No Investigation of Senator Cruz or Senator Rubio

Via Chad Pergram-Capitol Hill

Fox News has learned there will be no “investigation” by the Senate Intelligence Committee of comments made at last night’s debate by Senator Ted Cruz (R-TX) or  Senator Marco Rubio (R-FL) for purportedly bringing attention to what may have been a revelation of classified information.

Senate Intelligence Committee Chairman Richard Burr (R-NC) indicated to other news outlets that his panel was looking at the transcripts after last night’s debate, but Fox News has learned there will be no official probe or study of the remarks.

Fox News is told that those familiar with these intelligence products think the comments were a “nothing burger” and did not reveal classified information.

That said, Fox is told that intelligence community does get a little rattled when people start to talk “numbers” in public as Senator Cruz did. Fox is told that the nation’s adversarsaries are then able to establish a metric as to “what they should and shouldn’t do.”

Moreover, the Senate Intelligence Committee does not “investigate” other members and what they have said or how they have handled (or mishandled) intelligence products.

In order for there to be a real investigation of alleged breach of classified matieral, someone would have to make a formal complaint to the Senate Ethics Committee. The Ethics Committee would then have to make an adjudication as to whether there was enough meat to a case to take it up and possibly decide whether there was a transgression.

Any disciplinary action..up to and including expulsion…would be the province of the entire Senate.


Krauthammer: Admin strategy against ISIS isn't working

Charles Krauthammer told viewers Monday on "Special Report" that, despite President Obama's latest public push to tout the U.S. strategy against ISIS, he believes that strategy isn't working.

"HIs own Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff told Congress that we have not contained ISIS," the syndicated columnist said. "We had the Secretary of Defense - Obama's own Secretary of Defense - last week telling Congress that we have not contained ISIS. It is obviously expanding."

Krauthammer cited the spate of terror attacks in recent months as evidence of the group's continued viability.

"We've got Beirut, we've got Paris, we have San Bernardino, we have the attack in Sinai. We have ISIS establishing a colony in the city of Sirte in Libya," he said. "Obama is still trying to convince us that we are winning, when it's obviously not true."

President Obama, speaking from the Pentagon on Monday morning, said that the U.S.-led coalition is hitting ISIS targets "harder than ever" in the Middle East, citing numerous airstrikes that have killed several ISIS leaders - but Krauthammer says those numbers don't necessarily indicate victory.

"When you have to resort to statistics - he has a list of people whom we killed, as if anybody has any idea who they are - is reminiscent of the strategy in the Vietnam war, where we would announce the body counts, the ratio of the dead Viet Cong to Americans," Krauthammer said. "And it was always lopsided, and we lost the damn war, because that's not how you gauge who's winning and losing in such a war."

Yes, I was in the Nutcracker...

 I had a great time in a walk-on role of an Ambassador in the The Washington Ballet 's production of "The Nutcracker" this weekend. The boys enjoyed my (temporary) sideburns! 

Nina Easton: “The establishment’s problem is not just Donald Trump, it’s Ted Cruz”

Nina Easton told viewers Friday on “Special Report” that when it comes to the possibility of a brokered Republican party convention in Cleveland next summer, “the establishment’s problem is not just Donald Trump, it’s Ted Cruz.”

“Ted Cruz is doing really well. Ted Cruz is likely to win Iowa. This is not something that they’re going to solve at a brokered convention,” she added.

Talk of a brokered convention has arisen as Donald Trump continues to surge in the polls. At a dinner on Monday night held by RNC Chairman Reince Priebus and Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell, top GOP officials discussed the need for the establishment to lay the groundwork for a floor fight if Trump storms through the presidential primaries.

Easton said the political system is set up to make such a scenario unlikely, but that with this many candidates running, it is possible.

Bret plays in the Franklin Templeton Shootout at the Tiburon Golf Club in Naples, FL


Approx. 200 special ops forces going to Iraq

Lucas Tomlinson
Approximately 200 special operations forces, including intelligence personnel, pilots to position them, mechanics to maintain their aircraft, a quick reaction force and other support personnel in addition to the main assault force are headed to Iraq in the next few weeks as part of the new “specialized expeditionary targeting force” announced by Defense Secretary Ash Carter today on Capital Hill, a U.S. official tells Fox News.
“These guys will be conducting a range of operations including direct action,” or targeted assassinations of senior ISIS leadership in U.S. military jargon.  
A separate senior U.S. official says capturing senior ISIS leaders would be an important component of the new assault force’s mission to learn more about ISIS networks as well. 
“This intel gathering mission is just as important, if not more important, than killing bad guys,” a U.S. official said.
He also said the number of troops in this new special ops component “could grow” north of 200 people.  
The U.S. military conducted similar operations in Iraq to take out senior al-Qaeda leadership, such as the mission led by  Gen. Stanley McChrystal which killed Abu Musab al-Zarqawi, leader of al-Qaeda in Iraq in June 2006. 
“It’s a 3-1 ratio [support-to-tooth],” said a U.S. official familiar with the composition of special operations forces describing the composition of the force. 
The nearly 200 member special ops force, is separate from the 50 special operations forces going to Syria, the official said.
Ash Carter described the new force going to Iraq today in his opening remarks, but did not include a number or a timeline.
"We're deploying a specialized expeditionary targeting force to assist Iraqi and Kurdish Peshmerga forces and to put even more pressure on ISIL. These special operators will over time be able to conduct raids, free hostages, gather intelligence, and capture ISIL leaders," says Carter in his opening remarks.
A U.S. official tells Fox News the new special ops force will also “kill” senior ISIS leaders during nighttime raids if the mission requires. 


Salty New York City

Emily B. Cyr

Starting today, menus in New York City are going to get a little more crowded.  Along with calorie counts, menus will also indicated which dishes are high in sodium content. The law comes at a precarious time for the man who proposed it, Mayor Bill de Blasio.

Starting December 1st, chain restaurants in New York City who serve dishes with more than 2.3 grams of sodium (the recommended daily dose), must identify these dishes with the image of a salt shaker. The reason for the salt shaker is to notify customers that this dish is not only high in sodium, but has more of it than the daily recommended dose for an entire day.  As previously specified, this does not affect all restaurants in New York, only chain restaurants, which the NYC Board of Health defines as having 15 or more locations nationwide.  This type of restaurant accounts for a third of all restaurant traffic in New York City.

The reason New York is the first city to enact such a law stems from the fact that heart disease is a top killer in the United States, and the number one cause of death in New York City. Sodium is a well-known cause of heart disease and it appears that New Yorkers are having more than their fair share of it. However, this problem affects certain groups more than others; the NYC Board of Health says that 80% of New Yorkers consume more sodium than recommended, and Black New Yorkers consume on average five times more sodium daily than White New Yorkers.  

The way this bill addresses an issue extremely prevalent to minorities reflects the campaign that brought Mayor de Blasio into office.  Bill de Blasio won the mayoral election in 2013 with 96% of the black vote, a near absolute majority. Part of his campaign was highlighting the diversity in his immediate family, which translated to him giving attention to minority groups who felt forgotten by former Mayor Michael Bloomberg.  However, his support among this group has been drastically dwindling. When he took office in January 2014, there was a mere 6% disapproval rating held by African American voters.  By August 2015, this number had grown to 24%, a cause for concern if he wants to be reelected in 2017.

While the salt warnings show great attention to the health of his constituents, it does not address their primary concern: safety. One of the major reasons attributed to his shrinking approval rates is De Blasio’s handling of crime in the city. One of his most recent critics is actually one of his appointees, NYPD Police Commissioner Bill Bratton. Bratton stated that New Yorkers’ concern with increasingly crowded and dangerous streets was something “the administration…was not validating” and called it “a mistake”.  While De Blasio’s approval rating has sunk, Bratton’s has risen, with his approval rating up to 52%, when it was at 31% this time last year.

Even if the salt law is intended to help New Yorkers, it might be more headache than its worth. Taking into account the opposition to Bloomberg’s soda ban in 2012 and recent studies showing the ineffectiveness of calorie counts on menus reducing obesity, it is doubtful this will boost the mayor’s approval ratings.

You can take away the salt, Mayor de Blasio, but that does not mean New Yorkers will be less salty.



Senate GOPers expected to launch special effort to repeal Obamacare/defund Planned Parenthood this week

Per Chad Pergram

Fox has learned that Senate Republicans will meet later tonight to forge a path on using a special parliamentary process known as budget reconciliation to repeal Obamacare and defund Planned Parenthood.

“Budget reconciliation” is a unique process..which limits amendments and debate time..and sidesteps filibusters. It also requires but a simple majority for passage. Thus, since Democrats blocked GOP efforts to put a health care reform repeal on the floor..this is the option.

That said, there are several senators who may vote no on the package because it doesn’t go far enough to repeal Obamacare. The measure can only repeal the portions of Obamacare which the Democrats used in 2010 to pass Obamacare.

It also appears that Planned Parenthood seems to have survived the cut for this plan. There was some thought that the GOP brass may have to yank Planned Parenthood defunding out of the measure..because they might lose votes from moderate Republicans such as Sens. Kelly Ayotte (R-NH), Lisa Murkowski (R-AK) and Mark Kirk (R-IL)…all of whom face re-election next year. The first two face competitive races.

The possible defections of these senators over Planned Parenthood..coupled with those who won’t vote for the plan because the health care repeal doesn’t go far enough…risks passage of the bill as the GOP leadership might not be able to get to 51 votes.

We expect the budget reconciliation plan to on the floor this week in the Senate. The House has already passed the measure and sent it to the Senate.

If the Senate can pass the bill, this tees up a veto from President Obama.


Vermont Senators and College

Emily B. Cyr

To the thrill of college students at Georgetown University this Thursday, 2016 presidential candidate Senator Bernie Sanders came to campus to explain his philosophy of Democratic-Socialism. At a school like Georgetown where the average cost of attendance for an undergraduate is $67, 420 annually, it is not hard to guess that Sanders might find a few fans for his tuition free college plan. But while people might think Sanders’ plan is radical, he is certainly not the first Senator from Vermont to propose drastic changes to higher education.

Before Sanders held his seat in the Senate, many, many years before, it was held by Justin Morrill. Born in 1810, Morrill grew up in Vermont with the aspirations of obtaining a college education, but the inability to do so. He got as much schooling as he could while working different jobs throughout New England. Fortunately, he became politically active and was elected to the House of Representatives as a Whig in 1854. It was during his time in Congress where he made history, by proposing the groundbreaking Land Grant Acts of 1862 and of 1890.

These acts are responsible for the vast network of schools now known as Land Grant schools. (Penn State, Cornell, MIT, Tennessee State, Texas A&M and the University of Kentucky are a few to name). Morrill had both personal and political reasons for expanding higher education; one namely being that this was a time of rapid industrialization in the United States. Farming techniques were lagging and Morrill saw a need for improving the sciences of agriculture and engineering. Morrill also wanted to expand education opportunities so that people like him, the son of a blacksmith, had access to an education that included practical studies as well as the liberal arts.  The schools were funded through the sales of public lands, making this a huge increase in the federal government’s involvement with higher education. The bill passed in 1890 extended these benefits to African Americans, and created the 1890 schools, better known as the historically black colleges and universities.

While Morrill provided the schools, now Sanders wants to make them free. The two senators have more in common than just the higher education. Both Sanders and Morrill use Europe as an example of what they are hoping to implement. In his website platform Sanders references how Germany has made college tuition free, similar to Morrill referencing how Europe already had agriculture schools which were making them industrially superior to the United States.

Bringing a little irony to the table—the fact that Sanders does not look so radical next to Morrill, who literally transformed education from an elite privilege to a public good. The Republican making the Demo cart look conservative…who would have thought? 


Judge Napolitano: 'Law is on the President's side...politics are not'

Judge Napolitano said Thursday on 'Special Report with Bret Baier'  that  the 'Law is on the President's side, but the politics are not' after the House resoundingly approved veto-proof legislation that requires new requirements for screening refugees from Syria and Iraq, following Friday's terrorist attacks that killed 129 people in Paris.

Obama has planned to allow 10,000 Syrian refugees to enter the United States based on a 2005 statute, but  today the House passed changes to that. It now goes on to the Senate where it faces a much tougher battle to passage there.

"The law is on the President's side, but the politics are not," the  Fox News Senior Judicial Analyst said. "I just don't see how the president can do this, even if the Senate fails to pass the legislation that the House passed. He has absolutely no public opinion behind him, and he and Mrs. Clinton will suffer terrifically for it."



Coming Up

The race for the White House continues as the candidates on the GOP side campaign in South Carolina and the Democrats are in Milwaukee for a debate.

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