COOPER: When you’ve heard the administration’s response to all of this, what do you make of it from your vantage point?
BARFI: The administration has made a number of inaccurate statements. They’ve said that the families have been consistently and regularly informed. That is not true. I speak now only from the Sotloff family. I can’t speak for the other families. They said that these hostages were moved frequently. we know that most of the beginning of this year; they were stationary. We know that the intelligence community and the White House are enmeshed in a larger game of bureaucratic infighting and Jim and Steve are pawns in that and that’s not fair. If there continues to be leaks, the Sotloff family will have to speak out to set the record straight.
“I can tell you,” Udall said, “Steve Sotloff and James Foley would tell us, don’t be impulsive. Horrible and barbarous as those executions were, don’t be impulsive, come up with a plan to knock ISIL back.”
Two problems with Udall's answer: First, even if the Senator had been close personal friends with both Foley and Sotloff before they were taken captive by ISIS (and he was not, to my knowledge), he'd have no idea how their attitudes may have changed toward the savages who kidnapped them and sawed their heads off. Invoking their memories in a political debate isn't inappropriate; 'speaking for' them to make a defensive political point is shallow and presumptuous. Second, Udall is effectively lauding Obama's incoherent response to ISIS' lethal march this summer as a show of impressive caution and a rejection of impulsive action. But the White House has been aware of this burgeoning threat since 2012, with the president being personally briefed on it for at least a year. Former Homeland Security Secretary Janet Napolitano confirmed this week that ISIS was on the administration's radar during her time in office. The president's recent "no strategy" admission was so damning because it reinforced the image of a White House floundering badly in the face of a terrible challenge for which it had ample time to fashion an appropriate and strategic response. Team Obama spent much of 2012 telling American voters that threats like ISIS had been crushed, bragging about "ending" the war in Iraq, and attacking Mitt Romney for recommending a residual force of American troops remain in the country to blunt a violent Islamist resurgence after our departure (which was once Obama's own position). The president himself laughed ISIS off as a JV basketball team earlier this year, an assessment so misguided that the White House has resorted to lying about what he meant. That JV squad, we're now told, could take three years to defeat. They obviously didn't spring up overnight -- they were gaining steam and laying groundwork while people like them were supposed to be "on the run."
For his part, Udall also asserted that ISIS "does not present an imminent threat to this nation," which might come as news to the two Americans on whose behalf he's deigned to speak. If he meant that there isn't any actionable intelligence that ISIS is plotting an imminent attack on US soil, he might be right. Or he might not. Tweets like these aren't reassuring. President Obama will outline his hastily-conceived ISIS strategy in a speech on Wednesday, which may or may not include any new information, according to aides. If history is any guide, Mark Udall will thoroughly agree with every word the president utters. For an update on the 2014 Senate picture -- including the tight Colorado race -- click through to my extensive recap of fresh polling numbers. I'll leave you with the White House doubling down yesterday on its discredited JV/ISIS spin:
If Udall wants to play this game, here’s a thought: If not for Obama’s excessive “caution” in ordering the rescue mission earlier this year, Foley and Sotloff might be here to tell us themselves what should be done with ISIS. Believe it or not, quick military action can sometimes be a virtue.
Assailants rarely stand still and announce themselves as a “threat.” In the September issue of Townhall Magazine, where this article originally appeared, BearingArms.com's Bob Owens asks if your firearms training is realistic.
I’ve been to a number of different self-defense courses in the past 20 years, almost all of them focused on drawing and shooting at a stationary paper target at a known distance on a static firing line after the lead instructor has shouted “threat!”
I’m now supremely confident that if I am ever attacked by a stationary paper target, I will survive.
Unfortunately, criminals rarely shout “threat!” as they attack, they don’t conveniently stand stock-still, and they’re incredibly uncooperative with their would-be victims. The sad fact of the matter is that even most “advanced” self-defense classes offered by reputable organizations and shooting schools only prepare us to deal with caricatures of threats, and generally in manners that won’t succeed in a real conflict.
For example, you might be told that once you are given the fire command, you are to fire two shots into the center of target “A” and then run to cover, perform a reload while hiding behind cover, and then engage with target “B” as you emerge from cover on the opposite side. You knew what to expect the entire time, because the scenario was explained completely beforehand.
An advanced class might feature a more complex drill involving reactive targets (targets that move after being struck just once, or after a prescribed number of times) and “no shoot” non-threatening targets representing normal people going about their daily lives. Instead of engaging a specific number of targets in a specific order with a specific number of shots, the shooter is going to have to read the situation at each point of the process and think their way through the scenario as they encounter possible threats.
Such a class introduces complexity and is more realistic but the course of fire, once set, is set. The reactive target can’t decide to become a non-threat, and the “no shoot” can’t drop a bouquet of flowers as it draws a knife and charges you, and you are generally not allowed the best defensive option, which is creating space between the assailant and yourself, running if you can.
To get the semblance of a real threat, humans need to attack other humans.
It is because of this need for more realistic force-on-force training that the U.S. military introduced the Multiple Integrated Laser Engagement System in 1980, and later added man-marker rounds that allowed servicemen to use their real weapons with conversion kits that would only fire paintball-like or wax-based marker rounds.
In more recent years, many companies have added force-on-force training courses for civilians that use commercial, off-the-shelf airsoft firearms that mimic the action of modern firearms, but which fire lightweight 6-millimeter plastic BBs at a reduced velocity.
I was recently able to witness force-on-force training using realistic airsoft pistols. Trace Armory Group incorporated force-on-force scenario training in their NRA defensive pistol class. After a morning of shooting real handguns at paper targets, students were directed to the Camp Butner MOUT (Military Operations on Urban Terrain) range for role-playing exercises that happened in, around, and among the range’s buildings. The defending student was armed with an airsoft pistol in an inside-the-waistband holster, and would be expected to “act appropriately” to the appearance of an unexpected person or persons.
In some scenarios the opposing role-player was nothing more than a curious person engaging the defender in conversation. In others, they were intent on an all-out attack with a handgun, knife, or blunt object. In other scenarios, the assailant was informed to react to the defender, and only to attack if the defender gave them an opportunity, letting the opposing player get close enough to use a knife or bat.
While not perfectly mimicking real life, the course quickly informed every student that shooting at paper targets from a static position is poor preparation for a real life defensive scenario.
In the 70-plus scenarios I saw acted out, the defender had the opportunity to establish a classic two-handed firing grip just once; the rest of the engagement was typically one-handed hip shooting or point shooting with only the rare use of sights.
In many scenarios, the defender was using their support side hand to ward off attacks that often didn’t develop until opposing players were an arm’s length away. Static, stay-in-your-lane shooting might make liability insurance for shooting ranges more affordable, but is it preparing you to deal with real life threats the way that force-on-force training might? •
Last night in an interview with Fox News' Greta Van Susteren, Texas Senator Ted Cruz slammed President Obama's handling of ISIS and the beheadings of two American journalists as "unserious." He also slammed Obama for operating on a "photo-op" foreign policy agenda not tied to protecting "vital national security interests to the United States" and said ISIS has declared war on the U.S.
"Unfortunately from the beginning of this we have seen President Obama being fundamentally unserious about this [ISIS]. He dismissed ISIS at the outset as the Junior Varsity, that turned out to be very wrong then last week he told us 'we have no strategy' to the surprise of nobody," Cruz said. "At this point we have seen ISIS declare war on the United States. They are crucifying Christians. They are beheading children. They have beheaded two American journalists and they have done so on the world stage pledging an intent to take jihad to America."
President Obama is set to address the nation Wednesday night about what his administration is planning to do to combat ISIS. Cruz said in the same interview Obama must come to Congress to obtain approval for new military action, which would require him to lay out a coherent plan and strategy moving forward.
"The value of Obama coming to Congress is it forces the President to articulate clear military objective," Cruz said. "If we don't act now we will see another horrific act of terror on the homeland."
Cruz has introduced legislation that would ban Americans fighting with ISIS from reentering the United States.
"There are over 100 Americans right now who have gone and are fighting along side ISIS," Cruz said. "The legislation I introduced today in the Senate amends existing law to provide that taking up arms and fighting along side ISIS constitutes a renunciation of United States citizenship so that we can't have people who have joined the terrorists using U.S. passports to come back to commit acts of here at home. It is my hope that we will see bipartisan cooperation passing this legislation."
According to a new CNN/ORC International poll, 70 percent of Americans are concerned about ISIS launching an attack against the United States. The concern comes after two American journalists were beheaded by the terror army, before the 9/11 anniversary Thursday and just before President Obama addresses the country Wednesday about the administration's plans on how to deal with the threat.
Americans are increasingly concerned that ISIS represents a direct terror threat, fearful that ISIS agents are living in the United States, according to a new CNN/ORC International poll. Most now support military action against the terrorist group.
Seven in 10 Americans believe ISIS has the resources to launch an attack against the United States, just days before President Barack Obama plans to address the nation on the subject.
The poll also shows Americans are overwhelmingly in favor of additional airstrikes against ISIS, giving Iraqi forces military aid to fight them and providing humanitarian aid displaced by the army. However, Americans do not want U.S. "boots on the ground" to solve the crisis and want President Obama to seek approval from Congress before launching further military action, especially in Syria.
We've officially reached a new and obscene level of hypocrisy, folks.
As I write about extensively in my latest book Assault and Flattery: The Truth About the Left and Their War on Women, liberal organizations parading as women's rights groups aren't actually concerned about women, but instead about expanding government and implementing socialist policies in America.
Case-in-point. Colorado Republican Congressman and U.S. Senate Candidate Cory Gardner has suggested birth control pills should be over-the-counter as part of his campaign platform and stance on women's health. Instead of applauding Gardner's approach, which would greatly expand women's access to birth control, Planned Parenthood has come out against him. The justification? Obamacare and government dependence for women is better.
"If Cory Gardner and others were serious about expanding access to birth control, they wouldn’t be trying to repeal the no-copay birth control benefit, reduce Title X funding for birth control, or cut women off from Planned Parenthood’s preventive health services. This is simply a cynical political attempt to whitewash his terrible record and agenda for women's health. The reality is that Cory Gardner’s proposal would actually cost women more by forcing them to pay out of pocket for the birth control that they are getting now at no cost thanks to the ACA. We would welcome a sincere conversation about expanding birth control access for women - sadly Cory Gardner has not offered one," Planned Parenthood Action Fund Executive Vice President Dawn Laguens said in a statement.
Big government leftists like Laugens wage their own war on women by making them more dependent on government and by treating them like victims. Planned Parenthood wants to limit access to contraception so long as it's "free" with a prescription through big government mandates in Obamacare and 100 percent higher healthcare premiums for women overall, proving that this isn't about access to birth control, but instead making women dependent on Uncle Sam at all costs.
As Katie wrote earlier today, President Obama’s decision to delay any major decision on immigration until after the midterms has his liberal base in a furor. It has become a hot issue, which was further complicated with the tens of thousands of unaccompanied minors turning up at the border. Border security has seen a huge bounce in the number of Americans viewing it as a priority. Fifty-one percent of Americans think border security is a priority. Last week, the evidence of a broken border was evident in the composition of the California’s workforce, where 10 percent of all workers are illegal aliens (via LA Times):
A report released Wednesday [9/3/14] by researchers at USC found that immigrants who are in California illegally make up nearly 10% of the state's workforce and contribute $130 billion annually to its gross domestic product.
The study, which was conducted in conjunction with the California Immigrant Policy Center, was based on census data and other statistics, including data from the Department of Labor and the Department of Homeland Security. It looked at a variety of ways the estimated 2.6 million immigrants living in California without permission participate in state life
Among the study’s findings:
Immigrants who are in California illegally make up 38% of the agriculture industry and 14% of the construction industry statewide.
Half of the immigrants in the state illegally have been here for at least 10 years.
Roughly 58% do not have health insurance.
Nearly three in four live in households that include U.S. citizens.
And this is just one state. Yet, we shall see what happens after the midterms. Guy mentioned how Obama can issue a blanket pardon for these folks, which would be an unprecedented, but possibly not illegal as the pardon power is one of the “least limited” powers outlined in our Constitution. The Heritage Foundation also reaffirmed this, which makes it all the more unsettling.
If President Obama is forced to deal with a unified Republican Congress in solving immigration, which is highly possible, come January 2015; then it will be interesting to see what happens next.
In an effort to prevent traitorous Americans from joining ISIS, Sen. Ted Cruz (R-TX) introduced legislation on Monday that would revoke their U.S. citizenships if they do.
Speaking on the Senate floor this afternoon, he explained why such legislation is finally necessary.
“ISIS is a study in oppression and brutality that is conducting ethnic cleansing against religious minorities in the region, that is targeting and persecuting Christians, and that is attempting to subject the local population to the strictest forms of Sharia Law,” he said. “And ISIS has gruesomely murdered U.S. civilians and, indeed, journalists on the public stage."
Washington lawmakers must therefore take two forms of action to protect Americans. First, he argued, securing all U.S. borders.
“It is beyond time for us to secure our borders,” he declared. “Representing the state of Texas, which has a border nearly 2,000 miles long, I know firsthand just how unsecure the border is right now."
"This week of all weeks with the anniversary of the September 11th attacks upon us, we can have no illusions that terrorists won’t try to make good on their specific threats to attack America," he continued. "And as long as our border isn’t secure, we’re making it far too easy for the terrorists to carry through on those promises.”
Secondly, he said, Washington lawmakers "should take commonsense steps to make fighting for or supporting ISIS a [citizenship-stripping offense].
“That is why I have today filed legislation which would amend the existing statue governing renunciation of United States citizenship," he announced.
“[Defeating ISIS] requires clear, decisive, unified action,” he continued. “And it is my hope that all of us will come together supporting such action.”
The Islamic Society of Boston, the former mosque of Boston Marathon bomber Tamerlan Tsarnaev and convicted terrorist plotter Abdul Rahman al-Amoudi, is under scrutiny once again after it was found that ISIS propagandist Ahmad Abousamra is another member.
The New York Post reports:
Now it can be revealed that another regular worshipper at the Islamic Society mosque was Ahmad Abousamra, who is now the top propagandist for ISIS.
Abousamra’s father, a prominent doctor, even sat on the board of directors of the Muslim organization that runs the mosque. He stepped down after the FBI began questioning his son.
The FBI suspects Abousamra now operates ISIS’s sophisticated media wing promoting the group’s beheadings and other atrocities through slick videos posted on the Internet. The brutally effective English-language propaganda campaign has helped attract thousands of Western jihadists, including at least 300 Americans.
It almost goes without saying that it's incredibly troubling that eight people from one mosque are either accused of or convicted of terrorism charges, including the founder of said mosque. And of course, it shouldn’t matter what their religious affiliation is or what respective houses of worship they belong to: all of us should be concerned.
Sen. Mitch McConnell is fighting for his political survival, but his re-election chances just got better. Over the weekend, Dan noted that the Senate Minority Leader has expanded his lead amongst likely voters over Democratic challenger Alison Lundergan Grimes by 8-points, according to the latest Marist poll; Rep. Tom Cotton in Arkansas is up 5-points over Democratic incumbent Sen. Mark Pryor, so it’s good news all around.
Additionally, even the New York Times is pretty much saying that McConnell will be re-elected, giving him a 93 percent probability that such an outcome will happen on Election Night. While McConnell has low approval ratings, he has the fundamentals and history in his favor; a candidate with a lead this late in the game is bound to win. Lastly, there’s the precipitous decline in Democratic support within Kentucky’s coal country (via NYT):
It should be no surprise that Mr. McConnell has opened up an advantage. A McConnell defeat would have been all but unprecedented: No incumbent senator who represents the party opposed to the White House has ever lost re-election in a state that leans as strongly against the incumbent president’s party as Kentucky does.
The inexorable decline of Democratic standing in coal country has been driven by the collapse of the national Democratic Party in this region, where environmental regulations on coal-fired power plants are deeply unpopular, as are Democratic positions on cultural issues. Like in West Virginia, Kentucky coal country first swung to the Republicans in 2000, and the G.O.P. presidential nominee made additional gains in every successive election. Mr. Obama suffered cataclysmic losses between 2008 and 2012 because of the so-called War on Coal.
The Grimes campaign probably hoped to hold up reasonably well in coal country — perhaps losing it by only five or so points, like Mr. McConnell’s Democratic challenger in 2008 — while winning unprecedented margins in Louisville’s Jefferson County and the Bluegrass Region, which stretches east from Louisville through Lexington to the foothills of the Appalachian Mountains.
Just because something hasn’t happened before doesn’t mean it never can. But Ms. Grimes was trying to pave a new road to victory without the help of any fundamental population changes like the ones that helped Democrats break through in Nevada or Virginia, without the help of any issues or messages that might reshape partisanship, as coal did in coal country, and in a time when the incumbent Democratic president was deeply unpopular.
The polls make it clear that this path remains closed.
Guy posted more good news about Republican chances of retaking the Senate on Hot Air earlier today. The GOP is leading in eight senate races heading into the last weeks of the 2014 cycle. Even the New York Times’ Jonathan Martin said, “It does look increasingly likely that the GOP is going to find six," but noted that it’s not over yet for Democrats.
Over at Roll Call, Stu Rothenberg predicted that Republicans would gain seven seats this year:
While the current Rothenberg Political Report ratings don’t show it, I am now expecting a substantial Republican Senate wave in November, with a net gain of at least seven seats.
Right now, for example, the Rothenberg Political Report/Roll Call Senate ratings suggest Republican gains in the mid-single digits. My newsletter has the most likely outcome of the midterms at Republican gains of 5 to 8 seats, with the GOP slightly more likely than not to net the six seats it needs to win Senate control.
The combination of an unpopular president and a midterm election (indeed, a second midterm) can produce disastrous results for the president’s party. President Barack Obama’s numbers could rally, of course, and that would change my expectations in the blink of an eye. But as long as his approval sits in the 40-percent range (the August NBC News/Wall Street Journal poll), the signs are ominous for Democrats.
In 1986 — like 2006, a second midterm election — all six of the closest Senate contests were won by Democrats, including three (Colorado, California and North Dakota) where the Democrats drew less than 50 percent of the vote.
Democratic incumbents Mark Pryor of Arkansas, Mary L. Landrieu of Louisiana, Mark Begich of Alaska and Kay Hagan of North Carolina all would be headed for re-election in a “good” Democratic year, such as President George W. Bush’s second midterm, when voters were unhappy with a Republican president and Democrats constituted the alternative.
But if history is any guide, at least two of them, and quite possibly all four, will lose this year — even with all the huffing and puffing from journalists over how brilliant their campaigns have been and how weak the GOP challengers are.
The NFL's paltry two-game suspension of Baltimore Ravens running back Ray Rice sparked widespread outrage earlier this past spring, and for good reason. Rice was caught on surveillance video dragging his unconscious then-fiancee (now wife) out of a casino elevator after he'd knocked her out during a domestic dispute. Fans, sports writers and women's rights advocates were appalled that the league would slap Rice on the wrist for a violent crime, while sidelining other players with much longer suspensions for actions such as violating league drug policies. Rice was slated to return for the Ravens' third game of the 2014 season, but that all changed overnight when TMZ released footage of the actual beating itself, which took place inside the elevator. And as you watch this, keep in mind that the woman involved apologized in May for "her role" in her own brutal battering, which was ridiculously characterized as a 'mutual' event (content warning):
He hits her once, she comes back at him, then he puts her down with a vicious roundhouse punch -- knocking her out cold. He stands motionless as she lies blacked out on the floor of the elevator, finally reacting when the doors open and he's forced to drag her limp body into the hallway. Previously, the public had only seen the dragging portion of the video clip, shot from a distant camera. The elevator footage is shocking and disgusting, and it proves that there was no accidental element to the result of the confrontation. With a fresh round of blistering criticism swirling around their franchise and one of its star players, the Ravens have terminated Rice's contract. One might argue that this application of justice is "better late than never," but consider the cravenness of the Ravens' decision making timing: They were willing to countenance a two game suspension until the second video leaked. The act of brutality was never in doubt. They knew that he'd punched her out. The only thing that changed was the leak of the clip, which only illustrates the established facts of the case in stark relief. If the new images had never surfaced, it's a safe bet that Ray Rice would be getting ready to suit up in a few weeks.
Facing a maelstrom of criticism over the episode -- prior to this latest shoe dropping -- NFL commissioner Roger Goodell rolled out a harsher policy governing the consequences for players involved in domestic abuse incidents several weeks ago. Under the new framework, an initial incident would result in a six-game suspension, followed by a "lifetime ban" for any further infraction. I put that term in air quotes because both elements of the new rule allow for "mitigating" factors, and players are permitted to apply for re-instatement into the league after they've allegedly been banned for life. Loopholes galore. The NFL's new regulations on this front will be put to the test sooner than later, as two active players have been involved in alleged episodes of domestic violence since it was implemented. Parting thought: NFL officials claim they had not seen the elevator film when they handed down Rice's original, lax penalty. Do you believe them? Me neither.
UPDATE - More face-saving posturing:
Roger Goodell has announced that based on new video evidence that became available today he has indefinitely suspended Ray Rice.— Greg Aiello (@gregaiello) September 8, 2014