|10:06 AM, Dec 16, 2014 • By DANIEL HALPER
Jeb Bush just announced that he's exploring "the possibility of running for President of the United States." Here's his statement:
Merry Christmas and Happy Hanukkah!
Like many of you, our family was blessed with the opportunity to gather together over the recent Thanksgiving holiday.
Columba and I are so proud of the wonderful adults our children have become, and we loved spending time with our three precious grandchildren.
We shared good food and watched a whole lotof football.
We also talked about the future of our nation. As a result of these conversations and thoughtful consideration of the kind of strong leadership I think America needs, I have decided to actively explore the possibility of running for President of the United States.
In January, I also plan to establish a Leadership PAC that will help me facilitate conversations with citizens across America to discuss the most critical challenges facing our exceptional nation. The PAC’s purpose will be to support leaders, ideas and policies that will expand opportunity and prosperity for all Americans.
In the coming months, I hope to visit with many of you and have a conversation about restoring the promise of America.
Best wishes to you and your families for a happy holiday season. I’ll be in touch soon.
9:32 AM, Dec 16, 2014 • By DANIEL HALPER
President Obama's statement condemning the mass murder in a Pakistan school fails to blame the perpetrators, the Taliban. Here's Obama's full statement:
The United States condemns in the strongest possible terms today’s horrific attack on the Army Public School in Peshawar, Pakistan. Our hearts and prayers go out to the victims, their families, and loved ones. By targeting students and teachers in this heinous attack, terrorists have once again shown their depravity. We stand with the people of Pakistan, and reiterate the commitment of the United States to support the Government of Pakistan in its efforts to combat terrorism and extremism and to promote peace and stability in the region.
The Taliban has claimed responsibility for the attack. As NBC reports:
Uniformed militants attacked a school, killing at least 126 people and taking hostages on Tuesday, an official said - an atrocity condemned by the White House as "heinous" and "horrific."
"The gunmen entered class by class and shot some kids one by one," a student who was in the school at the time told local media.
Provincial official Bahramand Khan said at least 126 people were killed and 122 injured. More than 100 of the dead were school children, he added. The Pakistani Taliban claimed responsibility for the assault, which appeared to be targeting the the children of senior military officials.
9:06 AM, Dec 16, 2014 • By DANIEL HALPER
On MSNBC, David Axelrod said that Hillary Clinton was in "danger" of getting "in front of any rationale for" her presidential candidacy:
"And what happened in 2008 was that Hillary's candidacy got out in front of any rationale for it," said Axelrod, who helped Barack Obama beat her in 2008. "And the danger is that's happening again. You hear Ready for Hillary -- it's like, Ready for What? And now Hillary's task is to find what it is she's running for and running about, and what would the future look like under another President Clinton. ... She has to answer that question."
8:42 AM, Dec 16, 2014 • By DANIEL HALPER
Mosaic has just published Menachem Begin’s Zionist Legacy, by Michael Doran, Daniel Gordis, Douglas Feith, Hillel Halkin, Meir Soloveichik, and Ruth Wisse.
This collection of brilliant and never-before-published essays by six of the most perceptive observers of Jewish and American life gives fresh insight into the personal, political, and religious character of one of Israel’s most remarkable and controversial figures.
Menachem Begin’s Zionist Legacy explains Begin’s “unabashed and unapologetic commitment to his people before any others”; the misunderstood relationship between Begin and his mentor Ze’ev Jabotinsky; why Begin was detested by his rival David Ben-Gurion; and the true role of Jimmy Carter in the process leading up to the Camp David Accords. And there’s lots more.
Available now from Mosaic Books in all major ebook formats. Forthcoming in hard-cover from Koren Publishers in 2015.
Buy it here.
7:34 AM, Dec 16, 2014 • By JERYL BIER
Deputy Secretary of State for Management and Resources Heather Higginbottom joined former Secretary of State Hillary Clinton and former New York Mayor Michael Bloomberg in New York Monday for a Data2X event to "promote gender-sensitive data." Data2X is a United Nations Foundation sponsored organization that, according to its website, is:
named for the power women have to multiply progress in their societies, advances gender equality and women’s empowerment...[b]y building partnerships to improve data collection and demonstrating how better data on the status of women and girls can guide policy, leverage investments, and inform global development agendas.
According to the State Department, "the empowerment of women and girls a foundational goal of U.S. foreign policy," and toward that end, the U.S. government is backing Data2X's goal of increasing the volume of data on "health, education, economic opportunities, political participation, and human security" that is available broken down by sex. For instance, the "President’s Emergency Plan for AIDS Relief’s (PEPFAR) newly redesigned PEPFAR Dashboards will now include data disaggregated by age and sex." Given the disparity of the impact of AIDS between men and women in some countries, the state department believes the new data will help countries and organizations "better target their efforts to combat HIV/AIDS and increase accountability for achieving results."
The State Department says that "the U.S. government strongly believes that advancing gender equality is among the most transformative goals the globe can set," and hopes that this "data driven approach" will "lead to dramatic improvements in gender equality and the empowerment of women and girls by 2030."
Given the State Department's recent emphasis on the transgendered under Secretary John Kerry, the absence of any reference to that group was noticeable. By contrast, "women and girls" appears six times in the State Department's Media Note about the event. Currently, there is no reference to "transgender" on the Data2X website.
5:28 PM, Dec 15, 2014 • By MICHAEL WARREN
In one final ignominious act of parliamentary genius, outgoing Senate majority leader Harry Reid rolled Republican troublemaker Ted Cruz of Texas over the weekend, robbing the GOP of a chance to stop Democrats in the lame-duck session. That’s the consensus in most Washington political circles, and it’s how Politico, the Washington Post, and NBC News, among others, have characterized what took place in the Senate Saturday.
Here’s the Post on what the paper calls Reid’s “late punch”:
After Reid (D-Nev.) exploited a weekend rebellion on immigration by rogue Republican senators as a $1.1 trillion spending bill was up against the clock, the Senate will move ahead this week on key executive branch nominations submitted by President Obama that appeared to be stalled not long ago….
The spending bill, to fund most of the government through late summer, passed Saturday night, but only after a process riddled with complications. The most notable was a push led by Sens. Ted Cruz (R-Tex.) and Mike Lee (R-Utah) to fight Obama on immigration after it looked as if senators were headed home for the weekend.
Reid took advantage of their protest, using the rare Saturday session to advance Obama’s nominees in the confirmation process.
On Friday, Reid and Senate Republicans were prepared to push back a vote on the long-term spending bill until Monday and adjourn the body. That’s when Cruz and Utah senator Mike Lee objected and requested a vote on an amendment to the bill that would block funding for implementing President Obama’s executive order on immigration. Cruz and Lee got their wish (the amendment failed 22-74), but with the consequence of extending the session into Saturday, where Reid was able to move forward the confirmation of more than 20 Obama nominees for federal posts like the surgeon general and the director of Immigration and Customs Enforcement. Some of those nominees have had strong GOP opposition, and Republicans had hoped to delay Reid’s actions until this week. But the Cruz-Lee gambit, Politico reported, allowed the Nevada Democrat to “exploit a procedural quirk and get the nominations rolling.” Several Republican senators expressed their frustration to Politico reporters for the supposed blunder.
4:11 PM, Dec 15, 2014 • By GEOFFREY NORMAN
President Obama will mark the end of America’s combat mission in Afghanistan by welcoming home service members in New Jersey on Monday.
Denis Slattery of the Daily News writes that, in his remarks, the president will note that:
The war in Afghanistan is coming to a “responsible end.”
Meanwhile, as Bill Roggio writes at Long War Journal:
The Taliban followed up two deadly attacks in Kabul earlier last week with a series of bombings, assaults, and suicide attacks in the capital and four provinces over the weekend. Twelve de-mining personnel, 11 Afghan soldiers and police, two Coalition troops, and a Supreme Court official are among those killed.
And as the AP reports:
Officials said Sunday that U.S. Army Spc. Wyatt J. Martin of Mesa, Arizona, and Sgt. 1st Class Ramon S. Morris of New York, New York, died Friday in Parwan Province, Afghanistan. The vehicle the men were in was attacked with an improvised explosive device.
3:21 PM, Dec 15, 2014 • By DANIEL HALPER
Senator Ted Cruz offers this compelling video for the victims of the Fort Hood terror attack deserve to receive the Purple Heart:
1:29 PM, Dec 15, 2014 • By GEOFFREY NORMAN
Two extreme responses to the disrupter known as Uber. In France, the solution is to just say Non. As David Jolly and Mark Scott of the New York Times report:
Just days after Uber survived a lawsuit here brought by taxi operators, the French government said on Monday that the American company’s low-cost ride-sharing service would be banned in the new year.
Meanwhile, in Washington, there will be an effort, by the city, to compete. As Colin Lecher at the Verge reports:
The capital's taxi commission announced on Friday that it will begin beta testing the "Universal D.C. TaxiApp" in March. Riders will be able to hail one of the city's 7,000 licensed taxis if they're in the area, but private services like Uber and Lyft will still be allowed.
One suspects that, somehow, both these efforts are headed for failure.
12:04 PM, Dec 15, 2014 • By GEOFFREY NORMAN
Somehow it comes as no surprise that, according to a recent poll, Hillary Clinton
… millionaire voters heavily favor Hillary Clinton to be the next president.
Nor is it startling news that:
former Florida Governor Jeb Bush, who finished in second place with 18 percent support.
It does, however, arrest the attention to learn that:
Senator Bernie Sanders (I-Vt.) was the only other potential candidate to finish with double-digit support at 11 percent.
We knew there were a lot of crony capitalists who would like to see one of their own in the White House. But who knew there were so many trust-funders and one-percenters willing to supply the rope?
'I want to go home.'11:09 AM, Dec 15, 2014 • By DANIEL HALPER
The top Democrat in the Senate, Harry Reid, admitted today that he hasn't slept at home since May. The admission comes the same week Reid is beginning to plot his 2016 reelection.
"I hope that everyone understands so that we can move forward," Reid said on the Senate floor. "But we're going to have to be here until we finish our work, whether that's Tuesday, Wednesday, Thursday, Friday, or Saturday. So everyone should understand you can't be leaving.
"I know we all have things to do. I haven't been home, Mr. President, in such a long time. And I want go home. I bought a new home there, as everyone knows. I sold my place in Searchlight. I have a home in the greater Las Vegas area. I'd like to be able to see the home. I have not slept in it. We bought it in may. I have not been there."
10:38 AM, Dec 15, 2014 • By DANIEL HALPER
Video from the siege in Sydney, Australia, as the hostage crisis appears to be over:
And State Department?9:53 AM, Dec 15, 2014 • By DANIEL HALPER
CBS's Mark Knoller reports that the lights went out briefly at the White House this morning.
"Just had a power outage at the WH. Lasted only a few seconds. Perhaps a premature Govt shutdown," Knoller joked.
Yahoo's Olivier Knox says the D.C. police department tweeted an explanation, but then deleted it.
And the Associated Press's Matt Lee says "power out" at the State Department.
9:01 AM, Dec 15, 2014 • By ELI LEHRER
It’s easy to see how Mississippi attorney general Jim Hood—a Bible-reading, pro-gun, pro-life, Democrat—has survived in statewide office even as his already conservative state has turned a deeper shade of red. Quite simply, he’s a likeable, quotable guy who doesn’t seem to have forgotten his roots in New Houlka, Mississippi (population 626).
Since taking office in 2003, Hood has done meritorious work bringing civil rights era murderers to justice and has proven himself willing to tussle with insurance companies (over hurricane claims) and drug companies (about prices). Even his ties to once-wealthier-than-Croesus trial lawyer Dickie Scruggs (who finished up his prison sentence in September) seemed only to add to his populist charm.
That’s why it’s very interesting to learn, via the recently leaked trove of Sony emails, that Hood is the go-to-guy for Hollywood movie studios seeking to gain the upper-hand in a complex but high-stakes battle with internet companies over copyright law. In a nutshell, the studios, through their trade association the Motion Picture Association of America (MPAA), are seeking to revive the principles of the controversial SOPA (Stop Online Piracy)/PIPA (Protect IP Act) that would give them and anyone else who owns intellectual property a huge amount of power over the way websites and search engines operate.
The webzine The Verge first reported that one e-mail from the MPAA general counsel Steven Fabrizio talks about getting together 3-5 attorneys general but says that “Hood alone if necessary” will carry water for the studios. Similarly, the website Torrentfreak reports that Hood’s potential reaction to a press release was key in shaping the studios’ public message. Hood, the moviemakers and their lawyers seem to assume, is the guy who can and will issue Civil Investigative Demands (CIDs) to the search engines on all sorts of things that interest them. And, as Techdirt reports, the studios are willing to spend heavily to get even more AGs to follow in Hood’s footsteps. They’ll need some sort of strategy like this because the heavily-funded push to pass SOPA and PIPA in 2012 failed dismally after groups on the left, right and center as well as major Internet sites like Wikipedia launched a major protest involving mass petitions and a one-day site blackout.
No evidence suggests that Hood’s relationship with the movie industry violates any laws or canons of legal ethics. Moreover, none of Hood’s major financial supporters seem to have strong ties to the movie industry. That makes his behavior all the more unusual since Mississippi has almost no economic interest in the movie industry. Indeed, the state lacks a major film school, doesn’t house production for a single scripted TV show, and has served as the main shooting location for only 5 widely released movies over the past decade. The MPAA itself says that the state has a total of 242 film-and-television-production related jobs; one of the smallest per-capita totals in the nation. All-in-all Mississippi has more people who make their living arranging flowers (460, according to the Bureau of Labor Statistics’ databases) than in film and TV production. Maybe Jim Hood really likes hanging out with movie moguls?
8:08 AM, Dec 15, 2014 • By DANIEL HALPER
Elizabeth Warren says she currently is not running for president. But in an NPR interview, the Democratic senator from Massachusetts refuses to go beyond the present tense.
Host Steve Inskeep says, "Senator Warren, as you must know, that even as you were fighting over this in the Senate, there was a group called Ready for Warren that wants you to run for president, that released a letter signed by more than 300 people who describe themselves as former Obama campaign workers and staffers and aides. They want you to run. What do you say to them?"
"I'm, I'm not running for president. That's not what we're doing. We had a really important fight in the United States Congress just this past week. And I'm putting all my energy into that fight and to what happens after this," Warren responds.
Would you tell these independent groups, "Give it up!" You're just never going to run.
I told them, "I'm not running for president."
You're putting that in the present tense, though. Are you never going to run?
I am not running for president.
You're not putting a "never" on that.
I am not running for president. You want me to put an exclamation point at the end?
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