Officials say ISIS, Ebola are coming across southern border

Representative Duncan Hunter (R-Calif.) said this week that Islamic State fighters are already making their way into the U.S. across the nation’s poorly defended southern border. The lawmaker said that at least 10 people with ties to the terror group have been apprehended so far.

“There’s nobody talking about it,” Hunter said during an interview on Fox. “If you really want to protect Americans from ISIS, you secure the southern border. It’s that simple… They caught them at the border, therefore we know that ISIS is coming across the border. If they catch five or ten of them then you know there’s going to be dozens more that did not get caught by the border patrol.”

The House Armed Services Committee member said that his information on ISIS’s would-be infiltrators comes directly from U.S. Customs and Border Protection officials.

The lawmaker described ISIS terrorists’ attempts to enter the U.S. as a military assault.

“ISIS doesn’t have a navy, they don’t have an air force, they don’t have nuclear weapons. The only way that ISIS is going to harm Americans is by coming through the southern border — which they already have,” he said.

“They aren’t flying B-1 bombers, bombing American cities,” Hunter added. “But they are going to be bombing American cities coming across from Mexico… All you have to do is ask the border patrol.”

Hunter’s isn’t the first lawmaker claim that terrorists are trying to get into the country over the porous southern border. In September, Representative Jason Chaffetz (R-Utah) informed Americans that four known terrorists were apprehended at border checkpoints.

Still, the Department of Homeland Security said that Hunter’s claims are untrue.

“The suggestion that individuals who have ties to ISIL have been apprehended at the Southwest border is categorically false, and not supported by any credible intelligence or the facts on the ground,” a DHS spokesman said in a statement Wednesday. “DHS continues to have no credible intelligence to suggest terrorist organizations are actively plotting to cross the southwest border.”

The ISIS threat isn’t the only issue that has some Americans discussing border security amid continued widespread concern over a possible Ebola outbreak in the U.S.

Via ValleyCentral.com:

During the 2013 fiscal year, national statistics from the U.S. Department of Homeland Security website show Border Patrol agents apprehended 112 immigrants from Guinea, 231 from Liberia and 145 immigrants from Sierra Leone, which are the three countries currently experiencing the most cases of Ebola.

But the White House’s Ebola strategy, like its ISIS strategy, is not about containment, as noted by Secretary of State John Kerry on Wednesday.

During a press conference about the U.S. Ebola patient’s death, he said: “We need airlines to continue to operate in West Africa, and we need borders to remain open. And we need to strengthen the medivac capacity. We need countries to contribute for Ebola treatment centers and we need other African countries with the capacity to send responders to join the effort and we need to make sure the health-care workers who go properly trained, properly equipped, and supported in order to prevent additional infections.”

Even Jimmy Carter is shaking his head over Obama’s foreign policy failures

Since he tried to pin the blame for the Islamic State’s rise on intelligence officials, President Barack Obama’s foreign policy failures have been front and center in headlines as Americans, government officials and the punditry push back. Now Obama is receiving criticism from a source that makes him appear more inept than ever in handling foreign affairs: former President Jimmy Carter.

In an interview with the Fort Worth Star-Telegram this week, Carter noted the intense criticism some of Obama’s former administration officials have had for the president in recent weeks. Carter also said that it is hard to understand what Obama’s foreign policy vision for the Middle East is, which likely contributes to former administration officials’ dim view of the president’s crisis management.

“It changes from time to time,” Carter said. “I noticed that two of his secretaries of defense, after they got out of office, were very critical of the lack of positive action on the part of the president.”

Former Defense Secretary Leon Panetta said during an interview this week that he believes Obama has “given up.” Panetta is currently in the process of promoting his new book, “Worthy Fights: A Memoir of Leadership in War and Peace,” which also contains criticisms of the president.

As an aside, the situation is actually a little worse than Carter said. Foreign Policy magazine recently pointed out that Obama is also likely having a tough time jiving with senior military officers who are currently still serving:

In the last couple of weeks, several prominent commentators have urged Gen. Martin Dempsey, the chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff, and other senior military to resign in protest of President Obama’s poor leadership of the various wars in Iraq, Syria, and Afghanistan. If they do not resign, critics argue, the senior officers become complicit in a doomed strategy.

Obama’s disagreements with his senior military advisers and his refusal to take some of their advice are long-standing and likely play in to another of Carter’s criticisms.

Carter said he believes the ISIS situation in Iraq and Syria is complicated, but he also contends that circumstances would be different had Obama acted more quickly. Of course, that would have required him to have acted on the advice of many of his top commanders.

“First of all, we waited too long. We let the Islamic state build up its money, capability and strength and weapons while it was still in Syria,” he said. “Then when [ISIS] moved into Iraq, the Sunni Muslims didn’t object to their being there and about a third of the territory in Iraq was abandoned.”

And the former president — like almost everyone outside of Obama and his press handlers — also believes that American boots will be needed on the ground to defeat ISIS in Iraq and Syria.

“If we keep on working in Iraq and have some ground troops to follow up when we do our bombing, there is a possibility of success,” he said.

“You have to have somebody on the ground to direct our missiles and to be sure you have the right target,” Carter added, speaking about Syria. “Then you have to have somebody to move in and be willing to fight ISIS after the strikes.”

 

Obama is a failed president

The list of people who believe President Barack Obama is calling the right shots from the Oval Office appears to be shrinking daily. He’s losing favor with American voters, former administration officials and even leftist pundits.

A majority of Americans believe the president is a “failure.”

An IBD/TIPP poll out this week finds that a 53 percent of Americans categorize Obama’s tenure in the White House as a “failure,” compared to 41 percent who rate the president a success. Six percent of those polled couldn’t decide.

Among independents, Obama is viewed as a “failure” 58 percent of the time.

Young Americans 18 to 24 are the most likely to say Obama is a successful president at 77 percent. Obama does the poorest among the 25- to 44-year-olds currently battling economic troubles and a bad job situation; they call the president a failure 59 percent of the time.

The poll also finds that voter’s remorse is on the rise.

IBD notes: “…[O]nly 43% say they would vote for Obama if the 2012 election were held today; 49% say they’d vote for Mitt Romney. Only 46% of those from states that Obama carried two years ago say they’d do so again, given another chance.”

Former Defense Secretary Leon Panetta thinks Obama has “given up.”

Panetta, joining MSNBC’s Andrea Mitchell Tuesday, said that Obama should be tackling the nation’s problems head-on in the remaining years of his presidency. Instead, the former Defense and CIA official said, Obama has given up.

“He approaches things like a law professor in presenting a logic of his position. There is nothing wrong with that. We want to have a president who thinks through the issues. My experience in Washington is that logic alone doesn’t work. Once you lay out a position, you are going to roll up your sleeves and you have to fight to get it done. That is key in Washington. In order for presidents to succeed, they cannot just — when they run into problems, step back and give up.”

“There is a feeling and I have a feeling that the leadership and the president have given up on the big issues facing this country whether it’s immigration or a budget deal or infrastructure funding or trade or energy. there is a sense that you can’t deal with that. This country needs that. They can’t give up.”

The Washington Posts’ Dana Milbank, on Monday, noted that Panetta is one of many Obama “subordinates” currently lashing out at the president in a column titled, “Leon Panetta, other former Obama subordinates show stunning disloyalty.”

“Whatever causes Obama’s difficulty inspiring loyalty,” Milbanks writes, “his failure is delighting conservatives and Republicans.”

Indeed.

Even Piers Morgan wants to know: “What the hell is Obama Doing?…”

Morgan took Obama to task the “terrible imagery” provided to Americans due to the president’s apparent aloofness in a recent exchange with Fox’s Sean Hannity.

Morgan, like other administration critics, pointed to a lack of leadership in a discussion about ISIS.

Here’s a partial transcript of the conversation:

MORGAN: And it’s that lack of decision-making that I think leads to the issues we now face.

HANNITY: You know what frustrates me, Fort Hood is still officially in this country an example of workplace violence. What happened in Oklahoma, you’ve watched — you’ve read this guy’s Facebook page. It’s all about jihad. They won’t say it was an act of terrorism either. ISIS is not Islamic according to the president. And we’re not at war with ISIS even though we’re bombing them.

MORGAN: And this is all just nonsense rhetoric, because ISIS clearly is an Islamic fundamentalist organization. It’s a terror group. And when they start beheading American and British citizens in these gruesome snuff movies that they’re making and releasing them to the world taunting —

HANNITY: Horrible.

MORGAN: — taunting these countries, it’s not good enough to simply say, yes, I’m really upset about this beheading, and then seven minutes later, as Obama did, go to a golf course and be seen goofing around on the first tee. That really hit home to me. Someone did a survey this week. They counted up the number of hours that Obama has been playing golf since he was president. It was about 850 hours if you base it on a five-hour round.

HANNITY: More than the time he spent in his intelligence briefings.

MORGAN: He attended 42 percent of his daily briefings, total hours of that 650 or something. He spent 200 more hours whacking a golf ball than attending his daily briefings. Now, it’s not as simplistic as that. Obviously he would get other briefings. But such terrible imagery to me, and I’ve basically been reasonably supportive of him. What the hell is he doing to groups like ISIS and others intent on causing America and Britain serious harm?

To answer Morgan’s question, Obama spent Tuesday afternoon fundraising for Democrats.

Via USA Today:

After a morning of meetings at the White House, Obama will travel to Democratic Party fundraising events in New York and Connecticut.
Two afternoon events in New York City will benefit the Democratic National Committee.
After those, Obama heads to a private home in Greenwich, Conn., for a fundraiser on behalf of the Democratic Senatorial Campaign Committee.

The president, it seems, is a better salesman than he is an executive.

McConnell challenger claims to be a friend of coal; her supporters say she’ll ‘f*ck’ the industry just after election

SCREENSHOT: Grimes in a campaign ad pandering to gun owners.

Project Veritas’ James O’Keefe, whose curriculum vitae includes taking down ACORN and crossing the U.S. border from Mexico dressed as Osama bin Laden to make a point, has released a damning video taking on another target: Democratic Senate candidate Allison Lundergan Grimes.

Grimes is currently vying for Republican Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell’s Kentucky seat with a strategy aimed at painting herself as a moderate Democrat who is a friend to right-leaning voters on guns, coal and other traditionally conservative issues.

Grimes has made a point of lashing out at McConnell, claiming that he’s personally taken big bucks from anti-coal groups in the state.

“What Mitch McConnell doesn’t want you to know is that he and his wife personally took $600,000 from anti-coal groups, including New York City Mayor Michael Bloomberg’s anti-coal foundation,” proclaims a Grimes campaign ad.

In fact, Grime’s allegation stems from the fact that McConnell’s wife, Elaine Chao, was paid about $685,000 for serving on the board of directors of Wells Fargo bank.

The Washington Post’s Glenn Kessler explains in a fact check wherein he assigns the Grimes campaign four Pinnocchios for the ad:

Wait a second. Well Fargo is a bank. Why does the ad call it an “anti-coal group”? The Grimes campaign justifies this on the grounds that in a 2013 report Wells Fargo said that it had been curtailing its financing of “mountain top removal” (MTR) coal operations.

But Jennifer G. Dunn, a Wells Fargo spokeswoman, said Wells Fargo adopted this policy in 2006 — five years before Chao joined the board. It was just not formally mentioned in a Wells Fargo external document until 2013, she said.

That she lied about McConnell’s anti-coal sentiments doesn’t have much bearing on whether Grimes is a friend of coal herself, but the public musings of her supporters may offer some insight.

O’Keefe, for a recent Veritas video, placed operatives “undercover in multiple Grimes campaign offices to determine if her opposition to the core principles of her own political party is genuine or an intentional deception.”

The five undercover reporters gathered footage of at least five Kentucky Democratic Party members expressing confidence that Grimes is lying to garner votes in a state that is powered by coal.

Here’s the footage:

In a separate video, Veritas infiltrated a Grimes fundraiser in New York attended by “Hollywood mogul Harvey Weinstein, real estate tycoon Niko Elmaleh and New York Knicks owner James Dolan.”

The best line comes from Grimes benefactor Elmaleh, who said that the candidate will “f*ck” the coal industry after being elected.

Here’s the video and a partial transcript of the Veritas exchange with the donor:

Veritas: So you know that Alison will help us stop coal?

Niko Elmaleh: Come on Dude. What do you think?

Veritas: I think yes, but I haven’t heard it straight up.

Niko Elmaleh: She can’t say it straight up.

Veritas: She supports big coal.

Niko Elmaleh: No. She’s going to f*ck ’em as soon as she gets elected.

Veritas: Really?

Niko Elmaleh: Yeah. Take my word for it. Here. Take my word for it.

Niko Elmaleh: She’s going to have to do what she has to do to get elected and then she’s going to f*ck them.

Niko Elmaleh: Okay trust me. She’s a killer.

By positioning herself as friendly to certain conservative causes, Grimes has run the perfect campaign to outmatch a weak-willed Republican like McConnell. After all, members of his own party are some of his harshest critics. But with Grimes supporters so sure that her claims are disingenuous, right-leaning voters thinking about casting a vote in her direction to teach McConnell a lesson are likely to get burned.

H/T: Project Veritas

 

Already reaching billions of dollars, the price of ISIS fight will increase

President Barack Obama has adamantly — if slightly dishonestly — claimed that there will be no U.S. boots on the ground battling Islamic State terrorists in Iraq and Syria. But he never said the U.S.’s latest bout of military adventurism aimed at cleaning up problems created by failed foreign policy would be cheap.

According to numbers compiled by the Pentagon and first reported by The Associated Press, the U.S. has spent more than $1.1 billion in taxpayer money on military operations in Iraq and Syria since June. A sharp spike in the cost of military maneuvers in the region occurred in August after the president authorized airstrikes in the region without congressional consent.

AP’s breakdown of the ISIS war spending shows that the $1.1 billion includes heavy spending on firepower — $62 million alone went to Navy munitions for purchases including 47 Tomahawk missiles fired at the al-Qaida linked Khorasan Group.

There are no hard numbers on the daily cost of the conflict, but the Pentagon estimates that taxpayers are currently funding a $7 million- to $10 million-a-day conflict.

Also, though “American forces will not be returning to combat in Iraq,” AP reports:

There are currently more than 1,300 U.S. troops in Iraq, including security personnel, staff at two joint operations centers in Baghdad and Irbil, and advisory teams that are working with Iraqi brigades and headquarters units.

And judging by the musings of people familiar with the conflict in the Middle East, Americans should likely expect more troops to be deployed to the region in time.

Former Obama administration CIA Director and Defense Secretary Leon Panetta came out of the woodwork this week as he did interviews for his new book and urged the president to “jump in the ring” and fight the nation’s problems head on. That includes ISIS.

“I think [Obama’s] hope was that somehow this thing would all go in the right direction. But the fact was, unless we had that presence there, we would lose the leverage on Maliki to keep them in the right place,” Panetta said of the recent turmoil in the Middle East on the “Today Show.”

The former defense secretary added that the president should have kept as many as 10,000 U.S. troops in Iraq.

“I think we’re looking at a 30-year war history here, in which it’s going to take a long time to be able to go after these elements,” Panetta also said, contending that to defeat ISIS “you need to have some boots on the ground.”

Panetta’s new memoir, titled “Worthy Fights,” came under pre-emptive criticism from the Obama administration, likely for passages like this: “Too often in my view the president relies on the logic of a law professor rather than the passion of a leader.”

Panetta’s calls for more troop involvement echo the opinions of top Pentagon officials like Joint Chiefs of Staff Chairman Gen. Martin Dempsey, who recently insinuated that further troop involvement could become a reality without clarifying how many would hail from the U.S.

“There has to be a ground component in the campaign,” Dempsey recently said.

“We need 12,000 to 15,000 to reclaim lost territory,” he said.

In other words, Americans should likely prepare for the current conflict in the Middle East to become far more expensive in terms of life, limb and taxpayer money.

‘Hero’ could face felony charges for defending himself, friends in gun-free zone

A Texas man heralded as a hero by the owner of a bar that was held up by armed robbers early Saturday morning could face felony charges because he thwarted the criminals in a gun-free zone with his own concealed weapon.

EJ’s Place owner Jenny O’Donnell told the Houston Chronicle that four armed men entered her business around 2:30 a.m. on Saturday and ordered patrons to the floor as they demanded money.

A patron sitting at the bar, however, stopped the robbery when he pulled his own handgun and fired on the suspects. After a brief exchange of gunfire, the unidentified patron had killed two suspects and sent the other two fleeing.

“That man was a hero,” said O’Donnell. “We could have had some bodies.”

The unidentified man, who another customer told KHOU usually waits around until closing time to walk female bartenders to their cars, also left the scene — likely because of a sign on the bar window pointing out that it is a felony to possess a firearm in Texas bars.

Regardless of the law, patrons and residents who live near the bar told local media that they, like the owner, are grateful that the armed Samaritan was there.

“He has his right to protect himself and his family and his friends,” resident Charles Webb told KHOU.

Danielle Russell, who lives near the bar, added, “Being a mom, yeah, I would feel safe knowing that he has a gun and he’s going to protect me in a robbery.”

At the time of this article, authorities had not yet identified the armed patron.

“We’re still trying to determine who he is, and why he left the scene,” said Harris County Sheriff’s Sgt. Robert Spurgeon.

According to O’Donnell, there is surveillance footage of the incident.

Authorities are also investigating whether the criminals the bar patron dispatched were involved in other violent crimes in the area.

H/T: Guns.com

Anger at president reaches new high as faith in government falls

New polling data suggest that anger at President Barack Obama and a growing distrust of big government could spell trouble for Democratic lawmakers heading into the 2014 midterm elections.

A new Gallup poll reports that 32 percent of likely voters will head to the polls this fall to send a message of opposition to the president and his Democratic colleagues. Just 20 percent say that they will go to the polls to signal support.

Opposition to the president is at a 16-year high. For comparison, opposition to the commander in chief is 13 points higher than during Bill Clinton’s sex scandal and 2 points higher than George Bush’s final year.

Gallup reports:

A majority of Republican registered voters, 58 percent, say they will be sending a message of opposition to Obama with their vote this fall. In contrast, 38 percent of Democratic voters say they will support the president. Rather than supporting Obama, most Democrats, 53 percent, say they will not be sending a message with their vote.

Democrats are a bit less likely now (38 percent) than in 2010 (45 percent) to say they will be sending a message of support to Obama, while Republican opposition to the president is the same.

Meanwhile, numbers from The Associated Press show that more than half of Americans feel that the government is too incompetent to handle economic and other problems facing the nation.

Just 2 percent of respondents reported that they are “extremely confident” that Washington can fix the economy.

When it comes to protecting Americans from terror threats, people on both sides of the political divide said they are losing faith.

“Democrats tend to express more faith in the government’s ability to protect them than do Republicans,” the AP reported. “Yet even among Democrats, just 27 percent are confident the government can keep them safe from terrorist attacks. Fewer than 1 in 5 say so on each of the other issues, including climate change.”

Officials discuss Ebola, ISIS, the Secret Service on Sunday

Guests on Sunday’s political talk shows covered everything from the Secret Service and the economy to the continuing Islamic State terror threat, but the possibility of a U.S. Ebola outbreak took center stage.

Ebola

Dr. Tom Frieden, the director of the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), appeared on CNN’s “State of the Union” to discuss the case of a man in Texas who tested positive for Ebola, sparking national concern.

“As of now, the man in Dallas [Texas], who’s fighting for his life, is the only patient to develop Ebola in the U.S. We know that there are going to be other concerns and rumors and we’ll track everyone one of those down. We want people to be concerned, but appropriately concerned, about people who have the travel and the symptoms that might suggest they need testing for Ebola, and if they do we’ll get that testing done promptly,” Frieden said.

Senior White House adviser Dan Pfeiffer, meanwhile, appeared on NBC’s “Meet the Press” to assure the nation that the Obama administration is doing everything it can to stop Ebola “at its source.”

“We’ve been preparing for this eventuality since the outbreak in West Africa started seven months ago,” Pfeiffer said.

The top administration official also argued that Americans should continue to trust government’s ability to handle Ebola and other crises. Pfeiffer also said that the U.S. is better prepared to handle Ebola cases than any country in the world.

“I do understand that people have a growing skepticism of institutions for a long time including government. But people should know that in every one of those situations you mentioned, where a problem arises we deal with it quickly, we deal with it forcefully to make sure it doesn’t happen,” he said.

On CBS’s “Face the Nation,” Anthony Fauci, Allergy and Infectious Diseases Institutes director at the National Institutes of Health, criticized lawmakers who have suggested that the government is underestimating the domestic Ebola threat. Sen. Rand Paul (R-Ky.) recently said that federal officials are putting Americans in danger by underestimating contagion risks; he has also expressed concerns about the safety of U.S. personnel President Obama ordered to West Africa.

“I don’t think that there’s data to tell us that that’s a correct statement, with all due respect,” Fauci said of Paul’s remarks. “We have had experience since 1976 with how Ebola is transmitted. And it is clear that it’s transmitted by direct contact with body fluids, blood, diarrhea, vomit, or what have you.

“And there’s no indication that there is another insidious way that it’s transmitted that we’re missing because of the experience that we’ve had. So, we’ve really gotta go with the evidence base. There’s always hypothesis and surmising about that, but there’s no scientific evidence,” he added.

Secret Service

On “Face the Nation,” Democratic Representative Elijah Cummings (Md.) said that “all Americans” should be concerned about the recent Secret Service security breaches.

“I think it’s very bad. And I think there’s culture that has developed, the culture of complacency — we see it with these security breaches,” he said. “Morale is down. And we’ve had a series of events … that should alarm all Americans. And certainly the question has become: Is this the Secret Service that we all thought it was? And I’m beginning to wonder about that.”

Cummings added that he doesn’t believe the Secret Service’s problems will end with the ouster of former director Julia Pierson.

The lawmaker also refuted the theory that the Secret Service’s recent complacency has anything to do with the president’s race.

“We have information that this goes all the way back to the bush administration, a lot of the problems that we are talking about now. It’s just that they are coming to light. A lot of these things existed before our President Obama,” he said. “And back to the present situation, the President’s people have told me that they feel very comfortable, particularly with [Interim Director Joseph] Clancy that is now come in to take over the secret service. So he feels good about it. Most importantly, the First Lady feels very good about it.”

Senator Kelly Ayotte (R-N.H.), a member of the Senate Homeland Security Committee, said that the Secret Service should be subjected to an independent review.

“I think this needs a fresh view like the VA, and an independent review,” Ayotte said on “Fox News Sunday.”

Like Cummings, Ayotte contends that the Secret Service’s problems extend far beyond the agency’s leadership.

“[I]t goes beyond the head of the agency, it goes to the culture of the agency, the command structure and if you look at these incidences there seems to be a training issue,” she said.

ISIS

As U.S. helicopters were deployed to Iraq Sunday, House Majority Leader Kevin McCarthy (R-Calif.) joined “Face the Nation” to warn Americans that there is a possibility that the U.S. may have to deploy troops to fight ISIS.

“If we need special forces there, if that’s what the generals say, then we need to do it. If we engage in a conflict that we know this is a threat to America, we should make it so one-sided that it gets over very quickly,” McCarthy said. “So, we should have everything on the table to make sure we win this.”

The lawmaker also said that the president was wrong to claim that ISIS’s rise in Iraq and Syria was an intelligence failure.

“This was a lack-of-action failure on the administration. You know, Fallujah and Ramadi fell 10 months ago,” he said. “Former CIA Director and Secretary of Defense Leon Panetta talks about those actions that the administration knew of this and did not take.

“So our options are more limited today. Maybe we could have handled this differently.”

Economy

Treasury Secretary Jack Lew joined ABC’s “This Week,” saying that the economy is improving.

“I think there’s no question that the economy is moving strongly in the right direction,” Lew said, citing job growth over the past six months.

According to the Treasury official, the economy is gaining an average of 200,000 jobs each month.

Still, Lew said that there is much more to be done to help the nation’s middle class.

“That is a huge swing that is affecting the lives of Americans,” he said.

“But there’s also a lot of memory of where we were in ’08 and ’09.”

Will he attack himself? Harry Reid outspends brothers Koch in 2014 midterm run-up

“The decisions by the Supreme Court have left the American people with the status quo in which one side’s billionaires are pitted against the other side’s billionaires. Except one side doesn’t have many billionaires. We must undo the damage done by the Supreme Court’s recent campaign finance decisions, and we need to do it now.” — Sen. Harry Reid, talking about campaign finance in June

Harry Reid hates the billionaire Koch brothers for the money they spend trying to help conservative candidates win elections. The lawmaker even went as far as attempting (and failing) to amend the Constitution just to limit Koch spending power.

Reid has also politically outspent the wealthy industrialists in the run-up to the 2014 midterm elections.

NPR reported Thursday that the Reid-linked Senate Majority PAC is the top-spending outside group in the 2014 midterm season.

“The consultants who run Senate Majority PAC say they have just one goal, keeping the Senate in Democratic hands. To do that, they’ve spent $33 million so far,” NPR’s Peter Overby said. “That puts Senate Majority PAC at the top of the list according to Federal Election Commission data as analyzed by the nonpartisan Center for Responsive Politics.”

According to the report, the political group receives donations from a number of wealthy liberals, including “billionaire Tom Steyer, longtime Democratic donor Fred Eychaner and former New York City mayor, Michael Bloomberg.”

Morning Joe host Joe Scarborough summed up Reid’s hypocrisy nicely Friday, saying: “[I]f you want to talk about big money in politics this year, it starts with Harry Reid.”

Watchdog group sues DHS for information on 36,000 criminal aliens released by ICE

The watchdog group Judicial Watch announced Thursday that it has filed a Freedom of Information Act lawsuit against the Department of Homeland Security in an effort to obtain records related to 36,000 criminal illegal aliens released by Immigration and Customs Enforcement in 2013.

The lawsuit comes after officials failed to respond to a May 2014 FOIA request filed by the watchdog.

The original request was filed after the Washington, D.C.-based group Center for Immigration Studies (CIS) released a report on the criminal aliens.

At the time, Judicial Watch requested: “Any and all records of communications including, but not limited to, emails and memoranda, to or from personnel in the office of the Principal Deputy Assistant Secretary of Immigration and Customs Enforcement (including its component offices, such as the Office of Public Affairs), from May 1 to May 15, 2014, concerning, regarding, or related to the report published by the Center for Immigrations Studies concerning the release of 36,000 criminal aliens.”

The Center for Immigration Studies report detailed ICE’s release of the criminal aliens whose total convictions weighed in at about 88,000. Among the criminals, there were:

  • 193 homicide convictions (including one willful killing of a public official with gun)

  • 426 sexual assault convictions

  • 303 kidnapping convictions

  • 1,075 aggravated assault convictions

  • 1,160 stolen vehicle convictions

  • 9,187 dangerous drug convictions

  • 16,070 drunk or drugged driving convictions

  • 303 flight escape convictions

“How many Americans will be killed, maimed, or victimized by the Obama administration’s release of aliens convicted of violent crimes?” Judicial Watch President Tom Fitton said in a statement about the lawsuit. “Under President Obama, the Department of Homeland Security has turned from a law enforcement agency into one that undermines and violates our nation’s immigration laws in a way that threatens the public safety. And now Homeland Security is in cover-up mode and violating federal law to keep documents about its mass release of criminals away from the American people.”

Read the full lawsuit here.

EPA continues to keep government watchdogs in the dark

House Oversight Committee Chairman Darrell Issa (R-Calif.) on Thursday accused officials at the Environmental Protection Agency, which has become increasingly powerful under the Obama administration, of blocking federal watchdogs.

EPA Inspector General Arthur Elkins and members of his staff have appeared before Congress three times since May to complain that the agency’s homeland security office is impeding investigations.

Since last year, the Inspector General has been investigating personnel issues at the EPA stemming from the revelation that EPA employee John Beale posed as a CIA agent in order to get paid time off. But the EPA has used a 10 employee homeland security division created after the 9/11 attacks to thwart government investigators.

“As the official in charge of internal investigations at EPA, I am very concerned that vital information regarding suspected employee misconduct is being withheld from the OIG,” Patrick Sullivan, who heads the Inspector General’s investigations team, told lawmakers in May.

Little had changed by September.

“The EPA office of homeland security continues to impede the investigations of this OIG,” Elkins said last month. “This impairment by the EPA … is still not resolved.”

In a letter to EPA Gina McCarthy sent Thursday, Issa said that the continued obstruction is unacceptable.

“The committee remains deeply concerned about the apparent lack of progress on any of these fronts,” Issa wrote.

“It has been three months since the hearing at which you appeared and four months since the committee first learned of these issues and urged the EPA to address them.”

This is only the latest of many battles the Oversight Committee has had with the EPA over the past year.

Last month, Issa and Louisiana Sen. David Vitter (R) launched an investigation to explore ties between the EPA and the Natural Resources Defense Council (NRDC), a lobbying group active in shaping global warming rules.

The GOP lawmakers are attempting to better understand what role NRDC played in the EPA’s denial of a permit for the Pebble Mine in Alaska and a separate draft rule aimed at limiting carbon dioxide emissions from the nation’s power plants.

“It appears that NRDC’s unprecedented access to high-level EPA officials allowed it to influence EPA policy decisions and achieve its own private agenda,” Issa and Vitter wrote to the EPA and NRDC in September. “Such collusive activities provide the NRDC, and their financial backers, with an inappropriate opportunity to wield the broad powers of the executive branch.”

“The fact that an ideological and partisan group drafted a rule that places a tremendous cost on everyday Americans through increased electricity prices is harmful and outrageous,” the two continued. “Accordingly, these practices must cease immediately.”

Voters are fed up with Congress, worried about nation’s future

WASHINGTON — Most Americans view the country moving in the wrong direction and don’t see their financial futures getting better anytime soon, attitudes likely to make it harder for Democrats to do well this fall, according to a new McClatchy-Marist poll.

Sixty-one percent see the nation on the wrong track, down from 64 percent in August but still historically high.

A big reason for the anxiety: Only 30 percent expect their personal family finances to improve in the coming year, down from 35 percent in February. Fifty-four percent see their finances staying about the same.

People want their elected officials to make things better but don’t see much progress, so they give lawmakers low marks.

“It has to do with paying bills and economic security at a personal level,” said Lee Miringoff, director of the Marist Institute for Public Opinion in New York, which conducted the Sept. 24-29 poll.

The economic recovery, he said, “still hasn’t reached folks the way the macrodata suggest.”

The wrong direction/right track number is considered a key barometer of voter sentiment, and people strongly disapprove of how their elected officials are performing. Seventy-one percent of registered voters disliked how Republicans, who control the House of Representatives, are governing, while 61 percent felt the same about Democrats, who control the Senate.

President Barack Obama, whose job approval rating jumped to 46 percent last month thanks largely to his handling of the terrorism crisis, still got low marks from voters. Fifty-seven percent disapproved of his handling of the economy, and 41 percent said he was more likely to make them vote Republican, while 38 percent said they would vote Democratic.

Since Democrats control the White House and Senate and since virtually all of the most vulnerable Senate seats are now in Democratic hands, the party stands to be hurt by the current mood.

“The political environment is bad, but more so for the Democrats, since they occupy the White House,” said Miringoff.

Republicans currently have a 233-199 majority in the House. Independent analysts predict the party will gain two to 10 seats.

In the Senate, Republicans need a net gain of six seats to win control, and their prospects are brightening slightly. In a new analysis Thursday, Larry Sabato and Kyle Kondik of the University of Virginia’s Center for Politics saw a Republican trend.

Congressional approval ratings

“So many undecided contests are winnable for the GOP that the party would have to have a string of bad luck — combined with a truly exceptional Democratic get-out-the-vote program — to snatch defeat from the wide-open jaws of victory,” they found. “Or Republicans would have to truly shoot themselves in the foot in at least one race, which has become a clear possibility over the last few weeks in Kansas.”

Sen. Pat Roberts (R-Kan.) faces a tough challenge from independent Greg Orman. A Suffolk University/USA Today poll Saturday through Tuesday put Orman ahead, 46 percent to 41 percent.

The problem facing Roberts, as well as other officeholders, is that voters — most notably, independents who could decide races — have soured on incumbents.

Two-thirds of independent voters disapprove of how Obama is handling the economy, and 53 percent have an unfavorable impression of the president. Most ominous for Democrats: Forty-one percent of independents say that impression makes them more likely to vote for a Republican for Congress, while 25 percent said it would swing them Democratic.

There’s some solace for Democrats: While 28 percent of registered voters say Obama is a major factor in deciding their vote, the number drops to 22 percent among independents. Most people say the president is not a big factor.

And two of three independents disapprove of the job Republicans as well as Democrats are doing in Congress.

Overall, voters split as to whether they’d pick a Democrat or a Republican in their congressional district. That number can be misleading, since congressional races are decided on a district-by-district, state-by-state basis. They’re also often decided by swing voters, and independents prefer Republicans 43 percent to 35 percent.

The telephone survey polled 1,052 adults, including 884 registered voters. The poll has an overall margin of error of 3 percentage points. The margin is 3.3 percentage points among registered voters.

-David Lightman

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©2014 McClatchy Washington Bureau

Visit the McClatchy Washington Bureau at www.mcclatchydc.com

Distributed by MCT Information Services

GOP lawmakers say that Obama lacks Ebola plan, is downplaying threat of U.S. outbreak

As an Ebola outbreak in the U.S. becomes increasingly possible, Republican lawmakers are taking the Obama administration and the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention to task for downplaying the threat.

A Liberian man diagnosed with Ebola at a Dallas hospital Tuesday, leaving public health officials scrambling to contact and monitor as many as 100 people the man may have been in contact with leading up to the diagnoses.

Sen. Rand Paul (R-Ky.) joined conservative talk show host Laura Ingraham this week, saying that as a nation “we’re not really making sound, rational, scientific decisions” needed to keep the disease from spreading.

Paul contends that President Barack Obama is putting “political correctness” ahead of public health.

“I am concerned about it, and it’s a big mistake to downplay it and act as if it’s not a big deal,” Paul said, adding, “This could get beyond our control.”

The Kentucky senator is joined by GOP colleagues in insisting that the administration ought to be focused on securing the nation’s borders and placing limits on travel Ebola-stricken areas of Africa.

“Recent events highlight the need for elevated levels of screening at U.S. ports of entry,” Sen. Rob Portman (R-Ohio) said in a statement Thursday. “The time for action has come and gone and the CDC has yet to answer why they are resisting this next commonsense step that is long overdue.”

Other lawmakers have argued that the president should appoint an “Ebola czar” to lead efforts to keep the disease from spreading in the U.S.

“I don’t think there is a person in charge,” Sen. Jerry Moran (R-Kansas), the ranking member on the Appropriations Committee’s health subcommittee, told BuzzFeed on Thursday. “And I don’t think there is a plan internationally to bring the folks together to combat this.”

Meanwhile, Democrats argue that the federal government must begin spending more money on Ebola research and reversing cuts to the CDC and National Institutes of Health.

“Funding for biomedical research is crucial and when Congress works on a funding bill in the coming months we need to ensure the [National Institutes of Health] is fully funded,” Rep. Rosa DeLauro (D-Conn.) said in a statement.

GOP group celebrates Obamacare exchange anniversary ahead of midterms

GOP groups celebrated the “unhappy” birthday of President Barack Obama’s healthcare exchange this week by criticizing Democrats who, leading into the 2014 midterms, are increasingly finding themselves in electoral danger because of Obamacare.

In honor of the healthcare exchange anniversary, the National Republican Senatorial Committee released a video collage of several vulnerable Democrats extolling the benefits of Obamacare. The video is complete with several utterances of the infamous “If you like your plan, you can keep it” promise.

“Over the past six years Barack Obama and Washington Democrats have proven that they not only don’t have the right solutions to get America growing again, but they lack the credibility to be trusted to keep their promises,”  NRSC press secretary Brook Hougesen said in a statement.

A new poll out this week from McLaughlin & Associates illustrates that Republicans looking to capitalize on Obamacare’s failures leading into the fall election season have public opinion on their side. Fifty-nine percent of likely voters would support repealing Obamacare if a conservative alternative were on the table.

The pollsters asked: “Would you support or oppose repealing and replacing Obamacare with a conservative alternative that would save $1 trillion, reduce premiums, enhance access to doctors, and increase the number of people with private insurance by 6 million, but would cover 6 million fewer people overall because fewer people would be on Medicaid?”

A majority of Democrats also supported the plan, with 49 percent saying they’d be in favor and 37 percent against.

A separate Kaiser Family Foundation poll found that 47 percent of Americans view the healthcare law negatively compared to just 33 percent who approve.

Pentagon: Obama’s airstrikes won’t defeat ISIS

Confirming the suspicions of the president’s harshest foreign policy critics, Pentagon officials told reporters this week that they shouldn’t expect airstrikes to do much to weaken the Islamic State terrorists gaining ground in Iraq and Syria.

Despite the approximately 310 U.S strikes on ISIS targets across Iraq and Syria launched by the end of the day Tuesday, Pentagon press secretary Admiral John Kirby said that ISIS “remains a very potent force.”

Kirby said that ISIS fighters are countering the strikes by attempting to blend in to urban areas where airstrikes could cause civilian casualties and being less brazen, but that they still pose a significant threat.

“Yes, they’re dispersing, and yes, they aren’t communicating quite as openly or as boldly as they once were,” Kirby said. “That’s a good thing, because if they aren’t operating as freely, then they aren’t as free to achieve their goals.

“That doesn’t mean ISIL doesn’t still pose a threat. It doesn’t mean they aren’t still trying and in some cases succeeding at taking and holding ground,” he continued. “No one said this would be easy or quick, and no one should be lulled into a false sense of security by accurate air strikes. We will not, we cannot bomb them into obscurity.”

The Pentagon official told reporters that Iraqi and Kurdish forces are currently in the best position to put pressure on ISIS and that American efforts will require a “long struggle” and “strategic patience.”

“This group will adapt, and we’re going to have to adapt right along with them,” he said. “And airstrikes alone, you’re just not going to bomb them away. It’s not going to happen like that.”

The Pentagon’s low expectations for U.S. airstrikes against ISIS are shared by forces fighting the terror group on the ground in the Middle East.

Sefqan Ciya, a field commander of People’s Protection Units (YPG), a Kurdish group fighting Isis, told Newsweek in a recent interview: “We in the YPG have been fighting alone for a year, holding out against Isis in Kobane, but the U.S. and the international community are ignoring this fight. The reality is that Isis will not be stopped in northeast Syria unless the international community, above all the U.S. and EU countries, provide us with adequate military aid and cooperate with us in order jointly and effectively to target and attack Isis positions.”

Nancy Pelosi reveals she is hopelessly out of touch

UPI/FILE

During her weekly press briefing Wednesday, House Minority Leader Nancy Pelosi said a couple of things that reveal her as a truly out-of-touch Washington elitist.

At one point during the press event, the House Democrat got into a verbal scuffle with a reporter over the political correctness of the term “illegal aliens.”

“If President Obama does what he has promised to do and take executive action to legalize some illegal aliens in the United States…” a reporter asked Pelosi.

The politician interrupted, “Are you referring to undocumented people who are in the United States?”

“Illegal aliens. Yes, ma’am,” the reporter replied.

“Undocumented people, OK,” Pelosi retorted before talking about the U.S.’s many borders and Obama’s amnesty policies.

In a separate exchange, Pelosi attempted to sound like an average American by weighing in on Major League Baseball. She managed to sound as out of touch as ever.

“How about the Giants?” a reporter asked as Pelosi made her exit.

“How about the Giants, and how about the Orioles?” Pelosi replied.

“You know, my father brought the Orioles to Baltimore when he was mayor of Baltimore, so I’m happy to see them do so well,” the lawmaker continued.

“My next door neighbor owns the Nationals,” she went on. “So there’s a lot of good teams that could win the Pennant and then win the…win the World Series, so stay tuned.”

That Pelosi is totally out of touch with the nation is probably good news for Republicans looking ahead to the 2014 midterms, as she also predicted Wednesday that Democrats will control the White House and Congress by 2016.

“Their days are numbered,” she said of the GOP. “I know that in two years, I know we’ll have a Democratic Congress and a Democratic president.

“I’d like it to be in two months,” Pelosi added.

HT: Free Beacon

Lawmaker urges DOJ to examine Oklahoma beheading as terror case

A House Republican called on outgoing Attorney General Eric Holder to investigate the recent beheading in Oklahoma as a case of terrorism rather than workplace violence. But given the DOJ’s track record in ignoring select forms of religious extremism, along with some of Holder’s attempts to scorch the earth on his way out, a terror investigation is highly unlikely.

Representative Frank Wolf (R-Va.) said Tuesday Holder must launch a terror investigation into the gruesome murder, rather than allow the crime to be swept under the rug as just another killing at a place of employment.

Wolf likened the murder, in which recent Muslim convert Alton Nolen allegedly admitted to decapitating Colleen Hufford at the Vaughan Foods processing plant in Cleveland County, Oklahoma, last Thursday, to the sensational beheadings perpetrated by members of the ISIS terror group in Iraq and Syria.

According to The Hill, Wolf condemned the DOJ’s history of declining to link domestic terror incidents with global terror movements. From a letter Wolf sent to Holder:

In the wake of the department’s failure to “connect the dots” between Anwar Aulaqi and Fort Hood terrorist Nidal Hasan, it is more important than ever for you to make clear to the department’s agents and attorneys that this is, in fact, terrorism and to determine whether this or other plots are part of an effort by the Islamic State of Iraq and Syria (ISIS) or al Qaeda to radicalize Americans and direct attacks in the U.S.

But Holder’s recent tweaks to DOJ policy indicate there’s little chance that crimes motivated by evident religious zealotry on U.S. soil — even those that closely mimic the atrocities perpetrated by anti-U.S. terror groups abroad — will be approached as acts of domestic terror.

Holder reportedly will soon announce changes in the way federal investigators target suspects, banning law enforcement from scrutinizing potential suspects on the basis of their religious ties.

“The new policy will add to long-standing bans on racial profiling and extend them for the first time to national-security probes,” Fox News reported Tuesday.

That, according to BizPac Review’s Joe Saunders, amounts to nothing less than “a parting shot of PC idiocy” on Holder’s part.

“Banning the use of religion in cases of national security investigations when you’re at war with a gang of religious fanatics  is like running a DUI checkpoint but trying not to smell booze — an act, put on for show and not accomplishing even a minimal goal,” wrote Saunders.

The new restrictions, which include a ban on investigating mosques in the absence of direct evidence that a crime has been committed, are to be announced in the coming weeks, according to Fox News.

No wonder he’s clueless: Obama has attended less than half of daily intelligence briefings

President Barack Obama blamed intelligence community failures for his foreign policy ineptitude in a “60 Minutes” interview Sunday. But a new report out from the Government Accountability Institute (GAI) reveals another explanation for why the president doesn’t seem to know what’s going on: He has attended less than half of his daily intelligence briefings since taking office.

“I think our head of the intelligence community, Jim Clapper, has acknowledged that I think they underestimated what had been taking place in Syria,” Obama passed the buck on Monday.

In a study of Obama’s first 2,079 days in office, running from Jan. 20, 2009 through Sept. 29, 2014, compiled from the White House calendar and information gathered from POLITICO, GAI found that the president attended a total of 875 intelligence briefings over the course of 2,079 days in office.

That means Obama has attended only 42.09 percent of his Presidential Daily Briefs.

GAI also compared the president’s briefing attendance during his first and second terms:

First Term: President Obama was inaugurated on January 20, 2009 and was re-elected in November 2012. Between January 20, 2009 and January 19, 2013, President Obama attended 620 PDBs over a possible 1,461 days for a 42.43% attendance rate.

Second Term: President Obama was inaugurated for his second term on January 20, 2013. Between January 20, 2013 and September 29, 2014, President Obama attended 255 PDBs over a possible 618 days for a 41.26% attendance rate.

This isn’t the first time Obama’s intelligence briefing attendance has come under fire. In 2012, GAI reported that the president preferred to receive written versions of intelligence briefs over having face-to-face meetings with intelligence officials.

At the time, former White House press secretary Jay Carney laughed off questions about Obama’s attendance at the crucial daily meetings.

“He gets it every day, OK? The president of the United States gets the presidential daily briefing every day,” Carney said. “There is a document that he reads every day when he is not — well, he always reads it every day because he’s a voracious consumer of all of his briefing materials.”

But as the American Enterprise Institute’s Mark Thiessen pointed out in September 2012 (and Obama’s foreign policy aloofness has since proven), the process of quizzing intelligence officials on matters of national security and global threats “cannot be replicated on paper.”

In a recent Daily Beast piece about Obama’s attempt to blame intelligence officials for the mess in the Middle East, a senior Pentagon official summed the president’s claims up thusly: “Either the president doesn’t read the intelligence he’s getting or he’s bullshitting.”

Groups call on Obama to undo his administration’s damage to Freedom of Information laws

A group of government transparency advocates delivered a letter to the White House Monday calling on the Obama administration to do away with its policy of reviewing Freedom of Information Act requests determined by the executive to contain “White House equities.” The policy has “caused significant confusion and delay among agencies in their compliance with the Freedom of Information Act.”

In 2009, the Obama White House handed down an edict requiring agencies to present all FOIA requests, including “documents and records, whether in oral, paper, or electronic form, that relate to communications to and from the White House, including preparations for such communications,” to the executive branch for review.

According to transparency advocates, the requirement creates confusion as federal agencies attempt to comply with FOIA requests because it was put into place without any official statute, rule making or other guidance. Furthermore, the group argues that the 2009 memo interferes with congressional oversight and contradicts FOIA’s intended purpose of allowing public access to government records.

“Not surprisingly, a policy based around protecting an ill-defined term can sow confusion among agency officials and the public, and make it very hard to know exactly the effect of the policy,” OpenTheGovernment.org director Patrice McDermott said in a statement.

In one example of how “White House equities” may have been abused to keep damaging knowledge out of public view, the Obama administration reviewed FOIA requests seeking more information about the General Services Administration’s (GSA) egregious abuses of taxpayer dollars in recent years.

“E-mails between GSA and the White House Counsel’s Office show that the Administration affirmatively sought to review document requests related to politically-sensitive issues,” Cause of Action, one of the signatories to the letter sent this week, reported earlier in the year.

This is not the first time Obama’s “most transparent” administration has come under fire for other FOIA practices and attempts to keep government information out of public view.

The administration has routinely been criticized by the members of the nation’s press for everything from denying access to outright intimidation of sources. Furthermore, its record on whistleblower protection is abysmal.

“Public promises of transparency are no excuse for secret memos that prevent it. Americans deserve a government that is fair and open and delaying the release of documents prevents the ability of a free press to educate the public,” Cause of Action director Dan Epstein said in a statement. “Our hope is that President Obama honors the laws in place designed to provide transparency, such as the Freedom of Information Act, and withdraws this 2009 memo.”

Poll after poll shows GOP gaining momentum in key Senate races

A series of electoral forecasting models are predicting that the likelihood of Republicans winning enough seats to take the Senate this fall is growing. Prognosticators have credited momentum in GOP races in Alaska, Colorado and Iowa as the driving force behind the trend.

Real Clear Politics (RCP) last week reported that Alaska GOP Senate candidate Dan Sullivan holds a 4.7-point lead over Democrat Mark Begich. The RCP finding was calculated by averaging results from Rasmussen, Public Policy Polling and CBS/NYT/YouGov, which, respectively, show Sullivan leading by 5, 3 and 6 points.

In Colorado, Republican Cory Gardener currently holds a narrower lead over Democrat Mark Udall, with an RCP average of 0.8 points. That’s based on USA Today/Suffolk, Quinnipiac, Denver Post/ SurveyUSA and Rasmussen polling showing the GOP candidate leading by 1, 8, 4 and 2 points, respectively.

RCP reports that Iowa Republican Joni Ernst leads Democrat Bruce Braley by an average of 2.2 points. Both Rasmussen and Fox News are reporting a tie in polling results for the two, while the Des Moines Register and Quinnipiac both award Ernst a lead of 6 points. A CNN/Opinion Research poll is the outlier among the data set, reporting that Braley currently holds a 1-point lead.

Numbers on the three races reported by The Washington Post’s Election Lab give even more favor to the GOP contenders. According to The Post, there is a 68 percent chance that Sullivan will take the seat for the GOP in Alaska, a 66 percent chance Republicans will celebrate a Gardener victory in Colorado and an 83 percent chance that Ernst will become a GOP senator from Iowa.

According to the Washington Post’s overall assessment, the GOP could pick up a total of seven Senate seats in the forthcoming midterms, putting them one seat over the required 51 spots for majority control of the upper Congressional chamber.

White House spokesman says Obama isn’t passing the buck on ISIS; everyone else disagrees

White House press secretary Josh Earnest defended the president Monday, telling reporters that Barack Obama wasn’t passing the buck when he blamed intelligence failures for the Islamic State’s rise to power in Iraq and Syria.

“The president’s commander in chief, and he’s the one who takes responsibility for ensuring that we have the kinds of policies in place that are required to protect our interests around the globe,” Earnest said in response to questions about remarks Obama made in a “60 Minutes” interview that aired Sunday.

Obama had said, “I think our head of the intelligence community, Jim Clapper, has acknowledged that I think they underestimated what had been taking place in Syria.”

The president’s comments set off a firestorm of controversy among GOP lawmakers and some members of the intelligence community, who have argued that Obama should blame himself for failure to act on information provided.

“I very much doubt that the intelligence community was asleep at the switch while [ISIS] was gaining strength in Syria,” former State Department special adviser on Syria Frederic Hoff told The Telegraph. “None of this was exactly hidden from view.

“No doubt President Obama and his advisors were perplexed when it came to policy options, and no doubt the scope and speed of the [ISIS] thrust into Iraq were surprising. But I doubt that the U.S. intelligence community is to blame for any policy shortfalls.”

Republican Senator John McCain (Ariz.) called Obama’s remark a “dog ate my homework speech.”

“Every president in history had made a mistake, acknowledged it and then moved on. President Reagan with Iran contra, President Clinton in Bosnia, President George W. Bush after the debacle in Iraq, when he started the surge — but it doesn’t seem to be in this president’s DNA,” he told Fox News.

As reporters pelted him with questions about the president’s refusal to admit his administration’s failures in the Middle East, Earnest turned the tables to attack Republicans who have said that U.S. boots on the ground may become an unavoidable reality in the fight against ISIS.

House Speaker John Boehner said of ISIS Sunday, “At the end of the day, I think it’s gonna take more than air strikes to drive them outta there. At some point somebody’s boots have to be on the ground.”

Earnest told reporters the remark was unsurprising.

“That’s something that senior members of the Republican Party advocated in the previous administration,” he said. “It’s something that senior members of the Republican Party advocate in this administration.”

But it isn’t just Republican lawmakers who foresee U.S. troops fighting ISIS on the ground in Iraq and Syria.

In a NBC News/Wall Street Journal/Annenberg poll released over the weekend, 72 percent of respondents said that they believe the U.S. will end up using boots on the ground in Iraq and Syria despite the Obama administration’s repeated promises that troops will not be deployed in a combat capacity.

The results of that poll were exaggerated Monday with reports that ISIS fighters are reportedly staging roughly one mile outside of Baghdad even though U.S. airstrikes were supposed to keep the fighters from reaching the city.