Greg Corombos of Radio America and Ian Tuttle of National Review appreciate Hillary Clinton providing material for many fall campaign ads by closely tying herself to President Obama on issues ranging from Obamacare to Iran to Syria. They eagerly welcome the release of the American hostages from Iran but conclude the Iranians rolled the Obama administration again. And they marvel that Bernie Sanders, an avowed socialist with poor debating skills, actually has a shot at the nomination.
Archives for January 2016
Politicians are often accused of being in bed with the special interests, but in Missouri, a lobbyist who literally hits the sheets with a lawmaker would have to report the liaison as a gift if a new bill makes it into law.
The legislation sponsored by Republican State Rep. Bart Korman would require lobbyists to report any sexual encounter with a member of the legislature as a gift with the state ethics commission. Korman says recent indiscretions in the Show Me State prompted his effort to clean up the system.
Last year, two sex scandals involving lawmakers and interns rocked Jefferson City. In May, Republican State House Speaker John Diehl stepped down after sexually charged texts with an intern were discovered. Two months later, Democratic State Sen. Paul LeVota resigned in response to allegations he sexually harassed two interns.
“I looked at the law and there’s really no statute against that type of relationship. After some of the allegations against some of the members of the General Assembly last year and a priority of ethics reform after having discussion this year, I put the two subjects together and put this bill forward,” said Korman.
Korman doesn’t believe sexual relationships between politicians and lobbyists are rampant in Missouri, but he says there is enough chatter around the capitol to make his plan necessary.
“I don’t think there’s very much of that activity but you always hear of a situation or two out there of rumors that you don’t know exist or not. After last year’s situation, I figured maybe it’s time to put something like this forth,” said Korman.
While the argument will likely emerge that the state has no right to know about the personal affairs of lawmakers, Korman says the people they serve certainly do.
“One, I think if a relationship like that occurs, the citizens of Missouri should know that it’s going on,” said Korman. “Two, hopefully with the reporting process, it would deter that type of activity altogether which would probably be the best thing for everybody.”
He explained what his bill would require in terms of transparency.
“Lobbyists are required to report any gift activity on a monthly basis,” said Korman. “I put it so it’s zero value and I put it into the current ethics reporting system because I didn’t want to create a bigger bureaucracy here in Missouri.”
While Korman is intent on raising ethical standards in the Missouri government, he does not demonize lobbyists in general. He says they perform an important function.
“Lawmaking is probably different than any other process out there. It’s one that is interactive and lobbyists are just as much a part of the process as citizens because a lot of citizens have an organization that hires lobbyists to watch what’s going on here on a daily basis,” said Korman.
There is no precedent for the legislation anywhere in the U.S. Korman says the closest they came was some confusion over the law in North Carolina.
Korman introduced the bill Jan. 6. He says the response from his colleagues gives him tentative hope the bill has a chance to pass.
“A lot of members think it’s a good bill, however I’ve got no co-sponsorships on it so we’ll see how that changes in time. There’s a few snickers here and there as well,” said Korman.
Even he has no formal allies yet for the bill, it’s already in the legislative pipeline.
“The more co-sponsors you get, the more the speaker and the chairman that has the bill would know that there’s support for it. The speaker did refer it to committee, so now it will be up to the committee chairman to see if he wants to have a hearing on the bill or not,” said Korman.
Greg Corombos of Radio America and Jim Geraghty of National Review review the three most intense exchanges from Thursday’s Republican presidential debate. They praise Ted Cruz for his defense of his eligibility to be president against accusations to the contrary by Donald Trump. They also conclude Trump got the better of Cruz on the squabble over New York values by invoking the spirit following 9/11. And they discuss the dueling flip-flop charges over immigration and more between Cruz and Marco Rubio.
The Obama administration says it was excellent diplomacy that led to Iran releasing ten U.S. sailors who were taken into detention on Tuesday, but former U.S. Ambassador to the United Nations John Bolton says it was another example of Obama appeasing Iran after a belligerent act and encourages other adversaries and enemies to follow suit.
Two U.S. Navy patrol boats were intercepted on Tuesday. Video shot by the Iranian government depicted Americans on their knees and holding their hands on their heads. Later, the female sailor was shown wearing a hijab and another sailor apologized on camera for the “mistake” of entering Iranian waters.
Obama drew criticism for not mentioning the incident on his State of the Union message Tuesday night. By Wednesday morning, however, Iran released the U.S. service members.
That same morning, Secretary of State John Kerry hailed their release and even thanked the Iranians.
“I want to thank the Iranian authorities for their cooperation and quick response. These are always situations which, as everybody here knows, have an ability, if not properly guided, to get out of control,” said Kerry.
“All indications suggest or tell us that our sailors were well taken care of, provided with blankets and food and assisted with their return to the fleet earlier today,” added Kerry.
Bolton says the praise for the Iranians is completely unwarranted because Tehran’s actions in interdicting the boats were unwarranted.
“There was no reason for the Iranians to bring them to Farsi Island, to take them off the two ships. If they were inadvertently in Iranian territorial waters, the standard procedure is just to warn them off, make them identify themselves and tell them to shove off back into international waters,” said Bolton.
Bolton believes the Iranians had a clear reason for detaining the sailors.
“I think what may really have been at stake here was the boats themselves. I wouldn’t be surprised if they contained sensing equipment and advanced communications equipment,” said Bolton.
He says it is vital for the government to investigate what the Iranians learned from those boats.
“It’s very important that Congress find out what, if anything, was compromised in terms of our sensitive intelligence gathering capabilities, weapons systems, communications on those boats that the Iranians had a day and a half to search,” said Bolton.
Bolton is also unimpressed with the release of the sailors within hours.
“Why did they release the American crewmen after 18 hours? Because they had everything they needed. They gained propaganda benefit inside Iran because this was depicted as aggressive Americans being stopped by the Revolutionary Guard and arrested and humiliated. They gained propaganda value in the rest of the world because everybody says, ‘Oh, those wonderful Iranians, releasing the people in less than a day,'” said Bolton.
Bolton believes the proper U.S. response would have been for Obama to condemn the detention of the sailors in his State of the Union speech. He would have also suggested ripping up the Iran nuclear deal, but Bolton says preserving that was one of Obama’s top goals as this played out.
“All he wanted to do was get the people out with a minimum of fuss and to save the nuclear deal,” said Bolton.
Just like the nuclear deal, Bolton sees this as another episode of Iran testing Obama and Obama failing the test.
“This is another example of provocative action on the part of the Iranian government, followed by appeasement on the part of the United States,” said Bolton.
He says the U.S. response will only trigger more trouble.
“Having gotten away with this it would be perfectly logical for them to take it up a notch and try an even more provocative action,” said Bolton.
Bolton fears Iran won’t be the only one to learn that lesson.
“Our enemies don’t know who’s going to win the November election any better than we do but they know one thing for sure. They’ve got Barack Obama in office for another year and whatever steps they want to take to advance their agenda against the United States, this is the time to do it,” said Bolton.
“I’m very worried over the course of the next year that we’re going to have a series of provocations in diverse parts of the world that the administration’s simply not going to be able to handle,” said Bolton, who noted terrorist attacks in Turkey, Iraq and Indonesia just the past few days.
Bolton also rejected some of the key points from Obama’s speech Tuesday night, starting with the president’s attempt to reassure Americans that ISIS is not a threat to the existence of the U.S.
“This is actually a very important insight into what’s wrong with the Obama administration’s foreign policy. It may be the case today that ISIS is not an existential threat to the United States. Although I might note it’s an existential threat to the people that ISIS terrorists have killed,” said Bolton.
“While it may not be the country as a whole that’s at risk, my minimum standard is this: no American should be killed by terrorists and that should be the president’s standard as well,” said Bolton.
Bolton says Obama simply doesn’t understand the job of a commander-in-chief.
“The job of the president is not simply to get up every morning and look around the world and say, ‘Well, they’re not an existential threat today.’ Real statesmen look five or ten years out or even further into the future and say, ‘What incipient problems around the world today can threaten us down the road and what are we going to do today to keep those problems from metastasizing,'” said Bolton.
Greg Corombos of Radio America and Jim Geraghty of National Review discuss the implosion of Al Jazeera America. They also slam Secretary of State John Kerry for thanking Iran for its treatment of 10 U.S. sailors after our women and women were humiliated on video. They slam Chelsea Clinton for suggesting Bernie Sanders and Republicans have the same position on Obamacare. And they pay tribute to the late actor Alan Rickman, villain from “Die Hard,” the official movie of the Three Martini Lunch.
The persecution of Christians is getting worse all around the world and the Open Doors USA CEO Dr. David Curry says it could well be the most severe since the early church was under assault by the Roman Empire.
On Wednesday, Open Doors USA released its 2016 World Watch List, an annual report listing the 50 most repressive nations for Christians.
“This past year saw the persecution of Christians escalating to an unprecedented rate. We think that perhaps not since the the first century church have we seen such an unrelenting and spreading threat against the Christian faith,” said Curry.
While there were some changes in the ranking of the 50 worst nations, Curry says there’s so much persecution around that countries making the list are far more aggressive in targeting believers than even just a few years ago.
“One of the things that made this the most difficult time in the modern era is that it’s more difficult to get on the list. Every continent is more difficult so unfortunately there aren’t a lot of bright spots,” said Curry.
Once again, North Korea tops the World Watch List for the most brutal repression of Christians.
“Tens of thousands of Christians are imprisoned for their faith, some even executed for things just as simple as owning a bible,” said Curry, who says three other elements factor into Pyongyang’s depravity.
“First of all, you have a cult like system that sees Christianity as a threat to the worship of the leader there and his ancestors. They also have the ability to control the police system and the judicial system, if you can call it that, to use all the means of government to suppress freedom of religious expression,” said Curry, who says believers are very fearful of being discovered by the government or its spies.
“The community itself is now so paranoid that it’s making it difficult for the Christian faith in North Korea,” said Curry.
Iraq is second on the list as a result of both government oppression of Christians and the terrorist tactics of ISIS. In fact, the nations ranked ranked two through nine on the list are dominated by Muslims. In addition to Iraq, they include Eritrea, Afghanistan, Syria, Pakistan, Somalia, Sudan, Iran and Libya.
Curry says the threat posed to Christians in Islamic nations is intensifying greatly.
“Extremists are solidifying and spreading their caliphate. That’s true in the Islamic State sense. It’s now bleeding into Libya and some of these areas. but it’s also true in Africa. Boko Haram is spreading into Niger from Nigeria and hoping to solidify into Chad,” said Curry.
Curry says Eritrea has shot up the list because the formal government there is forcing Sharia law throughout the country and cracking down mercilessly on Christians. He says prison condition there are so horrific that many prisoners die after a short while.
Praying for persecuted Christians and their situations is the first recommendation from Open Doors USA, But Curry is also urging people to sign a petition at the opendoorsusa.org site to urge President Obama to fight for persecuted believers. Curry is hopeful that America’s relationship with the likes of Iraq, Pakistan and Eritrea can foster pressure for reforms.
“People can sign this petition to encourage President Obama to make this a priority in his final year,” said Curry.
The congressman who first challenged John Boehner as Speaker of the House is now spearheading an effort to censure President Obama over his handling of national security.
Rep. Ted Yoho, R-Fla., says it’s time for Congress to hold Obama accountable for acts that repeatedly weaken our security and embolden our enemies. He officially filed the legislation Wednesday afternoon.
“We’ve entered this resolution of censure and condemning his lack of energy and strategy strictly on national security. This is going to be a significant thing because at the very end it says Congress will act if the president doesn’t change course,” said Yoho.
The resolution is just four pages. In addition to making general accusations, including Obama contributing to global instability and failing to enforce laws and honor his constitutional oath, several items get more specific.
“Whereas President Obama has willfully failed to follow the counsel and expert advice provided by United States military and intelligence advisors by prematurely with-drawing troops from Iraq, thus leading to further destabilization of the Middle East and increased threats to national and global security,” reads one charge.
“Whereas the dereliction of duty and miscalculations of President Barack Obama have allowed the combined terrorist organizations of the world to control more land, and increase membership, armament, and resources more than during any other time in history,” states another in reference to ISIS and the Taliban.
“Whereas President Barack Obama has failed to instruct the Department of Justice to take action to end the practices of certain State and local governments that refuse to abide by standing immigration laws,” adds another in light of Obama defending the concept of sanctuary cities..
The resolution also condemns Obama for failing to halt the Iran nuclear deal after Iran violated the terms through multiple ballistic missile tests and for lacking any discernible strategy in Libya. It culminates by asking lawmakers to formally rebuke Obama for his failure to act in the best interests of national security.
“Resolved, That the House of Representatives (1) does hereby censure and condemn President Barack Obama for having willfully disregarded the President’s constitutional responsibilities as Commander in Chief of the United States through his continued failed lack of foreign affairs strategy, failure to follow the advice of military and intelligence advisors, and failed national security policy; and (2) does hereby put President Barack Obama on notice and strongly urges the President to reverse course and begin fulfilling his constitutional responsibilities,” concludes the resolution.
The allegations contained in the censure resolution paint a very different picture from the one Obama offered Tuesday in his final State of the Union message. In discussing ISIS, Obama urged everyone to take the long view.
“They have to be stopped but they do not threaten our national existence. That is the story ISIL wants to tell. That’s the kind of propaganda they use to recruit. We don’t need to build them up to show that we’re serious. And sure don’t need to push away vital allies in this fight by echoing the lie that ISIL is somehow representative of one of the world’s largest religions,” said Obama Tuesday.
Yoho says Obama offered nothing new.
“He’s been saying that since the beginning. It’s his failed policies in Afghanistan and Iraq, where he announced troop withdrawals and he pulled out with a date. That has led to the creation of ISIS. They didn’t pay attention to them. They allowed for a foothold to get started,” said Yoho.
He says the results of Obama’s weakness are obvious.
“Today, under this president and this administration, the Taliban controls more land mass than they’ve ever controlled in history. Number two, ISIS came out of our dropping the ball, not paying attention to the insurgency that was arising,” said Yoho.
Yoho says Obama has misplayed ISIS every step of the way, from dismissing it as the “jayvee team” to running a handful of sorties against the terrorists for months while they established their foothold and gained land and resources in Iraq and Syria.
“It was his miscalculations, his missteps and his lack of a strategy that has allowed ISIS to become the terrorists with the largest, most well organized, most well armed and the largest membership in the world,” said Yoho.
In first announcing U.S. policy against ISIS in September 2014, Obama cited Yemen and Somalia as examples of how the U.S. can influence major results with a light military footprint. Yoho says Yemen is now another depressing example of Obama’s foreign policy.
“Yemen is a perfect example of our intervention. Yemen is a disaster. He can tout some of the things he wants to about his accomplishments, but the one thing he can’t talk about are his accomplishments in foreign affairs and it’s made not just our country but the Middle East and the world less safe,” said Yoho.
While Yoho and others, including several GOP presidential candidates, urge a tougher ISIS policy from the military and through diplomacy and public statements, Obama insisted Tuesday he’s on the right course.
“Fortunately there is a smarter approach, a patient and disciplined strategy that uses every element of our national power. It says America will always act, alone if necessary, to protect our people and our allies. but on issues of global concern, we will mobilize the world to work with us and make sure other countries pull their own weight,” said Obama in his address.
Yoho pulled no punches in response.
“I think it’s BS. He doesn’t have a strategy,” said Yoho, who says military leaders he’s spoken with reach the same conclusion.
“I’ve sat with these guys. I sit on foreign affairs. There is no strategy to defeat ISIS.” he added. “He can say all those things like, ‘Oh, we have a smarter strategy. We built a coalition.’ We had no coalition. So what he’s talking about is pure, simple sophistry, concocting a story to make it sound good but underneath it’s a lie.”
The congressman says proof of Obama’s toothless approach includes dropping leaflets to let ISIS convoy drivers know we will drop bombs soon, clearing out the Guantanamo Bay detention center as quickly as possible and showing common cause with cities that refuse to hold criminal aliens so the federal government can deport them..
Yoho says the censure resolution is a warning to Obama that he needs to reverse course because Congress has only one more penalty to pursue but he insists impeachment is not something he wants to pursue now.
For now, Yoho says he needs the public to rally behind the censure resolution. It needs a simple majority to pass the House and would likely have to meet a 60-vote threshold in the Senate. He is asking citizens to apply pressure to every member to get on board.
“Members have a decision to make. They either get on this, condemning the president’s lack of a foreign policy that’s jeopardized not only us here domestically but around the world. Your constituents are going to put pressure on their members of Congress, whether House or Senate, to support this resolution,” said Yoho.
“If not, they say they agree with the president’s action and they think he’s doing a fine job. We all know that’s not true,” he said.
Greg Corombos of Radio America and Jim Geraghty of National Review cheer most of Nikki Haley’s Republican response to the State of the Union, especially her personal story and the contrast she paints between the visions of Republicans and Democrats. They also slam President Obama for telling everyone to calm down about ISIS since they can’t destroy our entire nation. And they shake their heads as Obama contends the arrest of one man for the Benghazi attacks shows he will do whatever it takes to bring terrorists to justice.
The FBI is expanding its investigation into former Secretary of State Hillary Clinton’s private email server to examine whether Clinton used her office in a way that benefited the Clinton Foundation.
“The FBI investigation into Hillary Clinton’s use of private email as secretary of state has expanded to look at whether the possible “intersection” of Clinton Foundation work and State Department business may have violated public corruption laws, three intelligence sources not authorized to speak on the record told Fox News,” wrote Herridge and Brown.
“This new investigative track is in addition to the focus on classified material found on Clinton’s personal server,” they added.
The news greatly ratchets up the legal risk for Clinton.
“This is felony corruption. Is there a connection, the FBI says, between the government of whatever country giving Bill Clinton a million dollar speech fee and then the Secretary of States, who happens to be his spouse, making a decision that benefits that country,” said former Deputy Assistant Attorney General Victoria Toensing, for is also a former assistant U.S. attorney.
Toensing believes the probe was expanded a while ago and the rest of us are only finding out about it now. She also suspects that while the rest of Washington was waiting for Benghazi-related emails, the FBI was able to recover additional messages that led their work in this direction.
“I’m sure when they got into her server and saw all the emails they saw all kinds of back and forth between Bill Clinton getting paid and her making decisions at the State Department,” said Toensing.
She says it doesn’t take much to widen an FBI investigation.
“You’d be looking at certain emails, whether they’re classified or not, and all of a sudden you might come across these that are talking about the quid pro quo of the speech payments and Hillary’s decision. You wouldn’t need more than a couple of those,” said Toensing, who says corruption charges aren’t that hard to prove.
“You just need something in a reasonable period of time frame. The issue comes up, Bill’s giving a speech, there’s a decision pending and that happens within the next two or three months. That’s all you need,” said Toensing.
“There are a number of those that have been alleged in newspaper accounts. He comes in, gives a speech for them. He gets a lot of money and then she gives them favorable decisions at the State Department. It’s like the State Department is a RICO organization under the Clintons,” said Toensing.
Toensing says Clinton ought to be big trouble given the precedent already set by the Obama Justice Department.
“This Justice Department under this administration prosecuted and convicted Gov. (Bob) McDonnell of Virginia for just making a few phone calls for somebody he had known for several years,” said Toensing.
“This is far beyond what McDonnell did. He made a few phone calls which never amounted to anything. If Bill Clinton got paid for a speech…and Hillary Clinton made decisions favorable to that entity, business or country in a reasonable time frame, that is per se a violation of law,” added Toensing.
The expanded FBI investigation into Clinton’s activities comes on the heels of a potentially damaging email in which Clinton appears to instruct a top aide to send a secure message through non-secure means and without markings that the information was classified.
In June 2011, State Department official Jacob Sullivan was attempting to send Secretary Clinton some talking points but ran into technical problems.
“They say they’ve had issues sending secure fax. They’re working on it,” emailed Sullivan.
“If they can’t, turn into nonpaper w no identifying heading and send nonsecure,” replied Clinton.
On Sunday, “Face the Nation” host John Dickerson asked Clinton whether she broke the law.
“No. And it wasn’t sent. So I think this is another instance where what is common practice, namely, look, I need information, I had some points I had to make and I was waiting for a secure fax that could give me the whole picture, but often times there’s a lot of information that isn’t at all classified so whatever information can be appropriately transmitted unclassified often was – that’s true for every agency in the government and anyone who does business with the government,” said Clinton on Sunday.
Toensing says that answer makes her gag and says it runs counter to what her sources in the State Department have told her.
“I have been told by people that the word in the State Department was that she had instructed people to take the markings off of classified material,” said Toensing.
She says this is the latest twist in the ever-evolving Clinton explanation of her server and her handling of classified materials.
“First of all, remember the line was every secretary of state had their own personal email account. But we’re not talking about the email account, we’re talking about the server. It’s the server, stupid. When people started talking about that, she said, ‘Well I didn’t receive classified information on it,'” said Toensing.
“That got to be a problem when all of a sudden people were finding classified information. Then she said, ‘I didn’t receive anything that was marked classified,'” said Toensing.
Toensing says Clinton has two problems on this front: that she kept classified information on an unauthorized server and that she had a responsibility to know what information is classified whether it is marked or not.
She says the law in 18 U.S.C. §1924 is crystal clear.
“It says it is a crime to put classified information in ‘an unauthorized location.’ It’s as simple as that,” said Toensing.
The statute does say the person must knowingly engage in the behavior. Toensing says the email to Sullivan shows willful intent.
“That would show that she had knowledge that she was getting information that was classified and that it was coming into the server in the bathroom,” said Toensing.
While the FBI has announced no timetable for making any recommendations to Attorney General Loretta Lynch and Toensing is uncertain whether the Obama Justice Department would ever charge Clinton, she says the political realities require something to happen soon on this case, probably in the next 60-90 days.
“Although the government is never supposed to take politics into account, it would not be a good thing to allow a political party to nominate somebody and then the next day indict them,” said Toensing.
Toensing and her husband, former U.S. Attorney Joe diGenova, have both stated multiple times that they believe large portions of the FBI will revolt if Lynch fails to indict Clinton and would make it their mission to get their findings to the public.
She says Lynch is feeling immense pressure from both sides.
“I think there will be a recommendation from the FBI to the Justice Department. Maybe the Clinton people will get to Loretta Lynch. Maybe people will tell her she’ll never eat lunch in this town again. But I think if she doesn’t go along with the FBI recommendation, she won’t eat lunch in this town again anyway,” said Toensing.
Greg Corombos of Radio America and Jim Geraghty of National Review applaud Rand Paul for boycotting the undercard debate because it’s insulting and pointless. They also groan as Pres. Obama promises to give a State of the Union address that focuses on himself and that will pit the public against Congress. And they wonder why Jeb Bush is trying to score points against Marco Rubio on immigration, given his own support for a path to citizenship.