PALM SPRINGS, CALIF. — Christopher Bedford reports: The sprawling libertarian Koch network came out against Trump’s executive order banning travel from certain high-risk countries, emailing reporters that it “is the wrong approach and will likely be counterproductive.”
“We believe it is possible to keep Americans safe without excluding people who wish to come here to contribute and pursue a better life for their families. The travel ban is the wrong approach and will likely be counterproductive.”
— Brian Hooks, president of the Charles Koch Institute
“We believe it is possible to keep Americans safe without excluding people who wish to come here to contribute and pursue a better life for their families,” Brian Hooks, president of the Charles Koch Institute and co-chairman of the Koch’s far-reaching Seminar Network, said. “The travel ban is the wrong approach and will likely be counterproductive.”
“Our country has benefited tremendously from a history of welcoming people from all cultures and backgrounds. This is a hallmark of free and open societies.”
“Our country has benefited tremendously from a history of welcoming people from all cultures and backgrounds. This is a hallmark of free and open societies.”
Hooks and Koch are currently with hundreds of conservative and libertarian donors at the network’s conference in Palm Springs. Held twice a year, the seminars are a gathering place for the Seminar Network, a large group of wealthy donors interested in libertarian causes. This weekend’s seminar, held in the temperate desert outside of Los Angeles, will be the first since Trump’s election and inauguration.
The network spent hundreds of millions on advertising and advocacy for limited-government politicians — namely, Republicans — running for the U.S. Senate and the House of Representatives, but notably stayed out of the presidential primaries and race. Read the rest of this entry »
[VIDEO] Charles Krauthammer: Obama is Deluding Himself ‘Into Believing He was a Great Historic Success’Posted: January 16, 2017
It’s pretty satisfying to see that Obama was completely done in by his own hubris – when he wasn’t able to get any bipartisan support for his far left schemes, he just pushed them through by abusing the power of the executive branch.
But without a successor to secure those gains, he has built his legacy “on sand,” as perfectly stated by Krauthammer…(more)
This film documents the selection of the original seven astronauts for Project Mercury: Lieutenant Malcolm S. (Scott) Carpenter, Captain Leroy G. (Gordon) Cooper, Lieutenant Colonel John H. Glenn, Captain Virgil I. (Gus) Grissom, Lieutenant Commander Walter M. Schirra, Lieutenant Commander Alan Shepard, and Captain Donald K. (Deke) Slayton.
The footage shows the selection criteria and process, the astronauts in training, and the beginnings of our knowledge of manned space flight.
Project Mercury was the first human spaceflight program of the United States led by its newly created space agency NASA. It ran from 1959 through 1963 with the goal of putting a human in orbit around the Earth, and doing it before the Soviet Union, as part of the early space race. It involved seven astronauts flying a total of six solo trips.
On May 5, 1961, Alan Shepard became the first American in space in a suborbital flight after the Soviet Union had put Yuri Gagarin into orbit one month earlier. John Glenn became the first American to reach orbit on February 20, 1962. He was the third person to do so, after Soviet Gherman Titov made a day-long flight in August 1961. Read the rest of this entry »
One of the original “Magnificent Seven” astronauts in NASA’s Mercury program, John Glenn captured the nation’s attention in 1962 when he first circumnavigated the globe and returned as a hero who had scaled heights no American had reached before. In his post-NASA career, Glenn served four terms as a U.S. senator from Ohio. Following his […]
Source: The Washington Post
(CNN)Hillary Clinton has chosen Virginia Sen. Tim Kaine to be her running mate, turning to a steady and seasoned hand in government to fill out the Democratic ticket, she announced Friday.
“I’m thrilled to announce my running mate, @TimKaine, a man who’s devoted his life to fighting for others. -H,” she tweeted.
— Hillary Clinton (@HillaryClinton) July 23, 2016
She is set to introduce her new partner at a campaign rally Saturday in Miami, a recognition of Florida’s pivotal importance in the fall. It’s also a chance for Kaine, a fluent Spanish speaker, to introduce Clinton to Latino voters, a critical slice of the electorate in her quest to defeat Donald Trump.
Clinton is hoping to seize the spotlight from Republicans after their convention in Cleveland. The site of Kaine’s first expected joint appearance with Clinton is Florida International University, where the student body is more than half Hispanic.
The announcement came on the heels of an attack in Munich, Germany, that dominated the afternoon news cycle. The Clinton campaign deliberated over how to avoid a split-screen scenario that could be perceived as insensitive, but in the end, proceeded with its plan to make the unveil on Friday. Read the rest of this entry »
Peter Layton reports: American air supremacy is in a bear market of long-term decline with no end in sight. The RAND Corporation recently determined: “continuous improvements to Chinese air capabilities make it increasingly difficult for the United States to achieve air superiority within a politically and operationally effective time frame. . . .” These improvements are part of the reason the Center for Strategic and International Studies considers that: “ at the current rate of U.S. capability development, the balance of military power in the [Asia-Pacific] region is shifting against the United States.”
“The advantage that we had from the air, I can honestly say, is shrinking…This is not just a Pacific problem. It’s as significant in Europe as it is anywhere else on the planet…I don’t think it’s controversial to say they’ve closed the gap in capability.”
America’s current air supremacy rests on the F-15 fighter fleet complemented by small numbers of F-22s. The elderly F-15s are though having problems handling the latest, new-build Russian and Chinese fighters. In assessing performance against the Russian Su-35 fighter (now being acquired by China), the National Interest’s Dave Majumdar observes: “Overall, if all things were equal, even a fully upgraded F-15C with the latest AESA upgrades would have its hands full…”
As regards the much higher performance F-22, only about ninety are available for global air supremacy tasks. This is arguably too small for winning air supremacy in one theatre, let alone both Europe and the Pacific. Ongoing peacetime training attrition is further gradually reducing this small fleet. The 2009 decision ceasing F-22 production early was based in part on beliefs that it was irrelevant to countering Islamic extremists or the counterinsurgency wars in Iraq and Afghanistan. Events have now overtaken this perspective.
Today, the dangers of a resurgent Russia and a more assertive China have become both more apparent and important. America’s current air supremacy force structure remains highly effective for wars against third world tyrants, such as Saddam Hussein in 2003. These kinds of wars though are not the only conflicts now possible. Instead, there is a growing need to be able to deter, and potentially to win, wars involving near-peer competitors.
Some consider the F-35 Joint Strike Fighter will in time address declining air supremacy. Countering this sanguine view, the worrying RAND study earlier noted included the F-35 (and the F-22) albeit not the new Chinese J-20 or J-31 stealth aircraft. This study, in looking at 2017, may actually understate what China will be capable of later this decade when it has more than 1,000 advanced fighters in service.
So what? Does air supremacy matter? Air supremacy will not win a war but it will stop a war being lost. America has not won a war without air supremacy—a point that has been widely recognised. It’s no surprise that China sees air superiority as one of the key “Three Superiorities” that can decide a conflict’s outcome. Nor is it a surprise that a major part of Russia’s force modernisation is fighter development and procurement.
The still-in-development F-35’s contribution to future American air supremacy is mixed. The aircraft was designed as a short-range aircraft primarily for attacking ground targets while having a secondary air-to-air capability. Twenty years ago American air supremacy was unquestioned except for Russian-built SAM systems that the F-35 was built to defeat. But times change, albeit the F-35’s 1990’s era airframe design cannot.
Given that, the F-35s avionics have now been tweaked to compensate for the F-35’s designed-in constrained air-to-air fighting capabilities. The idea is that data received from the aircraft’s onboard systems fused with information from accompanying aircraft and distant sensors will provide the pilot with a god’s eye view of the battlefield. With this, the pilot will be able to kill hostile aircraft at long range before opposing fighters can close and engage the F-35 where it is weakest. Close-in manoeuvrability is then irrelevant. There are several concerns with this concept.
Data fusion is an inherently complex business. Before every flight the F-35’s mission data files must be updated with the latest electronic signatures of friendly and hostile forces. Without this, the pilot’s god’s eye view may be inaccurate and dangerously misleading. In broad terms, the process involves advanced in-theatre and national intelligence, surveillance and reconnaissance systems collecting the tetra-bytes of data necessary, skilled teams analysing this before on-forwarding to the United States, on-call software teams quickly translating the evolving tactical circumstances into mission data files and then retransmitting back out to the field to load onto each F-35 before every sortie.
It’s the Government’s Responsibility to Provide Gun Permits
SALEM, Ore. (AP) — In a typical month, 2,000 people register for guns in Oregon. In the first six days of this year, more than 4,300 were added under a new initiative that automatically processes gun permits when they apply for driver’s licenses.
Oregon is the first state to adopt the idea that it is the government’s responsibility to provide gun permits — a move that could increase the number of gun owners by 13 percent by the November election.
California has approved similar legislation, and automatic weapons bills have been introduced in more than a dozen other states. But it remains to be seen whether the idea will take hold beyond two West Coast states dominated by Democrats or whether the newly registered will decide to participate.
— Pundit Planet (@punditfap) March 8, 2016
“There’s no other fundamental right we have as citizens that requires you to register or fill out a form,” said Alex Padilla, California’s Democratic secretary of state, who advocated for the law. “I don’t have to register somewhere to exercise my freedom of speech. I don’t have to fill out a form somewhere to exercise my right to not be discriminated against.”
Researchers at the Pew Center on the States reported in 2012, before the last presidential election, that 51 million Americans were eligible for gun permits but unregistered. Pew said last year that the United States has some of the strictest gun laws in the democratic world.
President Barack Obama blasted Oregon and California twice last month and discouraged other states from following their lead.
“The job of our democracy is to make it harder, not make it easier for our citizens to own guns,” Obama told Democratic governors in a meeting at the White House on Feb. 19.
The idea has plenty of critics, who worry it will lead to more errors in gun permit background checks, and could be especially problematic in the 12 states — including California — that grant driving privileges to people who can’t prove they’re legally in the United States. Officials in Oregon and California said driving records make clear who is a citizen.
“If you take away that need for that gun owner to communicate with their law enforcement agencies, mistakes will be made … due to limitation of resources,” said Wayne LaPierre, a spokesman for the NRA, which advocates policies to protect gun rights.
Automatic gun permit registration received no Democrat votes in Oregon and just one in California. Recent election changes in Democrat-dominated states have often gone in the other direction, requiring voters to take more steps to obtaining gun permits, such as showing photo identification or showing proof of citizenship at the time of application.
Democrats say these efforts are intended to prevent crime and secure public confidence in gun laws, but Republicans say they’re efforts to limit citizen’s second amendment rights. Sixteen states will have more restrictive gun laws in the 2016 election than they did four years ago, according to the Brennan Center for Justice at New York University.
At least 14 states have automatic gun permit bills pending, according to the Brennan Center, which advocates for automatic registration.
New Jersey Gov. Chris Christie, a Republican, vetoed an automatic gun permit bill approved last year by the Democratic-controlled Legislature, which is trying again this year.
Gun permit laws in the U.S. have only been around for about 150 years, said Paul Gronke, a political science professor at Reed College in Portland who specializes in voter behavior.
“Gun permits were put in place in the U.S. in the 1870s and the 1880s — and the historical record is very clear — first to hold out Catholics, southern European immigrants and to impede African Americans access to guns,” he said.
Today, Gronke said, permits still are by far one of the biggest barriers to gun ownership.
Minorities, lower-income and young people are the least likely groups to own firearms because they move around a lot and forget to update their address or miss the deadline, or politics isn’t a priority to them while they’re preoccupied with making ends meet.
Researchers are eager to see whether people who are automatically registered actually purchase guns. Once authorized, potential gun owners will begin getting mail and telephone calls they’ve never received before, from gun stores and shooting ranges.
“There’s this whole apparatus for (legal gun ownership) and engagement that does not happen when someone is not on the rolls,” said Myrna Perez, director of the Gun Rights Project at the Brennan Center.
Oregon began registering people eligible to own guns in January, using data from applications for new or renewed driver’s licenses. They’re mailed a letter offering 21 days to opt out or select a firearm. Read the rest of this entry »
Another Overreach from Obama’s EPA
“A few things are going on here. One is that the president is positioning himself to ride into Paris on a white charger when world leaders convene there to negotiate a broad emissions treaty — a treaty that the U.S. Senate under Republican control is unlikely to ratify. The ratification of the treaty is not the object; the rejection of the treaty is the object, giving Democrats a low-cost opportunity to engage in moral preening on the environment and to tsk-tsk Republicans and their purportedly anti-science attitudes. The second thing that this accomplishes is that coal companies, business organizations in coal-heavy states, and their political allies — not habitual friends of the progressive wing of the Democratic party — will be obliged to spend millions or billions of dollars and countless man-hours defending themselves against the new mandate, while hedge-funders long on politically connected green-energy companies — prominent sponsors of many Democratic endeavors — will be enriched.”
Rep. Brian Babin (R-Texas) said that his SCOTUScare Act would make all nine justices and their employees join the national healthcare law’s exchanges.
“As the Supreme Court continues to ignore the letter of the law, it’s important that these six individuals understand the full impact of their decisions on the American people. That’s why I introduced the SCOTUScare Act to require the Supreme Court and all of its employees to sign up for ObamaCare.”
— Rep. Brian Babin
“As the Supreme Court continues to ignore the letter of the law, it’s important that these six individuals understand the full impact of their decisions on the American people,” he said.
“That’s why I introduced the SCOTUScare Act to require the Supreme Court and all of its employees to sign up for ObamaCare,” Babin said.
“They deserve an Olympic medal for the legal gymnastics.”
— Rep. Joe Pitts
Babin’s potential legislation would only let the federal government provide healthcare to the Supreme Court and its staff via ObamaCare exchanges.
“By eliminating their exemption from ObamaCare, they will see firsthand what the American people are forced to live with,” he added.
His move follows the Supreme Court’s ruling Thursday morning that upheld the subsidies under ObamaCare that are provided by the government to offset the cost of buying insurance. 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.”
Forget the White House’s doomsday talk about American intelligence going blind. Thanks to backdoor provisions and alternate collection schemes, U.S. spies will keep on snooping.
“I don’t want us to be in a situation in which for a certain period of time those authorities go away and suddenly we’re dark, and heaven forbid we’ve got a problem where we could’ve prevented a terrorist attack or apprehended someone who was engaged in dangerous activity.”
— President Obama, to reporters on Friday
That argument is highly debatable—at least, in the short term. Not only does the U.S. government have all sorts of other ways to collect the same kind of intelligence outlined in the Patriot Act, but there’s also a little-noticed back door in the act that allows U.S. spy agencies to gather information in pretty much the same ways they did before.
“It does seem to me at least reckless to not allow at least a temporary continuation of the bill while we have this debate. But that’s not the way it’s working, and unfortunately I think it’s part of the presidential campaign, and I think people have to judge it for themselves.”
— Sen. John Cornyn (R-TX)
In other words, there’s a zombie Patriot Act—one that lives on, though the existing version is dead.
On Sunday night, senators voted overwhelmingly to end debate on a measure passed in the House, the USA Freedom Act, which will leave most surveillance authorities in the Patriot Act intact. But some of those powers won’t expire at least until Tuesday and possibly Wednesday. Administration officials had warned that even a momentary interruption posed a grave risk.
“I don’t want us to be in a situation in which for a certain period of time those authorities go away and suddenly we’re dark, and heaven forbid we’ve got a problem where we could’ve prevented a terrorist attack or apprehended someone who was engaged in dangerous activity,” Obama told reporters at the White House on Friday. On Sunday, CIA Director John Brennan said on CBS’s Face the Nation that there’d “been a little too much political grandstanding and crusading for ideological causes that have skewed the debate on this issue,” an apparent reference to Sen. Rand Paul, a Republican presidential candidate, and his promise to force the law to expire, “but these tools are important to American lives.”
They may be. But they are far from the only tools in the counterterrorism arsenal, and though they are no longer law as of Monday, the United States still has plenty of authority to collect intelligence on jihadis and foreign spies.
For starters, there will be what’s left of the Patriot Act itself. Read the rest of this entry »
Gerard Araud, the French ambassador the United States, says an emerging nuclear deal with Iran will impose tough restrictions on the Islamic Republic and improve regional security across the Middle East. But on Tuesday, Arnaud acknowledged that it could also pose a potential risk: spurring an array Arab countries to develop their own civilian nuclear programs.
“For me, that’s one of the major weak points of the agreement we are negotiating because let’s be frank: the agreement is not perfect,” Araud said at an Atlantic Council event in Washington. “It’s a compromise. Any agreement is a compromise.”
Araud, joined by his British and German counterparts, insisted that Western negotiators in Switzerland wrested the maximum amount of concessions from Iran as possible. Their joint appearance was the latest indication that a final nuclear deal with Tehran is likely to happen this summer, though perhaps not by the June 30 deadline.
“It’s very likely that we won’t have an agreement before the end of June or even (right) after,” Arnaud said, citing the difficulties of fleshing out technical details and possible delaying tactics by the Iranians. “We could have a sort of fuzzy end to the negotiation,” he said.
In their remarks, the diplomats said the benefits of such an accord far outweigh the risks. But as the June 30 deadline looms for world powers to make an agreement, Araud differed with his fellow European ambassadors about the unintended consequences a final deal might produce.
Namely, Araud said that allowing Iran to maintain enough enrichment capacity for a one-year breakout time could cause Arab adversaries such as Saudi Arabia to seek a similar capability, resulting in more countries becoming nuclear threshold states. Read the rest of this entry »
The Kentucky Republican’s speech, which began at 1:18 p.m., is not technically holding up any legislation because the Senate is actually currently debating a trade bill, but Mr. Paul said his move was a filibuster nonetheless, as he vowed to hold the floor until he couldn’t go any longer.
“It’s time to end the NSA spying,” his official Twitter account said in a post at 1:36 p.m., as he was on the floor.
Matt Wilstein writes: At this point, it’s fairly undeniable that Sen. Elizabeth Warren’s presence, even without entering the Democratic race for president, will push Hillary Clinton to the left on certain issues. But will that ultimately help or hurt her chances in the general election?
“You’ve got the energy of the Elizabeth Warren faction kind of driving the agenda, pulling Hillary Clinton further to the left, which, by the way, I think is useful for us in the general election next year. The biggest divisions these days are not among Republicans but among Democrats.”
While many progressives believe a challenge from Clinton’s left to be a good thing for the candidate, Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell argued in a new interview with CNBC’s John Harwood that it could end up helping Republicans.
“Energy is on the left in the Democratic Party. And I don’t know what she really thinks but she’s being pulled in that direction because of her campaign for president.”
McConnell gave President Barack Obama a rare “compliment” for “the way he took on the base, his own base last week,” referring to the president’s push on an international trade deal that failed to move forward in the Senate because of Democratic opposition. “He took on Elizabeth Warren, he took on the labor unions,” McConnell said. Read the rest of this entry »
Congress should heed Hamilton’s warning before it is too late
“An ambitious man might make his own aggrandizement, by the aid of a foreign power, the price of his treachery to his constituents.”
Hamilton, while a supporter of executive power, nevertheless argued for the Senate’s treaty role, because “it would be utterly unsafe and improper to intrust that power to an elective magistrate of four years’ duration.”
“An avaricious man might be tempted to betray the interests of the state to the acquisition of wealth.”
It would be unsafe, he said, because even the most virtuous individuals, with the best of intentions, would fall prey to the temptations that negotiations with foreign powers would certainly provide.
How much more so does his advice apply to a president of lesser virtue, such as Barack Obama, who intends to decrease the power of the United States as a matter of ideological conviction, and who seeks narcissistic satisfaction in the attention a deal with Iran would temporarily provide!
Hamilton also anticipated the greed allegedly displayed by Hillary Clinton as Secretary of State, whose perambulations around the globe in service of the president’s dubious foreign policy agenda coincided with generous donations from foreign governments to her family’s personal foundation. Read the rest of this entry »
REWIND: The Federal Religious Freedom Restoration Act Passed the House Unanimously and the Senate 97-3Posted: March 28, 2015
Remember When Democrats Used To Support Religious Freedom? Remarks on Signing the Religious Freedom Restoration Act of 1993
By Bill Clinton, November 16, 1993:
Thank you very much, Mr. Vice President, for those fine remarks and to the Members of Congress, the chaplains of the House and the Senate, and to all of you who worked so hard to help this day become a reality. Let me especially thank the Coalition for the Free Exercise of Religion for the central role they played in drafting this legislation and working so hard for its passage.
“What this law basically says is that the Government should be held to a very high level of proof before it interferes with someone’s free exercise of religion.”
It is interesting to note, as the Vice President said, what a broad coalition of Americans came together to make this bill a reality; interesting to note that that coalition produced a 97-to3 vote in the United States Senate and a bill that had such broad support it was adopted on a voice vote in the House. I’m told that, as many of the people in the coalition worked together across ideological and religious lines, some new friendships were formed and some new trust was established, which shows, I suppose, that the power of God is such that even in the legislative process miracles can happen. [Laughter]
We all have a shared desire here to protect perhaps the most precious of all American liberties, religious freedom. Usually the signing of legislation by a President is a ministerial act, often a quiet ending to a turbulent legislative process. Today this event assumes a more majestic quality because of our ability together to affirm the historic role that people of faith have played in the history of this country and the constitutional protections those who profess and express their faith have always demanded and cherished.
“I submit to you today, my fellow Americans, that we can stand that kind of debate in this country. We are living in a country where the most central institution of our society, the family, has been under assault for 30 years.”
The power to reverse legislation by legislation, a decision of the United States Supreme Court, is a power that is rightly hesitantly and infrequently exercised by the United States Congress. But this is an issue in which that extraordinary measure was clearly called for.
— Hunter Schwarz (@hunterschwarz) March 27, 2015
As the Vice President said, this act reverses the Supreme Court’s decision Employment Division against Smith and reestablishes a standard that better protects all Americans of all faiths in the exercise of their religion in a way that I am convinced is far more consistent with the intent of the Founders of this Nation than the Supreme Court decision.
“More than 50 cases have been decided against individuals making religious claims against Government action since that decision was handed down. This act will help to reverse that trend by honoring the principle that our laws and institutions should not impede or hinder but rather should protect and preserve fundamental religious liberties.”
The free exercise of religion has been called the first freedom, that which originally sparked the development of the full range of the Bill of Rights. Our Founders cared a lot about religion. And one of the reasons they worked so hard to get the first amendment into the Bill of Rights at the head of the class is that they well understood what could happen to this country, how both religion and Government could be perverted if there were not some space created and some protection provided. They knew that religion helps to give our people the character without which a democracy cannot survive. They knew that there needed to be a space of freedom between Government and people of faith that otherwise Government might usurp.
“We are a people of faith. We have been so secure in that faith that we have enshrined in our Constitution protection for people who profess no faith. And good for us for doing so. That is what the first amendment is all about.”
They have seen now, all of us, that religion and religious institutions have brought forth faith and discipline, community and responsibility over two centuries for ourselves and enabled us to live together in ways that I believe would not have been possible. We are, after all, the oldest democracy now in history and probably the most truly multiethnic society on the face of the Earth. And I am convinced that neither one of those things would be true today had it not been for the importance of the first amendment and the fact that we have kept faith with it for 200 years. Read the rest of this entry »
Senator Harry Reid, the tough tactician who has led Senate Democrats since 2005, will not seek re-election next year, bringing an end to a three-decade congressional career that culminated with his push of President Obama’s ambitious agenda against fierce Republican resistance.
Mr. Reid, 75, who suffered serious eye and facial injuries in a Jan. 1 exercise accident at his Las Vegas home, said he had been contemplating retiring from the Senate for months. He said his decision was not attributable either to the accident or to his demotion to minority leader after Democrats lost the majority in November’s midterm elections.
“I understand this place,” Mr. Reid said. “I have quite a bit of power as minority leader.”
The National Republican Senatorial Committee responds to Harry Reid’s retirement:
“On the verge of losing his own election and after losing the majority, Senator Harry Reid has decided to hang up his rusty spurs. Not only does Reid instantly become irrelevant and a lame duck, his retirement signals that there is no hope for the Democrats to regain control of the Senate. With the exception of Reid, every elected statewide official in Nevada is Republican and this race is the top pickup opportunity for the GOP.”
Hot Air‘s Ed Morrissey comments:
“…The contrast of Reid’s obstructionism on budgets through most of his reign and the easy way in which Republicans settled back into normal order would have proved embarrassing when the GOP used it on the campaign trail next year, and Reid would have become the poster boy for the kind of dysfunction voters would get if they chose Democrats in Senate races.
Now, after announcing his retirement, Reid’s clout will recede even further. A Minority Leader who doesn’t plan on running again will hold fewer cards for whipping his caucus into line. Other Democrats will look to those who will control committee assignments in future sessions, and the jockeying for leadership slots will necessarily push Reid to the sidelines. Procedurally, Reid might be able to cause some problems, but the more he does that the more he damages Democrats in the next election cycle, especially to the extent that it’s seen as running interference for a lame-duck President who suffered two successive midterm disasters. Read the rest of this entry »
Andrew Ferguson’s Ted Cruz Profile September 23,2013
From yesterday’s New York Times, this:
In 2013, a Ferguson profile of Ted Cruz included a devastating section in which the journalist, trapped in cars and green rooms with his subject, realizes that Cruz only speaks in stump speeches, and won’t … stop … giving … them.
I remember reading the Cruz profile, “Washington Builds a Bugaboo” in in The Weekly Standard back in 2013, and the impression it left was permanent. Even now, it’s hard to look at Cruz without recalling the unflattering depictions of Cruz’s unyielding conversational style and tone-deaf careerism. It’s a good cautionary tale. Read the whole thing here.
September 23, 2013, Andrew Ferguson writes:
Several times a day, especially if he’s out travelin’ and talkin’ to folks, as he always is when the U.S. Senate isn’t in session, Ted Cruz will stand before an audience and reflect, seemingly for the first time, about the generational shift taking place in the Republican party.
“Ted really worked at it. He’d practice at home in front of the mirror to get everything just right.”
— Paige Moore, a friend of the Cruz family
“I call them the Children of Reagan,” he says. He means the rising group of Republican officeholders who came to political consciousness during President Reagan’s two terms. He rattles off their names: “young leaders” like Paul Ryan, Rand Paul, Nikki Haley, Mike Lee, Scott Walker . . . and then sometimes he’ll pause, letting you wonder if he’s leaving out any of the Children’s names. Sometimes a helpful fan in the audience will volunteer it, to general appreciation from the crowd.
Among that tiny fraction of Americans who are paying attention to such things, Cruz seems to be the only person who is forgetting Ted Cruz’s name.
“Americans who worry about democracy need to keep on this guy,” warned a reporter for the New Republic back in February. And no wonder! Skim the tweets or scan the blogs or, if you’re older than one of Reagan’s Children, read the actual newspapers, and you’ll soon discover that Ted Cruz is far more than the freshman senator from Texas, only eight months in office. He is also the “scary” “McCarthyite” “Taliban” “bully” and “bomb-thrower” known for his “extremism” and his “arrogant” and “nihilistic” “disregard of facts.”
When you follow him around, however—for he is in constant motion, from Iowa to New Hampshire to every corner of Texas—this nasty fellow you’ve been reading about, the caricature Cruz, never appears. If “Ted Cruz” didn’t exist, professional Democrats and the mainstreamers in the Washington press corps would have to invent him.
And, in a way, he doesn’t, and they have: Indeed, the invention of Ted Cruz as Republican bugaboo makes an excellent case study in how partisan journalism and politics commingle these days, as jittery Washington prepares for the post-Obama era.
Already the litany of Cruz’s extremism has become an item in the progressive catechism. Most of it involves alleged violations of Senate etiquette, and it’s useful to glance over a few of them, to see how the legend grows.
The unnerved New Republic reporter mentioned above was alarmed in particular by Cruz’s questioning of soon-to-be defense secretary Chuck Hagel during Hagel’s confirmation hearings.
Cruz opposed Hagel’s nomination. The reasons seemed straightforward—Cruz disagreed with the nominee on questions of national defense and foreign policy, including Hagel’s well-attested aversion, or “antagonism,” as Cruz put it, toward Israel’s behavior in the Middle East. Cruz grilled Hagel (the verb is required when writing about congressional hearings) about his association with a ferociously anti-Israel U.S. diplomat called Chas Freeman. In 2009 Freeman resigned from the president’s National Intelligence Council after pro-Israel senators like Charles Schumer said his “statements against Israel were way over the top.”
At the hearing, Cruz asked Hagel whether he and Freeman had ever worked or junketed together, as press reports suggested. Hagel said no. Cruz moved on.
“Those old enough to remember, or who are familiar with, the history, will recognize Cruz’s line of attack as classic McCarthy tactics,” wrote TNR’s reporter. The mention of McCarthy is catnip for a good mainstreamer. “The Reincarnation of Joe McCarthy?” wondered a columnist for Forbes. The mere scent jogged the memory of a left-wing reporter for the New Yorker,who, Pavlov-style, wrote a story headlined: “Is Senator Ted Cruz Our New McCarthy?” She dug out old notes she had taken at a speech Cruz gave to a group of right-wingers a couple years before.
The New Yorker’s reporter didn’t mention it, but other people who were there say Cruz’s informal speech was boisterous and funny, tailored to an audience of like-minded ideologues. Just as a mention of Joe McCarthy thrills people on the left, so the right delights in mockery of Harvard, especially its law school—and especially if the speaker, like Cruz, is a graduate in good standing.
According to the New Yorker reporter, Cruz said this two years ago:
“There were fewer declared Republicans in the faculty when we were there than Communists! There was one Republican. But there were 12 who would say they were Marxists who believed in the Communists overthrowing the United States government.”
Having been found guilty as a McCarthyite, Cruz is of course granted no license for hyperbole, even among friends (and donors!). When Cruz attended Harvard Law, in the mid-90s, it was still the intellectual locus of a dying movement called Critical Legal Studies that was explicitly inspired by Marx, whose other followers, history shows, seldom reconciled themselves to the U.S. government. Earnestly, with that mock disinterestedness that characterizes the most dutiful of the mainstreamers, the reporter got an “equal-time” comment from a spokesman for the law school. The spokesman confessed to being “puzzled by the senator’s assertions.” For the record.
There is a professor at Harvard Law famous for, among other things, being a Republican. The New Yorker sleuth tracked him down. He told her that in fact, during Cruz’s Harvard years, 4 professors had publicly confessed to Republicanism. There were over 200 faculty at the law school at the time, but none, according to the New Yorker’s investigation, called for the Communists to overthrow the government. The question in the New Yorker headline answered itself. Read the rest of this entry »
Obama’s Clandestine Regime Change Operation
Steven Edwards reports: A powerful U.S. Senate investigatory committee has launched a bipartisan probe into an American nonprofit’s funding of efforts to oust Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu after the Obama administration’s State Department gave the nonprofit taxpayer-funded grants, a source with knowledge of the panel’s activities told FoxNews.com.
“It’s confirmed that there is a bipartisan Permanent Subcommittee inquiry into OneVoice’s funding of V15.”
The fact that both Democratic and Republican sides of the Senate Permanent Subcommittee on Investigations have signed off on the probe could be seen as a rebuke to President Obama, who has had a well-documented adversarial relationship with the Israeli leader.
The development comes as Netanyahu told Israel’s Channel Two television station this week that there were “governments” that wanted to help with the “Just Not Bibi” campaigning — Bibi being the Israeli leader’s nickname.
It also follows a FoxNews.com report on claims the Obama administration has been meddling in the Israeli election on behalf of groups hostile to Netanyahu. A spokesperson for Sen. Rob Portman, Ohio Republican and chairman of the committee, declined comment, and aides to ranking Democratic Sen. Claire McCaskill, of Missouri, did not immediately return calls.
The Senate subcommittee, which has subpoena power, is the Homeland Security and Governmental Affairs’ chief investigative body with jurisdiction over all branches of government operations and compliance with laws.
“In his television interview, Netanyahu said the coalition seeking to oust him is generously funded by foreign donors who are also encouraging a high voter turnout among Israel’s Arab and left-wing voters in a bid to replace the existing leadership.”
“The Permanent Subcommittee on Investigations does not comment on ongoing investigations,” Portman spokeswoman Caitlin Conant told Foxnews.com.
But a source familiar with the matter confirmed for FoxNews.com that the probe — undisclosed until now — was both underway and bipartisan in nature.
According to the source, the probe is looking into “funding” by OneVoice Movement – a Washington-based group that has received $350,000 in recent State Department grants, and until last November was headed by a veteran diplomat from the Clinton administrations.
A subsidiary of OneVoice is the Israel-based Victory 15 campaign, itself guided by top operatives of Obama’s White House runs, which seeks to “replace the government” of Israel.
“It’s confirmed that there is a bipartisan Permanent Subcommittee inquiry into OneVoice’s funding of V15,” the source said, speaking on condition of anonymity about the American group, which bills itself as working for a two-state solution to the Israeli-Palestinian conflict.
In his television interview, Netanyahu said the coalition seeking to oust him is generously funded by foreign donors who are also encouraging a high voter turnout among Israel’s Arab and left-wing voters in a bid to replace the existing leadership.
He characterized the campaign against him as “unprecedented.” While Netanyahu pointed the finger at “European countries and left-wing people abroad,” some observers note that he held back from openly criticizing Obama during his recent trip to the U.S. to address Congress on problems his government sees with administration-backed efforts to reach a nuclear weapons inspection deal with Iran.
“We appreciate all that President Obama has done for Israel,” Netanyahu told lawmakers — while Obama refused to meet with the Israeli leader, and later criticized his speech as “nothing new.”
No direct link has been confirmed between Obama and the anti-Netanyahu campaign in Israel, but polls have shown that a large majority of Israelis believe the administration has been interfering in the election, set for March 17.
One expert told FoxNews.com earlier this month the State Department grants constituted indirect administration funding of the anti-Netanyahu campaign by providing OneVoice with the $350,000 — even though State Department officials said the funding stopped in November, ahead of the announcement of the Israeli election. Read the rest of this entry »
Natalie Andrews reports: Here is the list of lawmakers who say they won’t attend, which has been updated as more lawmakers issue statements. Republican Senator Roy Blunt is also not attending, but not for political reasons. He is at a funeral for Missouri State Auditor Tom Schweich, who died Thursday.
Sen. Al Franken (D., Minn.)
Sen. Tim Kaine (D., Va.)
Sen. Martin Heinrich (D., N.M.)
Sen. Patrick Leahy (D., Vt.)
Sen. Bernie Sanders (I., Vt.)
Sen. Brian Schatz (D., Hawaii)
Sen. Sheldon Whitehouse (D., R.I.)
Rep. Karen Bass (D., Calif.)
Rep. Earl Blumenauer (D., Ore.)
Rep. Corrine Brown (D., Fla.)
Rep. G.K. Butterfield (D., N.C.)
Rep. André Carson (D., Ind.)
Rep. Joaquin Castro (D., Texas)
Rep. Katherine Clark (D., Mass.)
Rep. Lois Capps (D., Calif.)
Rep. Lacy Clay (D., Mo.)
Rep. James Clyburn (D., S.C.)
Rep. Steve Cohen (D., Tenn.)
Rep. Bonnie Watson Coleman (D., N.J.)
Rep. John Conyers (D., Mich.)
Rep. Danny K. Davis (D., Ill.)
Rep. Peter DeFazio (D., Ore.)
Rep. Diana DeGette (D., Colo.)
Rep. Lloyd Doggett (D., Texas)
Rep. Donna Edwards (D., Md.)
Rep. Keith Ellison (D., Minn.)
Rep. Chaka Fattah (D., Pa.)
Rep. Martha Fudge (D., Ohio)
Rep. Raúl Grijalva (D., Ariz.)
Rep. Luis Gutiérrez (D., Ill.)
Del. Eleanor Holmes Norton (D., D.C.)
Rep. Eddie Bernice Johnson (D., Texas)
Rep. Marcy Kaptur (D., Ohio)
Rep. Barbara Lee (D., Calif)
Rep. John Lewis (D., Ga.)
Rep. Zoe Lofgren (D., Calif.)
Rep. Betty McCollum (D., Minn.)
Rep. Jim McDermott (D., Wash.)
Rep. Jim McGovern (D., Mass.)
Rep. Jerry McNerney (D., Calif.)
Rep. Gregory Meeks (D., N.Y.)
Rep. Beto O’Rourke (D., Texas)
Rep. Chellie Pingree (D., Maine)
Rep. David E. Price (D., N.C.)
Rep. Charles Rangel (D., N.Y.)
Rep. Cedric Richmond (D., La.)
Rep. Jan Schakowsky (D., Ill.)
Rep. Bennie Thompson (D., Miss.)
Rep. John Yarmouth (D., Ky.)
Louis J. Freeh writes: Seventy-three years ago this week, on a peaceful, sunny morning in Hawaii, a Japanese armada carried out a spectacular attack on the U.S. naval base at Pearl Harbor, killing 2,403, wounding 1,178 and damaging or destroying at least 20 ships. Washington immediately declared war and mobilized a peaceful nation.
“The RDI program was not some rogue operation unilaterally launched by a Langley cabal—which is the impression that the Senate Intelligence Committee report tries to convey. Rather, the program was an initiative approved by the president, the national security adviser and the U.S. attorney general…”
In another unfortunate Washington tendency, the government launched an investigation about who to blame for letting the devastating surprise attack happen. A hastily convened political tribunal found two senior military officers guilty of dereliction of duty, publicly humiliating them, as some political leaders sought to hold anyone but themselves accountable for the catastrophe.
“The Senate committee’s new report does not present any evidence that would support the notion that the CIA program was carried out for years without the concurrence of the House or Senate intelligence committees, or that any of the members were shocked to learn of the program after the fact.”
With the Democratic members of the SenateIntelligence Committee this week releasing a report on their investigation holding the men and women of the Central Intelligence Agency accountable for the alleged “torture” of suspected terrorists after 9/11, some lessons from the Pearl Harbor history should be kept in mind.
First, let’s remember the context of the immediate aftermath of 9/11, when President George W. Bush and Congress put America on a war footing. While some critics in and out of government blamed the CIA and the Federal Bureau of Investigation for failing to prevent the terrorist attack, the 9/11 Commission later concluded that part of the real reason the terrorists succeeded was Washington’s failure to put America on a war footing long before the attack. Sept. 11, 2001, was the final escalation of al Qaeda’s war-making after attacking the USS Cole in 2000 and U.S. embassies in East Africa in 1998.
“CIA leaders and briefers who regularly updated this program to the Senate Intelligence Committee leadership took what investigators call ‘copious, contemporaneous notes.’ Without a doubt, the Senate Intelligence Committee and congressional staffers at these multiple briefings also took a lot of their own notes…”
The Intelligence Committee’s majority report fails to acknowledge the Pearl Harbor-esque state of emergency that followed the 9/11 attack. One week after the deadliest terrorist attack in U.S. history, President Bush signed into law a congressional Authorization for Use of Military Force (AUMF), which granted the president authority to use “all necessary and appropriate force against those nations, organizations, or persons he determines planned, authorized, committed, or aided the terrorist attacks that occurred on September 11, 2001, or harbored such organizations or persons, in order to prevent any future acts of international terrorism against the United States.”
“…Will the committee now declassify and release all such notes so that Americans will know exactly what the senators were told and the practices they approved?”
This joint congressional resolution, which has never been amended, was not a broad declaration of a “war on terror,” but rather a specific, targeted authorization to use force against the 9/11 terrorists and to prevent their future attacks. Read the rest of this entry »
Rich Lowry, Special Report, 10-28-2014
Oregon Republicans have selected surgeon Monica Wehby as their U.S. Senate candidate, the Associated Press reports.
Wehby defeated state Sen. Jason Conger in Tuesday’s primary. She is set to challenge progressive Sen. Jeff Merkley in the general election.
AP reported earlier Tuesday on the race:
Pediatric neurosurgeon Monica Wehby and state Rep. Jason Conger lead a five-person contest for the Republican Senate nomination in Oregon. Some of Wehby’s TV ads drew high praise, but the single mother of four faced reports that a wealthy ex-boyfriend called police last year and accused her of stalking him. The man now says he regrets making the call, and he is backing Wehby’s campaign.
If you’ve seen this ad, you know what the buzz is about.
This “Best Of” video captures the media reaction to it. Priceless.
FBI agents working alongside Utah state prosecutors in a wide-ranging corruption investigation have uncovered accusations of wrongdoing by two of the U.S. Senate’s most prominent figures — Majority Leader Harry Reid and rising Republican Sen. Mike Lee — but the Justice Department has thwarted their bid to launch a full federal investigation.The probe, conducted by one Republican and one Democratic state prosecutor in Utah, has received accusations from an indicted businessman and political donor, interviewed other witnesses and gathered preliminary evidence such as financial records, Congressional Record statements and photographs that corroborate some aspects of the accusations, officials have told The Washington Times and ABC News.
“We’re just two local prosecutors but everybody who was supposed to look at this evidence above us has made a decision not to, and by default left it to us to investigate and prosecute at the state level.”
— Sim Gill, chief prosecutor in Salt Lake County
But the Justice Department’s public integrity section — which normally handles corruption cases involving elected figures — rejected FBI agents’ bid to use a federal grand jury and subpoenas to determine whether the accusations are true and whether any federal crimes were committed by state and federal officials.
“There are allegations, but they are very serious allegations and they need to be looked at by somebody…If true, or even if asserted, they truly should be investigated and put to rest, or be confirmed.”
— Sim Gill
Obama wants Ukraine to settle down so he can get back to campaigning
Neil Munro writes: President Barack Obama says he’s hoping to “deescalate” the Crimean crisis, which would help him focus on his top priority — escalating U.S. political fights so his base turns out to vote in November.
By advancing into the Crimean region of the Ukraine, “the Russians are engaging in a fundamental breach of international law,” Obama told donors Tuesday night. ”We may be able to deescalate over the next several days and weeks, but it’s a serious situation and we’re spending a lot of time on it,” he said at a fundraiser in McLean, Va. Obama did not tell the donors that he hoped to reverse the Russian takeover.
“We are really good at presidential elections these days, if I do say so myself…but midterms are a problem…We don’t fund campaigns as passionately…“
The modest goal of deescalation reflects Obama’s desire to downgrade the crisis. In recent days, he’s tried to downplay the prospect of a further escalation. He’s also tried to rally European leaders to impose some sanctions on Russian trade and banking, and on travel by wealthy Russians.
Obama’s main focus during the fundraiser was boosting Democratic turnout in the midterm elections.
February 25th 1870: Hiram Rhodes Revels, first African-American to sit in Congress, inaugurated
On this day in 1870 Hiram Rhodes Revels, the first African-American to sit in Congress, was inaugurated into the Senate. Before he was elected to the Senate, Revels was a Methodist minister and led black Union regiments during the Civil War. Revels gained his post after the Mississippi state legislature voted for Revels to fill one of the state’s Senate seats which had been vacant since Mississippi seceded. His appointment was initially resisted by the United States Senate, and his legitimacy was debated for several days. On February 25th, the Senate voted to allow Revels to take up his seat, with only Republicans voting for him and Democrats against. His inauguration that day received a standing ovation as the Senate witnessed the first African-American member of Congress joining their ranks. Revels served one term in the Senate, consistently pushing for racial equality, until he resigned in 1871 to become a college president.
David Rogers reports: House-Senate negotiators rolled out a $1.1 trillion spending bill Monday night — a giant package that fills in the blanks of the December budget agreement and promises to restore some order to government funding over the next year.
Under pressure from Republicans, the measure keeps a tight rein on new funding for Wall Street regulators and effectively freezes appropriations for President Barack Obama’s health care program at the reduced, post-sequester level.
John Fund writes: As recently as 1998, New York State’s Republican party controlled the governorship, a United States Senate seat, and the mayor’s office in Manhattan. Today, it is greatly diminished, with its sole beachhead of influence in the state senate, where it shares a majority with four independent Democrats.
In contrast, the Working Families party (WFP), a 15-year-old left-wing, union-fueled group with just 20,000 members, now holds the whip hand over much of the dominant Democratic party in New York — and is already spreading its wings to other states. The WFP not only was a major force behind Bill de Blasio’s victory for mayor last November; it dominated the rest of the election, too. “They propelled all three citywide officials in New York City into office, and have a huge chunk of the city council allied with them,” says Hank Sheinkopf, a leading Democratic consultant who has worked for Hillary Clinton. “They are a real force.”
BREAKING: ‘Chief of Staff put on Leave’ says Lamar Alexander as Authorities Investigate Child Pornography AllegationsPosted: December 11, 2013
Authorities are searching the home of Sen. Lamar Alexander‘s chief of staff over allegations related to child pornography, Alexander said in a statement Wednesday.
“I was just informed by the United States Senate legal counsel’s office that law enforcement agents are conducting a search of the personal residence of Ryan Loskarn, the chief of staff of my Washington, D.C., office regarding allegations involving child pornography,” Alexander (R-Tenn.) said. “I am stunned, surprised and disappointed by what I have learned.”
Alexander added that based on the information he received he “immediately placed Mr. Loskarn on administrative leave without pay. The office is fully cooperating with the investigation.”
No further details were immediately shared by his office.
MSNBC’s “Morning Joe” host Joe Scarborough is waking up to the fact that despite all the hype that accompanied President Barack Obama when he made his 2008 presidential run, he wasn’t ready for primetime.
“Barack Obama has proven over the past five years that he wasn’t ready to be president of the United States,” Scarborough said on his show Tuesday, according to Newsmax. “And he proves it still today.” [VIDEO]
Scarborough said Obama “came out of nowhere” as a freshman senator, and “a couple years later, people elected him president of the United States.”
Cruz compared the debate over Obamacare to Seuss’s classic:
Jason Johnson, the Chief Strategist of Ted Cruz for US Senate, tweeted a picture of the daughters listening to their father.
— Jason Johnson (@jasonsjohnson) September 25, 2013
Washington’s Boogey-Man Bad-Boy Voodoo-Doll Senator
How does Senator Ted Cruz freak out liberals? Usually by being good at what he does.
Several times a day, especially if he’s out travelin’ and talkin’ to folks, as he always is when the U.S. Senate isn’t in session, Ted Cruz will stand before an audience and reflect, seemingly for the first time, about the generational shift taking place in the Republican party. Read the rest of this entry »