US Considering Air Strikes On Assad Regime After Top General Warns It Could Lead To War With Russia

us-vs-russia-2Now that the gloves have come off in the faux diplomacy between Russia and the US, which culminated with Putin halting a Plutonium cleanup effort with the US, shortly before the US State Department announced it would end negotiations with Russia over Syria, the next step may be one which John Kerry warned last week is “back on the table“, namely the launch of military strikes on the Assad regime.

As Reuters hinted last week, at a Deputies Committee meeting at the White House, officials from the State Department, the CIA and the Joint Chiefs of Staff discussed limited military strikes against the regime as a “means of forcing Syrian dictator Bashar al-Assad to pay a cost for his violations of the cease-fire, disrupt his ability to continue committing war crimes against civilians in Aleppo, and raise the pressure on the regime to come back to the negotiating table in a serious way.” Or, in other words, to cut to the chase and go right back to what the US was hoping to achieve in Syria in the first place: another regime change.

Among the options considered include bombing Syrian air force runways using cruise missiles and other long-range weapons fired from coalition planes and ships. One proposed way to get around the White House’s long-standing objection to striking the Assad regime without a U.N. Security Council resolution would be to carry out the strikes covertly and without public acknowledgment, the official said. In other words, the warhawks in the administration are actively contemplating not only bypassing the White House, but flaunting the UN and launching a sovereign incursions, also known as a war, against Syria.

The CIA and the Joint Chiefs of Staff, represented in the Deputies Committee meeting by Vice Chairman Gen. Paul Selva, expressed support for such “kinetic” options, the official said. That marked an increase of support for striking Assad compared with the last time such options were considered.

“There’s an increased mood in support of kinetic actions against the regime,” one senior administration official said. “The CIA and the Joint Staff have said that the fall of Aleppo would undermine America’s counterterrorism goals in Syria.”

The good news is that, at least for now, not everyone involved in the discussion is a hawkish neocon. According to WaPo there’s still skepticism that the White House will approve military action. Other administration officials told The Post this week that Obama is no more willing to commit U.S. military force inside Syria than he was previously and that each of the military options being discussed have negative risks or consequences.

There is another problem: launching bombing raids over Syria would necessarily require the creation of a “no fly zone” for Syrian and, more importantly, Russian warplanes.  However, during testimony before the Senate Committee on Armed Services last week General Joseph Dunford rang the alarm over a policy shift that is gaining more traction within the halls of Washington following the collapse of the ceasefire brokered by the United States and Russia in Syria saying that it could result in a major international war which he was not prepared to advocate on behalf of.

The notable exchange took place after Senator Roger Wicker of Mississippi asked about Hillary Clinton’s proposal for a no fly zone in Syria in response to allegations that Russia and Syria have intensified their aerial bombardment of rebel-held East Aleppo since the collapse of the ceasefire.

“What about the option of controlling the airspace so that barrel bombs cannot be dropped? What do you think of that option?” asked Wicker. “Right now, Senator, for us to control all of the airspace in Syria would require us to go to war against Syria and Russia. That is a pretty fundamental decision that certainly I’m not going to make,” said the Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff suggesting the policy was too hawkish even for military leaders.

Since the report is, at least for now, just a trial balloon to gauge the Russian reaction to a potential US military incursion, we now wait to see what Putin’s reaction to the possibility of a US military campaign in Syria will be.

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Obama Praises Abbas: ‘Somebody Who Has Consistently Renounced Violence’

U.S. President Barack Obama meets with Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas in the Oval Office of the White House MondayHosting Palestinian Authority chairman Mahmoud Abbas in the Oval Office on Monday, President Obama described his visitor as “somebody who has consistently renounced violence” – a view in stark contrast to that held by the Israeli government.

“I have to commend President Abbas,” Obama told reporters before their talks aimed at nudging his administration’s brittle Mideast peace effort ahead.

“He has been somebody who has consistently renounced violence, has consistently sought a diplomatic and peaceful solution that allows for two states, side by side, in peace and security – a state that allows for the dignity and sovereignty of the Palestinian people and a state that allows for Israelis to feel secure and at peace with their neighbors,” he added.

images6ZCAV8LPDuring his remarks, which lasted for just over four minutes, Obama made no mention of last week’s barrage of rockets, fired from the Gaza Strip at Israeli communities in the south, the most extensive such attack since 2012.

While the majority of the more than 70 rockets launched from Wednesday until the weekend were attributed to the Islamic Jihad, some were launched by the military wing of Abbas’ own Fatah organization, the Al-Aqsa Martyrs Brigade.

On its website, the Al-Aqsa Martyrs Brigade said it fired 107mm rockets at the Israeli town of Sderot, and charged that the Palestinians were “witnessing an unprecedented beloved assault on our people and our leaders by the Zionist killing machine and charlatans of the descendants of apes and pigs.”

US Department of State SealThe State Department at the time condemned the rocket attacks, saying there was no justification for them and asserting that “Israel, like any nation, has a right to defend itself.”

The rocket barrage began on Wednesday afternoon, when 41 were fired, and more fell overnight, but it was not until Thursday afternoon that Abbas commented.

When Israel and the Palestinian Authority (P.A.) agreed last July to resume U.S.-brokered talks over a nine-month period, Secretary of State John Kerry secured a pledge from Netanyahu to free 104 long-term Palestinian prisoners, in four batches, as a goodwill gesture.

The first three rounds of releases have taken place and, sitting alongside Obama in the Oval Office on Monday, Abbas said the P.A. was hopeful that the fourth round would occur by March 29, as that would be an indication of Israel’s seriousness.

John Kerry and Mahmood Abbas
John Kerry and Mahmood Abbas

When the last group of prisoners were released, two-and-a-half months ago, many Israelis were riled when Abbas gave them a heroes’ welcome at a public celebration. All but two of the 26 freed prisoners had been serving lengthy or life prison terms for murdering either Israelis or Palestinians accused of “collaborating” with Israel. Kerry visited Israel two days after the release and welcoming ceremony, and during a joint press conference with him Netanyahu questioned Abbas’ commitment to peace. “To glorify the murders of innocent women and men as heroes is an outrage,” Netanyahu said. “How can he say that he stands against terrorism when he embraces the perpetrators of terrorism and glorifies them as heroes?”

Kerry in his responding remarks did not comment on Abbas’ reception for the prisoners – apart from alluding to “the difficulties that the prime minister has just referred to” – and did not condemn the action.

He also commended both Netanyahu and Abbas for having “taken significant steps for peace.”

The Israeli foreign ministry recently released a document on what it called a “culture of hatred cultivated by” P.A. figures and official media outlets against Israel, including incitement to violence and demonization of Jews.

President Obama says goodbye to Palestinian Authority chairman Mahmoud Abbas after concluding their meeting in the West Wing of the White House on March 17
President Obama says goodbye to Palestinian Authority chairman Mahmoud Abbas after concluding their meeting in the West Wing of the White House on March 17

It also cited the veneration of terrorists, including Abbas’ posthumous awarding of the P.A.’s highest decoration to Abu Jihad, who as head of the PLO’s military wing was accused of planning attacks in which 125 Israelis were killed. At a ceremony last November, Abbas called Abu Jihad “the model of a true fighter and devoted leader.”

In 2010, Abbas gave a military funeral to one of the key planners of the PLO’s terrorist attack targeting Israeli athletes at the Munich Olympics in 1972.

Obama White House Secretly Rewrote Freedom Of Information Act To Ensure Political Advantage; Damage Control

Barack ObamaApparently, President Barack Obama got away with a subtle, but fundamentally expansive, act of furtive self-protection in 2009 by positioning the White House, for the first time in the Nation’s history, to intercept any Freedom of Information Act (FOIA) requests that involve not only the Executive Branch, but any other government activity that the Executive Branch could fabricate a reason for caring about.

According to a report issued today by government watchdog Cause of Action,  an unpublicized memorandum from Gregory Craig – who served at the time as White House Counsel – instructed all executive agencies to “consult with the White House Counsel’s Office on all document requests that may involve documents with White House equities… This need to consult with the White House arises with respect to all types of document requests, including Congressional committee requests, GAO requests, judicial subpoenas, and FOIA requests.”

FOIA 01As the Washington Examiner observed Tuesday, the Freedom of Information Act has, throughout its long history, never been modified to accommodate this new, expansive language. A proposal currently before Congress, if it becomes law, would actually amend the FOIA to favor the curious public, streamlining the application process and expediting responses from government agencies.

That’s a far cry from the secretive 2009 memorandum that effectively altered the law to benefit the sitting President.

Although the memo illegally (but successfully) broadened the White House’s prerogative in obstructing FOIA requests, the most damaging phrase is “White House equities.” Evidently, no one but the White House is gifted with the authority to interpret what it means.

“An instructive example of how ‘White House equities’ is construed – and ultimately abused – is the White House’s review of FOIA requests concerning the well-publicized conference spending scandal at the General Services Administration (GSA),” Cause of Action explains. “E-mails between GSA and the White House Counsel’s Office show that the Administration affirmatively sought to review document requests related to politically-sensitive issues.

“…All the more egregious is the fact that the President has used White House equities to reverse the FOIA process: FOIA is designed to inform the public on government behavior; White House equities allow the government to withhold information from the media, and therefore the public, by having media requests forwarded for review. This not only politicizes federal agencies, it impairs fundamental First Amendment liberties.”

That’s as sinister as it is illegal. Rewriting the Freedom of Information Act by any means other than Congressional amendment is illegal, and taking extraordinary, unConstitutional action to rewrite the law expressly to gain a political advantage – including the possible eradication or falsification of evidence of wrongdoing – is a wilful criminal subversion of public service.

Obama Moves to Weaponize the IRS

Tea Party 01In 2010 millions of American tea-party constitutionalists, to include the GOP’s Christian base, united in a remarkable grass-roots effort to rein in our unbridled federal government and return it to its expressly limited constitutional confines. As a result, an unprecedented number of counter-constitutionalist lawmakers (read: liberal Democrats) were swept from office.

Obama IRS 1The Obama administration wasn’t going to take this lying down. Whether it was by tacit approval or via direct order remains largely immaterial. The president quickly and unlawfully politicized the Internal Revenue Service, using it as a weapon against his political enemies. In an explosive scandal that continues to grow, the Obama IRS was caught – smoking gun in hand – intentionally targeting conservative and Christian organizations and individuals for harassment, intimidation and, ultimately, for political destruction.

Not only has Obama faced zero accountability for these arguably impeachable offenses, he has since doubled down. With unmitigated gall, his administration has moved to officially weaponize the IRS against conservatives once and for all.

Despite the furor over the IRS assault on conservative groups leading up to the 2012 elections, this administration – led by a despotic radical who is turning our constitutional republic into one of the banana variety – has quietly released a proposed set of new IRS regulations that, if implemented, will immediately, unlawfully and permanently muzzle conservative 501(c)(4) nonprofit organizations and their individual employees. (The 501(c)(4) designation refers to the IRS code section under which social welfare organizations are regulated).

Constitution tornThe new regulations would unconstitutionally compel a 90-day blackout period during election years in which conservative 501(c)(4) organizations – such as tea-party, pro-life and pro-family groups – would be banned from mentioning the name of any candidate for office, or even the name of any political party.

Here’s the kicker: As you may have guessed, liberal lobbying groups like labor unions and trade associations are deliberately exempted. And based on its partisan track record, don’t expect this president’s IRS to lift a finger to scrutinize liberal 501(c)(4)s. Over at a Obama’s “Organizing for America,” the left-wing political propaganda will, no doubt, flow unabated.

These Orwellian regulations will prohibit conservative 501(c)(4) organizations from using words like “oppose,” “vote,” or “defeat.” Their timing, prior to a pivotal election, is no coincidence and provides yet another example of Obama’s using the IRS for “progressive” political gain.

Although these restrictions only apply to 501(c)(4) organizations for now, under a straightforward reading, they will also clearly apply to 501(c)(3) organizations in the near future.

Mat Staver
Mat Staver

Mat Staver, chairman of Liberty Counsel Action – one of the many conservative organizations to be silenced – commented on the breaking scandal: “One of the core liberties in our constitutional republic is the right to dissent,” he said. “But desperate to force his radical agenda on the American people, Barack Obama and his chosen political tool, the IRS, are now trying to selectively abridge this right, effectively silencing their political adversaries.”

Specifically, here’s what the proposed regulations would do to conservative groups and their leaders:

  • Prohibit using words like “oppose,” “vote,” “support,” “defeat,” and “reject.”

  • Prohibit mentioning, on its website or on any communication (email, letter, etc.) that would reach 500 people or more, the name of a candidate for office, 30 days before a primary election and 60 days before a general election.

  • Prohibit mentioning the name of a political party, 30 days before a primary election and 60 days before a general election, if that party has a candidate running for office.

  • Prohibit voter registration drives or conducting a non-partisan “get-out-the-vote drive.”

  • Prohibit creating or distributing voter guides outlining how incumbents voted on particular bills.

  • Prohibit hosting candidates for office at any event, including debates and charitable fundraisers, 30 days before a primary election or 60 days before the general election, if the candidate is part of the event’s program.

  • Restrict employees of such organizations from volunteering for campaigns.

  • Prohibit distributing any materials prepared on behalf a candidate for office.

  • Restrict the ability of officers and leaders of such organizations to publicly speak about incumbents, legislation, and/or voting records.

  • Restrict the ability of officers and leaders of such organizations to make public statements regarding the nomination of judges.

  • Create a 90-day blackout period, on an election year, that restricts the speech of 501(c)(4) organizations.

  • Declare political activity as contrary to the promotion of social welfare.

  • Protect labor unions and trade associations by exempting them from the proposed regulations.

Continued Mat Staver: “We would be restricted in promoting conservative values, such as protecting our constitutional rights against these very kind of Executive Branch infringements.

“We would even be prohibited from criticizing the federal bureaucracy. If this new set of regulations goes into effect, Liberty Counsel Action – all conservative 501(c)(4)s for that matter – will be forbidden to ‘oppose’ or ‘support’ anything in the political arena and we’ll be prohibited from conducting our ‘get-out-the vote’ campaigns or issuing our popular voter guides.

“Further,” continue Staver, “individual employees of conservative groups will be banned from speaking or messaging on incumbents, legislation, and/or voting records – or speaking on the nominations of judges or political nominees being considered by the Senate. This also includes taking on state and local politicians.”

“These are the same tactics used by the Obama administration to illegally target conservative 501(c)(4) organizations during the last two election cycles, only now the strategy has been greatly intensified and formalized.

“You may recall that former President Richard Nixon was famously forced to resign for improperly using Executive Branch assets for political purposes.

“Rather than preparing a solid defense to confront these serious allegations, Barack Obama has chosen instead to reconfigure his illegal tactics into a set of ‘regulations’ on nonprofits, opening the door for an IRS crackdown on select organizations,” Staver concluded.

Indeed, once caught abusing his executive authority to target the very U.S. citizens he’s sworn to serve, even a nominally honorable man would immediately reverse course, resign and accept the consequences of his illegal actions.

But we’re not talking about an honorable man.

‘Avalanche’ of Regulations Still to Come Under Obamacare

Obamacare 1The Obama administration has yet to finalize 28 additional regulations under Obamacare that could lead to an “avalanche” of regulatory burden on the economy, according to an analysis by the American Action Forum.

A report released Monday by Sam Batkins, director of regulatory policy at American Action Forum, details the billions in cost and millions in paperwork hours that will result from the pending regulations, including the individual mandate, which has yet to be finalized.

“In total, these 28 paperwork burdens total more than 45.7 million burden hours,” the report said. “For perspective, it would take more than 22,800 employees working full-time to complete the new paperwork (assuming 2,000 employee hours annually).”

“Using an average wage rate, these regulations will cost $1.4 billion annually,” it said.

Obamacare is a taxThe White House’s Office of Information and Regulatory Affairs (OIRA) has not completed final regulations for the individual mandate. The mandate is set to go into effect this year and carries a penalty—or “individual responsibility payment,” according to Healthcare.gov—at the end of the tax year for those who do not purchase “minimum essential coverage,” as dictated by Obamacare.

Obamacare is still being writtenThe American Action Forum report explains that once finalized, the individual mandate will take millions of hours in paperwork to comply.

“The most infamous ACA provision, the individual mandate tax, has been stuck at OIRA since Aug. 23; it would impose more than 7.5 million paperwork burden hours on American taxpayers,” the report said.

“Curiously, the administration finalized the rulemaking on August 30, 2013, but the White House still hasn’t approved the collection,” the report continued. “Under current law, no individual is required to comply with federal paperwork, ‘unless the collection of information displays a valid control number assigned by [OIRA].’”

“Without approval, taxpayers are not required to comply with the individual mandate forms,” it said. “However, don’t ignore the individual mandate tax completely. The IRS considers this defense to tax liability ‘fictional.’”

The report also details that Health and Human Services (HHS) already administers 4,116 federal health care forms.

In a previous analysis based on their latest census of HHS paperwork, the American Action Forum reported that HHS “imposes 645 million hours of paperwork, $35.3 billion in costs, and 4,116 federal forms.”

The healthcare exchange added 40 more health care forms, which will cost $558 million and 16.6 million paperwork hours. The amount of HHS forms nearly triples that of the Treasury Department, which administers 1,404 forms.

“With more than 4,100 federal health care forms and growing, it’s clear the ACA is placing incredible strains on the regulatory system,” the report said.

Rules that are also pending include a requirement for “Premium Stabilization Programs, and Market Standards” that would add 380,000 in paperwork hours, and an “Enrollee Satisfaction” survey for the health exchange that will take a combined 100,000 hours to complete.

“The possibility of adding more than 45 million burden hours on the public is certainly a daunting reality,” the American Action Forum said. “In the context of overall growth at HHS, every new burden adds to an incredibly high figure: 132 million hours.”

“That’s how much the Affordable Care Act has already added to the nation’s regulatory burden,” they said. “Once OIRA releases these pending regulations, compliance costs and reporting times will soar even higher.”

Supreme Court to Decide If They Will Hear Case of German Homeschool Family

Uwe and Hanalore Romeike
Uwe and Hanalore Romeike

Uwe and Hanalore Romeike want to educate their seven children at home, rather than in the school system.  But in Germany where they come from originally, home schooling is illegal.

It isn’t just discouraged, it is punishable by heavy fines and imprisonment and their children could be taken away from them.

“We are being persecuted, as are many other home schooling families in Germany,” says Mr. Romeike.  “Parents should have the right to choose the best education for their children. That’s what’s lacking in Germany. We don’t have freedom of education.”

Families such as the Romeikes have come to the US as home schooling is illegal in Germany
Families such as the Romeikes have come to the US as home schooling is illegal in Germany

The Romeike family fled Germany and came to America for religious asylum in 2008 and settled in Tennessee. In their native country, they ran afoul of the government for trying to protect their children from some of the anti-Christian influences in the German public schools — the same kind of influences often found in American public schools for that matter.

In 2010, Judge Lawrence Burman, an immigration judge granted the family asylum saying that if the family returned to Germany they would assuredly face persecution because of their religious beliefs. The judge agreed that if the family returned to Germany that the children would be taken from their parents who face arrest for wanting a Christian education for their kids.

Eric Holder and Barack Obama
Eric Holder and Barack Obama

Two years later the Obama administration called for a review and a higher court overturned the decision. Thanks to the efforts of Attorney General Eric Holder, every court since the government appeal was filed has ruled against the family.  In May, the Sixth Circuit Court of Appeals ruled:

“The Romeikes have not shown that Germany’s enforcement of its general school-attendance law amounts to persecution against them, whether on grounds of religion or membership in a recognized social group.  There is a difference between the persecution of a discrete group and the prosecution of those who violate a generally applicable law.”

On October 10, 2013, the Home School Legal Defense Association filed an appeal with the US Supreme Court, asking them to hear the case.  In November their appeal was up for consideration with the high court, but they delayed hearing the case because they asked Eric Holder to respond to the appeal in writing.  The HSLDA believes that the request of the court for a written response from Holder was a good sign that at least one of the justices is interested in the case.  It takes 5 members of the court to agree to hear a case, and they are praying that is the case.

US Supreme Court
US Supreme Court

This Friday, February 21, the Supreme Court is scheduled to review the case.  The HSLDA is asking everyone for prayer that the high court will uphold the history of America as being a place of refuge for those persecuted for their faith.  They believe that they have a strong and solid case and a persuasive argument.

Attorney Michael Farris who founded the HSDLA and is helping the Romeike family says: “The Obama administration is basically saying there is no right to home school anywhere.”

In reference to German restrictions of homeschooling, Farris adds: “That means they don’t want to have significant numbers of people who think differently than what the government thinks…. It’s an incredibly dangerous assertion that people can’t think in a way that the government doesn’t approve of.”

The sad situation with the Romeike family clearly demonstrates what our government has become.  They say yes to foreign gays, to Muslims and to illegal aliens, but they scream NO at Christians.

Stand For Romeike

Obama Says That Washington Distracted by ‘Phony Scandals’

President Barack Obama speaks about the economy, Wednesday, July 24, 2013, at Knox College in Galesburg, Ill.
President Barack Obama speaks about the economy, Wednesday, July 24, 2013, at Knox College in Galesburg, Ill.

Last Wednesday, President Barack Obama dismissed the scandals that have engulfed his administration as “phony.”

“With an endless parade of distractions and political posturing and phony scandals, Washington’s taken its eye off the ball,” Obama said in a campaign-style speech on the state of the economy. “And I’m here to say this needs to stop. This needs to stop. Short-term thinking and stale debates are not what this moment requires. Our focus has to be on the basic economic issues that the matter most to you – the people we represent.”

Obama didn’t mention any controversies by name, so he may need reminded of a few.  Starting with the decision of his Department of Justice to not prosecute members of the New Black Panthers for voter intimidation and the fiasco of Fast and Furious, his administration was off to the races with controversy.  Obama’s disregard for the law has been rampant from the auto bailout to the illegal war in Libya to the most recent decision to administratively decide to change portions of the implementation of the Affordable Care Act.  Throw in the use of the Internal Revenue Service to harass conservative and religious groups, revelations about the National Security Agency spying on American citizens and the Sept. 2012 terror assault in Benghazi, Libya and the associated cover-up have all brought unwanted scrutiny on the White House.

White House press secretary Jay Carney also used the term “phony scandals” earlier Wednesday in an appearance on MSNBC.  I would say to the press secretary and even the president that just because MSNBC chooses not to cover the stories of the Obama administration’s misdeeds, does not mean that they didn’t take place.