Tuesday, June 3, 2014

5 reasons why the Bowe Bergdahl controversy may last

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Politics,White House,Congress,Barack Obama,National Security,PennAve,Susan Crabtree,Guantanamo Bay,Minusextra,Taliban,Bowe Bergdahl
The controversy over the release of Sgt. Bowe Bergdahl moves to Capitol Hill where lawmakers were surprised by the decision and plan to hold closed-door briefings for members next week in at least two committees -- the Senate Armed Services and Intelligence panels -- followed by public hearings.
Republicans reacted angrily to the announcement over the weekend, and even some key Democrats said they were surprised that the Obama administration had secured the release of the prisoner of war by freeing five members of the Taliban from Guantanamo Bay.
Here's a quick look at five reasons why this controversy has the potential to last.
1. It involves negotiating with the Taliban and the release of senior Taliban leaders
A Quinnipiac poll taken in late June and early July last year found that 60 percent of respondents said the United States should not negotiate with terrorists because it encourages more terrorism.
Defense Secretary Chuck Hagel and White House press secretary Jay Carney have characterized the swap of five Taliban leaders for Sgt. Bowe Bergdahl as a prisoner exchange at the end of the armed conflict, but the U.S. is still struggling to convince the Taliban to begin hashing out a peace agreement and has yet to sign a security agreement with Afghanistan.
Sen. John McCain, R-Ariz., told the Washington Examiner that he's glad Bergdahl is home but he's worried about the danger the released Taliban officials pose.
"What we need to dwell on is that individuals who were judged as too great of risk to be released are now going to be out there as heroes — they are also wanted by the national criminal court," he said. "I'm glad Bergdahl is home but there is a distinct likelihood that these guys will return to the fight."
2. Republicans who recently helped Obama try to close Gitmo may balk after this decision
Rep. Buck McKeon, R-Calif., who chairs the House Armed Services Committee, surprised many GOP colleague in December by going along with language easing restrictions on sending Guantanamo Bay detainees home or to third countries -- a potential first step toward helping Obama fulfill his promise to close the island prison facility.
But the deal to release Bergdahl was done without the involvement of Congress. That could set off Republican lawmakers who last year cooperated to lift restrictions.
President Obama traveling in Poland on Tuesday said the deal should not surprise members of Congress because the basic outlines of it have been discussed for years.
Even Sen. Carl Levin, D-Mich., who chairs the Armed Services Committee, disagrees.
"No, I think there was a conversation about a release a long time ago in exchange to facilitate reconciliation," he said in an interview Monday. "I don't think I knew anything about it that until last weekend whenever I got a call."
Levin doesn't share Republicans' outrage over the trade, calling it an "excruciating decision for a president to have to make," and noting that his committee will hold a hearing on the matter.
"In the meantime our policy has been to do everything we can reasonably can to get our people back — that's been our very very firm belief and it's important for the morale of our troops," he said.
3. It involves Obama's use of executive authority to bypass Congress
Republicans on Capitol Hill have argued that President Obama has overstepped his executive authority on everything from the implementation of Obamacare to climate change. The Bergdahl release fits into a pattern they find disturbing.
“This is just another example of the administration picking and choosing which laws they will follow,” a Senate GOP staffer told the Washington Examiner. “If they broke this law, what is going to stop them from breaking all of them?”
McKeon has always been a stickler for Congressional notification. The language he agreed to last year would make it easier to re-patriate Gitmo detainees but only as long as Congress received a 30-day notice of the administration's plan to transfer the terrorism suspects and the secretary of Defense verified that transferring them was in the United States' national security interest.
Obama went ahead with the transfer of the five Taliban leaders to Qatar and informed Congress via phone Saturday, the same day the swap was occurring.
Carney insists that Hagel has verified that releasing the Taliban leaders would not harm national security, but during his press briefing with reporters Monday would not provide a detailed explanation about why it wouldn't, referring questions to the Department of Defense.
In a statement Monday, McKeon said the law requires Hagel to determine that the “risk posed by the detainee will be substantially mitigated and that the transfer is in the national security interests of the United States” not only that it wouldn't harm U.S. national security.
“There are huge ramifications for this kind of deal-making and potentially they are very damaging -- it looks like Congress is going to see what further action it can take,” Sen. Jeff Sessions, R-Ala., told the Examiner.
4. Many rank-and-file service members view Bergdahl as a deserter
Some of the soldiers who served in the same unit as Bergdahl are voicing resentment about his rescue and treatment as a hero after six soldiers reportedly were killed trying to find and rescue him. Expect more soldiers to come forward in the days ahead.
As more servicemen and women began to speak out against Bergdahl Tuesday, Joint Chiefs Chairman Martin Dempsey said the Army would investigate charges that he deserted his post.
“When he is able to provide them, we’ll learn the facts. Like any American, he is innocent until proven guilty,” Dempsey said in a post on his Facebook page. “Our Army’s leaders will not look away from misconduct if it occurred.”
5. It involves Susan Rice's comments on a Sunday talk show
Republicans still want to know exactly which administration officials played a role in developing the talking points Susan Rice used to prep for her appearances on Sunday political talks shows after the Benghazi terrorist attack.
Now Obama's critics, along with some reporters, want to know what kind of White House prep went into her latest appearance on ABC News' “This Week” Sunday when she said Bergdahl served with “honor and distinction.”
National Journal columnist Ron Fournier on Monday tweeted: “Susan Rice said Bergdahl served w/ 'honor & distinction.' In event that proves false, who wrote that talking point?”

Executive Power Grab: Obama to Announce New Plans Forcing Electricity Rates to Skyrocket!

Townhall.com ^ | June 2, 2014 | Katie Pavlich
When President Obama ran for office in 2008, he promised he'd implement new policies that would force electricity rate to "necessarily" skyrocket. Obama: My Plan Makes Electricity Rates SkyrocketHere we are six years later and President Obama is set to announce new, major regulations on power plants in the name of climate change. The New York Timesis calling it the boldest move ever made by a president to address the issue.
The Obama administration is set to announce a rule Monday to limit carbon emissions in thousands of fossil-fuel burning plants across the country, a cornerstone of President Obama’s climate-change agenda and his first-term promise to reduce such emissions by 17 percent by 2020.

The Environmental Protection Agency will ask existing plants to cut pollution by 30 percent by 2030, according to people familiar with the proposal who shared the details with The Associated Press on condition of anonymity, since they have not been officially released.

Over at HotAir, Erika Johnsen describes new regulations as "uncharted waters" for the EPA, which arguably under the Obama administration has already vastly expanded its authority, constitutional or not. Further, the EPA has set up the new regulations strategically in expectation they'll be sued.
Leave it to the Obama Environmental Protection Agency to plumb the heretofore untested depths of regulatory legerdemain to justify their environmentalist central planning.

The Obama administration’s forthcoming regulations on existing power plants — i.e., the main course of their proffered climate-change menu, set for release this week — were always going to spark a whole host of legal challenges no matter what provisions they used for their justification. The negative economic impact the new rules will have on a bunch of states and industries is certainly going to make it worth their while, and part of the EPA’s task in devising the rules was to find the best way possible to protect them from these challenges.


Lawmakers on Capitol Hill are already pushing back against the measure, calling Obama's EPA power move just another episode in the ongoing war on coal an blue-collar workers.
President Barack Obama has "set out to kill coal" with his plans for cutting carbon emissions regulations like his proposed national energy tax, Sen. Mike Enzi said Saturday.

"We all want clean air and clean water," Wyoming's Enzi said in this week's GOP address. "We don’t want costly regulations that make little or no difference, that are making things less affordable. Republicans want electricity and gas when you need it, at a price you can afford.”

Keep working America, you're going to need to in order to pay for your new electricity costs.

Does handwriting matter?

NY Times ^ | 6-2-14 | MARIA KONNIKOVA
 Not very much, according to many educators. The Common Core standards, which have been adopted in most states, call for teaching legible writing, but only in kindergarten and first grade. After that, the emphasis quickly shifts to proficiency on the keyboard. But psychologists and neuroscientists say it is far too soon to declare handwriting a relic of the past. New evidence suggests that the links between handwriting and broader educational development run deep. Children not only learn to read more quickly when they first learn to write by hand, but they also remain better able to generate ideas and retain information. In other words, it’s not just what we write that matters — but how. “When we write, a unique neural circuit is automatically activated,” said Stanislas Dehaene, a psychologist at the Collège de France in Paris. “There is a core recognition of the gesture in the written word, a sort of recognition by mental simulation in your brain.
(Excerpt) Read more at nytimes.com ...

We DID sent help...finally!

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Killing Babies

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...a spoiled child!

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Should we tell him?

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Border Plumbers

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Garbage

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Not to blame!

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Licking & Ticking

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Imagine

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"Not my fault"

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Get rid of it!

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They went there: Seattle just enacted a $15/hour minimum wage!

Hot Air / The Associated Press ^ | June 2, 2014 | Erika Johnsen
Last week, Michigan became the latest of a handful of states to officially raise its minimum wage this year, with a gradual four-year phase-in that will take its floor from $7.40 up to $9.25 an hour — but over in the city of Seattle, things just got real. Say hello to what will soon become the highest minimum wage in the nation, via the AP: The issue has dominated politics in the liberal municipality for months. Mayor Ed Murray, who was elected last year, had promised in his campaign to raise the minimum wage to $15 an hour. A newly elected socialist City Council member had pushed the idea as well. “This legislation sends a message heard around the world: Seattle wants to stop the race to the bottom in wages and that we deplore the growth in income inequality and the widening gap between the rich and the poor,” Councilmember Tom Rasmussen said...
(Excerpt) Read more at hotair.com ...

“Major classified file” on Bergdahl; concerns he “may have been an active collaborator with the enemy"!

Jihad Watch ^ | 6/2/2014 | Robert Spencer
Did nobody bother to tell Obama about these concerns that Bergdahl was a collaborator? Or was it that they did tell him, and he didn’t care, and sent the jihad terror leaders home anyway? There needs to be a full investigation of this, but the Leftist mainstream media is already starting to cover for Obama and ridicule concerns about it, so it is unlikely that there will be any significant effort to discover what really happened here.“Sources: Intelligence community investigated Bergdahl’s conduct,” by James Rosen, FoxNews.com, June 2, 2014:
A senior official confirms to Fox News that the conduct of Sgt. Bowe Bergdahl — both in his final stretch of active duty in Afghanistan and then, too, during his time when he lived among the Taliban — has been thoroughly investigated by the U.S. intelligence community and is the subject of “a major classified file.”In conveying as much, the Defense Department source confirmed to Fox News that many within the intelligence community harbor serious outstanding concerns not only that Bergdahl may have been a deserter but that he may have been an active collaborator with the enemy.The Pentagon official added pointedly that no relevant congressional committee has sought access to the classified file, but that if such a request were made, key committee chairs would, under previous precedent, likely be granted access to it. Separately, the Pentagon confirmed Monday that it is looking into claims Americans died during the search for Bergdahl.The administration announced over the weekend that Bergdahl’s release had been secured, in exchange for five Taliban prisoners at Guantanamo Bay. President Obama was joined by the soldier’s parents in making a public statement on the release Saturday evening from the Rose Garden.Sources told Fox News that many officials in the Executive Branch are “quite baffled” by the White House’s decision to allow the president to stand alongside Bergdahl’s father this past weekend, given the father’s history of controversial statements, emails and online posts.Asked Monday about reports that Bergdahl’s father was communicating on Twitter with a man described as a Taliban spokesman, White House Press Secretary Jay Carney declined to comment on those reports but defended the administration’s handling of the release.“The fact is they are the parents of Sergeant Bergdahl. Their son was held in captivity for five years,” he said. “And it was absolutely the right thing to do, for the commander in chief, for this administration to take action to secure his release, the last prisoner of war from the Afghanistan and Iraq wars.”Asked whether Obama stands by National Security Adviser Susan Rice’s claim Sunday that Bergdahl served with “distinction,” Carney said the president “stands by actions that he took as commander in chief” to secure his release.Another administration official, whose duties are focused on counterterrorism, told Fox News when asked about the status of any investigations into Bergdahl’s initial disappearance and his conduct over the last five years: “Everybody’s looking at this. He’s not going to get a free pass” in the interrogations that Bergdahl will face during his repatriation process. “He’s going to have a lot of questions to answer — a lot. Is he a hero? No.”Although this source had not seen the classified file described by the Pentagon source, the counterterrorism official agreed that given the high priority attached to the Bergdahl case over the last five years, the need for clarity about Bergdahl’s actions before and during his time with the Taliban “would have been a high priority for intelligence tasking.”Asked if the process of repatriation would include questioning of Bergdahl geared towards determining whether he engaged in any forms of collaboration with the enemy, the counterterrorism official replied: “Of course. … It’s there. This is extremely untidy.”…

Obamacare Ushering In National Enrollment System ('GOP's Obamacare fears come true')!

Truth Revolt ^ | 6/2/2014 | Albert Merrick
The Republican party's worst fears about Obamacare are coming true, according to a Politico article published Monday. Thanks to "intransigent Republicans" who opted out of forming exchanges in their own states and "ambitious Democrats" who botched the creation of them in theirs, 36 states now rely on the federal HealthCare.gov exchange. With two more states joining next year, the article reminds readers that, back when Congress needed to pass the bill in order to find out what was in it, a large federal exchange wasn't supposed to be part of the new health care law:
The federal option was supposed to be a limited and temporary fallback. But a shift to a bigger, more permanent Washington-controlled system is instead underway — without preparation, funding or even public discussion about what a national exchange covering millions of Americans means for the future of U.S. health care.
So the Republican party's "fears" have come true. Or, perhaps put another way, although not stated in the article, the GOP criticism of the plan was correct.