Tom Coburn: 'If I Was King Tomorrow,' I'd Fire All My Colleagues

Outgoing Sen. Tom Coburn (R-OK) is in a league of his own and therefore will be almost impossible to replace when he retires from public life in a few weeks. Not only is he a very conservative lawmaker, especially on social issues, but unlike many of his Republican colleagues, he's somewhat amazingly struck up a strong and lasting friendship with the President of the United States.

Yesterday, 60 Minutes did a wonderful profile on him, which covered both his life before politics and some of his later accomplishments. To name just a few, his related crusades to raise awareness and end government waste, cronyism, and careerism are well-known. A few select quotes from the must-see interview:

On his friendship with Barack Obama:

“My relationship with Barack Obama isn’t based on my political philosophy or his…it’s based on the fact that I think he’s a genuinely very smart, nice guy. I just love him as a man.”

On the 2008 election:

“I’m proud of our country that we elected Barack Obama. It says something about us nationally. You know, it’s kind of like crowning your checker when you get to the end of the checkerboard. Here’s another thing that says America's special.”

On firing all members of Congress:

“If you want to fix things, that’s what I would do. If I was king tomorrow, that’s what I would do.”

On mortality and his prostate cancer diagnosis:

“Everybody’s gonna die from something. And so the deal is how do you use each day to move things forward for both you and the people you love, but also the country you love?”

And finally, his response when asked: “Did you know anything about politics [when you first ran for Congress]?"

"No.”

Interesting stuff. Do yourselves a favor and watch the full clip below:

Hmm: North Korea Experiencing Major Internet Outages

After launching a cyber attack against Sony—releasing embarrassing emails, employee information, and threatening 9/11 style attacks on theaters that dared show “The Interview,” the country is now reportedly experiencing major Internet problems. 

CNBC has the details:

The country, which the FBI accused last week of the cyberattack, is suffering from periodic Internet outages, and experts at DYN Research found that recent problems were out of the ordinary, according to a report from North Korea Tech.

"I haven't seen such a steady beat of routing instability and outages in KP before," Doug Madory, director of Internet analysis at Dyn Research, told North Korea Tech. "Usually there are isolated blips, not continuous connectivity problems. I wouldn't be surprised if they are absorbing some sort of attack presently."

In an interview with Re/code, Madory said that even typically strong connections are experiencing disruptions. (CNBC's parent NBC Universal is an investor in Re/code's parent Revere Digital.)

"They're pretty stable networks normally," he told Re/code. "In the last 24 hours or so, the networks in North Korea are under some kind of duress, but I can't tell you exactly what's causing it."

While we don’t yet know whether this was in fact some sort of counterattack, keep in mind that in a press conference just last week, President Obama said the cyber attack caused “a lot of damage” and promised to “respond proportionally,” in a “place and time and manner that we choose.”

Update: 

According to Madory, the connectivity problem in the country has gotten so bad that it's now "totally down." Meanwhile, State Department spokeswoman Marie Harf would not comment on the reported outages in North Korea but, regarding Obama's promise to respond, said "some will be seen, some may not be seen." 

Sony May Release "The Interview" Online

Fans of James Franco and Seth Rogen (a legion that does not, apparently include my colleague Kevin) may be in luck: Sony is considering releasing The Interview online following the cancellation of its theatrical release.

From The Guardian:

Sony is considering using YouTube to distribute the film, with Lynton saying it was “certainly an option and certainly one thing we will consider.” He said that none of the major VOD services (like Netflix) had stepped forward to offer to host the film, nor would it use its own on-demand service Crackle.

A lawyer for Sony, David Boies, told NBC: “Sony has been fighting to get this picture distributed. It will be distributed. How it’s going to be distributed, I don’t think anybody knows quite yet. But it’s going to be distributed.”

The film's theatrical release was canceled due to supposed threats from North Korea following the hacking of old Sony emails and documents. The decision to cancel was criticized by everyone from President Obama and the Republican National Committee. In a similarly absurd move, Paramount prohibited theaters from having free screenings of Team America: World Police, another movie that lampoons North Korea.

North Korea is now threatening to bomb the White House if the United States keeps blaming them for the cyberattack on Sony.

While I didn't really plan on seeing The Interview in theaters, I likely will watch it if it's released online. This tweet sums things up well:

Why Didn't Obama Call Sony?

"I wish they had spoken to me first," President Obama said Friday of Sony's decision to cancel the release of "The Interview" in the face of threats from North Korea. 

"They made a mistake," he continued. "We cannot have a society in which some dictator someplace can start imposing censorship here in the United States."

Later in the day, Sony CEO Michael Lynton shot back, telling CNN that Obama was "mistaken as to what actually happened" and it was the theaters, not Sony, that made the release of the movie impossible. 

Asked to respond to Lynton, Obama did not back down, telling CNN Friday, "Had they talked to me directly about this decision, I might have called the movie theater chains and distributors and asked them what the story was."

"If we set a precedent," Obama continued, "in which a dictator in another country can disrupt through cyber, a company's distribution chain or its products, and as a consequence we start censoring ourselves, that's a problem." 

But if Sony's decisions sets a bad precedent that could lead to self-censorhip, then why did Obama not call Sony?

White House Press Secretary Josh Earnest told reporters earlier in the week that Obama was receiving daily briefings on the Sony hack which, Earnest said, the White House considered "a serious national security matter."

If the matter was so serious then why did Obama never tell Sony he had their back? Other leaders in similar circumstances have. National Review's Jonah Goldberg recounts:

The first issue of Captain America came out on December 20, 1940. It shows Cap slugging Adolph Hitler in the mouth. ... Subsequent issues kept pitting Captain America against Hitler and his goons. 

The angriest reaction came from the German-American Bund, Hitler’s stooges in the U.S. They harassed Jack Kirby and Joe Simon, the creators ofCaptain America, with hate mail and telephoned death threats.

“The theme was ‘death to the Jews,’” Simon wrote in his memoir. “At first we were inclined to laugh off their threats, but then, people in the office reported seeing menacing-looking groups of strange men in front of the building on 42nd Street, and some of the employees were fearful of leaving the office for lunch.”

Simon called the cops, and as soon as the police showed up, the phone rang. Mayor Fiorello La Guardia wanted to speak to the creators of Captain America. Simon got on the line. “You boys over there are doing a good job,” the voice squeaked. “The city of New York will see that no harm will come to you.’”

That is how it’s supposed to work in a democracy.

Sony reportedly called the FBI almost immediately after they found out they were hacked. Where was the White House call to Sony telling them, "The United States government will see that no harm will come to you"?

Giuliani: Propaganda From Politicians to Separate Communities From Police is "Shameful"

Former New York City Mayor Rudy Giuliani is reminding the public that the vast majority of police want to help, not hurt communities in an interview with Fox News over the weekend. Giuliani also called efforts by politicians to separate police from the communities they serve "shameful." 

"Police misconduct is a minor part of the problem. Community, serious violent crime is a much bigger part of the problem," Giuliani said. "The people who are saving black lives in the city are [you] the New York City Police Department. I'm not doing it. President Obama's not doing it. Mayor De Blasio's not doing it. He's not out at night walking down housing developments and trying to save children from being killed. Police officers are doing the most, right now, in these very very poor communities and sometime they're white communities, but where there are black communities and police officers are doing the most to save the children that are at greatest risk. The politicians with this propaganda separating the community from the police, are doing something that's shameful and they have to stop doing that. The vast majority of police want to help and the politicians' rhetoric should reflect the truth, not propaganda."

Over the past few months, NYC City Mayor Bill De Blasio, Attorney General Eric Holder and President Barack Obama have accused police departments all over the country of creating distrust between officers and local communities.

Who Was Ismaaiyl Abdullah Brinsley?

As Katie and Cortney wrote over the weekend, New York City was the subject of horror when two NYPD officers were murdered “execution style” in their police cruiser in the Bedford-Stuyvesant (Bed-Stuy) neighborhood in Brooklyn.

On the day of the shooting, the shooter, 28-year-old Ismaaiyl Abdullah Brinsley, traveled to New York City from Baltimore. He posted a chilling message on an Instagram account reportedly belonging to him saying, “I’m going to put wings on pigs today. They take 1 of ours…Let’s take 2 of theirs #ShootThePolice #RIPErivGardner [sic] #RIPMikeBorwn This may be my final post.” A photo of a handgun accompanied the caption.

At a press conference held by NYPD Commissioner William Bratton and Mayor Bill De Blasio, Bratton said this was an “assassination,” and that the Officers Wenjian Liu and Rafael Ramos didn’t have time to draw their weapons. He also said both officers likely didn’t even see their attacker before they were shot and killed. Brinsley would later commit suicide on a subway platform after being pursued by police after the shooting.

During another press conference held yesterday, the NYPD’s Chief of Detectives Robert Boyce noted that Brinsley had 15 prior arrests in Georgia, including misdemeanor assault, grand larceny, shoplifting, and gun possession. The timeline for those arrests range from August 2004 to June of 2013. He was arrested four times in the state of Ohio starting in May of 2009 to September of 2009; he was arrested for robbery and misdemeanor theft.

From August 2011 to July 2013, Brinsley was incarcerated in Georgia for criminal possession of a weapon. He was also in prison in Fulton, Cobb, and DeKalb counties for sentences of 4 months, 30 days, and 8 months respectively for various crimes.

The social media investigation is ongoing. His Facebook, Instagram, Gmail, and two phones are being looked at by the NYPD; one of the phones belonged to his ex-girlfriend, Shaneka Thompson, whom he shot in the stomach before making the trek to New York. Thompson survived.

Most of Brinsley’s tirades were on the Instagram account, where his rage seemed to be directed at the government; one posting had him burning an American flag. And, of course, anger at the police, referencing the death of Eric Garner and Michael Brown.

There is no evidence of gang affiliation; there are no tattoos on his body to suggest otherwise. There were no religious statements in his social media posts either.  Boyce gave a detailed timeline of the events that transpired before these heinous murders:

Timeline

  • 5:30am: Boyce said Brinsley entered Thompson’s apartment in Owings Mills, Maryland with a key he isn’t suppose to have; Thompson knew Brinsley for about a year, but had ended the relationship. Thompson confronts Brinsley, which starts what appears to be a prolonged argument. Thompson calls her mother on her phone to which Thompson’s mother catches part of the confrontation before the call ends. At 5:50am, 911 calls are made reporting a single shot fired at Thompson’s residence. Police arrive and Thompson makes a positive identification that Brinsley was the person who shot her.
  • 6:05am: Brinsley calls Thompson’s mother on her cell phone, saying he shot her by accident and hopes that she lives.
  • 6:35am: Baltimore police are monitoring Brinsley’s movements. They track him going northbound on I-95. Boyce said during this time he calls Thompson’s mother several times.
  • 10:50am: Brinsley arrives in New York City and takes a BoltBus to the West Side.
  • 12:07pm: Brimsley discards Thompson’s phone at the Barclays Center, but not before posting on Instagram the disturbing post mentioned above.
  • 1:30-2:00pm: Baltimore County Police contact the NYPD via fax on the events that had taken place earlier that morning. Boyce said that’s when they started “putting things in motion.” The notifications process begins. Around the same time, Brinsley murders Officers Wenjian Liu and Rafael Ramos. He walked northbound on Tompkins Avenue passed Liu and Ramos, then circled around, went across the street, and came up behind them.

Boyce noted that they’re still working closely with Baltimore County PD and described them as “excellent partners in this investigation.”

The NYPD has contacted Brinsley’s parents, his two sisters, and an ex-girlfriend for background information. Brinsley’s parents noted that they had never seen a scintilla of radicalization from their son, according to Boyce. Brinsley is part of a Muslim family. But, his mother mentioned that her son had a rough childhood, and was often violent. In fact, Boyce noted that Brinsley’s mother was afraid of him–and hadn’t seen her son in a month prior to this weekend’s horrific events.

Brinsley also attempted suicide before; he tried hanging himself last year. The NYPD is tracking his movements in New York for the past week. Boyce noted that he traveled back and forth quite often, but also said they don’t have an official residence. Brinsley’s residence in Georgia actually belongs to his sister–and he hasn’t been in the state for two years; he’s estranged from both of his sisters.

The firearm Brinsley used was a Taurus PT92 model 9mm handgun purchased at a pawnshop in Georgia in 1996. It’s not listed as stolen. A male purchased it at the time, the NYPD knows his identity, and they’re working with the ATF on how Brinsley was able to take possession of this weapon. Brinsley did not buy the firearm since he would have been nine-years old around the date of purchase.

There are 10 eyewitnesses and 35 ear witnesses to the crime. As for the scene of Brinsley’s suicide in the subway, the NYPD also has 10 witnesses and one ear witness.

Brinsley was reported to have a history of mental problems and was prescribed medication at one point in his life.

The NYPD has issues new guidelines in light of the ambush (via NYT):

New York City officers going out on foot patrol were directed to work only in pairs. Sentries were posted at station houses. The department suspended patrols by auxiliary officers — thousands of unarmed volunteers who act as eyes and ears for the department. Detectives, who usually operate alone or in pairs, were told by the head of their union to go out in teams of three.

This event has only intensified tensions within the city; Bratton described it as the worst since the 1970s. Mayor Bill de Blasio is taking a lot of criticism–warranted or not–for the perception that he doesn’t stand strongly enough with New York’ Finest.

De Blasio may have exacerbated the situation when he said at a press conference earlier this month that he instructed his son Dante–who is biracial–to be more careful around police officers. It came after the Staten Island Grand Jury decided not to charge NYPD Officer Daniel Pantaleo in the connection to the death of Eric Garner.

Nevertheless, as the city mourns, the Yankees have agreed to pay for the education of Officer Ramos’ sons. But, we’re also reminded that some of the worst of humanity are celebrating the deaths of these officers. For now, it seems Brinsley was a troubled man, with an extensive criminal past; he had anger toward government, the police, and himself.

We will keep you updated on this horrifying crime.  For now, thoughts and prayers for these fallen officers and their families. 

Interview: Former Senior CIA Official Defends Interrogation Program, Blasts 'Political' Report


Jose Rodriguez is a retired CIA officer who devoted his 31-year career to gathering intelligence and protecting Americans.  He spent decades as a covert operative, serving as CIA station chief in four countries.  Upon his return to Washington, Rodriguez rose through the ranks to ultimately lead the Agency's global clandestine service.  After 9/11, the CIA asked him to help run the on-the-fly reconstruction of its counterterrorism operations.  He was a central player in overseeing the Agency's enhanced interrogation program against high value detainees, as well as the administration of its secret network of "black site" prisons.  In 2012, he authored Hard Measures: How Aggressive CIA Actions After 9/11 Saved American Lives.  The contents of that book are more relevant than ever following the release of Senate Democrats' partisan report on so-called "torture."  I interviewed Mr. Rodriguez for the full hour of my radio program last weekend.  Below is a partial transcript of our exchange.  On the threat matrix and crisis atmosphere after 9/11:

“Beginning in the spring of 2002, we started to see that we needed to change our approach because we were facing tremendous risks and threats of a second wave of attacks coming our way. We knew that the Pakistanis were helping Al Qaeda develop some type of nuclear bomb. We knew that Al Qaeda had a biological weapons program that they wanted to use against us. All of these threats were coming to us, and we had general intelligence. We didn’t have specific intelligence on what was coming. And it was very difficult and very hard because we felt that we were going to get whacked again…The reason that we put the enhanced interrogation program together was because in March of 2002 we captured Abu Zubaydah, who was the highest level Al Qaeda detainee ever in our custody. We knew that he had information regarding a second wave of attacks. He was severely wounded when he was captured…he had provided some useful intelligence at the outset, but once he regained his strength, he stopped talking…we felt like if we didn’t do everything we could to get that information from him, and another devastating attack would come to our shores, we would have blood on our hands. We knew that we had to put a program together that was different from what we’d done before.”

On the nature and purpose of "enhanced interrogation techniques:

“It’s psychological. I agree with those who say the use of force is counterproductive in interrogations, and doesn’t work, and is actually probably torture. The reasons that ours worked is because it was not about hurting anybody. It’s about psychologically manipulating them so that they would conclude on their own that they were better off cooperating with us…we had physicians at the black site [CIA prisons] who were monitoring all of this…There were only ten techniques that were approved, and [“rectal feeding” and threats] were not approved. We didn’t use that, and if we did, it was a violation of the rules. There were some people that violated the rules, and they were punished for is. In any endeavor like this, you’re going to find people who do not follow the rules.”

On waterboarding:

“The way that it works is the prisoner is strapped to a board that is slightly inclined, with the head down, and water is poured over the mouth and the nose. And there’s a rag over his mouth and nose. And the effect that it has is it simulates drowning, although it isn’t drowning. But let me tell you one important thing about our waterboarding technique – because we have all seen Sen. John McCain on TV saying that waterboarding is torture, and talking about the Spanish inquisition and the Japanese during World War II. Our waterboarding technique has nothing to do with the water techniques used by the Spanish during the Inquisition or the Japanese. It is based on a military training program called SERE. It basically prepares US servicemen for what to expect if taken prisoner. Pursuant to this program, tens of thousands of US servicemen have gone through it, and have been waterboarded. So if waterboarding is torture, so how come we haven’t indicted the trainers who have participated over the years in waterboarding our own American servicemen? … On 9/11, five of the [airline] pilots that were killed were waterboarded when they were in the US military. That’s pretty ironic. As I said, waterboarding is based on a technique that we use against our own servicemen to train them, and that is why the Justice Department did not find it to be torture.”

On Abu Zubaydah and Khalid Sheikh Mohammad:

“First of all, Abu Zubaydah recovered from his wounds because we brought the best doctors from the US to treat him. Because of our care, he was able to recover. It became evident that he was not going to say anything else…we knew that we had to get information that he had regarding future planned attacks. We also knew that the old techniques – the law enforcement techniques – in which you build rapport with the detainee were not working because we had a problem with timing. Those techniques may work if you have all the time in the world…[AQ detainees have] a religious motivation. They are extremists. And they don’t really care.”

[After AZ broke] ... “He told is, ‘you have to use the waterboarding technique on all he Brothers.’ And the reason why was that all of these detainees felt a need to protect the information that they had. Almost a religious need. And we had to give them a way out. A way to justify them finally agreeing to give us information. So he basically said, ‘look, you will do the Brothers a favor if you put them through so much pressure that Allah would not expect you to resist, and eventually they will be able to become compliant.’ And that’s what happened. He became complaint, and he actually became very, very helpful. We disseminated about 800 reports just from him, on Al Qaeda, on the leadership structure, on their finances, their funding, their methods of attack, their targets, and their sensitive programs like their nuclear and anthrax programs. We learned enough from Abu Zubaydah that we were able to finally track down Khalid Sheikh Mohammad, using all sorts of different intelligence disciplines. That was the biggest coup of them all: Capturing the chief of operations of Al Qaeda, the person responsible for the 9/11 attacks, and the person who was planning a second wave of attacks. The two of them, AZ and KSM, were very valuable and provided, at one point, almost half of all of the intelligence obtained through our interrogation program. They were the hardest detainees as well.”

On saving lives and getting Bin Laden:

“I think most people don’t know that the 9/11 attacks were supposed to be simultaneous attacks on both coasts of the US,” Rodriguez told me, explaining that Osama bin Laden rejected the expanded plan as too complicated. “After 9/11, KSM started to plan for the second wave of attacks, which were aimed at targets in California and the west coast.” Those attacks were being planned and carried out by Al Qaeda's affiliate in the far east, and was to feature a a 17-person cell. “Because of information from Abu Zubaydah and another detainee…we were able to track [AQ’s Asian point person] down. We found him in Thailand. One of these days, they’re going to make a movie about this operation because it was incredible,” Rodriguez recalled.  The much-feared "second wave" assault had been thwarted, saving untold American lives.  EIT's also helped crack the code regarding bin Laden's whereabouts, the key to which was a courier named 'al-Kuwaiti:'

“Khalid Sheikh Mohammad initially told us that he didn’t know who al-Kuwaiti was. He had actually been compliant, telling us all kinds of stuff. We knew he was lying, and we knew that was significant. Why was he protecting this information? … and then – and this is why those black sites were so valuable – we intercepted a message that he sent to his fellow detainees at the black site. We were reading their clandestine [correspondence]; they didn’t know it. [KSM’s message] said, ‘do not say anything about the courier. Our targeting analysts back at home understood then and there that the key to bin Laden was the courier. And through incredible work over many years…we were finally able to track the courier to Abbotabad, [Pakistan].”

On Sen. Dianne Feinstein's "torture report," and Congressional briefings:

“It’s all political. It’s all ideological. And it is their narrative – the narrative of this administration, which is totally false, and in my view, very dishonest."  Rodriguez confirmed that Democratic investigators did not contact a single CIA official connected to the interrogation program in assembling their report.  "No one who was there during this period – directors, deputy directors, lawyers, analysts, operators – nobody was ever contacted and asked about these programs.”  Rodriguez also affirms that Congress was routinely briefed, on a bipartisan basis, about the program: “I was there, and I did some of the briefing myself. I briefed Nancy Pelosi, for example, and I met with different Senators and Congressmen. We had a number of people do the same over the whole period between 2002 and 2009, while the program was in existence.”

On why the Senate report is so irresponsible:

“Thank you for giving me the opportunity to actually talk about this. It is important because we might come under another tremendous threat like we did, and we may need to do something like this again, so it is important for us to be truthful and honest about what really happened.”

The full show will re-air this coming weekend.

North Korea to US: Stop Spreading Falsehoods, or We'll Bomb the White House

After criminals employed by the North Korean government hacked a private U.S. corporation, inflicting millions of dollars in damages and embarrassing the company, the White House is now forced to consider what retaliatory measures to take.

In a press conference last week, President Obama said he will respond “proportionally” to the cyber attacks, but as of yet has not announced any specifics. Nevertheless, he didn’t need to announce any specifics for the regime in North Korean to take offense at the mere suggestion it was somehow responsible. To wit:

North Korea issued a new threat against the United States late Sunday and accused President Barack Obama of "recklessly" spreading rumors that Pyongyang is behind last month's devastating cyberattack on Sony Pictures.

The long statement from the powerful National Defense Commission warned of strikes against the White House, Pentagon and "the whole U.S. mainland, that cesspool of terrorism."

Intelligence officials and the FBI have concluded that the devastation points back to North Korea. No surprises there. In the end, however, it seems unlikely North Korea’s quixotic efforts to threaten the movie into oblivion will pan out; one of Sony’s lawyers announced as recently as yesterday that the film “will be distributed”:

"Sony only delayed this...it [the film] will be distributed. How it will be distributed I don't think anyone knows just yet."

Still, rest assured it's coming. After all, rumors surfaced over the weekend that the film could be released via Sony “Crackle," although the corporation may now in fact be in talks with another popular, film-friendly Internet platform: YouTube:

As President Barack Obama again expressed disappointment in the company’s decision to withdraw the movie in the face of threats thought to originate from North Korea, Michael Lynton, the studio’s chief executive, insisted on Sunday it had “not caved” to hackers who crippled the company and that it was exploring ways to let audiences see the film.

“We would still like the public to see this movie, absolutely,” he told CNN. “There are a number of options open to us. And we have considered those, and are considering them.”

Asked about releasing the film via YouTube, he said: “That’s certainly an option and certainly one thing we will consider.”

Presumably the best part of the movie has already been leaked online. But if you want to see the movie in full, you’re probably just going to have to wait.

Christie to Obama: Cuba Should Send Back Cop Killer Joanne Chesimard Before U.S. Goes Further With Normalization

New Jersey Governor and potential 2016 Republican presidential candidate Chris Christie has sent a letter to President Obama urging him to have convicted cop killer Joanne Chesimard, also known as Assata Shakur, extradited from Cuba to the United States to finish her prison sentence. 

In 1973 former Black Panther and Black Liberation Army member Assata Shakur, also known as Joanne Chesimard, killed New Jersey State Trooper Werner Foerster in cold blood during a traffic stop. Shakur took Foerster's police issued firearm and used it to shoot him twice in the head. In 1977 Shakur was convicted and sentenced to life in prison. Foester's family never received full justice as Chesimard escaped in 1979, fled to Cuba and been protected by the Castro regime ever since. She is listed on the FBI's most wanted terrorists list with a $1 million reward for information leading to her arrest.

"I urge you to demand the immediate return of Chesimard before any further consideration of restoration of diplomatic relations with the Cuban government," the letter states. "If, as you assert, Cuba is serious about embracing democratic principles then this action would be an essential first step."


There are dozens of violent U.S. convicts living in Cuba under the protection of the Castro regime.

Obama Approval Among U.S. Service Members Plummets To 15%

The men and women of the United States Armed Forces have never had a lower opinion of President Obama, acceding to a Military Times poll of its readers published today. 

Just 15 percent of active-duty Military Times readers approve of Obama, down from 35 percent in 2009 and 28 percent just last year. 

Military Times blames Obama's collapse on "the cultural changes he's overseeing" in the military, including gays in the military, women in combat, and anti-sexual assault training. But Military Times own data does not back this thesis up. Support for women in combat and gays in the military have both risen substantially (41 percent for women in some combat roles and 60 percent for gays) over the past year.

What does seem to be upsetting morale is lack of pay and the loss of sense of mission from the commander in chief.

From Military Times:

Morale in the military is swiftly sinking, with the troops losing both their sense of mission and their faith that their superiors, political leaders — and the nation — still have their best interests at heart...

In the near term, two festering issues loom if Pentagon leaders hope to thwart a worsening internal crisis: the legacy of the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan, and the future of military compensation.

Military Times' survey indicates top officials will find it a big challenge to address the enormous cynicism and pessimism among troops about the wars in which they were asked to sweat and bleed for more than a decade.

The percentage of troops who feel the war in Afghanistan ultimately will be viewed as a success has taken a nosedive since 2007. Similarly, only 30 percent of respondents feel the eight-year Iraq War was a success. And when we asked whether the U.S. should send a large force of combat troops back to Iraq to fight Islamic State militants, 70 percent of survey respondents said no.

The pessimism about Iraq is especially understandable; troops have spent years listening to senior leaders tell them Iraq was emerging as a stable democracy, its army a reliable ally in the fight against Islamic extremism. Just a few years later, both notions turned out to be spectacularly wrong.

"The junior folks have a right to question their leaders and say, 'Hey, you told me to do this U.S.-led counterinsurgency, and it didn't work. What the heck?' They want to know why they were told to do all the dumb stuff they were told do," said retired Army Lt. Gen. Daniel Bolger, who commanded troops in both Iraq and Afghanistan — and who took a stab at addressing those questions in his controversial new book titled "Why We Lost."

Indeed, Congress just approved, at the request of the Pentagon and the White House, a 1 percent basic pay raise the for the troops next year — the second straight year of such a raise, constituting the two smallest annual increases in the 41-year history of the all-volunteer force. And for icing on the cake, they also approved a cut in housing allowance rates for troops who live off base.

The reduction in housing allowances and other benefits were all part of Obama's plan to significantly cut military spending by reducing the number of Army personnel to pre-World War 2 levels. 

Although released today, the poll was actually conducted in July and August of this year, months before an Obama administration official said of departing-Defense Secretary Chuck Hagel, "This is why you don’t send a sergeant to do a secretary’s job."

The Yankees Show Incredible Generosity to Slain NYPD Officer's Family

As so often happens in tragedy, we are able to witness glimpses of kindness rarely seen in today's often selfish society. New York is still reeling from the deaths of two New York Police officers, who were killed 'execution style' in their squad cars on Saturday. Officers Wenjian Liu and Rafael Ramos leave behind wives and one child just days before Christmas.

Without a husband, Lucy Ramos would likely have to start thinking about how she would raise a child by herself.  That's where the New York Yankees came in. In an incredible act of generosity, the famous baseball team has offered to pay for her child's education:

A foundation founded by late New York Yankees owner George Steinbrenner reportedly will cover the education costs for the sons of one of the two NYPD officers murdered in a daylight ambush Saturday afternoon.

The New York Daily News reported that the Yankee Silver Shield Foundation will pay for the education of Officer Rafael Ramos' 13-year-old son Jaden and another son who is in college.

Although she is in mourning, surely Mrs. Ramos felt comforted by this unexpected and pleasant surprise. Truly, a class act.

The murderer's decision to fire on these innocent police officers will be remembered as an act of cowardice, which was stirred on by a culture of anti-cop mentality following the unpopular grand jury decisions in Ferguson, Missouri and New York. I pray this fatal incident will encourage protesters to put down their hateful signs, and go home.

I'll leave you with this sweet, yet heartbreaking Facebook post from Jaden:

"Today I had to say bye to my father. He was their [sic] for me everyday of my life," the post read. "He was the best father I could ask for. It's horrible that someone gets shot dead just for being a police officer. Everyone says they hate cops but they are the people that they call for help. I will always love you and I will never forget you. RIP Dad."

Former FBI Assistant Director: Cops Are Under Attack From Those Who Seek to Evade Responsibility

Former FBI Assistant Director and Law Enforcement Legal Defense Fund President Ron Hosko is slamming criminals, the media and irresponsible, anti-cop, race baiting politicians in response to the revenge assassinations of two NYPD officers over the weekend. 

“The Law Enforcement Legal Defense Fund extends our heartfelt sympathies to the families of these fallen heroes, Rafael Ramos and Wenjian Lieu, as well as the entire New York Police Department. Saturday’s assassinations are a painful and poignant reminder of the danger that police officers face each and every day in their selfless and courageous efforts to protect our communities," Hosko said in a statement. “While the criminal who shot these officers down is ultimately responsible for their murders, a thoughtful society must examine the social circumstances that fostered such outrageous criminal conduct."

"To those who have chosen to incite violence against law enforcement through the reckless vilification of police officers - shame on you. From race provocateurs looking for five minutes of fame, to those in the media who wantonly mischaracterized and sensationalized recent criminal cases, to the government officials who have repeatedly made statements designed to undermine legitimate law enforcement efforts across our nation - it's time to reexamine your own words and actions and take your share of responsibility," he continued. "Men and women in uniform wear a target every day; law enforcement is under daily attack from those who seek to evade responsibility. Morale among those who serve is damaged and divisions are only widened when the facts are buried in an anti-police narrative.  We desperately hope for no repeat of the madness of December 20th and for real leadership to step forward to have a meaningful conversation about the critical role of law enforcement in a civil society."

Far-left organizations, leaders and government officials quickly went into damage control mode Saturday and Sunday after months of stoking anti-police sentiment across the country, issuing statements in an attempt to distance themselves from the murders.

Earlier this year Hosko, who served as FBI assistant director under Attorney General Eric Holder, sent a scathing letter to President Obama about the "hyper-politicization of justice" and called Holder "chief among antagonists" in the Michael Brown case.

VIDEO: Christine Rousselle on Marijuana Legalization

Why does the government categorize marijuana as a worse drug than cocaine? Christine Rousselle explains how the War on Drugs is a prime example of Big Government gone wrong.


Warner Bros. Releases Trailer For Chris Kyle Film, “American Sniper”

If the trailer is any indication, Clint Eastwood knocked it out of the park with his upcoming film “American Sniper,” which is about the story of Navy SEAL Chris Kyle, played by Bradley Cooper, who became the most deadly sniper in U.S. history while serving four tours of duty in Iraq. While the film details his mission abroad protecting his “brothers-in-arms,” it also shows him facing a different type of battle with post-traumatic stress disorder.

Cooper told reporters at the film’s premiere that it was “just an honor” to play Kyle, who was killed last year, but acknowledged the pressure of the role. “It was the responsibility I had to his family to preserve his legacy that weighed on me,” he said.

But he didn’t disappoint.

"Initially I was so focused on Chris and making sure that it honored him, but I just lost myself. It was so Chris. It wasn't Bradley on the screen. It was Chris,” Taya Kyle told the Military Times.

She continued: "I left [the private screening] feeling like a weight had been lifted. They really pulled it off. It's an authentic, genuine look at two people who love each other and what our veterans go through and what they carry ... how they take their home life to the battlefield and take the battlefield home."

The film comes out Christmas Day in New York and Los Angeles, and will be released everywhere January 16, 2015.

Michelle Nunn Will Probably Run Again Soon

Yes, despite her eight-point loss to Senator-elect David Perdue, Michelle Nunn did strong enough to remain at the top of the contender list for future elections in Georgia. She brought in more than $14 million dollars by the time her failed senate campaign came to a close–and her “retail skills” even impressed Republican operatives, according to Roll Call.

Yet, the article also noted that 2016 might be too soon for Nunn to toss her hat back into the ring; the popular Sen. Johnny Isakson announced he would be seeking another term in office:

Nunn’s loss pumped the brakes on the Peach State’s potential transition into a swing state. Still, even Republicans concede a booming population in the Atlanta suburbs, particularly among minorities, portends more competitive statewide contests at some point in the future, even as the rest of the South continues to slip away from Democrats.

Her next campaign, at this point, isn’t likely to come in 2016, with the well-liked Isakson having already announced he intends to seek re-election. A second straight loss could damage her ability to clear the primary field in a more promising opportunity in the future, though Isakson lost twice statewide before his election to the Senate in 2004.

“Do you work to energize the base in the next election or do you work to win over independent and swing white voters? That’s the debate we’re having now,” said Rashad Taylor, a Georgia Democratic consultant at Mack Sumner Communications and a former state representative. “However we come out we’ll be in a better position in 2016 than we were this year.”

The current state party chairman, DuBose Porter, could face a challenge from Tharon Johnson, who was President Barack Obama’s Southern regional director in 2012. Both Porter and Johnson told CQ Roll Call Nunn would be an attractive candidate for any race in the near future.

Taylor said if 2014 were not a national wave year, both Nunn and [Jason] Carter, who lost his challenge to Republican Gov. Nathan Deal, would have performed better — and most are optimistic about the next presidential election year. If Nunn declines to challenge Isakson in 2016, the next Senate race won’t come until 2020, when Perdue is up for re-election and Nunn is six years removed from her last race.

The other notable option for Nunn is an open gubernatorial race in 2018.

While Roll Call mentioned the demographic changes in the Atlanta suburbs, the state really isn’t moving towards the Democrats in any timely fashion; it’s not even gravitating towards the center (via WaPo):

[T]he racial composition of Georgians is clearly changing. Nate Cohn reports that the share of registered voters in Georgia that is white declined from 72 to 59 percent over the past decade. Data from Alan Abramowitz strongly implies that generational replacement is at work. He reports that nearly 3 of 4 active registered voters older than 65 are white while less than half of those under 30 are white. Patterns like these, combined with the noncontroversial observation that whites are more Republican than nonwhites imply that the future may not be as good to the Republican Party in Georgia as the recent past.

However, the demographic change underway in Georgia does not appear to have had much, if any, net effect on Georgia’s “red state” status. At least not yet. To see this, consider a standard measure that political scientists, journalists and other election experts often use: the difference in vote shares received by the major-party presidential candidates. In 2012, President Obama lost Georgia by 7.8 percentage points and won the national popular vote by 3.9 points. Thus, in 2012 the margin in Georgia was 11.7 points more Republican than in the country overall. The figures for the 2008, 2004, 2000 and 1996 elections are 12.4, 14.2, 12.2 and 9.7, respectively.

Thus, in light of the demographic changes, Georgia’s lack of movement toward the Democrats poses a puzzle. Perhaps the most obvious answer is that while the nonwhite population is growing, the white population has continued to become even more Republican. Or, nonwhites in Georgia may be less Democratic than they were in the past. Of course, these are just conjectures. With more data, a persuasive answer should emerge.

It’s hard to see how any significant trend towards the left in Georgia. As FiveThirtyEight’s Harry Enten wrote over the summer, “No Democrat holds an elected statewide office in Georgia. No Democrat has won a U.S. Senate race in the state in 14 years. No Democrat has won a presidential race in the state in 22 years.”

Nevertheless, Nunn will most likely return for another crack at a statewide office in the coming years.

The Interview: These Are The Ends

I don't like Seth Rogen. I don't like James Franco. Their brand of comedy is unappealing to me. I would have loved to not see their movie. And I am loathe to participate in any conflict that will place me on their side.

Nonetheless, that's where we find ourselves. I'm in the corner with James Franco and Seth Rogen. In the other corner are North Korean dictator Kim Jong-Un with his legion of hackers, and the anti-political correctness police who roam Twitter.

The new Rogen/Franco joint, The Interview, looks terrible. It also was the reason given behind the massive Sony Entertainment hack, with the culprits reportedly North Korean government agents. And Sony agreed not to release the movie to kowtow to the demands and threats of those North Koreans.

Beyond having regular old bad jokes, The Interview also contains tasteless jokes, sexist jokes, and un-politically-correct jokes. For these latter sins, its removal from the theaters, by any means necessary, is a net good for the world. At least by the standards of Twitter's PC police.

Ebony senior editor Jamilah Lemieux lamented the mourning of the death of The Interview in a series of tweets, saying that those who put the movie in the category of "art" are like "petulant trust fund kid[s] who can't be held responsible for anything," and that The Interview's defenders hold up the "art" defense as a shield from criticism:

.

Freelance journalist Aura Bogado, who has written for The Nation and Colorlines, echoed a similar sentiment. After saying "Good riddance" to the film, she responded to someone asking if pulling a movie in response to North Korean threats sets a bad precedent by saying that defending a movie by "two white men objectifying Nikki Minaj's..." is not productive.

The point that comes across here is that, for Twitter's PC police, it's more important that The Interview doesn't see release than the means by which the movie is shut down. It doesn't matter that a sadistic small-minded dictator has succeeded in getting a crummy movie* dropped; it only matters that the movie is dropped and that Rogen and Franco's casual sexism won't be inflicted on the world. The ends may not justify the means; the ends merely render the justice of the means irrelevant.

Defenders of The Interview aren't saying that art should not be subject to criticism. They're saying that terrorist threats are not a legitimate reason to shut down a display of art, no matter how dumb that particular art form seems to be. Some people think interpretive dance isn't art; some people think the Piss Christ is not art; some people think that video games aren't art. Regardless of the merits of any of these media, terrorism is not a good reason to abandon their pursuit. Bowing to terrorism is notable - and is more important than even the potential misogyny of a film.

An alternate timeline that did not involve North Korea might see The Interview get released, do mediocre numbers at the box office, get roundly denounced as juvenile, crude, and misogynistic** by critics, and maybe even marginally - in some small way - incentivize film studios not to produce things that are juvenile, crude, and misogynistic. Maybe (probably?) that won't happen, but as it stands, the movie studios aren't being punished for making a bad movie, they're being punished for making fun of a totalitarian dictator. There's no way that a North Korean-spurred movie cancelation moves our culture to a more just place. There is a chance - perhaps small, but nonetheless a nonzero one - that the spectacle of a movie that is crude, juvenile, and misogynistic that bombs at the box office and is roundly denounced actually does accomplish what these writers want to accomplish.

Furthermore, and this can't be emphasized enough, we have private American companies bowing to the terrorist threats of a totalitarian dictator. This should shock us, as members of a western liberal democracy - and it certainly matters that we have Americans cheering the decision and ignoring the means by which it was accomplished.

They may not be endorsing the means by which a dislikable movie has been removed from the market, but it should still surprise us that they're ignoring those means. We might have one fewer bad movie to watch out for - but we also have set a precedent for our artistic autonomy to be subjugated by a terrorist foreign power. This was a bad week for American expression.

* Editors' note: I have not seen The Interview. Noah from Hot Air denounced commentators attacking the movie without having seen it. If you want to preface every adjective I use for the movie in this piece with "I think it looks," that would be fine, but was awkward to write. For all I know, it could subvert my expectations (that's happened before, after all).

**Note 2: Again, I have no way to judge if the movie actually is crude, juvenile, and misogynistic, but I'm granting those premeses here to take on those authors' arguments.

Have You Met...Rep. Richard Hudson (R-NC)

Editor's Note: This article originally appeared in the December issue of Townhall Magazine. 

One day when he was a child, Rep. Richard Hudson’s (R-NC) dad dropped him off at a garbage site where he helped pick up trash until his father returned. It was a wakeup call, the congressman said. That day, he learned the importance of working for a living.

“My dad taught me the value of hard work,” Hudson told Townhall.

He would later accept jobs roofing buildings as a teenager and continued to harbor an impressive work ethic well into his adult years. He opened his own small business called Cabarrus Marketing Group, which offered business development services. Hudson said it was a “one-man ship,” but the trying role taught him more than just leadership skills. Running a business also proved to him just how much of a burden the government can be to entrepreneurship. He said a good chunk of his time was spent combing through government regulations. It's no different today. The Wall Street Reform and Consumer Protection Act, more commonly known as Dodd-Frank, Hudson explained, is one specific piece of legislation that has hampered small businesses.

“There's uncertainty in access to capital, and Dodd-Frank went way too far. Today, you can’t start a business unless you can self-finance.”

Dodd-Frank wasn't the only bill to come out of the Obama White House that has hurt small businesses. Obamacare has unleashed its own barrage of setbacks. The president's signature health care legislation forces businesses to offer health insurance to workers once their number of employees exceeds 50. What's more, the law also defines a full-time employee as someone who works more than 30 hours. Because of these regulations, many employers have fired employees or reduced their hours to avoid the added costs. Hudson shared a personal example to demonstrate Obamacare's real life negative effects on today's job market.

“I know one developer who said he’s never sat on more cash because his accountants can’t tell him what his health care costs are going to be next year.”

Instead of investing money in his company, buying new materials, or hiring new employees, this developer was forced to hold on to his money because of the Affordable Care Act’s not so cost-effective consequences.

In addition to small businesses, Hudson is also a champion for free speech. In 1954, Congress passed the Johnson Amendment, which states that people who are exempt from federal income tax cannot take part in any political campaign. President Lyndon Johnson had a specific demographic in mind when he originated this legislation, Hudson explained. After several pastors criticized the president for his leadership, he introduced the Johnson Amendment, prohibiting them from speaking their minds about political candidates in front of their congregations. More than 1,800 pastors have participated in Pulpit Freedom Sundays this year to protest the Johnson Amendment. Now, in his own effort to counteract this direct threat to the First Amendment, Hudson is an original cosponsor of the Pastor Free Speech Act, legislation that ensures pastors don't lose their free speech as soon as they step behind the pulpit.

Hudson has other legislative efforts for which he can be proud. He chairs the Transportation Security Subcommittee and in that role he managed to get an acquisition reform bill for the TSA passed out of the House. This piece of legislation increases transparency and requires the TSA to be forthcoming about its expenditures. He worked with Democrats on the bill and it passed unanimously. He describes it as a conservative reform bill that passed in a bipartisan effort.

The congressman isn't satisfied yet. This year, Hudson’s goal is to enact the Sunset Law, a bill that would do the seemingly impossible: Put a handle on bureaucracy.

“The law would put an expiration date on government departments," he explained. "It would offer some serious oversight. I am convinced this would have the biggest impact on the way things work in D.C.”

In a way, you could say Hudson is still cleaning up garbage.

FLASHBACK: Al Sharpton's Marchers in New York City Chant "What Do We Want? Dead Cops!"

As Obama civil rights advisor Al Sharpton frantically tries to distance himself from the revenge execution style slayings of two NYPD officers Saturday afternoon in Brooklyn, keep in mind that just one week ago protestors at his march in New York City were chanting, "What do we want? Dead cops! When do what them? Now!" 

The protesters were part of Al Sharpton’s “Million Marchers” protest against police violence. The protesters chanted “What do we want?… Dead cops!” as they marched in New York City.

Meanwhile, former NYPD Commissioner Bernie Kerik is accusing Sharpton and NYC Mayor Bill De Blasio of having blood on their hands. 

"In this circumstance I believe, I personally feel, that Mayor de Blasio, Sharpton and others like them, they actually have blood on their hands,” Kerik said. “They encouraged this behavior. They encouraged protests. These so-called peaceful protests that, where people are standing out there saying ‘kill the cops.’”

“Well, I hope they’re happy, because they got what they wanted,” Kerik added.

H/T Gateway Pundit

Damage Control: Left Issues Slew of Statements After Execution Style Police Killings

After months of stoking anti-police sentiment across the country, far-left organizations, leaders and government officials are in damage control mode, releasing a slew of statements in response to the execution style murders of uniformed NYPD Officers Wenjian Liu and Rafael Ramos Saturday afternoon in Brooklyn by a man claiming revenge for the cases of Michael Brown and Eric Garner. 

President Barack Obama (who made a statement hours after being briefed on the golf course in Hawaii about the incident): 

Attorney General Eric Holder:

“I condemn this afternoon's senseless shooting of two New York City police officers in the strongest possible terms. This was an unspeakable act of barbarism, and I was deeply saddened to hear of the loss of these two brave officers in the line of duty.

“On behalf of all those who serve in the United States Department of Justice, I want to express my heartfelt condolences to the officers' loved ones and colleagues. I will make available all of the resources of the Department to aid the NYPD in investigating this tragedy.

"This cowardly attack underscores the dangers that are routinely faced by those who protect and serve their fellow citizens. As a nation we must not forget this as we discuss the events of the recent past. These courageous men and women routinely incur tremendous personal risks, and place their lives on the line each and every day, in order to preserve public safety. We are forever in their debt.

"Our nation must always honor the valor -- and the sacrifices -- of all law enforcement officers with a steadfast commitment to keeping them safe. This means forging closer bonds between officers and the communities they serve, so that public safety is not a cause that is served by a courageous few, but a promise that's fulfilled by police officials and citizens working side by side."

New York City Mayor Bill De Blasio:

Our city is in mourning. Our hearts are heavy. We lost two good men who devoted their lives to protecting all of us. Officer Ramos, Officer Liu died in the line of duty, protecting the city they loved. Our hearts go out to their families, to their comrades in arms at the 84 Precinct, to the larger family of the NYPD. We honor the EMTs, the doctors, the nurses, everyone at Woodhull who tried valiantly to save their lives and couldn't. I want to thank everyone who came here today to support these families that are in such pain right now. All the leadership of the NYPD, the elected officials who are here – I thank them for coming here in solidarity with these grieving families and our police department. Although we are still learning the details, it's clear that this was an assassination – that these officers were shot, execution-style – particularly despicable act, which goes at the very heart of our society and our democracy. When a police officer is murdered, it tears at the foundation of our society. It is an attack on all of us. It's an attack on everything we hold dear. We depend on our police to protect us against forces of criminality and evil. They are a foundation of our society, and when they are attacked, it is an attack on the very concept of decency. Therefore, every New Yorker should feel they, too, were attacked. Our entire city was attacked by this heinous individual.

Even though the assailant took his own life, we'll be vigilant for any information about anyone else who might be involved. And this is a point to make clear to all my fellow New Yorkers – that any time anyone has information that there might be an attack on our police, there might be an act of violence directed at any police officer, it is imperative that that be reported immediately. You heard the commissioner outline the tragic timeline, but anybody who sees a posting on the internet or any other indication of an intention to attack the police must report it immediately. Call 9-1-1. Report it to a police officer. But whatever the situation, that information must get into the hands of the police immediately, so we can protect the lives of our police officers and, in fact, of all of us, since they protect us.

There is a sadness that is very, very hard to describe. Commissioner Bratton has felt it many times. I have felt it many times. We met the family members. We met the parents of Officer Liu, the woman he recently married. We met the wife of Officer Ramos. We met his 13-year-old son, who couldn't comprehend what had happened to his father. And with other public servants, and with leaders of this police department, we prayed over the bodies of these two officers. And I ask that all New Yorkers pray for them, pray for their families. It's a moment of terrible loss and it's a moment when we must all come together to support these families, to support healing, and to be thankful that there are heroes among us, like Officer Ramos and Officer Liu.

De Blasio must have missed the "peaceful" protestors in New York marching with Al Sharpton last week chanting, "What do we want? Want dead cops! When do we want them? Now!" 

The protesters were part of Al Sharpton’s “Million Marchers” protest against police violence. The protesters chanted “What do we want?… Dead cops!” as they marched in New York City.

De Blasio also missed this woman.

Rev. Al Sharpton: 

"I have spoken to the Garner family and we are outraged by the early reports of the police killed in Brooklyn today, Any use of the names of Eric Garner and Michael Brown, in connection with any violence or killing of police, is reprehensible and against the pursuit of justice in both cases.

We have stressed at every rally and march that anyone engaged in any violence is an enemy to the pursuit of justice for Eric Garner and Michael Brown. We have been criticized at National Action Network for not allowing rhetoric or chanting of violence and would abruptly denounce it at all of our gatherings. The Garner family and I have always stressed that we do not believe that all police are bad, in fact we have stressed that most police are not bad.

We plan to hold a press conference in the morning to express our outrage and our condolences to the families and the police department. Details to follow."

ColorofChange: 

“The ColorOfChange community is deeply saddened to learn about the killing of two NYPD officers in Brooklyn and the attempted killing of the shooter’s ex-girlfriend. It is a tragedy anytime a life is lost to senseless violence. We send our heartfelt condolences to the loved ones of the two officers that lost their lives today.

“Our community knows all too well the grief and heartache associated with losing a loved one to violence. Today is another tragic reminder that we have an enormous amount of work to do to keep our communities safe. We condemn any and all forms of violence, including violence perpetrated by and against police officers.

“ColorOfChange will continue to support peaceful protesters fighting for a higher standard of policing in cities across the country. The deaths of these officers in the line of duty should not result in retaliation or more militarized, violent attempts by law enforcement to suppress protests or target civilians. We caution the efforts by police unions and others to draw misleading connections with this tragedy to the growing nationwide movement to hold officers accountable.

“We urge the media to push back against claims not rooted in facts. This is a sad and terrible incident that troubles all of us working for more just and safer country"

#BlackLivesMatter: 

"Our hearts grieve with New York, a community already reeling from the losses of Eric Garner, Ramarley Graham, Kimani Gray, Akai Gurley, Islan Nettles and many more. An eye for an eye is not our vision of justice, and we who have taken to the streets seeking justice and liberation know that we need deep transformation to correct the larger institutional problems of racial profiling, abuse, and violence.

"We know all too well the pain and the trauma that follows the senseless loss of our family members and loved ones. We extend our hearts and prayers to the families of those who lost their loved ones this week. No one should suffer the loss of those whom they love.

"At the heart of our movement work is a deep and profound love for our people, and we are rooted in the belief that Black people in the U.S. must reassert our right to live be well in a country where our lives have been deemed valueless. Together, we champion a complete transformation of the ways we see and relate to one another.

"Now is our moment to advance a dramatic overhaul of policing practices. Now is the time to direct more resources into community mental health services and practices. Now is a moment for empathy and deep listening. Now is the time to end violence against women and trans people. Now is our moment to come together to end state violence.

"Our movement, grown from the love for our people and for all people, will continue to advance our vision of justice for all of us. Let's hold each other close as we work together to end violence in our communities—once and for all."

Ferguson Action: 

"We are shocked and saddened by the news of two NYPD officers killed today in Brooklyn. We mourned with the families of Eric Garner and Mike Brown who experienced unspeakable loss, and similarly our hearts go out to the families of these officers who are now experiencing that same grief. They deserve all of our prayers.

"Unfortunately, there have been attempts to draw misleading connections between this movement and today's tragic events. Millions have stood together in acts of non-violent civil disobedience, one of the cornerstones of our democracy. It is irresponsible to draw connections between this movement and the actions of a troubled man who took the lives of these officers and attempted to take the life of his ex-partner, before ultimately taking his own. Today's events are a tragedy in their own right. To conflate them with the brave activism of millions of people across the country is nothing short of cheap political punditry.

"Elected officials and law enforcement leaders must not allow this narrative to continue, as it only serves to heighten tensions at a time when the families of those killed are in mourning.

"We stand with the families in mourning, we stand united against senseless killings, and we stand for a justice system that works for all."

The narrative has already become that the perpetrator who carried out the assassinations and eventually killed himself is unrelated to the cases of Michael Brown or Eric Garner, but the Instagram account of the murderer states otherwise.

"I'm putting wings on pigs today, they take 1 of ours....let's take 2 of theirs #ShootThePolice #RIPErivGardner #RIPMichaelBrown This may be my final post. I'm putting pigs in a blanket."


WATCH: NYPD Officers Turn Their Backs on NYC Mayor De Blasio

Shortly after the horrific murders of NYPD police officers in Brooklyn yesterday, New York City Mayor De Blasio did not receive a warm welcome when he entered Woodhull Hospital for a press conference. NYPD police officers in the room turned their backs on the mayor and Police Commissioner Bill Bratton as they walked into the room. 

As a reminder, De Blasio recently slammed the New York police to the media, essentially called them racists and accused them of being responsible for the "distrust" in local communities. UPDATE: He also explained to the press how he warned and "trained" his son to be afraid of police. 

Police unions, which have been angry for weeks, are accusing De Blasio of having "blood on his hands"  for the recent slayings.

A written message from Edward Mullins, president of the Sergeants Benevolent Association, addressed the mayor directly. “Mayor de Blasio,” it read in part, “the blood of these two officers is clearly on your hands.”

Naturally, after police refused to face De Blasio as he entered the room, his press secretary lashed out and accused officers of "irresponsible" behavior.

Asked on Saturday about the turned backs and union messages, Phil Walzak, the mayor’s press secretary, said it was “unfortunate that in a time of great tragedy, some would resort to irresponsible, overheated rhetoric that angers and divides people.”
De Blasio didn't speak for long at the press conference last night and deferred to Commissioner Bratton, but not before saying "We're all in this together," which was met with the response, "No we're not" by an officer in the room.

Tragedy: Murdered NYPD Police Officers Taken From Wives, Child Days Before Christmas

Earlier today in Brooklyn, two New York City police officers were shot execution style in broad daylight by a gang member from Baltimore. The officers were killed while sitting in their patrol car. They were in the area working overtime and participating in an anti-terrorism exercise. They didn't have the chance to pull their weapons in defense. 

Their names were Officer Wenjian Liu and Officer Rafael Ramos. Officer Liu was recently married and is survived by his wife. Officer Ramos turned 40 on December 12 and leaves behind his wife and 13-year old son. 

Rest in peace PO Rafael Ramos and PO Wenjin Liu.

May they rest in peace.

Horror: Two Police Officers Murdered in Brooklyn

Editor's note: This post has been updated.

Tension between citizens and the police has been at an all-time high in recent months, considering the fallout from grand jury decisions not to indict white police officers who felt they were justified in killing unarmed black men. But this relationship took another tragic turn today, when two New York police officers were shot and killed while sitting in their squad car in Brooklyn. More from the AP:

An armed man walked up to two New York Police Department officers sitting inside a patrol car and opened fire Saturday afternoon, striking them both before running into a nearby subway station and apparently committing suicide, police said.

One law enforcement officer told the New York Post that this was an 'execution.' As for the executor, he is dead:

The suspected gunman fled to a nearby subway station at Myrtle and Willoughby avenues, where he was fatally shot. Preliminary reports were unclear on whether he was shot by police or his own hand.

On his Instagram page, the murderer bragged about getting 'revenge' for the grand jury decisions in Ferguson and New York. 

Whether it was rioting and looting in Ferguson, Missouri, then blocking traffic and shutting down bridges in New York City, protesters have made themselves heard. How sad, however, that things have come to this.

Some are blaming the media and the federal government for encouraging an anti-cop mentality:

Others are wondering whether this fatal shooting will get as much media coverage as the tragic cases of Michael Brown or Eric Garner:

Michael Brown and Eric Garner should not be dead. They should certainly be remembered. But taking more lives is not the answer. Pray for the NYPD. 

Here Are The Emails Between UVA And Rolling Stone

We all know that Rolling Stone’s UVA story is a complete disaster. Though have no fear; Rolling Stone writer Sabrina Rubin Erdely, who botched the original story, is re-reporting…on her own discredited piece.

To add to the history of shoddy journalism that surrounds this piece, the Federalist published the findings from their FOIA request regarding email exchanges between Rolling Stone and the University of Virginia last night. Most of it surrounds writer Sabrina Rubin Erdely trying to set up a one-on-one interview with university president Teresa Sullivan, which didn’t go as smoothly as Rubin had hoped. The Federalist’s Sean Davis wrote that:

Erdely bristled when told she would not be given a private, one-on-one meeting with Teresa Sullivan, the UVA president.

“I do hope that my interview with President Sullivan will be one-on-one,” she wrote, “as I don’t generally conduct interviews with PR people sitting in.”

Her complaints continued in a separate e-mail to UVA officials.

“As for the presence of other people during the interview: If that’s the only way I’ll be allowed to talk to President Sullivan, then so be it,” Erdely wrote. “But I imagine a university president is fully capable of getting through a phone conversation on her own, without help.”

Additionally, Mollie Hemingway, also of the Federalistwrote that in one email exchange between UVA and Rolling Stone fact-checker, Lisa Garber-Paul; they told her that a case Erdely was referencing in her piece was “objectively false:”

Even though Garber-Paul at no time asked about any of the anecdotes in Erdely’s reporting, the University of Virginia repeatedly told Erdely and Garber-Paul that the facts of one case she was talking about were mistaken. Anthony Paul de Bruyn [University Spokesperson] wrote to Garber-Paul, “It has been brought to our attention by a few students that Sabrina has spoken to that she is referencing an incident where a male student raped three different women and received a one-year suspension. “This is in fact objectively false.”

So, while this latest development isn't exactly a bombshell, over at the Washington Post, former editor of the Philadelphia Inquirer and the Lexington-Herald Leader, Amanda Bennett wrote that Will Dana, RS’s Managing Editor, has done untold damage to everyone involved with this story and should resign for journalistic negligence. Also, she noted that a story having a strong narrative isn’t a bad thing, but without facts; it’s just bias:

Allowing the narrative to take control is what crowds do. It is what mobs do. It is what despots and tyrants do. It is what, unchecked, we all will do.

There is nothing wrong with pursuing a strong story, or even with having a strong point of view. Advocacy demands it. And journalism, like science, is often at its best when pursuing a powerful thesis statement.

But a strong narrative without the underpinning of facts is bias. And bias can morph in the blink of an eye into destruction, fear and suspicion.

You, Will — as editor of a major publication with huge readership and huge credibility — had an obligation to do one thing well, and that was to find out what really happened. Everyone should do this before they make up their minds, forward a post, condemn an actor, a politician, a school, a system. For you, Will, whose publication commands so many resources and so much respect, that was your primary obligation. To temper the narrative with the truth. And it was to do so before you passed this story on to others.

Buying into a story, as your official statement says you did, based on your feelings that it is “credible” is buying into a narrative. And narrative ungirded by facts is bias. The most basic fact-checking involves reaching out to the other side. And that, you tell us, you did not require the reporter to do.

So, Will, if your temptation down the road is to seize on whatever facts your investigation uncovers to say: “See? We told you. We were right all along” — don’t. Just don’t. Instead, look at the harm that you have done by buying into the narrative and not checking the facts.

If it turns out that “Jackie” is a troubled young woman who has turned some trauma in her life into a gruesome fantasy tale, then you have committed the sin of exploitation. Deep, thorough reporting would have exposed the fault lines in the story and spared her and you. If your reporting finds that Jackie is credible and her story, despite inaccuracies in details, is largely accurate, then you have committed another sin by handing detractors of the issue the crowbars with which to pummel your — and her — account. No matter what you find, it is hard to imagine that you will ever restore the story to the credible status that you once believed it deserved.

As I’ve said previously, this isn’t about the hoax of campus rape, rape apologists, or the patriarchy. It’s about bad journalism. Jackie could have been sexually assaulted in some fashion that night. The allegations that she was forced to perform oral sex on five men could be true. Yet, because of RS’s irresponsible reporting, that possible truth is irreparably damaged.

Rolling Stone-UVA E-mails

'Police Brutality' Protesters Still Shutting Down Bridges

It is over two weeks ago now that a grand jury in New York decided not to indict the officer who killed Eric Garner in a chokehold, yet protesters are still making themselves at home on our nation's freeways and bridges. This time, they took over Manhattan Bridge. The New York Times has the details:

Hundreds of people involved in two demonstrations marched onto the Manhattan Bridge on Friday night, snarling Brooklyn-bound traffic, the authorities said.

The Office of Emergency Management took to Twitter to urge drivers to use alternate routes.

Pictures and videos posted to social media show protesters on the bridge who had turned out for separate rallies, one supporting police officers and one and another protesting recent grand jury decisions not to indict officers involved in the deaths of unarmed blacks.

That so called pro-cop protest featured a paltry showing, the majority of people swarming the bridge being angry chanters.

In recent weeks, protesters of Garner's case have been ranting against 'police brutality' on our nation's infrastructure, blocking traffic and/or shutting down bridges entirely. The 11th Street Bridge in Washington, DC, and New York's Brooklyn Bridge and Verrazano–Narrows Bridge, to name a few.

I think anyone would agree that Mr. Garner did not deserve to die, and that the way he did die was tragic. But, what does blocking traffic accomplish? How does shouting at cars on the road honor the man these protesters are supposedly trying to defend? It doesn't. It just makes for a lot of frustrated commuters and a lot of concerned bystanders just trying to enjoy their Friday night.

Put down the signs, and pick up some common sense.

China Makes Soccer Mandatory for Children to Improve National Team

China's Men's National Soccer Team is not good. They've only made one World Cup (in 2002, where they didn't score a goal) and their national team is ranked below small nations with a fraction of China's population. To solve this "problem," Chinese President Xi Jinpang has taken a rather unorthodox step: make soccer mandatory for Chinese children.

From The Economist:

On November 27th it was announced that football would become a compulsory part of the national curriculum at schools. Wang Dengfeng, an education official, said improving the standard of [soccer] in China must “start with children”. By 2017 some 20,000 schools are to receive new [soccer] pitches and training facilities, with the aim of creating 100,000 new players. In 2016 [soccer] will become an option in the national university-entrance exam. This could help overcome resistance among parents to their children being distracted from their academic studies by ball-kicking.

Well, that's one way to do it.

While I think this whole plan is moderately hilarious, it will probably actually work to a degree. China has a population of over one billion—there's bound to be at least some untapped soccer superstar potential amongst its citizenry. Granted, I don't think the Chinese will be hosting World Cup trophy in 2022 in Doha (if it happens), but it will certainly be interesting to see if forcing roughly half a billion children to do a sport will produce results on a worldwide scale.

It's strange China is putting such an emphasis on improving a sports team when there are so many other things that the country could strive to fix.