Eric Holder Really Doesn't Want Fast and Furious Documents Released

Back in July after a long FOIA lawsuit from government watchdog Judicial Watch, a federal judge ordered the Department of Justice to produce a detailed list or Vaughn Index of documents being withheld from Congress and the American people under President Obama's executive privilege claim. A month later in August, a federal judge ordered DOJ to turn over a privilege log of withheld documents to the House Oversight Committee. Both orders were to be completed by October 1. 

Now, Attorney General Eric Holder is asking fa federal judge to delay (again) an order requiring him to turn over thousands of Fast and Furious documents, not just a detailed list. More from POLITICO

Attorney General Eric Holder is again asking a federal court to delay the transfer of disputed documents relating to Operation Fast and Furious to a House committee.

In a new court filing Monday night, Justice Department lawyers asked U.S. District Court Judge Amy Berman Jackson not to require Holder to turn over any of the roughly 64,000 pages of documents to the House Oversight and Government Reform Committee until after her rulings can be appealed to the U.S. Court of Appeals for the D.C. Circuit.

"The Department respectfully submits that it would be preferable for the parties, this Court, and the D.C. Circuit — if an appeal were taken — to have any injunctive order await the conclusion of the district court litigation to allow for orderly and complete appellate proceedings," DOJ lawyers wrote.

Jackson has previously denied DOJ permission to file an immediate appeal, although lawyers for Holder indicated in the new filing (posted here) that they may do so anyway. Any appeal is likely to take months and perhaps more than a year to resolve. If that process does not begin until Jackson rules definitively on the the executive privilege claim President Barack Obama has made for many of the documents, the timeline for the case being resolved could begin to approach the end of the Obama administration.

How convenient that the appeals process will bump right up against the end of Obama's, and therefore Holder's, time in office. This tactic and strategy that has been used by Holder since the beginning to run out the clock until a new administration comes into office and dumps the case.

Regardless, Holder is still required to produce a list of documents by October 1, which will give us significant insight into the kind of documents the Department of Justice is trying so desperately to hide.

Benghazi Back in the Spotlight on Capitol Hill With First Select Committee Hearing

The 9/11/2012 attack on the U.S. consulate in Benghazi, Libya is back in the spotlight today on Capitol Hill as lawmakers from the select committee prepare to hold their first public hearing. 

Led by Republican South Carolina Congressman Trey Gowdy, members of the Committee have been working for months to interview witnesses and to gather more information about what happened the night Americans Chris Stevens, Glen Doherty, Tyrone Woods and Sean Smith were killed by terrorists.

Today Assistant Secretary for Diplomatic Security Greg Starr, Chairman of the Independent Panel on Best Practices Mark J. Sullivan and former Homeland Security Assistant Secretary for Infrastructure Protection Todd Keil will testify.

“As Chairman Gowdy has said, he is willing to risk answering the same question twice rather than risk it not be answered at all. Since all documents responsive to Congressional inquiries into the Benghazi terrorist attack have not been produced, it is fair to say that not all questions have been asked and answered," Gowdy Communications Director Jamal D. Ware released in a statement yesterday. “Chairman Gowdy is leading a fair, fact-based and impartial investigation. The Committee will consider all evidence, across all jurisdictions, and produce the final, definitive accounting on behalf of Congress of what happened before, during and after the terrorist attacks on our facilities in Benghazi."

?"Chairman Gowdy sincerely hopes that all sides will not prejudge the outcome of the investigation—before even the Committee’s first hearing, which is on a topic suggested by the Democrats—and instead allow a constructive and thorough investigatory process that produces a final report on Benghazi that is beyond any doubt. Chairman Gowdy is committed to a process and result worthy of the sacrifice of the four Americans who were killed in Benghazi and worthy of the trust of our fellow citizens,” Ware continued. 

This hearing comes just days after a report was published by investigative journalist Sharyl Attkisson showing senior aides to former Secretary of State Hillary Clinton were ordered to separate and withhold damning documents from investigators.

The hearing starts at 10 a.m. et. You can watch live here.

DML 2016?

The question posed to Dennis Michael Lynch was simple enough: “What will you do to bring back America as a cohesive unit?” 

Explaining that she does minority outreach for the GOP, the woman who asked the question continued: “My cousin and his crony, the president of the United States, my cousin is Eric Holder.” Before she could finish her thought, the room erupted in laughter and Lynch jokingly interjected, “Are you lying to me?”

Despite the lighthearted twist her question had taken, it was a serious one—every issue these days turns into a race issue, and she wanted to know what Lynch would do to overcome that.

Since openly discussing his interest in running for president in 2016, Lynch has been fielding a wide range of questions during his Fighting for America Tour, which concludes next month. So far, the idea of a presidential bid is gaining steam among his supporters—and fast.

“People are very excited about him,” Carol Davis, leader of an independent tea party group in Illinois, told Townhall. But her support for the idea of DML 2016 wasn’t immediate.

“We seemed to have been conditioned by our political system to think that, you know, all of the people who represent us in government have to be lawyers, or something like that, and so I think that might be why I first kind of brushed it off,” she explained. “But then as I got to looking at Dennis’ background, I thought, ‘who better to get in there but a real person with real world experience?’ I think that’s what the tea party movement has been all about—a rejection of the status quo because it hasn’t served us well.”

Aware that declaring his candidacy would be an uphill battle, Lynch is undeterred by suggestions that he’d need prior military or political experience to be a serious contender.

“As long as you have a strong backbone and surround yourself with top brass, I don’t think you need military experience, I think you need leadership experience,” he said. And regarding political experience, Lynch believes having it is a negative at this point.

Lynch may not have walked a typical path to the presidency, but his story truly embodies the American Dream and is one filled with hard work, passion, integrity, and love of country.

A self-made man, the native New Yorker started his own computer repair and recycling business out of his mother’s basement, which eventually grew to become a multi-million dollar company. In 2000, after expanding to five locations across the U.S. and employing 300 people, Ernst and Young selected him as Long Island’s Entrepreneur of the Year.

But running from the World Trade Center on September 11, 2001 changed his life, he told Townhall earlier this year, which is what led him to filmmaking, something he’d always been passionate about.

With three highly acclaimed documentaries on immigration and liberal media bias under his belt, he’s now looking to brush off the title of filmmaker, which isn’t what he considers himself to be.

“I’m really a CEO who’s dangerous with a camera,” he says with a laugh.

And to a certain degree, he’s right. Each film he’s made has been created with the purpose of A) showing Americans the true nature of the problem at hand, and B) presenting solutions—no matter the issue. And like a CEO would for his company, he’s always done it for the betterment of America.

When he was trying to understand the problem of illegal immigration in his documentaries, for example, he didn’t just call federal agents or ranchers along the border and ask. He went out with the Texas Border Volunteers, at night, without a weapon, to help Border Patrol apprehend large groups of illegal aliens, many of whom were gang members or repeat offenders with dangerous criminal backgrounds.

“These other guys talk," he said. "I do," noting his leadership style compared to other potential candidates. 

The idea of running for president, then, has been an offshoot of his desire to solve the problems vexing this nation. “[Barack Obama] has fundamentally transformed this country,” he said, “we’re gonna need somebody fundamentally different to get it back on track.”

And to Davis and so many others, that’s part of the allure about Lynch—he would be a fundamentally different candidate.

“He’s just like one of us, and I think people are hungry for that,” Davis said. “He hasn’t lived in that rarified atmosphere of politics his entire adult life. … He doesn’t pretend to know it all, but he knows [how to be] a good leader because he built a successful business, he knows how to surround himself with excellent people, and that is very appealing.”

“Listen, I’m not in this for the money or the fame. I’m not in this because I want the power. I’m in this for my kids, and for my country—that’s it,” he said. 

Welfare Sign-ups Beat Job Creation 2-to-1 in Illinois

For every job created in the state of Illinois, two people sign-up for food stamps—not exactly an encouraging statistic. The state ranked ‘dead last’ across America for job growth in 2014, according to the Illinois Policy.

Screen Shot 2014-09-16 at 4.24.02 PM.png

Not only is the economically-challenged state failing to create positions in the private sector, it actually lost nearly 6,000 jobs between January and July of this year. Since the financial crisis of 2008, Illinois has almost 300,000 fewer workers: 

The pace at which Illinois has been creating jobs is simply not good enough for Illinois families, and policy mistakes, such as the historic 2011 tax hikes, have made it worse. Illinois has gained only 240,000 jobs since the bottom of the recession, while food-stamp enrollment has gone up by 420,000.

To visualize just how grim these numbers are for the future of the Prairie State, take a look at this:

Screen Shot 2014-09-16 at 5.01.29 PM.png

Hardly the way to economic prosperity and self-reliance.

Gov. Bobby Jindal Releases Plan to "Confront Radical Policies" of Obama Admin

Becoming an energy superpower is the crux of Governor Bobby Jindal (R-La.) and Congressman Bill Flores (R-Texas) strategy to "cultivate economic growth." 

Tuesday at The Heritage Foundation, Gov. Jindal released a plan he believes would stand "in direct contrast to the Obama Administration's tired policies of energy scarcity and sluggish growth." 

Through the utilization of all forms of domestic energy, Jindal believes America's economy would "supercharge," creating millions of jobs and boosting consumer spending. He also stressed that a lessened dependence on foreign imports would reduce vulnerability to "hostile" nations. 

The "America Next" energy plan includes 42 individual policy recommendations to institute what Jindal and Flores believe are America's full energy and economic potential. He broke them down into six principles:

1) Promote responsible development of domestic energy resources and construction of infrastructure to transport it.

2) Encourage technological innovation of renewables and emerging energy resources.

3) Unlock the economic potential of the manufacturing renaissance by putting America’s energy resources to work.

4) Eliminate burdensome regulations.

5) Bolster national security.

6) Take simple steps to address the possible risks of climate change, in concert with other major economies.

Jindal was persistent in his claim that the Obama Administration has continually stood in the way of energy development on American soil keeping oil prices higher than they need to be. Regulations on fracking and the rejection of the Keystone XL Pipeline are what Jindal calls Obama's "religion out of opposing sensible energy policies."

Gov. Jindal said at the event: 

“This is not just an energy plan – it’s a jobs plan and a strategy for America’s economic future. It’s the kind of stimulus that can get our country moving again—creating millions of jobs while lowering energy prices for consumers. And unlike President Obama’s 'stimulus' disaster—which created nearly a trillion dollars in spending and debt for the federal government—this jobs program would actually raise revenue for the federal government.” 

Finally: DHS Adviser Whose Tweets Were Praised by ISIL Loses Job

Is there anyone left in the Obama administration? Since the president took office, the White House has seemed to be a revolving door. Kathleen Sebelius "retired" as Health and Human Services Secretary after overseeing a botched Obamacare rollout, Steven Miller left his position as IRS chief after revelations that the agency had unfairly targeted conservative groups, and Eric Shinseki tendered his resignation as Veteran Affairs Secretary amid headlines that vets were being denied care across the country thanks to his agency's disorganization. Now, the Department of Homeland Security is the latest agency dealing with a scandal and another employee leaving in disgrace.

Mohamed Elibiary served as a senior member of DHS' Homeland Security Advisory Council. In June, he tweeted this controversial message:

Islamic jihadists were more than pleased by his comments, allegedly even using them to recruit members. The tweet also made the rounds through Arabic press. Elibiary's radical statements recently led to his departure from the agency.

Elibiary took to social media again earlier this month, announcing his decision to leave DHS, but documents obtained by the Washington Free Beacon suggest he had no choice but to leave. The agency was kicking him out, partly due to allegations that he improperly used security clearances to obtain classified materials.

These past few weeks, ISIL has shown the world its evil intentions, savagely beheading two American journalists and a British aid worker. It shouldn't have taken the White House four months to give Elibiary his pink slip for sympathizing with such a group. This administration should have taken immediate action, showing there is no room for such extremist comments in the nation's capital - where our leaders are supposed to have our best interests in mind.

Anyone who seems to sympathize with the enemy doesn't deserve a post in Washington.

Good riddance.

Obama Deploying Thousands of US Troops Overseas to Combat Ebola

Fears of global contagion vis-à-vis the Ebola virus, especially into the Western hemisphere, have largely taken a back seat to growing concerns about American foreign policy towards the Middle East and the rise of ISIS. But perhaps not anymore. In fact, later today President Obama will unveil a sizeable aid package to several beleaguered nations in West Africa in the hopes of alleviating the suffering there and containing this scourge.

USA Today has the details:

President Obama today will announce the expansion of a $763 million military-led plan to help West Africa nations fight the spread of the Ebola virus and prevent it from reaching the United States, officials said Tuesday. The revamped project calls for more doctors and health care professionals; more portable hospitals, laboratories, and other medical facilities; and increased training for first responders and other medical officials throughout West Africa.

Some 3,000 U.S. military personnel will be deployed to West Africa to lead the project, officials said. The total cost of the program is estimated at $763 million over six months, officials said, including $175 million that has already been dedicated to fight the disease that has claimed more than 2,400 lives in Africa.

Reuters reports, meanwhile, that many professionals believe U.S. efforts to combat the virus are well-intentioned but wholly inadequate:

The U.S. action, which goes far further than previous offers of aid, won praise from aid workers and officials in the region, but health experts said it was still not enough to contain the fast-spreading epidemic.

The death toll from the fever, which spreads rapidly, causes uncontrolled bleeding and fever and typically kills more than half of its victims, has doubled in the past month to 2,461, mostly in three countries in West Africa. The World Health Organization said a "much faster" response was needed to limit the number of cases to the tens of thousands.

"This health crisis we're facing is unparalleled in modern times," WHO Assistant Director General Bruce Aylward told a news conference in Geneva. "We don't know where the numbers are going on this."

Hence why the president is taking decisive action by (a) putting boots on the ground in West Africa and (b) appropriating hundreds of millions of dollars to end the epidemic. But what meaningful difference on the ground, if any, these generous efforts will make remains unclear.

McConnell Strikes Back: Grimes is Just Like Obama

I wrote yesterday about Kentucky's Democrat nominee for Senate, Alison Lundergan Grimes, distancing herself from President Obama in a new ad released by her campaign. Her opponent, incumbent Republican Sen. Mitch McConnell, struck back today with a stinging ad, claiming that Grimes is exactly like Obama—even down to the photo ops.

Ouch.

Washington Post has more (emphasis added):

McConnell's assertions in the ad that Grimes has repeatedly sided with the president on unpopular-in-Kentucky issues doesn't offer any context, but none is really needed. McConnell's point is that Grimes is an Obama clone, and his point is made very effectively -- even making sure the two Democrats' weapons are pointing in the same direction.

Grimes consistently trails in the polling, in part because McConnell has effectively made the race about Obama. Yeah, on the thin veneer surface, this is a race about guns and gun use. But it's really about whether or not Grimes is an Obama clone, thanks to McConnell's very effective framing. Meaning that by releasing her gun ad, Grimes basically walked right into McConnell's strategy.

It seems as though this race is going to get continuously tense as Election Day approaches.

RNC Launches "The Road to Six" Campaign

Keep the number "six" in mind this fall, my friends; it's the total number of Senate seats Republicans must win (without losing any) to demote Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid and retake control of the upper chamber.

As a result, the Republican National Committee has launched a new effort to mobilize voters and explain certain initiatives the group has recently undertaken to win more races. Yesterday, for example, the RNC released this promotional video -- and this memorandum -- as part of their "Road to Six" campaign:

FROM: Chairman Reince Priebus

TO: Republican National Committee Members

RE: The Road to Six

As we head into the final stretch of this election, I wanted to send along an update of where we stand—as a party and as a committee—in our effort to take back the U.S. Senate.

As you know, six is the key number in the battle for control of the Senate. Republicans have to flip six Democrat-held seats, and the good news is we have multiple paths to get to six.

But I want to emphasize that even as we hear growing predictions about a Republican “wave,” we have to remember this won’t be easy. To take back the Senate, we have to beat at least three incumbent senators. As others have rightly observed, that would be something of a historic upset. Not since the 1980 Reagan landslide have Republicans defeated more than two incumbent senators.

That’s why the RNC has made such a significant investment in supporting our candidates in 2014: $100 million. We began investing in the states earlier than in midterms past. As I noted at the Summer Meeting, for months, we’ve been quietly expanding the map. That’s partly why the party is now competitive in states that people did not expect us to be. As I’ve visited Victory 365 offices and Co-Chairman Day has gone door-knocking with volunteers and precinct teams, we’ve seen firsthand that these early investment are paying off.

Chairman Priebus went on to say that the RNC has invested significantly in new technologies and data mining operations to improve candidates’ chances in closely-contested races. At the same time, he reiterated the RNC’s commitment to tying vulnerable Democrats to the current administration.

“In these final weeks,” Priebus wrote, “our focus will be reminding voters that the Democrat candidates’ agenda is no different from President Obama’s.”

He also mentioned that, although Democrats will most likely outspend the GOP this fall, the Republican Party has a golden opportunity to make history by putting conservatives back into power.

You can read the whole memo by clicking here.

Dempsey: If Coalition Fails, We'll Need U.S. Boots on Ground Against ISIS

Testifying on Capitol Hill Tuesday in front of the Senate Armed Services Committee, Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff General Martin Dempsey said that although "we're not there yet," the United States may eventually need to deploy U.S. ground troops to fight ISIS if a coalition and airstrikes fail to get the job done against the terror army. 

“My view at this point is that this coalition is the appropriate way forward. I believe that will prove true but if it fails to be true and if there are threats to the United States then I of course would go back to the President and make a recommendation that we include the use of U.S. military ground forces. To be clear, if we reach the point where I believe our advisers should accompany Iraqi troops on attacks against specific ISIL targets, I will recommend that to the president," Dempsey said.

President Obama has been adamant about keeping U.S. combat troops from re-engaging in conflict in Iraq. Currently 1600 U.S. troops and military personnel are stationed in Iraq as advisors to local forces. Last week in a speech to the nation, Obama said he was sending nearly 500 more advisors to the region.

Thanks to Jim Hoft for the video.

Ibrahim: “There Are Many Meriams in Sudan…I’m Not the Only One”

We followed this terribly-sad-yet-ultimately-triumphant story as it unfolded last spring and summer. In brief, a Sudanese Christian mother of two was sentenced to death for worshiping her Christian faith. Although she never self-identified with the religion of Islam (the religion of her father, as it happens) her marriage to an American Christian was considered apostasy under Islamic law. She was therefore condemned to die. Her case sparked international indignation, and only after overcoming some major hurdles was she finally released. Eventually, she flew from Sudan to Rome where she met with Pope Francis (who was deeply moved by her “courageous witness to perseverance in the Faith”). From there she sought asylum in the United States, where she was warmly welcomed with her husband and two children last month.

On The Kelly File last night she told her side of the story. But before you watch the clip below, make sure to have some tissues handy: after all, this is an incredibly moving story of suffering, courage, sacrifice, and triumph:

Benghazi Whistleblower: We Were Ordered to Withhold Documents from Review Board


Ahead of the House Select Committee on Benghazi's first public hearing tomorrow, former CBS News correspondent Sharyl Attkisson is out with a significant new report centered around new claims from a former State Department official. Raymond Maxwell -- whom you may recall as one of the lower-level employees disciplined, then reinstated, in the wake of the Benghazi firestorm -- says he was ordered to cull damaging documents from a file of evidence being handed over to the State Department's 'independent' Accountability Review Board (ARB):


A former State Department diplomat is coming forward with a startling allegation: Hillary Clinton confidants were part of an operation to “separate” damaging documents before they were turned over to the Accountability Review Board investigating security lapses surrounding the Sept. 11, 2012, terrorist attacks on the U.S. mission in Benghazi, Libya...According to former Deputy Assistant Secretary Raymond Maxwell, the after-hours session took place over a weekend in a basement operations-type center at State Department headquarters in Washington, D.C....Maxwell says the weekend document session was held in the basement of the State Department’s Foggy Bottom headquarters in a room underneath the “jogger’s entrance.” ... When he arrived, Maxwell says he observed boxes and stacks of documents. He says a State Department office director, whom Maxwell described as close to Clinton’s top advisers, was there. Though the office director technically worked for him, Maxwell says he wasn’t consulted about her weekend assignment. “She told me, ‘Ray, we are to go through these stacks and pull out anything that might put anybody in the [Near Eastern Affairs] front office or the seventh floor in a bad light,’” says Maxwell. He says “seventh floor” was State Department shorthand for then-Secretary of State Clinton and her principal advisers. “I asked her, ‘But isn’t that unethical?’ She responded, ‘Ray, those are our orders.’ ” A few minutes after he arrived, Maxwell says, in walked two high-ranking State Department officials.

According to Congressman Jason Chaffetz, who interviewed Maxwell for the Select Committee, one of those "high-ranking State Department officials" was Cheryl Mills -- Hillary Clinton's Chief of Staff:



Mills famously castigated Gregory Hicks, murdered Ambassador Chris Stevens' second in command in Libya, for cooperating with Congressional investigators.  The ARB supposedly undertook a "fiercely independent" investigation with "unfettered access" into the facts surrounding the Benghazi massacre.  Based on Maxwell's accusation of explicit whitewashing and meddling, the ARB's inquiry would appear to be anything but "unfettered."  The panel has faced challenges to its credibility in the past, including questions over whether it was stacked by the probe's subjects, and the admission of a lead investigator that he'd engaged in some behind-the-scenes collusion with Mills:


The House Oversight Committee report suggests there may be a conflict of interest in having the ARB rely so heavily on the State Department that it's investigating for staff and resources. For example, Under Secretary Kennedy supervised the selection of the Benghazi ARB staff; and the State Department appointed four of the five members of the Board. Further, Mullen acknowledged giving Cheryl Mills, Secretary Clinton's Chief of Staff, "a head's up" prior to her interview with deputy assistant secretary for international programs Charlene Lamb. Mullen said: "I thought [Lamb's] appearance could be a very difficult appearance for the State Department."

That would be the same Under Secretary [Patrick Kennedy] who has been identified as one of the officials directly responsible for denying requests for an increased on-the-ground security presence in Libya leading up to the deadly terrorist raid. Secretary Clinton, for her part, was never interviewed by the ARB.  A subsequent Senate report on Benghazi was much more critical of the State Department's role in the 'preventable' attacks, and scolded Sec. Clinton's department for "unnecessarily hamper[ing] the committee's review."  Internal email exchanges have also revealed private efforts by top-level State Department officials to scrub relevant details from Susan Rice's inaccurate talking points, very clearly for the purposes of political damage control.  Additional emails that were initially withheld from investigators directly contradicted previous administration assertions, producing frantic, risible spin from the White House.  Mr. Maxwell's allegations add a new layer to the emerging picture of a Benghazi cover up.  If and when he offers public testimony, Democrats will almost certainly accuse Maxwell of being a liar with an axe to grind.  What they can't accuse him of is Republican partisanship:


Maxwell, 58, strongly supported President Barack Obama and personally contributed to his presidential campaign. But post-Benghazi, he has soured on both Obama and Clinton, saying he had nothing to do with security and was sacrificed as a scapegoat while higher-up officials directly responsible escaped discipline.

Insinuating that an African-American Obama donor was somehow part of some GOP conspiracy will be a tough sell. Then again, I must say that this quote from Maxwell rings a bit too 'perfect:'

Several weeks after he was placed on leave with no formal accusations, Maxwell made an appointment to address his status with a State Department ombudsman. “She told me, ‘You are taking this all too personally, Raymond. It is not about you,’ ” Maxwell recalls. “I told her that ‘My name is on TV and I’m on administrative leave, it seems like it’s about me.’ Then she said, ‘You’re not harmed, you’re still getting paid. Don’t watch TV. Take your wife on a cruise. It’s not about you; it’s about Hillary and 2016.’

Was the 2016 bit his inference, or is he claiming that this woman spelled out a cartoonishly political calculus to a furious employee who felt he was being unfairly scapegoated? C'mon. We'll know soon enough: “I’m 100 percent confident the Benghazi Select Committee is going to dive deep on that issue,” Chaffetz says.  Stay tuned.

Paul Krugman Is Wrong Today

Esteemed New York Times opinion writer and Nobel Prize Winner Paul Krugman doesn't think it's necessary to be nice to people. He's displayed this time and time again, and again today writes that he feels no particular urge to be nice to people:

First, picturesque language, used right, serves an important purpose. “Words ought to be a little wild,” wrote John Maynard Keynes, “for they are the assaults of thoughts on the unthinking.” You could say, “I’m dubious about the case for expansionary austerity, which rests on questionable empirical evidence and zzzzzzzz…”; or you could accuse austerians of believing in the Confidence Fairy. Which do you think is more effective at challenging a really bad economic doctrine?

We writers and journalists shouldn't shy away from "picturesque language;" Krugman is right that when it's used correctly, writing - journalism and nonfiction, even - is much better to read.

Where he's wrong is his last sentence about "effectiveness" of challenging wrong ideas. We don't have to speculate or ask our readers about this. We have studies.

In a recent study, a team of researchers from the George Mason University Center for Climate Change Communication and several other institutions employed a survey of 1,183 Americans to get at the negative consequences of vituperative online comments for the public understanding of science… The text of the post was the same for all participants, but the tone of the comments varied. Sometimes, they were “civil”—e.g., no name calling or flaming. But sometimes they were more like this: “If you don’t see the benefits of using nanotechnology in these products, you’re an idiot.”

The researchers were trying to find out what effect exposure to such rudeness had on public perceptions of nanotech risks. They found that it wasn’t a good one. Rather, it polarized the audience: Those who already thought nanorisks were low tended to become more sure of themselves when exposed to name-calling, while those who thought nanorisks are high were more likely to move in their own favored direction. In other words, it appeared that pushing people’s emotional buttons, through derogatory comments, made them double down on their preexisting beliefs.

The use of "picturesque language," in Professor Krugman's terminology, actually makes people less likely to be convinced by an argument. (Funny how Krugman's "picturesque language" always manifests itself in name-calling rather than, I don't know, landscape metaphors about Federal Reserve charts, but c'est la vie.)

In this way, incivility is not designed to actually convince anyone in argumentation. It's a performance art, designed to close minds, inflame passion, and rally your own troops (who are already on your side) to your side. One would think that a Nobel Prize winner in economics wouldn't need to name-calling - or at the very least, that he'd read the academic literature on the subject.

GAO Report Confirms Obamacare Subsidizes Abortion

For years pro-life activists have raised concerns about President Obama's healthcare overhaul and the way it forces taxpayers to subsidize abortion. The administration has long assured Americans Obamacare does not subsidize abortion services, despite the White House's close ties to abortion giant Planned Parenthood. President Obama promised repeatedly that not a dime of taxpayer money would go toward funding abortions through Obamacare. 

"Under our plan, no federal dollars will be used to fund abortions," Obama promised in 2009.

Further, Obamacare received its final and necessary 60th vote from former Nebraska Senator Ben Nelson based on the promise abortion subsidies wouldn't be included in the bill. 

Now, a new report from the Government Accountability Office shows that Obamacare does in fact force taxpayers to foot the bill for abortion services by simply ignoring strict regulations and laws put in place to prohibit subsidization. The report shows more than 1000 Obamacare insurance plans in different states do not separate funding for abortion services from coverage as required by law. 

"We provided a draft of this report to HHS, for CMS, and to OPM for comment. In its written comments, reproduced in enclosure III, HHS stated that, in addition to issuing a regulation governing the provision of health insurance coverage by QHPs, CMS also had answered individual questions from issuers and provided limited guidance to help ensure that stakeholders, including states and issuers, understand and follow the rules relating to coverage of abortion services in QHPs. However, HHS stated that, based upon our findings, additional clarification may be needed and CMS will use our findings to address issues of concern to better ensure that stakeholders understand the laws and regulations governing the provision of non-excepted abortion services coverage," GAO recommended after its findings.

Susan B. Anthony List President Marjorie Dannenfelser is outraged, but has been warning about abortion subsidies for years. 

"Today’s report is confirmation that ObamaCare is a massive expansion of abortion on demand, paid for by the taxpayers,” Dannenfelser said in a statement. “ObamaCare breaks from the long tradition of the Hyde Amendment, which has prevented taxpayer funding of abortion with broad public support, and was not included in the law.”

“Shame on Senators like Mary Landrieu, Mark Pryor, and Kay Hagan – all of whom come from strong pro-life states and voted for taxpayer funding of abortion in ObamaCare,” Dannenfelser continued. “The GAO report is damning evidence that they betrayed their constituents in casting a vote for the largest expansion of taxpayer funding of abortion on demand since Roe. The No Taxpayer Funding of Abortion Act gives these Senators a prime opportunity to right a grave wrong, but they continue to stand with Harry Reid and the abortion lobby instead of their constituents by blocking a vote on it.”

The GAO puts Obamacare back on the map just ahead of the 2014 midterm elections and just ahead of open-enrollment, when consumers are expected to see massive increases in their healthcare premiums.

H/T POLITICO

ISIS Legislation Tacked to Continuing Resolution

With four days left before House Republicans head back to their respective districts, Congress faces yet another tight deadline for funding the government and passing anti-ISIS legislation.

House and Senate leaders met with President Obama last week to discuss counterterrorism strategy prior to the president’s speech Wednesday night. Since then, members of Congress have been torn on the right approach for Congressional action. Members attended closed-door intelligence briefings, and the possibility of voting on any concrete legislation before the midterms remained up in the air.

But cautious support to back the president before heading to the campaign trail in September seems to have won out.

The House Rules Committee convened Monday evening to determine the rule for H.J.Res 124, the Continuing Resolution (CR), introduced by House Appropriations Chairman Hal Rogers (R-KY) last week. The bill packages funds for the government at the current rate of $1.012 trillion dollars until December 11, 2014, or until Congress passes FY2015 appropriations bills. The highlights include $88 million to combat the Ebola outbreak (which Rogers said in the hearing was an offset cost) and an extension of the Ex-Im Bank through June 2015.

“We have reached the point where a Continuing Resolution is necessary to keep the government functioning and avoid another shutdown,” Chairman Rogers said in a statement. “It is a critical piece of legislation, and my Committee has crafted the bill in a responsible, restrained way that should draw wide support in the House and Senate. This bill is free of controversial riders, maintains current levels, and does not seek to change existing federal policies.”

There are four amendments currently submitted for consideration with the CR, the most important being a Syrian “Train & Equip” provision introduced by Armed Services Committee Chairman Buck McKeon (R-CA). This provision authorizes assistance “including training, equipment, supplies, and sustainment, to appropriately vetted elements of the Syrian opposition and other appropriately vetted Syrian groups” for the purpose of defeating ISIS (ISIL) and increasing the national security of the U.S. and its allies. It does not issue an Authorization for Use of Military Force (AUMF) and does not authorize American boots on the ground, but that could come later. The McKeon amendment also requires Defense Secretary Chuck Hagel to report to Congress 15 days prior to the start of training and then every 90 days throughout the operation.

The House is scheduled to consider the CR this week, and debate could start as early as tomorrow. A domestic energy production bill and the Jobs for America Act are also on their legislative schedule for this week.

Congress should be able to pass funding legislation before the October 1st deadline, pending any surprise disaster. Members are expected to head back home after this week through midterm elections.

UPDATE (9:30 p.m. ET): The House Rules Committee reported a structured rule for H.J.Res 124, specifying that McKeon's amendment will be considered separately with six hours hours of debate prior to the vote.

WOW: ISIS Has Some Friends at George Mason University

MRCTV’s Dan Joseph returned to the hallowed grounds of George Mason University in Northern Virginia to ask members of the student body if they would support the Islamic State (ISIS). After all, they are the JV of Islamic terrorists, right?

And, yes, some students actually signed Joseph’s fake petition calling for the U.S. to support ISIS, instead of fighting them. “They’re just like us, only with slightly more beheadings,” Joseph said. “But if we support them, maybe they’ll stop.”

One girl said that murdered American journalist Steven Sotloff was a member of Mossad, Israel’s national intelligence service. She then told Joseph that he shouldn’t get her started on how Christians used to treat the non-believers.

One guy, a former member of the military, was absolutely appalled by Joseph’s petition. Another student said the petition was disgraceful and that Dan should be ashamed to live in the United States.

Luckily, Joseph doesn’t support ISIS, but it’s a sad commentary that he got 12-13 students to sign the petition. The bad news is that these kids need to do their homework on what’s happening in the Middle East. The good news goes to ISIS: you have some friends at George Mason University.

UPDATE: Due to concerns that ISIS might actually use the video for propaganda purposes, MRCTV has taken down the video.  

UPDATE II: I've found Dan's video from another YouTube account.  It's been re-uploaded.

After Being Voted Down By The Senate, Cop Killer Advocate Officially Withdraws Obama's Nomination for DOJ Post

It's official. Cop killer advocate Debo Adegbile, who was voted down by the Democrat controlled Senate after being nominated by President Obama to head up the civil rights division of the Department of Justice earlier this year, has withdrawn his nomination

As a reminder:

The Senate has voted 52 to 47 to block the confirmation of Debo Adegbile, President Obama's nominee to head the Civil Rights Division of the Department of Justice. All Republicans and Democrats Coons, Heitkamp, Manchin, Pryor, Donnelly, Casey and Walsh voted against the nomination.

Adegbile came under heavy fire for his voluntary advocacy of convicted and unrepentant cop killer Mumia Abu-Jamal, who murdered Philadelphia police officer Daniel Faulkner in 1981. Major law enforcement organizations, including the National Fraternal Order of Police and the National Association of Police Organizations, were opposed to the nomination. Philadelphia Democratic Prosecutor Seth Williams was also against the nomination. Daniel Faulkner's widow, Maureen Faulkner, repeatedly begged Senators to block Adegbile's confirmation. News of Adegbile's nomination first came from former DOJ attorney and whistleblower J. Christian Adams.

When Adegbile was voted down in March, President Obama called it a "travesty." According to the Associated Press, Adegbile will return to private practice at WilmerHale law firm.

Nanny State: Vermont Bans Desserts in School

In what may be the ultimate Nanny State move, Vermont has outlawed consuming or bringing brownies, cakes, or cookies to school. The mandates are part of a new program titled “Smart-Snacks-in-Schools” and will apply to lunch items, vending machines, and fundraising events between midnight and half and hour after school.

Boston.com reported:

“These changes are really supporting the types of diets that we as a country should be following to have a healthy diet and lifestyle,” said Laurie Colgan, child nutrition program director at the Agency of Education, in an interview with the Vermont Watchdog.

This healthy lifestyle has already been instated within the school.

“The new school lunch pattern has low-fat, leaner proteins, greater variety, and larger portions of fruit and vegetables,” Colgan said. Additionally, “the grains have to be 100 percent whole-grain rich.”

Colgan said this does not have to mean an end for fundraising. Rather, she is encouraging schools to turn fundraising away from schools, and focus on non-food items such as flower bulbs, cards, and wrapping paper.

So what do you bring to celebrate your birthday with your classmates? Shelley Mathias, principal of Edmunds Elementary School in Burlington, suggested fruit shish kebabs.

Mathias also confided to the Vermont Watchdog that she has never seen desserts served at her school in the four years she has been there:

“The kids like kale here, and they eat broccoli.”

Really? Now there is certainly nothing wrong with encouraging healthy habits at school, but to forbid children to eat desserts is taking supervision to the extreme. This is just another Big Government power grab where laws replace individual responsibility.

Two Vietnam Vets Receive Medal of Honor

Two American Vietnam veterans were presented with the nation's highest military decoration for valor at the White House today. Spec. Donald P. Sloat received the award posthumously having given, as Lincoln once put it, “the last full measure of devotion” more than four decades ago.

Dr. Bill Sloat, his surviving brother, attended the ceremony and thus accepted the award on his behalf:

Sloat, of Coweta, Oklahoma, was killed in action on Jan. 17, 1970, at age 20. While on patrol, a soldier in his squad triggered a hand grenade trap that had been placed in their path by enemy forces. According to the White House, Sloat picked up the live grenade, initially to throw it away. When he realized it was about to detonate, he shielded the blast with his own body in order to save the lives of his fellow soldiers.

Eighty-year-old Sgt. Maj. Bennie Adkins, for his part, attended the ceremony in person. The Alabama native served three tours in Vietnam and, unsurprisingly, his heroism and courage under fire is worth reading about in full. But if you don’t have time, here’s a short excerpt:

As many as 175 enemy troops killed, 18 wounds from enemy fire, 38 hours of battle, 48 hours evading the North Vietnamese troops in the bush -- and one tiger. Those are the numbers behind Sgt. Maj. Bennie Adkins' Medal of Honor, an award he will receive from President Obama in a White House ceremony Monday. Adkins, of Opelika, Alabama, is being honored for his actions in Vietnam's A Shau Valley more than 48 years ago. Then a 32-year-old sergeant first class, Adkins was among a handful of Americans working with troops of the South Vietnamese Civil Irregular Defense Group at Camp A Shau when the camp was attacked by a large North Vietnamese and Viet Cong force on March 9, 1966, according to an Army report.

"Adkins rushed through intense enemy fire and manned a mortar position defending the camp," the Army report says. "He continued to mount a defense even while incurring wounds from several direct hits from enemy mortars. Upon learning that several soldiers were wounded near the center of camp, he temporarily turned the mortar over to another soldier, ran through exploding mortar rounds and dragged several comrades to safety. As the hostile fire subsided, Adkins exposed himself to sporadic sniper fire and carried his wounded comrades to a more secure position."

The White House also announced that a veteran of the Civil War, 1st Lt. Alonzo H. Cushing, will soon be awarded the Congressional Medal of Honor as well. Cushing was killed in action on the third and final day of fighting at the Battle of Gettysburg. He was 22-years-old.

UPDATE: Videos added.

Kerry: On Second Thought, We Are at War With ISIS


Remember this quote?  Yeah, scratch that.  Sort of.  We are basically at war with ISIS, the Secretary of State now says, but Americans shouldn't let etymological niceties cloud the big picture:


Secretary of State John Kerry backtracked on the language he had used to describe the fight against the Islamic State of Iraq and Syria (ISIS, also known as ISIL), saying in an interview on CBS' "Face the Nation" Sunday that, "we are at war" with the group. "I think there's frankly a kind of tortured debate going on about terminology," said Kerry, who rejected the word "war" in an interview with CBS News State Department correspondent Margaret Brennan last week and warned that people shouldn't get "war fever." "In terms of al Qaeda, which we have used the word 'war' with, yeah...we are at war with al Qaeda and it's affiliates. And in the same context if you want to use it, yes, we are at war with ISIL in that sense," Kerry said. "But I think it's waste of time to focus on that. Frankly, lets consider what we have to do to degrade and defeat ISIL."


And per Time's Zeke Miller, the White House has decided to emphasize the "degrade" half of that two-part mission statement. Kerry's stumbling reversal and the administration's rhetorical downshift are further evidence of the muddled incoherence that has typified US foreign policy under the "smart power" regime.  Here's how I described the head-spinning confusion on Friday:

One year ago, Obama delivered a prime time address calling for airstrikes against the Assad regime in Syria. We are now bombing Assad's primary enemy in Syria, and Assad is offering his assistance. Several months ago, Obama dismissed ISIS as a "JV" team. Now he calls them a "cancer" that will take years to defeat. And four weeks ago, the president ridiculed the prospect of arming "moderate" rebels inside Syria, saying the idea "has always been a fantasy." Today, it's step two in his own four-step strategy. 


The 'JV' comment was just completely inexcusable, which is why the White House spin team has been lying in overdrive about it. 'Cancer' is more like it; to that end, read this chilling piece on the ladies of ISIS' social media milieu. As for the erstwhile 'fantasy' turned official policy, Congress is currently weighing Obama's request for authorization and funds to arm "moderate" Syrian rebels to more or less act as our ground presence. Obama has ruled out deploying American combat troops, having reportedly rebuffed the military's advice to insert a small fighting force into the theater.  It looks like leadership on both sides of the aisle are lining up to back the president's plan. Boehner: “The president has made clear that he doesn’t want U.S. boots on the ground. So somebody’s boots have to be on the ground. … We ought to give the president what he’s asking for.”  Harry Reid: "It's clear to me that we need to train and equip Syrian rebels and other groups in the Middle East that need some help."  Nancy Pelosi's deputy, Steny Hoyer, also suggested that Congress might put off a "larger authorization" vote until after the elections. Courage.  Incidentally, what have those 'good' rebels been up to recently?

Moderate Syrian rebels and the Islamic State in Iraq and Syria (ISIS) reportedly struck a cease-fire deal on Friday, according to a group that has monitored Syria's civil war. The groups agreed to a non-aggression pact in which they promised not to attack each other...The Syrian Observatory for Human Rights, a monitoring group based in the United Kingdom, said the groups reached the agreement in a suburb of Damascus, Syria’s capital. Under the deal, "the two parties will respect a truce until a final solution is found and they promise not to attack each other because they consider the principal enemy to be the Nussayri regime,” Agence France-Presse reported. Nussayri is a negative term for Syrian President Bashar al-Assad’s Alawite regime.


Are we arming them to fight ISIS -- which is now proscribed by this tenuous non-aggression pact -- or to fight the Assad regime, which remains a dangerous Iranian client (we're apparently engaged in anti-ISIS discussions with Tehran) and sworn US enemy?  NBC's Richard Engel says the administration is "living in a delusion" by ostentatiously opposing Assad while carrying out airstrikes effectively on his behalf:


Contradictions everywhere, and therein lies the problem: ISIS is evil and must be stopped, just as Assad is evil and a threat to US interests.  That's why the notion of bolstering a third party at odds with both sets of villains is so appealing, at least in theory. (And we're definitely not talking about this third party, which is reportedly training bomb-makers and recruiting Western ISIS fighters to export jihad). But there's no compelling evidence that such a gambit would be practical -- rendering it, well, something of a fantasy.  There are no good options.  Here's another contradiction, this one emanating from the American people.  Voters broadly support Obama's decision to go to war with ISIS, but they have little confidence in his ability to see his own policy through: "A combined 68 percent of Americans say they have ‘very little’ or ‘just some’ confidence that Obama’s goals of degrading and eliminating the threat posed by ISIS will be achieved...just 28 percent said they had ‘a great deal’ or ‘quite a bit’ of confidence. Still, 62 percent of voters say they support Obama’s decision to take action against ISIS in Iraq and Syria, while 22 percent oppose it.”  One last contradiction for the road, also via Zeke Miller:


President Barack Obama won the White House largely on his opposition to the Iraq War and was re-elected in 2012 on having ended the conflict. But his Administration is using the never repealed authorization vote as a supplementary legal justification for the planned expansion of the campaign against the Islamic State of Iraq and Greater Syria (ISIS). The New York Times first reported Friday that Obama Administration officials believe that the 2002 law which authorized the war “would serve as an alternative statutory authority basis on which the President may rely for military action in Iraq.” The news comes just months after National Security Adviser Susan Rice said the Authorization for Use of Military Force (AUMF) was no longer operative.

So Obama is leaning on the AUMF he asked Congress to repeal last year and the AUMF he made a career out of opposing.  Neat.  


UPDATE - Has ISIS gotten its hands on some of Assad's chemical weapons (which were supposed to have been turned over and destroyed as part of the "red line" deal)?

American Matthew Miller Handed Six Year Prison Sentence in North Korea

The DPRK has arrested, tried, and sentenced another American citizen for “hostile acts” against the Kim regime, the Washington Post reported.

Matthew Miller is now the second of three detained Americans to be convicted of subversion:

North Korea has sentenced Matthew Miller to six years of hard labor for committing “hostile acts,” after the American reportedly ripped up his tourist visa upon arrival at the Pyongyang airport in April. During a show trial that lasted 90 minutes, the Supreme Court found that Miller — who had no legal representation — had committed “acts hostile to the DPRK while entering . . . under the guise of a tourist,” the state-run Korean Central News Agency reported, using the official abbreviation for North Korea.

Analysts say that Pyongyang is using Miller and two other men as bargaining chips in its dispute with Washington over its nuclear program — but that the United States is preoccupied with the turmoil in the Middle East, where Islamic State extremists are not just capturing Westerners but also beheading them . KCNA photos showed Miller, looking pale and wearing a black turtleneck despite it being summer, in a courtroom decorated with a North Korean flag.

This is a strange case, in part because we don't really know what happened. What is clear, however, is that Miller organized a trip to the country on his own through a travel agency. Beyond that, it’s impossible to determine with any degree of certainty the circumstances which led to his arrest. For example, North Korea’s state-run media accuses him of intentionally defecting and being a spy. Miller himself admitted as much in an impromptu television interview several days ago with CNN. “I expected to be detained” he told reporter Will Ripley. But did he?

It's certainly possible. But I imagine it's also difficult to speak candidly and openly in an interview about your own arrest when your totalitarian captors are watching closely. At the same time, Miller made it abundantly clear in that interview that his situation was perilous, and that he had written government leaders urging them to intervene on his behalf:

Question: Did Miller knowingly and willingly defect, only to realize later this was a poor and stupid decision? Or did he have ulterior motives for traveling to North Korea in the first place? Interestingly, the AP reports that the state's High Court believes Miller first went to the country to "experience prison life so that he could investigate the human rights situation."

If that's true, this might explain why he was both arrested and expected to be arrested when he first arrived in Pyongyang. But that explanation doesn't necessarily address why, having voluntarily jettisoned his freedom and safety, he now wants to go home.

Video: Hillary Clinton Gives Sour Answer To Immigration Advocates

I wonder if the end-all, be-all answer to America's problems in Hillary's mind is, "We need to elect more Democrats." 

That is exactly what she said in Iowa after she was asked for her stance on President Obama's decision to delay immigration reform until after the election. 

Here is the video: 

She seemed excited after Monica, a young immigrant a part of the immigration advocacy group, "DREAMer," introduced herself, but was quickly irritated by two members of the group who demanded her position on the issue. The disappointed look on their faces after her sour answer is how many immigration advocates feel after Obama delayed immigration reform once again even though he promised executive action before the end of summer. 

This letdown by the president has devastated immigration reform advocates who are finding it hard to support the president and other Democrats who have run from this issue. 

Frank Sharry, the executive director of immigration-advocacy group America's Voice, told Vox:

"It feels like, once again, the Democratic Party is saying, 'We like you when it's convenient, but if we're going to risk white voters, we're not really into you.'"

Latino voters have had overwhelming support for Democrats in the past several elections, but should ponder if electing more Democrats like Hillary Clinton is proposing is the best option to finally see effective immigration reform in the U.S.

Huh: Anti-Gun Billionaire Buys a Nazi Tank

If you've paid attention at all to the gun control debate over the past two decades, you've certainly heard the argument from gun control activists, "What do you want? For people to be able to buy and own tanks?!" 

That argument and question are red herrings. The average citizen is not trying to own or buy tanks (even though there are legal ways to do it), but an anti-gun billionaire dedicated to taking away your Second Amendment rights, just bought one. 

Co-founder of Microsoft  Paul Allen has dumped hundreds-of-thousands of dollars into anti-gun campaigns and now, he's the proud owner of a WWII Nazi tank. Chris Egar over at Guns.com has more: 

The tank in question, a Panzerkampfwagen IV Ausf. H, commonly referred to as a Panzer IV, was allegedly sold in July for $2.5 million to a foundation tied to Allen. However, attention over the deal, which is now tied up in a lawsuit over non-delivery, has now earned Allen the scorn of gun rights groups when compared to the tech pioneer’s half-million dollar donation to help push gun control ballot initiative I-594.

“While Paul Allen is eager to get his hands on a genuine weapon of war … he is all-too-willing to support a measure that throws obstacles in the way of law-abiding citizens who may just want to borrow or buy a firearm from a friend or in-law,” said Alan Gottlieb, chairman of the Citizens Committee for the Right to Keep and Bear Arms, in a statement Friday. “How silly is that?”

I thought "weapons of war" belonged on the battlefield, Mr. Allen?

You just can't make this stuff up.

Kentucky Democrat Senate Candidate Distances Herself From Obama in New Ad

Katie and I have written previously about the curious case of Alison Lundergan Grimes, who has the unenviable position of running for Senate as a Democrat in what is a pretty thoroughly red state. In an effort to further distance herself from President Obama, Grimes released a new ad today explicitly stating that she is "not Barack Obama" and that she disagrees with him on "guns, coal, and the EPA."

Despite the biting ad and attempts to appeal to moderate Kentucky voters, Grimes still has a lot of ground to make up for if she intends on unseating Sen. Mitch McConnell. While McConnell was once considered to be "vulnerable," he has shed that image and now has a "clear advantage" in polls. From The New York Times:

On average, Mr. McConnell leads by five points, and Leo, The Upshot’s Senate election forecasting model, now gives him a 93 percent chance of winning re-election. That’s partly because candidates usually win with such a clear lead at this stage, but it’s also because the underlying fundamentals point to a McConnell victory.

It's apparently going to take more than an ad with a shotgun for Grimes to pull out a win.

Saudi Religious Police Arrest Dozens of Christians For Worshipping at House Church

Saudi Arabia, one of the United States’ key Arab allies, rounded up 28 Christians on Friday after receiving a tip about a home-based church. The Commission for the Promotion of Virtue and Prevention of Vice arrested the worshippers at a prayer meeting in the home of an Indian national in the city of Khafji. Their current whereabouts are unknown.

"Saudi Arabia is continuing the religious cleansing that has always been its official policy," Nina Shea, director of the Washington-based Hudson Institute’s Center for Religious Freedom, told FoxNews.com. "It is the only nation state in the world with the official policy of banning all churches. This is enforced even though there are over 2 million Christian foreign workers in that country. Those victimized are typically poor, from Asian and African countries with weak governments."

The Saudi media reported different compositions of the arrested Christians. Some reports said the Christians were men and women, while the Saudi Gazette wrote that children, as well as men and women, were detained. It was unclear if a court date has been set in the notoriously opaque fundamentalist court system.

Saudi Arabia has gone to great lengths over the years to re-brand its image as a tolerant advocate of multi-religious dialogue. The arch-conservative monarchy funded the Vienna-based King Abdullah International Center for Interfaith and Intercultural Dialogue. Nevertheless, critics argue, Saudi Arabia’s Islamist religious police continue to expunge any trace of Christianity within its territory.

Saudi Arabia’s King Abdullah appears to be tied up in knots because of his conflicting messages to the international community about religious diversity.

"Such actions are especially dangerous in the current situation, where the world is seeing the rise of extreme Islamist groups in Iraq, Syria, Nigeria, Somalia and elsewhere," Shea said. "The West should demand that its strategic ally, Saudi Arabia, release the Christians at once and allow them to pray according to their own faith traditions. Otherwise, Riyadh will appear to be validating the practices of the Islamic State in northern Iraq and Syria.”

Rep. Frank Wolf (R-VA) pledged to press the State Department and the U.S. ambassador in Riyadh to help the Christians. Meanwhile, Secretary of State John Kerry is scheduled to visit the Kingdom tomorrow to discuss ISIS. Whether he will bring up the recent arrests remains to be seen.