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Qatar Bribes American Ambassador to Support Hamas

Tuesday, September 23rd, 2014 - by Susan L.M. Goldberg

Martin Indyk

Lee Smith at Tablet reports on the scandal recently buried in a long-winded report published in the New York Times:

…buried deep in the Times’ epic snoozer was a world-class scoop related to one of the world’s biggest and most controversial stories—something so startling, and frankly so grotesque, that I have to bring it up again here: Martin Indyk, the man who ran John Kerry’s Israeli-Palestinian negotiations, whose failure in turn set off this summer’s bloody Gaza War, cashed a $14.8 million check from Qatar. Yes, you heard that right: In his capacity as vice president and director of the Foreign Policy Program at the prestigious Brookings Institution, Martin Indyk took an enormous sum of money from a foreign government that, in addition to its well-documented role as a funder of Sunni terror outfits throughout the Middle East, is the main patron of Hamas—which happens to be the mortal enemy of both the State of Israel and Mahmoud Abbas’ Fatah party.

But far from trumpeting its big scoop, the Times seems to have missed it entirely, even allowing Indyk to opine that the best way for foreign governments to shape policy is “scholarly, independent research, based on objective criteria.” Really? It is pretty hard to imagine what the words “independent” and “objective” mean coming from a man who while going from Brookings to public service and back to Brookings again pocketed $14.8 million in Qatari cash. At least the Times might have asked Indyk a few follow-up questions, like: Did he cash the check from Qatar before signing on to lead the peace negotiations between Israel and the Palestinians? Did the check clear while he was in Jerusalem, or Ramallah? Or did the Qatari money land in the Brookings account only after Indyk gave interviews and speeches blaming the Israelis for his failure? We’ll never know now. But whichever way it happened looks pretty awful.

Smith notes Qatar’s financial backing of Hamas and cozy relationship with the terror group’s leader Khaled Meshaal. He also questions (and, perhaps answers) why John Kerry was so anxious to back a Qatari/Turkish sponsored truce designed to benefit Hamas during this summer’s Operation Protective Edge.

Smith’s piece should be read and shared for his simple, yet profound conclusion about the Israel Lobby that isn’t, and the Qatar Lobby that most definitely is:

Another fact buried deep inside the Times piece is that Israel—the country usually portrayed as the octopus whose tentacles control all foreign policy debate in America—ranks exactly 56th in foreign donations to Washington think tanks. The Israeli government isn’t writing checks or buying dinner because—it doesn’t have to. The curious paradox is that a country that has the widespread support of rich and poor Americans alike—from big urban Jewish donors to tens of millions of heartland Christian voters—is accused of somehow improperly influencing American policy. While a country like Qatar, whose behavior is routinely so vile, and so openly anti-American, that it has no choice but to buy influence—and perhaps individual policymakers—gets off scot free among the opinion-shapers.

Cui bono? Perhaps it is time for both urban Jews and heartland Christians to brush up on their Latin. Or, we could simply find out who benefits by going straight to the back pages and buried paragraphs of the New York Times.

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After All the Rage and Screaming, Is U2′s Songs of Innocence Any Good?

Tuesday, September 23rd, 2014 - by Bryan Preston

When Apple released U2′s first new album in years on September 9, the company of the late Steve Jobs surely expected earthwide gratitude. Songs of Innocence was free, after all, it was freaking U2, and iPhone and iPod users didn’t even need to lift a finger or pay anything to get it. It was being pushed to their devices automatically.

Turns out, that was the problem, and one that Apple and U2 should have anticipated. This is the world of the tech-spoiled libertarian socialist millenial and the aging hippy dippy baby boomer. The same people who are too cool to get worked up much over terrorists chopping American heads off in Syria — if they’re even aware of that — scream with bloody rage that a bunch of free songs showed up on their phone without their consent. Hey, life is tough in the First World.

Apple had to roll out a U2 removal tool to quell the volcanic reaction to their decision to give away free stuff.

Had Songs of Innocence merely showed up as a surprise release, but with opt-in instead of opt-out, or with no connection at all to Apple, it would have had a chance to get embraced or rejected on its own merits. That chance was totally lost, and ongoing lack of reaction to the actual music suggests that it will never get a fair shake.

It’s also fair to point out that U2 belongs to the demographic that owns Apple, but not necessarily the demo that’s most passionately in love with the Apple brand. I’d have been annoyed if someone forced music from my parents’ generation onto my phone, despite the fact that I like a lot of it. Give me some Buddy Holly any day — but don’t force it onto my phone without asking, m’kay?

At this point I’ll confess something about U2. The first time I ever heard them, they were still an up-and-coming band. Yeah, I’m that old. A friend handed me the cassette (remember those?) and said “Hey, check this band out. They’re pretty good” or something like that. It wasn’t a particularly memorable conversation and we had had many just like it. He was that guy who knew about the good bands before the rest of us. He introduced me to U2, R.E.M., The Call, Simple Minds and probably a few others that I’ve forgotten. I returned the favor a few times, but mostly with bands that 99.9% of readers will have never heard of — Daniel Amos, and a few others.

The first strains I heard from Bono and company were from Live At Red Rocks. This was in 1983, I think, not long after that album had come out. I was still a kid. I heard U2 early, then, and I absolutely hated them. By the time Bono rang out “How long, how long must we sing this song?” I wondered the same thing. That song seemed to last forever, and not in a good way. That’s right — I immediately hated what has turned out to be one of the great live albums in rock history.

They eventually grew on me, and by the time Joshua Tree came out I was a little wiser and was a confirmed fan. I still remember appreciating the nuances of that album in headphones on my CD player. “Bullet the Blue Sky” still has a visceral edge to it. I missed the tour when it came to Dallas, and have regretted it ever since. I skipped that concert because by then U2 were so huge that everyone was going, and I didn’t want to just follow the crowd. It was pretty stupid, to be honest. They wound up defining the 1980s and the 1990s.

But little did I know at first listen that U2 were bringing a whole lot more to their music than first met the ear. That line, “How long,” was a refrain from a song that the band built atop Psalm 40. What rock band not on an explicitly religious label does that?

Even though Bono titled the song “40,” the reference probably flew past most of his listeners. It flew past me for a while. U2 have had that quality over the years, slipping into deeper waters than most other rockers, while still cranking out hits and successful albums and selling out arenas and reinventing their sound and themselves and kind of gliding around stardom and all that. Rebels with a clue, these guys.

The association with Apple may have finally killed the grander side of U2. Which would be a shame. They’re not just in it to market phones or write hammer tracks for Batman movies.

Unlike most bands who stick around for 30-odd years, U2 really haven’t lost a step. They haven’t gone into nostalgia or self-parody mode. They haven’t replaced their entire lineup with a bunch of sound clones to satisfy suits at a concert-promotion corporation.

They’ve made missteps to be sure — a couple of those experimental 1990s albums and No Line on the Horizon come to mind. Remember when Bono did that Mephisto thing on tour? That was weird. They were into that biggest band in the world thing, no doubt.

But Babe Ruth was baseball’s strikeout king along with being the home run king. U2 have lobbed up some stinkers, but they also created BoyWar, The Joshua Tree, Achtung Baby, All That You Can’t Leave Behind, and now Songs of Innocence. They did “Pride (In the Name of Love),” “Sunday Bloody Sunday” and “With Or Without You” and “Elevation” and “Mysterious Ways” and so many other toweringly great songs. That’s quite a body of success, across a whole lot of time.

I’m not defending them as a fan, and they certainly don’t need me to. It’s just a fact. U2′s body of work is in the conversation as to which is the greatest since rock music came to be. For that, some will love them and some will hate them. That’s life. And they have done it with the same four guys, the same three or four chords (and the truth!) for the most part, and the same or similar visions of life and what music should be.

The title of their last one, the one that generated so much ridiculous rage, probably flies over heads like “40″ once did to teenage me. Bono ripped it off from a guy named William Blake. They probably don’t teach any of his work in public schools anymore, which is a shame, because Blake was a beast of a poet and a monster of an artist. His best stuff was just fun to read. Some of his other stuff is still impenetrable. His art ranged from awe-inspiring to scary.

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Rand Paul’s Roe v. Wade Workaround

Tuesday, September 23rd, 2014 - by Walter Hudson

In what appears to be a strategy to broaden his appeal beyond libertarians to more traditional Republicans, Senator Rand Paul (R-KY) is promoting a provocative approach to ending legalized abortion. The Blaze reports:

[Paul] is raising money for an anti-abortion organization that plans to push his plan to end abortion without the need of overturning a Supreme Court decision or a constitutional amendment.

Instead, Paul is arguing for using the words of the Constitution and the very language from the Roe v. Wade decision.

… If passed, Paul’s bill would define the unborn as persons protected by the 14th Amendment at the federal level.

Paul argues that the Roe ruling itself opens the door for legislative action if law recognizes the unborn as people, thus protected by the Constitution, because even the ruling did not create the right to an abortion.

Taking into consideration language from the Roe v. Wade ruling which indicates that a future determination of personhood beginning at conception would extend constitutional protection to the unborn, the introduced Life at Conception Act would reinvigorate the several states with the ability to police abortion. The bill would not create a federal prohibition, and explicitly states that “nothing in this Act shall be construed to authorize the prosecution of any woman for the death of her unborn child.”

If passed into law, the Life at Conception Act would effectively neutralize the Roe v. Wade decision without overturning it. Pro-life states would presumably rush to secure new protections for the unborn, inviting a fresh cycle of lawsuits which would inevitably percolate up to the Supreme Court.

That’s where the real drama would unfold. How would the Court rule on a challenge to new state prohibitions on abortion in light of the precedent it set in Roe v. Wade? As Paul sees it, that precedent would ironically support those prohibitions under his new law? To restore abortion on demand, the Court would have to invent some new interpretation.

Of course, inventing interpretations is something the Court does very well, as evidenced by the Roe v. Wade ruling itself. In it, the Court discovered a “right to privacy” which had never previously existed. So the whole exercise might prove futile, depending on the Court’s fickle mood.

(Today’s Fightin Words podcast is on this topic available here. 14:07 minutes long; 13.61 MB file size. Right click here to download this show to your hard drive. Subscribe through iTunes or RSS feed.)

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Politico Disguises a Slobbering Love Letter to Lois Lerner as an Interview

Monday, September 22nd, 2014 - by Stephen Kruiser

Pathetico.

Apologies in advance to anyone with delicate stomachs. You may just want to take my word for how awful this is. An A-10 couldn’t provide this much cover. For every negative brought up, a counterpoint, mitigating circumstance or blame-reducing qualifying word is offered. There is no serious discussion of whether she is actually guilty, but when they do get around to talking about it, this gem is offered:

Although she wouldn’t discuss these issues at the behest of her lawyers, Lerner said it is unrealistic to expect public servants not to have opinions: “What matters is that my personal opinions have never affected my work.”

Not everyone is convinced. Reagan-appointed former Federal Election Commission Commissioner Lee Ann Elliott and Craig Engle, a former executive assistant to a GOP commissioner, who worked alongside Lerner in her role prosecuting campaign finance violations at the FEC, think she was biased against big political spenders. They say she was tough on certain groups because she didn’t like them influencing elections.

After letting her offer an unchallenged blanket statement about her lack of bias, Politico does its good puppy duty and informs the public that two of her detractors were–GASP!–Republicans. They even go on to prop up the original blame of an office in Ohio with some flimsy “evidence.”

This is certainly an in-depth profile of a woman who we were constantly told by the president of the United States wasn’t involved in a scandal at all because it was “fake.”

David Harsanyi has more about this nauseating fluff “journalism” over at The Federalist.

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Just In Time For Halloween: Hillary To Campaign For Crist

Monday, September 22nd, 2014 - by Stephen Kruiser

Yikes.

Hillary Clinton will headline a fundraising dinner for Florida Democratic gubernatorial Charlie Crist next month, putting her in a key presidential state in the midterms battle, according to an invitation.

Crist, a Republican turned Democrat running for his old job, is in one of the toughest gubernatorial races in the country. He is facing incumbent Republican Rick Scott.

Clinton will headline a dinner Oct. 2 in Miami, according to an invitation.

She is holding a book-signing the same day in the state.

How’s that for a snapshot of being the party of youth and diversity. At least the Democrats can lay claim to catering to the needs of the unnaturally orange voters.

The good news for the Rick Scott camp is that Hillary’s book tour hasn’t had anything remotely positive associated with it yet.

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U.S. Launches First Allied Airstrikes to Hit ISIS Targets in Syria

Monday, September 22nd, 2014 - by Bryan Preston

Tonight the United States and five Arab partner countries launched the first round of airstrikes on Islamic State targets in Syria. Those five Arab partners include Saudi Arabia, Qatar, the United Arab Emirates and other countries. Jordan and Bahrain have also joined the assault. They are all majority Sunni countries. ISIS is a salafist movement, which is considered an offshoot of Sunni Islam.

Earlier today, a handful of US airstrikes against ISIS targets in Iraq took out a few trucks.

Tonight’s strikes are the first conducted inside Syrian territory.

The airstrikes include US Air Force planes as well as cruise missiles from US Navy ships. It also includes aircraft from the Arab partner countries.

The strikes target about 20 ISIS command and control sites inside Syria, based on intelligence reportedly gathered over the past few weeks.

Update: The Obama administration is already telling reporters that after the initial heavy assault, the effort will be scaled back.

 

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Turns Out McCain Isn’t That Interested in Helping Republicans Win the Senate

Monday, September 22nd, 2014 - by Stephen Kruiser

A couple of weeks ago I wrote about John McCain’s post-primary popularity on the campaign trail. Well, it turns out that Maverick can’t help out in an all-important potential pick-up race because he was too close to the Democrat’s dad.

U.S. Sen. John McCain plans to barnstorm the country on behalf of Republican Senate candidates in states such as Kansas, Iowa, North Carolina, New Hampshire and Oregon.

However, McCain, R-Ariz., told The Arizona Republic that he intends to sit out the heated Senate battle in Colorado, where incumbent U.S. Sen. Mark Udall, D-Colo, is in peril. McCain is a longtime friend of the Udall family and considers Udall’s father, the late longtime U.S. Rep. Morris Udall, D-Ariz., a congressional mentor.

Asked if he was avoiding Colorado because of his long association with Mark Udall, McCain answered, “and his father, yes.”…

As Allahpundit points out in the post, this is a race that is within a point and would be a HUGE pickup for Republicans given the purple-leans-blue nature of Colorado in recent elections.

Mo Udall was a political legend in Arizona when I was a kid. He was no Barry Goldwater, but he was very well respected. It was back in the days when Republicans and Democrats could slug it out politically and not hate each other personally. It’s understandable the McCain grew close with him.

However, at this point in history, with so much at stake, there isn’t a sound reason for him to not do all he can to help the GOP candidate in a race this important, regardless of his connection to the opposition candidate’s family. The GOP establishment types are forever wagging their fingers at Tea Party conservatives and lecturing us on the need to put aside personal feelings in the general election for the greater good of the party.

I will eagerly await the stern lecture from the upper echelon of the party McCain so rightly deserves.

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DHS Secretary Cautions Against ‘Rush to Judgment’ on White House Security Breach

Monday, September 22nd, 2014 - by Bridget Johnson

Homeland Security Secretary Jeh Johnson cautioned against a “rush to judgment” over security lapses that led to Friday’s White House fence jumper managing to get past the front door.

Omar Gonzalez, 42, of Copperas Cove, Texas, entered the North Portico after the Obama family had left the mansion for Camp David. The Iraq war veteran reportedly had 800 rounds of ammunition in his car along with two hatchets and a machete, and had been stopped in July by Virginia police with a map of the White House, a tomahawk and 11 guns. He had a small knife in his pocket when he entered the White  House.

The Secret Service said in a statement afterward that while “the officers showed tremendous restraint and discipline in dealing with this subject, the location of Gonzalez’s arrest is not acceptable.”

The agency immediate put more stringent security into place along the perimeter and started a review to determine what went wrong Friday.

“I will carefully evaluate the findings and recommendations of the review at that time, after which I’m sure I will discuss them with Director Pierson, White House officials and Members of Congress,” Johnson said. “In the meantime, I encourage all of us to not rush to judgment about the event and not second-guess the judgment of  security officers who had only seconds to act, until all the facts are in.”

One of those new security procedures is closing and locking the front door.

“The Secret Service has beefed up foot patrols along — around the fence line of the White House complex. The Secret Service has deployed additional surveillance resources to beef up the surveillance around the White House. The Secret Service has changed the procedures for ensuring that the entrance to the White House is secure. And there’s already some stepped up training for officers who are essentially standing on the front lines of the White House to ensure that they are aware of the policies and procedures that are related to securing the White House and dealing with incidents like the one that we saw on Friday,” White House press secretary Josh Earnest told reporters today.

Earnest said adding “another layer of complexity” to the review is the overlapping jurisdictions of the Park Police and D.C.’s Metro PD.

“There are senior members here at the White House, both the chief of staff, the deputy chief of staff, and others who have been in frequent touch with Secret Service personnel over the weekend and even already today to discuss the incident and to discuss the review that the Secret Service has already started,” he said.

Asked about the incident at the end of an Oval Office event today, President Obama said, “The Secret Service does a great job, and I’m grateful for the sacrifices that they make on my behalf — and my family’s behalf.”

D.C. Del. Eleanor Holmes Norton (D) said she wants a meeting with Secret Service Director Julia Pierson to discuss using “the least restrictive means be used to address these security concerns.”

“It is important to keep Pennsylvania Avenue in front of the White House and the surrounding area, including Lafayette Park, Pennsylvania Avenue, 17th Street and 15th Street, as accessible to the public as possible. These are First Amendment protected areas used by the public on a daily basis to both see the residence of the President and engage in their constitutional right to petition the government, and must be kept open for their continued daily use. It is particularly imperative that the Pennsylvania Avenue side remain open to the public,” Norton wrote in a letter today to Pierson.

“Already, public access to the Pennsylvania Avenue side of the White House may be in danger with reported considerations of establishing checkpoints or otherwise limiting access.”

Norton suggests “minor changes” like “changing the shape of the current fence to prevent access from the exterior, such as curving the upper portion of the fence away from the White House; making the fence surrounding the White House taller; making a request for additional funding to increase staffing; or adding additional specialized canine units to patrol the perimeter.”

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Did Leon Panetta Lie About Hillary Clinton Wanting to Arm the Syrian Rebels?

Monday, September 22nd, 2014 - by Bryan Preston

Former Defense Secretary Leon Panetta tossed President Obama under the bus Sunday night on the Islamic State.

On the season premiere of 60 Minutes, Panetta lamented the current state of Iraq. He said that Obama should have left U.S. troops there longer, to create more leverage over now former Iraqi Prime Minister Maliki.

Panetta even said that he, then-Secretary of State Hillary Clinton, pretty much the entire Obama national security team wanted to arm Syria’s rebels. But President Obama disagreed, and would not allow it to happen.

“The real key was how can we develop a leadership group among the opposition that would be able to take control? And my view was to have leverage to do that, we would have to provide the weapons and the training in order for them to really be willing to work with us in that effort,” the former Obama administration official added.

Pelley observed that Obama’s national security team was “virtually unanimous” on the need to arm Syrian rebels – advice the president ignored. Panetta kindly conceded that Obama was concerned over where those weapons provided to Syrian rebels might end up, but the former CIA director summed his own position as, “You have to begin somewhere.”

“I think that would’ve helped,” Panetta said of the aborted plan to arm moderate opposition in Syria. “And I think in part, we pay the price for not doing that in what we see happening with ISIS.”

That’s about as close as we’ll get to seeing a serious Democrat directly blame Obama for the rise of ISIS.

But there’s a problem with Panetta’s version of history. Hillary Clinton pre-emptively disagreed with it. Take at look at this clip from February 2012 — and 60 Minutes.

Wyatt Andrews interviewed then-Secretary of State Hillary Clinton specifically on the subject of arming the Syrian rebels. Clinton was nonplussed about the whole idea.

“Well, first of all, we really don’t know who it is that would be armed,” Clinton said. “We have met some of the people from the Syrian National Council. They’re not inside Syria. This is not Libya where you had a base of operations in Benghazi, where you had people who were representing the entire opposition to Libya, who were on the road meeting with me, rather, constantly meeting with others. You could get your arms around what it is you were being asked to do, and with whom. We don’t have any clarity on that.”

Andrews interjected, “Madame Secretary, what’s the fear of arming the rebels?”

Clinton replied: “Well, first of all as I just said, what are we going to arm them with and against what? We’re not going to bring tanks over the borders of Turkey, Lebanon and Jordan. That’s not going to happen. So maybe at best you can smuggle in, you know, automatic weapons. Maybe some other weapons that you could get in. To whom? Where do you go? You can’t get into Homs. Where do you go? And to whom are you delivering them?”

Clinton was far from finished outlining the problems with arming the Syrian rebels: “We know al Qaeda – Zawahiri is supporting the opposition in Syria. Are we supporting al Qaeda in Syria? Hamas is now supporting the opposition. Are we supporting Hamas in Syria? So I think, Wyatt, despite the great pleas that we hear from those people who are being ruthlessly assaulted by Assad, you don’t see uprisings across Syria the way you did in Libya. You don’t see militias forming in places where the Syrian military is not, trying to get to Homs. You don’t see that, Wyatt. So if you’re a military planner or if you’re a Secretary of State and you’re trying to figure out do you have the elements of an opposition that is actually viable, that we don’t see. We see immense human suffering that is heartbreaking and a stain on the honor of those security forces who are doing it.”

That’s clear. That was February 2012. Six months later, Obama did the opposite of what Panetta claimed Sunday night, and signed an order to secretly arm the Syrian rebels. If Clinton’s opinion from February had not changed, then Obama was arming the rebels against the objections of his own secretary of State, and in direct conflict with what Panetta now says was Clinton’s opinion. She was for it, he says. But Hillary Clinton clearly argued against it.

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U.S. Jury Holds Arab Bank Liable for Serving Hamas

Monday, September 22nd, 2014 - by Susan L.M. Goldberg

ArabBank2

The Jerusalem Post reports:

In a historic verdict, an 11 member jury on Monday found Arab Bank liable for knowingly providing financial services to Hamas – the first time a financial institution has ever been held civilly liable for supporting terrorism.

The Arab Bank trial took place in a federal court in Brooklyn for the last five weeks and revisited some of Hamas’ worst terror attacks, including the August 2001 Sbarro suicide bombing in Jerusalem killing or wounding 130 and a range of 24 horrid terror attacks during the Second Intifada.

The verdict was 10 years in the making, and still may be subject to Supreme Court review.

The central question was whether the 11 member jury would find that Arab Bank knew or should have known that its account holders were using it to transfer “blood money” to Hamas for terror operations – or whether it checked for suspicious transactions as best it could, and simply imperfectly missed them.

On Thursday, during closing arguments, Plaintiffs’ attorney C. Tab Turner told the jury they were in a very special situation: “a situation that no jury in the history of this country has ever been in.”

He continued, “Never has anyone sat on a case of finance terrorism, with issues like you have to decide in this case.”

“You have more power today to change the way that this world operates, the world of banking operates, than anyone else on the face of the earth,” said Turner.

Gary M. Osen, another plaintiffs’ attorney responded, saying, “The jury has found Arab Bank responsible for knowingly supporting terrorism. It found Arab Bank complicit in the deaths and grievous injuries inflicted on dozens of Americans.”

Most disturbingly:

According to an unclassified U.S. State Department memorandum released after the jury began deliberations, “In 2003, the United States provided evidence to Saudi authorities that the Saudi al Quds Intifadah Committee (“Committee”) founded in October 2000, was forwarding millions of dollars in funds to the families of Palestinians engaged in terrorist activities, including those of suicide bombers.”

“The timing of the State Department’s disclosure raises deeply troubling questions,” said Plaintiffs’ trial counsel Michael Elsner, who requested the records. “Obviously, the jury reached the same conclusion about the Saudi payments in finding Arab Bank guilty for its support of Hamas, but this last minute disclosure of this evidence six years after we requested it and hours after the jury began its deliberations is telling.”

“We don’t expect the State Department to take sides in a civil case, but by withholding critical evidence until the jury began its deliberations, the State Department continues its unfortunate pattern of siding with foreign interests against American victims of terrorism,” said Elsner.

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Campaign Manager Arrested in Cocaine-for-Votes Scheme

Monday, September 22nd, 2014 - by Bryan Preston

This happened in Donna, TX, which is down in the Rio Grande Valley. Donna is in Hidalgo County, and Tatler readers are very familiar with that county.

The region is very heavily Democrat. So odds are, the unnamed candidates are Democrats.

Francisco “Frankie” Garcia, 47, of Donna, paid voters either a dime bag of cocaine or $10 per vote, authorities said.
“On or about November 6, 2012, Person B brought three voters to the polls to vote for candidates in the Donna School Board election,” the indictment reads. “Garcia paid the voters for voting by dropping $30 into the car in which they were seated, through an open car window, after they voted.”

Assistant U.S. Attorney James Leo, who is prosecuting the case, said Garcia worked for the same school board candidates as Veronica Saldivar and Belinda Solis — two Donna women arrested earlier this month on similar charges.

The story doesn’t say, but this episode screams of Mexican drug cartel influence. This happened in a school board election, which probably doesn’t seem like high stakes, but big lucrative contracts go through local school boards.

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Hillary Clinton’s Letters to Communist Saul Alinsky Matter, and the Media Will Bury Them

Monday, September 22nd, 2014 - by Bryan Preston

Alanna Goodman has published “The Hillary Letters,” which details letters between a young Hillary Clinton and an aging Saul Alinsky. Alinsky’s communist beliefs plus his community organizing theories have infused and informed the activist left for decades. Barack Obama, the community organizer turned president who clearly believes in “spreading the wealth around,” is the first full-blown Alinskyite to reach the presidency.

The Hillary letters to Alinsky matter for a couple of reasons. The Clinton presidency was billed as a “third way” presidency, not a creature of the right or the left, but of pragmatism. They were so-called New Democrats who eschewed the far-left collectivist politics and the right’s market-oriented policies, for something said to be more “moderate.” President Bill Clinton even famously declared that “the era of big government is over.” It seemed at the time that the Reagan argument for smaller government and freer markets had won a permanent victory.

There are no permanent victories in American politics, but a determined politician can bring about systemic changes that have permanent impact. We’re still spending billions on LBJ’s failed “War on Poverty.” Reagan crushed the Soviet Union. Obama had permanent systemic change in mind before his election in 2008, when he dared admit that he would “fundamentally transform the country.”

Into what?, the media should have asked. But they didn’t, and these incurious, throne-sniffing hacks will not ask it when Hillary sets about to complete the transformation, with less upfront rhetoric.

The letters prove that a young Hillary Clinton was, if not a communist, then so sympathetic to communism that she sought out a communist leader and communicated warmly with him. That’s very significant. At the time she wrote her letters to Alinsky, America was engaged in a great ideological struggle against communism. America represented human freedom; communism represented oppression and violence.

That struggle took the form of the battle of ideas in the Cold War, and an actual shooting war in Vietnam. That struggle divided Europe at the Berlin Wall. It still divides North and South Korea. The communists were threatening to destroy the United States from without and within, by war and by guile. Ideologues like Saul Alinsky were key to that second strategy.

Alinsky was no fool. He had chosen of his own free will to side against freedom and he knew exactly what he was doing. Hillary Clinton, also no fool, chose to become one of Alinsky’s acolytes. She was an adult. She knew what she was doing. She has downplayed her association with Alinsky for decades, most of her life now.

Alinsky’s radicalism was a unique brand. While many communists joined the party officially and openly, Alinsky determined that openness (honesty) was the wrong way to go. He believed that Americans would always reject communism if it was presented as such. He believed that radicals should hide their true intentions and transform America from capitalism to communism through gradual change. They should avoid membership in the Communist Party while working through more mainstream associations like the Democratic Party. A successful Alinskyite is a communist who is also an accomplished liar.

Hillary Clinton agreed with all of that. She was a radical’s radical according to those letters that she wrote to Alinsky, but one who accepted that stealth would achieve more than honesty ever would. She was every bit as far left as Elizabeth Warren or Bernie Sanders or any other socialist Democrat out there. But she presents herself as more of a Third Way moderate.

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Homeschooling Family Ordered to Follow Common Core Curriculum

Monday, September 22nd, 2014 - by Paula Bolyard

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A New Jersey family was stunned to receive a notice from local school officials ordering them to follow the Common Core standards after they withdrew their son from public school.

According to Homeschool Legal Defense Association (HSLDA),

After withdrawing their son from Westfield Public Schools, a homeschool family was surprised when the assistant superintendent sent them a copy of the school’s homeschool policy and asked them to call him.

Their surprise turned to shock when they saw that the policy required them to submit a letter of intent and an outline of their curriculum which (per the policy) must follow New Jersey Common Core content standards, and then wait for the superintendent to approve their curriculum and give them permission to homeschool.

HSLDA Senior Counsel Scott Woodruff wrote the assistant superintendent on behalf of the family, pointing out that the policy conflicted with current New Jersey Department of Education home education policy. Local boards of education are not authorized to review or approve the curriculum or education programs of children educated at home in New Jersey or to monitor the educational outcomes. In fact, unless a parent is withdrawing a child from public school, New Jersey parents are not even required to notify state or local officials of their decision to homeschool.

In this case, however, the parents withdrew their child from school, which triggered a response from the school district. The assistant superintendent demanded a letter of intent to homeschool from the parents, an outline of the curriculum they planned to use, and ordered them to comply with the Common Core standards. After being contacted by HSLDA the superintendent backed off on demands that the family follow the district policy. Instead, the superintendent told them their curriculum merely “should be guided by the New Jersey Common Core State Standards.” HSLDA attorney Scott Woodruff wrote back and explained that “homeschool families have no obligation to follow or be guided by common core standards.”

While nothing in New Jersey law requires parents to have their curriculum approved by school officials, compliance with Common Core is a murky area of the law.

New Jersey Law N.J.S.A. 18A:38-25 requires that “every parent, guardian or other person having custody and control of a child between six and 16 to ensure that such child regularly attends the public schools of the district or a day school in which there is given instruction equivalent to that provided in the public schools for children of similar grades and attainments or to receive equivalent instruction elsewhere than at school.” [emphasis added]

The legislature gives no specific definition of “equivalent instruction.” But there is nothing specifically in the law that would exempt homeschooling parents from having to provide an education the state considers to be”equivalent” to the Common Core standards.

New Jersey is not the only state that requires equivalent instruction. Connecticut, Indiana, Nevada, and New York homeschooling laws all have language that requires some form of equivalent instruction or equivalent education that states could use to require parents to align their curriculum with Common Core standards. In some states, homeschools must register as private schools and may also be subject to Common Core mandates.

Other states, like Ohio, provide protections from Common Core and other mandates because authorities are specifically prohibited from interfering with the curriculum decisions of parents. Nevertheless, as tests like the SAT and Advanced Placement exams are aligned to the Common Core, even homeschools may not be able to avoid teaching to the new standards as they become more and more embedded in the nation’s educational system.

 

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VIDEO: White House Confirms that Americans have Gone to Fight for ISIS, and have Returned to the US

Monday, September 22nd, 2014 - by Bryan Preston

During today’s White House press briefing, a reporter asked spokesman Josh Earnest whether he could comment on the number of Americans who have gone to fight alongside the Islamist State, and have since returned to the US. The obvious concern about them is that they can use their American passports to travel freely back and forth, and stage attacks on behalf of ISIS here at home.

Thus far, the Obama administration has taken no actions against Americans who choose to fight for ISIS. Over the weekend, Canada announced that it was revoking the passports of any of its citizens who fight for ISIS.

Earnest was very careful not give numbers or admit that any American ISIS fighters are now under surveillance. But he also did not state that no American ISIS fighters have returned.

The reporter specifically asks Earnest, “Earlier today, administration officials said that at least some of these foreign fighters in Syria and Iraq have come back to the United States. I was wondering, how many of those are the administration tracking? And are they under active surveillance by the FBI? I was wondering if you could comment on that.”

Earnest could not comment on most of it, because the numbers have not been disclosed and because he said that he cannot comment on active surveillance or investigations. He did say that “As it relates to the number, I’m not in a position to confirm numbers like that,” citing the “relatively sensitive intelligence information” that is at stake.

The threat of returning ISIS fighters took on a new dimension this weekend, when two different individuals managed to get past White House security and inside its fence. One of them even got into the White House itself.

Neither are thought to have any connection to ISIS or terrorism in any way. But like the open border and its accessibility to children, if two random people can get past security and into the White House grounds, so can individuals who mean to cause harm.

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Will Hashtag Campaign Keep Leftists’ Hands Off of Young PJTV Reporter Michelle Fields?

Monday, September 22nd, 2014 - by Scott Ott

I’m not generally a hashtag campaigner, but after watching three interviews by Michelle Fields at the People’s Climate March in New York City, I couldn’t help but notice how physical they each became. Robert F. Kennedy, Jr., actually grabbed Michelle’s handheld microphone. Sen. Bernie Sanders kept touching her bare shoulder, and Leonardo DiCaprio’s handler actually stepped between Michelle and Leo, throwing a block, when the former asked a potentially awkward question. So, here is my first ever hashtag campaign: #LeftyHandsOffMichelleFields

#LeftyHandsOffMichelleFields

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NYT Pins Gillibrand’s Senate Sex Harassment Charges on a Dead Senator

Monday, September 22nd, 2014 - by Bryan Preston

When Sen. Kirsten Gillibrand (D-NY) accused unnamed male senators of sexually harassing her, but chose not to name them, there were really only a couple of ways the story could go.

The harassers must be Democrats, and Gillibrand did not want to name them to shame them. Sen. Gillibrand was, therefore, protecting her own harassers for political reasons.

Or the harassers must be Republicans, and Gillibrand was waiting to reveal their names closer to the mid-terms, to shake up the election and launch the latest offensive in the phony “war on women.” Gillibrand was therefore delaying naming the perps for political reasons.

Either way, Gillibrand knew that there remain sexual harassers in the Senate, but politics stopped her from telling the truth about them.

Well, there was a third possibility — that Gillibrand was making it all up for political and victimhood reasons. But the first two seemed more likely. It’s not a revelation that there are boors in politics and in Congress.

The first possibility was causing Gillibrand problems that she did not anticipate. It was Republican-leaning pundits who spent more time demanding names than anyone else.

The New York Times today kills off the second and third possibilities, and pins the rap on a dead guy.

Senator Kirsten Gillibrand, Democrat of New York, caused a commotion this month when she revealed in a memoir how her male colleagues felt free to comment rather vividly on her weight. The senator came under pressure to reveal the names of the perpetrators, but declined, setting off a guessing game in Washington.

Probably the most egregious incident was when a senior senator squeezed her waist and told her: “Don’t lose too much weight now. I like my girls chubby!”

It turns out the senator was the late Daniel K. Inouye, Democrat of Hawaii, the decorated veteran and civil rights hero, according to people with knowledge of the incident.

With his deep baritone and courtly manner, Mr. Inouye was revered by his colleagues and was a powerhouse in both Hawaii and the Senate, where he was a reliable supporter of women’s rights.

But in an all but forgotten chapter of his career, the senator had been accused of sexual misconduct: In 1992, his hairdresser said that Mr. Inouye had forced her to have sex with him.

Now that Inouye is dead, he makes an easy target. It’s all very convenient — Gillibrand doesn’t have to name and shame any living Democrats now. The story she created gets to be swept away. And Inouye’s leisure time activities are pretty well known by now, so this revelation lets all the air out of the Gillibrand story.

Sure, as the story notes, Inouye’s activities became a campaign issue in 1992, in the same year that Bill Clinton’s sexcapades became a campaign issue and a plurality of American voters decided that character doesn’t matter. But being Democrats, Inouye and Clinton could wage all the war on women that they wanted. They both won, and were re-elected later on. Inouye carried his harassment of a fellow senator to the grave.

Had either been Republicans, they would have been Bob Packwooded out of office, only to have Joe Biden admit that he misses them now.

Side note: Packwood. Wasn’t that his problem?

Exit question: As we see the Times kick a dead Democrat now that he can’t fight back, what will we eventually learn once Bill Clinton passes on to the next life?

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‘F*** It, I Quit’ — The Most Unprofessional Media Resignation of the Year?

Monday, September 22nd, 2014 - by Bryan Preston

The net’s buzzing about this clip, in which Alaska TV reporter Charlo Greene resigns with an obscenity.

It seems to me that there are about a million better ways to do this, none of which would jeopardize the station’s FCC license. I know, it’s funny, and it’s buzzkill to talk about being a professional.

But even more than that, who tasked this reporter with reporting on an issue in which she has a personal and professional interest? Greene is on the air reporting about the effort to legalize pot in Alaska. As the owner of the Alaska Cannabis Club, she had no business being the reporter on this story. Either she didn’t disclose her personal interest in the story, or the station didn’t ask, or the station knew but didn’t care. Which is it?

So Greene quit unprofessionally, and will have a tough time getting another media job anywhere if she wants one, but the station’s assignment editor needs to answer a few questions too.

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Blair: ISIS Fight to ‘Evolve Over Time’ to Likely U.S. Reassessment of Boots on the Ground

Monday, September 22nd, 2014 - by Bridget Johnson

Former British Prime Minister Tony Blair said he thinks the fight against ISIS will eventually evolve from an air campaign to fighting on the ground.

President Obama has repeatedly stressed that there will be no U.S. boots on the ground, but Blair said commanders will need to assess that as the battle heats up.

“We have got absolutely no choice but to do this, and not just in order to contain and then destroy the onward march of ISIS, but also to send a very strong signal to the other terrorist groups operating in the region and beyond the region that we intend to take action and intend to see it through,” Blair told CNN on Sunday.

“You certainly need to fight groups like ISIS on the ground. It is possible that those people who are there locally and who have the most immediate interest in fighting ISIS can carry on the ground offensive against them,” he continued.

“But, look, this will evolve over time, I’m sure, and I’m sure that the leadership both in the U.S. and elsewhere will make sure that whatever is necessary to defeat ISIS is done. I think, by the way, no one’s talking — there’s no need to put in a kind of army of occupation. I mean, you’re not rerunning Iraq or Afghanistan.”

But, Blair stressed, “there will undoubtedly be, over time, a need to hit ISIS not simply through an aerial campaign, but also on the ground.”

“And the question will be, can those people, if they’re supported locally, can they do the job or will we have to supplement that?” he asked.

The former prime minister called the beheadings of British and American citizens “horrific, it’s evil, and it’s totally contrary to the principles of any form of religious faith.”

“How many British-born jihadists are going from Britain to fight in Syria, the estimates are several hundred have gone there. This is not, unfortunately, though, a problem just for Britain. Most European countries also have foreign fighters there,” Blair said.

“…I mean, these people aren’t going because they’re mistreated back in the U.K. They’re given the benefit of a free education, free health care. They’re given all the benefits of the freedom that comes living in a country like Britain.”

Blair said the Brits who have signed up with ISIS “have been subject to an ideology that’s come in from abroad that, unfortunately, is not just limited to Britain, but is right round the world today.”

“It’s an ideology based on a complete perversion of the proper faith of Islam, but it is powerful. It is proselytized and preached by people in mosques, in madrasas, not just in countries like Pakistan and parts of the Middle East and parts of Africa, but even back in parts of Britain,” he continued. “And one of the things that we have got to look at as a country is, how do you root this kind of teaching out and make it absolutely clear that it is completely unacceptable to teach these forms of extremism, whether in a formal school setting or an informal school setting?”

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The Climate Marchers’ Real Agenda Is…?

Monday, September 22nd, 2014 - by Bryan Preston

Democratic Socialism.

At least, according to the “People’s Climate” marchers who trashed New York City this weekend.

These people want to impose socialism, the brutal system that has failed or is failing everywhere it has ever been tried.

Exit question:

climate-stupid

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Clinton: Hillary Was Right When She Was Overruled by Obama on Arming Rebels 3 Years Ago

Monday, September 22nd, 2014 - by Bridget Johnson

Former President Bill Clinton said he agreed with his wife in an administration squabble three years ago over arming Syrian rebels at the start of the uprising against Bashar al-Assad.

Then-Secretary of State Hillary Clinton argued for arming the unified opposition then, before the Free Syrian Army took a beating and terrorist groups set up shop in the war-torn country.

“I would have taken the chance. I also agree with her when she said we can’t know whether it would have worked or not, and that’s when you have to be careful when you make these commitments because you can’t know,” Clinton told CNN. “But since ISIS has plenty of money, it’s one of the great bank robbers in human history among other things, they were going to get their weapons one way or the other so I would have risked it.”

“And besides, when we were talking about doing it, there was no ISIS,” the former commander in chief added. “However, it was an argument she lost within the administration and she admitted then and acknowledged in her book that she can’t know that if her recommendation had been followed it would have worked. That’s one of those things you can’t know. That’s why all these decisions are hard.”

Clinton called the overall Syria question the “much harder” piece of the puzzle.

“I support giving the forces that we most closely identify with greater capacity to fight ISIS. The whole question about the Syrian government is really academic. Between the Iranians and the Russians and others, they will give them enough money and military capacity to do what they have to do,” he said, referring to Assad’s main avenues of support.

“I think that the worst enemy right now is ISIS, and I don’t think we should be in a position of directly coordinating with or cooperating with Assad, but I think we all recognize what would happen if ISIS had like a monster-like state that included most of Syria and Iraq, and — but I don’t — I think, therefore, that when the president said we’d cooperate with a moderate Syrian forces, they’re the only people we have to try to empower there to do their part in this struggle.”

On the subject of ISIS using beheadings to provoke an American response, Clinton noted “there’s a difference in, for example, using targeted drones and airstrikes as we did against al-Qaeda effectively for years to try to take down their leadership and infrastructure and let them know they can’t just decapitate people for the cheap thrill of the global media response and horrify people and get away with it and getting bogged down in the kind of war they would like us to get bogged down in that would cost us a lot of lives and a lot of treasure and inevitably lead to greater civilian casualties, which is why I think the president’s strategy has a chance of succeeding because the Iraqi government is now more inclusive than it has been since the fall of Saddam Hussein.”

“And that seems to be awakening, if you will, the willingness of the Sunni tribal leaders to participate in fighting,” he said. “We know the Kurds and the Peshmerga are willing to fight. If we can help them and support them, I think the larger fight against ISIS can continue as it should as a local struggle for the freedom and liberty of the people.”

More: Blair: ISIS Fight to ‘Evolve Over Time’ to Likely U.S. Reassessment of Boots on the Ground

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What Happens When You Provide Price Competition to a Police Gun Buy-Back Program?

Monday, September 22nd, 2014 - by Bryan Preston

Police gun buy-back programs are a) stupid and b) cheap weasels. They tend to offer potential sellers no more than a quarter of what the guns in question are actually worth (other than the non-working guns, which aren’t any more of a threat than a baseball bat). They also do nothing to make the public any safer. Gun safety courses would do that. Removing Eric Holder from office for Fast and Furious would do that, too. Gun buy-back programs don’t do that.

And how can the government “buy back” something that it never owned in the first place? The phrase “buy back” implies previous ownership.

Two police departments outside Boston, MA — Waltham and Beltmont — held a gun buy-back program on Saturday. It was a typically cheapskate affair.

  • Participants will receive Visa gift cards for the following: $50 for a rifle or shotgun, $100 for a functioning handgun and $200 for an assault weapon.

That’s pennies on the dollar. Especially for the so-called “assault weapons.” Those tend to retail for several hundred dollars at the low end, even used. They can go for thousands at the top end. Savvy gun owners will know this, and will stay away from gun “buy-back” programs. Especially if there’s a gun show going on anywhere nearby. Or a decent pawn shop.

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These buy-backs are also incentives for thieves to steal guns and then sell them to police for quick cash, no questions asked. But we’re not supposed to consider that.

One Massachusetts man decided to provide the Waltham buy-back program a little capitalist competition. He went there during the event and held up a sign that said he’d pay more than the police were offering.

They didn’t like that.

I was there for 15 seconds literally, on the sidewalk right near the entrance. Two cops, one Belmont and one Waltham came over to me and asked what the sign said. I showed them “WILL PAY CASH FOR GUNS, AMMO, ETC.” They were pissed. started saying oh no, you’re not doing that here, etc. I argued with them for 5 minutes, they threatened me for soliciting without a vendor’s license. So I said oh, what if I change my sign and have it say “Don’t get screwed, go to a gun dealer and get 4 times the money”. They said that would be legal but she would have the largest Waltham PD cop on duty come down and block me and harass me the whole time.

I really felt the love.

I went back to my car, Lt Dectective dickhead brooks came across the street, I put my hand out to shake and he did, then started yelling and getting his panties wedged up his tight ass. Sbi showed up about then and detective tight ass was trying to harass us both. Sbi and I were perfectly calm, knew what we were talking about, etc. unlike those tools. It was worth the trip just for the experience. I hope I raised brooks blood pressure enough for him to have a heart attack later. The woman from Belmont wasn’t bad after we chatted a bit. The Waltham pd must have the jbt manual.

I wish someone could have recorded their faces when they read the sign. They said what’s this, I said competition.  They didn’t want to play.

One of the posters pointed out that the police probably lacked a vendor’s license too. Also, are they federally licensed firearm dealers? Probably not. Those licenses are expensive.

 

 

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Alexander: 5 Things the Senate Could Do Besides Going on Recess

Monday, September 22nd, 2014 - by Bridget Johnson

Congress barely returned from the five-week summer recess, and now lawmakers have left again until Election Day.

The House had originally been scheduled to come back for one week in October, but House Majority Leader Kevin McCarthy (R-Calif.) told lawmakers to leave Thursday and not come back until after midterms. The Senate also wrapped up Thursday.

That meant eight days of work were completed between recesses.

Sen. Lamar Alexander (R-Tenn.) released a list of five things he thinks the Senate should have stuck around to work on:

  1. ISIS – “Instead of going into recess, the Senate should be debating whether President Obama’s plan actually accomplishes the goal of destroying ISIS, as well as the appropriateness of involving ourselves in another Middle Eastern conflict.”
  2. Obamacare – “On Obamacare we should be repealing the job-killing medical device tax, allowing families to buy health insurance across state lines and enabling small businesses to pool their resources and purchase more affordable health insurance. All of these are step-by-step reforms that will repair the damage of Obamacare by increasing freedom and choice and driving down the cost of health insurance.”
  3. Jobs – “On jobs, we should remove the big, wet blanket of burdensome regulations the Obama administration has thrown over the economy, approve projects like the Keystone Pipeline and reform and streamline federal worker training programs. All of these proposals would get Washington out of the way and make it easier for Americans to find a job.”
  4. Education – “On education we need to fix No Child Left Behind and send back to states all the decisions about common core and academic standards and tests to stop the Obama administration from acting like a national school board. We could also make it easier for students to go to college by simplifying the 108-question student aid form that keeps an estimated 40,000 Tennesseans from receiving student aid.”
  5. Debt – “On debt, the Senate should pass the plan Senator Corker and I have proposed that would reduce the growth of out-of-control entitlement spending by nearly $1 trillion over the next 10 years. If we don’t fix the federal government’s nearly $18 trillion debt, which is currently more than $55,000 per Tennessean, we risk letting America slip from the hands of the ‘greatest generation’ to the ‘debt-paying generation’ with nothing to show for it but the bill.”

“The Senate should be working instead of going into recess, and a Republican majority wouldn’t tolerate such nonsense,” Alexander said in his statement. “We should be standing up to terrorists, repairing the damage of Obamacare, making it easier to find a good job, sending education decisions back to states and fixing the debt.”

“Instead, Harry Reid and the Democrat Senate majority have wasted time on political stunts like a proposal to limit free speech and kept the Senate from addressing real issues – it’s no wonder Americans are frustrated.”

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Power-Sharing Deal Struck in Afghanistan Presidential Contest

Monday, September 22nd, 2014 - by Bridget Johnson

A power-sharing deal in Afghanistan has brought about a resolution to the June presidential runoff, making a candidate who once used Clinton adviser James Carville for his campaign the successor to Hamid Karzai.

Ashraf Ghani’s win in the presidential contest marred by election fraud gives Afghanistan a Christian first lady: his Lebanese wife, Rula.

Former foreign minister Abdullah Abdullah, who emerged from the first round of voting in May with lead, will assume the newly created post of chief executive, with similar duties to a prime minister.

Abdullah and Ghani signed the agreement in a ceremony broadcast across the country on TV.

“The President spoke with Dr. Ashraf Ghani and Dr. Abdullah Abdullah earlier today to congratulate them on concluding their agreement for a government of national unity and safeguarding the first democratic and peaceful transfer of leadership in Afghanistan’s history,” White House press secretary Josh Earnest said in a statement Sunday.

“The President thanked Drs. Ghani and Abdullah for their leadership and willingness to partner to advance Afghanistan’s national interests,” Earnest continued. ”The President reaffirmed the United States’ strategic partnership with Afghanistan and commitment to continue its support to the new Afghan government.”

Secretary of State John Kerry hailed the deal as “a moment of extraordinary statesmanship.”

“These two men have put the people of Afghanistan first, and they’ve ensured that the first peaceful democratic transition in the history of their country begins with national unity,” Kerry said.

“Americans know very well that the road to democracy is contentious and challenging, but it’s a road that leads to the best place. It doesn’t happen overnight. We’ve had our own contentious elections and witnessed their aftermath. I’ve lived some of them. But if my recent visits to Kabul and the hours upon hours on the phone with these two men have taught me anything, it’s how invested Afghanistan is in this historic effort.”

Kerry added that Afghanistan “has an enormous opportunity to grow stronger from this recent moment of testing.”

“Elections are not the end. They must be the beginning, where Afghanistan and its people move forward on a reform agenda and make improvements to the electoral process,” he said. “…The United States remains determined to honor the Afghan people’s historic achievement by helping their transition succeed.”

House Foreign Affairs Committee Chairman Ed Royce (R-Calif.) noted ”the election, especially the tabulation, has been rough, but there is cause for hope, if things change.”

“After nearly 13 years under the failed policies of the Karzai administration, Afghanistan desperately needs a fresh start with a new leader and innovative ideas,” Royce said. “…President-elect Ghani must confront many challenges, including rampant corruption, revenue shortfalls, and a very challenging security situation.”

After the Taliban took over, Ghani taught at UC Berkeley and Johns Hopkins. After the fall of the Taliban, he returned to his home after 24 years away and became chief adviser to Karzai, receiving wide coverage in international media. Ghani ran against Karzai in 2009 yet finished fourth; he hired James Carville as a campaign consultant then. He’s for women’s rights but also supports negotiating with the Taliban if the terrorists agree to a ceasefire first.

Citing Karzai’s corruption, Abdullah, a doctor and former adviser in the Northern Alliance that battled the Taliban and al-Qaeda before the coalition invasion, ran for president in 2009 but withdrew due to the tainted election process. He has criticized Karzai’s intention of negotiating with the Taliban.

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In Case You Missed It, Wendy Davis’ Run for Governor Ended in a Meltdown Friday

Monday, September 22nd, 2014 - by Bryan Preston

The lone Texas gubernatorial debate took place in the Rio Grande Valley Friday night. Front-runner Attorney General Greg Abbott, the Republican, just had to get through the debate without making any negative news. The pressure was all on Wendy Davis, Democrat state senator trailing by a lot in the polls, to make something — anything positive — happen.

Well, she made something happen. But it wasn’t positive.

Davis attacked Abbott over a school finance lawsuit that’s in appeal.

Abbott responded that as attorney general, he has an obligation to follow the law and keep the suit going.

Davis then went into unleashed mode, and talked over everyone. Her actions are aptly being called a “meltdown” statewide. The moderator felt compelled to remind her of the debate rules.

You can hear in the clip, Davis calling on Abbott to ignore a state law in the matter and “stand up to the legislature.”

That would be the legislature of which Davis is a member, which passed a law concerning when the attorney general may not just settle a case, as Davis wants him to do in this case. That law is S.B. 899, which passed during the 2011 session of the Texas legislature. Davis ought to remember, because she was there. It prohibits the state attorney general from entering into a settlement that costs over $10 million or that “commits the state to a continuing increased expenditure of state funds over subsequent biennia” without the legislature’s approval. The school finance case would clearly cost far more than that.

So Attorney General Abbott, following the law, cannot settle the school finance suit unless the legislature authorizes him to do so. That’s the law. He reminded Davis of her own record on that law.

Namely, that Wendy Davis voted for that very law.

Wendy Davis was clearly very unhappy to have her own record used against her. So she stepped all over the debate rules and ended up advocating that the elected attorney general break the law just to satisfy her.

Wendy Davis violated the debate rules, which isn’t a huge deal, but she did so in pursuit of trying to goad her opponent into breaking a state law — which she voted for and which as a lawyer, Davis knows that the attorney general cannot do.

That is a huge deal. It’s a disqualifying deal.

It’s at this point that Texas writers usually deploy a finishing phrase — that dog won’t hunt, Davis is all hat and no cattle, she’s a gun with no ammo that still manages to misfire — that sort of thing. All of those phrases and a whole lot more fit the Davis run for governor. She’s all hype and no substance. She’s one-dimensional, just a left side who’s never right. But those two minutes showed a deep problem with Wendy Davis as a candidate, a lawyer and a person.

Not only did Wendy Davis meltdown at the mere mention of her own record, showing an intemperate side that would wear thin quickly with daily exposure, she signaled that if she were ever entrusted with executive authority of any kind in state government, she would not hesitate to shred state law and the Constitution if she found them to be in the way of pursuing her leftwing agenda. Davis would form a government unto herself and just ignore precedent, current law, and the people’s representatives in the legislature.

That’s just not how things work. Not now, and hopefully not ever.

Watch the whole embarrassing two minutes on the next page.

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Ann Coulter Was Right to Tweak Libertarian Voters

Monday, September 22nd, 2014 - by Walter Hudson

drowning

My social media feed has lit up with cyber-angst and the digital rending of robes in response to comments made by Ann Coulter in her most recent column. “Ann Coulter Wants to Drown Libertarian Voters” reads the headline over at Before It’s News. “Ann Coulter just told libertarian voters that she wants to drown them,” echos the libertarian publication Rare. Reason piles on as well. Even some lefty publications have jumped on the bandwagon.

The problem with these headlines, and some of the writing which follows them, is the attention they deflect from the vital point she made. If you take time to soberly read Coulter’s column, it becomes clear her comments were benign and even in libertarians’ best interest. She wasn’t addressing libertarians as such, but voters who throw their vote away on third party candidates. The relevant excerpt:

The biggest current danger for Republicans is that idiots will vote for Libertarian candidates in do-or-die Senate elections, including Kentucky, Kansas, North Carolina and Colorado. (That’s in addition to the “Independent” in Kansas who’s a Democrat.) Democratic candidates don’t have to put up with this crap — they’re even trying to dump the official Democrat in Kansas to give the stealth Democrat a better shot.

When we’re all dying from lack of health care across the United States of Mexico, we’ll be deeply impressed with your integrity, libertarians.

Which brings me to my final assignment this week: If you are considering voting for the Libertarian candidate in any Senate election, please send me your name and address so I can track you down and drown you.

I won’t waste time defending Coulter’s rhetorical choices. Suffice it to say, she’s read widely due in large part to her antagonistic style. But when you push past that to the substance of her argument, where is she wrong?

Indeed, a few cycles back, the Democrats did a fair job of browbeating their third party competitors into towing the line for the sake of “the greater good.” Remember Michael Moore and Bill Maher getting on their knees to beg Ralph Nader not to run for president in 2004?

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IRS Surprise for Some Obamacare Subsidy Recipients Next Year

Sunday, September 21st, 2014 - by Rick Moran

USA Today sums up the situation for hundreds of thousands of taxpayers who may owe the IRS for overpayment of subsidies for Obamacare policies: “Sadly, it’s fair to say some people will see some unexpected, unpleasant surprises on their tax returns next year.”

If you’re receiving an Obamacare subsidy and you had certain “life changes” over the past year — marriage, divorce, a raise, a new child — chances are, you are going to owe Uncle Sam some cash.

When you file that 2014 tax return next year, the Internal Revenue Service will compare your actual income for the year with the amount you estimated when applying for exchange-based health insurance under the health insurance law.

The next open enrollment period begins Nov. 15. But notices were sent this week to some consumers whose incomes don’t match up to such things as 2012 tax return information.

On Monday, the Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services said at least 279,000 households reported incomes that still don’t match what the government has on record. Supporting documents are needed by Sept. 30.

What can you do to avoid tax-time problems?

Experts say people need to realize early on that they should report changes in income and other changes in one’s life, such as a marriage, throughout the year. See HealthCare.gov to report “income and life changes.”

Of course, many people may have no idea that they’d need to report changes.

The IRS put out some more details on the issue mid-month.

What should you report? A move, an increase or decrease in income, a marriage or divorce, the birth or adoption of a child, whether you started a job that offers health insurance and whether you gained or lost eligibility for other health care coverage.

Best spots for information: HealthCare.gov and IRS.gov/aca.

Karen Pollitz, senior fellow with the Kaiser Family Foundation, said many people who qualify for these tax credits aren’t working 9-to-5 jobs with regular salaries. So guesstimating one’s income for the coming year can be very tough.

“It’s people in transition. Maybe they’re in and out of work,” she said. Or maybe they’re self-employed.

People who lose a job would want to report that change during the year, as well, because that change can lead to a higher advance payment for the credit.

“Life changes can drive tax changes,” said Mark Steber, chief tax officer for Jackson Hewitt Tax Service.

Steber stressed that people need to make sure to update information via HealthCare.gov or their state insurance exchanges.

If your income ends up below 400% of the poverty line, you would owe a maximum of $600 for a single filer, and $2500 for a family.

But if your income is over 400% of the poverty line, there is no limit. You will have to repay the entire amount of the difference between what you received as a subsidy and what you actually deserved.

There are already going to be millions of taxpayers who get a nasty surprise when the IRS withholds part or all of their refund to pay the fine for not having insurance — and then bills them if that’s not enough.

Welcome to the Brave New Tax World of Obamacare.

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A Lap Dance in the ‘Wrong Place at the Wrong Time’

Sunday, September 21st, 2014 - by Rick Moran

Many politicians have a gift for understatement. So it’s not surprising that Kansas Democratic gubernatorial candidate Paul Davis would describe being caught getting a lap dance in a strip club in the late 1990s when police raided the joint looking for drugs as being in the “wrong place at the wrong time.”

Got that right, dog.

Politico reports:

In the late 1990s the Democratic candidate for governor of Kansas was getting a lap dance at a strip club when cops raided it in search of drugs, a situation Paul Davis on Saturday described as being “in the wrong place at the wrong time.”

Davis was not charged with any crime, but a police chief involved in the raid wrote afterward that he had been drinking and was found “in a somewhat compromising position … in a back room of the club.”

According to police reports, he was alone with a topless stripper who was wearing only a G-string.

Davis, who was unmarried at the time, identified himself as an attorney for the owner of the strip club after an officer ordered him at gunpoint to lie on the floor during the raid for methamphetamine.

That’s one lap dance Davis won’t forget.

“When I was 26 years old, I was taken to a club by my boss – the club owner was one of our legal clients,” said Davis, a state representative. “While we were in the building, the police showed up. I was never accused of having done anything wrong, but rather I was in the wrong place at the wrong time.”

This news comes amid recent polling that shows Davis with a slight lead over Republican Gov. Sam Brownback, the former U.S. senator who is seeking a second term.

How many points in the polls is a lap dance worth to Brownback? Kansas is a very conservative state — as culturally conservative as they come. I suppose it will depend on how many voters believe that Davis having a mostly naked woman writhing on his lap constituted “the wrong place.”

A few minutes after midnight on Aug. 5, 1998, a group of officers executed a search warrant after an informant said he bought drugs from the owner of the club.

One of Davis’s “legal clients.” Sheesh. The owner was later arrested for selling drugs and the strip club was closed.

For those of you not familiar with strip-club nomenclature, a “lap dance” can take many forms, but is usually performed as a clothed sex act. I’ve never had the pleasure, but I am told by reliable sources that a good lap dance can really curl your toes.

In Davis’s case, it appears that the poor guy suffered the ultimate indignity and had his ego — or something — deflated in the most humiliating way.

Like any good politician, Davis used the revelation to turn the tables on his opponent and attack:

Responding to the strip club story Saturday, Davis pointed to press reports that the Federal Bureau of Investigation has been investigating whether confidants of Brownback were involved in an influence-peddling scheme around the governor’s attempt to privatize the state’s Medicaid program.

Brownback has denied any wrongdoing, and his team questions the political motivations behind leaks to the Topeka Capital-Journal this spring. The governor declined to say in a July interview whether he’s been in contact with the FBI.

Is one lap dance worth one FBI investigation? Not when you consider no one would pay an FBI agent to walk around in a G-string.

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Thousands March in New York to End Industrialized Civilization

Sunday, September 21st, 2014 - by Rick Moran

Well, maybe they’re not really marching to end industrialized civilization. But given all the monumental exaggeration and hyperbole of which they are guilty, perhaps I can be excused a few small liberties while describing their goals.

Tens of thousands of marchers from all over the world came to New York City to protest inaction on climate change. A “wake up call” they are calling it. In fact, at 12:58 Eastern time, there was to be a moment of silence followed by “a blare of noise — a symbolic sounding of the alarm on climate change — from horns, whistles and cellphone alarms. More than 20 marching bands and tolling church bells were expected contribute to the cacophony.”

A perfect way to sum up the march: a lot of noise signifying nothing.

As might be expected, the New York Times is all over the story:

With drums and tubas, banners and floats, the People’s Climate March turned Columbus Circle, where the march began just before 11:30 a.m., into a colorful tableau. The demonstrators represented a broad coalition of ages, races, geographic locales and interests, with union members, religious leaders, scientists, politicians and students joining the procession.

“I’m here because I really feel that every major social movement in this country has come when people get together,” said Carol Sutton of Norwalk, Conn., the president of a teachers’ union. “It begins in the streets.”

With world leaders gathering at the United Nations on Tuesday for a climate summit, marchers said the timing was right for the populist message in support of limits on carbon emissions. The signs marchers held were as varied as the movement: “There is No PlanetB,” “Forests Not for Sale” and “Jobs, Justice, Clean Energy.”

The description of the tableau was accurate. The colors reminded me of a tie my little niece bought me a few years ago.

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Truth be told, if things are as dire as the marchers believe, it’s already too late. That’s the problem with the hysterical wing of climate change advocacy. Cutting emissions of greenhouse gases won’t do the trick if we are on the edge of the climate precipice. We would have to halt all human activity that contributes to global warming and then hope nature can reverse the process.

And if this movement was really about “climate change,” they might be forgiven their hysteria. But as world leaders gather at the UN beginning Tuesday, it will become clear that, at least for the politicians of the world, it’s not about climate change at all. It’s about power, control, and money.

If history is any guide, the rich countries of the world will say how concerned they are about the damage their emissions of heat-trapping gases are causing. The poor countries — whose people have done little to contribute to global warming but stand to suffer the most from it because of their vulnerability to rising seas and weather extremes — will point out that this professed concern never seems to translate into sufficient action.

“We’re saying to the U.S. and the developed world, ‘You’re responsible for this,’ ” said Ronald Jean Jumeau — the ambassador to the United Nations for the Indian Ocean island nation of Seychelles, off the coast of Africa — in a preview of his country’s remarks. “Don’t tell us you can’t cut emissions, you can’t give money, while you bask in the rich way of life you enjoy now. You know your emissions are damaging us. Help us out here.”

People like Mr. Jumeau have been pleading for help for years, and they have heard many promises that help will come. The latest attempt to make good on those pledges is the Green Climate Fund, a financing vehicle that is eventually supposed to funnel as much as $100 billion a year to poor countries.

The fund, which struggled for four years to get off the ground and opened its doors only recently, has received just one large donation to date: $1 billion from Germany. More are expected this week.

Notably absent from the summit will be the leaders of China and India — the two nations that make any effort to cut CO2 emissions a waste of time.

China is building three coal-fired power plants a month. India isn’t far behind. And neither country seems interested in anything the rest of the world wants to do about global warming. The fact is, any schemes the nations come up with to reduce their emissions won’t matter a fig if China and India refuses to cooperate.

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ISIS Forces Sweeping Through Northern Syria as Thousands Flee

Sunday, September 21st, 2014 - by Rick Moran

Forces of the Islamic State in Syria have mounted a huge offensive with columns of heavy armor  sweeping through the Kurdish region of northern Syria near the Turkish border.

Their goal is apparently capturing the strategic border town of Ayn al-Arab, and more than 60 towns and villages in the region have fallen to ISIS forces in the past few days.

This has unleashed a nearly unprecedented wave of refugees streaming into Turkey. More than 60,00 women, children, and old people crossed the border into Turkey in the 24-hour period from Friday to Saturday, overwhelming aid resources.

Kurdish forces in the region are falling back while others are making their way to the front from Turkey to join their comrades.

The Wall Street Journal reports:

Since Thursday, Islamic State rebels, backed by tanks and other heavy armor, have seized control of more than 60 villages near the regional capital of Ayn al-Arab, according to the Syrian Observatory for Human Rights, a monitoring group. The extremist insurgents, also known as ISIS or ISIL have also forced the evacuation of about 100 other villages, Kurdish field commanders and Turkish officials said.

Turkish television on Sunday continued to broadcast footage of thousands of Kurds, many on foot, crossing the border into Turkey to escape Islamic State. The U.N. refugee agency said most of the refugees were Kurdish women, children and the elderly. Hundreds of Kurdish fighters and volunteers were traveling in the other direction to Syria to shore up their brethren’s defenses, Turkish media reported.

Kurdish militia in Syria, under the banner of the Syrian Kurdish People’s Defense Units, or YPG, said dozens of Kurds had been killed in fighting to defend Ayn al-Arab, called Kobani in Kurdish. They said the jihadists had advanced to within 9 kilometers of Kobani and appealed for international intervention to help their outgunned forces.

The call was joined by one from the Kurdistan Workers’ Party, or PKK, a rebel group closely affiliated with the YPG, for the youth of Turkey’s mostly Kurdish southeast to rise up and rush to save Kobani. The PKK, listed as a terror organization by Washington and Turkey, has spent three decades fighting for autonomy for Turkey’s Kurds.

“Supporting this heroic resistance is not just a debt of honor of the Kurds but all Middle East people. Just giving support is not enough, the criterion must be taking part in the resistance,” the PKK said on its website. “ISIL fascism must drown in the blood it spills…The youth of north Kurdistan (southeast Turkey) must flow in waves to Kobani.”

Islamic State’s progress toward the Turkish border again showed the group’s military strength. It seized Kurdish territory in Syria even as French warplanes launched their first attacks Friday against the group’s positions hundreds of miles away in northeastern Iraq.

The move on Ayn al-Arab follows the seizure by Islamic State insurgents this past week of a strategic bridge over the Euphrates River. The capture enabled the rebels to march on the city from the west and rain down artillery shells on the city’s streets, said Khaled Issa, a representative of the Syrian Kurdish administration in Paris.

The timing is almost too coincidental, as I’ll explore after the page break.

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Dem Lawmakers: ‘And I’m Proud to Serve Under President…What’s His Name?’

Saturday, September 20th, 2014 - by Rick Moran

Hey, Democrats! How about giving some props to your party leader, your president, by talking about him on the House or Senate floor?

What’s that? President “who”? My, how the worm has turned.

Washington Post:

When President Obama took office in 2009, congressional Democrats were euphoric. With control of the House, Senate and the White House, and high public approval for their new party standard bearer, Democrats eagerly embraced Obama and all the long-awaited policy initiatives he’d surely help them achieve.

In that first month, congressional Democrats mentioned Obama during floor speeches 200 or so more times than Republicans. In the next year and a half, the parties referred to the president at similar rates, sometimes with the Republicans having more to say, other times the Democrats.

One can reasonably assume that when the Democrats speak of the president publicly it’s in a favorable way and when Republicans do it’s, well, not quite as glowing. As positive public opinion of Obama began to dip after his first year, the spread between how often Republicans and the Democrats invoked Obama grew wider. Put simply, the Democrats weren’t mentioning Obama by name nearly as much as Republicans.

This chart from the Sunshine Foundation tells the tale at a glance. The Democrats have almost stopped mentioning the president in public debates, according to the Congressional Record.

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The gap between how many times the Republicans anhd Democrats have mentioned Obama has considerably widened in the last year.

Much has been written this election cycle about the Democrats distancing themselves from Obama ahead of the midterm elections. Some Democratic candidates in tough races regularly emphasize their differences with the president. And Obama is persona non grata on the campaign trail (unless it’s inside private high-dollar fundraiser dinners).

If the number of times they bring him up in front of the C-SPAN cameras is a measure, the Democrats detachment from the president is even evident on Capitol Hill – where every spoken word is recorded forever, so it’s especially crucial to choose them carefully.

Politicians are feral when it comes to their survival, so it’s not surprising that Democrats would have stopped talking about an unpopular leader. The problem is that history shows it won’t matter. Trying to run away from your party leader is a futile strategy and Democrats are likely to find that out in November.

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What Did Turkey Trade for Hostages?

Saturday, September 20th, 2014 - by Rick Moran

Turkey is celebrating the return of 49 of their citizens held for 101 days by Islamic State. The hostages were captured when the Iraqi city of Mosul fell to the terrorists.

Turkey’s state run news agency Anadolu reported that “no ransom had been paid and “no conditions were accepted in return for their release.”

But many observers weren’t buying that explanation.

The official explanation “sounds a bit too good to be true,” said Sinan Ulgen, a former Turkish diplomat who chairs the Istanbul-based Centre for Economics and Foreign Policy Studies. “There are some very legitimate and unanswered questions about how this happened.”

The hostages — whose number included two small children — were seized from the Turkish Consulate in Mosul after the Islamic State group overran the Iraqi city on June 11. Turkish leaders gave only the broadest outlines of their rescue Saturday.

Prime Minister Ahmet Davutoglu said the release was the work of the country’s intelligence agency rather than a special forces operation.

“After intense efforts that lasted days and weeks, in the early hours our citizens were handed over to us and we brought them back,” Davutoglu said.

Davutoglu was the star of the homecoming ceremony Saturday, flying the hostages back to Ankara on his plane and delivering an impassioned address to the crowd. Families rushed the aircraft to greet their returning loved ones. The ex-hostages emerged wearing clean dresses and suits and showed little sign of having been held captive by fanatical militants for more than three months.

The hostages’ joyous reunion at the airport came as an enormous relief after the recent beheadings of other hostages — two U.S. journalists and a British aid worker — by the Islamic State group. The gruesome deaths briefly reignited a debate over whether the U.S. or British government should pay ransoms to free hostages.

Turkey’s state-run Anadolu Agency reported no ransom had been paid and “no conditions were accepted in return for their release,” although it didn’t cite any source for its reporting.

The agency said the hostages had been held at eight separate addresses in Mosul and their whereabouts were monitored by drones and other means.

The Iraqi government said it had no information about the rescue.

The hostages declined to answer all but the most general questions, although a couple hinted at ill treatment or death threats.

While the Turkish government broadly hints at some kind of cloak and dagger operation, the truth may be as simple as the government of Prime Minister Erdogan trading their pledge not to allow anti-ISIS forces uses of their bases and not joining the coalition for their prisoners.

What is certain is that the release of the hostages hasn’t changed Turkey’s mind about the coalition:

Turkey had been reluctant to join a coalition to defeat the Islamic State group, citing the safety of its 49 kidnapped citizens, but Stein said he doubted Turkey would suddenly adopt a much more muscular attitude toward the organization. Turkey might feel freer to advertise its existing efforts against the group, he said, citing its efforts to control oil smuggling across the border. But he said Turkey would not open its air bases to U.S. aircraft operating against the group.

“There will some changes, but not as much as people hope,” he said.

ISIS has hardly been restrained from killing fellow Muslims so there has to be another reason the hostages lives were spared. Whatever that reason was, Turkey — a member of NATO at present — still won’t allow their allies to press the fight against ISIS from their soil.

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Pope Francis Selects Spokane Bishop to Head Up Chicago Archdiocese

Saturday, September 20th, 2014 - by Rick Moran

In the first big move by Pope Francis to put his imprint on the American Catholic church, the pontiff named Blase Cupich, the Bishop of the diocese of Spokane, to lead the 2.2 million Catholics of the archdiocese of Chicago.

Cardinal Francis George, the current archbishop, announced he was stepping down last May after he was diagnosed with cancer for the third time since 2005. Since then, George has said that he believes the cancer will take his life.

Bishop Cupich is considered a “moderate” in church circles and is said to mirror the opinions of the pope about de-emphasizing issues like abortion and gay marriage. While Cupich is said to be opposed to both, he is expected to bring a different style of advocacy to the debate.

Chicago is the third largest diocese in America and is considered one of the most influential in the nation, with innovative lay outreach programs and the largest private school system in the country.

Associated Press:

Cupich, 65, is a native of Omaha, Nebraska, where he was ordained a priest. He holds degrees from the Pontifical Gregorian University and The Catholic University of America. He was appointed bishop of Rapid City, South Dakota, in 1998, and served there until 2010, when he was appointed to Spokane.

In a 2012 essay in the Jesuit magazine America, Cupich said the U.S. bishops “rightly objected” to the original narrow religious exemption in President Barack Obama’s requirement that employers provide health insurance that covers contraception. But Cupich called for a “return to civility” in conversations about religious liberty and society.

Cupich also served as chairman of the U.S. bishops’ child protection committee at the height of the clergy sex abuse crisis and as church leaders were putting in place a toughened policy on disciplining guilty priests.

“While the outrage to the (government) decision was understandable, in the long run threats and condemnations have a limited impact,” Cupich said. “We should never stop talking to one another.”

Cupich has also defended Francis’ views on the economy and emphasis on fighting poverty, which some Catholics and others have criticized as naive and against capitalism.

“Instead of approaching life from the 30-thousand-feet level of ideas, he challenges policymakers and elected officials — indeed all of us — to experience the life of everyday and real people,” Cupich said at a conference last June on the Catholic case against libertarianism. “Much like he told religious leaders, Francis is saying that politicians and policymakers need to know the smell of the sheep.”

A Francis clone in the 3rd largest diocese in America would certainly have an impact on the hierarchy. Catholic bishops tend to be more liberal than their leaders both in the US and Rome and the notion that a more pastoral archbishop will have such a high profile position can only encourage the bishops in their attacks on wealth and capitalism.

But there is no difference of opinion regarding the contraceptive controversy, except perhaps in the manner in which Cubich will approach the administration.

In a letter last year on the Obama administration’s birth-control coverage rule for employers, Bishop Cupich said faith-affiliated groups should never be forced to provide services that the church considers morally objectionable. However, he condemned threats by some U.S. church leaders that they would shut down social-service agencies over the Affordable Care Act.

“These kind of scare tactics and worse-case scenario predictions are uncalled for,” he wrote in a letter to diocesan employees. “I am confident we can find a way to move forward.”

Is Pope Francis sending a message to the American Catholic church? “I think he sent a pastor, not a message,” Cupich says. Nice thought, but irrelevant. Of course popes send messages. But what kind of message he is passing along won’t be known until Archbishop Cubich has a chance to place his own stamp on the Chicago Catholic church.

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Defense Secretary Hagel to Review Pentagon-NFL Ties

Saturday, September 20th, 2014 - by Rick Moran

Secretary of Defense Chuck Hagel has asked for a Pentagon review of the military’s involvement in the National Football League. The review comes in the wake of several domestic violence complaints against NFL players.

The connection between the NFL and the military goes back decades, and the connections are considerable.

CNN reports:

The Army alone spends some $10 million a year buying advertising from television networks broadcasting NFL games. Games are also broadcast by the Armed Forces Network to troops deployed overseas.

Military support for the NFL games includes: providing ceremonial units at games for colors ceremonies; military personnel singing the national anthem, and other units providing drill teams or flyovers. Military personnel, including wounded warriors, often appear at NFL events honoring those who serve.

The Army and the NFL also have a agreement to share information and resources to better understand traumatic brain injury, which is a major medical issue both for wounded troops and football players. They are working together on awareness of TBI as well as research into treatment. The military has been sharing some of the lessons learned on TBI from the last 13 years of war, specifically.

Another program, NFL Play 60, has seen players visit military bases to encourage children to be more active as least 60 minutes a day to help prevent childhood obesity.

It is clear the White House is also closely monitoring the NFL controversy, with one senior administration official calling recent abuse allegations “deeply troubling” and stressing the league’s obligation to “(get) control of the situation.”

“Many of these professional athletes are marketed as role models to young people,” the official said. “So their behavior does have the potential to influence these young people. So that’s one of the many reasons it’s important the league gets a handle on this and have zero tolerance.”

Just how is the NFL supposed to “get control” of the domestic violence committed by their players? There are more than 1300 NFL players on 30 rosters across the league. Six players have been accused of domestic violence in recent months. While that is six too many, the question has to be asked: is domestic violence in the NFL so serious and so widespresd that it must become a federal issue?

No doubt women’s advocates would love to make it one. Already several big money advertisers like Anheuser-Busch and Nike are looking closely at their relationship with the NFL. A pullout by those two giants would hit the league where it hurts the most: advertising dollars.

There are legitimate questions about how the league has handled specific cases — most notably, the Ray Rice clocking of his girlfriend in an elevator. But how can you blame anyone, especially Commissioner Roger Goodell, for the actions of players off the football field? The only way this campaign against the NFL makes sense is if you consider the enormous amount of money at stake, and the high-profile nature of the crimes, which aids women’s groups in fundraising and marketing.

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Government at Work: Kid Gets Detention for Sharing School Lunch

Friday, September 19th, 2014 - by Stephen Kruiser

When good habits are bad, or something.

A 13-year-old California boy was reportedly placed in detention for sharing a school-prepared lunch with another student.

Kyle Bradford, a student at Weaverville Elementary School in Weaverville, Calif., was disciplined after sharing his chicken burrito with a friend who didn’t like the cheese sandwich he was given by the cafeteria, KRCR-TV reported.

“It seemed like he couldn’t get a normal lunch so I just wanted to give mine to him because I wasn’t really that hungry and it was just going to go in the garbage if I didn’t eat it,” Bradford told the website.

The Trinity Alps Unified School District, however, has rules that prohibit students from sharing food — claiming that students can have allergies their classmates may not be aware of, according to the website.

When in doubt, overreact — that is the way of school administrators. I am sure we can partially blame the lawyers for that. However, I also think this has to do with the liberal fantasy of being able to have rules that make every little bad go away in childhood.

I will now leave you with the immortal words of Susan Powter:

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Obamacare Exchange Site Doesn’t Work Well, NPR Blames Insurance Company For Pointing It Out

Friday, September 19th, 2014 - by Stephen Kruiser

Yeah, THAT’S the probblem.

Iowa and South Dakota are the two states where the ACA insurance marketplaces have struggled the most. In both states, just 11.1 percent of residents eligible for subsidized insurance signed up for it — the lowest rates in all 50 states and the District of Columbia, according to data from the Kaiser Family Foundation. (KHN is an editorially independent program of the foundation.)

What happened in Iowa and South Dakota? The answer lies in commerce, not politics.

The individual insurance market in both states is dominated by one insurer, Wellmark Blue Cross and Blue Shield. Wellmark BCBS chose not to sell on the ACA exchanges in the first year, locking out its consumers from buying subsidized plans from the company. And it has decided to stay out of the Iowa and South Dakota exchanges for Year 2.

Competitors claim that Wellmark BCBS is cleansing its risk pool by staying off the exchanges because “presumably” poorer, less healthy people would be there. The company counters that the federal end of the system is so problematic it prevents them from adequately serving their customers.

Wellmark BCBS cited technical problems with the back end of HealthCare.gov as a reason it is staying out of the market in 2015. A spokeswoman said data discrepancies in the enrollment process could affect consumer subsidies and eligibility.

“How data is transferred between the system, government entities and ultimately, health insurers continues to be problematic,” Wellmark BCBS Public Relations Manager Traci McBee writes in an email. “Because we rely on this information to serve our members, we need to ensure the information we receive is timely, secure and accurate.”

Wellmark says despite not selling on the exchange in 2014, it sold more ACA-compliant plans through its website and insurance agents than any of its competitors did in the two states.

That the company claims it can be more “timely, secure and accurate” with the federal bureaucracy out of the way seems like a…sane reason.

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