Supporters of Carly Fiorina, the former Hewlett Packard CEO and Republican Senate candidate from California, have started a new political action committee ahead of a possible Fiorina presidential run. The PAC, called Carly for America, will be separate and distinct from Fiorina's Unlocking Potential PAC, which supports conservative women candidates.
“As Carly decides whether to enter into the 2016 race, Carly For America will continue to build conservative support and help lay the groundwork for a potential presidential candidacy,” said Steve DeMaura, the executive director of Carly for America, in a Tuesday statement announcing the super PAC's launch.
Among the other staff and advisers for the PAC are William B. Canfield, who will serve as general counsel. Greg Mueller, Keith Appell, and Katie Hughes, all of the communications firm CRC Public Relations, will advise on communications.
The PAC launches just days before Fiorina's planned speech at the Conservative Political Action Conference just outside Washington. Fiorina is expected to make a decision about her long-shot presidential candidacy by the end of April or beginning of May.
See a video of the PAC's announcement, which features excerpts from Fiorina's recent speech in Iowa, below:
Hillary Clinton has been accused of borrowing lines from Carly Florina, a possible 2016 Republican presidential candidate. The accusation was made on Twitter by Sarah Isgur Flores, a spokeswoman for Fiorina.
First @CarlyFiorina's book title and now this?! MT@emilyrs In Santa Clara, @HillaryClinton refers to learning to "unlock our full potential"
Yesterday, writing in his weekly "Kristol Clear" newsletter, the boss sent around an updated straw poll to gauge who readers think, at this point, should be the 2016 GOP nominee.
Several weeks ago, I asked for your (tentative, of course) GOP presidential preferences. I asked, if your state primary were tomorrow, who would you vote for? And who would be your second and third choices?
There's been a fair amount of activity since then, so I thought I'd come back to you for a fresh look.
Here's an updated list of Republicans who've expressed some interest in running. I've removed Romney and Ryan from the original group, and, since he's been in the news so much recently, have added (mostly as a lark) Rudy Giuliani.
Choose your top three from among these candidates, or write in someone else whom you prefer.
As popular as the last poll was with readers of the newsletter, we wanted to give readers of the blog a chance to vote for their top three picks, which you can do below. And if you don't already get Bill's newsletter, subscribe for free!
Ian Talley of theWall Street Journal writes that according to Christine Lagarde, managing director of the International Monetary Fund:
An “insidious conspiracy” of laws is keeping women out of the workforce around the world, costing the global economy badly needed growth.
Ms. Legarde cites an IMF study pointing to:
Countries such as India, Turkey, Pakistan and Egypt [that] are losing hundreds of billions of dollars in lost economic potential as they preserve fences against working women …
Qatar, Oman and Iran topped the list at over 30% of GDP. Absent from the list was Saudi Arabia, which has one of the lowest labor-force participation rates for women in the world, according to the World Bank.
If there are obvious conclusions to be drawn here, Ms.Legarde neglected to do so.
Lindsey Graham is no one’s idea of a hot presidential candidate. Pulling in 1 percent support in the mid-February CNN/ORC International poll of prospective Republican nominees, he’s at the very bottom, alongside Carly Fiorina and Bobby Jindal. But South Carolina’s senior senator has an edge that the rest of 2016’s prospective Republican candidates lacks: the authority to clean up after eight years of Obama-made U.S. foreign policy.
The name of Graham’s testing-the-waters presidential committee, Security Through Strength, is a summation of his worldview. Alongside his mentor John McCain, Graham has been the most prominent critic of the White House’s rapprochement with Syria and Iran, and his foot-dragging in the campaign against the Islamic State in Iraq and Syria (ISIS). Graham’s often lonely crusade of hammering the president as disengaged and weak is proving remarkably prescient. The Obama Administration’s refusal to acknowledge the epidemic of ISIS and Al Qaeda-made violence as spawning from radical Islam has turned out the lights on its post-Bush foreign policy credibility. The CNN poll mentioned above finds that 57 percent of voters disapprove of the job Obama is doing on foreign affairs, a 15-point increase from two years ago. This is in the context of a recent modest uptick in the president’s overall approval rating.
Graham has been a hawk through thick and thin, as rivals for the Republican nomination have wobbled on intervening abroad, like in Syria in 2013, or stayed silent on global crises altogether. Yet his years of travel nurturing diplomatic contacts and his passionate stance against alleged torture perpetrated by the CIA round out the edges. Graham would come to the Oval Office easily the most prepared for the job on the world stage since George H.W. Bush.
Back home in South Carolina, Graham’s possible presidential run is viewed with bemusement by party leaders, most of whom are clueless to the concept of a single-issue campaign. But Graham is leading in a recent NBC News poll taken in the state, beating Jeb Bush, 17 to 15 percent. In 20 years of electoral politics, he’s never had a close general election, and he’s worked hard to woo voters and craft ties with conservatives who have been at odds with him on issues like the environment and immigration. In Washington, Graham recently pleased pro-life advocates by introducing a bill to outlaw abortions after 20 weeks.
But foreign policy is always center stage for Graham. His platform would pledge to retake Mosul and other parts of Iraq and Syria back from ISIS control, using 10,000 or so Special Forces and intelligence gathering troops to bolster the Iraqi government and Free Syrian Army. He would work on bringing regime change to Syria in concert with the governments of Israel and Saudi Arabia, both of which are desperate to take down Bashar al-Assad after years of Obama forbearance. Israel would be the highest-profile bilateral upgrade in a Graham White House, getting unequivocal support to defend itself against Hamas and other opponents.
A bipartisan group of mmore than eighty influential national security experts, from former Defense Secretary Robert Gates to Michèle Flournoy to Bill Kristol, have written a letter to congressional leadership to urge increased defense spending.
"The trillion dollars of defense spending cuts required by the Budget Control Act and sequestration present a grave and growing danger to our national security. Even as threats intensify across the globe, these cuts are undermining the readiness of our forces today and investment in the critical capabilities they will need tomorrow. As the service chiefs recently testified before Congress, these cuts are putting American lives at risk," reads the letter, which is addressed to Speaker Boehner, Senator McConnell, Senator Reid, and Representative Pelosi.
"In the last three years, the Army’s strength has been cut by nearly 100,000 soldiers. The Navy’s contingency response force is at one-third the level of what it should be. Less than half of the Air Force’s combat squadrons are fully ready. Approximately half of the Marine Corps’ non-deployed units lack sufficient personnel, equipment, and training. These are just some of the shortfalls that led the bipartisan, congressionally-mandated National Defense Panel (NDP) to warn in its July 2014 report that the military’s “immediate readiness crisis” will “lead to a hollow force” if sequestration takes effect in fiscal year 2016.
"The National Defense Panel, which was co-chaired by former Secretary of Defense William Perry and retired General John Abizaid, provided a solution to this crisis. The NDP recommended that “the President and Congress should repeal the Budget Control Act immediately and return as soon as possible to at least the funding baseline proposed” by former Secretary of Defense Robert M. Gates for fiscal years 2012 through 2016. The NDP also recommended that Congress should appropriate “funds on an emergency basis” to “remedy the short-term readiness crisis that already exists,” and provide the Secretary of Defense with “greater freedom of action and discretion” to implement reform within the Department of Defense.
"You have each expressed your opposition to the needless harm that the Budget Control Act and sequestration are inflicting on our Armed Forces. You now have an opportunity to end it. Congress should adopt a budget for fiscal year 2016 that puts us on a path to restore defense spending to at least the level recommended by Secretary Gates, including significantly greater funding than the President has requested.
"The budget resolution for fiscal year 2016 will indicate whether Congress is willing to meet its constitutional duty to provide for the common defense. A budget resolution that holds the Defense Department at Budget Control Act levels would be a failure to do so."
The letter was written and organized by the Foreign Policy Initiative.
Muslim political and religious leaders in Bosnia-Herzegovina, which is partitioned between a “Republic of Serbs” and a “Muslim-Croat Federation,” have taken firm measures to stop agitation and recruitment for ISIS.
On February 7, according to the Al-Arabiya television network, Bosnian police raided the country’s notorious center of Wahhabi fundamentalism, the northern village of Gornja Maoca. The law-enforcement action came after Bosnian Federation Television showed images of ISIS flags displayed in the settlement. (The ISIS ideology is an especially virulent form of Wahhabism.)
Al-Arabiya portrayed Wahhabism as an ongoing problem in Gornja Maoca. A small group of Bosnian and foreign fanatics, who had been present but without significant impact in the 1992-95 Bosnian War, were encouraged to move to the isolated location after the fighting ended, apparently to keep them away from large groups and make them easier to monitor. In 2010, Gornja Maoca was swept by Bosnian police. But in 2011, a Muslim with Serbian citizenship who had passed through the extremist colony, Mevlid Jasarevic, fired at the U.S. Embassy in Sarajevo with an automatic weapon.
In 2014, recruitment for or service in combat abroad -- meaning in Syria and Iraq -- was criminalized by the Bosnian government, with provision for 10-year prison sentences. In Gornja Maoca, 26 people were detained on suspicion of assisting ISIS. The trial of one among them, Husein Bosnic, began in Sarajevo on February 11, 2015.
As described by Radio Free Europe/Radio Liberty, Bosnic was charged by state prosecutor Dubravko Campara with having incited Muslims, in public events and on video, to support ISIS. Campara declared that six people Bosnic sent to Syria had been killed but that others, who are believed to still be there, “represent a threat for security in Bosnia once they return.” RFE/RL and other sources estimate that some 180-200 Bosnians have gone to ISIS-occupied territory, with 20-40 killed and 50 returned to the Balkans. Campara said Bosnic benefited from a “significant amount of money” donated in Arab countries.
Meanwhile, on February 17-18, in a fresh police operation at Gornja Maoca, six people were detained for involvement with ISIS. Their names deserve to be recorded since they may become newsworthy again. They include Nevad Husidic and Merin Keserovic, youths from the remote northwestern district of Velika Kladusa. The two were nabbed at Sarajevo’s airport as they attempted to fly to Istanbul en route to the Syrian border. Edin Tabakovic was arrested in his apartment in Sarajevo.
Morgan True who writes for Vermont Digger the state’s premier news website, reports that Jonathan Gruber, who so famously helped design Romneycare and Obamacare then bragged about how the “stupidity” of the American voters helped make the creation of his masterworks possible, is in a spot of trouble. Seem he may have been over-billing the state of Vermont, which had hired him to create a single-payer system, which was to be the first in the nation.
The project failed. Not enough money. And in sifting through the debris, the state’s auditor has found some anomalies in the bills Gruber submitted:
Gruber’s contract included an hourly rate of $500 for his work and $100 for his research assistants. Both invoices the state received were for $100,000. The state was billed for 100 hours for Gruber’s time and 500 hours for his research assistants. The invoices do not include a breakdown of when those hours were worked, or what work was performed. They also do not identify how many research assistants worked the 500 hours, nor do they list the names of the assistants.
In a memo to the Agency of Administration, notifying them that he has referred the matter to the attorney general, [the auditor] writes that it’s “implausible” the actual work would fit neatly into two identical invoices, and suggests the state was remiss not to have challenged that reporting.
Furthermore, public records and Hoffer’s own investigation have shown that Gruber had only one research assistant working on the project. That means the researcher would have to have worked 1,000 hours in a 10-week period to cover the time Gruber billed, or 14 hours per day every day — a feat Hoffer describes as “unlikely.”
Don’t these rubes understand that Gruber and his team came up from MIT? This is the elite, baby. They do the impossible, every day, before breakfast.
The same day the White House renewed a push to increase the federal minimum wage, an announcement appeared on the White House blog for the Summer 2015 White House Initiative on Asian Americans and Pacific Islanders [AAPI] Internship Program -- all unpaid positions. Even in prior administrations, internships at the White House were unpaid. While rancor over President Obama's $10.10 minimum wage proposal and his continuation of unpaid internships is nothing new, Monday's incongruous pairing of the two issues by the White House may rekindle the controversy.
The minimum wage proposal reappeared Monday on the White House Twitter account. The tweet notes that a number of businesses and states have raised their minimum wage rates, but also calls on Congress to compel all of the nation's businesses to comply with a new minimum:
Later in the day, an announcement regarding internships was posted at WhiteHouse.gov: "Calling All Students: Apply for the Summer 2015 White House Initiative on Asian Americans and Pacific Islanders Internship Program." The announcement provides details of the program, the purpose of which includes "efforts to improve the quality of life of underserved AAPIs through increased participation in federal programs," but nothing regarding compensation. Only after a prospective intern clicks on another link for more information does the following appear at the very end of the description: "All internship positions at the Initiative are unpaid."
Elsewhere on the White House website, prospective interns are informed that all White House internships are unpaid. Recognizing the hardship this may pose, applicants are encouraged to look to "educations institutions" or "non-profit organizations" for "assistance" with "income, funding or housing assistance":
Governor Chris Christie of New Jersey will announce in a speech in Trenton Tuesday that the New Jersey Education Association has endorsed the Republican's "roadmap" for pension reform. Christie, who made a national name for himself over his public battles with teachers unions in the Garden State, will be coming "full circle" by having the the state's largest teachers union "come to the table" to negotiate a proposal.
According to the governor's office, Christie will ask the state legislature to vote for a set of reforms to the state's pension program, while Christie has said the state will make a $1.3-billion payment to the fund. The governor had attempted to cut $1.57 billion from the fund in his budget, but on Monday a New Jersey judge ruled with public-sector unions, who argued the cut was against state law.
The NJEA has been a fierce opponent of the Republican governor since he was first elected in 2009. The teachers union opposed his initial efforts for pension and health care benefit reforms and spent more than $30 million since 2010 to combat Christie.
According to remarks provided by the governor's office ahead of the speech, Christie will call on the Legislature to "act in a bipartisan, constructive way to achieve needed changes to a problem that is so big" that doing nothing "will only ensure our state's fiscal standing will never improve and we will never grow economically."
"I am committed to working with each and every one of you in good faith to make a promise to the people of this state that we will not push this off," Christie will tell lawmakers, according to speech excerpts.
There is no final agreement between Christie and the NJEA on a pension-reform plan, the governor's office clarifies. The two parties have simply agreed to work together to develop a proposal for the legislature.
Christie has inspired anger and much more from teachers union officials, particularly during his push for reform of New Jersey's defined benefits program for state employees during his first term. One union leader from a local NJEA affiliate once "joked" about wishing for the Christie's death.
Christie is believed to be considering a bid for the White House in 2016.
Democrats have not had to answer for the actions of Democratic National Committee chair Debbie Wasserman Schultz (who offered to change a policy position in exchange for not being criticized, and threatened to paint President Obama as anti-Semitic and anti-women). Or for the Bill, Hillary, and Chelsea Clinton Foundation (which accepts foreign donations). Or for Joe Biden (who said last week he knows Somalis because "there’s an awful lot driving cabs").
But Republicans have had to answer for Rudy Giuliani (who said Obama doesn't love America). Why? Because, "Clearly, there is a double standard," according to Republican National Committee spokesman Sean Spicer.
Spicer lays out the case in a memo, set to be released later this morning to "Interested Parties."
"A review of news coverage from the last week using the TVEyes media monitoring database reveals that the controversies surrounding the Clinton Foundation’s foreign donations, Debbie Wasserman Schultz’s plot to paint President Obama as anti-Semitic and anti-woman, and Vice President Biden’s Somali cab driver gaffe have generated just over 1,300 TV and radio hits combined. Remarks made by Rudy Giuliani tallied over 8,600 hits Monday afternoon, and that number is still growing. Coverage has been fueled by reporters grasping for new angles or asking any Republican in range of a microphone to respond to his comments and other unrelated questions," Spicer writes.
Yet while the media forced potential Republican presidential candidates to weigh in on that story, they did not do the same for potential Democrat candidates when it came to any of their party’s controversies of the week.
These aren’t throw away Democrat scandals either. Politico reported that the head of the DNC, the leader of the Democrat Party’s campaign apparatus, lined up her allies to accuse President Obama of being anti-Semitic, and anti-woman if he decided to replace her.
Not a single Democrat candidate has been asked, “Do you think it’s anti-Semitic to remove Wasserman Schultz as chair of the DNC?”
Hillary Clinton was not asked, “Do you think it’s anti-woman to remove Wasserman Schultz as chair of the DNC?” Likewise, when it was revealed that Wasserman Schultz tried to sell her support for marijuana legalization in order to silence critics, prominent Democrats weren’t bombarded with questions. And remember: this is the chair of the party and a sitting Congresswoman.
Joe Biden was not questioned about the appropriateness of the actions of his party’s chairwoman. Clearly, there is a double standard.
And, of course, nowhere in the frenzy of the past few days has there any mention of the first person to question President Obama’s roots or patriotism: Hillary Clinton, the party’s 2016 nominee-in-waiting. In the 2008 primary campaign, she wouldn’t take a stand on the president’s religion. Her campaign sought to highlight his “lack of American roots” (their phrase).
This is all just par for the course. A Republican former office holder says something, and they think every Republican must answer for it. A current Democrat party leader does and says something, and it’s no one else’s problem.
MNSBC's Morning Joe reported this morning that President Bill Clinton hosted an Israeli prime minister, Shimon Peres, in his election against Benjamin Netanyahu. President Obama is refusing to meet with Netanyahu next week because, he says, it's too close to Israel's election day.
"It's not unprecedented," the MSNBC host said of an American president hosting an Israel prime minister during his reelection campaign. "In 1996, the Clinton administration hosted Shimon Peres for a U.S. visit while he was in the midst of an election against Benjamin Netanyahu."
"Democratic presidents have always loathed Benjamin Netanyahu," said the other MSNBC host, Joe Scarborough.
Today, the Republican nomination process is a muddle. The Washington Post recently christened Jeb Bush the frontrunner, and for good reason. He is pulling in the top Republican talent -- the donors, consultants, and various policy advisors necessary to fund and run a top-notch campaign.
Yet, his polling numbers are anemic. The average from Real Clear Politics (RCP) shows Bush pulling in just 14 percent nationwide. In New Hampshire, RCP finds him with 16 percent, and 12 percent in Iowa. One might dismiss these figures, considering how early we are in the cycle. But Jeb (“John Ellis Bush”) is a Bush -- and Bushes have been running for national office for nearly 40 years. Republican voters know who he is, and have a pretty good idea of what he stands for. Yet they are not jumping on board, at least not yet.
This is not the first time in history a candidate has been in this spot -- winning the inside game, but underperforming with the public at large. Think back to Phil Gramm in 1996; he ran well with the donor class, but ultimately failed to gain any popular traction. How about Mario Cuomo in 1992? He was sought after by the donor class, but ultimately declined to run.
Yet Jeb Bush presents a unique case in that his name recognition (at least recognition of his last name) is universal. Gramm and even Cuomo were much less familiar, so their polling position early on was less relevant.
The Veterans Affairs secretary lied about serving in the special forces, a report in the Huffington Post alleges.
"Robert McDonald, the secretary of veterans affairs, wrongly claimed in a videotaped comment earlier this year that he served in special operations forces, the most elite units in the armed forces, when his military service of five years was spent almost entirely with the 82nd Airborne Division during the late 1970s," the report reads.
U.S. special operations forces (SOF) are composed of exhaustively trained and highly capable troops from each military service, including the Green Berets, Army Rangers, Delta Force and Navy SEALs -- but not the 82nd Airborne. They are certified to undertake the most dangerous and delicate missions, including, famously, the killing of Osama bin Laden in May 2011. Special operators are a close-knit community deeply hostile to outsiders who try to claim the coveted mantle of special operations.
McDonald, a retired corporate executive who took over the VA last June as the agency was sinking in scandal, made the claim in late January as he was touring a rundown Los Angeles neighborhood during a nationwide count of homeless veterans. He was accompanied by a CBS-TV news crew, which recorded an exchange between McDonald and a homeless man who told McDonald he had served in special forces.
“Special forces? What years? I was in special forces!” McDonald told the homeless man. That exchange was broadcast in a Jan. 30 CBS News story about the VA’s efforts to find and house homeless veterans.
In fact, McDonald never served in special forces. He graduated from the U.S. Military Academy at West Point in 1975, completed Army Ranger training and took courses in jungle, arctic and desert warfare. He qualified as a senior parachutist and airborne jumpmaster, and was assigned to the 82nd Airborne Division until he retired from military service in 1980. While he earned a Ranger tab designating him as a graduate of Ranger School, he never served in a Ranger battalion or any other special operations unit.