As the fight against Islamic State in Iraq and Syria comes to a close, U.S. military and counterterrorism officials are setting their sights on the group’s growing presence in the war-torn country of Yemen. The number of U.S. airstrikes against Islamic State’s Yemeni faction has increased in the past several weeks as the mission for American drones and warplanes against the group’s bastions elsewhere in the Middle East ramp down. A trio of deadly strikes this month against Islamic State training camps in Yemen marks a refocus by American counterterrorism forces back onto the Gulf state that has been a regular target of U.S. forces battling the al Qaeda faction known as al Qaeda in the Arabic Peninsula, or AQAP, for the past two decades. But strikes in the country this month are the first time Washington has gone after the Islamic State inside Yemen. The uptick in U.S. operations against the Yemeni-based Islamic State cells began in mid-October with an airstrike against a suspected camp in the country’s al Bayda governorate. The strike, which the Pentagon said was critical to “disrupting the organization’s attempts to train new fighters,” was the first such strike specifically targeting Islamic State in the country. On Wednesday, American forces launched a pair of airstrikes against another suspected target in al Bayda, reportedly killing nine jihadis tied to Yemen’s Islamic State factions. All told, American warplanes killed roughly 60 insurgents from the group during all three strikes, said Central Command officials, according to reports. “ISIS has used the ungoverned spaces of Yemen to plot, direct, instigate, resource and recruit for attacks against America and its allies around the world,” Pentagon officials said after the initial Oct. 9 strike, using an acronym for the group. “U.S. forces are supporting ongoing counterterrorism operations in Yemen against ISIS and AQAP to degrade the groups’ ability to coordinate external terror attacks and limit their ability to hold territory seized from the legitimate government of Yemen,” Pentagon officials added. U.S. forces have launched over 100 airstrikes against al Qaeda in Yemen this year, according to figures compiled by the Washington-based think tank the Foundation for the Defense of Democracies. The high rate of airstrikes this year under the Trump administration dwarfs the previous high of 46 strikes in 2016 ordered by President Obama.
The Senate confirmed a Catholic woman Tuesday to sit on an appeals court seat over the opposition of Democrats, sparking complaints from Republicans who said they fear some in the chamber are imposing religious tests that would deny faithful Catholics a chance at judgeships. Amy Coney Barrett, a law professor at the University of Notre Dame, was cleared on a 55 to 43 vote, with all of the opposition coming from members of the Democratic Caucus. Just three Democrats joined the GOP in backing her nomination to the 7th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals: Sen. Joe Manchin of West Virginia, Sen. Joe Donnelly of Indiana, and Sen. Tim Kaine of Virginia. She was the first of three women, and four appeals court nominees total, that Republicans intend to confirm this week. “I assume that all three of these impressive women will receive strong support from our Democratic colleagues, who never seem to miss an opportunity to talk about a ‘War on Women,’” Senate Majority Leader Mitch Mr. McConnell on Tuesday. Ms. Barrett, a devout Catholic, drew questions about her faith during her confirmation hearing last month. Sen. Richard Durbin, Illinois Democrat, asked her if she was an ‘orthodox Catholic’ while Sen. Dianne Feinstein, California Democrat, told Ms. Barrett ‘the dogma’ lives loudly within her. And on Monday, Republican senators alleged Democrats of ‘Catholic bigotry’ in their refusal to support Ms. Barrett’s confirmation, saying their attempt to mount a filibuster against her was proof. But Mr. Durbin said he was only asking Ms. Barrett about her academic writing where she used the term ‘orthodox Catholic’ and he wondered what she meant by that. He also said his opposition to her wasn’t because of her faith, but rather because she hasn’t spent enough time in a courtroom. “I’ll let my record speak for itself about the numbers of Catholic nominees that I have appointed to the bench,” he said on the chamber floor Tuesday. “I don’t believe she has sufficient experience to be a circuit court judge.” Progressive groups didn’t say Ms. Barrett was unqualified based on her faith, but worry she will rule against women’s right to abortion access and gay rights. “Professor Barrett’s past statements and writings show a strong, personal bias against reproductive freedom and LGBTQ rights. And more broadly, her record demonstrates a dangerous lack of deference to long-standing precedent and judicial restraint,” said Vanita Gupta, president of the Leadership Conference on Civil and Human Rights. “If Donald Trump succeeds in packing the courts with judges who share his hostility to civil rights, we will lose one of the only remaining checks our nation has on his virtually unlimited powers, and the consequences will be felt for decades to come,” said Sharon McGowan, strategy director for Lambda Legal. Mr. Durbin also said he will reject the other three circuit court judges this week. One of those, Michigan Supreme Court Justice Joan Larsen, who is nominated to the 6th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals, overcame an attempted filibuster by Democrats on Tuesday in a 60 to 38 vote. Mr. Durbin said he rejects Justice Larsen because she was on the list of 21 judges suggested to Mr. Trump during his campaign as potential Supreme Court nominees by the Federalist Society and the Heritage Foundation to fill the vacancy after the late Justice Antonin Scalia’s death in 2016. “Clearly, those right wing organizations are confident that they will like her rulings if she is confirmed,” he said. Colorado Supreme Court Justice Allison Eid for the 10th Circuit and Stephanos Bibas for the 3rd Circuit are also set to receive confirmation votes by the end of the week, according to Mr. McConnell. The Senate confirmed Trevor McFadden for the U.S. District Court for the District of Columbia on Monday.
American patriotism is not exactly in vogue these days among Democrats, Hollywood starlets and the National Football League. It’s considered fashionable among the social justice crowd to take a knee during the national anthem, burn the American flag and dishonor our troops. But that’s hardly the prevailing opinion across the fruited plain – where tens of thousands of young teenagers are rising up and publicly declaring their love for America and their devotion to freedom. Last week, some 65,000 members of the Future Farmers of America Organization gathered in Indianapolis to celebrate our great nation. I received a video of the jaw-dropping celebration from Deb Zippel, one of our faithful readers in Minnesota. Her daughter is studying to be an agricultural education teacher and was in attendance at the gathering. Jaci Dietrick, an FFA member from Newcastle, Oklahoma, walked onto the stage and delivered a stirring rendition of “God Bless the USA.” “Ladies and gentlemen, we live in the greatest country in the world and that’s only because we have men and women fighting daily for that freedom,” she told the massive crowd. “Thank you for standing.” And that’s exactly what they did – tens of thousands of young people rose to their feet and began singing along with vocalist. And when she started crooning about those lakes in Minnesota and the in hills in Tennessee – well, the young patriots dutifully let out hoots and hollers. When the singer concluded the song, the entire audience erupted with boisterous chants of “USA USA”. You would be hard pressed to find any snowflakes laden with microaggressions in the FFA. “These kids are the ones that get it,” Miss Deb told me. “They are hard working. They don’t expect it to be handed to them.” Miss Deb said her daughter worked two jobs to pay her way through college – “including getting up at 4 a.m. to milk cows and working an organic farm and squishing potato bugs by hand.” It’s that kind of hard work and determination that makes America the most exceptional nation on the planet. Thanks to young farmers across the fruited plain for reminding us there’s a generation rising that is proud to be American!
Agreed! To see the video of Jaci singing “God Bless the USA,” click on the text above. We need to rub this in the faces of Roger Goodell and those self-righteous, entitlement-minded, millionaire NFL players who have been rubbing their liberal, anti-America politics in our faces. Thanks to Todd Starnes for sharing this story with us. We take our hats off to these kids with the FFA! Outstanding!! 🙂
No matter who dresses up as what at the NFL offices in New York, it’s not likely that their Halloween costume will scare Commissioner Roger Goodell more, than the ratings for Monday Night Football. According to Deadline Hollywood, “With a 7.2 in metered market results, last night’s MNF was down 9% from last week’s Philadelphia Eagles’ 34-24 triumph over the Washington Redskins. “While not the season low of the October 16 battle between the Tennessee Titans and the Indianapolis Colts, last night’s Chiefs vs. Broncos match-up is very close to the previous MNF season low of the October 9 Minnesota Vikings and Chicago Bears games.” Deadline Hollywood continued, “Year-to-year, last night’s Week 8 game was dead even with the Week 8 game of the 2016/2017 season when the Vikings and Bears pulled in a 7.2 MM rating in their October 31, 2016 match-up.” Bad ratings are never good for the league, and will always cause concern. However, the numbers from the Chiefs-Broncos game should cause particular concern. Both the Chiefs and the Broncos were .500 or better, and both teams are longtime rivals in the same division. Which means, the game had playoff implications. Not to mention that we’re now halfway through the NFL season, and, normally, by this point the league has gained some kind of consistent performance with the primetime numbers. Though, other than the numbers being consistently bad, that hasn’t happened.
The tax plan the House Ways and Means Committee will release on Wednesday may eliminate the federal income tax deduction that people are currently permitted to take for the state and local income or sales taxes they have paid. That deduction, according to the latest Internal Revenue Service data, was taken by 42,502,130 tax filers—or 95 percent of the 44,671,840 tax filers who itemized their deductions in tax year 2015. The deduction allowed those 42,502,130 tax filers to reduce their federal taxable income for 2015 by a combined $351,163,796,000. The tax reform framework that the White House, the House Ways and Means Committee and the Senate Finance Committee agreed to in September said the tax plan it envisions “eliminates most itemized deductions, but retains tax incentives for home mortgage interest and charitable contributions.” It did not say it would retain the deduction for state and local income and sales taxes.
Nor should it. We need to get to a “flatter,” fairer income tax, as long as we have it. For more, click on the text above.
There are a few ways to respond to radical demands for campus censorship. One is rather simple: Enforce decades of constitutional jurisprudence, and clearly signal to disruptive protesters that lawbreaking is grounds for serious discipline. Follow the law and the debate about free speech won’t end, but the wave of shout-downs will pass. Students, after all, don’t want to sacrifice their shot at a degree to stop, say, Ben Shapiro or Charles Murray from speaking. As a general rule, they’ll do what the college allows them to do, and nothing more. Then there’s the opposite response: A number of progressive administrators, professors, and activists (over the objection of more liberty-minded colleagues) are seeking to redefine and ultimately eliminate the very concept of a “marketplace of ideas” on college campuses. They argue that the ultimate mission of the university is education, not providing a platform for any crazy idea someone wants to share, and that school administrators should thus have the right to determine who speaks on campus and how they speak based on whether the speech in question furthers this educational mission. That, in a nutshell, is Yale Law School professor (and former dean) Robert Post’s argument in an extended piece in Vox. To justify an administrative role in determining not just who speaks on campus but what they are permitted to say, Professor Post says this: “The entire purpose of a university is to educate and to expand knowledge, and so everything a university does must be justified by reference to these twin purposes. These objectives govern all university action, inside and outside the classroom; they are as applicable to nonprofessional speech as they are to student and faculty work.” This is remarkably similar to the arguments made to my colleague Charlie Cooke in a recent and heated debate at Kenyon College. If speech is so offensive, hurtful, or maybe just plain wrong that administrators believe it would impair the educational mission of the university, then, the thinking goes, they should have the power to restrict that expression. There are multiple problems with this argument, but I’ll focus on two: It’s both unlawful and absurdly impractical. First, the law. When analyzing a free-speech case, the first question you need to ask is, “Who is speaking?” In the context of a public university, there are usually three relevant speakers: administrators, faculty, and students. Administrators have the general ability to define the mission and purpose of their schools’ academic departments. They can mandate, for example, that their science departments operate within the parameters of the scientific method and on key issues apply accepted scientific conclusions. But this power isn’t unlimited. They can’t lawfully decide, say, that evolutionary biology will be taught only by atheists. In that case, the speech of the administrators collides with the First Amendment rights of the professors, and the professors win. Similarly, while professors have the right to shape and control their classroom (some permit profanity and insults while others sharply limit discussion) and even have the right to require students, within the classroom context, to defend views they may find abhorrent, their control is not absolute. They can’t mark down conservatives for being conservative or silence Christians for being Christian. They can grade ideas and expression for academic rigor, but they cannot discriminate purely on the basis of ideology or faith. Just as you can’t “punch a Nazi,” you can’t “flunk a Nazi” if their work meets the standards of the class. One of my old cases is instructive. Shortly after California voters passed Proposition 8, a ballot measure that defined marriage as the union of a man and a woman, a speech professor at Los Angeles City College walked into his class and declared that any person who voted for Proposition 8 was a “fascist bastard.” One of his students, a young man named Jonathan Lopez, decided to respond in a speech assignment. Lopez was asked to deliver a speech on “the topic of his choice,” and he chose to discuss and define his Christian faith. In the course of discussing the fundamentals of his faith, he briefly addressed marriage. His professor stopped his speech, angrily confronted Lopez, and then dismissed the class. Rather than grade his speech, he wrote on the evaluation paper, “Ask God what your grade is.” The professor’s “speech” thus collided with the student’s First Amendment rights, and the student’s rights prevailed. In sum, individuals at each layer of university life enjoy considerable First Amendment protection. Indeed, no lesser authority than the Supreme Court has decisively declared that “the vigilant protection of constitutional freedoms is nowhere more vital than in the community of American schools.”
Exactly.. To read the rest of this outstanding legal op/ed by attorney David French, click on the text above.
Consumers were even more optimistic in October than economists polled by Reuters expected. Consumer confidence rose to 125.9 in October, according to the Conference Board. The index “increased to its highest level in almost 17 years,” Lynn Franco, Director of Economic Indicators at The Conference Board, said in a statement. That was in December 2000, when the index hit 128.6. The economic weight of Hurricanes Harvey and Irma pulled down the spirits of U.S. consumers in September, when the index was relatively flat. In October, “consumers’ assessment of current conditions improved,” Franco said. “[This was] boosted by the job market which had not received such favorable ratings since the summer of 2001,” Franco said. The high level of confidence suggests the economy will continue to expand “at a solid pace” for the rest of 2017, Franco added. The index takes into account Americans’ views of current economic conditions and their expectations for the next six months. Economists pay close attention to the numbers because consumer spending accounts for about 70 percent of U.S. economic activity.
Great news!! 🙂
Several North Korean agents were reportedly arrested after Chinese officials foiled an alleged plot to kill Kim Jong Un’s nephew— the son of the half-brother poisoned this year in a Malaysian airport. Two of the seven North Korean agents who were involved in the alleged plot were arrested in Beijing, South Korean newspaper JoongAng Ilbo reported Monday, citing North Korean sources. The plot was stopped because Chinese officials increased security during the country’s 19th National Congress of the Communist Party. “Special operatives belonging to the North’s reconnaissance squad have penetrated to remove Kim Han Sol, but some of them were arrested last week by the Chinese Ministry of National Security and are currently under investigation at special facilities outside Beijing,” the source told JongAng Ilbo. Kim Han Sol, who is reportedly in his 20s, surfaced in March after he released a video confirming the death of his father, Kim Jong Nam, who was killed in February when two women smeared the banned VX nerve agent on his face at Malaysia’s Kuala Lumpur airport. Speaking in English, Kim Jong Un’s nephew showed his passport as proof of his identity and said, “my father has been killed a few days ago.” He continued, “I’m currently with my mother and sister. We hope…” before the video’s audio abruptly cuts off. He ends with, “we hope this gets better soon.” Two women are on trial in Kim Jong Nam’s death. They have denied being part of the assassination plot and said they were duped into thinking they were playing a harmless prank for a reality television show. The involvement of missing North Korean agents have fueled a South Korea spy agency’s claim that the attack was part of a careful plot set up by Kim Jong Un to kill his brother. The half-brother and his family were living in exile since the early 2000s when Kim Jong Nam fell out of favor with his father, Kim Jong Il. Kim Han Sol, like many Kim family members, attended school outside of North Korea, including United World College in Mostar, Bosnia. He then moved to France to attend Paris Institute of Political Studies, the BBC reported. He is fluent in English. Kim previously spoke out about his “dictator” uncle during a 2012 interview on a Finnish TV show. “I’ve always dreamed that one day I would go back and make things better, and make things easier for the people back there. I also dream of unification,” Kim said about North Korea. He added that he spent summers in North Korea when his family was living in exile to “meet with my relatives and keep in touch with my family.” “I don’t really know how he became a dictator because first of all it was between him and my grandfather,” he said. The North Korean despot had his uncle, Jang Song Thaek, executed in 2013 and accused him of being a “traitor” and committing a series of “hideous crimes.” Reports claimed Kim Jong Un discovered a coup devised by his uncle and the Chinese government to overthrow him and his regime.
Over the weekend, the mainstream media was absolutely giddy with delight upon learning there would be an indictment by special counsel, Robert Mueller. This was proof positive, they insisted, that Trump “colluded” with Russia to influence the 2016 presidential election. Their exuberance was the equivalent of a two day-long tailgate party. Too bad it was premature. The celebration came to a crashing end when the indictments of Paul Manafort and his business associate, Rick Gates, were unsealed Monday morning. It turns out the charges are, basically, a tax fraud case. The two men stand accused of hiding their income from their lobbying work for Ukraine in order to avoid paying taxes, then lying about it. That’s it. The 31-page indictment makes no mention of Trump or Russia or “collusion.” The media seemed as dejected as a kid who wakes up on Christmas morning, only to find there are no presents under the tree. Gee whiz. The truth is, it should have come as no surprise to anyone, much less the media, that Manafort was in legal jeopardy for his business dealings. The FBI raided his home over the summer. It was later learned that the FBI wiretapped his conversations as far back as 2014. And it was widely reported that Manafort had been told by Mueller’s team that he would be criminally charged. The media became even more dispirited when they read through the indictment, discovering that nearly all of Manafort’s alleged wrongdoing substantially pre-dates his brief stint as chairman of the Trump campaign. In other words, there is no connection to either Trump or his campaign. Somewhere, I’m sure, ABC’s Martha Raddatz and CNN’s Van Jones were crying. Again. Just like the tears they shed on camera election night when Hillary lost. But wait. Shortly after the indictments were unsealed, the media’s spirits were suddenly boosted when the special counsel revealed that a former adviser to Trump pleaded guilty to lying to the FBI about his contacts with a Russian national during his time on the Trump campaign. Surely this was evidence of illegal “collusion,” right? Wrong. George Papadopoulos pled guilty to a single charge of making a false statement to the FBI. He was not charged with so-called “collusion” because no such crime exists in American statutory law, except in anti-trust matters. It has no application to elections and political campaigns. It is not a crime to talk to a Russian. Not that the media would ever understand that. They have never managed to point to a single statute that makes “colluding” with a foreign government in a political campaign a crime, likely because it does not exist in the criminal codes. But that did not stop them from accusing Donald Trump, Jr., of illegally conspiring with the Russians when he met with a Russian lawyer to obtain information on Hillary Clinton. What law did he break? None. The Federal Election Commission has made it clear that it is perfectly lawful for foreign nationals to be involved in campaigns, as long as they are not paid and do not donate money. Which brings us to Hillary Clinton. It is against the law for the Clinton campaign and the Democratic National Committee to funnel millions of dollars to a British spy and to Russian sources in order to obtain the infamous and discredited Trump “dossier.” The Federal Election Campaign Act (52 USC 30101) prohibits foreign nationals and governments from giving or receiving money in U.S. campaigns. It also prohibits the filing of false or misleading campaign reports to hide the true purpose of the money (52 USC 30121). This is what Clinton and the DNC appear to have done. Most often the penalty for violating this law is a fine, but in egregious cases, like this one, criminal prosecutions have been sought and convictions obtained. In this sense, it could be said that Hillary Clinton is the one who was conspiring with the Russians by breaking campaign finance laws with impunity. But that’s not all. Damning new evidence appears to show that Clinton used her office as Secretary of State to confer benefits to Russia in exchange for millions of dollars in donations to her foundation and cash to her husband. Secret recordings, intercepted emails, financial records, and eyewitness accounts allegedly show that Russian nuclear officials enriched the Clintons at the very time Hillary presided over a governing body which unanimously approved the sale of one-fifth of America’s uranium supply to Russia. If this proves to be a corrupt “pay-to-play” scheme, it would constitute a myriad of crimes, including bribery (18 USC 201-b), mail fraud (18 USC 1341), and wire fraud (18 USC 1343). It might also qualify for racketeering charges (18 USC 1961-1968), if her foundation is determined to have been used as a criminal enterprise. Despite all the incriminating evidence, Clinton has managed to avoid being pursued by a special counsel. Trump, on the other hand, is being chased by Robert Mueller and his team, notwithstanding a dearth of evidence. The indictments of Manafort and Gates now present a unique opportunity to challenge the authority of the special counsel. Until now, no one had legal “standing” to argue in court that the appointment of Mueller was illegal. The criminal charges change all that. The two defendants will be able to argue before a judge that Mueller’s appointment by Acting Attorney General Rod Rosenstein violated the special counsel law. As I pointed out in a column last May, the law (28 CFR 600) grants legal authority to appoint a special counsel to investigate crimes. Only crimes. He has limited jurisdiction. Yet, in his order appointing Mueller as special counsel (Order No. 3915-2017), Rosenstein directed him to investigate “any links and/or coordination between the Russian government and individuals associated with the campaign of President Donald Trump.” It fails to identify any specific crimes, likely because none are applicable. To put it plainly, Mueller is tasked with finding a crime that does not exist in the law. It is a legal impossibility. He is being asked to do something that is manifestly unattainable. If the federal judge agrees, Mueller and his team would be disbanded by judicial order. The Department of Justice would have to seek a new indictment of Manafort and Gates without the special counsel or drop the case entirely. The naming of Robert Mueller was tainted with disqualifying conflicts of interest from the beginning. Fired FBI Director James Comey admitted he leaked presidential memos to the media for the sole purpose of triggering the appointment of a special counsel who just happens to be Comey’s longtime friend, ally and partner. It is no coincidence that Rosenstein appointed Mueller. We now know both men were overseeing the corrupt Uranium One sale which involved Russian bribes, kickbacks, extortion and money laundering. They appear to have kept it secret, even hiding it from Congress which would surely have cancelled the transaction involving a vital national security asset. A cover-up? It has the stench of one. How can Americans have confidence in the outcome of the Trump-Russia matter if the integrity and impartiality of Mueller and Rosenstein has been compromised by their suspected cover-up of the Clinton-Russia case? Both men should resign. And a new special counsel should be appointed – this time to investigate Hillary Clinton, not Donald Trump.
Agreed!! And well said, Gregg!! Gregg Jarrett is a former defense attorney, and current Fox News legal analyst.
The National Football League is taking some hits these days. A new Fox News Poll finds that since 2013, the league’s favorable rating has dropped 18 points. Today, 46 percent of voters have a positive view of the N.F.L. while 41 percent view it negatively. Four years ago (the last time the question was asked), 64 percent had a positive view of the league and 19 percent were critical. “If the NFL were a political candidate, alarm bells would be going off in campaign headquarters,” says Democratic Pollster Chris Anderson who conducts the Fox News Poll with Republican Pollster Daron Shaw. The downward shift on favorability comes mainly from Republicans (-37 points), whites (-23 points), men (-23 points), and independents (-14 points). Majorities of Democrats and nonwhites continue to have a favorable view of the N.F.L, yet there’s also a drop in favorability among these groups. Positive sentiment among Democrats is down 6 points (66 percent in 2013 to 60 percent now) while among nonwhites it is down 3 (64-61 percent). N.F.L. Commissioner Roger Goodell made clear in an October 10 letter to team executives that the league thinks “everyone should stand for the National Anthem.” Americans, however, are increasingly more likely to think kneeling is an appropriate form of protest. Forty-four percent think kneeling during the national anthem is appropriate, up from 41 percent who felt that way last month and 32 percent who said so last September. Sill, a majority thinks it is inappropriate (52 percent). Most Republicans (88 percent inappropriate vs. 12 percent appropriate), baby boomers (61-33 percent), men (60-37 percent), and whites (60-38 percent) think kneeling during the national anthem is inappropriate. The opposite is true for Democrats (67 percent appropriate vs. 27 percent inappropriate), millennials (65-32 percent), and nonwhites (61-30 percent) who think kneeling is an apt form of protest. Women (50 percent appropriate vs. 45 percent inappropriate) and independents (46-50 percent) are more divided on the issue. Voters who have an unfavorable opinion of the N.F.L overwhelmingly think kneeling is inappropriate (78 percent), while those who view the NFL favorably think it’s appropriate (62 percent). The Fox News poll is based on landline and cellphone interviews with 1,005 randomly chosen registered voters nationwide and was conducted under the joint direction of Anderson Robbins Research (D) and Shaw & Company Research (R) from October 22-24, 2017. The poll has a margin of sampling error of plus or minus three percentage points for all registered voters.
Any way you slice it.. This is very damaging information for the NFL. Roger Goodell should be terrified, if he’s smart. So far, we’re not sure that’s the case. More and more NFL fans are getting sick and tired of these self-righteous, entitlement-minded, millionaire football players giving our flag and National Anthem the finger. We’re over it…and we’ve changed the channel.