Economic Patriotism: U.S. Ranks Near Last In Tax Competitiveness

Something’s rotten in the District of Columbia.

Democrats routinely claim that corporations in the U.S. lack “economic patriotism” and don’t pay their fair share in taxes. In fact, they claim, those corporations are so unpatriotic that President Barack Obama is currently working out a plan to prevent corporate tax inversions, where companies acquire assets outside the U.S. to avoid burdensome taxes.

The results of a recent study by the nonpartisan think tank Tax Foundation, however, neatly place a realist fly in the left’s hysterical ointment: Because of high corporate taxes and policies requiring taxation of profits made outside the country, only two developed nations belonging to the Organization for Economic Co-operation and Development (OECD) on the entire planet have a tax code less friendly to business than the United States.

The Tax Foundation’s International Tax Competitiveness Index takes into account more than 40 tax policy variables in its inaugural ranking of 34 industrialized OECD nations. The U.S. ranked 32nd, beating only Portugal (33rd) and France (34th).

“The United States scores poorly largely because it maintains the highest corporate tax rate in the developed world at 39.1 percent and is one of the six remaining countries in the OECD with a worldwide system of taxation,” the Tax Foundation said.

The think tank also cited poorly structured property, individual, and capital gains and dividends taxes as contributors to the U.S.’s poor ranking.

Via the report’s executive summary:

The United States provides a good example of an uncompetitive tax code. The last major change to the U.S. tax code occurred 28 years ago as part of the Tax Reform Act of 1986, when Congress reduced the top marginal corporate income tax rate from 46 percent to 34 percent in an attempt to make U.S. corporations more competitive overseas. Since then, the OECD countries have followed suit, reducing the OECD average corporate tax rate from 47.5 percent in the early 1980s to around 25 percent today. The result: the United States now has the highest corporate income tax rate in the industrialized world.

While the corporate income tax rate is a very important determinant of economic growth and economic competitiveness, it is not the only thing that matters. The competitiveness of a tax code is determined by several factors. The structure and rate of corporate taxes, property taxes, income taxes, cost recovery of business investment, and whether a country has a territorial system are some of the factors that determine whether a country’s tax code is competitive.

The top spots on the list are held by relatively small OECD nations, meaning that, in a relative sense, the U.S.’s ranking isn’t quite as bad as it seems. Larger U.S. trading competitors rank closer to the bottom of the list: Japan (25th), Canada (24th), the United Kingdom (21st), and Germany (20th).

Here’s the full list:

  1. Estonia
  2. New Zealand
  3. Switzerland
  4. Sweden
  5. Australia
  6. Luxembourg
  7. Netherlands
  8. Slovak Republic
  9. Turkey
  10. Slovenia
  11. Finland
  12. Austria
  13. Korea
  14. Norway
  15. Ireland
  16. Czech Republic
  17. Denmark
  18. Hungary
  19. Mexico
  20. Germany
  21. United Kingdom
  22. Belgium
  23. Iceland
  24. Canada
  25. Japan
  26. Poland
  27. Greece
  28. Israel
  29. Chile
  30. Spain
  31. Italy
  32. United States
  33. Portugal
  34. France

Still, the authors of the report say that tax policymakers around the world should have an eye toward reform in the future.

In today’s globalized economy, the structure of a country’s tax code is an important factor for businesses when they decide where to invest. No longer can a country tax business investment and activity at a high rate without adversely affecting its economic performance. In recent years, many countries have recognized this fact and have moved to reform their tax codes to be more competitive. However, others have failed to do so and are falling behind the global movement.

Looks like it’s time for Democrats to rethink that economic patriotism line.

Read the full Tax Foundation report here.

Read This: WaPo Wonders If Rand Paul Is Leaving His Libertarian Leanings Behind

In a front-page article, The Washington Post’s David Fahrenthold examines Sen. Rand Paul’s (R-Ky.) evolving positions on everything from gay marriage to foreign aid.

Senators Speak on Repealing President Obama's Health Care Act in Washington

Fahrenthold writes:

Sen. Rand Paul wanted to eliminate aid to Israel. Now he doesn’t. He wanted to scrap the Medicare system. Now he’s not sure.

He didn’t like the idea of a border fence — it was expensive, and it reminded him of the Berlin Wall. Now he wants two fences, one behind the other.

And what about same-sex marriage? Paul’s position — such marriages are morally wrong, but Republicans should stop obsessing about them — seems so muddled that an Iowa pastor recently confronted him in frustration.

“With all due respect, that sounds very retreatist of you,” minister Michael Demastus said he told Paul (R-Ky.) after the senator explained his position during a stop in Des Moines.

Paul has built a reputation as a libertarian ideologue, a Washington outsider guided by a rigid devotion to principle.

But his policy vision is, in fact, a work in progress. While he has maintained his core support for cutting spending and protecting Americans’ privacy rights, Paul has shaded, changed or dropped some of the ideas that he espoused as a tea party candidate and in his confrontational early days as a senator.

To be sure, Paul’s positions on many things have changed and damage has already been done among many people who initially supported him because of his relationship and similarity to another Paul. But what made Ron Paul so able to build a cult-like following was his unwillingness to play politics with his core libertarian beliefs — that’s also what precluded him from ever having a real shot at making it to the Oval Office.

Rand Paul has clearly demonstrated that he is willing to bend on certain issues to gain more mainstream appeal. The question is: How much can Paul evolve before he becomes a certified “for it before against it” flip-flopper?

Sunday News Show Roundup

President Barack Obama’s plan for a response to the Islamic State terror threat was the main topic of discussion for administration officials making appearances on the Sunday political talk shows.

On Wednesday, the president provided Americans with a four-part strategy he said would “degrade, and ultimately destroy” ISIS, which Obama refers to as ISIL. Obama’s plan does not include provisions for U.S. boots on the ground.

On CBS’s “Face the Nation,” Secretary of State John Kerry backtracked on an earlier suggestion that the U.S. was not “at war” with ISIS, saying there was a “tortured debate going on about terminology” regarding the nation’s actions against the group.

“Originally this is not a war. This is not combat troops on the ground, it’s not hundreds of thousands of people. It’s not that kind of mobilization,” Kerry said. “But in terms of al-Qaida, which we have used the word ‘war’ with, yeah.”

“In the same context, if you want to use it, yes, we’re at war with ISIL,” he said.

Kerry is currently on a tour of the Middle East working to build a coalition of about 40 countries to help in the U.S. fight against ISIS.

White House Chief of Staff Dennis McDonough appeared on NBC’s “Meet the Press” to explain in further detail what Obama’s not-war-war ISIS strategy involves.

“[The] effort against ISIL is something that we’ll undertake with a broad coalition of nations, Muslim and otherwise,” he said. “It’s something not like the war in Iraq, but rather this is something that is going to be concerted, targeted. And it’s a war we have to win.”

He added: “This is obviously a complicated effort, and that’s why the president is going about this in a very painstaking and very prudent fashion. That’s why the secretary of state is now just continuing his efforts to travel throughout the region to get others to join us in this effort, and that’s what we’re going to do. We’re going to lead an international effort, but this is not going to be easy.”

House Homeland Security Committee Chairman Michael McCaul, a Texas Republican, embraced the idea of the U.S. accepting help from any Middle Eastern countries willing to join the fight against ISIS. It would be “unwise,” he said, for the U.S. to reject offers from foreigners willing to provide ground forces.

“We want the Sunnis and Arab moderates to fight Sunni extremists,” he said on “Face the Nation.”

McCaul noted that the prince of Jordan last week offered to provide troops to fight, help Kerry said on Sunday that the U.S. is not ready to accept.

“I don’t know why we wouldn’t consider that option of all the Arab nations,” McCaul said.

McCaul said he supports the administration’s decision to avoid placing conventional U.S. troops on the ground in the Middle East.

“I don’t think we want to put conventional forces in the middle of all of this,” he said. “We will need advisers and special forces to guide airstrikes into Syria which we have not done to date.”

The lawmaker stressed the importance of the president seeking Congressional approval for expanded airstrikes.


Tax Crusader: It ‘Defies Reason’ To Believe IRS Isn’t Being Used As A Political Weapon

Tax reform advocate Grover Norquist sent a letter to the Internal Revenue Service Friday calling on IRS Commissioner John Koskinen to resign after the revelation that the agency is auditing a popular conservative news outlet.

Breitbart News revealed earlier in the week that it had been targeted for a tax audit of its 2012 filings. The conservative outlet, which has reported extensively on various IRS scandals, said the audit was politically motivated.

“The Obama administration’s timing on this is exquisite, but try as they might through various methods to silence us, we will only get more emboldened,” said Stephen K. Bannon, executive chairman of Breitbart News Network, in a statement Tuesday.

In his letter, Americans for Tax Reform president Grover Norquist agreed that the news outlet is being harassed.

“According to your own IRS records, less than 1 percent of all tax returns (including business returns) faced examination last year,” Norquist wrote. “Even here, two-thirds of these audits were of the relatively benign correspondence variety, unlike the field audit which Breitbart is subjected to.

“It defies reason to think that an agency as politicized as the IRS began this inquiry with anything other than the worst of intentions. I urge you to stop the political harassment of President Obama’s enemies using the IRS as soon as possible.”

Norquist requested that IRS officials answer series of questions raised in a similarly-toned letter Sen. Ted Cruz (R-Texas) sent to the agency earlier in the week.

  1. How many other news organizations have been audited since President Obama has been in office?
  2. How many of them could be identified as conservative- or liberal-leaning?
  3. Have any other news organization been subjected to this sort of far-reaching and oppressive inquiry, including requesting the personal tax records of editors and reporters?
  4. At what point does the IRS decide to take action to audit a news outlet?
  5. Does the IRS worry that its extremely burdensome auditing process could effectively silence the press?
  6. Previously, Senator Durbin wrote the IRS asking that it examine the tax-exempt status of Crossroads GPS, a Republican organization that spends money electing Republicans. Did the IRS ever receive any communications from any elected official asking it to examine Breitbart News Network, LLC?
  7. Who, precisely, is responsible for making the decision to audit Breitbart News Network, LLC?

“For the IRS to behave like a partisan political organization, targeting media organizations whose views differ from the President’s, would represent a gross abuse of power,” Cruz wrote in his letter. “It would undermine the statutory mission and integrity of the IRS. And it would likely subject IRS employees to criminal prosecution.

“I very much hope that is not the case,” he added.

Of course, on Wednesday, Koskinen assured lawmakers that the IRS tries to follow the law “whenever we can.”

Feel Any Safer?: Personal Liberty Reader Reaction To Obama’s ISIS Speech

President Barack Obama’s abysmal approval ratings leading in to his Wednesday speech on the administration’s planned response to the Islamic State terror threat left us wondering if average Americans would gain more faith in the president as a result in the speech. Here’s what we learned from Personal Liberty reader response.

Ninety-seven percent of readers who took Personal Liberty’s nonscientific “You Sound Off!” poll reported that the president’s speech did very little to make them feel any safer from the threat of ISIS terrorists.

In the comment section of the story in which the polling was conducted, reader response was also largely negative on the heels of the president’s speech.

A few of the replies we received:

Mike in MI

I watched it. What a miserable snake he is.
If you have children send them to a place where they cannot be touched by the/a military draft.
What he proposes can not succeed. It will lead to a general conflagration with the institution of another Military Draft. (My Dad was drafted at the age of 39 yrs.
America, you have given the reins of the highest of offices to a man with a reprobate mind. He can not make a reasonable, defensible, accurate decision. Sorry, but you have given your kids to a narcissistic monster.
In his own mind, he can not fail.


No cojones just more BS from the master BS slinger. He offered nothing that ISIS should be concerned over.

Doc Sarvis

Conservatives have criticized President Obama for telling our enemies too much and now they criticize him for not saying enough. Typical.


I would feel a lot safer if he would do us all a favor and crawl under that rock he he slithered out from under.


“Feel Any Safer After Obama’s ISIS Speech?”



ISIS is laughing so hard after listening to Queen Obozo they are probably pissing in their pants from all the laughter

michael friend

When Obozo started his speech last night the power to my place went out. When the cable box finished resetting he was finished. I’m sure glad that I missed his speech. As for Obozo being a resident in the W.H. he is not a resident, he is a squatter and tho only thing that he capable of is a push and pull palm exercise, the British have one word for him and that word is TOSSER.


Obama record speaks for itself; not one foreign policy success during his tenure but more failures than I care to remember and still counting.

Horace DeBussy Jones

HO-HUM…who cares what the USA SHEEPLE think??? They were the bozos who elected this empty-suit foreign born lazy Homo SOB into office twice!!!!


Someone needs to smack OBAMA up side of his head to wake him up.


He’s great at blowing hot air out of his mouth. The idea that he’s going to act on any so called plan is just another lie. He’s probably going to go play golf with ISIS leaders.


I don’t know about anybody else, but I don’t feel unsafe to begin with. Far too much paranoia.

To watch a recording of the president’s ISIS speech or to take the “You Sound Off!” poll to let us know if you feel any safer, visit the link below.

Feel Any Safer After Obama’s ISIS Speech?

Video: Students Unaware Of Radical Islam Threat, Knowledgeable On Celebrity Nude Photos

Ahead of the anniversary of the 9/11 terror attacks, Young America’s Foundation (YAF) hit the campus of George Washington University Friday to find out what average American college students know about terror in the recent U.S. history and threats facing the nation today.

YAF asked randomly selected students the following questions in a video posted to its website:

-Next week marks the anniversary of a major national event do you know what that is?

-Do you know what ISIS is?

-Did you know that ISIS is responsible for the beheading of two American journalists? If so, could you name one?

-Are you aware of the celebrity “nude photo” hacking scandal? If so, could you name any of the celebrities involved?

The students’ answers revealed that current events about celebrity gossip is far more popular among some young Americans than more serious information.

While almost every student interviewed (29 of 30) could name one of the celebrities involved in the recent nude photo controversy, only four out of 30 were able to name one of the U.S. journalists recently beheaded by the Islamic State terror group. Likewise, just six of the 30 students interviewed were aware of the 9/11 anniversary.

YAF produced the video to bring awareness to its 9/11: Never Forget Project, an effort to memorialize 9/11 on campuses throughout the nation and remind students of the threat of radical Islam.

“With radical Islam continuing to terrorize the world, it is crucial that our young people and our schools remember the American lives lost and understand the challenges we face today,” a YAF spokesperson said.

Senate GOP Quash Democrats’ Attack On Free Speech

Senate Republicans on Thursday quashed a proposed Democratic constitutional amendment to limit campaign spending, an amendment GOP lawmakers have criticized as an assault on free speech.

The amendment targeted Supreme Court rulings in Citizens United v. Federal Election Commission and McCutcheon v. FEC, which say that certain campaign spending is protected under the 1st Amendment. Citizens United struck down a handful of restrictions that prohibited corporations from using general funds to support or oppose candidates; McCutcheon eliminated aggregate limits on individual contributions.

Senate Democrats fell short of the 60 votes needed to pass the amendment in a 54-42 vote that fell largely along party lines.

The amendment was not politically viable from the start, as it would have been impossible for Democrats to muster the required two-thirds support needed to pass the Senate. But in the name of political theater, nearly two dozen Republicans voted with Democrats to advance the amendment earlier this week in order to force a discussion of its merits.

Sen. Ted Cruz (R-Texas) on Tuesday called the proposal “bar none the most radical … that has been considered by the United States Senate in the time I have served.”

“The 1st Amendment is not about reasonable speech, the 1st Amendment was enacted to protect unreasonable speech. I, for one, certainly don’t want our speech limited to that speech that elected politicians in Washington think is reasonable,” he said.

Other Republicans noted that the Democratic proposals reeked of a political stunt to provide campaign fodder for the 2014 midterm elections.

“I have to say it’s a little disconcerting to see the Democrat-led Senate focusing on things like reducing free speech protections for the American people,” The Hill quoted Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-Ky.) saying Thursday. “This is what they chose to make their top legislative priority this week? Taking an eraser to the 1st Amendment.”

Feel Any Safer After Obama’s ISIS Speech?

President Barack Obama outlined what he claims is the White House’s official plan to deal with the Islamic State terror threat yesterday evening, but it’s unlikely that the president managed to reverse growing negative sentiment about his inability to handle the situation.

Multiple polls out this week reveal that a number of Americans are worried about the threat of terror plots on the U.S. and are unconvinced that the federal government is capable of defending the homeland, as the nation remembers the tragedy that occurred 13 years ago today.

A joint NBC News/Wall Street Journal poll released late Tuesday revealed that 47 percent of Americans believe the U.S. is less safe this September than at any other time since the 9/11 terror attacks. Just 26 percent said the nation is a safer place after more than a decade of civil liberties violations at home and unending wars in the Middle East.

Meanwhile, Gallup reported on Tuesday that faith in the federal government to respond to international issues is at a new low of 43 percent.

Gallup reported: “Americans’ confidence in the government to handle international problems slid 17 percentage points last year, when the Obama administration was planning military action against Syria. Russia later brokered an agreement to avert that action. Last year’s poll marked the first time that fewer than half of Americans trusted the federal government’s ability to deal with international threats. With the world stage seemingly more unstable now, the public’s trust has dipped an additional six percentage points this year.”

Over at CNN, two-thirds of respondents to a poll conducted by the news company said that they view ISIS as a “very” or “fairly” serious threat. Seventy-two percent want Congress to authorize new military force in the Middle East.

“[W]hile terrorism still ranks well below the economy as the issue most important to Americans, it is rising in standing,” CNN reported. “Just two years ago only 3% of Americans said it was their top issue; now 14% say it’s what they care most about.”

Discussing American anxiety over terror threats during an appearance on MSNBC’s “Morning Joe” Wednesday morning, journalist Chuck Todd warned that the tone of the speech could make or break the Democratic Party’s foreign policy image.

“He’s on the precipice of doing Jimmy Carter-like damage to the Democratic brand on foreign policy,” Todd said.

Here’s the president’s speech and an accompanying transcript as prepared for delivery:

My fellow Americans – tonight, I want to speak to you about what the United States will do with our friends and allies to degrade and ultimately destroy the terrorist group known as ISIL.

As Commander-in-Chief, my highest priority is the security of the American people. Over the last several years, we have consistently taken the fight to terrorists who threaten our country. We took out Osama bin Laden and much of al Qaeda’s leadership in Afghanistan and Pakistan. We’ve targeted al Qaeda’s affiliate in Yemen, and recently eliminated the top commander of its affiliate in Somalia. We’ve done so while bringing more than 140,000 American troops home from Iraq, and drawing down our forces in Afghanistan, where our combat mission will end later this year. Thanks to our military and counterterrorism professionals, America is safer.

Still, we continue to face a terrorist threat. We cannot erase every trace of evil from the world, and small groups of killers have the capacity to do great harm. That was the case before 9/11, and that remains true today. That’s why we must remain vigilant as threats emerge. At this moment, the greatest threats come from the Middle East and North Africa, where radical groups exploit grievances for their own gain. And one of those groups is ISIL – which calls itself the “Islamic State.”

Now let’s make two things clear: ISIL is not “Islamic.” No religion condones the killing of innocents, and the vast majority of ISIL’s victims have been Muslim. And ISIL is certainly not a state. It was formerly al Qaeda’s affiliate in Iraq, and has taken advantage of sectarian strife and Syria’s civil war to gain territory on both sides of the Iraq-Syrian border. It is recognized by no government, nor the people it subjugates. ISIL is a terrorist organization, pure and simple. And it has no vision other than the slaughter of all who stand in its way.

In a region that has known so much bloodshed, these terrorists are unique in their brutality. They execute captured prisoners. They kill children. They enslave, rape, and force women into marriage. They threatened a religious minority with genocide. In acts of barbarism, they took the lives of two American journalists – Jim Foley and Steven Sotloff.

So ISIL poses a threat to the people of Iraq and Syria, and the broader Middle East – including American citizens, personnel and facilities. If left unchecked, these terrorists could pose a growing threat beyond that region – including to the United States. While we have not yet detected specific plotting against our homeland, ISIL leaders have threatened America and our allies. Our intelligence community believes that thousands of foreigners – including Europeans and some Americans – have joined them in Syria and Iraq. Trained and battle-hardened, these fighters could try to return to their home countries and carry out deadly attacks.

I know many Americans are concerned about these threats. Tonight, I want you to know that the United States of America is meeting them with strength and resolve. Last month, I ordered our military to take targeted action against ISIL to stop its advances. Since then, we have conducted more than 150 successful airstrikes in Iraq. These strikes have protected American personnel and facilities, killed ISIL fighters, destroyed weapons, and given space for Iraqi and Kurdish forces to reclaim key territory. These strikes have helped save the lives of thousands of innocent men, women and children.

But this is not our fight alone. American power can make a decisive difference, but we cannot do for Iraqis what they must do for themselves, nor can we take the place of Arab partners in securing their region. That’s why I’ve insisted that additional U.S. action depended upon Iraqis forming an inclusive government, which they have now done in recent days. So tonight, with a new Iraqi government in place, and following consultations with allies abroad and Congress at home, I can announce that America will lead a broad coalition to roll back this terrorist threat.

Our objective is clear: we will degrade, and ultimately destroy, ISIL through a comprehensive and sustained counter-terrorism strategy.

First, we will conduct a systematic campaign of airstrikes against these terrorists. Working with the Iraqi government, we will expand our efforts beyond protecting our own people and humanitarian missions, so that we’re hitting ISIL targets as Iraqi forces go on offense. Moreover, I have made it clear that we will hunt down terrorists who threaten our country, wherever they are. That means I will not hesitate to take action against ISIL in Syria, as well as Iraq. This is a core principle of my presidency: if you threaten America, you will find no safe haven.

Second, we will increase our support to forces fighting these terrorists on the ground. In June, I deployed several hundred American service members to Iraq to assess how we can best support Iraqi Security Forces. Now that those teams have completed their work – and Iraq has formed a government – we will send an additional 475 service members to Iraq. As I have said before, these American forces will not have a combat mission – we will not get dragged into another ground war in Iraq. But they are needed to support Iraqi and Kurdish forces with training, intelligence and equipment. We will also support Iraq’s efforts to stand up National Guard Units to help Sunni communities secure their own freedom from ISIL control.

Across the border, in Syria, we have ramped up our military assistance to the Syrian opposition. Tonight, I again call on Congress to give us additional authorities and resources to train and equip these fighters. In the fight against ISIL, we cannot rely on an Assad regime that terrorizes its people; a regime that will never regain the legitimacy it has lost. Instead, we must strengthen the opposition as the best counterweight to extremists like ISIL, while pursuing the political solution necessary to solve Syria’s crisis once and for all.

Third, we will continue to draw on our substantial counterterrorism capabilities to prevent ISIL attacks. Working with our partners, we will redouble our efforts to cut off its funding; improve our intelligence; strengthen our defenses; counter its warped ideology; and stem the flow of foreign fighters into – and out of – the Middle East. And in two weeks, I will chair a meeting of the UN Security Council to further mobilize the international community around this effort.

Fourth, we will continue providing humanitarian assistance to innocent civilians who have been displaced by this terrorist organization. This includes Sunni and Shia Muslims who are at grave risk, as well as tens of thousands of Christians and other religious minorities. We cannot allow these communities to be driven from their ancient homelands.

This is our strategy. And in each of these four parts of our strategy, America will be joined by a broad coalition of partners. Already, allies are flying planes with us over Iraq; sending arms and assistance to Iraqi Security Forces and the Syrian opposition; sharing intelligence; and providing billions of dollars in humanitarian aid. Secretary Kerry was in Iraq today meeting with the new government and supporting their efforts to promote unity, and in the coming days he will travel across the Middle East and Europe to enlist more partners in this fight, especially Arab nations who can help mobilize Sunni communities in Iraq and Syria to drive these terrorists from their lands. This is American leadership at its best: we stand with people who fight for their own freedom; and we rally other nations on behalf of our common security and common humanity.

My Administration has also secured bipartisan support for this approach here at home. I have the authority to address the threat from ISIL. But I believe we are strongest as a nation when the President and Congress work together. So I welcome congressional support for this effort in order to show the world that Americans are united in confronting this danger.

Now, it will take time to eradicate a cancer like ISIL. And any time we take military action, there are risks involved – especially to the servicemen and women who carry out these missions. But I want the American people to understand how this effort will be different from the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan. It will not involve American combat troops fighting on foreign soil. This counter-terrorism campaign will be waged through a steady, relentless effort to take out ISIL wherever they exist, using our air power and our support for partner forces on the ground. This strategy of taking out terrorists who threaten us, while supporting partners on the front lines, is one that we have successfully pursued in Yemen and Somalia for years. And it is consistent with the approach I outlined earlier this year: to use force against anyone who threatens America’s core interests, but to mobilize partners wherever possible to address broader challenges to international order.

My fellow Americans, we live in a time of great change. Tomorrow marks 13 years since our country was attacked. Next week marks 6 years since our economy suffered its worst setback since the Great Depression. Yet despite these shocks; through the pain we have felt and the grueling work required to bounce back – America is better positioned today to seize the future than any other nation on Earth.

Our technology companies and universities are unmatched; our manufacturing and auto industries are thriving. Energy independence is closer than it’s been in decades. For all the work that remains, our businesses are in the longest uninterrupted stretch of job creation in our history. Despite all the divisions and discord within our democracy, I see the grit and determination and common goodness of the American people every single day – and that makes me more confident than ever about our country’s future.

Abroad, American leadership is the one constant in an uncertain world. It is America that has the capacity and the will to mobilize the world against terrorists. It is America that has rallied the world against Russian aggression, and in support of the Ukrainian peoples’ right to determine their own destiny. It is America – our scientists, our doctors, our know-how – that can help contain and cure the outbreak of Ebola. It is America that helped remove and destroy Syria’s declared chemical weapons so they cannot pose a threat to the Syrian people – or the world – again. And it is America that is helping Muslim communities around the world not just in the fight against terrorism, but in the fight for opportunity, tolerance, and a more hopeful future.

America, our endless blessings bestow an enduring burden. But as Americans, we welcome our responsibility to lead. From Europe to Asia – from the far reaches of Africa to war-torn capitals of the Middle East – we stand for freedom, for justice, for dignity. These are values that have guided our nation since its founding. Tonight, I ask for your support in carrying that leadership forward. I do so as a Commander-in-Chief who could not be prouder of our men and women in uniform – pilots who bravely fly in the face of danger above the Middle East, and service-members who support our partners on the ground.

When we helped prevent the massacre of civilians trapped on a distant mountain, here’s what one of them said. “We owe our American friends our lives. Our children will always remember that there was someone who felt our struggle and made a long journey to protect innocent people.”

That is the difference we make in the world. And our own safety – our own security – depends upon our willingness to do what it takes to defend this nation, and uphold the values that we stand for – timeless ideals that will endure long after those who offer only hate and destruction have been vanquished from the Earth.

May God bless our troops, and may God bless the United States of America.

So how did Obama do?

Obama, Democrats Advocate Arming Syrian Rebels As Key ISIS strategy

President Barack Obama is pushing for members of Congress to include in a stopgap spending bill a provision giving him the ability to arm and train Syrian rebels he believes can help defeat ISIS.

Obama and Vice President Joe Biden urged lawmakers Wednesday to include the Title X authority required for providing U.S. weapons and training to the rebels in a continuing resolution that Congress must pass before Sept. 30 to avoid a government shutdown.

Some hawkish members of Congress on both sides of the aisle have long said that Obama already has the authority he needs to launch military strikes on the ISIS terrorists.

“Go bomb these people, you don’t need an authorization to use military force,” Sen. Lindsey Graham (R-S.C.) told reporters at the Capitol.

But most lawmakers agree that congressional approval is required if Obama wishes to provide material support to the rebels.

“As commander in chief, the president has the authority he needs now to act against ISIS. I believe the vast majority of members of Congress agree with that. For now, it’s critical we support our commander in chief,” Majority Leader Harry Reid (D-Nev.) said from the Senate floor Wednesday.

Reid’s statement indicates that he isn’t likely to schedule a vote on U.S. combat operations against the ISIS terrorists very soon. The lawmaker has, however, strongly urged Congress to support the authorization to arm rebels.

“It’s clear to me that we need to train and equip Syrian rebels and other groups in the Middle East that need some help. It’s called ‘Title X’ authority. The president has tried to get that from us, and we should give it to him,” he said.

According to The Hill, Sen. Nancy Pelosi (D-Calif.) has expressed she similarly supports arming Syrian rebels “as soon as possible.”

“That’s for sure a must-pass bill in a [short window] of time, and I would hope that it would be on there,” Pelosi said.

The lawmaker later continued, “Congress can, at any time, put forth legislation to support the fight against ISIS. But the president has the authority he needs to do what he is doing now. Should a threshold be crossed, that’s a subjective judgment, and we’ll see [what Obama plans to do]. It’s better if we could have a joint effort of Congress and the executive branch.”

White House Admits That Obama’s ISIS Strategy Speech Is Just An Extension Of Non-Strategy

President Barack Obama suffered the wrath of political pundits, lawmakers and average Americans spanning the political divide when he announced last week that his administration didn’t have a concrete strategy for dealing with the Islamic State terror threat festering in the Middle East. The president now claims to have a plan. But as more details emerge about the strategy Obama will reveal Wednesday, it’s becoming increasingly likely that Americans who are hoping for a firm stance and a clear objective will be thoroughly disappointed.

The suggestion that Obama’s ISIS strategy will lack substance isn’t being — or, at least, wasn’t first — promulgated by conservative critics frothing at the mouth to attack the president at every turn. It was Josh Earnest, the president’s press secretary, who told reporters Tuesday that Americans shouldn’t listen to Obama’s Wednesday remarks with hopes of learning what exactly the president plans to do militarily, how much it will cost, how long it will take or whether he intends to consult Congress.

“In the context of the speech that the president is preparing for tomorrow, I wouldn’t expect something that’s quite that detailed,” Earnest said.

Earnest added that Obama “would certainly welcome support from members of Congress” and anticipates “intensive consultations” with lawmakers.

“I’m confident that the president and the congressional leaders will have the kind of meeting that reflects the seriousness of the situation,” Earnest said.

According to the official, lawmakers have been given access to classified information on the ISIS threat and are invited to attend a briefing on Thursday.

“That is an indication and just gives you a little snapshot of this administration’s commitment to robust consultation with Congress,” he said.

That commitment evidently doesn’t extend to answering further questions from lawmakers, as Earnest noted: “I assume that each of these members of Congress has a television … if they are unsatisfied with the consultations they have gotten, we strongly encourage them to tune into the president’s address.”

Earnest also suggested that the president won’t go so far as telling the public what he would like for Congress to authorize or providing a deadline for action.

So what does the White House want Americans to take away from Obama’s speech?

A little faith.

“I think the American people should be confident that their commander in chief and that their government is expending significant time and resources to ensure that we are using every tool at our disposal to protect the American people,” Earnest said.

America: Obama Isn’t A Strong Leader

In light of widespread American perception that President Barack Obama has failed to adequately respond to national problems such as illegal immigration and the threat of Islamic State terrorists, the commander in chief’s rating for “strong leadership” has reached a new low.

According to an ABC News/Washington Post poll released Tuesday, a majority (56 percent) of Americans disprove of the president’s handling of international affairs. Fifty-two percent reported that Obama has been too cautious in responding to ISIS and 65 percent want more airstrikes on positions held by the terror group in the Middle East.

Obama’s approval has also suffered a slide with regard to immigration, as just 31 percent are satisfied with his efforts to deal with the flood of illegal aliens coming to the U.S. compared to 59 percent who disapprove.

The polling data also vindicates Americans who have held steadfast to the belief that Obama’s White House exacerbates division in the country, noting: “Americans by a 17-point margin say Obama has done more to divide than to unite the country, a rating worse than George W. Bush’s early in his poorly rated second term — and one that’s deteriorated among Obama’s supporters as well as among his critics.”

Failures to respond adequately to pressing national concerns combined with a penchant for the politics of division, public opinion contends in the poll, does not a strong leader make: “Just 43 percent call Obama a strong leader, down 11 points in the past year to the fewest of his presidency. And his overall job approval rating, at 42 percent, is a point from its all-time low this spring.”

Nearing 9/11 Anniversary, Terror Dominates Political Talk

Despite U.S. anxiety over the Islamic State terror threat exacerbated by the 13th anniversary of the 9/11 attacks this week, House Foreign Affairs Committee Chairman Ed Royce (R-Calif.) said Monday that U.S. officials have received no intelligence indicating that the homeland is in immediate danger. Still, as President Barack Obama prepares to lay out a plan to respond to the ISIS threat, Capitol Hill is atwitter with talk of terror.

“No, we don’t have any information about credible planning for an attack,” Royce told CNN’s when asked if U.S. officials had been looking in to possible terror plots.

Even as intelligence officials don’t expect ISIS to cause problems in the homeland this week, talk of Islamists terror is dominating politics on the anniversary of the 9/11 terror attacks.

President Barack Obama is scheduled to kay out his plans for defeating ISIS in a speech to the American public on Wednesday.

“The next phase is now to start going on some offense,” Obama said Sunday. “We have to get an Iraqi government in place, and I’m optimistic that next week we should be able to get that done.”

The president said his plan to take on ISIS will include military, diplomatic and economic actions. The White House, however, is expected to stop short of putting U.S. boots on the ground, a decision supported by some lawmakers on both sides of the aisle.

“We certainly are not going to support U.S. infantry on the ground,” Royce said. “We are afraid of a quagmire — that’s why we don’t want U.S. infantry — we are tired of those in the region not carrying the burden.”

Sen. Diane Feinstein (D-Calif.) on Sunday congratulated the president for taking an offense position in dealing with ISIS.

“It’s overdue, but the President is now there,” she said.

The California Democrat, in a USA Today op-ed, suggested that the U.S. should leave open the possibility of a full military response to the ISIS threat.

“I understand that many Americans don’t want to become mired in another war. The conflicts in Afghanistan and Iraq have claimed thousands of American lives and cost more than $1 trillion,” she wrote. “But Americans need to understand ISIS’ degree of viciousness as well as what will happen in the absence of U.S. leadership and action.”

Meanwhile, The Hill newspaper has announced “The return of the politics of terror”:

Senate Democrats who are running for reelection in a tough political environment are sounding the alarm bell.

Sen. Al Franken (D-Minn.) fired off a letter to Attorney General Eric Holder demanding to know what the Justice Department is doing to intercept American jihadists returning from Syria.

“I was troubled by the president’s recent suggestion that the administration has not yet developed a comprehensive strategy to address the growing threat of ISIL’s activities in Syria,” he wrote, using an alternative acronym for ISIS.

Separately, Senate Republican Leader Mitch McConnell (Ky.) pounced on Obama’s remarks during a trip to Estonia where he characterized ISIS as a “manageable” threat.

“This is not in my view a manageable situation. They want to kill us,” he warned.

It was a rare instance when some Democrats sided with McConnell over the president.

“Do not believe ISIL is ‘manageable,’ agree these terrorists must be chased to the ‘gates of hell,’ ” tweeted Sen. Jeanne Shaheen (D-N.H.), who is facing a tough reelection race.

With some experts saying that Obama’s plan to respond to ISIS will take more years to complete than he has left in the Oval Office, the terror group is likely to continue as a main topic of political discussion leading into the 2014 midterms and looking ahead to the presidential election in 2016.

Cruz On ISIS Response: Secure The Borders, Strip Citizenship From Americans Who Join Jihadists

Sen.Ted Cruz (R-Texas) on Monday told fellow lawmakers that the nation’s borders must be secured to protect Americans from the possibility of the Islamic State terror group launching an attack on the homeland.

“It is beyond time for us to secure our borders,” he said on the Senate floor. “As long as our border isn’t secure, we’re making it far too easy for terrorists to follow through on promises [to attack the United States].”

Cruz’s remarks echo calls for heightened border security made by fellow Republicans Sen. Rand Paul (Ky.) and Texas Gov. Rick Perry in the wake of a resurgence of Islamist threats made against the U.S.

Last month, Perry said that he believes some ISIS militants may have already made their way across the southern border and into the country.

And Paul discussed the relationship between the terror threat and border security in a recent op-ed for Time magazine.

“Our border is porous, and the administration, rather than acting to protect it, instead ponders unconstitutional executive action, legalizing millions of illegal immigrants,” he said.

With his remarks Monday, Cruz criticized the White House’s apparent lack of a strategy to deal with ISIS and protect Americans from a possible terror attack.

“The objective here is not to make ISIS manageable,” he said. “The objective here is to protect the national security interest of the United States and to destroy terrorists who have declared jihad on our nation.”

In addition to making a call for tighter border security, the Texas lawmaker introduced the Expatriate Terrorist Act, legislation to make it easier to strip U.S. citizenship from individuals who leave the nation to fight alongside ISIS.

“ISIS is a study in oppression and brutality,” Cruz said. “We should take common-sense steps to make fighting for ISIS a formal renunciation of U.S. citizenship.”

Treasury Secy: Obama To Take Unilateral Action To Prevent Corporations Leaving U.S.

Treasury Secretary Jack Lew said Monday that President Barack Obama will soon take executive action to stop tax maneuvers known as inversions, when U.S. corporations relocate their headquarters in low-tax countries outside the U.S.

Lew said that, while the White House would prefer Congress to act on the matter, Obama “is clear-eyed about the possibility that Congress…may not move as quickly as necessary to respond to the growing wave of inversions.”

Lew added that the Treasury Department is currently working out a plan, which could include significant changes to tax rules, to make inversions less economically appealing for corporations.

Republican lawmakers have been vocally skeptical about whether the Treasury has the necessary Constitutional authority to make such rule changes, though Lew argued Monday that any action the administration takes “will have a strong legal and policy basis.”

Lew’s remarks came during a speech at the urban Institute in Washington.

Inversions made big headlines recently as the U.S. fast food restaurant Burger King announced a planned acquisition of the Canadian chain Tim Hortons.

Many Americans on the left decried the decision, calling the fast food restaurant’s pursuit of lower tax burdens economically unpatriotic.

“Burger King’s decision to abandon the United States means consumers should turn to Wendy’s Old Fashioned Hamburgers or White Castle sliders. Burger King has always said ‘Have it Your Way'; well my way is to support two Ohio companies that haven’t abandoned their country or customers,” Ohio Democratic Sen. Sherrod Brown said in a statement last month. “To help business grow in America, taxpayers have funded public infrastructure, workforce training, and incentives to encourage R&D and capital investment. Runaway corporations benefited from those policies but want U.S. companies to pay their share of the tab.”

On the other side of the argument, many in the GOP say that inversions could be avoided by restructuring U.S. corporate tax policies to make the nation’s companies more competitive on a global scale.

“Why are we trying to raise the bar so it will be harder for companies to leave the United States?” General Electric tax planning chief John Samuels said in an interview with Bloomberg. “Why aren’t we trying to do something to make it more attractive for them to stay here?”

Indeed, the nonprofit Tax Foundation noted in January:

In today’s globalized world, U.S. corporations are increasingly at a competitive disadvantage. They currently face the highest statutory corporate income tax rate in the world at 39.1 percent. This overall rate is a combination of our 35 percent federal rate and the average rate levied by U.S. states. Corporations headquartered in the 33 other industrialized countries that make up the Organization for Economic Cooperation and Development (OECD), however, face an average rate of 25 percent. Even corporations in high-tax European countries such as Belgium (34 percent), France (34.4 percent), and Sweden (22 percent) face much lower rates than those in the United States. Our largest trading partners—Canada, Japan, and the United Kingdom—have each cut their corporate tax rates over the past few years to become more competitive.

Still, fundamental differences in tax policy beliefs across party lines make it unlikely that Congress will work out a plan to revamp the tax code any time soon— the lack of momentum will likely be worsened by unilateral actions, according to some tax experts.

Obamacare Site Hacked

Reports surfaced Thursday that a hacker was able to breach the federal healthcare website many Americans have trusted with personal information to upload malicious software in an effort to use the website to launch cyberattacks. Officials reportedly only learned about the July 8 hacking of the website last week.

Via MarketWatch:

Investigators found no evidence that consumers’ personal data was taken in the breach, federal officials said. The hacker appears only to have accessed a server used to test code for The Department of Health and Human Services discovered the attack last week.

An HHS official said the attack appears to mark the first successful intrusion into the website, where millions of Americans bought insurance starting last year under the Affordable Care Act. It raised concerns among federal officials because of how easily the intruder gained access and how much damage could have occurred.

“Our review indicates that the server did not contain consumer personal information; data was not transmitted outside the agency, and the website was not specifically targeted,” the Department of Health and Human Services said in a written statement. “We have taken measures to further strengthen security.”

The breach of healthcare website, which has already been at the center of plenty of bad press, is likely to cause big problems for the Obama Administration ahead of the Nov. 15 kickoff for Obamacare open enrollment.

House Oversight and Government Reform Committee chairman Darrel Issa (R-Calif.) has called on Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services Administrator Marilyn Tavenner to testify before Congress about the website’s security.

“For nearly a year, the administration has dismissed concerns about the security of, even as it obstructed congressional oversight of the issue,” he said in a statement. “The committee will continue to push for answers from the administration and Administrator Tavenner must testify on the subject of transparency, accountability, and information security alongside the Government Accountability Office at our September 18th hearing.”

Connecticut Governor Applauds Anti-Gun Sculpture Made From Shredded Firearms

An anti-gun organization has placed 2,000 pounds of shredded firearm parts in the form of a massive sculpture depicting a handshake in the middle of a Connecticut park in an effort to draw awareness to gun violence in America.

The sculpture, according to its creator Michael Kalish told local reporters, “[Is] about breathing new life into something that was part of something so tragic.”

Kalish reportedly partnered up with Jessica Mindich, CEO of Jewelry for a Cause and founder of Raise the Caliber, to collect the firearms used for the project via gun buyback events.

From CT news Junkie:

Mindich was able to deliver 2,000 pounds of shredded illegal firearms to Kalish to help him create the sculpture. Kalish said they arrived by police escort at his studio.

There are parts from Uzis, Glocks, sniper rifles, AK-47s, and pistols incorporated into the sculpture. Mindich said she worried that she would “scar him [Kalish] with the angry energy and the pain coming from this metal.”

“Amazingly Michael absorbed all of it and churned it through his passion for this project to create the ‘Raise the Caliber’ tribute monument,” Mindich explained Wednesday during an unveiling ceremony in Bushnell Park.

Kalish said it took him two weeks to touch the first gun, but once he did he realized it was “about breathing new life into something that was part of something so tragic.”

The result of Kalish’s ability to touch all of those scary, scary firearms…


Connecticut Gov. Dannel Malloy, who attended the unveiling of the work, was impressed.

As was U.S. Sen. Richard Blumenthal, who marveled, “I had heard and read about it, but to touch it and actually feel the weapons… as an advocate to stop gun violence, it was profound.”

If you’d like to get in on the anti-gun art action, you can buy a piece of a shredded .357 from Mindich’s organization for the low price of $950.


Of course, there are better options if you’re fond of your Constitutional right to arm yourself and don’t have an irrational fear of inanimate objects incapable of doing harm without human error or evil (things that, unfortunately, no amount of activism can eradicate).

A few ways to get a little more, ahem, bang for your buck in the .357 variety:




Rand Paul Says It’s Time To Go After ISIS, But With Constitutional Restraint

Senator Rand Paul (R-Ky.), in a Thursday opinion column for Time, set out to dispel questions about whether his “predisposition to less intervention” applies to the Islamic State terrorists sweeping across the Middle East.

It doesn’t.

“Some pundits are surprised that I support destroying the Islamic State in Iraq and Greater Syria (ISIS) militarily. They shouldn’t be,” Paul begins in his piece. “I’ve said since I began public life that I am not an isolationist, nor am I an interventionist. I look at the world, and consider war, realistically and constitutionally.”

The senator contends that President Barack Obama’s foreign policy approach is the antithesis of the “peace through strength” military positioning that has been touted by U.S. politicians for decades. The phrase achieved meme status thanks to President Ronald Reagan.

Paul leaves little doubt that he is looking ahead to 2016, writing that “as Commander-in-Chief” he would restore U.S. “peace through strength.”

“As Commander-in-Chief, I would not allow our enemies to kill our citizens or our ambassadors,” Paul writes.

Conjuring Obama’s recent remarks that the White House currently lacks a clear strategy to deal with ISIS Paul writes, “This administration’s dereliction of duty has both sins of action and inaction, which is what happens when you are flailing around wildly, without careful strategic thinking.”

The senator contends that Obama should have already gone to Congress, even if it meant calling lawmakers back to Washington during recess, with a clear plan for military and diplomatic action in the region.

“The immediate challenge is to define the national interest to determine the form of intervention we might pursue,” Paul writes. “I was repeatedly asked if I supported airstrikes. I do — if it makes sense as part of a larger strategy.

“There’s no point in taking military action just for the sake of it, something Washington leaders can’t seem to understand. America has an interest in protecting more than 5,000 personnel serving at the largest American embassy in the world in northern Iraq. I am also persuaded by the plight of massacred Christians and Muslim minorities.”

Among the steps Paul suggests are arming U.S. allies such as the Kurds and other stable potential partners in the region. The Senator also suggests that the U.S. take steps to restore order in Libya, a terrorist “sanctuary,” and Syria, “a jihadist wonderland.” Both of those countries were destabilized by U.S.-aided rebels in recent years.

“To develop a realistic strategy, we need to understand why the threat of ISIS exists. Jihadist Islam is festering in the region. But in order for it to grow, prosper, and conquer, it needs chaos,” Paul writes.

The junior Republican also calls for defensive actions such as securing U.S. borders to prevent ISIS infiltration and revoking the passports of U.S. citizens determined to be fighting with ISIS. He also wants a full review of immigration and visa policies.

Paul’s strong call for the White House to seek Congressional approval to clean up the region and launch further attacks against ISIS has drawn criticism from pundits who accuse the lawmaker of flip-flopping on the issue of military intervention. But, taken in full context, Paul’s positions on eradicating ISIS don’t interfere with his conviction against unnecessary military force if the official line on ISIS’s gains, actions and threats is accurate.

The terror group has publicly executed two American citizens, actively recruited Westerners to its cause and vowed to drown the U.S. in blood. Furthermore, the group’s territorial gains, fundraising ability and existing infrastructure and military supplies have it on course to achieve its goal of establishing the caliphate it seeks, essentially an Islamic nation state to serve as home base for large-scale international jihad.

With Republican lawmakers vowing to act if Obama doesn’t address the ISIS threat, Paul appears to be positioning himself to call for a Constitutional path to military action. The true test of whether the Kentucky lawmaker’s dedication to taking on threats to the nation in a legal manner will be in his response to legislative proposals like Rep. Frank Wolf’s (R-Va.) bill to authorize military action anywhere the president claims terror exists.

More on Wolf’s bill here: Lawmaker Introduces War Anywhere, Anytime Bill Because… TERRORISTS

The Federal Reserve Thinks You’re ‘Hoarding’ Cash

Economic officials claim that Americans are “hoarding” money in an analysis out from the Federal Reserve Bank of St. Louis that attempts to explain why inflation is lower than expected even after the central bank  pumped massive amounts of money into the economy.

The authors of the Fed paper note that the central bank’s easy money policy in recent years has failed to produce expected levels of GDP growth and accompanying inflation.

“The answer lies in the private sector’s dramatic increase in their willingness to hoard money instead of spend it. Such an unprecedented increase in money demand has slowed down the velocity of money,” the Fed officials say in the paper.

The economists say in their research that every dollar in the monetary base was spent only 4.4 times in the economy during the past year as of 2014. Just prior to the economic recession that number, known as the velocity of the monetary base, stood at 17.3.

“This implies that the unprecedented monetary base increase driven by the Fed’s large money injections through its large-scale asset purchase programs has failed to cause at least a one-for-one proportional increase in nominal GDP,” the Fed researchers say. “Thus, it is precisely the sharp decline in velocity that has offset the sharp increase in money supply, leading to the almost no change in nominal GDP.”

While the economists say private “hoarding” of money likely resulted from a gloomy economic outlook coupled with low interest rates forcing investors to adjust portfolios in favor of “liquid money and away from interest-bearing assets such as government bonds.”

“In this regard, the unconventional monetary policy has reinforced the recession by stimulating the private sector’s money demand through pursuing an excessively low interest rate policy (i.e., the zero-interest rate policy),” the Fed officials write.

As Obama Focuses On Aiding Illegal Aliens, Americans Call For Stronger Border Security

President Barack Obama’s amnesty-laden immigration policy is out of touch with a growing number of Americans who, since last year, have increasingly favored strengthening border security and enforcement of existing immigration laws.

Polling data out this week from Pew Research reveals that 33 percent of Americans now feel that the federal government’s immigration priority should be securing the border and enforcing existing immigration laws. That’s compared to 23 percent who believe that the focus should be on making it easier for people coming to the U.S. illegally to stay.

While the number of Americans supporting heavy government focus on creating an easier path to citizenship for illegal aliens has changed little since the early days of Obama’s second term last February, support for stronger enforcement and border security is up from 25 percent.

The changing views on the importance of securing the nation’s borders and enforcing existing immigration laws are likely a direct result of the current immigration crisis involving thousands of new immigrants, most of them unaccompanied minors, flooding across the southern border. The illegal immigration influx has overwhelmed border authorities and created a massive backlog in immigration courts.

President Obama, speaking at a press conference last week, indicated that his plans to take unilateral action on immigration reform are on hold for now. An unnamed White House official familiar with the Obama administration’s immigration plans said that the president will likely wait until after the November midterm elections to act.

Lawmaker Introduces War Anywhere, Anytime Bill Because… TERRORISTS

Representative Frank Wolf (R-Va.) wants to “end any ambiguity about the president’s authority – or the Congress’ support – for a U.S.-led international coalition to disrupt and eliminate ISIS” with a piece of legislation that appears to eliminate constraints on the White House’s ability to strike just about anyone, anywhere it pleases.

Wolf’s bill to “authorize the use of military force against international terrorism” targets by name no fewer than six terror groups (the Islamic State in Iraq and Syria (ISIS) and al Qaeda and its affiliates, like al Nusra, Ansar al Sharia, al Shabaab and Boko Haram) operating in a spate of countries.

Furthermore, it leaves the door open for the president, working with NATO and regional allies, “to use all necessary and appropriate force against those countries, organizations, or persons” associated with the aforementioned terror groups or “any other emerging regional terrorist groups that share common violent extremist ideology with such terrorist groups, regional affiliates, or emerging terrorist groups.”

“For far too long the Obama Administration and the Congress have been debating whether or not authority exists for action to address this threat,” Wolf said.  “This resolution would provide clear authority for the president and our military, working with coalition partners, to go after these terrorists, whether in Syria, Iraq or elsewhere.  We cannot continue operating on outdated authorities passed 13 years ago; it is time for this Congress to vote.”

Read the full proposal here.

The rife ambiguity in who, where and for what reason Wolf’s bill would give the government authority to kill appears aimed at eliminating the government’s need to provide justification for controversial military actions in many of the same ways post-9/11 legislation removed barriers for surveillance.

In other words, the U.S. is already doing much of what Wolf’s legislation proposes but the legislation would effectively do away with certain political consequences of greasing the wheels of the military-industrial complex.

Wolf’s legislation could be the result of the lawmaker’s legitimate fear of ISIS, or the desire to authorize executive authority to wage perpetual war on an ever changing, ever present and easy to create faceless enemy could come from a place of far greater political purity.

Here’s a look at the biggest employers in Virginia’s 10th congressional district, Wolf’s home turf, courtesy of the state’s labor market information website.  You know, just for fun:



Is It Time For A Constitutional Convention? Tom Coburn Thinks So

Outgoing Senator Tom Coburn (R-Okla.), a tenacious budget hawk, says that he wants to lead an effort to organize a national convention to change the U.S. Constitution.

Citing ongoing gridlock in Washington, Coburn told The Hill in a recent interview that he hopes to convince the two-thirds of states required by Article V of the U.S. Constitution to support a Constitutional convention.

“I think [George] Mason was prophetic that we would devolve to where the federal government became too powerful, too big and too unwieldy. That’s why he put Article V in,” Coburn told the newspaper.

Coburn said he feels a convention is necessary to amend the law of the land in ways that members of Congress will not.

“I think we ought to have a balanced budget amendment, I think we ought to have term limits. I think we ought to put a chokehold on regulation and re-establish the powers of the Congress,” he said.

Coburn contends that amending the Constitution via Article V would create an opportunity to restore certain Congressional powers that have been usurped by the executive over the decades.

The Hill points out that the 17 amendments to the Constitution since the 1791 adoption of the Bill of Rights were made after the proposals won two-thirds support in Congress—an unlikely occurrence in today’s political environment—and were ratified by three-quarters of the states.

And some critics say Coburn’s plan is overkill, as Washington Post politics writer Phillip Bump notes:

There’s clearly a kill-a-fly-with-a-hand-grenade aspect to this. The 113th Congress that will be Coburn’s last has enacted 163 laws since January 2013 — which, while low, is still about six times the number of constitutional amendments. That’s because constitutional amendments were never intended to be a form of legislation; the Founding Fathers assumed Congress would do that to the public’s satisfaction, or the public would elect a new Congress. That thinking may have been flawed. Control of the Senate might switch after November. Control of the House will not — and nearly all of the House incumbents will return to Washington.

If the lawmaker were successful in his bid to foment a Constitutional convention, there would be potential for all manner of political confusion as Congress attempted to find its role in the process and arguments ensued over which issues could be up for debate and how they would be presented.