After more than 300 airstrikes against ISIS in Iraq and Syria, Pentagon Press Secretary Rear Admiral John Kirby said this week that the group “remains a very potent force.”
"Yes, they've changed some of their tactics, there's absolutely no question about that, in response to the pressure that we put them under, but that doesn't make them less dangerous or less potent over time," Kirby said.
"Yes, they're blending in more. Yes, they're dispersing, and yes, they aren't communicating quite as openly or as boldly as they once were. That's a good thing, because if they aren't operating as freely, then they aren't as free to achieve their goals.
"That doesn't mean ISIL doesn't still pose a threat. It doesn't mean they aren't still trying and in some cases succeeding at taking and holding ground. No one said this would be easy or quick, and no one should be lulled into a false sense of security by accurate airstrikes. We will not, we cannot bomb them into obscurity."
We’ve heard countless times by now that airstrikes alone will not defeat and destroy the group—a point even Kirby emphasized.
"This is going to be a long struggle," he said, urging "a sense of strategic patience about this entire effort."
"This group will adapt, and we're going to have to adapt right along with them. And air strikes alone, you're just not going to bomb them away. It's not going to happen like that."
He continued: “We've been pretty honest about the fact that military action alone will not win this effort, but that shouldn't be taken as an admission of ineffectiveness, and one of the ways we know we're having an effect is precisely because the terrorists have had to change their tactics and their communications and their command and control."
Meet the Press host Chuck Todd has been pushing and pushing Mark Pryor and Tom Cotton to debate each other one-on-one in Arkansas. He even pledged to make the trip down to the Natural State himself to serve as moderator. Cotton, for his part, has accepted. His opponent ... has not.
“Everything else is happening in this race. Plenty of TV ads, plenty of attacks going on back and forth…let’s see them sit down and have a debate,” Todd said in an interview with KARK 4 News last week. “I think you owe it to the viewers.”
It’s worth repeating and reiterating that the Pryor campaign has already accepted two debate invitations (one of which Cotton has so far declined). So it’s inaccurate to portray Mark Pryor as a debate dodger in the same sense Mark Udall is. Nonetheless, like Sen. Jeanne Shaheen in New Hampshire, he's not exactly sanguine about the prospects of adding more one-on-one debates to his calendar.
As Todd notes, this is a disservice to Arkansans who are unfairly bombarded with misleading attack ads that distort and slander candidates’ positions. One would think, therefore, that both candidates would relish the opportunity to debate one another in public as often as they could. Apparently not.I'll leave you with two recent attack ads: One hits Pryor for voting for Obamacare; the other hits Cotton for not protecting women, or something:
2014 – April 5: “Mom. I am not going to make it through the night. There are hit men in the cell with me and they told me they are going to kill me. Whatever you do, do not come down to ask questions or investigate because they are going to kill you, too. Change your bank accounts and go underground. Your life is in danger.”
2014 - April 14: “Mom. I tried to kill myself because the guards and the inmates were going to rape, torture and eventually execute me for information.”
2014 - May 1: “Mom. I have been chained by 4 points, strapped spread eagle to the bed in the infirmary for 25 days.”
- Jill Marie Taahmooressi, recalling quotes from her son, Sgt. Andew Paul Tahmooressi, before the House Subcommittee on the Western Hemisphere - October 1, 2014
Members of the House Foreign Affairs Committee headed back to D.C. on Wednesday for a hearing to examine the case of Marine Sergeant Andrew Tahmooressi, who was arrested earlier this year on charges of weapons and ammunition possession in Mexico.
Townhall’s Katie Pavlich sums up his run-in at the border here:
Tahmooressi was arrested in Mexico after admittedly making a wrong turn at the border. It was a mistake. When he was pulled over by military officers, he said he was lost and declared firearms legal in the United States were in the vehicle. Instead of turning him around back to the U.S., soldiers arrested him.
Appearing before the committee were Tahmooressi’s mother, Jill Tahmooressi; Lieutenant Commander Montel B. Williams, USN, Retired; Sergeant Robert Buchanan, USMC, Retired; and Chief Executive Officer for Concerned Veterans for America Mr. Pete Hegseth. All testified on behalf of Sgt. Tahmooressi, speaking on his character and imploring immediate action from Congress and the White House for his release.
Sgt. Buchanan, a Purple Heart recipient, made the following comments about being deployed with Tahmooressi:
“He was truly one of the best junior marines and machine gunners I’ve ever served with. This was a Marine who received a combat meritorious promotion. This alone speaks volumes to what kind of individual Andrew is, and contests to his character. To be promoted meritoriously in combat is truly an honor amongst Marines and is not given lightly.
On Andrew’s last deployment he saved the life of a fellow marine by securing tourniquets on him after he stepped on an Improvised Explosive Device (IED) causing him to lose both of his legs. It’s in these moments that a man’s true character is tested.”
Sgt. Tahmooressi has been detained for just over six months, and has been diagnosed, by multiple doctors, as suffering from PTSD.
“The San Diego Veterans Affairs hospital diagnosed Andrew with combat PTSD less than ten days prior to his arrest at the Mexican border. Andrew’s PTSD has resulted in hyper-vigilance, memory and cognition lapses, and depression,” Chairman Ed Royce (R-CA) told the committee.
Since learning of his condition and incarceration, House members took action in whatever ways they could. Chairman Royce and Subcommittee Chairman Matt Salmon (R-CA) visited Tahmooressi at La Mesa Penitentiary in Tijuana. Representative Ted Poe (R-TX) introduced H.Res 620, which calls for “the Government of Mexico [to] immediately release United States Marine Sgt. Andrew Tahmooressi and provide for his swift return to the United States” for medical treatment. The resolution, which serves mainly as a symbolic expression of the House (and Senate, if passed) and has no real enforcement mechanism, currently has 81 bipartisan co-sponsors. Additionally, Representative Tom Marino (R-PA) wrote a letter to the Mexican Ambassador to the U.S. questioning the international partnership and has yet to receive a response.
“You, your son, and veterans deserve more, have a right to more, and we need to see that that is accomplished,”
All of the witnesses spoke with concern for the general welfare of returning veterans, citing the backlog of patients waiting to be treated by the VA and the daily suicides of troubled troops.
Lt. Cdr. Williams adamantly said, “No ifs, ands, or buts, our veterans from Iraq and Afghanistan often feel absolutely abandoned by our government, and I believe they have a reason to feel so…We know for a fact that Sgt. Tahmooressi’s time in this prison has been worse than his time in both combat situations…How dare we, how dare we, as a nation, hesitate to get that young man back.”
And in what seemed to be a unanimous sentiment, members of the committee blasted the Obama Administration for its lack of response. Tahmooressi’s mother testified that she had yet to receive a call from the President. In addition, the State Department provided very little help to her in securing an attorney. The first, which was obtained through a website referred by the Department, had to be replaced for lying to the Mexican court.
“My son has faults, but lying isn’t one of them…We could not proceed with the lies,” she said.
Representative Ileana Ros-Lehtinen quipped that Ms. Tahmooressi should go play a few rounds of golf, so that she could secure some of the president’s attention. Royce made clear that he had notified Vice President Biden of the situation, but still had heard nothing from the White House.
This is the world we live in: The president of the United States negotiates with terrorists, releases five of them, and secures the return of a deserter who cost the lives of his fellow soldiers. He then hosts the family in the Rose Garden. The president makes phone calls to the U.S. men’s soccer team and to the San Antonio Spurs, but he cannot take 30 seconds to call the desperate mother of a war hero trapped and abused in a dirty, Mexican jail cell.
This is the world we live in.
Critics from the left say that it is hypocritical for members of Congress to demand that the Mexican judiciary system be circumvented to expedite Tahmooressi’s release. During the hearing, members of the committee reiterated their respect for and friendship of the Mexican government, but warned that this issue must be resolved soon.
“We define ourselves in a time of crisis. Andrew defined himself in a time of war: he became a marine,” Representative Dana Rohrabacher (R-CA) emotionally told the committee. “Mexico is defining itself to us today.” He continued by saying that if the issue isn’t resolved soon, “we can no longer treat Mexico as our friend.”
Chairman Royce concluded the hearing by saying he was hopeful for a quick and positive change of events; however, he promised to work with House leadership on immediate legislative action if Sgt. Tahmooressi was still in custody when Congress returns after elections.
It’s no secret that Sen. Mark Begich (D-AK) is in trouble. He votes with the president too often for many Alaskans’ liking, he’s too absent in Congress, and the Democratic candidate for governor has even declined to endorse him.
Politico’s Amanda Coyne, however, apparently thinks Begich’s opponent, Dan Sullivan, is
Coyne saved a bit of mockery for the “Rally for the Valley” held near former Governor Sarah Palin’s house in the Matanuska Valley, home to a large chunk of the state’s conservatives. Here's how she described that crowd:
There’s the scruffy guy who sees Muslim terrorists everywhere, the frazzled woman who dreams in prophesy, the mayoral candidate who recently got ratted out to Homeland Security for his weird talk of guns, anarchy and riots in movie theaters. The camo-clad hunters just in from a moose kill.
Coyne explained what this group’s votes could mean, not just for Alaska, but for the whole country:
Considering that races in Alaska are sometimes won by single-digit votes—and that Sen. Mark Begich won by about 4,000 votes against Sen. Ted Stevens in 2008—that’s a coveted block. Sarah Palin’s neighbors, in other words, might very well hold the fate of the U.S. Senate in their hands, a thought that could make more than a few Beltway denizens choke on their chardonnays.
Coyne’s satirical tone aside, there is truth to what she writes. Alaska is a key swing state and, if the midterms come down to this election, Sarah Palin’s conservative "neighbors" may be the bloc that ultimately takes the Senate away from Democrats’ hands.
Here's where the two Senate candidates currently stand in the polls:
While the world's attention is focused on ISIS (and rightly so), two European leaders have been making some unexpected economic moves.
In 2012, Francois Hollande came sweeping into the French presidency with an "eat the rich" attitude. Upon immediately taking office, he proposed a 75 percent tax on top earners. He promised to provide the citizenry with the social programs and wages they demand by redistributing wealth. Now, things are looking different. Although Hollande's socialist views still remain in place, his government is cutting spending.
France's Socialist government has detailed a 21 billion-euro ($26.5 billion) cost-cutting plan, the biggest in the country's modern history, saying it will focus on trimming welfare benefits.
Presenting the 2015 budget on Wednesday, Finance Minister Michel Sapin said the measures show the government is serious about reining in its budget deficit, which is above European Union limits.
Meanwhile over in the UK, which almost broke apart earlier this month, David Cameron is promising tax cuts. The move from Cameron isn't totally unexpected, but none-the-less a promising proposal.
Squeezed between insurgent anti-Europeans, a skittish party and suspicious voters, Britain's prime minister promised a tough stance on the EU and tax cuts for millions in a bid to bolster support for his Conservative Party before a national election next year.
David Cameron closed the Conservatives' fall conference in the central English city of Birmingham Wednesday by arguing that four years of austerity under his government had restored Britain to economic health after the Great Recession.
He said that if re-elected he would reduce income taxes for middle-income earners and eliminate them for minimum-wage workers. At the same time, he said, his government would continue to cut public spending, trimming 25 billion pounds ($40 billion) in the two years after the election.
Speaking to reporters Wednesday, Press Secretary Josh Earnest was asked by Fox News' Ed Henry about the level of concern the White House had for Marine Sgt. Andrew Tahmooressi , who is being held in a Mexican prison under inhumane conditions and living with a severe case of untreated PTSD.
"There was another report and hearing today on Capitol Hill about Sgt. Tahmooressi, the U.S. Marine who's been in a Mexican jail. The reason why it's important among other reasons is that various lawmakers as well as various veterans have come forward and said he has PTSD which this president has said is a very serious issue that he cares deeply about. How concerned is this White House that he is still in a Mexican jail, had PTSD according to VA doctors and hasn't gotten treatment in several months," Henry asked.
"I can tell you that my colleagues at the State Department are very focused on this issue and so I'd refer you to them for their efforts to work with the Mexican government," Earnest said.
"Republican Ed Royce said today that he asked Vice President Joe Biden recently to ask Preident Obama to call the president of Mexico directly and get him [Tahmooressi] out of jail and he said that didn't happen. Why not?" Henry followed up.
"I don't believe it has and that's because this is an issue that is being handled by the State Department," Earnest said.
Clearly the White House is so concerned, they couldn't bother to comment or come up with a general statement showing they at least care about the situation. Pathetic. What happened to "no man left behind?" That concept must only apply to deserters and Taliban sympathizers named Bowe Bergdahl.
Earlier today Sgt. Tahmooressi's mother, Jill Tahmooressi, testified in front of Congress about the condition of her son and detailed the horrifying conditions in which he is being detained. She also said President Obama hasn't called her, despite media attention and a WhiteHouse.gov petition receiving 134,000 signatures asking for him to pursue her son's release.
The Yes on 91 campaign to legalize recreational marijuana for adults in Oregon has released a new video ad, depicting a 33-year police veteran detailing his rationale for legalizing the drug in the state:
Oregon, along with Alaska, is voting this November to join Washington and Colorado as states that have legalized marijuana for both medicinal and recreational purposes.
Tutmark makes very good points in the ad. Prison space and police time is a zero-sum game. Time and other resources spent arresting marijuana users is time and resources spent not solving other serious crimes.
In 2004, there were over 44,000 people in prison for marijuana-related drug-law violations. That number is more than double the population of my hometown, and that's a lot of people in jail for what is effectively a victimless crime.
This ad is right. It's about time that the police stop concerning themselves with the activities of adults.
Polling has shown narrow support for the passage of Measure 91.
Speaking from the White House Wednesday, White House Press Secretary Josh Earnest dodged questions about why flights from countries with Ebola outbreaks are still being accepted to the United States. He did not detail any future plans to stop flights from those countries, or to track connections through Europe to those countries, despite the first case of Ebola showing up in the U.S. after a Liberian man went to a funeral in West Africa and then returned home to Dallas.
In his justification of the administration continuing to allow flights, Earnest argued that because people carrying Ebola don't have symptoms when they get on planes, there isn't a need to limit travel.
Earnest said Ebola will be handled through "rigorously applying medical procedures recommended by the Centers for Disease Control."
Everything is under control...
Wisconsin Gov. Scott Walker has taken a firm 50 - 45 percent lead among likely voters over Democratic gubernatorial candidate Mary Burke, according to the latest Marquette Law School Poll.
Walker's five-point lead in the latest Marquette poll, conducted September 25-28, is a marked improvement over the last Marquette poll, conducted September 11-14, which only showed Walker up by three points, 49 percent to 46 percent.
Voter opinions of Walker haven't budged over the past two weeks, with both Walker's job approval rating (51/47) and favorable rating (52/46) now at nearly identical levels (52/47 job approval, 52/46 favorable).
But voter perceptions of Burke have fallen sharply. Earlier this month Burke enjoyed a modest net favorability rating at 41/39. But now Burke is underwater with 44 percent of likely voters telling Marquette they have an unfavorable opinion of Burke, and just 40 percent saying they have a favorable opinion of her.
Burke's plagiarized jobs plan appears to be a big reason voters are abandoning her. More than 63 percent of respondents heard about Burke's plagiarized jobs plan, and almost a fifth of respondents said the incident made them less likely to vote for Burke.
The Marquette Law School Poll has a stellar reputation in Wisconsin, correctly predicting Walker's 2012 recall win.
Earlier this week, New Hampshire State Rep. Marilinda Garcia had a debate with incumbent Democratic Congresswoman Annie Kuster on the radio. Okay, Rep. Kuster declined, but her Republican opponent showed up. Kuster has yet to hold one town hall event since she her 2012 election win–and it seems she isn’t going to hold any in the last weeks of the the 2014 cycle.
Recently, the Garcia campaign has launched a timeline called “When Annie Met Obama,” which documents her greatest hits from announcing that she is one of the president’s strongest supporters in Congress to her recent snags over her property taxes.
Rep. Garcia also took a tour of Atlas PyroVision Productions, which makes fireworks (via The Keene Sentinel):
Atlas CEO Stephen D. Pelkey did most of the talking, showing Garcia the equipment and electronics the company uses to make the fireworks they display at venues from the Cheshire Fairgrounds in North Swanzey to Gillette Stadium in Foxborough, Mass.
About 10 of the company’s employees accompanied them on the tour.
Pelkey said he supports Garcia because he’s frustrated with Democratic lawmakers who he said ignore the interests of small businesses.
Several years ago, Atlas was at risk of losing its license to transport its fireworks over what Pelkey said were violations incorrectly cited under the federal Hazardous Materials Safety Permit Program.
At the time, Pelkey attempted to get help from Democratic Rep. Ann M. Kuster, the incumbent defending her 2nd Congressional District seat against Garcia in the Nov. 4 election.
Pelkey said he didn’t get an answer from Kuster, leading him to place his faith in Republican candidates.
“It was as if small business in New Hampshire didn’t exist, or wasn’t important.”
Well, Pelkey, and other New Hampshire voters in the second congressional district, will have their chance to voice their concerns about the issues that matter to them most with Rep. Garcia. She’s planning five town halls in five weeks, according to her communications director Ken Cunningham:
“In honoring a New Hampshire tradition and the expectations of integrity and openness from our candidates, Marilinda Garcia will host 5 townhall meetings in New Hampshire’s Second District before Election Day, starting on October 7th, in Littleton. These townhall meetings will offer voters an honest opportunity to interact one-on-one with Marilinda and discuss with her the important issues facing our state and our nation.”
“Although Ann Kuster has yet to respond to our request to participate in a townhall forum, we would like to renew our invitation to her, and urge her to attend any of the below townhall meetings. We see no reason for her to miss these valuable opportunities to meet with the people of New Hampshire, and thus we will be prepared for her participation in every forum.”
“Additionally, we have provided directions to each meeting for Ann Kuster, and we are more than willing to facilitate her travel arrangements so that she is finally able to participate in a townhall meeting. Ann Kuster has never held a townhall meeting and her constituents deserve the opportunity to share their concerns and views with their representative to Congress.”
The tour begins October 9 in Littleton, NH. The subject of this town hall will be health care.
On October 15, John Bolton, former U.N. Ambassador under the Bush Administration, will be a guest in a town hall devoted to national security in Hanover.
Taxes and regulations will be the focus for the Keene town hall on October 21, while Concord will delve into government spending on the 29th.
The last town hall event will be held in Nashua to discuss jobs and the economy on November 3, the day before Election Day.