of Homeland Security this morning announced the retirement of the director of the Transportation Security Administration.
The news comes just as airports will be shouldering a greater responsibility to detect possible Ebola victims.
FBI veteran John Pistole, 58, was sworn in as TSA administrator in July 2010. He plans to leave at the end of the year and move into academia.
In a statement, DHS Secretary Jeh Johnson thanked Pistole “for his four and a half years’ service as Administrator of the Transportation Security Administration (TSA) and 31 years of service to the nation.”
“Under John’s leadership, TSA launched its ‘Trusted Traveler’ program, TSA Pre ✓™, which over five million passengers per week now use at 120 U.S. airports. John brought to TSA extensive experience in national security, counterterrorism and fighting organized crime,” Johnson said.
“John Pistole has been integral in leading TSA’s transformation to a risk-based, intelligence-driven counterterrorism agency dedicated to protecting our transportation systems,” he continued. “Because of his efforts over the past four and a half years, our country’s transportation systems are more safe and secure. I am grateful for John’s contributions to DHS, TSA and our country.”
“I congratulate John on his career as a selfless public servant and wish him and his family the very best as he leaves TSA. I also thank John for his friendship, counsel, and devotion to duty.”
Florida Gov. Rick Scott (R) and former Florida Gov. Charlie Crist (What is he today? Riiiiight, Democrat) were supposed to debate last night.
Crist snuck a little fan behind his podium, which is an odd thing to do.
Crist has a destructive history. As a Republican, his 2008 endorsement foisted John McCain on America to go up against Barack Obama. McCain was nearly half a century older than Obama at the time. Then he switched from Republican to Independent to Democrat because Marco Rubio was about to clean his clock, and Charlie Crist has no principles, other than promoting Charlie Crist.
I was told a few years back that a certain very famous talk-show host always had a fan behind his desk, to drive noxious fumes that emanated from him, away from his guests. Not sure if that’s relevant to the Crist situation. It’s a weird call, sneaking a fan behind your podium and placing it by your feet, aimed straight up at your mid-section. Whatever could it be for?
In any case, Gov. Scott at first refused to debate after learning that his opponent had a fan advantage. There were boos and general rancor. The moderators debated among themselves whether they had ever seen anything of the like.
They had not.
Gov. Scott did eventually come out and debate Crist.
Take a look.
The chairman of the subcommittee that will be holding a high-profile hearing on the Ebola crisis today on the Hill said the CDC director told him that the administration fears a travel ban from affected countries would hurt fragile West African economies.
CDC Director Dr. Tom Frieden and National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases Director Dr. Anthony Fauci will be testifying at the noontime Energy and Commerce Subcommittee on Oversight and Investigations hearing, along with officials from the FDA, Health and Human Services, and Department of Homeland Security.
Rep. Tim Murphy (R-Pa.) told Fox last night that he was “initially” calling for the travel ban involving incoming passengers from Guinea, Sierra Leone and Liberia.
“Look, when President Obama told us back in September that by screening people on airlines and telling flight attendants how to screen and what to watch out for and screening from Africa was going to work, it wasn’t going to work. And we had that evidence right from the onset when Mr. Duncan and others — I mean let’s face it, if you had a chance to come to the United States for healthcare, would anybody tell the truth? And I think no. I would not trust that,” Murphy said.
“The second thing is that if they are screening with these thermometers, you can mask that by taking some medication. You may be still carrying ebola but not symptomatic yet. That doesn’t work. So it’s two parts of this travel ban that I’m concerned about, making sure that American citizens have the right to return,” he continued. “But there needs to be restrictions on where they can be. A quarantine, other travel bans domestically, not getting on planes and traveling around.”
The White House confirmed yesterday that a travel ban is not on the table, and repeated the administration justification that the reason is to ensure an unimpeded flow of supplies and personnel into the region to battle the disease.
Murphy, though, said he talked with Frieden about a ban. “And he explained to me that what the concern was that these are fledgling democracies and if we put a travel ban that that may affect their economy and harm them,” the congressman said.
“And I see it as, look, we can still move planes in and out there with supplies. We can do a lot. And we can help in every other way with economics. We can provide a lot of support to these nations. And the United States is doing it both to government and nongovernment organizations. A massive amount of charity is going to help these people as we should. But I just don’t understand the concept of if we stop flights in travel that would be a problem. I think we need to do that because our first concern is, as he said, do no harm. ”
Murphy said lawmakers today will grill Frieden on “where this policy is coming from.”
“Every morning this president wakes up, his first concern should be the safety of our country — whether it’s ISIS, whether it’s a disease, whether it’s anything,” he said. “That should be his concern every day. He doesn’t need to appoint another czar. He doesn’t need lead from behind. He doesn’t need to appoint his way out of this. He needs to be the one.”
Houston’s power-mad Mayor Annise Parker has backtracked on those subpoenas that she had the city issue to five city pastors, at taxpayer expense.
The mayor made the move as Texas Attorney General Greg Abbott sent a letter to Parker asking that she withdraw the subpoenas “immediately.”
Attorney General Greg Abbott Asks Houston City Attorney to Withdraw Subpoenas Seeking Sermons, Other Documents from Houston-area Pastors
AUSTIN — Attorney General Abbott today asked that the Houston City Attorney to immediately withdraw the subpoenas sent last month to several Houston-area pastors seeking sermons, notes and other information.
In his letter to the city attorney, Attorney General Abbott said, “Whether you intend it to be so or not, your action is a direct assault on the religious liberty guaranteed by the First Amendment. The people of Houston and their religious leaders must be absolutely secure in the knowledge that their religious affairs are beyond the reach of the government.”
Abbott is the Republican nominee for Texas governor and is widely expected to win in November.
Houston’s KTRH radio reports that Parker is shifting her position.
The mayor says the subpoenas were too broad, and should not have included actual sermons.
“It’s not about what did you preach on last Sunday,” Parker told reporters Wednesday. “It should have been clarified, it will be clarified.”
Actually it was very much about what pastors preached, and how they communicate with each other and with ministry staff.
“When I looked at it I felt it was overly broad, I would not have worded it that way myself,” he said. “It’s unfortunate that it has been construed as some effort to infringe upon religious liberty.”
City Attorney David Feldman now claims that he did not even review the subpoenas before they were issued.
Both are remarkable climb-downs from the position that Parker herself took just Tuesday night, when she defended the subpoenas of sermons themselves as “fair game.”
Parker defended the subpoenas, and specifically subpoenaing sermons, in this tweet:
If the 5 pastors used pulpits for politics, their sermons are fair game. Were instructions given on filling out anti-HERO petition?-A
— Annise Parker (@AnniseParker) October 15, 2014
Now she claims that they were “overly broad.” More likely, the reaction that her move got was overly hostile — forcing her hand.
Update on next page.
Already under fire for its handling of the Ebola outbreak, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention dropped another bombshell when it was revealed that ill nurse Amber Vinson checked with the agency before boarding a flight from Cleveland to Dallas.
The CDC told ABC News they deemed it OK because she wasn’t throwing up:
A Dallas nurse who treated an Ebola patient contacted federal health officials before boarding a passenger flight Monday due to a slightly elevated temperature, but was allowed to board the flight because she was not exhibiting additional symptoms of Ebola.
Amber Vinson’s temperature was 99.5 degrees – below the 100.4 reading for a fever, according to a federal official from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. A fever is one of the symptoms of Ebola. Other symptoms include diarrhea, vomiting and abdominal pain. She was not asked to avoid boarding the flight.
“The patient was not showing any other symptoms while on board the plane – no vomiting or diarrhea. The only symptom Amber was showing was the fever,” CDC spokesman Tom Skinner told ABC News.
Airline officials concurred, stating that Vinson’s only symptom at the time was the slightly elevated temperature. Vinson’s temperature continued to rise after the plane landed, authorities said.
CDC Director Tom Frieden told CNN that Vinson “should have never gotten on that flight.”
And Frontier Airlines is paying for that CDC decision as well, reports NBC:
The airline that unknowingly transported an Ebola-stricken nurse on a flight from Ohio to Texas has placed six crew members on paid leave out of “an abundance of caution,” and said it was warned by health officials about “the possibility” that the passenger had symptoms during the flight.
Frontier Airlines CEO David Siegel said in a letter to employees that the airline was told by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention Wednesday that nurse Amber Vinson “may have been symptomatic earlier than initially suspected; including the possibility of possessing symptoms while onboard the flight.” The airline says no symptoms were detected by the crew.
Needless to say, lawmakers from both parties aren’t happy.
CDC says sure, go ahead and fly. Even with a fever and having been exposed to Ebola. Ridiculous. http://t.co/smXnkDet8h
— Senator Rand Paul (@SenRandPaul) October 16, 2014
Knowing one exposed nurse already got Ebola, WHY would CDC let another fly, specially since she had low fever!! http://t.co/5zWJOePalh
— Jared Polis (@jaredpolis) October 16, 2014
After news broke that the second Ebola nurse flew on a commercial flight a day before she officially came down with symptoms — but she had a 99.5 fever and Ebola is a viral hemorrhagic fever — CDC Director Tom Frieden said that she should never have traveled on a commercial flight.
What he did not say was that the CDC allowed her to travel on a commercial flight, because her fever was not quite high enough.
The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention said that Vinson called the agency several times before flying, saying that she had a fever with a temperature of 99.5 degrees. But because her fever wasn’t 100.4 degrees or higher, she didn’t officially fall into the group of “high risk” and was allowed to fly.
Officials in the U.S. have been trying to calm fears over the Ebola crisis, but time and again events have overtaken their assurances.
Less than a full degree of difference, and the CDC says A-OK? That doesn’t make a lot of sense.
“Events have overtaken” the CDC’s assurances mostly because they keep saying and doing stupid things. Americans would be a whole lot less worried about Ebola if it appeared that we even had one person in charge who possesses a clue. So far, that person has not emerged. President Obama is trying to be that person, but he’s President Obama. He’s already a proven, bonafide dope who leads from behind and plays word games about everything. Swapping out an attack-minded fundraiser for a Washington meeting won’t cut it. That’s not leadership.
Dallas County will hold an emergency meeting this afternoon. The subject: Emergency!
Dallas County Commissioners are set to meet Thursday afternoon to discuss whether to call on Texas Gov. Rick Perry (R) to declare an emergency to deal with Ebola. The declaration would give officials greater authority to impose travel restrictions on health-care workers who are being monitored for Ebola symptoms, NBC-DFW reported.
Separately, House Speaker John Boehner (R-Ohio) called on President Barack Obama to consider a ban on travel to the United States from Ebola-stricken countries. In a statement, Boehner said “a temporary ban on travel to the United States from countries afflicted with the virus is something the president should absolutely consider along with other appropriate actions as doubts about the security of our air travel systems grow.”
Such calls are growing increasingly bi-partisan, but a travel ban is probably the last thing that the Obama White House will allow. Not because the science is really against it.
Gov. Perry returns from his economic trip overseas to deal with the emergency.
And everyone went nuts about this photo last night. It shows Amber Vinson, Ebola nurse #2, being moved from Texas Presbyterian to Emory, one of the four American hospitals that actually is ready for Ebola patients.
Reaction to this picture shows just how badly the U.S. is handling Ebola at this point — not the American people, but the American government.
For the past three years, the Obama administration has hailed the Free Syrian Army (FSA) as the saviors of Syria — the “vetted moderate” force that was going to topple the butcher Assad. Because of that, the administration provided training, money and weapons to prop up the FSA (the word is they sent lawyers too).
But according to a report last night by Hannah Allam at McClatchy, Obama is now throwing the FSA under bus:
John Allen, the retired Marine general in charge of coordinating the U.S.-led coalition’s response to the Islamic State, confirmed Wednesday what Syrian rebel commanders have complained about for months – that the United States is ditching the old Free Syrian Army and building its own local ground force to use primarily in the fight against the Islamist extremists.
“At this point, there is not formal coordination with the FSA,” Allen told reporters at the State Department.
That was perhaps the bluntest answer yet to the question of how existing Syrian rebel forces might fit into the U.S. strategy to fight the Islamic State. Allen said the United States’ intent is to start from scratch in creating a home-grown, moderate counterweight to the Islamic State.
For most of the three years of the Syrian conflict, the U.S. ground game hinged on rebel militias that are loosely affiliated under the banner of the Free Syrian Army, or FSA. Their problems were no secret: a lack of cohesion, uneven fighting skills and frequent battlefield coordination with the al Qaida loyalists of the Nusra Front.
Those reports came just as Congress was considering a vote to spend another $500 million to train their administration’s “vetted moderate” partners. That funding was approved by both the House and the Senate before Congress left town for the election break. With Obama cutting the FSA loose less than a month later, those who voted against the funding are going to look like geniuses.
Now that the FSA is safely under the bus it remains to be seen exactly who Obama is going to enlist to train and fight. Most of those who can fight are already in the fight. What are they going to do now, put out an ad on Craig’s List?
As one observer noted last night, Syria watchers should keep an eye out for the following ad showing up in the help wanted section of Middle East newspapers:
Wanted, Multicultural, non-sectarian, Jeffersonian democrats interested in military careers. English a plus. Drug test required.
Under Obama’s bus must be getting crowded…
Chanting “Bring back our girls now, and alive,” Nigerian protesters gathered outside the presidential residence in Abuja, the capital, on Tuesday.
They were demanding the Nigerian government do more to free the 200 or so schoolgirls still held captive by Boko Haram six months after the mass kidnapping from a school in Chibok, northern Nigeria.
Hosiah Lawan, a leader of the Chibok parents organization, told the crowd that, “hope is now fading fast,” Reuters reported.
Protests also took place in London, U.K. and New York.
It is truly a sad statement on the state of affairs in the world that something this awful was relegated to back page status so quickly. Just think of some of the the things that the world hasn’t been able to focus on for long in the past six months: Russia’s Ukrainian antics, Hamas bombing Israel, and the acceleration of the ISIS rampage. This week, it’s all Ebola all the time. The government’s handling of that has been so inept that people aren’t even noticing that Enterovirus D68 has actually killed more people in the U.S. so far.
All of this and not an adult in charge to be seen for miles.
Houston Mayor Annise Parker has revealed her purpose behind subpoenaing pastors.
Despite protestations from her office that they cannot comment on ongoing litigation, Parker did, here.
If the 5 pastors used pulpits for politics, their sermons are fair game. Were instructions given on filling out anti-HERO petition?-A
— Annise Parker (@AnniseParker) October 15, 2014
As we reported earlier, the sermons in question are accessible online without a subpoena. Parker did not need to unleash lawyers to obtain them. She is asking for much more than just sermons. Her subpoenas demanded that the pastors appear in person. They also demanded internal communications within and among the churches that were involved in the petition drive.
But the above tweet reveals her purpose. She wants to build a case that the pastors engaged in politics from the pulpit.
Which means that she is building a case to attack their tax-exempt status.
That’s the threat here, and it’s real. Mayor Annise Parker wants to shut churches out of political and cultural discussions because she disagrees with them, or shut them down if they refuse to comply with her diktats. That will intimidate other churches to either agree with her, or self-censor out of fear.
That is an abuse of power.
h/t Joshua Trevino
Back in January, David Remick had an extensive interview with President Obama in the New Yorker Magazine. This is where Obama famously said the following about the Islamic terror group we now know as ISIS:
“The analogy we use around here sometimes, and I think is accurate, is if a jayvee team puts on Lakers uniforms that doesn’t make them Kobe Bryant,” Obama said, resorting to an uncharacteristically flip analogy. “I think there is a distinction between the capacity and reach of a bin Laden and a network that is actively planning major terrorist plots against the homeland versus jihadists who are engaged in various local power struggles and disputes, often sectarian.
That is how the phrase “JV team” made its way into today’s foreign policy discussions. (In case you needed a reference.) Now, it has become painfully obvious that ISIS is the varsity and Obama’s team is the JV.
These unfortunate circumstances were revealed, once again, in the following headlines:
Turkey denies U.S. base deal in place to battle ISIS (Drudge)
The Obama Administration has a kiss and tell problem (Foreign Policy.com and below)
In its excitement to trumpet the coalition against the Islamic State, the U.S. is outing partners before they’re ready to go steady.
Drudge linked to the above Foreign Policy piece accompanied by the photo that is the subject of our contest.
Your mission is to write an appropriate overall caption.
Additionally, here are some questions that you are encouraged to answer:
What is President Obama saying?
What is John Kerry daydreaming about?
What is Susan Rice thinking?
Bonus Question: Since we can assume the flowers are bugged, what did the buggers learn from this meeting?
Now, moving ahead, here are the winners from our last photo caption contest entitled, Capitol Dome Restoration Project to ‘Stop Deterioration.’
The grand prize goes to Allan Crowson for this zinger:
Guy on scaffolding: “Pelosi says we’ve got to cover this thing to find out what’s in it.”
The runners-up were:
Kuce for: The perfect political metaphor. If something is broken, cover it up and claim you’re fixing it.
And Zip Code won twice for:
Man on ledge talking,—- That’s one small step from the scaffolding, One giant makeover for America.
They don’t mind working till dawn’s early light, knowing the flag will still be there.
Yes, the flag is still there and we will stand by our flag — comforted and secure in the knowledge that the team pictured in our new caption contest photo is in charge of America’s foreign policy. (Yikes, it’s time for my meds!)
The Pentagon finally has a name for the operation against the Islamic State: Inherent Resolve.
A press release from U.S. Central Command said the name “is intended to reflect the unwavering resolve and deep commitment of the U.S. and partner nations in the region and around the globe to eliminate the terrorist group ISIL and the threat they pose to Iraq, the region and the wider international community.”
“It also symbolizes the willingness and dedication of coalition members to work closely with our friends in the region and apply all available dimensions of national power necessary – diplomatic, informational, military, economic – to degrade and ultimately destroy ISIL.”
At the Pentagon this afternoon, press secretary Rear Adm. John Kirby wouldn’t confirm reports that the Defense Department had voted against the op name before relenting.
“But it is — that’s the name. It’s out there. And that’s what we’re calling it, and now we’re moving forward,” he said.
Inherent Resolve will be retroactively applied back to Aug. 8.
“I mean, the name, we believe — first of all, we — we talked about this name with our coalition partners, as well, you know, so that — that everybody had visibility on it and that there — and that there was a general sense of — of approval of it,” Kirby said.
“And what it says, what it means, and for us what it means is that we are going to stay resolved and determined to get after this threat. We’re going to do it in as fulsome a way as we can. And we’re going to do it for as long as required,” he continued.
“And the last thing I’d say is, we’re going to do it in partnership. And I think that’s where the inherent comes in, in the name. We’re going to do it in partnership with other nations, and there are some 60 now that are involved in this effort in various forms and fashions, but it’s very much a multinational, multilateral approach. And I think that’s what the name signifies.”
I am lying when I say this operation does not have a name. It has a name Operation Hey That’s My Humvee
— Fake Admiral Kirby (@zorching) September 25, 2014