"North Korea either has or soon will have a nuclear-armed [intercontinental ballistic missile (ICBM)] that can reach Anchorage," said Richard D. Fisher, a senior fellow at the International Assessment and Strategy Center (IASC), a national security think tank.
The missiles were "made in China [and] given to North Korea," Fisher told attendees. "And I'm very, very sad to say our administration has said nothing publicly about this enabling of a direct threat to the U.S."
"China is in the process of making North Korea a nuclear ICBM state," Fisher said. "But our administration has said nothing about this."
At the same time that China is engaging in a massive military buildup, its communist political system is disintegrating, according to Gordon Chang, author of The Coming Collapse of China.
"Today, senior leaders of the PLA are talking war [and about] fighting against us, and they may even use nuclear weapons," Chang warned.
The PLA is becoming less submissive to Communist party leaders, and even supplanting them, Chang said.
"This process of the remilitarization of politics and policy has gone so far that the PLA may be the most powerful faction inside the party," Chang said.
As the PLA gains power, it is becoming increasingly aggressive.
"As the military is becoming more powerful, it is pushing the country down a path of high force projection," Chang said, referring to recent regional land grabs by China.
"Beijing is bringing China into conflict with the U.S." through its behavior, he said.
Chang went on to criticize the Obama administration for capitulating to the PLA, and not issuing a public warning to China.
"Today we're hearing war talk from the Chinese capital and today the country is an unappeasable state," Chang said. "Nobody in the White House wanted to confront the Chinese."
"Today," Chang added, "the Chinese are just like the Germans and are going to laugh at us when we draw a line because the Chinese don't take us seriously and have pushed us around."
The White House's silence only emboldens hard-line Chinese leaders.
"The PLA might think it might be able to get away with the use or threat of use of nuclear weapons," Chang said. We cannot give the Chinese the impression hat nuclear adventurism might work."
Friday, May 24, 2013
Wednesday, May 22, 2013
"If tomorrow Syria collapses, and I am not saying that will happen, we could find ourselves in the thick of it very fast and in great number," IAF commander Maj. Gen. Amir Eshel said, illustrating how the nature of surprise wars had changed for Israel since the Yom Kippur War in 1973.
"Because the immense arsenal parked there, just waiting to be looted, could spread with each gust of wind and you find yourself having to act very fast and in great quantity," he said, alluding to Syrian President Bashar Assad's sizable stockpile of both conventional and chemical weapons. "These days a number of scenarios can lead to a surprise war."
Speaking at a conference in Herzliya, Eshel said that aerial superiority was the key to victory in such a war, and that swift triumph on the field would be of supreme strategic importance. That was why, he said, the Assad regime understood had spent billions of dollars on anti-aircraft missiles, including advanced S-300 batteries due to arrive from Russia.
Eshel said the Russian-made surface-to-air system would boost Syria's confidence and may lead to more aggressive behavior toward Israel.
He cautioned that the regime could fall at any moment, and that many groups were resolved to lay their hands on Assad's weapons.
"It doesn't mean we'll act, but it does mean we have to be ready with aircraft and defensive batteries," Eshel said. "After all, we won't be told 'You have two weeks to prepare for a war.' We'll have to brace for rockets from Gaza and Lebanon and from further afield. And if we're not prepared, it'll show we've failed to internalize the lessons of the Yom Kippur War."
The agency has rubber-stamped fee-waiver requests from environmentalist groups seeking information, but it denied similar requests from conservative groups, an extensive examination of EPA correspondence suggests. It's the latest instance in which federal agencies have used their executive authority against perceived political opponents.
Public information about government can be obtained through a Freedom of Information Act request. If a requester plans to use the information to improve public understanding about a policy issue or government operations, rather than putting it to commercial use, Congress has decided that the fees for collecting and transmitting this public information can be waived.
The Competitive Enterprise Institute obtained 1,200 pages of EPA correspondence between January 1, 2012, and April 26, 2013, in circumstances that appear to indicate the process is handled unfairly. A congressional review of these documents showed that environmental groups' fee-waiver requests were approved 92 percent of the time, while CEI saw 93 percent of its fee-waiver requests denied. Only 8 percent of the total number of FOIA fee waivers granted went to conservative think tanks; their requests were denied 73 percent of the time. (Full disclosure: My employer, the Franklin Center, is one of the conservative groups whose requests were examined.)
But Chris Horner, a senior fellow at CEI and one of the central players in the controversy, says the records he has obtained, as well as his personal experience, have suggested the EPA has been "throwing what can be tremendous, even fatal, hurdles in the way to impede people that they don't like. [The fees] can go up into the six figures. . . . This gets pretty nasty."
Luke Popovich, a spokesman for the National Mining Association, says that given his organization's experience, as well as the experiences of other fossil-fuel industry groups, "it would not be surprising if this practice was as common as the critics say it is. It is surpassing strange that green activists seem to have a much easier time in getting documents and getting them way ahead of the curve."
Bonner Cohen, a senior fellow at the National Center for Public Policy Research, tells me he's experienced multiple delays when requesting public information from the EPA, and "the delay eventually becomes denial." When he has received the information he requested, it's often heavily redacted, "and we're not talking about one word or sentence — sometimes, whole paragraphs or whole documents."
The Chamber of Commerce has also experienced difficulties obtaining information from the EPA. Bill Kovacs, the senior vice president of environment, technology, and regulatory affairs, says that he sent a request in September asking for access to any of the EPA's job-analysis reports done under Section 321 of the Clean Air Act. The EPA filed a request for extension in December, January, and February. In March, Kovacs says, the EPA told him that the computer system was changed, files had been damaged, and he'd have to begin his request all over again. "We've still never gotten a response," he says.
In another instance, Kovacs explains, the Chamber of Commerce received "several boxes of totally worthless, redacted info. There was nothing in there that you could even read. The environmentalists get the FOIA. We don't."
Tuesday, May 21, 2013
Monday, May 20, 2013
General Election Voting Intention, Change Since Survation poll, May 1st
Conservative: 24% (-5)
Labour: 35% (-1)
Liberal Democrat: 11% (-1)
UKIP: 22% (+6)
Other: 8% (nc)
Importantly, this poll only partially takes into account the reaction of a close confidante of the Conservative Prime Minister referring to the Conservative grassroots as "swivel-headed loons" (the poll was conducted on May 17th and 18th while the quote came out late on the 17th). If things keep going like this, we might see some Conservative MP's switch to UKIP if they feel their seat will be safer that way.
Friday, May 17, 2013
A president sets a mood, a tone. He establishes an atmosphere. If he is arrogant, arrogance spreads. If he is to too partisan, too disrespecting of political adversaries, that spreads too. Presidents always undo themselves and then blame it on the third guy in the last row in the sleepy agency across town.
The IRS scandal has two parts. The first is the obviously deliberate and targeted abuse, harassment and attempted suppression of conservative groups. The second is the auditing of the taxes of political activists.
In order to suppress conservative groups—at first those with words like "Tea Party" and "Patriot" in their names, then including those that opposed ObamaCare or advanced the second amendment—the IRS demanded donor rolls, membership lists, data on all contributions, names of volunteers, the contents of all speeches made by members, Facebook posts, minutes of all meetings, and copies of all materials handed out at gatherings. Among its questions: What are you thinking about? Did you ever think of running for office? Do you ever contact political figures? What are you reading? One group sent what it was reading: the U.S. Constitution.
The second part of the scandal is the auditing of political activists who have opposed the administration. The Journal's Kim Strassel reported an Idaho businessman named Frank VanderSloot, who'd donated more than a million dollars to groups supporting Mitt Romney. He found himself last June, for the first time in 30 years, the target of IRS auditors. His wife and his business were also soon audited. Hal Scherz, a Georgia physician, also came to the government's attention. He told ABC News: "It is odd that nothing changed on my tax return and I was never audited until I publicly criticized ObamaCare." Franklin Graham, son of Billy, told Politico he believes his father was targeted. A conservative Catholic academic who has written for these pages faced questions about her meager freelance writing income. Many of these stories will come out, but not as many as there are. People are not only afraid of being audited, they're afraid of saying they were audited.
All of these IRS actions took place in the years leading up to the 2012 election. They constitute the use of governmental power to intrude on the privacy and shackle the political freedom of American citizens. The purpose, obviously, was to overwhelm and intimidate—to kill the opposition, question by question and audit by audit.
It is not even remotely possible that all this was an accident, a mistake. Again, only conservative groups were targeted, not liberal. It is not even remotely possible that only one IRS office was involved. Lois Lerner, who oversees tax-exempt groups for the IRS, was the person who finally acknowledged, under pressure of a looming investigative report, some of what the IRS was doing. She told reporters the actions were the work of "frontline people" in Cincinnati. But other offices were involved, including Washington. It is not even remotely possible the actions were the work of just a few agents. This was more systemic. It was an operation. The word was out: Get the Democratic Party's foes. It is not remotely possible nobody in the IRS knew what was going on until very recently. The Washington Post reported efforts to target the conservative groups reached the highest levels of the agency by May 2012—far earlier than the agency had acknowledged. Reuters reported high-level IRS officials, including its chief counsel, knew in August 2011 about the targeting.
The White House is reported to be shellshocked at public reaction to the scandal. But why? Were they so high-handed, so essentially ignorant, that they didn't understand what it would mean to the American people when their IRS—the revenue-collecting arm of the U.S. government—is revealed as a low, ugly and bullying tool of the reigning powers? If they didn't know how Americans would react to that, what did they know? I mean beyond Harvey Weinstein's cellphone number.
And why—in the matters of the Associated Press and Benghazi too—does no one in this administration ever take responsibility? Attorney General Eric Holder doesn't know what happened, exactly who did what. The president speaks in the passive voice. He attempts to act out indignation, but he always seems indignant at only one thing: that he's being questioned at all. That he has to address this. That fate put it on his plate.
Thursday, May 16, 2013
DN: No, I absolutely do not, especially after this wiretapping incident, essentially, of the House of Representative. I don't think people are focusing on the right thing when they talk about going after the AP reporters. The big problem that I see is that they actually tapped right where I'm sitting right now, the Cloak Room.Hopefully Eric Holder has a better excuse this time than saying that he recused himself from the case though couldn't tell you when and had nothing in writing about it.
HH: Wait a minute, this is news to me.
DN: The Cloak Room in the House of Representatives.
HH: I have no idea what you're talking about.
DN: So when they went after the AP reporters, right? Went after all of their phone records, they went after the phone records, including right up here in the House Gallery, right up from where I'm sitting right now. So you have a real separation of powers issue that did this really rise to the level that you would have to get phone records that would, that would most likely include members of Congress, because as you know…
DN: …members of Congress talk to the press all the time.
HH: I did not know that, and that is a stunner.
DN: Now that is a separation of powers issue here, Hugh.
DN: And it's a freedom of press issue. And now you've got the IRS going after people. So these things are starting to cascade one upon the other, and you have the White House pretending like they're in the clouds like it's not their issue somehow.
Wednesday, May 15, 2013
Tuesday, May 14, 2013
AP REPORTER: If I could then goo back to the IRS issue, the president did use the word 'if these activities had taken place,' but there has been an acknowledgement on the part of the IRS leadership that these things did indeed occur. I wondered why the president used that phrasing in claiming that it was outrageous?
CARNEY: Those from the IRS that have spoken about this obviously have much greater insight into what took place than we do. We have not seen the report. We have not independently collected information about what transpired. We need the independent inspector general's report to be released before we can make judgments. One person's view of what actions were taken or what that individual did is not enough for us to say something concretely happened that was innapropriate.
Shortly after I did my April 2012 interview with President Obama, my wife, friends and some viewers suggested that I might need to watch out for the IRS.I don't accept "conspiracy theories", but I do know that almost immediately after the interview, the IRS started hammering me.At the time, I dismissed the "co-incidence", but now, I have concerns … after revelations about the IRS targeting various groups and their members....In that April 2012 interview, I questioned President Obama on several topics: the Buffet Rule, his public remarks about the Supreme Court before the ruling on the Affordable Care Act. I also asked why he wasn't doing more to help Sen. Claire McCaskill who at that time was expected to lose. The Obama interview caught fire and got wide-spread attention because I questioned his spending.I said some viewers expressed concern, saying they think he's "out of touch" because of his personal and family trips in the midst of our economic crisis.The President's face clearly showed his anger; afterwards, his staff which had been so polite … suddenly went cold.That's to be expected, and I can deal with that just as I did with President George H. Bush's staff when he didn't like my questions.Journalistic integrity is of the utmost importance to me. My job is to ask the hard questions, because I believe viewers have a right to be well-informed. I cannot and will not promote anyone's agenda – political or otherwise – at the expense of the reporting the truth.What I don't like to even consider … is that because of the Obama interview … the IRS put a target on me.Can I prove it? At this time, no.But it is a fact that since that April 2012 interview … the IRS has been pressuring me.
Monday, May 13, 2013
The Justice Department secretly obtained two months of telephone records of reporters and editors for The Associated Press in what the news cooperative's top executive called a "massive and unprecedented intrusion" into how news organizations gather the news.
The records obtained by the Justice Department listed incoming and outgoing calls, and the duration of each call, for the work and personal phone numbers of individual reporters, general AP office numbers in New York, Washington and Hartford, Conn., and the main number for AP reporters in the House of Representatives press gallery, according to attorneys for the AP.
In all, the government seized those records for more than 20 separate telephone lines assigned to AP and its journalists in April and May of 2012. The exact number of journalists who used the phone lines during that period is unknown but more than 100 journalists work in the offices whose phone records were targeted on a wide array of stories about government and other matters.
In a letter of protest sent to Attorney General Eric Holder on Monday, AP President and Chief Executive Officer Gary Pruitt said the government sought and obtained information far beyond anything that could be justified by any specific investigation. He demanded the return of the phone records and destruction of all copies.
"There can be no possible justification for such an overbroad collection of the telephone communications of The Associated Press and its reporters. These records potentially reveal communications with confidential sources across all of the newsgathering activities undertaken by the AP during a two-month period, provide a road map to AP's newsgathering operations, and disclose information about AP's activities and operations that the government has no conceivable right to know," Pruitt said.
The government would not say why it sought the records. U.S. officials have previously said in public testimony that the U.S. attorney in Washington is conducting a criminal investigation into who may have leaked information contained in a May 7, 2012, AP story about a foiled terror plot. The story disclosed details of a CIA operation in Yemen that stopped an al-Qaida plot in the spring of 2012 to detonate a bomb on an airplane bound for the United States.
In testimony in February, CIA Director John Brennan noted that the FBI had questioned him about whether he was AP's source, which he denied. He called the release of the information to the media about the terror plot an "unauthorized and dangerous disclosure of classified information."
Prosecutors have sought phone records from reporters before, but the seizure of records from such a wide array of AP offices, including general AP switchboards numbers and an office-wide shared fax line, is unusual and largely unprecedented.
In the letter notifying the AP received Friday, the Justice Department offered no explanation for the seizure, according to Pruitt's letter and attorneys for the AP. The records were presumably obtained from phone companies earlier this year although the government letter did not explain that. None of the information provided by the government to the AP suggested the actual phone conversations were monitored.
Friday, May 10, 2013
The Internal Revenue Service on Friday acknowledged that it flagged political groups with "tea party" or "patriot" in their names for special scrutiny when they applied for tax-exempt status, an admission that is fueling long-held suspicions among conservatives that the agency has been singling them out for unfair treatment.
The IRS official who oversees tax-exempt groups, Lois Lerner, said the actions, although not motivated by partisan concerns, were wrong, and she apologized twice on Friday.
She said that between 2010 and 2012, about 75 of these groups were selected for extra screening as part of a broader review of political advocacy organizations that were seeking tax-exempt status. Front-line IRS employees working in the tax-exempt unit in Cincinnati selected groups with "tea party" or "patriot" in their names, she said, as a shorthand because of the proliferation of these groups in recent years.
The employees also requested donor lists from some of the groups and sent questionnaires seeking overly broad information, Lerner acknowledged.
"That's absolutely inappropriate and not the way we ought to do things," Lerner said in a briefing with reporters. "They didn't do it out of any political bias."
Lerner would not say whether any of the IRS employees involved have been disciplined, but she said that new policies have been put in place to prohibit this kind of screening and that, overall, none of the 75 groups have been rejected for approval so far.
Tuesday, May 7, 2013
First and perhaps most obviously, Sanford's regaining of his old seat in the House will mean that he will be going to Washington next week rather than sinking back into the political oblivion that he so richly deserves.
A loss tomorrow is probably the only way a national Republican Party that wants nothing more than to never hear his name again can be rid of Sanford. Once re-elected to that seat it will be difficult to dislodge him from it, meaning that he will be a permanent embarrassment rather than just a nightmare they can wake up from. His defeat will mean the much desired end of his political career and allow the party to regain the seat next time around with someone who won't hurt other Republicans by his mere presence on the House floor and in the studios of the cable news networks.
Mark Sanford of South Carolina has been a staunch supporter of spending restraint and pro-growth tax reforms. In 2005, he cut the top income tax rate for small businesses from 7 percent to 5 percent, and in 2007 he signed into law sales and income tax cuts. Sanford has proposed replacing the state's income tax with a flat tax, and he has urged legislators to adopt a legal cap on the state's budget growth. He has also proposed phasing out the state's corporate income tax. On spending, Sanford's budgets have been very frugal. In fiscal 2010, South Carolina's general fund spending was expected to be slightly less than spending in Sanford's first year in office, fiscal 2003.
Friday, May 3, 2013
The Republican Party should also take this as a lesson and not keep shoving RINO's like Mitt Romney, John McCain and Chris Christie/Jeb Bush down our throats.
Thursday, May 2, 2013
Maybe it's time to come to our senses and see that this isn't our fight. The human suffering in Syria is appalling, but Arabs are doing this to each other. If the Saudis, with their impressive US-supplied arsenal, won't intervene directly, why should we? If our NATO-partner Turks, with the region's most-potent military, won't stop the butchery, why is doing so our responsibility?
In the brutal light of Realpolitik, is it a bad thing to have the last Baathists, Hezbollah, and Salafist fanatics killing each other? Yes, the suffering's deplorable. But consider what happened when we leapt into the endless Afghan civil war.
Do we have the sophistication to get this right? No.
As for Israel's supporters — of which I am one — shouldn't we recognize that, with Israel's mortal enemies busy slaughtering each other, they're not killing Israelis? Might it not be useful if Syria remained a Vietnam for fanatical Islamists, Hezbollah and Arab nationalists alike?
At this point, is the odious Assad regime faintly preferable to a radical jihadi state? As someone who long backed the rebels, I have to put this question to myself honestly.
What are our security interests? The key issue is the safety of the regime's chemical weapons. Our military contingencies should focus solely on preventing the dissemination of weapons of mass destruction to fanatics.
Syria's complexity is daunting: A major regional struggle for hegemony waged as a proxy war; a showdown between Sunni and Shia, with minorities trapped in the middle; a parallel contest between modernizers and fundamentalists; and the bloody dissolution of the artificial borders imposed by Europeans at the Versailles peace conference nine decades ago.
This is a titanic struggle. We have to make sure we're not the ultimate losers.
Has Obama backed himself into a corner with his red-line braggadocio? He suddenly seems to see 50 shades of red; let's hope that caution continues: We must be wary of letting chemical-weapons use lure us into abetting the rise of a terrorist state in Syria.
If Arabs will not help their brothers and sisters, why should we? The Syria crisis is anArab failure. Let's not make it America's failure, too.
Republicans have long characterized their coalition as a "three-legged stool" of fiscal conservatives, social conservatives, and national security conservatives. Paul's vision of a "reluctant" foreign policy saws one of those legs clean off. We saw a preview of how deep the rift could be when McCain called Paul and his allies "wacko birds" for filibustering President Obama's CIA nominee to protest drone policy.
More important but less noticed was McCain's April 18 speech to the Center for New American Security that threw down the gauntlet against the Paul forces, lashing out against isolationism and calling for "a new Republican internationalism." He concluded by lamenting, "There are times these days when I feel that I have more in common on foreign policy with President Obama than I do with some in my own party."
Where might the "new Republican internationalists" go if Paul wins this intra-party battle? Considering that likely Democratic nominee Hillary Clinton helped engineer the U.N.-backed military coalition that ousted Libyan dictator Moammar Gadhafi, and reportedly pushed Obama to directly arm the Syrian resistance, it's not hard to envision a "Republicans for Hillary" campaign if the alternative is Rand Paul.
A Paul nomination would bring with it, at minimum, the risk of Republicans going the way of the Whigs. The dueling speeches between Paul and McCain represent an enormous divide over bedrock principles of foreign policy that may not be easily tolerated, especially if the 2016 campaign is fought against the backdrop of a pressing foreign policy crisis.
And if any contemporary politician might be willing to bet his political legacy on supplanting a wayward Republican Party with a new party, it would be John McCain. He has long branded himself a "Teddy Roosevelt Republican."
Wednesday, May 1, 2013
"Anytime a student makes a bad choice it is disappointing to us. Unfortunately, the incident that occurred at Bartow High School yesterday was a serious breach of conduct. In order to maintain a safe and orderly learning environment, we simply must uphold our code of conduct rules. We urge our parents to join us in conveying the message that there are consequences to actions. We will not compromise the safety and security of our students and staff."