Last week’s horrific events in Charleston demonstrate, unfortunately, that there are violent homegrown extremists in this country. The extent to which they present a danger to the citizens of the United States is a serious issue worth considering.
A piece in the New York Times this week attempts to do that. The article, whose print headline was "Most U.S. Attacks Are Homegrown and Not Jihadist," and whose central claim is that homegrown terrorists represent more of a danger to the U.S. than radical Islamists, contains, er, kind of an important caveat (my emphasis):
In the 14 years since Al Qaedacarried out attacks on New York and the Pentagon, extremists have regularly executed smaller lethal assaults in the United States, explaining their motives in online manifestoes or social media rants.
But the breakdown of extremist ideologies behind those attacks may come as a surprise. Since Sept. 11, 2001, nearly twice as many people have been killed by white supremacists, antigovernment fanatics and other non-Muslim extremists than by radical Muslims.
Walter Jones of North Carolina is among the House members that Republicans are most eager to defeat. But there’s a twist in his case. Jones is a Republican. His critics have their reasons—plenty of good ones, as it turns out. Jones, 72, was a strong backer of the Iraq war until he had a sudden change of heart after attending a local Marine’s funeral. He became the most dovish—and one of the most liberal—House Republicans and a fierce opponent of President Bush and Vice President Cheney.
He voted for a bill to impeach Bush. He told the Washington Post that Cheney would “likely wind up in hell.” He opposed the Bush surge of troops in Iraq that defeated the al Qaeda insurgency. Last week, he voted to withdraw American troops from Iraq and Syria in the fight against ISIS. And along the way, he amassed a long record of not supporting Israel.
Jones is a pariah in the House Republican conference. When GOP leaders conduct a “whip” count in preparation for a vote, they no longer bother to check with him. He voted against John Boehner for speaker in 2013 and again this year. And he was stripped of a seat on the House Financial Services Committee.
All this is strange considering his district. Covering most of eastern North Carolina, it is one of the most conservative in the country. Camp Lejeune, the Marine base, is in the district. Many military retirees live there. It was known as “Jesse Helms country” during Helms’s 30 years in the Senate.
Yet for all of Jones’s apostasy, conservatives have failed to defeat him in the Republican primary. Democrats don’t matter. The district is solidly Republican. In 2014, Jones won the primary with a mere 51 percent. Prospects of ousting him in 2016 looked bright.
Republicans had an impressive candidate in mind, state secretary of transportation Anthony Tata. A West Point graduate, Tata, 55, had a distinguished Army career that included duty in Afghanistan. He retired as a brigadier general in 2009.
Tata appeared ready to take on Jones. Marc Rotterman, a Republican consultant in Raleigh, brought Tata to Washington twice this year to meet with Republican officials, conservative groups, and potential donors. If ever a candidate appeared ready to challenge an incumbent from a position of strength, it was Tata.
Then Alex Roarty of the National Journal broke the Tata story on June 1. Roarty’s piece was headlined “GOP Establishment Readying New Primary Challenge for Dovish Rep. Walter Jones.” That was true, but Tata’s candidacy was actually hatched in North Carolina with Rotterman playing a leading role.
At this point Governor Pat McCrory stepped in. Political bloggers known as “Jones and Blount” reported that he prevailed on Tata to stay on and help sell $2.85 billion in transportation bonds. Tata agreed, which meant skipping the race against Jones.
“At the end of the day Tata made the right call,” Rotterman said. “There is nothing worse than a reluctant candidate. . . . I view this as a missed opportunity for North Carolina and the nation.”
Update: The campaign of Phil Law wrote in to note that he will be running against Walter Jones in the Republican primary this year.
The Supreme Court’s ruling in King v. Burwell is disappointing. But it also provides a welcome moment of clarity: We can finally dispense with the false belief that the Supreme Court will save us from Obamacare. It is perhaps a blessing for the cause of repeal that all eyes will now turn to the presidential candidates and to Congress, whose job it is to repeal Obamacare in full in early 2017. Accountability is no longer divided. The political branches must act.
It is important to note that the Court’s decision had no relationship to the question of Obamacare’s merits. The case was limited to the question of whether the Obama administration is executing the law as written. The Court says it is. The Court also says, “In a democracy, the power to make the law rests with those chosen by the people.” Indeed, it does. And what was true the day after Obamacare’s passage is equally true today: the law must be repealed.
The reasons are clear: Obamacare consolidates and centralizes money and power to an unprecedented degree. At its core is an (unfixable) individual mandate that requires, for the first time in all of United States history, that private American citizens must buy a product or service of the federal government’s choosing. Its 2,400 pages shift the power over America’s health-care decisions from patients and doctors to bureaucrats and politicians. Instead of offering real reform, it raises health costs, diminishes quality, increases federal spending, raids Medicare, balloons the size of government, and undermines Americans’ liberty.
It was passed as “comprehensive” legislation. It cannot be fixed. It must be repealed — comprehensively.
The citizenry has opposed Obamacare from the start, and yet President Obama and his congressional allies believed the American people would eventually — dutifully — acquiesce. They have not. According to Real Clear Politics, 189 polls have been taken on Obamacare during Obama’s second term. One has found it to be popular; 188 have found it to be unpopular. In the one that found it popular (with 47 percent support), more than three times as many people (31 percent) said it “needs to be repealed in its entirety” as said it “is working well” (9 percent).
Polling that asks about an alternative finds even more support for repeal. Twopolls taken during Obama’s second term have asked about repeal in the context of “a conservative alternative that aims to lower health costs and help people get insurance” — that is, an alternative that deals with costs and coverage. Both polls found that support for repeal trumps opposition to repeal by 60 to 32 percent.
A bipartisan group convened under the auspices of the Washington Institute for Near East Policy released a “Public Statement on U.S. Policy Toward the Iran Nuclear Negotiations.” The group—comprising former Obama administration officials like David Petraeus, Robert Einhorn, Dennis Ross, Gary Samore, and David Makovsky—sets out a list of five conditions that have to be met for a good deal.
1. Monitoring and Verification: The inspectors of the International Atomic Energy Agency (the “IAEA”) charged with monitoring compliance with the agreement must have timely and effective access to any sites in Iran they need to visit in order to verify Iran’s compliance with the agreement. This must include military (including IRGC) and other sensitive facilities. Iran must not be able to deny or delay timely access to any site anywhere in the country that the inspectors need to visit in order to carry out their responsibilities.
2. Possible Military Dimensions: The IAEA inspectors must be able, in a timely and effective manner, to take samples, to interview scientists and government officials, to inspect sites, and to review and copy documents as required for their investigation of Iran’s past and any ongoing nuclear weaponization activities (“Possible Military Dimensions” or “PMD”). This work needs to be accomplished before any significant sanctions relief.
3. Advanced Centrifuges: The agreement must establish strict limits on advanced centrifuge R&D, testing, and deployment in the first ten years, and preclude the rapid technical upgrade and expansion of Iran's enrichment capacity after the initial ten-year period. The goal is to push back Iran’s deployment of advanced centrifuges as long as possible, and ensure that any such deployment occurs at a measured, incremental pace consonant with a peaceful nuclear program.
4. Sanctions Relief: Relief must be based on Iran’s performance of its obligations. Suspension or lifting of the most significant sanctions must not occur until the IAEA confirms that Iran has taken the key steps required to come into compliance with the agreement. Non-nuclear sanctions (such as for terrorism) must remain in effect and be vigorously enforced.
5. Consequences of Violations: The agreement must include a timely and effective mechanism to re-impose sanctions automatically if Iran is found to be in violation of the agreement, including by denying or delaying IAEA access. In addition, the United States must itself articulate the serious consequences Iran will face in that event.
The Millennial Task Force, a group convened by the House Republican Policy Committee, held its first hearing this week to discuss one of the biggest challenges for the Republican party in the 2016 election: securing the millennial vote.
A recent survey conducted by the Harvard Institute of Politics yielded discouraging results for the GOP. Millennials – roughly, those between the ages of 18 and 31 – still consistently say that they would prefer a Democrat rather than a Republican win the presidency in 2016.
However, not all hope is lost for the Republicans. The truth is that approval ratings for the federal government and Congress are still low, and millennials, like the rest of the population, are tired of hyper-partisanship and empty promises of “hope” and “change.” Indeed, they would rather embrace an entrepreneurial spirit.
We need to “learn how to construct an empowerment economy,” as chairwoman of the Millennial Task Force, 30-year-old Rep. Elise Stefanik said, to inspire the millennials and reengage them with the political sphere.
We also need to start by asking the right questions. Panelist Jared Meyer, author of Disinherited: How Washington is Betraying America’s Young, found that millennials today operate on a central question: Is it fair? Some of the questions he said millennials were asking were, “Is it fair that Washington now prohibits you from taking an unpaid internship? Is it fair that you’re going to have to pay for these entitlement programs that you never voted for or put in place? Is it fair that you’re going to be paying more for the Affordable Care Act so that older people who have a lot more wealth than you can pay less?” When we move away from broad questions and get specific, Meyers argues, many millennials do tend to identify with the ideas of the Republican party.
Meyer said that when conducting research for his book, he found that even though millennials can appreciate a free lunch once in a while, they were more hesitant to ask for larger government. They realize that they will be the ones to shoulder fiscal burdens from prior generations and, at this point, Meyer pointed out that some are starting to see Social Security as a burden, because they realize it probably won’t be there for them.
Like millennials themselves, the task force and the panelists were optimistic about the future. As panelist Kristen Soltis Anderson, a young pollster, noted, the tables have turned: Whereas Republicans are usually characterized as the party of the old, white, and rich, if Democrats choose Hillary Clinton as their nominee, she will epitomize this definition. “Republicans are what’s new, Democrats are what’s old,” Anderson said. Even now, of the 31 members of Congress who are under 40, 20 are Republican. Furthermore, with education as a top issue for millennial voters, it will be tougher for Democrats to appeal to them by clinging on to an antiquated system. Education reform will be crucial in this election.
By a 6-3 vote, the Supreme Court upheld the government's decision to provide Obamacare subsidies to people in 37 states where Obamacare exchanges were established by the federal government even though the law only authorizes such subsidies for people enrolled in an "Exchange established by the State.” John Roberts wrote the majority opinion and was joined by Justices Kennedy, Ginsburg, Breyer, Kagan, and Sotomayor.
Justice Scalia, joined by Justices Thomas and Alito, wrote a blistering dissent that calls the majority opinion 'absurd.'
"Words no longer have meaning if an Exchange that is not established by a State is 'established by the State,'" writes Scalia. He later explains:
"Today’s interpretation is not merely unnatural; it is unheard of. Who would ever have dreamt that “Exchange established by the State” means “Exchange established by the State or the Federal Government”? Little short of an express statutory definition could justify adopting this singular reading. Yet the only pertinent definition here provides that “State” means “each of the 50 States and the District of Columbia.” 42 U. S. C. §18024(d). Because the Secretary is neither one of the 50 States nor the District of Columbia, that definition positively contradicts the eccentric theory that an Exchange established by the Secretary has been established by the State.
Having transformed two major parts of the law, the Court today has turned its attention to a third. The Act that Congress passed makes tax credits available only on an “Exchange established by the State.” This Court, however, concludes that this limitation would prevent the rest of the Act from working as well as hoped. So it rewrites the law to make tax credits available everywhere. We should start calling this law SCOTUScare.
Perhaps the Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act will attain the enduring status of the Social Security Act or the Taft-Hartley Act; perhaps not. But this Court’s two decisions on the Act will surely be remembered through the years. The somersaults of statutory interpretation they have performed (“penalty” means tax, “further [Medicaid] payments to the State” means only incremental Medicaid payments to the State, “established by the State” means not established by the State) will be cited by litigants endlessly, to the confusion of honest jurisprudence. And the cases will publish forever the discouraging truth that the Supreme Court of the United States favors some laws over others, and is prepared to do whatever it takes to uphold and assist its favorites.
As David E. Sanger of the New York Times reports, the warning to the president comes from:
Five former members of President Obama’s inner circle of Iran advisers [who] have written an open letter expressing concern that a pending accord to stem Iran’s nuclear program “may fall short of meeting the administration’s own standard of a ‘good’ agreement” and laying out a series of minimum requirements that Iran must agree to in coming days for them to support a final deal.
The letter writers were moved by:
... concern that Mr. Obama’s negotiators were headed toward concessions that would weaken international inspection of Iran’s facilities, back away from forcing Tehran to reveal its suspected past work on weapons, and allow Iranian research and development that would put it on a course to resuming intensive production of nuclear fuel as soon as the accord expires.
Hillary Clinton is coming to speak at the Democratic Party of Virginia's Jefferson-Jackson Event! We are taking this opportunity to talk to the hundreds of people who will attend and sign them up as Hillary supporters. Many volunteers will be needed, primarily before the event; you can volunteer AND see Hillary!
Just as the name suggests, the dinner is named for Thomas Jefferson and Andrew Jackson. Both former presidents of the United States. And both former slave owners.
Regarding Jefferson, CBS has explained that "The author of the Declaration of Independence, who wrote that all men are created equal, owned 600 slaves over his lifetime, and in addition to his legitimate children almost certainly fathered at least six children borne by his slave, Sally Hemings."
Jackson, known affectionately as the people's president, owned about a quarter of the number of slaves as Jefferson. As thehermitage.com reports, "In all reality, slavery was the source of Andrew Jackson’s wealth.
The Hermitage was a 1,000 acre, self-sustaining plantation that relied completely on the labor of enslaved African American men, women, and children. They performed the hard labor that produced The Hermitage’s cash crop, cotton. The more land Andrew Jackson accrued, the more slaves he procured to work it. Thus, the Jackson family’s survival was made possible by the profit garnered from the crops worked by the enslaved on a daily basis.
When Andrew Jackson bought The Hermitage in 1804, he owned nine enslaved African Americans. Just 25 years later that number had swelled to over 100 through purchase and reproduction. At the time of his death in 1845, Jackson owned approximately 150 people who lived and worked on the property.
While Democrats traditionally speak at Jefferson-Jackson dinners, Republicans speak at a dinner named after the president who freed the slaves, Abraham Lincoln.
In anticipation of the Supreme Court's forthcoming ruling on the Obamacare case, the Republican National Committee is going on the offensive. In a new 66-second web video, which is set to be released later today, Republicans are blaiming the law on Democrats who "pushed through Obamacare." Not a single Republican voted for Obamacare's passage.
The ad features some of the loudest (and most unpopular) voices on Obamacare.
"You know, call it the stupidity of the American voter or whatever," Obamacare architect Jonathan Gruber is quoted as saying in the ad.
"We have to pass the bill so that you can find out what's in it," Nancy Pelosi, the former speaker of the House, says in the ad.
"Lack of transparency is a huge political advantage," Gruber is heard saying.
Then news reports are played describing that the Affordable Care Act, Obamacare, is not working as intended and that it isn't affordable as promised.
An on screen graphic says that Obamacare is "hurting the American people."
Finally, the ad ends with Hillary Clinton, who advocated Hillarycare in the 1990s and who is seeking the Democratic nomination.
"Obama & the Democrats rush to pass Obamacare," reads the finaly on screen graphic. "Americans are paying the price. Help us stop Hillary. StopHillary.gop."
Speaking at an LGBT event tonight at the White House, President Obama took credit for liberal LGBT progress since he took office six-and-a-half years ago.
Obama said, according to a White House transcript: "Together, we ended 'Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell.' (Applause.) We passed a historic hate crimes bill named in part after Matthew Shepard. (Applause.) We lifted the HIV entry ban, and this summer, we’re going to be updating our national HIV/AIDS strategy which will focus on eliminating disparities that gay and bisexual men and transgender women face. (Applause.) We strengthened the Violence Against Women Act to protect LGBT victims. (Applause.) Hospitals that accept Medicare and Medicaid are now required to treat LGBT patients the same as everybody else. (Applause.) The pillar of the so-called Defense of Marriage Act was struck down by the Supreme Court as unconstitutional. (Applause.) Just yesterday, we announced that insurance companies that cover federal workers will no longer be able to prohibit gender transition services. (Applause.)"
He added, "When I became President, same-sex marriage was legal in only two states. Today, it’s legal in 37 states -- (applause) -- and the District of Columbia. A decade ago, politicians ran against LGBT rights. Today, they’re running towards them. (Applause.) Because they’ve learned what the rest of the country knows -- that marriage equality is about our civil rights, and our firm belief that every citizen should be treated equally under the law."
But what Obama failed to mention is that he opposed same-sex marriage when he came into office. "What I believe is that marriage is between a man and a woman … What I believe, in my faith, is that a man and a woman, when they get married, are performing something before God, and it's not simply the two persons who are meeting," Obama said in 2004.
"That doesn't mean that that necessarily translates into a position on public policy or with respect to civil unions. What it does mean is that we have a set of traditions in place that, I think, need to be preserved, but I also think we need to make sure that gays and lesbians have the same set of basic rights that are in place.
President Obama met with China’s Special Representatives to the U.S.-China Strategic and Economic Dialogue and Consultation on People-to-People Exchange earlier today, according to the White House. A topic of discussion? America's cyber concerns.
Obama even "urged China to take concrete steps to lower tensions," according to a White House readout of the meeting.
"The President met today with China’s Special Representatives to the U.S.-China Strategic and Economic Dialogue and Consultation on People-to-People Exchange, Vice Premier Liu Yandong, Vice Premier Wang Yang, State Councilor Yang Jiechi, and the Chinese delegation. The President acknowledged the importance of these annual ministerial-level mechanisms for expanding practical cooperation on regional and global challenges, while at the same time narrowing differences. The President and the Chinese Special Representatives agreed to further expand U.S.-China cooperation on climate and clean energy, and affirmed their unity of purpose in our approach to the Paris climate negotiations in December. Recognizing the importance of economic ties to the overall bilateral relationship, the President expressed support for China’s efforts to reform and rebalance its economy, and for our ongoing bilateral investment treaty negotiations, while urging China to address major economic challenges in the areas of its currency, technology and investment policies. The President raised ongoing U.S. concerns about China’s cyber and maritime behavior, and he urged China to take concrete steps to lower tensions," the readout of the meeting states.
"The President and the Chinese Special Representatives discussed the fundamental importance of demonstrating to North Korea that it will not succeed in its efforts to develop nuclear weapons and its economy simultaneously, and both sides reiterated their commitment to the denuclearization of the Korean Peninsula. The two sides agreed that Iran should seize the historic opportunity presented by the ongoing P5+1 negotiations to address the international community’s concerns regarding its nuclear program. The two sides strongly expressed support for deepening ties between the citizens of the United States and the People’s Republic of China.
"The President affirmed that he looks forward to welcoming President Xi Jinping to the White House for a State Visit in September."
Fox News and SiriusXM announced today the launch of a new news channel.
"SiriusXM and FOX News today announced the launch of FOX News Headlines 24/7, a new national headline news service and full-time satellite radio channel produced by a dedicated team of FOX News journalists and contributors. The channel, part of a multi-year agreement, will launch in the fall of 2015 to all SiriusXM subscribers on channel 115," the press release reads.
Staffed 24 hours a day, 7 days a week and 365 days a year, FOX News Headlines 24/7 on SiriusXM will deliver the day’s top stories at any time. FOX News Senior Vice President of News Jay Wallace will oversee operations of the new channel, in addition to his current responsibilities managing news at FNC.
Utilizing the resources of FOX News, FOX Business Network, FOX News Radio, Foxnews.com, and Foxbusiness.com the new channel will be continuously updated with headlines, breaking news, on-scene reporting, business news, politics, entertainment, sports, and more. SiriusXM listeners will be able to access breaking news throughout their day wherever they listen to SiriusXM, whether in the vehicle, or via the SiriusXM app or online at siriusxm.com.
In a statement, FOX News chairman & CEO Roger Ailes says, “By creating this new news offering, we’re aiming to provide FOX News viewers and satellite radio subscribers the opportunity to stay informed with the latest headlines and breaking news from the network they have come to rely on and trust.”
The top Republican in the Senate is applauding President Obama after the passage of the trade bill.
“A new Congress that’s back to work for the middle class just notched another win for everyone who cares about strengthening American paychecks, American jobs, and the American economy. Achieving this positive outcome was never going to be easy, but it proves that the power of a good idea, no matter where it comes from, can win out over the stasis of gridlock," Senate majority leader Mitch McConnell says in a statement.
"That’s why Republicans were glad to accept President Obama’s support in advancing a principle we’ve long believed in — that we ought to show our support for American workers by knocking down unfair foreign trade barriers that discriminate against products stamped ‘Made in the USA.’ We’re grateful for the President’s efforts to help us move this idea forward, and we applaud him for speaking truth-to-power to his base.
“The legislation that will soon be signed into law will rightly enhance Congress’ oversight over both the administration and the trade negotiation process as it moves forward, and it will also ensure our ability to scrutinize and render a verdict on any trade deal inked by this administration or the next one. That’s a common-sense outcome for our country, and it’s another bipartisan achievement for the new Congress."