tipsheet
Amanda Muñoz - ISIS Legislation Tacked to Continuing Resolution
Posted: 9/15/2014 9:20:00 PM EST

With four days left before House Republicans head back to their respective districts, Congress faces yet another tight deadline for funding the government and passing anti-ISIS legislation.

House and Senate leaders met with President Obama last week to discuss counterterrorism strategy prior to the president’s speech Wednesday night. Since then, members of Congress have been torn on the right approach for Congressional action. Members attended closed-door intelligence briefings, and the possibility of voting on any concrete legislation before the midterms remained up in the air.

But cautious support to back the president before heading to the campaign trail in September seems to have won out.

The House Rules Committee convened Monday evening to determine the rule for H.J.Res 124, the Continuing Resolution (CR), introduced by House Appropriations Chairman Hal Rogers (R-KY) last week. The bill packages funds for the government at the current rate of $1.012 trillion dollars until December 11, 2014, or until Congress passes FY2015 appropriations bills. The highlights include $88 million to combat the Ebola outbreak (which Rogers said in the hearing was an offset cost) and an extension of the Ex-Im Bank through June 2015.

“We have reached the point where a Continuing Resolution is necessary to keep the government functioning and avoid another shutdown,” Chairman Rogers said in a statement. “It is a critical piece of legislation, and my Committee has crafted the bill in a responsible, restrained way that should draw wide support in the House and Senate. This bill is free of controversial riders, maintains current levels, and does not seek to change existing federal policies.”

There are four amendments currently submitted for consideration with the CR, the most important being a Syrian “Train & Equip” provision introduced by Armed Services Committee Chairman Buck McKeon (R-CA). This provision authorizes assistance “including training, equipment, supplies, and sustainment, to appropriately vetted elements of the Syrian opposition and other appropriately vetted Syrian groups” for the purpose of defeating ISIS (ISIL) and increasing the national security of the U.S. and its allies. It does not issue an Authorization for Use of Military Force (AUMF) and does not authorize American boots on the ground, but that could come later. The McKeon amendment also requires Defense Secretary Chuck Hagel to report to Congress 15 days prior to the start of training and then every 90 days throughout the operation.

The House is scheduled to consider the CR this week, and debate could start as early as tomorrow. A domestic energy production bill and the Jobs for America Act are also on their legislative schedule for this week.

Congress should be able to pass funding legislation before the October 1st deadline, pending any surprise disaster. Members are expected to head back home after this week through midterm elections.

UPDATE (9:30 p.m. ET): The House Rules Committee reported a structured rule for H.J.Res 124, specifying that McKeon's amendment will be considered separately with six hours hours of debate prior to the vote.

Matt Vespa - WOW: ISIS Has Some Friends at George Mason University
Posted: 9/15/2014 6:30:00 PM EST

MRCTV’s Dan Joseph returned to the hallowed grounds of George Mason University in Northern Virginia to ask members of the student body if they would support the Islamic State (ISIS). After all, they are the JV of Islamic terrorists, right?

And, yes, some students actually signed Joseph’s fake petition calling for the U.S. to support ISIS, instead of fighting them. “They’re just like us, only with slightly more beheadings,” Joseph said. “But if we support them, maybe they’ll stop.”

One girl said that murdered American journalist Steven Sotloff was a member of Mossad, Israel’s national intelligence service. She then told Joseph that he shouldn’t get her started on how Christians used to treat the non-believers.

One guy, a former member of the military, was absolutely appalled by Joseph’s petition. Another student said the petition was disgraceful and that Dan should be ashamed to live in the United States.

Luckily, Joseph doesn’t support ISIS, but it’s a sad commentary that he got 12-13 students to sign the petition. The bad news is that these kids need to do their homework on what’s happening in the Middle East. The good news goes to ISIS: you have some friends at George Mason University.

Katie Pavlich - After Being Voted Down By The Senate, Cop Killer Advocate Officially Withdraws Obama's Nomination for DOJ Post
Posted: 9/15/2014 5:20:00 PM EST

It's official. Cop killer advocate Debo Adegbile, who was voted down by the Democrat controlled Senate after being nominated by President Obama to head up the civil rights division of the Department of Justice earlier this year, has withdrawn his nomination

As a reminder:

The Senate has voted 52 to 47 to block the confirmation of Debo Adegbile, President Obama's nominee to head the Civil Rights Division of the Department of Justice. All Republicans and Democrats Coons, Heitkamp, Manchin, Pryor, Donnelly, Casey and Walsh voted against the nomination.

Adegbile came under heavy fire for his voluntary advocacy of convicted and unrepentant cop killer Mumia Abu-Jamal, who murdered Philadelphia police officer Daniel Faulkner in 1981. Major law enforcement organizations, including the National Fraternal Order of Police and the National Association of Police Organizations, were opposed to the nomination. Philadelphia Democratic Prosecutor Seth Williams was also against the nomination. Daniel Faulkner's widow, Maureen Faulkner, repeatedly begged Senators to block Adegbile's confirmation. News of Adegbile's nomination first came from former DOJ attorney and whistleblower J. Christian Adams.

When Adegbile was voted down in March, President Obama called it a "travesty." According to the Associated Press, Adegbile will return to private practice at WilmerHale law firm.

Sarah Jean Seman - Nanny State: Vermont Bans Desserts in School
Posted: 9/15/2014 5:00:00 PM EST

In what may be the ultimate Nanny State move, Vermont has outlawed consuming or bringing brownies, cakes, or cookies to school. The mandates are part of a new program titled “Smart-Snacks-in-Schools” and will apply to lunch items, vending machines, and fundraising events between midnight and half and hour after school.

Boston.com reported:

“These changes are really supporting the types of diets that we as a country should be following to have a healthy diet and lifestyle,” said Laurie Colgan, child nutrition program director at the Agency of Education, in an interview with the Vermont Watchdog.

This healthy lifestyle has already been instated within the school.

“The new school lunch pattern has low-fat, leaner proteins, greater variety, and larger portions of fruit and vegetables,” Colgan said. Additionally, “the grains have to be 100 percent whole-grain rich.”

Colgan said this does not have to mean an end for fundraising. Rather, she is encouraging schools to turn fundraising away from schools, and focus on non-food items such as flower bulbs, cards, and wrapping paper.

So what do you bring to celebrate your birthday with your classmates? Shelley Mathias, principal of Edmunds Elementary School in Burlington, suggested fruit shish kebabs.

Mathias also confided to the Vermont Watchdog that she has never seen desserts served at her school in the four years she has been there:

“The kids like kale here, and they eat broccoli.”

Really? Now there is certainly nothing wrong with encouraging healthy habits at school, but to forbid children to eat desserts is taking supervision to the extreme. This is just another Big Government power grab where laws replace individual responsibility.

Daniel Doherty - Two Vietnam Vets Receive Medal of Honor
Posted: 9/15/2014 4:30:00 PM EST

Two American Vietnam veterans were presented with the nation's highest military decoration for valor at the White House today. Spec. Donald P. Sloat received the award posthumously having given, as Lincoln once put it, “the last full measure of devotion” more than four decades ago.

Dr. Bill Sloat, his surviving brother, attended the ceremony and thus accepted the award on his behalf:

Sloat, of Coweta, Oklahoma, was killed in action on Jan. 17, 1970, at age 20. While on patrol, a soldier in his squad triggered a hand grenade trap that had been placed in their path by enemy forces. According to the White House, Sloat picked up the live grenade, initially to throw it away. When he realized it was about to detonate, he shielded the blast with his own body in order to save the lives of his fellow soldiers.

Eighty-year-old Sgt. Maj. Bennie Adkins, for his part, attended the ceremony in person. The Alabama native served three tours in Vietnam and, unsurprisingly, his heroism and courage under fire is worth reading about in full. But if you don’t have time, here’s a short excerpt:

As many as 175 enemy troops killed, 18 wounds from enemy fire, 38 hours of battle, 48 hours evading the North Vietnamese troops in the bush -- and one tiger. Those are the numbers behind Sgt. Maj. Bennie Adkins' Medal of Honor, an award he will receive from President Obama in a White House ceremony Monday. Adkins, of Opelika, Alabama, is being honored for his actions in Vietnam's A Shau Valley more than 48 years ago. Then a 32-year-old sergeant first class, Adkins was among a handful of Americans working with troops of the South Vietnamese Civil Irregular Defense Group at Camp A Shau when the camp was attacked by a large North Vietnamese and Viet Cong force on March 9, 1966, according to an Army report.

"Adkins rushed through intense enemy fire and manned a mortar position defending the camp," the Army report says. "He continued to mount a defense even while incurring wounds from several direct hits from enemy mortars. Upon learning that several soldiers were wounded near the center of camp, he temporarily turned the mortar over to another soldier, ran through exploding mortar rounds and dragged several comrades to safety. As the hostile fire subsided, Adkins exposed himself to sporadic sniper fire and carried his wounded comrades to a more secure position."

The White House also announced that a veteran of the Civil War, 1st Lt. Alonzo H. Cushing, will soon be awarded the Congressional Medal of Honor as well. Cushing was killed in action on the third and final day of fighting at the Battle of Gettysburg. He was 22-years-old.

UPDATE: Videos added.

Guy Benson - Kerry: On Second Thought, We Are at War With ISIS
Posted: 9/15/2014 3:58:00 PM EST

Remember this quote?  Yeah, scratch that.  Sort of.  We are basically at war with ISIS, the Secretary of State now says, but Americans shouldn't let etymological niceties cloud the big picture:


Secretary of State John Kerry backtracked on the language he had used to describe the fight against the Islamic State of Iraq and Syria (ISIS, also known as ISIL), saying in an interview on CBS' "Face the Nation" Sunday that, "we are at war" with the group. "I think there's frankly a kind of tortured debate going on about terminology," said Kerry, who rejected the word "war" in an interview with CBS News State Department correspondent Margaret Brennan last week and warned that people shouldn't get "war fever." "In terms of al Qaeda, which we have used the word 'war' with, yeah...we are at war with al Qaeda and it's affiliates. And in the same context if you want to use it, yes, we are at war with ISIL in that sense," Kerry said. "But I think it's waste of time to focus on that. Frankly, lets consider what we have to do to degrade and defeat ISIL."


And per Time's Zeke Miller, the White House has decided to emphasize the "degrade" half of that two-part mission statement. Kerry's stumbling reversal and the administration's rhetorical downshift are further evidence of the muddled incoherence that has typified US foreign policy under the "smart power" regime.  Here's how I described the head-spinning confusion on Friday:

One year ago, Obama delivered a prime time address calling for airstrikes against the Assad regime in Syria. We are now bombing Assad's primary enemy in Syria, and Assad is offering his assistance. Several months ago, Obama dismissed ISIS as a "JV" team. Now he calls them a "cancer" that will take years to defeat. And four weeks ago, the president ridiculed the prospect of arming "moderate" rebels inside Syria, saying the idea "has always been a fantasy." Today, it's step two in his own four-step strategy. 


The 'JV' comment was just completely inexcusable, which is why the White House spin team has been lying in overdrive about it. 'Cancer' is more like it; to that end, read this chilling piece on the ladies of ISIS' social media milieu. As for the erstwhile 'fantasy' turned official policy, Congress is currently weighing Obama's request for authorization and funds to arm "moderate" Syrian rebels to more or less act as our ground presence. Obama has ruled out deploying American combat troops, having reportedly rebuffed the military's advice to insert a small fighting force into the theater.  It looks like leadership on both sides of the aisle are lining up to back the president's plan. Boehner: “The president has made clear that he doesn’t want U.S. boots on the ground. So somebody’s boots have to be on the ground. … We ought to give the president what he’s asking for.”  Harry Reid: "It's clear to me that we need to train and equip Syrian rebels and other groups in the Middle East that need some help."  Nancy Pelosi's deputy, Steny Hoyer, also suggested that Congress might put off a "larger authorization" vote until after the elections. Courage.  Incidentally, what have those 'good' rebels been up to recently?

Moderate Syrian rebels and the Islamic State in Iraq and Syria (ISIS) reportedly struck a cease-fire deal on Friday, according to a group that has monitored Syria's civil war. The groups agreed to a non-aggression pact in which they promised not to attack each other...The Syrian Observatory for Human Rights, a monitoring group based in the United Kingdom, said the groups reached the agreement in a suburb of Damascus, Syria’s capital. Under the deal, "the two parties will respect a truce until a final solution is found and they promise not to attack each other because they consider the principal enemy to be the Nussayri regime,” Agence France-Presse reported. Nussayri is a negative term for Syrian President Bashar al-Assad’s Alawite regime.


Are we arming them to fight ISIS -- which is now proscribed by this tenuous non-aggression pact -- or to fight the Assad regime, which remains a dangerous Iranian client (we're apparently engaged in anti-ISIS discussions with Tehran) and sworn US enemy?  NBC's Richard Engel says the administration is "living in a delusion" by ostentatiously opposing Assad while carrying out airstrikes effectively on his behalf:


Contradictions everywhere, and therein lies the problem: ISIS is evil and must be stopped, just as Assad is evil and a threat to US interests.  That's why the notion of bolstering a third party at odds with both sets of villains is so appealing, at least in theory. (And we're definitely not talking about this third party, which is reportedly training bomb-makers and recruiting Western ISIS fighters to export jihad). But there's no compelling evidence that such a gambit would be practical -- rendering it, well, something of a fantasy.  There are no good options.  Here's another contradiction, this one emanating from the American people.  Voters broadly support Obama's decision to go to war with ISIS, but they have little confidence in his ability to see his own policy through: "A combined 68 percent of Americans say they have ‘very little’ or ‘just some’ confidence that Obama’s goals of degrading and eliminating the threat posed by ISIS will be achieved...just 28 percent said they had ‘a great deal’ or ‘quite a bit’ of confidence. Still, 62 percent of voters say they support Obama’s decision to take action against ISIS in Iraq and Syria, while 22 percent oppose it.”  One last contradiction for the road, also via Zeke Miller:


President Barack Obama won the White House largely on his opposition to the Iraq War and was re-elected in 2012 on having ended the conflict. But his Administration is using the never repealed authorization vote as a supplementary legal justification for the planned expansion of the campaign against the Islamic State of Iraq and Greater Syria (ISIS). The New York Times first reported Friday that Obama Administration officials believe that the 2002 law which authorized the war “would serve as an alternative statutory authority basis on which the President may rely for military action in Iraq.” The news comes just months after National Security Adviser Susan Rice said the Authorization for Use of Military Force (AUMF) was no longer operative.

So Obama is leaning on the AUMF he asked Congress to repeal last year and the AUMF he made a career out of opposing.  Neat.  


UPDATE - Has ISIS gotten its hands on some of Assad's chemical weapons (which were supposed to have been turned over and destroyed as part of the "red line" deal)?

Daniel Doherty - American Matthew Miller Handed Six Year Prison Sentence in North Korea
Posted: 9/15/2014 2:30:00 PM EST

The DPRK has arrested, tried, and sentenced another American citizen for “hostile acts” against the Kim regime, the Washington Post reported.

Matthew Miller is now the second of three detained Americans to be convicted of subversion:

North Korea has sentenced Matthew Miller to six years of hard labor for committing “hostile acts,” after the American reportedly ripped up his tourist visa upon arrival at the Pyongyang airport in April. During a show trial that lasted 90 minutes, the Supreme Court found that Miller — who had no legal representation — had committed “acts hostile to the DPRK while entering . . . under the guise of a tourist,” the state-run Korean Central News Agency reported, using the official abbreviation for North Korea.

Analysts say that Pyongyang is using Miller and two other men as bargaining chips in its dispute with Washington over its nuclear program — but that the United States is preoccupied with the turmoil in the Middle East, where Islamic State extremists are not just capturing Westerners but also beheading them . KCNA photos showed Miller, looking pale and wearing a black turtleneck despite it being summer, in a courtroom decorated with a North Korean flag.

This is a strange case, in part because we don't really know what happened. What is clear, however, is that Miller organized a trip to the country on his own through a travel agency. Beyond that, it’s impossible to determine with any degree of certainty the circumstances which led to his arrest. For example, North Korea’s state-run media accuses him of intentionally defecting and being a spy. Miller himself admitted as much in an impromptu television interview several days ago with CNN. “I expected to be detained” he told reporter Will Ripley. But did he?

It's certainly possible. But I imagine it's also difficult to speak candidly and openly in an interview about your own arrest when your totalitarian captors are watching closely. At the same time, Miller made it abundantly clear in that interview that his situation was perilous, and that he had written government leaders urging them to intervene on his behalf:

Question: Did Miller knowingly and willingly defect, only to realize later this was a poor and stupid decision? Or did he have ulterior motives for traveling to North Korea in the first place? Interestingly, the AP reports that the state's High Court believes Miller first went to the country to "experience prison life so that he could investigate the human rights situation."

If that's true, this might explain why he was both arrested and expected to be arrested when he first arrived in Pyongyang. But that explanation doesn't necessarily address why, having voluntarily jettisoned his freedom and safety, he now wants to go home.

Ky Sisson - Video: Hillary Clinton Gives Sour Answer To Immigration Advocates
Posted: 9/15/2014 1:50:00 PM EST

I wonder if the end-all, be-all answer to America's problems in Hillary's mind is, "We need to elect more Democrats." 

That is exactly what she said in Iowa after she was asked for her stance on President Obama's decision to delay immigration reform until after the election. 

Here is the video: 

She seemed excited after Monica, a young immigrant a part of the immigration advocacy group, "DREAMer," introduced herself, but was quickly irritated by two members of the group who demanded her position on the issue. The disappointed look on their faces after her sour answer is how many immigration advocates feel after Obama delayed immigration reform once again even though he promised executive action before the end of summer. 

This letdown by the president has devastated immigration reform advocates who are finding it hard to support the president and other Democrats who have run from this issue. 

Frank Sharry, the executive director of immigration-advocacy group America's Voice, told Vox:

"It feels like, once again, the Democratic Party is saying, 'We like you when it's convenient, but if we're going to risk white voters, we're not really into you.'"

Latino voters have had overwhelming support for Democrats in the past several elections, but should ponder if electing more Democrats like Hillary Clinton is proposing is the best option to finally see effective immigration reform in the U.S.

Katie Pavlich - Huh: Anti-Gun Billionaire Buys a Nazi Tank
Posted: 9/15/2014 1:00:00 PM EST

If you've paid attention at all to the gun control debate over the past two decades, you've certainly heard the argument from gun control activists, "What do you want? For people to be able to buy and own tanks?!" 

That argument and question are red herrings. The average citizen is not trying to own or buy tanks (even though there are legal ways to do it), but an anti-gun billionaire dedicated to taking away your Second Amendment rights, just bought one. 

Co-founder of Microsoft  Paul Allen has dumped hundreds-of-thousands of dollars into anti-gun campaigns and now, he's the proud owner of a WWII Nazi tank. Chris Egar over at Guns.com has more: 

The tank in question, a Panzerkampfwagen IV Ausf. H, commonly referred to as a Panzer IV, was allegedly sold in July for $2.5 million to a foundation tied to Allen. However, attention over the deal, which is now tied up in a lawsuit over non-delivery, has now earned Allen the scorn of gun rights groups when compared to the tech pioneer’s half-million dollar donation to help push gun control ballot initiative I-594.

“While Paul Allen is eager to get his hands on a genuine weapon of war … he is all-too-willing to support a measure that throws obstacles in the way of law-abiding citizens who may just want to borrow or buy a firearm from a friend or in-law,” said Alan Gottlieb, chairman of the Citizens Committee for the Right to Keep and Bear Arms, in a statement Friday. “How silly is that?”

I thought "weapons of war" belonged on the battlefield, Mr. Allen?

You just can't make this stuff up.

Christine Rousselle - Kentucky Democrat Senate Candidate Distances Herself From Obama in New Ad
Posted: 9/15/2014 12:45:00 PM EST

Katie and I have written previously about the curious case of Alison Lundergan Grimes, who has the unenviable position of running for Senate as a Democrat in what is a pretty thoroughly red state. In an effort to further distance herself from President Obama, Grimes released a new ad today explicitly stating that she is "not Barack Obama" and that she disagrees with him on "guns, coal, and the EPA."

Despite the biting ad and attempts to appeal to moderate Kentucky voters, Grimes still has a lot of ground to make up for if she intends on unseating Sen. Mitch McConnell. While McConnell was once considered to be "vulnerable," he has shed that image and now has a "clear advantage" in polls. From The New York Times:

On average, Mr. McConnell leads by five points, and Leo, The Upshot’s Senate election forecasting model, now gives him a 93 percent chance of winning re-election. That’s partly because candidates usually win with such a clear lead at this stage, but it’s also because the underlying fundamentals point to a McConnell victory.

It's apparently going to take more than an ad with a shotgun for Grimes to pull out a win.