The biggest showman in America, Donald Trump, is making his usual quadrennial noises about running for president:
This time, Donald J. Trump says, he really means it. The billionaire real-estate mogul, who has long amounted to a one-man sideshow in GOP presidential politics, said in an interview Wednesday that he is “more serious” than ever about pursuing a run for the White House in 2016.
In recent days, Trump said, he has hired staffers in key primary states, retained an election attorney and delayed signing on for another season as host of NBC’s “The Celebrity Apprentice” because of his political projects. “Everybody feels I’m doing this just to have fun or because it’s good for the brand,” Trump said in an interview with The Washington Post. “Well, it’s not fun. I’m not doing this for enjoyment. I’m doing this because the country is in serious trouble.”
The moves are the most significant steps yet by Trump, 68, toward a bona fide presidential bid, which he considered briefly and flamboyantly in 2011 before deciding against a run. The looming question, however, is whether he can convince Republicans that he is more than a celebrity bomb-thrower and instead is sincere in his consideration of a campaign.
I think we already know the answer to that. Meanwhile, here’s some exclusive kampaign video:
Hillary Clinton’s Charity Took Major Donations from Dirt-Poor Nations That Received U.S. Taxpayer Aid
Embattled presumptive Democrat presidential nominee Hillary Clinton is taking some rhetorical sniper fire for her charitable foundation, which received large contributions from several nations while she was secretary of State.
1) A potential presidential candidate becomes beholden to certain foreign nations.
2) A Secretary of State whose private foundation grows in prestige from foreign donations, while those same nations lobby the State Department for special treatment on human rights.
Both questions merit vigorous exploration, but for two of the Clinton Foundation’s “donor nations” there’s a third, perhaps more troubling, specter: taxpayer money laundering.
Algeria and the Dominican Republican each contributed to the Clinton Foundation, and both are recipients of U.S. development aid.
In the year 2010, Secretary Clinton’s foundation received $500,000 from Algeria designated to help Haiti in the aftermath of an earthquake. But the U.S. Agency for International Development (USAID) reports that Algeria received from U.S. taxpayers a total of $8.58 million in development assistance that same year — three-quarters of it as “emergency response” money.
At the same time, as the Post reports, Algeria spent another $422,097 lobbying the U.S. government, largely to take the heat off for human rights abuses in the 99% Sunni Islamic North African country.
So, in effect, U.S. taxpayers gave Algeria money to pressure us to stop hassling it about human rights, and we also gave Algeria money to curry favor with Madame Secretary by buffing the global reputation of Hillary Clinton’s private foundation. (This is not to minimize any good work that the Clinton Foundation may have done in Haiti. That’s irrelevant to this question.)
The real issue: Should needy nations like Algeria make contributions to other needy nations, channeled through the charitable foundation of the sitting U.S. secretary of State, while needy nation #1 is also lobbying us over human rights abuses — all with U.S. taxpayer dollars?
Meanwhile, the perennially impoverished Dominican Republic (DR) also donated to the Clinton Foundation during Hillary’s stint at State. Meanwhile in 2010 the DR received $35.52 million in U.S. development aid.
No matter what kind of accounting gymnastics one might perform, the fact of the matter is that U.S. taxpayers gave the DR and Algeria money that they then channelled to, or through, the Clinton Foundation.
There are, certainly, more troubles soon to emerge for a presidential hopeful with a foundation laid on such shifting sands of geostrategic relationships.
For example, Ukraine’s second-richest billionaire, Victor Pinchuk, a steel king whose wealth flows from trade with Russia, is also a major donor to the Clinton Foundation. When President Hillary Clinton takes the 3 a.m. phone call from Mr. Pinchuk, how will she tell him that the United States stands with those who want an independent Ukraine, rather than a Russian puppet?
New Jersey Gov. Chris Christie stood by his temper in a Q&A at the Conservative Political Action Conference today, noting that the White House should be told to shut up.
Fielding questions before the audience of conservative activists from radio host Laura Ingraham, Christie was asked about Wisconsin Gov. Scott Walker’s seesaws on social issues and asked how he would be as a socially conservative candidate.
“I just stand on my record. I’m pro-life. I ran as a pro-life candidate,” he said, adding that he was the first New Jersey governor ever to speak at a pro-life rally on the steps of statehouse.
“People make certain assumptions because … you’re a Republican from New Jersey. Don’t believe what the media will tell you that you can’t get elected as a pro-life candidate.”
Ingraham asked him about some of the descriptors that even his friends use about him: “explosive,” “short-tempered,” “hot-headed.”
“Here’s the word they miss: the word they miss is passionate. I’m the son of a Sicilian mother and an Irish father which means in my household I got to learn about dispute resolution really early,” Christie said. “…I care about fighting for the people I represent. I care about the fights worth fighting.”
He stressed that he has no political consultant in his ear “like Charlie Brown’s teacher.”
And of his October comments to a heckler at a press conference? “Sometimes people need to be told to sit down and shut up… there’s so much ridiculous stuff being spewed out of the White House someone should say just shut up.”
Christie also answered questions about education and focusing on the middle class as far as job creation.
He was also asked about his deep polling deficit among potential 2016 candidates.
“Is the election next week?” Christie quipped, citing his big totals in gubernatorial races. “I’m not worried about what polls say 21 months before.”
If he runs, the governor said, he’ll wage a “hard-fighting” campaign. “I’ll take my chances on me,” he said. “I’ve done pretty well so far.”
Christie cited early polls for the 2008 election that showed a race between Hillary Clinton and Rudy Giuliani.
He also said he’s not concerned about Jeb Bush’s fundraising power. “Sometimes those special interests, more than anything they hate the truth,” he said.
Yesterday Christie held his 128th townhall meeting with no screened questions. “That the kind of interaction we should have with the people we’re working for.”
Asked what he gave up for Lent, Christie quipped he told his priest he was giving up the New York Times — but was told to give up something he’d actually miss instead.
This can’t be true, can it?
Earlier this month, New Yorkers watched an inferno tear through a warehouse full of old government records from the bygone paper era. Many probably felt relief in thinking that such records are now often digitized and therefore not at risk of being accidentally incinerated. Yet as Gov. Andrew Cuomo’s administration is showing this week, many records are vulnerable to another form of destruction: deliberate deletion.
In a memo obtained by Capital New York, Cuomo officials announced that mass purging of email records is beginning across several state government agencies. The timing of the announcement, which followed through on a 2013 proposal, is worth noting: The large-scale destruction of state documents will be happening in the middle of a sprawling federal investigation of public corruption in Albany. That investigation has been looking at state legislators and the Cuomo administration.
Cuomo’s move to purge state emails follows a similar move he made as state Attorney General. International Business Times confirmed that in 2007, he put in place a mass deletion policy for emails in the New York Attorney General’s office that were more than 90 days old, making it difficult for the public to know how — or whether — his office investigated bank fraud in the lead-up to the financial crisis of 2008. In the Cuomo administration’s announcement this week, the governor’s chief information officer, Maggie Miller, justified the new email purge as a cost-saving measure aimed at “making government work better.”
But former prosecutors and open-government advocates interviewed by IBTimes say the move seems designed to hide information.
No kidding! But it’s all par for the course for America’s most brazenly thuggish governor. His presidential hopes may be going up in smoke, and the U.S. attorney is hot on his heels, but by God this gangster isn’t going down without a fight. You can practically hear him snarling, “Come and get me, coppers!”
Here’s how Hollywood imaged the last days of the Cuomo administration inside the governor’s mansion in Albany:
Poor Washington Post hack Dana Milbank can’t stop frothing at the mouth over the perceived threat Wisconsin Governor Scott Walker poses to his profession, his party and his president. But give the poor guy a break: the Obama administration will finally be over in less than two years and then what are DNC operatives like Milbank going to do?
Here’s Milbank at a recent television appearance, explaining why he’s so passionate about defending Barry’s honor as a patriot and a Christian:
The Obama administration has selected its representative to address the American Israel Public Affairs Committee conference beginning Sunday in Washington.
National Security Advisor Susan Rice will be facing a highly skeptical crowd to pitch the White House case for the twice-extended Iran nuclear negotiations and impending deal framework.
In addition, UN Ambassador Samantha Power will be addressing the conference.
The White House made clear Monday that President Obama isn’t interested in attending the giant conference, which sold out for the first time ever. More than 16,000 pro-Israel activists will be converging upon the Washington convention center.
Obama last addressed the conference in 2012, when he was stumping for re-election votes.
In 2013, Vice President Joe Biden address AIPAC. Biden is heading to Uruguay “the first week in March,” according to the White House, for their presidential inauguration and will also hold meetings in Guatemala.
Last week, the State Department said Secretary of State John Kerry, who spoke at the conference last year, will be out of town at an undetermined location.
The conference coincides with Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu’s March 3 address to a joint session of Congress. That’s also the lobbying day of the conference, when thousands of pro-Israel activists will flood Capitol Hill.
Netanyahu will address AIPAC Monday morning.
In an interview with PBS aired Tuesday, Rice called Netanyahu’s congressional address “destructive.”
“The relationship between Israel as a country and the United States as a country has always been bipartisan. And we’ve been fortunate the politics have not been injected into that relationship. What has happened over the last several weeks, by virtue of the invitation issued by the speaker and the acceptance of it by Prime Minister Netanyahu on two weeks in advance of his election is that on both sides there has now been injected a degree of partisanship, which is not only unfortunate, I think it’s destructive of the fabric of the relationship,” Rice said.
“It’s always been bipartisan. We need to keep it that way. We want it that way. I think Israel wants it that way. The American people want it that way. And when it becomes injected or infused with politics, that’s a problem.”
Aboard Air Force One en route to Miami yesterday, White House press secretary Josh Earnest said Rice “was referring to is how reducing the U.S.-Israeli relationship to just a relationship between two political parties is destructive to a relationship between our two countries that for generations had been strengthened through bipartisan cooperation, not just in this country but in Israel.”
“I think it is entirely consistent with what the president has already said, that the U.S.-Israel relationship has been strengthened because you have seen leaders in both parties in both countries signal their strong support for that relationship,” Earnest added. “And allowing this relationship to be subjected to party politics does weaken the relationship. It’s not good for that relationship.”
Other speakers at AIPAC include House Majority Leader Kevin McCarthy (R-Calif.), Democratic House Whip Steny Hoyer (D-Md.), Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-Ky.), Sen. Robert Menendez (D-N.J.) and Sen. Lindsey Graham (R-S.C.).
More than half of the Senate and two-thirds of House lawmakers are expected to attend, according to AIPAC organizers.
A man seen in multiple ISIS propaganda videos speaking with a British accent and beheading Western hostages had his identity revealed in the Washington Post this morning, and yet again the suspect is another case of what I have termed “known wolf” syndrome since he was already known to authorities before engaging in acts of terrorism.
The Washington Post reports:
The world knows him as “Jihadi John,” the masked man with a British accent who has beheaded several hostages held by the Islamic State and who taunts audiences in videos circulated widely online.
But his real name, according to friends and others familiar with his case, is Mohammed Emwazi, a Briton from a well-to-do family who grew up in West London and graduated from college with a degree in computer programming. He is believed to have traveled to Syria around 2012 and to have later joined the Islamic State, the group whose barbarity he has come to symbolize.
But the article goes on to reveal that Emwazi had been detained by authorities not once, but twice:
Emwazi and two friends — a German convert to Islam named Omar and another man, Abu Talib — never made it on the trip. Once they landed in Dar es Salaam, in May 2009, they were detained by police and held overnight. It’s unclear whether the reason for the detention was made clear to the three, but they were eventually deported.
Emwazi flew to Amsterdam, where he claimed that an officer from MI5, Britain’s domestic security agency, accused him of trying to reach Somalia, where the militant group al-Shabab operates in the southern part of the country, according to e-mails that he sent to Qureshi and that were provided to The Post.
Emwazi denied the accusation and claimed that MI5 representatives had tried to recruit him [...]
In June 2010, however, counterterrorism officials in Britain detained him again — this time fingerprinting him and searching his belongings. When he tried to fly back to Kuwait the next day, he was prevented from doing so.
The Daily Mail adds that after that June 2010 encounter with law enforcement, Emwazi was put on the UK terror watch list:
They allegedly fingerprinted him and searched his belongings, and he was not allowed to fly back to Kuwait. Emwazi was put on a terror watch list and banned from leaving the UK.
The BBC added that Emwazi was part of a known network of jihadist sympathizers:
We don’t know when the British or the American security services worked out that the masked man in the killing videos was Londoner Mohammed Emwazi.
But we do know that he was a “person of interest” to MI5 going back to at least 2011 because he features in semi-secret court cases relating to extremism overseas and back in the UK.
Nobody in official security circles is going to comment on what they know and why they know it.
Emwazi has been previously described as a member of a network involving at least 13 men from London – and at least two of them were subjected to house arrest control orders or T-Pims. One absconded. The chances of Emwazi ever returning to the UK are vanishingly small.
So yet again, as we’ve seen in practically every recent terrorism case, the suspect was already known to authorities.
I’ve reported here at PJ Media on the long line of “Known Wolf” terror suspects who committed acts of terror:
- Earlier this month I reported that the Copenhagen shooter was Omar Abdel Hamid El-Hussein, who had been convicted in a stabbing in December, and yet remarkably released by authorities despite being branded as “extremely dangerous.”
- Also this month I noted that Moussa Coulibaly, who stabbed three police officers outside a synagogue in Nice, France, had just days before been deported from Turkey for attempting to join ISIS.
- The two Kouachi brothers behind the massacre on the Charlie Hebdo newspaper offices last month in Paris had been long known to law enforcement, with one of them already having been in prison on terror-related charges, and yet they had been removed from the radar by authorities just last summer because they were deemed no longer a threat. They were also on the no-fly lists of both the U.S. and the UK.
- Man Haron Monis, aka Sheikh Haron, who in December took hostages at a chocolate shop in the heart of the commercial district in downtown Sydney, Australia, was not only known to law enforcement, but was out on bond on two separate cases and had previously been convicted of harassing the widows of Australian soldiers killed in Afghanistan. Authorities had been tipped off via their hotline to extremist statements Haron had been making on his website 48 hours before the attack.
- I first noticed this “Known Wolf” trend back in October after two separate attacks in Canada by Martin “Ahmad” Rouleau and Michael Zehaf-Bibeau, both of whom reportedly had their passports stripped by Canadian authorities because they were deemed “high risk” to travel overseas to join ISIS.
Yesterday, an interview I had with Erick Stakelbeck aired where I discussed the “Known Wolf” terror phenomenon (the first 11 minutes of the program):
Needless to say, if the currently growing track record of Western authorities missing these “known wolf” suspects is any indication, the next terror case will undoubtedly be a subject already known to law enforcement and intelligence authorities, but sufficient action not taken to stop their terrorism.
Secretary of State John Kerry was asked by Rep. Ted Poe (R-Texas) at today’s House Foreign Affairs Committee hearing whether he would define ISIS as “Islamic radical terrorists.”
“Well, I think many of them are. Not all of them. But many of them are. And certainly, the top leadership, al-Baghdadi and folks around him, are formulating their concept of the caliphate — of the caliphate on the basis of their interpretation of Islam,” Kerry said.
“To the degree they are establishing a caliphate and hanging some of their notions of — of organization and discipline and — and — and battle based on that, there is a component of it that is a distorted sense of — of — of Islam.”
“But also, there’re a lot of criminals and thugs and adventurers and thrill-seekers and — involved in this. There’s a kind of criminal anarchy in all of it, notwithstanding whatever basis they want to claim with respect to Islam.
And — and it is important in coming at this that you not empower them through the language we use to be able to make the argument to their people that, in fact, we’re at war with Islam and they’re building that up as a recruitment tool and we create our own problem. I think that’s what people are trying to be sensitive to here.
Now, when you get into the deep analysis, yes, there are clearly very distorted sense of radical extreme Islam being put forward. The victims are anybody who stands in their way or people who are different or who have different beliefs. They can be Christians. They can be Yazidis. They can be officers and police officers who are Sunni and — and trying to stand up for their village or their town, in Mosul.
I mean, they go out and kill the mayor. They kill young kids. They’ll kill, you know, people they think are apostates.”
Kerry was also asked why ISIS does what it does.
“They do this for power and for the extension of their — the leaders for their misguided notion of their caliphate and their desire to be the power that is defining not only their version of Islam but to have the power within that region to run the show,” he said.
Rep. Jeff Duncan (R-S.C.) asked Kerry to “define ISIL.”
“Well, ISIS is self-defining. They are the combatants and those who have pledged allegiance to them who have formed a caliphate, fly a flag, wear their black uniforms and are engaged in a struggle both within Syria and Iraq, most directly, but also in what they call distant provinces as they try to establish their caliphate,” Kerry replied.
Federal officials today charged three New York residents on charges of trying to join ISIS, with one offering to assassinate President Obama for the Islamic State.
Two Uzbekistan citizens — Abdurasul Hasanovich Juraboev, 24, and Abror Habibov, 30 — were charged, along with one Kazakh, 19-year-old Akhror Saidakhmetov. Each faces a maximum sentence of 15 years in prison.
The New York office of the FBI said authorities began watching Juraboev in August 2014 when he posted on an Uzbek-language jihadi website. He and Saidakhmetov forged a plan to travel to Turkey to join ISIS, and the latter was arrested today at JFK trying to board a flight to Istanbul.
Juraboev’s flight was scheduled for next month, and he was arrested today in Brooklyn. Habibov, who was allegedly helping finance their trip, was arrested in Jacksonville, Fla. All lived in Brooklyn.
Juraboev and Saidakhmetov are legal permanent U.S. residents, while Habibov visited legally and overstayed his visa.
“This is real. This is the concern about the lone wolf inspired to act without ever going to the Mideast or the concern of once they get to the Mideast acquire fighting skills, capabilities and then attempting to return to the country,” NYPD Commissioner Bill Bratton told reporters today.
United States Attorney Loretta Lynch, whose nomination to replace Attorney General Eric Holder is stalled in the Senate, said in a statement the flow of fighters “represents an evolving threat to our country and to our allies.”
“As alleged in the complaint, two of the defendants in this case sought to travel to Syria to join ISIL but were also prepared to wage violent jihad here in the United States. A third defendant allegedly provided financial assistance and encouragement. We will vigorously prosecute those who attempt to travel to Syria to wage violent jihad on behalf of ISIL and those who support them,” Lynch said. “Anyone who threatens our citizens and our allies, here or abroad, will face the full force of American justice.”
Juraboev made this threat to kill Obama in the August 2014 web posts. Saidakhmetov expressed his intent, reportedly to an informant, to buy a machine gun and shoot police officers and FBI agents if they stood in the way of his plan to go join ISIS.
Chicago Mayor Rahm Emanuel failed to muster 50% of the vote in the city’s non-partisan mayoral primary, which means he will face off against second place finisher, Cook County Board Commissioner Jesus “Chuy” Garcia on April 7.
Four years ago, Emanuel swept to an easy victory. But a rising murder rate, controversy over the closing of 50 public schools, and a $20 billion pension shortfall that threatens to bankrupt the city, has taken its toll on his popularity. Emanuel won only 45% of the vote while the relatively unknown Garcia took 33%.
More than the issues, there is a sense in Chicago that Emanuel is too cozy with the elites and has lost touch with ordinary Chicagoans. Blacks are upset over the school closings and the gang violence that makes their streets almost unlivable. Hispanics flocked to Garcia’s banner, and some analysts think that he has a chance to knock off the incumbent.
Mayoral underdog Jesus “Chuy” Garcia has a fighting chance in an April runoff election against well-funded incumbent Rahm Emanuel but political insiders say he must broaden his coalition beyond the Hispanic voters and disgruntled teachers who boosted him so far.
Garcia must also persuade tough-minded Chicagoans that he can do a better job than the mayor at keeping trains running and police on the streets as the city’s budget gap balloons past $1 billion.
The sometimes abrasive Emanuel displeased enough voters to help Garcia force the first mayoral runoff since Chicago adopted a non-partisan election format in the mid-1990s. Both candidates are Democrats.
While the mild-mannered Garcia appealed to many in the first round, “Chicago does not need a nice guy. … We need someone who can deal with enormous financial difficulties,” said Paul Green, professor of policy studies at Roosevelt University.
However, Emanuel, once seen as certain to win re-election, is vulnerable after getting substantially less than the 50 percent of votes he needed for an outright win in Tuesday’s first round.
The former White House chief of staff and investment banker will go head to head in the April 7 runoff against Garcia, a county commissioner and former Chicago alderman.
Garcia’s base is in the city’s poorer neighborhoods, and he has to overcome a reputation as being reluctant to slash spending. Emanuel, who did best in the wealthy lakefront on Tuesday, must play down his reputation for arrogance.
Garcia, who got very few endorsements from people with clout, will court non-committal public unions, wealthy liberals and working-class African Americans and white ethnic voters.
Emanuel has made things so bad in Chicago that voters may feel he’s the only one who can get the city out of its budget and fiscal mess. They may also see Emanual as better able to handle the new Republican governor in Springfield, Bruce Rauner, who wants to trim state payments to the city by a whopping $300 million.
That almost certainly won’t happen, as Democrats in the legislature are already circling the wagons to protect the pension and benefits of public unions, and will see to it that not a dime is cut from the state’s payments to Chicago. But Rauner may look to Emanuel as an ally in his efforts to reform the state pension system, giving the mayor some leverage he can use to extract more cash from the state.
Emanuel should win the runoff. But stranger things have happened in Chicago politics, including a little known alderman named Harold Washington defeating incumbent Jane Byrne in the Democratic primary in 1983. Washington, the only black mayor in the city’s history, came out of nowhere to beat Byrne, the Democratic establishment’s candidate. He did it by uniting north shore liberals, unions, and minorities — the same coalition that Garcia wants to form to beat Emanuel.
Contrary to popular belief, lightening does strike in the same place.
Although Republican leaders love to talk tough when they’re the center of attention, they quickly side with Democrats when they think nobody’s watching. Case in point: Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell’s decision to cave on funding for the DHS:
McConnell announced [Tuesday] that the Senate would vote on a “clean” bill to fund the Department of Homeland Security past Friday, as well as a separate measure freezing President Obama’s November executive actions to shield certain illegal immigrants from deportation.
In other words, he’s going to give President Obama what he wants.
Luckily for conservatives, there still are some Republicans in Congress and the Senate who aren’t willing to let McConnell get away with it. Rep. Tim Huelskamp (R-Kan.) responded angrily that he does not plan to vote for the bill, whether McConnell wants him to or not. “If I was a donor to some of these senators that just won election and was told things would be different in a new Senate, I’d be pretty pissed. We put Harry Reid back in charge of the Senate again?”
He went on: “It’s stupid. It doesn’t go anywhere. He knows that. Does he take us all for a fool that somehow that’s going to solve the problem that he was going to fight tooth and nail against?”
Rep. Matt Salmon (R-Ariz.) already let McConnell know that House Republicans will turn their backs on him if pushed: “The Senate majority leader’s plan to divorce the funding bill from the unlawful actions it is restricting is tantamount to surrender, and won’t meet with support in the People’s House.”
Although McConnell could ordinarily get away with giving into Obama’s demands once again, he probably faces a Republican revolt this time. The reason? Numerous conservative Republicans are gearing up for the presidential elections. Senator Ted Cruz (R-Texas) is one of them. And no, he isn’t planning to take any prisoners on what he hopes will be his way to the presidency:
Leadership’s current plan — to pass clean DHS funding and separate legislation barring executive amnesty — is a mistake. Congress is obliged to use every constitutional check and balance we have to rein in President Obama’s lawlessness, and that includes both our confirmation authority over nominees and the power of the purse.
Lately, Cruz has become one of the most outspoken and loved Republicans in the Senate. He and his supporters have a strong presence on social media, where one after another “Ted Cruz for president“-group is created. These groups have attracted a large following; see for instance the Facebook group Ted Cruz 45: more than 10,000 conservatives joined that group in a mere three weeks’ time. This proves that conservative voters are hungry for someone who is one of them, who is willing to stand for something and who is principled to his core.
The question now is whether Cruz, Salmon, Huelskamp and others can unite and fight back against McConnell’s plan together and prevent House Speaker John Boehner from following his lead. If they do, McConnell will be humiliated like never before. If not, well, then I guess that conservatives will have even more evidence that Republican leaders don’t care about them and their values. The good news? They can then proceed to open the attack on McConnell and Boehner in an attempt to remove them from power. After all, why would conservatives continue to settle for a Republican leadership that sells them out whenever it can?
Secretary of State John Kerry told a congressman today to stop making fun of what State Department spokeswoman Marie Harf said.
At this morning’s House Foreign Affairs Committee hearing, Rep. Steve Chabot (R-Ohio) asked Kerry about Harf’s comments last week, in which she said “we cannot win this war” by killing ISIS and job development was one facet of the plan to combat extremism.
In clarifying her comments on CNN, Harf then said her argument about getting to the “root cause” of terrorism “might be too nuanced an argument for some.”
“Harf espoused the interesting proposition that we should create a jobs program for people who might be inclined to support groups like ISIS, jobs for jihadists. She didn’t call it that, but I will,” Chabot said in his questioning of Kerry. “And just where will these jobs come from? I guess not at the mall. It’s apparently too dangerous to work there now. And are these shovel-ready jobs, or are they yet to be created, like Keystone Pipeline jobs?”
“And Mr. Secretary, did Ms. Harf consult with anyone else in the State Department, yourself or anyone, before announcing this new initiative? If not, who did she consult with?” the congressman continued. “I realize that according to Ms. Harf, many of us are not nuanced enough to grasp the wisdom of such an enlightened proposal, but I and, I’m sure, some of my colleagues would appreciate some insight on where in the heck this idea came from.”
Kerry said that’s not what the deputy press secretary was saying “if you take the full breadth of what Marie Harf was talking about.”
“In fact, what she was talking about is the notion that if all we do is have a military approach to the problem of violent religious extremism, whether it’s Islamic or other — or whether there’s violent extremists, we’re going to fail,” he said. “You will have the next secretary of State or the one thereafter, a continuum of presidents coming to you with new acronyms for new groups that are a new threat.”
“And everything that came out of our White House summit on violent extremism underscored the fact that there’s one component that you have to do for sure, which is the military. You have to take ISIS fighters off the battlefield the way we are, and that’s for certain. But if you don’t want them just replenished, like the three kids from Britain who just traveled ostensibly to Syria to join up.”
Kerry called it “a spreading cancer” that “is not going to be eliminated by just shooting at people once they finally get to the battlefield.”
“Everything that came out of the conference we just had the other day pointed to the need to deal with prevention,” he said, referencing last week’s conference on violent extremism hosted by the White House.
Chabot tried to get in another question, but Kerry interjected, “Don’t — don’t make fun — don’t make fun of what she was talking about.”
The latest entry in the Scott Walker Media Deracination Sweepstakes comes from a nasty piece of work named John Cassidy in the New Yorker:
Let’s stipulate up front that Scott Walker, the governor of Wisconsin, is an odious politician whose ascension to the Presidency would be a disaster.
With a lede like that, you know you’re in the presence of a True Believer whose President Precious has just been attacked by… somebody, somewhere, somehow. And he doesn’t like it one bit; in fact, it frightens him.
Set aside, for a moment, his repeated refusal, in the past few days, to say whether he believes that President Obama loves America, or whether he believes that the President is a Christian, and look instead at Walker’s record running what used to be one of America’s more progressive states. Having cut taxes for the wealthy and stripped many of Wisconsin’s public-sector unions of their collective-bargaining rights, he is now preparing to sign a legislative bill that would cripple unions in the private sector. Many wealthy conservatives, such as the Koch brothers, who have funnelled a lot of money to groups supporting Walker, regard him as someone who’s turning his state into a showcase for what they want the rest of America to look like.
But just how threatening is he? If you’ve been following the political news during the past week, you may well have the impression that he’s stumbling in his campaign for the 2016 G.O.P. nomination. Among the political commentariat, the consensus of opinion is that Walker’s repeated refusal to distance himself from Rudy Giuliani’s incendiary comments about Obama, and his subsequent encounter with the Washington Post’s Dan Balz and Robert Costa, during which he appeared to question Obama’s religious faith and took some shots at the media for asking him silly questions, weren’t merely reprehensible: they were serious gaffes that raised questions about Walker’s political abilities…
Rather than deflecting the reporters’ queries about Obama’s beliefs, as other Republicans had done, Walker used them to send a none-too-subtle message to Republican voters. His refusal to say whether Obama was a Christian wasn’t merely a shot at a hostile media. As Dana Milbank, of the Washington Post noted, it allowed Walker to “wink and nod at the far-right fringe where people really believe that Obama is a Muslim from Kenya who hates America.” Milbank also wrote that Walker was “refusing to grant his opponent legitimacy as an American and a Christian.”
In a more just world, Walker’s indecent and craven antics would disqualify him from playing any further role in the Presidential race. But in the current political environment, his tactics, far from hurting him, may well bolster a candidacy that is already thriving.
Surely this man Cassidy is insane. What other explanation can there be? But if Scott Walker can make the Left foam at the mouth by the simple act of not answering a stupid question to which there is no answer anyway, he’s my kind of guy.
Importing Somalis — among the most troubled and troublesome people in the world — to Minnesota, that is:
The State Department has helped to relocate tens of thousands of refugees from the war-torn African nation of Somalia to Minnesota, where they can take advantage of some of America’s most generous welfare and charity programs. But the effort is having the unintended consequence of creating an enclave of immigrants with high unemployment that is both stressing the state’s safety net and creating a rich pool of potential recruiting targets for Islamist terror groups.
In the fiscal year that ended in September, Minnesota welcomed 1,118 Somali refugees arriving directly from Africa, most of them without family ties to the state, according to State Department statistics. Overall, more than 30,000 Somalis live in the midwestern state comprising the nation’s largest concentration of Somali immigrants, according to U.S. Census data.
Many of the refugees settle near the Twin Cities, with Minneapolis being dubbed “Little Mogadishu” after the capital of Somalia. This population is also being targeted by Islamist terror organizations like the Islamic State and al-Shabab, a Somalia-based group with links to al Qaeda, according to U.S. officials.
Among Minnesota-based Somali-Americans, American converts to Islam or Somali refugees, there have been numerous convictions for various levels of collaboration with Islamist terror groups, plus reports of fighting with al-Shabab or other Islamist groups.
Who was it who said “the Constitution is not a suicide pact”? (Supreme Court Justice Robert Jackson.) Neither is Christian charity. The Scandinavians of Minnesota will have as much opportunity to regret this as their cousins back home in Sweden and Norway do today.
On Sunday, al-Shabab made a propaganda video warning of an attack on shopping malls around the world, including the Mall of America in Minnesota. Al-Shabab claimed responsibility for the terror attack on the Westgate shopping mall in Kenya two years ago, which left 67 dead.
“We have definitely seen targeted terror recruitment videos, videos aimed and targeted directly at the youth here in Minnesota primarily within the Somali community,” said Kyle Loven, an FBI spokesman in Minneapolis. “They’re going after disaffected youth — those who are isolated. We can’t get into specifics, but we’ve been involved in major investigations since 2007 and continue to be.”
Wow. Just wow.
Politico screams this warning on the front page today, above the fold: Congress Inches Closer to DHS Cliff!!
The exclamation points are mine.
For those not paying attention, including readers of Politico, the House passed a funding bill for the Department of Homeland Security that fully funded the agency save for a small number of components that will carry out President Obama’s unilateral immigration amnesty.
All of the important components of DHS are funded by the House. All of the components that will implement lawlessness are defunded. That’s how the Constitution was designed to work.
The “cliff” that Politico warns against is not millions of illegal aliens staying in the United States. The “cliff” the nation is about to plunge over is a federal agency possibly closing down for a few days.
The only reason this could happen is because Senate Democrats (and Senate Republicans who went along with them) place greater importance on importing millions of foreigners into the United States and making sure people who should be working to deport them are paid for not deporting them. Thus, the House and Senate are liable to disagree.
The cliff the nation is about to plunge over is bureaucrats not being paid immediately. We know, of course, they will all eventually be given backpay, as all federal employees are after every shut down. It’s a vacation without having to ask for a vacation. Where do I sign up?
Back to Politico’s front page alarmism. Cliffs imply catastrophe. Think Thelma and Louise. Unless the guy driving the bread truck in Peoria gives more money to the beltway lawyer who should be deporting an illegal alien, the nation will go over the cliff.
Only in Washington would that nonsense fly.
But down lower on the front page of Politico, we find this piece headlined “Reality Check on Net Neutrality.”
There Alex Byers lectures us:
The escalating fight over the Federal Communications Commission’s net neutrality rules is sprouting a classic feature of Washington political battles — bombastic rhetoric designed to stir up partisan passions. Both supporters and opponents of Chairman Tom Wheeler’s proposal have turned to dramatic language to shape the debate, painting ominous pictures about the future of the Internet and turning a wonky regulatory issue into a full-blown D.C. brawl.
The senator behind the Assault Weapons Ban bill and a House Republican have teamed up for new gun-control legislation — to ban terrorists from buying guns.
Sen. Dianne Feinstein (D-Calif.) introduced the Denying Firearms and Explosives to Dangerous Terrorists Act of 2015 in the upper chamber with co-sponsor Sens. Sheldon Whitehouse (D-R.I.), Chuck Schumer (D-N.Y.), Dick Durbin (D-Ill.), Richard Blumenthal (D-Conn.), Barbara Boxer (D-Calif.), Jack Reed (D-R.I.), Bob Menendez (D-N.J.), Kirsten Gillibrand (D-N.Y.), Chris Murphy (D-Conn.), Elizabeth Warren (D-Mass.) and Ed Markey (D-Mass.).
Rep. Peter King (R-N.Y.), the former chairman of the House Homeland Security Committee, introduced the bill in the lower chamber with 14 co-sponsors, Feinstein’s office said.
“Under current law, known or suspected terrorists on terrorist watch lists are prohibited from boarding airplanes, but they are legally allowed to buy firearms and explosives anywhere in the United States. That makes no sense,” Feinstein said in a statement. “The Kouachi brothers, responsible for the attacks in Paris, were on U.S. terrorist watch lists, including the no-fly list. However, if the brothers had instead been in the United States, they would have been able to legally purchase weapons.”
“Sadly, this situation isn’t rare,” she continued. “Individuals on the consolidated terrorist watch list who sought to purchase a weapon in 2013 and 2014 cleared the background check in 455 out of 486 attempts. We need to close this dangerous loophole and keep weapons out of the hands of terrorists.”
That report, which included individuals on no-fly lists, was compiled by the Government Accountability Office.
Studying a 10-year period from 2004 to 2014, the background check clearance rate was 91 percent of attempted transactions, or 2,043 of 2,233 times, according to the GAO.
The bill would give the attorney general discretion to “deny the transfer of a firearm” if he or she “determines that the transferee is known (or appropriately suspected) to be or have been engaged in conduct constituting, in preparation for, in aid of, or related to terrorism, or providing material support or resources for terrorism” and “has a reasonable belief that the prospective transferee may use a firearm in connection with terrorism.”
It includes international and domestic terrorism.
If someone thinks they were wrongly denied the ability to buy a weapon or explosives under the terrorism statute, he or she would be able to first complain to the Justice Department, then file a lawsuit against the DOJ.
In such a lawsuit, the Justice Department would be able to keep classified information deemed to compromise national security.
King said “common sense dictates that the federal government stop gun sales to suspects on the terrorist watch list.”
“Federal law already prohibits nine categories of dangerous persons from purchasing or possessing firearms, including the mentally ill and criminals,” he said. “Yet, after almost 14 years, we still allow suspected terrorists the ability to purchase firearms.”
With funding for the Department of Homeland Security running out at the end of the week, Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-Ky.) confirmed he’s acquiescing to Democrats’ demands to break immigration demands off of the DHS appropriations bill.
A vote on a “clean” DHS bill isn’t scheduled yet, and it would then have to be approved by the House.
Speaker John Boehner (R-Ohio) told reporters after a closed caucus meeting today that he’s just “waiting for the Senate to act.”
“The House has done its job to fund the Department of Homeland Security and to stop the president’s overreach on immigration. And we’re waiting for the Senate to do their job. Senate Democrats have stood in the way now for three weeks over a bill that should have been debated and passed. So until the Senate does something, we’re in a wait-and-see mode,” Boehner said.
Asked if he’s concerned about “rebellion” from upset conservatives, he replied, “I’m waiting for the Senate to pass a bill.”
Asked what he thinks of McConnell’s plan, Boehner said, I”‘m waiting for the Senate to pass a bill. There’s a lot — I don’t know what the Senate is capable of passing. And until I see what they’re going to pass, no decision has been made on the House side.”
House Republicans aren’t publicly signaling much on which way they’d go if presented with a bill that excludes their effort to defund President Obama’s executive actions.
“We have a right to fund or not fund anything,” Rep. Darrell Issa (R-Calif.) told MSNBC this morning.
“Every time somebody talks about a shutdown, they talk about the budget, they talk about everything, they always point to the of the purse. Well, the power of the purse says we want you to do and we will fund 100 percent of keeping America safe, we just won’t fund visas and work permits for illegal immigrants. It’s that simple,” Issa said.
“It’s a pretty straight forward understanding. He has no authority to grant work permits, therefore, we will not fund granting work permits for people who are unlawfully here. We’re happy to do immigration reform, but we have to have a willing partner.”
Issa added that “right now, the speaker has said that he’s staying with needing to make sure that the president’s unlawful act is not funded. And I realize there’s a federal judge in play, but again, the president would like funding for longer than that federal judge’s stay may be in effect.”
McConnell said on the Senate floor this morning that “later this week, the Senate will consider a bill from the senior senator from Maine that’s about as reasonable as you can get.”
“Obviously, President Obama was right to refer to the kind of overreach he took in November as ‘ignoring the law.’ And Senator Collins’ sensible bill focuses simply on preventing that most egregious example of executive overreach from taking effect. It’s as simple as that,” he said. “Her bill isn’t tied to funding for DHS either. So there are no excuses left. Democrats should join us in voting for this common-sense legislation.”
“In the meantime, we’ve offered Democrats the chance to prove they were serious about something else: funding the Department of Homeland Security.”
Sen. Joe Manchin (D-W.Va.) told Fox that “we’re not playing politics” if McConnell breaks up the bill.
“I told the Republicans I would support their movement. And I think that’s a rational way to move. You give them both to the House. And Democrats are afraid the House is going to do a different thing, basically play a gotcha game and make some amendments,” Manchin said.
“I don’t think the House would pass up the ability it to vote for a clean Homeland Security. If they do that and they put their immigration bill, basically repealing the president’s executive order, they’re truly playing politics at the highest level and putting their politics ahead of the security of our nation. I just don’t think good people will do that.”
… as Col. Kurtz says in Heart of Darkness. Even the most abject apologists for militant Islam — President Precious, take a bow! — must sooner or later face the fact that by defending Islam they are advocating the destruction of Western civilization. This is not a civil-rights issue (the only kind of issue the Left seems to be able to understand) but a war of culture vs. barbarism. Latest case in point:
Isis militants have reportedly ransacked Mosul library, burning over a hundred thousand rare manuscripts and documents spanning centuries of human learning. Initial reports said approximately 8,000 books were destroyed by the extremist group. However, AL RAI’s chief international correspondent Elijah J. Magnier told The Independent that a Mosul library official believes as many as 112, 709 manuscripts and books, some of which were registered on a UNESCO rarities list, are among those lost.
Mosul Public Library’s director Ghanim al-Ta’an said Isis militants then demolished the building using explosive devices. “People tried to prevent the terrorist group elements from burning the library, but failed,” a local source told IraqiNews.com. Other reports indicated that Isis militants later broke into the library and constructed a huge pyre of scientific and cultural texts as university students watched in horror. Among the documents believed lost are a collection of Iraqi newspapers from the beginning of the 20 century, maps, books and collections from the Ottoman period.
Weren’t the Bamiyan Buddhas enough? Away with these satanic savages. Anyone in the West who cares about art, culture, music, learning — and that should include most, if not all, liberals and progressives — needs to make sure these people are destroyed. There is no other way. As we’ll eventually find out anyway, like it or not.
This is lush, green private island is on the market for less than the average UK home price. Inishdooey Island, off the northwest of Northern Ireland, is part of a string of four islands and boasts 94 acres of uninhabited land.
It lies three miles off the mainland of County Donegal and includes a stunning freshwater pond, tunnel caves and, of course, pebble beaches. There are no buildings on the island, which is only accessible by boat or helicopter when weather conditions are suitable.
The island is currently on sale with a guide price of £140,000 – around £50,000 lower than the average home price in the UK. Pedro Arez of Vladi Private Islands, who have listed the island, said, ‘This is a very exciting private island. ’It’s in a very remote area and can only be accessed by boat or helicopter when the weather conditions are right.
‘It contains the ruins of old buildings and a freshwater pond which is perfect for people wanting to keep livestock on the island. Nature lovers will feel right at home on Inishdooey Island. People who travel to the island will have a real adventure.’
Sound romantic? Might want to think again. Irish islands in the Atlantic were generally occupied by hermits and other crazy people. The wind is brutal, the rain nearly incessant and as far as getting back and forth the mainland, forget about it — why do you think hermits lived there in the first place? On the other hand, it is Ireland.
Still, you might want to watch The Wicker Man before you make a down payment, just so you know what you might be getting into with this remote island thing…
D.C. delegate to Congress is upset that Capitol Police have been shooing sledders away from Capitol Hill during the recent snow dumps.
“Sledding on U.S. Capitol Grounds is one of the oldest traditions in the nation’s capital,” Del. Eleanor Holmes Norton (D) wrote yesterday to Senate Sergeant at Arms Frank J. Larkin. “Although I understand that sledding has been banned for years, what I do not understand is why the U.S. Capitol Police have recently decided to enforce this Scrooge-like ban.”
“Because the Capitol Police Board issues the regulations, I am reaching out directly to the Board to request that sledding be permitted on U.S. Capitol Grounds,” she said.
“The District of Columbia received enough snowfall to bring out sledding children and their parents last week. Left to enforce the ban for no good reason, some U.S. Capitol Police turned away families invoking security. Because of high-residential density, there are few places to sled in the city, and the grounds of the U.S. Capitol – the Hill – provide a perfect sledding venue. The sledding ban appears to be arbitrary.”
Norton pointed out that “there is so little snow here that there will not be frequent sledding and, therefore, no significant damage to Capitol Grounds.”
“Moreover, the public is not barred from walking or playing games on the grounds. I understand that there may be reasonable limits placed on sledding, but an absolute ban on sledding in the little snow the District has on the grounds of the People’s House and the Senate is unseemly and unnecessary,” she added.
“Americans should be able to sled on ‘America’s front lawn.’ I am asking that the Capitol Police Board remove the ban on sledding from Capitol Police Regulations.”
Norton asked for a response within 30 days.
— Jaimee C (@jmee16) February 17, 2015
Hitler, in the form of Mein Kampf (My Jihad, er, Struggle), which will once again be legally for sale in Germany:
The book that once served as a kind of Nazi bible, banned from domestic reprints since the end of World War II, will soon be returning to German bookstores from the Alps to the Baltic Sea.
The prohibition on reissue for years was upheld by the state of Bavaria, which owns the German copyright and legally blocked attempts to duplicate it. But those rights expire in December, and the first new print run here since Hitler’s death is due out early next year. The new edition is a heavily annotated volume in its original German that is stirring an impassioned debate over history, anti-Semitism and the latent power of the written word.
Following the war, there has been a complete ban on Nazi regalia, mementos, etc., in Germany (not that there aren’t plenty of secret rooms filled with souvenirs of the Thousand-Year-Reich in private homes). Now the most notorious book of the 20th-century will be back on the shelves:
The book’s reissue, to the chagrin of critics, is effectively being financed by German taxpayers, who fund the historical society that is producing and publishing the new edition. Rather than a how-to guidebook for the aspiring fascist, the new reprint, the group said this month, will instead be a vital academic tool, a 2,000-page volume packed with more criticisms and analysis than the original text.
Still, opponents are aghast, in part because the book is coming out at a time of rising anti-Semitism in Europe and as the English and other foreign-language versions of “Mein Kampf” — unhindered by the German copyrights — are in the midst of a global renaissance.
“I am absolutely against the publication of ‘Mein Kampf,’ even with annotations. Can you annotate the Devil? Can you annotate a person like Hitler?” said Levi Salomon, spokesman for the Berlin-based Jewish Forum for Democracy and Against Anti-Semitism. “This book is outside of human logic.”
I beg to differ. The real horror of the National Socialist state was that it was entirely all too human and, by its own lights, eminently logical. That it seduced the most civilized nation in Europe is to Germany’s eternal shame. But hiding Hitler’s turgid, soporific prose (especially in German; the English translations are actually marginally better, literarily) does nobody any good: sunlight really is the best disinfectant.
Two prominent Senate Democrats invited Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu to sit down with their caucus while he’s in town next week — he said thanks, but no thanks.
Senate Minority Whip Dick Durbin (D-Ill.) and Sen. Dianne Feinstein (D-Calif.) extended the invite to the prime minister on Monday in a letter first reported by Bloomberg.
Netanyahu accepting the invitation to address a joint session of Congress, they wrote, “sacrifices deep and well-established cooperation on Israel for short-term partisan points — something that should never be done with Israeli security and which we feel could have lasting repercussions.”
“To maintain Israel’s dialogue with both political parties in Congress, we invite you to a closed-door meeting with Democratic senators during your upcoming visit to Washington,” Durbin and Feinstein wrote. “We believe such a venue would be a wholly appropriate opportunity to discuss the range of issues that face our two countries.”
Reuters obtained the decline, which wasn’t released publicly by Netanyahu’s office.
“Though I greatly appreciate your kind invitation to meet with Democratic Senators, I believe that doing so at this time could compound the misperception of partisanship regarding my upcoming visit,” he wrote.
Netanyahu stressed that he agreed “wholeheartedly” of the bipartisan foundation for strong U.S.-Israel ties. “I also fully understand the importance of bipartisan support for ensuring that our alliance remains strong in the future,” he wrote.
“I can assure you my sole intention in accepting it was to voice Israel’s grave concerns about a potential nuclear agreement with Iran that could threaten the survival of my country.”
Netanyahu said he’d be happy to meet with senators when all of them are welcome in the meeting room.
On Tuesday, testimony concluded in the trial of 20 educators in the Atlanta Public School system who are accused of cheating on standardized tests. The defense called its final witness, and the Judge Jerry Baxter gave instructions to the jury and attorneys. Closing arguments will begin on March 16 after a longer-than-usual recess.
Prosecutors also say the teachers on trial prompted students as they struggled to answer test questions. Administrators for the district and at several schools allegedly threatened teachers if their students were failing and punished anyone who reported cheating.
Former Atlanta schools Superintendent Beverly Hall is also charged with racketeering, but she did not go on trial because she is being treated for Stage IV breast cancer. She will be tried once she is healthy enough.
If the jury finds the defendants guilty of racketeering, they could be sentenced to 20 years in prison. The defendants also face lesser charges that could bring prison sentences.
None of the 12 defendants testified, and eight of them called no witnesses.
In total, four defense attorneys called 31 witnesses in the past two weeks. In contrast, the prosecution called 133 witnesses, two in rebuttal.
The mood in the courtroom was jovial and giddy, as prosecutors posed for photos and Baxter dropped his usual hard-edged persona and addressed the courtroom in a more folksy manner.
“Y’all are fantastic,” Baxter told the jurors who first came to the Fulton County Courthouse for the trial more than six months ago. “I have never seen anything like this. The most striking thing is your diligence. We’re not over yet. The ultimate decisions will be in your lap and that’s coming soon.
“I want you to try to get back to what you were doing. Relax. You need to get in shape mentally and physically. Work out. Do the Rocky thing,” Baxter said.
Once the jury had left on Tuesday, Baxter, who has been testy throughout the trial, apologized to attorneys for his “gruff” behavior.
“If I have made anybody mad, I’m sorry. Sincerely,” Baxter said. “It’s been a long, long journey.
“I’m not perfect. Right, Evelyn?” he said to the court reporter.
“Right,” she answered.
“I have the highest respect for all of you. You battled for your clients and you’ve been professional,” Baxter said. “This trial turned out to be a lot better than I thought it might be. I had visions of nightmares. They have not come true. … I tried to give everybody a fair trial and I hope I have.”
Closing arguments will put the finishing touches on a truly bizarre trial, with accusations of teachers insulting and even threatening students and holding parties where they would change the answers on standardized tests. The trial took on the air of a soap opera many times, so we’ll see if the conclusion of the trial will bring the same kind of excitement.
Featured image courtesy of Shutterstock / Matthew Benoit
Here’s your feel-good story of the day.
The IRS said yesterday that it has fewer resources available to audit your tax returns.
Budget cuts forced the IRS to reduce the number of audits last year to the lowest level in a decade — and it could go down even more this year, IRS Commissioner John Koskinen said Tuesday.
“The math is pretty simple,” Koskinen said in a speech to the New York State Bar Association. “There are fewer audits because we have fewer auditors. Audits fell in virtually every individual category and across income levels.”
The number of audits last year was only 1.2 million tax returns, which is less than 1% of all returns filed. That is the lowest rate of auditing since 2004.
Koskinen said the IRS is down more than 2,200 revenue agents since 2010.
Last year, a little more than 11,600 revenue agents examined returns, and Koskinen is warning that the number of agents will decline again this year.
Congress has cut the agency’s budget by $1.2 billion since 2010.
The IRS budget for the year ending this September was $10.9B.
A senior State Department official was arrested yesterday for allegedly soliciting sex from a minor, Fox News is reporting.
Fairfax County Police officials say Daniel Rosen was arrested by a county detective about noon at his Washington, D.C. home after he allegedly sought to arrange sex with a minor. The detective, a female officer working in the county’s Child Exploitation Unit, had been posing as the minor in online exchanges with Rosen, police said.
Rosen is the director of counterterrorism programs at the State Department.
He was arrested and charged with one count of Use of a Communications Device to Solicit a Juvenile.
The police notified Rosen’s employer, as is usual in these situations.
Department spokeswoman Jen Psaki said late Tuesday, “We are aware that a State Department employee has been arrested and charges have been issued.
“For issues related to Department personnel and for privacy reasons, we are not able to confirm the identity of the individual or specific charges.
“His security clearance will be suspended and he will be put on administrative leave while this proceeds to its end through any judicial process. We are following standard procedure in this case.”
A source told Fox News that the police had obtained a warrant to search Rosen’s phones for additional evidence.
Rosen has been working at the State Department since 2008, according to his LinkedIn profile.
New filings show that donations to the National Rifle Association have “soared” following the school shooting in Newtown, Connecticut in December of 2012.
The filings reveal that NRA donations for 2013 clocked-in at $96.4M, an 11.5% increase from 2012.
Money poured into to the NRA once certain states and the federal government began agitating for more gun control after the Sandy Hook shooting.
The left, who usually knee-jerks any tragic situation with some kind of civil rights-suffocating action, quickly mobilized to have a “national conversation” about gun violence which would have resulted in the weakening of law abiding citizens’ rights and had no effect on lawless criminals or madmen.
“It’s very perverse,” said Leah Gunn Barrett, executive director of New Yorkers Against Gun Violence. “Most Americans would have a visceral reaction toward those numbers following a tragedy where 20 (kids) were slaughtered.”
It’s not really perverse at all. Many people, at least $96.4M worth of people reacted to the killing spree by supporting a group who wanted to ensure Americans kept their right to protect themselves against such madmen like the Sandy Hook shooter.
Barret went on to say that the NRA was “fearmongering” it’s base, although the fear was not unfounded. The NY Daily News writes: “Federal gun control efforts — including a push to require tough background check requirements — ultimately failed in Congress.” So, more anti-second amendment restrictions were most definitely on the horizon surrounding Newtown.
The real fearmongers, are the anti-gun cabal who started immediately mobilizing to ban certain firearms and place restrictions on firearms purchases.
The good news is that the NRA saw a rise not just in donations but in memberships. “The NRA reported that its total revenue in 2013 increased by 35.8%, to $348 million. That includes $175.6 million in membership dues.”
IMF Managing Director Christine Lagarde followed Obama’s trendsetting “War on Muslims” narrative, thus failing the cause of women’s equality across the globe. The Feminist Fail started out on the right track:
Nations should remove laws that prevent women from working in order to increase the female labour supply and boost their economies, IMF Managing Director Christine Lagarde has said.
“In too many countries, too many legal restrictions conspire against women to be economically active,” Lagarde wrote in a blog. “In a world in search of growth, women will help find it, if they face a level playing field instead of an insidious conspiracy.”
What exactly is this “insidious conspiracy” Lagarde is referring to? Don’t worry, she hasn’t taken the Patty Arquette pill, although she’s definitely drinking the Obama Kool Aid, because it’s all downhill from here:
But the IMF has to tread a careful line on this issue to avoid explicitly critiquing the laws in its 188 member countries, including states like Mali and Yemen, which have been among the worst performers on indices of gender equality.
Mali and Yemen, both Muslim-dominated states. Mali’s logo, “one people, one goal, one faith” is a contradiction in terms, at least when it comes to fostering economic growth, which is the only topic up for discussion on Lagarde’s watch:
The IMF has sought to couch its arguments in economic terms, saying in a previous study that having as many women in the labor force as men could boost economic growth by 5% in the United States, 9% in Japan and 34% in Egypt.
Note the radical climb in potential economic growth when the stats begin speaking to Muslim nations? Oops. Guess Lagarde’s staffers didn’t get the “War on Muslims” memo until after they prepared their findings, to which they quickly tacked on the following caveat:
“In recommending equal opportunities …this study does not intend to render a judgment of countries’ broadly accepted cultural and religious norms.”
Classy. Let’s talk about an obvious problem without directly drawing attention to it, since the problem is defended by radicalized terrorists. Is that called the White Elephant defense strategy?
California was the first state in the country to ban the use of plastic shopping bags in retail and grocery stores. But the ban has now been put on hold as state election officials confirmed that a group has gathered enough signatures to challenge the ban and place the issue on the 2016 ballot.
The American Progressive Bag Alliance, which represents bag manufacturers, had about 50,000 more valid signatures than the 505,000 needed to qualify the referendum after a random sample of the signatures was tallied, said Bill Mabie, chief deputy for Secretary of State Alex Padilla.
The group had submitted more than 800,000 signatures at the end of last year.
Governor Jerry Brown signed the bag ban legislation into law last fall, after a hostile battle between environmentalists and bag-makers. The ban was supposed to be phased-in, starting in July of this year.
The plastic bag alliance says the ban will costs jobs.
“California voters will now have the chance to vote down a terrible law that, if implemented, would kill 2,000 local manufacturing jobs and funnel obscene profits to big grocers without any money going to a public purpose or environmental initiative,” the group’s executive director, Lee Califf, said in a news release.
Supporters of the ban complained that opponents spent millions of dollars on the referendum campaign.
“This is a cynical ploy by out-of-state interests desperate to delay a ban already adopted in more than 100 communities across California,” Brown’s spokesman Evan Westrup said.
But supporters of the bill are confident that Californians will uphold the ban at the ballot box.
Mark Murray, a spokesman for Californians vs. Big Plastic, said the coalition of environmental, labor and business groups is confident California voters will uphold the ban. “It’s not surprising that after spending more than $3.2 million, 98 percent of which is from out of state, the plastic bag industry has bought its way onto the California ballot to protect its profits,” Murray said.
Already the environmentalists have successfully pushed for bans in cities around the country, as well in California. Seattle, Chicago and Austin already have bans, as well as Los Angeles and San Francisco.
With no sense of irony to speak of, some of the biggest and most profitable companies on the Internet have succeeded in masking their pursuit of subsidy as a campaign for “an open internet.” Now, they stand ready to close the con. From the New York Times:
The Federal Communications Commission is expected on Thursday to approve regulating Internet service like a public utility, prohibiting companies from paying for faster lanes on the Internet.
Republicans had aspired to counter any such regulation with legislation, but conceded on Tuesday that they lack the bipartisan support necessary to get such a bill passed.
As a result, when the FCC moves forward with regulating the internet, big businesses will be legally empowered to violate the free association rights of Internet service providers and compel subsidy from everyone else online.
The FCC plan would let the agency regulate Internet access as if it is a public good. It would follow the concept known as net neutrality or an open Internet, banning so-called paid prioritization – or fast lanes – for willing Internet content providers.
… an avalanche of support for [the FCC] plan – driven by Internet companies as varied as Netflix, Twitter, Mozilla and Etsy – has swamped Washington.
Since the cost of providing bandwidth to these companies will not change, Internet service providers will be forced to make up the difference by charging their other customers more – customers like you. Either that, or they’ll have to trim costs somewhere else, which could translate to lost jobs and hampered innovation.
Beyond the blatant violation of free association and the negative economic impact, establishing the legal perception of the Internet as “a public good” sets the stage for further rights violations in the future. If the Internet is public, it’s not yours, and you won’t be able to claim ownership over your activity on it. At the whim of regulators or legislators, your online relationships, your online speech, and your online property will each be subject to disruption or seizure.
It’s a sad day for liberty. The world’s most practical example of market success is about to be leashed to Washington cronies.
The State Department this evening responded to ISIS’ mass kidnapping of Christians in Syria by stressing that the terrorists harm all religious groups.
Estimates of the number of kidnapped Assyrians from villages near Tel Hmar have ranged from at least 90 to as high as 200. Thousands fled with no possessions as ISIS attacked in the early morning hours. Members of the ancient community speak Aramaic, the language of Jesus.
The Assyrian Human Rights Network said ISIS moved the hostages to the Abdul Aziz Mountains region, where they fear the terrorists will use the Christians as human shields against Kurdish fighters.
Said State Department press secretary Jen Psaki in a statement sent to reporters tonight:
The United States condemns in the strongest possible terms ISIL’s attacks yesterday on predominantly Assyrian Christian villages in the northeast Syrian province of Hasakeh, where they kidnapped dozens of civilians, including women, children, priests, and the elderly. Hundreds of other civilians remain trapped in villages surrounded by ISIL fighters, and clashes continue between ISIL and local forces defending their communities. ISIL burned and destroyed homes and churches, and the violence has reportedly displaced more than 3,000 people. We demand the immediate and unconditional release of the civilians taken captive yesterday and of all those held by ISIL.
ISIL’s latest targeting of a religious minority is only further testament to its brutal and inhumane treatment of all those who disagree with its divisive goals and toxic beliefs. ISIL continues to exact its evil upon innocents of all faiths, and the majority of its victims have been Muslims. People of all faiths and many religious leaders throughout the region have united in condemning ISIL’s depravity, including its mass killings, rape, sexual enslavement, lashing, stoning, crucifixion, torture, and public murders of hostages.
Earlier this month, ISIS was ordering Assyrians to remove crosses from their churches. About 600 families are now sheltering at the Cathedral of the Virgin Mary in Al-Hasakah, suffering from “a significant lack of blankets, water, food and heating fuel,” the Assyrian Human Rights Network said.
The following occurred in Chicago, Illinois, USA and not some Communist dictatorship or theocratic backwater.
A secret interrogation site is being used by the Chicago police to hold suspects for up to a day or more without access to an attorney or being read their Miranda rights.
The facility is “off the books” — no one will acknowledge its existence despite the fact that Chicago criminal defense attorneys are very familiar with the site. Suspects are temporarily “disappeared” from police precincts and re-appear to be booked hours later.
The site is apparently used by special police task forces — anti-terror, anti-gang, anti-drug units.
The facility, a nondescript warehouse on Chicago’s west side known as Homan Square, has long been the scene of secretive work by special police units. Interviews with local attorneys and one protester who spent the better part of a day shackled in Homan Square describe operations that deny access to basic constitutional rights.
Alleged police practices at Homan Square, according to those familiar with the facility who spoke out to the Guardian after its investigation into Chicago police abuse, include:
Keeping arrestees out of official booking databases.
Beating by police, resulting in head wounds.
Shackling for prolonged periods.
Denying attorneys access to the “secure” facility.
Holding people without legal counsel for between 12 and 24 hours, including people as young as 15.
At least one man was found unresponsive in a Homan Square “interview room” and later pronounced dead.
“If police “want money, guns, drugs”, or information on the flow of any of them onto Chicago’s streets, “they bring them there and use it as a place of interrogation off the books,” said one attorney.
The site also serves as a safe house where police informants can meet their handlers in a secure location. It also serves as an evidence locker and is a storage site for military-grade vehicles.
But secret interrogation sites have been a dark part of Chicago police history for at least 50 years.
“Back when I first started working on torture cases and started representing criminal defendants in the early 1970s, my clients often told me they’d been taken from one police station to another before ending up at Area 2 where they were tortured,” said Taylor, the civil-rights lawyer most associated with pursuing the notoriously abusive Area 2 police commander Jon Burge. “And in that way the police prevent their family and lawyers from seeing them until they could coerce, through torture or other means, confessions from them.”
Police often have off-site facilities to have private conversations with their informants. But a retired Washington DC homicide detective, James Trainum, could not think of another circumstance nationwide where police held people incommunicado for extended periods.
“I’ve never known any kind of organized, secret place where they go and just hold somebody before booking for hours and hours and hours. That scares the hell out of me that that even exists or might exist,” said Trainum, who now studies national policing issues, to include interrogations, for the Innocence Project and the Constitution Project.
Regardless of departmental regulations, police frequently deny or elide access to lawyers even at regular police precincts, said Solowiej of First Defense Legal Aid. But she said the outright denial was exacerbated at Chicago’s secretive interrogation and holding facility: “It’s very, very rare for anyone to experience their constitutional rights in Chicago police custody, and even more so at Homan Square,” Solowiej said.
There have been several previous torture scandals involving the Chicago police — organized groups of thugs who beat suspects and coerced confessions. This is, if possible, even worse. The lack of accountability and transparency as well as the routine application of physical abuse eats at the trust police need to effectively fight crime in the community.
In short, the police are only making their jobs harder by running a site like this.
President Obama just vetoed legislation dropped on his desk to approve the Keystone XL pipeline.
“Through this bill, the United States Congress attempts to circumvent longstanding and proven processes for determining whether or not building and operating a cross-border pipeline serves the national interest,” Obama said in his statement to the Senate.
“The Presidential power to veto legislation is one I take seriously. But I also take seriously my responsibility to the American people,” he continued. “And because this act of Congress conflicts with established executive branch procedures and cuts short thorough consideration of issues that could bear on our national interest — including our security, safety, and environment — it has earned my veto.”
The veto comes as no surprise, though this morning congressional Republicans were rallying pressure on the administration through social media.
House Speaker John Boehner (R-Ohio) called the veto “a national embarrassment.”
“It’s embarrassing when Russia and China are plowing ahead on two massive pipelines and we can’t get this one no-brainer of a project off the ground. The president is just too close to environmental extremists to stand up for America’s workers. He’s too invested in left-fringe politics to do what presidents are called on to do, and that’s put the national interest first,” Boehner said.
“We are not going to give up in our efforts to get this pipeline built – not even close. We pledged to make the people’s priorities our priorities, and we will keep working every day to deliver on that commitment.”
Sen. Barbara Boxer (D-Calif.), the ranking member on the Environment and Public Works Committee, applauded the president for just saying no to “Canadian special interests.”
“Reports have shown the pipeline project will increase the dangers of spills like the ones that occurred in Arkansas and Michigan, and will result in pollution that causes serious illnesses like asthma and increases in carbon pollution – the main cause of climate change,” Boxer said. “Instead of building this pipeline, which will only create 35 permanent jobs, the Republican leadership should immediately focus on passing a long-term transportation bill that will support millions of jobs.”
The chairman of the EPW committee, Sen. Jim Inhofe (R-Okla.), said Obama “denied Americans thousands of new, well-paying jobs and the opportunity to progress towards energy independence.”
“In my home state of Oklahoma on March 22, 2012, he acknowledged that America is producing ‘so much oil and gas in places like North Dakota and Colorado that we don’t have enough pipeline capacity to transport all of it.’ Today he confirmed this was just another campaign stump speech that he did not intend to back up with real solutions,” Inhofe said.
“I stand in strong support of a veto override vote. Congress must band together with the majority of Americans who support this job-creating initiative. The U.S. energy sector has faithfully provided over 9.2 million jobs to our economy, and it is unfortunate the president has failed to lead the way in standing for energy independence, national security, and a more robust economy.”
The bill passed the Senate 62-36 on Jan. 29 with one Republican (Marco Rubio) and one Democrat (Harry Reid) not voting. Nine Dems sided with the GOP in that vote.
Sen. John Hoeven (R-N.D.), sponsor of the bill, said he’d “continue to work with my colleagues in Congress to try and gain the support necessary to override the veto.”
“Another option is to attach this legislation to other energy, infrastructure or appropriations legislation that the President won’t want to veto,” Hoeven said. “The will of the American people and Congress is clear.”
My colleague, Bridget Johnson, just beat me to the punch on this one, but still a few things are worth adding. Such as: what the hell is wrong with these people? Are they psychotic? Or simply typical Democrats, i.e. habitual liars?
Veterans Affairs Secretary Robert McDonald apologized Monday for misstating that he served in the military’s special forces. McDonald made the erroneous claim while speaking to a homeless veteran during a segment that aired last month on “CBS Evening News.”
In a statement released Monday by the VA, McDonald said: “While I was in Los Angeles, engaging a homeless individual to determine his veteran status, I asked the man where he had served in the military. He responded that he had served in special forces. I incorrectly stated that I had been in special forces. That was inaccurate and I apologize to anyone that was offended by my misstatement.”
The VA website says McDonald is an Army veteran who served with the 82nd Airborne Division. The Huffington Post website, which first reported on McDonald’s mistake, noted Monday that the 82nd is not considered part of special forces.
I’m calling B.S. on this one, big time. How do you “incorrectly state” you were in the special forces? You don’t. You lie. You lie the same way your boss, Obama, does in just about everything he says. You lie because there is no downside to your lying. You get to keep your cushy job. A day or two passes and the storm blows over; it’s just another one of those, “they all do it” stories. You get away with it.
This is how a republic dies. And the rot starts from the top.
The secretary of Veterans Affairs faced the press outside of the department moments ago to apologize for claiming to have served in the Special Forces.
Robert McDonald, who took over the troubled department in July, was touring VA facilities in Los Angeles last month when he stopped to speak to a homeless veteran. The man told McDonald that he had served in Special Forces.
“Special Forces? What years?” McDonald responded. “I was in Special Forces.” The exchange was captured by a CBS News crew and his claim was called out yesterday by the Huffington Post.
McDonald, who retired from Proctor & Gamble before being selected by Obama, is a graduate of West Point and served as a captain in the Army for five years, with most of his time in the 82nd Airborne.
His message today? “I have no excuse.”
“We at VA are working hard to restore trust and again I apologize for those who may have been offended by my misstatement,” McDonald said.
“My biggest motivation was to connect with the veteran,” he said when asked why he would make that statement, reminding reporters that at his first national press conference he gave out his cell phone number for veterans to call. “My whole purpose in this job is to try to connect with veterans and better serve veterans.”
“I made a mistake and I apologized for it,” he added. “…I was talking to a homeless veteran … what I said was not on my mind at the time.”
Asked what he’d say to offended Special Forces veterans, the secretary replied, “I apologize to them.”
“What you do when you connect with veterans is try to find common ground,” he said, adding that no one would find him claiming to be Special Forces in any of his corporate or government bios. “Integrity has been one of the foundations of my character.”
Asked if he thinks he should step down: “I want to serve veterans.”
In a statement before the press conference, the American Legion called out McDonald on the lie.
“In an effort to bond with a homeless veteran, Secretary McDonald told him he was in the Special Forces,” National Commander Michael D. Helm said. “He did complete Ranger training and served honorably with the Army’s 82nd Airborne Division. But a lie is a lie.”
“I can’t believe people do this,” Helm continued. “What a disappointment from the leader of a department whose number one issue right now is the restoration of trust. He should be held to a higher standard. The secretary has apologized, as he certainly should. We hope that he can restore the trust that he lost.”
White House press secretary Josh Earnest called McDonald “somebody who understands firsthand about why what he said about his service was wrong and that certainly is why it was appropriate for him to apologize.”
“But there is no reason to think that the mistake that he made should interfere with his ability to continue to lead the fight for our veterans and to continue to implement the kinds of reforms at the VA that are still critical to making sure that our veterans are getting the benefits that they deserve,” Earnest said.