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Wednesday, September 30, 2015

Putin Bombs Our Allies in Syria

Putin Bombs Our Allies in Syria

Wednesday - September 30, 2015

RUSH: Now, Syria.  Let me see if I can make sense of this for you.  'Cause what's happening in Syria, based on what we learned yesterday about Putin -- and what he said to the UN about us abandoning our role, our moral leadership there -- as best I have been able to assemble this, here is what's happening.  Over the past few weeks we have learned that Russia is sending military planes and soldiers to Syria.  We didn't like it.  When asked about it by the United States, Russia said, "Mind your own business; it's none of your business.  What are you gonna do about it?" 

They, of course, knew we were gonna do nothing about it.  Then at the UN Vladimir Putin announced that Russia was gonna take the lead in fighting ISIS because we had given up, essentially. The Western world had decided it wasn't worth it, it wasn't worth the risk, that we had abandoned our moral leadership.  Putin at the UN says, "Do you realize what you've done?"  So he decided to swoop in and single-handedly take the lead in fighting ISIS, which Obama still will not refer to as a terrorist or Islamic extremist group.

Now, that was supposed to explain Russia's military presence in Syria, that Putin was taking three-day in fighting ISIS.  That is a key point in understanding what's going on here.  Our secretary of state (who once served in Vietnam) John Kerry -- Jean-Francois Kerry -- and Obama said they were open to the idea of Russia -- and, by proxy, Iran -- joining the fight against ISIS.  Now, in Putin's mind, we haven't joined anything; we are abandoning it.  This is also key to understand.  In Putin's mind, what he said yesterday at the UN, we have essentially checked out of the hotel. 

And they've checked in, and they are single-handedly fighting ISIS. So Kerry, in a face-saving move, goes out and says, "We are open, of course," as though we're still the world's lone superpower, which we aren't because Kerry and Obama don't even want to be.  Kerry goes out and says with his "superpower secretary of state" attitude that we're perfectly fine. We're open to the idea of Russia and Iran joining the fight against ISIS, when in truth we have abandoned it.  Last night there were reports that Russia had warned us to get all of our planes out of Syrian airspace because they were going to mount an attack. 

Now, I don't know how it is in this administration, but any previous administration, if a Soviet leader had called and warned us to get out of Syrian airspace, we would have had some choice words for the Soviet leader, and we would have told him, "You don't dare launch your aircraft or else."  But we're not dealing with administrations like we've had in the past.  Putin (essentially Russia) warns us to get all of our planes out of Syrian airspace.  We scoffed at the warning.  This morning there were reports that Russia had indeed conducted its first bombing mission. 

And this is what CNN was all excited about.  It's been practically wall-to-wall news this morning on CNN that Russia had indeed done its first bombing mission in Syria, 'cause everybody assumed he was bombing ISIS, 'cause that's what he said he was gonna do, and we had welcomed it. "Oh, sure! You want to join us in the fight against ISIS?  Head on in here, Vladimir. We'd be happy to have you and the Iranians come in and partner up with us." 

Except Putin threw a change-up curveball and didn't attack ISIS.  No, no, no.  This is where it gets really, really interesting.  They didn't bomb any ISIS targets.  Instead, Putin and Russia bombed "moderate" rebels that are our allies. (laughing) I'm sorry.  I shouldn't laugh.  Russia targeted "moderate" rebels that are supposed to be our allies fighting ISIS, and all this time we welcomed them in, under the premise that they're gonna join us in hitting ISIS targets. 

Putin comes in, but he doesn't hit ISIS targets. He hits our allies, the so-called moderate rebels.  There are now unconfirmed reports that Russia hit a CIA-vetted moderate Syrian rebel group that was receiving US anti-tank missiles.  So instead of Russia targeting ISIS, which they led everybody to believe they were gonna do and which we welcomed them to do, they hit a moderate rebel group that the CIA had vetted and told Obama they're us, they're our allies, they're good people, we can partner up with 'em.  That's who Russia hit.

So the Russians hit these moderate rebels because they, the moderate rebels, want to bring down Assad even more than they want to defeat ISIS.  And Putin does not want to get rid of Assad.  And nor does Iran want to get rid of Assad.  So while we thought Russia was coming in to bomb ISIS, and we're creating the illusion or operating under the illusion that we are doing the same thing, they hit our allies. 

This is serious, serious stuff.  And Kerry, here, grab sound bite 25.  This is Kerry.  They've been running around all day today trying to get comment from Russian and American officials about this.  This was at the UN this morning, Security Council meetings on counterterrorism, John Kerry spoke about the battle against ISIS and these Russian air strikes in Syria, and here's a portion of what he said, and I'll characterize it after you hear it.

KERRY:  If Rusia's recent actions and those now ongoing reflect a genuine commitment to defeat that organization, then we are prepared to welcome those efforts and to find a way to deconflict our operations and thereby multiply the military pressure on ISIL and affiliated groups.  But we must not and will not be confused in our fight against ISIL with support for Assad.  Moreover, we have also made clear that we would have grave concerns should Russia strike areas where ISIL and Al-Qaeda affiliated targets are now operating -- are not operating.

RUSH:  Well, that's exactly what they're doing, Secretary.  They're attacking targets where our allies are operating, not ISIL.  So if Russia's recent actions, we're prepared to welcome them.  Our people are clueless here, sadly, is what it seems like and don't know how to react to this. So the best they can do is to go out and act like Russia is following through on what it said it was gonna do.  This whole statement from Kerry sounds like it's predicated on his belief that they're hitting ISIS.  First half of this statement, he thinks they're hitting ISIS. 

He knows they're not.  He's trying to tell anybody listening, "Hey, they're hitting ISIS. We agreed to it and we're all-in for 'em, but if they veer from this then we're gonna have a sit-down with 'em."  That isn't gonna happen. The only reason Putin's doing any of this is because he's confident as hell we're not gonna do anything about it.  What is this deconflict anyway?  And to find a way to deconflict our operations and thereby multiply the military?  We are so, so screwed.

Democrat pushes ObamaCare coverage for all immigrants

Democrat pushes ObamaCare coverage for all immigrants
By Mike Lillis - 09-30-15 12:43 PM EDT

Congress's most vocal immigration reformer introduced legislation Wednesday that would extend ObamaCare to the millions of people who are in the country illegally.

Rep. Luis Gutiérrez said his bill serves both a moral and economic purpose. Invoking the recent visit of Pope Francis, the Illinois Democrat said expanding the law's health benefits would help the nation’s most vulnerable.

“Doing unto others as you would have them do unto you means moving forward with no restrictions on which brother and sister and neighbor we think of as ‘eligible’ or ‘deserving,’ ” Gutiérrez said on the House floor. 

But he also argued that the broad coverage expansion is in the nation's best interest because it would create younger, healthier patient pools, leading to lower insurance costs for those already enrolled in insurance plans. 

“As a nation, we all benefit when we spread the risk, require younger, healthier workers to join our exchanges with the rest of us, reduce the costs of compensating hospitals for caring for the uninsured, and decrease the number of uninsured who live and work here,” Gutiérrez said.

Enacted in 2010, President Obama's healthcare reform law explicitly bars illegal immigrants from enrolling in its health insurance exchanges.

Gutiérrez's proposal would reverse that provision, requiring undocumented workers to buy insurance like anyone else.

"It gives them access to the healthcare exchanges in ObamaCare under the ordinary rules of residency in the states in which they live and makes them eligible for subsidies if and when they file taxes — just like the rest of us," Gutiérrez said.
"The goal is to make integration and inclusion real for millions of families that are locked out under current law."

The proposal has no chance of moving forward in a Congress controlled by Republicans, who have fought to repeal ObamaCare and refused to take up immigration reform bills. But it does draw a sharp contrast between the two parties on those hot-button issues ahead of a high-stakes election season.

Gutiérrez was quick to acknowledge those political dynamics, predicting that even an outgoing Speaker John Boehner (R-Ohio) won't address immigration, which has sharply divided his conference.  

"The current hysteria on the campaign trail makes action by these Republicans or any Republicans unlikely," he said. "Even though I still believe we have the votes — like we did for the last several years — to pass immigration reform in the House I don’t think the Speaker, even as a lame duck, will allow a vote."

The Selectivity of American "Countering Violent Extremism" Policies

This week, the Obama administration and Congress continued their public duel over whether the U.S. government is doing enough to “counter violent extremism” (CVE). The White House press release on the “Leader’s Summit to Counter ISIL and Violent Extremism” lauded the administration’s efforts to prevent the radicalization of Muslim-American youth at the hands of ISIS. A 66-page report released by the House Homeland Security Committee (HSC) condemned the administration’s actions as inadequate on multiple levels. Both documents avoided a re-airing of unpleasant truths about why ISIS has managed to grow regionally and even find a tiny number of would-be fellow travelers here.

The first unpleasant truth is that by invading Iraq in 2003, the United States helped to give new life to Salafist-oriented groups like al Qaeda. Indeed, there was no AQ element in Iraq until after the U.S. invasion. The same was true in Libya until the ill-fated U.S.-sponsored toppling of the Qaddafi regime in 2011. Neither the administration’s press release nor the HSC report acknowledged those facts. 

Mindless American interventionism has been one of the greatest recruiting tools for Salafist groups like ISIS. 

Indeed, every Western hostage killed by ISIS was wearing an orange-colored prison jump suit-like garment, just like the ones worn by Iraqi prisoners tortured by U.S. forces at Abu Ghraib prison or those held still at Guantanamo. Neither President Obama nor the authors of the HSC report can bring themselves to admit that our own actions in the Middle East and Southwest Asia have helped to fuel the very terrorist violence and domestic recruiting efforts both decried this week.

The second unpleasant truth dodged by the White House and the HSC is that all the mass surveillance programs initiated in the post-9/11 era have failed to detect a string of real plots or actual attacks in advance. Yet the HSC report calls for a doubling-down on federal support for state-level intelligence “fusion centers,” none of which have uncovered actual terrorist plots while targeting civil liberties groups that question their utility and the constitutionality of their operational methods. 

A third unpleasant truth avoided by the HSC and the Obama administration is that CVE is not an “equal opportunity” program aimed at all kinds of violent extremists. The federal CVE focus is squarely on Arab- and Muslim-Americans, even though right-wing American political extremists have killedalmost twice as many U.S. persons in the post-9/11 era as have American Salafist-oriented terrorists.

The taxpayer-funded CVE program is little more than a rhetorically dressed up race-and-religion-profiling counterterrorism campaign. That it is failing should surprise none of us.

Read More Here

Having solved all other problems, EPA warns about threat from sunny days

**Written by Doug Powers

Gird your fronds, plant life, because the regulatory agency that worked wonders with the Animas river has issued a new warning (via Twitchy):

The link goes to a broken page because of the ravages of climate change, but it sounds as if the underlying message is "more smog to save the plants!"

The EPA might want to commandeer Mr. Burns' sun blocking machine:



These people can't even settle their ownscience:

**Written by Doug Powers

Twitter @ThePowersThatBe

For Sustainable Energy, Choose Nuclear

Russia is the New Hegemon

Russia is the New Hegemon

James Lewis

Under Obama and the Left, America has retreated from the world. We have abandoned our allies, all the way from Japan and South Korea to Saudi Arabia and Israel. Obama has supported the paleofascist Ikhwan (brotherhood) in the Sunni Arab world, and Iran in the Shi'ite half of Islam. China has snatched a major part of the South China Sea, with its undersea mineral wealth. Russia is gradually pushing Europe back from the East.

While Obama was distracting you with Mohammed the bomb-faking kid, Russia made a major anti-Iran, anti-Obama move in Syria, sending a reported 2,000 personnel to take over a large Syrian airbase in Latakia, along with the naval port of Tartous.

Putin is a strategic opportunist, and his chess game isn't hard to guess. We know he wants to exploit American weakness and betrayal of our allies to rebuild Russia as a superpower.

Russia's big move into Syria is designed to accomplish several objectives.

First, Putin is propping up Syrian president Assad. This seems to serve Iran's strategy of surrounding the Arab Sunnis and Israel in a Shi'ite Crescent. But in fact, Putin has just sliced the Iranian Crescent in half by interposing a blocking force. Assad will owe his survival to Uncle Putin, not the theocracy of Iran.

Putin has an alliance of convenience with Tehran, but Russia has centuries of experience fighting Muslim enemies, all the way to the end of the Ottoman Empire in World War I. Putin has battled Muslim rebels in Chechnya and doesn't need a rising nuclear Caliphate next door, an hour's flight from Russia's borders.

Putin is nobody's friend. He is a Russian nationalist, with a close domestic alliance with the Orthodox Church, just like the czars.

In the Armageddon world Obama has allowed to rise, Putin is a rational player compared to the suiciders of Iran.

As usual, Putin is playing a double game, helping to build Iranian nuclear power stations, each of which is also a big, fat target for air or missile attack. Putin is taking money to sell Iran 100 long-distance air-refueling planes designed to project military power far from their Iranian bases. The trouble is that those planes put Russia well within the flight radius of Iran's new nuke bombs. So Putin just sliced Iran's pincer movement around Saudi Arabia, Egypt, and Israel.

Move, countermove.

Putin claims to want to fight ISIS. He may do so. It's good cover, and would give Russia military clout in Iraq and parts of Syria.

Putin desperately needs a bigger energy supply to maintain his political clout in Europe, to supply Russia with fuel, and to try to set up a second OPEC with Russia at the top.

By rescuing the Saudis and Israel from Iranian aggression, Putin is piling up IOU's in the fast-changing world of energy politics. The world price of oil is collapsing with the spread of shale exploitation, and there is no way to stop it. China is becoming a shale producer in the South China Sea.

Russia's new military position in Syria gives him clout in the jihad war: near Turkey, now under Islamofascist Erdogan; blocking Iran, the Obama-favored regional hegemon; and as the new superpower protector of Saudi Arabia and the Gulf oil producers.

Russia's Syrian bases are also pressuring the Eastern Mediterranean, with its new shale energy discoveries; the Eastern flank of NATO; and the Balkans, under increasing threat from Iranian and Sunni subversion.

Western Europe keeps importing hostile Muslim populations from Pakistan, Africa, and the Middle East. The Germans just collapsed in the face of a phony invasion by thousands of "refugees," many men of military age, who did not bother to hide their hatred for their new welfare hosts. Europe's flabbiness is an open invitation to aggressors, both Russia and Islam, and Russia seems more rational.

Muslim infiltration and power-buying in Europe goes back to the rise of OPEC in the 1970s. The French have a long history of allying with Russia against Germany, and today they seem to be rebuilding that alliance to keep 50 million militant Muslims in check. Only Russia has the will and the military capacity to resist jihad by infiltration. France just launched a bombing raid against ISIS training camps, which happened to coincide with Putin's troop movement into Syria, which also claims to be a move against ISIS.

Our (former) allies, Egypt, Israel, and Saudi Arabia, having been backstabbed by Obama, are not saying a word against the Russian move into Syria. They may not trust Putin, but they can make deals with him. They know what he wants. Saudi Arabia can offer oil and price coordination with Russia, and help to control the Chechen rebels. Israel can utilize its new shale discoveries in the Eastern Med, and is a valuable source of badly needed technology; Egypt is in desperate straits in fighting ISIS and the Ikhwan, and can use direct military help in the Sinai Desert. Even Jordan has been directly threatened by the Iranians.

One big name is missing in all this: America.

Obama has sucked the air out of our alliances and Putin is filling the vacuum. Our own government is essentially shafting us, too, by blocking domestic oil production, for one example.

The environmental movement has always helped the Arab oil producers by creating a phony psychology of oil scarcity, putting the Saudis in control of the world price of oil.

As long as Obama is in power, things are likely to get worse for America.

By sacrificing sixty years of Pax Americana the Left has taking a wild, historic gamble. The Left hates the American ideal, and expects to benefit from Obama's dictatorial shenanigans.

It's a paradox that Vladimir Putin, who saw the Soviet model crumble, is now allied with the last powerful church in the world to become the rising new hegemon.

America got infiltrated and suckered. The new powers won't be nice guys.

Tuesday, September 29, 2015

Congress, let's fix Social Security Disability Insurance and get Americans back to work

Congress, let's fix Social Security Disability Insurance and get Americans back to work

By Tom Cotton  |
Published September 29, 2015

Nearly 11 million Americans rely on Social Security Disability Insurance (SSDI), a program intended to provide a safety net to workers who develop a serious, long-term disability. 

Most American workers pay into SSDI through their payroll taxes, but payments to beneficiaries have exceeded these taxes in recent years. Indeed, since 2009, SSDI has paid out $155 billion more than it has taken in. 

According to the 2015 annual report from the Social Security system’s trustees, the SSDI trust fund will run out in late 2016. Unless Congress acts, every one of those 11 million people will see a 19 percent cut in benefits. This will mean the average beneficiary will receive $230 less per month -- moving from barely above to below the poverty line.

SSDI was established as an insurance program for the “totally and permanently disabled.” In 1980, SSDI cost about $25 billion per year, but today, annual program costs have skyrocketed to more than $140 billion. 

The growth of the program has been driven by a number of factors, including population growth and demographic changes, but also by changes that Congress made in 1984 to make it easier to qualify for the program.

Today, nearly 300,000 Arkansans and West Virginians rely on SSDI. In some of our counties, nearly 20% of working-age people receive SSDI benefits.

Many of these individuals are permanently disabled, and we’re committed to protecting this vulnerable population. But we must also dramatically improve the program for the temporarily disabled to help them recover and return to work. 

We are not currently accomplishing this goal. 

Last year, the Social Security Administration helped fewer than 600 Arkansans and West Virginians on SSDI return to work, or about 1 in 500 of the people on the program. Nationwide, the program helps less than 1 in 200 return to work each year.

Helping those who can work get back to work will not only help those people reach their full potential through dignity of work, it will also improve the solvency of the program.

How can we accomplish this goal?

We must intervene early. On average, applicants wait more than a year before getting an SSDI eligibility decision. We can use this time to help applicants who are disabled, but have the potential for work activity stay connected to the workforce by providing support services. This can be done through vocational training, supportive employment, health services, incentives for employers, and more. The Social Security Administration (SSA) has already begun to experiment to discover the best approach to help these beneficiaries. Congress should support and strengthen these efforts.

We also need to shift SSDI from a one-size-fits-all mindset to a smarter approach that differentiates between the permanently disabled and those who, with medical treatment and rehabilitation services, can recover. 

While SSA categorizes beneficiaries based on likelihood of medical improvement, there’s no requirement to pursue rehabilitation or medical services to prepare for a return to work. We need to help individuals with temporary disabilities gain access to rehabilitation and recovery services and offer a timeline to re-enter the workforce.

Similarly, we must ensure that the Social Security Administration is regularly reviewing the health and rehabilitation status of SSDI beneficiaries. This will ensure that SSDI benefits continue for those who need them while those who have recovered can transition back to the workforce. For these individuals SSDI can be a temporary program and a way to recover – not a permanent status.

These are just a few ideas for protecting the integrity of this important program. We’re  committed to working with our colleagues in the Congress, the Social Security Administration, and beneficiaries to ensure the long-term solvency of the program. 

Our goal should be to help the temporarily disabled return to work and preserve SSDI benefits for our most vulnerable citizens.

'Preemptive Surrender': Cruz Criticizes Colleagues for Passing Spending Bill that Funds Planned Parenthood

Sen. Ted Cruz (R-TX) was fuming Monday night after his Republican colleagues voted for a "clean" spending bill that fully funds Planned Parenthood. The Senate voted 77 to 19 to advance the 10-week bill, avoiding a government shutdown that was looming Wednesday. 

Cruz, one of several conservatives determined not to see one more taxpayer dollar go to Planned Parenthood in the wake of several disturbing videos, criticized his party after the vote for about an hour, accusing them of failing to show any passion for the causes for which they are supposed to fight.

While President Obama and the Democrats have no problem "walking through glass" to defend Big Government programs, Cruz said the GOP has failed to live up to its tenets.

"Unfortunately, leadership on my side of the aisle does not practice the same commitment to principles."

The Center for Medical Progress investigation is more than enough evidence to prove Planned Parenthood is not interested in women's health, but the revenue it gets from abortion. This sinister motive, which now seems to have resulted in criminal activity, is why the Texas senator wants to see the organization defunded.

"There are multiple statues that Planned Parenthood appears to be violating, perhaps on a daily basis," he explained. "The first are selling aborted baby parts for profit, which can be up to ten years jail time."

"It is a volume business," he added. "Taking the lives of unborn children and then selling them, apparently for profit."

House Speaker John Boehner, who recently announced his resignation, was likely not amused by Cruz's speech. Without directly admitting Cruz was the bane of his existence, Boehner did suggest he and conservatives like him who are willing to shut down the government over Planned Parenthood were "false prophets."

Cruz was joined by 18 other Republican senators in voting against the spending bill, including his fellow presidential contender Rand Paul (R-KY). Because the legislation did not come attached with the controversial anti-Planned Parenthood provision, Obama is expected to accept it.

New calls for Mitch McConnell to resign

mcconnell throat

I’m more than happy to bid a fond adieu to Rep. John Boehner (R-OH) N/A%, but let’s be serious. The real problem is Sen. Mitch McConnell (R-KY) 58%. McConnell is afraid of Sen. Harry Reid (D-NV) 14%and he apparently equates surrendering to Reid with bipartisanship and with governing. Boehner’s failures were legion but, if we are to be fair to the man, at some point he had to start thinking that bruising legislative battles really weren’t worth the candle if Sen. Mitch McConnell (R-KY) 58% was going to fold without a fight.

Louisiana GOP Chairman and Deputy RNC Chairman Roger Villere has called for McConnell to do what he should have done years ago: resign.

Mr. Villere isn’t just any Republican. He’s the longest-serving state GOP chairman in the nation, with 12 years on the job, and is the vice chairman of the Republican National Committee, the GOP’s national governing body. He also serves on the RNC’s executive committee that makes decisions alongside Chairman Reince Priebus.

“Mitch is a good and honorable guy, but the base is leaving our party,” Mr. Villere said in an interview with The Washington Times. “I’m out in the field all the time and we have all our elections this year for state offices, and it’s hurting us tremendously with our elections.”

Aides for Mr. McConnell, Kentucky Republican, did not return repeated calls and emails seeking comment. A spokeswoman for Mr. Priebus said he was unavailable Sunday.

He went on to explain the source of his dissatisfaction:


Mr. Villere did say what specifically about Mr. McConnell makes his state’s rank-and-file GOPvoters so dyspeptic that they want him out as leader — his failure to challenge executive overreach by President Obama or fight to repeal Obamacare and other unpopular measures.

Mr. McConnell could have suspended consideration of confirmations for all presidential appointees, except for those who are essential to national security, until the president rescinded his unconstitutional executive action on amnesty,” Mr. Villere said.

“This would have been a constitutionally appropriate response to the overreach of the executive branch,” he said. “It would have transformed the political environment, greatly encouraged Republican donors and grass-roots activists, and positioned us to refuse to confirm replacements for any Supreme Court openings that might occur during the remainder of the Obama administration.”

Mr. Villere ticked off other sources of discontent with Mr. McConnell.

“Not trying to repeal Obamacare, not defunding Planned Parenthood, not trying to stop illegal immigration,” he said. “That is what Republicans ran on and once they were elected they did not follow up with their promises.”

Some other voices have also joined in. Last week at the Values Voter Summit, Louisiana Governor Bobby Jindal followed up the announcement that Boehner had resigned with a call for McConnell to follow him:

Presidential candidate and Louisiana Gov. Bobby Jindal (R) cheered House Speaker Rep. John Boehner (R-OH) N/A%’s (R-OH) decision to resign during his speech at the Values Voter Summit on Friday. But he said other congressional leaders should follow suit, starting with Senate Majority Leader Sen. Mitch McConnell (R-KY) 58%(R-KY).

Sen. Mitch McConnell (R-KY) 58%, it’s your turn,” Jindal said to loud applause.

The Louisiana governor said he was “actually angrier with the Republicans than with the Democrats” because they “don’t do the things they say they’re going to do.”

“It is time to fire these clowns and restore order once and for all,” he said.

Sen. Mitch McConnell (R-KY) 58%‘s leadership of the Senate has been nothing short of shameful. He clearly has no principle more dear than being popular with the Democrat caucus and cares little for the nation and the institutional Senate that he is supposed to lead.

Editor’s note: Credit for the image where it is due:

The post New calls for Mitch McConnell to resign appeared first on RedState.

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Another day, another 'Obama administration caught off guard by...' story

**Written by Doug Powers


At the end of Obama's eight years in office, somebody should attempt to add up all the times his administration was "caught off guard," "shocked," "stunned," "unaware," "clearly not expecting that to happen," "flummoxed by" and "not prepared for..." Here's another to add to the lengthy list:


This bunch could get caught off guard by the sun rising in the east:

For the second time this month, Russia moved to expand its political and military influence in the Syria conflict and left the United States scrambling, this time by reaching an understanding, announced on Sunday, with Iraq, Syria and Iran to share intelligence about the Islamic State.

Like Russia’s earlier move to bolster the government of President Bashar al-Assad by deploying warplanes and tanks to a base near Latakia, Syria, the intelligence-sharing arrangement was sealed without notice to the United States. American officials knew that a group of Russian military officers were in Baghdad, but they were clearly surprised when the Iraqi military’s Joint Operations Command announced the intelligence sharing accord on Sunday.

It was another sign that President Vladimir V. Putin of Russia was moving ahead with a sharply different tack from that of the Obama administration in battling the Islamic State, also known as ISIS or ISIL, by assembling a rival coalition that includes Iran and the Syrian government.

Putin doesn't bother to run these things by Obama because of that promised second term flexibility

**Written by Doug Powers

Twitter @ThePowersThatBe

Draft Gowdy' campaign builds steam

'Draft Gowdy' campaign builds steam
By Scott Wong - 09-29-15 12:37 PM EDT

Republicans trying to draft conservative Rep. Trey Gowdy (R-S.C.) to run for House majority leader say they’re confident he will jump in the race for the No. 2 leadership job.

“He said he would join if he was asked to serve,” said freshman Rep. Mia Love (R-Utah), a close friend who had recently spoken to Gowdy about a potential bid. “I am confident he would run."

“I do think he will run,” added fellow Utah Republican Rep. Jason Chaffetz.

A run by Gowdy, 51, a former federal prosecutor, would add a dynamic, high-profile candidate to the race, which is shaping up to be the marquee leadership contest. For the past year, Gowdy has served as chairman of the Select Committee on Benghazi.

It was his special panel that discovered the existence of a private email account former Secretary of State Hillary Clinton used to conduct government business. The Democratic presidential front-runner will publicly testify about her email before Gowdy’s committee next month.

If Gowdy enters the race, he would become the third red-state Southern conservative running for majority leader. Majority Whip Steve Scalise (R-La.) and Budget Committee Chairman Tom Price (R-Ga.) have been reaching out to GOP colleagues since Speaker John Boehner (R-Ohio) announced Friday that he was resigning from Congress at the end of October.

But it's not entirely clear whether Gowdy wants to enter the race. 

Rep. Mick Mulvaney (R-S.C.), after saying he would back Gowdy, later tweeted that he had spoken with Gowdy for 20 minutes and was certain he would not run.


In a statement, Gowdy spokeswoman Amanda Duvall didn’t directly answer a question about whether her boss planned to join the leadership race.

“Chairman Gowdy is focused on the Benghazi Committee and will serve in that capacity so long as the committee exists,” Duvall said. “He appreciates the confidence of his colleagues and looks forward to tonight's conference discussion” about the future of the GOP.

Gowdy backers say he would be a unifying force at a time there is a chasm between establishment Republicans like Boehner and Tea Party conservatives.

“We have good, strong candidates, but Trey Gowdy is unique in his ability to bring the most conservative members together with the most moderate,” Chaffetz said. “He is also by far the best orator, he can make the case and persuade a jury better than anyone else I’ve ever met.”

The current majority leader, Rep. Kevin McCarthy (R-Calif.), is expected to succeed Boehner, creating a vacancy in the No. 2 post.

Republican Conference Chairwoman Cathy McMorris Rodgers (R-Wash.) dropped out of the race for majority leader Monday night after support didn’t materialize, but another blue-state lawmaker, Rep. Peter Roskam (R-Ill.), is mulling a bid.

Chaffetz, chairman of the Oversight Committee, launched a “Draft Gowdy” campaign during an appearance on Fox News Tuesday morning, saying his entry into the race would be “heaven sent.”  

Love, who watched the most recent GOP presidential debate with Gowdy, followed suit, pitching the idea of a Gowdy run to GOP colleagues Tuesday inside a closed-door meeting of House Republicans, sources told The Hill.

Rep. Jim Jordan (R-Ohio), who serves on the Oversight Committee and leads the conservative House Freedom Caucus, spent part of the morning huddling privately with Gowdy during a committee hearing on Planned Parenthood. Afterward, he said it was too soon to offer a full endorsement for Gowdy, who also belongs to the Freedom Caucus.

"Trey Gowdy is a good guy, but as a group, we’re looking at this whole thing, and I think its going to be fluid and dynamic process and I think we should wait a while before we have these elections," Jordan said during a hearing break.

Others joined the effort as well. Freshman Rep. Lee Zeldin (R-N.Y.), the only Jewish Republican in Congress, endorsed Gowdy, calling him an “effective leader with tremendous intellect, moral character, charisma, vision and heart.”

Another South Carolina Republican — Rep. Joe Wilson — said Gowdy would have his backing as well.

Wilson has already committed to another candidate in the leader’s race but said he would change his commitment if Gowdy announced a bid.

“Gosh, he’d be great,” Wilson told The Hill.

Sarah Ferris contributed.

- Updated at 2:33 p.m.

Trump plan slashes taxes for middle class, businesses

Trump plan slashes taxes for middle class, businesses
By Bernie Becker - 09-28-15 11:45 AM EDT

For weeks, Donald Trump has talked up a tax plan that he insisted would be greeted with jeers on Wall Street.

But the plan unveiled by the GOP presidential front-runner Monday won praise from GOP establishment circles in Washington, and it even shares some big-picture ideas with the tax proposal released by one of the Republican candidates Trump most likes to insult: Jeb Bush.

Both Bush’s and Trump’s plans contain a couple of planks more in line with the populist thinking of the moment, such as proposals to end an incentive for money managers known as “carried interest.” Both also seek to slash tax rates for businesses and individuals, and they maintain that their plans would give the economy a jolt. 

Howard Gleckman of the Urban-Brookings Tax Policy Center called Trump’s plan a “classic” Republican proposal dating back to Ronald Reagan. “It’s very conventional,” Gleckman said. “Only bigger.”

Anti-tax groups in Washington, including Grover Norquist’s Americans for Tax Reform, were quick to praise Trump’s plan. Liberal groups and economists just as swiftly derided it as merely the most recent GOP effort over the last few decadesto offer vast tax cuts to the rich.

And even the Club for Growth, the conservative group which has sparred with Trump for weeks, didn’t question Trump’s policy as much as the candidate who released it.

“His tax plan begs the question: Does this mean you were completely wrong about all your liberal policies on taxes, trade, healthcare, bailouts, and eminent domain?” said David McIntosh, the Club’s president.

Trump himself focused largely on the more populist items in a plan that would slash the top rate paid by corporations by more than half and make the tax rate zero for millions of people with the lowest incomes.

At a news conference at the Trump Tower in New York, he said his plan would “provide major tax relief” for the middle class and help Americans who are looking for work because jobs are moving abroad. 

“It’s going to cost me a fortune,” Trump said, later adding: “We have an amazing code. It will be simple, it will be easy, it will be fair.”

But Trump, who has railed against trade deals and Wall Street tycoons, also has no shortage of proposals long favored by traditional conservative economists. Trump said he developed the plan in consultation with leading tax experts but declined to name them. 

He would cut the top individual tax rate from 39.6 percent to 25 percent and scrap both the estate tax and the alternative minimum tax. All businesses would face a top rate of 15 percent, a steep drop from the current 
corporate rate of 35 percent or the top individual rate paid by some business owners.

The seven income tax brackets would be collapsed into brackets of zero, 10 percent, 20 percent and 25 percent, while the top tax rate on capital gains would see a slight dip, from 23.8 percent to 20 percent.

Trump made it clear that he thinks major Wall Street players will do just fine under his plan because of economic growth that he says will average between 3 percent and 6 percent a year.

“I actually believe they’ll do better, because I think the economy will grow,” Trump said. “It’ll grow rapidly, and we’ll have something very special.”

Trump’s tax plan is his third major policy proposal, after releasing plans on the Second Amendment and on immigration reform, which was roundly panned for being unrealistic. 

The billionaire businessman is leading Republican polls for 2016, with GOP voters gravitating to outsiders. Two other GOP candidates who have never held public office, retired neurosurgeon Ben Carson and businesswoman Carly Fiorina, have combined with Trump to take more than half of the support in some recent polls.

Trump says his tax plan wouldn’t add to the deficit and that he plans to pay for the cuts in part by eliminating incentives largely used by the wealthy, including an exemption on life insurance interest. He wouldn’t cut the deduction for mortgage interest or charitable giving, two of the most expensive — and popular — incentives in the code.

But both Gleckman and Kyle Pomerleau of the free-market Tax Foundation were skeptical that Trump’s plan wouldn’t add to the deficit. Bush’s proposal does not cut individual or corporate rates as deeply as Trump’s, and the Tax Foundation predicted that the former Florida governor’s plan would cost between $1.6 trillion and $3.7 trillion over a decade.

Sen. Marco Rubio (R-Fla.) has released a plan that doesn’t cut individual income tax rates as much but has more incentives for families and eliminates taxes on capital gains. Sen. Rand Paul (R-Ky.) has rolled out a flat tax plan. Both would also add to the deficit.

“It’s hard to believe that this would be revenue-neutral,” Pomerleau said of Trump’s proposal, adding the top 1 percent of wage earners would likely be the biggest beneficiaries. 

Trump’s plan wouldn’t hit all taxpayers who use carried interest, and some of those affected might even get a better deal because of Trump’s rate cuts. And as Gleckman put it, ending carried interest is like finding “lost nickels in the sofa cushions.”

Under Trump’s framework, single filers earning up to $25,000 and married couples earning up to $50,000 per year would pay no income tax.

Those taxpayers would, according to the Trump campaign, get a new IRS form saying simply: “I win.”

Trump would also levy a one-time 10 percent tax on the corporate earnings held abroad — currently estimated at more than $2 trillion — whether the profits are brought back to the U.S. or not. 

The GOP front-runner does break from traditional Republican thinking in some ways. He would not move toward a system that shields offshore corporate income from U.S. taxation, though the business community is likely to be attracted to the 15 percent tax rate for businesses. 

Bush has called for allowing businesses to immediately write off investments, another favorite of economists on the right.

Pomerleau, for instance, said that Trump would have trouble spurring economic growth because he wasn’t more generous on business expensing.

“He is missing portions of the sort of pro-growth tax policy that have been part of previous GOP tax proposals,” Pomerleau said.

This story was updated at 7:58 p.m.

Ludwig von Mises: Scholar of Free Markets and Prophet of Liberty