A picture is worth a million words. Because, deep down, you know he means it:
To see the original tweet, check out @TheDemocrats twitter feed.
A picture is worth a million words. Because, deep down, you know he means it:
To see the original tweet, check out @TheDemocrats twitter feed.
If you ever needed an example of the provincialism of the New York-based media, Donald Trump is it. A perennial clown who periodically threatens to run for president but somehow never does, Trump commands an inordinate amount of attention from the Manhattan media. No matter how stupid his utterances, they insist on treating him seriously, even as they know they are being played:
Billionaire Donald Trump continues to tease a potential presidential run. Appearing on Fox News Wednesday evening, Trump reiterated he will announce in June what his intentions are in regards to 2016. “I’m gearing up and we’ll see what happens,” Trump said on “The Kelly File.”
The “Apprentice” star said he wants to make America “great again.” “I want to make the country great again,” he said. “This country is a hellhole. We are going down fast.”
To read some of The Donald’s other brilliant political insights and policy prescriptions, click on the link above. And don’t miss this as well. The late humor magazine Spy was right when it habitually referred to him as a “short-fingered vulgarian.”
Two men arrested by the FBI on suspicion of terrorism in Southern California were charged Friday with conspiring to support ISIS after agents tapping their phones heard them saying it would be “a blessing to fight for the cause of Allah,” according to prosecutors. Nader Elhuzayel, 24, from Anaheim, was arrested at the Los Angeles International Airport with a one-way ticket to Tel Aviv, with a stop in Istanbul, Turkey, according to a criminal complaint filed in the Central District of California.
Elhuzayel admitted to agents after his arrest that he had no intention to continue to Israel but planned to “travel to the Islamic State, pledge allegiance to ISIL (ISIS), and defend ISIL against attackers,” according to the complaint. Investigators have also found that Elhuzayel expressed his support on social media for Elton Simpson, one of the two men killed in a shootout with police after trying to attack an event in Garland, Texas, earlier this month, the complaint said. Elhuzayel lauded the attempted attack on Twitter and said Simpson was a martyr, according to the complaint. Neither suspect is accused of plotting attacks in the U.S.
In the meantime, the borders remain open, “immigrants” continue to flock in, etc.
Alarmed about the growing threat from Islamic State, the Obama administration has dramatically stepped up warnings of potential terrorist attacks on American soil after several years of relative calm. Behind the scenes, U.S. authorities have raised defenses at U.S. military bases, put local police forces on alert and increased surveillance at the nation’s airports, railroads, shopping malls, energy plants and other potential targets.
Driving the unease are FBI arrests of at least 30 Americans on terrorism-related charges this year in an array of “lone wolf” plots, none successful, but nearly all purportedly inspired by Islamic State propaganda or appeals. The group’s leader, Abu Bakr Baghdadi, drove home the danger in a 34-minute audio recording released online Thursday. He urged Muslims everywhere to “migrate to the Islamic State or fight in his land, wherever that may be.”
Recall, this is the jayvee.
U.S. counter-terrorism officials initially viewed Islamic State as primarily a regional security threat, focused on expanding and protecting its self-proclaimed Islamist caliphate in Syria and Iraq, rather than launching attacks abroad. But the analysis has shifted sharply as gunmen inspired by the group, but not controlled or assisted by them, opened fire at the Parliament in Ottawa; at a cafe in Sydney, Australia; at a kosher grocery in Paris; and, on May 3, in Garland, Texas.
Meanwhile, brave Sir Barry launches pinprick strikes on ISIS and thinks he’s winning the war. Not that his minions entirely agree with him:
The United States has entered a “new phase, in my view, in the global terrorist threat,” Jeh Johnson, director of Homeland Security, said Friday on MSNBC. ”We have to be concerned about the independent actor, and the independent actor who is here in the homeland who may strike with little or no warning,” he said. “The nature of the global terrorist threat has evolved.”
And yet, the borders stay open, the “migrants” continue to flock in, innocent Americans are spied upon by their government, and the president hasn’t missed a round of golf in years.
While Obama’s 60-nation coalition dithers, Syrian Kurdish fighters of the YPG (People’s Protection Units) are making gains against the Islamic State (aka Daesh). In a two-week long offensive, they routed the jihadis, retaking dozens of Christian villages and towns.
Via the Voice of America, Kurdish Service reporter Zana Omer was on the frontlines in Tal Shamiran to talk with with the YPG fighters. Jordan Matson, an American volunteer who has been in Northeastern Syria fighting with the YPG since September of 2014, said, “we’re here cleaning out the last Assyrian villages. There was some minimal resistance, but we had enough forces to push through, today.”
The 28-year-old Matson is a U.S. Army vet who volunteered to join the Kurds in the fight against ISIS when he saw all of the gains that had been made in Iraq crumble away.
“I decided that if my government wasn’t going to do anything to help this country, especially Kurdish people who stood by us for 10 years and helped us out while we were in this country, then I was going to do something,” Matson said last fall.
He has vowed that he will not return home to Wisconsin “until the fight is finished and [the Islamic State] is crippled.”
Jordan Matson is among “dozens” of foreign fighters from Europe and America who have joined the Kurdish militia in the fight against ISIS. Unfortunately, some 20,000 foreigners have joined the Islamic State according to the State Department.
In an appearance on Hannity earlier this week, Matson complained about the low-watt U.S. bombing campaign. “They’re dragging this out – we could have ended this a long time ago,” he said.
He said that the way things are going, now, the fight will continue for a long time because the U.S. has limited itself to just doing bomb strikes, but with no one on the ground to help mark the targets.
“There’s so much more we could be doing to make these bombs more accurate,” he said.
Senator Rand Paul is not my first choice for the GOP nomination next year, but you have to give the man props for sticking it to his fellow Kentuckian, the loathsome Mitch McConnell:
The sleepy United States senators thought they were done voting. But then, around 1 a.m. on the Saturday before Memorial Day, Senator Rand Paul, Republican of Kentucky and presidential candidate, marched spryly to the Senate floor to let it be known that, no, he would not agree to extend the federal government’s bulk collection of phone records program. Not even for one day.
With that, Senator Mitch McConnell, a fellow Kentucky Republican who only a few hours before was ebullient with the passage of a major trade package, was reduced to ordering his colleagues back to Washington next Sunday to try again to prevent the act from expiring.
The unexpected legislative collapse on the Senate floor, and Mr. McConnell’s morose departure, pointed up the quandary that has emerged since Republicans took control. They have had successes, like passage of the hard-fought bill that could pave the way to the largest trade agreement in a generation and a bill to give Congress a voice in the Iran nuclear negotiations. And more senators are allowed to try to influence legislation through amendments, which Mr. McConnell’s Democratic predecessor as majority leader, Senator Harry Reid of Nevada, prevented.
But as senators raced for the airport on Saturday after a six-week session that ended in disarray, they left behind a wreck of promises made by Mr. McConnell on how a renewed Senate would operate. Mr. McConnell has found himself vexed by Democratic delaying tactics he honed in the minority, five presidential aspirants with their own agendas and a new crop of conservative firebrands demanding their say.
Gee, that’s too damn bad. The odious McConnell, whose defeat everyone should have been rooting for in his re-election bid last fall, has double-crossed conservatives time and again, and if Sen. Paul is making his life miserable, good for Sen. Paul. But, hey — it’s not like the loathsome McConnell doesn’t have some friends and allies. Here’s one now:
With another Republican presidential aspirant, Senator Lindsey Graham of South Carolina, visibly rolling his eyes, Mr. Paul and his allies took to the Senate floor around 1 a.m. Saturday to object to a series of brief extensions proposed for the Patriot Act: seven days, four days, two days, even one day. That bit of theatrics came in large part because Mr. McConnell’s vaunted restoration of the committee process had so badly broken down.
Translation from New York Times-speak into English: the Republicans can’t govern!
Happy Memorial Day weekend, everyone! pic.twitter.com/TMBSu187Pb
— The Democrats (@TheDemocrats) May 22, 2015
Here are a couple of responses:
— Jake Tapper (@jaketapper) May 23, 2015
Your party commemorates Memorial Day with a guy who never served eating ice cream? What the hell is wrong with you? https://t.co/GYARQQ7Woo
— jon gabriel (@exjon) May 23, 2015
Top aides to former U.S. Secretary of State Hillary Clinton fretted over how she would be portrayed after the 2012 Benghazi attacks that killed the U.S. ambassador to Libya and three other Americans, emails released on Friday showed.
The emails also showed Clinton received information on her personal email account about the Benghazi attacks that was classified “secret” by the FBI just prior to their release.
OK, it was her staff expressing concern in the emails, but after two decades of watching this woman in action, I think it is probably safe to infer that they were reflecting the boss’s angst.
The excuses du jour for the classified items are that it was “only a couple of sentences” and it wasn’t classified at the time, neither of which mean anything. The point is that she shouldn’t have been using a private server anyway.
The Clintons are so practiced at not getting caught when violating the law (think Al Capone with a better accountant) that I have no doubt that anything remotely incriminating was long ago removed from the emails by Mrs. Bill’s little “fixers”.
The best hope for the future of the Republic is that the press gets angry enough at being shut out that Team Hillary will give her a little more face time with the public, which rarely works out well for the Missus.
Cuyahoga Common Pleas Judge John P. O’Donnell ruled on Saturday that white Cleveland police officer Michael Brelo is not guilty of two charges of voluntary manslaughter in the shooting deaths of two black individuals after a police chase in November of 2012. O’Donnell, a Democrat who lost his election for a spot on the Ohio Supreme Court last year, ruled that although Brelo did fire lethal shots at Timothy Russell and Malissa Williams other officers also fired fatal shots, so he could not find beyond a reasonable doubt that Brelo’s bullets — and no others — killed Williams and Russell. Police officers fired 137 rounds at the car, including 49 by Officer Brelo. O’Donnell, who spent nearly an hour methodically explaining his 35-page opinion, also found Brelo not guilty of the charge of felonious assault, ruling that Brelo’s decision to use force was “constitutionally reasonable,” despite the fact that there was no gun found in the vehicle. His “perceptions were objectively reasonable,” said O’Donnell, who found Brelo not guilty on all charges. The police chase that ended in the fatal shootings involved 62 police cruisers and 100 officers. More than 70 officers and supervisors were disciplined for their roles in the chase. Brelo was charged with voluntary manslaughter because prosecutors said his actions went beyond the use of reasonable force when he jumped onto the hood of Russell’s car and shot straight down at Russell and Williams, violating police protocols. The defense argued that Brelo feared for his life, believing that Russell and Williams had a gun and had fired shots. There has been much discussion in the Cleveland media in recent weeks about when the verdict would be released, anticipating that a not guilty verdict could spark potentially violent protests in the area. The city is also awaiting the results of the investigation into the shooting death of teenager Tamir Rice, who was shot by police after he was seen waving a pellet gun at a public park. Unlike the city of Ferguson, which released the results of the grand jury decision in the Michael Brown shooting on a Monday night, just before dark, Cleveland chose a Saturday morning at 10:00 a.m. on a holiday weekend when downtown is relatively empty to make this announcement. The Cavaliers, who are in the midst of a playoff run, have a home game tomorrow night and the Indians have afternoon games Saturday and Sunday, which the city certainly took into consideration when making this decision. The 4:10 p.m. Indians game is scheduled to go on as planned. The city seems to be preparing for the worst with the National Guard on standby. My husband works for a major employer in downtown Cleveland and we just received a call from the emergency response center informing us about the outcome of the trial and saying that for now, all offices remain open, but employees should be prepared for changes. In the 15 years my husband has been employed there, the only time I recall receiving a call through this system was when the company closed for extreme weather. One high school that had its prom planned at the Cleveland Convention Center has moved the event to another location. There are scattered protests around the city, and police have closed some roads near the Justice Center. The protests have thus far been peaceful, though larger crowds are beginning to gather and block roads in the area. Cleveland Mayor Frank Jackson, who is black, said in a press conference this afternoon, ”My expectation… was that it would be a very difficult, uphill battle to get a conviction.” Asked if he was disappointed in the verdict Jackson said, “I’m the mayor, so I will maintain mayoral posture regarding whether I’m disappointed or not.” Police Chief Calvin Williams, also black, announced that ”Officer Brelo will remain on unpaid suspension from Cleveland police,” pending internal review. Jackson said, “We fully expect that people will express their dissatisfaction with the verdict.” Former state representative Nina Turner responded on Twitter, expressing her disappointment and calling for protests:
Cheryl Mills, who was the State Department’s counselor and chief of staff during the entirety of Hillary Clinton’s tenure, said in an email on November 13, 2012, that her colleagues were “on board” after a “come to” (Jesus?) meeting, in reference to classified congressional hearings that would be taking place later that week. Her correspondent was Philippe Reines, a longtime aide to Hillary Clinton who had asked how the “hearings”were going (perhaps meaning “briefings”?) The classified hearings were on the 15th and 16th.
Of the newly released batch of Hillary Clinton emails, this one seems to be the most significant.
Cheryl Mills getting folks “on board.” pic.twitter.com/ARjXU1raFE
— John Sexton (@verumserum) May 22, 2015
Mills, who is up to her waist in the Benghazi affair, is on the House Benghazi Select Committee Chairman Trey Gowdy’s witness list to testify before the committee or commit to a transcribed interview.
Also on the list are Huma Abedin, Sidney Blumenthal, Susan Rice and Ben Rhodes.
Some other interesting emails include one from HRC herself linking to an article alleging that the anti-Mohammed video was produced by a “right-wing extremist.”
On 9/12/12, Hillary sends link on “Meet the Right-Wing Extremist Behind the Anti-Muslim Film” pic.twitter.com/cKYuaSg8ro
— Jamie Dupree (@jamiedupree) May 22, 2015
The article was written, incidentally, by Sid “Vicious” Blumenthal’s slimy son – the lefty smear merchant Max Blumenthal.
More good stuff collected by Allahpundit at Hot Air.
An Atlanta man turned the tables on his would-be carjacker, holding him at gunpoint until police arrived to arrest the assailant.
Hashim Fannin, the car owner, says the attempted carjacking occurred just after he had pulled into a parking spot at the Family Dollar on Marietta Boulevard in northwest Atlanta earlier this month.
Fannin says the
man slipped into the passenger’s seat when his doors automatically unlocked.
“He told me,
‘You know what this is,’ ” Fannin said. That is when Fannin says he pulled his gun out.
“I asked him to get out the car, probably not in those exact words,” Fannin said.
“I told him no, there’s no leaving, leaving was before you hopped into my car … at this point there is not leaving,” Fannin said.
Fannin kept the 61-year-old carjacker, Edgar Horn, face down in the store parking lot, berating him until authorities arrived.
“You were not trying to rob me,” Fannin said to the man on cellphone video of the incident. “Do you just get into random people’s cars … you thought I was your friend … you thought I was your friend … so you woke up stupid this morning?”
When police arrived, you can see Fannin wave them over, and put his gun down. The police officer shakes his hand, before putting the suspect in handcuffs.
“Honestly, I look at it like this. That is one less guy I got to worry about bothering my mom when she’s out grocery shopping,” Fannin said.
Horn went to jail on charges of attempted robbery and entering a vehicle.
Featured image courtesy of Shutterstock / Brad Sauter
Poor Hillary Clinton. Her presidential campaign has barely begun and she already seems to need a break.
Today, at a campaign event in New Hampshire, she had a momentary lapse of memory.
— America Rising PAC (@AmericaRising) May 22, 2015
To be honest, minor gaffes like this are really not a big deal. All politicians occasionally misspeak.
Although it is absurd that this Queen of cronyism – who has a net worth of up to $50 million – would be denouncing how “the deck is being stacked” for those on the top.
More interesting to me is how the MSM will handle Hillary’s gaffes. Will only the conservative media cover them, or will the anti-Clinton faction of the MSM kick into high gear every time she makes a boo boo — like they would if she were a Republican?
President Obama lectured Jews on Jewish values. Apparently he thinks being exterminated is a key Jewish value.
— Ben Shapiro (@benshapiro) May 22, 2015
Let’s make one thing perfectly clear: This Friday, hours before Shabbat is set to begin and one day before the holiday of Shavuot starts, President Obama walked into a D.C. synagogue and proceeded to tell Jews that their religious texts and traditions compel them to give away Israeli land for the creation of a Palestinian state.
That’s some big, clanging brass you-know-whats on display right there. It’s one thing to use a prayer breakfast to rip Christians a new one. Would he have the guts to walk into a church and do the same thing, hours before a holy day, one day before a holiday no less? Are we Jews that nice? That pathetic? Do we give the impression of being such pushovers that we turn our pulpits over to world leaders who crap on our identity and manipulate our covenant with God to suit their own personal political agendas?
There is no doubt that Obama created Jewish American Heritage Month and participated in today’s keynote event simply to smooth over his relationship with the Jewish American community in the wake of his aggressive negotiations with Iran and the Gulf states. We are no longer the fiddlers. We are merely the fiddles being played by a political performer who has no problem proclaiming that he knows us better than we know ourselves.
On Shavuot we will celebrate the giving of the Torah at Mount Sinai. It is, in effect, the anniversary of our entering into our covenant with God. This is the very holiday that marks the making of us as a people. A key element of that covenant is the land on which the nation of Israel is to be established. And today, 1,000 attendees at Adas Israel anxiously clapped away that promise in favor of the pervading moral relativism of the White House.
They aren’t bad Jews because they vote liberal. They aren’t bad Jews because they vote Obama. They are bad Jews, as we all are, for ignoring, belittling, dismissing, and forgetting the covenant we made with God. The covenant that crafted us into who we are and showed us what we could be. Come on, people. We’re better than that.
GOP hacks like the loathsome Mitch McConnell and Weepy John Boehner seem to think the GOP needs to show it can “govern” — by which they mean push various pieces of crappy legislation through their respective chambers — before voters will trust them with the keys to the White House. Meanwhile, the public keep screaming: STOP OBAMA!
The new Republican-led Congress is drawing harsh reviews from the public – including most Republicans. Just 23% of Americans say congressional Republicans are keeping the promises they made during last fall’s campaign, while 65% say they are not. Nearly four-in-ten (37%) say the new Congress has accomplished less than they expected, while 4% say it has accomplished more than expected. About half (53%) say its accomplishments are in line with what they expected.
On both measures, the public’s views are far more negative than they were of the Democratic-led Congress in March 2007, after the Democrats regained control of both chambers following several years of Republican control. Views are also much more negative than they were in April 1995, shortly after the GOP had gained control of the House and Senate for the first time in four decades.
The new national survey by the Pew Research Center, conducted May 12-18 among 2,002 adults, finds that just 22% approve of the job performance of Republican congressional leaders, little changed since the summer of 2011. Ratings for Democratic congressional leaders are somewhat better (33% approve).
Ha ha ha ha ha! Suckers! The Permanent Bipartisan Fusion Party doesn’t care. And certainly not the wing led by the twin dullards, McConnell and Boehner, men of limited intelligence and zero imagination. But then, that’s what happens when politics becomes a profession: it becomes all about process.
Senate Republicans remain divided today as the clock on the Patriot Act is about to run out. The Patriot Act, particularly controversial surveillance dragnet section 215, is set to sunset on June 1 while lawmakers are on a holiday recess.
Currently, there are several options on the table:
1. Re-authorize the Patriot Act.
2.. Pass the USA Freedom Act, which is a watered-down version of the Patriot Act without the government surveillance dragnet. Instead, the telecoms would retain the data and turn it over to the government on an as-needed basis.
3. Pass a temporary extension of the Patriot Act.
4. Do nothing and let the Patriot Act sunset.
The House has already passed the USA Freedom Act and left town for their vacation/recess.
The USA Freedom Act has support from the majority of the Senate, including the Democrats. The Hill writes, “it remains unclear whether it has the 60 votes necessary to overcome procedural hurdles during what increasingly looks like a rare Memorial Day weekend session.”
The bill is supported by Senator Mike Lee (R-UT), who said last night, “We’re building momentum. We’re not there yet but there’s a path. We’re getting more and more support — getting closer to 60 every minute.”
The While House is pressuring Senate Republicans to act because they don’t want the bill to lapse entirely. “We’ve been making calls from the intelligence community, the law enforcement community and from the White House,” one senior administration official said. “There’s been no dearth of effort to try and provide folks information and answer their questions.”
It’s not clear McConnell has the votes to pass a two-month extension. Most Democrats would oppose such a measure and a handful of Republicans as well. If there is no resolution to the effort, the NSA will start shutting down its snooping operation. “It’s a very complex program,” the senior administration official said. “If there’s uncertainty about whether that’s going to be able to go forward in a reformed form, the NSA has to responsibly begin dismantling and unwinding that program and they have to begin that work now.”
Some senators and the House leadership have some tricks up their sleeves so keep your eye on the government today because they want to keep their eye on you.
From Politico: “The senator who wants to keep an investor dispute process out of the Pacific trade deal was an expert witness in the same kind of case 15 years ago.”
Elizabeth Warren is trying to kill President Barack Obama’s trade agenda by raising the specter that foreign companies could use an investor-friendly arbitration system to circumvent the U.S. court system. But she hasn’t discussed her own role 15 years ago in the arbitration system she opposes — as a paid expert witness earning as much as $90,000 from the U.S. government.
The Massachusetts senator is waging her fight against Obama’s free-trade deals by seizing on a legal procedure, commonly contained in such trade pacts, that lets companies demand damages when their investments suffer because of a foreign government’s actions. She and other critics say the process undermines the rights of governments to regulate, besides enriching a small group of corporate lawyers who specialize in the disputes at taxpayers’ expense.
It’s a process she knows from the inside: In 1999 and 2000, the Justice Department paid Warren between $200 to $400 an hour to serve as an expert witness against a Canadian funeral home operator called Loewen Group that was seeking $725 million from the U.S. under the North American Free Trade Agreement. Her role in the case, NAFTA’s first major test of the procedure known as investor-state dispute settlement, has gotten little public attention — even as Warren has made ISDS her main line of attack against the sprawling Asia-Pacific trade deal that Obama is seeking.
“She was paid and took money to be an expert for the U.S. government,” said Andrea Bjorklund, then a lawyer on the case for the State Department, “and did not appear to have any qualms about participating in this process that she now finds appalling.”
Incorrigible, shameless and disgusting. But somehow we knew that already, right?
Who cares what’s happening in Syria? You should:
e fate of one of the world’s most important archaeological treasures hangs in the balance after the Islamist militant group ISIS overwhelmed the historic city of Palmyra, also known as Tadmur. The city contains the ruins of what, according to UNESCO, “was one of the most important cultural centers of the ancient world” — an important Silk Road hub where East met West more 2,000 years ago. A World Heritage Site, Palmyra is heralded by experts as having some of the finest Roman-era ruins in existence.
“It makes Rome blush,” says Stephennie Mulder, an archaeologist and professor of Middle Eastern Studies at the University of Texas at Austin. “When you approach the site, it rises out of the desert like some sort of a mirage out of a fairy tale.”
The ancient city, which flourished in the 1st and 2nd centuries, has numerous historic structures. Among them: a 3,600-foot long colonnade, an agora (or marketplace), an amphitheater, an urban quarter, a series of tombs, a hilltop castle and the Temple of Bel (also spelled Ba’al), an important, cross-cultural religious site pagan site.
In addition to executing 17 people in the area, according to some accounts — including, quite possibly, children — the fear now is that ISIS, which has wreaked destruction on other important ruins sites, will now get around to tumbling a crown jewel.
Well, if past is prologue, of course they will. Islam cannot abide anything that came before it. What do the French think will happen to Chartres and Notre Dame? What do the Brits think will happen to St. Paul’s? Forget “religion” — expansionist Islam is a plague that must be stopped dead unless the world wants to lose its culture, its heritage and its soul.
The Clinton Foundation reported Thursday that it has received as much as $26.4 million in previously undisclosed payments from major corporations, universities, foreign sources and other groups. The disclosure came as the foundation faced questions over whether it fully complied with a 2008 ethics agreement to reveal its donors and whether any of its funding sources present conflicts of interest for Hillary Rodham Clinton as she begins her presidential campaign.
The money was paid as fees for speeches by Bill, Hillary and Chelsea Clinton. Foundation officials said the funds were tallied internally as “revenue” rather than donations, which is why they had not been included in the public listings of its contributors published as part of the 2008 agreement.
Isn’t it amazing how many Ivy League-educated Democrats can somehow make so many “mistakes” and “errors” out of “sloppiness”?
According to the new information, the Clintons have delivered 97 speeches to benefit the charity since 2002. Colleges and universities sponsored more than two dozen of these speeches, along with U.S. and overseas corporations and at least one foreign government, Thailand.
The payments were disclosed late Thursday on the organization’s Web site, with speech payments listed in ranges rather than specific amounts. In total, the payments ranged between $12 million and $26.4 million.
The paid appearances included speeches by former president Bill Clinton to the Nigerian ThisDay newspaper group for at least $500,000 and to the Beijing Huaduo Enterprise Consulting Company Ltd., an investment holding company that specializes in the natural gas market, for at least $250,000. Citibank paid at least $250,000 for a speech by Hillary Rodham Clinton.
The disclosures underscore how much the Clintons have leveraged their star power to draw more money not just for their personal enrichment but also for the benefit of their philanthropic work.
“Star power” — that’s one way to put it. Another way is that these grifters have leveraged Bill Clinton’s presidency into a source of infinite wealth at the American taxpayer’s expense. No White House, no money. No wonder candidates spend billions trying to win a job that pays a measly $400,000 a year: the fringe benefits are incredible. Meanwhile:
As first lady in the final year of the Clinton administration, Hillary Rodham Clinton endorsed a White House plan to give tax breaks to private foundations and wealthy charity donors at the same time the William J. Clinton Foundation was soliciting donations for her husband’s presidential library, recently released Clinton-era documents show. The blurred lines between the tax reductions proposed by the Clinton administration in 2000 and the Clinton Library’s fundraising were an early foreshadowing of the potential ethics concerns that have flared around the Clintons’ courting of corporate and foreign donors for their family charity before she launched her campaign for the 2016 Democratic presidential nomination.
White House documents in the Clinton Library reviewed by The Associated Press show Hillary Clinton and Bill Clinton were kept apprised about a tax reduction package that would have benefited donors, including those to his presidential library, by reducing their tax burden. An interagency task force set up by Bill Clinton’s executive order proposed those breaks along with deductions to middle-class taxpayers who did not itemize their returns. Federal officials estimated the plan would cost the U.S. government $14 billion in lost tax payments over a decade.
Federal law does not prevent fundraising by a presidential library during a president’s term. But in directly pushing the legislation while the Clinton Library was aggressively seeking donations, Hillary and Bill Clinton’s altruistic support for philanthropy overlapped with their interests promoting their White House years and knitting ties with philanthropic leaders. Hundreds of pages of documents contain no evidence that anyone in the Clinton administration warned anyone about potential ethics concerns or sought to minimize the White House’s active role in the legislation.
Hey, as long as they’re just “potential” ethics concerns, we’re good! And if you think the Clintons are bad, wait until you get a load of the Obamas after Hussein leaves office.
Some Republicans have floated support for putting birth control pills over the counter, but now two senators have put legislative muscle behind the effort.
Sens. Kelly Ayotte (R-N.H.) and Cory Gardner (R-Colo.) introduced the Allowing Greater Access to Safe and Effective Contraception Act, which aims to encourage manufacturers of contraceptives to file an application for a prescription-to-over-the-counter switch (Rx-to-OTC switch) by allowing priority review for their applications and waiving the FDA filing fee.
The incentives would be available for FDA-approved OTC contraceptives sold to adults 18 and older.
The bill would then repeal the Obamacare prohibition on the use of health savings accounts, medical savings accounts, and flexible spending accounts (FSAs) to purchase OTC drugs as well as repeal the ACA’s annual limits on FSA contributions.
Gardner voiced his support for OTC contraceptives in his winning battle against incumbent Sen. Mark Udall (D-Colo.) last fall. Udall tried to paint his challenger as anti-women’s rights.
“It’s time to allow women the ability to make their own decisions about safe, effective, and long-established methods of contraception,”Gardner said in a statement today. “Most other drugs with such a long history of safe and routine use are available for purchase over the counter, and contraception should join them.”
“Making this medication available over the counter would increase access in rural and underserved areas, save consumers money by increasing competition and availability, and save women time by increasing the ease of getting the safe contraception they need.”
Ayotte said the bill “will help increase women’s access to safe and effective contraceptives and further empower women to make their own healthcare decisions.”
“In addition, our bill restores the ability of Health Savings Accounts and Flexible Spending Accounts to be used to purchase over-the-counter medications, giving women more purchasing power,” she said.
Original co-sponsors are Sens. Joni Ernst (R-Iowa), Richard Burr (R-N.C.), Ron Johnson (R-Wis.), and Thom Tillis (R-N.C.).
Gardner argued in a June Denver Post op-ed that women should be able to buy the pill over the counter.
“Since ‘the pill’ was first approved 44 years ago, it’s been one of the most proven and tested pharmaceuticals of our time. It is safe, reliable, effective, and presents very few risks or complications for the more than 10 million women who use it. When other drugs have that kind of track record, we approve them for purchase without a prescription; the Food and Drug Administration has already reclassified over 100 different treatments. Name-brand drugs like Advil, Pepcid, Claritin, Prilosec and many others were once sold by prescription only, but moved to over-the-counter sale (OTC) once they’d been proven safe and unlikely to be abused,” he wrote.
“When treatments go over-the-counter, two things happen: they get dramatically cheaper and consumers save time and hassle by avoiding unnecessary doctors’ appointments just to get the pharmaceuticals they already know they need… Getting the politics out of contraception will improve the lives of women all over the country.”
He cited a 2012 committee recommendation by the American College of Obstetricians and Gynecologists that the pill be put over the counter.
After that guidance was issued, Louisiana Gov. Bobby Jindal threw his support behind OTC birth control.
“As a conservative Republican, I believe that we have been stupid to let the Democrats demagogue the contraceptives issue and pretend, during debates about health-care insurance, that Republicans are somehow against birth control. It’s a disingenuous political argument they make,” Jindal wrote in the Wall Street Journal.
“Contraception is a personal matter — the government shouldn’t be in the business of banning it or requiring a woman’s employer to keep tabs on her use of it. If an insurance company or those purchasing insurance want to cover birth control, they should be free to do so. If a consumer wants to buy birth control on her own, she should be free to do so.”
Sen. Pat Toomey (R-Pa.) has implored President Obama to reconsider his decision on blocking some surplus military equipment from police departments, arguing he could be putting officers’ lives at risk.
Obama announced this week new policies on equipment that is donated by the federal government to state and local law enforcement agencies. Complaints about militarized police came after the riots and protests in Ferguson, Mo.
“You know, we’ve seen how militarized gear can sometimes give people a feeling like there’s an occupying force as opposed to a force that’s part of the community that’s protecting them and serving them. It can alienate and intimidate local residents and send the wrong message,” Obama said.
In a letter to Obama today, Toomey said he didn’t object to the inclusion of some items on the banned list. “After all, we are unlikely to hear many complaints over a ban on bayonets, given that our military has not led a bayonet charge since the Korean War,” he wrote.
“But many of the listed items are purely defensive, such as riot helmets, riot shields, and armored personal transport vehicles. They are surplus Department of Defense items that the federal government will not use, and therefore donates to local police departments. After the riots in Baltimore, Ferguson, and New York City, where protesters torched police cars and hurled bricks, cement blocks, and glass bottles at law enforcement, why would we make it harder to send riot gear that would otherwise sit unused to unprotected police officers across the country?” he continued.
“I would not want a police officer to respond to the recent gang shoot-out at Waco, Texas—which killed nine and wounded 18—without ready access to full protective equipment, including, if needed, an armored vehicle. And armored vehicles were essential in providing protection and transportation to law enforcement in the aftermath of the Boston Marathon bombing.”
Toomey said the report of Obama’s working group on police militarization “treats the need to save police lives as something to be weighed against—and sacrificed to—the desire to prevent distrust or discomfort on the part of others.”
“What ‘wrong message’ is sent by allowing law enforcement access to purely defensive equipment such as riot helmets and riot shields? Such equipment sends the message that rioters might have a hard time if their objective is to injure police officers,” the senator wrote. “And in the event that some do get a ‘wrong message,’ how does that concern outweigh saving the lives of police? How many police lives are we willing to sacrifice? One? Twenty? One hundred? We just observed National Police Week and honored those whose names were added to the wall at the National Law Enforcement Officers Memorial. How many more names must we add to that wall before we decide that protecting police lives must be a paramount consideration?”
“I am also deeply concerned that your Working Group bought into a false narrative about law enforcement—one that paints America’s police officers as the cause of unrest and violence, as opposed to the brave defense against it.”
Toomey noted that the working group didn’t “cite a single instance of local police misusing federal equipment; it just assumes that police will regard new equipment as an opportunity to abuse their power.”
“This is insulting to our law enforcement officers—the vast majority of whom are honest, hardworking men and women motivated solely by the desire to protect and serve, and who do not have a racist bone in their body,” he added.
President Obama told The Atlantic that ISIS is not winning, but “the training of Iraqi security forces, the fortifications, the command-and-control systems are not happening fast enough in Anbar, in the Sunni parts of the country.”
“I don’t think we’re losing,” Obama said. “There’s no doubt there was a tactical setback, although Ramadi had been vulnerable for a very long time, primarily because these are not Iraqi security forces that we have trained or reinforced.”
Obama spoke with Jeffrey Goldberg on Tuesday, after the fall of Ramadi and well into the White House spin operation on the ISIS gain.
“I know that there are some in Republican quarters who have suggested that I’ve overlearned the mistake of Iraq, and that, in fact, just because the 2003 invasion did not go well doesn’t argue that we shouldn’t go back in,” he said. “And one lesson that I think is important to draw from what happened is that if the Iraqis themselves are not willing or capable to arrive at the political accommodations necessary to govern, if they are not willing to fight for the security of their country, we cannot do that for them.”
Obama also assured the magazine that the Iran nuclear deal will be good because of his “personal interest in locking this down.”
“Look, 20 years from now, I’m still going to be around, God willing,” he said. “If Iran has a nuclear weapon, it’s my name on this.”
He also contested Goldberg’s suggestion that the anti-Semitic regime in Iran is not a rational negotiating partner.
“Well the fact that you are anti-Semitic, or racist, doesn’t preclude you from being interested in survival,” Obama said. “It doesn’t preclude you from being rational about the need to keep your economy afloat; it doesn’t preclude you from making strategic decisions about how you stay in power; and so the fact that the supreme leader is anti-Semitic doesn’t mean that this overrides all of his other considerations. You know, if you look at the history of anti-Semitism, Jeff, there were a whole lot of European leaders—and there were deep strains of anti-Semitism in this country—”
Goldberg interjected that European anti-Semitic leaders had, indeed, made irrational decisions.
“They may make irrational decisions with respect to discrimination, with respect to trying to use anti-Semitic rhetoric as an organizing tool. At the margins, where the costs are low, they may pursue policies based on hatred as opposed to self-interest. But the costs here are not low, and what we’ve been very clear [about] to the Iranian regime over the past six years is that we will continue to ratchet up the costs, not simply for their anti-Semitism, but also for whatever expansionist ambitions they may have,” Obama retorted.
“That’s what the sanctions represent. That’s what the military option I’ve made clear I preserve represents. And so I think it is not at all contradictory to say that there are deep strains of anti-Semitism in the core regime, but that they also are interested in maintaining power, having some semblance of legitimacy inside their own country, which requires that they get themselves out of what is a deep economic rut that we’ve put them in, and on that basis they are then willing and prepared potentially to strike an agreement on their nuclear program.”
Obama also said that the African-American experience has a parallel to Israel’s right to exist. “There’s a direct line between supporting the right of the Jewish people to have a homeland and to feel safe and free of discrimination and persecution, and the right of African Americans to vote and have equal protection under the law,” he said. “These things are indivisible in my mind.”
“…I consistently received overwhelming majority support from the Jewish community, and even after all the publicity around the recent differences that I’ve had with Prime Minister Netanyahu, the majority of the Jewish American community still supports me, and supports me strongly.”
Obama appeared in the Oval Office today with Tunisian President Beji Caid Essebsi, but did not take any questions from the media.
He’s scheduled to deliver remarks at Congregation Adas Israel in D.C. tomorrow for Jewish American Heritage Month.
House Minority Leader Nancy Pelosi (D-Calif.) told reporters today that when she visited Cuba in February officials were under the impression that President Obama can lift the congressional embargo.
“I think that the president made the right decision to remove Cuba from the terrorist — it changes its name all the time — terrorist countries of concern; rogue nation — what — whatever that list is, I think he made the right decision to take Cuba off of that list because they are not engaged in the activities that would warrant them being on it,” Pelosi said at a wide-ranging press conference.
Congress had 45 days from the point of Obama’s decision to remove Cuba from the list to oppose the move; that deadline is May 29.
“I don’t see anything that could be accomplished by May 29th to overturn the president’s decision in that regard,” Pelosi said.
“In terms of the — I almost said blockade. Because when we were in Cuba, they kept calling it a blockade. That’s — it’s not a blockade. It’s a — it’s an embargo. A blockade is different. But they kept calling it that,” she continued. “There was some sentiment by some of the leaders that we met with in Cuba that the president had the authority to lift the embargo. He does not. That is an act of Congress that requires an act of Congress.”
“I have not myself been involved in any of the activities to lift the embargo, but I would certainly be very supportive of them as they — as they materialize, because it is really important for us to lift it.”
A fourth round of talks between State Department and Cuban officials resumed today in Havana.
“I hope, though, on the part of Cuba, that it’s not a requirement to normalizing relations with — with the United States,” Pelosi said of the embargo. “It’s something that normalizing relations could lead to, lifting the embargo. But it’s a relic that has not been useful, and has certainly — it’s time for the embargo to go.”
House Speaker John Boehner (R-Ohio), who got the press room after Pelosi’s news conference, said it’s not time to remove the embargo.
“And from what I’ve watched over the last two or three months, when it comes to Cuba, the administration keeps giving and giving and giving. But the Castro brothers are giving — are doing nothing,” Boehner said.
“And when you look at their record of human rights violations and you look at how they’ve run their economy into the ground, it’s time for them to come forward. There are conversations in the House about what we can do to stop the president’s actions.”
Boehner said he had a meeting this week “with a group of members who were interested in stopping this progression toward normal relations with Cuba, until such time as they begin to make serious changes in terms of the way they run their country.”
The first kick in the gut came in January of 2014 — when the “JV team” took Fallujah. Since then, they’ve been falling like dominoes — one Iraqi city after another. Remember that almost 4,500 U.S. troops paid the ultimate sacrifice during the eight-year war.
Now that ISIS has planted its black and white flag in the center of Ramadi, veterans of the bloody battles that were fought to stabilize the city are expressing anger and frustration at the way the current administration has allowed the country to unravel.
The Stars and Stripes interviewed some of those disillusioned vets.
“It’s pretty disturbing,” said Thomas Daly, 32, who served in Ramadi as a Marine first lieutenant from 2006 to 2007.
Daly, the author of the Iraq memoir “Rage Company,” still holds out hope that the Iraqi military and tribesmen can take back Ramadi with American help. But he fears that if things in don’t turn around, those who fought in Iraq will feel like their Vietnam veteran brethren, many of whom say their friends died for nothing.
“It degrades the sacrifice of those who were killed and wounded,” Daly said.
In an echo of the last war in Iraq, the White House and Pentagon have put out relentlessly upbeat battlefield assessments of their efforts to roll back the Islamic State, even as militants take territory and Iraqi Army units crumble. On Friday, a Marine general insisted the Islamic State is “losing,” and on Saturday, it was confirmed that Ramadi, just 70 miles from Baghdad, had fallen. The news got worse this week with reports that Iraqi soldiers fled the city rather than defend it.
Ramadi, along with Fallujah — another city infamous for violence — lie in Anbar province, where more than 1,300 U.S. troops lost their lives during the Iraq War.
Some veterans expressed horror at the possible fate of the Iraqis who joined the so-called Awakening, when Sunni tribesman, some who once worked with insurgents, joined the Americans in a reversal that turned the tide in the war.
“In reality, there’s good people there who are dying because we abandoned them,” said Joshua Revak, a former Army specialist who was wounded by a mortar in Ramadi in 2006 that killed his friend and roommate, Sgt. Terry Lisk.
Daly, who worked with Awakening members and has kept in touch with some since leaving Iraq, said they painted a grim picture of events as the Islamic State moved in. One leader he worked with was kidnapped and burned alive, and the last tribesman he was in touch with went silent two weeks ago — he still doesn’t know his fate.
“It’s just depressing, man — I mean, how can you let that happen?” Daly said.
Many troops took to social media, and some penned opinion columns to lament the loss.
“Thinking and hearing about it. … I have tears in my eyes, our brothers and sisters we lost, for what,” one person posted on the Facebook page of Veterans of Ramadi, Iraq. “Yes we did our best and we did one hell of a job but it feels like only those who were there care and no one else does, not our government, our neighbors, media and in part the world.”Another posted, “It sickens and saddens me to know that all of the brave men and women who lost their lives in the defense of the city did it all in vain. Just so ISIS can take it away.”
The troops’ anger and resentment were further stoked by National Security Advisor Susan Rice, who spoke Tuesday night at a German Embassy photography exhibit of soldiers wounded in combat.
Via Foreign Policy:
“Now that we have ended two wars responsibly, and brought home hundreds of American troops, we salute this new generation of veterans,” Rice told the audience of about 150 people who were seated between the hauntingly beautiful mural-sized portraits of severely disabled veterans.
Such a description of the U.S. military departure from Iraq in 2011 — when American forces left after failing to negotiate a security agreement to stay — raised eyebrows across the crowd that included active duty and former troops and officers, among them at least two generals and former Joint Chiefs Chairman Adm. Mike Mullen. “Responsibly, right?” one retired Army officer said sarcastically to FP’s Lara Jakes afterward.
Susan Rice, of course, is known for”raising eyebrows” with dubious statements. She famously appeared on five Sunday talk shows on September 16, 2012, to proclaim that the Benghazi debacle was the result of a “spontaneous demonstration” — not a premeditated terrorist attack. We now know that by September 16, the Obama administration knew that the attack was planned in advance. Last year, on another Sunday talk show, Rice claimed that Army deserter Bowe Bergdahl “served with honor and distinction.”
Now she’s peddling the fiction that the abandoning countries to terrorists is a responsible way to “end” a war.
It really is “pretty disturbing.”
Sen. Bernie Sanders (I-Vt.) didn’t join several Democrats who spoke on the Senate floor with Sen. Rand Paul (R-Ky.) yesterday in his 10.5-hour Patriot Act talkathon, but the Democratic presidential candidate made clear this morning he stands with Rand.
Paul finished his speech shortly before midnight, with his primary opponents present. Sen. Ted Cruz (R-Texas) was on the floor and Sen. Marco Rubio (R-Fla.) was presiding over the Senate, reading a copy of Foreign Affairs magazine.
Paul was essentially stalling the business Majority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-Ky.) wanted to get to, protesting what he said was not a fair debate and amendments process on the Patriot Act reauthorization.
“Let me just say this: you know, Rand Paul and I do not have a lot in common on a whole lot of issues, but I think on this issue, we’re coming from the same page,” Sanders told MSNBC.
“I worry very much about the United States moving rapidly into an Orwellian type of society. And, you know, it’s not just that the NSA is collecting virtually avenue phone call made in America, has access to the Web sites that you visit, the e-mails that you send. It’s the private sector knowing what books you’re buying, what food you’re eating, your medical records, banking records — this is really scary stuff. And technology has significantly outpaced legislative ability to protect our privacy,” he added.
Sanders voted against the original Patriot Act and subsequent reauthorizations. Section 215 of the law expires in June.
He called Sen. Pat Leahy’s (D-Vt.) USA Freedom Act “a step forward,” but “I don’t think it goes far enough.”
“There may be enough votes to say, we have got to take a thorough look at the issue of constitutional rights in this country. Look, everybody agrees that terrorism is a real threat. I certainly do. But I think we can protect the American people without undermining the Constitution and the privacy rights of our people,” Sanders added.
Regarding claims that his push for police body cameras is federalizing local law enforcement, Sen. Tim Scott (R-S.C.) said could be “nothing further than the truth.”
Scott testified this week before the Senate Judiciary Subcommittee on Crime and Terrorism, arguing that a police body cameras would protect both police and citizens and help build trust between communities and law enforcement.
He’ll be introducing legislation on the matter.
“I haven’t heard any of my Senate colleagues come forward and say they believe that the step forward of having body cameras available for law enforcement, local law enforcement, is in any way, shape or form federalizing local law enforcement,” Scott told CNN. “I would oppose, object and strongly stand in the way of federalizing local law enforcement. It’s the worst idea I have heard.”
Scott grew up in the city where Walter Scott, no relation, was running from police last month after a traffic stop and shot in the back. The officer was fired and faces murder charges.
“What this would is would provide funding for local law enforcement who are interested in having body-worn cameras, but cannot afford it,” the senator said of his bill.
“There are about 3,000 or 4,000 jurisdictions around the country that have already made the move in the direction of body cameras. There are some jurisdictions that cannot afford them. What I’m trying to do is make sure that the funding apparatus that could be available is available. And frankly I think it’s going to save more money than it actually costs.”
He said the Walter Scott shooting in his hometown “certainly had a lot to do with me taking a step forward and asking for the hearing that we had yesterday, now asking for the groups that have been part of the hearing process, the experts that have come into my office — we have had over a dozen groups have come in and talk about their concerns, whether it’s disclosure issues, whether it’s data retention, a lot of issues that we need to solve on our way to it.”
“Privacy is a big issue. And it should be a big issue. We should not rush into something. What I hope to see is the laboratory of America working on behalf of the citizens of the country. When you have that many jurisdictions moving forward with body cameras, you would think, three years from now, this is going to be the norm,” he continued. “What I’m trying to do is find the best practices around the country and make them available to other jurisdictions, without us as the federal government coming in and dictating, mandating or requiring anything, but other than having a funding apparatus.”
Scott said he’s “very excited about the fact that the sheriff’s associations that I have met with, the attorney general’s associations that I have met with, the mayors that I have met with all have the same comments.”
“Yes, this will probably be a very good tool for law enforcement officers. Let us talk first about the cost, the data retention, the disclosure issues, FOIA as well, as far as disclosure issues,” he said.
“And if we can overcome those obstacles, then we have a clear path. But everyone so far has agreed that body cameras would in fact lower complaints. One study’s come out that said they declared a 90 percent drop, 90 percent drop in complaints against officers and a 60 percent drop in the use of force. Everyone seems to act differently when they know they’re on video.”
Donald Trump said a Bloomberg poll that shows him viewed unfavorably by 68 percent of global investors, analysts and traders has no bearing on his presidential chances.
“I think that’s because nobody thinks I’m running. They don’t think I’m running. It’s really a funny thing. As you know, I came in, like, beat almost everybody in the New Hampshire Bloomberg poll, the same thing. Yet they don’t think I’m running. So we’ll see what happens. I mean, in June, I will announce one way or the other, and I think you may be surprised. Even you may be surprised. I’ll be announcing some time in June,” Trump told Fox last night.
In this month’s Bloomberg New Hampshire poll, Trump came in with 8 percent behind Rand Paul and Scott Walker tied at 12 percent, and Jeb Bush and Marco Rubio tied at 11 percent.
Trump called Bush “a reluctant warrior; I think he doesn’t want to be running.”
“I don’t know why he’s running. He looks unhappy. He looks like he doesn’t want to be there,” he added.
He also weighed in on the Muhammad cartoons controversy and shooting in Garland, Texas.
“I think Pam Geller is a terrible messenger. I think she’s terrible. We have enough problems without taunting and driving everybody crazy,” Trump said.
“Now, you look at Muhammad and you look at some of the positions they have Muhammad and some people are going to get extremely upset about it. Now, I’m not the only one and I’m not the only conservative Republican that feels this way. They’re lucky to be alive. Why with all the problems we have, why taunt?”
He called the fall of Ramadi and the Obama administration’s ISIS strategy “a total disaster.”
“We’re losing it so badly. They’re cutting off the heads of every Christian that they can find and other people,” Trump said. “You’re going to have to be stronger. You’re going to have to go in there much stronger. I’ll tell you one thing I’d do different, so they caught the accountant, they call him, a few days ago. Instead of talking about it, they should be silent. They’re bragging, oh, we got him. First, he was a mid-level person. And it was such publicity, we got him, we got him, one person. They should have been quiet and gone after others that weren’t suspected. You know, it’s very interesting I’m a big fan of General Douglas Macarthur, I’m a big fan of General George Patton. They don’t talk. They do.”
U.S. officials have said Abu Sayyaf, killed in a Special Forces raid in Syria, was equivalent to ISIS’ chief financial officer.
“I want to make the country great again,” Trump said. “This country is a hell-hole. We are going down fast and I’m a conservative but I have a big heart. I will take care of people, but a lot of people want me to run, and we’ll see what happens.”
Palmyra holds a dual significance to Syrians as being home to some of the world’s most celebrated ruins and one of the Assad regime’s most feared detention and torture facilities. Both, as it happens, will gain new prominence in the days ahead, as ISIS has just swept through the desert tableland, sacking its second city in the course of a week in which a few hundreds of its militants stormed Ramadi, the provincial capital of al-Anbar, largely uncontested by skedaddling Iraqi Security Forces. That sacking put ISIS in firm control of strategic foothold some 70 miles west of Baghdad, and well within striking distance of the Iraqi capital, where suicide and car bombings have spiked recently.
Similarly, the taking of Palmyra puts ISIS on a theoretically straight trajectory for mounting an incursion into Homs—once the cradle of Syria’s revolution and now mostly retaken by the Assad regime—and then possibly onto Damascus, where the terror organization had briefly conquered the Yarmouk Palestinian refugee camp last month. The loss of Palmyra is a clear threat to Syria’s cultural patrimony, consisting as it does of the standing remnants of 2,000 year-old temples and tombs, because of ISIS’s designation of “idolatrous” pre-Islamic art and architecture—or anything too big for ISIS to hawk on the black market—as worthy only of powdering.
Islam in action. But since Islamic “countries” — there are no Islamic countries, only member “states” of the ummah — make up a large percentage of the UN’s membership, absolutely nothing will be done about this latest act of Islamic cultural vandalism.
For now, Palmyra remains “calm,” but the mood is undeniable anxious. The departing army destroyed the electrical transformers, Omran said, bathing the ancient city in darkness. Batteries are being used to power computers, but Internet access is spotty. Another source of concern is regime propaganda after the withdrawal: State television has made false claims that Damascus evacuated all of Palmyra’s civilians before its men withdrew. “We’re worried that this was to lay the groundwork for an imminent bombing raid that will make no distinction between Daesh and us,” Omran said, using the derogatory Arabic word for ISIS.
Word on the street is that ISIS has already begun its barbarous counterintelligence work, claiming to have compiled a list of regime agents and sympathizers—a number that, in its view, includes opposition activists opposed to both Assad and ISIS. “The search is on for them,” Omran said.
How were the city’s some 50,000 residents coping, less than 24 hours into ISIS rule? “There’s almost no movement inside the city itself,” he said. “ISIS didn’t introduce a curfew yet, but there’s no one on the street, so you’d think there was one.” And the mood? “Some people have resigned to their fate,” Omran said. “Most of the key services have been shut down. The bakery has run out of flour. The regime shut the lights. People are fearful. They’re not sure what tomorrow holds.”
Death and more destruction is my guess.
And you thought the election of 2014 was about putting a stop to Obama’s rule! Suckers:
u need to tell me what’s wrong with this trade agreement, not one that was passed 25 years ago,” a frustrated President Barack Obama recently complained about criticisms of the Trans Pacific Partnership (TPP). He’s right. The public criticisms of the TPP have been vague. That’s by design—anyone who has read the text of the agreement could be jailed for disclosing its contents. I’ve actually read the TPP text provided to the government’s own advisors, and I’ve given the president an earful about how this trade deal will damage this nation. But I can’t share my criticisms with you.
I can tell you that Elizabeth Warren is right about her criticism of the trade deal. We should be very concerned about what’s hidden in this trade deal—and particularly how the Obama administration is keeping information secret even from those of us who are supposed to provide advice.
The text of the TPP, like all trade deals, is a closely guarded secret. That fact makes a genuine public debate impossible and should make robust debate behind closed doors all the more essential. But the ability of TPP critics like me to point out the deal’s many failings is limited by the government’s surprising and unprecedented refusal to make revisions to the language in the TPP fully available to cleared advisors…
Bill Clinton didn’t operate like this. During the debate on NAFTA, as a cleared advisor for the Democratic leadership, I had a copy of the entire text in a safe next to my desk and regularly was briefed on the specifics of the negotiations, including counterproposals made by Mexico and Canada. During the TPP negotiations, the United States Trade Representative (USTR) has never shared proposals being advanced by other TPP partners. Today’s consultations are, in many ways, much more restrictive than those under past administrations.
All advisors, and any liaisons, are required to have security clearances, which entail extensive paperwork and background investigations, before they are able to review text and participate in briefings. But, despite clearances, and a statutory duty to provide advice, advisors do not have access to all the materials that a reasonable person would need to do the job. The negotiators provide us with “proposals” but those are merely initial proposals to trading partners. We are not allowed to see counter-proposals from our trading partners. Often, advisors are provided with updates indicating that the final text will balance all appropriate stakeholder interests but we frequently receive few additional details beyond that flimsy assurance.
Meanwhile, of course, the loathsome Mitch McConnell and the other GOP collaborationists in Congress are doing their best to push this un-American beast through; that he’s joined by Paul Ryan, who once had a bright political future, is both saddening and puzzling.
Republican majority leader Mitch McConnell said on Sunday the Senate will pass “fast-track” authority to negotiate major trade deals this week, despite opposition to the measure from many of President Barack Obama’s fellow Democrats. “Yes, we’ll pass it. We’ll pass it later this week,” McConnell said in an interview with ABC.
The trade issue has made unlikely allies of the Republican majority leader and the Democratic president. McConnell said on Sunday that Obama has “done an excellent job” on the trade issue. The Senate voted last week to consider the fast-track measure, two days after Democrats had blocked debate on the bill, which would clear the way for a 12-nation Pacific trade agreement.
The Republican representative Paul Ryan said on CNN that he was confident the measure would pass the House. “We will have the votes,” said Ryan, who is chairman of the House ways and means committee. “We’re doing very well. We’re gaining a lot of steam and momentum.”
President Barack Obama’s signature Asian trade push cleared another hurdle in the U.S. Senate on Thursday after a knife-edge vote moved the White House closer to gaining the power to speed trade deals through Congress. Senators voted 62-38 to give Obama a major victory and set up a speedy decision on the “fast-track” trade negotiating authority the president needs to complete the Trans-Pacific Partnership (TPP) trade deal. TPP is seen as central to U.S. efforts to counter China’s increasing economic muscle.
Thirteen of 44 Democrats supported the legislation through the second Senate vote. Some supported moving ahead with fast track after Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell, a Republican, assured them he would set a vote next month on a bill to renew the Export-Import Bank’s charter, according to leading Democratic senators. The charter is due to expire at the end of June. They were joined by 49 of 54 Republicans, giving supporters of the legislation more than the 60 votes needed to proceed in the 100-member Senate.
In other words, a complete cave. Kentucky voters, you should have elected Alison Lundergan Grimes.
The pact is the biggest trade deal since the North American Free Trade Agreement freed up trade between the United States, Canada and Mexico. More than two decades later, many blame that deal for factory closures and job losses and see the TPP as producing more of the same.
Remember: Obama sees this as another power grab; the McConnell Republicans see it as a way of serving their Chamber of Commerce masters. When you lose your job down the road, you’ll know whom to blame. Your freedom? That’s already gone.
The site of the worst atrocity on American soil, perpetrated by devout Muslims acting according to the dictates of their “faith.” And this is what is happening there now. The expression is, I believe, adding insult to injury:
A vendor near Ground Zero is being investigated after he was caught charging unsuspecting tourists up to $30 for a hot dog, At least five fights have broken out in the past week over the exorbitant prices Ahmed Mohammed attempted to make customers pay for hot dogs, pretzels, soda and water, NBCNewYork.com reported.
The television station recorded Mohamed repeatedly overcharging customers, often arbitrarily making up a price for food and drink. He was also observed not giving enough change. Mohammed doesn’t have prices posted on his cart, which is against the law and drew the attention of the Department of Consumer Affairs.
When confronted by a reporter for NBC New York, Mohamed said he didn’t speak English even though footage shows him conversing in English with customers.
Taqiyya in action. Video at the link.
For those of you who missed the days of The French Connection in New York, the good times are rolling once more (and the media is worse than ever):
Police are investigating the fourth mugging in Central Park in the past two weeks, while also making arrests in one of the attacks. Authorities say a 68 year old man was robbed of his watch. The victim was approached by another man while walking through the wooded area of the Ramble at around 1 a.m. Wednesday.
“Do you have anything of value? Give me your watch!” the suspect demanded after grabbing his victim, police say. The suspect stole the victim’s watch and then fled the location. He was described as an adult male with a slim build. The victim, who lives in the city, was not injured.
How this story could be less informative is beyond me; one has to read between the lines to glean any sore of useful, real-world information, including “walking in the Ramble at 1 a.m,” and the anodyne description of the suspect. Time was when reporters could use race as a helpful descriptor, but obviously no longer; pretty soon, they won’t even be able to use names. Meanwhile:
The robbery came just hours after police made arrests in the first of a string of muggings that has focused increased police attention on the park. 17 year old Jeffrey Valdez and a 14-year-old girl were charged with holding up two people – a 17-year-old girl and a 19-year-old man — near the Heckscher Playground on May 9 at around 9:30 p.m. The suspects were part of a group of about 15 teens who yelled obscenities at the victims before the 14-year-old girl pulled out a Taser and punched the 17-year-old girl in the face.
It was one of three unrelated muggings that had park-goers on edge. The NYPD vowed additional patrols and officers in the park to reassure concerns, but insisted the park is safe. No arrests have been made in the other two incidents, police said.
Socialism: it curdles and kills everything it touches.
A police officer in Minneapolis has been charged with nine counts in an indictment handed down by a federal grand jury on Wednesday. The Minneapolis Star Tribune reports:
Patrol officer Michael Griffin, 40, has been the subject of 22 complaints, only one of which has been sustained by the Minneapolis Police Department.
Griffin is charged in the indictment with depriving the men of their civil rights, falsifying reports and committing perjury in testimony in two lawsuits filed against him.
The suits resulted in $410,000 in payouts by the city to the litigants and their attorneys.
Griffin happens to be black, a fact which informed this reaction:
“I do hope that we are not looking at a double standard by federal authorities because there have been a number of cases involving white officers over the last five years where federal authorities appeared to show no interest,” said civil rights activist Ron Edwards, a former president of the Minneapolis Urban League, who sits on a police oversight committee appointed by Police Chief Janeé Harteau.
Edwards stops just short of suggesting that Griffin should get a pass on account of his race.
“It is so hard and difficult to get a person of color, African-Americans, into law enforcement in this state,” [Edwards] said. “This was a young man who came into the department with high expectations. Something went wrong. He lost his vision of what he wanted to do.”
Perhaps Edwards intent was to suggest that white officers similarly accused ought to face similar indictments. That’s the best-case scenario. Either way, we can see that grand jury decisions regarding police misconduct can be spun as racist no matter how they come out.
It’s become a quaint fiction among the feel-gooders of the MSM that nationality and citizenship are nothing more than which passport you hold. Thus, we read about “Swedish” rapists, “French” terrorists and “Minnesotan” members of ISIS. This is the result:
Two of the Twin Cities men accused of trying to join ISIS are now charged with student loan fraud. Investigators say both Hamza Ahmed, 19, and Hanad Musse, 19, used more than $1,000 from federal student loan accounts for plane tickets to Turkey and Greece. Prosecutors say they were really going to Syria to join ISIS.
On Tuesday, prosecutors combined two separate cases, meaning that seven young Minnesota friends will eventually be tried together for allegedly trying to join the terror group. Prosecutors combined the case of Ahmed, who was arrested and charged in February, with that of six young men who were arrested in April. Prosecutors say Ahmed’s arrest should have served as a warning to the others.
Yeah, right: more like a how-to manual. Step one: obtain American asylum from your rathole “country” (where, by the way, American soldiers were murdered and desecrated). Step two: Cash in. Step three: use the suckers’ money to finance your personal jihad against the very civilization that rescued you. Oh, yes — one more:
Also on Tuesday, Abdurahman Daud, one of the two members of the group who the government says went to California to pick up fake passports, made his first court appearance in Minnesota. Supporters of the young men argue that the fake passports were the idea of a confidential informant, and that all of the men are victims of government entrapment. The informant was a close friend of all of the accused. Prosecutors say the informant was once part of the plot and at one point tried to join ISIS, too.
Step four: blame the cops. Ain’t “multiculturalism” grand?
Since the inception of the Christian church, after Jesus had ascended into heaven and His apostles began spreading His message beyond Judea and Samaria, preachers and pastors have set up new congregations in neighborhoods and areas where people need to hear the message of Christianity. In our modern parlance we call it “church planting,” but the idea is as old as Christianity itself.
In recent years, church planting has also involved partnering with public schools to provide temporary space on Sundays for churches until they can afford to build a building. The church where I work has partnered with a high school in our community to help launch our first multisite venture.
Now the Left has discovered the tactic, and they’re apoplectic. This week Alternet published an article relating how churches are attempting to reach out to left-leaning cities like Boston and Portland by establishing church plants in schools. The piece starts out straightforwardly enough:
Church planting is happening across the country, and it is organized on a national scale. Its presence in Boston is evidence of its efficiency even in the toughest markets. It has been enabled by pivotal shifts in the interpretation of constitutional law. And it is driven by a subtle yet profound transformation in evangelical culture in America—a transformation in both the religion itself and in its organizations forms.
But look past the first few paragraphs, and the article strikes an ominous tone.
While embracing many of the tools of modernity such as social media, rock bands, and hip graphics, they have become more aggressive in their outreach, taking hard-right positions on culture-war issues such as same-sex marriage, reproductive freedom, and prayer in public schools.
What are the core beliefs of the national religious groups planting churches in Boston and beyond? Many describe themselves as “nondenominational” or “interdenominational.” To the uninitiated, that may sound moderate, even interfaith, but evangelicals of a generally conservative type overwhelmingly dominate the leadership of this new field.
In many instances, church leadership promotes a Christian Nationalist version of American history that denies the Enlightenment roots of American democracy. The concept of “male headship,” found in the theological position papers of many of the religious organizations and sometimes referred to as a “complementarian” understanding of gender, underwrites a view of gender as Biblically based and hierarchical.
Most churches aren’t trying to set up new bastions of conservatism in these communities — they’re merely trying to save souls. But this breathless freaking out on the part of sites like Alternet demonstrate that, for all their carping about the decline of Christianity, the Left is scared of Judeo-Christian influences in “their” cities.
Featured image courtesy of Shutterstock / Paul Matthew Photography
Policies at the Boy Scouts prohibit water-gun and water balloon fights — so Bryan Wendell, an Eagle Scout and editor at several Scouting publications, reminds the Scouts.
The ban is detailed inside the “2015 Boy Scouts of America National Shooting Sports Manual,” which regards water guns as firearms. The manual states: “Pointing any type of firearm or simulated firearm at any individual is unauthorized.”
This is a standard rule at any gun range — there is zero tolerance for playing around by pointing your gun at another person. But the BSA has taken it a step further. They don’t want you pointing a water gun at anyone either. Sounds like a sad way to spend your summer.
Bryan thinks that it’s not “kind” to play with water guns. “Wendall writes that a Scouter said of the rule, ‘A Scout is kind. What part of pointing a firearm [simulated or otherwise] at someone is kind?’”
Has he ever heard of “playing around”?
The BSA does approve of the shooting sports — using pistols, shotguns and rifles are “allowed” activities. It just seems overly cautious to prohibit water-gun play because of the “gun” aspect. Does this really teach kids not to point a real firearm at someone in jest, or are we continuing to emasculate our males?
Sen. Rand Paul (R-Ky.) had one Democrat pitch in to help his 2013 filibuster of John Brennan’s CIA nomination: Sen. Ron Wyden (D-Ore.), who like Paul protested potential drone strikes against U.S. citizens on American soil without due process.
Of course, at that time Paul was blocking Democratic leadership from proceeding with an agenda item of President Obama’s, and today he’s standing in the way of Republican leadership’s agenda as lawmakers are itching to wrap up a trade bill in time for the Memorial Day weeklong recess.
Today, as he delivers a long speech — like Sen. Ted Cruz’s (R-Texas) 21-hour speech in 2013, not technically a filibuster – in protest of a lack of debate on the Patriot Act reauthorization and NSA bulk telephone metadata collection, Paul is getting assistance from Wyden — who, like Paul, is demanding that GOP leadership allow consideration of his amendments — and more: Dem Sens. Martin Heinrich (N.M.), Joe Manchin (W.Va.), Chris Coons (Del.), and Jon Tester (Mont.) have pitched in as of 7 p.m. EST.
“Since I first came to the Senate, I have been deeply concerned about the scope and reach of our intelligence community’s bulk data program, which is based on a flimsy interpretation of the original Patriot Act and has questionable national security value,” Coons said. “Particularly now that a federal circuit court has deemed the program illegal and confirmed these concerns, it would be irresponsible for Congress to continue reauthorizing the law without taking steps to address the unlawful surveillance it has allowed.”
On Paul’s side of the aisle, Sens. Mike Lee (R-Utah) and Steve Daines (R-Mont.) have gotten up to speak.
Lee tried Tuesday to begin debate on the House-passed USA Freedom Act, which essentially replaces the Patriot Act with more privacy protections, but Sen. Tom Cotton (R-Ark.) blocked the motion. Majority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-Ky.) said the bill will get a vote but he has not committed to allowing amendments.
“While the senator from Kentucky and I come to different conclusions with regard to specific question as to whether we should allow section 215 of the Patriot Act to expire, I absolutely stand with the junior senator from Kentucky and more importantly I stand with the American people with regard to the need for a transparent and open amendment process and for an open and honest debate in front of the American people,” Lee said.
“I agree with the junior senator from Kentucky that the American people deserve better than they are getting. And quite frankly it is time that they expect more from the United States Senate. This is not time for more cliffs, for more secrecy, and more 11th hour backroom deals. It’s time for the kind of bipartisan bicameral consensus that I believe is embodied in the USA Freedom Act.”
A handful of House members were also sitting in the Senate chamber to back Paul, including Reps. Jeff Duncan (R-S.C.), Raul Labrador (R-Idaho), Tom Massie (R-Ky.) and Justin Amash (R-Mich.).
Paul’s presidential campaign has been sending out filibuster updates and highlighting news coverage of the talk-a-thon, which began at 1:18 p.m. EST.
Paul’s Twitter account was asking supporters to tweet selfies with his filibuster.
— Dr. Rand Paul (@RandPaul) May 20, 2015