After Leader McCarthy’s announcement, members of the House Republican Conference will not vote today for a new Speaker. As I have said previously, I will serve as Speaker until the House votes to elect a new Speaker. We will announce the date for this election at a later date, and I’m confident we will elect a new Speaker in the coming weeks. Our conference will work together to ensure we have the strongest team possible as we continue to focus on the American people’s priorities.
Kevin McCarthy, the California Republican and House majority leader, has pulled himself out of the running to replace House speaker John Boehner. National Review Online's Eliana Johnson broke the news:
Breaking: GOP congressman tells me @GOPLeader is postponing speaker election...and took himself out of the race.
McCarthy was seen as the next in line for the job after Boehner announced two weeks ago he was resigning the speakership. But problems greeted McCarthy's campaign almost from the beginning. A small but signficant group of House Republicans began coalescing around a more conservative alternative, Florida's Daniel Webster.
And in an interview last week with Sean Hannity, McCarthy touted the House Benghazi committee's work as having hurt Hillary Clinton's presidential campaign. Democrats seized on the gaffe.
Update: Here's a statement from McCarthy:
I have the deepest respect and regard for each Member of the Conference and our team as a whole. It is imperative for us to unite and work together on the challenges facing our country. Over the last week it has become clear to me that our Conference is deeply divided and needs to unite behind one leader. I have always put this Conference ahead of myself. Therefore I am withdrawing my candidacy for Speaker of the House. I look forward to working alongside my colleagues to help move our Conference’s agenda and our country forward.”\
As recently as Wednesday evening, McCarthy allies were emailing reporters evidence of the leader's support within the conference, which suggests the decision to drop was not known to his closest friends—or not made until shortly before he announced it.
The House Select Committee on Benghazi will be making public next week new documents that demonstrate Sidney Blumenthal was seeking business in Libya as he was advising then Secretary of State Hillary Clinton on U.S. policy in the country. According to a letter from Chairman Trey Gowdy to Elijah Cummings, the ranking Democrat on the committee, at least once Clinton sought to aid Blumenthal's business interests in Libya.
The 13-page letter also details new concerns about compromised security on Clinton's email, noting that in one unsecured email Blumenthal appears to name a top CIA source in Libya --a revelation that could compromise the safety of that source if it became known publicly.
In a statement accompanying the letter, Gowdy makes some of his strongest accusations to date about the Obama administration's obstruction of the committee's work.
“These messages should have been made public when the State Department released Secretary Clinton’s other self-selected records on Libya and Benghazi, but there was a clear decision at the time to withhold this information from the American people and the Committee," reads the letter. "The State Department has now made these messages available, and the Committee intends to question Secretary Clinton about them during her appearance.”
Gowdy did not identify the individuals responsible for the "clear decision" to withhold information. The new documents add to a long list of materials withheld by the Obama administration and Clinton and her lawyers, and raise further questions about what other documents have not yet been turned over to the committee.
Anticipating the big presidential debate on CNN, candidate Bernie Sanders is doing … well, not much of anything, to get ready. Sanders, as Gabriel Debenedetti of Politico writes:
… has briefing books, a couple of meetings with policy experts, and an abiding aversion to the idea of acting out a debate before it happens. He knows the stakes are high, his staff says. But the candidate, whose New Hampshire polling and fundraising prowess have put a scare into Clinton, is uninterested in going through the motions of typical debate practice.
Senator Sanders is who he is and he believes what he believes. And those beliefs have not changed much, if at all, in forty or fifty years. As I wrote here, a few months back:
The fixed stars on his horizon are economic inequality and the essential unfairness of the political system. His Manichean universe consists—and always has—of Wall Street and the millionaires and billionaires in opposition to the middle class, the poor, and what he likes to call “working people.” American life consists of an unequal and ceaseless struggle, which the bad guys are always winning.
The opposition in this debate, Hillary Clinton, has changed – or obfuscated – her position on just about everything to include, most recently, the big trade deal which, as Jake Tapper reports on CNN she publicly pushed 45 times, but now opposes.
Still, Sanders has indicated that he:
… won’t attack Clinton personally, but instead identify where their positions differ — on foreign policy for example — and try to leave the impression with viewers of the substantive differences between the party’s two front runners.
Here’s a substantive difference: One of them takes a position and sticks with it. The other tests the political winds … and goes whichever way they blow.
In an essay for Mosaic, a French professor writes that it's "The Twilight of French Jewry, the Twilight of France."
"If 100,000 Frenchmen of Spanish origin were to leave, I would never say that France is no longer France. But if 100,000 Jews leave, France will no longer be France. The French Republic will be judged a failure.” Thus declared Prime Minister Manuel Valls to the National Assembly in January 2015, within days of the homicidal jihadist attacks in Paris on the satirical magazine Charlie Hebdo and at a kosher supermarket.
What prompted this impassioned declaration? It is true enough that increasing numbers of French Jews have been leaving for Israel. In the past five years alone, more than 20,000 have done so, and since 2012 the annual figures have been moving steadily upward. Still, the French Jewish population, standing at about 480,000, remains the largest in Europe, and the latest surge, following as it does upon earlier, smaller movements of French Jews to Israel, is a far cry from the Prime Minister’s alarmed figure of 100,000. Is so massive an outflow really imminent, and, no less important, is there a sense in which the departure of a cohort of 100,000 Jews would truly mean the failure of the French political model of republican governance—that is, of France itself?
I. Jewish Emigration from France: Causes and Effects
Between the 1950s and the turn of the 21st century, the intermittent stream of Jewish emigration from France to Israel was mainly impelled by two factors. One was the positive pull of Zionism; the other was the negative push of anti-Semitism. But the latter, even though it could take on a violent or occasionally deadly form, was perceived, including by many Jews, less as a national problem than as a passing and unfortunate spillover from the Arab-Israeli conflict in the Middle East or as a lingering expression of extreme right-wing hatred of Jews. Nor did the French government take it seriously. Until 2002, indeed, the socialists in power were in complete denial about the threat, and in this they enjoyed the complicity of the mainstream press, which operated on the (fallacious) premise that to publicize anti-Semitic violence would only exacerbate it.
Then, between 2002 and 2014, the number of home-grown anti-Jewish threats and acts—verbal abuse, desecration of cemeteries, swastikas on Jewish property, fire-bombings of synagogues, and other forms of violence up to and including murder—climbed to three times the figure for the entire previous decade. The 2006 torture and murder of twenty-three-year-old Ilan Halimi was a marker of this “new” breed of anti-Semitism, whose perpetrators were drawn from the impoverished and crime-ridden sectors of the Muslim community. Another such marker, six years later, would be the murder of a Toulouse rabbi along with his young sons and another child by the self-styled “Islamic warrior” Mohamed Merah. December 2014 saw a home invasion, robbery, and rape in the Paris suburb of Créteil; its Muslim perpetrators justified their choice of victims with the same words as Halimi’s torturers: “Jews have money.” And so it went.
Last month, CNN hosted a Republican presidential primary debate. The main event was a 3-hour affair.
Next week, the same network will host a Democratic presidential primary debate. But this time, the debate will be one hour shorter -- it'll span only 2 hours.
Of course there's a big difference in the number of candidates in each of the debates. The Republican debate featured 11 candidates. The Democratic debate will probably be made up of 5 candidates.
The Democrats have only 6 debates planned. Republicans have twice the number on the schedule.
Next week's debate will be moderated by Anderson Cooper and colleagues, the Huffington Post reports.
Cooper will be joined Tuesday by CNN anchor Don Lemon, who will incorporate questions submitted through Facebook -- which is partnering with the network to host the debate -- as well as correspondent Dana Bash and CNN en Español anchor Juan Carlos Lopez.
The setup will be similar to CNN's Republican debate, in which Bash and conservative radio host Hugh Hewitt asked some questions alongside the moderator. Cooper said he’d like to integrate the panelists a bit more this time, noting that “bouncing back and forth between questioners gives some energy and some different perspectives.”
A top Hillary Clinton aide from the State Department talked up the former secretary of state's support for the trade deal just yesterday in an interview with National Public Radio. The aide, who has been defending Clinton's policies publicly, is Anne-Marie Slaughter, the former director of policy planning at the State Department.
The NPR reporter asked, "Need to ask you a – it may sound a little impertinent question but it has come up on this program before – and much as I respect Hillary Clinton, it seems to be asked over and over and over again so I’d like to ask you. She was a wonderful boss and you give real tribute to her, give real props to her in working for her, but it’s often said that as Secretary of State she, the all the travel she did she accomplished nothing could put up on a marquee. There was supposed to be a new start with Russia, there were all kinds of things were in the works and here we are. I mean, what can she really advertise from her work as Secretary of State? And I say this also because we have Neil Ferguson on tomorrow talking about his book on Kissinger."
"On Kissinger! I’m happy to answer that question. I mean the first place there are, you know, she laid the groundwork for a lot of what now, frankly, John Kerry is harvesting. I mean without Hillary Clinton putting together this, the coalition to impose sanctions on Iran, you wouldn’t have an Iran deal. So she did that work and it was incredibly hard work. She also was one of the architects of you know, the turn to Asia. And just yesterday, people may not like the trade agreement with Asia, but her point was we have to focus on re-strengthening our alliances with Japan, with the Philippines, with Thailand, with Southeast Asian countries. And we have to engage China, but we also have to tough with China and that was a lot of Hillary Clinton’s work," said Slaughter.
Today Clinton released a statement saying that she opposes the trade deal she helped negotiate. Here's Clinton's statement:
“I’m continuing to learn about the details of the new Trans-Pacific Partnership, including looking hard at what’s in there to crack down on currency manipulation, which kills American jobs, and to make sure we’re not putting the interests of drug companies ahead of patients and consumers. But based on what I know so far, I can’t support this agreement.
“As I have said many times, we need to be sure that new trade deals meet clear tests: They have to create good American jobs, raise wages, and advance our national security. The bar has to be set very high for two reasons.
“First, too often over the years we haven’t gotten the balance right on trade. We’ve seen that even a strong deal can fall short on delivering the promised benefits. So I don’t believe we can afford to keep giving new agreements the benefit of the doubt. The risks are too high that, despite our best efforts, they will end up doing more harm than good for hard-working American families whose paychecks have barely budged in years.
During the White House's Summit On Worker Voice on Wednesday, Joe Biden had a clear message for labor unions—that Hillary Clinton might not be a reliable ally, but he would be. His speech focused on his sympathies for the labor movement, his friendship with AFL-CIO President Richard Trumka, and the like. He also hit Clinton, saying, "if I don't move... I'll be demoted to Secretary of State or something like that. [laughter from audience] THAT'S A JOKE." The statement also suggests he's seriously considering running against Clinton, and that he'd be a better ally for the labor movement than Clinton.
Here's the broader context:
"But in the meantime, while this is happening, the fight we have is we can't—we can't—let the average American out of benefitting from this deal. That's why we need organized labor. That's why we need collective bargaining. That's why we need more protection for workers' rights.
Because it's coming, this resurgence. The question is—it shouldn't all be, figuratively speaking, meeting income workers with the minimum wage, even if it's a good minimum wage.
So we're counting on you. We need your help. We need your suggestions. We need your muscle. We need to move. And, if I don't move... I'll be demoted to Secretary of State or something like that. [laughter from audience] THAT'S A JOKE."
The father of a Virginia television reporter who was murdered on air in August is calling for "commonsense gun control legislation" on behalf of the political committee of Democratic governor Terry McAuliffe.
In an email to supporters of McAuliffe with the subject line "Alison's Dad," Andy Parker writes it is his "life’s work to implement effective and reasonable safeguards" against gun violence. Parker is the father of Alison Parker, the 24-year-old reporter at Roanoke's WDBJ who was shot live on air earlier this year by a disgruntled former coworker. Parker's cameraman Adam Ward was also killed.
"Gun violence is far too common, and I plan to do whatever it takes to stop more tragedies like this from occurring," Parker writes. "I know that in order to actually make a difference and get commonsense gun control legislation passed, we need to get involved and we need to participate."
The email continues:
Politics matter. Elections matter. Too often, people think their votes won’t matter. Let me tell you from personal experience, twelve years ago I won a seat on the Henry County Board of Supervisors—by one vote. So, yes, your vote matters! In November, we need to make our voices heard across VA and send a message to the rest of the country. Will you join me and commit to vote to end senseless gun violence?...
We have to focus our attention on the legislators who are responsible for America’s criminally weak gun laws; laws that facilitate the access dangerous individuals have to firearms on a daily basis. We need to do better than legislators who refuse to bring up universal background check legislation and oppose sensible gun reforms like the gun violence restraining order that was a part of SB 1429, while cashing checks from the National Rifle Association. We can't afford to continue with business as usual.
The email is paid for by Common Good VA, a political committee set up by McAuliffe in March 2014, shortly after he became governor. There are two links in the email that take users to terrymcauliffe.com, where they can sign a petition.
In August, six Republican presidential candidates appeared at a forum to discuss education reform in New Hampshire hosted by Campbell Brown. Brown, the former NBC news anchor and CNN host, has just launched a news website, The Seventy Four, dedicated to covering issues related to education reform. Brown was set to host a similar forum with Democrats in Iowa this month to be co-sponsored with the Des Moines Register, but Brown has a history of being critical of unions putting up roadblocks to education reform. Politico reports that Democratic candidates have been scared off of partocipating in the forum by the risk of losing union support:
“What happened here is very clear: The teachers unions have gotten to these candidates,” Brown told POLITICO. “All we asked is that these candidates explain their vision for public education in this country, and how we address the inequality that leaves so many poor children behind. … President [Barack] Obama certainly never cowered to the unions. Even if they disagree with the president’s reforms, you would think these candidates would at least have the courage to make the case.”
None of the campaigns would discuss the forum on the record. Union officials would not confirm that they exerted pressure on the candidates to skip it, but they are not fond of Brown or her advocacy against teacher tenure in public schools. In the past, they have portrayed her as a corporate-funded elitist doing the bidding of Republicans; Brown is a registered independent, but her husband, Dan Senor, is a former Bush administration official who served as a spokesman for the Iraq war.
When asked to comment on the forum, Randi Weingarten, president of the American Federation of Teachers and a close ally of Hillary Clinton, issued a harsh statement about Brown.
“Campbell Brown is entitled to her opinion about public education, but the Democrats running for president — along with American voters — have a different vision,” Weingarten said.
While it's disappointing that Democratic candidates won't go on record to discuss education reform, such cowardice is also not surprising. Teachers unions are very influential in the Democratic party and have a track record of responding poorly to richly deserved criticism.
Jeb Bush is qualifying some recent criticism of fellow Floridian and GOP rival Marco Rubio. Last week the former Florida governor said that the young senator does not have the “skills to fix things” as president. (See update below.)
Zeke Miller of Time magazine reports on Bush’s change of tune Wednesday:
Jeb tells press he still thinks Rubio is qualified to be president, but says his own record of leadership is proven
What’s with the change of emphasis? As CNN’s Sara Murray reported Sunday, some donors to Bush’s campaign are not pleased with prospect the super PAC supporting Bush, Right to Rise, will aim its fire at Rubio. “They actually like Rubio,” Murray said of the Bush donors. “They think he could be a good second choice if Bush can’t get his poll numbers up, they do not want to seem him annihilated by super PAC spending. A number of them have told me they’re not sure what to do about it.”
That’s one possibility. Another is that Bush could be worried about contradicting his previous praise for Rubio as presidential material. In 2012, Bush told CBS News’s Charlie Rose that Rubio was his “favorite” pick for the vice presidential nomination. Asked if Bush believed his political protégé had had enough preparation to be “one heartbeat away from the presidency,” he said Rubio had. “I think so,” Bush said. “Look, he has more experience than Barack Obama had when he ran.”
Whatever the reason, the decision shows how delicate and awkward the situation is for two friends and allies—with very similar political and donor networks—to both run for the White House at the same time. Especially now that the younger candidate has surpassed the older in the polls.
Update: In his appearance on Morning Joe last week, Bush responded to the question "You do not think [Rubio] has the skills to fix things?" with "It's not known," not "no."
The Bush campaign has also sent along a transcript of Wednesday's exchange regarding Rubio's preparation for the presidency:
QUESTION: Last week you questioned Senator Rubio's leadership skills, but in 2012 you told Charlie Rose he would be a good candidate for Mitt Romney's running mate, you also said he had more experience than Obama.
Russian air strikes have destroyed the main weapons depots of a U.S.-trained rebel group in Syria, their commander said on Wednesday, in an expansion of Russian attacks on insurgents backed by foreign enemies of President Bashar al-Assad.
The strikes were conducted in:
areas of western and northern Syria ... where the Islamic State group - the stated target of the Russian air raids - has no significant presence.
And where Liwa Suqour, whose depots were the targets of Russian strikes:
... is one of a number of Syrian rebel groups deemed moderate by the United States which have received training as part of an ostensibly covert CIA program. That program is separate to one set up by the Pentagon to train and equip Syrian insurgents to fight Islamic State.
The group has been supplied with guided anti-tank missiles by states that oppose Assad. These missiles have had a significant impact on the battlefield.
Which, no doubt, accounts for why the Russians took them out.
Manchester, N.H. Florida senator Marco Rubio responded Wednesday morning to Donald Trump's comment that the use of eminent domain for private projects is a "wonderful thing."
"He's wrong," Rubio told THE WEEKLY STANDARD following a campaign event at a tech company in New Hampshire. "In Florida when I was a state legislator, we passed what has become model legislation for other states around the country--that I actually passed--both a law and a constitutional amendment that keeps developers like Donald Trump from using eminent domain to take private property away from an owner and give it to another private owner, which is what the Kelo decision said should be legal unless states barred it. So he's wrong about that. One of the most important rights Americans have is private property."
In an interview Tuesday evening with Bret Baier on Fox News, Trump praised the government's seizing private property from individuals in order to "build this massive development that’s going to employ thousands of people, or you’re going to build a factory, that without this little house, you can’t build the factory."
Conservative commentators widely criticized Trump for supporting the government trampling on individual rights.
Over the past few weeks, Donald Trump has faced criticism for his stance on eminent domain from numerous conservatives including the Club for Growth, Rand Paul, and numerous scholars on the right. On Tuesday during Special Report, Bret Baier asked Donald Trump his opinion on eminent domain.
Trump called it "wonderful."
"I think eminent domain is wonderful if you're building a highway and you need to build—as an example, a highway—and you're going to be blocked by a hold-out or—in some cases, it's a hold-out. Just so you understand, nobody knows this better than I do, because I built a lot of buildings in Manhattan and you'll have 12 sites and you'll get 11 and you'll have the one hold-out and you end up building around them and everything else, ok. So I know it better than anybody.
I think eminent domain, for massive projects, for instance, you're going to create thousands of jobs and you have somebody that's in the way—and you pay that person far more—don't forget eminent domain, they get a lot of money. And you need a house in a certain location because you're going to build this massive development that's going to employ thousands of people, or you're going to build a factory that without this little house, you can't build the factory. I think eminent domain is fine. Now the club for growth doesn't like it because of me. They came to my office, right upstairs, they said would you give us $1 million—put it in writing..."
Baier followed up, adding, "in 2005, you said you agree with the Kelo [v. New London] case in the U.S. Supreme Court, 100%. That basically upholds eminent domain."
"Eminent domain—number one, a person has a house and they end up getting much more than the house is ever worth. Eminent domain is not like they take it. These people—because they're not very smart people, the Club for Growth people. And actually, I don't want to use the word extortion, but pretty close, they wanted $1 million, they would have been..."
Later in the conversation, Trump added, "if you have a road or highway, if you have a factory and you have thousands of jobs and you need eminent domain, it's called economic development."
When Baier noted that Bernie Sanders had suggested "the result of this decision will be that working families and poor people will see their property turned over to corporate interests and wealthy developers," Trump disagreed.
Democratic presidential candidate Hillary Clinton sent an email to supporters about gun violence.
"Gun violence isn’t an inevitability -- it’s a virus and we must do whatever we can to stop it," the email reads.
"Our children should feel safe going to school. They should feel safe at the movie theater. And they should feel safe in places of worship.
"It’s time for gun violence prevention in this country. We must stand up to the NRA and the Republicans who would like nothing more than to villainize us for “politicizing” this moment. I won’t back down from this fight.
"Say you’re with me. Sign up to take a stand against gun violence."
And after signing up, supporters are then asked to donate money.
"Thanks for standing with Hillary. Now help make her vision a reality," the page reads.
Donations are requested in the amount of $10, $25, $50, $75, $100, $200, $250, or other amount.