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Notch another foreign policy victory for President Trump. This morning, Raqqa was liberated from ISIS. It seems like forever ago that people were being told that we couldn’t affect regime change in Syria without the threat of ISIS taking over the government. Overthrow, Democrats told us, meant deposing Assad, then watching while ISIS took over. Apparently, President Trump and Gen. Mattis didn’t get that memo.

According to the article, “The Syrian city of Raqqa was liberated from ISIS fighters Tuesday, a commander with U.S.-backed Syrian forces said. The loss deprived the terror group of the capital of its so-called caliphate, which has dwindled from a land mass spanning two countries to a sliver of space in Syria. The last group of Islamic State militants had been holed up Tuesday in a stadium in the Syrian city of Raqqa, their last stand in the fight over what was the terror group’s de facto capital as U.S. backed, Kurdish-led forces close in around them.”

It’s fun hearing that “the last black ISIS flag raised in the city had been taken down.”

This article summarizes things nicely:

The Syrian Democratic Forces (SDF), an alliance of Kurdish and Arab militias backed by a US-led international alliance, has been fighting ISIS inside Raqqa since June. SOHR said 3,250 people were killed in the five-month battle, including 1,130 civilians.

A witness said fighting appeared to be almost at an end with only sporadic bursts of gunfire. Militia fighters celebrated in the streets, chanted slogans from their vehicles and raised a flag inside Raqqa stadium. An SDF spokesman said the alliance would capture the last ISIS areas in the city within hours.

Notice that the SDF started their offensive in June of this year. President Trump’s strategy to empower generals on the ground paid dividends because they weren’t micromanaged from the Oval Office like they were during the Obama administration.

President Trump’s goal was defeating ISIS. President Obama’s goal was to do as little as possible because he wanted his legacy to be of an anti-war president. That meant sacrificing military victories to pay for political victories.

Thankfully, we’ve got a real commander-in-chief now.

Buck Sexton’s op-ed opens with grim news for ISIS. Sexton’s opening paragraphs start with “ISIS’s reign of terror is rapidly coming to an end. Within a matter of days, the jihadist menace that shocked the world for years with its pathological sadism will lose its final strongholds within the Syrian city of Raqqa. It has taken 5 months of bloody struggle but the de facto capital of the Islamic State will soon be entirely in the hands of the U.S.-backed Syrian Democratic Forces (SDF).

Across the border in Iraq, the process of rebuilding the devastated city of Mosul is underway after its liberation from the so-called caliphate in July. There are still areas of ISIS control in both Iraq and Syria, but the jihadists have lost over 60 percent of the territory they once held. Their sources of funding are drying up, hostile forces surround them, and ISIS can no longer count on tens of thousands of recruits to flood into Syria to replenish their ranks.”

ISIS sprang to life during the Obama administration. It’s on the verge of elimination in the early days of the Trump administration. That pretty much sums up the difference between the 2 administrations. Strategic patience was replaced by devastating strikes on ISIS strongholds. The key part of Sexton’s op-ed is where he said ISIS’ “sources of funding are drying up, hostile forces surround them, and ISIS can no longer count on tens of thousands of recruits to flood into Syria to replenish their ranks.”

People questioned when President Trump bombed that airfield in Syria shortly after his inauguration. They questioned whether he had a strategy. 6 months later, it’s clear that he has a strategy for victory in Iraq and Syria. This paragraph is important:

On the Syrian front, the world was faced with the lose-lose choice of a collapsing Assad regime and an ascendant ISIS. Now, ISIS’s leadership is on the run, and its fighters are surrendering by the hundreds. Not every militant wants to be among the last suicide bombers for a crumbling caliphate.

When ISIS was first getting started, they were seen as the strong horse. People were travelling to Syria and Iraq to join ISIS’ cause. That definitely isn’t happening at the same rate today. The fight isn’t won but it’s clear who owns the momentum.

The Trump Doctrine is developing a bit at a time. President Trump’s acceleration of hostilities against ISIS is hurting the terrorists. President Trump’s applying of pressure on China is causing hardship for China and North Korea. President Trump’s delegating authority to his in-theater generals is improving the military’s morale, too. These things aren’t happening accidentally.

It’s understatement saying that it’s encouraging to see these Syrians taking the fight to ISIS.

Last night, Hillary Clinton stopped past the Tonight Show with Jimmy Kimmel, seemingly to remind people why they rejected her. During her interview, Hillary threw one insult at President Trump after another. When Kimmel “asked if Clinton would have felt differently about losing the election if her opponent had been someone other than Trump”, Hillary replied “I would have. Yeah, I’ve thought about that a lot. If I had lost to another Republican, somebody who I disagreed with, but who I thought was temperamentally capable of being president, who would take the job, and the awesome responsibility seriously, of course I‘d be disappointed, but I wouldn’t be so worried about my country and the world as I am now.”

What a sore loser. It isn’t just that she’s a sore loser, either. It’s that she hasn’t said anything gracious about President Trump. President Trump and his administration did a fantastic job dealing with Hurricane Harvey in Houston and Hurricane Irma in Florida. Why didn’t she compliment him on that? Is she that into running a scorched earth book tour? Apparently, that’s Hillary’s plan.

On Puerto Rico, Hillary said “It’s hard to figure out. What are the priorities if 3.5 million Americans, and Puerto Ricans are Americans, let’s make sure people remember that, if they aren’t the highest priority of your government in responding to such a terrible natural disaster. What are you people spending your time doing? Golfing? Tweeting? Watching cable TV? I mean, find some time to tell the Navy to get down there and rescue people and provide food and provisions and medical care.”

First, Hillary’s dishonesty is breathtaking. Send the Navy in to rescue people, she whines. You mean like Hillary sent troops to Benghazi to protect Ambassador Christopher Stevens? Hillary’s had the opportunity to save lives. Hillary failed at that responsibility. That’s part of why people rejected her.

Next, it’s disappointing to see Hillary imply that President Trump doesn’t care about Puerto Ricans. The reason why the Navy and Coast Guard weren’t dispatched is because President Obama shrunk the size of the military. Hillary didn’t mention that these assets are getting stretched thin thanks to the previous hurricanes. Finally, Hillary didn’t admit that Puerto Rico got hit with back-to-back Cat-5 hurricanes in back-to-back weeks.

Apparently, Hillary doesn’t like reading newspapers any more than she likes reading cables from ambassadors serving in hotspots in northern Africa. Then there’s this:

“I can’t believe that one whole political party in the greatest country on Earth is totally sold to the gun lobby and will do whatever they are ordered to do, despite the loss of life,” she said. “One of the first things that Trump signed as president was to reverse President Obama’s order that people with serious mental health problems should not be able to buy guns.

“And so he signed it, and aren’t you happy that people we already know who have mental health problems can now buy guns?” she added. “This makes no sense, and the vast majority of Americans, and the vast majority of gun owners know we need common-sense gun safety measures, so I’m going to keep fighting for it.”

What dishonesty. People who have mental health problems haven’t been able to buy guns for decades. That’s just a fact. That’s one of the reasons why we do federal background checks on everyone buying a gun.

Hillary’s weekly diatribes aren’t just annoying. They’re hurting our nation. At a time when we need cool heads to prevail, Hillary’s approach is similar to that of the proverbial bull in a china shop. After you watch this video, let’s hear whether you think she’s a thoughtful politician who’s passionate about the issues or just a sore loser:

This morning, Rep. Steve Scalise, (R-LA), made his first appearance on the House floor since his attack on a baseball diamond on June 14th. It was an emotional return. Upon his arrival on the House floor, Speaker Paul Ryan said “the Chair wishes to mark the return to the chamber of our dear friend and colleague from Louisiana, Mr. Steve Scalise. After another standing ovation, Speaker Ryan declared “Our prayers have been answered. His bravery and his family’s strength have been such an inspiration to this House and to the people it serves. America is grateful for this moment. The Chair now proudly asks ‘For what purpose does the gentleman from Louisiana seek recognition?'” Mr. Scalise’s reply was “To speak out of order, Mr. Speaker.” Upon hearing that, Speaker Ryan replied “The gentleman is recognized for as much time as he may consume.”

At the start of his speech, Rep. Scalise spoke about his faith, saying “It starts with God. When I was laying out on that ball field, the first thing I did when I was down and I couldn’t move anymore, I just started to pray. And I will tell you, it gave me an incredible sense of calm, knowing that, at that point, it was in God’s hands. But I prayed for very specific things and I will tell you pretty much every one of those prayers were answered. And they were some pretty challenging prayers that I was putting in God’s hands. But He really did deliver for me and my family.”

Suffice it to say there weren’t many dry eyes in the room at that point:

Later in his speech, he thanked David Bailey and Cristal Griner, his security detail that morning, for opening fire on the gunman even though they had both been hit, saying “David, you are my hero, you saved my life. Thank you so much.”

Scalise also made special mention of Rep. Brad Wenstrup, saying that without his tourniquet, he wouldn’t have lived. Scalise noted that Rep. Wenstrup is a doctor and a former combat surgeon who served in Iraq.

Nikki Haley, the U.S. ambassador to the U.N., addressed an emergency meeting of the U.N. Security Council, saying that the time for half-measures is over. This morning, Ambassador Haley “asked the body’s Security Council to impose the strongest possible sanctions against North Korea in response to the rogue nation’s most recent nuclear test”, adding that “the time for half measures … is over.” Later in her statement, Haley said “We cannot kick this can down the road any longer. There is no more road left.”

Ambassador Haley also said “North Korea is a rogue nation which has become a great threat and embarrassment to China, which is trying to help but with little success,” later adding that “North Korea is begging for war.” Others on the Security Council will undoubtedly suggest that the U.S. return to the negotiating table. That’s foolish. As Ambassador Haley noted in her statement, we’ve been negotiating with them for 25 years. That hasn’t produced lasting peace. It’s given us nuclear proliferation to a rogue nation that’s threatening its neighbors and the U.S. with nuclear weapons.

Watching Ambassador Haley’s entire statement is enlightening:

Since then-President-Elect Trump picked her to be his ambassador to the U.N., it’s been clear that she’s an international rock star, stating U.S. positions clearly, powerfully and firmly. There’s no mistaking what her positions are. There’s no doubting that she isn’t into pussyfooting around.

I’d slightly modify Teddy Roosevelt’s saying to “Speak softly and carry a big stick” to fit Ambassador Haley’s style, which I’d describe as ‘Speak confidently and carry a big stick.’ I don’t like the thought of war. When a dictator starts aiming nuclear weapons at our closest allies and at us, though, it’s time to show everyone who the world’s only superpower is and that we won’t hesitate in defending ourselves. In a match of push-comes-to-shove, the U.S. arsenal is full of shove.

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It isn’t surprising that high-profile Democrats criticized of President Trump’s speech on Afghanistan. For instance, Pelosi said “Tonight, the President said he knew what he was getting into and had a plan to go forward. Clearly, he did not. The President’s announcement is low on details but raises serious questions.”

The theme of details was clearly a chief talking point for Democrats. Rep. Ruben Gallego, an Arizona Democrat and Marine Corps veteran, said “Tonight, the American people should have heard a detailed, realistic strategy with achievable objectives and measurable benchmarks. Instead, we got only vague promises and wishful thinking.”

Actually, that’s fiction. President Trump said that his administration was shifting away from an artificial timeline-based strategy to a conditions-based strategy. That alone is a major detail shift. Further, President Trump authorized his generals to make decisions in the field without having to get his approval prior to taking action. That’s another major detail and a major shift away from the Obama administration’s policy. John McCain highlighted that in his statement after the speech:

“I believe the President is now moving us well beyond the prior administration’s failed strategy of merely postponing defeat.”

Those are major details accompanied by a substantial shift in how the military will fight this war. Another major difference the Trump Doctrine and the Obama doctrine is that Trump is fighting to win. President Obama never left the impression that winning was a major consideration. Rich Lowry’s article highlights things perfectly:

Pressure on Pakistan is a major element of the new strategy. We’ll see what comes of that. It seems to me that pressuring Pakistan to be more responsible in Afghanistan is the equivalent of pressuring China to force North Korea to be more responsible: Every administration wants to find a way to do it, but no one ever does. The warm words about India surely got the attention of Islamabad, though.

At the end of the day, this is Trump concluding that he doesn’t want to lose a war on his watch, and if that means jettisoning some of his presuppositions, he’s willing to do it. If only President Obama had handled the question of whether or not to pull out of Iraq the same way.

NRO’s Quin Hillyer highlighted another important detail in his article :

And, of utmost importance, Trump is putting less strictures on our rules of engagement, so our forces in the region and on the ground can react more swiftly and more appropriately to both threats and opportunities.

Simply put, this is additional proof that Democrats feel the need to disagree with President Trump no matter what he proposed. If Democrats don’t switch out of criticize-Trump-all-the-time mode, they’ll never be taken seriously. Democrats will be seen as the party that’s only capable of criticizing President Trump.

The media isn’t helping Democrats even though they’re singing from the same hymnal:

CNN’s Athena Jones said “It was a long-awaited new strategy delivered in a speech that was long on broad themes but that was short on specifics.” Later, Ms. Jones said “He didn’t lay out details on troop levels and he didn’t explain how this new strategy, which borrows heavily from other ones, would help insure a victory, which has eluded this country for 16 years.”

This is what happens when you hire news readers instead of hiring experts who know what they’re talking about. Changing the rules of engagement, aka ROE, so that soldiers can take the fight to the terrorists, is a giant step in the right direction to winning, not just fighting with one hand tied behind their backs.

Finally, I’d love hearing Ms. Jones highlight what parts of President Trump’s new strategy “borrows heavily from” other’s strategies. Ms. Jones’ segment is more myth than reporting.

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The biggest thing that came through during President Trump’s speech on Afghanistan was that Gen. Obama’s (my term, not Trump’s) policies are history. President Trump couldn’t have state things more emphatically than when he said “First, our nation must seek an honorable and enduring outcome worthy of the tremendous sacrifices that have been made, especially the sacrifices of lives. The men and women who serve our nation in combat deserve a plan for victory. They deserve the tools they need and the trust they have earned to fight and to win. Second, the consequences of a rapid exit are both predictable and unacceptable. 9/11, the worst terrorist attack in our history, was planned and directed from Afghanistan because that country by a government that gave comfort and shelter to terrorists. A hasty withdrawal would create a vacuum that terrorists, including ISIS and al Qaeda, would instantly fill, just as happened before September 11. And as we know, in 2011, America hastily and mistakenly withdrew from Iraq.”

In those words, President Trump said that withdrawing from Iraq in 2011 was a mistake because it created “a vacuum that terrorists, including ISIS and al Qaeda, would instantly fill.” Later, President Trump said “No one denies that we have inherited a challenging and troubling situation in Afghanistan and South Asia, but we do not have the luxury of going back in time and making different or better decisions.” I won’t be surprised if ‘Gen. Obama’, John Kerry, Hillary Clinton and Marie Harf deny that President Trump inherited “a challenging and troubling situation” in southwest Asia but that’s to be expected.

A key part of President Trump’s speech, at least for me, was when he explained his thinking for the strategy:

My original instinct was to pull out, and historically I like following my instincts. But all my life, I have heard that decisions are much different when you sit behind the desk in the oval office. In other words, when you are president of the United States. So I studied Afghanistan in great detail and from every conceivable angle. After many meetings over many months, we held our final meeting last Friday at Camp David with my cabinet and generals to complete our strategy. I arrived at three fundamental conclusion about America’s core interests in Afghanistan.

President Trump admitted what we all know: that he’s changed his mind on Afghanistan. He attributed his change of mind to sitting “behind the desk in the Oval Office.” I suspect most thoughtful people would accept that thinking.

The haters, though, won’t cut President Trump any slack. As the saying goes, haters gotta hate. It’s sad that too many people hate first, then think of the consequences later. In many ways, though, this was President Trump’s greatest speech. This riff was especially powerful and inspiring:

American patriots from every generation have given their last breath on the battlefield – for our nation and for our freedom. Through their lives, and though their lives – were cut short, in their deeds they achieved total immortality. By following the heroic example of those who fought to preserve our republic, we can find the inspiration our country needs to unify, to heal and to remain one nation under God. The men and women of our military operate as one team, with one shared mission and one shared sense of purpose.

They transcend every line of race, ethnicity, creed, and color to serve together and sacrifice together in absolutely perfect cohesion. That is because all service members are brothers and sisters. They are all part of the same family. It’s called the American family. They take the same oath, fight for the same flag, and live according to the same law.

They are bound together by common purpose, mutual trust, and selfless devotion to our nation and to each other. The soldier understands what we as a nation too often forget, that a wound inflicted upon on a single member of our community is a wound inflicted upon us all. When one part of America hurts, we all hurt.

And when one citizen suffers an injustice, we all suffer together. Loyalty to our nation demands loyalty to one another. Love for America requires love for all of its people. When we open our hearts to patriotism, there is no room for prejudice, no place for bigotry, and no tolerance for hate. The young men and women we sent to fight our wars abroad deserve to return to a country that is not at war with itself at home. We cannot remain a force for peace in the world if we are not at peace with each other.

As we send our bravest to defeat our enemies overseas, and we will always win, let us find the courage to heal our divisions within. Let us make a simple promise to the men and women we ask to fight in our name, that when they return home from battle, they will find a country that has renewed the sacred bonds of love and loyalty that unite us together as one.

If that part of President Trump’s speech doesn’t inspire you, then you need to re-examine yourself. It’s that simple.

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When Democrats blew up the filibuster for cabinet positions, I, along with a lengthy list of others, predicted that they’d regret that decision. That time has arrived. Now Democrats face a dilemma with Trump’s pick of James Mattis to be Secretary of Defense. That’s because, according to this CNN article, “Congress needs to approve a waiver allowing him to serve in that capacity since his 2013 retirement from the Marines is within a seven-year waiting period required for active duty personnel from taking the top civilian post.”

Democrats can filibuster that waiver but that won’t look good. The majority opinion is that Mattis is extremely qualified for the position. Filibustering that waiver will be rightly be seen as Democrats filibustering a highly qualified cabinet pick. Not just that but this isn’t just any cabinet post. This is the Secretary of Defense post. Playing petty politics with that pick is political suicide.

If Democrats filibustered Trump’s pick for Commerce or the Interior, the public wouldn’t pay attention. The Secretary of Defense is an entirely different matter. That’s the military, the guys that keep us safe. If he’s qualified in the public’s eye, which he is, he should get confirmed without a hitch. If Democrats want to come across as sore loser obstructionists, filibuster Gen. Mattis.

Democrats thought they had a sure thing when Sen. Evan Bayh decided to run for the Senate in Indiana. Guy Benson’s Tip Sheet shows why politicians shouldn’t count their victories before the votes confirm it. The truth is that Sen. Bayh cares more about being a fat-cat lobbyist than he cares about doing the work of a real senator.

Benson highlights how unserious Sen. Bayh was about his most important responsibilities. Bayh has only himself to blame for his difficulties. In his tip sheet, Benson highlights the fact that “Although initially seen as a likely pickup, his campaign in recent weeks has been dogged by questions about his seriousness after leaked copies of his schedule as a senator appear to show he spent more time fundraising, traveling at taxpayer expense and potentially job hunting than being focused on his job in the Senate…the ambitious senator rarely showed up to hearings of the committee, particularly in the run up to the March 20, 2003, invasion of Iraq. According to attendance data on the committee’s website, Bayh only attended five of the 24 hearings Armed Services held between Jan. 1, 2003, and April 9, 2003, the day Hussein’s statue was toppled in Baghdad.”

Bayh ‘retired’ in 2010 rather than getting defeated. He was headed for defeat because he’d voted for the ACA. He’s still got that problem. Unfortunately for him, he’s now got this new problem to deal with. It’s one thing to miss a handful of meetings. Scheduling conflicts happen. It’s another thing to miss that many important meetings in that short of a period of time.

After seeing how many meetings of the Senate Armed Services Committee he missed, I won’t hesitate in questioning Sen. Bayh’s patriotism. Patriotism’s definition is “devoted love, support, and defense of one’s country; national loyalty.” It’s difficult to argue that Bayh displayed “devoted love” when he missed that many important meetings of the Armed Services Committee.

Why shouldn’t Hoosier voters question whether he’ll take his job seriously this time? The better option is to just elect Todd Young.

According to this roll call vote, Rick Nolan voted against a bill that a) had broad bipartisan support and that b) would have held VA officials accountable. Why Nolan voted against accountability is inexplicable, especially in light of the fact that Nolan’s congressional website issues page on veterans insists that “America’s obligation to our veterans is permanent and sacred. We must leave no stone unturned to ensure that the men and women who have put themselves in harm’s way to protect and serve us have the very best medical care, counseling, housing, job training, and educational opportunities a grateful nation can provide.”

In light of this vote, Rep. Nolan’s statement should read “America’s obligation to our veterans is permanent and sacred except if it includes punishing VA employees who commit work-related felonies.” HR5620 would “provide for the removal or demotion of employees of the Department of Veterans Affairs based on performance or misconduct, and for other purposes.”

Nolan was one of 116 votes against the bill. Other high-profile liberals that voted against passage of the bill were Nancy Pelosi, Charlie Rangel, Keith Ellison, Maxine Waters, Raul Grijalva, Luis ‘Open Borders’ Gutierrez, Sheila Jackson-Lee, Jim McDermott, Jan Schakowsky and Debbie Wasserman-Schultz.

As with other things, Nolan’s sacred promises come with an asterisk. That asterisk apparently applies when it involves holding government bureaucrats accountable. Apparently, Rep. Nolan’s sacred promise to veterans isn’t sacred whatsoever.

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