Senator Tom Cotton took to the Senate floor to discuss new reports of sarin gas being used in Syria:
"It’s been nearly two years since the Syrian tyrant, Bashar al Assad, attacked his own people with sarin gas, crossing President Obama’s so-called red line. At the time, President Obama grudgingly called for airstrikes against Assad, but hesitated at the moment of decision. When Secretary of State Kerry opened the door to a negotiated solution, Vladimir Putin barged in, allowing Assad the pretext of turning over his chemical weapons to avoid U.S. airstrikes. The president’s Amen Chorus proclaimed a strategic masterstroke," said Cotton.
"But it wasn’t so. Street-smart observers were on to Assad’s game. He only needed to keep a tiny fraction of his chemical stockpile to retain its military. Syria thus could open most—but not all—of its facilities at no cost to the regime. In fact, because most of Syria’s chemical agents were old, potentially unreliable, yet still dangerous, the regime actually benefited by getting the West to pay for removal of the old stocks.
"And where are we now? Exactly where a few my colleagues and I warned that we would be. News reports just this week indicate the Organization for the Prohibition of Chemical Weapons has discovered new evidence of sarin gas and VX nerve agent—nine months after the Organization declared Syria had disposed of all its chemical weapons. In the meantime, Assad has simply shifted to chlorine gas for chemical attacks against his own people—which is also prohibited by the Chemical Weapons Convention, even though Syria signed the Convention as part of President Obama’s 2013 deal.
"I am appalled by these reports that the Syrian regime has retained stocks of chemical weapons, but I cannot say I am surprised. Anyone with eyes to see knew the message President Obama had sent. When he flinched in 2013 in the face of Assad's brazen and brutal use of sarin gas on civilians, it only emboldened Assad to continue testing U.S. resolve.
"Of course, the fallout goes far beyond Syria. The failure to enforce the U.S. redline against the use of chemical weapons in Syria has severely damaged U.S. credibility around the world. I hear this message from leaders of countries not only in the region, but across the globe. The message sounds most loudly with Iran, where the ayatollahs continue their headlong pursuit of nuclear-weapons capability with impunity. Regrettably, then, we are reaping the bitter fruits of President Obama's weakness.
"There are two simple lessons we must draw from this sad sequence of events. First, our country's word on the international stage must be good and it must be credible. When a president draws a redline and fails to back it up, it only emboldens our enemies and makes America appear as the weak horse. Remember Osama bin Laden famously said that when given the choice between a weak horse and a strong horse, people will always root for the strong horse. Under Barack Obama, America increasingly looks like the weak horse.
"Second, we cannot trust tyrannical regimes to abide by agreements unless we force them to do so. This means that any agreement with Iran about its nuclear-weapons program must contain the most stringent conditions, impose the most intrusive verification procedures, and ultimately prevent Iran from obtaining a nuclear-weapons capability. The framework agreement President Obama has reached with Iran meets none of those standards. Moreover, the administration’s concealment of Syria’s cheating surely foreshadows how it will look the other way when Iran cheats on any final deal.
"Assad's cheating on his chemical weapons agreement today is devastating for the people of Syria. But Iran's cheating on a nuclear agreement in the future could be catastrophic for the United States and the world at large."
The original corn laws put tariffs on imported grain in an effort to help domestic producers. That was nearly two centuries ago, in England, and the experiment is taught as an example of bad economic policy. But people never learn and in this country, today, we have the renewable fuel mandates which have been a boon to corn farmers in Iowa (among other states) where presidential candidates are obliged to speak in favor of a policy that is a drag just about everywhere else in the country.
Iowa took umbrage, last week, over something an operative for Scott Walker said. Or, to be precise, something she once tweeted. For her indiscretion, Liz Mair was forced to resign from Walker’s political action committee. Walker is not yet an officially declared candidate for president but that is just political coyness.
Rivers have rights, they say down in Mora County, New Mexico—“inalienable and fundamental rights,” beyond the power of any government to touch. Aquifers, too. Wetlands, streams, ecosystems, and even “natural communities,” whatever that undefined term means: All of them have rights to “exist and flourish.” The land itself has an “intrinsic right” to “exist without defilement.”
We’re hearing from all over just how good things are – and are becoming ever more so – and how on top of the game the president is. There is that 5 percent GDP growth last quarter and an unemployment rate that has dropped below 6 percent (the bar has, obviously, been lowered) and the stock market is burning it up.
An estimated 90 million of us will drive 50 miles or more during this holiday season, and recent years’ gnashings of teeth at the pump are being replaced with smiles. The price of gasoline is down 36 percent since April, to a national average of around $2.40 per gallon, with some cities reporting prices of below $2.
Anyone who doubts that the deployment of the technologies we have come to call fracking constitutes a revolution should consider this. U.S. oil production has soared by 70 percent in the past six years. American refineries have cut in half their imports from the OPEC cartel, setting off a scramble by those countries to find new markets.