Maybe Doomsday preppers aren’t so crazy after all.
Journalist Garrett Graff takes readers through the 60-year history of the government’s secret Doomsday plans to survive nuclear war in his painstakingly researched book Raven Rock: The Story of the U.S. Government’s Secret Plan to Save Itself–While the Rest of Us Die (Simon & Schuster), out now.
He focuses on the Cold War-era government bunkers across the country that were built to house the President and various Washington elites — members of a so-called “shadow government” in the worst nuclear Armageddon scenario.
Since September 11, 2001, Congress has intensified their interest in and funding of top secret “Continuity of Government” (COG) in ways not seen since the Cold War. With hundreds of newly declassified documents, the book, currently in development with NBC as a TV show, includes never-before-heard intel on the country’s top secret bunkers — mythical places like Raven Rock and Mount Weather.
Here’s the low down on some of these bunkers down below…
Lillington, NC • For military
Built near Camp David to house the military, as a backup for the Pentagon — and perhaps even the President — during an emergency, Raven Rock has retained an air of secrecy ever since construction started in 1948.
Not that it could remain completely clandestine, given the 300-person team (including miners poached from theLincoln Tunnel dig) who carved a 3,100-foot tunnel out of granite in Raven Rock Mountain near Blue Ridge Summit, Pennsylvania.
“There were very few engineers with the expertise to hollow out a mountain and build, in essence, a free-standing city inside of it. The US government turned to the construction firm Parsons Brinckerhoff, which had developed unique tunneling expertise working on the New York City subway,” Graff told The Post.
Locals caught on and word spread to the media, who dubbed the project “Harry’s Hole,” after President Truman who greenlit the project.
Opened in 1953 and designed “to be the centerpiece of a large military emergency hub,” Raven Rock provided 100,000 feet of office space (not counting, Graff writes, “the corridors, bathrooms, dining facility, infirmary or communications and utilities areas”) that could hold about 1,400 people comfortably. Two sets of 34-ton blast doors and curved 1,000-foot-long tunnels reduce the impact of a bomb blast. The compound has undergone several rounds of upgrades — new buildings were added as well as updated technology and air filtration systems. Read the rest of this entry »
Charles Krauthammer gave two main reasons why the selection of General H. R. McMaster to be national-security adviser was encouraging, and he also made another point about the language of Trump’s announcement.
Under President Obama, the military sought to integrate transgender persons into the ranks, allow women into special operations forces and purge the nomenclature of gender-specific words, adopting what some critics say was a “politically correct” liberal agenda. That’s a contrast to the traditional U.S. military approach.
“It has struck this building in a big way and we need to get away from that. Our focus is defending this country, and we should not spend so much time on social engineering.”
In addition, some Navy ships have been named for civil rights activists. And while the Obama administration has taken an inclusive approach on some issues, it has also worked to minimize expressions of Christianity in the ranks. For example, several officers have been disciplined for displaying Bibles or gospel verses in their quarters.
Veterans and military experts told FoxNews.com that, while some of Obama’s civil rights advancements may be locked in, neither Trump nor his choice for secretary of defense, Gen. James “Mad Dog” Mattis, are likely to make social experimentation a priority.
“You need to be known as a good soldier or Marine and not by your sexuality, your gender or your particular faith. We need everyone to pull in the same direction and not espouse a particular personal agenda that doesn’t fit into the nation’s best long-term interest.”
“Here in [the Pentagon], we don’t say merry Christmas, and I think we have been misguided when it comes to our history and who we are as a nation, and political correctness is indicative of that,” Department of Defense contractor and retired Army Col. Robert Maginnis told FoxNews.com.
“It has struck this building in a big way and we need to get away from that. Our focus is defending this country, and we should not spend so much time on social engineering.”
Mattis, who on Thursday goes before the Senate Armed Services Committee as part of his confirmation process, will likely “bring the warrior ethos back to the Pentagon,” Maginnis said.
That mentality was “drained by the Obama administration,” he said. “You need to be known as a good soldier or Marine and not by your sexuality, your gender or your particular faith. We need everyone to pull in the same direction and not espouse a particular personal agenda that doesn’t fit into the nation’s best long-term interest.” Read the rest of this entry »
Outside California, Hillary Clinton lost the popular vote by 1.4 million to Donald Trump.
John Merline reports: Democrats who are having trouble getting out of the first stage of grief — denial — aren’t being helped by the fact that, now that all the votes are counted, Hillary Clinton’s lead in the popular vote has topped 2.8 million, giving her a 48% share of the vote compared with Trumps 46%.
To those unschooled in how the United States selects presidents, this seems totally unfair. But look more closely at the numbers and you see that Clinton’s advantage all but disappears.
As we noted in this space earlier, while Clinton’s overall margin looks large and impressive, it is due to Clinton’s huge margin of victory in one state — California — where she got a whopping 4.3 million more votes than Trump.
California is the only state, in fact, where Clinton’s margin of victory was bigger than President Obama’s in 2012 — 61.5% vs. Obama’s 60%.
But California is the exception that proves the true genius of the Electoral College — which was designed to prevent regional candidates from dominating national elections.
In recent years, California has been turning into what amounts to a one-party state. Between 2008 and 2016, the number of Californian’s who registered as Democrats climbed by 1.1 million, while the number of registered Republicans dropped by almost 400,000.
What’s more, many Republicans in the state had nobody to vote for in November. Read the rest of this entry »
[VIDEO] Krauthammer: On Russia, ‘The Passivity of Barack Obama in the Face of This Is Simply Staggering’Posted: December 13, 2016
“The overall concern is real. The idea that it gave the election to Donald Trump, I think, is absurd. The intelligence agencies themselves are split. There is no way really to discern intent without having a source inside and we don’t. But the real issue is this: There is extensive report on how this thing developed over 18 months with the Obama administration knowing about this.”
“Knowing about all kinds of intrusions by the Russians through others, and the passivity of Barack Obama in the face of this is simply staggering. It quotes officials as saying that in the end there were people saying we had to do something, some kind of retaliation to prevent or deter the Russians and/or others, and Obama never did. In part because he didn’t want to lose influence with Russia in Syria.”
I ran Obama’s 2008 campaign. Should I have known better this time?
David Plouffe writes: Like many people around the world, I expected a comfortable Hillary Clinton victory on Tuesday. But I’m not a random pundit when it comes to understanding presidential races and the electorate — I managed one Obama presidential campaign and oversaw another from the White House. So of all the forecasts that got it wrong, my prediction that Mrs. Clinton was a 100 percent favorite was a glaring miss.
“It’s a reminder that presidential campaigns are driven in large part by personality, not party. Ronald Reagan, President Obama and now Mr. Trump all were able to create electoral coalitions unique to them.”
My confidence was not partisan spin. It was based on public data, voting history and some sense of the Clinton campaign’s own models. I played with various state scenarios, and even in the most generous outcomes, could not get Donald J. Trump to 270 electoral votes.
“It really was a change election. The voters were serious about that. And there was only one change candidate.”
But he ended up winning 306 electoral votes and, most important, did it by breaking into the Upper Midwest, leaving the blue Big Ten firewall in ruins.
What happened? We will know much more when all the data is in and we can see exactly who voted. But based on what we know, it was a combination of several factors that led to this stunning upset.
DEMOCRATIC TURNOUT WAS VERY WEAK Overall turnout was as well, as Donald J. Trump received fewer votes in winning than Mitt Romney did when he lost decisively in 2012.
“What happened? We will know much more when all the data is in and we can see exactly who voted. But based on what we know, it was a combination of several factors that led to this stunning upset.”
Still, the nagging worry about a lack of broad-based enthusiasm for Mrs. Clinton, which I noted often as someone familiar with the Obama coalition, proved to be justified. She had passionate supporters and volunteers, for sure. But for sporadic and potential first-time voters, the spark was not there.
In Detroit, Mrs. Clinton received roughly 70,000 votes fewer than Mr. Obama did in 2012; she lost Michigan by just 12,000 votes. In Milwaukee County in Wisconsin, she received roughly 40,000 votes fewer than Mr. Obama did, and she lost the state by just 27,000. In Cuyahoga County, Ohio, turnout in majority African-American precincts was down 11 percent from four years ago.
It’s a reminder that presidential campaigns are driven in large part by personality, not party. Ronald Reagan, President Obama and now Mr. Trump all were able to create electoral coalitions unique to them. Read the rest of this entry »
The Clinton campaign (Washington Post) released audio on Friday of Donald Trump talking about hitting on a hot woman in 2005. Hillary Clinton tweeted out that she was “shocked!” in response to the audio! HillaryClinton – “This is horrific. We cannot allow this man to become president.” Really, Hillary? This is the same woman who threatened Bill Clinton’s accusers in 1998. It is commonly believed by Clinton victims that Hillary was behind the siccing of private investigators on the many women who accused her husband of rape, sexual assault or infidelity in the 1990s. Hillary Clinton revealed her hidden hand when she menacingly issued a clear warning of intimidation to her husband’s accusers (and those who would pursue their charges) on the nationally broadcast Today Show in early 1998 in the days after the Monica Lewinsky scandal broke.
The Today Show interview with Matt Lauer on January 27, 1998 is famous for Hillary’s claim that a “vast right-wing conspiracy” was behind the allegations of an affair between her husband President Clinton and White House intern Monica Lewinsky. “This is—the great story here for anybody willing to find it and write about it and explain it is this vast right-wing conspiracy that has been conspiring against my husband since the day he announced for president. A few journalists have kind of caught on to it and explained it. But it has not yet been fully revealed to the American public. And actually, you know, in a bizarre sort of way, this may do it.” Later in the interview, Hillary bluntly issued her threat: “I think we’re going to find some other things. And I think that when all of this is put into context, and we really look at the people involved here, look at their motivations and look at their backgrounds, look at their past behavior, some folks are going to have a lot to answer for.” Read the rest of this entry »
[PHOTOS] The Last Days of East Germany: 40 Fascinating Photographs That Capture Everyday Life in Berlin in the late 1980sPosted: September 10, 2016
From vintage everyday: Between 1961 and 1989, the Berlin Wall divided East and West Germany and prevented the mass defection that took place after World War II. It also acted as a symbolic partition between democracy and Communism during the Cold War period. The wall was erected in the middle of the night, but it was torn down just as quickly 28 years later, leading to Germany’s reunification.
In January 1988, Erich Honecker paid a state visit to France. By all indications, the long stretch of international isolation appeared to have been successfully overcome. The GDR finally seemed to be taking its long-sought place among the international community of nations. In the minds of the GDR’s old-guard communists, the long-awaited international political recognition was seen as a favorable omen that seemed to coincide symbolically with the fortieth anniversary of the East German state.
The Republican Party was in turmoil again Wednesday as party leaders, strategists and donors voiced increasing alarm about the flailing state of Donald Trump’s candidacy and fears that the presidential nominee was damaging the party with an extraordinary week of self-inflicted mistakes, gratuitous attacks and missed opportunities.
“A new level of panic hit the street. It’s time for a serious reset.”
— Veteran operative Scott Reed
Republican National Committee Chairman Reince Priebus was described as “very frustrated” and stressed by Trump’s behavior over the past week, having run out of excuses to make on the nominee’s behalf with donors and other party leaders, according to multiple people familiar with the events.
“The current race is which of these two is the more unacceptable, because right now neither of them is acceptable. Trump is helping her to win by proving he is more unacceptable than she is.”
— Newt Gingrich
Meanwhile, Trump’s top campaign advisers are failing to instill discipline on their candidate, who has spent the past days lunging from one controversy to another while seemingly skipping chances to go on the offensive against his Democratic opponent, Hillary Clinton.
“A new level of panic hit the street,” said veteran operative Scott Reed, chief strategist for the U.S. Chamber of Commerce. “It’s time for a serious reset.”
Trump allies on Wednesday publicly urged the candidate to reboot, furious that he has allowed his confrontation with the parents of dead U.S. Army captain Humayun Khan to continue for nearly a week. They also are angry with Trump over his surprising refusal in a Tuesday interview with The Washington Post to endorse House Speaker Paul D. Ryan (R-Wis.) or Sen. John McCain (Ariz.) — two of the party’s top elected officials — in their upcoming primary campaigns.
“The current race is which of these two is the more unacceptable, because right now neither of them is acceptable,” Gingrich said in a Wednesday morning telephone interview. “Trump is helping her to win by proving he is more unacceptable than she is.”
Gingrich said Trump has only a matter of weeks to reverse course. “Anybody who is horrified by Hillary should hope that Trump will take a deep breath and learn some new skills,” he said. “He cannot win the presidency operating the way he is now. She can’t be bad enough to elect him if he’s determined to make this many mistakes.”
Reed, who managed Bob Dole’s 1996 presidential campaign, recommended that Trump “stop doing silly interviews nine times a day that get you off message” and deliver a major address seeking to reset the campaign establishing himself as the change candidate. Read the rest of this entry »
[VIDEO] Krauthammer: ‘I Think You’re Missing the Point’, Trump ‘Revealing Who He Is’ with Racist Attacks on JudgePosted: June 6, 2016
Charles Krauthammer says Republican politicians must look and ask themselves whether Trump is the man they want to be leading their party.
Bridget Johnson reports: ISIS beheaded four Peshmerga in a grisly video released today with a retribution message to President Obama — delivered by an American-sounding executioner — for last week’s raid to rescue 69 prisoners near Hawija, Iraq.
“…There is still no compelling reason to believe that anything we are currently doing will be sufficient to achieve the President’s stated goal of degrading and ultimately destroying ISIL.”
— Senator John McCain
Three of the Kurds are forced to watch the fourth prisoner being beheaded before they are subjected to the same fate.
“Obama, you have learned a new lesson. Six of the soldiers of the caliphate faced 400 of your children. They killed and injured them, by Allah’s grace. You were probably surprised by this. O Crusader, it is the support of Allah you did not gain anything, you returned to your base with loss and humiliation.”
The video, viewed by PJM, includes night-vision images of a helicopter attack, though it’s unclear if it’s footage from that night. It also shows clips of Defense Secretary Ash Carter, dead bodies and a field of rubble while ripping off coalition footage of the strikes. U.S. forces said they leveled the compound after the prisoners, who were set to be killed later that day, were rescued.
“Obama, you wage war against Allah. He supports us against you; it is the promise of Allah. Allah will never fail in his promise.”
A narrator speaking in Arabic walks through the decimated compound as he recounts ISIS’ version of events and includes alleged witnesses.
One jihadist wearing gloves and a surgical mask picks through a pile of first-aid packaging, bloody bandaging and needles they said were left by U.S. and Kurdish forces.
Then the 15-minute video cuts to the prisoners in orange jumpsuits kneeled before the rubble, and the black-clad killers wielding knives. Read the rest of this entry »
Republican Ohio Rep. Jim Jordan took issue with former Secretary of State Hillary Clinton‘s comment that protests had erupted in both Cairo, Egypt and Benghazi, Libya, citing evidence from the House Select Committee’s investigation stating that no protest of any kind had occurred in Benghazi. He then went on to quote from various State Department spokespersons who, in the weeks following the Sept. 11, 2012 attack, claimed that the incident in Benghazi was linked to the Cairo-based protest, which was a reaction to an offensive online video.
“I wrote a whole chapter about this in my book, ‘Hard Choices’. I’d be glad to send it to you, congressman.”
— Hillary Clinton, in condescending answer to Jim Jordan’s question
“Where’d the false narrative start? It started with you, Madame Secretary,” said Jordan, adding that a statement released by Clinton the night of the attack suggests as much. “At 10:08, with no evidence. At 10:08, before the attack is over.
Clinton proceeded to emphasize her official statement’s use of the phrase “some have sought,” which described the efforts of a small group to use the video as a means of inciting anti-American sentiments in Egypt, Libya and elsewhere in the region. “I used those words deliberately. Not to ascribe a motive to every attacker, but as a warning to those across the region that there was no justification for further attacks.” Read the rest of this entry »
Bill Gertz reports: The Obama administration has restricted the U.S. Pacific Command from sending ships and aircraft within 12 miles of disputed Chinese-built islands in the South China Sea, bolstering Beijing’s illegal claims over the vital seaway, Pentagon leaders revealed to Congress on Thursday.
“The administration has continued to restrict our Navy ships from operating within 12 nautical miles of China’s reclaimed islands,” Senate Armed Services Committee Chairman Sen. John McCain (R., Ariz.) said in opening remarks criticizing the failure to guarantee safe passage for international commercial ships in Asia.
“This is a dangerous mistake that grants de facto recognition of China’s man-made sovereignty claims,” he said.
The South China Sea is a strategic waterway used to transport $5 trillion annually in goods, including $1.2 trillion in trade to the United States.
David Shear, assistant defense secretary for Asian and Pacific affairs, sought to play down the restrictions on Navy ship transits close to the islands. According to Shear, a regional freedom of navigation exercise took place in April and the tactic is “one tool in a larger tool box … and we’re in the process of putting together that tool box.”
Shear acknowledged that “we have not recently gone within 12 miles of a reclaimed area,” noting the last time a Navy ship sailed that close to a Chinese-built island was 2012.
The disclosure undermines statements made Wednesday by Defense Secretary Ash Carter who said the United States would not be coerced by China into not operating ships or aircraft in Asia. Carter said the United States “will continue to protect freedom of navigation and overflight.”
Shear insisted that in recent years the U.S. military has challenged “every category of Chinese claim in the South China Sea, as recently as this year.”
Blocking China from militarizing the new islands could include a range of options, including freedom of navigation operations, he said.
McCain, however, noted that the U.S. restrictions on close-in island military flights and ship visits were continuing despite the provocative dispatch of five Chinese warships in an unprecedented deployment to waters within 12 miles of Alaska’s Aleutian Islands—at the same time President Obama was concluding a recent visit to the state earlier this month.
A visibly angered McCain told Shear the best way to assert that international waters around the islands do not belong to China would be for American ships to make 12-mile passages by the disputed islands. “And we haven’t done that since 2012. I don’t find that acceptable, Mr. Secretary,” he said. Read the rest of this entry »
Why emotionalism is the problem, not the solution, when it comes to foreign policy.
Nick Gillespie writes: Call me a heartless bastard, but images of dead Syrian children washing up on beaches should have absolutely nothing to do with American foreign policy, refugee quotas, or immigration schemes. Photo-based emotionalism is no way to conduct the affairs of nations. That way madness—and all too often, even more carnage—lies.
It’s one thing when highly charged images speak to pressing domestic concerns whose solutions are clear and within a single country’s ability to effect. In late 18th-century England, for instance, Thomas Clarkson’s illustration of slaveswedged into a ship’s hold like barrels of rum helped jump-start Britain’s abolitionist movement. Footage from Bull Connor’s Birmingham and Vietnam electrified the Civil Rights and anti-war movements. In such cases, the solutions were self-evident (if difficult to achieve): Stop your own countrymen from perpetuating evil. Nothing is so simple when it comes to wars and catastrophes in which you are not even a direct participant. Read the rest of this entry »
Better Informed Than Congress: China’s Cyber Spies Reading Emails of Senior Obama Administration Officials Since 2010Posted: August 10, 2015
The email grab — first codenamed ‘Dancing Panda’ by U.S. officials, and then ‘Legion Amethyst’ — was detected in April 2010, according to a top secret NSA briefing from 2014. The intrusion into personal emails was still active at the time of the briefing and, according to the senior official, is still going on.
Robert Windrem reports: China’s cyber spies have accessed the private emails of “many” top Obama administration officials, according to a senior U.S. intelligence official and a top secret document obtained by NBC News, and have been doing so since at least April 2010.
The email grab — first codenamed “Dancing Panda” by U.S. officials, and then “Legion Amethyst” — was detected in April 2010, according to a top secret NSA briefing from 2014. The intrusion into personal emails was still active at the time of the briefing and, according to the senior official, is still going on.
In 2011, Google disclosed that the private gmail accounts of some U.S. officials had been compromised, but the briefing shows that private email accounts from other providers were compromised as well.
The government email accounts assigned to the officials, however, were not hacked because they are more secure, says the senior U.S. intelligence official.
The senior official says the private emails of “all top national security and trade officials” were targeted.
The Chinese also harvested the email address books of targeted officials, according to the document, reconstructing and then “exploiting the(ir) social networks” by sending malware to their friends and colleagues.
The time period overlaps with Hillary Clinton’s use of a private email account while Secretary of State from Jan. 21, 2009 to Feb. 1, 2013. The names and ranks of the officials whose emails were actually grabbed, however, were not disclosed in the NSA briefing nor by the intelligence official. Read the rest of this entry »
White House Lets Guard Down, Accidentally Agrees to Fly U.S. Flag at Half-Mast to Honor Marines Killed in Tennesee ShootingPosted: July 21, 2015
Breaking news from CNN’s Jake Tapper: President Obama has ordered all flags to be flown at half-staff to honor the four Marines and one Sailor killed in the recent systemic assassinations in Chattanooga, Tenn.
— The Lead CNN (@TheLeadCNN) July 21, 2015
The news came just a few hours after Tapper fact-checked Donald Trump’s email blast to the media noting that Trump had ordered all flags at Trump properties around the country to be flown at “half-mast.” So, just to be sure: even Donald Trump ordered flags lowered before President Obama did?
Trolls operate on the principle that negative attention is better than none. In fact, the troll may feed off the negative attention, claiming it makes him a victim and proves that everyone is out to get him.
Nate Silver writes:
…There’s a notion that Donald Trump’s recent rise in Republican polls is a media-driven creation. That explanation isn’t entirely wrong, but it’s incomplete. It skims over the complex interactions between the media, the public and the candidates, which can produce booms and busts of attention. And it ignores how skilled trolls like Trump can exploit the process to their benefit.
Let’s look at some data. In the chart below, I’ve tracked how media coverage has been divided among the Republican candidates over roughly the past month (the data covers June 14 through July 12), according to article counts on Google News. In turn, I’ve shown the share of Google searches for each candidate over the same period. The data was provided to FiveThirtyEight by Google but should closely match what you’ll get by searching on Google Trends or Google News yourself.
“Trump has taken trolling to the next level by being willing to offend members of his own party. Ordinarily, this would be a counterproductive strategy. In a 16-candidate field, however, you can be in first place with 15 or 20 percent of the vote — even if the other 80 or 85 percent of voters hate your guts.”
Even before his imbecilic comments about Sen. John McCain this weekend, which came too recently to be included in this data, Trump was receiving far more media attention than any other Republican. Based on Google News, 46 percent of the media coverage of the GOP campaign over the past month was directed toward Trump, more than for Jeb Bush (13 percent), Chris Christie (9 percent), Scott Walker (8 percent), Bobby Jindal (6 percent), Ted Cruz (4 percent) and Marco Rubio (4 percent) combined.
“Trolls are skilled at taking advantage of this landscape and making the news cycle feed on its own tail, accelerating the feedback loop and producing particularly large bounces and busts in the polls.”
And yet, the public is perhaps even more obsessed with Trump. Among the GOP candidates, he represented 62 percent of the Google search traffic over the past month, having been searched for more than six times as often as second-place Bush.
So if the press were going purely by public demand, there might be even more Trump coverage. Instead, the amount of press coverage that each candidate has received has been modulated by the media’s perception of how likely each is to win the nomination….(read more)
“The public is perhaps even more obsessed with Trump. Among the GOP candidates, he represented 62 percent of the Google search traffic over the past month, having been searched for more than six times as often as second-place Bush.”
But a regression analysis — you can read the gory details in the footnotes3— suggests that press attention both leads and lags public attention to the candidates. This makes a lot of sense. The public can take cues from the media about which candidates to pay attention to. But the media also gets a lot of feedback from the public. Or to put it more cynically: If Trump-related stories are piling up lots of pageviews and Trump-related TV segments get good ratings, then guess what? You’re probably going to see more of them.4
This creates the possibility of a feedback loop….(read more)
…So if these spikes are media-driven, they seem to be driven by some particularly modern features of the media landscape. Social media allows candidates to make news without the filter of the press. It may also encourage groupthink among and between reporters and readers, however. And access to real-time traffic statistics can mean that everyone is writing the same “takes” and chasing the same eyeballs at once. Is the tyranny of the Twitter mob better or worse than the “Boys on the Bus” model of a group of (mostly white, male, upper-middle-class, left-of-center) reporters deigning to determine what’s news and what isn’t? I don’t know, but it’s certainly different. And it seems to be producing a higher velocity of movement in the polls and in the tenor of media coverage. Read the rest of this entry »
Boeing and Lockheed aren’t the enemy, but accelerating a competitive launch business is worth some risks
“Should Congress, however bad the precedent, climb down from sanctions enacted last December curtailing the Pentagon’s reliance on a Russian-made engine to put U.S. military satellites in orbit?”
Witness how frequently the words “to compete with SpaceX” appear in industry statements and press coverage. To compete with SpaceX, say multiple reports, the United Launch Alliance, the Pentagon’s traditional supplier, is developing a new Vulcan rocket powered by a reusable engine designed by Jeff Bezos’s Blue Origin.
Because of SpaceX, says Aviation Week magazine, Japan’s government has instructed Mitsubishi to cut in half the cost of the Japanese workhorse rocket, and China is planning a new family of kerosene-fueled Long March rockets. “Stimulated by SpaceX’s work on reusable rockets,” reports SpaceNews.com, Airbus is developing a reusable first stage for Europe’s venerable Ariane rocket.
“Yes, say the Pentagon, the national intelligence leadership and the White House, because avoiding disruption to crucial military launches is more important than any symbolic weakening of sanctions against Russia.”
All this comes amid one of those Washington battles ferocious in inverse relation to the certainties involved. Should Congress, however bad the precedent, climb down from sanctions enacted last December curtailing the Pentagon’s reliance on a Russian-made engine to put U.S. military satellites in orbit?
Yes, say the Pentagon, the national intelligence leadership and the White House, because avoiding disruption to crucial military launches is more important than any symbolic weakening of sanctions against Russia. Read the rest of this entry »
Joel Gehrke writes: Patty Murray, the fourth-ranking Democrat in the Senate, threatened today to provoke a government shutdown this fall if the Republican-controlled Congress won’t agree to a budget more in line with President Obama’s priorities.
“Republicans have a choice,” Murray said in a Wednesday speech, per the Huffington Post. “They can either work with us early on a bipartisan budget deal that will set the topline budget levels and allow the Appropriations Committee to work on bills that can be signed into law. Or, they can wait until we reach a crisis, until we approach or hit another completely unnecessary government shutdown — and work with us then.”
Islamic State forces last week captured the key Iraqi city of Ramadi and also expanded their reach in Syria. Critics and even allies of the administration took to Sunday television talk shows to call for a strategy change by the administration to stem the advance of Islamic State forces.
“We have under-resourced the strategy. We need to provide more firepower support…ISIS is a threat not only to Iraq and Syria. It is a threat to us.”
— Michele Flournoy, undersecretary of defense from 2009 to 2012
Among the calls: More aggressively arming Sunni tribes and Peshmerga forces who oppose Islamic State, also known as ISIL and ISIS.
“If there comes a time when we have to change the kinds of support we give we will make that recommendation.”
Mr. Carter said in an interview with CNN aired Sunday.
House Armed Services Chairman Mac Thornberry (R., Texas) said on ABC’s “This Week” that the battle in Ramadi was among the many reasons why he doubted the Obama administration’s claim that U.S. efforts have succeeded in degrading the strength of ISIS.
“The Iraqi forces just showed no will to fight. They were not outnumbered. In fact they vastly outnumbered the opposing force and yet they failed to fight and withdrew from the site…We can give them training, we can give them equipment. We obviously can’t give them the will to fight.”
— Defense Secretary Ash Carter
“I don’t see evidence of that,” said Mr. Thornberry. “I see ISIS gaining territory in Iraq and Syria.” What is more, he said, “their ideology, their approach, their brand is growing faster than their territory.”
The administration has scaled back its near-term ambitions by delaying plans for an offensive to retake the northern Iraqi city of Mosul. It has agreed to expand and speed shipments of military equipment to Iraqi security forces and step up training for fighters from Sunni tribes.
Mr. Carter offered a withering critique of the will of Iraqi defense forces in the fall of Ramadi to Islamic State. Read the rest of this entry »
“Ask yourself, what did she achieve as secretary of state? Nothing. What was her signature achievement as senator? I can’t remember. What did she achieve as first lady? Hillarycare, which went down in flames.”
“She is running on two things: gender and her name. And her name evokes the ’90s, and until these recent scandals, it would evoke the good stuff in the ’90s: peace and prosperity, her association with it. It is really a tremendous asset…”
“…What we are getting right now, is early-onset Clinton fatigue…”
“…But what has happened now is people are now re-remembering the other side of the ’90s and the Clintons, and that was a sort of low-level corruption, above-the-law Clintonisms, and that is what hurts you…(read more)
She taught her guards how to do crafts and make peace birds out of paper. She stood on her head for exercise in her cramped quarters. And she wrote uplifting letters home despite being a prisoner of a brutal terrorist regime.
“I have come to see that there is good in every situation, sometimes we just have to look for it,” she wrote.
The portrait of the 26-year-old humanitarian aid worker from Prescott, Arizona, came as her death was confirmed Tuesday by the U.S. government. Family members spoke fondly of her free spirit and efforts to ease the suffering of others as a small memorial of flowers and handwritten notes took shape near a sign calling on people to “Pray for Kayla.”
It’s the same space where people in the city of about 40,000 gathered not too long ago to honor 19 Prescott-based members of an elite fire crew who died in 2013 in the deadliest single day for firefighters since Sept. 11, 2011.
Mueller was captured in August 2013, but her captivity had largely been kept secret in an effort to save her. President Barack Obama said a military operation last summer to recover Mueller and others failed when rescuers arrived only “a day or two” after the group had been moved.
Arizona Sen. John McCain and Rep. Paul Gosar, a Republican who represents Prescott, were in close contact with the family and government officials throughout the ordeal, with the senator traveling to Syria at one point to meet with members of the army fighting President Bashar Assad.
Gosar told The Arizona Republic that one effort to free Mueller involved a man who traveled to the Syrian prison camp where Mueller was being held. The man told the captors he was Mueller’s husband in a ruse designed to free her, Gosar said, but it didn’t work. The Republic reports that Mueller denied having a husband.
In addition, Gosar’s office said the name of Aafia Siddiqui, a Pakistani scientist convicted of shooting at two U.S. soldiers in Afghanistan, came up in discussions with ISIS over Mueller. Siddiqui is an American-educated woman whose release has long been sought by terrorists.
— Mediaite (@Mediaite) January 7, 2015
Former Florida Governor to Launch Political-Action Committee in January
Jeb Bush, the son and brother of past presidents, kick-started the 2016 presidential race Tuesday by announcing plans to “actively explore” a presidential campaign, an unexpectedly early declaration that ramps up pressure on potential rivals and reshuffles the policy debate.
The move by the 61-year-old former Florida governor essentially marks the beginning of the presidential sweepstakes. With a national profile, access to big donors and iconic status in the nation’s largest swing state, Mr. Bush ’s move puts instant pressure on a sprawling field of as many as two dozen other Republicans weighing 2016 bids.
His online announcement amounts to a pre-emptive strike against efforts by New Jersey Gov. Chris Christie and allies of the 2012 GOP nominee, Mitt Romney , to lock in major donors or at least keep them on the sidelines.
Mr. Bush’s step toward a campaign also threatens to undermine the aspirations of Florida Sen. Marco Rubio , his onetime protégé, who shares the same home state and an overlapping political network there.
“I think Jeb is trying to clear the field,” said Bobbie Kilberg, a prominent Republican donor who worked in the White House for Mr. Bush’s father, President George H.W. Bush. “He’s now gotten out ahead of everyone else, and I think this may force other candidates to move earlier than they had wanted to.”
Mr. Bush’s potential candidacy also has implications for the expected Democratic front-runner, former Secretary of State Hillary Clinton. His younger GOP rivals could try to make the case for going in a different direction by lumping Mr. Bush and Mrs. Clinton together as tired figures from the past. That argument, however, would lose its potency in a general election match-up between Mr. Bush and Mrs. Clinton. Read the rest of this entry »
Happy times are here again! Republicans have won the Senate, and they surely won’t screw it up this time. Right?Posted: November 9, 2014
The GOP Senate: A New Utopia Dawns
P.J. O’Rourke writes: Like all good Republicans, I’m so happy I could frack the moon. I could drone strike the Dodd-Frank Wall Street Reform and Consumer Protection Act, I’m flying that high. I’m feeling good enough to lay 1,179 miles of pipe with my honey-bunny Keystone XL. And now that the GOP has bedded the House andthe Senate, she is, ahem, about to come – delivering crude oil from Canada to the Gulf Coast and all the wetlands, wilderness areas, and sensitive eco-systems in between.
“Extraordinary things occurred the last time Republicans took legislative power away from a liberal quack…”
And that’s just the beginning of the wonderful events that are about to transpire. This is more exciting than the Newt Gingrich congressional triumph of 1994. Obama is a bigger sitting duck than Clinton. And Obama is a lame duck too. No Democratic Senate or House candidate was sitting in the voter blind with Hope and Change decoys on the electoral pond calling, “Barack! Barack! Barack!” Even the Dems ducked Obama.
“To sum those things up in just two words, which still stir the heart of every right-thinking member of the Grand Old Party: Monica Lewinsky. Was that fun or what?”
And there was the Contract with America, with its balanced budget and term limits Constitutional Amendments and its Personal Responsibility Act to discourage having children out of wedlock.
In 1993, 27 percent of American children were illegitimate. Now it’s, um, about 40 percent. But, come on, what kind of self-respecting Republican writes a contract that he can’t wiggle out of with the help of lawyers? And practically everyone in Congress is one. Read the rest of this entry »
WASHINGTON — Colleen McCain Nelson reports: President Barack Obama took responsibility for his party’s poor performance in the midterm elections and said in a new interview that his administration has struggled at times to sell its ideas and to persuade the other side.
“So whenever, as the head of the party, it doesn’t do well, I’ve got to take responsibility for it.”
In the aftermath of a Republican romp that saw the GOP take control of the Senate and tighten its grip on the House, the president told CBS that “the buck stops right here at my desk.”
“There are times, there’s no doubt about it, where, you know, I think we have not been successful in going out there and letting people know what it is that we’re trying to do and why this is the right direction. So there is a failure of politics there that we’ve got to improve on.”
“So whenever, as the head of the party, it doesn’t do well, I’ve got to take responsibility for it,” he said on “Face the Nation.”
In the past, Mr. Obama has been largely reticent to identify specific shortcomings in his administration, but he said in the interview that he must constantly remind himself and his team that good ideas alone aren’t enough. Read the rest of this entry »
Boehner Warns Obama Against Unilateral Action on Immigration: Two days after his party’s midterm romp, House Speaker John Boehner became the second leading Republican to warn that unilateral action by President Barack Obama on immigration would “poison the well” for any cooperation with the new GOP Congress. Among the causes of the standoff: a year of previously unreported talks between the two men over a legislative compromise to fix the balky immigration system.
Mr. Boehner and the president started talking after the 2012 election, according to detailed accounts provided by several aides on both sides. The discussions ended this summer with the two sitting stony-faced around a white wrought-iron table outside the Oval Office.
Mr. Boehner said yesterday that the president risks “burning” himself if he implements unilateral immigration action, echoing similar admonitions made a day earlier by Sen. Mitch McConnell, who is expected to lead the GOP’s new Senate majority. The immigration issue could put in danger what had looked like a rare opportunity offered to find common ground on trade and business taxes, among other matters….(read more) Carol E. Lee and Peter Nicholas report…
Islamic State Militants Advance Despite Airstrikes: ‘Most of the eastern and southern parts of the city have fallen under the ISIS control…the situation is getting worse’Posted: October 13, 2014
ISIS Gains Territory Despite Weeks of Bombing by U.S., Allies, Raising Questions About Strategy
“The strategy’s biggest weakness in Iraq, officials there say, is the glacial pace of cobbling together an Iraqi political alliance between Sunnis willing to join with the Shiite-controlled central government to rebuild a national military force to fight Islamic State more effectively.”
In Syria, fighters from Islamic State, also known as ISIS, have taken large sections of the city of Kobani in recent days, said Ismet Sheikh Hasan, the defense minister of the city’s Kurdish administration. “Most of the eastern and southern parts of the city have fallen under the ISIS control,” he said. “The situation is getting worse.”
This comes despite a week of heavy airstrikes around the city to help local Syrian Kurdish fighters keep Islamic State forces from the city center.
“The call for American ground troops, however unlikely to be met, caused fresh rifts in Anbar which threatened to weaken the already shaky coalition of government forces working with tribal fighters to fend off the Islamic State assault.”
In Iraq, militant forces operating in a swath of territory the size of California have extended their control of the roads and commercial routes in strategically vital Anbar Province, which connects the capital Baghdad to Jordan and Syria.
Anbar, which has critical infrastructure and whose eastern edge lies only about 25 miles from Baghdad’s center, is also in danger of falling wholly under Islamic State control despite weeks of U.S. strikes aimed at weakening the group, local officials say.
“While the militant group is yet to take the provincial capital of Ramadi, officials in Anbar warn that they are losing their grip on the city to a highly organized and disciplined insurgency that has surrounded military bases and put a choke hold on trade from Jordan, effectively controlling movements of goods and people in the region.”
The province’s chief of police was killed in a bombing Sunday, officials said, heightening unease over the government’s ability to fend off Islamic State forces. Read the rest of this entry »
Out: Far Left 9/11 Truthers. In: Far Left ISIS Truthers
October 4th, 2014, Ed Driscoll writes:
Al Gore was driven (further) insane when he lost to GWB in 2000, going from a man who attacked Bush #41 in 1992 for not removing Saddam Hussein from power, to demonizing Bush #43 for removing Saddam Hussein from power, and smearing his supporters as “digital brownshirts.” Gore, whose political career was reborn in 1989, when he made an about-face from a relatively conservative Democrat in the 1980s to comparing global warming to “An Ecological Kristallnacht” in a New York Times op-ed, sold his Current TV channel to Al Jazeera, owned by the ISIS-funding petro-state Qatar, for $500 million at the start of 2013.
With her above Facebook post today, Naomi Wolf, legendary (if perhaps somewhat apocryphally) for advising Gore in 2000 to switch to earth tones to bring out his hot-blooded alpha male (no, really), has joined him in la-la land.
It shouldn’t be all that surprising. In August of 2009, the former self-described “third wave feminist” thought that Islamic women forcing women to cover their faces was totally groovy, and underneath, the Islamic world was as laid back about sex as say, your average, Greenwich Village coffee house. (No, really.) Or as Phyllis Chesler paraphrased Wolf’s essay in the Sydney Morning Herald, “The Burqa: Ultimate Feminist Choice?”
In the fall of 2008, she predicted that if John McCain won, we’d see the coming of the Palin-Rove Police State. (No, really!) Here’s Wolf’s fever-swamp rant at the Huffington Post in September of 2008:
Please understand what you are looking at when you look at Sarah “Evita” Palin. You are looking at the designated muse of the coming American police state.
You have to understand how things work in a closing society in order to understand “Palin Power.” A gang or cabal seizes power, usually with an affable, weak figurehead at the fore. Then they will hold elections — but they will make sure that the election will be corrupted and that the next affable, weak figurehead is entirely in their control. Remember, Russia has Presidents; Russia holds elections. Dictators and gangs of thugs all over the world hold elections. It means nothing. When a cabal has seized power you can have elections and even presidents, but you don’t have freedom.
I realized early on with horror what I was seeing in Governor Palin: the continuation of the Rove-Cheney cabal, but this time without restraints.
(Read the whole thing; it’s quite a hoot.) In October 2011, Wolf got her wish, sort of, being busted by Mayor Bloomberg’s finest and held overnight after an Occupy Wall Street rally went awry. Read the rest of this entry »
CHICAGO — Senator Barack Obama writes: The call by Prime Minister Nuri Kamal al-Maliki for a timetable for the removal of American troops from Iraq presents an enormous opportunity. We should seize this moment to begin the phased redeployment of combat troops that I have long advocated, and that is needed for long-term success in Iraq and the security interests of the United States.
The differences on Iraq in this campaign are deep. Unlike Senator John McCain, I opposed the war in Iraq before it began, and would end it as president. I believed it was a grave mistake to allow ourselves to be distracted from the fight against Al Qaeda and the Taliban by invading a country that posed no imminent threat and had nothing to do with the 9/11 attacks. Since then, more than 4,000 Americans have died and we have spent nearly $1 trillion. Our military is overstretched. Nearly every threat we face — from Afghanistan to Al Qaeda to Iran — has grown.
In the 18 months since President Bush announced the surge, our troops have performed heroically in bringing down the level of violence. New tactics have protected the Iraqi population, and the Sunni tribes have rejected Al Qaeda — greatly weakening its effectiveness.
But the same factors that led me to oppose the surge still hold true. The strain on our military has grown, the situation in Afghanistan has deteriorated and we’ve spent nearly $200 billion more in Iraq than we had budgeted. Iraq’s leaders have failed to invest tens of billions of dollars in oil revenues in rebuilding their own country, and they have not reached the political accommodation that was the stated purpose of the surge.
The good news is that Iraq’s leaders want to take responsibility for their country by negotiating a timetable for the removal of American troops. Meanwhile, Lt. Gen. James Dubik, the American officer in charge of training Iraq’s security forces, estimates that the Iraqi Army and police will be ready to assume responsibility for security in 2009.
Only by redeploying our troops can we press the Iraqis to reach comprehensive political accommodation and achieve a successful transition to Iraqis’ taking responsibility for the security and stability of their country. Instead of seizing the moment and encouraging Iraqis to step up, the Bush administration and Senator McCain are refusing to embrace this transition — despite their previous commitments to respect the will of Iraq’s sovereign government. They call any timetable for the removal of American troops “surrender,” even though we would be turning Iraq over to a sovereign Iraqi government. Read the rest of this entry »
“Facts are stubborn things.”
After Carney had offered a favorable take on his former boss’s speech, Senator McCain took issue with Carney’s claim that the moderate Syrian opposition, which the president tonight proposed to arm, is stronger and more easily identifiable than it had been over the past couple years, during which time McCain had called for arming moderate rebel groups but President Obama had refused.
No serious expert on the matter thinks the moderate rebels are stronger now than they were earlier in the war, McCain pointed out. Read the rest of this entry »
This article is an example of why Michael Barone is considered indispensable among political reporters and media wonks. Even for the blog surfers and unreformed political news junkies like the rest of us, he’s the guy to read this election year. It’s a long one, worth investing time in. In a sweeping but brisk history of a half-century of party evolution, Barone summarizes both Republican and Democratic party transformations over the years. Read a sample below, for more, read it all here.
For the Washington Examiner, Michael Barone writes: America’s two great political parties are constantly transforming themselves, sometimes in small increments, sometimes in sudden lurches. They respond to cues sent to them by voters — which can range from attaboy! to fuhggedaboutit — and to the initiatives of party leaders, especially presidents.
“When you have a rush of hundreds of thousands of previously uninvolved people into electoral politics, you get a certain number of wackos, weirdos and witches. But you also get many new people who turn out to be serious citizens with exceptional political skills.”
But when the other party has held the White House for an extended period, the transformation process can be stormy and chaotic. Which is a pretty apt description of the Republican Party over the past few years. Its two living ex-presidents, the George Bushes, withdrew from active politics immediately after leaving the White House, and its two most recent nominees, John McCain and Mitt Romney, say they are not running for president again, although they do weigh in on issues. There is no obvious heir apparent and there are many politicians who may seek the 2016 presidential nomination. More than usual, the opposition party is up for grabs.
“Mainstream media will inevitably emphasize the discontentment in the Republican Party that originated in the second Bush term and flashed into prominence soon after Obama took office. It will tend to ignore the discontentment in the Democratic Party that are raging with increasing intensity.”
As the cartoon images of elephant and donkey suggest, our two parties are different kinds of animals. Republicans have generally been more cohesive, with a core made up of politicians and voters who see themselves, and are seen by others,
as typical Americans — white Northern Protestants in the 19th century, married white Christians today. But those groups, by themselves, have never been a majority of the nation. The Democratic Party has been made up of disparate groups of people regarded, by themselves and others, as outsiders in some way — Southern whites and Catholic immigrants in the 19th century, blacks and gentry liberals today. Our electoral system motivates both to amass coalitions larger than 50 percent of voters. Democrats tend to do so by adding additional disparate groups. Republicans tend to do so by coming up with appeals that unite their base and erode Democrats’ support from others. Read the rest of this entry »
IRS says it has lost emails from FIVE MORE employees associated with Tea Party targeting scheme
Associated Press reports: The Internal Revenue Service has lost emails from five more employees who are part of congressional probes into the treatment of conservative groups that applied for tax-exempt status, the tax service disclosed on Friday.
The IRS said in June that it could not locate an untold number of emails to and from Lois Lerner, who headed the IRS division that processes applications for tax-exempt status during the time that the targeting of Tea Party groups occurred.
That revelation set off a new round of investigations and congressional hearings.
On Friday, the IRS issued a report to Congress saying the agency also lost emails from five other employees related to the probe, including two agents who worked in a Cincinnati office processing applications for tax-exempt status.
Not only did the IRS lose former former tax-exempt director Lois Lerner’s emails, it said today it lost the emails of five other employees associated with a Tea Party targeting scheme.
The disclosure came on the same day the Senate’s subcommittee on investigations released competing reports on how the IRS handled applications from political groups during the 2010 and 2012 elections.
The Democratic report, released by Sen. Carl Levin of Michigan, said both liberal and conservative groups were mistreated, revealing no political bias by the IRS. Read the rest of this entry »
Frustrated by GOP’s Unwillingness to Take the Bait, Obama Signs First-Ever Self-Impeachment Order
‘If the Republicans aren’t willing to work with me on this, I’ll do it myself.’
Critics Blast Obama’s Action as “Irresponsible”, “Reckless”, Dems Fear Constitutional Crisis.
Congress Accuses Obama of “Presidential Reach-Around.”
Report: Nancy Pelosi Seen in Senate Bathroom, Weeping and Throwing Up.
Senior White House Officials Not warned in Advance, Stunned by President’s Decision.
“I’m ready to retire anyway. Who needs this? They don’t appreciate what I’ve done for the middle class, what I’ve done for the children…”
“They don’t appreciate what I’ve done for the bureacrats, what I’ve done for the banks, and for Wall Street, what I’ve sacrificed for the future of the Democratic Party. Screw ’em. I’m done.”
— Obama, after signing historic Self-Impeachment order.
“It’s not the job of the U.S. military to do nation building or produce democratic utopias.”
For The Daily Beast, Eli Lake writes: One way to understand Ted Cruz’s foreign policy, particularly if you are a Democrat, is through the prism of the social media phenomenon known as trolling. The best trolls are provocateurs. Their language is meant to expose a fallacy or weakness in the opponent’s position as opposed to offering a constructive alternative.
“The American president has a peculiar leadership responsibility to speak out for freedom.”
In a wide-ranging interview with the junior senator from Texas, there was a lot of trolling. Of Obama’s recent attempt to stop the fighting in Gaza, Cruz said, “We should be helping Israel, not Hamas, which is what John Kerry’s proposal would have done.” But Cruz found a silver lining. “It’s remarkable that the failures of the Obama, Clinton, Kerry foreign policy are not only uniting the left and right in Israel but might even be creating some common ground between Israel and the Palestinian Authority.”
Cruz’s foreign policy approach hews much closer to that of one of Reagan’s top advisers, Jeane Kirkpatrick. She wrote a landmark essay for Commentary in 1979 called “Dictatorships And Double Standards” where she chastised President Jimmy Carter for pursuing human rights at the expense of U.S. national interests.
When speaking about the conditions that led up to the Egyptian military coup last year, Cruz observed: “One of the saddest things to see were posters among the people that said: ‘Obama supports the Muslim Brotherhood,’ ‘America supports terrorists.’”
Cruz described Secretary of State John Kerry’s surprise deal with Vladimir Putin to disarm Syria’s chemical weapons in these words: “The incompetence of the Obama foreign policy was so manifest that it presented an opportunity for Putin to cast himself as a hero and save the day.” The Federal Aviation Administration’s decision last week to suspend all air travel to Israel after a Hamas rocket fell near Ben Gurion Airport amounted to an “economic boycott of Israel.”
But to think of Cruz as just a troll is to miss an important development in the Grand Old Party’s post-Bush foreign policy. Read the rest of this entry »
…Of course, nearly everyone in Washington has seen the much-vaunted Clinton PR machine in action. It’s very predictable. Here’s how it works:
1) Media intimidation tactics: Following their usual method of operation, the first thing Team Clinton would do is attempt a media blackout. A producer with CNN said I’d never be able to get any airtime on her show because the Clintons punish networks that give space to their perceived enemies. So far, even claims in my book that were well sourced with on-the-record quotes—such as Bill Clinton offering counsel to John McCain in how to defeat Barack Obama in 2008—have been all but ignored by the mainstream media.
2) Defame and attack: There would be repeated efforts to turn me into a kook or right-wing hit man. Though they haven’t yet gone so far to label me a “crazed stalker” like they did with Monica Lewinsky, the reliable Clinton aide Nick Merrill has repeatedly deployed a classic Clinton spin line on my work—before it was even on sale, mind you, and presumably he hadn’t yet read it. “It’s sad to see Daniel Halper join the discredited and disgraced ranks” of other authors supposedly out to get them at all costs, he emailed the Huffington Post. Read the rest of this entry »
However limited the president’s power and influence in Washington, they’re about to shrink. And that’s a good thing.
For Reason, Steve Chapman writes: About now, Barack Obama may be wondering why he thought it would be such fun to serve a second term rather than go lounge on a beach in Hawaii. Life in the White House has become a daily ordeal of pain and frustration. Nothing is going well.
“Presidents don’t scale back their ambitions because they want to; they do it because they have to.”
On the foreign front, he has to contend with an aggressive Vladimir Putin, an unsuccessful war in Afghanistan and his failure to revive the Israeli-Palestinian peace process. Domestically, he has to endure a Department of Veterans Affairs scandal, an underperforming economy, a health care overhaul whose ultimate success is in doubt, House hearings on Benghazi, and an inability to get Congress to do anything he wants.
“Obama is stymied on Capitol Hill because he lacks the political power or popular standing to get his way.”
In the international arena, as a news story in The Chicago Tribune recently noted, the president has been compelled to adopt a “measured, even incremental, approach to most foreign crises and challenges, from Iran’s nuclear program to Syria’s grinding war.” Instead of trying to do great things, he’s settled for a policy that his aides summarize as “Don’t do stupid stuff”—though they use a different word than “stuff.” Read the rest of this entry »
Obama: “We need to do stuff. And the stuff we will do will not be stuff that a crazy person says we should do. It will be good stuff.”
— Ben Shapiro (@benshapiro) May 28, 2014
President Obama outlined his foreign policy on Wednesday during a speech at the graduation ceremony at West Point.
Throughout his speech, Obama used “straw man” arguments, setting up “critics” or “skeptics” that existed to disagree with the president before being knocked down by his rhetoric. While some of these positions are held by political
figures such as Sen. Rand Paul (R-KY) or Sen. John McCain (R-AZ), these politicians chafe at having their views presented in a narrow context. For the sake of his speech, Obama presents these positions as the extreme, while carefully positioning himself in the middle.
Here are five examples:
1. Those who believe America is in decline
Obama assured West Point graduates that “America has rarely been stronger relative to the rest of the world” and those who think differently are just wrong.
“Those who argue otherwise – who suggest that America is in decline, or has seen its global leadership slip away – are either misreading history or engaged in partisan politics,” he said.
2. Those who warn against foreign entanglements
President Obama pointed out that throughout history, foreign policy has fallen into two camps, one of which were “self-described realists” who were reluctant to go to war.
“[T]here have been those who warned against foreign entanglements that do not touch directly on our security or economic well-being,” he said.
Remember when President Obama was in this camp? Not anymore. Read the rest of this entry »