As tensions with Iran escalate, former Obama administration officials and their media allies have been working to push the narrative that the leading state sponsor of terrorism was somehow under control as a result of the Iran nuclear deal. In this alternate universe, 'they' would have us believe the relevant timeline for Iranian aggression against the United States that precipitated the killing of Qassem Soleimani starts in May 2018, when President Donald Trump pulled out of the deal and ignited a conflict between the two nations.
This self-serving and distorted account of history not only ignores decades of hostile behavior by one of the world's leading rogue regimes but also years of aggressive and destabilizing actions by Iran over the course of the Obama presidency -- before the nuclear deal was signed, during negotiations, and after it was implemented. Far from keeping Iran under control, Barack Obama's deal further enabled Iran's malicious behavior and made the Democratic Party and the news media complicit in downplaying its bad actions.
A more appropriate Iranian timeline begins with the 1979 seizure of our embassy in Tehran and the detention of dozens of U.S. diplomats for more than a year. It continues in Lebanon, with Iran's April 1983 murder of 17 Americans at the U.S. Embassy in Beirut, and the October 1983 slaughter of 241 U.S. peacekeepers as they slept in their barracks. Iran's gripe with these public servants? They served a multisectarian cause that obstructed Ayatollah Ruhollah Khomeini's subjugation of the Lebanese people. Regrettably, in President Ronald Reagan's withdrawal of U.S. forces from Lebanon, Iran and al-Qaida found a rationale for new terrorism. In 1996, Iranian agents attacked a U.S. military barracks in Saudi Arabia, killing 19 Americans who had been working to maintain a no-fly zone against Iran's nemesis, Saddam Hussein.
During the 2006 to 2009 period in Iraq, Soleimani's Quds Force deployed explosively formed penetrator shells to Shiite militias in Iraq. These weapons killed hundreds of Americans and maimed thousands more. To be clear, Iran's actions were not designed to end foreign intervention in Iraq but to push America out so that Iran could dictate Iraqi politics. Although little known, another Quds Force attack in 2007 saw four Americans kidnapped from a meeting with Iraqi officials in Karbala and executed while in handcuffs. In Afghanistan, Iran provided weapons and logistics support to various insurgent groups, including the Taliban.
That brings us to the Obama administration. Just months into Obama's presidency, democratic protests broke out across Iran. Yet Obama remained mostly silent, refusing to offer clear, even rhetorical support for the demonstrators, fearing tough statements could endanger diplomatic overtures to Tehran. The regime predictably conducted a brutal crackdown against protesters. Obama, following through with his promise to "extend a hand," sent a series of letters to Iran's leader, Ayatollah Ali Khamenei, reeking of desperation.
But Obama's overtures did not change Iranian behavior. Two years after our president had offered an outstretched hand to Tehran, seeking a new relationship, Iran attempted to blow up civilians in our nation's capital. In 2011, under the direction of Soleimani, the Quds Force plotted to blow up the Saudi ambassador at Washington, D.C.'s Cafe Milano restaurant. When the operations agent responsible for carrying out the attack told his Quds handler that the explosion might kill one hundred diners, he was told: "F--- 'em."
Yet that's not all. Both during nuclear negotiations and after the deal was signed, Iran helped Bashar Assad slaughter hundreds of thousands of his people in Syria. The Quds Force and its allies have played a special role in starving Sunni-dominated settlements. In Lebanon, Iran and its Hezbollah ally have blackmailed or bombed dozens of patriots opposed to Tehran's interference. The list of victims includes many security officials and, most notably, former Prime Minister Rafic Hariri. In Yemen, Iran has helped fuel the civil war by supporting Houthi extremists.
Obama continued on his course of rapprochement at all costs. Desperate to reach a nuclear accord with Tehran, he ignored terrorist fundraising networks, such as Hezbollah's multibillion-dollar drug and weapons trafficking business, and tolerated Iranian plots against U.S. interests.
What provokes a particularly contemptuous laugh about the contention that the Iran deal kept a lid on bad behavior by the Iranians is that at the time, its supporters argued that other issues, such as terrorism and human rights abuses, would be dealt with on a separate track. After striking a deal with Iran in 2015, John Kerry declared at the outset: "First, what we are announcing today is an agreement addressing the threat posed by Iran's nuclear program -- period -- just the nuclear program."
They said the two were unconnected when the deal was struck, and now they want us to believe that the collapse of the deal is what produced Iranian hostilities. The idea that the nuclear deal exclusively dealt with nuclear issues was a myth. The reality was that the issues were treated separately when it came to the U.S. restricting bad Iranian behavior, but they were not dealt with separately when it came to numerous concessions that enabled bad Iranian behavior. As a result of the deal, Iran received hundreds of billions of dollars of sanctions relief, which Kerry conceded might be used to finance terrorism.
The Iran deal was not disastrous because Obama accepted a weak inspections protocol, although he did. It was awful because, even if the deal were followed to the letter, it still enabled the regime to become a more powerful conventional threat by providing the mullahs with the money to pursue terrorism and the freedom to develop ballistic missiles. Furthermore, restrictions imposed by the deal would have started to sunset after 10 years, meaning the terror state still maintained its long-term ability to develop nuclear weapons.
The Obama administration and its allies ignored bad Iranian behavior to secure the nuclear deal and then downplayed subsequent Iranian bad behavior to defend the deal. And now........., they're attempting to blame Trump for bad Iranian behavior to distract people from recognizing the failed legacy of the deal.
Here's my 2020 New Year's gift to the Democratic Party. This is a teachable moment. I'm going to teach Democrats how real Americans think.
It appears to one on the outside looking in that Democrats live in a bubble. They believe the lies, fraud and "fake news" spouted by Democratic politicians, Liberal media such as CNN, MSNBC, PBS .... the mainstream media in general. They are never exposed to anything else, so they have no idea what real Americans think.
Just look at the makeup of the Democratic Party.
To me, "real Americans" are those born in the United States or those who came here legally who actually earn a living and pay into the system. These are the American voters who have earned the right to decide the direction of America. I call them the Silent Majority.
There were two teachable moments in the past week. Liberals have no clue how the Silent Majority thinks. The liberal reaction to both incidents is nothing short of a disaster for the Democratic Party. So let me explain to Democrats how real Americans think about these two life-and-death events.
First, we have the Texas church shooting. A hero shot the perp dead in seconds with one shot through the head. Bravo. Standing ovation. But if he had missed, six more churchgoers were already armed and ready to run toward the evildoer.
This is exactly how we must stop acts of evil and terrorism. The Second Amendment is there to protect good people. The way to protect churches and synagogues is with armed security, trained and armed volunteers, and parishioners in the audience legally allowed to carry guns.
Government can't save you. Police can't save you because they are not already there when violence happens. If it is to be, it is up to you and me.
We all need to take personal responsibility and learn to protect ourselves. The citizens are the true first responders. We must all understand that, now more than ever. This is the clear lesson real Americans who understand this man saved lives, learned from this incident.
Second was President Donald Trump's decision to kill Iranian Gen. Qassem Soleimani with a missile strike. Soleimani was evil personified. The second most powerful Iranian, Soleimani coordinated the murder of hundreds of American soldiers, 600 that intel is absolutely positive of and who how many more we do not know for sure. He was planning many attacks against American interests in Iraq. President Trump blew him to hell.
The mullahs of Iran and bad guys across the world (think Kim Jong Un of North Korea) are now on notice. America is no longer a paper tiger. We will fight back. There is a new sheriff in town, and he's the fastest gun in the West... Literally.
New message sent: If you attack America or Americans, we will hunt you down, and you will die.
Real Americans support President Trump's decision 100%. We are high-fiving -- and we think any Democrat or Hollywood celebrity who defends evil Iran is a traitor to America.
Are you listening, Reps. Ilhan Omar, Rashida Tlaib and Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez? Are you listening, Rose McGowan, Robert DeNiro and John Cusack?
So liberals, please accept this message as a New Year's gift.
Proceed with caution on the topics of good citizens with guns defending themselves from bad guys and America defending itself from evil murdering terrorist regimes. Real Americans believe in peace through strength.
Get this wrong and your Democratic Party will cease to exist as a viable political party.
From an outbreak of mysterious lung-injury deaths to America’s near loss of measles elimination status, the beginning of the end of the U.S. HIV epidemic to the Ebola outbreak in the Democratic Republic of the Congo (DRC), CDC worked around the clock – and around the globe – to protect Americans from domestic and global health threats in 2019.
Here’s a closer look at some of the biggest health issues that CDC tackled this year:
Responding to outbreaks and threats
Lung Injuries linked to E-Cigarette use, Vaping, (EVALI)-
CDC continues investigating the outbreak of lung injury associated with the use of e-cigarette, or vaping, products, together with state and local health departments and federal partners, such as the U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA).
As of December 10, CDC reported 52 deaths and 2,409 cases of hospitalized EVALI by all 50 states, Washington D.C, Puerto Rico, and the U.S. Virgin Islands.
In a breakthrough, CDC laboratories detected vitamin E acetate in the lungs of EVALI patients – direct evidence suggesting that this sticky substance is present in many EVALI cases. Investigation into other possible causes continues.
In September, CDC activated its Emergency Operations Center (EOC) to enhance the inter-agency response to the EVALI outbreak. EOC activation allowed the agency to increase its coordinated operational support for the response to meet the outbreak’s evolving challenges. CDC is providing assistance in epidemiology, disease surveillance, pathologic consultation, clinical guidance development, and communication.
Drug overdoses continue to be a major problem across America. There were over 70,000 U.S. drug overdose deaths in 2017, the most recent year for which final data are available.
Over two-thirds involved opioids, including heroin and synthetic opioids (such as illicitly manufactured fentanyl and fentanyl analogs). There have also been recent increases in overdose deaths involving cocaine (largely due to contamination with opioids) and methamphetamines and other psychostimulants with misuse potential (both with and without opioids).
The prescribing and dispensing of the overdose-reversing drug naloxone is a critical part of the public health response to the opioid overdose epidemic. Naloxone saves lives – but only if it’s readily available when an overdose occurs.
Antibiotic (AR) and Antimicrobial Resistance (AMR)-
Antibiotic-resistant (AMR) bacteria and fungi cause more than 2.8 million infections and 35,000 deaths in the United States each year, according to a November 13 CDC report. These are sometimes referred to as antimicrobial-resistant germs.
On average, every 11 seconds someone in the United States gets an antibiotic-resistant (AR) infection – and every 15 minutes, someone dies. When Clostridioides difficile, a bacterium that is not typically resistant but can cause severe diarrhea resulting in death and is associated with antibiotic use, is added to these, the U.S. toll of all the threats exceeds 3 million infections and 48,000 deaths annually.
There were nearly twice as many annual deaths from AR infections as CDC originally reported in 2013. The update comes from previously unavailable data sources. Since then, prevention efforts have reduced deaths from AR infections by 18% overall and by nearly 30% in hospitals. Without continued vigilance, this progress may be challenged by the increasing burden of some infections.
Throughout 2019, CDC investigated and resolved more than 75 outbreaks related to food or animal contact. Notable Salmonella outbreaks were linked to ground beef, raw turkey, pre-cut melons, and papayas. E. coli outbreaks were linked to flour, ground bison, and romaine lettuce. Additionally, there was the largest ever outbreak of Salmonella infections linked to backyard chickens, and an outbreak of drug-resistant Salmonella infections linked to pig-ear dog treats.
A recent Morbidity and Mortality Weekly Report (MMWR) documented persistent racial and ethnic disparities in pregnancy-related deaths. American Indian, Alaska Native, and black women were two to three times as likely to die from a pregnancy-related cause as were white women.
According to a 2019 CDC Vital Signs report, 3 in 5 pregnancy-related deaths could have been prevented. Overall, heart disease and stroke cause more than 1 in 3 pregnancy-related deaths—other leading causes include infections and severe bleeding. The leading causes of death differ by time period throughout pregnancy and after delivery.
Ensuring quality care for mothers throughout pregnancy and the postpartum period can reduce preventable maternal deaths.
This year, there were more U.S. measles cases than in any of the last 25 years. As of December 5, CDC reported 1,276 cases of measles in 31 states for 2019. This is the largest number of cases reported in the U.S. since 1992 (963 cases).
The U.S. maintained its measles elimination status of nearly 20 years after a nearly year-long outbreak in New York City and New York State ended in the fall. The high number of cases in 2019 was primarily the result of a few large outbreaks – one in Washington State and two large outbreaks in New York that started in late 2018, all of them among close, tight-knit communities. Despite high nationwide coverage with the measles, mumps, and rubella vaccine, there are still communities where low vaccination rates leave people vulnerable to these dangerous diseases.
Immunization and Vaccination-
According to a 2019 CDC Vital Signs report, nearly two-thirds of pregnant women in the United States have not received the two vaccines recommended during pregnancy for influenza and whooping cough (pertussis). Low rates of vaccination during pregnancy leave expecting moms and babies unprotected and at high risk for hospitalization and even death.
To date, influenza activity for the 2019-2020 season in the United States remains low. Receiving a seasonal influenza vaccine each year remains the best way to prevent seasonal flu. CDC recommends annual influenza vaccination for everyone 6 months and older with any licensed, influenza vaccine that is appropriate for the recipient’s age and health status. In addition to keeping you from getting sick with flu, the vaccine has other benefits including being life-saving for children, protecting pregnant women and their babies, and reducing the risk of a heart attack in people with heart disease.
A recent study published in CDC’s Morbidity and Mortality Weekly Report revealed that an estimated 92% of cancers caused by the human papilloma virus (HPV) could be prevented by the HPV vaccine. CDC recommends that all preteens get the multi-dose HPV vaccine when they are 11 or 12 years old – before they are ever exposed to the virus. However, according to the 2018 National Immunization Survey Teen, only 51% of all teens received all recommended doses of the HPV vaccine.
Domestic Preparedness and Global Health Security
As the outbreak in the Democratic Republic of the Congo (DRC) continues, the number of Ebola cases has reached 3,313 and more than 2,204 deaths. To rapidly identify cases and prevent further spread of Ebola, CDC continues to work with the U.S. embassy in DRC to rapidly respond to “hotspots” where the security situation is permissible. CDC also continues to closely coordinate with partners across the Department of Health and Human Services on continuing efforts to fight this outbreak.
In June, CDC activated its Emergency Operations Center (EOC) to support the coordinated inter-agency response to the outbreak in eastern DRC. As of December 13, 2019, CDC staff have conducted 573 deployments to the DRC, neighboring countries, and WHO headquarters. CDC has permanent staff in the three high-risk countries bordering the outbreak (South Sudan, Rwanda, Uganda), including staff in DRC.
DRC has more than 300 graduates of CDC’s Field Epidemiology and Laboratory Training Program who are playing a central role in this public health response.
2020: Looking Ahead-
In 2020 CDC will remain vigilant to combat these and other urgent threats. Health threats can arise at any time – at home or abroad – and CDC’s most important mission is always to protect the health of the American public from the unexpected.
To learn more about the work of CDC visit : CDC.gov
Thayer School of Engineering at Dartmouth College in Hanover, New Hampshire, has accepted an invitation to partner with Qaanaaq, an Arctic hunting and fishing community in northwestern Greenland, as the residents transition to renewable energy and an affordable, sustainable future.
Funded by a US$2.6 million grant from the National Science Foundation, the project is expected to produce sustainable technological solutions that will also benefit other communities facing the effects of the climate crisis, including areas in the mid-latitudes.
Formerly and still popularly known as Thule or New Thule, Qaanaaq is one of the northernmost towns in the world.
The people of Qaanaaq, many of whom make their living by hunting and fishing through sea ice, asked Mary Albert, a professor of engineering at Thayer, to collaborate with them in their transition to affordable, renewable energy. Albert has worked in Greenland for many years studying snow and climate. She knows the citizens from her previous work and has agreed to lead the new team.
The Thayer team expects to travel to Qaanaaq for two weeks in the spring and two weeks in the fall each year for the next four years starting in April 2020. Previous funding from the Arthur L. Irving Institute for Energy and Society at Dartmouth enabled the team to visit Qaanaaq earlier this year to help identify the area’s needs.
Professor Albert says their work will support the Qaanaaq residents’ hunting and fishing way of living, which is currently unsustainable.
Albert says the people of Qaanaaq are excited about the prospect of decreasing their dependence on diesel and other fossil fuels, which are expensive and unsustainable.
Today, 70 percent (already pretty impressive) of Greenland’s energy is renewable hydropower from melt-fed rivers, but due to the conditions in the Qaanaaq area, many sources of sustainable energy, such as hydropower, are not feasible.
“It’s not a straightforward problem – it’s multifaceted. It involves equity, policy, the economy, ecosystems, societal culture, as well as engineering principles. All those aspects come into innovative solutions for this community,” said Albert.
Albert is confident the team, which includes research scientists, practitioners, and community members in Greenland, will be able to improve living standards as well as create sustainable solutions through the combination of technology innovation, youth education, and governmental policy change.
“In order to have a healthy community, we need to address the economic issues that accompany our energy needs and help promote a more sustainable society,” said Lene Kielsen Holm, who is the Greenland lead for the project. “Economic change would produce many beneficial side effects such as enabling more independence and bringing people back to a more balanced everyday life.”
“This project demonstrates engaged science in action,” said Stephen Doig, who contributed to the grant proposal and will travel with the research team to Greenland as research director at the Irving Institute. “It’s about understanding common goals and aspirations and then helping create and act on a plan.”
The Qaanaaq area in northwestern Greenland was first settled around 2000 BC by the Paleo-Eskimo people migrating from the Canadian Arctic.
The town of Qaanaaq was established in the winter of 1953 when the United States expanded Thule Air Base and forcibly relocated the population of two villages to the north within four days.
The settlement was subsequently moved another 100 km (62 miles) north.
With 656 inhabitants as of 2013, Qaanaaq is now the largest settlement in Greenland’s far north. Its population has been stable with only minor fluctuations since the mid-1990s. With its relatively low population and tradition of hunting, the village currently has more huskies than human residents.
Qaanaaq hosts a remote Comprehensive Nuclear-Test-Ban Treaty Organization infrasound listening station called IS-18, which uses an array of barometric sensors to detect possible nuclear tests around the world. The station is maintained by the Danish Meteorological Institute.
Rounding out the Dartmouth-Qaanaaq team will be Christopher Polashenski, adjunct assistant professor of engineering, and Weiyang (Fiona) Li, an assistant professor of engineering, as well as three Thayer PhD students and a postdoctoral fellow.
“This is an amazing opportunity to link science and human needs directly,” said Polashenski. “Only by understanding the complex linkages between environmental change and human activities can we plan for our future.”
The National Science Foundation grant is part of the NSF’s 10 Big Ideas program, which identifies and invests in research areas at the frontiers of science and engineering.
Navigating the New Arctic, one of the 10 Big Ideas, recognizes that biological, physical, chemical, and social changes in the Arctic will fundamentally alter climate, weather, and ecosystems globally with profound impacts on the world’s economy and security.
© Environment News Service (ENS) 2020. All rights reserved.
If you have an adult family member who is incapable of caring for themselves due to a physical or mental condition, it may be necessary to establish a legal guardianship for that person. A guardian is basically someone appointed by a judge to make decisions on behalf of an incapacitated person, who is known as the “ward.”
Because the ward loses significant legal rights under a guardianship, Florida requires family members and judges to take certain steps before a guardian can be named. One of these steps is for the court to appoint an examining committee of three people. This committee must conduct a “comprehensive examination” of the person under consideration for guardianship. Depending on the circumstances, this must include a physical examination, a mental health examination, and a “functional assessment” of the individual.
Court: Examining Committee Failed to Properly Examine Ward
In a recent decision, Cook v. Cook, the Florida Fourth District Court of Appeals dug a little deeper into this law, looking at what meets the “comprehensive examination” requirement. In this case, a group of siblings asked a judge in Palm Beach County to appoint a guardian for their brother, who they said had been “living like a recluse” in his condo for several years and was “unable to plan for his affairs or make practical decisions.”
The judge appointed the three-member examining committee as required by law. The committee included a primary care doctor, a licensed psychologist, and a layperson. The doctor interviewed the ward, reviewed his file, and determined the ward suffered from “psychosis.” The psychiatrist conducted a similar review and concluded the ward suffered from clinical depression. The layperson said the ward “was in denial” about his mental health.
Based on this and other evidence, the judge decided to place the ward in a guardianship. The ward appealed this decision. And by a 2-1 vote, the Fourth District reversed the trial court's ruling after determining the examining committee failed in its duty to conduct a “comprehensive examination.”
The two-judge majority pointed to the following problems with how the committee completed its task:
● None of the committee members actually “performed a physical examination” of the ward, nor did they explain why they neglected to conduct such an exam.
● The psychologist only conducted a basic mental health exam of the ward. The psychologist also told the court the ward needed “further evaluation.” But the psychologist never performed such an evaluation.
The dissenting judge argued the examining committee did its job properly, and that additional evidence–such as the testimony of the ward's family–was sufficient to justify appointing a guardian.
As you can see from this case, the decision to place an incapacitated adult under a guardianship is not a simple one. Even if you are 100 percent convinced a sibling, parent, or other relative can no longer care for themselves, the law still affords that person certain protections that must be respected. So if you are looking to establish a guardianship, you should speak with an experienced Fort Myers estate planning lawyer who can advise and assist you with the process. Contact the Kuhn Law Firm, P.A., at 239-333-4529 to schedule a free consultation with a member of our team today.
Fifteen years after the U.S. invaded Iraq to turn Saddam Hussein's dictatorship into a beacon of democracy, Iraq's Parliament, amid shouts of "Death to America!" voted to expel all U.S. troops from the country.
Though nonbinding, the expulsion vote came after mobs trashed the U.S. embassy in an assault that recalled Tehran 1979.
What provoked Iraq's Parliament into demanding the ouster of all U.S. troops?
First, the five December U.S. strikes on Iraq's Popular Mobilization Forces in retaliation for a dozen Kataib Hezbollah rocket attacks on U.S. bases, which killed a contractor and wounded four U.S. soldiers.
Then came President Donald Trump's decision to launch a drone-strike and kill Iranian General Qassem Soleimani at Baghdad International Airport. Killed in the same strike was the
Shiite Iraqi leader of Kataib Hezbollah.
During his return flight to Washington Sunday, Trump warned Iraq: Follow through on your demand that all U.S. troops get out, and we will insist that Baghdad repay the money we just spent on a major air base.
Moreover, said Trump, if Iraqis expel U.S. troops, then we will impose upon them "sanctions like they've never seen before, ever. It'll make Iranian sanctions look somewhat tame."
Where do we stand now in Iraq?
Though Sunnis and Kurds abstained, the Iraqi parliament has voted to expel all our troops. The State Department has urged U.S. civilians to flee Iraq. 82nd Airborne units have moved into the region to protect the U.S. embassy. U.S. troops fighting ISIS alongside Iraqi troops have separated themselves and stood down. In Iraq, the war on terrorism is on hold.
Across the Middle East, U.S. diplomats, soldiers and civilians are on alert. The acting prime minister of Iraq, in an echo of Tehran and radical Shiites, is demanding that all 5,200 U.S. soldiers in Iraq depart.
How can our troops, detested by the PMF militias and their thousands of fighters, unwanted by the Iraqi Parliament majority, the acting prime minister, and much of the Shiite majority, remain safely inside the capital city of Baghdad or the country?
What a difference a presidential decision can make.
Two months ago, crowds were in the streets of Iraq protesting Iran's dominance of their politics. Crowds were in the streets of Iran cursing that regime for squandering the nation's resources on imperial adventures in Iraq, Syria, Lebanon, Yemen. Things were going America's way.
Now it is the Americans who are the targets of protests.
Over three days, crowds numbering in the hundreds of thousands and even millions have packed Iraqi and Iranian streets and squares to pay tribute to Soleimani and to curse the Americans who killed him.
As emotions are running high and America's friends in the region are mute, the twin goals of Iran and its militia allies appear clear:
Tehran wants to avoid a war with the United States, but to direct the passions of the moment toward forcing an expulsion of the Americans from the Middle East, beginning with their ouster from Iraq.
Thus, Tehran has signaled that its retaliation, its revenge for the death of Soleimani, a military man, will be proportionate. Tehran is telegraphing an attack on the U.S. military. Hassan Nasrallah, the head of Hezbollah in Lebanon, has called on his followers not to attack innocent Americans in the region but to zero in on U.S. military targets.
Oddly, what the America-haters of the Middle East seek is what Soleimani wanted, and what Trump promised in his campaign of 2016 -- an end to U.S. involvement in the forever wars of the Middle East.
Perhaps, rather than sending troops into Iraq and Kuwait to defend U.S. troops already there, we should accede to the local nationalist demands, start bringing our troops home, and let Iranians, Iraqis, Libyans, Syrians, Yemenis and Afghans settle their quarrels.
Despite the rage in Iran over the killing of Soleimani, the political imperatives that existed before last Friday's drone strike remain.
Iran does not want war with the United States. And Trump wants no war with Iran.
But Iran made a mistake in its extrapolation from that truth.
Assuming that because Trump did not want war, he would recoil from a fight, Soleimani believed he could kill Americans with impunity, as long as his
fingerprints were not on the murder weapon.
Killing Soleimani was just. But what is just is not always wise.
Yet, his killing restores Trump's credibility as a Jacksonian who avoids wars but who, wounded, will stab the enemy who cut him.
Trump has a red line. It is not shooting at American drones but shooting at American soldiers, the drawing of American blood.
The message the rulers of Iran should have received?
If they retaliate for Soleimani by killing American soldiers, diplomats or civilians, using either Iranian troops or proxy militias, Trump will retaliate against Iran itself.
Otherwise, "Come Home, America," George McGovern's slogan from the 1972 presidential campaign, has rarely seemed more relevant.
Patrick J. Buchanan
Hollywood loves taking apart conservatives. So when presented with the idea of men in the highest reaches of the conservative media sexually harassing women at the office, it was manna from heaven.
You'll not find a TV dramatization of Harvey Weinstein's predations ripped from the headlines. There's no movie on the alleged sexual misconduct by Matt Lauer at his hellish NBC offices, or Charlie Rose's at CBS. There is only "Bombshell," a fictionalized account of the hostile, sexist atmosphere at Fox News.
The filmmaker on this one is Jay Roach, who has made a series of comically leftist movies for HBO, such as one on Al Gore being denied the presidency ("Recount") and one on Sarah Palin's losing turn as vice presidential nominee ("Game Change"). Roach's idea of a hero movie was "Trumbo," based on screenwriter Dalton Trumbo, who, in the '40s, slavishly plopped Stalinist talking points into movies and belonged to the Communist Party USA, for which he was blacklisted.
Woe is anyone who goes to these movies expecting a faithful recounting of history. What you get instead is rampant editorializing and fiction. Characters are made up out of whole cloth and placed into real events. In "Bombshell," Fake Megyn Kelly and Fake Gretchen Carlson are digitized into actual Fox News footage. Two other central characters in this anti-Fox hit job -- an evangelical Christian beauty and a snarky, Hillary Clinton-loving lesbian Fox staffer -- are pure inventions.
The lesbian staffer describes the Fox ethos in this way: "You have to adopt the mentality of an Irish street cop. The world is a bad place. People are lazy morons. Minorities are criminals. Sex is sick but interesting. ... Ask yourself, 'What would scare my grandmother or piss off my grandfather?' And that's a Fox story."
Virtually everyone, and this includes Fox employees, has no idea what here is actually true and what is entirely made up. The media suggest the details aren't that important. What's important is "starting a conversation."
So long as that conversation isn't about liberal predators.
To his credit, CNN's Brian Stelter asked Roach: "I'm thinking myself, where's the -- where's the Matt Lauer movie? Where's the Les Moonves? Are those coming? I'm serious." Roach insisted there's a Harvey Weinstein documentary coming, and that someone will make a film about Ronan Farrow's struggles with NBC News in reporting on Weinstein's abuses.
"I would happily make that movie," he claimed. Don't bet a nickel on it.
Oh, how they objected to the concept of composite characters in movies based on real events when the subject was Clint Eastwood's "Richard Jewell," where it's implied that an actual Atlanta Journal-Constitution reporter (now deceased) offered sex for information from a fictional FBI agent. But these voices are silent when it comes to the Fox News-bashing movie.
The same thing is happening with "The Two Popes," a Netflix film spinning a tale about the relationship between crusty, traditionalist Pope Benedict XVI and his forward-looking successor, Pope Francis. Entire conversations are manufactured to dramatize the differences between conservative and liberal takes on the Catholic Church.
Catholic journalist Raymond Arroyo was poignant in saying: "It's a nicely acted fantasia, unmoored from fact, that misses the true character of both men. It is slanderous toward 1 Pope and overly fawning toward the other, serving neither the audience nor history."
If you're looking for historical truth in Hollywood movies, you're looking in the wrong spot.
L. Brent Bozell III
and Tim Graham
I’m starting this column with what I believe is a very telling question:
What FBI Director has been involved in more controversy in criminal investigations, with lots of allegations of corruption against him and within the ranks of the FBI – since J. Edgar Hoover’s death? (I don’t remember ANY during Hoover’s tenure.)
Is the answer James Comey? You bet it is and that, by itself, should make a reasonable man ask WHY?
Why would Comey violate the Federal Rules of Criminal Procedure and make prosecutorial comments, his opinions, regarding ongoing criminal investigations against Hillary Clinton?
There must be very close ties with the Clintons. Well, a little research is very revealing. Check for yourself, starting with the Marc Rich investigation by newly appointed (2001) SDNY US Attorney, James Comey!
Comey “cleared” Clinton and Comey’s career blossomed.
Follow it. It’s very telling.
I don’t want to waste my time on Comey’s close ties to the Clintons. You won’t believe me, so check for yourselves!
I don’t recall Hoover ever being accused of anything close to what Comey is accused of doing.
Comey’s First Deputy Director, Andrew McCabe, and Second, Peter Strzok, both testified under oath, that “Comey told me to leak”.
When did you ever hear that during any other FBI Director’s tenure – including Hoover?
Hoover had problems with Bobby Kennedy as AG. He told Nixon to “F”-off when Nixon said he would accept an executive position with the FBI. He did quid pro quo with adversaries when he went before appropriation committees – and usually won – for the FBI!
Hoover was never accused of leaking. Nor was he ever accused of undermining an investigation. He was accused of being too tough on communists and Martin Luther King.
After Hoover’s death, Clyde Tolson, deep throat, leaked everything he could because he wanted the director’s job, and believed he deserved it. I believe he would have killed to get it but never did get appointed.
Instead, L Patrick Gray got the job, temporarily.
By a set of circumstances, I met and spent time with Mr. Gray and his wife. Mr. Gray was very concerned with the morale of the FBI because of the way Hoover treated the employees — all employees.
Mr. and Mrs. Gray wanted to know what to do to turn that around. Mrs. Gray could not believe how poorly FBI Agents were paid and how poorly FBI executives, including her husband, were paid!
She said they could not make a living on his salary. Mr. Gray was a Federal Judge before becoming FBI Director.
My impression of Mr. Gray and of the other former judge I spent some time with, Judge William Sessions, was that neither one of them knew anything about law enforcement. They were very good people with high standards, legal scholars, but knew nothing about law enforcement.
I kept asking, “Why would they appoint only former lawmen to chief of police jobs? Appoint only former/current military men to chiefs of various military branches but appoint a judge as FBI Director?”
It’s insane, in my humble opinion and doesn’t freaking work! I have never receieved an answer that made any sense!
I can tell you why none of the other FBI Directors were in criminal, legal trouble, however. Because they did not break the law! They followed the laws, they sent people to jail for breaking. But not Comey.
He is one person who believes he is above the law!
Comey, without any doubt in my mind, wants to be president of the United States and save you and me from ourselves. He knows what’s best for us!
The difference between Comey and Obama or Lynch or Clinton is Comey doesn’t care who knows he broke the law.
He admits he leaked. He admits he knew the Steele Dossier is a phony and still signed it. He knew Hillary broke hundreds of laws, he told us, but it was “best” for us that he did those things to save us from ourselves and of course, from Trump!
If I were the FBI Director, I would charge Comey with treason right now and only cut a deal if he gave me Obama!
Comey led a coup to overthrow the president and our government and lost!
The only problem I would have winning that case is credibility — the lack of it by Comey.
So I would need Lynch at least and Hillary to lock up a conviction. And you know what, I would get both Lynch and Clinton to roll — “wanna bet”?
They would all face conspiracy to commit treason. Treason carries the death penalty and there is no statute of limitations!
Stocks reached new records and oil prices dropped Wednesday after President Donald Trump’s announcement on curtailing the conflict with Iran.
The boost came after U.S. stocks closed in the red on Tuesday, expressing investors’ concerns about conflict in the Middle East and after Iran launched more than a dozen missile against two military bases in Iraq.
On Monday, Chevron Corporation CVX announced it was evacuating all of its American oil workers from Iraq as a "precautionary measure" "for the time being."
Chevron and Exxon Mobil both reported losses on Tuesday, with Dow Jones shares declining 1.3 percent and 0.8 percent, respectively.
In response to Trump’s decision to issue sanctions, stocks rallied on Wednesday, breaking two records.
The S&P 500 reached another new intraday all-time high Wednesday by nearly one point, a seven-tenths percentage point increase, and the Nasdaq Composite reached an all-time high of 0.7 percent.
While the Dow Jones Industrial Average gained 0.8 percent, its increase didn’t match the all-time high record it set on Jan. 2.
Oil prices also dropped Wednesday by more than 4 percentage points after the president’s remarks, reassuring traders that tensions with Iran de-escalated.
The president announced sanctions on Iran, and said the door was open to negotiation, “toward making a deal with Iran that makes the world a safer and more peaceful place. We must also make a deal that allows Iran to thrive and prosper, and take advantage of its enormous untapped potential. Iran can be a great country.”
Trump urged U.S. allies, China, and Russia, to “work together to make a deal with Iran that makes the world a safer and more peaceful place.”
He concluded by saying, “to the people and leaders of Iran: We want you to have a future and a great future – one that you deserve, one of prosperity at home, and harmony with the nations of the world. The United States is ready to embrace peace with all who seek it.”
The Center Square
Make It Legal Florida (MILF), the well-funded political action committee sponsoring a prospective November 2020 constitutional amendment seeking to legalize recreational marijuana, will spearhead a legal challenge to a new law it claims has unconstitutionally hampered the state’s citizen initiative process.
Restrictions imposed on petition-gatherers by the Republican-led Legislature during the 2019 session that went into effect July 1 “have the intent and effect of impermissibly burdening and impinging the petition rights of plaintiff and Florida voters,” MILF’s lawsuit states. “As a result, the amended law is facially invalid, as an unconstitutional alteration of the initiative petition process.”
MILF’s 57-page class-action filed lawsuit Tuesday in Leon County Circuit Court names Florida Secretary of State Laurel Lee and all 67 county elections supervisors as defendants, alleging the new restrictions “lack even a rational, reasonable, or coherent justification or relation to any purported state interest” other than to prevent issues unpopular with GOP lawmakers from being presented directly to voters.
MILF seeks more time to submit petition signatures to qualify for the November 2020 ballot. State law requires petitioners present the state’s Division of Elections (DOE) with 766,320 validated signatures by Feb. 1 to qualify.
As of mid-day Thursday, 223,897 valid petition signatures had been filed with the DOE by MILF, which did not emerge until last summer and begin its petition signing campaign until the fall.
Petitioners now say, under new state rules, they’ll need at least 1.1 million signatures to ensure 766,320 are verified before Feb. 1.
MILF’s proposed constitutional amendment would allow people 21 or older to “possess, use, purchase, display, and transport up to 2.5 ounces of marijuana and marijuana accessories for personal use for any reason.”
Tampa-based MILF has received $3.8 million in campaign contributions largely from two national marijuana corporations – five-year-old Atlanta-based Surterra, which operates more than 30 medical marijuana dispensaries in Florida with similar operations in Texas, Nevada and Massachusetts totaling $50 million in 2018 revenues, and MedMen, founded in 2010 in Culver City, Calif., which operates nearly 100 retail sites in 12 states, including in Florida, with $39.8 million in revenues last year.
MadMen Southeastern Director of Government Affairs Nick Hansen chairs MILF.
MILF’s lawsuit maintains its initiative campaign also has been hamstrung by repeated administrative issues and technical problems in implementing the additional complexities imposed on the ballot process by House Bill 5, the controversial 2019 bill that essentially extended the state’s voter registration system for absentee ballots to petition-gathering.
Introduced as a raft of 11th hour amendments onto an unrelated bill and adopted in partisan votes by the House and Senate in the waning moments of the session, HB 5 requires every citizen initiative to have its own numbered, serialized petition, bars out-of-state entities from organizing ballot campaigns and prohibits signature gatherers from being paid.
MILF’s lawsuit claims that complying with HB 5 has “presented an enormous (if not insurmountable) barrier to the ability of sponsors, such as plaintiff MILF, to collect the requisite number of signatures for petitions and have them reviewed, validated and verified by the supervisors, and then reviewed and deemed sufficient by the secretary – all by the Feb, 1, 2020 deadline.
“It is thus substantially likely, if not certain, that initiative petitions will fail (i.e., they will not make the ballot for vote by electors in the 2020 general election),” MILF’s complaint continues, “despite the fact such initiatives would or could have succeeded if not doomed by the impairments caused to petition circulators’ ability to register and timely begin circulating and collecting signatures in support of petitions.”
MILF’s measure is one of two petition initiatives seeking to legalize adult marijuana use, and one of 26 overall, listed as “active” on the DOE’s website.
Sensible Florida, which launched its "Regulate Marijuana in a Manner Similar to Alcohol" petition campaign in 2016 and had only 92,566 signatures as of Thursday, has already announced it will not qualify for the 2020 ballot.
At least four measures will, however, meet the signature requirement to qualify for November’s election, including Florida For A Fair Wage’s “Fight For $15” proposal seeking to raise the state’s minimum wage to $15 an hour by 2026.
The others are a measure that would allow all registered voters to cast ballots in “open” primary elections for state Legislature, Governor and Cabinet, regardless of political party membership; a constitutional amendment stipulating “only,” rather than “any,” U.S. citizen can legally vote; and a proposal to allow individual customers choose energy providers or produce their own.
The Center Square