Interview with House Majority Leader Kevin McCarthy


Emily B. Cyr, College Associate

Amidst Obama and Putin clashing at the United Nations, the Taliban seizing a major city in Afghanistan and the Head of Planned Parenthood testifying on Capitol Hill, you may have missed the news in social media this week. Twitter, a company who already has over 500 million accounts, welcomed another user this week: Edward Snowden.

On Tuesday September 29th, the former National Security Agency contractor made his debut with the tweet, “Can you hear me now?” In less than 24 hours, Snowden, currently living as an exile in Russia, has already amassed over half a million followers. Like his first tweet, Snowden’s twitter profile proudly touts his reputation as an American government whistleblower, with a cover photo displaying the front page news stories on the government classified documents he leaked. His short biography also references his whistle blowing fame, saying “I used to work for the government. Now I work for the public.”

Sources have confirmed that the account is, in fact, being run by Snowden himself, and the blue check mark next to his Twitter handle means that Twitter has confirmed this as well. As of Tuesday afternoon, he has already posted a handful of tweets that range from sarcastic to serious. For instance, Snowden makes light of the fact the United States revoked his passport by asking if “they’ll check passports at the border” for Mars, since the planet has recently been discovered to have signs of flowing water. On the other hand, he also responded to questions from followers asking if he considers himself a traitor or a hero. Snowden neither affirmed nor denied these labels, and simply stated “I’m just a citizen with a voice”.

 Snowden’s choice of timing to come to Twitter poses a problem for its social media rival, Facebook. Just two weeks ago, Facebook launched a new media platform called Signal, with the intent of making Facebook the main source for live coverage of news events, as opposed to Twitter.  Unfortunately for Facebook, Snowden’s debut on Twitter helps affirm its role as the leader in online news gathering. In fact, Twitter tweeted from its own account a map tracking the response to Snowden’s debut on their site.

Snowden has not ever been an ally for Facebook, as just last October he warned those concerned about privacy to stay away from Facebook and other consumer sites.  However, privacy is clearly not Snowden’s goal in using Twitter.

So far Snowden only follows one other person on Twitter and from the tongue-in-cheek manner of his own account so far, it should be no surprise that the only account Snowden follows? @NSAGov. 

George Will: "I'd bet on [Putin's] side"

George Will said Monday on 'Special Report'  that Russian President Vladimir Putin has a stronger strategy to fighting the civil war in Syria. This after President Obama met with the Russian leader today in New York.

"The president says [Assad] must go. Putin says he must stay, and Putin says it with tanks and fighter planes and what we call boots on the ground," the syndicated columnist and Fox News contributor said. "I'd bet on [Putin's] side."

Will added that he couldn't think of another civil war that ended in compromise, "We're in the 5th year of a civil war, which by civil war standards is uncommonly savage. 220, 000 people perhaps dead by now and the president's idea is that we should compromise...I don't think civil wars end with compromises."

We the People and the Papacy

By Emily Cyr

In case you missed it, Pope Francis arrived this Tuesday in Washington for his six day tour in the United States. Though the pope-mania in America makes it feel like this is the first papal visit to the United States, Pope Francis is following in the footsteps of his predecessors.

The Papacy has a long and rich history which includes 266 popes stretching from St. Peter to Francis. Since the founding of the United States, there have only been 15 different popes, of which four (including Francis), have travelled to the United States. The first visit was made in 1965 by Pope Paul VI, followed by Saint Pope John Paul II, Benedict XVI and Francis. The only pope in recent history who did not make the journey was Pope John Paul I, who died after a month as pope. It may seem strange that papal visits to America have such a short history, but this reflects a large change in both America’s religious life as well as the role of the papacy internationally.

When Pope Paul VI arrived in New York City in 1965, it was not only a great moment for America but a great moment for the papacy as well. Nicknamed the “Pilgrim Pope”, Pope Paul VI was the first pope to leave Italy since 1809 as well as the first pope to board an airplane. It was his third visit out of Italy in 1965 that led the pope to New York where he addressed the United Nations and led a mass at Yankee stadium.  Pope Paul VI became an example of a pope active in foreign relations, hoping to ease international tensions and foster peaceful relations. Pope John Paul II, one of the longest serving popes in history, travelled greatly as well, including seven trips to the United States and the first ever to Washington DC. Though all popes have been welcomed with open arms, there is speculation if Pope Paul VI would have been welcome to the United States in 1965 if JFK had still been president.

On September 12th, 1960, presidential hopeful Kennedy made a speech before Protestant ministers in Houston, during which he had to both defend and downplay his Catholic faith. He said, “I am not the Catholic candidate for president. I am the Democratic Party’s candidate for president who happens to be Catholic.” He stated firmly that his faith would not be what drove his presidency, but that if the time came that he could not lead without a violation of his conscience, he would resign from office. However, he followed saying that “I do not intend to apologize for these views”.  As history shows, Americans were able to see past religion to elect the first ever Catholic American president in history.

In another sign of progress, Pope Francis was the first pontiff to ever address a joint meeting of Congress on his last day in DC. In his speech, Pope Francis expressed concerns about climate change, poverty and the sanctity of life before a packed House chamber. He then made his way to the Speaker’s balcony to address the thousands watching the telecast from the West Lawn, and after blessing the crowd, asked them to pray for him and if they did not believe, to send him good wishes. He will continue his trip in New York City and finish it in Philadelphia.


Amy Walter: GOP lack governing agenda

Amy Walter, National Editor for the Cook Political Report, told viewers on Special Report with Bret Baier that Republicans are disappointed with their party's lack of success especially when they control of both houses of congress.

Walters provided examples, "The agenda from 2010 election, the  2014 election, even the 2012 election, was all about what they weren't. We're not Obama."

Not Obama is not enough, the latest Fox News poll shows  62% of Republicans feel betrayed by their party. Walters went on to say that governing requires a positive vision, policies that benefit the middle class and move America forward.

"So not only are people disappointed that they weren't able to stop as much or do as much, they don't necessarily have a governing agenda which is making their  job even tougher, " said Walters.  

Catholic Icons & Another Saint to Greet Pope at Capitol Thursday

Via Chad Pergram

Pope Francis should feel quite at home when he descends on the U.S. Capitol Thursday morning. That’s because it’s laced with Catholic and ecclesiastical themes – ranging from the Capitol Dome itself to art and statuary lining the corridors. All mirror Catholic motifs found at the Vatican.

One of the first things the Holy Father will spot en route to the Capitol is the cast iron dome itself. It’s now sealed in a skeleton of scaffolding as it undergoes the first major renovation in more than half a century. Regardless, the Capitol Dome dominates the Washington skyline just the dome of St. Peter’s Basilica’s does so in Rome. The U.S. Capitol and St. Peter’s Basilica are massive structures, jutting above nearby buildings and radiating power and importance. The Capitol Dome pierces the sky at 288 feet. But the Dome over St. Peter’s dwarfs the U.S. Capitol’s Dome, stretching 448 feet skyward.

The Pope will enter the Capitol through what’s called the House Carriage Entrance. He’ll  pass by the first of three major statues dedicated to influential figures in Catholic and American history. There’s a total of five Catholic statues in the Capitol complex.

Much has been written about the Pope canonizing Father Junipero Serra, the first canonization on U.S. soil. The Pope will make a brief stop by Serra’s statue in the Capitol’s Statuary Hall. But before that, the Pontiff will stroll through the Hall of Columns en route to a meeting with House Speaker John Boehner (R-OH). The Catholic Church now recognizes Serra as a saint. But one of Hawaii’s two statues in the Capitol already depicts a priest who the church canonized several years ago: Father Damien.

The bronze, quadrate statue of Father Damien stands watch over the Hall of Columns. He’s cloaked in a boxy cope, his hands gripping a cane. A native of Belgium, Father Damien tended to a leper colony on the island of Molokai. He eventually contracted leprosy himself and died. The church recognizes Damien as a patron saint of outcasts. Pope John Paul II beatified Damien in 1995. Pope Benedict XVI canonized Damien in 2009. President Obama, a Hawaii native, declared that Damien gave voices to those who had none. Damien became just the tenth person canonized who worked in what is or later became the United States.

Following the Pope’s address to a Joint Meeting of Congress, he’ll proceed toward the Speaker’s Balcony to address the assemblage on the National Mall. But the path to the Speaker’s Balcony takes Pope Francis past statues of two other prominent Catholic figures.

Standing just steps outside the House Chamber is Father Jacques Marquette, a Jesuit missionary. Marquette settled in what is now Michigan and explored the northern Mississippi River. Marquette Counties in Michigan and Wisconsin are named after the Father - as is Marquette University in Milwaukee.

The Pope’s next formal stop is before the statue of Junipero Serra in Statuary Hall. The Pope will pause briefly at Serra’s statue. But precisely what the Pope may say or do is unclear. Still, the intention of the respite is demarcated clearly on the Statuary Hall floor. Several days ago, a green, duct-tape “X” appeared immediately in front of the statue. A similar duct-taped “arrow” sign is also now affixed to the Statuary Hall floor, pointing in the direction of the Speaker’s Office.

Serra’s statue is one of the two figures in the Capitol representing California. The other is President Reagan. The Serra statue shows him staring toward the heavens, hoisting a cross in his right hand. Catholics credit Serra with spreading Catholicism in California, founding nine Spanish missions from San Diego to San Francisco. Pope John Paul II beatified Serra in 1988. But Serra has faced controversy. Many Native Americans argue that the Franciscan suppressed their ancestors. This prompted California State Senator Ricardo Lara (D) to introduce a bill to withdraw Serra’s statute regardless of the canonization. Lara wants Serra replace it with astronaut Sally Ride, the first American woman in space.

For now, Lara is holding off on a vote to replace Serra with Ride. California Gov. Jerry Brown (D) visited the Vatican this summer and declared Serra’s statue would continue to represent the Golden State in the U.S. Capitol “until the end of time.”

The Capitol features two other prominent Catholic figures, both in the Capitol Visitor’s Center (CVC). From Arizona is Father Eusebio Kino. He was the first geographer and cartographer in the region and helped build missions.

Representing Washington State is Mother Joseph of the Sacred Heart. She constructed schools and provided health services for children in the Pacific Northwest.

Pope Francis won’t be anywhere near the Capitol Visitor’s Center during his short visit to Congress. In fact, he won’t even cross over to the Senate side of the Capitol, home to artwork which mimics various Vatican locales.

Constantino Brumidi served as the master painter of the Capitol. Trained at the Vatican, Brumidi painted what are now known as the “Brumidi Corridors” in the Senate wing.

At the Vatican. Michelangelo painted the fresco of the “The Last Judgment” at the Sistine Chapel. Brumidi composed the “Apotheosis of George Washington” on the underside of the Capitol Dome and the “Frieze of American History.” Both are visible from the Rotunda floor.

Raphael crafted the loggia at the Vatican’s Apostolic Palace. It is the quintessence of the Italian Renaissance. Its frescoes depicted the Last Supper and scenes from the Bible. Brumidi’s imitation of Raphael is clear in the corridors which snake through the Senate. Brumidi populated Senate pilasters with images of feathers, animals and foliage – much in the same way Raphael illustrated fauna and swirling vines at the Vatican.

Depending on the light and time of day, one hallway in particular near the Senate Parliamentarian’s Office looks strikingly similar to corridors at the Vatican – only smaller.

Ambassador Francis Rooney, Former US Ambassador to the Holy See

Bret Baier sits down with Francis Rooney, former US Ambassador to the Holy See, to discuss his book, pope Francis' visit to the United States, his love for the poor, threats to the Vatican from ISIS, US Vatican relations and more. 

Hume On Walker: He needed to raise his game

Brit Hume said Monday on "Special Report with Bret Baier" that Governor Scott Walker needed to raise his game in response to Governor Scott Walker's announcement of dropping out of the Republican presidential race. "That image of a real fighter was not the character that we saw on the stump and particularly not the character we saw in the debates," said senior political analyst Brit Hume.

On Monday at a press conference Governor Walker made his announcement saying, "I will suspend my campaign immediately. I encourage other Republican presidential candidates to consider doing the same, so that the voters can focus on a limited number of candidates, who can offer a positive, conservative alternative to the current frontrunner. "

On the panel, brought in earlier on the show to discuss the suspension of Governor Walker's campaign, Hume added, "the image of a real fighter was not the character that we saw on the stump." Walker is the second governor and candidate to drop out of the Republican presidential race.

Krauthammer: Obama's strategy to combat ISIS in the Middle East is "a farce"

Charles Krauthammer told viewers on "Special Report with Bret Baier" on Wednesday that President Obama's strategy to combat ISIS in the Middle East is "a farce, and it's working precisely as designed."

General Lloyd Austin, the commander of U.S. Central Command who is leading the charge against ISIS, told Congress Wednesday morning that, of the original group of Syrians trained by the U.S. to fight against ISIS - only four or five remain willing to fight.  The group was part of a $500 million dollar program to train Syrian rebels, and critics said Austin's comments indicate that the administration's ISIS strategy is failing.

"It's clear that Obama had a simple strategy for ISIS - which is to do nothing until he leaves office," the syndicated columnist said. "He got bamboozled, pushed into making his which he said we are going to degrade and destroy, because people demanded he say the words. He never meant it."

"The policy is designed to give him a decent interval, an exit between now and when he leaves office, where we don't have a Saigon 1975, with Americans being helicoptered off roofs," Krauthammer added.  "That's the entirety of his strategy. It's a farce, and it's working precisely as designed."

Special Report Grapevine: Precautionary Measures

Homegrown: Not everything is made here in the US, but anything related to the race for the White House probably should be. According to Politico, Jeb Bush's latest Super PAC ad about America's future contains stock footage from other countries. A field used in the ad is actually located in Cornwall, England and is available on for between $19 and $79. A shot of a construction worker was actually taken on a building in southeast Asia. You can get the HD version of that clip for just $35 dollars on A Right to Rise spokesman has not yet responded.

Lone Star Loneliness:  Someone Jeb Bush won't be seeing on the debate stage tonight is Governor Rick Perry. And now that the former Texas governor is officially out of the 2016 race one of his top donors  is asking for his money back. Texas billionaire Darwin Deason had previously contributed $5 million to Perry's Opportunity and Freedom PAC. Deason's son told Politico that his father now expects that all funds will be sent back  and that the committee will shut down. The PAC initially said it was still discussing its options but a senior member now tells the Daily Caller that it will return all donations.

"Our attorney advised us that the law does allow us to refund money to our large-dollar donors like the Deasons. We are talking with Mr. Deason at this time.  If he wants his contribution back we will send it back to him." The Deason family said they are going to *quote* let things shake out a bit before choosing another candidate to support.

Precautionary Measures: And speaking of political contributions  it's always best to double check to see where your money is going before you donate it. Actor Daniel Craig -- most commonly-known for his role as James Bond -- gave nearly $50,000  to a Super PAC supporting Bernie Sanders. The problem -- this group is not actually affiliated with the Sanders campaign. According to the Center for Public Integrity, the founder of Americans Socially United has a history of financial and legal woes. Back in June the PAC was forced to change its name from Bet on Bernie 2016 after the FEC determined that it “did not appear to be an authorized committee of that candidate.” As for Daniel Craig , he does not seem to be concerned about his donation saying in a statement ,"currently, I have been informed of no evidence to question that my donation has not been used as intended. Should that situation occur, then clearly, I will review my position." The Sanders campaign has asked the committee to cease and desist all of its activities.



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Hurricane Joaquin may bypass the US but the East Coast is still getting hammered. We'll have the latest track and what areas can expect serious flooding.

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