For the first time, Washington National Cathedral hosted Friday Muslim prayers where speakers called for religious unity in the face of Muslim extremism.
The cathedral is the seat of the Episcopal Church in the capital and has hosted Jewish and Eastern Orthodox services in the past. I can find no mention of a Roman Catholic mass being celebrated there, although it’s entirely possible.
Many of their services are ecumenical. But you wonder about the irony inherent in holding a Muslim prayer service in a Christian cathedral that, if held in many parts of the Muslim world, would have resulted in riots and bloodshed.
From the Washington Post:
In a corner of Washington National Cathedral, several hundred Muslim worshipers and other invited guests gathered Friday afternoon for a first-ever recitation of weekly Muslim prayers at the iconic Christian sanctuary and to hear leaders of both faiths call for religious unity in the face of extremist violence and hate.
The Arabic call to prayer echoed among the vaulted stone arches and faded away, followed by an impassioned sermon from Ebrahim Rasool, a Muslim scholar who is South Africa’s ambassador to the United States. Rasool called on Muslims, Christians and others to come together and make “common cause” in the fight against extremists who appropriate Islam.
“We come to this cathedral with sensitivity and humility but keenly aware that it is not a time for platitudes, because mischief is threatening the world,” Rasool said. “The challenge for us today is to reconstitute a middle ground of good people . . . whose very existence threatens extremism.”
The event was closed to the public, and there was heavy security, with police checking every name and bag. Organizers from several area Muslim institutions said there had been concerns about security and threats after the event was publicized and that they and cathedral officials wanted to limit it to a small and selected group.
Nevertheless, the carefully scripted ceremony was marred once when one well-dressed, middle-age woman in the audience suddenly rose and began shouting that “America was founded on Christian principles. . . . Leave our church alone!” She was swiftly ushered out by security aides, and the service continued.
Numerous speakers, including cathedral officials and local Muslim leaders, echoed Rasool’s message about the urgent need for religious understanding and collaboration. Most made pointed references to the symbolism of the majestic Christian building, where rugs had been laid for prayer.
The Very Rev. Gary Hall, dean of the cathedral, spoke of Saint Benedict, who he said believed equally in the importance of prayer and hospitality. Marveling at the sounds of Arabic prayers, which he called “a beautiful sacred language in a beautiful sacred space,” Hall said he hoped the service would serve as the start of more efforts to work together for good.
Hate to break it to the Very Reverend Mr. Hall but Arabic is no more a “sacred language” than English. Even the Arabs don’t describe their language as “sacred,” although classical Arabic is considered the language of the Koran and is thus “sacred” in that sense. Maybe he was just being nice to his Arabic guests.
Jonathan Gruber missed his calling. He would have been an outstanding used car salesman.
Jake Tapper of CNN uncovered another video where Gruber celebrates his subterfuge — this time, in hiding whom the so-called “Cadillac Tax” on employee based insurance plans would hit.
“Economists have called for 40 years to get rid of the regressive, inefficient and expensive tax subsidy provided for employer provider health insurance,” Gruber said at the Pioneer Institute for public policy research in Boston. The subsidy is “terrible policy,” Gruber said.
“It turns out politically it’s really hard to get rid of,” Gruber said. “And the only way we could get rid of it was first by mislabeling it, calling it a tax on insurance plans rather than a tax on people when we all know it’s a tax on people who hold those insurance plans.”
It should be noted that advocates of a single-payer system have been wanting to get rid of the tax break for employers because it makes it too easy for companies to offer their workers good insurance policies. By forcing employers and their workers to pay the full price for premiums, many smaller companies will be forced to drop their group plans and throw their employees on to the state exchanges.
Gruber’s perfidy is incredible, as evidenced by his rationale for mislabeling the Cadillac Tax:
(The White House press secretary said at a press briefing in 2010: “I would disagree with your notion that it is a tax on an individual since the proposal is written as a tax on an insurance company that offers a plan.”)
The second way was have the tax kick in “late, starting in 2018. But by starting it late, we were able to tie the cap for Cadillac Tax to CPI, not medical inflation,” Gruber said. CPI is the consumer price index, which is lower than medical inflation.
Gruber explains that by drafting the bill this way, they were able to pass something that would initially only impact some employer plans though it would eventually hit almost every employer plan. And by that time, those who object to the tax will be obligated to figure out how to come up with the money that repealing the tax will take from the treasury, or risk significantly adding to the national debt.
“What that means is the tax that starts out hitting only 8% of the insurance plans essentially amounts over the next 20 years essentially getting rid of the exclusion for employer sponsored plans,” Gruber said. “This was the only political way we were ever going to take on one of the worst public policies in America.”
Unions and employers who object in 2018, he noted, “at that point if they want to get rid of it they’re going to have to fill a trillion dollar hole in the deficit…It’s on the books now.”
(When the Cadillac tax was first rolled out, it was explained by Obamacare backers as a tax that would only impact those with “high end plans” — not all employer sponsored plans. A White House economic adviser in 2009 set “the record straight” by saying “the excise tax levied on insurance companies for high-premium plans, the so-called ‘Cadillac tax,’ will affect only a small portion of the very highest cost health plans — a total of 3% of premiums in 2013.”)
The level of cynicism and arrogance it takes to pull this off is astonishing. You want to reach into the video and wipe that supercilious smirk off his face as he gleefully recounts how he bamboozled Americans.
Republicans should call this jerk to testify and then make him squirm by playing back each and every video.
Watch the video on the next page.
In what seems to be an escalation of his previous public comments, tenured Kent State University professor Julio Pino is using his personal Facebook page not only to post anti-Semitic epithets and threats, but also to declare his solidarity with the terrorist group ISIS.
In August, we saw the incendiary, anti-Semitic Facebook posts by Pino, the Cuban-born associate history professor who converted to Islam in 2000. Dr. Pino’s posts supported Hamas, made vile, racist comments about Jews and Israelis, and even seemed to support ISIS. Pino, who has a long history of anti-Semitic behavior, also vowed that he wouldn’t work with fellow staff members who supported Israel:“Collaborate with no one who collaborates with Israel, and let her or him know why. I have started with the head of our ‘Religious Studies’ program, who sends student-dupes to Israel every year.” Pino remains employed by the taxpayer-supported university and it seems he has been emboldened by the cover Kent State is providing for him.
In a post this week, he declared, “We will wage jihad from al-Quds to Canada!” Pino posted this comment along with a video from Russia Today (the state-funded news outlet) showing allegedly “uncut” footage of the “bloody caliphate” in Iraq.
In another post with a link to a YouTube video warning of a possible Islamic State attack in New York City, Pino calls a Canadian jihadist his brother: “Canadian Brother from ISIS ‘We love being attacked! We seek martyrdom!’”
On Friday, Pino posted a link to a BBC article warning that the Islamic State is setting its sights on Saudi Arabia, where the Muslim holy site of Mecca is located. “No Sleep Till Mecca!” Pino vowed.
Back in October, Pino scoffed at reports that ISIS is a great military threat. “From the bourgeois media: ‘ISIS is the greatest military threat the U.S. has faced since 1945.’ You mean that whole Cold War, nuclear arms race, Korea, Viet Nam thing was for kids?” he asked.
Last week Pino applauded the Ayatollah Khamenei, calling him his “favorite tweeter.”
Here’s the tweet that got Pino so excited:
— Khamenei.ir (@khamenei_ir) November 8, 2014
As expected, the House today passed a bill from Rep. Bill Cassidy (R-La.) to approve the Keystone XL pipeline.
The final tally was 252-161, with 31 Democrats crossing over to vote in favor and one Republican, Rep. Justin Amash (Mich.), voting “present.”
In the Senate, the incumbent facing Cassidy in a Dec. 6 runoff was desperately trying to scrape together enough votes to avert a filibuster and save the bill.
Sen. Michael Bennet (D-Colo.) joined the pro-Keystone forces today, Sen. Mary Landrieu (D-La.) told reporters, adding that she thinks she can get the 60th vote. Bennet didn’t release any statements about his decision.
Landrieu has until Tuesday, when the Senate is expected to take up the bill.
“If the Democrats had been half as concerned about creating jobs for the American people as they are about saving the job of one politician in Louisiana, this would have been done years ago,” Sen. John Thune (R-S.D.) told Fox. “This is now six years into this process. The Democrats have been blocking it. The president has been blocking it. And what’s really going to be interesting to see is if, in fact, the Democrats in the Senate now flip and decide to vote for it, what does the president do?”
Thune noted that the State Department’s analysis figures $20 million in additional property tax revenue for his state from pipeline construction, as well as 3,000 to 4,000 jobs. In total, the analysis estimated the creation of about 42,000 jobs from pipeline construction. “It’s a no-brainer,” Thune said.
Sen. Bernie Sanders (I-Vt.) said in a statement that rejecting the bill is “a no-brainer.”
“Instead of increasing carbon emissions and accelerating climate change so oil companies can make more profits, we should put millions of Americans back to work rebuilding our crumbling infrastructure and creating a sustainable energy future,” Sanders said.
Even if Landrieu can find that last Senate vote, it’s likely President Obama will kill the bill.
“My position hasn’t changed, that this is a process that is supposed to be followed. Right now you have a case pending in Nebraska, where the pipeline would run through, in which a state court judge has questioned the plan. And until we know what the route is, it’s very hard to finish that evaluation. And I don’t think we should short- circuit that process,” Obama told reporters while in Burma on Friday.
“I have also noted that, as policy matter, my government believes that we should judge this pipeline based on whether or not it accelerates climate change or whether it helps the American people with their energy costs and their gas prices,” he added. “And I have to constantly push back against this idea that somehow the Keystone pipeline is either this massive jobs bill for the United States, or is somehow lowering gas prices.”
At the State Department, press secretary Jen Psaki said they’re moving ahead with their “thorough, transparent, and objective review” of the pipeline project, and the Senate vote would have no bearing on that.
Agents working for the Immigration and Customs Enforcement agency have already been suffering from low morale. Now they have to contend with illegal aliens taunting them about amnesty.
Jessica Vaughn, Director of Policy Studies at the Center for Immigration, wrote about the tremendous stress ICE agents are under trying to deal with an immigration system that President Obama has deliberately sabotaged:
The president’s gradual, calculated dismantling of our immigration system has caused morale to plummet in the agencies of the Department of Homeland Security. Career immigration officials have courageously objected in public, and sometimes resorted to lawsuits to draw attention to the administration’s subversion of the law. In denial about their principled objections to his scheme, now the president is hoping to stifle their voices by offering them a pay increase as part of this outrageous plan. His assumption that they are motivated by money shows just how little respect he has for the men and women who have devoted their careers to public service in immigration.
Vaughn told the website Secrets about the low morale among ICE agents:
She said that officers are concerned that illegals with criminal records are being released under Obama’s policies, and that some immigrants taunt the officers, believing that the policies protect them.
“Some have told me that illegal alien criminals they have arrested have even taunted them, saying they know the ICE officers can’t do anything to them because of Obama administration policies,” Vaughan told Secrets.
The officers have raised the issues at “town hall” meetings with their superiors.
However, she said, top Homeland officials believe the issue is more about poor pay, not working conditions or the president’s policies. As a result, the White House is considering a pay raise as part of the president’s amnesty plan to some 5 million illegals.
“Clearly the administration is trying to triangulate at best, or more likely thinks that it can just dangle the prospects of a pay raise if they would stop objecting to administration non-enforcement policies,” said Vaughan. “I sincerely doubt anyone will fall for it, but it does reveal what he thinks of them,” she added.
This is not just a matter of “deferred action” on deportations. It is the systematic breakdown of immigration law and procedures. Most of these agents have served proudly, upholding the law while trying to act humanely toward illegal aliens. That’s how they’re trained. But when criminals who’ve committed serious crimes are let loose; when agents don’t even know what the law is supposed to be anymore; when their efforts to keep us safe are stymied by higher ups — it’s a heavy weight to carry when no one is listening to their warnings.
No matter who gets elected as our next president, this is going to be a mess that will take years to clean up.
GOP Sen. Jeff Flake (Ariz.) and Democratic Sen. Martin Heinrich (N.M.) got their bipartisan cred by hanging out on a deserted island for a week for Discovery’s Rival Survival.
Now, after having speared fish together and drinking out of coconuts, they’re spearheading what they hope will be a tradition in the new Congress: monthly bipartisan lunches.
Flake and Heinrich — and 30 of their colleagues — think it would be a good idea for Harry Reid to literally break bread with Mitch McConnell.
Signatories of the letter sent today to Reid and McConnell were as diverse as Dianne Feinstein (D-Calif.) and Marco Rubio (R-Fla.).
“As both the Senate and the nation look toward the 114th Congress and beyond, we believe that better functioning relationships in this body will be a necessary prerequisite in order to meet our common challenges,” the letter states.
“Last year, under your leadership, members from both sides of the aisle were able to come together and have a frank, open and fruitful discussion during the Joint Caucus meeting in the Old Senate Chamber. As you know, nearly half of the members of the Senate are currently serving their first term, a level not seen in 30 years. Soon more new members will join our ranks. We believe that regular bipartisan meetings like the one in July 2013 can help foster the kind of productive relationships that will be critical for the Senate to live up to its reputation as the world’s most deliberative body,” it continued.
“It is our hope that our respective leadership teams take concrete steps to broaden the relationships and deepen the rapport among members. Specifically, we believe that monthly bipartisan lunches would serve this goal. Given that our caucuses already meet separately at least twice weekly, surely scheduling a bipartisan lunch just once a month would make for a workable option.”
Flake and Heinrich can catch lunch; just don’t expect them to cook it.
Massachusetts liberal Senator Elizabeth Warren spoke to a private conference of Democratic big donors yesterday and, according to this report from Politico, brought down the house.
She should be getting used to it. Everywhere she goes, the Democratic Party’s far-left base is imploring her to run. She speaks their language, thinks like they do, is outraged about the same things as they are.
And she hates conservatives and capitalism as much as any liberal in America.
Warren drew multiple standing ovations during her talk, held in a banquet room at Washington’s Mandarin Oriental hotel during the annual winter meeting of the Democracy Alliance, a club of major liberal donors.
Throughout the day, donors repeatedly broached the question of whether Warren would run to Paul Egerman, a Democracy Alliance board member who was the national finance chairman of her Senate race and introduced Warren for her speech Thursday. He patiently but firmly told each that she would not seek the Democratic presidential nomination.
That didn’t stop a donor from asking Warren herself with the first question during a question-and-answer session following her speech, according to a Democracy Alliance source who was in the room. She also answered definitively in the negative, said the source.
Yet the continued interest in a Warren 2016 campaign from the ranks of the Democracy Alliance could, at the least, hint at trouble for Hillary Clinton, the presumed Democratic front-runner, when it comes to winning over liberal donors and activists.
The Democracy Alliance has had an outsized influence in Democratic politics. It works to leverage its donors’ massive bank accounts to steer the party to the left on causes dear to liberals — including fighting to reduce economic inequality and the role of money in politics. Warren has emerged as a standard-bearer for those fights, and her address on Thursday dealt with economic inequality.
Another attendee asked Warren after the speech why Senate Democrats didn’t aggressively push the liberal economic policies she champions.
“The fight is to frame the issues for the next few elections,” she said, according to the source in the room. “We have moved the Democrats over the last four years.”
Earlier Thursday, Senate Democratic Leader Harry Reid tapped Warren for a leadership position that will utilize her appeal by making her an official liaison to the liberal base. Reid is set to talk to donors Friday morning on the sidelines of the Mandarin Oriental conference at a session hosted by a group called iVote, which raises cash to try to elect Democratic secretaries of state. Reid’s office did not respond to a request for comment on his participation in the event.
So what’s a senator to do? Steadier constitutions than hers have been unable to resist the siren song to run for president. The big donors she addressed yesterday told her that she would have all the money she would need to be competitive.
Hillary’s star is descending. Democrats are openly casting about for an alternative following another midterm debacle where even in Arkansas, the Clinton “magic” didn’t work. Some party pros worry that Hillary won’t be able to turn out the base the same way that Obama did. Suddenly, Mrs. Clinton doesn’t look so inevitable anymore. Might there be an opening for someone to run to her left?
In 1924, H.T. Webster began drawing a comic called “The Timid Soul” for the New York World newspaper. It featured Caspar Milquetoast, a man afraid of practically everything and everybody.
Fast forward 90 years: Today’s New York Times says that Barack Obama “feels liberated” by getting past those messy elections so that he can implement is agenda on immigration, climate change and regulating the Internet, among other issues. Of course, previous election victories also liberated Obama to implement his agenda.
When you’re on a date with Barack Obama, ‘yes’ means yes, and ‘no’ means yes.
Barack Obama is no Caspar Milquetoast.
“…aides said Mr. Obama has concluded that he cannot let opposition from the other party stop him from advancing his priorities…”
In this case, “opposition from the other party” means decisive electoral defeat in the midterm elections after you explicitly said that your policies are on the ballot — every one of them.
Now, take a few steps from the White House down the National Mall to the Russell Senate Office Building and meet the leader of that oppositional other party — new Senate Majority Leader Mitch Milquetoast…uh, McConnell, reacting to Mr. Obama’s hubris.
“I had maybe naïvely hoped the president would look at the results of the election and decide to come to the political center and do some business with us,” [McConnell] added. “I still hope he does at some point but the early signs are not good.”
I had maybe naively hoped Sen. McConnell would look at the results of the election and decide to come to the front, and do what voters really want. I still hope he does at some point but the early signs are not good.
Area schools are preparing for the imminent announcement of the grand jury verdict in the shooting of 18-year-old Michael Brown by a white police officer in Ferguson, Missouri. A letter posted to the school district’s website said the St. Louis County prosecutor would provide schools with three hours’ notice if the decision is reached on a weekday or 24 hours notice if the decision comes on a weekend.
“The three-hour window will allow us enough time to transport students home safely,” Superintendent Grayling Tobias said.
Reuters reports that signs of preparedness around the town are noticeable: “businesses along the Ferguson street that saw the worst of the August unrest keeping boards on their windows and some shops near the Ferguson Police Department also beginning to board up their fronts.”
Churches are also preparing and plan to offer “prayer, shelter, food and a sanctuary for protesters, residents, students and others affected by potential unrest.” A coalition of 11 churches in the area have formed a partnership with two school districts to provide support for families after the grand jury announcement is made.
The Brown family attorney’s have called on the community and law enforcement to be “peaceful, calm and dignified” as a grand jury weighs charges.
“Regardless of the decision of the grand jury, this will be a defining moment in the history of the state of Missouri,” attorney Benjamin Crump said.
The chairman of the House Armed Services Committee warned today that President Obama can’t let his “Global Zero” disarmament aims get in the way of Pentagon observations and recommendations on the “sobering state of our nuclear force.”
Defense Secretary Chuck Hagel told reporters this morning that both internal and external reviews found “a consistent lack of investment and support for our nuclear forces over far too many years has left us with too little margin to cope with mounting stresses.”
The reviews found “evidence of systematic problems that if not addressed could undermine the safety, security, and effectiveness of the elements of the force in the future,” including “manning, infrastructure and skill deficiencies; a culture of micro-management; and over-inspection and inadequate communication, follow-up, and accountability by senior department in nuclear enterprise leadership.”
“The root cause has been a lack of sustained focus, attention, and resources, resulting in a pervasive sense that a career in the nuclear enterprise offers too few opportunities for growth and advancement,” Hagel said.
The secretary stressed that “our nuclear deterrent plays a critical role in ensuring U.S. national security, and it’s DOD’s highest priority mission.”
“No other capability we have is more important… Consistent with President Obama’s guidance, our policy is to reduce the role of nuclear weapons in our nation’s security strategy and to seek the peace and security of a world without nuclear weapons. We’ll continue to do both, but that doesn’t diminish our responsibilities.”
Armed Services Chairman Buck McKeon (R-Calif.) said the findings underscore the “urgent investment needed” to ensure the “future effectiveness” of the nuclear force.
“Deterrence is the cornerstone of our national security strategy – as Chairman Dempsey has testified, it’s our No. 1 priority because it guarantees the ‘survival of the nation’. But, the Nuclear Enterprise has suffered from neglect for too long,” McKeon said. “Insufficient resources, indifferent leadership, and poor morale have taken their toll. I commend the Secretary for his leadership and for prioritizing the resources necessary to make sure our deterrent remains safe, secure and reliable.”
He noted that the Department of Energy also needs to get in the game to “re-prioritize its nuclear mission, correct for years of underfunding, and restore morale.”
“Most importantly, I hope the president will listen to his senior civilian and military national security leaders, take this as seriously as they do, and cast aside his Global Zero vision that is in reality unilateral disarmament,” McKeon said. “We can work together to follow the blueprint established by Secretary Hagel and his review and show the leadership our men and women in uniform deserve.”
Hagel’s recommendations include “changes in organization, policies, and culture,” while “others require an increase in resources, allocated to the nuclear mission.”
“We must restore the prestige that attracted the brightest minds of the Cold War era, so our most talented young men and women see the nuclear pathway as promising in value,” he said. “That’s why I have granted the Air Force authority to elevate Global Strike Command to a four-star billet and Air Staff’s head of strategic deterrence and nuclear integration to a three-star billet. They will no longer be outranked by their non-nuclear counterparts, giving the nuclear Air Force the second-to-none leadership it deserves.”
The first 25 nuclear deterrence operations service medals were awarded last week.
He switches it up this time, showing that he is not only the precise embodiment of the far-left, Woodrow Wilson-style mastermind who believes it’s his moral duty to lie his sub-mental followers towards a better life, but that he is also the precise embodiment of the far-left Woodrow Wilson-style mastermind who can bedazzle his sub-mental conservative opponents with his theoretical intellect.
In the 2011 video shot by TrueNorthReports.com and sent to Watchdog.org on Thursday, Gruber appears before the Vermont House Health Care Committee to present recommendations for a universal, publicly financed health care program. The recommendations were part of the 2011 “Hsiao Report” submitted to the Legislature by economist William C. Hsiao and co-written by Gruber.
As Gruber sits listening, the committee chair reads a comment from a Vermonter who expresses concern that the economist’s plan might lead to “ballooning costs, increased taxes and bureaucratic outrages,” among other things.
After hearing the Vermonter’s worries, Gruber responds, “Was this written by my adolescent children by any chance?”
The remark was met with uproarious laughter.
First they ignore you, then they laugh at you. It continues:
Contrary to Gruber’s snarky insult, the comment was not written by an adolescent.
“It was actually written by a former senior policy adviser in the White House who knew something about health care systems,” said John McClaughry, a two-term Vermont state senator and adviser to President Ronald Reagan in the 1980s.
McClaughry, who wrote the comment in an op-ed weeks before the 2011 committee meeting, told Vermont Watchdog he did not know Gruber made the condescending insult. However, he was aware of other videos discovered this week in which Gruber boasted of writing deceptive policies to trick “stupid” American voters.
“No one should trust this man. … Based on the rest of the stuff that’s come out on the videos, nobody can trust this guy. He has no use for transparency, he thinks people are stupid, and he’ll do anything to get this thing through and pocket his $400,000. That’s not in the interest of the people of Vermont,” McClaughry said.
Watch the video on the next page.
While he was out “pushing for press freedoms” in China and Burma, President Obama “pledged” that here in the United States, reporters will not go to jail for “doing their job.” The president declined to comment on the ongoing investigation involving New York Times reporter James Risen, who was subpoenaed to testify against a CIA operative accused of leaking, but repeated Attorney General Eric Holder’s pledge that “no journalist is going to go to jail for doing their job.”
Despite Obama’s remarks, his administration has a very sketchy track record on the First Amendment. James Risen, the New York Times reporter mentioned above, told Maureen Dowd: “I was nervous for a long time, but they’ve [the Obama administration] been after me for six years so now I try to ignore it.” Risen went on to tell Dowd: “A lot of people still think this is some kind of game or signal or spin. They don’t want to believe that Obama wants to crack down on the press and whistle-blowers. But he does. He’s the greatest enemy to press freedom in a generation.”
And then there was that time when the DOJ bugged the cloak room in the House of Representatives. Representative Devin Nunes told radio show host Hugh Hewitt:
DN: No, I absolutely do not, especially after this wiretapping incident, essentially, of the House of Representative. I don’t think people are focusing on the right thing when they talk about going after the AP reporters. The big problem that I see is that they actually tapped right where I’m sitting right now, the Cloak Room.
HH: Wait a minute, this is news to me.
DN: The Cloak Room in the House of Representatives.
HH: I have no idea what you’re talking about.
DN: So when they went after the AP reporters, right? Went after all of their phone records, they went after the phone records, including right up here in the House Gallery, right up from where I’m sitting right now. So you have a real separation of powers issue that did this really rise to the level that you would have to get phone records that would, that would most likely include members of Congress, because as you know…
DN: …members of Congress talk to the press all the time.
The Obama administration also went after the Associated Press’s phone records. “In a sweeping and unusual move, the Justice Department secretly obtained two months’ worth of telephone records of journalists working for the Associated Press as part of a year-long investigation into the disclosure of classified information about a failed al-Qaeda plot last year.”
Let’s not forget the situation with James Rosen of Fox News: the Department of Justice branded the journalist a co-conspirator in order to obtain his emails.Wrote the Washington Post: “Critics said the government’s suggestion that James Rosen, Fox News’s chief Washington correspondent, was a ‘co-conspirator’ for soliciting classified information threatened to criminalize press freedoms protected by the First Amendment. Others also suggested that the Justice Department’s claim in pursuing an alleged leak from the State Department was little more than pretext to seize his e-mails to build their case against the suspected leaker.”
Said Obama today in Burma: “I’m pretty blunt and pretty frank about the fact that societies that repress journalists ultimately oppress people as well. Societies that are free and vibrant and successful, part of that formulation is the free from of information which requires a free press.”
I think he may be on to something.
Majority Leader Harry Reid told President Obama on Thursday that it would be wise to hold off on issuing his executive orders on immigration until after the Continuing Resolution funding the government through the end of the fiscal year was passed.
Reid worries that if Obama acts to amnesty 5 million illegals, Republicans will include an amendment to the CR that prevents the implementation of the plan via withholding funding from various programs.
Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid (D-Nev.) said Thursday that he has urged President Barack Obama not to take any executive action on immigration until December, amid threats from Republicans that such a move could derail funding for the government.
“The president has said he’s going to do the executive action — the question is when he can do it. It’s up to him,” Reid told reporters on Capitol Hill. “I’d like to get the finances of this country out of the way before he does it.”
Reid added that he has expressed his view to Obama, but ultimately “it’s up to him.”
It’s doubtful that any Republican amendment defunding the president’s executive action on immigration would pass in the Senate. But the House version of the CR would almost certainly contain a ban on funding programs that help implement the executive orders. There’s a very good chance that House Republicans would vote down a Senate version of the bill that did not contain such language, thus shutting down the government if an agreement couldn’t be reached by December 10.
Unity among Republicans appears to be strong. Even John McCain and Lindsey Graham are on board:
“If the president illegally tries to grant amnesty to millions of more people, I believe Congress should use every available tool to stop that amnesty and to defend the rule of law,” Sen. Ted Cruz (R-Texas) told The Huffington Post.
Even Republicans who criticized last year’s government shutdown agreed. Sens. John McCain (R-Ariz.) and Lindsey Graham (R-S.C.), both vocal critics of the previous shutdown and co-authors of the Senate immigration bill that passed last year, warned of grave consequences of Obama were to act unilaterally.
“Why not give the new Congress six months to see if we can find a way forward?” Graham told HuffPost. “You’ve got a bunch of new people coming in who need to be tested about what they believe regarding immigration. Patience is a virtue in life, it’s a necessity in a democracy. I just think it’s ill-conceived and the public will rebel against it.”
Graham added that he had appealed directly to the White House on the matter.
“I said, ‘Listen, what’s the downside of giving the new Congress a chance? I think most Americans will find this inappropriate and Democrats will pay a price,’” he said. “Most Americans would be for rational comprehensive immigration reform. Very few Americans are for Barack Obama going it alone.”
McCain said Obama’s decision to take executive action “poisons the well in more ways than one.”
“If the president were serious about immigration reform, he’d say, ‘It’s a new Congress, new members, in both House and Senate, and I’ll give them a chance to move forward on immigration reform.’ He’s not going to do that,” McCain said. “So you have to question whether he’s really serious about immigration reform or helping with the Hispanic vote in the 2016 election.”
McCain also rejected the notion that Congress had forced Obama’s hand by failing to act on the issue.
“There may be something happening. You should give it time in order to find that out. What’s the difference between three months?” McCain said, adding that he would “absolutely” vote for a continuing resolution that defunds any executive action Obama takes on immigration.
“If he vetoes, he vetoes,” McCain said. “I believe in the Constitution. He’s the one who’s violating the Constitution.”
It will be very tough to spin a government shutdown as the Republicans’ fault. More than 70% of the country disagrees with the president’s amnesty plan, and would understand the necessity of fighting the president’s illegal orders.
But a delay in announcing amnesty may work in Reid’s favor. Without a hard target, Republicans would be protesting what might happen, not what would already have happened. The president can always say he hasn’t made up his mind yet what he’s going to do. That would be a typical Obama lie, but who’s to say otherwise?
With Obama ready to pull the trigger on executive amnesty, Republicans appear united and prepared to oppose it.
While the anti-Semitic elements of France certainly have a greater hold on their zeitgeist than their counterparts in the U.S. do, that the current targeting of the Jewish state lives entirely within the far-left political sphere is an exact correlation to current U.S. culture. Desiring the weakening — or destruction — of Israel is not merely a common tenet of the far-left anymore, it’s adopted dogma and a primary pursuit of the movement.
Today, the Times Of Israel reports:
CRIF, France’s federation of Jewish organizations and communities, said the submission to parliament of a draft motion favoring immediate recognition of a Palestinian state risks exacerbating anti-Semitic hatred.
CRIF urged French lawmakers to refrain from voting in favor of the motion, which a predominantly Socialist bloc this week submitted to a vote in the French lower house later this month. Last week, the French Green party advanced a similar initiative in the French Senate.
What socialism has to do with opposing the Jewish state, that’s well-trod ground. What’s the Green’s dog in this fight? Well … I guess it’s because they’re socialists, too.
“In France, after the anti-Semitic riots this summer, this declaration will certainly not be interpreted as a peace initiative and risks exacerbating the anti-Semitic tensions which we saw last summer,” reads the CRIF statement on the planned vote, which is slated for Nov. 28.
From Jan. 1 to July 31, the SPCJ security service of the French Jewish community documented 527 anti-Semitic incidents compared to 276 in the same period of 2013. The increase was largely attributed to the targeting of Jews by Muslims and Arabs in response to Israel’s killing of hundreds of Palestinians in its summer war with Hamas in Gaza.
The French draft motion follows the adoption last month of a similar motion in Britain’s House of Commons and in Ireland’s upper house. Also last month, Swedish Prime Minister Stefan Lofven said his country would recognize “Palestine.” Another draft motion was submitted to Spain’s congress for a vote later this month.
France, Britain, Ireland, Sweden, Spain. Our window for safely, responsibly taking the Steinbergs on that European vacation narrowed just a bit more.
Is Abu Bakr al-Baghdadi, the self-styled “caliph” of the Islamic State, injured or dead, as some in the media are eagerly speculating?
Better question: does it really matter?
For almost a decade now, every time an Islamic jihadi leader is killed, the Western mainstream media exult, portraying the death as a major blow to the jihad. And, for almost a decade now, I have responded by posting an article that I first wrote in 2006 for Victor Davis Hanson’s website, Private Papers.
Although I changed the names of the jihadi leaders killed to suit the occasion—first Abu Mus‘ab al-Zarqawi, then Abu Laith al-Libi, then Abu Omar al-Baghdadi and Abu Ayub al-Misri, and finally Osama bin Laden—my conclusion has remained the same:
The West’s plight vis-à-vis radical Islam is therefore akin to Hercules’ epic encounter with the multi-headed Hydra-monster. Every time the mythical strongman lopped off one of the monster’s heads, two new ones grew in its place. To slay the beast once and for all, Hercules learned to cauterize the stumps with fire, thereby preventing any more heads from sprouting out.
Similarly while the West continues to lop off monster heads like figurehead Zarqawi [or bin Laden, al-Baghdadi, etc.] it is imperative to treat the malady — radical Islam—in order to ultimately prevail. Victory can only come when the violent ideologies of radical Islam are cauterized with fire.
But alas, the Hydra-monster is myth, while radical Islam is stark reality.
Eight years later, this “stark reality” has manifested itself into a head-chopping, infidel-crucifying, mass-murdering, female-enslaving Islamic State.
And yet, in the previous years, proclamations of “victory” were habitually made by media and politicians whenever a top jihadi was killed.
Recall all the exultation that took place in 2006 after al-Zarqawi—the forefather of the Islamic State, or “Al-Qaeda Second Generation”—was killed. Then, almost every major politician, including President Bush, Prime Minister Blair, and Iraq’s Prime Minister Maliki, gave some sort of victory speech. The New York Times called his death a “major watershed in the war.”
Similarly, in 2008, after Abu Laith al-Libi was killed, Congressman Peter Hoekstra issued a statement saying that his death “clearly will have an impact on the radical jihadist movement.”
More myopic triumphalism was in the air after Abu Omar al-Baghdadi and Abu Ayub al-Masri were killed in 2010 during a joint U.S.-Iraqi operation. Then, U.S. Vice-President Joe Biden said the “deaths are potentially devastating blows to al-Qaeda in Iraq [the original name of the Islamic State],” adding “This operation is evidence in my view, that the future of Iraq will not be shaped by those who would seek to destroy that country”—an assertion that has now proven woefully wrong.
Similarly, U.S. commander Gen. Raymond Odierno asserted that “The death of these terrorists is potentially the most significant blow to al-Qaeda in Iraq since the beginning of the insurgency,” adding that it would be “very difficult” for the al Qaeda network to replace the two men.
And who could forget all the media triumphalism, if not hysteria, surrounding the 2011 death of Osama bin Laden? Then, CNN security analyst Peter Bergen declared that “Killing bin Laden is the end of the war on terror. We can just sort of announce that right now.” Insisting that the “iconic nature of bin Laden’s persona” cannot be replaced, Bergen further suggested that “It’s time to move on.”… Keep reading
LabMD, a company that diagnoses cancer for physicians, is waging a true David vs. Goliath battle with the Federal Trade Commission. It is simple, clean and vicious, and LabMD is finally taking a pound of flesh out of the FTC.
In 2008, LabMD had a file taken from their possession containing over 9000 patient’s billing information . The FTC has not found a single victim and not one copy of the file can be found out in cyberspace. Nevertheless, since LabMD would not subject itself to the whims of the FTC by signing a twenty year consent decree, the FTC pounded LabMD into the ground with relentless subpoenas and depositions, terrifying current and former clients, physicians and employees, so that LabMD ceased medical operations in January of this year. Psychological warfare, draining financial coffers dry, and reputation assassination are just a few tactics in the FTC’s unsupervised playbook.
And I fought back hard. I wrote a book, The Devil Inside the Beltway, which exposed that the FTC was working with the hacker. They encouraged and enabled the hacker’s behavior and then took the hacker’s bounty and punished companies for being hacked. Zealots have no logic.
I knocked on doors all over Congress. A whistleblower contacted me to testify against the FTC and Tiversa. What he will say will probably shock no one and sadden many about what we already know to be true about the way our government behaves itself. That whistleblower has the FTC desperately playing back door and underhanded politics to prevent his getting immunity. Dirty. Dirty. Dirty.
How did the FTC get itself in this mess? Arrogance, entitlement and disrespect for American small business. The FTC lacks technical competency. When President Obama issued Executive Order 13636 creating a working group setting government data security standards for critical infrastructure, he gave the job to the Department of Commerce. When Congress wanted to protect sensitive personal health information, it gave the job to the Department of Health and Human Services. The FTC had no seat at either table.
Even so, the FTC has unilaterally decided that the FTC Act, which never uses the words “data security,” gives it the power to crash the party and regulate whomever it chooses. But though the FTC grabs regulatory authority it runs away from its responsibility to define, in an intelligible fashion, what “reasonable” data security means. Rather, it requires companies and their customers to guess what “reasonable” data security measures are in any given case based on a bizarre “common law” of consent orders, speeches, PowerPoint presentations, Spanish language flyers and random internet posts. They argue they don’t have to make rules or have standards. Such is the size of their arrogance.
The FTC abuses its power. My company, LabMD, provided cancer diagnosis services and once employed approximately forty people. At all times, we handled protected health information under HIPAA’s data security regulations. No one has ever complained that they were harmed by anything LabMD ever did, or did not do, with respect to data security. We know that the FTC asked the FBI to investigate an alleged LabMD data breach involving over 9,000 individuals, but that the FBI found nothing at all.
Despite this, the FTC decided HIPAA was not enough, and for reasons it refuses to disclose, singled out LabMD for enforcement action. It began investigating my company in January, 2010. It demanded and was given thousands of documents and access to current and former employees for sworn statements. It filed a complaint in August, 2013.
The relentless FTC, out to place our head on spike to scare all of you that are watching, tore the heart out of LabMD. We ceased diagnosing cancer in January, 2014. But at no point, until late March, 2014, when the government finally provided the company’s lawyers with an “expert” report, did the FTC tell LabMD how, exactly, its data security measures had failed to measure up.
All LabMD did was play by the rules, cooperate with the government and try and help physicians treat patients. Perhaps, if LabMD had hired a data security “consultant” with good ties to the FTC, who appeared on panels together with the FTC’s lawyers or who had the proper political connections, things would have turned out differently. But because the FTC recognizes no objective standards and eschews transparency about its enforcement decisions, here we stand. The FTC’s conduct proves only that nonsense is the regulatory coin of the realm inside the Beltway.
So now we’re supposed to believe that president Obama just realized Syria’s president Bashar al Assad must be removed to take out ISIS (or in his words ISIL) as CNN reports and he’s calibrating and reassessing his strategy on Syria? One word: idol. I can already hear proverbial headshakes and eyerolls occurring in unison around the Leviant and the rest of the world. Did someone just inform our commander in chief that Syria has been embroiled in first a civil uprising, which escalated to a civil war over nearly four years ago? According to the United Nations, Syria’s body count ranges roughly in the neighborhood of 191,000.
Newsweek to Uncover ISIS Money Trail
Does Obama subscribe to Newsweek? Maybe he should. Newsweek singlehandedly dedicated its November 14, 2014 cover to the terror juggernaut’s deep pockets. My analysis: ISIS is a more result of ‘watching and waiting and supplying arms to Gulf states funding terrorism’ who are bent on power, ethnic cleansing and challenging our Western ideology than anything else. ISIS didn’t just come onto the scene yesterday. Newsweek details the organization’s deep pockets that operate outside legitimate banking channels on page 26 – 41.
Fact remains, ISIS has successfully overtaken territory that equals the size of Austria. A small, broke band of bandits couldn’t pull this off.
Yet you know what they say about opinions and bungholes. Everyone has one. But what about Obama’s well-laid plan on Syria? Some would say this is yet another mirage, smokescreen or fictional tale spinning out of the White House at breakneck speed to prove Obama isn’t asleep behind the wheel.
Yet is he?
Many would agree Obama kicked the can on Syria for years. His Administration operates out of vacuum of “do nothing and see if it goes away” mentality. I don’t want to point fingers or claim war is the only solution, as we know it’s not. Diplomacy comes into play, really. But sticking one’s proverbial head in the sand to play the domestic race card instead of attending to national security concerns of securing our borders and helping the citizens of Syria when they are under genocide much the way the Jews of Europe were is about the same as the Pope acting like Hitler and Mussolini were two misunderstood protagonists. Neither is further from the truth.
Deep Pocket Parties: Qatar, Kuwait and Saudi Arabia
So exactly who is funding ISIS, ISIL or whatever you want to call this terrorist organization? Remember that inconsequential 11 billion arms deal our Administration signed recently with terrorist funding Qatar? Or how about the $60 billion arms deal in 2013 with Saudi Arabia? Or how about that paltry $5 billion arms deal with Kuwait who wanted 60 advanced Patriot Capability missiles with parts, equipment and training? Or how about the announcement of the $123 billion arms deal to the Gulf States in 2010. Well, duh. Sound like we’re arming and greasing the enemy? Just a tad.
So the bright minds at Newsweek took on the daunting task of interviewing leaders from government officials in Iraq, Kurdistan, Europe, Syria, and the USA to find out how ISIS can survive, conquer and pay their bills when under aerial and land assault. Oddly enough, ISIS has mushroomed to support 8 million. It has received some $40 million or more in the last two years alone from oil rich countries that include private donors like Persian Gulf royalty, business consortiums and wealthy individuals or families. Newsweek credits criticism from former secretary of state and now 2016 POTUS contender Hillary Clinton and the international community as the reason Saudi Arabia passed 2013 legislation criminalizing anyone funding terrorist organizations like Al-Qaeda, Al-Nusra and ISIS.
Yet other area actors didn’t budge. While Saudi Arabia declared ISIS their number one enemy, Gulf states like Qatar and Kuwait remained mum. So if counterterrorist funding is connected heavily to Qatar and Kuwait, why is the Obama Administration agreeing to arms deals with these out-of-control actors? Likely, because there is no plan minus the uh-oh-reactionary-fly-by-the-seat plan like Benghazi was just an outraged Islamic mob reaction to a video. Remember that whopper?
Funding Terrorists Under the Guise of Humanitarian Aid
Nothing like starving children and widows to get people to open their pocketbooks. But haven’t we learned anything from the Holy Land Foundation? One of the best tips in the Newsweek article is the part on mobile apps like What’s App and Kik. A professional colleague and former president of the Middle East at one of my former employer’s once recommended that I use What’s App. What’s App and Kik are used often used by terrorists to coordinate geographical drop-off points for payments. These apps use a GPS mapping tool that makes it simple for terrorists to communicate locations.
My advice? Read the Newsweek article in its entirety as it’s much too lengthy to detail its contents fairly here. Yet suffice to say it took a Brookings analysis to point out that:
“in asymmetric conflict, if insurgents survive 12 months of activity, the likelihood of opposition victory increases significantly, but should the conflict perpetuate for at least three years, the chance of insurgent victory begins to diminish and political agreements become more likely.”
Obama’s evolving Syria plan? Well, all I can say is race baiting and campaigning for 2016 is useless and hindsight sucks. Syria’s bloodbath started in 2011 and in a month’s time we are entering 2015.
Meeting in Jordan this week, Secretary of State John Kerry said he and Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu talked “one-on-one for a little while” about Iran nuclear negotiations ahead of a Nov. 24 deadline for a deal.
“And he expressed his concerns, of course, and I made it clear to him that the standard that we have applied throughout this negotiation still applies, and that is that there are four pathways to a nuclear weapon and we need to make certain that each pathway — the Fordow facility, the Arak nuclear — the Arak heavy water plutonium reactor facility, the Natanz enrichment facility, and covert capacities — are all closed off so that not — not as a matter of bias or prejudice, but because that’s the only way the world can know for certain that a program is indeed a peaceful program,” Kerry told reporters in Amman yesterday. “And our responsibility is to make certain that there is a sufficient breakout time in the event that there was some change in policy or something happened.”
“So those guarantees are in place and we will keep all of our friends and allies informed of what we are doing in the days ahead. Our hopes remain still to try to achieve an agreement because it’s better for the world.”
Kerry said he hopes Iran cooperates in negotiations “not as a matter of coercion but out of mutual respect and out of the interests that we all have for living in a world that is free of nuclear weapons.”
Netanyahu told the Jewish Federations of North America General Assembly this week it should be “obvious that Iran is not prepared to dismantle its nuclear weapons program in return” for sanctions relief.
“Unfortunately, instead of holding firm and demanding that Iran dismantle its program, the international community is reportedly, and I hope these reports do not prove to be true, but the international community is reportedly willing to leave Iran’s nuclear program largely intact. They hope to rely on intelligence and inspectors to prevent Iran from developing nuclear weapons,” Netanyahu said.
“We must recognize the limitations of our own intelligence gathering capabilities. Remember – for years, both Israel’s intelligence and US intelligence failed to discover Iran’s secret enrichment facilities at Natanz and Qom. And given that record, there is no reason to believe that our intelligence facilities will be perfect in the future,” he added.
“As for inspectors, they weren’t able to stop North Korea from getting the bomb. And if the ten year run-around that Iran has given the International Atomic Energy Agency is any indication, inspectors won’t stop Iran from getting the bomb either.”
Netanyahu stressed that Iran should never be seen as a partner in the Middle East as long as the regime is in place.
“The Islamic State of Iran is not a partner of America,” he said. “It’s an enemy of America.”
Rep. Steve King (R-Iowa) warned President Obama would be “sending us into a constitutional crisis” if he uses an executive order on immigration reform, expected as early as next Friday.
“The President was right when he said on March 28, 2011, ‘with respect to the notion that I can just suspend deportations through executive order, that’s just not the case, because there are laws on the books that Congress has passed.’ And when he said, on May 10, 2011, ‘sometimes when I talk to immigration advocates, they wish I could just bypass Congress and change the law myself. But that’s not how a democracy works.’ Well, now we know that his belief about ‘how democracy works’ was a ploy. Now he wants to unilaterally rewrite immigration law granting illegal amnesty to millions,” King said in a statement.
“The audacity of this President to think he can completely destroy the Rule of Law with the stroke of a pen is unfathomable to me. It is unconstitutional, it is cynical, and it violates the will of the American people. Our Republic will not stand if we tolerate a President who is set upon the complete destruction of the Rule of Law.”
King said he was calling on his House colleagues “to use the power of the purse to protect our Article I authority.”
“This is about defending our oath to the Constitution too. We cannot allow Barack Obama’s anticipated, unconstitutional act to be implemented, for if it is it will destroy the pillars of American Exceptionalism,” King said. “Come what may – we must always protect the Constitution.”
When pressed by reporters yesterday, Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-Ky.) said there would be no government shutdowns, even as a response to immigration executive action.
“We will not be shutting the government down or threatening to default on the national debt,” McConnell stressed twice.
“I hope the president will heed the request of people like Senator Angus King, who said he hopes he delays this,” Minority Whip John Cornyn (R-Texas) said. “I hope he delays it permanently, but at least I hope the President would give us an adequate time to be able to work together to try to begin to build a bipartisan consensus on repairing our broken immigration system.”
Rep. Tom Cole (R-Okla.) stressed this week that impeachment isn’t being considered by House leadership as a response to Obama.
“You know, no impeachment legislation is pending. None has been proposed. I know of no one who favors that as a course, you know, that’s in any leadership position,” Cole told MSNBC.
“So, again, I think this is a Democratic fantasy. And I certainly don’t see it coming to pass.”
Ever helpful to Democrats, the New York Times points out today that President Obama, by kicking up the volume on immigration, climate change and regulating the Internet, merely pays homage to President George W. Bush.
Although they do not present it this way, in some ways Mr. Obama and his aides are taking a page from President George W. Bush’s playbook after his own “thumping” in his final midterm elections. Instead of pulling out of the deteriorating war in Iraq, as Democrats interpreted Mr. Bush’s election mandate, he sent more troops. Democrats like Mr. Obama, then a senator, accused the president of defying the voters. In the end, the reinforcements and a strategy change helped turn around the war.
The analogy is fundamentally, fatally flawed.
Let’s posit that the American people, by their congressional votes in 2006, sent a message to end the Iraq war. If that were true, you could say that Bush ignored the voice of the people. Although you could as easily conclude that his actions were meant to end the war.
No matter how you read the public will, George W. Bush acted within his constitutional authority as commander in chief when he ordered the successful 30,000-troop surge in January 2007.
As commander in chief, it was Bush’s role to effectively prosecute the war in Iraq, a use of military force that Congress had decisively authorized — 297-133 House, 77-23 Senate.
However, what President Obama now endeavors to do — by distilling his party’s devastating midterm losses into a steroid shot for his agenda — flies in the face of that Constitution.
- He’ll use executive orders to usurp Congress’ Article I, Section 8, authority regarding immigration.
- He uses regulatory agencies like the EPA to go beyond anything Congress authorized with regard to environmental protection.
- He pressures a board of political appointees (the FCC) to rein in the same industry that allows most of us to watch his spellbinding YouTube videos, a move that would further focus power over information in the hands of people who devote their days to boiling down policies into concentrated power.
Nearly everything on Obama’s known agenda, as he waddles into the sunset, stretches or exceeds his constitutional authority.
Post-thrashing Obama ≠ post-thumpin’ Bush.
Sen. Tim Scott (R-S.C.) talked with CNN host Don Lemon last night about how his 94-year-old grandfather views his historic win given the very different situation for blacks in the South in his generation — “from picking cotton to Congress,” as Scott calls his family’s trajectory.
“I can’t really explain what’s happening with the NAACP and who they congratulate and who they don’t,” Scott said in response to the organization not congratulating him on his historic win.
He added that it is important, however, to discuss how to eradicate poverty. “For those who want to have that conversation, anytime, anyplace, with anyone, call me, I’m coming.”
Scott said the NAACP’s silence simply “speaks to a legacy of shunning Republican candidates, black and white.”
The senator did say he got a “surprise call” from President Obama before he was set to give his victory speech on election night.
“We talked about education … we talked about skills in the workplace and looking for common ground,” Scott said.
Scott chuckled when Lemon asked if he has any presidential aspirations.
“I once thought about running for the presidency of my homeowners’ association; I didn’t have the votes,” he responded.
“I think I might stay in the Senate for at least another term, maybe go into ministry after that.”
The State Department said in a statement that it’s working with the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention to bring a Sierra Leone doctor infected with Ebola to the United States.
The surgeon will be flown to the Nebraska Medical Center for treatment, the CDC said.
The State Department said it was ”in touch with the family of a U.S. legal permanent resident working in Sierra Leone who has contracted Ebola.”
“His wife, who resides in Maryland, has asked the State Department to investigate whether he is well enough to be transported back to the University of Nebraska Medical Center for treatment,” the statement continued. “We will provide further updates when available.”
The facility has treated two Americans, Dr. Rick Sacra and NBC freelance cameraman Ashoka Mukpo.
The World Health Organization reported this week that Mali has its second case of Ebola, transmitted from Guinea.
The newest statistics from the WHO report at least 14,098 cases of Ebola and 5,160 deaths.
“The case occurred in a nurse who worked at a privately-run clinic in the capital city, Bamako,” the organization said of the new Mali case.
“The nurse, who was showing Ebola-like symptoms, was isolated on the evening of 10 November following suspicions of Ebola infection in a patient from Guinea who was treated at the clinic in late October. These suspicions were raised by an alert from health authorities in Guinea. The nurse died during the night of 11 November.”
The 70-year-old man who was brought across the Mali border for treatment died of kidney failure. The nurse worked at the clinic, and a friend who visited the man at the clinic also died of a yet-to-be-determined cause.
“Because of his religious status as a Grand Imam, his body was transported to a mosque in Bamako for a ritual washing ceremony. The body was then returned to the native village of Kourémalé for formal funeral and burial ceremonies. Although these events are still under investigation, WHO staff assume that many mourners attended the ceremonies.”
Earlier this morning, President Obama said he would not “stand by” on his planned executive action on immigration. The president’s remarks come following a warning from Speaker of the House John Boehner and a request from Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid asking the president to delay any executive action for the sake of budget negotiations.
“I indicated to Speaker Boehner several months ago that if in fact Congress failed to act, I would use all the lawful authority that I possess to try to make the system work better,” Obama told reporters at a press conference in Burma. “That’s going to happen. That’s going to happen before the end of the year.”
But Boehner said on Friday that “all options are on the table.” The Hill is reporting that Boehner was “explicitly refusing to rule out a government shutdown over the issue.”
However, Obama will not be deterred. Addressing the claim that unilateral action by the president could “poison the well,” Obama remarked: “The one thing that I think is going to be important for us to have a successful partnership over the next couple of years is not making differences on one issue a deal breaker on every issue.”
Meanwhile, House Republicans are considering banning any funding for future executive actions.
An astonishing $420M worth of weapons and “sensitive items” have disappeared from U.S. bases in Afghanistan and they “are not likely to be recovered due to mismanagement and improper accounting.” Next time we hear politicians wailing and lamenting about needing more funding for some project, remember what fabulous stewards the government is of the money they have already taken from you.
Washington Free Beacon reports “Some 15,600 pieces of equipment—including ‘weapons, weapons systems, and sensitive items’—went missing in the past year from Army facilities in Bagram and Kandahar, accounting for around $419.5 million in losses, according to the report, which was issued in late October and marked ‘for official use only.’ ”
The losses were only uncovered by the Inspector General in an internal audit at the Pentagon. The IG recommended military leaders institute a series of reforms to uh..not loose expensive and dangerous military equipment.
Apparently, after the missing equipment was discovered, the Army failed to report it properly. “The Army did not effectively report [fiscal year] 2013 inventory losses at the Bagram and Kandahar, Afghanistan [Redistribution Property Assistance Team] yards,” the report states. “The missing equipment included weapons, weapons systems, and sensitive items.”
What could go wrong?
“For example, between 2006 and 2010, there were 174,247 pieces of equipment listed as unaccounted for” and totaling $429.5 million, according to the report. “As of May 30, 2014, only 40,690 (23 percent) of the total pieces of equipment and $191.1 million (44 percent) of the total dollar amount have been recovered.”
The Wall Street Journal is reporting that the Department of Justice is “scooping up” data from your mobile phones using devices installed in airplanes that impersonate cell phone towers. People familiar with the program tell the Journal that the U.S. Marshall’s service program operates Cessna aircraft from “at least five metropolitan-area airports” covering most of the U.S. population. The operation is intended to assist in the hunt for criminals but also inadvertently collects information from innocent American citizens. Gee, that sounds familiar.
The devices are known as “dirtboxes” and “trick” cell phones into reporting unique and identifying registration information normally transmitted to legitimate cell towers.
The technology in the two-foot-square device enables investigators to scoop data from tens of thousands of cellphones in a single flight, collecting their identifying information and general location, these people said.
People with knowledge of the program wouldn’t discuss the frequency or duration of such flights, but said they take place on a regular basis.
Naturally, the Justice Department could not confirm the existence of such a program, saying the topic would compromise the project and undermine their surveillance program on criminal suspects and foreign governments.
The technology is aimed at locating cellphones linked to individuals under investigation by the government, including fugitives and drug dealers, but it collects information on cellphones belonging to people who aren’t criminal suspects, these people said. They said the device determines which phones belong to suspects and “lets go” of the non-suspect phones.
The snooping device can also interrupt phone calls but authorities say they have tried to modify the software so the tower doesn’t interfere with something really important, like a 911 call.
One notable aspect of the program is that it entirely removes the cell phone companies from the surveillance mix. And there are obviously questions about the legality of this massive snoopfest.
Within the Marshals Service, some have questioned the legality of such operations and the internal safeguards, these people said. They say scooping up of large volumes of information, even for a short period, may not be properly understood by judges who approve requests for the government to locate a suspect’s phone.
In case you were wondering if yet another wholesale dragnet on the American public’s digital data is legal, wonder no more. Writes the Journal, “it is unclear how closely the Justice Department oversees the program. ‘What is done on U.S. soil is completely legal,’ said one person familiar with the program. ‘Whether it should be done is a separate question.’ ”
Peter Beinart writing in The Atlantic wonders about “The Republican Obsession with ‘Restoring’ America.”
In 2007, when he was planning his own presidential bid, Mike Huckabee wrote a book subtitled 12 Steps to Restoring America’s Greatness. (It’s available for one cent on Amazon.) In 2010, Glenn Beck organized a rally on the National Mall entitled “Restoring Honor.” In 2012, Mitt Romney’s supporters established a Super PAC called, paradoxically, “Restore Our Future.” Later that year, the Republican platform promised the “Restoring of the American Dream” and the “Restoration of Constitutional Government.” This June, Ted Cruz pledged to “Restore the Great Confident Roar of America.”
Specifying exactly when that golden age existed can be perilous. In a 1976 campaign speech entitled—what else—“To Restore America,” Reagan declared, “I would like to be president because I would like to see this country become once again a country where a little 6-year-old girl can grow up knowing the same freedom that I knew when I was 6 years old, growing up in America.” Reagan was 6 years old in 1917, when women and most African Americans could not vote, when socialists and labor organizers were being jailed, if not lynched, for opposing America’s entrance into World War I, and when governors in Reagan’s native Midwest were making teaching German a crime.
Here’s the problem. Unlike Reagan, today’s Republicans are generally shrewd enough to avoid identifying exactly which previous age they wish to restore. But for African Americans, Latinos, women, and gays and lesbians, idealizing any previous age means idealizing one in which they enjoyed fewer rights and opportunities than they do today. Pledging to “restore” America appeals to many older, straight, Anglo, white, and male voters, because it’s a subtle way of saying Republicans will bring back the good old days. The GOP’s problem is that to win back the White House, it must make inroads among Americans who know the good old days weren’t all that good.
Beinart makes a good point, but is totally clueless when it comes to the context of American restoration. And his simple-minded analysis of why conservatives want to “restore” America is identity politics writ large.
He’s right about the “good old days” not being so good for many. Indeed, there is a small minority of those who call themselves conservative who wish to go back to a time when women were in the kitchen, gays in the closet, and minorities were neither seen nor heard. This kind of cultural revanchism is impossible to achieve, of course. Women, gays, and minorities have made far too much progress in seeking equality of opportunity to put a cork in the bottle now.
Why would anyone think conservatives want to “restore” an America that was failing to grant equal rights to women, gays, and minorities? That’s a political attack, not a rational, serious look at just what conservatives want to restore in America. It’s not so much a time that conservatives want to bring back. It’s more of a state of mind — a way of looking at America that breeds policies conducive to economic growth and greater opportunity, and places a greater value on individual liberty.
Earlier today, House Speaker John Boehner (R-OH) gave a few remarks on President Obama’s amnesty threat.
Boehner said that “all options are on the table” to stop the president from granting a form of amnesty to millions of illegal aliens who are currently in the country.
Pressed on whether a government shutdown could be one of those options, Boehner said “Our goal is to stop the president, not shut down the government,” but did not rule out a possible shutdown.
Pressed further, Boehner warned that if Obama insists on granting amnesty by executive order, he will not get certain things that he wants.
The media are going to frame any and every action taken by the Republicans as either being a shutdown or threatening to become a shutdown. Lying for Obama is an old habit to the media by now. In this case, Obama’s stubbornness is what would have led to any shutdown. The media won’t note that.
The bottom line is that after the election, Obama is intentionally picking fights with Congress and probing to see how much he can get away with. If he breaks the Constitution, not only will Obama not mind, he will welcome that.
Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-Ky.) acknowledged to reporters today that “the early signs are not good” for President Obama cooperating with the incoming GOP majority.
“I’ve been very disturbed about the way the president has proceeded in the wake of the election, whether it was his intervention on net neutrality, his apparent decision to move ahead on immigration with executive orders, the rather ridiculous agreement with the Chinese under which they basically have to do nothing for the next 16 years while we’re losing jobs in this country as a result of EPA’s overregulation,” McConnell said after the caucus met for leadership elections today.
“I had, maybe naively, hoped the president would look at the results of the election and decide to come to this political center and do some business with us. I still hope he does at some point.”
McConnell argued, though, that Senate Democrats “did get the message” with Friday’s expected vote on the Keystone XL pipeline.
Sen. Mary Landrieu (D-La.), facing a Dec. 6 runoff versus Rep. Bill Cassidy (R-La.) to keep her seat, said on the Senate floor today that she didn’t have any hard “indication” President Obama would veto the bill. It’s widely expected, though.
“They got the message on the Keystone pipeline, and I think that’s why you’ve seen the current Democratic majority of the Senate have an epiphany and decide to allow a vote they’ve been blocking for literally years,” McConnell said.
McConnell also commented on the “stupidity” comments of Obamacare architect Jonathan Gruber.
“I think you have all heard the definition of a ‘Washington gaffe,’ when a politician mistakenly tells you what he really thinks. We were subjected during the Obamacare debate to a whole lot of stuff that we all knew was not true, not even close to true,” he said.
“And what this insider is saying confirms that they were spinning tales from beginning to end because they knew they couldn’t tell the truth about Obamacare and have a chance of passing it, even with a Democratic Senate with 60 votes,” McConnell continued.
“So, look, the American people hate, detest and despite Obamacare. Virtually all of us would like to see it pulled out root and branch. We understand that the president obviously is not sympathetic with that point of view. But we’ll be voting on these issues, both the overall Obamacare issue and the various pieces of it, like the individual mandate, the medical device tax, and trying to restore the 40-hour work week.”
In 2012, a couple of years after Obamacare’s passage and as President Obama is running for re-election, PBS aired a Frontline documentary on the healthcare law.
It was called The Choice, and it featured an extensive interview with Jonathan Gruber.
The interview details Gruber’s interactions with Gov. Mitt Romney in Massachusetts before and during the passage of that state’s healthcare reform law, and Gruber’s meetings and interactions with President Obama later on.
According to Gruber, he first met Obama in 2006. The future president was still a senator, and asked Gruber to come to his office to give him a briefing on the Massachusetts reform. Obama called Gruber in because at that point it was common knowledge that Gruber had been the architect of Romney’s law. Obama wanted to hear from him about how a national healthcare law might work.
Gruber next meets Obama after he has become president.
The next time I see him is summer 2009. The big issue there is that he really wants to make sure I’m moving forward on cost control. I think that at this point he sort of knew we had a good plan on coverage, but he was worried on cost control. So we had a meeting in the Oval Office with several experts, including myself, on what can we do to get credible savings on cost control that the Congressional Budget Office would recognize and score as savings in this law.
And that was a meeting — it was very exciting, once again, because the economists in the room all said the number one thing you need to do is you need to take on the tax subsidy to employer-sponsored insurance. We need one minute of background on this. The way employer-sponsored insurance works is, if you get paid in wages, you get taxed. If you get paid in health insurance, you do not. …
So this tax subsidy economists have been railing against for decades, it’s super-expensive. We forego about $250 billion per year in tax revenues. It’s regressive — the richer you are, the bigger tax break you get. And it’s inefficient because it causes people to buy excessive health insurance. So everyone in the room said, “You want something that is real cost control that we know it will work, go after this.”
Now, the problem is, it’s a political nightmare, … and people say, “No, you can’t tax my benefits.” So what we did a lot in that room was talk about, well, how could we make this work? And Obama was like, “Well, you know” — I mean, he is really a realistic guy. He is like, “Look, I can’t just do this.” He said: “It is just not going to happen politically. The bill will not pass. How do we manage to get there through phases and other things?” And we talked about it. And he was just very interested in that topic.
Once again, that ultimately became the genesis of what is called the Cadillac tax in the health care bill, which I think is one of the most important and bravest parts of the health care law and doesn’t get nearly enough credit. I mean, this is the first time after years and years of urging — and the entire health policy, there was not one single health expert in America who is setting up a system from scratch, would have this employer subsidy in place. Not one.
So after years and years of us wanting to get rid of this, to finally go after it was just such a huge victory for health policy. And I’m just incredibly proud that he and the others who supported this law were willing to do it. …
Watch video of that segment of the interview on the next page.
The new Senate GOP leadership team was elected by the caucus this morning, and it looks very familiar.
Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-Ky.) won the majority leader post in the 114th Congress by a “unanimous” vote, his office said this morning.
Not only did Sens. Ted Cruz (R-Texas), Mike Lee (R-Utah) and Rand Paul (R-Ky.) vote for McConnell, but the new majority leader got a standing ovation inside the caucus room.
Minority Whip John Cornyn (R-Texas) will become majority whip, pulling the caucus together on key votes.
Sen. John Thune (R-S.D.) remains conference chairman, the No. 3 GOP leadership post. Sen. Roy Blunt (R-Mo.) was re-elected vice-chairman.
“I believe we have the tools necessary to ensure the Senate will function again in a more transparent and accountable way for the American people,” Blunt said afterward.
Sen. John Barrasso (R-Wyo.) remains Republican Policy Committee chairman.
“Republicans will be focused on what the American people are focused on,” Barrasso said of the 114th Congress goals. “We will present our ideas, fully debate them and pass bills that make it easier for people to find good jobs, quality healthcare, and affordable energy. We will also work to strengthen our national security and protect our homeland. It is our duty to reflect the will of voters and get the policy right.”
The only leadership change was at the head of the National Republican Senatorial Committee, the campaign arm of the Congress. Sen. Jerry Moran (R-Kansas) is stepping aside after a very successful year.
It was the only competitive leadership race. Sens. Roger Wicker (Miss.) and Dean Heller (Nev.) lobbied their colleagues to win the position, and in the end Wicker was victorious. It won’t be an easy job, as Republicans must defend 24 seats in a presidential election year while Democrats only have to defend 10.
“I intend to roll up my sleeves immediately to ensure that we have the resources available to preserve our Republican majority,” Wicker said in a statement. “This Senate Republican leadership team is ready to go to bat for the American people, and I am proud to be a part of it.”
— Sen. McConnell Press (@McConnellPress) November 12, 2014
Now that Obamacare architect Jonathan Gruber’s “stupid American people” comments are causing a firestorm, Democrats are rushing to minimize his role and even claim that they don’t know who he is.
Rep. Nancy Pelosi, the Democrats’ leader in the House, tried that already and has already been busted on it.
In 2009 and 2010, Democrats clearly knew who Gruber was. The Obama administration had contracted the MIT professor as a “technical adviser” on the law that came to be known as Obamacare, to the tune of about $400,000.
While the bill was being built and negotiated among the Democrats who would eventually pass it, Democrats praised Gruber specifically for his work, from the well of the Senate.
On December 1, 2009, Sen. Harry Reid, the Democrats’ leader in the Senate, used a speech on the bill to praise Gruber by name. Watch.
Reid said: “The Congressional Budget Office said yesterday the majority of American families who buy insurance in the new marketplace we will create — what we call health insurance exchanges — will see their premiums go down. They will go down by as much as 60 percent. Out of 100 percent of the American people, 93 percent will have a drop in their insurance premiums with this legislation — 93 percent.
CBO’s experts aren’t the first to recognize these benefits. Massachusetts Institute of Technology’s Jonathan Gruber, who is one of the most respected economists in the world, said in today’s Washington Post: ‘Here’s a bill that reduces the deficit, covers 30 million people and has the promise of lowering premiums in the long run.’ Pretty good statement.” (Bold added.)
Montana Sen. Max Baucus (D) sponsored Obamacare. Eight days after Reid made his comments praising Gruber, Baucus followed suit and praised Gruber by name. Watch.
Baucus said: “In addition to the Congressional Budget Office, I might say that — that the — that MIT’s John Gruber has also done a study on our premiums and what does he conclude — he concludes, using Congressional Budget Office data, that the Senate bill could mean that people purchasing individual insurance would save every year $200 for single coverage and $500 for family coverage in 2009.” (Bold added.)
Gruber has admitted to misleading the American people, calling them “stupid,” in order to get Obamacare passed.
Baucus has since retired from the Senate and has been replaced by a Republican. Reid lost his post as the Senate Majority Leader in last week’s mid-term elections.
Just a few minutes ago, President Obama’s official Twitter feed threw out a fundraising pitch.
If you chip in right now, another supporter will match your donation—meaning you'll make double the impact: http://t.co/DTOs3isAZE
— Barack Obama (@BarackObama) November 13, 2014
If you follow the link, it goes to a full blown fundraiser landing page.
And it’s weird and creepy. Also, scientifically incorrect.
What are they raising money for? And who in their right mind would donate now? We’re just past one election and with no more elections for two years.
Additionally, Barack Obama is constitutionally barred from ever running for president again.
So what’s up with this?
Mashable reports on a strange form of protest that happened today in Sydney, Australia.
A few hundred liberals gathered on a beach, arranged themselves in a circle, and buried their heads in sand for two minutes.
I’m not lying. Take a look. Click on the image to enlarge it.
This scene requires some detailed looks.
I don’t even want to know why the person below has their pants down around their knees.
These same liberals probably think the beheaders of ISIS aren’t an actual threat. Dipping heads in sand won’t change that or their minds.
The purpose of the protest is supposedly to “raise awareness” that Australian PM Tony Abbott isn’t totally on board with the warmists’ agenda. He has his “head in the sand,” get it?
But all it really does is point out the posture that liberals want everyone else to assume — on our knees, butts in the air, unable to defend ourselves from the predations of criminals and big and unaccountable government. Which are often, one and the same.
Jay Root has posted an entertaining take on the disaster that was the Wendy Davis campaign for Texas governor.
The gist is that Davis’ longtime advisers warned her not to behave like an out-of-touch coastal liberal if she wants to win in Texas.
Davis instead turned to the likes of Zac Petkanas from the Harry Reid operation in Nevada. Petkansas proceeded to operate is if he was working in a state where acting like a bully while trashing the state’s majority is the surest road to victory. Predictably, he failed and is now regarded as a childish clown by an entire state.
Petkanas doesn’t figure in Root’s story, as it focuses on Davis and how she ignored her advisers and ended up taking Texas Democrats backward.
Back to Jay Root’s story:
“The campaign is in disarray and is in danger of being embarrassed,” Cari and Dougherty wrote in a lengthy memorandum on Jan. 6. “The level of dysfunction was understandable in July and August, when we had no infrastructure in place — but it doesn’t seem to be getting better.”
Addressed to then-Campaign Manager Karin Johanson, the memo warned that the Davis campaign had “lurched to the left,” was failing to communicate a positive message and offered virtually nothing to the swing voters the senator would need to win statewide.
“There is not a model where a candidate who appears this liberal and culturally out of touch gets elected statewide anywhere in the south — much less in Texas — without some inoculation,” the consultants said.
The authors of that memo own Prism Communications, which had been Davis’ consultants during her runs for state Senate. They had guided the Democrat to victory in a Republican-leaning district, and they saw the dysfunction and tone-deafness in the Davis statewide campaign way back in January.
Davis fired them.
Now Davis’ former advisers are leaking to the media, mainly to protect themselves and their future earning potential. “This disaster wan’t our fault!” is their obvious message.
As for Davis…well, MSNBC is bound to call any time. Her running mate, state Sen. Leticia Van de Putte, has abandoned her statewide ambitions and is angling for a city post in San Antonio. Texas Democrats are in full retreat.
But there is one thing that we can be sure the Texas Democrats will not do, and that’s moderate their positions to appeal to this conservative-libertarian state. That lesson remains stubbornly unlearned.
Watching that campaign from the outside, it was always obvious that Wendy Davis was a very poor choice for nominee and that her campaign was doomed. She lacks experience, and she is way out on the left on the issues. She was a media creation in a state that disdains the mainstream media and the culture from which it springs. She kept running out of state to raise money, and just never seemed like she had a clue about how Texans who are not trust fund babies or trial lawyers really think.
It’s fitting that Wendy Davis has left her party in total disarray. Thankfully, the voters limited her damage just to the Democratic Party. Just think what she might have done to Texas if we had elected her governor.
Pelosi on Gruber: “I don’t know who he is. He didn’t help write our bill.”
— Sean Sullivan (@WaPoSean) November 13, 2014
Typing “Pelosi” “Gruber” into my browser … Oooh boy:
— David Steinberg (@DavidSPJM) November 13, 2014
Should we assume that Pelosi underwent some degree of preparation ahead of facing a media that would likely address the Jonathan Gruber videos? This would imply that we have to assume “Gruber? Eh?” is the PR response they chose as the winner.
Yet with the history of the ACA so intrinsically tied both to Gruber and Pelosi, and the media coverage of his involvement so thorough, I can’t imagine she was coached to say this. She must have called an audible, and it came out as just about as terrible and exposing of a move I could imagine a politician making.
She had to assume she’d get away with it, which implies that she does hold Gruber’s exact views on the intelligence of the Democratic base by making a statement disavowing knowledge of his existence.
Can’t fix stupid.