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Senator Collins will vote Yes, all but securing Kavanaugh’s confirmation

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Senator Collins will vote Yes all but securing Kavanaughs confirmation

Senator Susan Collins (R-ME) spoke on the Senate floor and declared that she will be voting to confirm Judge Brett Kavanaugh tomorrow to be the next Associate Supreme Court Justice. She joins Senator Jeff Flake (R-AZ) as the other previously undecided Senator to declare in the affirmative.

Senator Lisa Murkowski (R-AK) declared she will be voting against Kavanaugh earlier.

The other Senator on the fence, Joe Manchin (D-WV), has not made an announcement but was the only Democrat to vote for cloture this morning. If Collins, Flake, and all the Republicans other than Murkowski vote for confirmation, Manchin’s vote will only determine whether the confirmation is complete Saturday or if it must wait until Sunday when Senator Steve Daines (R-MT) returns to Washington DC from his daughter’s wedding. In the unlikely scenario of Manchin voting against his constituents’ wishes, Vice President Mike Pence will have to break the tie.

Update: Manchin is a Yes as well:

Collins spent around an hour talking about Kavanaugh’s qualifications and the process she followed in deciding to vote for him. She also took the opportunity to speak out mildly against President Trump who some fear nominated Kavanaugh because of his position that sitting Presidents should be protected from criminal and civil investigations until after their term.

A pro-choice moderate Republican, Collins detailed her questioning of Kavanaugh over Roe v. Wade and other decisions regarding abortion. It was a necessary statement to justify her decision to confirm a pro-life Supreme Court Justice. She then diffused the President’s promise to nominate judges who will overturn Roe v. Wade by noting that every Republican presidential platform included such promises, yet Roe v. Wade still stands.

The last portion of her speech was an explanation of her perspectives on Christine Blasey Ford’s accusations of sexual assault by Kavanaugh. It was an often-awkward and meandering diatribe against how the Democrats handled the process while maintaining that she believes Ford was sexually assaulted. She railed against whoever leaked Ford’s letter to Senator Dianne Feinstein about the assault, causing Ford to come forward publicly despite her wishes to remain anonymous. The insinuation was that someone in Feinstein’s office or Feinstein herself was the leaker.

Here is how she concluded her remarks:

My Take

Collins is still a Democrat in Republican clothing, but her words will do more to put moderate pro-choice voters at ease than anything that’s been said to date. She also gave an eloquent explanation of how due process applies in confirmation hearings, something that’s been debated heavily since the allegations of sexual abuse were made public.

For once, Senator Collins is doing the right thing. She’ll betray conservatives again and again in the future, but for today she’s earned a degree of gratitude. Brett Kavanaugh’s confirmation will go a long way towards saving our republic.

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Mastermind behind Iranian parade attack allegedly killed

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Mastermind behind Iranian parade attack allegedly killed

Iranian state television is reporting the mastermind behind last months’ terrorist attack on a military parade in Ahvaz, Iran. 25 people were killed, including a dozen members of Iran’s Revolutionary Guard.

An alleged member of the Islamic State, Abu Zaha, was killed by Iran along with four other militants in Diyala province in Iraq. They gave no indication of how the operation was carried out. Though the Islamic State claimed responsibility for the terrorist attack, many believe it was the Ahwaz National Resistance, an Iranian separatist group that also claimed responsibility.

Iran Claims It Has Killed Mastermind of Deadly Attack on Parade

https://www.algemeiner.com/2018/10/16/iran-claims-it-has-killed-mastermind-of-deadly-attack-on-parade/The Sunni Muslim Islamic State group, in decline in Iraq and Syria, considers the majority Shi’ite Muslims of Iran to be heretics.

Iranian Ayatollah Ali Khamenei has said those responsible for the parade attack were paid by Sunni Saudi Arabia and the United Arab Emirates and that Iran will “severely punish” those behind the violence.

My Take

It behooves Iran to get their justice from the Islamic State rather than Ahwaz National Resistance. ISIS is an easy operator to blame for the attacks whether they did it or not. It’s believable and presents an enemy that isn’t as close to home as Ahwaz National Resistance. It also allows them to maintain their narrative that ISIS is funded by Saudi Arabia and the UAE.

We’ll likely never know if Zaha was really the mastermind behind the attack. If similar attacks happen in the coming months, it’s likely that Ahwaz National Resistance is behind them, not ISIS.

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Foreign Affairs

White House plan to kick Iran from Syria leaked

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White House plan to kick Iran from Syria leaked

Syria has been in a state of disarray for nearly a decade now. Ever since the infamous “red line” that President Obama failed to enforce, the Middle Eastern nation has been suffering through war, poverty, and occupation by hostile forces ranging from the Islamic State to Russia and Iran.

The Islamic State may no longer be an occupying threat in Syria, but Iran and Russia are. The White House has a plan to push them out of the country. It does not involve military engagement, though U.S. military personnel may engage if they feel threatened. Instead, the plan is to offer aid to the Syrians wherever they need help, except where Iran and Russia have a presence.

This represents a huge chunk of the crumbling nation.

Trump administration has new plan to drive Iran out of Syria

“There’s a real opportunity for the U.S. and its allies to make the Iranian regime pay for its continued occupation of Syria,” said Mark Dubowitz, chief executive at the Foundation for Defense of Democracies, a think tank strongly opposed to the Iranian regime.

Driving Iran out of Syria would be one prong in an approach that would also involve continuing to destroy remaining pockets of Islamic State fighters and finding a political transition after the exit of both ISIS and Iran that does not call for Syrian President Bashar al Assad to step aside.

My Take

Any measure that does not put Americans in harms way is worth pursuing. As long as Syria is as vulnerable as it is, there are risks to both American and Israeli interests in the region. The war-torn nation needs help rebuilding so they can rightly remove Iran’s and Russia’s presence.

Perhaps more importantly is the need to rejuvenate a homeland for millions of refugees. They are already causing major problems in countries throughout Europe and Asia. If we can expedite the renewal of their homeland, it will prompt many to return.

We have no business fighting battles in Syria. The White House plan would use diplomacy and economic pressure to rid Syria of their occupying forces. It’s a long shot, but it’s better than further military conflicts.

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Australia considers moving their embassy to Jerusalem

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Australia considers moving their embassy to Jerusalem

When U.S. President Donald Trump announced he would be moving the U.S. Embassy from Tel Aviv to Jerusalem, the international outcry was fairly universal. The thinking for decades has been that if the international community recognizes Israel’s capital, then tensions and conflict in the region would grow.

A year after the announcement, not much has changed. Conflict is still there, though not notably higher. The world hasn’t ended even though we’re months away from the move being completed. Now, Australia’s Prime Minister Scott Morrison has indicated he may be willing to follow President Trump’s lead and move their embassy to Jerusalem as well.

My Take

A nation should be allowed to declare its own capital. Israel is the only nation on the planet that the international community refuses to allow this privilege because they believe the “contested” lands in Israel will some day be “returned” to the Palestinians.

Even as just about every world leader pushes for a two-state solution, it’s refreshing to see concessions being made to Israel instead of the incessant cries for Israel to concede everything they have.

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