Norbert Hofer, the candidate for Austria’s right-wing Freedom Party (FPÖ), won 36.4 per cent of the vote, and will face an independent candidate in the final vote next month.
It was the Freedom Party’s best result in a national election and comes after a campaign that focused on the impact of the migrant crisis…
Exclusive Data Analysis: GOP Primary Turnout Up 8.7 Million Votes, More Than 60 Percent In 2016 Versus 2012 – Breitbart
Newly compiled data after the New York Republican primary shows that among the states that have voted so far in 2016, GOP primary and caucus turnout is up well more than 8 million votes and well more than 60 percent over 2012’s process.
Top GOP officials say that the intense interest in the GOP primary throughout the year so far only serves to benefit the Republican nominee in November, whoever it ends up being.
In total, so far, nationwide the GOP has seen an increase of 8,719,041 votes in 2016’s primaries, caucuses and conventions over 2012’s primaries, caucuses and conventions….
The Increasing Instability of Obamacare – National Review
United Healthcare’s announcement that it is pulling out of most of the exchanges established by the Affordable Care Act (ACA) – a.k.a. Obamacare – is one of many indications of the law’s continuing instability.
United made this decision for obvious reasons: It was losing too much money, with no prospect of a quick turnaround. The company reported that it lost $475 million on plans sold in the ACA’s exchanges in 2015 and expects to lose another $650 million in 2016…
Rape Trees, Dead Migrants And The Consequences Of An Open Border – Breitbart
Many of the most caring people in the U.S. think they are helping the poor from Latin America by leaving our Southwest border wide open between ports-of-entry, but they are not. Several of the transnational criminal organizations (cartels) operating in Central America and Mexico make an estimated one-third or more of their profits from illegal immigration. Specifically, two groups below Texas, the Gulf and Los Zetas cartels, are largely fueled by the trafficking and smuggling of human beings.
The brutality of these criminal groups, from incinerating innocents in a network of ovens to their near complete control of state and local governments, is largely paid for by funds generated from illegal immigration – a shadowy economic engine that is only possible because we refuse to properly secure our border with Mexico….
Former Senator Announces Upcoming Marriage To Man 50 Years His Junior Nearly 20 Years After His Wife Died – The Blaze
Former U.S. Sen. Harris Wofford announced that he will be marrying a man 50 years younger than himself almost 20 years after his wife passed away from leukemia, according to an op-ed that was published in the New York Times Sunday…
Nebraska Abolishes Civil Forfeiture – Daily Signal
Nebraska Gov. Pete Ricketts, a Republican, has signed a major state forfeiture bill into law. Like New Mexico before it, the Cornhusker State now requires a criminal conviction before property can be forfeited.
Civil forfeiture is the law enforcement tool, which allows property suspected of being involved in, or derived from, criminal activity to be seized by police, sheriffs, and federal agents. It was ramped up in the 1980’s as a means of combatting the drug trade and organized crime, with the goal of stripping kingpins of their assets and ill-gotten gains.
Thirty years later, though, forfeiture has morphed into a system that is far more often used to seize relatively small amounts of cash, that stacks the deck against property owners fighting to get it back, and that encourages profiteering by law enforcement authorities….
Obama Infuriates The Brits As He Threatens To Send UK ‘To The Back Of The Queue’ If They Vote To Leave The European Union – Daily Mail
President Barack Obama told Britain today that it would have to ‘go to the back of the queue’ if it leaves the European Union, then tries to negotiate its own trade deal with the United States.
A US-UK trade agreement is not going to happen ‘any time soon,’ Obama said during a joint news conference with British Prime Minister David Cameron….
Solar Developer SunEdison In Bankruptcy As Aggressive Growth Plan Unravels – Reuters
SunEdison Inc SUNE.N, once the fastest-growing U.S. renewable energy company, filed for Chapter 11 bankruptcy protection on Thursday after a short-lived but aggressive binge of debt-fueled acquisitions proved unsustainable.
In its bankruptcy filing, the company said it had assets of $20.7 billion and liabilities of $16.1 billion as of Sept. 30.
SunEdison’s two publicly traded subsidiaries, TerraForm Power Inc (TERP.O) and TerraForm Global Inc (GLBL.O), are not part of the bankruptcy. In a statement, the companies, known as yieldcos, said they had sufficient liquidity to operate and that their assets are not available to satisfy the claims of SunEdison creditors…
Governor Enables 200,000 Felons To Vote In November – WorldNetDaily
Virginia Gov. Terry McAuliffe promised Friday to use an executive order to restore voting rights to felons, an announcement that leaves the Republican-dominated legislature – some of whom have opposed an overturn to the Civil War-era prohibition – in the cold…
The family of a highly decorated U.S. Navy Seal veteran who died of cancer two months before his wedding is fighting the deportation of his Thai fiancee, the mother of his 11-year-old daughter.
Tim Farrell served 21 years for his country before moving to Thailand in 1998. There, he met Bao, and in 2004, the couple welcomed their daughter, Thawan.
Tim, a North Andover native, was diagnosed with terminal cancer in June, and, by August, he had bought a house and moved his family to Derry, New Hampshire, so that Thawan could continue the education she started at a prestigious English-language school in Thailand. Tim had always planned to move his daughter to the United States for school, but hastened his plans as he became sick.
Tim died on Dec. 26, two months before he and Bao were to marry and get Bao a green card. Now Bao’s visiting visa has expired and she has filed for an extension through August, as Tim’s siblings reach out to attorneys and politicians in the hope of securing her a green card.
Thawan is a U.S. citizen and can stay in the country, but, at just 11 years old, the fifth-grader needs her mom.
“It’s been really hard without my dad, and my mom is here for me. So that’s why I really want her to stay with me,” Thawan said, through tears. “I want to ask them, ‘Why she can’t stay here with me?”
But attorneys and the offices of elected officials have told the family the situation is bleak and there may be no avoiding deportation.
“I literally was standing by his bed when he died, and I told him, ‘I’ll make sure your family stays here,'” said Tim’s sister Janice Moro, who started an online petition to help her sister-in-law stay in the country. “I can’t expect that anyone would want to separate mom and daughter.”
Immigration attorney Randall Drew, whose office is in Bedford, New Hampshire, told FOX25’s Christine McCarthy that the family’s situation is dire, but there are some possible options.
“It’s a pretty tough spot to be in,” Drew said. “What needs to happen is the government needs to execute some prosecutorial discretion and allow her to stay, grant her something called deferred action or perhaps humanitarian parole.”
That outcome is rare, Drew said, but the family’s situation is extreme.
Another possibility, Drew said, is to apply for a green card through a common-law marriage after death.
“There is a section in the New Hampshire law that states, if you’ve lived together as a married couple and held yourself out as such for the past three years or more and one of the partners dies, under that limited set of circumstances, the person can be recognized as the spouse of the deceased,” Drew said.
If Bao qualifies as a common-law spouse, she would then need to self-petition for her green card as the spouse of a service member. That, in conjunction with proof that Tim’s time in the service might have contributed to his illness or aggravated it, could help her.
Drew recommended the family reach out to elected officials and appeal for help, while also working with both an immigration attorney and a family law attorney.
“It doesn’t seem fair,” Moro said. “Twenty-one years he gave for this country. They should be able to do something.”
After a recent surge in threatening behavior by Iran and reports that it may soon be given access to the U.S. financial system, the House Intelligence Committee opened an investigation into whether Obama officials misled Congress about the July 2015 nuclear deal with Iran (the Joint Comprehensive plan of Action, or JCPOA). The “historic” deal, they said, would help bring Iran into the “community of nations” and lead to improved relations between Iran and the United States.
While this congressional investigation is a welcome development, it is too little and too late to reverse the Obama administration’s policy of offering any and all concessions – including over $100 billion in sanctions relief – to get a nuclear agreement with Iran. Most members of Congress thought the JCPOA was a bad deal; the majority of them voted against it last fall. But many now realize that this agreement is in fact an enormous fraud that is undermining Middle East and international security.
As I have explained here on National Review Online, in “Obama’s Iran Deal Is the Opposite of What He Promised the American People,” the negotiations that produced the JCPOA were an endless series of fallacies and deceptions. To get Iran to the negotiating table, the Obama administration foolishly agreed that the mullahs could continue to enrich uranium and develop advanced enrichment centrifuges. This means that the timeline for an Iranian nuclear weapon will shorten when the JCPOA is in effect, because Iran will all the while be improving its capability to produce nuclear fuel.
Obama officials made several misleading statements about the JCPOA last July that have come back to haunt them. These will be the focus of the House Intelligence Committee’s investigation.
One of the most controversial of these statements was President Obama’s and Secretary Kerry’s assertion that under this agreement, Iran agreed to comply with U.N. Security Council resolutions barring missile tests for eight years. But there is no language barring missile tests in the JCPOA; this provision is buried in a U.N. Security Council resolution (Resolution 2231) that merely endorsed the JCPOA.
Obama officials later clarified that although the JCPOA does not bar Iranian missile tests, existing U.N. and U.S. missile sanctions would remain in place. But this isn’t exactly true, either. After the International Atomic Energy Agency certified that Iran had taken certain steps to roll back its nuclear program (a certification the IAEA made in January this year), Resolution 2231 lifted previous Security Council missile sanctions and replaced them with much weaker language “calling” on Iran not to test missiles. According to diplomats cited by Reuters, this new formulation is not legally binding and cannot be enforced under Chapter Seven of the U.N. Charter, which deals with sanctions and authorization of military force. The Obama administration made no mention of this in its briefings to Congress on the JCPOA.
For its part, Iran says it never agreed to missile restrictions in the JCPOA and claims its missile tests do not violate Security Council resolutions because they are not designed to carry nuclear warheads. This is absurd. Iran’s missile program is widely believed to be a delivery system for nuclear warheads. If Iran were telling the truth, it would be the only nation in history without a nuclear-weapons program that nonetheless developed missiles with a range of 2,000 kilometers or more. Iran is not building long-range missiles to carry warheads full of dynamite or to fire monkeys into space.
Iran tested ballistic missiles last fall and last month. Written on the sides of some missiles recently launched were the words “Israel must be wiped off the earth.” Last week, Iran’s supreme leader, Ayatollah Ali Khamenei, responded to criticism of the missile tests by saying that Iran’s future is a world of missiles, not negotiations.
Congress is worried that the Obama administration, in an effort to make sure Obama’s “legacy” nuclear deal is not jeopardized, will refuse to take any significant action against Iran for its missile tests. Tellingly, the administration has studiously avoided saying that the missiles Tehran tested were capable of delivering nuclear weapons and that they violated any Security Council resolution. A joint letter sent last week to the U.N. Secretary General from the United States, the United Kingdom, and France said that Iran’s missiles tests were “inconsistent with” and “in defiance of” Resolution 2231 but did not refer to them as a violation.
Congress knows there was at least one secret side deal to the JCPOA that was not briefed to Congress as required by the Corker-Cardin Act. One side deal allowed Iran to inspect itself for evidence of past nuclear-weapons-related work; it was discovered when Senator Tom Cotton (R., Ark.) and Representative Mike Pompeo (R., Kan.) questioned IAEA officials about the JCPOA during a meeting in Vienna last July. Another secret side deal appears to require the IAEA to dumb down its reports on Iran’s nuclear program and its compliance with the JCPOA.
Congressional investigators are also troubled that contrary to administration claims that the JCPOA has the strongest verification provisions in history, the IAEA is unable to visit military facilities because the Iranian parliament approved an alternative version of the deal last October that put these facilities off-limits. The Obama administration has not publicly responded to the Iranian parliament’s action.
One of Congress’s newest concerns about the JCPOA stems from reports that the Obama administration is considering giving Iran at least partial access to the U.S. financial system. As Ilan Berman wrote last week on NRO, the administration may be about to violate promises it made to Congress last summer that it would not give Iran access to U.S. financial institutions or allow it to engage in off-shore dollar transactions with U.S. banks. If so, this would represent another concession to Iran and a sign that Congress cannot trust anything Obama officials have said about the JCPOA.
The House Intelligence Committee will also review a growing list of other belligerent actions by Iran contradicting the Obama administration’s claim that the JCPOA will help bring Iran into the community of nations. On March 29, for instance, the U.S. Navy intercepted an Iranian ship in the Persian Gulf that was transporting 1,500 Kalashnikov assault rifles, 200 rocket-propelled grenade launchers and 21 .50-caliber machine guns that were probably en route to Houthi rebels in Yemen. The Washington Post reported Monday that there have been at least two similar seizures over the last two months.
In addition, since the nuclear deal was announced, Iran has increased its support for Syrian president Bashar al-Assad’s regime, giving financial support and supplying Iranian and Hezbollah fighters. And last week, the U.S. indicted five Iranians for cyber attacks against U.S. banks, NASDAQ, and a New York dam.
Perhaps the most stunning indictment of Iran’s belligerent behavior since the JCPOA was announced was an unprecedented April 3, 2016, Wall Street Journal op-ed by United Arab Emirates Ambassador to the United States Yousef Al-Otaiba, in which he said:
Sadly, behind all the talk of change, the Iran we have long known – hostile, expansionist, violent – is alive and well, and as dangerous as ever.
Iran’s destabilizing behavior in the region must stop. Until it does, our hope for a new Iran should not cloud the reality that the old Iran is very much still with us – as dangerous and as disruptive as ever.
President Obama said at last week’s nuclear-security summit that Iran is following the “letter” but not the “spirit” of the JCPOA by complying with the terms of the deal but testing missiles, continuing to call for the destruction of Israel, and supporting terrorism. The House Intelligence Committee investigation indicates that Congress rejects this ludicrous statement and wants a full accounting of what the White House really agreed to in the JCPOA and whether the Obama administration deliberately misled lawmakers.
The House Intelligence Committee’s investigation will not kill the JCPOA or lead to new sanctions against Iran. Its report might condemn Obama officials for misleading Congress, but these officials are certain to ignore the report. Nevertheless, this is an important investigation: If it exposes the JCPOA as a fraudulent agreement that has only exacerbated Iran’s destabilizing behavior, it will pave the way for a Republican president (if one is elected in November) to throw out the JCPOA entirely and begin the process of forging a better agreement with our European allies. The committee’s investigation also may give Americans a better understanding of what kind of legacy President Obama really earned from the JCPOA and his nuclear diplomacy with Iran.
An illegal alien who hit a Texas firefighter head-on and killed him and his four-year-old stepdaughter and 22-month-old son will be charged with criminally negligent homicide if he recovers from his critical injuries.
The man did not have a drivers license and was in the country illegally, according to the CBS affiliate for Dallas/Fort Worth. He first came to the U.S. in 2006 but was deported in 2008.
L.P. Phillips of KRLD radio in Dallas spoke to ICE (U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement) officials who verified that Margarito Quintero was an illegal alien.
CBS DFW reported that ICE officials had no contact with Quintero until the accident.
Section 19.05 of the Texas Penal Code provides that “A person commits an offense if he causes the death of an individual by criminal negligence.” This offense is a state jail felony.
The North Texas volunteer firefighter, Captain Peter Hacking was hit head-on by Quintero. The 36-year-old father leaves a wife, a son, and four stepchildren.
“He was a great family man, that was first, family was first always and his fire department family,” firefighter Amy Cortez told the CBS affiliate. Captain Hacking was reported to always have a smile and be ready for telling a joke. He lived with his children in Nevada, a small community in Collin County. The volunteer fire department protects both the Nevada and Levon communities.
A fund has been set up for the family at the Independent Bank. A gofundme account has also been established to assist his widow and their surviving children.
The funerals for Captian Hacking and his two young children will be held this Saturday.
Was his instruction do everything you possible can at every junction to embarrass the United States? Check David Cameron giving him the stink eye.
HT: Daily Mail
The White House website has censored a video of French Pres. Francois Hollande saying that “Islamist terrorism” is at the “roots of terrorism.”
The White House briefly pulled video of a press event on terrorism with Pres. Obama, and when it reappeared on the WhiteHouse.gov website and YouTube, the audio of Hollande’s translator goes silent, beginning with the words “Islamist terrorism,” then begins again at the end of his sentence.
Even the audio of Hollande saying the words “Islamist terrorism” in French have, apparently, been edited from the video.
According to the official White House transcript of Hollande’s remarks, Hollande refers to “Islamist terrorism.” The audio of the bold text in brackets is missing from the video – the only point in the video were the audio is absent:
“We are also making sure that between Europe and the United States there can be a very high level coordination.
“But we’re also well aware that the roots of terrorism, [Islamist terrorism, is in Syria and in Iraq. We therefore have to act both in Syria and in Iraq, and this is what we’re doing within the framework of the coalition.] And we note that Daesh is losing ground thanks to the strikes we’ve been able to launch with the coalition.”
Watch the video of Hollande’s censored comment:
Pres. Obama has come under fire from Republicans for his refusal to say “radical Islam” when discussing terrorism and, again yesterday, he declined to do so.
Obama made three vague mentions of terrorism, citing the “hands of terrorism,” the “scourge of terrorism,” and “counterterrorism” in Thursday’s press event.
Barack Obama told an audience of Argentinian youth that the differences between socialism and capitalism make interesting conversation but just pick whatever works. The ideological-left U.S. president suddenly doesn’t have an affinity for ideology.
He said in the past there was a sharp division between communists, socialists and capitalists but that is merely an intellectual argument and it’s not so today.
The Marxist in the White House is erasing the lines between two dangerous ideologies and the one that made the U.S. great, just as he erased our borders. This is a man who would be at home in communist China.
“So often in the past there has been a division between left and right, between capitalists and communists or socialists, and especially in the Americas, that’s been a big debate,” Obama said at the Buenos Aires town hall.
“Those are interesting intellectual arguments, but I think for your generation, you should be practical and just choose from what works. You don’t have to worry about whether it really fits into socialist theory or capitalist theory. You should just decide what works.”
For Obama, high taxation, wild spending, government agency domination over the people and heavy regulations work which tells you what he is.
Obama made his comments in response to a question about establishing nonprofit community organizations and said it’s important to get government and private sector investment, which for him is a sketchy relationship between Wall Street and DC.
“To president Castro, I said you’ve made great progress in educating young people [Cuban dictators indoctrinate its youth]. Every child in Cuba gets a basic education. Medical care, the life expectancy of Cubans is equivalent to the United States despite it being a very poor country because they have access to health care. That’s a huge achievement,” he said about the repressive regime. “They should be congratulated. But you drive around Havana and you see the economy is not working. It looks like it did in the 1950s.”
The US president likes socialism but also likes the capitalism, both of which he has subscribed to for the last seven years.
Then he told them not to rigidly adhere to labels as if the systems of socialism and capitalism are mere labels.
“You have to be practical in asking yourself, How do you achieve the goals of equality and inclusion, but also recognize the market system produces a lot of wealth and goods and services and innovation and it also gives individuals freedom because they have initiative, depending on the social issues you are trying to address, what works? What you’ll find is the most successful societies and economies are the ones that are rooted in a market-based system but also realize a market does not work by itself. It has to have a social and moral and ethical and community basis.”
His love of wealth redistribution and social [unfair] justice trumps all.
During his trip, he told the Cuban dictator that his revolution was like ours – it was a liberation movement – and he told Argentinians earlier in the week that he is frustrated with the separation of powers.
FLASHBACK 2012: Socialist Or Fascist – Thomas Sowell
It bothers me a little when conservatives call Barack Obama a “socialist.” He certainly is an enemy of the free market, and wants politicians and bureaucrats to make the fundamental decisions about the economy. But that does not mean that he wants government ownership of the means of production, which has long been a standard definition of socialism.
What President Obama has been pushing for, and moving toward, is more insidious: government control of the economy, while leaving ownership in private hands. That way, politicians get to call the shots but, when their bright ideas lead to disaster, they can always blame those who own businesses in the private sector.
Politically, it is heads-I-win when things go right, and tails-you-lose when things go wrong. This is far preferable, from Obama’s point of view, since it gives him a variety of scapegoats for all his failed policies, without having to use President Bush as a scapegoat all the time.
Government ownership of the means of production means that politicians also own the consequences of their policies, and have to face responsibility when those consequences are disastrous – something that Barack Obama avoids like the plague.
Thus the Obama administration can arbitrarily force insurance companies to cover the children of their customers until the children are 26 years old. Obviously, this creates favorable publicity for President Obama. But if this and other government edicts cause insurance premiums to rise, then that is something that can be blamed on the “greed” of the insurance companies.
The same principle, or lack of principle, applies to many other privately owned businesses. It is a very successful political ploy that can be adapted to all sorts of situations.
One of the reasons why both pro-Obama and anti-Obama observers may be reluctant to see him as fascist is that both tend to accept the prevailing notion that fascism is on the political right, while it is obvious that Obama is on the political left.
Back in the 1920s, however, when fascism was a new political development, it was widely – and correctly – regarded as being on the political left. Jonah Goldberg’s great book “Liberal Fascism” cites overwhelming evidence of the fascists’ consistent pursuit of the goals of the left, and of the left’s embrace of the fascists as one of their own during the 1920s.
Mussolini, the originator of fascism, was lionized by the left, both in Europe and in America, during the 1920s. Even Hitler, who adopted fascist ideas in the 1920s, was seen by some, including W.E.B. Du Bois, as a man of the left.
It was in the 1930s, when ugly internal and international actions by Hitler and Mussolini repelled the world, that the left distanced themselves from fascism and its Nazi offshoot – and verbally transferred these totalitarian dictatorships to the right, saddling their opponents with these pariahs.
What socialism, fascism and other ideologies of the left have in common is an assumption that some very wise people – like themselves – need to take decisions out of the hands of lesser people, like the rest of us, and impose those decisions by government fiat.
The left’s vision is not only a vision of the world, but also a vision of themselves, as superior beings pursuing superior ends. In the United States, however, this vision conflicts with a Constitution that begins, “We the People…”
That is why the left has for more than a century been trying to get the Constitution’s limitations on government loosened or evaded by judges’ new interpretations, based on notions of “a living Constitution” that will take decisions out of the hands of “We the People,” and transfer those decisions to our betters.
The self-flattery of the vision of the left also gives its true believers a huge ego stake in that vision, which means that mere facts are unlikely to make them reconsider, regardless of what evidence piles up against the vision of the left, and regardless of its disastrous consequences.
Only our own awareness of the huge stakes involved can save us from the rampaging presumptions of our betters, whether they are called socialists or fascists. So long as we buy their heady rhetoric, we are selling our birthright of freedom.
A Florida man has been arrested after allegedly stealing a $60,000 BMW a day after a car dealership turned him down from buying it with food stamps.
Nicholas Jackson went to an auto dealership where managers declined his business when he tried to buy the BMW with a credit card and his Electronic Benefit Transfer (EBT) card, authorities said.
On Thursday night, the Pompano Beach dealership was burglarized and the BMW was missing along with keys belonging to 60 other cars, according to the Martin County Sheriff’s Office.
Authorities said 36-year-old Jackson did not have money to fill the tank of the stolen BMW and subsequently ran out of gas at an intersection.
When officers responded to a suspicious person call on Friday morning, they found Jackson, the BMW and the stolen keys, according to the sheriff’s office.
Investigators were able to trace the BMW and the keys back to the Pompano Beach dealership.
Jackson has since been charged with grand theft auto and is being held in jail on a $20,000 bond.
What happens if you’re that guy who really likes this girl but she keeps dismissing you? Does there come a time when you finally realize this specific girl will never want you? And then comes a girl, maybe not so gorgeous but she’s attracted to you and sees you as a great guy. What do you do? Do you keep hanging around hoping the dream girl finally realizes you do exist – after you’ve spent forever conveying your desire? Or do you find a relationship with someone willing to be with you?
So, imagine how this little scenario plays out in the world of foreign policy.
As reported by the Jerusalem Post, “A delegation of Iraqi Kurds will visit Moscow in April to discuss Russian weapons supplies, the RIA Novosti news agency on Thursday cited the head of an Iraqi Kurd representation office in Russia as saying.
RIA on Wednesday quoted the Russian consulate in Iraq as saying Russia has already supplied weapons to Iraqi Kurds and that the first shipment had arrived on March 14. It said the shipment had included five Zu-23-2 anti-aircraft cannons and 20,000 shells for the cannons.”
Having been in Kurdistan, I can attest that, outside of Israel, you will not find more pro-American, pro-Western people in the Middle East. They wholeheartedly have assisted U.S. forces in Iraq with the defeat of Saddam’s forces as well as Islamic jihadists. They were all in with the new Iraqi government and constitution, yet, with the coming of one Barack Obama, they’ve once again been dismissed.
As a Member of the U.S. Congress I hosted representatives of the Kurdish Regional Government in my office on several occasions and attended many of their sponsored events.
You want an effective ground force to combat ISIS, the spread of Islamic jihadism, and check the hegemonic designs of Iran? There’s no one better than the Kurds. The problem is that while the Kurds were requesting support from the United States, they were rejected. The weapons systems aid was provided to the central Iraq government in Baghdad, and guess what? They were distributed mainly to the Shiite elements, who in turn quickly dropped them as they withdrew, ran away, and then were confiscated by ISIS.
The return on investment for these weapons would have been much higher if they’d been delivered directly to the Kurds. And even worse, after Barack Obama achieved permission from the closet Islamist, his dear friend Turkish President Erdogan, for the use of U.S. military air basing, the Kurds then found themselves being bombed by Turkish forces. These are the same Turkish forces who somehow turned a blind eye as ISIS fighters flowed out of Turkey into northern Iraq and Syria.
So, like the fella who’s been rejected by the girl he wanted, the fella is looking elsewhere to the girl who’s said, “I like you.” Enter Russia and Vladimir Putin…and we all know Putin has some issues with Erdogan and Turkey after they shot down his aircraft.
This week we heard about Russia conducting a partial pullout of forces in Syria. Needless to say it appears Putin is building his coalition in the region. We know Egypt’s President el-Sisi has visited Russia – he’s been rejected by the same girl. Last year, right before the U.N General Assembly, Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu visited Russia – he has been rejected by the same girl. So one has to ask, when will Jordan’s leader King Abdullah court the new”girl?”
The game of foreign policy is being lost by the United States under the presidency of Barack Obama. And these nations who were staunch allies and supporters are realizing they must court others. We’re watching the impact and influence of America slip away. Sure, progressive socialists will say, we’re more liked now – but I will counter that we’re not respected, by friend or foe.
We were once the desired date, but now we’re turning into something completely undesirable. We’re not the trusted ally we once were. And thanks to a nebulous and failed foreign policy folks are doing following the advice of Smokey Robinson and the Miracles: “You better shop around.”
After a week of silence on whether Republicans should refuse to consider President Obama’s Supreme Court nominee, Senator Mark Kirk is speaking out.
In a Chicago Sun-Times op-ed posted moments ago, Kirk argues that, in the spirit of honoring the late Justice Antonin Scalia, Republicans should place the Constitution before their party.
“I recognize the right of the President, be it Republican or Democrat, to place before the Senate a nominee for the Supreme Court and I fully expect and look forward to President Obama advancing a nominee for the Senate to consider,” he writes.
“I also recognize my duty as a Senator to either vote in support or opposition to that nominee following a fair and thorough hearing along with a complete and transparent release of all requested information. The Senate’s role in providing advice and consent is as important and significant as the President’s role in proposing a nominee.”
By the same token, he urges the president to put forth a nominee who rejects partisanship and extremism.
“My sincerest hope is that President Obama nominates someone who captures the sentiment he spoke about before the Illinois General Assembly this month – a nominee who can bridge differences, a nominee that finds common ground and a nominee that does not speak or act in the extreme.”
Kirk’s words mark one of the more significant breaks from Majority Leader Mitch McConnell’s swift call to block consideration for the president’s nominee; though a handful of senators up for reelection, such as Wisconsin’s Ron Johnson and Alaska’s Lisa Murkowski, have shied away from McConnell’s strategy, his conference is by and large standing behind him. But for Kirk, arguably the most vulnerable Republican in the 2016 Senate field, the stakes are high, and his team spent the last several days mulling his words carefully. In the interim, Illinois representative Tammy Duckworth, the Democrat who is likely to be Kirk’s opponent in November, blasted the senator’s silence, calling on Kirk to “immediately level with the people of Illinois, and let us know whether he supports the Constitution, or if he’ll be a rubber stamp for Mitch McConnell’s obstructionist and unconstitutional gambit.”
Kirk has spent his career crafting a moderate political profile in the upper chamber, and has angered Republicans for regularly crossing the aisle, such as when he voted to maintain funding for so-called sanctuary cities. A more tempered stance on the current SCOTUS fight, however, shields him from Duckworth’s criticisms, and could help him preserve his appeal to independents – who, in the battleground state of Illinois, will be key come November.
GOP senators, if you give whichever Constitution-shredding libfascist Obama nominates a hearing, much less a vote, we are gone. Out of the GOP. Finished. And that means you’re finished too.
The “we” is us conservatives, and we are not in the mood for any pompous, delusional Senate-speak about how you can’t do what we elected you to do and defy Obama. You need to take a stand and shut him down. And we don’t care how much heat you have to take from the mainstream media and your distinguished commie colleagues across the aisle.
Man the hell up.
Our enemies keep blabbing about your alleged “duty” to act. Yeah, you have a Constitutional duty all right – to the freaking Constitution.
The reaction of Mitch McConnell was a pleasant surprise. After rolling over again and again, it seems to have dawned on Mitch that we conservatives are done with a submissive Senate going Gimp every time Obama demands something. Spending, Obamacare, illegal immigration – the GOP hasn’t been seemed to be able to draw a line, much less hold one, and we conservatives have been wondering why we even bothered to retake the Senate in 2014. But now our right to freely exercise our religion, our right to keep and bear arms, and even our right to criticize politicians like Hillary Clinton are at stake. There’s nowhere left to retreat to. Back, meet wall.
This is it. This is the moment you need to stop pretending the Senate is some sort of collegial debating society and realize that this is a life and death struggle for the future of our country. If the left gets its way, America is in serious trouble. And so are you, because if the GOP Senate can’t even stop the left from turning the Supreme Court over to the kind of people who run safe space universities, then what damn use is a GOP Senate?
We’ll be gone from your flailing party. We’ll check out, and then you’ll check out of the cloakroom for good. The revolt is already barreling down the highway; your weakness will only supercharge it. Do you think Donald Trump is some sort of accident? He’s the result of you and the rest of the GOP talking a big game about liberal abstinence and then getting to D.C. and giving it up to the first smooth talking establishmentarian you meet at the bus station.
You should be afraid, because this is about your careers. And remember, K Street’s not going to need you quite so much when there’s a big Democrat Senate majority after you betray us again – you might have to (gasp!) go get your sorry rears real jobs.
Supersize this, squishes. Are you feeling me?
But most of you are smart enough to understand that and to cultivate a healthy fear of losing your cushy sinecures – the majority of you seem to get that you don’t want to go home and run on not having stopped the SCOTUS nominee who just gave the thumbs up to trucks rumbling through your constituents’ neighborhoods with a speaker blaring, “Bring out your guns!”
But we can feel how much you truly want to submit, to adopt that chin-stroking pose of thoughtful pseudo-wisdom on some Sunday morning show and disclaim about your solemn duties and how the president’s candidate deserves careful consideration and blah blah blah blah blah. You know you’re in for mainstream media hell if you take a stand, and there’s nothing you hate more than having to actually defend conservatism rather than basking in the warm glow of strange new respect by going along and getting along with the liberal narrative. But most of you are also canny enough to see that this time is different, that this time you won’t be able to walk some weaselly tightrope where you avoid liberal establishment hate while not alienating your conservative voting base quite enough for it to toss you out of office.
Everyone knows fussy little Lindsey Graham would love to reach across the aisle and hug some guy on the other side, but he knows that South Carolina voters can tolerate only so much cavorting with the enemy. John McCain’s got an election in November and Arizona voters are watching, so he’ll hold fast even though we can see he’s aching to maverick all over conservatives again.
But then there are fools like Dean Heller of Nevada, who decided to respond with a joke when failing to commit to blocking whoever Obama nominates:
“‘The chances of approving a new nominee are slim, but Nevadans should have a voice in the process. That’s why I encourage the President to use this opportunity to put the will of the people ahead of advancing a liberal agenda on the nation’s highest court. But should he decide to nominate someone to the Supreme Court, who knows, maybe it’ll be a Nevadan,’ said Senator Dean Heller.”
Hey Heller, you’re hella unfunny. Do you think attacks upon Nevadans’ First and Second Amendment rights are comedy gold? Let me help you, and every other spineless senatorial sissy, with what you need to say:
“President Obama has spent over seven years disrespecting and disregarding the Constitution. He and his liberal soulmates have expressed nothing but utter contempt for the separation of powers and for our most basic rights. I will not stand by and allow them any further opportunity to infringe upon our freedoms. So my advice to Obama is not to bother nominating anyone to replace Justice Scalia, but if he does so then I shall withhold my consent. I will not support hearings on, or a vote on, or confirmation of, any Obama Supreme Court nominee, ever. Period.”
That’s how you do it. And unless Heller does, in two years I and others will be supporting and donating to his primary opponent – who I hope will be Adam Laxalt, the current Nevada Attorney General and a real conservative. But here’s a little secret – I hope Heller doesn’t come out clearly for what Hugh Hewitt has hashtagged #NoHearingsNoVotes. I hope he keeps trying to please the liberal media instead of his constituents. Why? Because I want us conservatives to destroy the budding career of some RINO next cycle, to select one wavering weakling and boot him out of office for the crime of defying us. The British used to occasionally shoot one of their admirals in order to encourage the others to greater bravery and resolve. We GOP conservatives should adopt this innovative incentivization strategy and each cycle cull the weakest from the herd, just to make sure that these Capitol Hill cretins remain more afraid of our wrath than the Washington Post’s.
No hearings, no votes – or you’ll be hearing from us, and you won’t be getting our votes.
President Obama on Monday condemned a weekend shooting rampage in Kalamazoo, Mich., calling it a stark example that more needs to be done to prevent gun violence in America.
The president said he phoned the mayor, police chief and sheriff in Kalamazoo to offer federal assistance in the investigation.
“Their local officials and first responders did an outstanding job in apprehending the individual very quickly,” he told a meeting of the National Governors Association at the White House. “But you’ve got families who are shattered today.”
Obama cited a series of executive actions he took last month designed to expand background checks on gun purchases, but he added that “it’s clear we’re going to need to do more to keep innocent Americans safe.”
An Über driver allegedly killed six people and injured two others during a Saturday shooting spree in Kalamazoo. The man, identified as police as Jason Brian Dalton, reportedly picked up passengers between shootings.
Obama cited last year’s mass shooting in San Bernardino, Calif., by Islamic State in Iraq and Syria sympathizers as an incident that terrorized the nation, adding “here’s a hard truth, we probably lost even more Americans than that this weekend alone.”
“I’ve got to assume that all of your are just as tired as I am of seeing this stuff happen in your states,” the president continued.
“So that’s an area where we need to partner and think about what we can do in a common-sense way, in a bipartisan way, without some of the ideological rhetoric that so often surrounds that issue.”
The shooting in Kalamazoo was just the latest mass incident of gun violence that has occured in Obama’s presidency.
Obama has delivered forceful, emotional calls for new gun laws after shootings in Newtown, Conn., in 2012 and Charleston, S.C. in 2015.
But the president has repeatedly been stymied by Republicans in Congress in passing new gun laws, such as universal background checks and an assault weapons ban.
In January, Obama issued a new executive actions clarifying which gun sellers are required to conduct background checks on buyers.
The Republican party has been attempting to commit suicide for as long as I can remember, yet, despite its best efforts, it has somehow managed to avoid shooting itself in the head. However, if its leaders decide to confirm Barack Obama’s next Supreme Court nominee, the GOP will bleed out all over the floor, and there’s nobody anywhere who will be able to stop the hemorrhaging.
Simply put, allowing the most corrupt and incompetent president in the history of the republic to replace the recently-departed Antonin Scalia with another Sonia Sotomayor would be criminally negligent on the part of Mitch McConnell and his crew, and even the moderate, Republican rump-swabs at Fox News know it.
The time has come for these go-along-to-get-along asshats to finally take a stand in defense of liberty, justice and the U.S. Contitution, and if they should fail to do so, they will prove once and for all that they never really did give half a shit about their country.
So, do the high mucky-mucks of the GOP have a death wish? I guess we’ll find out soon enough.
Newly uncovered internal memos reveal the Obama administration knowingly exaggerated charges of racial discrimination in probes of Ally Bank and other defendants in the $900 billion car-lending business as part of a “racial justice” campaign that’s looking more like a massive government extortion and shakedown operation.
So far, Obama’s Consumer Financial Protection Bureau has reached more than $220 million in settlements with several auto lenders since the agency launched its anti-discrimination crusade against the industry in 2013. Several other banks are under active investigation.
That’s despite the fact that the CFPB had no actual complaints of racial discrimination – it was all just based on half-baked statistics.
A confidential 23-page internal report detailing CFPB’s strategy for going after lenders shows why these companies are forking over millions of dollars in restitution and fines to the government despite denying any wrongdoing.
The high-level memo, sent by top CFPB civil-rights prosecutors to the bureau’s director and revealed by a House committee, admits their methods for proving discrimination were seriously flawed from the start and had little chance of holding up in court. Yet they figured they could muscle Ally, as well as future defendants, with threats and intimidation.
“Some of the claims being made in this case present issues, such as use of [race] proxying and reliance on the disparate-impact doctrine, that would pose litigation risks meriting serious consideration prior to taking administrative action or filing suit in district court,” the Oct. 7, 2013, memo addressed to CFPB chief Richard Cordray acknowledges.
“Nevertheless,” it added, “Ally may have a powerful incentive to settle the entire matter quickly without engaging in protracted litigation.”
At the time, the Detroit-based bank was seeking permission from the Federal Reserve to remain a financial holding company. Without regulatory approval, Ally risked losing key business lines, primarily its insurance subsidiaries.
“Protracted litigation” would present “a high hurdle” to Ally retaining such status, the CFPB lawyers conspired.
Prosecutors also sought to use the Community Reinvestment Act as leverage against Ally. At the time, the FDIC was reviewing the bank’s compliance with the anti-redlining law.
They huddled with FDIC and Federal Reserve officials to get them on board with their scheme; and the Fed assured them it would look favorably upon “a prompt and robust” settlement by Ally, while the FDIC confirmed that a quick resolution would help Ally pass its CRA exam.
So CFPB applied the screws to Ally, saying it had “statistical evidence” showing its participating dealers were “marking up” loan prices for blacks and Hispanics vs. whites (by an average of $3 a month). Ally fought back, insisting non-discriminatory factors, such as credit history, down payments, trade-ins, promotions and rate-shopping, explained differences in loan pricing. After conducting a preliminary regression analysis, the bank found these factors alone accounted for at least 70 percent of the “racial disparities” the government was claiming.
CFPB admits in the memo that it never considered these or other legitimate business aspects of the car deals it investigated: “Such factors were excluded as controls from the markup analysis.”
Also in its initial rebuttal, Ally complained CFPB’s entire case was based on “disparate impact” statistics, not actual complaints by consumers, and that those estimates relied on guesswork about the race of the borrowers. (The auto industry does not report borrower race, so CFPB tried to ID race by last name and ZIP code, a so-called “proxy” method that is wildly inaccurate.)
“The evidence of discrimination on the basis of race and national origin is strictly statistical,” the agency confessed in a report footnote.
With all these machinations hidden from public view, Cordray held a press conference to announce “the federal government’s largest auto-loan discrimination settlement in history.” He claimed that 235,000 minorities had been harmed by Ally, even though he didn’t know the race of a single borrower or whether they had actually been harmed.
“He had no idea how many actual victims there were because their whole case rested entirely on statistical estimations they admitted internally were inaccurate,” said a senior staffer for the House Financial Services Committee, which recently obtained the internal documents from CFPB.
In fact, CFPB still has not been able to definitively ID the race of any borrower it claims Ally victimized – which is why it has taken more than two years to send remuneration checks to alleged victims. Desperate to find them, the bureau recently had to mail 420,000 letters to Ally borrowers to coax at least 235,000 into taking the money, and to allow Cordray to save face.
Checks started going out this month to the fictitious victims – just in time for the election. So what if some recipients are white? They will all no doubt thank Democrats for the sudden, unexpected windfall of up to $520 in the mail.
President Obama spoke warmly about Islam during his speech at a mosque today, highlighting the contributions that Muslims had made to the fabric of American society.
“Islam has always been part of America,” he said, detailing the beginnings of the religion among African slaves brought to America. He also pointed out that Thomas Jefferson wrote in the Virginia statute for religious freedom that the “Mohammedan” should have his faith protected in the United States.
Obama met with Muslim leaders during a visit to the Islamic Society of Baltimore, before delivering a speech there. This is Obama’s first visit to a mosque as president – although George W. Bush also visited a mosque in New York City after the attacks of 9/11.
During his speech, he praised the religion for being a religion of peace – not the hate preached by groups like ISIS.
“The very word Islam comes from ‘Salam’ – peace,” he said. “The standard greeting is ‘As-Salaam-Alaikum’ – ‘Peace be upon you,’” he explained. “Like so many faiths, Islam is rooted in a commitment to compassion and mercy and justice and charity. “Whoever wants to enter paradise, the prophet Mohammad taught, let him treat people the way he would love to be treated,” he said as the audience applauded.
“For Christians like myself, I’m assuming that sounds familiar,” he continued.
Obama has frequently defended Muslim Americans – even meeting with leaders at private event at the White House last year. This is the biggest public display of support for the Muslim American community – cited by White House aides as a response to the anti-refugee and anti-Muslim rhetoric on the campaign trail from Republicans like Donald Trump.
Obama reminded the audience that political opponents of Thomas Jefferson accused him of being a Muslim. “So I was not the first,” he said lightly as the audience laughed. “It’s true. Look it up. I’m in good company.”
Obama pointed out that the founding fathers also supported the religion of Islam.
“Jefferson and John Adams had their own copies of the Koran,” he said. “Benjamin Franklin wrote, that even if the Mufti of Constantinople were to send a missionary to preach to us, he would find a pulpit at his service.”
He also recalled the history of mosques in America – pointing out that the oldest surviving mosque was in Iowa and that the first American mosque was built in North Dakota.
Obama also urged Christians to defend Muslim-Americans when their religion was under attack.
“If we’re serious about freedom of religion – and I’m speaking now to my fellow Christians, who remain the majority in this country – we have to understand, an attack on one faith is an attack on all our faiths,” he said.
He demanded that Americans stop profiling Muslims and treating them differently because of their faith – criticizing political rhetoric for inflaming hatred against the Muslim community.
“We have to reject a politics that seeks to manipulate prejudice or bias and targets people because of religion,” he said.
He specifically addressed young Muslim Americans, urging them not to grow cynical.
“Let me say it as clearly as I can, as President of the United States, you fit in here. Right here. You’re right where you belong. You’re part of America too,” he said.
According to photos on Twitter of the speech, the audience in the mosque was segregated – men in one section and women in a special balcony.
As Obama concluded his speech, he said, “May God’s peace be upon you and God Bless the United States of America.”
This is how Iranian President Hassan Rouhani describes the diplomatic swindle, known as the “Iran nuclear deal.”
The Koranic term (in Arabic Fatah al-Mobin) refers to one of Prophet Mohammed’s successful guerrilla raids on a Meccan caravan in the early days of Islam.
Rouhani claims the “deal” represents “the greatest diplomatic victory in Islamic history.” Leaving aside the hyperbole, a fixture of the mullahs’ rhetorical arsenal, Rouhani has reason to crow.
If not quite moribund as some analysts claim, the Islamic Republic had been in a rough patch for years.
For more than a year, the government was unable to pay some of the 5.2 million public sector employees, notably teachers, petrochemical workers and students on bursaries, triggering numerous strikes.
Deprived of urgently needed investment, the Iranian oil industry was pushed to the edge with its biggest oil fields, notably Bibi Hakimeh and Maroun, producing less than half their capacity.
Between 2012 and 2015, Iran lost 25% of its share in the global oil market.
Sanctions and lack of investment also meant that large chunks of Iranian industry, dependent on imported parts, went under. In 2015 Iran lost an average of 1,000 jobs a day.
Last month, the nation’s currency, the rial, fell to an all-time record low while negative economic growth was forecast for the third consecutive year.
Having increased the military budget by 21%, Rouhani was forced to delay presentation of his new budget for the Iranian New Year starting March 21.
Against that background that Obama rode to the rescue by pushing through a “deal” designed to ease pressure on Iran in exchange for nothing but verbal promises from Tehran. Here is some of what Obama did:
* Dropped demands that Iran reshape its nuclear program to make sure it can never acquire a military dimension. As head of Iranian Atomic Energy Agency Ali Akbar Salehi has said: “Our nuclear project remains intact. The ‘deal’ does not prevent us from doing what we were doing.”
* He suspended a raft of sanctions and pressured the European Union and the United Nations to do the same.
* He injected a badly needed $1.7 billion into Iranian economy by releasing assets frozen under President Jimmy Carter and kept as possible compensation for Americans held hostage at different times. The cash enabled Rouhani to start paying some unpaid salaries in Iran while financing Hezbollah branches and helping the Assad regime in Syria.
* Obama released another tranche of $30 billion, enabling Rouhani to present his new budget with a reduced deficit at 14% while increasing the military-security budget yet again, by 4.2%.
* Banking sanctions were set aside to let Iran import 19,000 tons of American rice to meet shortages on the eve of Iranian New Year when consumption reaches its peak.
* Obama’s lovefest with the mullahs helped mollify the Khomeinist regime’s image as a sponsor of international terror and a diplomatic pariah.
What is the rationale behind Obama’s dogged determination to help the mullahs out of the ditch they have dug?
Some cite Obama’s alleged belief that the US has been an “imperialist power,” bullying weaker nations and must make amends.
Others suggest a tactic to strengthen “moderates” within the Iranian regime who, if assured that the US does into seek regime change might lead the nation towards a change of behavior.
Whatever the reasons, what Obama has done could best described as appeasement-plus.
In classical appeasement you promise an adversary not to oppose some of his moves, for example the annexation of Czechoslovakia, but you do not offer him actual financial or diplomatic support.
Obama has gone beyond that.
In addition to saving Iran from running out of money, on the diplomatic front he has endorsed Tehran’s scenario for Syria, is campaigning to help Iran choose the next Lebanese president, and has given the mullahs an open field in Afghanistan and Iraq.
Secretary of State John Kerry talks of Iran as “the regional power,” to the chagrin of Washington’s Middle East allies.
What if the “deal” actually weakens the “moderates” that Obama wants to support, supposing they do exist?
Obama’s imaginary “moderates” are not in good shape. The Council of Guardians that decides who could run for election next month has disqualified 99% of the so-called “moderate” wannabes, ensuring the emergence of a new Islamic parliament and Assembly of Experts dominated by radicals as never before.
Meanwhile, the annual “End of America” festival, Feb. 1 to 10, is to be held with greater pomp.
With more resources at its disposal, Tehran is intensifying its “exporting the revolution” campaign. Last week it announced the creation of a new Hezbollah branch in Turkey and, for the first time, made the existence of a branch in Iraq public. Tajikistan was also publicly added to the markets where Khomeinist revolution should be exported.
There are no “moderates” in Tehran, and the Islamic Republic cannot be reformed out of its nature. For the remainder of Obama’s term least, expect a more aggressive Islamic Republic.
Did the mullahs deceive Obama? No, this was all his idea.
Leading members of Congress are ripping IRS officials for erasing a computer hard drive after a federal judge ordered it to be preserved.
“The destruction of evidence subject to preservation orders and subpoenas has been an ongoing problem under your leadership at the IRS,” Committee on House Oversight and Government Reform Chairman Jason Chaffetz and Rep. Jim Jordan , wrote in a letter to IRS Commissioner John Koskinen late Thursday.
“It is stunning to see that the IRS does not take reasonable care to preserve documents that it is legally required to protect,” Chaffetz, a Utah Republican, and Jordan, an Ohio Republican, said in the letter to Koskinen.
The IRS recently admitted in court to erasing the hard drive even though a federal judge had issued a preservation related to a Microsoft Freedom of Information Act lawsuit against the federal tax agency last year, according to court documents. Microsoft accuses the IRS of inappropriately hiring an outside law firm to audit it and of failing to hand over related documents requested under the FOIA.
Chaffetz and other members of the oversight panel began calling for Koskinen’s impeachment in October. Chaffetz and Jordan in their letter point out that the IRS in March 2014 also destroyed 422 backup tapes containing as many as 24,000 emails sent or received by Lois Lerner, former director of IRS’ Exempt Organizations Division.
Lerner was the central figure in the scandal sparked by the tax agency’s illegal targeting and harassment of conservative and Tea Party non-profit applicants during the 2010 and 2012 election campaigns.
Samuel Maruca, owner of the hard drive in question and a former senior IRS executive, participated in the IRS hiring of the outside law firm Quinn Emanuel Urquhart & Sullivan LLP allegedly to investigate Microsoft. Maruca left the IRS in August 2014, according to court documents.
Chaffetz and Jordan told Koskinen to hand over all documents on IRS preservation policies and all documents related to the destruction of Lerner and Maruca’s hard drives.
The Obama administration on Thursday eased visa rules for certain European travelers who have visited terror hotspots in the Middle East and Africa, a move certain to rile congressional lawmakers who sought the restrictions.
The revised requirements announced Thursday pertain to changes in the Visa Waiver Program passed by Congress. Lawmakers had sought new restrictions to tighten up the program – which allows visa-free travel for residents of eligible countries – in order to prevent Europeans who have joined ISIS from entering the U.S.
The administration implemented the changes Thursday – but with some changes of its own.
As called for by The Visa Waiver Improvement and Terrorist Travel Prevention Act of 2015, the administration is mostly excluding nationals of Iraq, Iran, Syria and Sudan as well as travelers who have visited the countries since Mar. 1, 2011 from the program. Instead, they’ll have to apply for a visa in order to travel to the United States.
But under the revised requirements, some Europeans who have traveled to those four countries in the last five years may still be allowed to travel to the United States without obtaining a visa if they meet certain criteria.
The administration announced Thursday that it will use its waiver authority – granted to it in the legislation – to give waivers to travelers who traveled to the terror hotspots as journalists, for work with humanitarian agencies or on behalf of international organizations, regional organizations and sub-national governments on official duty.
Likely to cause ire among congressional Republicans is an additional waiver for people who have traveled to Iran “for legitimate business-related purposes” since the conclusion of the Iran nuclear deal in July. The administration also offers waivers for individuals who have traveled to Iraq for business as well.
Citizens of 38 countries, mostly in Europe, are generally allowed to travel to the United States without applying for a visa. But they still have to submit biographical information to the Electronic System for Travel Authorization, or ESTA.
The Homeland Security Department said waivers for some ESTA applicants will be granted on a “case-by-case” basis. Those travelers who are denied visa-free travel can still apply for visa through a U.S. embassy in their home country.
Republicans reacted angrily to the waivers, saying the Obama administration had exploited the limited authority and has compromised national security.
“President Obama and his administration’s decision to abuse their limited waiver authority and allow scores of people who have traveled to or are dual nationals of countries like Iraq and Syria flies in the face of reason and congressional intent,” House Judiciary Committee Chairman Bob Goodlatte, R-Va., said in a statement.
“The Obama Administration is essentially rewriting the law by blowing wide open a small window of discretion that Congress gave it for law enforcement and national security reasons,” Goodlatte said.
The new restrictions had previously been criticized by the Iranian government that the U.S. is violating the nuclear deal by penalizing legitimate business travel to the country.
Energy: There’s no shortage of points to pick apart in the president’s final State of the Union, as we’ve done above. But one deserves close scrutiny: Obama’s claim that he “reinvented our energy sector.”
In the middle of a lengthy section of a speech spent patting himself on the back, Obama talked about how successful his energy policies have been.
“Listen,” he said, “seven years ago we made the single biggest investment in clean energy in our history.” Then he went on to list “the results”:
Wind power is cheaper, solar panels are a fixture on more rooftops, oil imports dropped by almost 60% and “we cut carbon pollution more than any other country on Earth.” And then he added, to self-satisfied chuckles on the Democratic side of the aisle: “Gas under 2 bucks a gallon ain’t bad, either.”
But up until very recently, Obama was telling the country that low gas prices were an impossibility. “We can’t just drill our way to lower gas prices,” was his mantra for years. He was emphatic about it.
“Anyone who says we can drill our way out of this problem does not know what they are talking about, or does not know the truth,” he said at a 2012 event in New Hampshire.
The reason, he said, was that we use 25% of the world’s energy but have just 3% of the oil reserves. So the only solution was mandatory conservation and spending billions on the “energy of the future.”
Turns out it was Obama who didn’t know what he was talking about. We did, in fact, “drill our way” to lower gas prices. Thanks to fracking, oil companies are now able to produce vast amounts of previously unrecoverable oil.
In the past seven years, domestic oil production shot up a stunning 77%, according to the Energy Information Administration, making the U.S. the biggest oil producer in the world.
That’s why gas prices are low today. And why oil imports have dropped so sharply. And none of it had anything to do with Obama, who tried to hamper oil production whenever he could – blocking Keystone, restrictions on federal lands, EPA attempts to hinder fracking.
Indeed, moments after bragging about low energy prices, Obama said he’d push to raise them, “to change the way we manage our oil and coal resources so that they better reflect the costs they impose on taxpayers and our planet.”
Fracking is also why we’ve cut carbon emissions, because it sharply lowered the price of natural gas, which in turn let power plants switch from carbon-heavy coal to low-carbon gas.
Yes, Obama did pour billions of dollars into wind and solar subsidies, and various state governments added still more to sweeten the pot. And what did the country get for all that money?
Solar and wind still account for just 24% of renewable energy supplies and a tiny 2% of total energy production, government data show.
And, incredibly, more than half of the gains in solar and wind under Obama were offset by declines in hydroelectric power — a clean, renewable energy source that environmentalists happen to detest.
So after spending billions subsidizing solar and wind, the share of our energy that comes from renewables is the same as it was when Obama took office.
Exactly the same.
The U.S. has a bright energy future despite Obama, not because of him.