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Defend the Christians in the Middle East

Defend the Christians in the Middle East
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National Geographic: Genius

Watch an exclusive sneak peek from the first episode of Genius, starring Geoffrey Rush as the older Einstein and Johnny Flynn as the younger.

Tuesday, May 24, 2016

The Martin 9/12 TeaParty Committee

Meetings on the second and fourth Tuesdays.

Monday, May 23, 2016

Willful Blindness and Our Saudi ‘Friends’

Willful Blindness and Our Saudi ‘Friends’

by ANDREW C. MCCARTHY
For many years, I was reluctant to write a memoir of my experience leading the investigation and prosecution of the jihadists against whom we are still at war over 20 years later. For one thing, while an exhilarating experience for a trial lawyer, it was also a very hard time for my family, for obvious reasons. Also, with all the tough judgment calls we had to make, we inevitably made some mistakes — “we” very much including me. A triumphant outcome has a pleasant way of bleaching away any memory of errors; to write honestly about the case would mean revisiting them. Who needed that?
And about that triumph: I had, and have, a gnawing sense that we failed. Yes, the conviction of the Blind Sheikh and his henchmen was a great law-enforcement success. Throughout the long trial and in the years that followed, though, I came to appreciate that national security is principally about keeping Americans safe, not winning court cases. Sure, winning in this instance meant justice was done and some terrorists were incarcerated. How safe, though, had we really kept Americans?
For all the effort and expense, the number of jihadists neutralized was negligible compared to the overall threat. The attacks kept coming, as one might expect when one side detonates bombs and the other responds with subpoenas. As the years passed, the tally of casualties far outstripped that of convicted terrorists. When 9/11 finally happened, killing nearly 3,000 of our fellow Americans, al-Qaeda credited none other than the Blind Sheikh with issuing the fatwa — the sharia edict — that authorized the attack. We had imprisoned him, but we had not stopped him.

Sunday, May 15, 2016

Rep. Brat: House leaders don’t get it on slashing the federal budget

Rep. Brat: House leaders don’t get it on slashing the federal budget
By Rep. David Brat | May 12 | The Washington Post

Rep. Dave Brat, R-Va. says House Republican
leaders are going down the wrong path on the budget.
(AP Photo/J. Scott Applewhite, File)

Conservatives are supposed to stand for fiscal discipline, balanced budgets and reducing government waste.

Yet House leadership is currently whipping votes for a bad budget deal that was negotiated behind closed doors by party leaders that blows through the budget caps.
Despite Republican control of both the Senate and the House, the deficit is set to go up over $100 billion to the $530 billion range. Last year marked the highest level of federal government spending ever.
All this spending is on the backs of our kids. They have no effective lobby on Capitol Hill, so they lose to a D.C. bureaucracy that is incapable of listening to the American people.
Leadership has already begun work on a number of spending bills that appropriate taxpayer dollars at unprecedented levels — even though Congress has yet to pass a budget!
Speaker Paul Ryan (R-Wisc.) initially announced a budget resolution deadline of March 15 — but no vote was held even by the April 15 statutory deadline.
All of this action, all of these decisions, are in the hands of a few.
Congress’s discretionary spending level for fiscal year 2017 was capped at $1.040 trillion for fiscal year 2017 due to previous spending agreements dating back to 2011. But last year, outgoing Speaker John Boehner (R-Ohio) negotiated a deal with President Obama that broke the sequester caps and increased government spending by $30 billion to a historic $1.070 trillion for fiscal year 2017. Although this bill was opposed by the majority of House Republicans, it passed thanks to 79 Republicans who voted for it along with all 187 Democrats.
The country faces an imminent fiscal crisis, and the Republican Party has an obligation to change the direction we are headed. The federal government does not have to keep spending at unprecedented and unsustainable levels. The founders placed the power of the purse in the hands of Congress.
We don’t know what will happen with the presidential election, but we – the Republicans who have a majority in the People’s House – have an historic opportunity to change the direction of our country now. Given that our children’s futures are at stake, it is our responsibility to make sure we get this right and do not pass the buck with a continuing resolution (that spends more of taxpayers’ hard-earned money) in the fall.
Congress should not allow a passive outcome, where we back into spending $1.070 trillion as the default because Republicans in the House failed to lead when we had the opportunity to do so.
Republican leadership has been on a “listening tour;” and we in the House Freedom Caucus have provide countless solutions on how to trim $30 billion from the Obama-Boehner deal budget number.
While a balanced budget would require $530 billion in savings, the House Freedom Caucus compromised and requested $30 billion in savings be trimmed from the budget. Whether the savings comes from reforming autopilot or annual spending, or through a “sidecar” attached to a must-pass bill, we have simply been looking for a way to enact real savings now.
We are not getting enough feedback from leadership as to which solutions are acceptable, and which are not. If none of the ideas we have offered are favorable, we need to know why so we can think through the problem and find new solutions. The information feedback loop is broken, and as an economist that’s very frustrating.
The fact that the House budget is at a standstill over $30 billion reveals how unserious some within the Republican Party are about fiscal discipline and actually addressing our national debt crisis.
The federal budget deficit will swell in relation to GDP this year for the first time since 2009, ballooning to an estimated $534 billion in 2016, according to the nonpartisan Congressional Budget Office. If Congress continues on its current path of spending, the deficit will surpass $1 trillion by 2022 and every year thereafter. Thirty trillion in debt in a decade. Feel the Bern and you will be at $40 trillion. Yes with a T.
We have only to look to Puerto Rico to see where Washington’s addiction to spending can lead. Many have argued that Trump may not be conservative on fiscal issues. That argument is hot air if Congress itself cannot walk the walk. There is nothing conservative about the Obama-Boehner budget deal, which leadership is urging us to support.
If we are serious about fiscal discipline and a brighter future for our country, as conservatives say they are, we must pass a budget that actually reins in federal spending.

Rep. Dave Brat (R-Va.) is a member of the Budget Committee and the House Freedom Caucus. Before serving in Congress,  he worked for the World Bank assisting developing world economies and was an economics professor and chairman of the economics department at Randolph Macon College.

Friday, May 13, 2016

National Security Experts Seek Public Debate of Proposed Changes to Military Commissions

National Security Experts Seek Public Debate of Proposed Changes to Military Commissions
·         May 11, 2016
·         Issue: Counter-Terrorism Policies & Practices
·         Sub-Issue: Detention & Prosecution of Terrorist Suspects

Twenty-five national security experts from across the political spectrum want Congress to hold public hearings before making changes to the law for prosecuting suspected terrorists in military commissions.
Military commission proceedings have been underway at Guantanamo Bay since 2011 for six detainees accused of planning the 9/11 attacks, and one accused of plotting the bombing of the U.S.S. Cole, with the anticipated trials still several years away.  The government is seeking the death penalty against six of the defendants.  In mid-April, the Department of Defense asked Congress to consider several amendments to the Military Commissions Act it said would improve the efficiency of the process.
“There are real problems with the military commissions, but the proposed amendments to the MCA do not address them—and in some cases raise serious constitutional concerns,” the experts wrote in a May 10 statement to members of the Senate Armed Services Committee, which is considering the changes requested by the Pentagon as part of the annual defense authorization legislation.  The experts are all members of The Constitution Project’s bipartisan Liberty and Security Committee or the Task Force on Detainee Treatment.

“Fifteen years after the 9/11 attacks and the Cole bombing, it is perfectly understandable that the government, the families of the victims and public would be frustrated by the glacial pace of bringing these alleged perpetrators to justice,” said TCP President Virginia Sloan in a press release.  “But tinkering around the edges of an unfixable law, especially without full public discussion, is not the solution,” she said.  Instead, Sloan suggested Congress drop its opposition to trying the cases in federal court.

The statement notes that more people have been convicted on terrorism-related charges in federal court – and are currently incarcerated in federal prison – than the entire remaining population at Guantanamo.  In comparison, military commissions have obtained only eight convictions, four of which were subsequently overturned by a federal appeals court.  Military commissions cost $91 million a year.

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