|2:01 PM, Jun 14, 2013 • By DANIEL HALPER
White House deputy national security adviser Ben Rhodes says the president will get "great bang for the buck" out of his Africa trip later this month:
The trip could cost up to $100 million, the Washington Post reported yesterday. "Obama’s trip could cost the federal government $60 million to $100 million based on the costs of similar African trips in recent years, according to one person familiar with the journey who was not authorized to speak for attribution. The Secret Service planning document, which was provided to The Post by a person who is concerned about the amount of resources necessary for the trip, does not specify costs."
1:09 PM, Jun 14, 2013 • By DANIEL HALPER
With an email today from the daughter of Sandy Hook Elementary School in Newtown, Connecticut, the group formerly known as the Obama reelection campaign, Organizing for Action, is reigniting the fight over guns in America.
"My mom, Dawn Hochsprung, was the principal at Sandy Hook Elementary School in Newtown, Connecticut," the email from Erica Lafferty begins.
"Six months ago today, she was shot and killed in her school, along with five of her coworkers and 20 of her students."
The message continues:
In the weeks and months after that horrible day, lawmakers from across the country told us, the families of the victims, that they'd take action to make our communities safer. What we found out is that, for some of our members of Congress, those were empty promises.
And in those six months, thousands more people have been killed by guns.
I've been doing everything I can to reach out to members of Congress. But my voice isn't enough. Today, on the six-month anniversary of Newtown, every single person who cares about reducing gun violence in America needs to recommit to this fight.
More than 1.4 million Americans have said they're with us in the fight to reduce gun violence -- add your name today.
In her last minutes, Mom was just as brave and caring as I knew her to be. After telling everyone to hide, she went running into the hallway, saw the gunman, yelled and lunged at him in an effort to protect the school she loved.
I miss her every second of every day. I'm getting married in just a few weeks -- to a guy she was rooting for, in a dress we picked out together -- but because a dangerous man got his hands on a gun, my mom won't be there to see it.
I'm still grieving -- and I'm not alone. On average, 33 Americans are killed by a gun every single day. That's 33 new families a day who mourn like I do.
If a background check saves even one life, and keeps even one family from hurting like this, then this fight will all be worth it. I think my mom would like to know that the tragedy that fell on Newtown meant that another tragedy could be stopped before it even started.
I'm asking you to join me today, six months after that horrible day, to keep this fight going -- take action for my mom, Dawn, and the 25 other people who we lost in December.
Say you're with us today:
12:36 PM, Jun 14, 2013 • By DANIEL HALPER
An article about the Iranian presidential election, published online earlier today, included this quotation from the father of Noushin Sobhani, a 31-year-old Iranian gynecologist:
“We hate America,” her father said, smiling. “I hope The New York Times building burns down.”
It's been changed. It now reads:
“We hate America,” her father said, smiling.
See the change here, courtesy of newsdiffs.org:
Via Michael Calderone:
11:18 AM, Jun 14, 2013 • By DANIEL HALPER
Earlier this week, the brother in-law of Chinese Nobel laureate Liu Xiaobo was sentenced to 11 years in prison.
"The United States is deeply concerned that Liu Hui, the brother-in-law of Nobel laureate and imprisoned activist Liu Xiaobo, has been sentenced to 11 years in prison for purportedly engaging in fraud related to a disputed land deal," State Department spokesman Jen Psaki says in a statement.
"In May, 2011, the United Nations Working Group on Arbitrary Detention determined the arrest and imprisonment of Liu Xiaobo and the extralegal house arrest of his wife Liu Xia to be in contravention of the Universal Declaration of Human Rights. We urge Chinese authorities to release Liu Xiaobo, as well as his wife Liu Xia, immediately and to guarantee Liu Xiaobo and his family members the protections and freedoms to which they are entitled under China’s international human rights obligations and commitments. As President Obama told President Xi in California last week, history shows that upholding universal rights is ultimately a key to success, prosperity, and justice for all nations."
10:02 AM, Jun 14, 2013 • By GEOFFREY NORMAN
The crux of the immigration dilemma was nailed, unsurprisingly, by Milton Friedman and he summed it up in a letter he wrote in 2006, the year of his death.
There is no doubt that free and open immigration is the right policy in a libertarian state, but in a welfare state it is a different story: the supply of immigrants will become infinite. Your proposal that someone only be able to come for employment is a good one but it would not solve the problem completely. The real hitch is in denying social benefits to the immigrants who are here. That is very hard to do, much harder than you would think as we have found out in California.
Senator Barbara Boxer cannot, or will not, grasp this essential truth, and as Richard Simon reports in the Los Angeles Times:
... plans to push for Washington to provide $250 million and perhaps more to help local and state governments pay the cost of healthcare to uninsured immigrants who seek legal status under legislation now before the Senate.
A quarter of a billion is small money by Washington standards. Not enough to send up warning flags. But:
... Boxer, who is discussing her proposal with colleagues from both parties, said the amount could grow.
One does not have to be Milton Friedman to have seen that one coming.
9:53 AM, Jun 14, 2013 • By DANIEL HALPER
Matthew Continetti writes:
Last week John Nolte of Breitbart observed that the mainstream media had failed to break any of the controversial news occupying Washington. This week Paul Farhi of the Washington Post, without intending to, explained why.
There are four stories harming President Obama’s approval rating, and the heirs of Tarbell and Woodward and Novak uncovered none of them. The long-simmering tale of what happened before, during, and after the attack on the American consulate in Benghazi, Libya, on Sept. 11, 2012, was all but ignored by media other than Fox until Gregory Hicks’ blockbuster testimony before the House Oversight Committee last month. It was the IRS, in a carefully planned “apology,” that revealed to the world it had targeted the applications of conservative and Tea Party groups for special scrutiny. The Justice Department, not the press, announced it had been scouring AP phone records to plug national security leaks. And Edward Snowden, the contractor who exposed secret intelligence, went to the Guardian, a left-wing British rag, with his scoop. (Only when Snowden’s anti-anti-terror accomplice Laura Poitras suggested, in the words of Guardian writer Glenn Greenwald, “It would be good to have the Washington Post invested in the leak, so it wasn’t just us—to tie in official Washington in the leak” did the three filtradors approach former Post reporter Barton Gellman.)
Four stories, four separate races in which the establishment press, the major print dailies and the heavily watched network broadcasts, are sweating to catch up. “We are getting big stories wrong, over and over again,” said Scott Pelley, the anchor of the CBS evening news, in a speech at Quinnipiac University in May. Did he, did anybody, read the June 13 Washington Post, I wonder; did Pelley’s eye scan the innocuous headline—“Media, administration deal with conflicts”—and the well-kneaded copy below? If so he would have learned much about life in the capital city.
8:52 AM, Jun 14, 2013 • By JOHN MCCORMACK
At the White House press briefing on Thursday, CNN's Jessica Yellin brought up Nancy Pelosi's refusal to explain the difference between the killings carried out by Dr. Kermit Gosnell and late-term abortion. "Does the President and this White House believe that this bill is an important bill?" Yellin asked. "Or does he agree with Minority Leader Pelosi?"
White House press secretary Jay Carney didn't answer the question. "You know the President’s position on women’s health and on women’s right to choose," he replied. "And he has been absolutely clear about where he stands."
But, in fact, Obama hasn't taken a clear position on late-term abortions. In 2003, Obama said he was "pro-choice" on late-term abortions. He later fought the Born Alive Infants' Protection Act while serving as an Illinois state senator. “If these children are being born alive, I, at least, have confidence that a doctor who is in that room is going to make sure that they’re looked after,” Obama said. Has Kermit Gosnell made President Obama reconsider the confidence of state senator Obama?
But during the 2008 campaign, Obama tacked to the right, telling a Christian magazine that he supported late-term abortion bans that contain a "strict" exception for the health of the mother.
"I have repeatedly said that I think it's entirely appropriate for states to restrict or even prohibit late-term abortions as long as there is a strict, well-defined exception for the health of the mother," Obama said in 2008. "Now, I don't think that 'mental distress' qualifies as the health of the mother."
Obama later modified his position, saying he also supported an exception for "serious clinical mental health diseases." Supreme Court reporter Jan Crawford noted at the time that Obama's position was still "startling" because the exceptions Obama claimed to support were narrower than the Supreme Court's 1973 ruling in Doe v. Bolton that there must be “emotional, psychological, familial, and ... age" exceptions to late-term abortion bans.
So the president's position on late-term abortion has been anything but clear.
8:04 AM, Jun 14, 2013 • By MICHAEL WARREN
Former Pennsylvania senator Rick Santorum spoke Thursday at the Faith and Freedom Conference in Washington about the failure of the Republican party and its presidential nominee to speak to the concerns of middle class and working people. Politico's James Hohmann reports:
“One after another, they talked about the business they had built. But not a single—not a single —factory worker went out there,” Santorum told a few hundred conservative activists at an “after-hours session” of the Faith and Freedom Coalition conference in Washington. “Not a single janitor, waitress or person who worked in that company! We didn’t care about them. You know what? They built that company too! And we should have had them on that stage.”
Santorum did not mention Romney, who he challenged in the primaries, by name during a 21-minute speech in a dim ballroom at the Marriott (a company on whose board Romney sits). But there was no doubt who he was talking about.
“When all you do is talk to people who are owners, talk to folks who are ‘Type As’ who want to succeed economically, we’re talking to a very small group of people,” he said. “No wonder they don’t think we care about them. No wonder they don’t think we understand them. Folks, if we’re going to win, you just need to think about who you talk to in your life.”
Trying to carve out a role as a leading populist in the 2016 field, Santorum insisted that Republicans must “talk to the folks who are worried about the next paycheck,” not the CEOs.
Santorum, who came in second to Romney in both states and votes won in the 2012 GOP presidential primary, said shortly after the election last year that he would be "open" to another run for president in 2016. By then, he will have been out of his last elected office, a U.S. Senate seat from Pennsylvania, for nine years.
7:36 AM, Jun 14, 2013 • By DANIEL HALPER
White House deputy national security advisor Ben Rhodes explained the Obama administration's decision to step up action in Syria.
"There's an urgency to the situation," Rhodes said on a conference call last night. "There has been an urgency to the situation for two years. It's particularly urgent right now in terms of the situation on the ground, in some respect, because we have seen Hezbollah and Iran increase their own involvement in the conflict, and that has caused an influx of additional fighters to the conflict. And so that has added an element of urgency."
Rhodes added, "In our mind, the high-confidence assessment that chemical weapons has been used also adds an element of urgency as well given the norms that exist against the use of chemical weapons. So we are acting on a number of fronts in that regard."
Elsewhere Rhodes outlined the damage is believed to have done:
"[O]ur intelligence community assesses that the Assad regime has used chemical weapons, including the nerve agent sarin, on a small scale against the opposition multiple times in the last year. Our intelligence community has high confidence given the multiple independent streams of information associated with their reporting.
"The intelligence community estimates that 100 to 150 people have died from detected chemical weapons attacks in Syria to date. I would note that that casualty data is likely incomplete, but that is what we’ve reviewed through our investigation.
"This is clearly a small portion of the catastrophic loss of life in Syria that now totals more than 90,000 deaths. But as we’ve consistently said, the use of chemical weapons violates international norms and crosses red lines that have existed in the international community for decades."
5:20 PM, Jun 13, 2013 • By DANIEL HALPER
Deputy national security adviser Ben Rhodes released the following statement on Syrian use of chemical weapons, resulting in 100-150 deaths:
At the President’s direction, the United States Government has been closely monitoring the potential use of chemical weapons within Syria. Following the assessment made by our intelligence community in April, the President directed the intelligence community to seek credible and corroborated information to build on that assessment and establish the facts with some degree of certainty. Today, we are providing an updated version of our assessment to Congress and to the public.
The Syrian government’s refusal to grant access to the United Nations to investigate any and all credible allegations of chemical weapons use has prevented a comprehensive investigation as called for by the international community. The Assad regime could prove that its request for an investigation was not just a diversionary tactic by granting the UN fact finding mission immediate and unfettered access to conduct on-site investigations to help reveal the truth about chemical weapons use in Syria. While pushing for a UN investigation, the United States has also been working urgently with our partners and allies as well as individuals inside Syria, including the Syrian opposition, to procure, share, and evaluate information associated with reports of chemical weapons use so that we can establish the facts and determine what took place.
Following a deliberative review, our intelligence community assesses that the Assad regime has used chemical weapons, including the nerve agent sarin, on a small scale against the opposition multiple times in the last year. Our intelligence community has high confidence in that assessment given multiple, independent streams of information. The intelligence community estimates that 100 to 150 people have died from detected chemical weapons attacks in Syria to date; however, casualty data is likely incomplete. While the lethality of these attacks make up only a small portion of the catastrophic loss of life in Syria, which now stands at more than 90,000 deaths, the use of chemical weapons violates international norms and crosses clear red lines that have existed within the international community for decades. We believe that the Assad regime maintains control of these weapons. We have no reliable, corroborated reporting to indicate that the opposition in Syria has acquired or used chemical weapons.
Hosted by Michael Graham.4:45 PM, Jun 13, 2013 • By TWS PODCAST
THE WEEKLY STANDARD podcast with staff writer John McCormack on House Democratic Leader Nancy Pelosi's puzzling response to his question about abortion at her press conference today.
This podcast can be downloaded here. Subscribe to THE WEEKLY STANDARD's iTunes podcast feed here.
To learn more about THE WEEKLY STANDARD Cruise visit http://www.twscruise.com.
4:28 PM, Jun 13, 2013 • By DANIEL HALPER
Maggie Haberman reported last night:
Bill Clinton told Sen. John McCain he agrees that President Barack Obama should act more forcefully to support anti-Assad rebels in Syria, saying the American public elects presidents and members of Congress “to see down the road” and “to win.”
At another point during a closed-press event Tuesday, Clinton implied that Obama or any president risks looking like “a total fool” if they listen too closely to opinion polls and act too cautiously. He used his own decisions on Kosovo and Bosnia as a point of reference.
Now, the White House sends out this press alert:
THE WHITE HOUSE
Office of the Press Secretary
FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
June 13, 2013
5:00PM TODAY: Senior Administration Official to Hold Conference Call on Syria
WASHINGTON, DC – Today, Thursday, June 13, at 5:00PM ET, a Senior Administration Official will hold an on-the-record conference call to discuss Syria. The call will be on-the-record without embargo.
WHO: Deputy National Security Advisor For Strategic Communications Ben Rhodes
WHAT: On-the-record conference call without embargo on Syria
WHEN: Thursday, June 13, 2013
3:19 PM, Jun 13, 2013 • By MICHAEL WARREN
In Thursday's Wall Street Journal, Barton Swaim, a WEEKLY STANDARD contributor and former speechwriter for Mark Sanford, reviews a new ebook about the disgraced-governor-turned-congressman from South Carolina:
"Second Chance" is an engaging portrait of Mr. Sanford: The author retells his youth and early manhood in Fort Lauderdale and the South Carolina Lowcountry; his brief time at Goldman Sachs in New York and awkward first encounters with Jenny, whom he would marry in 1989; his congressional years (1995-2001) and two terms as governor. The book concentrates especially on his controversial opposition to President Obama's stimulus bill in early 2009 and follows him through the scandal and departure from office until, several months ago, he decided to run for his old congressional seat. (The seat had been vacated by Tim Scott after Mr. Scott's elevation to the Senate.) Mr. Bartelme punctuates the narrative with scenes from Election Day, May 7, 2013—a nice touch that keeps the story moving—and concludes with an emboldened Mr. Sanford comparing himself not to King David this time but to Lazarus.
Yet there is a problem with "Second Chance": Too much of Mr. Bartelme's narrative comes directly from Mr. Sanford. The anecdotes about his life are the ones he routinely tells about himself: the story of how, after the death of his father, he and his brothers built a coffin and buried him on the family farm; the story of how he got into politics after hearing a lecture on entitlement spending and the national debt; the story of how the newly elected governor was approached by a legislative leader and told that, to be the best governor he could be, he needed to follow the advice of legislative leaders (advice he rejected).
Mr. Bartelme's Mark Sanford is a charming and eccentric man with a penchant for getting elected despite some cockamamie political views. The truth is closer to the reverse. Mr. Sanford is among the most prescient and dauntless politicians now in office, and he is almost alone in both grasping the implications of untrammeled deficit spending and having the pluck to stand against it. Yet he is also a deeply self-absorbed man, instinctively ill-humored and petty, relentless in the pursuit of glory and apt to equate the greater good with whatever benefits his reputation.
Read the whole thing here.
2:12 PM, Jun 13, 2013 • By DANIEL HALPER
President Obama and his family will be going to Africa later this month. But the trip won't be cheap; it's expected to cost American taxpayers $60 to $100 million, according to the Washington Post.
"When President Obama makes his first extended trip to sub-Saharan Africa later this month, the federal agencies charged with keeping him safe won’t be taking any chances. Hundreds of U.S. Secret Service agents will be dispatched to secure facilities in Senegal, South Africa and Tanzania. A Navy aircraft carrier or amphibious ship, with a fully staffed medical trauma center, will be stationed offshore in case of emergency," reports the Post.
"Military cargo planes will airlift in 56 support vehicles, including 14 limousines and three trucks loaded with sheets of bullet-proof glass to cover the windows of the hotels where the first family will stay. Fighter jets will fly in shifts giving 24-hour coverage over the president’s airspace so they can intervene quickly if an errant plane gets too close.
"The extraordinary security provisions — which will cost the government tens of millions of dollars — are outlined in a confidential internal planning document obtained by The Washington Post. While the preparations appear to be in line with similar travels in the past, the document offers an unusual glimpse into the colossal efforts to protect the U.S. commander-in-chief on trips abroad."
After the paper questioned the costs of a planned family safari, the White House nixed the plan. "The president and first lady had also planned to take a Tanzanian safari as part of the trip, which would have required the president’s special counter-assault team to carry sniper rifles with high-caliber rounds that could neutralize cheetahs, lions or other animals if they became a threat, according to the planning document. But the White House canceled the safari on Wednesday following inquiries from The Washington Post about the trip’s purpose and expense, according to a person familiar with the decision."
The paper adds, "Obama’s trip could cost the federal government $60 million to $100 million based on the costs of similar African trips in recent years, according to one person familiar with the journey who was not authorized to speak for attribution. The Secret Service planning document, which was provided to The Post by a person who is concerned about the amount of resources necessary for the trip, does not specify costs."
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