Monday, June 1, 2015
Good morning! In the news today: Senate lets NSA spy program lapse; Paul accused of stalling the measure for political gain; Obamacare can’t really be uprooted; U.S. bombers can’t get a reading on ISIS targets; Hillary’s unexplained foreign donations; and why soaking the rich won’t make Americans happy;
Have a great day.
Senate lets NSA spy program lapse . . . The legal authority for U.S. spy agencies’ collection of Americans’ phone records and other data expired at midnight on Sunday after the Senate failed to pass legislation extending their powers. After debate pitting Americans’ distrust of intrusive government against fears of terrorist attacks, the Senate voted to advance reform legislation that would replace the bulk phone records program revealed two years ago by former National Security Agency contractor Edward Snowden.
Although the Senate did not act in time to keep the program from expiring, the vote was at least a partial victory for Democratic President Barack Obama, who had pushed for the reform measure as a compromise addressing privacy concerns while preserving a tool to help protect the country from attack. But final Senate passage was delayed until at least Tuesday by objections from Senator Rand Paul, a libertarian Republican presidential hopeful who has fulminated against the NSA program as illegal and unconstitutional. Reuters
Here’s what happens now . . . Maybe not much, because the lapse appears likely to only last a few days, as lawmakers are expected to pass a White House-supported surveillance-reform bill—the USA Freedom Act—as soon as Tuesday that would revive the spying authorities, but with a host of transparency and oversight reforms tacked on. But here are the two sides of the surveillance debate differ on what that means going forward. National Journal
Pataki: Paul puts us at risk to score political points . . . “It’s simply putting Americans at risk for political reasons,” Pataki said on CNN’s State of the Union. “I think he’s wrong,” he added. “I don’t understand why, if it’s going to happen on Wednesday or Thursday, he doesn’t allow it to happen today.” The Hill
White House is saying the same thing.
Paul: Opponents want an attack so they can blame me . . . While addressing the Senate Sunday, Sen. Rand Paul said that opponents of his efforts to end the NSA’s bulk data collection and force an expiration of the Patriot Act “secretly want” a terror attack on the U.S. so they can blame Paul for it. Daily Caller
Uh, that sounds a little self-referential, to be polite about it . . .
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Why Obamacare probably can’t be completely repealed . . . After winning both chambers of Congress, they thought they could get a repeal bill to the president’s desk. It’s turning out to be more complicated than that. Politico Magazine
Could be easier if Republicans get 60 Senate seats. Of course, that’s not going to happen anytime soon.
Kerry breaks his leg . . . Secretary of State John Kerry broke his leg riding a bike in France and immediately canceled the rest of his European trip. Now, with Kerry on painkillers, we’ll get an even worse deal with Iran. White House Dossier
Economy contracts: White House says all is well . . . The White House Friday downplayed news that the economy contracted 0.7 percent during the first quarter of the year, arguing “the most stable components of GDP” were growing quite nicely. But here’s the issue: A strong economy takes hits and keeps on growing, even if at a slow pace for a quarter. Good things make up for the bad. That’s not what’s happening here. White House Dossier
I got an email from Mrs. Obama. Somehow, I don’t think this is true.
New union-friendly rule targets small biz . . . President Obama’s administration is pursuing a new labor rule that would largely ignore big business and instead target small and medium-sized companies. Washington Examiner
Obama golf update . . . President Obama is played Saturday at the lovely TPC Potomac club in Potomac, Md. White House Dossier
White House: U.S. “not responsible” for Iraq security . . . White House Press Secretary Josh Earnest last week ruled out ground troops in Iraq, saying the United States is not responsible for the security situation in the country. White House Dossier
U.S. bombers hold fire on ISIS targets . . . Nearly 75 percent of U.S. bombing runs targeting the Islamic State in Iraq and Syria returned to base without firing any weapons in the first four months of 2015, holding their fire mainly because of a lack of ground intelligence and raising questions about President Obama’s key tactic in pushing back an enemy that continues to expand its territory in the war zone. Washington Times
Qatar extends travel ban for Taliban Five . . . Qatar has agreed to temporarily extend travel bans on five senior Taliban leaders released last year from the prison at Guantanamo Bay, Cuba, in exchange for Sgt. Bowe Bergdahl, a State Department official said. The official said the ban would remain in place until diplomatic talks for a longer-term solution are completed. Fox News
Remaining female candidates fail Ranger school . . . The remaining eight female Ranger School candidates failed the first phase of the U.S. Army’s elite infantry program, the Army said in a statement late Friday. Fox News
Muslim plane passenger denied soda can due to “security” . . . A Muslim airline passenger says she faced “humiliation” and “discrimination” Friday when a flight attendant refused to give her an unopened can of Diet Coke, claiming that passengers could use unopened beverage cans as weapons. However, United Airlines said that the exchange resulted from a “misunderstanding.” The Blaze
The cash donations Hillary has no answer for . . . Among all the rivers of money that have flowed to the Clinton family, one seems to raise the biggest national security questions of all: the stream of cash that came from 20 foreign governments who relied on weapons export approvals from Hillary Clinton’s State Department. Salon
Cheney seeks role in GOP race . . . Former Vice President Dick Cheney will likely play a major role in the upcoming GOP presidential race, as he and daughter, Liz, are set to release a book on Sept. 1 outlining their view that the United States needs to assert itself more on the world stage. Newsmax
Graham to launch campaign with blunt talk on Mideast . . . Lindsey Graham will formally launch his bid for president in the small South Carolina town where he grew up. His White House ambitions are rooted half a world away in the Middle East. Associated Press
The thin gruel of Hastert’s indictment . . . We should all be concerned about Dennis Hastert’s strange indictment. Politico Magazine
The Iraqi army is too exhausted to fight . . . The lighting seizure of the Iraqi city of Ramadi by the Islamic State doesn’t just represent the loss of one of the last government-held population centers in Sunni Muslims areas of the country, but it laid bare the notion that Iraq’s government is capable of facing the existential threat posed by the Islamic State’s highly disciplined troops. Politico Magazine
Houthi rebels take Americans . . . The rebel group that has seized power in Yemen has taken at least four U.S. citizens prisoner, according to U.S. officials who said that efforts to secure the Americans’ release have faltered. Washington Post
Egypt deploys scholars to teach moderate Islam . . . In his battle against militant Islam, Egyptian President Abdel Fattah al-Sisi is relying not just on bomber planes and soldiers but on white-turbaned clerics from Al-Azhar, Egypt’s 1,000-year-old center for Islamic learning. He wants clerics to counter radicalism in the classroom. Reuters
ISIS to force wearing of beards in Mosul . . . Every time he looks in a mirror, Laith Ahmed is worried. As of Monday, the young Iraqi’s hopelessly hairless chin could land him in an Islamic State group jail. AFP
Whatever happened to the overpopulation crisis? . . . No one was more influential — or more terrifying, some would say — than Paul R. Ehrlich, a Stanford University biologist. His 1968 book, “The Population Bomb,” sold in the millions with a jeremiad that humankind stood on the brink of apocalypse because there were simply too many of us. New York Times
Maybe it was averted by global warming.
Soaking the rich won’t make America happy . . . Politicians these days love to talk about “happiness.” For one thing, talking about happiness is a lot easier than talking about difficult subjects like the economy. But what if everything liberals and bureaucrats think about happiness is wrong Inconveniently for these bureaucrats, it turns out money does buy happiness—and in a fairly straightforward way. Politico Magazine
Voters back Supreme Court green light for gay marriage . . . American voters say 56 – 38 percent they would support a U.S. Supreme Court decision granting same-sex couples the constitutional right to marry, according to a Quinnipiac University National poll released today. Voters support 56 – 36 percent same-sex marriage in general. Quinnipiac
NBC seeking new role for Williams . . . Brian Williams may lose his seat as anchor of the “NBC Nightly News,” but executives are looking for a way to keep him at the network in a new role. Williams could also end up leaving NBC altogether following a financial settlement. CNN
White House Dossier
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