The Islamic State (also known as ISIS or ISIL) group conducted a mass execution of women in Fallujah, according to a statement issued by the Iraqi government. The Iraqi Ministry of Human Rights announced Tuesday that a man identified as Abu Anas al-Libi had killed more than 150 women and girls in Iraq's Fallujah, some of whom were pregnant.
"The women were executed because they refused to accept the policy of Jihad al-Nikah [sexual jihad] that ISIS is enforcing in Fallujah," the ministry's statement added. ISIS has carried out "wide-ranging massacres" in the Anbar province's Fallujah, the ministry also said, specifying that the jihadist group has been burying the dead in two mass graves in the city's Hayy al-Jolan neighborhood as well as the suburb of Al-Saqlawiyyah.
It is worth emphasizing and repeating that one man did this. Unlike the tragedy in Peshawar, wherein several Taliban savages butchered some 132 school children, this act of horror was carried out by one man. One man.
Let’s take this stunning horror story -- picked up by a number of different media outlets -- to its logical conclusion: If one man is capable of such barbarism, imagine how dangerous an Army of these savages is. That is, after all, what we're now dealing with.
ISIS’ brand of terrorism is defined by its ruthlessness. They roam their "caliphate" with reckless abandon killing and torturing at will. And they are recruiting westerners to participate in the bloodletting because they can.
Killing women and children because they will not submit to “sexual jihad” -- and burying them in mass graves -- is a new low even for ISIS that, if anything, merits a military response. But for now, as the fight continues, let us hope and pray that good will ultimately triumph over evil, and that the families affected by these paralyzingly awful events will somehow find comfort in their anguish.
UPDATE: Richly deserved:
U.S.-led air strikes against Islamic State in Iraq have killed three of the militant group's top leaders, the head of the U.S. Joint Chiefs of Staff told the Wall Street Journal on Thursday.
Government watchdog Judicial Watch has obtained and released graphic photos from a 2013 gang assault on a Phoenix, Arizona apartment complex. During the assault, an AK-47 firearm sold and trafficked through the Department of Justice's Operation Fast and Furious was used, leaving behind a bloody apartment and at least one Mexican national with severe gunshot wounds to the head. As previously reported, when the incident occurred and during investigation afterward, the Phoenix Police Department [PPD] worked with federal law enforcement agents from the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco and Firearms, Department of Homeland Security, FBI and Drug Enforcement Agency in the case, raising suspicions the assault wasn't simply a typical, local gang shootout and prompted questions about the details of where the weapons that were used came from. Documents and the new photos surrounding this crime were turned over to Judicial Watch after the group filed a law suit against PPD due to non-cooperation with valid freedom of information requests.
"According to press reports at the time of the assault, police investigating the shooting that left two wounded found an AK-47 assault rifle in the front passenger area of a vehicle that had crashed into a fence surrounding the apartment complex. Inside sources informed Judicial Watch at the time of the crime scene investigation that the AK-47 used in the assault had been provided to the assailants as part of the Obama-Holder Fast and Furious program. On October 16, 2014, Judicial Watch announced that, based upon information uncovered through its October 2 public records lawsuit, the U.S. Congress had confirmed that the rifle was tied to the Fast and Furious operation. Attorney General Eric Holder has already admitted that guns from the Fast and Furious scandal are expected to be used in criminal activity on both sides of the U.S.-Mexico border for years to come," Judicial Watch stated in a release. "Despite the fact that the crime scene photos obtained by Judicial Watch clearly revealed a serial number that would show that the AK-47 used in the commission of the crime was a Fast and Furious weapon, the City of Phoenix and Department of Justice failed to turn over the incriminating photos to Congress, despite longstanding requests for such information. According to Judicial Watch sources, investigators knew at the scene and subsequently that the AK-47 was a Fast and Furious weapon."
“Another Obama administration Fast and Furious cover-up has been undone by Judicial Watch. These crime scene photos graphically illustrate the legacy of President Obama and Eric Holder’s deadly Fast and Furious lies,”Judicial Watch President Tom Fitton said in a statement. “Even as the evidence and casualties mount, the Obama administration is still secreting information about its reckless program. These photos show the American people firsthand the bloody consequences when an out-of-control administration will not even admit – or correct – its own mistakes.”
On Monday the family of Border Patrol Agent Brian Terry marked the four year anniversary of his murder in Peck Canyon, Arizona. His killers were carrying Ak-47s like the one seen above that they obtained through Operation Fast and Furious. Hundreds of citizens inside Mexico have been murdered as a result of the program.
The candidate least like President Obama will have the best chance of succeeding him. HotAir's Noah Rothman reports for the December issue of Townhall Magazine.
For political professionals, the next presidential election begins the minute the last one ends. Even before revelers abandon the cavernous halls in which a new president accepts the public mandate and sleepy custodians sweep up the confetti that rained down upon the victor hours prior, aspiring presidential candidates begin the process of gaining allies, securing the support of donors, and vying for media attention.
The once “invisible primary” has grown more perceptible in recent decades. While the public can enjoy their lives in the years between a presidential and a midterm election unaware that presidential politics is raging, it is a comfort of which all are robbed when the midterms are over. In just nine months, Hawkeye State residents will convene for the Ames Straw Poll. Overt campaigning for that honor begins months earlier.
The 2016 presidential election cycle is upon us.
Barack Obama’s presidency has left the country with one enduring lesson: Campaigning and governing are distinct activities that require divergent, often conflicting, skill sets. As always, the next president will be the candidate who out-campaigns his or her opponents. But history suggests that Americans are seeking more in a president today than merely a campaigner-in-chief. The voting public is already asking themselves which traits would be most desirable in Obama’s successor, and it serves both parties to be aware of what those characteristics might be.
Ensuring that the tepid post-recession recovery does not reverse course, reviewing the prosecution of America’s endless Middle Eastern wars, unfreezing the debate over how to address the failing Affordable Care Act, and preventing nascent revanchism from taking hold in Moscow and Beijing will certainly be on the next president’s agenda. However, any number of unforeseen eventualities is certain to test the character of America’s 45th president.
So, what character traits will Americans most favor in their next chief executive? Recent history suggests the public will back the politician who is the most dissimilar to the current president. The mass media era has turned the quadrennial presidential race into even more of a beauty contest, and the winner a celebrity. After years of unmet promises and the best intentions producing suboptimal results, Americans hunger for efficacy from the next occupant of the Oval Office. The record indicates there will be no appetite for an Obama doppelganger.
Americans knew President Nixon had competently managed America’s affairs abroad. Imagine another president honored with a standing ovation from a joint session of Congress dominated by the opposition party in the summer of an election year, an honor bestowed on Nixon after he opened China. When he resigned as a result of his ethical deficiencies, his once vaunted obsessive attention to managerial details was no longer trusted. He was justifiably seen as manipulative, paranoid, and Machiavellian.
Nixon’s vice president and immediate successor was deprived of a fresh look from the voters, and acquired a few negative traits all his own. The 37th president’s elected successor, President Carter, was everything the long-time GOP standard-bearer was not. He appeared earnest, forthright, faithful, and sincere to the point of naiveté.
The Carter presidency did not deliver on its promise. President Reagan benefited from the perception that he was Carter’s polar opposite; a strong, decisive, competent manager who would not be distracted by trivialities, pitiless when need be, and undaunted by adversity.
When two-term presidents leave office in times of general public satisfaction, voters will often seek out traits in their successor that mirror the outgoing president. President Bush was seen as a sufficient successor to Reagan and a dispassionate manager who would keenly oversee the collapse of communism in Europe.
President Clinton was buoyed by the perception that Bush was rigid, inaccessible, hopelessly dated, and married to a code of conduct that belonged to another age. Clinton—sanguine, affable, and charismatic—represented a welcome change. President George W. Bush, far more so than Al Gore, was an affable everyman who promised to extend the post-Cold War vacation from history he had inherited from Bill Clinton.
September 11 and the War in Iraq changed Bush and the American people. The public’s preferred antidote to a president now perceived as headstrong, provincial, and inept, was the professorial, worldly, meticulous, and self-assured President Obama.
Predictably, those traits that were once Obama’s attractive attributes are now his curse. Obama’s professorial nature seems aloof today. His worldliness is seen as a mirage, a product of self-delusion. His meticulousness perceived as paralysis that betrays a lack of conviction.
History suggests that Obama’s successor will be the candidate who can present the strongest contrast with the president. In 2016 Americans will seek out a figure of demonstrable executive competence; a doer, not a talker.
Value a candidate’s competence, policy prescriptions, and pedigree above all else. But do not discount the intangibles. The fundamentals of war or peace and growth or recession will largely determine who takes the oath of office on January 20, 2017. But in this election, perhaps more than most, character will matter. We cannot determine who will best address crises not yet known or meet challenges not yet manifest, but we can identify the type of person we want to be in a position to face that adversity.
In 1973 former Black Panther and Black Liberation Army member Assata Shakur, also known as Joanne Chesimard, killed New Jersey State Trooper Werner Foerster in cold blood during a traffic stop. Shakur took Foerster's police issued firearm and used it to shoot him twice in the head. In 1977 Shakur was convicted and sentenced to life in prison. Foester's family never received full justice as Chesimard escaped in 1979, fled to Cuba and been protected by the Castro regime ever since. She is listed on the FBI's most wanted terrorists list with a $1 million reward for information leading to her arrest.
Tracking down Shakur under the protection of the Castros has been difficult, but with President Obama's announcement of normalization between the United States and Cuba, many are asking if Shakur will be extradited.
Renewed relations with Cuba brought hope that New Jersey cop-killer JoAnne Chesimard might finally be extradited to the U.S. to finish serving her prison term.
"We view any changes in relations with Cuba as an opportunity to bring her back to the United States to finish her sentence for the murder of New Jersey State Trooper Werner Foerster in 1973," State Police Col. Rick Fuentes said in a statement. "We stand by the reward money and hope that the total of $2 million will prompt fresh information in the light of this altered international relationship."
Considering the Obama administration's history of supporting cop killers, Shakur's extradition and return to the U.S. justice system might take awhile.
U.S. officials have concluded that the North Korean government ordered the hacking attack on Sony Pictures Entertainment — a breach that led to the studio cancelling the planned release of "The Interview". One U.S. official told NBC News that the country "can't let this go unanswered." The officials told NBC News the hacking attack originated outside North Korea, but they believe the individuals behind it were acting on orders from the North Koreans.
"We have found linkage to the North Korean government," according to a U.S. government source. An official said the U.S. is discussing what form a response could take, and couldn't detail what options the government has available.
You’ll recall that North Korea has been warning the U.S. about releasing the film for months. If the film is released, North Korea’s state mouthpiece once threatened, it would be “an act of war.” Now that Sony has basically met the demands of a maniacal dictator, however, the film has been permanently tabled. Put differently: The “Supreme Leader” has brought the “Great Satan” to its knees. Splendid.
As pathetic as that might sound, I’m also left scratching my head about Sony’s decision. The damage has already been done. So why not just release the film now?
Apparently, one could argue, they didn’t really have a choice:
Sony said it was cancelling “The Interview” release “in light of the decision by the majority of our exhibitors not to show the film.” The studio said it respected and shared in the exhibitors’ concerns.
“We are deeply saddened at this brazen effort to suppress the distribution of a movie, and in the process do damage to our company, our employees, and the American public,” read the statement. “We stand by our filmmakers and their right to free expression and are extremely disappointed by this outcome.”
So blame the exhibitors for being cowardly then -- although Ed Morrissey points out that they had legal niceties to think about. Nevertheless, the whole situation reeks of gutlessness. Even President Obama shrugged his shoulders when asked if “The Interview” could threaten the safety and security of the United States:
The US president certainly did not seem overly concerned. Asked about the stern warnings of retribution targeted at screenings of The Interview, which invoked the memory of the 9/11 terror attacks, Barack Obama told ABC News: “For now, my recommendation would be that people go to the movies.”
Now they can’t, of course, and many people are pissed off. Take, for instance, Mary Katharine Ham who has already started a petition to get the film onto the big screen:
Sign it if so inclined. But at least read the whole thing. She makes some excellent points.
Tuesday’s news was hard to read. The Taliban senselessly murdered schoolchildren in Peshawar, Pakistan. Stunningly, 148 young lives were taken – with the number still rising.
On Wednesday night, a few hundred people came to Dupont Circle in Washington, DC to honor these innocent victims in a candlelight vigil. In fact, that was a common theme of the night: lost innocence. Peshawar parents dropped off their kids at school, not even considering that their precious sons and daughters wouldn’t come home to play with their toys after school. Their innocence could not save them from the Taliban’s savage plans.
Amnesty International’s Noor Mir, who helped organize the vigil, explained how they gathered 140 candles to represent the lives who were lost. The candles were surrounded by pictures released from the hospital in Peshawar.
Attendees also contributed to the display with signs they made, including one that had this powerful message, “The smallest coffins are the heaviest.”
Mir explained that Peshawar parents found out their children were dead by coming to a hospital and seeing a sheet with the victim's name and age, with the word, ‘Dead’ next to it.
Famed journalist Raza Rumi also addressed the crowd, especially thanking the Pakistani Americans in attendance for practicing solidarity. He urged participants to keep in mind that all Taliban are terrorists.
"There are no good Taliban and there are no bad Taliban."
The organizers were only able to find 40 of the victims’ names. They read each one as quiet sobbing could be heard throughout the crowd.
The vigil ended with a participant reading off an original poem he penned in response to the Peshawar attack, entitled, “Innocence.” I thought this was the most powerful line:
“A school that was supposed to be a fountain of knowledge, became a pool of blood.”
The senseless terrorists who performed this cowardly act are dead. Yet, the Taliban still looms.
May they be brought to justice.
Unfortunately, the liberal dream has been mugged by reality: Democratic Gov. Shumlin announced that they're going to abandon the plan because it's too expensive.
Going forward with a project four years in the making would require tax increases too big for the state to absorb, Shumlin said. The measure had been the centerpiece of the Democratic governor's agenda and was watched and rooted for by single-payer health care supporters around the country.
The legislation called for the administration to produce a plan for financing the Green Mountain Care system by 2013 but it wasn't completed until the last several days. Shumlin said it showed the plan would require an 11.5 percent payroll tax on businesses and an income tax separate from the one the state already has of up to 9.5 percent.
Shumlin said small business owners would be hit with both, and he repeatedly expressed concern about whether those businesses, many of which now don't offer health insurance or offer much less costly insurance, could cover the new expense.
Those are astonishingly high tax increases. The politically-feasible solution would be to exempt "small business owners" from those tax increases, but the problem then becomes that it's impossible to get the revenue elsewhere. The entire state would have become a disaster zone, without enough economic activity to provide the tax revenue necessary to support such a scheme.
What's amazing is that Shumlin says this is partly due to our still-sub-optimal economy, recovering from the 2008 crash. This is absurd. If there's only enough revenue to support such a scheme in boom times, it's unwise to implement it at all - ever. A system that can't sustain itself through business cycles is unsustainable. Oh, and Shumlin also lamented that the state couldn't get enough federal money to assist their scheme. As if it needs to be said - a scheme that relies on tax money from other states funneled into one state is unsustainable, as well.
Yes, it happened. Former Florida Governor Jeb Bush is “actively” exploring a possible 2016 candidacy. Needless to say, conservatives aren’t happy. Sen. Rand Paul has already begun attacking Bush, but the former governor is convinced he’s a mainstream conservative. Yet, his potential candidacy looks fragile–even more so than Mitt Romney. Bush supports Common Core, immigration reform, walks a waffled path on climate change, and is sort of open to tax increases.
“If you could bring to me a majority of people to say that we’re going to have $10 of spending cuts for $1 of revenue enhancement — put me in, Coach,” he once said in 2012. Bush gave his answer on a hypothetical budget deal at a congressional hearing, which had spending cuts and tax increases.
Again, more than a few Republicans might find this as rational, but to the base–this is anathema. He also never signed Grover Norquist’s pledge to oppose tax increases.
In Politico, they wrote how Cato Institute found that government spending increased 45 percent under his administration, though Bush’s allies claim the uptick was due to disastrous weather the struck the Sunshine State during his tenure. Yet, the piece also pointed out some of Jeb’s strong points as well:
It’s not that any of the friction from the right is a surprise to Bush. Even though his allies say he did, in fact, have a conservative record as Florida governor — cutting taxes by $19.3 billion, building the state’s reserves to $9 billion and streamlining regulations — they say his statement about “losing the primary to win the general” was meant to signal that he’s not going to change to please the right.
In some respects, Bush would be an unlikely candidate to be accused of being soft of tax increases. As governor, he cut levies on businesses, investments, large estates and homes.
Campbell [Spokesperson Kristy Campbell] says Bush “does not support tax increases” and that “his record on fiscal issues is clear,” especially with his deep cuts in Florida. And not all conservative activists have a problem with Bush’s record. The conservative Club for Growth said it is willing to hear Bush out, saying it could abide tax increases if they got major spending cuts or an overhaul of the Tax Code in return.
The article also mentioned that Bush supports repealing Obamacare and replacing it with a Republican alternative. Yet, he’s critical of the defunding strategy to undercut the law. On climate change, Mr. Bush has positioned himself as a skeptic, but warned how this issue could make Republicans look “anti-science.”
His embrace of Common Core will surely rub conservatives the wrong way–and he’s made no indication that he would compromise to suck up to the right of the Republican Party.
As the Wall Street Journal wrote back in June, he was warned by an aide to avoid referencing Common Core at the American Legislative Exchange Council (ALEC) in 2013, he simply said, “I respect those that don't agree with me," he told the group gathered in Chicago. "What I can't accept are dumbing [sic] down standards and expectations."
Last April, he told Fox News, "I just don't feel compelled to run for cover when I think this is the right thing to do for our country. And others have, others that supported the standards all of a sudden are opposed to it."
To be fair, Common Core isn’t the brainchild of the left:
Created by a bipartisan group of governors and adopted by 45 states and the District of Columbia, Common Core was designed to boost academic achievement and allow for comparisons across states. One goal was to hand power back to the states to implement standards called for in President George W. Bush's No Child Left Behind law. But after President Barack Obama tied the disbursal of federal education grants to states adopting Common Core, conservatives revolted.
So, Jeb has some advantages; he doesn’t like Obamacare; he’s pro-life; he cut taxes as governor; and he’s leading in the polls, but that’s without Romney being factored into the equation.
Still, to quote A&E’s Storage Wars, there’s no “wow” factor with Bush. If anything, he’s like Mitt Romney, but only with a backbone.
Regardless, this looks like a campaign that can quickly venture towards rocky shoals.
On immigration, Bush said, “yes, they [illegal immigrants] broke the law, but it’s not a felony. It’s an act of love, it’s an act of commitment to your family.” He also supports background checks at gun shows, which isn’t going bode well with the NRA.
The Democrats are already trying to find dirty laundry belonging to any potential Republican in the 2016 crop. While American Bridge, which compiled a 900+ page opposition research paper on Romney in 2012, noted that Jeb could fundraise well. Yet, his work with Lehman Brothers and Barclays could reopen old wounds from the Bush administration. Whether we like it or not, the financial collapse happened in the twilight of Bush’s second term. That’s the sticking point. Bush’s presidency grappled with the financial industry’s potential demise, which led to the passage TARP. It also helped Obama trounce McCain 2008, which led to the stimulus in 2009. The Bush name is roped in with one of the worst economic recessions in recent memory and TARP. The latter of which is also anathema to the Tea Party.
Then again, National Journal noted that such dealings with Lehman and Barclays is relatively unknown. If there’s something, it will be made public. The article noted that Florida has good public-record keeping laws–and Jeb would release 250,000 emails during his time as governor. This all could be one huge nothing burger regarding Jeb’s work in the financial sector. And if he’s as certain about sticking to his guns about Common Core, it’s probably something–in Jeb’s view–that he feels won’t be as bad as the Democrats’ flaying of Romney via Bain Capital.
Charles Cooke over at National Review wrote a piece on why Jeb is not our guy in 2016. He also cited the Lehman-Bush obstacle as well:
As it stands, the Republican party has not won a presidential election without a Bush on the top of the ticket since 1984, and it has not won the presidency without a Bush somewhere on the ticket since 1972. If Jeb were elected president, it would be the case that, for three decades, one family had been in charge of the country each and every time the electorate moved in its party’s direction. What, I wonder, would that say about conservatism? And what, I wonder, would it say about America writ large if, 36 years after George H. W. was first sworn in as vice president, the Right concluded that the only way that it could credibly win power was to tap into the same, oft-pumped well?
Dynastic objections aside, it strikes me also that Jeb is almost perfectly wrong for this moment in American history. Without doubt, he is a talented, upstanding, and accomplished man, and he would probably do an admirable job if he parachuted into power. But, this being hardball democratic politics, and not the Biography Channel, there are many, many more questions for us to consider. In 2012, a weak President Obama not only managed to draw an astonishing amount of blood simply by riffing on Mitt Romney’s remarkable business career, but, with a little help from Newt Gingrich and Rick Perry, was able to adroitly leverage the still-tender memories of the recent financial collapse and to paint his opponent as a detached, Gilded Age demon. Presumably, Bush would get precisely the same treatment. Just a few months ago, he teamed up with a bunch of Wall Street bankers and started a private-equity fund that will specialize in oil and gas. A few years ago, moreover, he worked with Lehman Brothers until, in the heat of the 2008 financial crisis that is still largely blamed on his brother, it collapsed in ignominious disgrace. Fair or unfair, what exactly do we imagine the story will be if the next Republican candidate is not only vulnerable in this area in his own right, but has the surname “Bush” to boot?
Also, history is against Bush. He possibly waited too long to mount a serious run for the White House. He’s been out of office for 14 years. The last president that had the same gap in time between his last successful election and winning the presidency was 150 years ago with Abraham Lincoln. His last victorious campaign before winning the presidential election of 1860 was his 1846 congressional run.If Mr. Bush becomes more serious about 2016, he faces some rather staggering obstacles.
Last night Senator Marco Rubio, whose parents fled just before Castro's brutal regime takeover, made an appearance on Fox News to discuss President Obama's plans to normalize the relationship between the United States and Cuba.
Rubio specifically addressed comments made by Obama yesterday that the United States has tried to "colonize" Cuba, pointing out that statement is propaganda used directly by Dictator Raul Castro himself.
"I don't know what he's talking about, the United States tried to colonize Cuba? I don't know of anyone who seriously believes that. That's a talking point of the Castro regime. In fact, that was a term that Raul Castro used today in his address to the Cuban people, that this is walking away from the era of colonialism. I have no idea what he [Obama] is talking about when he says something like that. It's an outrageous statement," Rubio said. "When it comes to Cuba in specific is that I think this president believes that much of what's happened between these two countries is the fault of the United States and I think that has led him to make many of these decisions."
"It's a very simple equation, you have a government that controls every aspect of society. You have a military, you saw Raul Castro today wearing his military uniform, they have a military that basically controls the island and every aspect of it. The more money comes in from the United States, to their economy, the more money will line their pockets. Very little of it will trickle down to the Cuban people," Rubio continued. "It is one ridiculous statement after the other that this President made during this announcement."
Lawmakers on both sides of the aisle have condemned Obama's move and plan to take steps on Capitol Hill to stop him.
Editor's note: A previous version of this post said Rubio's parents fled Castro's regime. His parents left Cuba in 1956, the year the revolution started. Fidel Castro took over Cuba in 1958. The initial passage has been changed for clarification.
By now you know President Obama announced yesterday he will unilaterally normalize the relationship between Cuba and the United States. Back in 2008, Obama said he would talk and negotiate with Iran and now, sources tell the Los Angeles Times that the president attempted to start talks with North Korea and failed last year.
A White House official made two secret visits to North Korea last year in an unsuccessful effort to improve relations after new ruler Kim Jong Un assumed power, according to former U.S. officials familiar with the trips.
The former U.S. officials, who spoke on condition of anonymity because the back-channel trips have not been formally disclosed, said the first visit was an unsuccessful attempt to persuade Pyongyang not to launch a long-range rocket.
Incredible. Negotiating with North Korea? What could possibly go wrong?
Meanwhile, Newt Gingrich is calling North Korea's hack attack and threats of violence against Sony cyber warfare. By the way, we're losing.
No one should kid themselves. With the Sony collapse America has lost its first cyberwar. This is a very very dangerous precedent.— Newt Gingrich (@newtgingrich) December 17, 2014
There is literally one working computer in North Korea, and we just lost to it.— Ben Shapiro (@benshapiro) December 17, 2014
Exit question: When will Obama send White House officials to talk with the GOP on Capitol Hill?H/T @WilliamAmos