Thursday, May 28, 2015

Last Call For Border In Order

The myth of the porous US-Mexico border is finally being put to rest, and it's a Democratic president that actually did something to "secure the border".

As the Department of Homeland Security continues to pour money into border security, evidence is emerging that illegal immigration flows have fallen to their lowest level in at least two decades. The nation’s population of illegal immigrants, which more than tripled, to 12.2 million, between 1990 and 2007, has dropped by about 1 million, according to demographers at the Pew Research Center. 
A key — but largely overlooked — sign of these ebbing flows is the changing makeup of the undocumented population. Until recent years, illegal immigrants tended to be young men streaming across the Southern border in pursuit of work. But demographic data show that the typical illegal immigrant now is much more likely someone who is 35 or older and has lived in the United States for a decade or more.
Homeland security officials in the Obama and George W. Bush administrations — who have more than doubled the Border Patrol’s size and spent billions on drones, sensors and other technology at the border — say enhanced security is driving the new trends. 
“We have seen tremendous progress,” said R. Gil Kerlikowske, commissioner of U.S. Customs and Border Protection, which is part of the Department of Homeland Security. “The border is much more secure than in times past.” 
The issue of border security is central to the broader debate over immigration reform that has roiled Washington in recent years and is emerging as a flash point in the 2016 presidential campaign. Congressional Republicans have insisted on greater border security before they consider legalizing any immigrants who came to this country without proper documents.

For those of you playing at home, the number of undocumented immigrants has gone down over the last several years.  They have left America, either under their own power, or under deportation.  The Obama administration has been so successful in deportation that frankly, it's done too good of a job of deporting undocumented immigrants and want to fix the root cause of the problem.

But Republicans refuse to allow immigration to be fixed.  Their number one excuse is that Obama has done nothing to "secure the border".  That's a massive, complete, and total lie.  If anything, brutal economics is driving the undocumented out of the US.

That still leaves the issue about what to do with the undocumented that are already here, but Republicans refuse to do anything about it...or they want to round up 12 million people into camps and deport them.

So no, the problem with immigration is not a border security issue, but a political one.

Good Old Fashioned Ukranian Shoe Leather

Meanwhile, in Ukraine, the Russian military is still happily consolidating territory gains and nobody seems too interested in kicking Moscow out of the place, but in the age of social media, showing the world what Vlad Putin is up to isn't so difficult.

“Independent researchers, using open sources and rigorous methodology, have demonstrated that Russian troops and Russian weapons have been an important part of the fight in Ukraine’s east,” said John E. Herbst, a former American ambassador to Ukraine and one of the authors of the report,Hiding in Plain Sight: Putin’s War in Ukraine, which is to be released Thursday by the Atlantic Council, a Washington-based research center.

While the most recent photograph analyzed in the Atlantic Council report was taken in February, Jens Stoltenberg, NATO’s secretary general, said in an interview in Washington on Wednesday that there was ample evidence that Russia still had forces in Ukraine and was sending arms to separatists there. 
“Russia is present in eastern Ukraine,” Mr. Stoltenberg said. “This is something we have from our own intelligence. But in addition to our own intelligence, it is based on open sources.” 
The report comes as European nations are preparing to vote next month on whether to ease or maintain economic sanctions on Russia because of its role in Ukraine. 
“The way Russian propaganda works, it makes it seem you can’t possibly know the truth,” said Eliot Higgins, a British-based researcher who founded the investigative website and led the effort to analyze the imagery for the Atlantic Council report. “If you try to counter it by doing the same thing, you are just adding to the noise. But you can get to the truth by pointing to the open source data and what’s publicly available.”

The question is, will the EU, NATO, or US do a damned thing about it?

Mr. Stoltenberg declined to say how many Russian troops were in Ukraine or positioned near its border. But one Western official, who asked not to be identified because he was discussing intelligence reports, said Russia had moved about nine battalion tactical groups close to its border with Ukraine, and that as many as five additional battalions could be sent there in coming weeks. The number of troops in such units can vary, but a battalion could have about 1,000 troops, creating a potential force of well over 10,000 Russian troops in Ukraine by this summer. 
It is unclear if Russia is preparing for a major offensive to help Ukrainian separatists seize more territory or if it is trying to put pressure on the Ukrainian government to make more constitutional concessions. Either way, the moves by Russia’s military are a violation of the peace agreement that was negotiated in Minsk, Belarus, in February, which called for the removal of foreign troops, the pulling back of heavy weapons and the disbanding of “illegal groups.” 
Vice President Joseph R. Biden Jr. said in a speech on Wednesday that the conflict over Ukraine is “a test for the West,” and that “President Putin is wagering that he has greater staying power.”

He does.  There's simply no appetite right now for anyone to intervene as long as there's not daily footage of carnage, and even then nobody's going to do much (ask the Palestinians how that works out.)

Left Out In The Cold

What a shock to see a Republican operative like Peter Wehner (who served in the Reagan, Poppy Bush, and Dubya administrations) think that the Democrats are liberal extremists.  What a greater shock to see Wehner writing an op-ed in the NY Times saying as much.

AMONG liberals, it’s almost universally assumed that of the two major parties, it’s the Republicans who have become more extreme over the years. That’s a self-flattering but false narrative. 
This is not to say the Republican Party hasn’t become a more conservative party. It has. But in the last two decades the Democratic Party has moved substantially further to the left than the Republican Party has shifted to the right. On most major issues the Republican Party hasn’t moved very much from where it was during the Gingrich era in the mid-1990s. 
To see just how far the Democratic Party has moved to the left, compare Barack Obama with Bill Clinton. In 1992, Mr. Clinton ran as a centrist New Democrat. In several respects he governed as one as well. He endorsed a sentencing policy of “three strikes and you’re out,” and he proposed adding 100,000 police officers to the streets. 
In contrast, President Obama’s former attorney general, Eric H. Holder Jr., criticized what he called “widespread incarceration” and championed the first decrease in the federal prison population in more than three decades. Mr. Obama, meanwhile, has chosen to focus on police abuses.

That's his evidence.   Clinton was a centrist, Obama is a Seekrit Mooslem Marxist Kenyan anti-colonialist Socialist.  (Ironically, he end up making a really good case for electing Hillary out of it too, then paints her of course as an extremist.)

In some respects, like gay rights, the nation is more liberal than it was two decades ago. On the other hand, it is more conservative today than it was in the mid-1990s. A recent Pew Research Center poll found that Republicans have opened substantial leads over Democrats on dealing with terrorism, foreign policy and taxes. They’re competitive on the economy, and a good deal more competitive than in the past on traditional liberal issues like immigration and health care. Self-identified conservatives significantly outnumber self-identified liberals.

Um, no.  They don't, Pete.

But thanks for playing.


Wednesday, May 27, 2015

Last Call For Juggling Fire

Human cautionary tale Pam Geller wants to free speechify the Evul Mooslems to death by having her little advocacy group for Islamophobia run her winning contest cartoon of Mohammad on DC Metro buses.

Pamela Geller's anti-Muslim group, the American Freedom Defense Initiative, will attempt to launch a new ad campaign in Washington, D.C., using the winning image from the group's controversial Muhammad cartoon contest held in Garland, Texas. 
Geller, who has pushed for controversial anti-Islam ads in big city transit systems before, said she submitted the ads to the Washington Metropolitan Area Transit Authority (WMATA) in the hopes that the cartoon will run on city buses and in Metro train stations.

"Because the media and the cultural and political elites continue to self-enforce the Sharia without the consent of the American people by refusing to show any depictions of Muhammad or showing what it was in Texas that had jihadists opening fire, we are running an ad featuring the winning cartoon by former Muslim Bosch Fawstin from our Muhammad Art Exhibit and Cartoon Contest in Garland, Texas," Geller wrote in a statement on Breitbart
WMATA confirmed to TPM that the transit authority received the American Freedom Defense Initiative's ad request on Friday and that the ads are under review.

On one hand, free speech.  On the other hand, I'd love to see CAIR run ads depicting a cartoon of Jesus or Moses in an unflattering light and see how people suddenly have a problem with free speech.

And if Geller believes in free speech so much, let's have her post the cartoon on her front door, as one TPM commenter suggested.

The Martyr Mentality

When I say that the modern conservative moment is at heart a victim complex, this is what I mean. Sen. Marco Rubio's insipid insistence that Christianity, the dominant religious group in this country, is somehow on the verge of being outlawed because of same-sex marriage is patently ridiculous, and yet you will see conservatives argue that the Obama administration is targeting Christians and is just hours away from rounding them up.

Sen. Marco Rubio (R-Fla.) warned in a newly published interview that condemnation of those who oppose gay marriage on religious grounds poses a "real and present danger" to Christianity.

The interview with the Christian Broadcasting Network marked the latest input from a Republican presidential hopeful on an issue that has received widespread attention in the nascent campaign.

"We are at the water's edge of the argument that mainstream Christian teaching is hate speech," Rubio told CBN in the interview published online Tuesday. "Because today we've reached the point in our society where if you do not support same-sex marriage you are labeled a homophobe and a hater."

Rubio went on to talk about what the next step will be.

"After they are done going after individuals, the next step is to argue that the teachings of mainstream Christianity, the catechism of the Catholic Church, is hate speech," he said. "That's a real and present danger."

Mind you, this is not a fringe lunatic saying this.  This is a sitting United States Senator running for the White House on a major party ticket. It's embarrassing and deeply ignorant...and yet if Marco Rubio really was being persecuted for his speech, he's still able to give a national interview, picked up by national media outlets, to make his free speech heard.  And as Tim Teeman of the Daily Beast reminds us, the LGBTQ community really has been the victim of persecution and hate speech for decades in America.

Does Marco Rubio have any idea of the toxicity of the phrase he is flinging around to score some cheap political capital?

Does he have any idea of the true ‘hate speech’ LGBTs have suffered, not just on political platforms at the hands of people like Marco Rubio in their stoking of their Christian voting base—words like ‘unnatural,’ ‘pretend families,’ words of exclusion that seek to put us outside the boundaries of family, home, and love?

Because ‘hate speech’ doesn’t end on political platforms. They’re the words that LGBTs hear before they are beaten by homophobes on street corners and in schoolyards. Beaten, sometimes fatally. How dare Marco Rubio seek to invoke a phrase like ‘hate speech’ to feed his own pathetic persecution complex? Has he any idea of the true cost of ‘hate speech’ as it has been used against LGBT people?

Because now that there's a movement towards equality in this country, suddenly Christianity is the target.  If your view of Christianity includes, say, stoning and beating gay people to death, maybe that's not compatible with America's laws.

And yet, you're allowed to hold that opinion without people bursting into your house to drag you out into the street to murder you, unlike people who are gay in America.

Rubio is playing victim to people who want to hear how they are victims when those people finally fight back. Fifty years ago, Rubio would have been fighting for segregation and telling us the KKK was on the verge of being classified as a hate group.

Which, by the way, it is today.

One Vote Makes All The Difference

Today the Supreme Court agreed to hear a Texas case later this year that could rewrite the political map for Latinos in states with a large number of undocumented residents.

Since the 1960s, the high court has enforced the "one person, one vote" rule to require that election districts be roughly equal in population. This rule is based on the equal protection clause of the 14th Amendment. and it is applied to all election districts, whether for members of Congress, state legislators, county supervisors or local school boards.
At least once a decade, these districts may be redrawn based on new census data. The U.S. Census Bureau seeks to count the total population, including noncitizens and immigrants in the country illegally. 
In its appeal, the Project on Fair Representation based in Austin, Texas, says the districts should be balanced based on the number of eligible voters. The group sued on behalf of Sue Evenwel, a leader of the Texas Republican Party. She lives in Titus County in east Texas, where her state Senate district had 533,010 citizens of voting age in 2011. However, another Senate district had 372,00 citizens of voting age. 
The appeal in Evenwel vs. Abbott argues that her right to an equal vote is being denied because Texas officials relied on the census data to balance the districts. Requiring states to switch to counting only citizens will "ensure that voters are afforded the basic right to an equal vote," her lawyers said.

Forcing states like California and Texas to rewrite districts based on citizens versus residents brings up all sorts of second-order shenanigans, the one off the top of my head is again, forcing these states to identify the undocumented rather than relying on estimates and then deporting them en masse. There's a lot of messy things that could result from a SCOTUS order along those lines.

We'll see where this goes, but this seems on first pass like yet another GOP attempt to harm minority voters through the Well Actually process.


Tuesday, May 26, 2015

Last Call For Hoocoodanode, Louisiana Edition

Louisiana Democratic Sen. Mary Landrieu may have lost her bid for Senate in November, but don't feel bad for her.  She's back on her feet with a new job.

Former Sen. Mary Landrieu, D-La., is joining the Washington lobbying firm Van Ness Feldman, the firm will announce later Tuesday (May 26). 
Landrieu said she will join Van Ness Feldman as a senior policy advisor, working closely with another recent hire, former Rep. Norm Dicks, D-Wash., the former top Democrat on the House Appropriations Committee. 
Former senators are barred from lobbying their former colleagues for two years after the end of their congressional careers. For Landrieu, that means she can't lobby colleagues until January, 2017. But she can lobby members of the executive branch, and is free to provide Van Ness Feldman clients with strategic advice
Landrieu said the job will provide her with the "flexibility" to continue her work for the Walton Family Foundation, advocating on education issues, such as support for charter schools in New Orleans, Baton Rouge and nationally.
Landrieu lost her bid for a 4th Senate term to then Rep. Bill Cassidy, R-Baton Rouge, in a Senate runoff election. 
In taking the job at Van Ness Feldman, Landrieu, who ended her 18-year Senate career as chair of the Senate Energy and Natural Resources Committee, is joining a long list of former lawmakers in the lobbying business. Among former Louisiana members now lobbying are former Rep. Bob Livingston, R-Metairie; former Sens. J. Bennett Johnston, D-La., and John Breaux, D-La., and former Reps. Billy Tauzin, R-Chackbay, Jimmy Hayes, R-Lafayette, Chris John D-Lafayette, and Rodney Alexander, R-Quitman.

Nobody would have guessed that a Blue Dog senator from Louisiana refinery country would end up working for Big Oil and charter schools, right?

It's good work if you can get it, and who wouldn't want the former Senate Energy Committee chair working for them?

And so it goes.

Insurance Companies Are Still Jackasses

As Kevin Drum reminds us, there's a lot of screaming, crying, and clickbait in FOXtown about health insurance companies saying they need 2016 premium rate increases due to Obamacare regulations of 50% or more.  What insurance companies want and what state insurance regulators will approve, well, those are two drastically different things.

In any case, we've all seen this movie before. Republicans will latch onto it as evidence of how Obamacare is destroying American health care and it will enjoy a nice little run for them. Then, a few months from now, the real rate increases—the ones approved by state and federal authorities—will begin to trickle out. They'll mostly be in single digits, with a few in the low teens. The average for the entire country will end up being something like 4-8 percent. 
So don't panic. Sure, it's possible that the Obamacare shit has finally hit the fan, but probably not. Check back in October before you worry too much about stories like this.

McMegan gets out her calculator (seemingly unencumbered by gastritis this week) and McDisagrees.

Eyeing the Journal's list, the most obvious pattern is that states are converging on a price somewhere well north of $300 a month for a 40-year-old nonsmoker seeking a Silver plan; the states with the biggest rate hikes all had premiums under $250, and are asking to be allowed to go near or over $300, while the states that asked for low increases were already over $300, and in some cases well over. (Vermont is at $430 -- and asking to go to $476! "Only" an 8.4 percent increase, but wow.) It seems as if states where insurers initially underpriced are now trying to move toward a natural price somewhere between $3,600 and $5,000 a year for a single nonsmoker. If that's the price of providing basic benefits, regulators cannot command it away by fiat; the best they can do is to force insurers out of the market
I assume that these large insurers are willing to incur some losses in the market for exchange policies in order to stay on the good side of their state regulators and HHS, because overall, those policies are not a large part of their business. But getting those rates down to something more on the order of 10 percent would require some pretty big losses. How long, exactly, will they be willing to carry a product that loses that kind of money?

Here's a concept.  If they can't provide health insurance plans that meet Obamacare requirements, and there are plenty of insurers who can, then maybe they need to be forced out of the market.

Remember, health insurance companies make big bucks on A) providing services that aren't used and the premiums that go with them, and B) denying claims.  I don't have a whole lot of sympathy for health insurance companies to begin with.  Part of the purpose of Obamacare was to do exactly that: force the bad players out of the market by limiting overhead costs.

We're seeing cost-cutting in health care across the board now.  The major, major problem is that we have the most expansive health care in the world, and finally we're starting to see some progress on the cost front, thanks to Obamacare.

So ideally, it'll cost the insurance companies less to provide coverage for care, so maybe they won't all go out of business.

Weird how that works.

The Truth About Thad

So if you remember the ugly campaign for the re-election of Mississippi GOP Sen. Thad Cochran last year, you're not alone.  The Tea Party resorted to all kinds of horrible tricks to go after Cochran, including going after his bed-ridden wife suffering from Alzheimer's dementia, which resulted in his primary opponent, state Sen. Chris McDaniel, refusing to concede last year's primary for months before forced to by the courts and accusing everyone he could find (Republicans, Democrats, and especially Mississippi's black voters) of a massive conspiracy to make him lose.

The whole thing, you may recall, started over rumors that Cochran was pulling a Newt Gingrich and cheating on his sick wife.  Rose Cochran died six months ago, and now it appears that there may have been truth to those rumors as Cochran has married the long-time aide he was allegedly cheating with.

U.S. Senator Thad Cochran married his longtime aide Kay Webber in a private family ceremony in Gulfport on Saturday, according to a one-sentence statement released by his office Monday.

Cochran's relationship with Webber became the topic of much speculation and intrigue during last year's Republican U.S. Senate primary. Supporters of challenger Chris McDaniel accused Cochran of carrying on an affair with Webber. Cochran's office denied any kind of affair.

Rumors of a possible marriage between Cochran and Webber surfaced earlier in May; however, multiple Cochran staffers denied any knowledge of a possible wedding as recently as last week.

Senate and campaign staff defended the relationship between Cochran and Webber during last year's campaign in light of news detailing travel overseas and back to the district that included Cochran and Webber. A campaign spokesperson at the time said Webber "is a member of the staff and a trusted aide, and any other suggestion is silly gossip."

Cochran spokesman Chris Gallegos said Monday that Webber would remain on the senator's staff.

So in the end, the Tea Party bloggers going after Cochran were probably right, and he was cheating on his wife. The Washington Post is more than a little unhappy.

Over the past 12 years, records showed that Webber had joined Cochran on more than 30 publicly funded international trips costing more than $150,000, the Clarion-Ledger reported in 2014.

Critics also pointed to records that showed the six-term senator rented the basement apartment of Webber’s $1.6 million Washington rowhouse as proof of an untoward relationship.

Cochran’s Senate and campaign staff defended Webber’s involvement in the travel and apartment as “strictly professional” and “perfectly appropriate” for a senior staff member.

Webber, who makes about $140,000 a year, was said to attend official meetings and social functions, help the senator maintain his travel schedule and organize constituent events, his office said.

Cochran spokesman Jordan Russell told the Clarion-Ledger a year ago that Webber “is a member of the staff and a trusted aide, and any other suggestion is silly gossip.”

Rumors of the couple’s marriage had begun to swirl earlier this month, the Mississippi newspaper reported Monday, though Cochran staffers denied knowing of any wedding as recently as last week.

And so it goes, Republican values voters.


Monday, May 25, 2015

Last Call For Ugly Duggars

The Duggar family, stars of "19 Kids And Counting", recently taken off the air by TLC after admitted sexual abuse of some of his own sisters by oldest son Josh Duggar, have a lot of allies in their home state of Arkansas. Former GOP governor and 2016 candidate Mike Huckabee defended Josh's sexual abuse last week, calling it "inexcusable but not unforgivable".

Since the GOP's large pro-child molester base wants somebody to pay who's not Josh Duggar, that somebody looks like it will be the police chief who complied with the Freedom of Information request for Josh's record.

A state senator from Northwest Arkansas is calling for the Springdale police chief to be fired over the recent release of a 2006 police report detailing accusations that Josh Duggar as a teenager molested five underage girls.

Sen. Bart Hester, R-Cave Springs, said the girls have been re-victimized now that the report is public. He said Police Chief Kathy O’Kelley acted recklessly in releasing the report and should be held accountable.

“The law to protect minors’ identities is not a suggestion,” Hester, pictured, said Saturday (May 23). “So sad to see the person charged with protecting the community being so reckless and irresponsible. I believe it is unavoidable that the Springdale police chief should be terminated. She has re-victimized these young ladies.”

Springdale Mayor Doug Sprouse said O’Kelley and Springdale City Attorney Ernest Cate determined after researching the matter that the report had to be released under law.

“From every indication I have the chief and city attorney reluctantly did what they had to do to comply with the state FOI (freedom of information) law,” Sprouse said Saturday (May 23).

The Springdale police report was obtained by In Touch Weekly magazine and posted on the magazine’s website this week. The names are redacted in the report. On May 21, Washington County Juvenile Judge Stacey Zimmerman issued a court order that the police report be destroyed and expunged from the public record.

So, to recap, following the law should cost Chief O'Kelley her job, but not following the law should not cost Judge Zimmerman her job.

Oh, but Chief O'Kelley was going to retire at the end of the month anyway.  If she's fired however, she gets no pension.  That's the real issue: punishing her, but not Josh child rapist Dugger.

That's how Republicans roll.

Capitalism Cuts Colleges In Carolina

Last month I mentioned that North Carolina Republicans were trying to eliminate medical programs at the UNC system involving abortion procedures as part of a major new anti-abortion bill.  That bill, HB 465, is currently tied up in the state Senate.  But it looks like the anti-science, anti-choicers have won anyway: massive cuts at the UNC system have prompted the wholesale elimination of dozens of degree programs.

Thursday morning, the Board of Governors educational planning committee voted to discontinue 46 degree programs across the UNC-System, including one at UNC-Chapel Hill: human biology. The entire Board voted Friday to adopt the recommendations voted on by the committee Thursday.

Other schools lost more programs than UNC-CH. East Carolina University and UNC-Greensboro saw eight programs eliminated each.

Junius Gonzales, senior vice president for academic affairs for the UNC-System, led the review of program productivity, which refers to the number of degrees granted in programs annually.

Gonzales said the process was inexact and that it was essential to listen to the thoughts of campus-level officials. He said the frequency of education programs being classified as low productivity due to few majors was an example of a situation where the processes of the UNC system and the interests of the state did not always align.

"This is an art, not a science," he said.

Now, with UNC-Chapel Hill home to the one of the state's best medical schools would the college eliminate the human biology program as a degree?

The Human Biology, Ecology and Evolution Program is interested in the relationships between culture, behavior, and environment and their impacts on health and well-being. This focus is crucial in light of accelerating ecological, economic and socio-political changes such as globalization, market integration and climate change. We ask, for instance, what are the impacts of changing environments on human health, biology and behavior across the lifespan? What factors can foster or undermine ecological and cultural resilience? How do evolutionary and ecological processes shape human variation in the past and present?
Well then.  No wonder it had to go.  Can't teach abortion, can't teach climate change.  Not when the Know Nothings are in charge of my home state. Also getting the axe: several gender studies and African studies programs, because of course:

Board member Steven Long, who is the vice chairman of the academic planning committee, expressed concern about the labels applied to the actions, saying that words like "discontinuation" could confuse the public.

“They think you’re eliminating a lot of the cost, but we’re really only eliminating a little bit of the cost,” Long said. “We’re really not discontinuing the whole program; we’re just scaling it back.”

Long said he didn't think the programs addressed by the report necessarily needed more scrutiny.

We’re capitalists, and we have to look at what the demand is, and we have to respond to the demand.”

We're capitalists, not educators, dammit.

Chest-Beating For Dummies

All the Republican White House hopefuls in 2016 are attacking President Obama's "failed" strategy for dealing with ISIS, but few candidates are offering details about what they would do differently, and the ones that are want to put thousands of US troops back in Iraq.  And none of them can even begin to be taken seriously.

Lindsey Graham and Rick Santorum want to deploy 10,000 American troops in Iraq as part of a coalition with Arab nations against Islamic State militants, and will settle for nothing less than “destroying the caliphate,” in Mr. Graham’s words.

Jeb Bush believes those additional American soldiers would have prevented the Islamic State from gathering strength in recent years. But an American-led force now? “I don’t think that will work,” he said in an interview Friday, his latest sign of wariness at the prospect of becoming the third President Bush to dispatch ground troops to the Middle East.

Marco Rubio describes his strategy against the Islamic State with a line from the action movie “Taken” — “we will look for you, we will find you, and we will kill you” — yet he is more inclined to provide “the most devastating air support possible” rather than send in American troops.Scott Walker and Rick Perry are more open to a combat mission, while Rand Paul wants boots on the ground — as long as they are “Arab boots on the ground.”

Naturally, this is the biggest problem for Jeb Bush.

Mr. Bush is among the most elusive. At times he sounds bellicose: “Restrain them, tighten the noose, and then taking them out is the strategy” against the Islamic State, he said in February. The next monthhe endorsed creating “a protected zone in northeast Syria where you could allow for an army to be built, both a Syrian free army and international soldiers with air power from the United States.” Yet Mr. Bush has not laid out substantive details for such aggressive actions.

At other times, he sounds uncertain: He recently floundered for days about whether he would have invaded Iraq in 2003 — and then found himself defending President George W. Bush, his brother, from a college student’s charge that he “created” the Islamic State by disbanding Saddam Hussein’s powerful army.

As for the role of American ground troops in the Middle East, Mr. Bush was more ambiguous than adamant last week.
“Whether we need more than 3,000, which is what we have now, I would base that on what the military advisers say,” Mr. Bush said Wednesday in New Hampshire. On Friday, after a speech in Oklahoma City, he said former military officials had told him that American forces “should embed in the Iraqi military.”

“The Canadians and French do,” he continued, “but we’re prohibited. That’s just remarkable.”

So no, Jeb doesn't have any clue what we should be doing in Iraq right now.  And he'll just change his mind and flip-flop another 50 times between now and November 2016.

None of the Republicans have anything more than movie quotes and scary rhetoric.
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