White House Foreign Policy Dangerously Changes by the Day

When word filtered out yesterday that President Obama, on the heels of his reiteration of “no boots on the ground” to the military men and women at CENTCOM, had instructed the Pentagon that he was the final say on any individual airstrike in Syria (“…[to] better ensure the operation remain focused on his main goal for that part of the campaign: weakening the militants’ hold on territory in neighboring Iraq.”), pundits rightly began to ask questions.  Allahpundit at HotAir had several, including the possibility that Obama must consider our new engagement a “counterterrorism” measure rather than a traditional war:

Seriously?: Vulnerable Senate Democrat refuses to debate foreign policy with Republican opponent

It’s stories like these where you wish you could have been a fly on the wall in the room while this decision was made. Apparently, Sen. Mark Pryor (D-AR) refused to talk about foreign policy in an upcoming debate with his Republican opponent, Rep. Tom Cotton (R-AR). Well, not only did Pryor’s campaign refuse, they lied about, to boot:

Senator Mark Pryor (D., Ark.) declined to debate foreign-policy issues with Representative Tom Cotton (R., Ark.) when they meet next month.

“The campaign for Democratic U.S. Sen. Mark Pryor said last week that it had not rejected any topics from being included in the only debate agreed to so far by the senator and his Republican challenger, U.S. Rep. Tom Cotton,” a local media outlet reports. “But an email obtained by the Arkansas Democrat-Gazette on Tuesday showed that Pryor’s campaign had rejected the inclusion of foreign policy in the debate sponsored by the Fayetteville Chamber of Commerce.”

In the e-mail, the debate moderator tells the Cotton campaign that “Pryor folks rejected adding ‘foreign policy’ to the list of topics for the Fayetteville Chamber debate.”

There are a couple reasons why Pryor is probably skittish on the issue. First, the mid-term election is shaping up to be focused on foreign policy, given the tensions with Russia, the deteriorating situation in Libya, and the rise of the Islamic State in Iraq and Syria. There’s also the administration’s ongoing training and armament of Syrian rebels who are involved in a bloody civil war against Bashar al-Assad’s regime.

Democrats have found their scapegoat, and it’s not Barack Obama

Debbie Wasserman Schultz

President Barack Obama’s approval rating is falling faster than Usain Bolt can run. The latest poll from The New York Times and CBS News shows his foreign policy numbers in the tank, dropping to the lowest point of his presidency. His numbers on the economy haven’t really moved much this year, either. Meanwhile, the GOP’s favorability rating — once in the cellar — has almost pulled even with Democrats.

Yet, Democrats seem to be looking for a scapegoat who isn’t named Barack Obama. Sure, many party faithful will concede that this White House is a drag on Democratic House and Senate candidates. And they acknowledge that President Obama’s approval ratings could cost them control of the upper chamber.

But, in politics, everything rolls down hill. And, according to a recent report from Politico, it appears that a scapegoat has been identified in Rep. Debbie Wasserman Schultz (D-FL), who has led the Democratic National Committee since May 2011:

Doomed to repeat history: Funding Syrian rebels could create another Libya-like foreign policy crisis

Watching history repeat itself was not enough for Sen. Rand Paul (R-KY).

The senator from Kentucky took the stage yesterday morning and didn’t stop talking until he made sure the public and the empty chamber had listened to his concerns.

During his remarks on the floor of the Senate, Paul highlighted his reasons to oppose the amendment authorizing president Obama’s plan to provide training and arms to what he calls moderate rebels in Syria. The plan passed both the House and the Senate as an amendment to the continuing resolution funding the government until December 11.

Before the vote, however, Paul raised and urged the empty chamber to put an end to Obama’s plan of arming fighters in Syria who have not proven to be fundamentally opposed to ISIS. “We gave 600 tons of weapons to the Syrian rebels in 2013 alone,” Paul said as he urged his colleagues to keep in mind that the United States is not the only country providing weapons to the rebels.

According to Paul, a Wall Street Journal report detailed “millions of dollars in direct US aid to rebels” from “nearly 8 months ago or more.” As the aid continues to be funneled to rebels in Syria, Paul claims that “no one really knows where that all ended up: Jane’s Terrorism Center noted, the transfer of Quatari arms to targeted groups has the same practical effect as shipping them to Al Nusra, a violent jihadist force.”

By not knowing where these weapons are going and who’s actually making use of the military training, Paul believes passing a resolution that will fund this operation abroad in the hopes that that it might deter ISIS is ludicrous:

Senate Democrats are going to wait until after the election to authorize military action against the Islamic State

Senate Democratic leaders

Senate Democrats have decided to punt on a resolution authorizing military force against the ISIS until after the mid-term election, handing a blank check to President Barack Obama to act unilaterally in the interim:

“We’re going to take up the construction of a new authorization for the use of military force. It’s long overdue,” said Senate Democratic Whip Dick Durbin (D-Ill.).

The authorization would focus narrowly on ISIS, likely bar the deployment of ground troops and set a one-year time limit on military action.

The plan to vote on a resolution specifically authorizing strikes against the extremist Sunni group could help reassure liberal Democrats nervous about supporting a measure that authorizes President Obama to train and equip moderate rebels in Syria.

Durbin announced the roadmap at a Democratic leadership press conference shortly before the chamber was scheduled to vote on a government funding measure that included the so-called Title 10 authority to train the rebels.

Why are Senate Democrats waiting until after the election? Well, they don’t want to do anything to upset their base, some of whom could stay at home because of dissatisfaction with what they could see as the party getting the United States into another Middle Eastern quagmire. If some leftist Democrats stay home, it could further endanger the party’s already slim chances of holding onto the upper chamber.

Statist Policy and the Great Depression

It’s difficult to promote good economic policy when some policy makers have a deeply flawed grasp of history.

This is why I’ve tried to educate people, for instance, that government intervention bears the blame for the 2008 financial crisis, not capitalism or deregulation.

Going back in time, I’ve also explained the truth about “sweatshops” and “robber barons.”

But one of the biggest challenges is correcting the mythology that capitalism caused the Great Depression and that government pulled the economy out of its tailspin.

To help correct the record, I’ve shared a superb video from the Center for Freedom and Prosperity that discusses the failed statist policies of both Hoover and Roosevelt.

Now, to augment that analysis, we have a video from Learn Liberty. Narrated by Professor Stephen Davies, it punctures several of the myths about government policy in the 1930s.

Professors Davies is right on the mark in every case.

It’s time for some accountability: House of Representatives passes Audit the Fed bill

The House of Representatives passed, by an overwhelming margin, the Federal Reserve Transparency Act (H.R. 24), a measure that would require a meaningful audit of the United States’ central bank.

There was some question whether House Republican leaders would bring the measure to the floor for a vote, but, thanks to grassroots efforts to encourage members to cosponsor the bill, its popularity couldn’t be ignored. The Federal Reserve Transparency Act, which had gained more than 218 cosponsors, passed the lower chamber in a 333 to 92 vote.

“For the past 100 years, the Federal Reserve, a quasi-government agency, has acted under a veil of secrecy – controlling our monetary policy and thus, our economy. While in recent years, the Fed has been granted a greater role in overseeing the regulation of our financial system, current law specifically prohibits audits of the Federal Reserve’s deliberations, decisions, or actions on monetary policy,” said Rep. Paul Broun (R-GA), who introduced the measure in January 2013. “This lack of accountability and transparency has led to grievous consequences — and it must end.”

This is insane: A Texas man is facing the death penalty for defending his home with deadly force

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In the great state of Texas, it is legal, almost mandatory, to defend your home with deadly force from armed intruders. If someone attempts to climb into your window in the deep, pre-dawn darkness at 5:30 am, you would be justified in shooting them, right? In almost all conceivable cases, yes. Especially in Texas.

But what if the intruder turns out to be a member of a SWAT team attempting a no-knock drug raid on a search warrant? We’re about to find out, but it could mean the death penalty.

Marvin Louis Guy of Killeen, Texas and a female companion opened fire on several men entering their home through windows and doors, killing one and injuring another. The intruders turned out to be members of a SWAT team composed of Killeen police and state organized crime investigative officers who were serving a warrant based on tips from an informant that there was drug trafficking going on in the residence.

Given that it was a “no-knock” raid, the residents did not know that it was law enforcement officers entering their home. No-knock raids are often conducted on search warrants for drug trafficking suspicion to prevent hardened criminals from attacking the cops when they are announced. It didn’t quite turn out that way this time.

Obama marks Constitution Day by referring to our constitutional rights as “privileges”

Today, September 17, is Constitution Day. Spearheaded by the late Sen. Robert Byrd (D-WV), Congress passed a resolution in 2004 as rider to an omnibus spending bill setting aside this particular day to celebrate the ratification of the Constitution, the document that provides the framework of the federal government and the rights protected under the Bill of Rights.

The Constitution has experienced somewhat of a resurgence in the last several years, perhaps because of the polarization of political opinions in the United States as well as attempts by presidents from both parties attempts consume more power for the executive branch. The revelations about the National Security Agency, efforts to censor speech, expand gun control laws are just the tip of the iceberg of attempts to trample the rights guaranteed by the Bill of Rights.

In his presidential proclamation marking Constitution Day, President Barack Obama offered some insight into how he views the Bill of Rights. “Our Constitution reflects the values we cherish as a people and the ideals we strive for as a society,” Obama said in the release. “It secures the privileges we enjoy as citizens, but also demands participation, responsibility, and service to our country and to one another.”

Given that this White House is known for its expansive view of executive power, the fact that President Obama views these fundamental liberties to be “privileges” isn’t too terribly surprising. After all, President Obama treats the legislative branch — which is supposed to be a co-equal branch of the federal government — as an afterthought as it arbitrarily changes statues and even refuses to enforce laws.

New STELA Bill, Still Not Clean

Recent news reports indicate that the Senate Commerce Committee has dropped the à la carte and Internet provisions in its STELA reauthorization bill (called STAVRA). But the bill is still not ‘clean’.

It appears that the bill still contains a provision codifying the FCC’s decision to prohibit independent TV stations from jointly negotiating retransmission consent agreements. Like the FCC rule, this prohibition would apply in all TV markets, including markets that lack effective competition among pay-TV providers. Under the bill, TV stations in these markets would be required to negotiate separately with a pay-TV operator who Congress has determined possesses monopoly market power. Pay-TV operators with monopoly market power don’t need government help in their negotiations with broadcast TV stations.

The disconnect between the statutory definition of effective competition among pay-TV operators and the bill’s provision prohibiting joint retransmission consent negotiations in all markets is why many urged Congress to adopt a clean STELA reauthorization. Addressing the convoluted framework for video regulation on a piecemeal basis increases the potential for unintended consequences and inhibits the opportunity for robust debate. The holistic approach envisioned by the #CommActUpdate is more likely to result in comprehensive deregulation and produce a level playing field in the video market.

 


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