Iraq

Back on vacation: Obama leaves Washington to work on his golf game

As expected, President Barack Obama left Washington yesterday afternoon to return to his vacation in Martha’s Vineyard, though the White House won’t say why exactly he came back to the nation’s capital, according to The Hill, except to say that some meetings were involved:

Obama’s two days in Washington were mostly quiet, and concluded with the president receiving his daily national security briefing in the morning, and joining Vice President Biden to huddle with members of his economic team in the afternoon.

Administration officials have insisted for weeks that the president just wanted to return to the White House for a series of meetings, but the explanation was met with a healthy dose of skepticism, since Obama rarely interrupts his vacations.
[…]
Speculation for why Obama returned focused around the possibility of a secret foreign leader meeting or the roll out of a new administration initiative on immigration or corporate taxes.

But no such explanation materialized.

Obama interrupts his vacation to return to Washington for meetings on foreign and domestic crises

Barack Obama

President Barack Obama has finally figured out that the optics of a two-week vacation in Martha’s Vineyard while Ferguson, Missouri and parts of the Middle East are on fire may not sit well with the American public. So, he decided to interrupt his vacation to return to Washington:

In a rare move for him, the president planned a break in the middle of his Martha’s Vineyard vacation to return to Washington on Sunday night for unspecified meetings with Vice President Joe Biden and other advisers.

The White House has been cagey about why the president needs to be back in Washington for those discussions.

Part of the decision appears aimed at countering criticism that Obama is spending two weeks on a resort island in the midst of so many foreign and domestic crises.

Yet those crises turned the first week of Obama’s vacation into a working holiday. He made on-camera statements on U.S. military action in Iraq and the clashes between police and protesters in Ferguson, Missouri. He called foreign leaders to discuss the tensions between Ukraine and Russia, as well as between Israel and Hamas.
[…]
Obama is scheduled to return to Martha’s Vineyard on Tuesday and stay through next weekend.

Today in Liberty: Federal court strikes down D.C.’s handgun carry ban, deal reached on V.A. reform as August recess looms

“We have a system that increasingly taxes work and subsidizes nonwork.” — Milton Friedman

Today in Liberty: House GOP slams Harry Reid’s dictatorial Senate rule, voters remain skeptical of military intervention

“Conservatives who want to seal the border because liberal elites have taken over are directing their wrath at the wrong people. The problem isn’t the immigrants, it’s the elites and their multiculturalist predilections who want to turn America into a loose federation of ethnic groups. Conservatives are right to complain about bilingual education advocacy, anti-American Chicano studies professors, Spanish-language ballots, ethnically gerrymandered voting districts, La Raza’s big government agenda, and so forth. But these problems weren’t created by the women changing the linen at your hotel, or the men building homes in your neighborhood.”Jason Riley

Obama’s batsh*t crazy foreign policy: Administration now considering an alliance with Syrian dictator it wanted to overthrow

It seems like yesterday when President Barack Obama and administration officials were making the case for intervention in the Syrian civil war to help rebels overthrow the regime of dictator Bashar al-Assad. After all, they said, the Syrian government had crossed a “red-line” by using chemical weapons (allegedly) against its own people.

That was then. This is now. And the rise of ISIS may force the Obama administration to align the United States with Syria and Russia as it tries to stop Iraq from descending into the seventh-level of Hell, according to Josh Rogin of The Daily Beast:

There’s a battle raging inside the Obama administration about whether the United States ought to push away from its goal of toppling Syrian dictator Bashar al-Assad and into a de facto alliance with the Damascus regime to fight ISIS and other Sunni extremists in the region.

Today in Liberty: Obama gives a middle finger to Congress on Iraq, GOP establishment may lose by winning in Mississippi

“I believe that every individual is naturally entitled to do as he pleases with himself and the fruits of his labor, so far as it in no way interferes with any other men’s rights.” — Abraham Lincoln

— What dystopian country does Obama think he runs?: President Barack Obama says he has constitutional authority to send American troops to Iraq without congressional approval. “This action is being undertaken in coordination with the Government of Iraq and has been directed consistent with my responsibility to protect U.S. citizens both at home and abroad, and in furtherance of U.S. national security and foreign policy interests, pursuant to my constitutional authority to conduct U.S. foreign relations and as Commander in Chief and Chief Executive,” Obama wrote in a letter to House Speaker John Boehner (R-OH). “I am providing this report as part of my efforts to keep the Congress fully informed, consistent with the War Powers Resolution (Public Law 93-148). I appreciate the support of the Congress in these actions.” As a reminder, the War Powers Resolution doesn’t give a president carte blanche to bomb a country or deploy troops whenever he pleases. It lays out very specific conditions in 50 USC § 1541(c) under which the White House can utilize its powers: a declaration of war, specific statutory authorization, or a national emergency created by an attack on the United States. The 2002 Iraq war resolution is, basically, irrelevant in the current situation, meaning that President Obama should seek authorization before sending advisers or troops to Iraq or approving military strikes against ISIL.

Hey, neocons, Dick Cheney is irrelevant — maybe it’s time to find someone new

It has been entertaining to watch former Vice President Dick Cheney. He’s become a “thing” again as neoconservatives raise hell about the resurgence of the Islamic militants in Iraq as the latest failure of President Barack Obama’s foreign policy.

Cheney appeared on Fox News last week and was grilled by host Megyn Kelly over an op-ed he and his daughter, Liz, had written in the Wall Street Journal.

“[T]ime and time again, history has proven that you got it wrong as well in Iraq, sir,” Kelly told Cheney. “You said there were no doubts Saddam Hussein had weapons of mass destruction. You said we would be greeted as liberators. You said the Iraq insurgency was in the last throes back in 2005. And you said that after our intervention, extremists would have to, quote, ‘rethink their strategy of Jihad.’”

“Now with almost a trillion dollars spent there with 4,500 American lives lost there,” she continued, “what do you say to those who say, you were so wrong about so much at the expense of so many?”

Cheney, of course, didn’t back down. He defended the now-debunked intelligence showing that that Iraq had weapons of mass destruction and claimed that “[i]t would have been irresponsible for us not to act” and that the Bush administration “did do the right thing” by toppling Saddam Hussein’s regime.

Today in Liberty: Big decisions expected this week at the Supreme Court, Hillary Clinton is still completely tone deaf

If you have ten thousand regulations, you destroy all respect for the law.” — Winston Churchill

— Big week at the Supreme Court: The nation’s High Court is expected to rule on two cases, as early as this morning. National Labor Relations Board v. Noel Canning deals with the limitations on executive power as it relates to executive appointments. President Obama and his administration insist that the January 2012 appointments to the National Labor Relations Board are valid because the Senate was in recess. That argument, however, is specious, at best. The Senate was in pro forma session — meaning that it had not formally adjourned — when President Obama made the appointments. Sebelius v. Hobby Lobby Stores deals with Obamacare’s contraceptive mandate and the religious freedom of business owners. David Green, the owner and founder of Hobby Lobby, argues that the contraception mandate violates his religious liberty under the Religious Freedom Restoration Act of 1993 (RFRA) because it would force his businesses to offer plans that cover the morning after pill, which, he believes, is tantamount to abortion. The question is whether the RFRA, which protects an individual’s right to freely exercise their religion, applies to businesses and corporations because of the objections of the owners. The Supreme Court will issue opinions today, Wednesday, and Thursday.

Rand Paul fears that many in the Republican Party have forgotten the first part of Reagan’s “peace through strength” concept

Rand Paul addressed the annual Faith and Freedom Coalition’s Road to Majority Conference and, while his contemporaries Ted Cruz and Marco Rubio were yesterday mentioned in media outlets for their discussion of foreign policy and the threat of big government and big business, Paul has so far been lauded mostly for his talk of faith at the admittedly faith-based forum, with a few notable exceptions:

“[Former President Reagan] believed in  strength, but he also believed in peace,” Paul said at a Faith and Freedom Coalition conference. “Our reluctance to conflict should not be misjudged as a failure of will.”

Paul has long been in contrast with many in his party for largely isolationist views on foreign policy. He has been skeptical of using force in Iraq, including airstrikes, to combat militants who have overtaken part of the country.

But to concentrate solely on his words of virtue is to miss what was remarkable about his short time at the podium.

There was a lot to like about Paul’s heartfelt discussion of how to “synthesize” freedom and tradition, and the ways the two concepts are dependent upon one another. “I reject any politician that claims that faith can’t be a part of public life,” the Kentucky Senator said.

Barack Obama’s new strategy in Iraq makes no sense

U.S. Embassy in Iraq

Just what is the strategy in Iraq?

The country is going to hell in a hand basket, and America’s strategy is to send 300 “advisers” to help the Iraqi government. The “advisers” are special forces soldiers, and, despite what President Barack Obama claims, it means troops are back on the ground in the country. This shatters Obama’s statements from 2011 and 2012 that the war in Iraq was over and troops were coming home. It isn’t a bad thing the troops were taken out of Iraq, but why are they going back?

The mission is rather nebulous as well. If anyone thinks the “advisers” are just going to sit back and relax while telling Iraqis what to do, then there’s a bridge for sale in Brooklyn. The U.S. doesn’t just send 300 special forces soldiers to do nothing. Best guess is they’ll be involved in intelligence to help the Iraqis fight the Islamic State In Iraq and Syria (ISIS). And that means they’ll probably end up in harm’s way.


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