|7:01 AM, Jul 11, 2014 • By DANIEL HALPER
Agence France-Presse State Department correspondent Jo Biddle is claiming on Twitter that members of the media traveling with Secretary of State John Kerry to China "have had their bank accounts hacked."
Her tweet reads, "Seems many members of press pool travelling with #SecKerry in China have had their bank accounts hacked!"
Other reporters are reacting with dismay or outrage.
While others are taking it more in stride:
The Books & Arts Podcast is hosted by Philip Terzian.4:55 PM, Jul 10, 2014 • By TWS PODCAST
THE WEEKLY STANDARD Books & Arts Podcast with Philip Terzian, on the July 14, 2014 edition of the Books and Arts section.
This podcast can be downloaded here. Subscribe to THE WEEKLY STANDARD's iTunes podcast feed here.
4:23 PM, Jul 10, 2014 • By JOHN MCCORMACK
Most houses of worship have been granted a full exemption from Obamacare's regulation mandating coverage of contraception and abortifacients, but Ed Whelan points out that new legislation unveiled by Senate Democrats yesterday could put that religious protection in jeopardy.
Although "bill itself wouldn’t abolish the exemption," Whelan writes, it "would allow the Obama administration (or its successors) to abolish the exemption and the accommodation in their entirety. (If the bill were instead intended to preserve the exemption and the accommodation against regulatory abolition, it would be a fairly simple matter to say so clearly.)"
The Senate Democrats' bill denies any employer the right to defend itself under the Religious Freedom Restoration Act if the employer objects to any federal health benefits mandate. There is no language in Obamacare stopping the executive branch from including services such as elective surgical abortions in the list of "preventive services" that must be covered with no copayment for beneficiaries.
4:04 PM, Jul 10, 2014 • By DANIEL HALPER
A bipartisan Senate resolution in support of Israel has been announced. The sponsors include Lindsey Graham (R-South Carolina), Robert Menendez (D-New Jersey), Kelly Ayotte (R-New Hampshire), and Chuck Schumer (D-New York).
The resolution, "Reaffirms the United States’ support for Israel’s right to defend its citizens and ensure the survival of the State of Israel;
· Condemns the unprovoked rocket fire at Israel;
· Calls on Hamas to immediately cease all rocket and other attacks against Israel; and
- Calls on Palestinian Authority President Mahmoud Abbas to dissolve the unity governing arrangement with Hamas and condemn the attacks on Israel.
In a press release the senators state:
“The State of Israel is under siege on multiple fronts,” saidSenator Lindsey Graham. “Hamas is a terrorist organization that has fired hundreds of rockets at the State of Israel. This is truly an act of terrorism that needs to be condemned. I believe the Senate will speak with one voice in condemning the actions of the terrorist organization Hamas and standing by America’s best friend in the region, the State of Israel. There is no moral equivalency between the self-defense actions of Israel and the barbaric actions of Hamas.”
“Israel has a right to self-defense in the face of indiscriminate violence and vicious attacks against civilian populations,” said Senator Robert Menendez. “It is an appalling but often-used tactic by Hamas to launch rockets indiscriminately at Israeli population centers. Nobody should be surprised that a terrorist organization is once again resorting to terror to harm innocent Israelis, and exposing Palestinian civilians to danger while doing so. Hamas is a terrorist organization that rejects a two-state solution and celebrates the kidnapping and murder of innocent civilians; it cannot be a partner in a Palestinian unity government.”
“Israel is our closest and most reliable ally in the Middle East, and we stand with Israel and their right to defend themselves against terrorist organizations that deliberately target civilians,” said Senator Ayotte.
“Israel is entitled to take the steps necessary to protect itself from destructive rocket attacks from Hamas that are aimed at all Israeli civilians, regardless of their religion,”said Senator Schumer. “This resolution supports Israel as it protects itself in a manner that values the safety of Palestinian civilians even as its own civilians face indiscriminate attacks from terrorists. It is time for Mahmoud Abbas to do the right thing and break ties with Hamas.”
3:11 PM, Jul 10, 2014 • By DANIEL HALPER
President Obama went to pay a $300 tab at a BBQ joint in Texas. But before paying, he had to ask a staffer whether his card worked.
"When POTUS got to the register to pay, he produced a wad of 20s for an order that came to exceed $300, then asked trip director Marvin Nicholson if his (the president's) credit card is good. MN assured POTUS it is, so the bill was paid on credit, a JP Morgan card," reads the pool report.
Full pool report here:
After POTUS finished at Austin's Paramount, motorcade sped east just past I-35 to Franklin's, a hugely popular barbecue spot that was packed. Pool squeezed in just as POTUS reached the head of the line at the counter to order. He apologized to the two at the head of the line for cutting in front of them, but offered to buy their lunch -- along with the takeout for the rest of his party. The tattooed workers patiently waited for POTUS to sort out his order.
When POTUS got to the register to pay, he produced a wad of 20s for an order that came to exceed $300, then asked trip director Marvin Nicholson if his (the president's) credit card is good. MN assured POTUS it is, so the bill was paid on credit, a JP Morgan card.
Couldn't hear POTUS's complete order (or exact total), but can tell you that the two lucky people he cut ahead of -- Bruce Finstad of Houston and his daughter Faith Finstad of Austin -- got as a presidential gift 3 lbs of beef, 2 lbs of ribs, a half-pound of sausage and a half-pound of turkey for themselves and two other family members already seated. When POTUS heard their order, he got up close and said, "Hold on -- how many folks are y'all feedin'?"
At 2 pm, motorcade is enroute to Air Force One for return to DC, packin' BBQ.
2:34 PM, Jul 10, 2014 • By MICHAEL WARREN
The topic of surveillance by the National Security Agency has arisen in, of all places, a House Republican primary in Kansas. Incumbent Mike Pompeo faced criticism from his challenger, former congressman Todd Tiahrt, over Pompeo's support for NSA surveillance programs. In a recent debate, Tiahrt accused Pompeo of "taking money from lobbyists and supporting the violation of the Fourth Amendment," while Pompeo replied that Tiahrt was misleading people about a program that keeps Americans safe.
A group of foreign policy experts have penned an open letter to both candidates regarding the NSA's surveillance program. Read it below:
We are a group of foreign policy professionals who are writing to express our concern over statements about NSA surveillance made during the Republican primary for the U.S House of Representatives seat for the 4th district of Kansas.
The illegal leaks of information about NSA programs by former NSA technician Edward Snowden kicked off a divisive debate in this country on whether or not NSA surveillance programs have violated the privacy rights of American citizens.
Many of the NSA programs compromised by Snowden have been portrayed by the news media and many politicians as “spying on Americans.”
While we appreciate the concerns voiced by many Americans over NSA surveillance programs in response to the Snowden leaks, we believe it is highly inaccurate to claim that these programs violate the privacy rights of American citizens. We believe the NSA program that has been most criticized, the NSA metadata program, has been subjected to careful oversight by the courts and the congressional intelligence oversight committees. This intelligence collection program has been upheld in 36 out of 39 decisions before 19 different judges.
We regret that critics of the metadata program and other NSA collection efforts ignore how these programs have helped protect our nation against terrorist attacks. For example, Senate Intelligence Committee Chairwoman Dianne Feinstein stated during a January 14, 2014 Senate Judiciary Committee hearing that the metadata program helped stop terrorist plots to bomb the New York City subway, the New York stock exchange, and a Danish newspaper.
Supporting the NSA collection programs illegally compromised by Edward Snowden is politically difficult given the media frenzy that has inaccurately portrayed these programs as domestic spying. We regret that too many politicians are taking a politically expedient position on this issue by siding with the news media on NSA programs in an effort to scare voters and win their support.
Leadership often means taking politically difficult stands on controversial issues. The current debate over NSA surveillance concerns crucial national security programs designed to protect our nation. In our view, supporting these programs and working to reassure the American people about why they are needed is the only responsible position on this issue.
Hon. Michael B. Mukasey
81st Attorney General of the United States, former U.S. District Judge, Southern District of New York
Hon. Pete Hoekstra
Former Chairman, House Permanent Select Committee on Intelligence
2:10 PM, Jul 10, 2014 • By DANIEL HALPER
Elliott Abrams, writing for the Council on Foreign Relations:
Israel is under attack by the terrorist group Hamas. Hundreds of rockets have fallen on its cities and towns. Millions of Israelis run, and must pull their children, into shelters each day.
Prime Minister Netanyahu has discussed this with French president Hollande and with German chancellor Merkel.
But not with President Obama, who has not seen fit to call Netanyahu or take a call from him. This is quite amazing behavior for an ally. I am aware as all readers are that the two men have a difficult relationship, but that is no justification. If the president has time this week to fund-raise, he has time to call the leader of an ally under attack.
I am sure such a call will happen sooner or later, perhaps over the weekend. But the damage has been done: Israel is under attack, and the president of the United States cannot bring himself to call its prime minister. Israelis are unlikely to forget this, nor should Americans. Our alliance system cannot function when we treat allies in this manner. Once again, every vulnerable ally from Riyadh to Taipei to Seoul to Manila to Kiev will wonder how reliable an ally we are, at least under the present leadership we have.
1:27 PM, Jul 10, 2014 • By DANIEL HALPER
Democratic gubernatorial candidate Wendy Davis, of Texas, says President Obama should, "at some point," visit the border. The Houston Chronicle reports:
AUSTIN — Democratic gubernatorial nominee Wendy Davis said Thursday that President Obama should visit the country’s southern border to see for himself the flood of unaccompanied children arriving every day.
“I hope that at some point in time he will make time” to visit the border, Davis said. “It’s one thing to see the numbers, it’s another thing to see it.”
The Forth Worth state senator made the comment in response to questions at a news conference after a speech at the annual conference of the Association of Texas Professional Educators.
Obama, who is in Texas for two days of fundraising and a midday speech at the Paramount Theatre here, has drawn criticism from Republicans and a few Democrats for not including a border visit in his trip. The White House has said the president is interested in action, not “photo opps.”
11:42 AM, Jul 10, 2014 • By GEOFFREY NORMAN
Here is a legal fight where the cultural war lines could hardly be drawn any more clearly. John Wayne or a school in North Carolina, infected with the PC virus and notorious for a quasi lynching of its own lacrosse team.
The heirs of John Wayne have plans to make money off the Wayne brand under the name by which the film star was known to his fans. He was “the Duke.” So, as Anne Blythe of the Raleigh News and Observer reports:
As part of a long-running legal tussle, the Durham university and John Wayne Enterprises have been fighting over “Duke” trademarks and whether the family of the star of countless classic westerns can brand their bourbon with the name they want.
Well, one can be sure that at Duke University, bourbon is not on the approved substances list. Bourbon is a legendarily populist and manly drink and obviously in conflict with the ethos of the university which is built on the foundation of a fortune made in tobacco, but never mind. Anyway, if the university tried to make some it would probably use soybeans in the mash. But if, by some miracle, the university did produce a batch of decent whiskey, no true bourbon drinker would touch the stuff. You gotta draw a line. And like the real Duke, be prepared to level anyone who crosses it.
But, of course, Duke (the school) doesn’t have any intention of bottling and selling bourbon. This is about principles. So ...
In their statement of opposition to the Trademark Office, Duke stated that “in order to prevent tarnishment of its brand, [Duke University] does not permit use of confusingly similar marks associated with unapproved goods or services, of uncertain quality and/or unregulated by [Duke University].”
The courts should take a pass on this one. Nobody will ever confuse John Wayne with Duke University.
10:22 AM, Jul 10, 2014 • By GEOFFREY NORMAN
Initial claims came in at 304,000, slightly less than expected (315,000) and low enough to keep the low flame of optimism burning after last weeks good jobs number.
As Shobhana Chandra of Reuters reports:
Fewer Americans than forecast filed applications for unemployment benefits last week, a sign the job market continues to strengthen. Jobless claims declined by 11,000 to 304,000 in the week ended July 5, the fewest in more than a month, a Labor Department report showed today in Washington. The median forecast of 45 economists surveyed by Bloomberg called for 315,000. There was nothing unusual in the data and no states were estimated, a spokesman said as the figures were released. Combined with data last week that showed payrolls exceeded expectations in June and thevunemployment rate fell to an almost six-year low, the drop in firings signals a rebound in second-half economic growth. As demand improves, employers will probably take on more workers, helping to lift consumer spending, which accounts for about 70 percent of the economy.
It is still a long slog to full employment or even full “labor force participation.” But the absence of bad news is … well, good news.
Hosted by Michael Graham.9:00 AM, Jul 10, 2014 • By TWS PODCAST
The WEEKLY STANDARD podcast with executive editor Fred Barnes on what Presidents Nixon, Reagan, and Clinton had--and President Obama doesn't.
This podcast can be downloaded here. Subscribe to THE WEEKLY STANDARD's iTunes podcast feed here.
8:36 AM, Jul 10, 2014 • By DANIEL HALPER
A lively panel and discussion on Ronald Reagan and today's conservatism, held yesterday at the Heritage Foundation with remarks from the boss, Jonah Goldberg, and Jim Antle:
7:15 AM, Jul 10, 2014 • By DAVID W. MURRAY and JOHN P. WALTERS
President Obama visited Denver this week, was offered marijuana, and laughed. His administration made possible the open marketing and use of marijuana in Colorado and Washington state by directing that federal law not be enforced. The president is joined by Hillary Clinton and Rand Paul in supporting marijuana legalization. As Clinton recently told CNN, "On recreational marijuana, states are the laboratories of democracy. We (are) experimenting with that right now. I want to wait and see what the evidence is.”
There is no indication that Obama is really paying attention to what he has done in Colorado. During our recent visit to the state we found no one is measuring this “experiment” at all. Even more troubling, if this were truly an experiment, the impact of this “laboratory” is on human subjects, many of whom—Colorado adolescents, communities in neighboring states—were hardly approached for “informed consent.” Nor did citizens we talked to vote for what they see happening to them now.
To get the ballot amendment passed, promises were made to the residents of Colorado. The marijuana market would be tightly monitored, and strictly regulated, “from seed to sale.” There were assurances of no underage youth involvement, no blatant advertising to kids, no interstate trafficking, or black-market criminal cartels running operations. All transactions would be regulated, controlled, and assessed.
But none of that “assessing” is actually happening. And as we learned from a first-hand visit to Colorado this month, there is ample, clear, and disturbing evidence that each of those promised conditions is being violated, with impunity.
We learned that legalization has encouraged soaring levels of potency as new forms of the drug have appeared in edible candies, butane-extracted cannabis oils, in vaporizers used at school desks, undetected. The impact on society? Nobody knows, as nobody is measuring.
Are the underage getting the drug in greater numbers? One public school administrator told us that he is attending increasing numbers of private, disciplinary hearings for twelve-year olds who are daily marijuana users. Denver is awash with marijuana that is advertised as having a potency of three times or more the national average—which is already almost three times stronger today than it was in days of Woodstock. Potent, cheap THC gummy bears with hallucinogenic effects are advertised in newspapers, featuring cartoon characters such as Fred Flintstone.
On our visit we met with community leaders, educators, law enforcement personnel, and researchers at the University of Colorado medical center. They are the ones assembling the evidence from the front lines, from schools, hospitals, burn centers, and treatment facilities. A portrait is emerging of considerable, and rising, damage. And yet no comprehensive study is being undertaken. No surveillance, evaluation, or even plotting a trajectory against a prior baseline.
5:33 AM, Jul 10, 2014 • By CHRISTOPHER NADON
I taught for a year at the Kiev-Mohyla University in 1993-94 and returned to Ukraine this June after an absence of twenty years. Things here have changed.
For one, the civil war between Eastern and Western Ukraine that was much talked about and feared in 1993 has at last broken out, but in a much-attenuated form from what was then feared. Actually, to call it a civil war is inaccurate. The separatists are limited to parts of the Donetsk and Luhanks Oblasts with the other boarder regions around Kharkiv, Sumy, and Chernihiv quiet. The movement is as much or more a product of direct Russian interference than it is of antipathy to the new government in Kiev with its hopeful turn to the West. No one considers the May 11 referenda declaring the independence of the Donetsk and Luhanks People’s Republics legitimate and the inhabitants of those regions are beginning to see the political and economic disaster that would follow from their implementation. Those who can are now voting with their feet, at least until the situation settles.
Last week a rumor spread that the Russian Patriarchy, which has jurisdiction over the Kiev Pechersk monastery, would allow the grounds to be declared part of the separatist movement. A rowdy crowd of 200 gathered outside the entrance to prevent this from happening. A few days before, a similar number of demonstrators threw eggs and paint at the Russian embassy to protest the downing of a Ukrainian military transport with the loss of forty-nine lives. Yet one should keep in mind that Kiev is a city of over 3 million and both incidents were resolved without bloodshed. When the embassy demonstration threatened to get out of hand, Foreign Minister Andre Deshchytsia defused tensions by belittling Russian president Vladimir Putin as a “prick” (to translate rather chastely) and then joining the now bemused crowd in a bawdy Ukrainian soccer chant. He has since been dismissed from his post. This all seems pretty tame in the face of two hundred Ukrainian casualties, many suffered as a result of Russian surface-to-air missiles.
5:39 PM, Jul 9, 2014 • By MICHAEL WARREN
When is it okay for a politician to discuss impeaching a president? Iowa Republican Senate candidate Joni Ernst is receiving criticism for her responses to questions about impeaching President Obama. Ernst, who won her party's nomination last month, never actually said she supported impeachment. But amid recent calls from some conservatives that "it's time to impeach" the president the Iowa Republican is receiving some tougher scrutiny over her past statements on impeachment. But what's not being said is that her Democratic opponent once voted to continue debating impeachment proceedings against a Republican vice president.
Yahoo! News first reported on a video from a January candidate forum showing Ernst being asked about Obama's executive overreach. In the forum, which featured other Republican candidates, Ernst stopped short of outright endorsing impeachment and removal of office, but did say Obama had "become a dictator" over his recess appointments and "should face the consequences." Ernst went on to say that elected members of Congress ought to push harder against such executive violations, and her campaign later "clarified" that she had been answering a hypothetical. And in a radio interview last month, she said that House speaker John Boehner should move forward on impeachment proceedings if he "thinks he has a case." Ernst added that she wasn't "encouraging or discouraging it." (Boehner, for his part, told reporters today he wasn't interested in pursuing impeachment.)
Democrats and the campaign of her opponent, Bruce Braley, have pounced. Here's Justin Barasky of the Democratic Congressional Campaign Committee:
And here's Braley's communications director, Jeff Giertz:
Fair hits at Ernst, perhaps. But what happens to the politics of impeachment when the parties are reversed?
Browse 15 Years of the Weekly Standard