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Pompeo backs Saudi military action in Yemen

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U.S. Secretary of State Mike Pompeo is giving the a-okay to Saudi Arabia’s military action in Yemen. Via the State Department (emphasis mine):

Pursuant to Section 1290 of the John S. McCain National Defense Authorization Act for Fiscal Year 2019 (NDAA), I certified to Congress yesterday that the governments of Saudi Arabia and United Arab Emirates are undertaking demonstrable actions to reduce the risk of harm to civilians and civilian infrastructure resulting from military operations of these governments.

The Trump Administration has been clear that ending the conflict in Yemen is a national security priority. We will continue to work closely with the Saudi-led coalition to ensure Saudi Arabia and the UAE maintain support for UN-led efforts to end the civil war in Yemen, allow unimpeded access for the delivery of commercial and humanitarian support through as many avenues as possible, and undertake actions that mitigate the impact of the conflict on civilians and civilian infrastructure.

Unfortunately, the 50 children who were killed in a Saudi airstrike on a Yemeni school bus were not available for comment.

Congress slightly forced Pompeo’s hand on the issue with the certification requirement although it’s doubtful the State Department wouldn’t have supported Saudi Arabia. It mainly affected the U.S.’s ability to refuel coalition jets focused on Yemen, but the NDAA language was so broad it probably wouldn’t have caused too much strain on the relationship with the House of Saud. It is nice seeing Congress slightly use its constitutional muscles on making the rules of government, although this exercise was akin to stretching out a small cramp in one’s pinkie toe.

The Saudi war in Yemen became a bit more of an issue in Washington, DC mainly because the bus bombing involved a missile made by Lockheed Martin – in a sale authorized by the Trump Administration. There are also apparently troops on the ground in Saudi Arabia to specifically help the Saudis find Yemeni targets and more arms sales to fund the war are pending.

Of course, the Obama Administration had also been involved in Yemen through drone strikes, ‘military advisers,’ arms sales, and more.

It’s a bipartisan war – even if neither major U.S. party wants to take responsibility. It only matters when it comes up to election time and whether the American voter really cares about foreign policy, especially when it comes to troops (hint – not likely).

The entire situation is far from surprising because Trump is hoping to surpass Obama as arms dealer in chief. Obama’s Pentagon handed out $33B in weapons sales in 2016 with Vice Admiral Joseph Rixley noting there is a “growing sales-trend over the last decade.” Most of that cash came from – you guessed it – Saudi Arabia and United Arab Emirates aka the top two countries involved in the Yemeni civil war.

You can thank LBJ’s Administration for the U.S. even getting involved in the arms industry to begin with thanks to the 1968 Foreign Military Sales Act. The legislation allowed the Defense Department to sell off military overstock to foreign countries. The 1978 Arms Export Act gave the government – specifically the president – even more power by saying all arms sales of over $25M had to go through them first (NATO countries were excluded). Congress can issue a declaration condemning any potential arms sale, but it really doesn’t have any teeth.

There are plenty of reasons to debate the constitutionality of almost any arms sale via the government because there’s no real provision in the allegedly hallowed document Republicans claim to love or at least have some sort of high school crush on.

Peter K. Tomka suggested in 1986 it was up to the president to claim power to conduct arms sales through the idea of being commander-in-chief and having some power over foreign policy. It’s a bit of a stretch because it twists the words of Article II of the Constitution into knots – something almost all presidents dating back to George Washington have done in one way, shape, or form. Give the executive an inch and it’ll take it a mile.

Congress does have the power raise and support an army and arming those in the so-called Militia when they’re in the service of the U.S. Tomka believes the legislature has the power to sell weapons to allies in a time of war, although the logic is flawed because it stretches the words of “declare war” from the notion of Amerian troops fighting a battle to the U.S. funding conflicts like some sort of puppet master.

Of course, the U.S. does have a history of doing just that – whether it be through executive or legislative action. The 80s were filled with America selling arms or supporting various nations for a variety of causes. The U.S. gave weapons and/or intelligence to Iraq during their war with Iran before both Arab nations were considered a threat to America. Afghanistan received support from the U.S. in their fight against the Soviets. A friend of mine declared America has a wretched track record when it comes to Arab World arms and military dabbling, but considering some of the questionable decisions by the U.S. government in South America (see Manuel Noriega and, possibly, Augusto Pinochet) it could be that track record is just wretched all around.

There are several solutions to this issue – although none of them will make anyone really happy.

The first is getting the U.S. out of the business of picking which nations get what arms from American companies. The naysayers will suggest there’s no way Lockheed Martin or Northrop Grumman will suddenly halt sales to the Saudis or some African or Asian warlord. This isn’t exactly true.

The defense contractors currently have a major “out” when it comes to large military equipment sales: the U.S. government. The government approves all arms sales before they happen, so all the private companies have to do is go, “Well, the feds were okay with it, so you should be too.” It would be much more difficult for Lockheed Martin to explain away a sale of weapons to a Saudi-led coalition if suddenly a busload of Yemeni children were blown to smithereens. The companies would still have to answer questions why they decided to accept so-called blood money and their stock prices would probably dip.

The other solution is making sure Congress signs off on any arms deal the U.S. does with equipment it already owns. This is even a more imperfect solution because it could still involve kickbacks of some kind to defense contractors in whatever agreement they sign with the feds. But it would stop the Defense Department from tossing out weapons sales to every nation which swears to be on “our side,” like Oprah slinging vehicles to her audience.

Another way to mitigate arms sales by the American government is to simply ban them. It’s an idea which would have to be carefully crafted because it could promote a black market of Pentagon overstock by some entrapeneurial quartermaster at a U.S. military base in Saudi Arabia. The flip side is it could force the five-sided monument to inefficiency to actually become efficient – knowing it can’t pawn off overstock to the highest bidder. Want to replace the Abrams Tank with a newer model? Well, either turn it to scrap or see if defense companies will be willing to buy the back. Again, not a perfect solution but one which could promote fiscal responsibility in an era where the idea is as rare as the Dallas Cowboys winning two playoff games in a row (or even making the playoffs).

Of course, none of this will happen unless Congress decides to start doing its job and get back in the role of setting the rules of government. As for Yemen, the U.S. has no business being involved in another civil war.

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Christine Ford Says “There Is Zero Chance” She Would Confuse Kavanaugh with Fellow Student in 36 Yr-Old Incident She Just Remembered 6 Yrs Ago

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Brett Kavanaugh, Georgetown Prep school classmate Chris Garrett

Is this a case of mistaken identity? 

Accuser Christine Blasey Ford is waging a war on Trump’s SCOTUS nominee Brett Kavanaugh with decades-old, unsubstantiated claims of sexual assault in an effort to derail his confirmation to the Supreme Court.

Ford says she first remembered the 36-year-old incident just 6 years ago. Ford does not remember where it took place, when it took place, who was there but accused two other males of being present who have vehemently denied her accusations.

Judge Kavanaugh has categorically denied the allegations and even told Senator Orin Hatch he wasn’t at the party in question.

Ed Whelan, Justice Scalia’s former law clerk and president of conservative think tank the Ethics and Public Policy Center (EPPC), came out in defense of Brett Kavanaugh and said compelling evidence will come out next week exonerating Kavanaugh.


On Thursday afternoon, Ed Whelan started dropping pictures and evidence that may blow Christine Ford’s case wide open.

The “Maryland suburban home”–the scene of the alleged sexual assault described by Christine Ford to WaPo as being ‘not too far from the Columbia Country Club’ may have belonged to Kavanaugh’s friend named Chris Garrett, says Ed Whelan.

On Thursday night Ford’s attorneys insisted Ford knew it was Kavanaugh in the room.
Ford also said she would hang out with both men and socialized with them.

It will be interesting to hear what Judge Kavanaugh has to say about Ford’s latest claims.

The Wall Street Journal reported:

An attorney for Christine Blasey Ford, the woman who has accused Supreme Court nominee Brett M. Kavanaugh of sexually assaulting her when they were teenagers, said Thursday that her appearing at a hearing on Monday to detail her claims is “not possible” but that she could testify later in the week.

Debra Katz, Ford’s lawyer, relayed the response to top staffers on the Senate Judiciary Committee on Thursday, requesting to set up a call with them to “discuss the conditions under which [Ford] would be prepared to testify next week.”…

…Amid the maneuvering, the nomination was roiled further late Thursday by incendiary tweets from a prominent Kavanaugh friend and supporter who publicly identified another high school classmate of Kavanaugh’s as Ford’s possible attacker.

Ed Whelan, a former clerk to the late justice Antonin Scalia and president of the Ethics and Public Policy Center, pointed to floor plans, online photographs and other information to suggest a location for the house party in suburban Maryland that Ford described. He also named and posted photographs of the classmate he suggested could be responsible.

Ford dismissed Whelan’s theory in a statement late Thursday: “I knew them both, and socialized with” them, Ford said, adding that she had once visited the other classmate in the hospital. “There is zero chance that I would confuse them.”

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Dianne Feinstein: ‘Twas the media that outed Kavanaugh’s accuser

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Is that right? The way DiFi puts it here, you would think Christine Blasey Ford’s name appeared like a bolt from the blue in the pages of the Washington Post on Sunday afternoon. In reality, the press had spent the previous 72 hours murmuring about a mysterious letter in Feinstein’s possession that may or may not contain a serious allegation against Kavanaugh. No one would say what the letter alleged but the Intercept knew that Feinstein knew something about it. BuzzFeed also knew that Feinstein knew something. Under pressure, Feinstein herself announced that she had finally referred the matter to the FBI. After sitting on it for two months. Six days before the Judiciary Committee was scheduled to vote.

All of which is a long way of asking: Who do you suppose it was that tipped the media to Ford’s accusations, putting them in a position to “out” her at the eleventh hour?

Tom Cotton has a zany theory.

Democrats outed her. Maybe not Feinstein personally or someone acting at her behest, but someone in the Capitol high enough up the chain to have known Ford’s name. (Given that the Intercept and BuzzFeed are both online-only outlets, I’d guess the leaker trended younger.) And the very obvious reason they did so was because they were frustrated that Feinstein had held this weapon for two months and never used it, even during the closed session of Kavanaugh’s confirmation hearing, leaving him on track to join the Court before the end of the month. A liberal, possibly on Feinstein’s own staff, shoved Ford into the spotlight for reasons of political expedience. Feinstein can babble all she likes about respecting the privacy of victims but them’s the facts.

Also, not to nitpick, but no one “outed” Ford. Unless I missed something, at no point did any media outlet reveal her identity against her wishes. She chose to speak on the record to WaPo over the weekend after Ronan Farrow and outlets like BuzzFeed came knocking, believing that someone *would* end up revealing her name against her wishes before long. But no one (I think) actually did so before the WaPo story came out. Whether Democrats might have been so frantic to stop Kavanaugh that they would have forced Ford’s name into print if she had declined to speak up this past weekend is a fascinating what-if. Probably they would have — which seems to have been Ford’s conclusion too. Again, so much for the privacy of victims.

Charles Cooke wonders if Ford ever really wanted to testify at all:

Dianne Feinstein has not yet submitted to the Senate Judiciary Committee the original letter she was sent by the accuser. The Democratic party is almost universally calling for an FBI investigation that it knows full well is not going to happen, and should not happen, and using its absence as a reason for the hearing to be delayed. And, right on cue, certain figures on the Left have begun to play this both ways: Originally, the lack of an invitation to testify was cast as a “silencing act.” Now, the Senate’s broad invitation to the accuser to testify in whatever way she sees fit is being cast as . . . yes, as a “silencing” act. Perhaps there is something else going on here, but sure looks to me as if the aim is to delay, delay, delay — and keep the accuser as far as is possible from being required to take an oath.

Mark Judge and Patrick Smyth have both submitted statements to Grassley’s committee via counsel, notes Cooke. That’s enough for a criminal indictment if facts emerge to show they’re lying; submitting false information to a congressional panel amounts to lying to a federal official just as submitting false information during an FBI interview does. The one and only player in this drama who has yet to send a statement to the committee, as Cooke points out, is Ford herself. That’s curious, although of course not proof that she’s afraid to tell her story under oath. I think she will testify since that’s the foreseeable outcome of her decision to go on the record with WaPo. She knew that her testimony would be demanded after the story appeared and that it’d look very bad if she refused to provide it. She must have resolved to testify this past weekend, with the last few days of will-she-or-won’t-she drama little more than a PR play to frame the upcoming hearing as unfair no matter what happens.

Here’s Scarborough, who spends most of his time bashing the Trump Party nowadays, crystal clear on who it was that “outed” Ford.

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Sen. Lindsey Graham Fires Off Midnight Tweet: “Kavanaugh Nomination is Still on Track – Stay Tuned!”

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Senator Lindsey Graham; Photo: Twitter avatar

Senator Lindsey Graham (R-SC) fired off a midnight tweet praising President Trump and reassured the American people that Kavanaugh’s nomination is still on track.

“Stay tuned!” Lindsey Graham said.

“Great job tonight by President @realDonaldTrump in Las Vegas laying out how strong America has become economically and how much safer we are with a strong military.”

Graham then said: The President is dead right about Judge Kavanaugh being highly qualified, the right person for the job, and also right about letting process play out.

Kavanaugh nomination is still on track. Stay tuned!


Senator Lindsey Graham was referring to the President’s comments during his rally in Las Vegas wherein he praised Brett Kavanaugh.

Graham has certainly changed his tune as of late–usually no ally to the President, he vowed to get Brett Kavanaugh confirmed as quickly as possible.

Christine Ford has accused–without corroborating evidence–Supreme Court nominee Judge Brett Kavanaugh of sexually assaulting her at a drunken high school pool party decades ago.

Accuser Christine Blasey Ford believes she runs the U.S. Senate as she continues to make outrageous demands of how and when her hearing will be held.

The lawyer for Christine Blasey Ford told the Senate Judiciary Committee her demands for her public testimony at a hearing–preeminent is that Judge Brett Kavanaugh testify first and that he not be allowed to be in the hearing room when she testifies, reported TGP’s Kristinn Taylor.

Laura Ingraham reported the scheduled Monday hearing where Kavanaugh and Ford were invited to testify may be postponed. Kavanugh accepted but Ford has declined so far to appear Monday.

“Two sources have told me that @SenateMajLdr is WAVERING and may ask to further delay Monday hearing. GOP base will be in full revolt if so. Tune in tonight!”

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