Christine Rousselle - Qatari Official: Gays Should Avoid the 2022 FIFA World Cup in Qatar
Posted: 11/13/2014 2:50:00 PM EST

In December of 2010, FIFA awarded the 2022 World Cup bid to Qatar, a small nation the size of Connecticut bordering Saudi Arabia. Qatar's bid beat out bids from the United States, Australia, South Korea, and Japan, and has been dogged by accusations of bribery, a worrisome death rate for foreign workers living in squalid conditions, as well as logistical questions regarding hosting a summer tournament in 120-degree heat in stadiums boasting technology that doesn't exist. Anyhow, severe corruption and worker exploitation aside, today Qatari officials raised eyebrows when they effectively said that gays would not be permitted to attend the event. Homosexual sex is illegal in Qatar.

From SB Nation:

Asked how gay people will be welcomed in 2022, Salah bin Ghanem bin Nasser al-Ali replied: "It's exactly like the alcohol question."

He said Qatar doesn't want to create "this impression, illusion that we don't care about our tradition and our ethical values ... We are studying all these issues. We can adapt, we can be creative to have people coming and enjoying the games without losing the essence of our culture and respecting the preference of the people coming here. I think there is a lot we can do."

The reference to the "alcohol question" was his reply on whether beer sales will be allowed at stadiums in the country where alcohol is severely restricted. "In the hotels and many areas we have alcohol but we have also our own system that people need to respect," he told AP. "As we bid for 2022, we will respect all the rules and regulations by FIFA. We can study this and minimize the impact on our people and tradition. I think we can be creative, finding solutions for all of this. But we respect all the rules and regulations."

Firstly, the fact that alcohol sales at the largest international sporting event are "a question" (additionally, Budweiser is a huge sponsor of the World Cup) should have been enough of a red flag for FIFA's voters during the bid-process. Secondly, a sports minister of a country in the 21st century just compared beer sales to not persecuting homosexuals who dare to enter his country. Unbelievable. FIFA President Sepp Blatter joked in 2010 that gay fans should simply avoid having sex at the 2022 World Cup, but it appears his joke was actually prophetic.

FIFA should be ashamed of themselves for awarding a World Cup bid to a country that even FIFA officials admit is clearly unprepared to host the event.

There is, of course, an easy solution to the myriad problems associated with Qatar: Host the event in the United States. The United States, the runners-up for the 2022 World Cup bid, hosted the 1994 World Cup—the most profitable and best-attended World Cup ever. To anyone not belonging to a corrupt and morally bankrupt sports governing organization, you'd think it'd be an easy choice: hey, let's award the event to a country that won't need to import slave labor to build the stadiums. But no, apparently bribes of petrodollars spoke louder than common sense and logic. Disgusting.

I'll let HBO's John Oliver sum up the rest of my feelings about FIFA (Warning, NSFW-language):

Townhall Magazine - Gunfighter School
Posted: 11/13/2014 2:15:00 PM EST

Gun owners can learn a lot about themselves from just one trip to this desert gunfighting academy. Editor Bob Owens reports for the November issue of Townhall Magazine. 

I thought I was a decent shot with a pistol.

That was before I spent a week at the world famous Gunsite Academy in the high desert outside Paulden, Arizona in mid- August. After five days and one night shooting I’ve drastically revised my opinion of my skills, and that’s a good thing.

Prior to getting an invitation to visit Gunsite from owner Owen “Buz” Mills, I’d viewed myself primarily as a rifleman, if I was any kind of a shooter at all.

I had my concealed carry permit, but didn’t shoot pistols very often. I could hit the target at three, five, and seven yards at my local indoor range as I made sure to follow the long list of range “don’ts.” I uncased my pistol on the firing line, didn’t dare use my holster, didn’t “rapid fire,” and never ever dared to contemplate the mortal sin of moving in any direction.

I had been conditioning myself to punch paper at a steady cadence from a statuesque position without endangering the delicate constitutions of firing range liability lawyers, but I was not learning how to survive a violent confrontation.

My handgun courses had been limited to safety-oriented personal defense classes offered by the NRA that one instructor admitted “were primarily geared to keep you from shooting yourself with your own gun.”

Gunsite, however, is a gunfighter’s school, and has been since it was founded under Col. Jeff Cooper in 1976. Cooper was relentless in his desire to get to what works—examining, paring down, and then melding together ideas used by police, military, and competition shooters. The result of his synthesis became referred to as the Modern Technique of the Pistol.

From the first day, our 250 Pistol class was structured on building a strong framework from basic techniques, and expanding on those core skills as we gained competence. We started shooting at close range on stationary targets, and over time added distance, time constraints, different firing positions, and movement, culminating in indoor and outdoor simulators that rattle your nerves and send your heart rate up.

Shooting a large paper target on a square range at seven yards? That’s easy.

Try walking through the mud, sand, and fist-sized rocks of the gully known as the Donga, where anorexic steel targets hide in ambush behind brush and in side canyons, and often refuse to go down with a single hit, while plump little “no shoot” targets simply beg you to take the easy—and wrong—shot.

The open-air range of the Donga caused my heart to pound, but the claustrophobia that set in within the indoor “Fun House” was excruciating. The air felt stuffy and the walls crushed in, like a starched shirt two sizes too small.

We had to stealthily and tactically clear hallways and rooms, never knowing what might await around the next door, or the next corner, and much to my dismay, outside the window.

Yes, I “died” three times at Gunsite.

In two runs on different indoor simulators I got tunnel vision. I cleared the rooms with deliberate intent, focusing so closely on every interior corner and angle that I simply failed to notice solitary bad guys standing outside the windows as I passed by.

My third “death” was simply mortifying. I successfully cleared a room, and then encountered a target almost right on top of me in the narrow hallway beyond. I pointed, instead of looking at the front sight, and yanked the trigger instead of pressing it. I missed twice at five feet.

As momentarily depressing as these temporary defeats were, they were teachable moments that I can build from going forward.

Yes, I thought I was a decent shot before going to Gunsite. Now I know that before I drove through that front gate, I simply didn’t have enough training to know all that I didn’t know.

I have a long way to go to become legitimately good with a pistol, but I’m much further along than I would have ever gotten on my own thanks to a week’s investment of my time. Better yet, I have the tools and training to begin extending my education in classes a bit closer to home before I head back to the desert again.

You see, 250 Pistol is just Gunsite’s introductory class, and I’m quite curious to see what the 350 Pistol class has to offer. • 

Matt Vespa - Dem Pollster: Obama Will 'Poison The Well' With Executive Move On Immigration
Posted: 11/13/2014 2:15:00 PM EST

As Katie reported earlier this morning, the Obama administration plans to issue executive amnesty for five million illegal aliens. Additionally, Sen. Jeff Sessions (R-AL) says such an action is a gross example of executive overreach that threatens “constitutional order:”

"Fundamentally the President has no authority to do this, it's against the law," Sessions said. "Congress can stop it and must stop it. It's really a threat to constitutional order."

Then again, we’re treading eerily close to points made in Guy’s August post about a blanket pardon issued by Obama to millions of illegal immigrants.

Regardless, any notion of bipartisanship or compromise would be nuked by this move.

Over at the Washington Free Beacon, they pulled this clip from a Wall Street Journal event this morning, where Democratic Pollster Peter Hart said this opening salvo for the 114th Congress will pretty much "poison the well"–and would set another very divisive tone for the upcoming 114th Congress.

Yet, did this guy really want to work with Republicans in the first place on this issue? 

You saw a glimpse of this at the White House luncheon last week, where he basically delivered a smack down to Vice President Joe Biden for having the temerity to ask for a timetable on a bill (via AP) [emphasis mine]:

House Speaker John Boehner's office said he told Obama he was ready to work with the president on a new authorization for military force against the IS group if the president worked to build bipartisan support. The White House announced soon after lunch ended that the U.S. was sending as many as 1,500 more troops to Iraq to serve as advisers, trainers and security personnel as part of the mission. Obama is also asking Congress for more than $5 billion to help fund the fight.

Friday's two-hour meeting was tense at times, according to a senior House Republican aide. Senate Democratic leader Harry Reid, about to lose his grip on the upper chamber, barely said a word, the aide said. The aide said at one point as House Speaker John Boehner was making an argument on immigration, Obama responded that his patience was running out and Vice President Joe Biden interrupted to ask how long Republicans needed. Obama angrily cut Biden off, the aide said.

So, the answer to that question is probably not.

Daniel Doherty - As Senate Race Looms, House to Vote on Keystone Pipeline Friday
Posted: 11/13/2014 1:45:00 PM EST

Remember when Mitt Romney was running for president and pledged (somewhat jokingly) to erect the Keystone XL Pipeline “[even] if I have to do it myself?” Well, almost three years later, he may soon get his wish.

A confluence of factors, such as the results of the midterm elections, changing leadership roles, and a closely-watched Senate contest in Louisiana, have all come together to put Keystone back on the map. Since the president took office, supporters of the project have argued, quite unsuccessfully, that building the pipeline would reduce our reliance on foreign oil and create jobs. Plus, they argue, it is wildly popular and eliciting bipartisan support. But for years, the administration hasn’t budged or indicated they’d support such a proposal. Their calculus, however, may be changing:

The House of Representatives plans to vote on a bill to approve the Keystone XL oil pipeline on Friday, a congressional aide said on Thursday as lawmakers prepared to debate the controversial project.

The legislation, which is expected to pass the Republican-led chamber, would approve the pipeline that would run from Canada south to the U.S. Gulf of Mexico. The Senate could take up the bill next week, possibly on Tuesday, setting up a potential showdown with the White House.

Unsurprisingly, Sen. Landrieu is also trying to introduce a bill of her own to get the pipeline approved. Impeccable timing, Senator:

It's not clear whether Republicans will support Landrieu's bid for a vote while Democrats still control the chamber. But she was lobbying for them to do so on the Senate floor Wednesday.

It doesn't matter that for six long years she sat on her hands and did absolutely nothing. Passing the bill now, of course, allows her to go back home and tell her constituents she’s not an Obama rubber stamp after all. She's getting stuff done!

Here's the video of her making the case for the legislation on the Senate floor on Wednesday:

Republicans are calling this ploy desperate, transparently political, and a “Hail Mary.” But even if her opponent's bill does make it all the way to the president’s desk, would he actually sign it into law? Don't hold your breath:

"The administration has taken a dim view of these kinds of legislative proposals in the past," said White House spokesman Josh Earnest, speaking to reporters in Naypyitaw, the capital of Myanmar. "It’s fair to say that our dim view of these kinds of proposals has not changed.

"Evaluating those earlier proposals, we have indicated that the president’s senior advisers at the White House have recommended that he veto legislation like that," Earnest added. "And that has continued to be our position."

Perhaps he shouldn't listen to his "senior advisers." As the Washington Post explains, if he hangs Sen. Landrieu—and all the other Keystone Pipeline supporters—out to dry, you-know-what could hit the fan:

Obama has only vetoed two pieces of legislation so far in his presidency. Such is the benefit of controlling one of [the] chambers of Congress (the Senate) for all six years.

Republicans hope having control of both chambers will mean, rather than the Senate effectively vetoing bills from the GOP-controlled House by not voting on them, they will be able to put the decision in Obama's hands, at which point public pressure on something like Keystone could be brought to bear. And it looks like Obama will quickly be forced into making one of his toughest veto decisions -- at least when it comes to the court of public opinion.

We'll continue to follow this story as it develops. Stay tuned.

Cortney O'Brien - Awkward: Landrieu is Fighting to Get Her Republican Opponent's Bill Passed
Posted: 11/13/2014 1:00:00 PM EST

Sen. Mary Landrieu (D-LA) faces a tough opponent in Louisiana’s runoff election next month. The long serving Democrat failed to get above 50 percent of the vote in last week’s midterm election, which forced the campaign to extend into December. Her GOP opponent Bill Cassidy is expected to cross the finish line with the votes former Tea Party candidate Rob Maness received. Some Democrats even seem to be accepting this reality. The DSCC, for instance, pulled ads for her campaign immediately after the election.

Landrieu, however, is not giving up easily. She is hoping to earn some support in Louisiana by urging Congress to vote on the Keystone XL pipeline – a bill that would greatly benefit her constituents. The only problem? That bill was sponsored by Cassidy – the very person running to unseat her.

Rachel Maddow explains. That’s right – Rachel Maddow:

“That’s a way to get him! Get his bill passed.”

Brilliant campaign move, huh?

Keystone or no Keystone, Landrieu doesn’t seem to have a prayer.

Kevin Glass - How Big Corporate Money Pushes Net Neutrality
Posted: 11/13/2014 12:30:00 PM EST

On one side: Comcast, AT&T, Verizon and the other companies you love to hate. On the other side: Google, Facebook, Yahoo, and the other companies you don't quite trust.

This is net neutrality.

The debate is typically framed as big corporate interests against humble public-good advocates like... Google. The reality is that this is a clash of giant, self-interested corporations on both sides. Exhibit A is a piece on Gawker-owned Gizmodo about the money that big cable has thrown around:

Minutes after President Obama unveiled his plan for net neutrality yesterday, Republicans leaders like Ted Cruz came out swinging. You can chalk up the backlash to more than just partisan spite; Cruz has taken his share of campaign money from telecom giants. And he's far from the exception.

Democrats and Republicans alike received over $8 million from the four major telecom companies and their trade group in the 2014 election alone. For some context, the top five pharmaceutical groups spent only half as much in the same cycle.

If we're saying that money buys motivation and intentions, let's take a look at Barack Obama - the man with the big net neutrality plan right now - and the big corporations pushing net neutrality. Obama also took money from the big telcos like Comcast and AT&T - but took in a lot more from the big corporate internet giants. Via OpenSecrets' database of company and employee contributions, President Obama took over $800,000 from Google, over $800,000 from Microsoft, over $115,000 from Amazon, nearly $100,000 from Facebook, $80,000 from Yahoo!, $80,000 from Reddit's corporate parent - and these are just from the biggest groups involved. Take a look at the organizations involved with pro-neutrality organization The Internet Association - these are not small-time content producers.

We don't have to get into the degree to which money buys legislation - I typically tend to think money follows prior beliefs, not that it changes them - but it shouldn't be surprising or mysterious that the pro-regulation money is going to liberals while anti-regulation money goes to conservatives. These are the general ideological coalitions that our parties consist of.

On Gizmodo, they also note that there's only one senator on the Senate subcommittee tasked with internet regulation that hasn't taken telecom money - Maria Cantwell - and that it's "no coincidence" that Sen. Cantwell is a big net neutrality proponent.

Who is Sen. Cantwell's single largest corporate contributor? It's also "no coincidence" - it's pro-net neutrality corporation Microsoft.

Katie Pavlich - Sessions: Obama's Executive Action is a Threat to Constitutional Order
Posted: 11/13/2014 11:30:00 AM EST

Last night news and details about President Obama's planned executive amnesty, which could come as early as next week, hit the airwaves of Fox News. Shortly after documents detailing Obama's 10-point plan for executive action surfaced Republican Alabama Senator Jeff Sessions, who has been warning about what the White House might do on the issue of illegal immigration for years, made an appearance on The Kelly File to discuss new developments. During the interview, Sessions explained that President Obama not only lacks the authority to do what is outlined in a released plan, but it's against the law. 

"Fundamentally the President has no authority to do this, it's against the law," Sessions said. "Congress can stop it and must stop it. It's really a threat to constitutional order." 

Sessions also reminded viewers of warnings from Immigrations and Customs Enforcement officers that if President Obama follows through with this executive action in this manner, it will be impossible to enforce immigration laws on the books and will encourage more illegality in the future. Further, he warned of the extreme economic consequences this action will have on the middle class and working poor in America.

Sessions has suggested Congress cut off funding for things like identification cards and other items necessary for executive amnesty to be fulfilled.

"It would be a big, strong step and it would make this almost impossible to accomplish," he said. "It would reflect the will of the American people."

Earlier this year, liberal George Washington University Law Professor Jonathan Turley warned about President Obama's executive overreach, saying we will reach a constitutional tipping point if Congress doesn't do something to restore the balance of power between the legislative and executive branches of government.

Daniel Doherty - Let's Face It: McCain's Probably Not Retiring in 2016
Posted: 11/13/2014 11:15:00 AM EST

But at least he knows what he's getting into. Let's give him that:

Arizona Republican Sen. John McCain said Wednesday that he’s “absolutely” leaning toward running for reelection to the Senate in 2016 and that he’ll be the “number one target of the tea partiers” if he does decide to run again.

“You have to hope for the best and prepare for the worst,” McCain told msnbc when asked whether he was anticipating a tea party challenge. “I definitely think that I would have to absolutely anticipate a tea party candidate or two or three … everybody tells me that I’m the number one target of the tea partiers.”

I’d agree. As a matter of fact, I suspect tea partiers are chomping at the bit hoping he runs in 2016. The chance to sink an establishment candidate who has insulted and annoyed conservatives for years will be too delicious an opportunity to pass up. And unlike Lindsey Graham, McCain’s not going to coast to the nomination, either.

Remember a few months back when his own party voted to censor him for deserting the GOP’s “core values?" These are the exact same people who are determined to making sure Sen. McCain doesn’t get re-nominated, let alone re-elected. In other words, if he runs, it's going to get real ugly, real fast.

That being said, McCain’s almost an octogenarian. So shouldn't he just bow out and pass the torch? Shouldn't he just—oh, I don't know—retire? Nope. It seems he has no desire to call it quits just yet, or to go quietly, either.

Best of luck, Senator.

Conn Carroll - Why Is Hal Rogers Caving To Obama On Executive Amnesty?
Posted: 11/13/2014 10:45:00 AM EST

“I am not on the ballot this fall," President Obama said in his prepared remarks at Northwestern University on October 2nd. But my "policies are on the ballot," Obama continued. "Every single one of them.”

Obama's Democratic party was then crushed at the polls a month later, losing a net 8 (soon to be 9) Senate seats, at least 12 House seats, as well as three governorships.

Obama's executive amnesty for illegal immigrants even received a direct rebuke in the deep blue state of Oregon where voters rejected a ballot initiative that would have given illegal immigrants drivers licenses. Obama's amnesty would overturn the will of these voters by forcing states to give illegal immigrants drivers licenses

Despite this overwhelming rejection of Obama's policies generally, and his executive amnesty specifically, House Appropriations Chairman Hal Rogers (R-KY) is determined to rubber stamp Obama's lawlessness by passing a long-term government funding bill. The Wall Street Journal reports:

GOP leaders made clear in the days after the election that they wanted to set their own agenda when they control of both chambers next year without any lingering fights about spending for the current fiscal year. The leaders also want to look for other ways to push back against the president’s moves on immigration, said a senior Senate GOP aide.

House Appropriations Committee Chairman Hal Rogers (R., Ky.) said it would be unrealistic to expect the president would sign a spending bill that included the immigration language.

“I don’t want a shutdown,” he said. “You should not take a hostage that you can’t shoot.”

Three thoughts:

1) Obama is the hostage taker here. Obama said his policies were on the ballot and then his policies got crushed at the ballot box by the American people. All Congress has to do is pass a spending bill that keeps everything else up and running but also forbids Obama from spending any funds on work permits and other documents for illegal immigrants. Then let Obama shutdown the federal government over his own unprecedented abuse of executive power.

2) There is no other way but the power of the purse to check Obama's lawless abuse of executive power. Impeachment would be overkill and would drown out any other GOP agenda items far worse than an appropriations battle would. And Speaker John Boehner's (R-OH) lawsuit has proved to be such a bad joke it hasn't even been filed yet.

3) The GOP will not have any agenda if they cave to Obama on amnesty. This is not the only issue where Obama wants to use executive power to get around Congress. On Iran, Obamacare, energy, education, internet regulation, etc., Obama wants to act as if Congress does not exist. If Republicans cave on amnesty because they are afraid of being blamed for a shutdown, then Obama will see it as a green light to walk all over them on everything.

Now if House Republicans want to pass a short-term funding bill now, one that funds the government through till January, so that they can then fight Obama alongside a Republican Senate, that makes some sense.

But to pass a year-long funding bill and forfeit all leverage over Obama on this issue would be a gut punching betrayal for Republican voters. It just makes no sense.