Greg Corombos of Radio America and Jim Geraghty of National Review applaud Ohio State officials for telling demonstrators to leave the building or be ready to be cleared out, arrested and expelled. They also rip John Kasich for his dismissal of recent religious freedom and bathroom laws and presenting himself as the only adult in the room. And they laugh as the Treasury Department reportedly makes plans to replace Andrew Jackson with a woman on currency and leave Alexander Hamilton in place – largely because of a successful hip-hop opera.
Archives for April 2016
The U.S. coal industry is reeling again as the nation’s largest coal mining company filed for bankruptcy in recent days, and a congressman representing coal country says Obama administration regulations are the main killer of jobs that could lead to the loss of entire communities.
On April 13, St. Louis-based Peabody Energy filed for Chapter 11 bankruptcy protection, joining at least four other major coal mining companies headed down that same path. The news has many Obama administration critics remembering his 2008 campaign promise to bankrupt the coal industry for emitting greenhouse gases.
“The industry is under severe stress. They’re upside down in terms of their ability to meet their debt obligations,” said Rep. Bill Johnson, R-Ohio, who represents the eastern part of his state, which is a key part of coal country in the U.S. He is also a member of the House Energy and Commerce Committee.
There’s no doubt in Johnson’s mind where the bulk of the blame belongs for the problems of the coal industry.
“That is largely the result of downward pressure from the Obama administration in regulations, going after both the consumption of coal that’s used to produce electricity an the production of coal through regulations from agencies like the EPA, the Army Corps of Engineers and [the Interior Department’s] Office of Surface Mining and Reclamation,” said Johnson.
For over five years, Johnson says he and other lawmakers have had a tough time getting Obama to understand how important the coal industry is to the nation.
Does Johnson think Obama and his allies want to understand?
“No, I don’t think they do. I don’t think that’s in their DNA,” said Johnson.
Johnson says workers in the coal industry have been devastated, but so have entire communities. He says every coal mining job in communities based on the industry creates anywhere from five to nine other jobs elsewhere in those towns.
He says closing up shop can literally make a community extinct and leave people ruined.
“Those communities were built around those coal mines. It’s not like they can just pick up and move somewhere else. Who’s going to come in and buy their homes if they’re rolling up the sidewalks in those communities because there are no jobs and no industries there,” said Johnson.
He says the job killing is not over since Obama is still pushing to implement the stream protection rule and other regulations that could claim thousands more jobs.
Some energy industry analysts and government officials say the advancement of fracking and the low price of natural gas is also a major punch in the gut to the coal industry. Johnson says it is a challenge but he sees it as far less damaging than government intrusion.
“I’m all about letting our free enterprise market drive solutions to our energy needs, rather than having Washington pick the winners and the losers,” said Johnson.
The congressman doesn’t believe that the nation must choose between coal and natural gas given the needs of our economy.
“We’re going to continue to need low-cost, affordable energy. There is plenty of room in the mix for coal and oil and gas,” said Johnson.
Another infuriating aspect for Johnson is that Obama seems ready to wipe out the coal industry without admitting that his preferred successors – wind, solar and biofuels – are incapable of filling the void.
“The technology has not gotten to the point yet where you can store up the sun’s energy and then dribble it out to provide the base load. Nor can you do that with wind energy. You get energy from the sun and the wind when the sun is shining or the wind is blowing. Once either of those stop, then the energy source stops,” said Johnson.
Johnson also urges Obama to look at new developments in Europe. Several nations made major efforts to ditch traditional energy sources in favor of renewable options in recent years. On a visit last year, officials in many European nations told him they were going back to coal for a very simple reason.
“I asked them how they could justify that and they said, ‘Congressman, we’ve just reached the point in Europe where our rate payers, businesses and residential customers, are no longer willing to pay exorbitant high prices for alternative energy forms,” said Johnson.
He hopes Obama will learn from Europe’s painful lesson so the U.S. doesn’t have to repeat it.
“Why do we want to have to do that here in America when we’ve already got a robust coal industry that’s been providing our energy for generations and we have enough resources to do it for generations more,” said Johnson.
Greg Corombos of Radio America and Jim Geraghty of National Review suffer through clips of Thursday’s Democratic debate but come away glad knowing the Democrats are plenty dysfunctional too – and really annoying. They also discuss more and more health insurers losing money under Obamacare and planning to jack up premiums or get out of the market altogether. And they unload on AMC for planning to experiment with texting during movies – but the story ends with relief.
Retired U.S. Navy Captain Chuck Nash says Russian President Vladimir Putin is using the recent provocation in the Baltic Sea and other incidents to prove the United States will not stand up to aggression and won’t do anything to stop Russia’s efforts to gobble up its former republics.
Nash, who served 25 years in uniform as a U.S. Naval aviator, was responding to reports that Russian jets repeatedly buzzed the U.S.S. Donald Cook in the Baltic Sea more than 30 times and even simulated attack maneuvers.
He says Putin’s calculation is clear.
“Putin is trying to take down NATO without firing a shot. His message to NATO is clear. His message to the Baltic States of Latvia, Estonia and Lithuania is very clear. And that is, ‘The United States will not react, even when their nose is rubbed in it. So what makes you think they’re going to come to your defense if shooting starts or if we really start posturing heavily,'” said Nash.
“That message has been transmitted and that message, trust me, has been received,” said Nash.
Nash says Putin views the U.S. as weak and has ever since Obama began his presidency by bowing to multiple heads of states in other countries. He says Obama further proved Putin right by not enforcing the red line in Syria and doing nothing in response to the Russian annexation of Crimea and invasion of Ukraine.
He says Putin is licking his chops over what the final nine months of Obama’s time in office may let him get away with.
“He has no idea who’s coming in in January, but he knows who he’s got right now and he’s going to exploit that. My concern is that something really significant is going to happen in the nine months. His strategic goal is to take down NATO and to rebuild imperial Russia,” said Nash.
Nash expects Russia to call the West’s bluff on the most important component of the NATO alliance.
“To take down NATO, all he’s got to do is get somebody to try to invoke Article 5, which is the mutual defense provision of the NATO treaty. All of a sudden, he’s going to see who in NATO stands up to that Article 5 call. If countries balk, NATO is done,” warned Nash.
Where could this major flashpoint occur in the next nine months? Nash suspects it will be along the Baltic coast, namely a small piece of Russian land known as the Kaliningrad Oblast. It strategically borders Belarus and Poland and is south of the Baltic States.
“He could use an incident there to where he says it’s being threatened. He makes a move and puts troops up against the borders of some of the Baltic States and essentially tries to precipitate a reaction by those countries whereby he can do what he did in Ukraine,” said said Nash.
Nash says Putin got his message across to the Baltic States through the buzzing of the U.S.S. Cook but once again elicited a very weak response from the Obama administration. Having flown these sorts of missions in the vicinity of Soviet and Russian ships during his time in the service, Nash says pilots are required to fly parallel to the ships, stay a minimum of 1,000 feet above the water and give 1,500 feet of space on the side. The Russian planes came as close as 30 feet and zoomed perpendicular across the vessel.
Furthermore, the U.S.S. Cook was clearly in international waters and the Russian pilots did not return messages sent by the ship. Nash also points out that Russia conducted similar harassment of the U.S.S. Cook in the Black Sea not long ago.
The main response came in the form of White House Press Secretary Josh Earnest calmly reciting the protocol that should have been followed by Russian pilots.
“It is entirely inconsistent with the professional norms of militaries operating in proximity to each other in international waters and international airspace. Any peacetime military activity must be consistent with international law and conducted with due regard for the rights of other nations and the safety of other aircraft and other vessels,” said Earnest on Wednesday.
Nash is unimpressed.
“What he was saying was, ‘This is the way things should be.’ Well Josh, they’re not. What are you and the administration going to do about it? If you continue to roll over, Putin is going to take more and more,” said Nash.
So what would have been the proper response? Nash immediately explained what he believes the U.S. should do.
“The answer is you flood the zone. You want to play games? Fine. You don’t like ships in the Baltic? Get over it. We’re going to flood the zone. Every ship leaving Norfolk that’s headed east is going to come through the Baltics before it goes through the Straits of Gibraltar,” said Nash.
“We’re going to set up multinational, unilateral, and bilateral exercises with the countries in the Baltics. Get used to seeing American ships. We’re going to be here and they’re not going to be oilers. They’re going to be combatants,” he said.
Greg Corombos of Radio America and Jim Geraghty of National Review fume over Russia’s blatant provocation of a U.S. Navy ship in the Baltic Sea and in the Obama administration’s pathetic response. They also cringe as Indiana GOP delegates get dozens of troubling messages warning them not to oppose Donald Trump. And they discuss Karl Rove and many deep-pocketed donors preparing to help Trump, mainly to deny Hillary Clinton the presidency.
A longtime Democratic foreign policy expert says the Obama administration is proving that the world is a much more dangerous place when the United States fails to lead and he says it’s time for Republicans and Democrats to follow the examples of two critical figures in history and galvanize to confront major threats to American national security.
Lawrence J. Haas served as communications director for Vice President Al Gore. He is now a columnist and a senior fellow at the American Foreign Policy Council. His latest book is “Harry and Arthur” Truman, Vandenberg, and the Partnership That Created the Free World.”
President Harry Truman and Sen. Arthur Vandenberg, R-Mich., famously collaborated on the Marshall Plan, the Truman Doctrine and other major projects after World War II to blunt the advance of Soviet aggression in Europe. Vandenberg served as chairman of the Senate Foreign Relations Committee in the critical stretch between 1947-1949.
So how does that story impact today’s world? Haas says the same tension exists now as it did after World War II between America embracing a role of global leadership and dialing back our involvement on the world stage.
“Historians are inspired to write about history based on current events,” said Haas. “We Americans have been doubting what we can do around the world in recent years. We’ve been rethinking our global role.”
But Haas says the lesson both then and after seven years of President Obama is essentially the same.
“The lesson is there’s no one waiting in the wings to defend freedom,” said Haas. “If we step back, there is no great power in the West to defend freedom. There are great threats to freedom out there right now. If not us, then who? That’s the main question that I’m trying to raise for people to ponder.”
In the book, Haas pushes hard against the notion that there was an instinctive consensus in the United States after World War II to lead the fight against Soviet expansion.
“We Americans have this sense that there was this inevitability to America’s rise to global leadership right after World War II but there was really nothing inevitable about it at all,” said Haas.
But he says the circumstances forced leaders in both parties to conclude that active engagement in the world was the only option.
“World War II is ending. The Soviets were still technically an ally but they were quickly turning into an adversary because it was clear they were breaking all their promises to allow for free elections in Poland and across eastern Europe,” said Haas.
“Someone is going to need to step up to ensure global security and defend freedom. There’s nothing inevitable about America stepping in to do this. It takes two men: an enlightened, brand new Democratic president and an enlightened Senate Republican leader by the name of Arthur Vandenberg,” said Haas.
Haas says Truman was a consistent advocate for U.S. leadership in world affairs. Vandenberg on the other hand backed U.S. entry into World War I but later concluded it had been a mistake manipulated by bankers and weapons makers. By the late 1930’s he was one of the leading isolationists in Washington.
The Japanese attacks at Pearl Harbor changed that.
“[The United States] couldn’t wall itself off because, if nothing else, weapons are becoming so sophisticated that there’s no such thing as safety by having an ocean to the east and an ocean to the left. We needed to play a role because otherwise we would be increasingly vulnerable,” said Haas.
He says we’re learning the same lesson the hard way as a result of the Obama administration’s approach to national security threats.
“We have seen an experiment in recent years in American retreat, the president spending the last seven years reducing the American footprint around the world, particularly in the greater Middle East but not only there, in an effort to share global burdens with not only allies but adversaries,” said Haas.
While the parties remain fiercely at odds on some key security issues, Haas believes the people are once again realizing the role the U.S. must play in the world.
“I think that there is growing recognition that American retreat does not lead to a safer world. It leads to a more dangerous world. We face right now, probably, the greatest combination of threats to U.S. national security that we have faced since the time of Truman and Vandenberg,” said Haas.
Haas believes the obvious threat posed by the Soviet Union helped Republicans and Democrats find some critical common ground in the wake of World War II. He says it will be harder to find that consensus again. He ought to know. Haas has publicly ripped the Obama administration and other members of his own party for their approach to the Iran nuclear agreement and other key issues.
Nonethless, he believes focusing on the greatest threats to U.S. security can forge some common ground again. He sees multiple areas this could happen, most notably with respect to radical Islam. While distinguishing between what he calls Islam and radical Islam, Haas says the latter must be dealt with – including calling it what it is.
“Radical Islam, and there’s nothing wrong with talking about it that way, is a political and a militant movement. It’s a global movement and it threatens people not just in the Middle East, not just in Europe but here in the United States,” said Haas.
Haas considers the Iran nuclear deal a separate, urgent threat.
“I think there’s great controversy about whether it was wise to cut this nuclear deal with Iran and provide them with all this sanctions relief, billions and billions of dollars to the world’s greatest state sponsor of terrorism,” he said.
Finally, Haas sees some major threats emerging from more traditional sources.
“There is a sense of fear, I believe, about the rise of authoritarian powers around the world, whether it’s China in the Pacific or it’s Russia near Europe,” he said.
“I think there are three or four very prominent threats that are beginning to galvanize people toward a more robust U.S. role around the world to protect itself, to protect its allies and to defend freedom,” said Haas.
Greg Corombos of Radio America and Jim Geraghty of National Review get a kick out of Paul Krugman turning on Bernie Sanders and comedian George Lopez saying he endorsed Sanders but doesn’t want to pay higher taxes. They also groan as an RNC member echoes Donald Trump in saying that winning more than 1,100 delegates will probably win him the nomination. And they react to Keith Olbermann deciding to move out of Trump Palace because he just couldn’t bear having any association with its namesake.
Michigan is the latest state bracing for a debate over transgender accommodation in public schools, as a Republican lawmaker is confronting a sweeping State Board of Education policy about to take effect and crafting legislation designed to empower parents and protect the privacy of all students.
In February, the Michigan State Board of Education quietly passed a new transgender policy for K-12 public schools.
“When we found out about it, it was almost down to the end as far as time for public comment,” said State Senator Tom Casperson, who is drafting legislation to address the policy. “They had set this policy and put it in motion back in February. In February, they said they would take public comment until April 11th.”
Only discovering the proposed policy change in recent days, Casperson said he had no choice but to take the lead publicly on the issue.
“We were getting very close to April 11th, so that’s why we jumped on it. More so to get the public aware of the policy so that they had some honest input on it. That’s why we did what we did and when we announced we were going to have legislation drafted pertaining to it, then the media picked up on it immediately and now the parents have picked up on immediately,” said Casperson.
As a result, public comment has been extended to May 11, and Casperson says the parents he’s heard from have been sounding a consistent message.
“I’m hearing overwhelmingly a problem with the breadth and the scope of the policy,” said Casperson, who points out the policy would have otherwise taken effect and school districts statewide would be required to follow the guidelines of the State Board of Education.
The board’s policy would allow students to use bathrooms according to the gender with which they identify. However, it doesn’t stop there.
“The bathroom is one component but they’ve gone so far as to say they’re going to allow the kids to blend together even in locker room settings. So you’re going to put a young boy in with the young girls, as if somehow that’s acceptable,” said Casperson, a father of four.
The aspect of the policy that may bother Casperson most is language that would keep parents in the dark about the gender identity struggle of their children.
“They also have a policy that they put in place that would allow for the school to let the child recommend they want to change their gender and they want to change their name but they don’t want their parents involved. This policy says then that the school then must not let the parents know about what’s going on,” said Casperson.
He says that will effectively lead to chaos.
“For parent-teacher conferences, the teacher would have to change back and identify the child by their biological name for the parent-teacher conference but then go back and let the child be identified with the other gender,” said Casperson.
“That is unacceptable,” he added. “To exclude the parents and almost be deceptive to the parents about what’s going on when their child is going to school like that is out of bounds.”
Casperson is hoping to avoid the fierce backlash seen in other states over this issue by taking a more limited approach. On the bathroom and locker room front, he’s seeking accommodation for all.
“We’re suggesting through the legislation that they make accommodations for kids that are struggling with their gender identity and they they not be forced to go into either [bathroom], but at the end of the day they have an option to go somewhere, probably more like a private situation, a singular bathroom,” said Casperson.
But he says the State Board of Education recommendation is a non-starter with him.
“It seems like the Board of Education is just suggesting it’s absolutely no big deal to send what would be a little boy into a girls’ bathroom because they’ve identified themselves through their gender as a girl,” said Casperson.
As for the policy that would potentially keep parents in the dark about their child adopting a a different gender while at school, Casperson says his legislation would allow any suspicion of abuse in the home to be reported to authorities and figured out in court. Outside of such accusations, he says parents must be involved.
“If there’s none of that known or nothing is identified as wrong at home, parents have to be proactive with the child to make the request. The request can still be made. The child can change the identity, but it needs to be done with the parents,” said Casperson.
Michigan House Speaker Kevin Cotter is strongly supportive of the bill and Republican State Rep. Ed McBroom is drafting similar legislation in the Michigan House of Representatives.
But the pushback is already brewing. State Board of Education President John Austin says the legislation could put Michigan in violation of federal civil rights laws. He also says it would be “damaging for young students” and put those at issue in a position for bullying, depression or suicide. Austin says he doesn’t want Michigan to follow the path of North Carolina.
Casperson defends his bill against both arguments. First, he says every provision is designed to protect the rights of all students.
“There’s been accusations made towards myself and what the bill does and it’s not accurate at all. We are recognizing the need and that there are things that need to be set in place to protect these children. We’re simply saying the policy should be looking at all children and making sure all children are protected and safe and that all children certainly have a right to privacy,” said Casperson.
Furthermore, he says the Michigan bill differs considerably from the new law in North Carolina.
“I’m not going as far-reaching as what they are. I’m simply dealing with K-12 education in the State of Michigan. When it comes to the private sector and business community, if they want to set policies for restrooms inside their facilities in their businesses, I’m not dealing with that,” said Casperson.
With just a few weeks until the public comment comes to a close, Casperson says he will be ready for whatever moves the State Board of Education tries to make.
“We don’t have that far to go before the Department of Education gets final with their weigh-in period, so they’re all coming together pretty quick here,” said Casperson.
“I suspect they’ll have a chance to change it. If they don’t want to change it, then I’ll make an attempt to run the legislation,” said Casperson.
Greg Corombos of Radio America and Jim Geraghty of National Review embark on an all-Hillary edition of the podcast. They laugh as the Clinton campaign accuses Bernie Sanders of trying to rig the nomination by urging super-delegates to switch to his side. They also slam Hillary Clinton for nodding along as her supporter says American citizens are terrorists and gun and ammo makers are making us that way. And we shake our heads as the Clinton campaign again stresses that she will release any information as to whether aliens visited the earth.
President Obama tried to downplay the FBI investigation into Hillary Clinton’s use of a private server for handling some of the government’s most sensitive information, but a former top Justice Department official says Obama’s comments ignore the law and are an obvious attempt to convince the FBI not to recommend charges against Clinton.
On Fox News Sunday, anchor Chris Wallace asked Obama if he was convinced that national security was not compromised by Clinton’s handling of sensitive information.
“Here’s what I know. Hillary Clinton was an outstanding secretary of state. She would never intentionally put America in any kind of jeopardy,” said Obama.
Former Deputy Assistant Attorney General Victoria Toensing is appalled by that explanation.
“Doesn’t this former constitutional law professor know the law?” she asked.
Beyond trying to downplay Clinton’s actions, Toensing believes Obama’s comments are meant as a message to the FBI. She compared it to the impact of Obama scolding the Supreme Court at a State of the Union address over it’s ruling in the Citizens United v. FEC decision.
“He wanted to get rid of what he called the benefactors of that opinion. The IRS heard that message and they started a war against conservative groups, not letting them get their tax-exempt status,” said Toensing. “[Obama’s statement on Hillary Clinton] was a message to the FBI and to the Department of Justice.”
Toensing says “intent” works against Clinton in two different ways. She says the first federal statute in question is 18 U.S.C 1924.
“The only conduct one has to intend in that statute is to take classified information and put it in an ‘unauthorized location.’ Those are the exact words of the statute,” said Toensing. “She had to intend to have classified information in an unauthorized location and the statute doesn’t say diddly squat about whether the information had to be marked classified.”
She says 18 U.S.C. 793(f) is even more dire for Clinton.
“In that statute it talks about grossly negligently handling classified information. That’s a felony. There’s no intent in that. It just had to be grossly negligent,” said Toensing.
Obama then tried to reassure Americans that no top secret information was in danger of being compromised.
“There’s classified and then there’s classified. There’s stuff that is really top secret and there is information that is being presented to the president or the secretary of state that you might not want on the transom or going out over the wire but is basically stuff you could get in open source,” said Obama to Fox News Sunday.
Toensing agrees that classified information comes on several different levels and some is far more sensitive than other pieces. But she says that distinction doesn’t help Clinton either.
“Hillary Clinton’s emails have been deemed in that very top category. This was not stuff that was just information from public sources. This was not the lowest level. She had the top, top level on her server. In fact, it’s so top level that, guess what, they won’t release it,” said Toensing.
Toensing is also livid at the mainstream media for failing to challenge erroneous assertions made by Clinton and her supporters.
“On George Stephanopoulos yesterday, Tony Podesta said, ‘Well, we now found out that Colin Powell did it. Condi Rice did it.’ No, neither one of them had a private server for all of their government business,” said Toensing.
She admits other officials may have sent or received private emails that contained classified information but that is far different than what Clinton did.
“They didn’t purposefully have every single bit of government business in a personal server,” said Toensing.
Obama also told Fox News Sunday that he never discusses an active investigation with his attorney general but insisted that politics would never influence decisions over whether to bring charges against someone.
Toensing finds that absurd.
“Let’s go back to Lois Lerner. Do you doubt for one second that she broke the law in what she did to conservative organizations by holding them up? And who at the Justice Department investigated Lois Lerner? Someone who had contributed $8,000 to the Obama campaign,” said Toensing.
She that is another example of the media double standard.
“Can you imagine George Bush handing someone who had donated thousands of dollars to his campaign, putting them on an investigation of someone in his administration. The press would have gone crazy,” said Toensing.
Toensing says no one knows when or if the FBI will recommend charges but did note that FBI Director James Comey recently said there is no timetable for finishing the investigation.
“I guess that should worry you if you’re Hillary Clinton,” said Toensing.