Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid (D-Nev.) said he hopes President Obama “goes real big” with an executive order on immigration if the House doesn’t act in the short time Congress is in session before midterm elections.
“This is an example of why we should have done comprehensive immigration reform that we passed here more than a year ago,” Reid said outside of a closed policy luncheon today when asked about the decision to delay executive action as vulnerable Senate Democrats face re-election contests. “The president has stated he’s going to do something administratively, unless there’s legislative action taken. It appears to me, based on what we have been told and what I see, the Republicans still have a chance to do something.”
“They complain, they grieve, they stomp. Why should the president do anything administratively?” Reid told reporters. “Let’s do it legislatively. They’ll have another chance to do it legislatively. If they don’t, I hope the president goes real big and does something administratively, which I believe he has the authority to do.”
Reid was asked if there’s any chance that repeal efforts for the Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals program would come to the floor.
“Well, if I have anything to do with it, no. No, no.”
He was asked about the likelihood of Sens. Ted Cruz (R-Texas) and Jeff Sessions (R-Ala.) insisting on blocking the deferred action program in the next continuing resolution.
“They have every right to do whatever they want legislatively,” Reid replied. “If they want to be the lead team of shutting down the government, that’s what they’re going to have to do.”
Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-Ky.), in his own press conference, was noncommittal to Cruz’s proposal.
“We’re going to wait and see what the House sends over. I think they’re going to act this week. And when we see what they send over, we’ll take a look at it,” McConnell said.
Forty percent of all pilots killed in noncommercial airplane crashes in recent years have medication in their systems — a marked increase over previous decades, according to a draft government study obtained by CNN.
The most common drugs: antihistamines, which can cause drowsiness, and heart medications.
The most worrisome: illicit drugs found in nearly 4% of the deceased pilots.
All told, pilots tested positive for some sort of drug — be it over-the-counter, prescription or illicit — in 40% of fatal accidents in 2011, up from 10% in 1990, according to the study.
The National Transportation Safety Board, which conducted the study, called the jump “significant,” saying it mirrors medicine use in society as a whole.
It cautioned that the mere presence of drugs does not necessarily mean drugs contributed to the accident. Indeed, investigators say drugs contribute to about 3% of all fatal plane crashes — a level that has remained constant for two decades.
This brings up a question about just how superhuman we expect pilots to be. It seems that the only real solution would be individual assessment of side effects on every pilot, hardly a practical approach.
The antihistamines are worrisome, though. The sleep-inducing ingredient in many over the counter sleep aids is an antihistamine (diphenhydramine) and can really have powerful effects. I’d much rather a pilot be sneezing a lot than dozing off.
Members of the 9/11 Commission are criticizing Congress for the rise of the Islamic State in Iraq and Syria (ISIS), arguing lawmakers have not taken the threat seriously enough.
In interviews with The Hill, veterans of the blue-ribbon panel rebuked lawmakers for a generally lax approach toward oversight and said Congress fell down on the job by not implementing the recommendations they made 10 years ago.
“Nobody can be very impressed by the congressional record here. You don’t go on a five-week vacation if you think the threat to the United States is imminent. Or, at least, I hope you don’t,” said former Rep. Lee Hamilton (D-Ind.), the vice chairman of the 9/11 Commission.
Hamilton ripped Congress for failing to fulfill President Obama’s request for $500 million, made in late June, to train and equip moderate opposition forces in Syria. Obama said the money would help build up a rebel alternative to ISIS while helping to keep the conflict in Syria from spilling over into Iraq.
Hamilton was giving some partisan cover to the president by implying that the belated request is a huge difference maker, but he was right about the vacation. If we’re going to beat up on the president for golfing during all of this, Congress should be held accountable too.
Another member of the panel, Tim Roemer, got to the real heart of the problem (albeit while still running some interference for President Obama) when he said this threat should have been identified long ago.
Most of us in the real world don’t really care which American leaders ID the threat and take it seriously, just as long as somebody does. That we’re at this point a mere thirteen years later is surreal. It’s as if those charged with protecting the country have an MTV generation attention span on matters of national security.
Can we just get an adult in the room?
I’m partially stealing the title from the folks a Grabien for this post.
Ahead of announcing that he finally does have a strategy for dealing with the Islamic State (maybe?), President Obama dined with a group that included Sandy “Docs in Socks” Berger and other foreign policy experts. Let’s hope Democrat strategist Donna Brazile wasn’t there, or if she was, someone explained what a caliphate is. Hey, we’re only 13 years into the war on terrorism…
As for the other guests, even MSNBC’s Andrea Mitchell couldn’t help notice that she talks to Obama’s big foreign policy guest on her show nearly every day.
MITCHELL: “Reaching out: Widely criticized for ignoring outside advice in the past, President Obama had a wide-ranging dinner last night with foreign experts from both sides of the aisle. He and Joe Biden brought in Sandy Berger, Zbigniew Brzesinsky, Tom Donilon, Michelle Flournoy, Richard Haas, Steve Hadley, Jane Harman, Strobe Talbot — looks like a review of our guest list here at Andrea Mitchell Reports.
Unfortunately, Mitchell is correct. Obama did turn to frequent guests on cable’s most ridiculous news network for advice.
We’re in the very best of hands…
Landrieu Challenger Says Reid Runs Senate ‘Like a Plantation,’ Tea Party Candidate Calls for Apology
A congressman hoping to replace Sen. Mary Landrieu (D-La.) come November is getting criticism for comparing the Senate majority leader to a plantation owner — from his Tea Party challenger.
Rep. Bill Cassidy (R-La.) told E&E Daily in an interview at a McDonald’s that President Obama “wouldn’t get his agenda through if [Landrieu] wasn’t there supporting Harry Reid.”
Reid “runs the Senate like a plantation,” Cassidy said. “So instead of the world’s greatest deliberative body, it is his personal, sort of, ‘It goes if I say it does, if not it stops.’ Senator Landrieu’s first vote for him to be re-elected means that every other wish for a pro-oil and gas jobs bill is dead. Reid will never allow a pro-oil and gas jobs bill.”
Democratic Senatorial Campaign Committee press secretary Justin Barasky seized on the comments. “Imagining reaction if a dem senate candidate likened mcconnell to a plantation owner the way Bill Cassidy just did to Harry Reid,” Barasky tweeted.
When she was in the Senate, Hillary Clinton told an audience at a Harlem church that House Speaker Dennis Hastert and other GOP leaders were running the lower chamber “like a plantation.”
Rob Maness, an Air Force veteran endorsed by Sarah Palin, called on Cassidy to apologize.
“Congressman Cassidy may not realize this but the language he used included a term that is incredibly offensive to many Americans and he should immediately apologize,” Maness said in a statement. “It’s this type of over-the-top, out-of-bounds ignorance that drives so many people away from the Republican Party.”
“We need to be better than that,” he added. “We need to be the party of thoughtful ideas and common-sense reforms – not extreme rhetoric and ignorant comments. We all make mistakes and when we do, we should have the fortitude to own up to them.”
Cassidy didn’t back down in a statement, saying, ”I wish there was as much offense taken by Harry Reid running the Senate dictatorially, not allowing any votes which he does not personally approve of and the result of which he does not endorse.”
“Any other interpretation of my remarks is a false controversy designed to distract attention from policies which are demonstrably crushing jobs and taking our country in the wrong direction,” he added.
Reid responded to the comments after a policy luncheon today on the Hill.
“With all the things going on in America today, that’s fairly insensitive. That’s really insensitive, very insensitive,” Reid told reporters. “And if there were ever a statement that deserved an apology, this is it, big time. I mean, has he been taking lessons from Donald Sterling? Where’d he get this?”
Last week here at PJ Media, I reported on the ongoing relations between the U.S.-backed “vetted moderate” Free Syrian Army and ISIS. I also noted that, at this time last year, the received wisdom of the Washington, D.C. foreign policy establishment was that the Syrian rebels were largely moderate.
Now, a report in this past Sunday’s L.A. Times from the frontlines in Syria finds that another “vetted moderate” rebel group, Harakat Hazm – which has received anti-tank missiles from the U.S. — has been working with al-Qaeda’s official Syrian affiliate, Jabhat al-Nusra: a U.S.-designated terrorist organization. (HT: Tim Furnish and Tom Joscelyn.)
As Al-Akhbar reported back in May, in addition to having U.S. backing, Harakat Hazm is also backed by the Muslim Brotherhood, Turkey, and Qatar.
As the L.A. Times reporter rides with two U.S.-backed and armed Harakat Hazm fighters, the topic of conversation turns to Jabhat al-Nusra:
Harakat Hazm, for example, has struggled with being regarded as a U.S. pawn and labeled as secular in the midst of an opposition movement that has grown increasingly Islamist.
“Inside Syria we became labeled as secularists and feared Nusra Front was going to battle us,” Zeidan said, referring to an Al Qaeda-linked rebel group that has been designated by the U.S. as a terrorist organization. Then he smiled and added, “But Nusra doesn’t fight us, we actually fight alongside them. We like Nusra.”
But the L.A. Times reporter then immediately adds:
In July, eight West-backed rebel brigades — all recipients of military aid — released a statement of “rejection of all forms of cooperation and coordination” with Al Nusra Front.
But at the same time Harakat Hazm was supposedly releasing a statement of “rejection of all forms of cooperation and coordination” with Nusra, it signed a statement of alliance with Nusra to prevent the Assad regime from advancing into Aleppo. The alliance statement was published on Twitter:
What the statement and the Aleppo alliance demonstrate is something that I and others have been contending all along: the so-called Syrian rebels given the State Department’s “vetted moderate” imprimatur have been playing a double-game. And the Obama administration, the foreign policy establishment and the establishment media have all gladly played along with our “vetted moderate” Syrian rebel allies.
Look out, Clickhole, you have some competition. First Lady Michelle Obama has joined the original annoying viral content site, Upworthy. I’m not even kidding.
It’s not quite the gig that Chelsea Clinton had at NBC, but it’s something. A start.
The first lady is “guest curating” content at the site that perfected those cliffhanger headlines that even Facebook hates so much.
The first lady has already “curated” her first piece, with a very Upworthy title: “I Really Hope the Parents Of These People Get To See What They Said Here. They’d Probably Cry.”
If I saw what people say, I might cry too, and I’m a guy who has lived through the Jerry Jones Cowboys era without shedding a tear. Or I might run away. Or I might seek psychiatric help. It’s not common to see what people say. Visible words floating around while people are talking to me? That would freak me right out.
In her inaugural piece, Mrs. Obama allows that she is thankful for her three-week orientation at college.
Question: Three weeks? How long does it take to figure out where your classes are and which classes are the most skippable? That’s a week, tops. If you’re a little slow to catch things. Or if you’re distracted by seeing words floating around everybody’s heads.
The first lady’s first conclusion doesn’t really break any new ground.
Because our young people need to know that no matter where you come from or how much money your family has, you can succeed in college, and get your degree, and then go on to build a better life for yourself.
And the sky is blue. Sherlock would be impressed!
Anyway, the First Lady of Irritating Crap Writing That Has Ruined Blogging Forever still has a mountain of cliches and cliffhangers to climb if she wants to stay ahead of Clickhole. They have a stunning video piece up today. You won’t believe what happens next.
Seriously. You won’t.
The so-called “war on women” isn’t going away anytime soon. The Obama administration is renewing its war, in fact, to force some women who have taken lifetime vows of chastity to pay for birth control for the likes of Sandra Fluke.
LifeNews reports that the Obama administration today announced that it is continuing its legal battle to force the Little Sisters of the Poor — a group of Catholic nuns who devote themselves to charity — to either pay for birth control through the Obamacare mandate, or face paying ruinous fines. Paying for birth control violates the nuns’ religious beliefs. Never mind that, as nuns, they have no need of birth control themselves.
The government filed a supplemental brief in the case today. The government’s brief specifies that it believes the Little Sisters of the Poor should not be granted an exception from the Obamacare birth control mandate.
The Little Sisters of the Poor serve about 10,000 elderly poor in the United States. The Becket Fund for Religious Liberty is defending the Sisters from the Obamacare mandate.
The Obama administration granted numerous waivers and exemptions from various aspects of its unpopular law, and President Obama has delayed parts of the law unilaterally when it was to his political advantage to do so.
Yet he still has his administration lawyers working to force a group of nuns to obey the birth control mandate. The Supreme Court has previously allowed the Little Sisters to escape the mandate by notifying the government of its objections. The Obama administration issued new regulations in August 2014 to circumvent the Supreme Court’s order, according to LifeNews.
It’s doom for the Senate Democrats, according to pollster Stu Rothenberg.
Of the seven Romney Democratic seats up this cycle, Montana, South Dakota and West Virginia are gone, and Arkansas and Louisiana look difficult to hold. Alaska and North Carolina, on the other hand, remain very competitive, and Democrats rightly point out that they have a chance to hold both seats.
But I’ve witnessed 17 general elections from my perch in D.C., including eight midterms, and I sometimes develop a sense of where the cycle is going before survey data lead me there. Since my expectations constitute little more than an informed guess, I generally keep them to myself.
This year is different. I am sharing them with you.
After looking at recent national, state and congressional survey data and comparing this election cycle to previous ones, I am currently expecting a sizable Republican Senate wave.
The combination of an unpopular president and a midterm election (indeed, a second midterm) can produce disastrous results for the president’s party. President Barack Obama’s numbers could rally, of course, and that would change my expectations in the blink of an eye. But as long as his approval sits in the 40-percent range (the August NBC News/Wall Street Journal poll), the signs are ominous for Democrats.
There is no sign yet of Obama’s popularity recovering.
A majority of Americans now rate him a failure, according to a Washington Post/ABC News poll.
The poll shows Americans say 52-42 that Obama has been more of a failure than a success. Among registered voters, the gap is even bigger — at 55-39 — with four in 10 (41 percent) saying they “strongly” believe Obama has been a failure.
Those saying Obama has been a failure include one in four Democrats (25 percent), nearly three in 10 liberals (29 percent) and the vast, vast majority of conservative Republicans (92 percent). Nearly one in five liberals (18 percent) say they feel “strongly” that Obama has been a failure.
They disagree on why he is a failure, of course, but still rate the man a failure.
My own analysis tracks with Rothenberg’s, by the way. I have the GOP at +7 in the Senate at the moment, which is enough to take control. That’s without picking up both Colorado and Alaska. The latter has become more competitive recently, as has New Hampshire. Hagan is showing signs of fading in North Carolina. Landrieu is all but a goner in Louisiana. Her residency issues are just piling on the misery going into the home stretch.
So, yes, a wave is looking likely to wash Harry Reid right off his perch. Republicans shouldn’t get cocky, though. Challengers like Rep. Cory Gardner in Colorado still have work to do to unseat the incumbent Democrats.
A leading House Democratic advocate of enacting immigration reform accused President Obama of breaking down the left’s coalition instead of strengthening the party’s hand in midterms by punting on an executive order.
“When you play it safe, politically, that is take four or five states and say, well, I am not going to make a decision so that I do not affect these Democrats in these states. You usually do not get good, public policy that you can be proud of. It is bad, right?” Rep. Luis Gutierrez (D-Ill.) said on MSNBC.
He added that “when you take these kinds of actions” as Obama did, delaying executive action to win votes, “you break down the coalition that makes sure that there is justice and fairness and that we have ideals and that we have principles.”
“I am going to continue to encourage people to vote and to register and to get out to vote in spite of this action of the president, but he has made it harder for us.”
Gutierrez said he has called the White House and is “sure” he’ll get to meet with President Obama.
“I am sure there is going to be a broader group of us meeting with him and sitting down and talking with him, so that we can get those 4, 5, 6 million people and get them their documents, right?” the congressman added, citing his estimates of how many of the illegal immigrants in the United States could get legalized under an Obama order.
“What is this really all about? So the president says, ‘Oh, Luis, I want to educate people better before I make the announcement.’ Well, look, there is nothing I can do to change the president’s mind. There is nothing I can do or say tomorrow when I meet with them or when I see Secretary Jeh Johnson, who I think is wonderfully situated to really be helpful, because I really think he is a man of compassion when it comes to immigrants,” Gutierrez continued.
“Look, I want to work with them, so that we can get that. Not so much because of the political calculation, but because I care about all of these wonderful constituencies in America and I care about immigrants and I want to keep them in the fold of justice and fairness.”
Despite his disappointment, Gutierrez said he wouldn’t give up on Obama.
“I think it is going be 4, 5, 6 six million people. We are going to work to get there. And, I still believe, and I want people to know, do not give up hope because we are going to get it done,” he said. “And, this president is eventually going do it.”
Midland County, Texas, Sheriff Gary Painter appeared on CNN the other night. Host Don Lemon accused the sheriff of trying to “scare people,” by warning that IS and other terrorists may have already crossed the border into Texas.
Sheriff Painter dismissed Lemon’s accusation, noting evidence that IS has stated its intent to attack the US here, and noted that the federal government has failed to secure the border. Painter also told the CNN audience about an intelligence briefing he has received on terrorism and the border. Specifically, the briefing warned law enforcement officers that IS terrorist cells are active in Juarez, Mexico and are moving into the US. The briefing warned law enforcement to be on the lookout for these terrorists.
That briefing might have been one referenced by Judicial Watch in its report on IS terrorists in Juarez.
Lemon asks Sheriff Painter if he has a message for the terrorists.
The sheriff is quick to reply: “If they rear their ugly heads, we’ll send ‘em to hell.”
Two days out of revealing his ISIS strategy, President Obama convened a private dinner Monday night with select administration officials and foreign policy wonks to hear ”their views on a range of national security and foreign policy issues.”
The White House billed the “group of foreign policy experts” as “including former Administration officials from Republican and Democratic Administrations, academics and think tank experts.”
Tops on the list was Sandy Berger, the former national security adviser to President Clinton who in 2005 pleaded guilty to removing classified documents from the National Archives.
Also on the invitation list were President Carter’s national security adviser Zbigniew Brzezinski, former Obama national security adviser Tom Donilon, former Undersecretary of Defense for Policy Michele Flournoy, president of the Council on Foreign Relations Richard Haass, and George W. Bush adviser for national security affairs Steve Hadley.
Former congresswoman Jane Harman (D-Calif.), now president of the Woodrow Wilson International Center for Scholars, was there, along with former acting CIA Director Michael Morell, who resigned after Obama picked John Brennan to lead the agency. Morrell has recently been critical of Obama Afghanistan withdrawal plans, warning it will lead to a renewal of al-Qaeda in the region.
Strobe Talbott, president of the Brookings Institution, rounded out the guest list.
Administration guests, in addition to Obama and Vice President Biden, included Secretary of State John Kerry, Deputy National Security Advisor Tony Blinken, counselor John Podesta, White House Coordinator for the Middle East, North Africa and the Gulf Region Phil Gordon, and Executive Secretary / Chief of Staff for the National Security Council Suzy George.
Kerry and Defense Secretary Chuck Hagel are in charge of putting the ISIS strategy in place. Hagel was in Turkey on Monday.
According to the White House, Obama made calls to Australian Prime Minister Tony Abbott and UN Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon yesterday.
For years, President Obama has enjoyed the protection of the network’s late night talk show hosts. They wouldn’t mock him. Jay Leno would rip on him now and then, but the rest wouldn’t touch him.
That’s changed. Both Seth Meyers and Jimmy Fallon nailed Obama in their monologues Monday night.
Meyers gigged Obama for not having a plan to confront IS.
Meyers: “Turning to political news, this week, President Obama will announce his plans for addressing the threat posed by ISIS extremists in Iraq. It’s an incredibly difficult situation. I think at this point, you just tell Liam Neeson that they have his daughter. I think it’s ‘Code Neeson.’”
In other words, to get Obama’s attention on a crisis you have to relate it to pop culture. Or get someone else to do the job.
Fallon zinged Obama for spending so much time away from the White House, and popped VP Joe Biden’s habit of being an idiot at the same time.
Fallon: “On Friday, President Obama made a surprise visit to Stonehenge on his way back from the NATO summit in Wales. And even crazier, today he made a surprise visit to the White House. “What are you doing here, man?” Really exciting. That’s right, President Obama visited Stonehenge. It was going well until Biden was like, “Look at the size of these dominoes.” No Biden!”
Speaking of Stonehenge, here’s an Obama moment that the comics missed.
The spokesman for journalist Steven Sotloff’s family told CNN last night that relations with the Obama administration were “very strained” as they don’t feel they got the help they needed in trying to get him back before he was beheaded by ISIS.
Barak Barfi, a research fellow specializing in Arab and Islamic affairs at the New America Foundation and a longtime friend of Sotloff, revealed that Sotloff was sold out by rebels to ISIS for a price of between $25,000 and $50,000.
Barfi said he talked to his friend by phone “minutes” before he was kidnapped, right after he crossed the border from Turkey into Syria in August of last year.
“Somebody at the border crossing made a phone call to ISIS, and they set up a fake checkpoint with many people,” he said. “Steve and his people that he went in with could not escape.”
Barfi said activists spread a “false” story that Sotloff was involved in a hospital bombing. He said they’ve gleaned information that the person who tipped off ISIS is one of “the so-called moderate rebels that people want our administration to support.” The capture happened so quickly that friendly sources on the ground couldn’t stop the kidnapping, Barfi added.
It was revealed to the world that Sotloff was in ISIS’ hands when his life was threatened at the end of the Aug. 19 video showing the beheading of journalist James Foley.
“Once Steve appeared in that video, the Sotloff family made one simple request of the administration — and they were rebuffed on that,” Barfi told CNN, not elaborating further out of concern for the safety of those still in the hands of ISIS. “…We do not believe [the administration] gave the cooperation we needed.”
“The administration could have done more,” Barfi said. “They could have helped us. They could have seen them [the Sotloff family] through.”
One of the administration’s weaknesses, cited by other families of Americans held abroad as well, is the lack of an authoritative figure tasked with overseeing the cases and working cooperatively with families.
Barfi charged that Foley and Sotloff were being used as “pawns” in “a larger game of bureaucratic infighting” between the administration and the intelligence community. He said they know that the location of the hostages was “stationary” for the early part of the year.
“If there continue to be leaks, the Sotloff family will have to speak out to set the record straight,” Barfi said.
The Hill reports that President Obama wants Congress to give him a $5 billion fund, but does not want to go to Congress to get explicit authorization to fight the Islamic State.
President Obama is pushing congressional leaders to authorize a $5 billion counterterrorism fund that could be used to support operations against the Islamic State in Iraq and Syria (ISIS).
The president first suggested the fund during a foreign policy address earlier this year at the West Point military academy, but it went nowhere in Congress.
The idea was revisited on Monday by White House press secretary Josh Earnest, who floated it as something that “would strengthen the hand of this president and future presidents for dealing with urgent situations like this.”
“This is a core component of the president’s strategy for dealing with this and other issues like it around the globe — that is, additional resources that can be used by the United States to build up effective partners so that when the United States has to confront threats like this, that we have well-trained, well-equipped, effective partners that we can work with to confront these problems,” Earnest said Monday.
Did you see the part that I put in bold letters there?
That’s some tricksy maneuvering by the White House. The imminent threat, the one that the president is resisting going to Congress over, is IS. But Earnest made sure to include “and other issues like it around the globe.”
Now, what might those be? What else might constitute a looming “threat,” in the eyes of this administration?
If you ask Secretary of State John Kerry, it’s “climate change.”
Former Secretary of State and presumed presidential candidate Hillary Clinton says climate change is “the most consequential, urgent, sweeping collection of challenges we face as a nation and a world.”
Not IS or similar Islamic terrorism. Not Putin, with his designs on rebuilding the Soviet empire.
President Barack Obama: climate change is a “direct threat” to the United States.
Now the president resists consulting Congress on IS, but wants Congress to hand him a check for $5 billion to deal with IS “and other threats like it around the globe.” He wants the money, but no oversight on how it gets spent.
Congress should not write the president a blank check.
This won’t do.
The Baltimore Ravens fired running back Ray Rice after a second video surfaced — this one showing him punching his then fiancee, Janay. The NFL also suspended Rice indefinitely so that no other team could sign him.
Carson, a former professor and director of pediatric neurosurgery at Johns Hopkins in Baltimore, said that he hoped the league would get some help for Rice. Then he added:
“Let’s not all jump on the bandwagon of demonizing this guy. He obviously has some real problems. And his wife obviously knows that because she subsequently married him. So they both need some help.”
Mediaite has more, but it doesn’t help Carson’s case.
Rice obviously does have some problems. But it’s not “demonizing” to recognize that the horrific videos of him punching a woman out are in fact horrific. He punches her out cold and drags her out of the elevator. That’s domestic abuse. Yes, he needs help, and so may she. He also does not need to be representing the Ravens or the NFL while he gets help.
While we’re in the demonizing business, it’s worth taking a look at the Ravens and the NFL too. There are reports out — that the NFL deny — that the league already had the second video before it was made public yesterday.
If the team and the NFL already had the second video, and still only gave Rice that initial two-game suspension, then, what? They only fired Rice because he became an even bigger public relations problem for them?
The Ravens had Janay come out and apologize alongside Ray Rice, after the first video surfaced. If they had the full video at that time, or any other time between then and this week…
The “demonization” is only getting started.
This past week Jewish media was abuzz with stories of how hard journalist Steven Sotloff’s family and friends worked to hide his Jewish identity after he was captured by ISIS. It seemed strange to me that Jew haters would have such terrible Jewdar. After all, the guy’s name was “Sotloff”, but apparently that’s not a “tell” in the Muslim world:
One thing journalists quickly learn is that the Jewish “tells” in the West don’t mean much in the Middle East. Jewish names obvious in the West are not at all so in the region, and stereotypical “Jewish looks” among westerners are indistinguishable from the Mediterranean and Middle Eastern features that are common throughout the Middle East.
“My name might have been Miriam Leah Goldbergstein, and I wouldn’t have worried,” said Lisa Goldman, who reported for various outlets in Lebanon and then in Cairo during the Arab Spring in 2011.
“A rose by any other name” would still be an infidel, so it would seem:
It’s not known whether ISIS was aware that Sotloff was Jewish. Colleagues believe his kidnapping by ISIS-affiliated terrorists in 2012 in Syria was one of opportunity and not a deliberate targeting. James Foley, another journalist kidnapped by ISIS and beheaded last month by the terror group, was Catholic.
Which is, perhaps, the overarching point of the latest rash of radical Islamist beheadings of Western journalists. We are all roses to be de-headed, whether we call ourselves Jews, Christians, or simply Westerners of a secular stripe. Iranian American scholar Haleh Esfandiari didn’t blink in her distinction of “The West” from the Muslim east when she commented on radical Islamist recruits:
These young men who grew up in Western cultures seem to have absorbed nothing regarding the value of human life and respect for women.
Monday was the first day that Congress has been back in session since ISIS released the gruesome videos showing the beheading of two Americans, and some lawmakers came prepared with legislation addressing the terror group.
Senators from the home states of murdered journalists James Foley and Steve Sotloff introduced a bill today to authorize up to $10 million in rewards to catch their killers.
The legislation from Sens. Marco Rubio (R-Fla.), Bill Nelson (D-Fla.), Jeanne Shaheen (D-N.H.), Kelly Ayotte (R-N.H.), and Ted Cruz (R-Texas) would update the State Department’s Rewards for Justice Program to include the murders of the journalists. The program has paid out more than $125 million in return for actionable intelligence since 1984.
Sotloff was from Florida, while Foley was from New Hampshire.
“James Foley and Steven Sotloff nobly risked their lives in the pursuit of truth, and the United States will not stand idly by after two of its own were brutally murdered at the hands of fundamentally evil and freedom-hating extremists,” Rubio said in a statement. “This bill is a symbol of our commitment to their parents that America will not rest until justice is served, and let it serve as a clear message to ISIL that we will stop at nothing to ensure the deaths of these beloved journalists do not go unpunished.”
“The world lost two courageous and inspiring journalists, James Foley and Steven Sotloff, as a result of the cowardly acts of a barbaric terrorist group and their deaths must not go unanswered,” Shaheen said. “James and Steven contributed greatly to the world through their reporting, and we must vigorously pursue those responsible for their murders.”
The only legislation directed at ISIS filed before the five-week summer recess were bills from Sen. Rob Portman (R-Ohio) and Juan Vargas (D-Calif.) urging the administration to protect religious minorities from ISIS’ rampage. Democratic leadership in the Senate did not allow a vote on Portman’s bipartisan resolution before recess.
Nelson also filed a bill today to give President Obama authority to broaden the air campaign against ISIS to Syria.
“This is a barbaric group that’s committed heinous acts of torture and murder, and we have to go after them now – not only in Iraq, but in Syria as well,” said the Senate Armed Services Committee member.
Nelson’s bill states that “the President is authorized to use appropriate force against the Islamic State in Iraq and the Levant (ISIL) in order to prevent terrorist attacks on the people and interests of the United States and our allies.”
It explicitly “does not include authorization for the use of rotational ground forces” and expires three years from the date that the bill is enacted.
In the House today, Rep. Michele Bachmann (R-Minn.) introduced the Terrorist Denaturalization and Passport Revocation Act to strip members or associates of terrorist organizations of U.S. passports and citizenship.
“Those who have joined a foreign terrorist organization have taken up arms against the United States and our very way of life. By turning against their country, their passports should be revoked and if they’re naturalized citizens, they should lose their citizenship,” Bachmann said. “As elected officials, protecting our nation and keeping the American people safe is our highest duty.”
In the Senate, Cruz filed the Expatriate Terrorist Act to “amend the existing statute governing renunciation of United States citizenship to designate fighting for a hostile foreign government or foreign terrorist organization as an affirmative renunciation of citizenship.”
“On May 24, an ISIS member returned to Belgium, where he attacked innocent visitors at a Jewish museum, slaughtering four people. And it was reported today that he had been plotting an even larger attack on Paris on Bastille Day. In addition, on August 11 of this year, an accused ISIS sympathizer, Donald Ray Morgan, was arrested at JFK airport trying to reenter the United States. Mr. President, we know that this threat is real,” Cruz said in a floor speech.
“The desire to become a citizen of a terrorist organization that has expressed a desire to wage war on the American people, has demonstrated a brutal capacity to do so, murdering American civilians on the global stage and promising to bring that Jihad home to America,” Cruz added. “We should not be facilitating their efforts by allowing fighters fighting alongside ISIS to come back to America with American passports and walk freely in our cities to carry out unspeakable acts of terror.”
Rep. Matt Salmon (R-Ariz.) said Obama shouldn’t wait for Congress to revoke the passports of known ISIS members. Officials have estimated about 100 to 200 Americans are fighting for ISIS.
“As America faces a clear threat from ISIS fighters, I have called upon the president to act lawfully, under existing statutory and regulatory authority, to deprive U.S. citizens who have allied themselves with ISIS of the use of their passport. This is a common-sense, non-controversial solution already authorized by our laws,” Salmon said.
“This action would do nothing to change their status as American citizens or their protection under our laws,” he added. “What it would do is stop those who have proclaimed their intention to harm our nation by restricting them from traveling abroad or returning home under the protection of her flag. I encourage the president to take this simple action as soon as possible to help us prevent a possible attack on our shores.”
The Arkansas race for a seat in the U.S. Senate is nearly a dead heat and almost certain to be the most expensive in the state’s history as Democrats and Republicans pour money into a battle that could help determine the balance of power in the body.
Apart from the spending, a tipping point in the campaign could be whether distaste for President Barack Obama outweighs reverence for the Pryor family, a state political power for decades, analysts say.
The contest pits two-term Democrat Mark Pryor, an ally of the state’s favorite political son, Bill Clinton, against Rep. Tom Cotton, a Republican who returned to Arkansas only two years ago to win a seat in the House of Representatives.
Frankly, many Republicans were hoping this race wouldn’t still be this close but here we are. That’s a subtle “carpetbagger” dig at Cotton, even if not in the strictest definition. Remember, things like that only matter if the candidate is a Republican.
Near the end of the article, Reuters dug up a political science professor to do some partisan cheerleading for Pryor, who called him a “centrist”. When a Poli Sci prof uses that term, he or she generally means, “To the left of Fidel Castro.”
Colorado Sen. Mark Udall (D) has invoked the names of James Foley and Steve Sotloff to argue for a more cautious approach to dealing with the Islamic State — which he says is not an imminent threat to the United States.
Udall made the comments during a recent debate with his Republican challenger, Cory Gardner, reports Eliana Johnson at NRO. Udall says he stands by invoking the Islamic State’s victims to argue for a slower approach to them.
“I can tell you,” Udall said during the debate, “Steve Sotloff and James Foley would tell us, don’t be impulsive. Horrible and barbarous as those executions were, don’t be impulsive, come up with a plan to knock ISIL back.”
Udall’s use of the dead brings up memories of former Democrat Sen. John Edwards, who invoked a dead child in a courtroom during one of his cases as a trial lawyer. Edwards also told a rehearsed story about his dead son that his running mate, then Sen. John Kerry, found “chilling.”
Gardner, the Republican challenger, has issued a statement on Udall’s comments: “Americans have watched in horror in recent weeks as two of our fellow countrymen have been brutally executed by terrorists, and it’s outrageous that Senator Udall would put words into the mouths of dead Americans. Furthermore, it’s deeply troubling that he views a terrorist organization like ISIL as not an imminent threat to America.”
With enemies like ISIS, Hamas, Putin, the Anti-Defamation League, and all things Politically Correct…what’s not to love about the irrepressible Joan Rivers. The 81 year old comedienne passed away last week, and was buried with a star-studded tribute over the weekend. She died following a somewhat routine procedure involving her vocal cords. A month ago she bashed the Obamas mercilessly…today she is gone from a mysterious untimely death. She would have had a field day with that. Coincidence? Does Obama have a list? Did Joan Rivers have a check mark by her name? Was she on Obamacare? Sadly, we are deprived now of her rapier wit. She was ahead of her time. She was politically incorrect before there was a such thing. She made a living with those wonderful vocal cords and caused a lot of joy followed by controversy. In the entertainment industry few people say what they think, and no one ever accused the great Joan of failing to do that.
On the day she lost consciousness she had just completed a one hour long standup routine. Making people laugh and causing a spark of trouble is what she loved, and no one did it like Joan. She was an American treasure. She had all the right kinds of enemies. There were plenty of people who would’ve loved to permanently silence her razor-sharp commentary that was occasionally described as a bloodletting. She’d slash anyone with her vicious truth. Friend or foe, she was an equal opportunity destroyer. If you weren’t ready for the truth…you didn’t ask Joan Rivers her opinion.
The Anti-Defamation League won’t shed a tear at losing Joan Rivers. They were opposed to virtually everything that came out of her mouth. The PC Police couldn’t stand her unvarnished assessment of the world around her. Her infamous response to the question, “Do you think America will ever see a gay president?” is legendary…”We already have it with Obama, so let’s just calm down,” she said. “You know Michelle (Obama) is a trans.” When asked to clarify she added “A transgender. We all know it.”
The outrage that followed just gave Joan the platform to double down. She was asked what she thought about the Anti-Defamation League calling the remark “vulgar and hideous”. They should’ve known better than to mess with Joan. She responded in her wonderfully Joan way: “I think this is a ‘politically incorrect’ attack on me because I’m old, Jewish, a woman and a ‘hetty’ — a heteosexual.” Bravo.
Women like Joan Rivers are a disappearing breed and that’s why she was so awesome. The PC Police are taking the fun out of life. No one can make a joke…no one can tell it like it is. Joan didn’t care. Joan said whatever Joan wanted and that’s what was so refreshing about her. When you lose the ability to laugh at the craziness of the world, you’ve lost a lot. People of her generation used to laugh at themselves and poke fun at each other…no one cried defamation…or racism…or sexism…no one whined and hired a lawyer. Our perpetually offended generation could learn a thing or two from a gal like Joan.
She loved to get a rise out of anyone and no one could stop her. She didn’t care if the world agreed with her humor or not…it was her prerogative to say whatever came into her head. I read somewhere that she was described as a woman with no edit button, no filter. She proved that assessment again recently when she commented on the war in Israel. “Palestinians in Gaza deserve to be dead…when you declare war, you declare war…they started it. We now don’t count who’s dead. You’re dead. You deserve to be dead. You started it. You started it. Don’t you dare make me feel sad about that.”
With all the young celebrities coming out in support of Hamas and filled with Jew-hate messages, Joan Rivers tells it like it is. I’d like to see one young celebrity speak out like Joan. They only speak out when they are parroting the accepted narrative. I won’t hold my breath. None of them have the stones of Joan Rivers. Joan commented on the dead civilians in Palestine and the fact that the Israeli army issues warnings to get out before destroying an area so as to give residents a chance to escape. “You were told to get out, you don’t get out, then you know you’re an idiot,” she said. “At least the ones that were killed were the ones with very low IQs.”
The world is now denied any more comments from Joan Rivers, and we will miss them dearly. I’m sure during her funeral the terrorists of the Middle East shot their guns in the air rejoicing and the PC Police breathed a sigh of relief as their nemesis is no more.
It took an 81 year old female comedian to tell it like it is. A sad commentary on the state of our media and world. Godspeed Joan, you talked tougher to Islamists than the President of the United States, and we loved you for it.
The senators who lead the Foreign Relations Committee have asked House Speaker John Boehner (R-Ohio) to invite Ukraine’s president to address a joint session of Congress.
President Petro Poroshenko will visit Washington on Sept. 18.
Foreign Relations Chairman Robert Menendez (D-N.J.) and Ranking Member Bob Corker (R-Tenn.) told Boehner in their letter that it’s ”critically important for every Member of Congress to hear from Ukraine’s President at this defining moment for not only Ukraine, but for Russia and the post-Cold War international order.”
“Earlier this year, the Ukrainian people surprised the world when they came together and stood their ground in Maidan Square in the face of violence and tyranny, in order to defend their beliefs and the very sovereignty of their nation against corrupt leaders who had abandoned the will of the people and the interests of their nation,” Menendez and Corker wrote. “Today, with a newly elected democratic government in office, and having chosen for themselves the direction of their nation, Ukraine faces a renewed battle for its economic and political sovereignty.”
“Russia, under the leadership of President Vladimir Putin, is challenging the very foundations of the security architecture that has supported peace and stability on the European continent since the end of the Cold War. President Poroshenko is on the front line of this conflict to determine the fate of Ukraine and the future of the international order.”
The senators urged to Boehner to seize “this historic moment” and “extend a hand of friendship to the Ukrainian people by inviting President Poroshenko to address a joint session of Congress and share his views on the critical situation in Ukraine.”
Menendez went to Kiev over Labor Day weekend and urged President Obama to start assisting Ukraine with much-needed military aid.
“As has been reinforced by my meetings in Estonia and Poland, it is clear that, in the case of Russia, any projection of weakness is potentially more provocative than the projection of strength,” Menendez wrote to Obama. “I am gravely concerned about President Putin’s blatant aggression in Ukraine and the risk that his imperialist ambitions may pose to our eastern NATO allies.”
USA Today reports on the latest IRS emails to see the light of day. In them, IRS officials gloat that they may have headed off the investigation into the agency’s illegal targeting of conservative groups.
Most disturbing, the inspector general’s office — which had been investigating the targeting — approves of how Lerner made the scandal public in the first place.
Remember, the scandal came to light when Lerner used a planted question on a conference call to apologize for it, May 2013. Up to then, some in Congress had been asking questions and the Treasury Inspector General had been investigating. Lerner issued the “apology” to get out ahead of the IG report.
The IG was fine with that, even calling the tactic “brilliant.”
The apology sparked an avalanche of questions from reporters and members of Congress.
The IRS wanted to tell The Washington Post‘s editorial page that “organizations from all parts of the political spectrum received the same, evenhanded treatment.” Lerner insisted that line come out of a draft statement because that would imply that the IRS kept track of the ideology of groups applying for exemptions. “It sounds like we track it, and we don’t,” she said.
Over at the inspector general’s office, officials were annoyed that Lerner had “jumped the gun” with the apology, spinning the contents of the audit report before it was released.
“This is a brilliant pre-emptive strike by the IRS,” wrote David Holmgren, the deputy inspector general for Inspections and Evaluations. “When we release next week, it will be old news.”
In response, the inspector general worked to move up the release of the audit.
This raises so many questions with regard to the IG and its own investigation. Were they colluding with the scandal’s central figures during the active investigation? Why did the IG’s Holmgren cheer Lerner on? She has emerged as the central figure in the scandal.
This is like the FBI tipping and working with mob figures it’s working to bring down.
Congress should expand the investigation, but even that is unlikely to get anywhere until a special prosecutor is appointed.
Our friends at RCP caught this exchange between CBS’ Major Garrett and White House spokesman Josh Earnest today.
On Sunday, President Obama announced that he will delay taking unilateral action on immigration until after the election. Obama’s announcement followed stories about vulnerable Senate Democrats fretting that Obama’s action would be unpopular and hurt their re-election chances.
Obama’s action followed those stories, leading to reasonable inferences that Dem worries forced Obama’s hand.
But the White House denies that. Obama says that he is delaying action because he doesn’t want to inject it into the election, or something.
Major Garrett isn’t buying that for a second.
WREG-TV reports that scores of teenagers ran riot across a Memphis, TN shopping center and injured at least three. Two of those injured were black, one was white.
The video shows the white victim, a young man, being beaten and kicked while he lies on the ground. The woman capturing the wilding on video laughs at first, and continues to laugh that “they have a white dude,” but later seems to be disgusted by the violence she sees. She calls for security, and a security guard arrives and disperses the crowd.
So far just one person, a juvenile, has been arrested in connection with the crime.
On Sunday, President Obama appeared on Meet the Press and denied calling ISIS “jayvee” terrorists.
On Monday, PolitiFact rates that claim a lie.
Todd then remarked that Obama’s response was a “long way from when you described them as a JV team.”
“Was that bad intelligence or your misjudgment?” Todd asked.
“Keep in mind I wasn’t specifically referring to (Islamic State),” Obama replied. “I’ve said that, regionally, there were a whole series of organizations that were focused primarily locally, weren’t focused on homeland, because I think a lot of us, when we think about terrorism, the model is Osama bin Laden and 9/11.”
Is Obama editing his remarks or did Todd misrepresent what Obama said? We decided to take a look.
Yada yada yada. Here’s the transcript of the interview in which Obama used the “jayvee” analogy.
Remnick: ”You know where this is going, though. Even in the period that you’ve been on vacation in the last couple of weeks, in Iraq, in Syria, of course, in Africa, al-Qaeda is resurgent.”
Obama: ”Yes, but, David, I think the analogy we use around here sometimes, and I think is accurate, is if a JV team puts on Lakers uniforms, that doesn’t make them Kobe Bryant. I think there is a distinction between the capacity and reach of a bin Laden and a network that is actively planning major terrorist plots against the homeland versus jihadists who are engaged in various local power struggles and disputes, often sectarian.”
Remnick: “But that JV team just took over Fallujah.”
Obama: ”I understand. But when you say took over Fallujah –”
Remnick: ”And I don’t know for how long.”
Obama: ”But let’s just keep in mind, Fallujah is a profoundly conservative Sunni city in a country that, independent of anything we do, is deeply divided along sectarian lines. And how we think about terrorism has to be defined and specific enough that it doesn’t lead us to think that any horrible actions that take place around the world that are motivated in part by an extremist Islamic ideology is a direct threat to us or something that we have to wade into.”
It’s obvious that Remnick asks about ISIS, and Obama answers about ISIS. We now know that Obama’s Presidential Daily Briefings had kept up to date on the growing ISIS threat for at least a year — if he had been reading those briefings.
Rating, both from PolitiFact and Glenn Kessler at the WaPo: False. Lots of Pinocchios. Obama is lying to the nation about his own take on national security and terrorism.
The Baltimore Ravens have severed ties with running back Ray Rice today, after new video surfaced that shows him punching his then fiancee in an elevator.
The NFL had suspended Rice for two games, the first of which was Sunday’s loss to the Cincinnati Bengals.
At the time the first domestic violence video surfaced, back in May, the Ravens struck a note that struck many as far off-key.
Janay Rice says she deeply regrets the role that she played the night of the incident.
— Baltimore Ravens (@Ravens) May 23, 2014
The Ravens have scheduled an announcement for later today. Word is that Rice is finished.
— Ainsley Earhardt (@ainsleyearhardt) September 8, 2014
— Yahoo Sports (@YahooSports) September 8, 2014
Terminating him now does raise more questions about the NFL’s lenient treatment of him in the first place. In the first video, it was clear that he had been hitting his fiancee.
Yes MT: @TheFix One thing with Ravens: Is the fact Rice knocked his wife unconscious the issue? Or that footage came out? I worry the latter
— Stephen Hayes (@stephenfhayes) September 8, 2014
Rice has married Janay, the woman he is seen punching in the video.
In all seriousness though, Ray Rice has a scary temper, and given that he probably sees this firing as his wife’s fault, I fear for her.
— Bethany S. Mandel (@bethanyshondark) September 8, 2014
Update: The NFL has suspended Rice indefinitely, so no other NFL team can sign him.
Update: ESPN’s Adam Schefter goes weapons free, blasts the NFL for claiming that today is the first time the league has seen the new tape.
Barack Obama’s delusion of the sanitary war — with no boots on the ground — is, and will continue to be, the proximate cause of…
- bleeding vaginal lacerations in pre-pubescent girls, whose maidenhood gets rasped away by jihadis who train for child rape by penetrating goats, and of
- massive contusions, torn breasts, shattered ribs, fractured skulls and bleeding brain matter oozing from women who have been half-buried in sand then stoned to death for perceived offenses against Koranic masculinity, and of
- asphyxiation by public strangulation of homosexuals, flies swarming on their sun-baked blood-caked dangling feet, and of
- the hog-butchery of Christians, Jews, atheists and Muslims, whose relatives and countries fail to pay ransom, and of
- the creation of an unchallenged Islamic State without a fig leaf of secularism or democracy, and with utter disdain for the United Nations and for Western values.
About this clear, present and historical threat, the U.S. secretary of State blandly states in the passive voice:
We have the ability to destroy ISIL. … It may take a year, it may take two years, it may take three years. But we’re determined it has to happen.
The United States and her allies defeated Hitler’s Wehrmacht, along with the Italian Royal Army, and the air, land and sea forces of the Empire of Japan in three-and-a-half years. Now, Secretary Kerry says it may take nearly that long to defeat an enemy said to number between 5,000 and 12,000 fighters, fielded by a government that can’t build a single tank, airplane or ship.
Of course, all of this time won’t be spent building weapons, equipping troops, crafting military strategy, deploying forces and assets, re-taking territory and bludgeoning the enemy into unconditional surrender.
No, Obama and Kerry need time to draft tentative agreements, allow diplomats to drink turkish coffee (infused with Sharia-verboten spirits), smoke the hookah, kiss the cheek, bow the head before monarchs and transfer satchels of crisp Franklins to tribal leaders within and outside of Islam-professing governments.
Obama believes Americans lack the stomach for all-out war, especially against an enemy for whom he has some empathy — being subjected as both he and they are to American cultural bigotry and oppression.
On Sunday’s Meet the Press, President Obama admitted that he doesn’t really want to meet the press. In fact, he’d like for them to go away when he goes away for vacation.
On the show, Chuck Todd asks Obama if he’d like a do-over on making his statement about the beheading of James Foley and then heading directly to the golf course.
“You know, it is always a challenge when you are supposed to be on vacation,” Obama replied, “because you’re followed everywhere and what I’d love is a vacation from the press.”
He continued: “Because the possibility of a jarring contrast, given the world’s news…there’s always gonna be some tough news somewhere.”
This wasn’t “tough news somewhere,” an earthquake in a far-flung country most Americans can’t find on a map or an obscure trade agreement falling apart.
An American had just been beheaded by terrorists, and the video uploaded to the Internet, to portray American impotence and to mock and blame Obama.
He gave a little statement and then gallivanted off to the golf course, and only weeks later is even coming up with a half-baked strategy to stop IS — after a second American was beheaded.
But the media are the problem.
Apparently they don’t fawn over Obama enough. Sometimes they even give him a hard time. There is always so much “tough news somewhere” that the man who campaigned to be president twice has to answer for.
The poor guy.
What he really wants is for all opposition and all negative reporting to go away, along with all the world that doesn’t fulfill his wishful thinking and narcissism.
It’s not much of a surprise that Sen. Bernie Sanders, a self-proclaimed socialist, wants to play Robin Hood and tax the rich to squelch free speech. It’s some surprise that a more mainstream Democrat, Sen. Tom Udall of New Mexico, is joining him.
Both write of their desire to undo settled campaign finance law and impose a “wealth tax” to “level the playing field” and work in as many other lefty cliches as they can.
No single issue is more important to the needs of average Americans. If we cannot control billionaires’ power to buy elections, the people elected to office will be responsive to the needs of the rich and powerful, rather than the needs of everyone else.
If either has a problem with billionaires Tom Steyer or George Soros “buying elections,” they don’t express it.
They’re also not good at math.
Americans’ right to free speech should not be proportionate to their bank accounts. This is why we have introduced a constitutional amendment to reform our broken campaign-finance system.
The American people clearly agree with us. Sixteen states and the District of Columbia, along with more than 500 cities and towns, have passed resolutions calling on Congress to overturn Citizens United.
Sixteen states plus DC? There are 50 states — 16 + the Democrat-gripped district is nowhere near a majority. 500 cities is nowhere near a majority of the thousands of cities in the US. Not even close.
Most Americans aren’t fans of super PACs, that much is true. But the settled law — that’s the phrase Democrats use to defend Obamacare, a law that has never enjoyed majority support — is that super PACs exist. Thanks, McCain-Feingold!
Democrats could have some credibility on the role of billionaires in politics when they disavow the work of Steyer, Soros, Warren Buffett, on down the line to the unions and to the millionaires like trial lawyer Steve Mostyn, who is trying to buy Texas elections for the Democrats. There are versions of Mostyn in just about every state.
Until they take such a step, their wealth tax will be seen for the partisan garbage that it is.
Heavy fighting does tend to threaten ceasefires. Funny, that. The headline is from a story in the International News.
The Islamic State’s military force currently numbers a few thousand — maybe 15,000 tops. It is armed with American and other military hardware. It lacks an air force, despite having captured a Syrian airbase in August. The aircraft that IS captured are mostly out of date, and some do not function. There is no evidence that IS has the pilots to fly those aircraft. At any rate, American pilots are far better trained. Any IS pilots that might take to the skies would not stay there for long.
The Obama administration is not planning a decisive move to crush IS quickly, according to the Washington Post.
The Obama administration is reportedly preparing a campaign to destroy the Islamic State militant group that could outlast the president’s remaining time in office, according to a published report.
The New York Times, citing U.S. officials, reported late Sunday that the White House plan involves three phases that some Pentagon officials believe will require at least three years of sustained effort.
The first phase, airstrikes against Islamic State, also known as ISIS, is already under way in Iraq, where U.S. aircraft have launched 143 attacks since August 8. The second phase involves an intensified effort to train, advise, and equip the Iraqi Army, Kurdish Peshmerga fighters, and any Sunni tribesmen willing to fight their ISIS co-religionists. The Times reports that this second phase will begin sometime after Iraq forms a new government, which could happen this week.
The third, and most politically fraught phase of the campaign, according to The Times, would require airstrikes against ISIS inside Syria. Last month, the government of Bashar Assad in Damascus warned the Obama administration not to launch airstrikes against ISIS in Syria without its permission.
This might work over time — airstrikes did work, over the course of years, in Bosnia.
But do we have the time? IS is gathering western recruits through its social media campaign daily. It is subjugating Iraqis and Syrians to brutality, sex slavery, mass murder and crucifixions daily. IS is threatening the west and its western recruits could travel to the US, UK and Europe at any time to begin conducting terror strikes.
Putin is likely to see this campaign as half-hearted, less than adequate, and ultimately subject to mission creep that resists putting troops on the ground in Iraq now, only to be forced to do so later, once IS simply morphs and finds ways to either avoid airstrikes or turn them into propaganda wins for itself and defeats for the west.
The Obama administration is in the process of cutting US military forces down to a level not seen in roughly 100 years. The United States once had a strategy in which it could fight two wars in separate parts of the globe simultaneously. We can no longer do that, not with our current force size. The whole world knows this.
Putin will see this air campaign as indecisive, and one that is likely to bog US and allied forces down in the Middle East, again, while he moves with a freer hand against Ukraine and then other former Soviet states. The United States military is the heart of the NATO deterrent. Without it, NATO is hollow.
If the plan is to defeat IS, it would be better to build a strong coalition including US, European and regional forces and go in and crush them swiftly, destroy their brand, kill or capture their leadership, and let IS’ destruction serve as a warning to other challengers.
James O’Keefe’s latest video may seem flip at first glance. He suits up a “terrorist” and boats him across Lake Erie into Cleveland, Ohio. But when you consider the fact that there are an estimated 500 British passport holders currently fighting for the IS, along with over 100 Americans and an untold number of Europeans fighting alongside the terrorists, the subject of border security takes on a greater urgency.
The fact that this could happen, as O’Keefe films it, is a grave concern.
Sen. Bernie Sanders (I-Vt.) called for a new tax at this weekend’s Vermont AFL-CIO annual convention: the wealth tax.
According to Sanders’ office, the proposal for a progressive estate tax works like so: The tax rate on estates valued from $3.5 million to $10 million would be 40 percent, those worth $10 million to $50 million would get a 50 percent levy, and estates worth more than $50 million would pay 55 percent.
If you’re worth more than $1 billion, you get slapped with an additional 10 percent tax.
Sanders argued this would pay down the national debt, reduce wealth inequality, and “pay for investments in infrastructure, education and other neglected national priorities.”
“A nation will not survive morally or economically when so few have so much while so many have so little,” Sanders told the convention. “We need a tax system which asks the billionaire class to pay its fair share of taxes and which reduces the obscene degree of wealth inequality in America.”
The senator got a supporter in former Labor Secretary Robert Reich, now a professor at University of California at Berkeley.
The country “is creating an aristocracy of wealth populated by heirs who don’t have to work for a living yet have great influence over how the nation’s productive assets are deployed,” Reich said, and Sanders’ bill would be “a welcome step toward reversing this trend.”
As the Senate returns from recess today, Sanders is getting a debate he’s long sought in the upper chamber as an amendment to reverse the Citizens United v. Federal Election Commission Supreme Court decision on campaign finance comes to the floor.
“Billionaires buying elections is not what our Constitution stands for,” Sanders said in a statement Sunday. “The major issue of our time is whether the United States of America retains its democratic foundation or whether we devolve into an oligarchic form of society where a handful of billionaires are able to control our political process by spending hundreds of millions of dollars to elect candidates who represent their interests.”
Former Massachusetts governor and 2012 Republican presidential candidate Mitt Romney told Fox on Sunday that he thinks Americans are having “some buyer’s remorse about President Obama.”
“I’m not sure how they feel about me,” he added. “But that’s kind of irrelevant.”
Romney said the “real question” is “how’s this president doing?”
“And, frankly, they recognize the president has not been engaged. The idea that we have a group known as ISIS or ISIL, that we’ve known about for almost year, where members of Congress have said to the president, prepare for this, get ready for them, make sure they don’t make incursions into Iraq. I mean, we’ve fought long and hard to provide security and freedom for those people,” he continued.
“Yet, the president was too busy on the golf course to pick up the phone and meet with the leaders around the world and to say what happens if? You know, the Pentagon was going through what-if scenarios. But the president apparently wasn’t, hasn’t developed a strategy.”
President Obama is due to announce his strategy in a Wednesday address.
“I don’t know whether you can’t see reality from a fairway, but the president has not seen the reality internationally and domestically. We’ve got, what, 92 million people that have stopped looking for work, that are out of work in this country? It’s unacceptable,” Romney said.
“The American people are struggling, having a hard time. This president’s policies, both at home and abroad, are hurting people and people are responding in the way they review him.”
On his 2012 run, Romney said ”there’s no question that I and my campaign made some mistakes.”
“I think it’s going to be a long time before we see a perfect campaign and a perfect candidate,” he said. “Look, I have weaknesses. I don’t get every sentence up perfectly. Sometimes I misspeak.”
Romney said “the opposition did a very good job picking up on those mistakes and just beating the heck out of me, and I didn’t do as good a job as I wish I would have, describing who I am to the American people.”
On the future? “I’m not running. I’m not planning on running.”