|5:02 PM, Aug 20, 2014 • By DANIEL HALPER
Vice President Joe Biden told a reporter today that the beheading of American journalist James Foley by the ISIS will not alter the approach to the terror group. An "AP reporter asked if Foley's beheading changed the U.S. approach to ISIS," the White House pool report reads. "Biden said no, but it shines a spotlight on the horrors going on in that part of the world."
On ISIS, Biden also said:
"I have spoken with the President today... about the brutal murder, the savage murder, of Jim Foley." He called Foley a journalist "who was really respected by everyone who knew him. A guy who was all about the truth and speaking the truth." He said losing a loved one in any circumstance is difficult, but said "the sheer savagery and brutality... of ISIS... has just shocked the whole world."
He said he and the President have spent a whole lot of time recently in the Situation Room. He said of ISIS: "They're attempting to wipe out entire elements of the population in Iraq, including Muslims. I'm proud of the President stepping forward." He talked about the crisis of the Yazidi refugees on Mt. Sinjar, and how ISIS was taking "young girls from that city and selling them, auctioning them off. This is just something out of the sixth century, the fifth century."
He declared of ISIS: "They will not last. They will not succeed."
Here's the full pool report:
Vice President of the United States is visiting Goodwin College, a private non-profit college that primarily grants associate's degrees, in East Hartford, Connecticut. He was here to talk about the importance of community colleges and other educational institutions listening to industry when designing job training curriculum. Goodwin College has traditionally been a place to get career training in medical fields, but a year ago, started a manufacturing track, and is greatly expanding those offerings this year, with an associate's degree in supply chain and logistics management, one in quality management systems, and certificates in machining and manufacturing and production.
Vice President, who was wearing a navy jacket, white shirt, and royal blue tie with black and white diagonal stripes, started speaking to 16 luncheon guests at about 1:20 p.m. Guests included: Gov. Dannel P. Malloy, Sen. Richard Blumenthal, D-Conn.; Rep. Elizabeth Esty, D-5th District, Rep. John Larson, D-1st District, Marcia LeClerc, East Hartford mayor, the president of Goodwin College and the head of its manufacturing program, four Goodwin College manufacturing students, United Technologies Corp CEO Louis Chenevert and the general manager of Alpha Q, the head of the IAM chapter that represents Pratt & Whitney production workers, a small aerospace manufacturer in the region, and Elliot Ginsberg, leader of a manufacturing training facility.
After some joking among the politicians and some family back stories (both Malloy and Larson are the youngest of eight kids), Malloy explained why Biden was invited to talk about manufacturing training. Biden had produced a report recently on the importance of industry-guided training programs.
4:42 PM, Aug 20, 2014 • By DANIEL HALPER
Thomas Joscelyn, talking about the beheading of James Foley, earlier today on the Wall Street Journal Live:
3:47 PM, Aug 20, 2014 • By GEOFFREY NORMAN
As Michelle Maitre at EdSource reports, when people learn more about the Common Core educational standards, they like them less. The Common Core is the latest attempt to apply universal standards of instruction and performance across American schools. It has the support of big names like Bill Gates and big money like, well, Bill Gates.
The resistance comes from teachers who believe that its implementation will result in their being pushed into “teaching to the test,” and also, increasingly, from people who suspect that the Common Core is a false flag for further – and possibly complete – takeover of education by Washington. To which, of course, backers say, “Oh wherever could you get such an idea. Never in a million years.”
As Terry Holliday, the state commissioner of education in Kentucky – the first state to adopt Common Core – says in Ms. Maitre’s piece, the public tends to associate:
"… the Common Core with somewhat of a federal overreach into education.”
And suspects, understandably, that a vastly empowered federal education bureaucracy might operate something like another celebrated Washington outfit – the VA.
(For the best overview of Common Core and the arguments about it, read Andrew Ferguson’s delightful report on the matter.)
Hosted by Michael Graham.3:45 PM, Aug 20, 2014 • By TWS PODCAST
The WEEKLY STANDARD podcast with editor William Kristol on President Obama's comments on the horrific killing of American journalist James Foley by Islamic terror group ISIS.
This podcast can be downloaded here. Subscribe to THE WEEKLY STANDARD's iTunes podcast feed here.
2:45 PM, Aug 20, 2014 • By WILLIAM KRISTOL
The president is appalled. Indeed he said this afternoon that "the entire world is appalled by the brutal murder of Jim Foley by the terrorist group, ISIL." The act of violence that killed Jim Foley, the president continued, "shocks the conscience of the entire world."
What happens in the age of Obama to a group that does something that appalls and shocks the conscience of the entire world?
President Obama said that "no just God would stand for what they did yesterday, and for what they do every single day." I am no theologian. I pray that the president is right. But I know that we cannot sit back and wait for a just God to bring evildoers to judgment here below. I also know how facile it is for President Obama to say that "people like this ultimately fail. They fail, because the future is won by those who build and not destroy." The Nazis ultimately did fail. But first they killed 6 million Jews, and caused the deaths of tens of millions of others. And they failed because we and our allies defeated them.
It's nice that "one thing we can all agree on is that a group like ISIL has no place in the 21st century." But the 21st century has a lot of years left. It would be nice if the president of the United States were acting to see to it that ISIL has no place in the world now.
The president closed by appealing to "the timeless values that we stand for." The only timeless value he seems willing to stand for is golf.
12:26 PM, Aug 20, 2014 • By DANIEL HALPER
In a few minutes, President Obama will address the nation about the beheading of an American by the terrorist group ISIS. But before facing the cameras, Obama sent out a fundraising appeal.
"Nothing has ever been more important than fighting for folks like you. You are my priority," writes Obama.
"And right now, a focus of that fight has to be getting people who really care about making things better for you elected. The upcoming elections could determine whether or not we have a Congress who will work with me to help you.
"That's why it's so important I spend some time helping Democrats campaign and win. I can only tackle the issues that matter to you with some help. Will you help me out, Daniel?"
He then asks for $3, $10, $25, $50, $100, or whatever else one would like to donate. And adds:
"We've got fewer than 80 days left until the election, and I know I can count on you to vote for our guys -- but I need you to take the next step and make an investment that will help us win in November.
"The bottom line is this: We can make so much progress if we work together as a team -- you, me, and Congress. Chip in $3 or whatever you can to help make that a reality."
11:54 AM, Aug 20, 2014 • By WILLIAM KRISTOL
Here are the two best responses I've seen so far to the latest barbarism from ISIS.
My friend Seth Leibsohn, now a talk radio host in Phoenix, emails with a short-term suggestion:
The brazen and videoed decapitation of an American by ISIS terrorists should trigger immediate holy hell from the President of the United States. He should open up America's military cupboard to bomb every known ISIS outpost and center in Iraq and Syria today. There are fewer things I can think of that require--yes, require--the fateful lightning of America's terrible swift sword.
Max Boot, writing on Commentary's website, has a somewhat longer-term recommendation under the headline, "Time to Annihilate ISIS; Here’s How."
The videotaped beheading of American journalist James Foley reveals both the barbarism and the weakness of ISIS (Islamic State of Iraq and Syria).
The barbarism is obvious: how else would one describe the carefully choreographed and televised murder of this innocent reporter who had been kidnapped in Syria? This merely confirms what Army Colonel Joel Rayburn, one of the most astute observers of Iraq around, has previously said: that ISIS is a Middle East version of the Khmer Rouge. It is, in short, a death cult that will commit unimaginable crimes against humanity unless it is stopped.
What of ISIS’s weakness? That too was revealed by the video, which was a poor response to the military setbacks ISIS has suffered in the past week as Kurdish peshmerga militia have managed to retake Mosul Dam with the assistance of American firepower (and most likely U.S. Special Operations Forces, although their involvement has not been publicized). Recall the last time that al-Qaeda publicly murdered an American journalist. That would have been my former Wall Street Journal colleague Daniel Pearl, who was killed in early 2002 at a time when, thanks to the U.S. offensive in Afghanistan, al-Qaeda was on the run. Khalid Sheikh Mohammed killed Pearl for the same reason some ISIS fanatic killed Foley: to convey an impression of strength. But such desperate measures instead telegraph, well, desperation–and far from cowing anyone they are only likely to redouble the resolve of the civilized world to smash this group of genocidal jihadists.
What is needed now is not strongly worded condemnation of Foley’s murder, much less a hashtag campaign. What is needed is a politico-military strategy to annihilate ISIS rather than simply chip around the edges of its burgeoning empire. In the Spectator of London I recently outlined what such a strategy should look like. In brief, it will require a commitment of some 10,000 U.S. advisors and Special Operators, along with enhanced air power, to work with moderate elements in both Iraq and Syria–meaning not only the peshmerga but also the Sunni tribes, elements of the Iraqi Security Forces, and the Free Syrian Army–to stage a major offensive to rout ISIS out of its newly conquered strongholds. The fact that Nouri al-Maliki is leaving power in Baghdad clears away a major obstacle to such a campaign.
11:25 AM, Aug 20, 2014 • By JOHN MCCORMACK
When Paul Ryan takes over as chairman of the powerful tax-writing Ways and Means Committee in 2015, expect him to develop a tax reform plan that specifically lays out which tax breaks he would scrap or reduce in order to lower tax rates.
"If you know anything about me, I’m a person who likes to put out plans and be specific and run on those ideas,” Ryan told THE WEEKLY STANDARD during a phone interview. Ryan said he didn't want to get ahead of himself about what he may or may not do next session, but he made it clear that he disagrees with some conservatives who are willing to accept a high top tax rate in order to increase the child tax credit.
“I’m a classic growth conservative. I believe that the best way to help families, the best way to help the economy is to reduce rates across the board," Ryan said when asked about Utah senator Mike Lee's plan to increase the child tax credit and create two income tax brackets of 15 percent and 35 percent. "Growth occurs on the margin, which is a wonky way of saying, if you want faster economic growth, more upward mobility, and faster job creation, lower tax rates across the board is the key—it’s the secret sauce."
Some conservatives have argued that reducing the top rate is less urgent now than it was during the Reagan administration, when the top rate was cut from 70 percent to 50 percent and then cut again from 50 percent to 28 percent. But Ryan says that cutting the top rate is "even more pressing now" than it was back then "because the American economy was so dominant in the global economy and capital was not nearly as mobile as it is today."
And reducing the corporate tax rate while leaving the top individual income tax rate high as President Obama would like to do is unacceptable, according to Ryan. "He's clearly fixated on higher rates for individuals," Ryan said of the president. “They conveniently leave out the fact that 80 percent of businesses as taxed as individuals."
Ryan is kicking off a nationwide tour this week to promote his new book, The Way Forward, which focuses on Ryan's biography and policy agenda.
Though the book mostly addresses domestic policy, it also touches briefly on national defense and foreign policy. Ryan told me during our phone conversation that all options should be on the table to defeat the Islamist terrorists who have taken over large swaths of Iraq and Syria.
“An Islamic caliphate is an unacceptable security risk to the American people and we have to do everything we can to prevent it from materializing," Ryan said. "I can go back and criticize some critical mistakes of the Obama administration, like having zero footprint and clout with the Iraqi government, which disintegrated and therefore created a vacuum. Having no status of forces agreement even though they wanted to have one was a fundamental mistake of this administration."
10:18 AM, Aug 20, 2014 • By DANIEL HALPER
Elizabeth Warren, the popular Democratic senator from Massachusetts, declined an opportunity to say whether Hillary Clinton is the best choice to be president in 2016:
A reporter asked, "Do you believe that Hillary Clinton is still the best choice coming up for your party coming up for 2016?"
"Hillary is terrific," Warren said, dodging the question.
"But is she still the best choice?" the reporter pressed.
Warren "dodged" says the anchor, noting that she left reporters without ever answering the question.
9:43 AM, Aug 20, 2014 • By JERYL BIER
Negative employee feedback has prompted a division of the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA) to seek development of a training program for supervisors on having "difficult conversations." In response to focus groups, the National Ocean Service's (NOS) 200 supervisors will be required take an eight hour course entitled "Delivering Effective Feedback and Having Difficult Conversations."
After the 2013 Federal Employee Viewpoint Survey, the focus groups conducted by NOS with employees found a "general lack of feedback from supervisors," particularly after employees received unfavorable performance reviews. Employees felt they were not given adequate responses on "ways to improve or what marks they fell short on." NOS concluded that "[t]his general inability to have a 'difficult conversation' seems to be at the heart of the problem."
NOAA is seeking a contractor to develop the class. Among the objectives of the course:
- Help supervisors understand the different types of feedback and how and when to effectively use them.
- Help supervisors better understand the importance of and when to have, difficult conversations. This should include understanding the effects of failing to have difficult conversations to correct poor performance or behavior.
- Breaking the class into small groups, use role playing and exercises to give supervisors experience and opportunity to practice taught curriculum. All individuals should have an opportunity engage in the role playing as well as observe others in the group and offer feedback.
- Conduct a second round of role playing and exercises focusing on making adjustments based on received feedback.
NOAA is looking for responses by August 29 from small businesses interested in developing and delivering the Difficult Conversations course in NOS offices in Maryland, South Carolina, and Washington State.
7:49 AM, Aug 20, 2014 • By DANIEL HALPER
Former Republican vice presidential candidate Paul Ryan said on CNBC this morning that he "would love to see" Mitt Romney run for president again, but that he doesn't think it's likely:
"I would love to see Mitt run again. I hope he does. He's pretty emphatic in saying he won't," said Ryan.
"He obviously does well in the polls today. I think that's because the things we said in the campaign -- here's the problem we had: we were shadow boxing against big government in theory, against the president's rhetoric. Because remember, the president passed most of his program in the first half of his first term, with Pelosi and Reid running Congress. They delayed the implementation of these big laws like Obamacare, Dodd-Frank until 2013, so it's our word against their word as to what was going to transpire, then came 2013, they got reelected in 2012, and now we have big government in practice and the results look nothing like the rhetoric that was used to sell the program.
"So I do believe there is a little bit of regret. I do believe that people say, oh, gosh, this doesn't look anything like what they told me it would--you know, if you like your doctor, can you keep it, it will lower my health care costs, blah, blah, blah."
6:01 AM, Aug 20, 2014 • By MICHAEL WARREN
American voters says they would prefer President Barack Obama work with Congress rather than use executive action to address the illegal immigration crisis at the border, according to a detailed new opinion poll on immigration, illegal immigrants, and the state of the American worker. The poll, conducted by veteran Republican pollster Kellyanne Conway, also found that Americans disapprove of Obama’s record on immigration. And as one Republican aide on Capitol Hill describes it, the results of the poll are an “utter repudiation” of the Senate’s Gang of 8 immigration bill.
The survey of 1,001 likely voters found that 61 percent say they disapprove of the president’s job on immigration, while 32 percent say they approve. That’s worse than his overall job approval rating (57 percent disapprove, 40 percent approve). Furthermore, 74 percent say they would rather Obama work with Congress to change the country’s immigration policy, while only 21 percent say they support his doing so “on his own” through executive action. The numbers on executive action versus working with Congress are lopsided among both conservatives and moderates, with only self-professed liberals favoring a “go-it-alone” path on immigration. Obama has suggested he may act on his own on immigration after the comprehensive reform bill he supported has stalled in the House of Representatives.
The poll discovered a heightened interest in immigration as a political issue since the news of thousands of illegal immigrants crossing the southern border began dominating headlines this summer. Eighteen percent now say it’s the issue they most care about, with 39 percent saying they put it among their top 3 issues.
So beyond the process, what do Americans say they want Washington to do on immigration policy? One proposal, described by Conway as the House Republicans’ “three-pronged approach”, earned 58 percent support from those polled. The proposal was outlined in the poll question as providing “extra funding for immigration enforcement, making it easier to return young illegal immigrants to their home countries, and restricting the president’s ability to legalize illegal immigrants on his own.” The proposal earned 70 percent support from Republicans, but 57 percent of independents and 54 percent of Democrats said they also supported those ideas. (The question itself did not identify the proposal as coming from Republicans.)
Terror group singles out Stephen Sotloff.7:27 PM, Aug 19, 2014 • By LEE SMITH
The Islamic State’s official media arm, Furqan Media, has just released a video showing the beheading of American photojournalist James Wright Foley. The terrorist organization claims that the murder of an American citizen who went missing in Syria in 2012 comes as a warning to the White House to end its “intervention” in Iraq. If not, the video claims, ISIS will kill another U.S. journalist, Stephen Joel Sotloff. The Miami native, reported the Aleppo press center, was kidnapped on or around August 4, 2013. Sotloff’s life, says the video, “depends on Obama’s next decision."
Foley and Sotloff are among a number of foreign journalists that have been taken hostage in Syria. Another is Austin Tice, taken in the summer of 2012, whose brilliant reporting on the military aspects of the Syrian war was informed by his experience as Marine. The video of Tice’s abduction raised suspicions that his kidnappers were not, as the video portrays, Islamist rebels. “It’s like a caricature of a jihadi group,” Syria expert Joseph Holliday told the Washington Post. “It looks like someone went to the Internet, watched pictures of Afghan mujahedeen, then copied them.” Many observers believe the Syrian government was behind Tice’s kidnapping and sought to blame the rebels and thereby doom American support for the Free Syrian Army.
Some have drawn similar conclusions regarding Foley’s kidnapping. If ISIS drew his blood, it was the Syrian regime, as Michael Weiss and others have argued, that helped create ISIS to begin with, and it was the regime that kidnapped and held Foley. In May 2013, journalist Peter Gelling argued that Foley was likely being held by the regime. “We have obtained multiple independent reports from very credible confidential sources,” Gelling wrote in GlobalPost, “who have both indirect and direct access that confirm our assessment that Jim is now being held by the Syrian government in a prison or detention facility in the Damascus area. We further believe that this facility is under the control of the Syrian Air Force Intelligence service. Based on what we have learned, it is likely Jim is being held with one or more Western journalists, including most likely at least one other American.”
7:14 PM, Aug 19, 2014 • By THOMAS JOSCELYN
The Islamic State, an al Qaeda offshoot, has released a grisly video of one of its fighters beheading a man who appears to be James Foley, an American journalist who was kidnapped in Syria on Thanksgiving Day 2012. The images from the video are horrifying, as they are intended to be. The Islamic State is once again trying to intimidate its adversaries, in this case the United States, into submission.
The video begins with clips of President Obama explaining his decision to authorize airstrikes. It then cuts to footage of the Islamic State’s victim, apparently Foley, who is forced to read a statement. Foley claims that his pending death is the result of American airstrikes in Iraq and he implores his brother, who serves in the U.S. Air Force, to renounce his service. Foley himself is made to say that he wishes he was not an American.
The Islamic State butcher who kills Foley speaks fluent English and threatens to kill another American journalist held in captivity, Steven Joel Sotloff, if America does not halt its aerial campaign.
Foley's death has not been confirmed by the U.S. government.
What are we to make of these gruesome images?
Our first thoughts are, of course, with the friends and family of James Foley. Their son has now been made part of a vicious jihadist play, one that is intended to frighten all of us.
Indeed, the Islamic State wants to shock the U.S. government into inaction. At one point in the video, the Islamic State fighter, who refuses to show his face, claims that America has done everything in its power to thwart the Islamic State’s designs. This far from the truth, as America has largely sat out both the war in Syria, as well as the ongoing conflict in Iraq, since late 2011. But now that the U.S. has finally acted in a meaningful way, the Islamic State has been forced to use a crude tactic in an attempt to make the U.S. stand down. In that regard, the video demonstrates the efficacy of America’s recent airstrikes.
No, American bombs are not enough to defeat the Islamic State in Iraq, which is effectively fighting on multiple fronts. But they have slowed the group’s momentum in some areas. If the strikes were pointless, then the Islamic State would not have bothered with this propaganda ploy. Undoubtedly, Iraqi lives and perhaps Americans, including diplomats, have been saved because U.S. bombers turned back the Islamic State’s fighters in some locations.
Foley’s death is tragic. And we should always remember that countless Iraqis and Syrians have met the same fate at the Islamic State’s hands.
Thomas Joscelyn is a senior fellow at the Foundation for Defense of Democracies.
5:33 PM, Aug 19, 2014 • By LEE SMITH
Yesterday Pope Francis endorsed military action to stop the Islamic State (formerly the Islamic State in Iraq and Syria) from persecuting religious minorities, especially Christians and Yazidis, in Iraq. The pope’s statement is to be welcomed—albeit with serious reservations.
As various experts noted, the Vatican is typically opposed to any sort of military action. James Bretzke, a priest and professor of moral theology at Boston College, told USA Today that “popes in recent history have all lined up against any military intervention, including World War I, World War II, the Vietnam War and, most recently, the U.S. invasion of Iraq in 2003.”
Indeed, just last month Pope Francis issued a passionate plea for both Israel and Hamas to cease fighting in Gaza and put down their weapons. "Please stop," the pope said in his weekly address from the balcony in Saint Peter's Square. "Brothers and sisters, never war, never war! I am thinking above all of children, who are deprived of the hope of a worthwhile life, of a future."
So why is this situation different? How is Hamas, a terrorist organization that targets Jews, a Middle East minority, different from ISIS, a terrorist organization that goes after Christians, Shia, Yazidis, and, presumably, if given the chance, Jews? Regarding ISIS, Francis reasoned that “where there is an unjust aggression, I can only say that it is licit to stop the unjust aggressor…I underscore the verb 'stop.' I'm not saying 'bomb' or 'make war,' just 'stop.'”
The pope is not naïve. What stops violence is not careful verb choice, but violence. So why is it licit to use violence to stop this unjust aggressor and not Hamas or, for instance, Bashar al-Assad?
Last September the pope held a peace vigil to protest proposed U.S. military action against the Assad regime. “May the noise of weapons cease!” Francis proclaimed. “War always marks the failure of peace, it is always a defeat for humanity," said the pope, just a few weeks after the Syrian regime launched a chemical weapons attack against civilians in a Damascus suburb. The videos of the aftermath of the attack and the testimony of the survivors documented what many would also consider a defeat for humanity—men, women, and children treated like insects by a vicious ruling order while the world looks the other way, while the servant of the servants of God convenes peace rallies.
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