Wednesday, May 27, 2015

Rand Paul: Islamic State can be defeated when civilized Islam steps up and civilized Islam says that this aberration that is ISIS is intolerable

During an appearance on CBS This Morning, U.S. Senator and GOP presidential candidate Rand Paul said that the Islamic State can be defeated "when civilized Islam steps up and civilized Islam says that this aberration that is ISIS is intolerable."

"Well, I think you need everybody that’s willing to fight against ISIS. And it’s difficult. We have tolerated so far the Shiite militias and we have tolerated the Iranian influence. I’m not sure we could stop it, if we wanted to.

"The thing is that people need to understand the Middle East is complicated and there are no easy answers. We need to do what we do to protect American interests. That means our consulate at Erbil needs to be defended better than Benghazi was defended and Baghdad needs to be defended.

"But the thing is that the ultimate victory is going to become when civilized Islam steps up and civilized Islam says that this aberration that is ISIS is intolerable," Paul said.

Tuesday, May 26, 2015

Carly Fiorina versus Hillary Clinton in South Carolina on Wednesday

This could be a very interesting day in South Carolina involving two of the 2016 presidential candidates. Republican Carly Fiorina and Democrat Hillary Clinton will both be holding campaign events in Columbia, South Carolina, on Wednesday,

"We've had this event on our calendar for some time. But we were pleasantly surprised to be able to draw the contrast in such close proximity.

"Our events tomorrow are all open to the press. And by open press, we mean we'll actually take questions.

"That's right. We've answered hundreds of questions from reporters because we believe the American people will not and should not elect a President that can't answer for her record, won't explain her positions or for whom the truth is whatever she can get away with," Fiorina's deputy campaign manager Sarah Isgur Flores said.

Former Secretary of State Clinton is scheduled to speak to a Democratic women's group and will be holding one of her now infamous "roundtable" discussions with a group of minority business owners,

Fiorina has been on the attack since launching her presidential campaign, often criticizing Clinton's record as Secretary of State.

“Like Hillary Clinton, I too have traveled hundreds and thousands of miles around the globe, but unlike her, I’ve actually accomplished something.

“You see, Mrs. Clinton, flying is not an accomplishment. It is an activity.

“What Hillary Clinton desperately wants to talk about is that she gets to be the first woman President. What she desperately wants to talk about is there’s a war on women. What she desperately wants to talk about is playing the gender card.

“If I am standing next to her on a general election debate stage, she can’t talk about any of those things. You know what she’s going to have to talk about? Her track record," Fiorina has said about Clinton in the past.

High School principal criticizes police for "killing young black men": Parents walk out of graduation

Several parents walked out of the recent Belton High School graduation ceremony after Principal Dr. Fred Skretta criticized police for "killing young black men."

"I wanted to be a teacher ‘cause I wanted to change the world. I wanted to make it a better place.

"I’m gonna be honest with you, in a lot of ways I fear that we are not there yet. If we were there, we wouldn’t have conflicts between police killing young black men," Skretta said.

Dozens missing or unaccounted for after flooding in Texas: 3 people confirmed dead

Heavy rains and flooding continue to hammer the state of Texas. There have been 3 confirmed deaths and dozens of people are missing or unaccounted for as the flooding continues.

Texas Governor Greg Abbott Adds 24 Counties To Disaster Declaration

As severe weather including tornadoes, heavy rainfall, thunderstorms and flooding continue across areas of Texas, Governor Greg Abbott today declared a state of disaster in Archer, Bastrop, Caldwell, Cass, Collin, Dewitt, Fannin, Grayson, Harrison, Hays, Henderson, Hidalgo, Hill, Houston, Kendall, Jasper, Johnson, Newton, Nueces, Parker, San Jacinto, Walker, Wichita and Wilson counties, authorizing further mobilization of state resources to assist impacted communities. Additional counties may be added to the declaration as the situation develops.

“The State of Texas has taken brisk action in dispatching all available resources to aid those affected by this severe weather system, and I strongly urge all Texans to exercise every possible precaution to ensure their safety and the safety of their families and neighbors,” said Governor Abbott. “My thoughts and prayers are with all the communities that are suffering as a result of this weather disaster, and I am grateful for the first responders who have worked tirelessly to provide shelter, care and resources to all impacted areas.”

Governor Abbott declared a state of disaster in Bosque, Clay, Denton, Eastland, Gaines, Montague and Van Zandt counties on May 11th, 2015 and added Cooke, Grimes, Hood, Navarro, Smith and Wise counties on May 15th, 2015. The Governor’s declaration follows an elevated activation of the Texas State Operations Center (SOC) to enable rapid deployment of state resources announced on Friday, May 4th.

Current forecasts indicate the continuation of possible severe thunderstorms, large hail, damaging winds, flash flooding, river flooding and tornadoes across the state throughout the week. At this time, any additional rainfall will exacerbate already saturated grounds, which could quickly lead to dangerous flash flooding and extended river flooding. The SOC – in coordination with the Texas Emergency Management Council – remains at an elevated activation level and is continuing to monitor weather conditions and coordinate with the National Weather Service.

Texans are encouraged to follow these safety tips during this weather event:

When severe storms threaten, the safest place to be is indoors.
Avoid areas already flooded and avoid any fast-flowing water.
Be extremely cautious of any water on roads or in creeks, streams, storm drains or other areas – never attempt to cross flowing streams or drive across flooded roadways and observe road barricades placed for your protection.
Remember that dangerous waters can seem deceptively calm, and if you encounter flooding, move to higher ground.
Monitor weather radios and news broadcasts for updated information on current and anticipated severe weather in your area.

Keep in mind that flood dangers are even harder to recognize at night.
Be mindful that rising and moving water can also threaten people on foot and individuals near recreational waterways impacted by significant rainfall.
Monitor weather radios and news broadcasts for updated information on current and anticipated severe weather in your area.

Stay informed and heed warnings by local officials.

For additional safety tips related to tornadoes, thunderstorms and flooding, see:

The American Red Cross has established the following website for individuals in impacted areas:

The following resources are involved in the state’s continued response to this weather event:

Texas Department of Public Safety (DPS): Assisting with reconnaissance, search and rescue efforts, and providing personnel and resources as needed.

Texas Parks & Wildlife Department (TPWD): Conducting search and rescue missions during flash flooding/water incidents in affected areas.

Texas Department of State Health Services (DSHS): DSHS have mobilized resources, equipment and personnel to provide medical assistance as needed.

Texas Military Forces (TMF): TMF has deployed aircraft and high-profile vehicles, and continues providing assistance with search and rescue missions as needed.

Texas Task Force 1 (TTF1): Air and boat rescue squads have been deployed for search and rescue missions as needed.

Texas Commission on Environmental Quality (TCEQ): Continues to monitor dams and river levels in the affected areas.

Texas Department of Transportation (TxDOT): Crews have deployed resources to address flooding conditions and debris cleanup impacting roadways.

Public Utility Commission of Texas (PUC): Personnel continue to work with utility companies to resolve power/utility issues.

Texas Department of Agriculture (TDA): Assisting communities to apply for funds administered by TDA that will help with storm cleanup and rebuilding.

Voluntary Organizations Active in Disasters (VOAD): Organizations continue to provide shelter and other mass care needs as requested.

U.S. airman opens fire in North Dakota Wal-Mart: Kills self and one store employee

On Tuesday, a U.S. airman walked into a Walmart Supercenter in Grand Forks, North Dakota and opened fire with a handgun, killing one worker and injuring a second. The man then turned the gun on himself and committed suicide.

Police officials confirmed the identity of the shooter as 21-year-old Marcell Willis.

"We are deeply saddened about this situation and our thoughts and prayers are with the victims and their families.

"We are still learning information about the events surrounding this tragedy and assisting law enforcement in their investigation," Walmart spokesman Brian Nick said.

Federal Court upholds injunction against President Obama’s executive amnesty plan

On Tuesday, the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Fifth Circuit upheld a lower court's injunction against President Obama’s executive amnesty plan.

“The separation of powers and checks and balances remain the law of the land, and this decision is a victory for those committed to preserving the rule of law in America.

“Telling illegal aliens that they are now lawfully present in this country, and awarding them valuable government benefits, is a drastic change in immigration policy. The President’s attempt to do this by himself, without a law passed by Congress and without any input from the states, is a remarkable violation of the U.S Constitution and laws. We will continue to fight the brazen lawlessness that has become a trademark of the Obama Administration,” Attorney General Ken Paxton said.

The President’s amnesty plan would allow more than 4 million illegal immigrants to be deemed lawfully present and to take advantage of the following government benefits: work permits, tax credits, Social Security, Medicare, driver’s licenses, unemployment insurance, and the right to international travel. The states would also be compelled to fund additional education, health care and law enforcement costs.

Texas leads a 26-state bipartisan coalition fighting the president’s attempt to unilaterally grant amnesty to millions of illegal immigrants. Joining Texas in the lawsuit are: Alabama, Arizona, Arkansas, Florida, Georgia, Idaho, Indiana, Kansas, Louisiana, Maine, Michigan, Mississippi, Montana, Nebraska, Nevada, North Carolina, North Dakota, Ohio, Oklahoma, South Carolina, South Dakota, Tennessee, Utah, West Virginia and Wisconsin.

Texas Governor Greg Abbott issued the following statement after the 5th Circuit Court of Appeals ruled President Obama’s executive action granting legal status to millions of undocumented immigrants to be unlawful.

“President Obama abdicated his responsibility to preserve and protect the United States Constitution when he issued this executive action, and after months of obfuscation and stall tactics by his Administration, victory for the Constitution has been awarded and the Rule of Law restored. We live in a nation governed by a system of checks and balances, and the President’s attempt to bypass the will of the American people was successfully checked again today.

"I am pleased with the Court of Appeals for preserving the injunction against President Obama’s unlawful action and for recognizing the fundamental principles upon which our nation was founded," Abbott said.

Appeals Court Slaps Down Obama Amnesty

Score one for the Constitution.

From the Washington Times:
A federal appeals court upheld an injunction against President Obama’s new deportation in a ruling Tuesday that marks the second major legal setback for an administration that had insisted its actions were legal.

The U.S. Court of Appeals for the Fifth Circuit ruled in favor of Texas, which had sued to stop the amnesty, on all key points, finding that Mr. Obama’s amnesty likely broke the law governing how big policies are to be written.

“The public interest favors maintenance of the injunction,” the judges wrote in the majority opinion.

School choice provides a better future for our children

It’s time to recognize that there is a difference between publicly funded education and public schools. The first represents a commitment to educating our citizenry so that they can contribute to our society and the second is simply one way of delivering the product. It is also demonstrably the least effective means for doing so.

A better solution would be for the state governments to provide vouchers in the amount of that states’ per capital budget for education directly to the parents and let the parents select the service provider. That provider could also be home schooling if the parent so chose.

Certainly metrics would need to be established and the child tested annually to make sure that progress was made. However, that shouldn’t be a problem as we do it today.

The benefits of this approach would be many. Competition always lowers the costs of the product and increases its quality. It is time to move on to a better educational model.

The purpose of providing an educational system itself was to ultimately provide an educated populace, not to provide a public education system per se. At the time our public school system was established people thought that a public school system was the best way to accomplish the task. Today we know it isn’t.

In fact, of the alternatives available–public schools, charter schools, private schools (both religious and secular), and home schooling–our public schools produce the least qualified students and unfortunately, affect the greatest number of children.

Furthermore, education isn’t a federal issue. Until we begin to acknowledge, and we are, that an education is a commodity service just like any other product and that the best solution is the one that provides maximum choice we will continue to receive an inferior product.

What should be done is to eliminate the public school system as it exist today and replace it with a system that provides each parent a voucher in the amount of the per capital educational allowance provided by the state absent federal monies and let each parent chose the educational track they find best for their children. Certainly this should not be a mindless allocation of funds.

Like I mentioned above, metrics should be established that measure educational progress in all subjects up to a minimum level of competency and if a child failed to meet the standard then the parent would lose their discretionary choice. However, in the long run we would ultimately have a better educated, more diverse, and invested society than we have today.

One of the biggest arguments against school choice is the old separation of church and state nonsense.

Vouchers allow the parent to choose the school. The state does not fund the religious school. The state simply subsidizes the child with regard to basic education.

Also note: the religious schools, if they teach a religion class, have longer school days! State laws require all students to receive the same educational hours and achieve at or above the same standards. As a result, the state is receiving exactly what it paid for.

The parent makes added contributions to the private school (possibly through an associated church or by volunteering time) to cover any religion classes or alternative classes of their choosing (e.g. math/science/music/art/sports/etc.)

In fact, when some people are arguing against school choice, what they are arguing for is a prejudice against religion, which is forbidden by the 1st Amendment just as surely as is any prejudice for religion!

It is clearly illegal for government to have schools dedicated to non-minorities. It is just as illegal for government to have schools dedicated to the non-religious.

Freedom of religion, conscience and thought is every bit as fundamental to American justice as the freedom to be “equal under the law” without regard to race, gender, skin color, age or ethnic origin.

If something violates the 1st Amendment here, it is that current public education discriminates against religious beliefs! The purpose of the 1st Amendment is not to destroy religion, but to keep government’s hands off religion.

When the government actively squelches religious expression in supposedly free and public education, it is abusing the religious freedom of the individuals involved.

Government has a legitimate interest in ensuring an educated people. It may well set standards as to what is sufficient to satisfy those legitimate commercial and public concerns that drive that interest. But it does not follow that government must dominate education and actually run schools.

The justifiable interest in promoting an educated public can be achieved with standards, vouchers and other subsidies allocated using non-discriminatory standards.

The more I think about it as I write this, the more I become convinced that government must not be put in the place of running schools, as education is fundamentally the development of “thought”, “conscience” and “beliefs” …all issues the government is forbidden by the 1st Amendment from regulating!

Smaller government is not just a good idea, a government large enough to run schools is probably unconstitutional! Certainly, many of the founding fathers would think so, with the sole exception of military service schools. Since the constitution explicitly assigns the responsibility of the government to raise the military services and wage war as necessary, those services are chartered to train their officers and men.

Beyond the military, the post office and civil service, I see no reason why all states should be required to outsource their public education systems through vouchers or similar subsidies, preferably tied to the child directly, and not directly to the district in which he/she might live.

Historically, government was involved because population densities were too low to support competing school systems. That is long since become an obsolete argument.

I suppose somewhere there is a conservative who opposes school choice, but I’ll take a wild guess that they are few and far between. I certainly haven’t met any. Opposition to school choice is universally driven by liberals and the Democratic Party, which is owned by the teachers unions.

School choice in no way constitutes government endorsement of any religion. Parents are free to use their vouchers to send their children to any school they want, Catholic, Protestant, non-denominational, Muslim, atheist, or whatever.

The fact that Catholics in particular have an extensive K-12 educational system does not in any way suggest that the government is supporting Catholicism because parents decide to use their vouchers to send their children to Catholic schools.

I conclude from the liberal left’s opposition to school choice that they would prefer all children be compelled to attend rotten schools. In the long run, school choice provides a better future for our children and country.

Monday, May 25, 2015

Defense Secretary Ashton Carter: Iraqi military forces showed no will to fight Islamic State

Secretary of Defense Ashton Carter notes that Iraqi military forces showed no will to fight the Islamic State during that fall of Ramadi.

Carter: What apparently happened was that the Iraqi forces just showed no will to fight. They were not out numbered but in fact they vastly outnumbered the opposing force, and yet they failed to fight. They withdrew from the site. And that says to me, and I think to most of us, that we have an issue with the will of the Iraqis to fight ISIL and defend themselves.

Now, we can give them training, we can give them equipment; we obviously can't give them the will to fight. But if we give them training, we give them equipment and give them support and give them some time, I hope they will develop the will to fight, because only if they fight can ISIL remain defeated.

CNN's Barbara Starr: A lot of people in Washington that you deal with on the other side of the aisle are saying, look, put in ground troops, put in forward air ground controllers -- air strikes are not working. What do you foresee? What is your view on this?

Carter: Air strikes are effective but neither they nor really anything we do can substitute for the Iraqi forces' will to fight.

They're the ones who have that to beat ISIL and keep then keep them beaten. We can participate in the defeat of ISIL but we can't make Iraq run as a decent place for people to live. We can't sustain the victory. Only the Iraqis can do that, and in particular, in this case, the Sunni tribes to the west.

If there comes a time when we need to change the kinds of support we're giving to the Iraqi forces, we'll make that recommendation. But what happened at Ramadi was a failure of the Iraqi forces to fight. And so our efforts now are devoted to providing their ground forces with the equipment, the training, and to try to encourage their will to fight so that our campaign enabling them can be successful both in defeating ISIL and keeping ISIL defeated in a sustained way.

But these things we need to -- all of our tactics.

Barack Obama: I have been called the first Jewish President

Speaking at a Jewish American Heritage Month celebration at the Adas Israel synagogue in Washington, D.C., Barack Obama said that he has been called "the first Jewish President."

"Most of all, I want to thank the entire congregation of Adas Israel for having me here today.

"Earlier this week, I was actually interviewed by one of your members, Jeff Goldberg. Jeff reminded me he once called me the first Jewish president.

"Now, since some people still seem to be wondering about my faith, I should make clear this is an honorary title, but I was flattered. And as an honorary member of the tribe not to mention somebody who has hosted 7 White House seders and has been advised by and been advised by two Jewish chiefs of staff, I can also say that I am probably getting a little bit of the hang of the lingo.

"But I will not use any of the Yiddishisms that Rahm Emanuel taught me because I want to be invited back. Let's just say he had some creative synonyms for shalom," President Obama said.

Bill and Hillary finally appear in public together

Bill and Hillary Clinton made finally appeared in public together for the first time since the former Secretary of State launched her 2016 presidential campaign. The former President and First Lady attended the Memorial Day parade in Chappaqua, New York.

Michelle Obama to graduates: Shape the revolutions

On Monday, First Lady Michelle Obama told the graduates of Oberlin College to "rise above the noise and shape the revolutions of your time."

"Think about how even with all the gridlock and polarization in Washington, we have made so much change these past six years:  12 million new jobs.  Sixteen million people who finally have health insurance.  Historic agreements to fight climate change.  Epic increases in college financial aid.  More progress on LGBT rights than any time in our history. And today, it is no longer remarkable to see two beautiful black girls walking their dogs on the South Lawn of the White House lawn.  That’s just the way things are now.

"See, graduates, this is what happens when you turn your attention outward and decide to brave the noise and engage yourself in the struggles of our time. And that’s why, in his remarks 50 years ago, Dr. King urged the class of ‘65 to “stand up” and “be a concerned generation.” And, graduates, that call to action applies just as much to all of you today.

" And I want to be very clear: Every city ordinance, every ballot measure, every law on the books in this country –- that is your concern. What happens at every school board meeting, every legislative session –- that is your concern. Every elected official who represents you, from dog catcher all the way to President of the United States –- they are your concern.

"So get out there and volunteer on campaigns, and then hold the folks you elect accountable. Follow what’s happening in your city hall, your statehouse, Washington, D.C. Better yet, run for office yourself. Get in there. Shake things up. Don’t be afraid. And get out and vote in every election -– not just the big national ones that get all the attention, but every single election. Make sure the folks who represent you share your values and aspirations.

"See, that is how you will rise above the noise and shape the revolutions of your time. That is how you will have a meaningful journey on those clamorous highways of life. And, graduates, that is how you will carry on the proud legacy of this great institution for generations to come," Mrs. Obama said.

Cardinals Mascot Called "Racist" for Holding "Police Lives Matter" Sign

On Sunday, May 17, the mascot of the St. Louis Cardinals held a sign that read "Police Lives Matter." The person in the mascot outfit said he did not know what was on the sign.

For this action, Fredbird has been labelled a "racist." Again, this is a baseball mascot holding a sign saying that police lives matter.

The website Deadspin learned of the picture below and ran a story titled, "Your Racist Uncle Will Love This Picture Of The Cardinals' Mascot:"
The author of the article, Tom Ley, then rambles for several paragraphs in an expletive-filled tirade. For example:
(Here’s where some of you are going to say, “What, police lives don’t matter?” To which all we can say is, “Cut the shit.” Of course police lives matter, but used as a direct retort to the non-controversial idea that black lives matter, the phrase is an at best crypto-racist way of dismissing legitimate anger about police violence in black communities.)
Ley also writes that Fredbird held the sign at an event away from the stadium the Cardinals play in. That's wrong, but he hasn't corrected his mistake in the original article.

Separately, the Cardinals have stated that Fredbird did not know what was on the sign, saying he was approached by fans, who asked him to hold a sign, and he did so.

The image was then posted to the St. Louis Police Officers Association Facebook's page. When the Cardinals heard about the controversy, they contacted the page and asked them to remove the image, which they did.

Julian Castro calls Hillary Clinton email scandal a witch hunt: Says Benghazi has been studied to death

Secretary of Housing and Urban Development Julian Castro said the Hillary Clinton email scandal is a "witch hunt" that the Benghazi terror attack "has been studied to death." Castro is considered my many, including myself, to be the most likely candidate for Vice President on the 2016 Democratic presidential ticket.

CNN: Let me ask you one more question about the 2016 campaign, these e-mails that have been released by the State Department with respect to Hillary Clinton and her time there, the private e-mails she was using to conduct business at the department. Do you believe that she has answered that question appropriately and fully?

Castro: Oh, absolutely.

CNN: You're satisfied?

Castro: Let's take a look at this issue of Benghazi. This thing has been studied to death by Republicans and Democrats, several committees including in Congress that have all said, yes, of course what happened was tragic but Secretary Clinton was not in any way at all responsible. And what you have here with these e-mails is basically a witch hunt. And you know, Congressman Gowdy, who is leading this, is very intentionally trying to manipulate this witch hunt to play politics.

That's unfortunate. And it's one of the reasons that Congress has a 19% approval rating.

I think we need focus on more substantive things. As one who hasn't spent my lifetime in D.C., I know that out there in America they care about are you reducing Veteran homelessness, are you providing the impetus for young people to be able to achieve their dreams, are we making sure that America in this 21st century remains the undisputed land of opportunity, not whether somebody had e-mails or didn't have them --

CNN: Do you use a private e-mail account?

Castro: I have my government e-mail of course i have my private account. e-mail but i have my government e-mail. but that's beside the point. i think --

CNN: You do government business on the government e-mail account and --

Castro: That's right.

CNN: Private business on the private account.

Castro: That's right. and she's already explained that. people want us to focus on policy makers on things that matter to their lives. They want us to make a difference in creating more opportunity out there. And that's just a witch hunt that is a sideshow. I think the work that we're doing to end veteran homelessness is a good example of something that matters.