|2:58 PM, Apr 10, 2014 • By MICHAEL WARREN
West Virginia Democrat Joe Manchin broke with his party's leader in the Senate by refusing to attack a pair of wealthy billionaire brothers who donate to free-market causes. Asked about Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid's frequent attacks on Charles and David Koch, Manchin told Brian Kilmeade of Fox News Thursday morning that there's nothing wrong with what the brothers are doing.
"You don’t beat up people," Manchin said. "I mean, I don’t agree with their politics or philosophically, but, you know, they’re Americans,paying their taxes. They’re not breaking the law. They’re providing jobs."
Manchin also said he was "disappointed" in Reid's tone. Watch the video below (via the Washington Free Beacon):
2:34 PM, Apr 10, 2014 • By GEOFFREY NORMAN
Secretary of State John Kerry is miffed and hurt. As Olivier Knox of Yahoo reports, Kerry feels that “his friend,” Senator John McCain, crossed some kind of line when Kerry testified before the Senate Foreign Relations committee. Knox quotes a source (Mr. Unnamed) as saying:
Kerry “felt betrayed and surprised to see McCain so angrily rooting for failure against one of the most internationalist members of the administration...”
Mr. Unnamed is:
… close to the secretary and requested anonymity to speak candidly about the top diplomat’s reaction.
Kerry did not, mercifully, claim that he was a victim of racism, even though there is a lot of that going around Washington these days.
1:15 PM, Apr 10, 2014 • By MICHAEL WARREN
Three Republican House members from Georgia, who are also running for the Senate, voted against their conference's budget Thursday. Jack Kingston, Phil Gingrey, and Paul Broun joined nine other Republicans in voting against the budget, authored by chairman Paul Ryan of Wisconsin.
This is the first year Kingston has voted against the House Republican budget since the party gained control in 2011. Broun voted for the 2011 Ryan budget but did not vote one way or another on a similar budget in 2012 and voted against the budget last year. Gingrey had supported the Ryan budgets in 2011 and 2012, but voted against it last year as well.
Despite the 12 Republican defections Thursday, the budget passed the House, 219 to 205.
Kingston, Gingrey, and Broun are all vying for the Senate seat being vacated by retiring Republican Saxby Chambliss. Joining the three congressmen in the GOP primary are businessman David Perdue and former secretary of state Karen Handel. The primary will be held on May 20.
10:55 AM, Apr 10, 2014 • By MICHAEL WARREN
In a new radio ad, Republican Senate candidate Karen Handel of Georgia hits back at her primary opponent David Perdue for his recently released comments about her lack of a college education. Perdue also touted his international business experience. The minute-long Handel ad replays Perdue's comments.
"When I heard David's comments, I thought, bless his heart," Handel says in a voiceover. "He's been overseas too long and lost touch with our values. Hard work and making the most of life: that's what makes Georgians great." Listen to the ad below:
Handel, who left a "troubled home" at age 17, cites her experience as the state's first elected Republican secretary of state, where she says she implemented photo identification requirements for voting and reduced her budget. "And I did all of this as a high school graduate," she adds in the spot.
"I approve this message because we need less elitism in Washington and more Georgia common sense," Handel concludes.
Perdue has led the five-way GOP primary for the Senate seat held by retiring Republican Saxby Chambliss, while Handel has struggled in a tied third place with a small campaign budget. But in recent weeks, Handel's fundraising numbers have ticked up following an endorsement and public appearance from Sarah Palin.
Joining Perdue and Handel in the GOP primary is Jack Kingston, the Savannah-based congressman who on Thursday reported a hefty $1.1 million fundraising haul for the first quarter of 2014. Kingston has polled around second place, while his fellow House colleagues Paul Broun and Phil Gingrey have been statistically tied with Handel in third place.
The winner of the May 20 primary will likely face the presumptive Democratic nominee, Michelle Nunn. Nunn is the daughter of former senator Sam Nunn and in one poll was shown to be leading all of her potential Republican challengers.
10:17 AM, Apr 10, 2014 • By DANIEL HALPER
Fred Kagan gave the following testimony to the House Committee on Foreign Affairs Subcommittee on Terrorism, Nonproliferation, and Trade on "Is al Qaeda Winning? Grading the Administration's Counterterrorism Policy."
All conditions are set for a series of significant terrorist attacks against the US and its allies over the next few years. But that's not the worst news. Conditions are also set for state collapse in Iraq, Syria, Lebanon, Yemen, and possibly Jordan. Saudi Arabia, facing a complex succession soon, is likely to acquire nuclear weapons shortly, if it has not already done so. Turkey and Egypt confront major crises. Almost all of Northern and Equatorial Africa is violent, unstable, and facing a growing al Qaeda threat. And Vladimir Putin's assault on Ukraine is likely to empower al Qaeda-aligned jihadists in Crimea and in Russia itself. That eventuality is, of course, less worrisome than the prospect of conventional and partisan war on the European continent, likely threatening NATO allies. The international order and global stability are collapsing in a way we have not seen since the 1930s. There is little prospect of this trend reversing of its own accord, and managing it will require massive efforts by the US and its allies over a generation or more.
This distressing context is essential for considering the al Qaeda threat today. On the one hand, it makes that threat look small. The long-term effects of global chaos and conflict among hundreds of millions of people across Europe, Africa, and the Middle East on US security, interests, and way of life are surely greater than any damage al Qaeda is likely to do to us in the immediate future. Yet the two threats feed each other powerfully. Disorder and conflict in the Muslim world breed support for al Qaeda, which is starting to look like the strong horse in Iraq and even in Syria. Al Qaeda groups and their allies, on the other hand, powerfully contribute to the collapse of state structures and the emergence of horrific violence and Hobbesian chaos wherever they operate. They are benefiting greatly from the regional sectarian war they intentionally triggered (the destruction of the Samarra Mosque in 2006 was only the most spectacular of a long series of efforts by al Qaeda in Iraq to goad Iraq’s Shi’a into sectarian conflict, for which some Shi’a militants, to be sure, were already preparing)—and have been continuing to fuel. Al Qaeda is like a virulent pathogen that opportunistically attacks bodies weakened by internal strife and poor governance, but that further weakens those bodies and infects others that would not otherwise have been susceptible to the disease. The problem of al Qaeda cannot be separated from the other crises of our age, nor can it be quarantined or rendered harmless through targeted therapies that ignore the larger problems.
9:21 AM, Apr 10, 2014 • By GEOFFREY NORMAN
Is it finally spring in the world of employment? If one is looking for encouraging signs, this week’s first-time claims number is very encouraging. Down from slightly over 330,000 last week to 300,000. Lowest number since May 2007 and the greatest weekly drop since January 2006.
If it holds up and is the start of a trend, then it is good news. Though it does complicate things for Janet Yellen and the Fed.
9:00 AM, Apr 10, 2014 • By DANIEL HALPER
Former President Jimmy Carter does not think much about Hillary Clinton's effort to bring about peace in the Middle East. John Kerry's efforts, on the other hand, are "notable," according to Carter.
He made the remarks in an interview with Time magazine, in response to this question: "What’s your take on Secretary Kerry’s efforts so far in the Mideast?"
"I think they are notable, and I have a great admiration for him. I stay in touch with him fairly often by email, I send him messages and tell him what my thoughts might be, and he has responded very graciously. He has had a very difficult time operating pretty much on his own. I know from experience that the best way to have the United States be a mediator is for the president himself to be deeply involved," said Carter before pivoting to criticize Clinton. "In this occasion, when Secretary Clinton was Secretary of State, she took very little action to bring about peace. It was only John Kerry’s coming into office that reinitiated all these very important and crucial issues."
Carter also indicated that he's been in touch with Kerry about his efforts in the Middle East.
"I don’t want to reveal what messages I’ve sent to Secretary Kerry. But I’ve urged him as he formulates the framework not to deviate from longstanding international law that has always been observed by the United States and by all the Europeans and by the Israelis and the Arab countries, and I think to reverse all those basic United Nations that everyone has agreed to establish would be a step backwards," Carter told Time.
Daniel Halper is author of the forthcoming book Clinton, Inc.: The Audacious Rebuilding of a Political Machine.
8:42 AM, Apr 10, 2014 • By DANIEL HALPER
Jay Bergman, an alumnus of Brandeis University, forwards us the letter he sent to the president of his alma mater regarding the disgraceful Ayaan Hirsi Ali episode:
Dear President Lawrence:
The decision of Brandeis University not to award an honorary degree to Ayaan Hirsi Ali, after first announcing that it would do so, is disgraceful.
The cowardice it reflects contrasts sharply with the courage Ms. Ali has shown in condemning aspects of Islam that she rightly considers cruel, bigoted, and misogynistic, and for which she has suffered grievously.
It is yet another example of how arrogant, closed-minded faculty, and students who believe they can prohibit anything on campus that makes them uncomfortable, can intimidate administrators such as yourself to the point where one of the principles essential to higher education -- a tolerance of opinions with which one disagrees -- is dispensed with in the name of preserving "a welcoming environment." But the very essence of education is being challenged intellectually, and if students cannot endure the discomfort that that often induces, they have no business attending a college or university.
You say that you are withdrawing the award because Ms. HIrsi's views violate what you call "the core values" of the university. But Brandeis saw nothing wrong in awarding an honorary degree to Tony Kushner, who has called the creation of the state of Israel a mistake and falsely accused it of ethnic cleansing; and to Desmond Tutu, an anti-semitic bigot who has compared Israel to Nazi Germany. From this one could reasonably conclude -- since Tutu's anti-semitism did not cause Brandeis to refrain from awarding him a degree -- that anti-semitism is either one of the core values of your university or is not inconsistent with these values.
It is clear that at Brandeis University Israel can be smeared and those who do so are rewarded, but someone who properly criticizes Islam is unfairly attacked and dishonored.
In short, you have made the sorry record the university has compiled in awarding honorary degrees even worse.
And what makes your shameful capitulation especially regrettable to me is that I am an alumnus of Brandeis University, class of 1970. Your university is my university. And right now I am ashamed to call it my alma mater.
Professor of History
Central Connecticut State University
New Britain CT 06050
P.S. For your edification I include below the excellent article by Lori Lowenthal Marcus, an alumna of Brandeis, in today's Jewish Press, and an article by Toby Young in today's Telegraph, published in England and subtitled, appropriately: " Cowardly Brandeis University Capitulates to Islamist Pressure."
Lori Lowenthal Marcus
"Brandeis Caves to Pressure. Withdraws Honor to Ayaan Hirsi Ali The Jewish Press (April 9, 2014)
'Unprecedented, unwarranted, ugly, and divisive adversity'7:16 AM, Apr 10, 2014 • By DANIEL HALPER
Eric Holder complained yesterday to civil rights activists about the way Congress is treating him. He made the remarks, which appeared unscripted, yesterday at Al Sharpton's National Action Network conference in Manhattan:
"I am pleased to note that the last five years have been defined by significant strides and by lasting reforms, even in the face, even in the face of unprecedented, unwarranted, ugly, and divisive adversity," an indignant Holder said yesterday. "If you don’t believe that, you look at the way — forget about me, forget about me — you look at the way the attorney general of the United States was treated yesterday by a House committee — had nothing to do with me, forget that. What attorney general has ever had to deal with that kind of treatment? What president has ever had to deal with that kind of treatment?"
The reference appears to be to this exchange between Eric Holder and House Republican Louie Gohmert:
4:30 PM, Apr 9, 2014 • By WILLIAM KRISTOL
Ayaan Hirsi Ali has just released this statement in response to Brandeis University's decision to rescind her invitation to receive an honorary degree:
“Yesterday Brandeis University decided to withdraw an honorary degree they were to confer upon me next month during their Commencement exercises. I wish to dissociate myself from the university’s statement, which implies that I was in any way consulted about this decision. On the contrary, I was completely shocked when President Frederick Lawrence called me—just a few hours before issuing a public statement—to say that such a decision had been made.
“When Brandeis approached me with the offer of an honorary degree, I accepted partly because of the institution’s distinguished history; it was founded in 1948, in the wake of World War II and the Holocaust, as a co-educational, nonsectarian university at a time when many American universities still imposed rigid admission quotas on Jewish students. I assumed that Brandeis intended to honor me for my work as a defender of the rights of women against abuses that are often religious in origin. For over a decade, I have spoken out against such practices as female genital mutilation, so-called 'honor killings,' and applications of Sharia Law that justify such forms of domestic abuse as wife beating or child beating. Part of my work has been to question the role of Islam in legitimizing such abhorrent practices. So I was not surprised when my usual critics, notably the Council of American-Islamic Relations (CAIR), protested against my being honored in this way.
“What did surprise me was the behavior of Brandeis. Having spent many months planning for me to speak to its students at Commencement, the university yesterday announced that it could not “overlook certain of my past statements,” which it had not previously been aware of. Yet my critics have long specialized in selective quotation – lines from interviews taken out of context – designed to misrepresent me and my work. It is scarcely credible that Brandeis did not know this when they initially offered me the degree.
“What was initially intended as an honor has now devolved into a moment of shaming. Yet the slur on my reputation is not the worst aspect of this episode. More deplorable is that an institution set up on the basis of religious freedom should today so deeply betray its own founding principles. The 'spirit of free expression' referred to in the Brandeis statement has been stifled here, as my critics have achieved their objective of preventing me from addressing the graduating Class of 2014. Neither Brandeis nor my critics knew or even inquired as to what I might say. They simply wanted me to be silenced. I regret that very much.
“Not content with a public disavowal, Brandeis has invited me 'to join us on campus in the future to engage in a dialogue about these important issues.' Sadly, in words and deeds, the university has already spoken its piece. I have no wish to 'engage' in such one-sided dialogue. I can only wish the Class of 2014 the best of luck—and hope that they will go forth to be better advocates for free expression and free thought than their alma mater.
4:13 PM, Apr 9, 2014 • By JOHN MCCORMACK
A new Suffolk University poll of the Iowa GOP Senate primary shows state senator Joni Ernst narrowly leading wealthy business executive Mark Jacobs:
In the smaller subset of June Republican Primary voters, State Sen. Joni Ernst, who has been tagged the “castration candidate” due to her TV ad that includes a matter-of-fact reference to growing up on an Iowa hog farm, is leading businessman Mark Jacobs 25 percent to 23 percent. Radio show host Sam Clovis (7 percent), former U.S. Attorney Matt Whitaker (4 percent), and Navy veteran Scott Schaben (1 percent) trail the front-runners, while 40 percent of primary voters remain undecided. Although within the statistical margin of error, this is the first public poll showing Ernst leading in the GOP Primary.
With only a 2-point lead and a plurality of voters undecided, the June 3 primary is a toss-up. But this poll is a big improvement for Ernst, who was trailing Jacobs by 7 points before airing her first TV ad.
You can read more about Ernst, an Iraq war veteran and mother of three, in a recent issue of THE WEEKLY STANDARD.
Hosted by Michael Graham.4:05 PM, Apr 9, 2014 • By TWS PODCAST
THE WEEKLY STANDARD Podcast with editor William Kristol, on the controversy over Brandeis and the revoked offer of an honorary degree for Ayaan Hirsi Ali. (At times, the sound quality is poor.)
This podcast can be downloaded here. Subscribe to THE WEEKLY STANDARD's iTunes podcast feed here.
2:40 PM, Apr 9, 2014 • By JOHN MCCORMACK
As West Virginia Democrat Nick Rahall, a top Republican target in the 2014 elections, entered a $1,000 a plate fundraiser at the Willard hotel in Washington, D.C. yesterday, a GOP tracker attempted to get the congressman to comment on a CNN report that Rahall was about to retire until Nancy Pelosi and the Democratic leadership promised him more campaign cash. (Republicans are convinced that tying Democratic candidates to Pelosi is a winning strategy.)
“How did it feel to sell your soul to Nancy Pelosi, sir?” the tracker asks Rahall. The congressman initially dismisses the tracker as "quite the jokester" and walks away before apparently thinking of a response. Then, in what was perhaps the best delayed comeback since George Costanza told his coworker that the "jerk store" called, Rahall turns around with a big smile on his face and yells: "Better than selling it to the Koch brothers!"
2:31 PM, Apr 9, 2014 • By DENNIS P. HALPIN
The student leaders of Taiwan’s Sunflower movement, having occupied the legislative chambers in the capital of Taipei for the past three weeks, recently announced plans for demonstrators to vacate the floor of the Legislative Yuan on April 10. The students have been expressing their strong reservations about the proposed Cross-Strait Trade in Services Agreement (TiSA) between Taiwan and mainland China, which they fear would bring Taiwan too firmly into Beijing’s economic orbit.
The announced departure date happens to be the very date that the Taiwan Relations Act (TRA) was enacted by the United States government 35 years ago—after Washington’s break in diplomatic relations with Taipei and the diplomatic recognition of Beijing by the Carter administration. The TRA is seen historically as “the cornerstone” which laid the foundation for that evolution to democracy that made today’s Sunflower movement possible. The decision by the students to declare victory and go home appears to have assured a nonviolent resolution to the almost one month stand-off. Whatever one’s views are of the proposed TiSA, this peaceful outcome is certainly a positive development.
Some used heated rhetoric in discussing the student occupation of the Legislative Yuan in Taipei (since March 18) and the forced entry (on March 23) of demonstrators into the Executive Yuan. There were even those who compared these events to the Tiananmen Square massacre in 1989 or to the recent upheaval in Ukraine. The public debate in Taiwan over the desirability of ratification by the legislature of the TiSA, however, has more in common with the ongoing controversy in the United States over the Affordable Care Act than with the bloody acts of the repressive regimes in place at the time in Beijing and Kiev.
As with the TiSA, Obamacare has generated extensive public debate for an extended period of time. When the measure was put to a vote in the House of Representatives during a weekend session in March 2010, a large crowd opposed to the legislation gathered on the grounds outside the Capitol. This crowd was loud and spontaneous, chanting at one point “Nancy, Nancy,” for then House speaker Pelosi to come outside and address them. The speaker walked through the crowd on her way to the Capitol for the vote, carrying the speaker’s gavel in a display of her authority. No physical contact, however, was allowed with her or the members who accompanied her on her walk. The House’s sergeant-at-arms assured that order was maintained in the chamber during the highly controversial vote. The vote was strictly along party lines, 219-212, and the majority party prevailed. The Capitol police were on duty to assure no demonstrators disrupted the legislative proceedings The disappointed Republican minority had its revenge during the elections the following November.
This is how democracy is supposed to function: opposition views may be expressed in legislative debate and by demonstrators exercising their rights to free speech and peaceful assembly outside of the legislative body while the vital business of government proceeds inside. The ballot box is the ultimate test of the correctness of government policy. And the example holds some lessons for the newer democracy on Taiwan.
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