This and That for Monday
~~~ Edward Snowden is a traitor, not a hero, Rep. Mike Rogers said Sunday, and the Michigan Republican warned that there are still serious questions that must be answered about the 29-year-old National Security Agency leaker’s relationship with China.
Rogers, chairman of the House Intelligence Committee, said the former NSA worker, believed to still be in hiding in Hong Kong, betrayed the United States.
“It goes beyond the bounds of him trying to claim that he’s a whistleblower, which he is not. A whistleblower comes to the appropriate authorities … so that we can investigate any possible claim,” Rogers said in an appearance on CNN’s “State of the Union. “He didn’t do that. He grabbed up information, he made preparations to go to China, and then he collected it up, bolted to China.”
Snowden shook the American intelligence community this month by leaking highly classified material about the NSA’s anti-terror programs that he stole while working as a contractor.
Two other Republicans, Senator Lindsey Graham of South Carolina and former Vice President Dick Cheney, also on Sunday called for Snowden to face justice in the U.S.
“I think he has committed crimes,” Cheney said on “Fox News Sunday.”
Cheney said he fears Snowden had an ulterior motive in picking Hong Kong.
“Well, I’m suspicious, of course,” Cheney said. “It’s not a place where you would normally go if you are interested in freedom of speech.”
Cheney said the U.S. government should be “very aggressive” with Hong Kong about getting Snowden back, but “I’m not sure it will do any good.”
Graham, appearing on NBC’s “Meet the Press,” said, “I think what he did compromised national security.”
There will be a great deal more in the Snowden saga.
~~~ There’s a big difference between God’s and the world’s standard of perfection, told a Faith & Freedom Coalition audience in Washington on Saturday, her voice cracking with emotion.
The 2008 Republican vice presidential nominee, who knew before giving birth that her child Trig would be afflicted with Down syndrome, told the crowd, “I’m speaking on behalf of you who love this country and value life and value our kids, some whom will perhaps face more challenges than the rest of us will face.”
“We understand the dignity of human life,” she said. “We understand there are God’s standards of perfection that really count. Then there’s the world’s standards of perfection that are superficial and often materialistic and don’t matter.”
Looking over her audience of several hundred mostly religious conservative activists, she added, “You all know what really matters.”
Palin had the coveted role of closer for a three-day movable talkfest that that went from the Ronald Reagan Building to Capitol Hill and wound up at the J.W. Marriott Hotel.
The rest of her address was filled with humor and barbs at the liberals and Democrats who have belittled her from the moment of her ascension to the national stage in August 2008.
She recalled rolling down her truck window and asking some protesting Democrats why they voted for President Obama.
“I’m not a racist, so I voted for him to prove it,” one protestor responded.
“Nor am I a racist, and buddy, next time vote for somebody else to prove you’re not a knucklehead,” she replied.
Again poking fun at what critics see as ineptitude on the Obama administration’s part, Palin noted that the U.S. government “monitored every one of our phone calls but couldn’t find the two pot-smoking deadbeats with a hotline to Terrorist Central in Chechnya.”
Michael Zak, author of a history of the GOP, said, “I was very taken with Palin’s very pointed remark about Ted Cruz,” the Republican senator from Texas. “Congress need Cruz control -- Ted Cruz,” Lady Sarah said; everybody laughed.”
~~~ Thousands of Syrians are currently training in Iran to serve as a force ready to storm Israel’s northern Golan Heights, according to informed Middle Eastern security officials.
The officials said between 3,000 and 5,000 Syrian men were being trained in the event Syrian President Bashar al-Assad decides to open a front against the Golan Heights, which borders Syria.
The training is being overseen by the Al Quds Force, the elite unit of Iran’s Revolutionary Guard responsible for the country’s extraterritorial operations, the sources said.
The Syrian forces are slated to return to their country next month, the sources added.
This is not the first report of Iran aiding Syria in preparations for ground attacks against Israel.
In May, WND reported the Iranian-backed Hezbollah was establishing training camps near the Syrian capital of Damascus to prepare for possible guerrilla warfare targeting the Golan Heights, according to informed Middle Eastern security officials.
The officials said the camps are training Palestinian groups as well as special units connected to Assad’s Baath party for operations against Israel if such actions are green-lighted by Syria in the near future.
The officials said that for the time being, Russia has urged Assad against taking any action targeting Israel.
The reports come as the U.K. Independent reported on a purported military strategy taken by Iran to send a first contingent of 4,000 Iranian Revolutionary Guards to Syria in support of Assad’s drive to defeat the so-called rebels.
On Saturday, the New York Times reported that as a way to keep the pressure on Assad, American warplanes and antimissile batteries will remain in Jordan following a military drill currently underway.
The Times further reported on CIA training for the rebels in Jordan under a covert program as well as a U.S. campaign to send weapons to the rebels via Jordan.
The Washington Post further reported on a U.S. decision to send weapons to the rebels through Turkey.
~~~ If you’re a Republican, this is for you.
The Washington Times Joseph Curl opines the GOP Golden Boy Chris Christie is going to run in 2016, and he might not even do so as a Republican. Seriously.
So, will he challenge the highly beatable Hillary Rodham Clinton for the Democratic nomination? Maybe. But all signs point to the whale like New Jersey governor floating himself as a middleman, neither right nor left -- the Chosen One to solve all the discord in the nation’s capital: The Independent.
Sound insane? Well, the man who clearly can’t control his base impulses (he’s fat) doesn’t know where he fits in to the 2016 scheme (get it? “Where he fits in”?). He’s trying to squeeze into a packed elevator. Sure, the sweaty bloom went off the flabby rose very quickly, but it’s clear Christie will -- Jeez, that guy is really, really fat, right?
OK, enough fat jokes. America has had fat presidents. William Howard Taft was big as a pig, often dozed off while eating and had sky-high blood pressure to go with his BMI of 42.3 -- but he had a lovely golf swing! Boozehound Grover Cleveland, at 5‘11” and more than 250 pounds, was known to his nieces and nephews as “Uncle Jumbo,” but he got the job done. Teddy Roosevelt was a bulbous butterball, yet he could hogtie a steer in seconds (then eat an entire hog).
Still, you have to go back to FDR, first elected in 1932, to find a president as unhealthy as the New Jersey governor. Sure, JFK was a pill-popping drunk, and Bill Clinton was a Big Mac-inhaling chunkbucket, but both were young and good-looking when they were elected. Same, sorta, for George W. Bush, and James Earl Carter. Ronald Reagan was old, but virile and fit. So was George H.W. Bush, in that Boston Brahmin way. Gerald Ford was a former footballer, and Richard Nixon too was comparatively fit (even more so later, with all that late-night pacing).
But in the Television Age, fat don’t fly. Sure, America is fat, but we don’t want our president to be like us. Presidents are who we want to be, and we don’t want to be fat.
Neither does the governor. Which is why he did what America does: Exercise, watch the diet, count calories, cut out the sweets. Just kidding. Don’t be absurd: lap-band stomach surgery. Yeah, the thing for “patients with certain comorbidities that are known to improve with weight loss, such as sleep apnea, diabetes, osteoarthritis, GERD, hypertension (high blood pressure), or metabolic syndrome, among others.” After he was rushed to the hospital for breathing problems at 49. Not good. Like the word “comorbidity.”
But let’s be honest: Mr. Christie is the Great Unknown for 2016. Senator Marco Rubio is setting up (or being set up) as the Establishment Candidate. That didn’t work so well for Senator John McCain or Mitt Romney. Senators Rand Paul and Ted Cruz are the Hot Ones, but they’re newbies. Chances are they don’t go this next time (although Paul may follow his father and run every cycle for the next 30 years, and Cruz may track Barack Obama -- less time in D.C. is a plus). Make no mistake: The White House fears that duo most, has made them the targets for 2014. But Jeb Bush: Please. The next Bush with a chance is George P.
Bobby Jindal, Rick Santorum, Fat Newt, all done. Paul Ryan? America hates losers. They’re done. And you’d think the Republicans would have some women ready to match up with Hillary: They don’t. In the wings, but not ready.
That leaves Christie, and whatever you think of him, he is a powerful force — a rock star, a badass. As governor, he’s bashed teachers, leechers, wasters. He’s hard-core Jersey, and Jersey Boys don’t take no guff. He routinely shocks the MSM by speaking bluntly, and they love him (wait, like they loved “Maverick McCain”? Oh, that can’t be good).
He’s irked the Establishment of his party. How dare he look after the people who elected him while a weak Republican candidate needs his star power?! Ever since the Obama visit after Hurricane Sandy, he’s been on the outs with party leaders. He toed the line on “Obamacare,” then backed tougher gun laws. He’s an enigma -- wrapped in bacon. CPAC didn’t even invite him to speak this year -- “for decisions that he made.” Just last week, he skipped a D.C. gathering of social conservatives -- for showtime with Bill Clinton in Chicago.
CNN, of course, was on the discord like fat on a pork butt. “Nancy Modlin, another North Carolinian and a self-described home-schooling mom, expressed disappointment that Christie chose to attend a forum hosted by Clinton instead of spending a day in Washington meeting with conservatives. ‘I am disillusioned with him,’ Modlin said. ‘I see too much two-facedness, trying to ride both sides of the fence for his own gain. I’m not sure what he is right now, with the way he philanders with a variety of people, Democrats like Bill Clinton. What does that tell you?’
It tells you that Chris Christie is The One. Republicans are talking about him. So are Democrats. Soon, maybe, there won’t be any fat jokes possible. The Young Bucks in the Senate are peaking now -- way early. And Christie is the great unknown.
But he won’t be running as a conservative. And he might just be the only Republican who realizes the Republican Party -- for good or bad -- might now just be a terrible fit for modern America.
Frankly, I’d like to say baah humbug to all that. But there may be more reality and truth than I’d personally like to hear. 2014 will give us a better feel where the party and country are tacking.
~~~ This is one of the strangest and most bizarre stories I’ve read about in a while:
New England Patriots owner Robert Kraft revealed the real story behind a 2005 meeting with Vladimir Putin, during which the Russian president pocketed his Super Bowl ring, worth more than $25,000. Kraft, at the time, claimed the diamond-encrusted bauble was a gift, but he now admits Putin stole it, and the White House intervened when he demanded it back.
Kraft explained the incident happened while Sandy Weill and other business execs were in St. Petersburg. “I took out the ring and showed it to [Putin], and he put it on and he goes, ‘I can kill someone with this ring,’ Kraft told the crowd at Carnegie Hall’s Medal of Excellence gala at the Waldorf-Astoria.“I put my hand out and he put it in his pocket, and three KGB guys got around him and walked out.”
But Kraft really wanted the 4.94-carat bauble back, he said Thursday, admitting he’d gotten a call from the George W. Bush-run White House, saying, “It would really be in the best interest of US-Soviet relations if you meant to give the ring as a present.” (In fact the Soviet Union had collapsed 14 years earlier.)
But, Kraft said, “I really didn’t [want to]. I had an emotional tie to the ring, it has my name on it. I don’t want to see it on eBay. There was a pause on the other end of the line, and the voice repeated, ‘It wouldreally be in the best interest if you meant to give the ring as a present.’ ” The ring is now reportedly kept in the Kremlin library.
So when Vladimir Putin isn’t scaring children or vacationing shirtless or lecturing the United States government about civil liberties, he’s stealing Super Bowl rings? What a guy! I’m not exactly sure what’s worse: the fact that his thuggery runs so deep that he literally stole an American citizen’s personally engraved, $25,000 Super Bowl ring or that the United States government politely yet forcefully told Kraft to kiss it goodbye because they didn’t want him damaging “U.S.-Soviet” relations, or whatever. Stunning.
By the way, if the ring is actually sitting in the Kremlin library these days, good luck trying to convince anyone in the Obama administration to help get it back. That ring is long gone.
Okay now, get your week going, summer is nearly here.