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Leah Barkoukis - Report: 'Stronger Than Ever' Jihadists Killed 5,042 People Around the World in November
Posted: 12/11/2014 6:38:00 PM EST

Despite international attempts to rein in terror, jihadists conducted 664 attacks that killed 5,042 people in 14 countries. If that wasn’t shocking enough, they did so in just one month’s time, a new report by the BBC World Service and King’s College London found.

Analyzing data from November 2014, the groups discovered that Islamic extremism is “stronger than ever.”

The Islamic State was the most deadly group, killing more than 2,000 people, followed by Boko Haram, the Taliban, AQAP, and Al Shabaab. Roughly 80 percent of the killings were done in just four countries—Iraq, Syria, Afghanistan, and Nigeria. On the whole, most of the casualties were civilians, although this varied by geographic location.

Civilians bore the brunt of the attacks with a total of 2,079 killed, followed by 1,723 military personnel.

But the proportions varied significantly between countries. In Nigeria, almost 700 civilians were killed, at least 57 of them children, whereas just 28 deaths were from the military.

In contrast, in Syria and Afghanistan, more than twice as many military personnel died as civilians.

Of the 146 police officers who died, 95 were in Afghanistan. Politicians and other officials were also targets in Afghanistan, and in Somalia, where 22 were killed.

Jihadists themselves were also killed in large numbers: 935 died in clashes or by blowing themselves up.

“Less than four years ago, jihadism – then predominantly in the form of al Qaeda – was widely believed to be dead or dying,” said Peter Neumann, director of the International Centre for the Study of Radicalization at King’s College. “Yet, as a result of opportunities created by the Arab Spring and the sense of momentum and excitement generated by groups like the Islamic State, jihadists now seem to be stronger and more active than ever.”

He continued: “This shows that jihadism is a global movement, that global movements don’t just disappear, and that ideas and ideologies can’t be eliminated through drone strikes – however effective those tactics may have been in decimating al Qaeda’s leadership.”

Based on the global snapshot the groups produced, Neumann said it’s evident the Islamic State “has rivaled – if not replaced – al Qaeda as the leader of global jihadism.”

Matt Vespa - 'Cromnibus' Advances In The House, But Final Vote Delayed
Posted: 12/11/2014 4:41:00 PM EST

Editor's Note: The original post said that the "Cromnibus" passed and was heading to the Senate.  That was incorrect. The debate for the bill was advanced in the House.  The post has been updated to reflect the corrections.  I extend my sincerest apologies, folks.  It's just one of those days.   

In case you were wondering, Massachusetts Democratic Sen. Elizabeth Warren isn’t happy with the upcoming spending bill since it tweaks a provision in the highly intrusive Dodd-Frank law that sought to reform our financial system. Instead, it’s provided banks, businesses, and lawyers with pervasive headaches

Regardless, Warren’s call to her colleagues to torpedo the deal could be a gauge to see how far her influence reaches with fellow Democrats, according to the Hill.

At the same time, Kevin wrote earlier today how the media is reporting on Warren’s stand on this issue; spoiler alert: they’re much nicer to her than Ted Cruz (shocking!)

Yet, some of her like-minded colleagues in the Senate aren’t so sure that they will vote 'no,' despite having strong disagreements with this part of the bill:

Sen. Elizabeth Warren on Wednesday sought to rally opposition to the $1.1 trillion government funding bill, spearheading a revolt on the left that has put her influence in the Democratic Party to the test.

The Massachusetts liberal pleaded for House Democrats to withhold support for a government funding package due to a provision she said would change the Dodd-Frank financial reform law to let “Wall Street gamble with taxpayer money.”

“We’re trying to get it out of the House omnibus bill right now,” she said. “That is where all the pressure is.”

Opposition to the funding deal began to surface early Wednesday morning as lawmakers began sorting through the surprise provisions tucked in the more than 1,600-page funding package.

Even vocal critics in the Senate of the provision, such as Sens. Jeff Merkley (D-Ore.) and Sherrod Brown (D-Ohio), stopped short of promising to oppose it.

The White House, similarly, is not saying whether President Obama would sign the cromnibus, though White House press secretary Josh Earnest said he was “pleased” to see a bill produced.

The change to the Dodd-Frank law has enjoyed bipartisan support in the past.

Republicans and 70 House Democrats voted for a version of the tweak in 2013, with most arguing it would boost economic growth and lessen the regulatory burdens on banks.

“There’s huge misunderstandings about what this thing says,” said Rep. Jim Himes (D-Conn.), who was an early sponsor of the original House bill.

Himes argued that the most dangerous derivatives would still be kept away from government-backed banks under the provision, and that banks would only be allowed to trade “plain vanilla” interest rate swaps.

With no Democratic support in the House, Republicans just needed to avoid losing 18 votes on their side to advance debate rules on the bill, moving one step closer to a vote in order to avoid a government shutdown.

The bill was advanced by a 214-212 vote, setting up a debate on the appropriations. 

Sixteeen Republicans–Reps. Justin Amash (Mich.), Michele Bachmann (Minn.), Dave Brat (Va.), Mo Brooks (Ala.), Paul Broun (Ga.), Louie Gohmert (Texas), Paul Gosar (Ariz.), Tim Huelskamp (Kan.), Walter Jones (N.C.), Jim Jordan (Ohio), Steve King (Iowa), Raúl Labrador (Idaho), Thomas Massie (Ky.), Bill Posey (Fla.), Matt Salmon (Ariz.) and Steve Stockman (Texas)–all voted against advancing the bill.

If the bill passes and heads over to the Senate, the chances of a government shutdown are reduced. While Senate Democrats don’t like the Dodd-Frank tweaks, it seems they don’t like a government shutdown either.

Right now, the final vote on the spending package was delayed due to uncertainty if it had enough votes for passage (via Roll Call):

Unsure whether they have the votes to pass a trillion-dollar federal spending package, House GOP leaders on Thursday afternoon delayed a final vote on the “cromnibus.”

… 

If Republicans can’t surmount the impasse, they could decide to proceed with swiftly moving a short-term continuing resolution through the chamber, which the Senate could also pass before 11:59 p.m., when current funding expires. 

In doing so, they would be throwing away months of hard-fought negotiations between appropriators and dashing dreams of a return to regular order when the GOP takes control of all of Capitol Hill in the new year.

Conn Carroll - Yet Another Poll Shows Americans Oppose Both The Policy And Procedure Of Obama's Amnesty
Posted: 12/11/2014 4:00:00 PM EST

Fox News released a poll Wednesday showing that not only do a majority of Americans oppose the changes to immigration law President Obama made in November, but an overwhelming majority of Americans also oppose the way he made those changes.

Specifically, when asked, "Do you approve or disapprove of the recent changes Barack Obama made to how the United States government will handle illegal immigrants currently living in this country, including allowing more than four million illegal immigrants to remain temporarily in the United States to work," 51 percent of Americans said they disapproved while only 43 percent approved.

Then when asked, "Barack Obama issued an executive order to make the recent changes to how the United States handles illegal immigrants. Setting aside how you feel about the changes in policy, do you approve or disapprove of Obama bypassing Congress to make the changes," 60 percent of Americans said they disapproved of Obama's action while just 38 percent said they supported the move.

These results mirror a CNN poll which also show that Americans oppose both the substance and the procedure of Obama's executive amnesty. 

The Fox poll also found that 68 percent of Americans are concerned "that Barack Obama’s use of executive orders and acting withoutCongressional approval may be permanently altering our country’s system of checks and balances."

Daniel Doherty - CIA Director Pushes Back: We Were 'Looked to For Answers'
Posted: 12/11/2014 3:45:00 PM EST

On Thursday, CIA Director John Brennan delivered a 15-minute-long statement defending the agency and addressing the partisan Senate Intelligence report released this week.

He began by providing some context for why enhanced interrogation techniques (EITs) were adopted -- and ultimately approved -- in the first place.

“In the short span of 77 minutes four terrorist attacks would forever change the history our country,” he said, referring to the tragic events of 9/11/2001. “It would rob us of nearly 3,000 lives. It would ultimately cost us trillions of dollars. And it would plunge us into a seemingly never-ending war against a globally dispersed collection of terrorists with a murderous agenda.”

“The events of 9/11 will forever be seared into the memories of all Americans who bore witness to the single greatest tragedy to befall our homeland in recent history,” he continued. “Not only were our consciences shocked, and our hearts and souls ripped open, so too our collective sense of national security was shattered -- much like the steel, concrete, flesh, bone, and lives during those fateful 77 minutes.”

Where, he suggested, did the nation turn? In part, he said, to the intelligence community.

“CIA was looked to for answers,” he intoned. “Indeed, there were numerous, credible and very worrisome reports about a second and third wave of major attacks against the United States. And while we grieved….we feared more blows from an enemy we couldn’t see and an evil we couldn’t fathom. This is the backdrop against which the agency was directed by President Bush to carry out a program to detain terrorist suspects around the world.”

Nevertheless, he bluntly admitted that the CIA was “not prepared” to implement such a specialized program.

“We had little experiences housing detainees and precious few of our officers were trained interrogators,” he admitted. “But the president authorized the effort six days after 9/11 and it was our job to carry it out.”

He subsequently added that the Department of Justice and the Bush administration approved such techniques. It was only later, he emphasized, after President Obama took office, that the new commander-in-chief “unequivocally banned their use.”

Most significantly, however, he addressed the Senate Select Committee on Intelligence’s (SSCI) controversial and one-sided findings.

He began by reiterating the “unusual” way in which it was published.

“Unfortunately, the committee could not agree on a bipartisan way forward and no CIA personnel were interviewed by the committee during the course of the investigation,” he said, confirming numerous reports that CIA agents were never consulted before the report was even written. “This was unusual.”

“Even on politically sensitive matters such as the SSCI’s investigation into the intelligence failures regarding Weapons of Mass Destruction in Iraq,” he continued, “the committee succeeded in producing a report that was supported unanimously.”

Obviously, that didn’t happen in this instance. Nonetheless, he said, the report itself didn’t preclude him from accepting some of its findings.

“In a limited number of cases, agency officers [used] interrogation techniques that had not been authorized, were abhorrent, and rightly should be repudiated by all,” he declared. “And we fell short when it came to holding some officers accountable for their mistakes.”

The most significant admission, however, was when he addressed the charge that ETIs did not directly and single-handily lead to “useful intelligence.”

“I have already stated that our reviews indicate that the detention and interrogation program produced useful intelligence that helped the United States thwart attack plans, capture terrorists, and save lives,” he said. “But let me clear: we have not concluded that it was the EITs within that program that allowed us to obtain useful information from detains subjected to them. The cause and effect relationship between the use of EITs and useful information subsequently provided by the detain is in my view unknowable.”

He also stated that “the record simply does not support the study’s inference that the agency repeatedly, systematically, and intentionally misled others on the effectiveness of the program.”

Guy Benson - Video: Sen. Tom Coburn's Emotional Farewell Speech
Posted: 12/11/2014 3:25:00 PM EST

Please take the time to watch Oklahoma Senator Tom Coburn bid farewell to Congress' upper chamber, in which he's served since 2005. Sen. Coburn, a medical doctor, is a truly great and honorable man, something that cannot be said of many people who reside in the Beltway cesspool. Throughout his career, he has been a fierce defender of conservative values, while also championing compromise and bipartisanship wherever possible. Coburn choked back tears throughout his closing remarks, including in this message to his colleagues, clipped by the Heritage Foundation:


"Your state isn't mentioned one time in [the oath of office]. Your whole goal is to protect the United States of America, its Constitution and its liberties. It's not to provide benefits for your state. That's where we differ."

The full speech is embedded below. It's worth a listen; this man has earned your attention. His tearful expressions of gratitude to those who have helped him, his ode to the brilliance of our founders (~8:00), his moving tribute to his father (11:00), his dismay at Washington's waste (23:00) and his exhortation to "convene" and work together (26:00) are especially worthwhile. When he yields the floor, Coburn receives a prolonged standing ovation:


They don't make 'em like Tom Coburn anymore. He is a genuine, ardent believer in limited government, and one of the few legislators who never seemed to grow accustomed to the DC milieu. He was sent there to do a job, entrusted to him by the people of his state -- nothing more, nothing less. The Senate and the country are poorer upon his retirement from public life.  May he live a long, healthy and happy life back in Oklahoma. I'll leave you with a stirring tribute to Coburn from Delaware's Tom Carper, a liberal Democrat whom Coburn praised fulsomely in his speech:



Matt Vespa - Ferguson Businesses To Government: Where Were You Guys!?
Posted: 12/11/2014 2:15:00 PM EST

After the Ferguson Grand Jury decided not to charge then-Officer Darren Wilson in the shooting death of Michael Brown, the city erupted in a torrent of looting, vandalism, and arson. Businesses in the surrounding areas were destroyed and livelihoods shattered. Yet, it’s not all doom and gloom; Katie wrote abut how a concerted crowdfunding effort that allowed small business owner Natalie Dubose to get back on her feet. Dubose lost her cake shop, in which she invested all her resources, in the riots.

Yet, not everyone was lucky. Recently, Corwin Parks and Brittany Hughes of CNSNews.com went down to Ferguson after the riot had subsided to get other business owners’ views on the matter. In all, they felt abandoned by the government–and most have yet to be contacted by the governor’s office or the city regarding financial assistance to relieve them of their staggering losses (via CNSNews):

“We haven’t received one call from the state or the governor’s office at all -- not one,” said Kurt Barks, owner of Complete Auto Body and Repair in Ferguson, one of dozens of businesses that were trashed and robbed in the hours following the grand jury’s decision.

Another store owner, Nigerian immigrant Idowu Ajibola, told CNSNews.com, “This is ground zero. This is where the first violence happened. I would have assumed, I would have thought it would have been the first place they would have tried to protect.”

But “the government, they weren’t there for us,” he said. “They weren’t there for us at all -- not the first time around, not the second time around, even after they promised that they would.”

As the grand jury’s announcement grew closer and closer, Ajibola told CNSNews.com he was given reassurances by state and local officials that his business would be protected if violence broke out once again.

“They told us we were well prepared for the second time around,” he said. “We went to a series of meetings.”

But as anger gave way to chaos following the grand jury’s announcement that fateful Monday night, Ajibola said he watched with fear and anxiety as store after store was destroyed before his eyes on television, including his own shop. The help he was promised never came, he said.

Two weeks later, Ajibola, who estimates he’s sustained about $500,000 in losses and damages from the riots, said he still hasn’t heard from the state government or local officials about any offers to help rebuild.

As businesses take stock of the damage, the latest document dump on the shooting hasn’t revealed any new developments, although; the federal autopsy noted that the “chest injury might have been an exit wound from a shot that entered Brown's arm,” as reported by the Associated Press.  The interview with Dorian Johnson, who plead guilty to filing a false police report in the summer of 2011, is being withheld.

Cortney O'Brien - Reporter to Obama: People Expected You to Do More on Race Relations
Posted: 12/11/2014 2:00:00 PM EST

It was a controversial topic, but Fusion/Univision anchor Jorge Ramos didn’t shy away from asking President Obama about his failure to ease racial tensions in America after becoming the nation’s first African-American president.

Here’s how Ramos opened the heated conversation:

On another issue, the killings of Michael Brown, Eric Garner, Trayvon Martin, clearly shows that we don’t live in a post-racial society as many expected when you were elected.

Obama was immediately defensive and defiant, saying he, at least, “didn’t expect that.”

Ramos continued to press Obama, wondering if he was angry about the current race relations in America. Yet, the only thing the president seemed to be frustrated about, was the anchor’s tough questions. When Ramos insisted there has not been much improvement in the country in regards to race, Obama responded:

Well, but, you know, the folks who say there’s not a lot of improvement I don’t think were living in the ‘50s and remember what it was like to be black or Hispanic and interacting with the police then. They don’t even remember what it was like 20 years ago. There has been improvement. The question is what more do we need to do, and what’s clear, when you look at some of the reports that have occurred around the country, is that not only is there still a lot of suspicion and mistrust between police officers and communities of color. But what’s also true is that there are still instances in which a young black boy or brown boy is not being evaluated, in terms of risk, precisely in the same way as a white young person might be by the police. Now, that can be solved through better training, better accountability, better transparency, and so the task force we’ve put together is designed to do precisely this.

Clearly, America’s race relations have improved since the 1950s. Yet, that’s not what Ramos was asking. 

He may not have expected race relations to improve while in office, but a lot of his voters did – 70 percent, to be exact. Certainly, with an African-American president, citizens were justified to think that race relations would improve. As we’ve witnessed, especially this last year, that has certainly not been the case. If anything, they’ve gotten worse.

The cases of Trayvon Martin, Michael Brown, and Eric Garner – if not the incidents themselves, then certainly the corresponding protests – have proven that racial tension is still an unfortunate and dangerous presence in our country. Yes, it’s true the president could not have predicted these incidents while he was in office. Yet, Noah Rothman at Hot Air explains how Obama is not “blameless” for current racial animosity:

When it served his campaign, his political operatives incubated a toxic form of victimhood in 2012. The president did nothing to tamp down poisonous concept of coded racism, a practice in which liberals parse ordinary comments with the aim of divining latent racism. The willow witching of prejudice from everyday occurrences and statements became a favored pastime for Obama supporters during his campaign, and it was irresponsible to allow this rampant practice to continue. But the Obama campaign did nothing to stop it.

It seems, as long as Obama is in office, we won’t see any responsibility coming from the White House.

Daniel Doherty - Q-pollsters: Hillary Metaphorically "Mows Down" Christie...in NJ
Posted: 12/11/2014 1:30:00 PM EST

My response: So what?

Former Secretary of State Hillary Clinton mows down New Jersey Gov. Christopher Christie and other Republican 2016 presidential contenders in the Garden State, as voters say Gov. Christie would not make a good president, according to a Quinnipiac University poll released today.

New Jersey voters say 53 - 40 percent that Christie would not make a good president, the independent Quinnipiac (KWIN-uh-pe-ack) University Poll finds. Republicans say 70 - 21 percent that their governor would do well in the White House, but every other party, gender or age group listed disagrees.

American voters are not ready for a "Jersey Guy" president such as Christie, Garden State voters say 49 - 43 percent. There are gender and age gaps: Men are divided 46 - 47 percent, but women say 51 - 41 percent America is not ready. Voters 18 to 34 years old say 54 - 38 percent the U.S. is ready for a "Jersey Guy," but voters 35 years old and older disagree.

"Even Jersey guys, actually Jersey girls, don't think the nation will go for a Jersey guy like Gov. Christopher Christie," said Maurice Carroll, assistant director of the Quinnipiac University Poll.

The raw numbers:

If Christie runs, he loses to Clinton 50 - 39 percent, winning only among Republicans...

Forgive me, but I fail to see the real significance of this poll. After all, is it any surprise that every Republican surveyed, including Gov. Christie, is getting smoked by Hillary Clinton in the Garden State?

Nope.

Frankly, if Christie or any other GOP candidate was ahead right now, that would be a strong indication Democrats are headed for a devastating defeat in 2016. No one anticipated or expected Mitt Romney to win his home state of Massachusetts in 2012; why then is it suddenly newsy that Gov. Christie is hypothetically trailing Hillary Clinton -- years before a presidential election -- in one of the bluest states in America?

I’ll tell you why: Because not too long ago the Republican governor somehow boasted surreal and truly dizzying approval ratings in the state. Remember last year when 56 percent of New Jersey Democrats gave him positive marks? Bridgegate, of course, damaged him greatly, even though he was fully exonerated. But does that mean he should kiss any presidential ambitions he might have goodbye? Hardly:

Image and video hosting by TinyPic


All things considered, I’d say he’s doing just fine. He’s very popular among Republicans, above water with Independents, and performing respectfully among Democrats -- just in New Jersey. Thus, these numbers suggest he’s weathered a terrible scandal in many ways politicized by the media. And he's still standing.

We’ll see what he ultimately decides to do.

Conn Carroll - Obama Bails Out Boehner On Spending Bill
Posted: 12/11/2014 1:15:00 PM EST

The White House issued a Statement of Administration Policy today in favor of the 1,600 omnibus spending bill that funds the entire federal government through September except for the Department of Homeland Security which is only funded through the end of February.

"The Administration appreciates the bipartisan effort to include full-year appropriations legislation for most Government functions that allows for planning and provides certainty, while making progress toward appropriately investing in economic growth and opportunity, and adequately funding national security requirements," the statement reads in part. "However, the Administration objects to the inclusion of ideological and special interest riders in the House bill," the statement continues."

Specifically, the White House objects to two policy riders attached to the bill. One, which modifies the Dodd-Frank law making it easier for banks to buy and sell certain financial products, and a second which increased the amount of money individuals are allowed to give to parties for national conventions.

A procedural vote on the spending bill narrowly passed this afternoon by a 214-212 vote without any Democratic support. If no Democrat votes for final passage this afternoon, it is very likely the bill will fail. Republican leaders hope this White House statement will help them get some Democrats to vote for final passage.

You can read the entire White House statement below:

The Administration supports House passage of H.R. 83, making appropriations for fiscal year (FY) 2015, and for other purposes. The Administration appreciates the bipartisan effort to include full-year appropriations legislation for most Government functions that allows for planning and provides certainty, while making progress toward appropriately investing in economic growth and opportunity, and adequately funding national security requirements. The Administration also appreciates the authorities and funding provided to enhance the U.S. Government's response to the Ebola epidemic, and to implement the Administration's strategy to counter the Islamic State of Iraq and the Levant, as well as investments for the President's early education agenda, Pell Grants, the bipartisan, Manufacturing Institutes initiative, and extension of the Trade Adjustment Assistance program.

However, the Administration objects to the inclusion of ideological and special interest riders in the House bill. In particular, the Administration is opposed to the inclusion of a rider that would amend the Dodd-Frank Wall Street Reform and Consumer Protection Act and weaken a critical component of financial system reform aimed at reducing taxpayer risk. Additionally, the Administration is opposed to inclusion of a rider that would amend the Federal Election Campaign Act to allow individual donors to contribute to national political party committee accounts for conventions, buildings and recounts in amounts that are dramatically higher than what the law currently permits.

Furthermore, the Administration is disappointed that the bill would fund the Department of Homeland Security through February 27, 2015, at last year's levels. Short-term continuing resolution funding measures are disruptive, create uncertainty, and impede efficient resource planning and execution.

The Administration urges the Congress to enact comprehensive full-year appropriations legislation for all Government functions free of provisions that have no place in annual appropriations bills.

Kevin Glass - How the Media Is Covering Elizabeth Warren's Plan to Shut Down the Government
Posted: 12/11/2014 12:45:00 PM EST

During last year's government shutdown when Republicans and Democrats couldn't come to a compromise on spending provisions to continue to fund the government, the media portrayed it as Ted Cruz's fault - Ted Cruz's shutdown, because he wanted to defund Obamacare. This year, Sen. Elizabeth Warren wants to reject the bipartisan spending compromise to get rid of business-friendly deregulatory provisions.

But this year, it's not about "Elizabeth Warren's plan to shut down the government."

No, the media can't bring themselves to go there. Instead of "Why Democrats Want to Shut Down the Government," we get "Warren tells House Dems not to support omnibus." Instead of "Elizabeth Warren and the shutdown caucus," we get "Spending bill teeters amid Democratic discontent." Instead of "Elizabeth Warren Is Protesting the Shutdown She Asked For" we have "Elizabeth Warren Joinse Revolt Against Wall Street Deal In Government Shutdown Talks.

Last year, Ted Cruz's push against the government spending deal was all about how Ted Cruz wants a shutdown. But when Elizabeth Warren threatens to torpedo a spending deal that will result in a shutdown, it's all about her courage in standing up to Wall Street and her populist movement against fat cats. Everyone loves a good story about intrapartisan fighting on Capitol Hill, but only the media wants to hide that what's behind Elizabeth Warren's crusade is that she wants to shut down the government to achieve her goals.

And let's not get started on the flurry of media hyperventilating about how terrible a government shutdown would be when it's Republicans' fault, yet not a peep now that a Democratic hero is leading the charge.