Fall of Ramadi Shows That ISIS Has ‘Tactical Awareness’

The fall of Ramadi has proven that the Islamic State is evolving, and has adopted a level of tactical awareness that led to them outmaneuvering Iraqi government forces. Moreover, the sectarian division between Shiite and Sunni Iraqis continues to plague the government’s efforts in mobilizing the country against ISIS. More disconcertingly, we now know, or at least the Obama administration should realize, that airstrikes aren’t working. ISIS has learned to evade detection, both in the real world and in the digital realm when it comes to launching their offensives (via WSJ):

Islamic State commanders evaded surveillance and airstrikes to bring reinforcements to its front lines in western Iraq. The group displayed a high degree of operational security by silencing its social media and propaganda teams during the Ramadi surge.

The group also churned out dozens of formidable new weapons by converting captured U.S. military armored vehicles designed to be impervious to small-arms fire into megabombs with payloads equal to the force of the Oklahoma City bombing.

Over the three-day surge in Ramadi, Islamic State fighters launched at least 27 such vehicle-borne improvised explosive devices, or Vbieds, that destroyed Iraq security forces’ defensive perimeters and crumbled multistory buildings.

Military analysts said the new formidable weapon was the latest development showing how the group appears to be learning from battlefield defeats like the one in Kobani, Syria, last summer in pursuit of its goal to control the Sunni-majority areas of Syria and Iraq.

“It’s very frustrating,” said Bill Roggio, senior fellow at the Defense of Democracies think tank and managing editor of the Long War Journal, which chronicles the U.S. war on terror. “These guys are showing a good degree of tactical awareness.”

As for the incorporating Sunnis into their defense strategy, the Ramadi fiasco has seemingly torpedoed that effort. Many Sunnis have been politically isolated by the Shiite majority, their representatives in government virtually have no influence, and their displacement is creating a humanitarian crisis, as reported by the New York Times:

The government’s effort to foster Sunni fighters, always a seemingly halfhearted program, now feels almost incidental as thousands of Shiite militiamen flood into Anbar to take up the fight against the Islamic State, also known as ISIS or ISIL.

A ceremony for a group of Sunni tribal fighters stationed at a base in Habbaniya, a lakeside town in Anbar, to receive new American-supplied weapons had been scheduled for Monday but was canceled because of the Ramadi crisis. Instead, nearly 3,000 Shiite militiamen arrived at the outpost.

The collapse of Anbar has also set in sharp relief the continuing tragedy of Iraq’s Sunnis, beginning with the American invasion in 2003, which almost instantly upended the old social order of Sunni prominence. With the majority Shiites thrust into power, the Sunnis were sidelined, many banished from public life for good because of their ties to Saddam Hussein’s Baath Party.

Some of those Sunnis joined the insurgency, and many fight today for the Islamic State. Other Sunnis boycotted elections. A great number even deny the demographic fact that they are a minority in Iraq.

Most, though, wanted to get on with their lives and find a place within the new order.

Now, with the rise of the Islamic State, that has become nearly impossible. The Sunni militants of the Islamic State have declared war on those they consider apostates — Shiites, Christians, Yazidis — but it is Iraq’s Sunni Arabs who have arguably suffered the most.

The failure of Mr. Abadi to marshal a Sunni-led force to save the city has deepened the grievances of some Sunnis toward the central government that began with the leadership of the former prime minister, Nuri Kamal al-Maliki.

“Abadi is a liar just like Maliki,” said Subhi al-Khaliani, a retiree in Diyala Province. “He won’t arm the Sunnis, but will weaken them instead.”

Nearly three million Iraqis are now displaced, according to the United Nations, a level not seen since the height of Iraq’s sectarian civil war in 2006 and 2007. Then, many Iraqis fled to Syria. But with Syria convulsed by its own civil war, Iraqis on the run from the Islamic State have few safe places to go. Nearly 85 percent of the displaced are Sunnis, according to a United Nations official.

The displacement crisis has been made worse by Iraq’s sectarian divisions. Civilians fleeing Anbar have often been treated almost as foreign citizens when they arrive at the gates of Baghdad. Many are denied entry, especially young men, because the government considers them a security threat. After an influx of Ramadi residents several weeks ago, several car bombs struck Baghdad — a common occurrence at any time — and government officials blamed the displaced people.

The Sunni leaders who have remained in Baghdad are openly mocked as “Green Zone politicians,” with only a tenuous connection to any constituency and little influence that extends beyond their offices and homes in the fortified government center of the capital.

So, it’s a mess, and one that will likely fester into the 2016 election season. We know the airstrikes aren’t working. Building a Sunni-Shiite coalition to defend the rest of the country against ISIS’ advances is not feasible at present. If a significant part of the population does not view the government as legitimate, which is one of the reasons why the 2007 Surge worked, then the United States and her allies will have to look for other solutions to curbing the rise of ISIS in Iraq. It may take ground troops; 57 percent of Americans supported the use of American troops on the ground to fight ISIS in a CBS News poll in February. It should at least be put on the table, or considered to be an option of last resort.

Oh, and as for ISIS’ finances, they’re pretty solid. They keep their operations lean and mean; oil isn’t their primary source of revenue; and the terrorist organization “invests in people, not infrastructure.” The Times noted that the reason for this is because ISIS knows it will be targeted and territory they hold today can be lost tomorrow. Hence, why their biggest expenditure is salaries. ISIS is an evolving creature, and it’s quite terrifying.  We're certainly not dealing with the JV team.

Poll: 46 Percent Of Americans Want Stephanopoulos To Stay Away From 2016 Election Coverage

The revelation that ABC News’ George Stephanopoulos donated $75,000 to the Clinton Foundation, even serving as a featured attendee, panel moderator, and panelist at past Clinton Global Initiative annual meetings, confirms every speculation conservatives have about liberal media bias. As Julia Porterfield wrote in National Review, Conn Carroll, Sen. Mike Lee’s (R-UT) communications director, will not allow the senator go on ABC until Mr. Stephanopoulos recuses himself from all 2016 coverage. Oh, and 46 percent of Americans agree with that sentiment:

A new poll finds that 46 percent of Americans want ABC News chief anchor George Stephanopoulos banned from all 2016 campaign coverage following the revelation last week that he’d failed to disclose 75,000 in personal donations to the Clinton Foundation even as he continued to cover the recent controversy over the foundation’s foreign donors.

From May 17-18, Rasmussen Reports conducted a poll of 1,000 likely voters and found that a majority “think ABC should ban Stephanopoulos from any programming related to the presidential campaign since Hillary Clinton is running for president.” As a former staffer for President Bill Clinton, Stephanopoulos has close ties to the Clinton family that have prompted criticism of his reporting in recent years. The poll also found that 48 percent of Americans believe media bias to be “a bigger problem in politics today than big campaign contributions,” and 37 percent believe that “the average media reporter is more liberal than they are.”

At the same time, do we really need to have Stephanopoulos’ donations to the Clinton Foundation as the reason for his recusal from 2016 election coverage? He’s a former Clinton political operative; that alone should be reason enough to bar, or certainly scrutinize, any report he makes with regard to the Clintons on the campaign trail next year. Given ABC News’ shoddy response time to the Washington Free BeaconABC actually went to Dylan Byers of Politico–we shouldn’t expect them to remove Stephanopoulos from their campaign coverage.

Hillary VP Short-lister: Her Email Violations Are 'Besides the Point'

The first part of his response shouldn't be news. The fact that a presidential cabinet secretary uses his official .gov email account in carrying out his duties isn't extraordinary. In fact, it's not even plain-old ordinary; it's required.  But because Julian Castro is rumored to sit atop Hillary Clinton's running mate wish list -- thanks to his identity, not his qualifications or accomplishments, it seems -- he found himself on the receiving end of this question.  Thus, his answer constitutes news (via CNN's State of the Union and the Washington Free Beacon):

CNN: Do you use private email accounts?

Castro: I have my government email account -- of course I have my private email, but I have my government email. But that's besides the point. I think...

CNN: Do you do government business on the government account?

Castro: That's right. That's right.

Here, Castro does the best he can. He notes that of course he uses private email like everyone else, but he conducts official business over official email, as the rules compel him to do.  The fact that certain other individuals may not have felt quite as constrained by those rules is "besides the point," he assures us, setting up the predictable "distraction!" talking point in defense of his party's presumptive nominee.  Evincing anything less than utter respect for the requirements governing his public communications would have caused problems for himself and his current boss, but underscoring the importance of playing by the rules would reflect poorly on his potential future boss.  Such is life when one feels an obligation to protect the Clintons. The Federalist's Mollie Hemingway digs through the first batch of Hillary's emails (released just before a holiday weekend, not coincidentally) and identifies four "sketchy" things therein.  Among them is absolute radio silence on Amb. Chris Stevens' urgent memos about the deteriorating security situation in Benghazi.  Less than a month before he was murdered, Stevens warned that the US compound couldn't sustain a coordinated attack.  Was Sec. Clinton asleep at the switch over a major vulnerability in country that she saw as central to her foreign policy legacy, or were pertinent emails deleted?  Remember, the communications we're now beginning to get a look at exclude all of the emails Hillary's inner circle unilaterally decided to destroy.

To recap: Hillary Clinton improperly established a secret email server to exert total control over her public emails.  She used an account as Secretary of State that her lawyers told Congressional investigators didn't exist.  Her team deleted tens of thousands of emails without any independent supervision, then reportedly wiped the server clean.  Hillary and Bill Clinton's foundation accepted major foreign contributions that were never disclosed, in violation of ethics and transparency requirements.  Their "slush fund" also failed to report tens of millions in income from foreign governments in tax filings over multiple years.  And today we discover that Bill Clinton set up a secret LLC "pass through" company to hide income derived from his consulting services -- income that was also not disclosed.  One detects a patter here, no?  Will the Clintons carry off this hit parade of deliberate opacity, unethical behavior, and potential criminality with impunity because it's all "besides the point," or "old news," or whatever the justification of the day may be?

AP: You Know Bill Clinton Has A Shell Company That Was Never Disclosed, Right?

Ethical questions surrounding foreign government donations to their non-profit, a private email server being used during her entire tenure as Secretary of State, and now a secret “pass-through” company Bill established that wasn’t disclosed until now because its assets were less than $1,000, allowing it to be omitted from federal disclosure forms. Yet, from records obtained by the Associated Press, it shows how digging through the Clinton financials is like sifting through spaghetti, and adds to the narrative that this power couple is secretive and plays by their own rules:

The newly released financial files on Bill and Hillary Rodham Clinton's growing fortune omit a company with no apparent employees or assets that the former president has legally used to provide consulting and other services, but which demonstrates the complexity of the family's finances.

Because the company, WJC, LLC, has no financial assets, Hillary Clinton's campaign was not obligated to report its existence in her recent financial disclosure report, officials with Bill Clinton's private office and the Clinton campaign said. They were responding to questions by The Associated Press, which reviewed corporate documents.

The officials, who spoke on condition of anonymity because they were not authorized to provide private details of the former president's finances on the record, said the entity was a "pass-through" company designed to channel payments to the former president.

While Bill Clinton's lucrative speeches have provided the bulk of the couple's income, earning as much as $50 million during his wife's four-year term as secretary of state in the Obama administration, the former president has also sought to branch out into other business activities in recent years. Little is known about the exact nature and financial worth of Bill Clinton's non-speech business interests.

Under federal disclosure rules for spouses' earned income, Hillary Clinton was only obligated to identify the source of her spouse's income and confirm that he received more than $1,000. As a result, the precise amounts of Bill Clinton's earned income from consulting have not been disclosed, and it's not known how much was routed through WJC, LLC.

WJC, LLC was set up in Delaware in 2008 and again in 2013 and in New York in 2009, according to documents obtained by The AP. The company did not appear among holdings in the Clintons' financial disclosure released last week or in previous Hillary Clinton disclosure reports between 2008 and 2013, when she resigned as secretary of state. Bill Clinton signed a document as its "authorizing person" in a corporate filing in Delaware in 2013.

A limited liability company is a commonly used business structure that provides tax advantages and limited legal protection for the assets of company owners and partners.

The purpose of Bill Clinton's U.S.-based company was not disclosed in any of the corporate filings in Delaware and New York, but State Department files recently reviewed by the AP show that WJC, LLC surfaced in emails from Bill Clinton's aides to the department's ethics officials.

None of the proposals detailed how much Bill Clinton would be paid.

AP added that between 2009-2011, WJC, LLC was mentioned in such emails to State Department by Clinton lawyer Douglas Band. Band was asking if the former president would be cleared to do consulting work for a trio of companies owned by influential Democratic donors.

It’s just more bad news for the Clintons. The donations made to the foundation from foreign governments coincided with arms deals to these respective nations (almost all of them had abysmal human rights records) approved by Hillary Clinton when she was Secretary of State. Again, there’s no exact timetable, but the timing of these deals adds to the ethical dilemma regarding the Clinton family and their non-profit organization. Regarding the private email server, we now know that Mrs. Clinton did indeed read–and sometimes forward–emails with unsubstantiated intelligence from Libya to a State Department staffer. This secret intelligence network included a former Clinton aide, Sidney Blumenthal, who’s been subpoenaed by the House Select Committee On Benghazi. As Guy wrote, it also exposes another lie about Mrs. Clinton’s private email system:

Back when questions about Hillary Clinton's secret server first came to light, her lawyers stated unequivocally that with the exception of a few days at the very beginning of the first Obama administration, Secretary Clinton exclusively used one email account ("hdr22") throughout her tenure at State. In response to a records request from Congressional investigators, Hillary's lawyer asserted that a separate email account ("hrod17") "is not an address that existed during Secretary Clinton's tenure as Secretary of State."

As you can see, that’s a lie:

Hillary Clinton Emails

Also, this “pass-through” has a throwback to Mitt Romney in 2012:

Pass-through, or shell, companies became an issue in the 2012 presidential campaign when Republican candidate Mitt Romney disclosed a private equity entity worth $1.9 million despite failing to report the company on his previous federal disclosure. Romney aides said the company previously held no assets but then received the $1.9 million "true up" payment — a catch-up payment to make up for private equity fees from defunct investment advisory businesses that had not been previously paid

Will the Clintons endure the same scrutiny over this new revelation?

Good News: Another Long Shot, Republican Candidate To Enter 2016 Race

One question routinely debated and discussed among the beltway establishment is the following: How can little-known and unserious Republican presidential candidates win the 2016 nomination? Can they?

For instance, if former Gov. George Pataki (R-NY) were to compete in the 2016 primaries (as appears to be the case) and defy the odds of winning (which he certainly won’t), how would he do it? What issues would he talk about?

Well, judging by comments he recently made to the New York Post, the former governor hopes to defy the odds by discussing … conservationism?

Former New York Gov. George Pataki will officially launch his bid for president on Thursday, he told the New York Post this week.

"It will be a very stiff climb up a very steep mountain, but that hasn't stopped me in the past," Pataki said.

He framed himself in the mold of another former New York governor-turned-president, Theodore Roosevelt, emphasizing his commitment to environmental protections.

"I'm a Republican following in the tradition of Teddy Roosevelt who understands that conservatism isn't just economic policy but it's also preserving and enhancing the outdoors," Pataki said.

Good grief. Yeah,enhancing the outdoorsought to strike a real chord with the Republican base. Lest we forget, these kinds of issues barely register in the hearts and minds of the American people, let alone Republicans. So Pataki will need to do more than just climb mountains to be taken seriously as a GOP contender; he'll need to actually move them.

Best of luck with that, Governor. The polls aren't looking good.

BREAKING: Obama Executive Amnesty Takes Another Hit From Appeals Court

The Fifth Circuit Court of Appeals has knocked down an Obama administration request to lift a stay issued earlier this year on the implementation of President Obama's December 2014 executive action on illegal immigration. His executive action shields 5 million illegal immigrants in the United States from immediate deportation. 

In February, Federal Judge Andrew S. Hanen first issued the stay and denied a request for it to be lifted by the administration in April. Hanen also publicly scolded Department of Justice attorneys, slammed Homeland Security for failing to comply with the stay and questioned President Obama's integrity over the issue. Twenty-six states, with Texas leading the way, brought the lawsuit against the action late last year. 

The administration can now make a direct appeal to the Supreme Court for a ruling. Because this is an emergency case, the Supreme Court could take up the case and come up with a decision within the next two weeks.

This post has been updated.

Great: Security Staff at Vienna Airport Smuggled People Into US

If there’s one thing Katie’s post this afternoon about the TSA reminds us it’s that airport security is really not very secure at all. And that’s just in the U.S. Considering the global nature of travel we need to be equally concerned about airport security everywhere, which makes this story out of Vienna especially disturbing:

Austrian police have arrested several security employees at Vienna airport over their alleged role in smuggling illegal immigrants to Britain and the US, officials confirmed on Tuesday.

Six people were detained, although four of them have been released, public prosecutor Friedrich Koehl told AFP.

"In total, 13 people are being investigated in connection with the case, which was launched at the end of February," he said.

The suspects, mainly Austrian and Sri Lankan nationals, worked for private security firms hired by Austrian Airlines (AUA) to carry out passport and ticket controls at the boarding gate.

Thanks to their own security clearances, the men were able to smuggle refugees from Sri Lanka past checkpoints and provide them with boarding passes, said Koehl.

In exchange, they allegedly received between 7,000 ($7,630) and 9,000 euros per migrant.

Security firm G4S confirmed one of its employees had been involved in the smuggling ring.

The suspect was "immediately fired", the firm said, adding that it would tighten its airport control procedures and carry out more thorough background checks during the hiring process of new staff.

Meanwhile, AUA said it would address the issue internally with the security firms.

Comforting, isn’t it?

Dem Rep to Test John McCain in 2016

As you already know, Sen. John McCain (R-AZ) is running for re-election in 2016. Democrats, however, aren’t giving him a free pass -- or letting him rest on his laurels.

As it happens, Rep. Ann Kirkpatrick (D-AZ) announced today she will officially challenge him when his number's called. And while the state is certainly favorable terrain for the five-term incumbent (although, in fairness, perhaps McCain should start fearing his own party more so than Democrats) the race is already starting to heat up.

“I am announcing my candidacy for the United States Senate,” Kirkpatrick told supporters today in a campaign video. “I respect John McCain’s service to our nation, I just believe our state’s changing. Arizonians should have a real choice who they send to the United States Senate.”

“I’m not naïve,” she added. “I know that Washington insiders are already trying to dig up dirt. But having grown up here, a little mud on my boots is part of life.”

Somewhat unexpectedly, however, Rep. Kirkpatrick overcame the red tsunami in 2014, thus winning her bid for re-election. But it seems factors beyond her control are inducing her to unseat McCain in 2016, despite her obvious talent for winning close (and GOP-friendly) elections (via Roll Call)

Kirkpatrick, 65, won re-election last fall in this district against all odds, defying a GOP wave that felled fellow moderate House Democrats. She has strong ties to the district’s Native American population, which made her uniquely able to carry the seat.

A case is also currently pending with the Supreme Court, which heard arguments earlier this year on whether the state’s congressional district lines — drawn by an independent redistricting commission —are unconstitutional. If the court throws out the current congressional map, Arizona’s districts are almost certain to become more favorable to Republicans, imperiling members such as Kirkpatrick.

A-ha. So politically, running for McCain’s seat might just be the best way for her to stay relevant, and keep her congressional career alive. We'll see.

Hot New Fashion Trend: The Hillary Clinton Pantsuit T-Shirt

If you don't own one of these, America, it's time to reconsider your sartorial -- and life -- choices:

In a campaign store unveiled Tuesday, supporters can buy a range of items including "The Everyday Pantsuit Tee." "Bringing a whole new meaning to casual Friday," the item's description reads. "Pantsuit bottoms not included." The former secretary of state is known to frequently poke fun at her reputation for wearing pantsuits.

If the printed-on 'H-arrow' lapel pin strikes you as insufficiently authentic, the real deal is available for purchase -- along with sundry swag, ranging from pint glasses (much drinking will be required to endure the Hillary 2016 slog), to hand-stitched throw pillows (an elegant conversation-starter for the partisan home decorator), and babies' onesies (tragically unavailable in adult sizes for very special supporters).  I can't seem to find this particular item on the website, but perhaps it's only available to foreigners who donate wads of cash to the Clintons' non-charity "slush fund."  God bless Twitter:

Incidentally, it's not remotely unusual for candidates to hawk wares online to raise money and capture emails.  Politicians on both sides of the aisle do it; some examples are just more unusual than others.  I'll leave you with a priceless pull quote from Karen Tumulty's Washington Post story on Hillary's "management style," published over the long weekend.  Perfection:

Nope, nothing paranoid about this, or this, or this!

Clinton’s State Dept Approved Arms Deals To Govts Who Gave Millions To The Foundation

The ethical questions surrounding foreign donations to the Clinton Foundation have entered a new arena: arms sales. According to the International Business Times, governments with appalling human rights records who donated to the Clinton Foundation received billions in arms deals approved by the Clinton State Department that far surpassed anything doled out by the Bush administration. A review of the 2009-2012 fiscal records by the IBT discovered the transactions:

Under Clinton's leadership, the State Department approved $165 billion worth of commercial arms sales to 20 nations whose governments have given money to the Clinton Foundation, according to an IBTimes analysis of State Department and foundation data. That figure -- derived from the three full fiscal years of Clinton’s term as Secretary of State (from October 2010 to September 2012) -- represented nearly double the value of American arms sales made to the those countries and approved by the State Department during the same period of President George W. Bush’s second term.

The Clinton-led State Department also authorized $151 billion of separate Pentagon-brokered deals for 16 of the countries that donated to the Clinton Foundation, resulting in a 143 percent increase in completed sales to those nations over the same time frame during the Bush administration. These extra sales were part of a broad increase in American military exports that accompanied Obama’s arrival in the White House.

American defense contractors also donated to the Clinton Foundation while Hillary Clinton was secretary of state and in some cases made personal payments to Bill Clinton for speaking engagements. Such firms and their subsidiaries were listed as contractors in $163 billion worth of Pentagon-negotiated deals that were authorized by the Clinton State Department between 2009 and 2012.

The State Department formally approved these arms sales even as many of the deals enhanced the military power of countries ruled by authoritarian regimes whose human rights abuses had been criticized by the department. Algeria, Saudi Arabia, Kuwait, the United Arab Emirates, Oman and Qatar all donated to the Clinton Foundation and also gained State Department clearance to buy caches of American-made weapons even as the department singled them out for a range of alleged ills, from corruption to restrictions on civil liberties to violent crackdowns against political opponents.

In all, governments and corporations involved in the arms deals approved by Clinton’s State Department have delivered between $54 million and $141 million to the Clinton Foundation as well as hundreds of thousands of dollars in payments to the Clinton family, according to foundation and State Department records. The Clinton Foundation publishes only a rough range of individual contributors’ donations, making a more precise accounting impossible.

Under federal law, foreign governments seeking State Department clearance to buy American-made arms are barred from making campaign contributions -- a prohibition aimed at preventing foreign interests from using cash to influence national security policy. But nothing prevents them from contributing to a philanthropic foundation controlled by policymakers.

“The word was out to these groups that one of the best ways to gain access and influence with the Clintons was to give to this foundation,” said Meredith McGehee, policy director at the Campaign Legal Center, an advocacy group that seeks to tighten campaign finance disclosure rules. “This shows why having public officials, or even spouses of public officials, connected with these nonprofits is problematic.”

Hillary Clinton’s willingness to allow those with business before the State Department to finance her foundation heightens concerns about how she would manage such relationships as president, said Lawrence Lessig, the director of Harvard University’s Safra Center for Ethics.

“These continuing revelations raise a fundamental question of judgment,” Lessig told IBTimes. “Can it really be that the Clintons didn't recognize the questions these transactions would raise? And if they did, what does that say about their sense of the appropriate relationship between private gain and public good?”

National security experts assert that the overlap between the list of Clinton Foundation donors and those with business before the State Department presents a troubling conflict of interest.

Now, the $1 million dollar question is whether any of this will break outside the beltway, let alone stick around long enough to be used as campaign ammunition against Hillary.  Again, there's no concrete timetable that links the donations to the arms sales, but as IBT noted, " news reports document that at least seven foreign governments that received State Department clearance for American arms did donate to the Clinton Foundation while Hillary Clinton was serving as secretary: Algeria, Oman, Qatar, Kuwait, Thailand, Norway and Australia."

In one sense, it might have little impact given that all of the Clinton’s dirty laundry is being displayed so early. We’re roughly 17 months away from the Election Day, which is a lifetime in politics. Right now, a majority of American voters do no think Clinton is trustworthy, but they give her high marks for leadership (yeah, I don't get it either). This new revelation adds to the narrative that if you want something from the Clintons, you should probably donate to their non-profit; a point MSNBC's Chris Matthews noted regarding the foreign contributions.  Yet, I doubt (sadly) that it will move the needle in either direction.

On the right, an example of the media highlighting a candidate's dirty laundry, or an unfortunate staff hire, occurred in 2013. The Washington Free Beacon reported on Sen. Rand Paul (R-KY) hiring an aide–Jack Hunter–who had neo-confederate sympathies, and served as the senator’s social media director in 2012. Hunter also helped write Sen. Paul’s book, The Tea Party Goes To Washington. Hunter resigned from Paul’s staff after the Beacon’s story. In the era where everything is racist in the eyes of liberals, you would think liberal groups would hammer Paul, who is seen as a top-tier candidate for the 2016. Then again, they still could, but so far Paul is getting more flak for his view on foreign policy and national security for the time being from members of his own party. 

The media fallout from the Clinton arms bazaar that reportedly occurred during her tenure as our top diplomat remains to be seen, but it appears if there’s anything that might resonate with the proverbial sensible center of America; it’s the “dead broke” comments. As Maggie Haberman of the New York Times said last Sunday, we’re approaching the one-year anniversary of those infamous remarks, and it remains fresh in the minds of voters.  So, this is another item that should be added to the list of questions for Hillary Clinton, which I'm sure she won't answer anytime soon.  

Oh, and yes, Bill Clinton was delivering speeches to nations who gave money to the Foundation around the same that State was approving their arms deals:

Bill Clinton took in speaking fees reaching $625,000 at events sponsored by entities that were dealing with Hillary Clinton’s State Department on weapons issues.

In 2011, for example, the former president was paid $175,000 by the Kuwait America Foundation to be the guest of honor and keynote speaker at its annual awards gala, which was held at the home of the Kuwaiti ambassador. Ben Affleck spoke at the event, which featured a musical performance by Grammy-award winner Michael Bolton. The gala was emceed by Joe Scarborough and Mika Brzezinski, hosts of MSNBC’s Morning Joe show. Boeing was listed as a sponsor of the event, as were the embassies of the United Arab Emirates, Saudi Arabia, Kuwait and Qatar -- the latter two of which had donated to the Clinton Foundation while Hillary Clinton was secretary of state.

The speaking fee from the Kuwait America Foundation to Bill Clinton was paid in the same time frame as a series of deals Hillary Clinton’s State Department was approving between the Kuwaiti government and Boeing. Months before the gala, the Department of Defense announced that Boeing would be the prime contractor on a $693 million deal, cleared by Hillary Clinton’s State Department, to provide the Kuwaiti government with military transport aircraft. A year later, a group sponsored in part by Boeing would pay Bill Clinton another $250,000 speaking fee.

Good News: Thousands of High Security TSA Badges Are Missing

In case you missed it last week, Homeland Security Inspector General John Roth testified in front of the House Oversight Committee about the status of the Transportation Security Administration. His findings were alarming. From Dan's reporting

“Unfortunately, although nearly 14 years have passed since TSA’s inception, we remain deeply concerned about its ability to execute its mission,” he continued. “Since 2014 we have published more than 115 audit and inspector reports about TSA’s programs and operations. We’ve issued hundreds of recommendations to attempt to improve TSA’s efficiency and effectiveness. We have conducted a series of covert penetration tests, essentially testing TSA’s ability to stop us from bringing in simulated explosives and weapons through checkpoints, as well as testing whether we could enter secure areas through other means.”

Their findings, however, were less-than-comforting.

“Although the results of those tests are classified—and we’d be happy to brief any member or their staffs in a secure setting with regard to our specific findings—we identified vulnerabilities caused by human and technology based failures.”

“Our audits have repeatedly found that human error—often a simple failure to follow protocol—poses significant transportation security vulnerabilities,” he added.

Now, a new report from NBC 5 in Atlanta confirms the "vulnerabilities caused by human and technology based failures" and shows thousands of high-security TSA badges are missing from airports across the country along with uniforms and other TSA agent items (bolding is mine).

An exclusive NBC 5 investigation found hundreds and perhaps even thousands of airport security badges, known as Secure Identification Display Area (SIDA) badges, are unaccounted for across the country.

NBC 5 Investigates requested records from some of the nation's largest airports asking how many SIDA badges are unaccounted for.

Hartsfield-Jackson Atlanta International Airport sent a response saying more than 1,400 badges were lost or stolen over approximately two years.

Larry Wansley, who once led security for American Airlines, believes the missing badges present serious concerns for security officials and are something terrorists would like to have possession of in order to compromise security.

Police reports obtained by NBC 5 Investigates from D/FW Airport show more than just ID badges disappear each year. Employees have reported lost and stolen airline uniform shirts, an entire FedEx pilot's uniform, missing TSA badges and even a federal flight deck officer's credentials and badge, which allow a pilot to carry a gun on a plane.

And surprise: TSA didn't want to disclose the numbers or admit the badges were lost. Further, TSA stepped in to prevent reporters from obtaining the number of lost badges at airports outside Atlanta. 

Before NBC 5 Investigates could get missing ID badge information from other airports, like Dallas/Fort Worth International Airport, the Transportation Security Administration stepped in and said we couldn't have those numbers.

The TSA said it is security sensitive information and they don't want to say just how often airport ID's go missing at each airport.

TSA receives $8 billion in taxpayer funding each year. 

Feel safer, America?

Ad For New DC Clinic Compares Abortion to Appendicitis

It wasn’t the friendliest reading material when waiting for my train in the Washington, DC metro system. Behind me, as I stood on the platform, was a large pink ad from Carafem clinic that blared the words, “Abortion. Yeah, we do that.” Carafem is a new facility in Montgomery County, Maryland that specializes in the abortion pill – and they want you to know it.

In conjunction with these lovely baby-killing billboards, is an equally disturbing video ad campaign, which I discovered while browsing YouTube. (I can’t seem to escape these ads, so I figured it was time to write about them.)

In the video, three women are discussing an operation one of their friends had, trying to figure out if she had appendicitis. That’s when a younger, more modern looking woman corrects them and tells them it was an abortion.

The video ends with this final message: “Because there’s no shame in it. Abortion – yeah, we do that.”

As you can see, these ads are an attempt to normalize the procedure in such a way that one would consider it no more unusual than an appendicitis surgery.

The Carafem clinic is trying to achieve this ambiance in its physical appearance as well. Inside the Maryland facility are wood floors and natural wood tones on the walls that give it a “spa-like feel.” The reality, however, is anything but relaxing. The Washington Post provided a detail look at how the clinic operates.

After receiving counseling and some basic tests, Carafem clients will take an initial pill at the clinic. Purdy’s team expects to get them in and out quickly, within about 60 minutes. They will be sent home with a second set of pills to take the next day. The second dose induces the abortion, which resembles a miscarriage, typically within six hours.

But hey, at least you get a cup of hot tea.

The word “abortion” is proudly plastered all over Carafem’s website, guiding young women to schedule an appointment as if it was a routine check-up.

Unplanned pregnancy? Need an abortion?
We provide the abortion pill for $400 with appointments taking around 60 minutes.

Carafem’s bright pink advertising campaign is not just gaudy – it’s dangerous. The media can try to claim that 1 in 3 women will have an abortion by the time she’s 45, but the facts are not on their side.

Unlike other pro-abortion groups or establishments, at least Carafem is getting straight to the point by saying abortion instead of using misleading terms like “reproductive rights,” or “reproductive justice.”

Either way, their agenda is the same: pain for profit - and it's one they can't hide behind a hot pink sign.  

Horror: ISIS' Surreally Repugnant Treatment of Women

Here we have an actual -- non-political -- war on women, via the Washington Post:

Amid all the Islamic State's atrocities — its massacres of civilians, its beheading of hostages, its pillaging of antiquities — the systematic violence the jihadists have carried out against countless enslaved women and girls never fails to shock. For months now, we've heard appalling testimony from women who escaped the Islamic State's clutches, many of whom endured rape and other hideous acts of violence. Zainab Bangura, the U.N.'s special representative on sexual violence in conflict, recently conducted a tour of refugee camps in the shadow of the conflicts in Syria and Iraq, war-ravaged countries where the Islamic State commands swaths of territory..."They are institutionalizing sexual violence," Bangura said of the Islamic State. "The brutalization of women and girls is central to their ideology."

This is what a true "rape culture" looks like (as does this). The Post reports that an estimated 3,000 to 5,000 women and girls are being held as sex slaves by the terrorist army, with Yazidis (a religious minority perversely considered to be "devil worshipers" by ISIS' demonic degenerates) being treated with particular barbarity. The piece quotes the the UN's Bangura, who documents unimaginable horrors.  Fair warning -- this is difficult to read:

After attacking a village, [the Islamic State] splits women from men and executes boys and men aged 14 and over. The women and mothers are separated; girls are stripped naked, tested for virginity and examined for breast size and prettiness. The youngest, and those considered the prettiest virgins fetch higher prices and are sent to Raqqa, the IS stronghold. There is a hierarchy: sheikhs get first choice, then emirs, then fighters. They often take three or four girls each and keep them for a month or so, until they grow tired of a girl, when she goes back to market. At slave auctions, buyers haggle fiercely, driving down prices by disparaging girls as flat-chested or unattractive. We heard about one girl who was traded 22 times, and another, who had escaped, told us that the sheikh who had captured her wrote his name on the back of her hand to show that she was his "property" … They commit rape, sexual slavery, forced prostitution and other acts of extreme brutality. We heard one case of a 20-year-old girl who was burned alive because she refused to perform an extreme sex act. We learned of many other sadistic sexual acts. We struggled to understand the mentality of people who commit such crimes.

In addition to its revolting abuse of women and girls, ISIS is busy conquering territory across two countriessolidifying its presence in a third, and seizing control of priceless antiquities, which they tend to destroy, out of a zealous, nihilistic anti-aestethicism.  They're also summarily executing innocent people by the hundreds, including children:

When ISIS captures a city, the bloodshed is hardly over, as the militants summarily execute captive fighters and residents by the dozens. In Syria, they have killed more than 250 of them in less than two weeks. At least 13 of the victims were children, said the Syrian Observatory for Human Rights, a Syrian expat watch group. As ISIS has taken control of the Syrian city of Palmyra in the last 10 days, it has executed 217 people there and in other towns caught in the military campaign, SOHR said...Beheading was the preferred method of their execution.

Sickeningly, the brutal murder of children isn't unusual for this Islamist horde.  As ISIS 'inches closer' to the Iraqi capital, CNN reports that the mood is darkening in Baghdad:

The "good" news is that locals doubt Baghdad will fall to ISIS -- not because of popular confidence in Iraq's security forces, but because Iran won't allow it. The White House said last week that President Obama's ISIS strategy is an overall success.

DEA Agents Busted For Running a Strip Club On The Side

In April, we found out a number of Drug Enforcement Administration agents participated in sex parties hosted and paid for by Columbian drug cartels, the very same criminal enterprise they were supposed to be dismantling. Now, a new report shows DEA agents in New Jersey ran a strip club as a side job while still being employed with the agency. To make matters worse, they attended the club while on the clock for the DEA, meaning while they were being paid by taxpayers. 

A now-retired DEA Assistant Special Agent-in-charge -- and an IT specialist -- are charged with falsifying national security forms -- and lying during background-checks.

They are accused of failing to disclose outside employment -- that could put them -- in proximity to crime -- and at risk for blackmail.

The FBI also claims that the agents tended to strip club affairs -- while on the clock for the DEA.

The FBI is investigating the case.

Over the past few years a number of federal law enforcement agencies, including the Secret Service and the DEA, have been under heavy scrutiny by Congress for bad behavior.

End of Discussion: Head Explosions And Standing Up To Bullies With Keyboards

The following is an excerpt from the upcoming book End of Discussion: How the Left’s Outrage Industry Shuts Down Debate, Manipulates Voters, and Makes America Less Free (and Fun) by Mary Katharine Ham and Guy Benson. Copyright © 2015 by Mary Katharine Ham and Guy Benson. Published by Crown Publishers, a division of Penguin Random House LLC.

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You’re perched in front of your laptop, eyes boring holes into the screen. A familiar, uneasy feeling swells inside you. Moments ago, you logged in to Facebook, where a gray-lettered prompt in small font beckoned you with four innocuous words: What’s on your mind? Something is on your mind, as it happens; it pertains to a viral national controversy, and a lot of people in your feed have been buzzing about it. You’ve entered a few sentences reflecting your opinion into the status field, and now you’re anxiously eyeing the post icon. One click, and your take will officially be on the record, permanently. Sure, there’s an edit button, and a delete function, but the Internet is forever. You’ve posted hundreds of statuses before, accumulating countless “likes” and sparking a handful of debates, but this time feels different.

The hot story du jour is fraught with . . . let’s call them sensitivi- ties. A significant number of people in your “friend” orbit aren’t going to agree with your minicommentary. That’s fine with you, in theory, but you’re increasingly aware that disagreement of this type may not end well. You’ve seen it happen: angry comment “flame” wars erupt, friendships are strained or dissolved, heavy-duty names are called, and motives are impugned. HR departments have even gotten involved on occasion.

Here’s the thing: you don’t want to be lumped into the “bad person” camp—a fate that awaits those who fail to convey the proper feelings on a matter of public debate. You’re confident you don’t deserve it, and you know what is, and is not, in your heart. But other people might not, and some won’t care. They might seize on a word or a sentence fragment in your post, and things could spiral from there. Posting a selfie, or a music video, or that adorable photo of your dog is far less likely to get ugly (one doesn’t typically get called a bigot posting about one’s puppy), so you select the text you’ve entered and trash it. It’s just not worth it. You click away from the page and move on.

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A growing number of Americans are beginning to sense an insidious strain of self-censorship in themselves, either explicitly or subconsciously. You find yourself keeping your mouth shut about controversial issues like gay marriage or so-called women’s issues because you’d rather not suffer the social costs of being cast as the enemy by the increasingly aggressive thought police. They have enforcers everywhere—at the office, at dinner parties, and all over the media. This silencing impulse isn’t born out of normal or healthy self-reflection and restraint; it arises out of fear. Nor is it part of a free society’s natural process of discarding truly pernicious ideas after open discussion, making marginalization the rightful cost of losing to better arguments. Instead, outrage mongers turn this process on its head, disqualifying ideas without debate instead of after debate.

The fear to speak is cultivated by people who actively work to raise the social cost of engaging publicly on any number of issues. We call them the Outrage Circus. They are highly ideological, often deeply partisan, and relentless in their vigilance, ever on alert to name and shame violators of their approved order. Once you’ve violated one of their capricious and fluid “rules”—even unwittingly—malice is attributed, and restitution is demanded. Nothing short of full, professed repentance shall suffice.

But sometimes even that is not enough, as the relentless, pedantic hall monitors of our discourse often see fit to exact economic costs for perceived social transgressions. Think or express the wrong ideas, and they’ll come after your livelihood. Play the wrong Top 40 hit at a club? Pink slip for you, as one college DJ found out in North Carolina. Uncomfortable with hosting a same-sex marriage ceremony in your own home? That’ll be a $13,000 fine, as a couple with a small business in New York discovered. Display the wrong piece of modern art on an American campus, and you’ll bring scandalized activists and professors down on you, as Tony Matelli realized when his realistic tighty-whitey-clad statue Sleepwalker was shunned and vandalized on the Wellesley College campus after being deemed potentially traumatic for women on campus. Hell, even Vagina Monologues playwright Eve Ensler has had her work banned because it’s not sufficiently inclusive of women.

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Thought policing is strictest on America’s college campuses, so much so that the idea of a campus as a place of freewheeling free inquiry and speech is almost a laughable relic of a bygone era—a theme we’ll expand on in chapter 5. The outrage industry’s most loyal adherents and enforcers are leftist activists, often trained on campus to believe that protecting certain people from offense in the public sphere is a higher calling than defending free expression. Thus, seemingly without irony or familiarity with Orwell, free speech becomes an exercise not in pushing boundaries but in creating new ones, openness is about closing off, and radicals become more puritanical by the day.

In leftist circles, participants vie viciously for the title of most socially aggrieved in pursuit of the ultimate social windfall—the sanitization of the public square of the arguments of one’s adversaries. We’re not the only ones who’ve noticed. A bevy of liberals in good standing, Bill Maher and Dan Savage among them, have felt the sting of violating the grievance hierarchy. Jonathan Chait, in a 2015 essay for New York magazine, called the “new p.c.” a “style of politics in which the more radical members of the left attempt to regulate political discourse by defining opposing views as bigoted and illegitimate.” This system, he wrote, “makes debate irrelevant and frequently impossible.”

It might be fun to watch this snake devour itself from the tail in a paroxysm of censorship if it weren’t for the fact that the Outrage Circus is so intent on exporting these practices to the rest of society. And unhappily for us, their regulations are most unsparingly enforced against conservatives of all stripes.

Commenting outside of the ever-shifting lines of “correct” thinking and preapproved terminology has always been a problem sweated by politicians and their publicists. No more. While public figures still bear the brunt of the Circus’s acrobatics, “normal” people are no longer exempt. If moments of heterodoxy among liberal lights are punished, imagine what, say, a libertarian homeschooling mom might be in for. Thus, some are turning to self-censorship as the hassle-free, easy way out of being attacked. But it also results in being left out of the conversation. This move toward acquiescence isn’t just limiting. It’s dangerous for society.

North Korean and Islamist terrorists brought new attention to the problem in 2015 in dramatic and tragic fashion, throwing into stark relief the choices and dangers free society faces. In the case of Sony’s The Interview and French satire magazine Charlie Hebdo, those who found artistic speech offensive launched criminal and unspeakably violent attacks with the object of preventing such speech in the future. A disturbing number of free society’s spokespeople and publications failed to defend that speech, some even arguing for self-censorship, in the face of these attacks. If we’re not willing to fight bullies with keyboards and petitions, we’re certainly not going to stand up to bullies with machine guns.

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While Rick Santorum Whines About Rules, Carly Fiorina Steps Up To GOP Debate Challenge

Last week Fox News announced rules for its August 6, 2015 GOP primary debate, the first debate of the 2016 cycle. CNN did the same for its September 16 debate. Currently, the Republican field sits at nearly two dozen potential candidates. Fox's rules allow for 10 to be on-stage. CNN allows for two groups to debate with 10 frontrunners on stage and a second group of less popular contenders invited to participate in a another forum. Getting into the top 10 on-stage will be determined by averages of public opinion polling. You can learn more about the rules and what they mean for the 2016 field here

The rules announcement and requirement of relevant poll numbers didn't sit well with potential 2016 candidate and 2012 presidential primary loser Rick Santorum

"I'm probably the best person to comment on this. In January of 2012 I was at 4 percent in the national polls, and I won the Iowa caucuses. I don't know if I was last in the polls, but I was pretty close to last," Santorum said. "And so the idea that a national poll has any relationship to the viability of a candidate—ask Rudy Giuliani that. Ask Phil Gramm that. You can go on down the list of folks who were doing real well in national polls and didn't win a single state and were not a viable candidate."

"If you're a United States senator, if you're a governor, if you're a woman who ran a Fortune 500 company, and you're running a legitimate campaign for president, then you should have a right to be on stage with everybody else," Santorum said. "So the idea that we're going to arbitrarily—and it's arbitrary, someone at 1.15 is in, someone at 1.14 is out—that to me is not a rational way."

Former Hewlett-Packard CEO Carly Fiorina took a different approach, without the whining, and is stepping up to the challenge to get on stage in the top 10. Fiorina announced to supporters last week that she accepts the rules and looks forward to complying with them. 

"Friend, Fox News just announced how they will select participants for the first debate. I’ll skip straight to the point: I look forward to participating in the Fox News debate. I’ll make it clear that I’m ready to take on Hillary Clinton," Fiorina sent in an email to supporters. "But I need your help to get on that debate stage. In order to secure an invitation, I need to grow my team of supporters. You already know I’m working hard -- in Iowa and New Hampshire, and all across the country. But this is going to take more than hard work. The career politicians have a big head start. I need the resources necessary to broadcast my message to more Republicans." 

Over the weekend Santorum, Fiorina and a number of other potential candidates participated in the Southern Republican Leadership Conference in Oklahoma. Wisconsin Governor Scott Walker, who hasn't officaly declared his candidacy yet, seems to have come out on top. 

A Poem From Major Michael Davis O'Donnell

The Vietnam War is probably one of our most controversial conflicts in American history. It’s one that severely damaged the reputation of the military, and prompted more than a few left-leaning college students to label Vietnam veterans as baby killers, murderers, or worse. Regardless of one’s opinions for the war, over 500,000 men were sent to Vietnam. A little over 58,000 never made it back home. There are legitimate debates surrounding the Vietnam War, but Memorial Day is about remembrance. The vast majority of Americans served with honor in Vietnam, though there were periods when our troops did engage in war crimes.

Nevertheless, that’s not what we’re supposed to dwell on today. If you ever have a chance to see the movie Hamburger Hill, I highly recommend it. It deals the usual brotherhood-in-arms themes, but also touches upon how soldiers were treated upon returning to America. It ends with the following poem, which could be applied to any American military venture.

If you are able,

save them a place

inside of you

and save one backward glance

when you are leaving

for the places they can

no longer go.

Be not ashamed to say

you loved them,

though you may

or may not have always.

Take what they have left

and what they have taught you

with their dying

and keep it with your own.

And in that time

when men decide and feel safe

to call the war insane,

take one moment to embrace

those gentle heroes

you left behind.

Major Michael Davis O'Donnell

1 January 1970

Dak To, Vietnam

Major O'Donnell was listed as missing in action in 1970 while in Cambodia. His remains were returned to the United States in 2001.

To The 36,000+ Who Gave Everything In Korea – Thank You

The Korean War is often regarded as a “forgotten war.” It was waged between 1950-1953. It was a brief, but bloody conflict between communist and anti-communist forces that marked one of two times (the other being the Gulf War) in which the United Nations went to war. Over 36,000 Americans died in Korea. On this Memorial Day, while every American should honor the brave men and women who died keeping our nation safe, I especially remember those who died to keep my home country free of the pernicious influence of communism.

These 36,000+ who sacrificed their lives allowed untold millions to benefit from what would become one of the largest free market economies in the world. South Korea is part of the G20, with an annual GDP of $1 trillion. Very few nations are part of this club, and it’s an economic feat that would have seemed more of a pipe dream in 1953, as most of South Korea was destroyed.

It allowed over 150,000 South Koreans to find homes–and hopefully loving families–in America. I, for one, would not be here if it hadn’t been for American troops fighting to keep a people they really didn’t know free from communist aggression.

Now, it hasn’t always been an easy road to democracy. South Korea has been dotted with periods of authoritarian governments, and the National Security Act of 1948 curtails their free speech laws. Nevertheless, the quality of life compared to that of their northern neighbors couldn’t be starker, with South Koreans living more vibrant and healthier lives.

Thanks to American troops landing in Inchon in 1951 (South Korean forces were on the brink of defeat by this time), South Koreans can enjoy freedom. To the hundreds of thousands of Korean adoptees, we have the ability to call America our home, living with loving families, and enjoying the rights and liberties as American citizens; having the ability to study at the best learning institutions in the world; climbing the proverbial social ladder; and possibly achieving the American dream.

Right now, there is a movement to severely curb or end Korean adoption. I strongly disagree, but in a free society–or societies based on representative government–you can have the debate without the fear of being sent to a re-education camp, tortured, or murdered as they do in North Korea.

That's a debate for another time. Right now, it's important to remember that no war where the blood of tens of thousands of Americans has been spilled should ever be considered forgotten. To the 36,000+ Americans who died in Korea, thank you for all you have given us.   

Sports Taking a Hit in Tax-Heavy Baltimore?

The anti-capitalist environment in Baltimore has left city sports in an uncertain state. Thanks to Charm City's high property taxes, Pimlico race track owners, the site where the Preakness is held, are considering moving their horses elsewhere

Herein lies the problem:

In Maryland, regulators are like co-owners: Not only did you not build that, but you’re not free to run it, either. Of course, there are tracks elsewhere that would surely like to host a Triple Crown race and that are not subject to Maryland’s regulatory dictates.

In the past, when city governments have exercised extreme regulations over businesses, it has often had fatal results. Detroit's economy suffered under the highest property taxes on homes in the nation, in addition to the top commercial property tax, and the second-highest industrial property tax, before filing for bankruptcy in 2013.

The poor business environment in Baltimore is coupled with the attraction of other more business-friendly regions.

At the city’s current property-tax rate, for example, a $100 million investment at Pimlico — probably less than required to make the crumbling facility world-class again — would cost its owners almost $2.25 million in added annual property taxes.

The racial unrest in Baltmore has also been injurious to the city's sports teams. Following the controversial death of Freddie Gray, rioters threw rocks at police and burned down local businesses in the name of 'racial justice.' Because of the violence, the Baltimore Orioles games scheduled for the next day was closed to the public and played in an empty stadium. The unoccupied seats left the city with a $1 million deficit. 

The social unrest and anti-free market culture in Baltimore don't bode well for athletic locations like Camden Yards and Pimlico. If Charm City isn't friendlier to its sports business owners, those famous horses may be racing from more than just the starting gate.

Video: Free Beacon Speaks With Veterans About What Memorial Day Means To Them

Col. William DeGraf U.S. Army (Ret.) served in World War II, Korea, and Vietnam said, “Memorial Days is a chance for the country to remember those who have passed before; who have been part of the family called Americans.”

Bob Miller is the person he thinks about every day. He knew him since his days at Fort. Bragg. Miller was killed while he and DeGraf were on a scouting mission; Miller was killed 10 feet in front of him. Yet, DeGraf also says he thinks about his other comrades who didn’t make it home.

Col. Edward Burr U.S. Army (Ret.) was wounded in Carentan during Operation Overload in July of 1944, but survived. He got married, raised a family, and enjoyed a blessed life after history’s most terrible war.

“We enjoyed all this country has to offer,” he said. “And that’s what these young people that were in those graves might have done if they had lived, so we need to honor them with tears and honor their valor in what they did in helping to keep this country safe and as wonderful as it is today,” he added.

Major-General George Rebh U.S. Army (Ret.) said it’s a solemn day, a day to reflect on the people who didn’t make it home and commemorate their sacrifice for keeping this country safe and to honor their contribution to that end. Many of his classmates were killed in World War II.

LTG Julius W. Becton, Jr. (U.S. Army) (Ret.) noted that he too reflects on his fellow comrades that had fallen, and what they might have been if they had made it home.

Yet, Col. Burr also said that we should also think about the families of the fallen, and how their loss affected them.

“There were 400,000 men and women killed in World War II. They left behind a trail of probably two or three million people directly affected y their loss,” he said.

Our freedom has been paid with the blood of 1.3 million Americans since our founding, and we should be eternally grateful to these extraordinary men and women who decided to give it all so we can have so much.

Carter: Ramadi Fell Because 'Iraqi Forces Showed No Will to Fight'

In its biggest military accomplishment this year, the Islamic State last week took Ramadi, a key Iraqi city the U.S. fought to secure roughly a decade ago. Now that the dust has settled, Secretary of Defense Ash Carter was frank in his assessment of what went wrong.

“What apparently happened is the Iraqi forces just showed no will to fight," Carter said. "They were not outnumbered; in fact, they vastly outnumbered the opposing force. That says to me, and I think to most of us, that we have an issue with the will of the Iraqis to fight ISIL and defend themselves."

Gen. Martin Dempsey, chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff agreed. "The ISF was not driven out of Ramadi," he said last week. "They drove out of Ramadi."

[T] he fall of Ramadi is reviving questions about the effectiveness of the Obama administration's approach in Iraq, a blend of retraining and rebuilding the Iraqi army, prodding the Shiite-dominated government in Baghdad to reconcile with the nation's Sunnis and bombing Islamic State group targets from the air without committing American ground combat troops.

Obama's strategy is predicated on Baghdad granting political concessions to the country's alienated Sunnis, who are a source of personnel and money for the Islamic State group. But there has been little visible progress on that front. Baghdad has continued to work closely with Shiite militias backed by Iran, which have been accused of atrocities against Sunnis, a religious minority in Iraq that ruled until Saddam Hussein fell from power.

The U.S. has sought to reach out on its own to Sunni tribes and is training some Sunni fighters, but those efforts have been limited by the small number of American troops on the ground.

While Carter defended the use of airstrikes, he cautioned that they are not intended to be a replacement for the Iraqi military standing up to defend their country.

"We can participate in the defeat of ISIL," he said. "But we can't make Iraq ... a decent place for people to live — we can't sustain the victory, only the Iraqis can do that and, in particular in this case, the Sunni tribes to the West."

Iran, meanwhile, blamed the fall of Ramadi on the U.S. having “no will” to fight ISIS. 

Democrats Miss the Point of Memorial Day on Twitter

Oh...not again.

I've written before about the bizarre gaffes committed by the official Twitter of the Democrat Party. On Friday, the account @TheDemocrats tweeted out a Memorial Day Weekend greeting featuring a picture of the president consuming an ice cream cone.

Memorial Day Weekend, is, of course, a day for honoring soldiers who died while serving their country. While it's generally regarded as the unofficial kick-off of summer, one would think/hope that a major political party in the United States would have a bit more tact.

CNN's Jake Tapper summed things up nicely:

Video: "Our Country is in Mourning, For a Soldier Died Today"

A beautiful lyric indeed, excerpted from A. Lawrence Vaincourt’s immensely popular 1987 poem Just a Common Soldier. The poem, however, also happens to be the subject of Concerned Veterans for America’s latest tribute video, which was released a few days ago just in time for Memorial Day and the holiday weekend.

It is excellent, and I highly recommend watching it below (via WZ):

Global Warming Continues To Pummel Polar Ice Caps By Not Causing Them To Melt

As I've written previously, we’ve experienced the calmest Hurricane season in 30 years, the quietest tornado season in 60 years; the creation of 19,000 Manhattan islands worth of sea ice, and (again) the Arctic Ice Cap has grown by 533,000 square miles. In 2007, the BBC warned the cap could vanish by 2013. Oh, and we’re at the most industrialized point in human history–and air quality couldn’t be better, according to the EPA.

Now, the polar ice caps aren’t melting. In fact, they haven’t retreated at all. James Taylor of the Heartland Institute wrote in Forbes that the 1979 baseline on polar ice recorded a figure with that was unusually high, so when some melted we didn’t really need to panic. Well, the green warriors of the world did, but the ice rebounded in 2012. Taylor wrote,“Ever since, the polar ice caps have been at a greater average extent than the post-1979 mean.” [emphasis mine]

Updated data from NASA satellite instruments reveal the Earth’s polar ice caps have not receded at all since the satellite instruments began measuring the ice caps in 1979. Since the end of 2012, moreover, total polar ice extent has largely remained above the post-1979 average. The updated data contradict one of the most frequently asserted global warming claims – that global warming is causing the polar ice caps to recede.

The timing of the 1979 NASA satellite instrument launch could not have been better for global warming alarmists. The late 1970s marked the end of a 30-year cooling trend. As a result, the polar ice caps were quite likely more extensive than they had been since at least the 1920s. Nevertheless, this abnormally extensive 1979 polar ice extent would appear to be the “normal” baseline when comparing post-1979 polar ice extent.

Updated NASA satellite data show the polar ice caps remained at approximately their 1979 extent until the middle of the last decade. Beginning in 2005, however, polar ice modestly receded for several years. By 2012, polar sea ice had receded by approximately 10 percent from 1979 measurements. (Total polar ice area – factoring in both sea and land ice – had receded by much less than 10 percent, but alarmists focused on the sea ice loss as “proof” of a global warming crisis.)

A 10-percent decline in polar sea ice is not very remarkable, especially considering the 1979 baseline was abnormally high anyway. Regardless, global warming activists and a compliant news media frequently and vociferously claimed the modest polar ice cap retreat was a sign of impending catastrophe. Al Gore even predicted the Arctic ice cap could completely disappear by 2014.

In late 2012, however, polar ice dramatically rebounded and quickly surpassed the post-1979 average. Ever since, the polar ice caps have been at a greater average extent than the post-1979 mean.

Now, in May 2015, the updated NASA data show polar sea ice is approximately 5 percent above the post-1979 average.

It’s been recently reported that there’s so much sea ice around Antarctica that vessels carrying scientists and supplies are having trouble reaching the research stations there. It appears global warming isn’t melting any polar ice in her ongoing campaign against earth and humanity. Additionally, she decided not to make 2014 the warmest year in history. Global warming, we are still waiting for you to kill us all.

Last week, President Obama said global warming is a threat to national security. So, why did the CIA shut down their climate research project?  As Leah wrote, this is pretty "awkward timing," and another example that this administration really doesn't know what's going on regarding threats to the country.  ISIS is pushing forward, China is upgrading their ballistic missiles, Yemen has fallen, the Iran nuclear deal is fraught with uncertainty.  Is anyone home?

Editor's note: James Taylor works for the Heartland Institute (still a great organization), not Forbes. The post has been updated to reflect the changes. 

The ATF Should Be Scrapped … Says Center For American Progress?

The Bureau for Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms, and Explosives has been the source of ire on the right, especially since their most recent proposal to ban green tip AR-15 ammo, which is commonly used. It was done under the guise of “law enforcement safety,” though if anyone bothered to read FBI crime statistics, rifles are rarely used in crimes, let alone green tip ammo being used to target police officers. After the failed ban attempt, ATF Director B. Todd Jones decided to resign and take a job with the NFL.

Now, a report from the left-leaning Center for American Progress says that federal law enforcement agency should be scrapped and merged into the FBI (Milwaukee Journal Sentinel):

The U.S. Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives, charged with enforcing the nation's gun laws and regulating the firearms industry, has been so hobbled by high-profile operational failures, internal dysfunction and external limits on its authority that the agency should be eliminated and merged into the FBI, a new report concludes.

The report, by the left-leaning Center for American Progress, comes in the wake of a bill by U.S. Rep. Jim Sensenbrenner (R-Wis.) that seeks to dissolve the agency and move its law enforcement and gun industry regulatory functions into the FBI and other agencies.

The bill and the report are the latest in a series of efforts, from both sides of the political spectrum and even by veterans of the ATF, to reform or eliminate the agency. In July, a Government Accountability Office report on the ATF described an agency trying to redefine itself while struggling with high personnel turnover and internal problems.

The report's authors interviewed more than 50 current and former ATF personnel, and retired Supervisory Special Agent Mark D. Jones advised the authors. The report's argument boils down to this: The vital job of keeping guns out of the hands of criminals is too important to leave to a weakened, embattled agency like the ATF.

"ATF, as it currently exists, suffers from substantial weakness that compromises its ability to effectively combat gun crime and regulate the firearms industry, and a new director or piecemeal changes cannot fully solve these problems," the report concludes. "It is time to consider a major reboot of how these issues are addressed at the federal level and for an overhaul of the federal law enforcement agencies responsible for doing so."

The report's proposal to fold the ATF into the FBI differs in at least one significant way from Sensenbrenner's bill.

Sensenbrenner's proposal would keep the prohibition against the ATF publicly sharing data about how many crime guns are sold by gun dealers. The new report says those limits hinder law enforcement's ability to enforce gun laws. Gun rights groups have pushed hard to get those limits and keep them in place.

An earlier Journal Sentinel investigation revealed how those and other special rules created by Congress protected corrupt crime gun dealers and allowed them to escape ATF punishment by shifting its ownership.

Gun control and gun rights groups both came out against Sensenbrenner's proposal last year. The National Rifle Association didn't have a comment on Sensenbrenner's bill last year, but the NRA made it clear recently that the group is against dissolving the ATF. Jennifer Baker, an NRA spokeswoman, said the problem with the ATF is not where it is located.

"The Obama administration has only contributed to ATF's dysfunction by politicizing the agency to advance its gun control agenda," she said. "No matter where the ATF is located, nothing will change until we get a president who respects the Second Amendment."

In 2011, the ATF became involved in a highly embarrassing scandal where they simply lost track of 1,400 weapons intended to track the dealers and buyers of these illegal arms sales with Mexican drug cartels. It failed miserably–and a Border Patrol agent, Brian Terry, was murdered with one of the lost weapons. And, unlike Operation Wide Receiver, which was smaller in scope, Mexican law enforcement officials were virtually kept in the dark on Fast and Furious. Reportedly, the Mexican government was working closely with the ATF on Wide Receiver. It should also be noted that while both operations had their problems, Receiver never involved the death of the Border Patrol agent.

In a more recent fiasco, the ATF has reportedly been targeting the mentally challenged for gun violations, disproportionally arresting minorities, and leaving their government-issued firearms in sewer grates, on top of cars (and then driving away), public bathrooms, and other venues. The ATF refuses to release the protocols for agents regarding keeping their firearms in their vehicles since it will leave them open to robbery. Nevertheless, an ATF spokesperson could not say if the weapons that were lost, but later recovered, were used in any crimes in the interim period in which they were out of the government’s possession.

In another moment of sheer incompetence, the agency left behind highly sensitive information about undercover agents when they conducted a 10-month storefront sting operation last year. And, by highly sensitive, I mean  just some stuff like the names of the agents, their vehicles and the cell phone they used.  No big deal, right?