04 21 2015
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  • When should we use military to enforce US goals? NASHUA, N.H. (AP) — Rand Paul lashed out Saturday at military hawks in the Republican Party in a clash over foreign policy dividing the packed GOP presidential field. Paul, a first-term senator from Kentucky who favors a smaller U.S. footprint in the world, said that some of his Republican colleagues would do more harm in international affairs than would leading Democrat Hillary Rodham Clinton. "The other Republicans will criticize the president and Hillary Clinton for their foreign policy, but they would just have done the same thing — just 10 times over," Paul said on the closing day of a New Hampshire GOP conference that brought about 20 presidential prospects to the first-in-the-nation primary state. "There's a group of folks in our party who would have troops in six countries right now, maybe more," Paul said. Foreign policy looms large in the presidential race as the U.S. struggles to resolve diplomatic and military conflicts across the globe. The GOP presidential class regularly rails against President Barack Obama's leadership on the world stage, yet some would-be contenders have yet to articulate their own positions, while others offered sharply different visions. Former Florida Gov. Jeb Bush, whose brother, President George W. Bush, authorized the 2003 invasion of Iraq, declined to say whether he would have done anything different then. Yet Jeb Bush acknowledged a shift in his party against new military action abroad. "Our enemies need to fear us, a little bit, just enough for them to deter the actions that create insecurity," Bush said earlier in the conference. He said restoring alliances "that will create less likelihood of America's boots on the ground has to be the priority, the first priority of the next president." The GOP's hawks were well represented at the event, led by Florida Sen. Marco Rubio and Wisconsin Gov. Scott Walker, who has limited foreign policy experience but articulated a muscular vision during his Saturday keynote address. Walker said the threats posed by radical Islamic terrorism won't be handled simply with "a couple bombings." "We're not going to wait till they bring the fight to us," Walker said. "We're going to bring the fight to them and fight on their soil." South Carolina Sen. Lindsey Graham addressed the question of putting U.S. troops directly in the battle against the Islamic State group militants by saying there is only one way to defeat the militants: "You go over there and you fight them so they don't come here." Texas Sen. Ted Cruz suggested an aggressive approach as well. "The way to defeat ISIS is a simple and clear military objective," he said. "We will destroy them." Businesswoman Carly Fiorina offered a similar outlook. "The world is a more dangerous and more tragic place when America is not leading. And America has not led for quite some time," she said. Under Obama, a U.S.-led coalition of Western and Arab countries is conducting regular airstrikes against Islamic State targets in Iraq and Syria. The U.S. also has hundreds of military advisers in Iraq helping Iraqi security forces plan operations against the Islamic State, which occupies large chunks of northern and western Iraq. Paul didn't totally reject the use of military force, noting that he recently introduced a declaration of war against the Islamic State group. But in an interview with The Associated Press, he emphasized the importance of diplomacy. He singled out Russia and China, which have complicated relationships with the U.S., as countries that could contribute to U.S. foreign policy interests. "I think the Russians and the Chinese have great potential to help make the world a better place," he said. "I don't say that naively that they're going to, but they have the potential to." Paul suggested the Russians could help by getting Syrian President Bashar Assad to leave power. "Maybe he goes to Russia," Paul said. Despite tensions with the U.S., Russia and China negotiated alongside Washington in nuclear talks with Iran. Paul has said he is keeping an open mind about the nuclear negotiations. "The people who already are very skeptical, very doubtful, may not like the president for partisan reasons," he said, and "just may want war instead of negotiations."
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WASHINGTON—The Republican-controlled Senate will begin hearings Jan. 9 on Judge The Republican-controlled Senate will begin hearings Jan. 9 on Judge Samuel Alito's appointment to the Supreme Court, spurning President Bush's call for a final confirmation vote before year's end.

"It simply wasn't possible to accommodate the schedule that the White House wanted," Sen. Arlen Specter, R-Pa., chair of the Senate Judiciary Committee, said late Thursday. He outlined a schedule that envisions five days of hearings, followed by a vote in committee on Jan. 17 and the full Senate on Jan. 20.

Bush nominated Alito on Monday to fill the seat of Justice Sandra Day O'Connor, who has often held the swing vote on cases involving controversial issues such as abortion and affirmative action.

Conservatives eager to replace O'Connor and push the court to the right have swung behind Alito's nomination, and in making the appointment the president urged the Senate to vote this year.

Democrats, citing a need to review the voluminous record that Alito has compiled in 15 years as a judge on the 3rd U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals, favor waiting until the new year for the beginning of hearings. The 55-year-old judge has written an estimated 300 rulings and participated in roughly 1,500 cases.

Democratic Sen. Patrick Leahy of Vermont, who joined Specter at a news conference, took several slaps at the White House pressure.

"We are grownups, and we know how to get this done," said Leahy, the top Democrat on the Judiciary Committee. While not meeting Bush's timetable, he added, "We will be going at a very fast pace."

Separately, the National Archives issued a statement during the day saying its staff would need several weeks to complete a search of Department of Justice records for any material pertaining to Alito. The agency also is seeking documents at the Ronald Reagan and George Bush presidential libraries that might shed light on Alito's actions or views, the statement said.

Alito worked in both administrations and was a federal prosecutor in his home state of New Jersey before his confirmation as an appeals court judge.

Alito has met with more than a dozen senators in courtesy calls, a time-honored process that involves having the nominee walk from one office to another.

Last Thursday, though, was a day with a difference, though. With lawmakers involved in a daylong series of votes that kept them in the Capitol, Alito was ushered into a room a few paces off the Senate floor so senators — Cornyn, Trent Lott, R-Miss., and Robert Bennett, R-Utah — could be brought to him.

A fourth Republican, Lincoln Chafee of Rhode Island, talked with Alito on the steps outside the Capitol. A supporter of abortion rights, Chafee said he raised the issue with the nominee in their brief meeting. "We were able to have a candid conversation that I prefer to keep confidential," he said.

Like other senators, Chafee said he was withholding his judgment about the nomination until after the hearings. But he expressed his feelings in a distinctive way. "As a horseman, I know the first step when you meet a horse is to take it easy, take it slow," he said.

Specter was caught between conflicting pressures as he sought to work out a schedule on the nomination. While the president made his wishes clear, Democrat Leahy of Vermont said earlier this week it was not possible to hold honest or fair hearings before the new year.

Republicans have the ability to schedule hearings as they wish, but Democrats have procedural rights under Senate rules that could prolong the hearings, delay sending the nomination to the floor or otherwise complicate the administration's desire for a smooth confirmation.

Additionally, some Republicans noted that a vote in January — before Bush's State of the Union address — could allow him to claim an early political success in the new year. They also said it could be politically risky to have Alito testify in December, then allow several weeks to elapse before a vote by the full Senate. That would allow liberal critics to mount a nationwide campaign for his rejection.

A bipartisan group of 14 lawmakers met privately to discuss the appointment. Sen. Ken Salazar, D-Colo., told reporters there was a "sense that we're still together and keeping this a civil and orderly process at this point."

The group brokered a last-minute compromise last spring that prevented a Senate showdown over several of Bush's conservative appeals court nominees and a Republican threat to ban filibusters in cases of judicial appointments.

— The Associated Press

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