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John Fund & Hans von Spakovsky: Obama’s ‘Scandal-Free Administration’ Is a Myth 

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Even a prominent Trump adviser accepts the false premise that there has been no ‘ethical shadiness.’

John Fund and Hans von Spakovsky write: You often hear that the Obama administration, whatever its other failings, has been “scandal-free.” Valerie Jarrett, the president’s closest adviser, has said he “prides himself on the fact that his administration hasn’t had a scandal and he hasn’t done something to embarrass himself.”

Even Trump adviser Peter Thiel seems to agree. When the New York Times’s Maureen Dowd observed during an interview that Mr. Obama’s administration was “without any ethical shadiness,” Mr. Thiel accepted the premise, saying: “But there’s a point where no corruption can be a bad thing. It can mean that things are too boring.”

In reality, Mr. Obama has presided over some of the worst scandals of any president in recent decades. Here’s a partial list:

• State Department email. In an effort to evade federal open-records laws, Mr. Obama’s first secretary of state set up a private server, which she used exclusively to conduct official business, including communications withobama-BW the president and the transmission of classified material. A federal criminal investigation produced no charges, but FBI Director James Comey reported that the secretary and her colleagues “were extremely careless” in handling national secrets.

[Read the full story here, at WSJ]

• Operation Fast and Furious. The Obama Justice Department lost track of thousands of guns it had allowed to pass into the hands of suspected smugglers, in the hope of tracing them to Mexican drug cartels. One of the guns was used in the fatal 2010 shooting of Border Patrol Agent Brian Terry. Congress held then-Attorney General Eric Holder in contempt when he refused to turn over documents about the operation.

• IRS abuses. Mr. Obama’s Internal Revenue Service did something Richard Nixononly dreamed of doing: It successfully targeted political opponents. The Justice Department then refused to enforce Congress’s contempt citation against the IRS’s Lois Lerner, who refused to answer questions about her agency’s misconduct. Read the rest of this entry »

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Crackdown in Cuba: Hammer Comes Down Hard on Dissidents After Castro Death

In the first such anti-dissident operation since Fidel Castro’s death last month, President Raul Castro seemed to indicate the Americas’ only one-party communist state was in no mood for dissent.

Havana (AFP) – Authorities across Cuba have cracked down on dissidents, arresting dozens, keeping others from marching in Havana, and detaining an American human rights lawyer, activists said Sunday.

“There was a joint operation at 6:00 am in Santiago and Palma Soriano. They searched four homes, and so far we have 42 reported arrests — 20 in Santiago, 12 in Palma and 10 in Havana…They threatened me, and said by calling the demonstration I was facilitating public disorder…. disobedience and espionage.”

— Jose Daniel Ferrer, head of the Patriotic Union of Cuba

In the first such anti-dissident operation since Fidel Castro’s death last month, President Raul Castro seemed to indicate the Americas’ only one-party communist state was in no mood for dissent.

A roundup in the country’s east snared dozens and derailed street protests planned to demand that political prisoners be freed.

“There was a joint operation at 6:00 am in Santiago and Palma Soriano. They searched four homes, and so far we have 42 reported arrests — 20 in Santiago, 12 in Palma and 10 in Havana,” Jose Daniel Ferrer told AFP by phone.

The 46-year-old, who heads the Patriotic Union of Cuba (Unpacu), had called the demonstrations to demand that political prisoners be set free. Castro insists there are no political prisoners, just lawbreakers.

Raul Castro, Michelle Obama, Barack Obama

Ferrer said he was detained in Santiago, Cuba‘s second biggest city, at a police unit known as Micro 9.

“They threatened me, and said by calling the demonstration I was facilitating public disorder…. disobedience and espionage,” Ferrer said.

Most arrests of dissidents in roundups are brief. Sometimes, the authorities prevent them from leaving their homes to attend a protest or march.

Ladies in White, shut in

In Havana, the award-winning Ladies in White group, which presses for the release of jailed dissidents who are their relatives, said that at least 20 of its activists were “under siege,” kept from attending their weekly march. Read the rest of this entry »


Obama Legacy: Endowing the Trump Administration with Broadened War Powers 

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After eight years as an autocratic president with a maximalist view of executive authority, Barack Obama is handing his successor an expansive interpretation of the commander in chief’s authority to wage war around the globe.

Josh Lederman writes:

…In his final weeks in office, Obama has broadened the legal scope of the war on extremism, the White House confirmed Monday, as it acknowledged for the first that the administration now asserts it is legally justified to take on the extremist group al-Shabab in Somalia.

The determination is based on an expanded application of a 9/11-era use of force authorization, a statute Obama has repeatedly leaned on to justify military operations. That rationale has raised concerns about how Trump might use Obama’s precedent to justify other overseas entanglements — without consulting Congress.

The White House staunchly defends Obama’s use of military power, arguing in a detailed report Monday that all operations have been firmly grounded in domestic and international law. White House counsel Neil Eggleston called the report — the first of its kind — a demonstration of how Obama has ensured “that all U.S. national security operations are conducted within a legal and policy framework that is lawful, effective and consistent with our national interests and values.”

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Yet the report, which Obama said should be updated annually, also reveals how his administration has relied overwhelmingly on the 2001 authorization, which even Obama acknowledges is outdated.

Though the law’s targets were al-Qaida and the Taliban, a clause in the bill includes “associated forces” of al-Qaida, in Afghanistan or beyond. That clause is now being used as a catch-all for military action in Yemen, Iraq, Syria, Somalia and Libya, the report shows, plus the basing of U.S. troops in other countries.

[Read the full story here, at ABC News]

As for al-Shabab, until recently, the U.S. determined only that its individual leaders were linked to al-Qaida, which limited targeting of those individuals. Now the broader group is included.

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Trump has promised a more muscular and militaristic approach to counterterrorism, occasionally using expletives to suggest he’d aggressively bomb ISIS militants, although he has been vague on details.

Deborah Pearlstein, a former White House official and international law professor at Yeshiva University, said it’s likely the next administration will use Obama’s framework as its starting point. “By practice and long history, those opinions tend to stand,” she said. Read the rest of this entry »


‘How was I supposed to know that cowboy George Bush would announce he wanted us ‘dead or alive’ and then invade Afghanistan to hunt us down?’

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Hypersonic Flight Is Coming: Will the US Lead the Way?

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The world is at the start of a renaissance in hypersonic flight, but the U.S. will need steady commitment and funding if it wants to lead the way.

MOJAVE, California — The world is at the start of a renaissance in supersonic and hypersonic flight that will transform aviation, but the effort will need steady commitment and funding if the United States wants to lead the way, congressional leaders and industry officials said at a forum late last month.

“What’s exciting about aerospace today is that we are in a point here where suddenly, things are happening all across the board in areas that just haven’t been happening for quite a while,” said former U.S. Air Force Maj. Gen. Curtis M. Bedke.

“There was a period where engine technology had just sort of stagnated — a point where all materials technology was going along at about the same pace,” Bedke added. “There just wasn’t much happening. But suddenly, in all sorts of areas that apply to aerospace, things are happening.”

[NASA’s Vision of Future Air Travel (Images)]

Bedke was one of five panelists to speak Oct. 27 at the Forum on American Aeronautics here at the Mojave Air and Space Port. Sponsored by the House Committee on Science, Space, and Technology, the forum was hosted by committee chairman Lamar Smith, R-Texas, and member Steve Knight, R-Calif. Bedke, Smith and Knight were joined by David McBride, director of NASA’s Armstrong Flight Research Center in California, and Craig Johnson, director of business strategy and development for Lockheed Martin’s Skunk Works. Former Mojave Air and Space Port CEO Stu Witt moderated.

Knight has taken the lead on the House Science Committee in getting NASA’s aeronautical program to focus on a new set of experimental aircraft. He said his passion for these programs isn’t just about improving American aviation — it’s personal. Read the rest of this entry »


Why the ‘Lone-wolf’ Terrorist is a Myth

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Paul Sperry writes: President Obama says don’t worry, the Orlando terrorist was just another “lone actor” operating in isolation, unconnected to any larger group of supporters. In fact, these so-called “lone wolves” are running in packs, and suggesting otherwise gives the public a false sense of security.

Yet Homeland Security Secretary Jeh Johnson echoed Obama, saying Omar Mateen was “self-radicalized” without any religious, ideological or operational support from friends, family or others in the Muslim community.

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“What we do know at this point is it appears this was a case of self-radicalization,” Johnson said. “He does not appear to have been part of any group.”

A more accurate picture is that Mateen, an Afghan-American, was part of a disturbingly large Muslim family of sympathizers, supporters and even co-conspirators.

For starters, his wife could face criminal charges in the attack on the gay Orlando nightclub, the deadliest act of terrorism in the US since 9/11. Noor Zahi Salman, who wed Mateen in 2011, reportedly told the FBI she knew about her husband’s planned attack and even drove him to the site of the massacre as part of a scouting operation. She also is said to have helped him case the Disney Springs shopping complex. What’s more, Salman allegedly was with Mateen when he bought ammo and a holster used in the attack.

Orlando police cars outside of Pulse nightclub after a fatal shooting and hostage situation on June 12, 2016 in Orlando, Florida.Photo: Getty Images

Prosecutors have convened a grand jury to present evidence against Salman, a Palestinian immigrant, who ultimately could be indicted as an accessory to the murders of 49 people and the attempted murders of 53 others. Possible other charges include failing to report a terrorist attack and lying to federal agents.

It appears the seeds of Mateen’s hatred were planted at home.

His Afghan immigrant father, who founded a nonprofit group to support the Taliban, preached gays should be punished. In a video Seddique Mir Mateen posted on the Web, he expresses gratitude toward the Afghan Taliban, who stone homosexuals to death, calling them “our warrior brothers.”

Other statements make it clear the elder Mateen could have passed anti-gay views onto his son.

“God will punish those involved in homosexuality,” the elder Mateen said in the wake of his son’s rampage. He seemed to rationalize the targeting of gays by pointing out that his son was offended by two gay men kissing in front of his 3-year-old son during a recent family trip to Miami. Read the rest of this entry »


[VIDEO] BABY WHAT I WANT: Everybody Thinks They Know What ISIS Wants

The Islamic State Wants Us to Destroy It

 reports: The Islamic State terrorist group wants nothing more than for the U.S. Armed Forces to destroy it, politicians and pundits say.

“They are begging for U.S. troops on the ground. That’s what they want.”

— former Obama administration official Van Jones

Dozens of thought leaders familiar with the terrorist group say that its members yearn for the day that close air support from an A-10 Warthog cuts them in half while coalition soldiers storm Raqqa.

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“The one thing ISIS wants the most: American boots on the ground.”

— CNN anchor Fareed Zakaria

“They are begging for U.S. troops on the ground,” former Obama administration official Van Jones said. “That’s what they want.”

“The one thing ISIS wants the most: American boots on the ground,” CNN anchor Fareed Zakaria said.

“As long as we’re relying on military force, this is the kind of terms [sic] that ISIS wants. This is what strengthens them,” Institute for Policy Studies scholar Phyllis Bennis said….(read more)

Source: Washington Free Beacon


Investigation: Barack Obama Broke Laws To Swap Five Taliban Leaders For Bowe Bergdahl

The report is titled ‘Report On The Inquiry Into: The Department of Defense’s May 2014 Transfer to Qatar of Five law-of-war Detainees In Connection With the Recovery Of A Captive U.S. Soldier.’

Mary Chasten reports: The House Armed Services Committee has concluded that President Barack Obama “misled the public” and broke several laws when he swapped five Taliban leaders for Army Sgt. Bowe Bergdahl.

“Our report finds that the Administration clearly broke the law in not notifying Congress of the transfer,” declared committee chairman 

Rep. Mac Thornberry (R-TX)

“Leading up to the transfer, DOD officials misled Congress as to the status of negotiations. Pentagon officials best positioned to assess the national security risks were left out of the process, which increases the chances of dangerous consequences from the transfer.”

The committee presented several findings in its report.

The transfer of the Taliban Five violated several laws, including the National Defense Authorization Act for Fiscal Year 2014. The constitutional arguments offered to justify the Department of Defense’s failure to provide the legally-required notification to the Committee 30 days in advance are incomplete and unconvincing. The violation of law also threatens constitutional separation of powers…

The Committee was misled about the extent and scope of efforts to arrange the Taliban Five transfer before it took place. The Department of Defense’s failure to communicate complete and accurate information severely harmed its relationship with the Committee, and threatens to upend a longstanding history and tradition of cooperation and comity.

The prisoners learned about their transfer on May 29, 2014, while Congress knew nothing. The department finally alerted Congress on May 31, “less than two hours” before the terrorists departed from GTMO.

[Read the full report here]

The Committee also found that the five prisoners resumed their activities once they reached Qatar. “It is irresponsible to put these terrorists that much closer to the battlefield to settle a campaign promise and unconscionable to mislead Congress in the process,” said Thornberry.

[Read the full text of Mary Chasten‘s article here, at Breitbart.com]

During its investigation, the committee was told by the Pentagon’s serving General Counsel, Stephen Preston, that the Department of Justice “believed the president’s ‘constitutional authority’ over service members could permit the president to act notwithstanding the 30-day notification requirement.” Read the rest of this entry »


Americans Are Ignoring Radical Gun Laws… As They Should

A group of local public school teachers from nearby schools use rubber training guns as they practice proper firearms handling during a teachers-only firearms training class offered for free at the Veritas Training Academy in Sarasota, Florida January 11, 2013. The December 14 tragedy in Newtown, Connecticut, where 20 first-graders and six adults were killed at Sandy Hook Elementary School, has sparked a national debate about whether to arm teachers, prompting passionate arguments on both sides. REUTERS/Brian Blanco (UNITED STATES - Tags: SOCIETY POLITICS EDUCATION)

An increasingly radicalized Democrat Party is attempting to strip citizens of their natural rights, inspiring citizens to unheard of levels of disobedience.

The editorial board of the New York Times has once again decided to focus their energies on making the world a safer place for tyrannical government.

After an op-ed last week calling on the federal government to gut the right of citizens to bear those arms best suited for defeating tyrants, they’ve taken one of many gutless decisions by the Robert’s court to call for states to do what the federal government will not:

On Monday, the court declined to hear a challenge to a Chicago suburb’s law banning semiautomatic assault weapons and magazines that hold more than 10 rounds of ammunition.

The town of Highland Park, Ill., passed the 2013 ordinance, which bans categories of weapons as well as specific guns by name, including the AR-15 and the AK-47, in the wake of the massacre of 26 children and educators at an elementary school in Newtown, Conn. The shooter in that attack, like those in many mass shooting, used a semiautomatic assault rifle with a high-capacity magazine.

It was the 70th time since 2008 that the Supreme Court has declined to consider a lawsuit challenging a federal, state or local gun regulation. This creates a big opportunity for Americans to put pressure on their state and local leaders, especially since Congress refuses to approve even uncontroversial measures like universal background checks for gun sales, which are supported by nearly nine in 10 Americans. Until that changes, states and cities have the constitutional authority and moral obligation to protect the public from the scourge of gun violence.

Let’s be very, very clear: the Founding Fathers would have been appalled by the 2013 ordinance passed by Highland Park, and if the Founders were alive today, there is a good chance that the Highland Park’s leaders would have been roughly pulled from their homes and tarred and feathered in disgrace before their homes were burned to ash.

Men like Jefferson and Adams were patriots who had just won a long and costly war that was triggered by a gun control raid on April 19, 1775 in the towns of Lexington and Concord, and did not suffer fools.

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Unfortunately, the Robert’s court is feckless and craven. They passed on hearing the case because they know that if they took it up, they must overturn it. Once they overturned it, the precedent would once and for all gut the basis of all assault weapons bans on any level of government, henceforth. We warned in early November that the court would set us on a path towards a very uncivil civil conflict, and they have not disappointed our low expectations of their integrity. Read the rest of this entry »


PANTSUIT REPORT: ‘Spinning Up As We Speak’: Email Shows Pentagon Was Ready to Roll as Benghazi Attack Occurred 

Benghazi questions yet unanswered ahead of Clinton testimony.

As the attack on the U.S. consulate in Benghazi was unfolding, a high-ranking Pentagon official urgently messaged Secretary of State Hillary Clinton’s top deputies to offer military help, accordingPANTSUIT-REPORT to an email obtained by Judicial Watch.

The revelation appears to contradict testimony Defense Secretary Leon Panetta gave lawmakers in 2013, when he said there was no time to get forces to the scene in Libya, where four Americans were killed, including U.S. Ambassador to Libya Christopher Stevens.

“I just tried you on the phone but you were all in with S [apparent reference to then-Secretary of State Hillary Clinton],” reads the email, from Panetta’s chief of staff Jeremy Bash. “After consulting with General Dempsey, General Ham and the Joint Staff, we have identified the forces that could move to Benghazi. They are spinning up as we speak.”

” … we have identified the forces that could move to Benghazi. They are spinning up as we speak.”

– Jeremy Bash, Pentagon chief of staff

The email was sent out at 7:19 p.m. ET on Sept. 11, 2012, in the early stages of the eight-hour siege that also claimed the lives of Foreign Service Information Management Officer Sean Smith and two former Navy SEALs, Ty Woods and Glen Doherty, private CIA contractors who raced to the aid of embattled State Department workers.

Although the email came after the first wave of the attack at the consulate, it occurred before a mortar strike on the CIA annex killed Woods and Doherty.

“This leaves no doubt military assets were offered and ready to go, and awaiting State Department signoff, which did not come,” Judicial Watch, a nonprofit government watchdog said in a statement. Read the rest of this entry »


[VIDEO] REWIND, 2007: President Bush Warns What Would Happen if the U.S. Withdrew from Iraq Too Early


Obama Administration Promotes Fast Lanes to Accelerate Processing of Incoming Syrians

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Screening outposts to be set up in Iraq, Lebanon as U.S. urges Arab nations to do more.

The Obama administration is moving to increase and accelerate the number of Syrian refugees who might be admitted into the United States by opening new screening outposts in Iraq and Lebanon, administration officials told Reuters on Friday.

The move comes after President Barack Obama pledged in September to admit an additional 10,000 Syrian refugees in 2016, torn by four years of civil war and disorder.

The U.S. State Department confirmed the plans to open a refugee settlement processing centre in Erbil, Iraq, before the end of 2015, and to resume refugee processing in Lebanon in early 2016, said spokeswoman Danna Van Brandt.

The White House would not say how many additional refugees it may take in beyond the 10,000, but two senior administration officials said they are seeking ways to increase the number.

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Refugees and migrants arrive from the island of Lesbos to the port of Piraeus on Friday. About 25,000 refugees and other migrants are heading to the Greek mainland from the eastern Aegean islands after the country’s seamen’s union called off ferry strikes. (Thanassis Stavrakis/Associated Press)

“We want to be in a place where we can push out really ambitious goals,” said one of the officials, who spoke to Reuters on the condition of anonymity.

The State Department runs nine screening centres worldwide that serve as meeting points for refugees and U.S. Department of Homeland Security employees who have to decide who is suitable for resettlement in the United States.

The additional centres will double the number available to refugees in the Middle East. Read the rest of this entry »


‘As Difficult as it Might Be to Accept, There Are Problems That Can’t Be Fixed By Washington’

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The More You Politicize Guns, The Weaker Your Case Becomes.

 writes: After the horrific mass shooting at a community college in Oregon, President Obama made an impassioned case that gun violence is “something we should politicize”—and why should this be any different:

“This is a political choice that we make, to allow this to happen every few months in America. We collectively are answerable to those families who lose their loved ones because of our inaction.”

Everything in that statement is wrong.  What happened in Oregon is tragic, and the nation should comfort families and look for reasonable and practical ways to stem violence, but there is only one murderer. Now, if government somehow bolstered, endorsed, or “allowed” the actions of Chris Harper-Mercer—as they might, say, the death of 10,000-plus viable babies each year or the civilian deaths that occur during an American drone action—a person could plausibly argue that we are collectively answerable as a nation.

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“For the liberal, every societal problem has a state-issued remedy waiting to be administered over the objections of a reactionary Republican. But just because you have a tremendous amount of emotion and frustration built up around a certain cause doesn’t make your favored legislation any more practical, effective or realistic.”

Then again, when the president asserts Americans are collectively answerable, what he really suggests—according to his own broader argument—is that conservatives who’ve blocked his gun-control legislation are wholly responsible. The problem with that contention, outside of the obvious fact that Republicans never condone the use of guns for illegal violence (in fact, these rampages hurt their cause more than anything) is that Democrats haven’t offered a single bill or idea (short of confiscation) that would impede any of the mass shootings, or overall gun violence. This is not a political choice, because it’s likely there is no available political answer.

[Read the full text here, at The Federalist]

For the liberal, every societal problem has a state-issued remedy waiting to be administered over the objections of a reactionary Republican. But just because you have a tremendous amount of emotion and frustration built up around a certain cause doesn’t make your favored legislation any more practical, effective or realistic. It doesn’t change the fact that owning a gun is a civil right, that the preponderance of owners are not criminals, or that there are 300 million guns out there.

And if it’s a political argument you’re offering—and when hasn’t it been?—you’ll need more than the vacuousness of the “this is bad and so we have to do something.” That’s because anti-gun types are never able to answer a simple question: what law would you pass that could stop these shootings?

Read the rest of this entry »


Gavin McInnes: Islamophobiaphobia

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Gavin McInnesGavin writes: Westerners used to just barge into countries, take them over, and make them better. Before the British invaded, India was just a really hot homeless shelter. The U.K. left in 1947 after trying to sort out India’s Muslim problem and the infrastructure they built immediately began to crumble. The same happened to Haiti after 1804 and Jamaica after 1962. It was obvious the West was the best. Today, however, when foreigners fly planes into our skyscrapers and rape our children, we apologize. What the fuck happened?

“When this first happened, I assumed Obama was duped. Now I’m not so sure. I don’t think he cares if the clock looks like a bomb. He saw #IStandWithAhmed trending and decided he’d like to be part of it. It’s like black people still wearing T-shirts that say ‘Hands Up Don’t Shoot.’ They don’t care about the truth. They just like the story.”

I remember on September 12th, 2001, in NYC’s Union Square there were people holding signs that said “Justice Not Revenge.” The first instinct for much of the country seemed to be avoiding Islamophobia. To this day we have a crippling fear of it. Islamophobiaphobia is so severe, any Muslim circus clown can send his kid to school with a fake bomb and instead of charging the father with child endangerment, we invite the boy to the White House.

[Read the full text of Gavin McInnes’ article here, at Taki’s Magazine]

When this first happened, I assumed Obama was duped. Now I’m not so sure. I don’t think he cares if the clock looks like a bomb. He saw #IStandWithAhmed trending and decided he’d like to be part of it. It’s like black people still wearing T-shirts that say “Hands Up Don’t Shoot.” They don’t care about the truth. They just like the story.

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In case you’re not familiar with the story (it’s already dying on the vine), Mohamed El-Hassan Mohamed is a Muslim prankster and publicity hound who is constantly harping about Islamophobia. His daughter was suspended for making bomb threats at school. His brother started a company last year called Twin Towers Corporation. He has made very public campaigns about running for president of Sudan even though it’s a dictatorship.

“When the police arrived, Ahmed was so elusive they were forced to detain him. The crime they were accusing him of was creating a fake bomb to cause a disturbance. This is a misdemeanor, and I haven’t seen any evidence he’s innocent. Despite the case being a no-brainer, the entire country screamed ISLAMOPHOBIA and lay prostrate before the Mohamed family.”

He drove to Florida after Pastor Terry Jones threatened to burn the Koran and represented the book as its lawyer (he failed—the Koran burned). The guy is a complete idiot who debates like a teenager lying to his dad. A week and a half ago, Mohamed’s son Ahmed brought a clock to school that had been torn out of its case and put in a new case in such a way, it resembled a bomb. The first teacher he showed it to told him to put it away. Then, in English class, he either plugged it in or affixed a battery so the alarm would go off.

Muslim Conference Texas

“I think this kid’s father used his own son as a ploy to garner sympathy for Islam. This is an old trick in the Muslim world. They constantly use children as soldiers to detect mines or simply take bullets. They know it kills us to kill kids and they prey on our morality. Ahmed’s school is trying to tell the world that they are innocent, but El-Hassan refuses to release the records.”

[Read the full essay here, at Taki’s Magazine]

[Also see – THE INCREDIBLE MELTING CLOCK STORY]

[More –  UPDATE: Clock Prankster Quits Texas School]

It did and the teacher did what she was supposed to. When the police arrived, Ahmed was so elusive they were forced to detain him. The crime they were accusing him of was creating a fake bomb to cause a disturbance. This is a misdemeanor, and I haven’t seen any evidence he’s innocent. Despite the case being a no-brainer, the entire country screamed ISLAMOPHOBIA and lay prostrate before the Mohamed family. Read the rest of this entry »


[VIDEO] National Review’s Jay Nordlinger Talks ‘Children of Monsters’ on Morning Joe

September 22, 2015: National Review senior editor Jay Nordlinger joins Hugh Hewitt 41fbu6kJhwL._SL250_and MSNBC‘s Morning Joe to talk about his new book “Children of Monsters: An Inquiry into the Sons and Daughters of Dictators“.

[Order Jay Nordlinger’s book “Children of Monsters: An Inquiry into the Sons and Daughters of Dictators” from Amazon.com]

What’s it like to be the son or daughter of a dictator? A monster on the Stalin level? What’s it like to bear a name synonymous with oppression, terror, and evil?

Jay Nordlinger set out to answer that question, and does so in this book. He surveys 20 dictators in all. They are the worst of the worst: Stalin, Mao, Idi Amin, Pol Pot, Saddam Hussein, and so on. The book is not about them, really, though of course they figure in it. It’s about their children.

Some of them are absolute loyalists. They admire, revere, or worship their father. Some of them actually succeed their father as dictator—as in North Korea, Syria, and Haiti. Some of them have doubts. A couple of them become full-blown dissenters, even defectors. A few of the daughters have the experience of having their husband killed by their father. Most of these children are rocked by war, prison, exile, or other upheaval.

Obviously, the children have things in common. But they are also individuals, making of life what they can. The main thing they have in common is this: They have been dealt a very, very unusual hand. Read the rest of this entry »


A New Generation of Clandestine Political Satirists Are Flourishing in Afghanistan

Masouda Khazan Tokhi, a female Afghan satirist, shows cartoons at her home in Kabul (AFP Photo/Wakil Kohsar)

Masouda Khazan Tokhi, a female Afghan satirist, at her home in Kabul (AFP Photo/Wakil Kohsar)

Kabul (AFP) – From ridiculing warlords to poking fun at the political elite, a crop of covertly run Afghan satirical outlets are resonating widely with disenchanted citizens — and provoking the ire of officials.

Afghanistan’s spy agency last month rounded up journalists suspected of running “Kabul Taxi“, accusing the satirical Facebook page of imperilling national security.

“You can try to restrict satirists, even imprison them, but you cannot stop the flow of satire.”

The crackdown, which catapulted the little-known page to fame, triggered outrage and defiant Internet memes such as “I am Kabul Taxi!”, spotlighting a new generation of clandestine political satirists.

A blend of humor and scathing wit, the page launched by an unknown Afghan in April depicted a yellow Toyota taxi with its motto scrawled on its rear windscreen: “Life is bitter and the future uncertain”.

It tapped into widespread angst over corruption and political dysfunction.

Masouda Khazan Tokhi, the editor of Afghan satirical monthly called Achar Kharboza (Melon Pickle) (AFP Photo/Wakil Kohsar)

“The booming genre of political satire has a special place in Afghanistan, where all major problems plaguing the country — militancy, warlordism and corruption –- seem linked to what many describe as the venality of politics.”

Posts depicted high-profile politicians and bureaucrats squeezing into the back seat and descending into petty bickering and mocking conversations.

“Politicians are widely berated as insincere, power hungry and concerned only about the welfare of their own ethnic groups.”

Passengers have included President Ashraf Ghani and his ally in the national unity government, Abdullah Abdullah. But the Facebook page invited trouble when it targeted Hanif Atmar, the powerful national security adviser.

A Kabul Taxi post describes picking up Atmar and his 27 children, who are introduced as part of an oversized entourage of advisers hired on hefty salaries.

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Afghan satirist, Masouda Khazan Tokhi, 39, pictured at her home in Kabul (AFP Photo/Wakil Kohsar)

“The role of satire in Afghanistan is to keep influential people, especially politicians, on their toes. It is to make them aware that they are being watched with an eagle eye — if not by corrupt authorities then by the public who can expose them.”

— Anonymous co-founder of Afghan Onion, a new English-language satirical website that pays tribute to the US website of the same name.

The post mocks a recruitment process seen by Afghans as nepotistic and prone to favouritism.

Atmar was not amused, ordering the grilling of journalists rumoured to be behind Kabul Taxi on suspicion of exposing state secrets by naming his advisers.

“The crackdown on Kabul Taxi has raised concerns over free speech in Afghanistan, which ranks 122nd out of 180 countries in the 2015 Reporters Without Borders press freedom index.”

Defenders in the Afghan media pointed out the names of Atmar’s staff were already posted on a government Facebook page — along with their photos.

“The government considers satire as terrorism,” Kabul Taxi wrote in the aftermath of the controversy, which sent its fan base soaring with the number of “likes” nearly doubling to 60,000 and provoking an outpouring of public support before it was suddenly taken down. Read the rest of this entry »


Khamenei on The Future of Israel

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Israel will not survive the next 25 years, Iran’s Supreme Leader Ayatollah Ali Khamenei said Wednesday, making a series of threatening remarks published online.

“After negotiations, in Zionist regime they said they had no more concern about Iran for next 25 years; I’d say: Firstly, you will not see next 25 years; God willing, there will be nothing as Zionist regime by next 25 years. Secondly, until then, struggling, heroic and jihadi morale will leave no moment of serenity for Zionists.”

In a quote posted to Twitter by Khamenei’s official account, Khamenei addresses Israel, saying, “You will not see next 25 years,” and adds that the Jewish state will be hounded until it is destroyed.

The quote comes against a backdrop of a photograph apparently showing the Iranian leader walking on an Israeli flag painted on a sidewalk.

An Iranian worker at the Uranium Conversion Facility at Isfahan, 410 kilometers, south of Tehran. The conversion facility in Isfahan reprocesses uranium ore concentrate, known as yellowcake, into uranium hexaflouride gas. The gas is then taken to Natanz and fed into the centrifuges for enrichment. (photo credit: AP Photo/Vahid Salemi)

An Iranian worker at the Uranium Conversion Facility at Isfahan, 410 kilometers, south of Tehran. AP Photo/Vahid Salemi)

“Khamenei’s statements also reaffirmed his view that the US is a “Great Satan” and that there would be no detente with Washington beyond the nuclear talks.”

“After negotiations, in Zionist regime they said they had no more concern about Iran for next 25 years; I’d say: Firstly, you will not see next 25 years; God willing, there will be nothing as Zionist regime by next 25 years. Secondly, until then, struggling, heroic and jihadi morale will leave no moment of serenity for Zionists,” the quote from Iran’s top leader reads in broken English.

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The quote was apparently taken from a speech given earlier in the day.

The remarks came as US lawmakers began to debate supporting a recent nuclear agreement between Tehran and six world powers. Critics of the deal have pointed to fiery anti-US and anti-Zionist rhetoric as proof that the regime should not be trusted. Read the rest of this entry »


Pentagon Throws the Book at Bowe Bergdahl

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Misbehavior before the enemy violates Article 99 of the Uniform Code of Military Justice and includes grotesquely dishonorable behavior, including running away, ‘shamefully’ abandoning any place that it is his ‘duty to defend,’ ‘cowardly conduct,’ or endangering the safety of his unit through his own ‘disobedience, neglect, or intentional misconduct.’

David FrenchDavid-French-NRO reports: It looks like the Obama administration may have traded five high-ranking Taliban prisoners for someone who was worse than a deserter:

Military prosecutors have reached into a section of military law seldom used since World War II in the politically fraught case against Army Sgt. Bowe Bergdahl, the soldier held prisoner for years by the Taliban after leaving his post in Afghanistan.

[Read the full text here, at The Corner]

Observers wondered for months if Bergdahl would be charged with desertion after the deal brokered by the U.S. to bring him home. He was — but he was also charged with misbehavior before the enemy, a much rarer offense that carries a stiffer potential penalty in this case.

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“The maximum penalty is death, but it’s highly unlikely that the Army will seek to execute Bergdahl.”

Misbehavior before the enemy violates Article 99 of the Uniform Code of Military Justice and includes grotesquely dishonorable behavior, including running away, “shamefully” abandoning any place that it is his “duty to defend,” “cowardly conduct,” or endangering the safety of his unit through his own “disobedience, neglect, or intentional misconduct.” Read the rest of this entry »


Germany: Backlash for Welcoming Migrants 

Merkel-WSJ

Domestic, international criticism follows open-arms policy

Bertrand Benoit in Berlin and Nicholas Winning in London report: Praise for Germany’s handling of the thousands of refugees pouring into the country is giving way to domestic and international criticism of Berlin’s open-arms policy.

“A welcoming culture is an expression of naive and illusory thinking. What we need, instead, is realism and a sense of proportion. We shouldn’t go beyond providing the basics for asylum seekers, like food and shelter, because it will attract more people.”

—  A spokesman for Alfa, a recently founded opposition party in Germany

The criticism, though still muted, could spell trouble for German Chancellor Angela Merkel once the outpouring of sympathy that has greeted the migrants since late last week subsides and Berlin resumes its push to distribute them more broadly across Europe.

The chancellor’s decision on Friday night to let thousands of migrants traveling through Hungary into the country “sends a completely wrong signal in Europe,” Bavarian Interior Minister Joachim Herrmann told public television Saturday. “This must be corrected.”

“Germany has a heavy responsibility for inciting at the level of the European Union a passive acceptance of this crisis. Germany is probably thinking about its declining demography. It is probably looking to lower salaries again and recruit slaves through mass immigration.”

— National Front leader Marine Le Pen

Leaders of the Christian Social Union, Bavaria’s ruling party and an ally of Ms. Merkel’s Christian Democrats, unanimously criticized the decision as wrongheaded during a telephone conference on Saturday, Andreas Scheuer, the party’s secretary-general said.

German Chancellor Angela Merkel, seen here in Brussels in July, could face trouble when the sympathy that has greeted migrants since late last week subsides and Berlin resumes its push to distribute them more broadly across Europe.Photo: Reuters
[Read the full story here, at WSJ]

Anti-immigration politicians in Germany, France and the U.K. also assailed the policy, saying that it was pulling even more refugees toward the continent and that German plans to divert some to other countries in Europe should be resisted. By Sunday afternoon, some 13,000 migrants had crossed from Hungary into Austria in the 36 hours since German and Austrian authorities bowed to pressure to grant entry to the crowds of asylum seekers stranded in Hungary. Read the rest of this entry »


Paris Is Turning

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Paris is turning schools, hotels into housing for migrants.

France has approximately 25,000 beds designated for asylum seekers, a number far short of the needs of the nearly 70,000 who applied for asylum in the country last year, part of what Julliard called the ‘unprecedented migrant crisis’ facing Europe.

PARIS (AP) — Maggy Donaldson reports: Before the Taliban forced him to flee Afghanistan, Younis exported flowers to the United Arab Emirates and China.

The 30-year-old crossed Iran, Turkey and much of Europe before arriving in Paris a month ago, a brutal journey that left him with a discolored lesion on his ankle and a swollen leg.

“I’m not poor. I like my country. I lived with my family. If I didn’t have to leave, I would live in Afghanistan.”

— Younis, Afghan refugee, who now sleeps in a former Paris high school

After weeks living on the banks of the Seine, Younis — who gave only his first name because his asylum application is still being processed — now sleeps in a former Paris high school that has been empty for four years, one of about 200 migrants living there.

Paris' deputy mayor, Bruno Julliard ©Francois Lafite/Wostok Press/Maxppp France, Paris

Paris’ deputy mayor, Bruno Julliard ©Francois Lafite/Wostok Press/Maxppp.

“Paris is turning a blind eye to humanitarian groups converting abandoned public buildings like the school into migrant centers, recognizing that the 1,000 official emergency housing spots Paris has created since June are not enough to shelter all migrants left without a roof.”

Paris is turning a blind eye to humanitarian groups converting abandoned public buildings like the school into migrant centers, recognizing that the 1,000 official emergency housing spots Paris has created since June are not enough to shelter all migrants left without a roof, Paris’ deputy mayor, Bruno Julliard, told French radio.

“I don’t have a job or a place to stay, I can’t read, I can’t focus.”

— Younis

The school’s classrooms are lined with sleeping bags atop makeshift cardboard mattresses. Migrants drink instant coffee and eat goulash concocted from donated ingredients. It’s bare-bones, but migrants, activists and many city officials agree it’s better than being on the streets. Read the rest of this entry »


[VIDEO] Taliban Attacks Afghan Parliament

KABUL, Afghanistan (AP) — A Taliban suicide bomber struck the entrance to the Afghan parliament on Monday and gunmen tried to storm the heavily guarded compound, setting off a gunbattle with police that left two people dead as lawmakers were meeting inside to vote on the appointment of a new defense minister.

“Targeting innocent people in the holy month of Ramadan is a clear act of hostility against the religion of Islam,” his office said in a statement, adding that the perpetrators “are criminals who are bound by no creed or religion.”

Afghan security forces managed to repel the attack, killing all seven gunmen and ensuring that no members of parliament were harmed. But the audacious assault came as the Taliban captured two districts in as many days in the country’s north, displaying their ability to operate on multiple fronts.

Interior Ministry spokesman Sediq Sediqqi said the attack began with a car bomb explosion near the entrance to parliament. Gunmen then attempted to storm the compound but were pushed back by security forces and eventually corralled into a nearby building that was under construction.

Sediqqi later said all seven attackers were killed by police and that no members of parliament were harmed. “It is over now,” he said.

Sediqqi said a woman and a 10-year-old girl were killed. Health Ministry spokesman Mohammad Ismail Kahousi said 31 civilians were wounded in the parliament attack, including two women and two children.

Sidiqa Mubarez, a member of parliament, said the building was rocked by the large explosion and that some people were wounded by flying glass. She said the explosion happened shortly after Masoom Stanekzai had arrived to be confirmed as defense minister, a post that has been vacant for nine months. The vote was delayed by the attack.

The Taliban claimed the attack. The militant group’s spokesman, Zabihullah Mujahid, told The Associated Press by telephone that it targeted Stanekzai and the parliament itself. He said the assault showed the “capability of the mujahedeen, who can even attack the parliament in the capital.”

An AP reporter who witnessed part of the assault heard heavy gunfire outside parliament and saw black smoke billowing from the entrance as ambulances raced to the scene. The reporter later heard sporadic shooting from the building where the militants were said to be holed up. Read the rest of this entry »


Experts Say Best Option Now Is Keeping Nation As Comfortable As Possible Till End

ATLANTA, GA - AUGUST 01:  Dr. Bruce Ribner, an epidemiologist and professor in the School of Medicine's Infectious Diseases Division, confirms that Emory University Hospital will be receiving and treating two American patients diagnosed with Ebola virus during a press conference at Emory University Hospital on August 1, 2014 in Atlanta, Georgia.  The Ebola infected patients will be transported to Emory University Hospital from Liberia in the next couple of days and receive supportive care and treatment in a isolation unit separate from the general hospital.  (Photo by Jessica McGowan/Getty Images)

WASHINGTON—Saying there were no other options remaining and that continued intervention would only prolong the nation’s suffering, experts concluded Tuesday that the best course of action is to keep the United States as comfortable as possible until the end.

“We need to accept the fact that the U.S. doesn’t have long—simply helping it pass that time in comfort is the humane thing to do.”

According to those familiar with its condition, the country’s long, painful decline over the past several decades has made it clear that the most compassionate choice at this juncture is to do whatever is possible to ensure America is at ease during its last moments.

“Attempting to stabilize the country in its current enfeebled state would not only be extremely expensive, but it would also cause unnecessary agony as it enters this final stage.”

— Economist Danielle Martin

“We need to accept the fact that the U.S. doesn’t have long—simply helping it pass that time in comfort is the humane thing to do,” said economist Danielle Martin, speaking on behalf of a large group of experts ranging from sociologists and historians to lawmakers and environmentalists, all of whom confirmed they had “done everything [they] could.” “Attempting to stabilize the country in its current enfeebled state would not only be extremely expensive, but it would also cause unnecessary agony as it enters this final stage. Read the rest of this entry »


No Mystery: Valerie Jarrett Gave Order To Stand Down In Benghazi Terrorist Attack

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The omnipresent power behind the throne some have called the president’s Rasputin had the power to call off three strikes against Osama bin Laden. She may have used that power again the night four Americans died in Benghazi.

The Sept. 11, 2012, terrorist attack on our diplomatic mission in Benghazi, Libya, VJarretcame while America failed to mount a rescue mission despite sufficient time and assets.

“The biggest scandal of all, the biggest question is: What was the president doing in those eight hours?”

— Columnist Charles Krauthammer

Included in that disaster were the unaccounted whereabouts of President Obama during eight critical hours, the lack of Situation Room photos, the failure by the president to follow up with subordinates before his trip to Las Vegas and the fabricated story that the whole thing was prompted by an Internet video.

Columnist Charles Krauthammer said recently on “The O’Reilly Factor” that the “biggest scandal of all” regarding that Benghazi slaughter has yet to emerge.

“I think there is a bigger story here … that will in time come out,” Krauthammer said. “The biggest scandal of all, the biggest question is: What was the president doing in those eight hours?”

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The columnist noted: “He had a routine meeting at 5 o’clock. He never after, during the eight hours when our guys have their lives in danger, he never called the leading from behindsecretary of defense, he never calls the chairman of the Joint Chiefs, he never calls the CIA director.”

[Order Richard Miniter’s book “Leading from Behind: The Reluctant President and the Advisors Who Decide for Him from Amazon.com]

One of the people Obama always talks to is Valerie Jarrett. She emerged from the same Chicago cauldron of radicalism where Obama got his ideological baptism.

The Iranian-born Jarrett (her parents were American-born expatriates) is the only staff member who regularly follows the president home from the West Wing to the residence and one of the few people allowed to call the president by his first name.

Her influence is shown by an account in Richard Miniter‘s book Leading From Behind: The Reluctant President and the Advisors Who Decide for Him.” Read the rest of this entry »


Ian Bremmer: America in Retreat

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Peter Foster reports: After six decades serving as the global policeman, the United States is now signalling its retreat from the world.418glrkO1LL._SL250_

[Order Ian Bremmer’s book “Superpower: Three Choices for America’s Role in the World” from Amazon.com]

With the Middle East engulfed by the flames of sectarian conflict, Europe’s borders menaced by the threat of war and China starting to flex its muscles in Asia-Pacific, it is clear the world has entered a new period of volatility.

Ian Bremmer, the American foreign policy guru who coined the phrase “G-Zero” to describe this new and unstable world, is the author of ‘Superpower’, a best-selling new book that explores America’s options as a superpower in the 21st century…..(read more)

Telegraph


[VIDEO] Obama Defense Dept. Forced Soldiers to Sign Non-Disclosure Statements on Turncoat Bowe Bergdahl’s Behavior

General Mullins told Bowe Bergdahl’s closest comrades to sign non-disclosure statements on Bergdahl’s behavior before he deserted his platoon.

 


China Played Host to Secret Taliban Talks

China-Taliban-WSJ

Margherita Stancati reports: Afghanistan’s most prominent peace envoy held secret talks with former Taliban officials in China last week, accelerating regional efforts to bring the insurgency to the negotiating table, according to individuals briefed on the matter by the warring parties.

The two-day meeting, which took place in the northwestern Chinese city of Urumqi, was aimed at discussing preconditions for a possible peace process, those people said.

“These were talks about talks,” one diplomat said.

[Read the full story here, at WSJ]

The meeting was significant for another reason: It was facilitated by Pakistan’s intelligence agency in an apparent show of goodwill aimed at a negotiated solution to the insurgency. Read the rest of this entry »


U.S. Sending Disaster Response Team, $1 Million in Aid to Nepal

Kathmandu Struck By Powerful Earthquake

(WASHINGTON)—The United States is sending a disaster response team and $1 million in aid to Nepal following a devastating earthquake that shook three countries.

The White House and Secretary of State John Kerry are offering condolences along with pledging the support.

The magnitude 7.8 earthquake outside the capital Kathmandu killed more than 1,000 people in Nepal, India and Bangladesh. It also toppled buildings and triggered an avalanche on Mount Everest.

Kerry says in a statement that the United States stands with the people of Nepal and sends heartfelt sympathies.

He says USAID is preparing to deploy the disaster assistance response team and is activating an urban search and rescue team.

National Security Council spokeswoman Bernadette Meehan says the U.S. stands ready to provide further assistance in the region.

[TIME]


Fred Bauer: Pluralism vs. Sectarian Secularism

founders-pluralism

The debate over religious liberty has brought out some odd readings of American history

Fred Bauer writes: A number of forces are fueling the current debate about religious liberty in the United States: among them, good-faith efforts to promote the continued improvement of the Union, senses of cultural grievance, anti-religion paranoia, ignorance, self-righteousness, opportunism, partisanship, and new-wave authoritarianism. However, it might be helpful to see this debate as taking place against the backdrop of a clash between two different views of the role of religion in public life. On one side stand sectarian secularists, who want to remove religion from public life altogether, and on the other stand pluralists, who support a more open society.

“Leaving aside the religious and political beliefs of Americans before 1776, appeals to the divine suffuse American culture and politics. Many of the Founders — along with Frederick Douglass, Harriet Beecher Stowe, Martin Luther King Jr., and countless others — would have a bone to pick with those who say that our foundational rights do not come from God.”

[Read the full text here, at National Review]

Modeled in some respects on the French tradition of laïcité, sectarian secularism holds that appeals to religious ideas have absolutely no place in the public square, and its adherents will ridicule as out of bounds any appeal to the divine. This position goes well beyond a separation of church and state, which is about distinguishing the institutions of religion from those of governance, and instead suggests that the religious and the political should be entirely separate spheres. Unlike a more moderate and open-minded secularism, sectarian secularism seeks to police the bounds of public debate by rendering religious approaches to politics illegitimate.

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“This sectarian-secularist approach seems to inform Chris Cuomo’s much-mocked declaration in February on CNN about the source of our rights: ‘Our rights do not come from God. That’s your faith. That’s my faith, but not our country’.”

[Also see – Religious Liberty and the Left’s End Game]

This sectarian-secularist approach seems to inform Chris Cuomo’s much-mocked declaration in February on CNN about the source of our rights: “Our rights do not come from God. That’s your faith. That’s my faith, but not our country.” Particularly telling, and demonstrative of a sectarian-secularist viewpoint, is Cuomo’s insistence that it is somehow un-American to believe that our rights do come from God — that’s not “our country.” In a later Facebook post, Cuomo continued to insist that the language of the Declaration was not really part of American life: “Because the US does not draw on divine authority for recognition of rights.

“Particularly telling, and demonstrative of a sectarian-secularist viewpoint, is Cuomo’s insistence that it is somehow un-American to believe that our rights do come from God — that’s not ‘our country’.”

[Also see – RFRA: Now More than Ever]

Founding documents were the beginning of course but the first amendment in that seminal constitution, which has infinitely more authority than the dec of indep obviously keeps faith out of government.” Cuomo is far from an outlier here. The past few weeks alone have offered numerous examples of attempts to stigmatize religious references in public debates. The sectarian secularists have defined once and for all what the U.S. is: a society where religion should be kept in the closet and not influence politics or policy-making.

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“Pluralism offers a radically different account of the Republic. A pluralist welcomes all to the public square: Christians, Jews, Muslims, Buddhists, Hindus, and atheists alike.”

[Read the full text here, at National Review]

Pluralism offers a radically different account of the Republic. A pluralist welcomes all to the public square: Christians, Jews, Muslims, Buddhists, Hindus, and atheists alike. Pluralism does not seek to make the public square a hermetically sealed chamber, nor do pluralists ask believers to take off their faiths the instant they enter it. Indeed, pluralists believe that such a sealing off is practically and philosophically impossible.

“Pluralism does not seek to make the public square a hermetically sealed chamber, nor do pluralists ask believers to take off their faiths the instant they enter it.”

From a pluralist perspective, religion can perhaps never be fully separated from politics. Politics is shaped by broader philosophical principles about the ends of human existence, and one’s religious beliefs will undoubtedly influence one’s understanding of these principles. If one believes that all men and women are made in the image of a divine Creator, that will likely lead to a different set of principles from those that one would espouse if one believes that some people are innately better than others. Read the rest of this entry »


Bret Stephens: The Capitulationist

Obama-Haim-Saban-AFP:Getty

The Obama administration refuses to negotiate openly, lest the extent of its diplomatic surrender to Iran be prematurely and fatally exposed.

Bret Stephens writes: For a sense of the magnitude of the capitulation represented by Barack Obama’s Iran diplomacy, it’s worth recalling what the president said when he was trying to sell his interim nuclear agreement to a Washington, D.C., audience in December 2013.

“We know they don’t need to have an underground, fortified facility like Fordo in order to have a peaceful program,” Mr. Obama said of the Iranians in an interview with Haim Saban, the Israeli-American billionaire philanthropist. “They certainly don’t need a heavy-water reactor at Arak in order to have a peaceful nuclear program. They don’t need some of the advanced centrifuges that they currently possess in order to have a limited, peaceful nuclear program.”

An Iranian worker at the Uranium Conversion Facility at Isfahan, 410 kilometers, south of Tehran. The conversion facility in Isfahan reprocesses uranium ore concentrate, known as yellowcake, into uranium hexaflouride gas. The gas is then taken to Natanz and fed into the centrifuges for enrichment. (photo credit: AP Photo/Vahid Salemi)

An Iranian worker at the Uranium Conversion Facility at Isfahan, 410 kilometers, south of Tehran. The conversion facility in Isfahan reprocesses uranium ore concentrate, known as yellowcake, into uranium hexaflouride gas. The gas is then taken to Natanz and fed into the centrifuges for enrichment. (photo credit: AP Photo/Vahid Salemi)

Hardly more than a year later, on the eve of what might be deal-day, here is where those promises stand:

Fordo: “The United States is considering letting Tehran run hundreds of centrifuges at a once-secret, fortified underground bunker in exchange for limits on centrifuge work and research and development at other sites.”—Associated Press, March 26.

[Read the full text here, at the Wall Street Journal]

Arak: “Today, the six powers negotiating with Iran . . . want the reactor at Arak, still under construction, reconfigured to produce less plutonium, the other bomb fuel.”—The New York Times, March 7.

Advanced centrifuges: “Iran is building about 3,000 advanced uranium-enrichment centrifuges, the Iranian news media reported Sunday, a development likely to add to Western concerns about Tehran’s disputed nuclear program.”—Reuters, March 3.

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But the president and his administration made other promises, too. Consider a partial list:

Possible military dimensions: In September 2009 Mr. Obama warned Iran that it was “on notice” that it would have to “come clean” on all of its nuclear secrets. Now the administration is prepared to let it slide.

“It was never especially probable that a detailed, satisfactory verification regime would be included in the sort of substantive framework agreement that the Americans have been working for.”

— The Economist

“Under the new plan,” The Wall Street Journal’s Jay Solomon and Laurence Norman reported last week, “Tehran wouldn’t be expected to immediately clarify all the outstanding questions raised by the IAEA in a 2011 report on Iran’s alleged secretive work. A full reckoning of Iran’s past activities would be demanded in later years as part of a nuclear deal that is expected to last at least 15 years.”

Verification: Another thing the president said in that interview with Mr. Saban is that any deal would involve “extraordinary constraints and verification mechanisms and intrusive inspections.”

Iran isn’t playing ball on this one, either. Read the rest of this entry »


[VIDEO] NBC’s Engel: U.S. Allies Fear Obama Administration Leaking Information to Iran

TIME-parody

Time Magazine Parody cover by punditfromanotherplanet

From Hot Air’s Ed Morrissey:

Just how badly has Barack Obama and his administration damaged relations with our allies in the Middle East? NBC’s Richard Engel reports that the Sunni nations in the region have begun to fear that the Obama administration leaks intel to Iran as part of its efforts at rapprochement with the mullahs, which is why the US got blindsided by the Saudi-led coalition’s operations in Yemen. The White House’s “incoherence” in policy, Engel reports, has most of them losing confidence in American leadership, according to Engel’s contacts. (via Free Beacon):

Initially, this looked like material for an update on my earlier post regarding the Saudi-GCC coalition and its decision to work around Obama, but it deserves its own thread for a couple of reasons. First, Engel reported this for NBC, and on MSNBC, the “Lean Forward” cable channel that usually acts as a clearinghouse for Barack Obama apologists (and the occasional slam on Middle America). Engel’s not among the apologists; he’s a first-class foreign correspondent whose reports follow no partisan agenda, and whose sources have usually provided him with highly accurate reporting.

[Read more at Hot Air]

More importantly, Engel’s report advances this to an allegation of betrayal, not just incompetence. Clearly, Saudi Arabia has little confidence left in the Obama administration; that much is evident from their actions to cut the US out of the loop on this coalition. Read the rest of this entry »


A Reminder from Alan Dershowitz: President is not Commander in Chief of Foreign Policy

US President Barack Obama attends a military briefing with US Ambassador to Afghanistan James Cunningham (L) at Bagram Air Field, north of Kabul, in Afghanistan, May 25, 2014. Photo: SAUL LOEB/AFP/Getty Images

To be sure, when politicians call our president the ‘Commander-in-Chief,’ they are using that term rhetorically. But it is a dangerous rhetoric, because it suggests a concentration, rather than a division, of power

images Alan M. Dershowitz writes: Politicians should stop referring to the President of the United States as “the Commander-in-Chief,” as he is often referred to. Most recently, Hillary Clinton, whom I admire, said the following about Republican senators who wrote an open letter to Iran:

“Either these senators were trying to be helpful to the Iranians or harmful to the Commander-in-Chief in the midst of high-stakes international diplomacy.”

But the president is not the Commander-in-Chief for purposes of diplomatic negotiations. This characterization mistakenly implies that President Obama — or any president — is our Commander, and that his decisions should receive special deference. This is a misreading of our constitution, which creates a presidency that is subject to the checks and balances of co-equal branches of the government. The president is only the commander in chief of “the Army and Navy of the United States, and of the militia of the several states, when called into the actual service of the United States.” This provision was intended to assure civilian control over the military and to serve as a check on military power.

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“As President, he cannot even declare war, though he can decide how a war should be fought after Congress declares it. He cannot make a treaty without the approval of 2/3 of the Senate. He cannot appoint Ambassadors without the consent of the Senate. And he cannot terminate sanctions that were imposed by Congress, without Congress changing the law.”

The only people he is empowered to command are soldiers, sailors and members of the militia — not ordinary citizens.

This important limitation on the president’s power is highly relevant to the current debate about Congress having the authority to check the president’s decision to make the deal that is currently being negotiated with Iran. The Constitution is clear about this. The President is not the Commander-in-Chief of our nation’s foreign policy. When he is involved in “high-stakes international diplomacy,” his involvement is not as Commander-in-Chief of our armed forces, but rather as negotiator-in-chief, whose negotiations are subject to the checks and balances of the other branches.

commander-in-chief-Obama-photo

“Our Constitution separates the powers of government — the power to command — into three co-equal branches. The armed forces are different: power is vested in one commander-in-chief.”

As President, he cannot even declare war, though he can decide how a war should be fought after Congress declares it. He cannot make a treaty without the approval of 2/3 of the Senate. He cannot appoint Ambassadors without the consent of the Senate. And he cannot terminate sanctions that were imposed by Congress, without Congress changing the law. Were he the “Commander-in-Chief” of our country — as Putin is of Russia or as Ali Khamenei is of Iran — he could simply command that all of these things be done. But our Constitution separates the powers of government — the power to command — into three co-equal branches. The armed forces are different: power is vested in one commander-in-chief.

“The only people he is empowered to command are soldiers, sailors and members of the militia — not ordinary citizens.”

To be sure, when politicians call our president the “Commander-in-Chief,” they are using that term rhetorically. But it is a dangerous rhetoric, because it suggests a concentration, rather than a division, of power. Military metaphors are as inappropriate in a democracy as is martial law, which does empower the executive to act as the commander of all people, but only in cases of extreme emergency. Read the rest of this entry »


[VIDEO] State Dept. Again Refuses To Say Whether Clinton Signed Separation Agreement

State Dept. Again Refuses To Say Whether Clinton Signed Separation Agreement (March 16, 2015)

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Iran Unveils New Ground-Based Cruise Missile System

Iran Missile

Iran unveils newly developed long range cruise missile called Soumar that looks like a reverse engineered KH-55

“Soumar long-range ground-to-ground cruise missile system has been designed and built by experts of the defense ministry’s aerospace industries organization,” Defense Minister Brigadier General Hossein Dehqan told reporters after the unveiling ceremony.

“The designing and building of this weapon whose navigation and propulsion systems and its structure enjoy complicated and new technologies is seen as a wide stride taken to enhance the Islamic Republic of Iran’s defensive and deterrence power,” he added.

Dehqan also announced the mass delivery of Qadr and Qiyam long-range ballistic missiles to the Islamic Revolution Guards Corps (IRGC)’s Aerospace Force, and said these missiles are capable of destroying IMAGE635614086663178000different types of targets under any type of conditions due to their tactical capability, sustainability in the battleground and radar-evading features.

He also announced that the defense ministry will deliver upgraded versions of these long-range and high-precision missiles to the Iranian military forces next year.

Also during the ceremony, IRGC Aerospace Force Brigadier General Amir Ali Hajizadeh hailed Iran’s advancements in missile technology under the harshest sanctions imposed on the country, and underlined that Iran will never allow its defense program and cruise missiles become a topic in its negotiations with the world powers.

The Iranian Armed Forces have recently test-fired different types of newly-developed missiles and torpedoes and tested a large number of home-made weapons, tools and equipment, including submarines, military ships, artillery, choppers, aircrafts, UAVs and air defense and electronic systems, during massive military drills.

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Defense analysts and military observers say that Iran’s wargames and its advancements in weapons production have proved as a deterrent factor.

Iran successfully tested second generation of Sejjil missiles and brought it into mass production in 2013.

Sejjil missiles are considered as the third generation of Iran-made long-range missiles.

Also, Iran’s 2000km-range, liquid-fuel, Qadr F ballistic missile can reach territories as far as Israel. Read the rest of this entry »