Story 1: Turkey Votes To Change From Parliamentary to Presidential System of Government — Videos —
Where’s Turkey headed after its referendum? – Inside Story
Turkey Referendum: Erdogan’s new grip on power
Dispute over Turkey’s referendum results continues
Is Turkey Becoming a Dictatorship?: Erdogan Claims Victory in Vote to Give President Sweeping Powers
Turkey’s Choice: Nation deciding on changing political system
The Truth about Turkeys failed Coup (CIA designed Civil War)
Lionel on the Alex Jones Show: Syria False Flags, North Korea Lies, French Elections & Media Lies
The Idiot’s Guide to Turkey, Erdogan and the Phony Coup
Turkish Referendum Erdogan Wins ! | The Millennial Revolt
Published on Apr 16, 2017
Turkey’s President Recep Tayyip Erdogan has claimed victory in a referendum granting him sweeping new powers, hailing the result as an “historic decision”. The leader called on the international community to respect the result and discouraged his critics from “belittling” the outcome, saying they “shouldn’t try, it will be in vain”. The state-run Anadolu news agency claimed that 51 per cent per cent of voters had sided with the “Yes” campaign, ushering in the most radical change to the country’s political system in modern time.
But the main opposition the Republican People’s Party (CHP) said they would demand a recount of up to 40 per cent of the vote, saying that “illegal acts” occurred during the vote and that there were up to 2.5m “problematic ballots”. The pro-Kurdish People’s Democratic Party (HDP) also claimed they had information that voter fraud was implicated in up to four per cent of the ballots. Both parties said they would appeal the results. CLICK LINKS FOR SOURCES
Story 2: Coalition Against Islamic State in Syria — What is Next: Wrath of Euphrates: The Battle for Raqqa: Isolate and Assault — Take No Prisoners — Videos
US eyes assault on ISIS stronghold
CNN’s Nick Paton Walsh talks to Lt. Gen. Stephen Townsend near Mosul, Iraq, where coalition forces hope to make a push toward Raqqa, ISIS’ center of control in Syria.
U.S.-Led Coalition Has ‘Made Adjustments’ In Syria To Account For ‘Tensions’
Wrath of Euphrates Op: US troops spotted near Raqqa frontline (EXCLUSIVE)
400 US troops deployed outside ISIS capital Raqqa
Ministers of the Global Coalition on the Defeat of ISIS
Raqqa Battle Phase 3 outcome
Beginning of a new phase to free Raqqa
Battle for Raqqa. First phase of Wrath of Euphrates Initiative ends successfully.
Published on Nov 12, 2016
12 Nov 2016 Syria. Raqqa.
SDF, YPG, YPJ and International Brigade fighters had began to advance from Siluk and Eyn İsa southwards from two directions on November 5.
The Siluk branch has cleared an area of 30 kms and the Ayn İsa branch has cleared an area of 15 kms from ISIS gangs. Yesterday, the two branches united along the Beliz creek.
After the liberation of Xınıse and the unification of the two branches of fighters, the first phase of the initiative ended successfully.
Civilians flee Raqqa as Syrian forces advance
More U.S. Troops heading to Raqqa, Syria to fight ISIS
18 Allied Fighters Killed In US Led Syria Strike
100s killed following US-led airstrike in Syria
Assad: No one invited US to Manbij, all foreign troops in Syria without permission are ‘invaders’
U.S. military says misdirected airstrike in northern Syria killed 18 allied fighters
Syria: Kurdish fighters make gains against IS behind enemy lines
Ross Kemp The Fight Against Isis
Turkey and Russia join forces against Islamic State
US Joins Ground Forces with Kurds, Syrian, & Russian Fighters Against ISIS in Syria
Targeting the High Value Terrorists
On The Road To Raqqa – Heavy Clashes Between Kurdish Forces And ISIS During The Battle Of Raqqa
US soldiers help Iraqi troops secure Mosul
Satellite Imagery: The Cutting of Mosul’s Bridges
Satellite Imagery: The Islamic State’s Mosul Defenses
Satellite Images: The Islamic State’s Scorched Earth Tactics
Why Did the Iraq War Start? The Untold Story – Seymour Hersh – Reasons, Justification (2005)
The Breathtaking Incoherence of American Foreign Policy as to North Korea and Syria
‘Defeating ISIS No.1 US goal’: Tillerson at coalition summit coinciding with London attack
Trump Gives Generals More Freedom on ISIS Fight
Pentagon brass take lead on decisions that were made by White House under Obama; ‘I authorize my military,’ Trump says
U.S. Army trainers watch as an Iraqi recruit fires at a military base in Iraq. PHOTO: JOHN MOORE/GETTY IMAGES
Dion Nissenbaum in Washington and
Maria Abi-Habib in Beirut
Updated April 14, 2017 10:29 p.m. ET
U.S. military commanders are stepping up their fight against Islamist extremism as President Donald Trump’s administration urges them to make more battlefield decisions on their own.
As the White House works on a broad strategy, America’s top military commanders are implementing the vision articulated by Defense Secretary Jim Mattis: Decimate Islamic State’s Middle East strongholds and ensure that the militants don’t establish new beachheads in places such as Afghanistan.
“There’s nothing formal, but it is beginning to take shape,” a senior U.S. defense official said Friday. “There is a sense among these commanders that they are able to do a bit more—and so they are.”
While military commanders complained about White House micromanagement under former President Barack Obama, they are now being told they have more freedom to make decisions without consulting Mr. Trump. Military commanders around the world are being encouraged to stretch the limits of their existing authorities when needed, but to think seriously about the consequences of their decisions.
The more muscular military approach is expanding as the Trump administration debates a comprehensive new strategy to defeat Islamic State. Mr. Mattis has sketched out such a global plan, but the administration has yet to agree on it. While the political debate continues, the military is being encouraged to take more aggressive steps against Islamic extremists around the world.
The firmer military stance has fueled growing concerns among State Department officials working on Middle East policy that the Trump administration is giving short shrift to the diplomatic tools the Obama administration favored. Removing the carrot from the traditional carrot-and-stick approach, some State Department officials warn, could hamper the pursuit of long-term strategies needed to prevent volatile conflicts from reigniting once the shooting stops.
Gen. Nicholson said Friday it was too early to say how many militants had been killed in the previous day’s bombing. The Afghan Defense Ministry retracted an earlier statement that the strike had killed 36 militants, saying it was unable to provide precise figures yet.
A military official for the coalition who viewed footage of the bombing said it was difficult to make out details of its effects beyond a “mushroom cloud” of smoke rising into the sky. He added that a second MOAB was available for use in the country, but no decision had been made on whether it should be deployed.
Islamic State’s Amaq news agency posted a statement on Friday saying none of its fighters were killed or wounded in the strike, which took place in Nangarhar province, along the country’s mountainous border with Pakistan.
Gen. Nicholson indicated that he—not the White House—decided to drop the bomb. “The ammunition we used last night is designed to destroy caves and tunnels. This was the right weapon against the right target,” he told reporters Friday. “I am fortunate that my chain of command allows me the latitude to make assessments on the ground.”
A senior administration official said Mr. Trump didn’t know about the weapon’s use until it had been dropped.
Mr. Mattis “is telling them, ‘It’s not the same as it was, you don’t have to ask us before you drop a MOAB,’” the senior defense official said. “Technically there’s no piece of paper that says you have to ask the president to drop a MOAB. But last year this time, the way [things were] meant, ‘I’m going to drop a MOAB, better let the White House know.’”
Indeed, on Thursday Mr. Trump himself emphasized the free rein he gives the Pentagon. “I authorize my military,” Mr. Trump said. “We have given them total authorization.”
On Friday, the U.S. military said it has sent dozens of soldiers to Somalia, where Mr. Trump recently gave the head of the U.S. Africa Command more leeway to carry out counterterrorism operations against al-Shabaab, the al Qaeda affiliate in the area.
The more aggressive military approach comes as the long slog against Islamic State is bearing fruit. The group is on the back foot in its Iraqi stronghold, Mosul, and is facing a hard battle to defend its de facto Syrian capital, Raqqa.
The U.S. has sent more forces into Iraq and Syria, stepped up support for Saudi Arabia’s fight against Houthi militants in Yemen, and dispatched an aircraft carrier to the Korean Peninsula amid growing evidence that North Korea is preparing for a new nuclear test.
Loren DeJonge Schulman, who served as senior adviser to Mr. Obama’s national security adviser, said a more assertive military campaign is destined to fail unless it is part of a broader strategy against Islamic State, also known by the acronyms ISIS and ISIL.
“It’s crazy that the Trump administration thinks that ‘taking the gloves off’ is either a winning strategy against ISIL or a useful narrative for the White House or the military,” said Ms. Schulman, now a senior fellow at the Center for a New American Security.
Derek Chollet, a former assistant secretary of defense for international security affairs in the Obama administration, said giving the Pentagon more freedom is one of the most significant things Mr. Trump has done.
“It’s not clear to me that he’s making any tough decisions,” said Mr. Chollet, now executive vice president at the German Marshall Fund of the United States. “All that he’s essentially done is ceded decision authority down to protect himself from making tough calls.”
The flip side of the Trump administration’s emphasis on a more-free-wheeling military approach to Islamic State is an apparent reduction of the use of soft-power tools—economic development, diplomacy and democracy-building—favored by the Obama White House.
Some State Department officials describe being cut out from the White House’s counterterrorism strategy in the Mideast, with efforts to nurture democratic governments and push for more secular education systems carrying less weight in the White House’s evolving approach.
“State is being systematically sidelined,” said a State Department official who has worked on counterterrorism issues in Washington and abroad.
The official said the White House strategy of prioritizing military might over diplomacy makes it hard to persuade Mideast allies to relax their grip on power. Many of Washington’s closest Arab allies are autocratic regimes guilty of human-rights abuses that critics say fuel terrorism.
“The problem there is that in many of the places where you need carrots, those carrots are often seen as threats to local governments,” the official said, referring to democracy and society-building programs the State Department funds across the Mideast.
Egypt offers a prime example of the Trump administration’s leanings. When Egyptian President Abdel Fattah Al Sisi, a military strongman, visited the White House earlier this month, Mr. Trump gave him a warm welcome. Mr. Obama had refused to meet him because of his regime’s alleged human-rights abuses.
U.S. officials in the Mideast say a counterterror approach that focuses solely on military might without programs to fight the causes that feed extremism could backfire, leading groups like Islamic State to go underground and wait for future opportunities to re-emerge. They are particularly concerned about Raqqa, where a U.S.-led military coalition is closing in around the city but post-liberation stabilization plans aren’t finalized as State Department officials wait for White House guidance.
—Jessica Donati and Habib Khan Totakhil in Kabul and Carol E. Lee in Washington contributed to this article.
After the start of the Battle of Mosul (2016–17) in Iraq, many of the 20,000 ISIL fighters estimated to be living in the city fled to Raqqa, boosting the ISIL forces that were already present in their de facto capital city.
The SDF officially announced the start of the operation on 6 November in the village of Ayn Issa. The intention was to proceed in two phases, first seizing areas around Raqqa and isolating the city, advancing from three fronts, then taking control of the city itself. The SDF general command called for the international coalition against ISIL to support the operation. In response, Ash Carter welcomed the announcement and emphasized the importance of capturing Raqqa and defeating ISIL, while cautioning that “there is hard work ahead”.
Phase One: Isolating Raqqa from its northern hinterland
Tal Saman, ISIL headquarters in the northern Raqqa countryside, after being captured by the SDF.
On 6 November, the SDF captured six small villages, including the villages of Wahid, Umm Safa, Wasita, Haran, al-Adriyah and Jurah south and southeast of Ayn Issa. The Islamic State detonated four car bombs on the first day of the offensive.
On 8 November, the SDF reported that they had taken control of 11 villages near Ain Issa. The SDF also claimed that ISIL used several car bombs against their forces. By 11 November, the SDF had captured over a dozen villages and the strategically significant town of Al-Hisbah, which had served as a local headquarters and command center for ISIL. On the next day, the SDF continued to advance against ISIL in the area around Tal Saman and Khnez, bringing the number of captured farms and villages to 26.
As of 14 November, the SDF reported the completion of the initial phase of the operations, stating that 500 km2has been captured: 34 villages, 31 hamlets and seven strategic hills, along with 167 Islamic State casualties.The SDF had also begun to besiege Tal Saman, the largest village and ISIL headquarters north of Raqqa, while ISIL launched a counter-attack near Salok in the eastern countryside of Raqqa Governorate in order to force the SDF to split its forces and open a new front. On the next day, the SDF advanced into Tal Saman, resulting in a fierce battle with its ISIL defenders. At the same time, the SDF also captured 10 more villages and farms. By 19 November, the SDF had fully captured Tal Saman and had driven ISIL completely from the surrounding countryside. With this, the first phase of the offensive was considered completed.On 20 November 2016, 200 fighters completed training, joined the SDF, and were sent to participate in the offensive.
The second phase of the offensive aimed to enforce a full blockade of the city of Raqqa. On 21 November, the SDF captured two more villages, while ISIL launched a counter-attack near Tal Saman. Over the next days, the SDF attempted to further advance, such as at al-Qalita, but was unable to break through ISIL’s defense line south of Tal Saman. On 24 November, a US serviceman died from wounds he suffered after stepping on an improvised explosive device near the town of Ayn Issa, to the north of Raqqa.
On 25 November, ISIL received reinforcements from Iraq, among them explosive experts and defected Iraqi Army personnel. On the next day, ISIL launched a counter-attack, retaking parts of Qaltah village and a nearby water pump station, while the SDF managed to advance in the village’s vicinity. Boubaker Al-Hakim, an ISIL commander who was linked to the Charlie Hebdo shooting, was reported to have been killed in an American airstrike in Raqqa on 26 November. Iraqi military however later stated in April 2017 that he might still be alive.
On 27 November, the SDF announced the offensive’s second phase was due to start, though this was then delayed. At least five SDF fighters were killed in renewed clashes north of Raqqa on 29 November. Meanwhile, ISIL suffered from the defection of two senior commanders, who fled from Raqqa to join Jabhat Fateh al-Sham in Idlib. On 4 December, a coalition drone strike in Raqqa killed two ISIL leaders who had helped facilitate the November 2015 Paris attacks and another who was involved in a foiled suicide attack in Belgium in 2015. Three days later, co-Chair of the Democratic Union Party (PYD) Salih Muslim said that the first phase to surround Raqqa was almost over, while a new Arab brigade consisting of more than 1,000 men and women from the al-Raqqa area had joined the SDF as part of the second phase which was slated to be launched on 10 December. More than 1,500 Arab fighters who were trained and equipped by the anti-ISIL coalition joined the SDF for the second phase on its launch day.
Phase Two: Isolating Raqqa from its western countryside
SDF fighters advance northwest of Raqqa after the start of the offensive’s second phase.
The SDF launched the second phase on 10 December, with the aim of capturing the northwestern and western countrysides of al-Raqqa and ultimately reaching and securing the Tabqa Dam. The same day, it was announced that Arab SDF groups, consisting of the Elite Forces, Jabhat Thuwar al-Raqqa and the newly formed Deir Ezzor Military Council would be taking part. During the first day, the SDF began to advance south of the Tishrin Dam and captured al-Kiradi village. The United States announced that it would send 200 more troops to assist the SDF. The next day, the SDF captured seven more villages from ISIL. On 12 December, the SDF captured four villages as well as many hamlets south of Tishrin Dam. The SDF captured five villages during the next two days. On 15 December, the SDF captured three villages, taking the total number of villages captured by them in the second phase to 20.
Over the next four days, the SDF captured 20 more villages, while finally reaching Lake Assad‘s shore, thereby cutting off and besieging 54 ISIL-held villages to the west. In response to these territorial losses, ISIL began to carry out more suicide attacks against both the SDF as well as civilian targets within SDF-controlled areas in an attempt to hinder the offensive. On 19 December, ISIL launched a counter-attack to regain four villages in the northwestern countryside, but the attack was repelled after a few hours. The following night, ISIL forces retreated largely unopposed from the besieged 54 villages, leaving them to be captured by the SDF. The SDF declared that they had captured 97 villages overall during the second phase, and had begun to advance against Qal’at Ja’bar.
On 21 December, the SDF seized five villages near Qal’at Ja’bar, including Jabar, which served as the main weaponry storage and supply centre for ISIL in the northwestern countryside. The coalition then began to move toward Suwaydiya Saghirah and Suwaydiya Kabir, the last villages before Tabqa Dam. Even though an ISIL counter-attack managed to retake Jabar village soon after, the SDF attacked again on 23 December, and once again took control of it, while also capturing another village. This prompted ISIL to launch yet another counter-attack later that day, which was accompanied by several suicide car bombs. As a result, heavy clashes took place between them and SDF fighters in several villages along the frontline that lasted until the early morning of 24 December. The ISIL forces were eventually forced to withdraw after the SDF first shelled and then stormed their positions, whereupon the latter took control of most of Jabar as well as two more villages, though some ISIL holdouts persisted in Jabar.
ISIL was pushed out of the neighboring, strategic village of Eastern Jabar on the next day, bringing SDF within 5 kilometres (3.1 mi) of Tabqa Dam, and by 26 December, the SDF had finally fully secured the main Jabar village, with the last ISIL defenders being expelled after heavy fighting. An ISIL counterattack on the village later that day failed, with a US airstrike killing Abu Jandal al-Kuwaiti as he commanded the assault. Al-Kuwaiti, also known as Abdulmuhsin al-Zaghelan al-Tarish, was a high-ranking ISIL commander leading the defense of the whole Raqqa region against the SDF. Meanwhile, the Amaq News Agency declared that Iman Na’im Tandil (nom de guerre: Abu ‘Umar Al-Hindi), one of the few Indian ISIL fighters active in Syria, had also been killed during the fighting near Jabar. The Islamic State’s official media wing later also officially paid tribute to Iman.
Battle for Jabar’s surroundings
A YPGBMP, loaded on a truck, being transported to the frontline near Mahmudli on 4 January.
On 27 December, ISIL launched an attack on the village of Secol in the northern countryside, reportedly breaching the local SDF defences. On the next day, the SDF reportedly captured Hadaj village after two days of heavy fighting, while another ISIL counter-attack against Jabar was repelled. Mahmud al-Isawi, a senior ISIL facilitator who was a manager of instructions and finances for the group’s leaders as well as a provider of propaganda and intelligence support, was killed on 31 December in a US-led coalition airstrike on Raqqa. After three days of heavy fighting, the SDF captured all or most of Mahmudli, the largest town of the Al-Jarniyah Subdistrict, on 1 January 2017. ISIL counterattacked later in an attempt to regain the town. The SDF leadership said that in the clashes since the launch of the second phase they had captured 110 villages, killed 277 ISIL fighters, and captured 13.
Also on January 1, the SDF resumed its offensive on the northern front, reportedly advancing 6 km south of Tell Saman against ISIL positions. The SDF reportedly captured nine more villages in this area, within the next three days. Meanwhile, with the SDF edging closer to Raqqa, ISIL further restricted Internet access and increased surveillance over Internet users in Raqqa. There were harsh punishments for accessing anti-ISIL websites, with a new special unit within the ISIL’s security office searching for offenders. Several online activists in Raqqa were captured and tortured or executed. Another two villages and hamlets were captured by the SDF on 5 January.
SDF fighters examine Qal’at Ja’bar. ISIL had built tunnels and weapons depots into the medieval castle.
The SDF captured Qal’at Ja’bar (Ja’bar Castle) from ISIL on 6 January. The same day, ISIL was reported to have moved its 150 prisoners from Tabqa city due to the offensive. The SDF later captured eight villages and five hamlets at the Ayn Issa front. On 7 January, the SDF captured five villages including the strategic Suwaydiya Gharbi and Suwaydiya Saghirah, reaching the outskirts of Tabqa Dam. ISIL reportedly recaptured Suwaydiya Saghirah by the next day after a counterattack, while a local leader of the group was killed in clashes. Meanwhile, ISIL was reported to have withdrawn 150 of its fighters towards Raqqa city.
On 8 January 2017, US special forces raided the village of Al-Kubar, between Ar-Raqqah and Deir ez-Zor, killing at least 25 ISIL militants in the two-hour operation. It was believed that the goal of the US may have been to rescue hostages from an ISIL secret prison in the village. After the raid, ISIL forces cut off access to the village.
On 9 January, the SDF captured another village, along with three hamlets.
On 10 January, ISIL launched a large-scale counter-attack at the Jabar frontline and reportedly recaptured several sites; with pro-Free Syrian Army sources claiming Qal’at Ja’bar and the village of Jabar were among these. ISIL consequently released photos of dead SDF fighters, while claiming that over 70 of them had been killed in the counter-attack. However, the SDF was reported to still be in control of Jabar village and Qalat Jabar a few days later.
An ISIL attack on Jib Shair village, trying to resist SDF advances from the north, was repelled on the next day, after which the SDF advanced and captured six hamlets around it. The SDF later announced that their forces advancing from the Ayn Issa front and on the Qadiriya front linked up in Kurmanju village after capturing several villages over the past few days, besieging a large pocket of about 45 villages and 20 hamlets. All of them were captured by the next day, resulting in the alliance gaining about 460 square kilometres (180 sq mi) of land. Another village was captured by the SDF on 13 January. On 15 January, the SDF progressed to Suwaydiya Kabir village, while ISIL launched a large-scale counter-attack against Mahmudli and a nearby village, resulting in clashes within these settlements. The attack was repelled after several hours of fighting. The SDF captured three villages during the day, while Suwaydiya Saghirah was also reported to be under its control again. On 17 January 2017, 28 Arab tribes from Raqqa announced their support for the offensive and encouraged locals to join the SDF.
The SDF attacked Suwaydiya Kabir on the next day, leading to heavy clashes in the village. Meanwhile, it was announced that about 2,500 local fighters had joined the offensive since it began. On 19 January, ISIL launched a counter-attack against Suwaydiya Saghirah, supported by mortars and heavy machine guns, killing or wounding several YPG fighters. Despite this, the SDF made further progress on the next day, capturing a village and advancing against many other ISIL-held villages. The SDF again attacked Suwaydiya Kabir on 20 January, reaching the outskirts of the village, and captured it on 22 January after heavy clashes, with the support of U.S. special forces.
Tabqa Dam raid and further SDF advances in the north
In late January 2017, it was reported that a number of ISIL militants were hiding inside the structure of the Tabqa Dam, including senior militant leaders who used to be “very important prisoners” wanted by the US and several other countries, in order to deter a possible US-led coalition strike on them.
On 23 January, the SDF began to advance on the Tabqa Dam, spurring ISIL to open its turbines to raise the Euphrates River’s water levels. This was seen as an attempt to hinder the progress of the Kurdish-led forces and a scare tactic, and caused the water level of the Euphrates to rise to its highest level in 20 years, leading to record flooding downstream. Coinciding with this, pro-SDF sources reported that US special forces and SDF units had launched a raid against Al-Thawrah across the river. By 24 January, SDF forces had managed to capture parts of the town, and SDF forces on the dam began working towards the Tabqa Dam’s control rooms, at the southern part of the dam, in an attempt to stop the massive outflow of water released by ISIL. However, the entrance to the dam’s control rooms was too well defended, and with the continued threat of disastrous flooding downstream, SDF and the US forces withdrew from both the Tabqa Dam and the town of Al-Thawrah, after which ISIL closed the dam’s turbines again.
Over the next three days, ISIL repeatedly launched fierce counter-attacks against SDF positions in the western and northern countryside. ISIL managed to retake ground in the area around the dam, but the attack was later repelled.
Preparation for the third phase
An SDF IAG Guardian armoured personnel carrier in February 2017, one of several APCs that were supplied by the United States to the SDF.
On 31 January 2017, the SDF received a number of armoured personnel carriers supplied by the US. The SDF spokesman stated that preparations for a new phase of the operation were continuing and the operation would begin in “a few days”. Meanwhile, the leader of the SDF-aligned Syria’s Tomorrow Movement and its paramilitary wing, Ahmad Jarba, announced that 3,000 Arab fighters under his command were training with US special forces to be deployed in the battle for Raqqa against ISIL.
On the night of 2–3 February, intense CJTF–OIR airstrikes targeted several bridges in or near Raqqa city, destroying them as well as the local water pipelines, leaving the city without drinking water. Meanwhile, the SDF advanced against the village of Qaltah in the northern countryside, which the coalition had already unsuccessfully attacked in November. ISIL maintenance crews managed to fix the pipelines during 3 February, restoring Raqqa’s water supply. On 3 February, 251 Arab fighters in Hasaka completed their training and joined the SDF.
Phase Three: Isolating Raqqa from its eastern countryside
On 4 February, the SDF announced the offensive’s third phase, aiming at capturing Raqqa’s eastern countryside, and to separate Raqqa city from ISIL forces in Deir ez-Zor, though operations in the west and north would continue simultaneously. The SDF captured a village and three hamlets to the northeast of Raqqa later that day, with clashes being reported at al-Qaltah and Bir Said, while 750 Arabs completed training and joined the SDF. On the next day, the Kurdish-led forces captured another two villages along with a hamlet and two farms, and besieged Bir Said, while especially intense airstrikes hit several ISIL targets in Al-Thawrah. Bir Said, along with another village, was eventually captured by the SDF on 6 February. In addition to these villages, the SDF also captured another five villages on two fronts. The SDF made further progress, capturing three more villages on 7 February. In early February 2017, US-led coalition airstrikes destroyed much of the Deir ez-Zor-Raqqa highway, reducing it to a single-file gravel road in some spots, with the SDF patrolling other areas with minefields, in order to prevent ISIL from reinforcing Raqqa city. By this point, almost all of the five bridges leading to Raqqa had been destroyed either by the US-led coalition or by ISIL, with the only exceptions being the Tabqa Dam and the Baath Dam, both west of Raqqa city.
As these advances continued, ISIL responded by launching several unsuccessful counter-attacks against Suwaydiya Kabir and other strategic territories captured by the SDF. On 8 and 9 February, the SDF advanced at the northern and northeastern frontline, capturing several villages and besieging Mizella, a major strategic ISIL stronghold in the northern countryside. The advance put them within 11 kilometres (6.8 mi) of Raqqa. The SDF captured Mizella the next day. The two fronts of the alliance converged on 11 February as it also captured two villages and wheat silos to the north of Raqqa during the day; the next day, the SDF attempted to cross the Balikh River northeast of Raqqa, leading to heavy fighting with local ISIL defenders. On 12 February, a large-scale counter-attack by ISIL reportedly succeeded in retaking Suwaydiya Kabir and four other nearby villages. However, pro-YPG sources denied these reports. Another counterattack was carried out by ISIL to the northeast of Raqqa where the SDF had advanced to, leading to heavy clashes between both sides. Clashes continued over the next few days. On 16 February, 165 more SDF fighters completed training and joined the offensive.
On 17 February 2017, the SDF announced the launch of the second stage of the third phase, aimed at capturing the eastern countryside of Raqqa near Deir ez-Zor, with the Deir Ezzor Military Council leading the operation. On the same day the SDF captured two villages from ISIL to the north of Deir ez-Zor and came within 6 kilometres (3.7 mi) of the northeast of Raqqa, while the Russian Air Force conducted airstrikes on ISIL forces in Raqqa city for the second time since its entry into the war. The next day, the SDF captured another village to the southwest of the Makman front (north of Deir ez-Zor) as well as another near Raqqa. On 18 February, the SDF stormed a prison a few kilometres northeast of Raqqa, freeing some of the inmates. They later captured three villages in Deir ez-Zor’s northern countryside. On the next day, the SDF captured five villages to the east of Raqqa. On 20 February, they captured four villages on the Makmen front, including the strategic village of Sebah al-Xêr as well as a base station of Syriatel, thus cutting off the road between Makman and Raqqa and besieging three ISIL-held villages. Furthermore, the SDF took control of a significant bridge over the Balikh River on the western front.
On 21 February, the SDF captured two villages on the Makman front and another one near Raqqa. ISIL later again assaulted Suwaydiya Kabir, attacking it from three fronts, leading to heavy fighting around it. The SDF continued advancing in the eastern countryside of Raqqa on 22 February, capturing three villages, and merging the two fronts at Makman and Bir Hebe. A YPJ commander declared that the SDF had cut the road to Raqqa and Deir ez-Zor. The SDF stated that it had entered Deir ez-Zor Governorate for the first time in the offensive. On the next day, they captured six villages and sixteen hamlets.
Opening of a new front
On 24 February, the SDF captured four villages in the Makman front and another three in a fourth front to the northeast of Deir ez-Zor. They captured the strategic Abu Khashab village later that day. On 25 February, they captured another three villages on the fourth front.
On 26 February, a US airstrike near Tabqa Dam destroyed a former government facility which was being used as a headquarters by ISIL. The airstrike’s vicinity to the dam’s structure led to fears that the dam could potentially be destabilized or destroyed during the fighting. Later that day, it was reported that the SDF had captured the village of Al-Kubar, on the northern bank of the Euphrates in the Deir ez-Zor countryside, further tightening the siege on Raqqa. On 28 February, it was reported that the US-led coalition had completely destroyed the Tabqa Airbase in an airstrike.
On 27 February, the plan that the Pentagon submitted to US President Trump to significantly speed up the fight against ISIL included a significant increase in US participation in the Raqqa campaign, with the possibility of the US increasing its ground presence on the Raqqa front to 4,000–5,000 troops.
Advance to the Raqqa-Deir Ezzor highway
YPG/SDF fighters on the bank of the Euphrates east of Raqqa.
The offensive resumed on 5 March, with the SDF capturing at least seven villages and 15 hamlets to the northeast of the Euphrates River, east of Raqqa. The offensive had previously been paused due to bad weather, according to the SDF. The area captured by SDF forces on that day was about 19 square kilometers, and about 32 ISIL militants were killed in the clashes. After further advances on 6 March, the SDF cut the highway between Raqqa and Deir ez-Zor, which was the last road out of the city, and reached the Euphrates River. The SDF captured six villages, the Al-Kubar Military Base (a former nuclear facility), and the Zalabiye Bridge, during the day. On 8 March, the SDF took control of the strategic West Menxer hill in the eastern countryside, while elements of the US 11th Marine Expeditionary Unit were deployed to northern Syria, bringing with them an artillery battery of M777 howitzers to support the attack on Raqqa. Meanwhile, about 150 ISIL militants from Hama and Deir-ez Zor managed to reinforce Raqqa, by crossing the Euphrates, despite the partial siege that had been imposed by the SDF on the city.
On 9 March, SDF captured the strategic East Menxer hill and captured three villages on two different fronts. Two villages, including Kubar, were captured on the front to the far east of Raqqa, and one near Raqqa. 244 Arab fighters from the Raqqa countryside also joined the SDF during the day, for the protection of the people in the region. On the next day, SDF forces advancing from the Abu Khashab front captured three villages, including two near Kubar. On 12 March, the SDF captured Khas Ujayl village, to the southeast of Raqqa, on the Abu Khashab front, while ISIL continued to launch repeated counterattacks in the area, in an attempt to check the SDF advances. Meanwhile, 230 ISIL fighters entered Raqqa to reinforce the city.
On 14 March, the SDF captured the Khass Hibal village, as well as the Al-Kulayb grain silos, along the Raqqa-Deir Ezzor highway. An SDF spokeswoman stated that Raqqa had been isolated. The advance of the SDF put them in control of the land region used by ISIL to connect to their territories in the east, stretching from al-Kubar to the northern bank of the Euphrates and measuring 30 kilometres (19 mi). The SDF captured the Hamad Asaf silos and the Al Kulayb village the next day. Hamad Assaf was also reportedly captured. On 17 March, a YPG commander stated that the SDF planned to storm Raqqa city in April 2017, and that the YPG would be participating in the attack, despite the fierce opposition from the Turkish government. However, Pentagon Spokesman Jeff Davis denied that any decision regarding when and how an assault on Raqqa city will be carried out. Meanwhile, clashes continued to take place around Khas Ujayl.
The town of al-Karama, after the SDF had captured it from ISIL.
Heavy clashes took place in the town of al-Karama, to the east of Raqqa, on 19 March. On the next day, SDF captured al-Karama, along with Jarqa village as well as a train station and water pumping station nearby. On 21 March, it was reported again that the SDF had captured Hamad Assaf in the eastern countryside from the Abu Khashab front. Another village was captured on 22 March from the Abu Khashab front. Meanwhile, Syrian Observatory for Human Rights (SOHR) and Raqqa is Being Slaughtered Silently (RIBSS) stated that coalition airstrikes hit a school being used as a shelter for displaced people in a village to the west of Raqqa on 20 March. SOHR stated that 33 civilians were killed in the airstrikes while RIBSS stated that it was unknown what happened to 50 families who were there. The SDF continued advancing in the eastern Raqqa countryside on 23 March, capturing two more villages on the Abu Khashab front, allowing them to capture a small ISIL pocket.On 24 March, the SDF took control of two more villages in the eastern countryside of Raqqa.
Battle for al-Tabqa countryside and other advances
On 22 March, the SDF began an assault to capture the Tabqa Dam, al-Thawrah (Tabqa) city, and its airbase. Five hundred SDF fighters and five hundred US Special Forces from CJTF–OIR were airlifted by helicopters of the United States military, across the Euphrates River and Lake Assad, and were dropped on the Shurfa Peninsula to the west of Al-Thawrah. The attack was supported by artillery support from United States Marines, as well as air support. SDF and US forces also landed on the Jazirat al-‘Ayd Island (or Peninsula) to the west of Tabqa Dam, capturing it as well. Four villages southwest of Tabqa were captured in the attack, including Abu Hurayrah, al-Mushayirafah, al-Krain, and al-Jameen. The SDF advanced towards the town of Al-Thawrah, where fliers were dropped, asking residents to stay indoors and avoid clashing against ISIL for now. These fliers were also dropped on Raqqa city. An anti-ISIL coalition spokesman announced that the advance had cut off the highway linking the Aleppo, Deir ez-Zor, and Raqqa Governorates. He added that around 75-80% of the attacking force consisted of Arab fighters, with the rest being Kurds. The SDF stated that the advance was also meant to block any advance on Raqqa by the Syrian Arab Army from the west.
On the same day, SDF and US forces stormed the Tabqa Dam, triggering “intense” clashes with ISIL forces. US officials stated that it may take several weeks to capture Tabqa Dam, Al-Thawrah city, and the surrounding countryside from ISIL. Airstrikes by the coalition on Tabqa city were reported to have killed about 25 civilians. On 23 March, some early reports circulated that the SDF had captured Tabqa Dam from ISIL, after clashing with ISIL forces for a few hours. However, these reports were unconfirmed by other sources, with neither the SDF or CENTCOM confirming the capture of Tabqa Dam, and Rudaw reported that the SDF was still preparing to capture it. SDF spokesman Talal Silo stated during the day that they were still advancing on the dam and the city and expected to attack the dam soon. Later on the same day, it was reported that ISIL was redeploying a large number of fighters from the Deir ez-Zor Province to Al-Thawrah and Raqqa city, in order to reinforce those fronts. ISIL’s Amaq News Agency later denied later that the SDF had captured the dam.
Refugees from al-Thawrah (Tabqa) city, who have fled from the fighting between the SDF and ISIL.
On 24 March, SDF spokeswoman Jihan Sheikh Ahmed announced that they had reached the Tabqa Dam, and were fighting ISIL at its entrance. The assault on the dam was spearheaded by SDF fighters who were backed by United States Special Operation Forces. According to early reports, the SDF and its allies had taken its outer perimeter, with the battle ongoing for its middle. On the same day, it was also reported that the SDF had captured 8 villages to the southwest of Al-Thawrah. On 25 March, pro-Kurdish news agency Kurdistan24 reported that the SDF had announced the capture of the Tabqa Dam. On the same day, the SDF advanced on Al-Tabqa Airbase, setting off clashes in the vicinity.Amaq meanwhile claimed SDF had withdrawn from the dam.
On 26 March, the SDF captured 2 villages to the east of Al-Thawrah. It was also reported that ISIL was shelling the surroundings of Tabqa Dam with heavy weaponry.On the same day, ISIL claimed that Tabqa Dam was on the verge of collapse and that all the floodgates were closed. The dam was reported to have become inoperable, which ISIL claimed was due to Coalition bombing and artillery strikes, though the SOHR stated that the actual reasons were unknown, adding that ISIL still held its main building and turbines.SDF however denied that it had been hit, while RIBSS (Raqqa is Silently Being Slaughtered) stated that ISIL was informing fleeing civilians that the dam was safe. Additionally, the US-led Coalition stated that the Tabqa Dam was structurally sound, and that the dam had not been targeted by any airstrikes. They also stated that the SDF controlled an emergency spillway at the northern part of the dam, which could be used in the event of an emergency. On the same day, SDF spokesman Talal Silo announced that SDF had stormed the Tabqa military airport, and had taken sixty to seventy percent of it. They later announced that they had completely captured the Al-Tabqa Airbase, following a 24-hour battle.ISIL forces stationed at Al-Tabqa Airbase were reported to have withdrawn northward, to Al-Thawrah city. Additionally, SDF forces captured 2 villages near the airbase during the advance.
Late on 26 March, it was reported that the SDF had taken full control of Tabqa Dam, and that repairs on the dam by Coalition engineers had begun. A day later however SDF announced they were temporarily pausing their offensive for the dam. Later in the day, a spokeswoman of the SDF announced that engineers who had been permitted to check the dam and its operations did not find it was damaged or malfunctioning. SDF also captured 2 villages to the west of Raqqa on the same day. It resumed the offensive against ISIL at the Tabqa Dam on 28 March. Syrian engineers worked on the dam during a pause in the fighting to open spillways and ease the pressure on the dam. Its southern reaches were reported to be under ISIL control. ISIL claimed that the maintenance team was killed in airstrikes by the anti-ISIL coalition while the SOHR stated that it had learned that the engineer administering the dam had been killed in airstrikes along with a technician. It also stated that the group had sent 900 fighters from Raqqa to fight against the SDF advance.
On 29 March, the SDF cut the road between Al-Thawrah (Tabqa) city and Raqqa. The SDF stated that ISIL had shelled the Tabqa Dam during the day, causing repair work to be temporarily paused. On 31 March, SDF forces attacked the town of Al-Safsafah, to the east of Al-Thawrah, in an attempt to besiege the city. On the same day, the Ajeel tribe of al-Raqqa announced its support for the SDF’s Raqqa campaign and sent 150 fighters. On 1 April 2017, 200 Arab youths completed training and joined the SDF, also for the Raqqa campaign. The SDF announced during the day that over 220 new recruits had joined the offensive. Meanwhile, leaflets were dropped on the city calling on ISIL to surrender. Clashes continued in the countryside of Tabqa on next day as both sides attempted to advance.
The SDF and some activists stated on 2 April that it had repelled a major ISIL counterattack to the northeast of Tabqa city, near the Tabqa Dam and near the Tabqa airbase. They also continued to advance in villages to the east of Tabqa city. On the same day, it was reported that SDF had completely besieged Al-Thawrah (Tabqa) city, with Kurdish activists stating that 2 SDF units linked up to the east of the city. SOHR, however, stated that they were still trying to besiege the city. SDF fighters continued battling for Safsafah and Ibad, on the next day, to fully encircle Tabqa. On 3 April, it was reported that ISIL was possibly in the process of moving its capital from Raqqa city to Mayadin, in the Deir ez-Zor Governorate. This followed months of gradual relocation of resources and senior ISIL leaders from Raqqa to Mayadin. SDF entered and besieged Safsafah on 5 April, thus also besieging Tabqa city while claiming that it had also taken control of a major part of Safsafah. The village was captured by the next day, resulting in SDF completely encircling Tabqa city.
The SDF captured Ibad village, to the east of Safsafah, on 9 April, further expanding their control in eastern countryside of Tabqa, while more than 25 ISIL fighters were killed in the clashes. ISIL also launched unsuccessful counterattacks on Safsafah, while also attacking Al-Tabqa Airbase. The SDF captured another village near Tabqa on the next day.
On 11 April, the US-led Coalition reported that the SDF had captured 60% of Tabqa Dam, and that they were “very close” to liberating the dam. On 13 April, the United States military stated that CJTF-OIR had bombed a SDF fighting position near Tabqa as it was misidentified as belonging to ISIL. It added that the airstrikes resulted in deaths of 18 SDF fighters.
Phase Four: Offensive directly north of and around Raqqa city; Assault on Tabqa city
On 13 April, the SDF announced the launch of the fourth phase of the campaign. The new phase will involve capturing the entire area directly north of Raqqa city, including the Jalab valley, as well as completing the siege of Raqqa city. The advancements may involve capturing the southern countryside of Raqqa as well, since the SDF stated that they plan to fully isolate the city before launching an attack on it. A plan to attack Raqqa city itself was also scheduled to for April 2017, but it was postponed due to the Battle of Tabqa. SDF was reported to have captured a village in the northern countryside of Raqqa on the same day.
SOHR stated early on 15 April that the SDF had advanced to the edge of Tabqa, and was within hundreds of meters of the city. Later, SDF captured the village of Ayad al-Saghir village near Tabqa and stormed the city itself, capturing the Alexandria suburb and bringing about 15% of the city under their control. They also cleared the Mushayrifah village near Tabqa, killing 27 ISIL fighters.
On 17 April, the SDF captured 3 villages in the northern countryside of Raqqa along with four hamlets.
Civil administration of captured territory
Samer Kharkhi, one of the Raqqa Civil Council’s leading members.
On 14 November, the SDF’s civilian sister institution, the Syrian Democratic Council (SDC), started working on the establishment of a civilian administration to run the city of Raqqa after the expulsion of the Islamic State of Iraq and the Levant. SDC co-chair Îlham Ehmed said “such an administration could provide a good example for democratic change in Raqqa, especially that the city has been for years a de facto capital for the ISIS terrorist group. This accomplishment would be a major change in the overall situation in Syria, and would help the country move towards stability, democratic change. Raqqa will be an example for the whole country.”
On 8 December, Col. John Dorrian, the Operation Inherent Resolve spokesman, stated that “a governance structure representative of the local population” similar to that in Manbij is planned for Raqqa. On 10 December, Cihan ShekhEhmed, the spokesman of the SDF-led operation, said that Raqqa would be run by a local elected civilian council after it was liberated. On 27 March 2017, Salih Muslim Muhammad, co-chairman of the Democratic Union Party (PYD), said that as soon as the SDF had captured the city, “the people of Raqqa are the ones who [will] take the decision on everything”. If they wanted to do so, Muslim said, they could choose to join the Democratic Federal System of Northern Syria. On the same day, the Raqqa Civil Council announced that it had taken over the administration of the eastern countryside.
A YPJ sniper during the offensive on 13 November 2016
A boat carrying SDF fighters cross Lake Assad on 9 April 2017
Toyota Hilux and other vehicles of the YPG and YPJ near Tabqa, 9 April 2017
Jump up^Most Leftist Western volunteers fight as part of the YPG, though some have also formed an independent unit, the Antifascist International Tabur, or joined the International Freedom Battalion. The latter is a larger unit, mostly composed of Kurdish and Turkish communists.
Jump up^1,500 volunteers from villages captured by the SDF during phase one; 1,000 volunteers from villages captured during phase two, 750 volunteers from villages captured during phase three, 200 more joined in April
Jump up^According to SOHR, 8 SDF casualties were Western volunteers; among these were 4 Americans (one of which fought for the MFS), 1 British, 1 Canadian, and 1 German.ARA News, on the other side, reported that only 5 Western volunteers had been killed.
US Secretary of State Rex Tillerson speaks with a delegate during the afternoon ministerial plenary for the Global Coalition working to Defeat ISIS at the State Department in Washington, March 22, 2017.
U.S. Secretary of State Rex Tillerson presided over a meeting of the 68-member Global Coalition to defeat ISIS and emphasized that the Coalition is unified, remains committed to the military defeat of ISIS, and noted the significant progress that has been made.
On March 22, U.S. Secretary of State Rex Tillerson presided over a meeting of the 68-member Global Coalition to defeat ISIS and emphasized that the Coalition is unified, remains committed to the military defeat of ISIS, and noted the significant progress that has been made.
On the battlefield, 23 coalition partners have over 9,000 troops in Iraq and Syria in support of the effort to defeat ISIS. The Coalition has made significant progress in denying ISIS safe haven and building the military capacity of those directly engaged in fighting ISIS.
Coalition operations have liberated 62 percent of the terrain ISIS once controlled in Iraq and 30 percent in Syria, including key cities in both countries. The number of ISIS fighters in Iraq and Syria is down by more than half since its peak in 2014.
Coalition aircraft have conducted more than 19,000 strikes on ISIS targets, removing tens of thousands of ISIS fighters from the battlefield and killing over 180 senior to mid-level ISIS leaders, including nearly all of Abu Bakr al-Baghdadi’s deputies, his so-called ministers of war, information, finance, oil and gas, and his chief of external operations.
The Coalition has supported its Iraqi partners to achieve significant progress in the fight to retake Mosul. Iraqi Security Forces officially liberated eastern Mosul on January 24, 2017, and now are making significant territorial gains in the western portion of the city.
To date, Coalition efforts have trained nearly 90,000 Iraqi Security Force members, including Iraqi Army soldiers, Counterterrorism Services soldiers, Kurdish Peshmerga, federal police and border security soldiers, and tribal volunteers.
With the support of the Coalition, Syrian partners have liberated over 14,000 square kilometers of terrain in Syria, including more than 7,400 square kilometers of territory since isolation operations around Raqqa began on November 5.
Coalition forces are now pressuring ISIS in Raqqa, its external operations headquarters, from where ISIS is plotting against Coalition member interests around the globe.
“Hard-fought victories in Iraq and Syria have swung the momentum in our coalition’s favor,” said Secretary Tillerson, “but we must increase the intensity of our efforts to solidify our gains in the next phase of the counter-ISIS fight. Degradation of ISIS is not the end goal, we must defeat ISIS.”
The race for Raqqa: Major battle to liberate the ISIS stronghold looms after victory nears in Mosul and Palmyra… but who will lead the offensive?
Syrian soldiers, Turkish troops and US-backed Kurdish troops eyeing up Raqqa
Islamic State terrorists were driven out of Mosul and Palmyra in another victory
With liberation of the two cities drawing nearer, Raqqa will become top priority
The fall of the terror group’s de facto capital would be seen as ISIS’ biggest loss
By Gareth Davies For Mailonline
PUBLISHED: 06:48 EDT, 3 March 2017 | UPDATED: 07:05 EDT, 3 March 2017
A major battle to liberate the Islamic State group’s stronghold of Raqqa in northern Syria is looming after victories on the battlefields of Mosul and Palmyra.
The Pentagon has drawn up a secret plan which is likely to lean on local allies with stepped-up American support, but questions still remain as to who exactly will lead the operation to kick ISIS out of its de facto capital.
Syrian government forces, Turkish troops and their Syrian militia allies, and US-backed Kurdish forces all have their eye on Raqqa.
Each vehemently rejects letting the others capture the city and would likely react in anger should the United States support the others, and it is not clear that any has the resources to take the city on its own.
The fall of Raqqa, the Islamic State group’s de facto capital and largest remaining stronghold, would be the biggest defeat for the militants in Syria since they captured the northern city on the banks of the Euphrates River in January 2014.
An Iraqi Army officer (right) uses his mobile phone to film a rocket launched towards Islamic State militants during a battle with Islamic State militants in Mosul,Iraq
Iraqi family displaced due to fighting between the Iraqi army and ISIS, waiting at a temporary shelter to be sent to a refugee camp in Hamam Ali town, southern Mosul
Iraqi soldiers fire a rocket toward Islamic State militants on the outskirt of the Makhmour south of Mosul, Iraq
Smoke billows as Iraqi forces hold a position on a street in Mosul on March 1, 2017, during an offensive by security forces to retake the western parts of the city from Islamic State
Since October, US-backed coalition forces have been advancing on Mosul in an attempt to re-capture it from the terror group’s control.
Civilians have been evacuated and ISIS have been driven out of the city one village and area at a time.
This morning, an Iraqi military commander says forces have taken control of another neighborhood in western Mosul.
Brigadier General Yahya Rasool, spokesman of the Joint Military Operations Command said despite bad weather, Iraqi special operations forces have completely retaken the Wadi Hajjar area from militants.
However, commanders on the ground say that clearing operations are still continuing.
Wadi Hajjar lies just northwest of the city’s international airport.
Iraqi forces, including special operations forces and federal police units, launched an attack on the western part of Mosul nearly two weeks ago to dislodge the extremists.
Since the offensive began, more than 28,000 people have been displaced by the fighting, according to the UN.
Across the border in Syria, army units were clearing land mines and explosives left behind by ISIS in the historic town of Palmyra on Friday, a day after government troops and allied militiamen recaptured it from the extremists.
The military expects the process to be long and difficult due to the large number of mines planted by the terror group.
Syrian troops fully recaptured Palmyra on Thursday after a push that saw the militants’ defenses crumble and ISIS fighters flee in the face of artillery fire and intense Russia-backed airstrikes.
The Tetrapylon and Roman Amphitheatre in the ancient city of Palmyra is blown up in conflict
Fighters from the al-Qaida linked Islamic State, now called the Islamic State group, marching in Raqqa, Syria, where attention will now turn
Now, all eyes turn to Raqqa.
Faysal Itani, an analyst at the Washington-based Atlantic Council, said: ‘Raqqa is more of an abstract goal: everyone wants it in principle, but no one is willing to commit the resources and bear the risks necessary.’
Turkey rules out a US compromise in Syria
Turkey is ruling out compromise with the United States over the involvement of Kurdish militia fighters in an assault in Syria, an obstacle for Washington’s plan to deploy its strongest allies on the ground in a decisive showdown with Islamic State.
Donald Trump has made defeating ISIS one of the key goals of his presidency, and his new administration received a draft Pentagon plan on Monday to accelerate the campaign.
Raqqa in Syria, one of Islamic State’s two de facto capitals along with Mosul in Iraq, is expected to be the scene of the final battle to crush the jihadists’ self-proclaimed Caliphate sometime this year, after a US-backed Iraqi government assault on Mosul already under way since October.
But putting together a united ground force to take Raqqa has so far proven a confounding task in Syria, where the United States, Turkey, Russia, Iran and Arab states have all backed local forces in a multi-sided civil war since 2011. All the foreign powers oppose Islamic State, but their Syrian proxies have mainly fought against one another.
Turkey, with the second largest army in NATO, is adamant that Washington should switch support for the planned Raqqa offensive from the Kurdish YPG militia to Syrian rebels Turkey has trained and led against Islamic State for the past year.
President Donald Trump has vowed to ‘obliterate’ the group.
‘We will work with our allies, including our friends and allies in the Muslim world, to extinguish this vile enemy from our planet,’ he told Congress on Tuesday.
The top US commander in the campaign against IS, Lieutenant General Stephen Townsend, has said he believes Raqqa and Mosul will be taken within six months.
So far, the offensive on Mosul has been underway four months, with only half the city captured from the militants in ferocious street-to-street urban combat.
And that is using a relatively intensively trained and united military, backed by heavy U.S. firepower and commandos on the ground – a contrast to the comparatively undisciplined and fragmented forces the US has to choose from as allies in Syria.
Raqqa is a smaller city than Mosul, but the militants are believed to have dug in with powerful fortifications there.
In Syria, US-backed predominantly Kurdish fighters known as the Syria Democratic Forces, or SDF, remain Trump’s best bet.
Aided by US-led coalition airstrikes and some 500 US special forces troops deployed in an advisory role, the force has been marching toward Raqqa since November.
Closing in on the city from different directions, it is now stationed some eight kilometers (five miles) north of the city.
The US military recently provided a small number of armored vehicles to the US-backed force to give better protection from small arms fire and roadside bombs as they get closer to Raqqa.
Further aid to the rag-tag group, however, raises sensitive questions over how to deal with Turkey, a NATO ally with much at stake in Syria.
Turkey considers the main Kurdish militia in Syria – known as the YPG, and an affiliate of the US-backed SDF – a terrorist organization, and has vowed to work with Syrian opposition fighters known as the Free Syrian Army to liberate Raqqa.
In a dramatic reversal of years of the Obama administration’s calls for the ouster of President Bashar Assad, Trump has hinted he might be willing to work with Assad’s army and Russia, whose year-and-a-half military intervention has propped up Assad’s government.
Assad’s forces are preoccupied with other battles, however, and would likely need significant US military involvement to take on Raqqa.
On Wednesday, the Syrian military recaptured the central town of Palmyra, a city located in the desert south of Raqqa that has gone back and forth between control of the military and the extremists several times.
The government forces have also clashed with the Turkish-backed Syrian fighters, who block their path to Raqqa.
Iraqi security forces inspect a recently discovered tunnel that had been used by Islamic State militants as a training camp, in western Mosul, Iraq on Wednesday, March 1. 2017
Syrians are sharply divided over who should enter Raqqa.
Many opposition supporters consider the SDF, which maintains a tacit non-aggression pact with Assad’s forces, to be a hostile group.
There are also fears of tensions if Raqqa, home to a nearly 200,000 mainly Arab population, is taken by the SDF, a coalition of Kurdish, Arab and Christian fighters.
‘Let us be frank that any force that will liberate Raqqa, other than the Free Syrian Army, is going to be a new occupation force with different flags and banners,’ said Mohammed Khodor of Sound and Picture Organization, which tracks atrocities by ISIS in Iraq and Syria.
Turkish Prime Minister Binali Yildirim was even more blunt, warning that if the SDF enters Raqqa, it will hurt relations between Ankara and Washington.
Since the Mosul offensive began, more than 28,000 people like these have been displaced by the fighting, according to the UN
‘We have said that a terror organization cannot be used against another terror organization,’ the Turkish leader told the state-run Anadolu news agency.
The Kurds reject that notion and insist that only forces fighting under the SDF banner will liberate Raqqa.
‘Turkey is an occupation force and has no legitimate right to enter Raqqa,’ said SDF spokeswoman Cihan Sheikh Ehmed.
In a text message exchange from northern Syria, she said the SDF has the experience in fighting IS to finish the operation.
Battlefield victories by the SDF against the Islamic State group have brought growing Western support.
Asked if adding more US troops or better arming Syria’s Kurds were options, Defense Secretary Jim Mattis said he will ‘accommodate any request’ from his field commanders.
In Mosul, the US-led coalition is playing a greater role than ever before in the fight against IS and coalition forces have moved closer to front-line fighting.
U.S. Air Force Col. John Dorrian says the increased support is an effort to ‘accelerate the campaign’ against the Islamic State group, noting that launching simultaneous operations in both Mosul and Raqqa ‘puts further strain on the enemy’s command and control.’
‘It is a complicating factor when you don’t have a partner government to work with,’ conceded Dorrian, adding that whoever the coalition partners with in the fight for Raqqa is ‘a subject of ongoing discussions.’
Wladimir van Wilgenburg, a Middle East analyst at the Jamestown Foundation who closely follows Kurdish affairs, says the US-led coalition wants to have a quick end to IS in Raqqa, from which external operations against the West are planned.
That means it would prefer to work with the Kurdish-led SDF forces ‘since they are able to mobilize manpower unlike the Turks,’ he said.
An ISIS flag flies in the city of Palmyra – but not for long as victory nears in the city
Allied forces stand on the rubble of the Tetrapylon and Roman Amphitheatre in Palmyra
An Iraqi soldier inspects a recently-discovered train tunnel, adorned with an Islamic State group flag
In any case, the battle for Raqqa is sure to be a long and deadly one. It took the SDF nearly 10 weeks to capture the northern Syrian town of Manbij from IS last year.
It took Turkish forces and allied groups more than three months to retake the town of al-Bab, a costly battle that killed dozens of Turkish soldiers and many civilians.
Raqqa is much larger than either Manbij or al-Bab.
Some Syrian opposition activists say the extremists dug a trench around it to make it difficult for attackers to storm it.
‘It would be difficult for any troops,’ said Itani of the Atlantic Council.
‘Witness the slow and ugly progress in Mosul as well. Raqqa would be tough,’ he said.
The Trump foreign policy team has been all over the map on what to do next in Syria — topple the regime, intensify aid to rebels, respond to any new attacks on innocent civilians. But when pressed, there is one idea everyone on the team seems to agree on: “The defeat of ISIS,” as Secretary of State Rex Tillerson put it.
Well, let me add to their confusion by asking just one question: Why?
Why should our goal right now be to defeat the Islamic State in Syria? Of course, ISIS is detestable and needs to be eradicated. But is it really in our interest to be focusing solely on defeating ISIS in Syria right now?
Let’s go through the logic: There are actually two ISIS manifestations.
One is “virtual ISIS.” It is satanic, cruel and amorphous; it disseminates its ideology through the internet. It has adherents across Europe and the Muslim world. In my opinion, that ISIS is the primary threat to us, because it has found ways to deftly pump out Sunni jihadist ideology that inspires and gives permission to those Muslims on the fringes of society who feel humiliated — from London to Paris to Cairo — to recover their dignity via headline-grabbing murders of innocents.
The other incarnation is “territorial ISIS.” It still controls pockets in western Iraq and larger sectors of Syria. Its goal is to defeat Bashar al-Assad’s regime in Syria — plus its Russian, Iranian and Hezbollah allies — and to defeat the pro-Iranian Shiite regime in Iraq, replacing both with a caliphate.
Challenge No. 1: Not only will virtual ISIS, which has nodes all over the world, not go away even if territorial ISIS is defeated, I believe virtual ISIS will become yet more virulent to disguise the fact that it has lost the territorial caliphate to its archenemies: Shiite Iran, Hezbollah, pro-Shiite militias in Iraq, the pro-Shiite Assad regime in Damascus and Russia, not to mention America.
Challenge No. 2: America’s goal in Syria is to create enough pressure on Assad, Russia, Iran and Hezbollah so they will negotiate a power-sharing accord with moderate Sunni Muslims that would also ease Assad out of power. One way to do that would be for NATO to create a no-fly safe zone around Idlib Province, where many of the anti-Assad rebels have gathered and where Assad recently dropped his poison gas on civilians. But Congress and the U.S. public are clearly wary of that.
So what else could we do? We could dramatically increase our military aid to anti-Assad rebels, giving them sufficient anti-tank and antiaircraft missiles to threaten Russian, Iranian, Hezbollah and Syrian helicopters and fighter jets and make them bleed, maybe enough to want to open negotiations. Fine with me.
What else? We could simply back off fighting territorial ISIS in Syria and make it entirely a problem for Iran, Russia, Hezbollah and Assad. After all, they’re the ones overextended in Syria, not us. Make them fight a two-front war — the moderate rebels on one side and ISIS on the other. If we defeat territorial ISIS in Syria now, we will only reduce the pressure on Assad, Iran, Russia and Hezbollah and enable them to devote all their resources to crushing the last moderate rebels in Idlib, not sharing power with them.
I don’t get it. President Trump is offering to defeat ISIS in Syria for free — and then pivot to strengthening the moderate anti-Assad rebels. Why? When was the last time Trump did anything for free? When was the last real estate deal Trump did where he volunteered to clean up a toxic waste dump — for free — before he negotiated with the owner on the price of the golf course next door?
This is a time for Trump to be Trump — utterly cynical and unpredictable. ISIS right now is the biggest threat to Iran, Hezbollah, Russia and pro-Shiite Iranian militias — because ISIS is a Sunni terrorist group that plays as dirty as Iran and Russia.
Trump should want to defeat ISIS in Iraq. But in Syria? Not for free, not now. In Syria, Trump should let ISIS be Assad’s, Iran’s, Hezbollah’s and Russia’s headache — the same way we encouraged the mujahedeen fighters to bleed Russia in Afghanistan.
Yes, in the long run we want to crush ISIS everywhere, but the only way to crush ISIS and keep it crushed on the ground is if we have moderate Sunnis in Syria and Iraq able and willing to replace it. And those will only emerge if there are real power-sharing deals in Syria and Iraq — and that will only happen if Assad, Russia, Iran and Hezbollah feel pressured to share power.
And while I am at it, where is Trump’s Twitter feed when we need it? He should be tweeting every day this message: “Russia, Iran and Hezbollah have become the protectors of a Syrian regime that uses poison gas on babies! Babies! Russia, Iran, Hezbollah, Assad — poison gas enablers. Sad.”
Do not let them off the hook! We need to make them own what they’ve become — enablers of a Syria that uses poison gas on children. Believe it or not, they won’t like being labeled that way. Trump needs to use his global Twitter feed strategically. Barack Obama never played this card. Trump needs to slam it down every day. It creates leverage.
Syria is not a knitting circle. Everyone there plays dirty, deviously and without mercy. Where’s that Trump when we need him?
Iraqi Kurdistan first gained autonomous status in a 1970 agreement with the Iraqi government, and its status was re-confirmed as an autonomous entity within the federal Iraqi republic in 2005. There is a province by the name Kurdistan in Iran; it is not self-ruled. Kurds fighting in the Syrian Civil War were able to take control of large sections of northern Syria as government forces, loyal to Bashar al-Assad, withdrew to fight elsewhere. Having established their own government, they called for autonomy in a federal Syria after the war.
The Kingdom of Corduene, which emerged from the declining Seleucid Empire, was located to the south and south-east of Lake Van between Persia and Mesopotamia and ruled northern Mesopotamia and southeastern Anatolia from 189 BC to AD 384 as vassals of the vying Parthian and Roman Empire. At its zenith, the Roman Empire ruled large Kurdish-inhabited areas, particularly the western and northern Kurdish areas in the Middle East. Corduene became a vassal state of the Roman Republic in 66 BC and remained allied with the Romans until AD 384. After 66 BC, it passed another 5 times between Rome and Persia. Corduene was situated to the east of Tigranocerta, that is, to the east and south of present-day Diyarbakır in south-eastern Turkey.
Some historians have correlated a connection between Corduene with the modern names of Kurds and Kurdistan;T. A. Sinclair dismissed this identification as false, while a common association is asserted in the Columbia Encyclopedia.
Some of the ancient districts of Kurdistan and their corresponding modern names:
19th-century map showing the location of the Kingdom of Corduene in 60 B.C
One of the earliest records of the phrase land of the Kurds is found in an Assyrian Christian document of late antiquity, describing the stories of Assyrian saints of the Middle East, such as Abdisho. When the SasanianMarzban asked Mar Abdisho about his place of origin, he replied that according to his parents, they were originally from Hazza, a village in Assyria. However they were later driven out of Hazza by pagans, and settled in Tamanon, which according to Abdisho was in the land of the Kurds. Tamanon lies just north of the modern Iraq-Turkey border, while Hazza is 12 km southwest of modern Erbil. In another passage in the same document, the region of the Khabur River is also identified as land of the Kurds. According to Al-Muqaddasi and Yaqut al-Hamawi, Tamanon was located on the south-western or southern slopes of Mount Judi and south of Cizre.
Map by Mahmud al-Kashgari (1074), showing Arḍ al-Akrād Arabic for land of Kurds located between Arḍ al-Šām (Syria), and Arḍ al-ʿIrāqayn (Iraq Arabi and Iraq Ajami).
Kurdistan in the Middle Ages was a collection of semi-independent and independent states called emirates. It was nominally under indirect political or religious influence of Khalifs or Shahs. A comprehensive history of these states and their relationship with their neighbors is given in the text of Sharafnama, written by Prince Sharaf al-Din Bitlisi in 1597. The emirates included Baban, Soran, Badinan and Garmiyan in the south; Bakran, Bohtan (or Botan) and Badlis in the north, and Mukriyan and Ardalan in the east.
In the 16th century, after prolonged wars, Kurdish-inhabited areas were split between the Safavid and Ottoman empires. A major division of Kurdistan occurred in the aftermath of the Battle of Chaldiran in 1514, and was formalized in the 1639 Treaty of Zuhab. From then until the aftermath of World War I, Kurdish areas (including most of Mesopotamia, eastern Anatolia, and traditionally Kurdish northeastern Syria) were generally under Ottoman rule, apart from the century-long, intermittent Iranian occupation in the early modern to modern period, and the later reconquest and vast expansion by the Iranian military leader Nader Shah in the first half of the 18th century. After the collapse of the Ottoman Empire, the Allies contrived to split Kurdistan (as detailed in the ultimately unratified Treaty of Sèvres) among several countries, including Kurdistan, Armenia and others. However, the reconquest of these areas by the forces of Kemal Atatürk (and other pressing issues) caused the Allies to accept the renegotiated Treaty of Lausanne and the borders of the modern Republic of Turkey, leaving the Kurds without a self-ruled region. Other Kurdish areas were assigned to the new British and French mandated states of Iraq and Syria.
At the end of the First Gulf War, the Allies established a safe haven in northern Iraq. Amid the withdrawal of Iraqi forces from three northern provinces, Iraqi Kurdistan emerged in 1992 as an autonomous entity inside Iraq with its own local government and parliament.
A 2010 US report, written before the instability in Syria and Iraq that exists as of 2014, attested that “Kurdistan may exist by 2030”. The weakening of the Iraqi state following the 2014 Northern Iraq offensive by the Islamic State of Iraq and the Levant has also presented an opportunity for independence for Iraqi Kurdistan, augmented by Turkey’s move towards acceptance of such a state although it opposes moves toward Kurdish autonomy in Turkey and Syria.
The incorporation into Turkey of the Kurdish-inhabited regions of eastern Anatolia was opposed by many Kurds, and has resulted in a long-running separatist conflict in which thousands of lives have been lost. The region saw several major Kurdish rebellions, including the Koçgiri rebellion of 1920 under the Ottomans, then successive insurrection under the Turkish state – including the 1924 Sheikh Said rebellion, the Republic of Ararat in 1927, and the 1937 Dersim rebellion. All were forcefully put down by the authorities. The region was declared a closed military area from which foreigners were banned between 1925 and 1965.
In an attempt to deny their existence, the Turkish government categorized Kurds as “Mountain Turks” until 1991. The words “Kurds”, “Kurdistan”, or “Kurdish” were officially banned by the Turkish government. Following the military coup of 1980, the Kurdish language was officially prohibited in public and private life. Many people who spoke, published, or sang in Kurdish were arrested and imprisoned. Throughout the 1990s and early 2000s, political parties that represented Kurdish interests were banned.
In 1983, the Kurdish provinces were placed under martial law in response to the activities of the militant separatist organization, Kurdistan Workers’ Party (PKK). A guerrilla war took place through the 1980s and 1990s in which much of the countryside was evacuated, thousands of Kurdish-populated villages were destroyed, and numerous extrajudicial summary executions were carried out by both sides. Many villages were reportedly set on fire or destroyed. Food embargoes were placed on Kurdish populated villages and towns. More than 20,000 Kurds were killed in the violence and hundreds of thousands more were forced to leave their homes.
Turkey has historically feared that a Kurdish state in Northern Iraq would encourage and support Kurdish separatists in the adjacent Turkish provinces, and have therefore historically strongly opposed Kurdish independence in Iraq. However, following the chaos in Iraq after the US invasion, Turkey has increasingly worked with the de facto autonomous Kurds in Iraq.
The successful 2014 Northern Iraq offensive by the Islamic State of Iraq and the Levant, with the resultant weakening of the ability of the Iraqi state to project power, also presented a “golden opportunity” for the Kurds to increase their independence and possibly declare an independent Kurdish state. The Islamic State in Iraq and the Levant, who took more than 80 Turkish persons captive in Mosul during their offensive, is an enemy of Turkey, making Kurdistan useful for Turkey as a buffer state. On 28 June 2014 Hüseyin Çelik, a spokesman for the ruling AK party, made comments to the Financial Times indicating Turkey’s readiness to accept an independent Kurdistan in northern Iraq. Various sources have reported that Al-Nusra has issued a fatwā calling for Kurdish women and children in Syria to be killed, and the fighting in Syria has led tens of thousands of refugees to flee to Iraq’s Kurdistan region. As of 2015, Turkey is actively supporting the Al-Nusra.
In A Dictionary of Scripture Geography (published 1846), John Miles describes Upper and Lower Kurdistan as following:
Modern Curdistan is of much greater extent than the ancient Assyria, and is composed of two parts the Upper and Lower. In the former is the province of Ardelan, the ancient Arropachatis, now nominally a part of Irak Ajami, and belonging to the north west division called Al Jobal. It contains five others namely, Betlis, the ancient Carduchia, lying to the south and south west of the lake Van. East and south east of Betlis is the principality of Julamerick, south west of it is the principality of Amadia. the fourth is Jeezera ul Omar, a city on an island in the Tigris, and corresponding to the ancient Bezabde. the fifth and largest is Kara Djiolan, with a capital of the same name. The pashalics of Kirkook and Solimania also comprise part of Upper Curdistan. Lower Curdistan comprises all the level tract to the east of the Tigris, and the minor ranges immediately bounding the plains and reaching thence to the foot of the great range, which may justly be denominated the Alps of western Asia.
The northern, northwestern and northeastern parts of Kurdistan are referred to as upper Kurdistan, and includes the areas from west of Amed to lake Urmia.
The lowlands of southern Kurdistan are called lower Kurdistan. The main cities in this area are Kirkuk and Arbil.
Much of the region is typified by an extreme continental climate – hot in the summer, bitterly cold in the winter. Despite this, much of the region is fertile and has historically exported grain and livestock. Precipitation varies between 200 and 400 mm a year in the plains, and between 700 and 3,000 mm a year on the high plateau between mountain chains. The climate is dominated by mountains in the zone along the border with Iran and Turkey, with dry summers and cold, snowy winters or wet springs, while to the south, it progressively transitions towards semi-arid and desert zones. The northern mountainous regions along the border with Iran and Turkey receive heavy snowfall.
Kurdistan is one of the most mountainous regions in the world with a cold climate receiving annual precipitation adequate to sustain temperate forests and shrubs. Mountain chains harbor pastures and forested valleys, totaling approximately 16 million hectares (160,000 km²), including firs and countryside is mostly oaks, conifers, platanus, willow, poplar and olive. Also the Mediterranean region known as west Kurdistan has olive trees. Kurdistan’s climatic conditions are due to the northern mountainous topography producing the steppe and forest vegetation in the area. The region north of the mountainous region on the border with Iran and Turkey features meadow grasses and such wild trees as poplar, willow and oak, hawthorn, Cherry plum, rose hips, mountain apple, pear, mountain ash, and olive. The desert in the south, by contrast, has such species as palm trees and date palm.
The plateaus and mountains of Kurdistan, which are characterized by heavy rain and snow fall, act as a water reservoir for the Near and Middle East, forming the source of the Tigris and Euphrates rivers, as well as other numerous smaller rivers, such as the Little Khabur, Khabur, Tharthar, Ceyhan, Araxes, Kura, Sefidrud, Karkha, and Hezil. Among rivers of historical importance to Kurds are the Murat (Arasān) and Buhtān rivers in Turkey; the Peshkhābur, the Little Zab, the Great Zab, and the Diyala in Iraq; and the Jaghatu (Zarrinarud), the Tātā’u (Siminarud), the Zohāb (Zahāb), and the Gāmāsiyāb in Iran.
These rivers, which flow from heights of three to four thousand meters above sea level, are significant both as water sources and for the production of energy. Iraq and Syria dammed many of these rivers and their tributaries, and Turkey has an extensive dam system under construction as part of the GAP (Southeast Anatolia Project); though incomplete, the GAP already supplies a significant proportion of Turkey’s electrical energy needs. Due to the extraordinary archaeological richness of the region, almost any dam impacts historic sites.
Kurdistan extends to Lake Urmia in Iran on the east. The region includes Lake Van, the largest body of water in Turkey; the only lake in the Middle East with a larger surface is Lake Urmia – though not nearly as deep as Lake Van, which has a much larger volume. Urmia, Van, as well as Zarivar Lake west of Marivan, and Lake Dukan near the city of Sulaymaniyah, are frequented by tourists.
KRG-controlled parts of Iraqi Kurdistan are estimated to contain around 45 billion barrels (7.2×109 m3) of oil, making it the sixth largest reserve in the world. Extraction of these reserves began in 2007.
Al-Hasakah province, also known as Jazira region, has geopolitical importance of oil and is suitable for agricultural lands.
In November 2011, Exxon challenged the Iraqi central government’s authority with the signing of oil and gas contracts for exploration rights to six parcels of land in Kurdistan, including one contract in the disputed territories, just east of the Kirkuk mega-field. This act caused Baghdad to threaten to revoke Exxon’s contract in its southern fields, most notably the West-Qurna Phase 1 project. Exxon responded by announcing its intention to leave the West-Qurna project.
As of July 2007, the Kurdish government solicited foreign companies to invest in 40 new oil sites, with the hope of increasing regional oil production over the following 5 years by a factor of five, to about 1 million barrels per day (160,000 m3/d). Gas and associated gas reserves are in excess of 2,800 km3 (100×1012 cu ft). Notable companies active in Kurdistan include Exxon, Total, Chevron, Talisman Energy, Genel Energy, Hunt Oil, Gulf Keystone Petroleum, and Marathon Oil.
Other mineral resources that exist in significant quantities in the region include coal, copper, gold, iron, limestone (which is used to produce cement), marble, and zinc. The world’s largest deposit of rock sulfur is located just southwest of Erbil (Hewlêr).
In July 2012, Turkey and the Kurdistan Regional Government signed an agreement by which Turkey will supply the KRG with refined petroleum products in exchange for crude oil. Crude deliveries are expected to occur on a regular basis.
Far from dead, he was positively exuberant. His performance at a marathon press conference was a must-see-tv spectacle as he mixed serious policy talk with stand-up comedy and took repeated pleasure in whacking his favorite pinata, the “dishonest media.”
“Russia is a ruse,” he insisted, before finally saying under questioning he was not aware of anyone on his campaign having contact with Russian officials.
Trump’s detractors immediately panned the show as madness, but they missed the method behind it and proved they still don’t understand his appeal. Facing his first crisis in the Oval Office, he was unbowed in demonstrating his bare-knuckled intention to fight back.
He did it his way. Certainly no other president, and few politicians at any level in any time, would dare put on a show like that.
In front of cameras, and using the assembled press corps as props, he conducted a televised revival meeting to remind his supporters that he is still the man they elected. Ticking off a lengthy list of executive orders and other actions he has taken, he displayed serious fealty to his campaign promises.
Trump goes on marathon rant against the media
Sure, sentences didn’t always end on the same topic they started with, and his claim to have won the election by the largest electoral college margin since Ronald Reagan wasn’t close to true.
Fair points, but so what? Fact-checkers didn’t elect him, nor did voters who were happy with the status quo.
Trump, first, last and always, matches the mood of the discontented. Like them, he is a bull looking for a china shop. That’s his ace in the hole and he played it almost to perfection.
The immediate impact of his performance is likely to calm some of the jitters among Republicans in congress and supporters elsewhere, especially after the beating he took in the last few days.
On Monday night, Trump suddenly removed Gen. Michael Flynn, his national security adviser, over circumstances that still are not entirely clear. And on Wednesday, his nominee for Secretary of Labor, Andrew Puzder, withdrew after Republicans said he didn’t have the votes to be confirmed.
Combined with courts blocking his immigration and refugee order, unflattering leaks of confidential material from intelligence agencies and numerous demands for investigations into any Russian connections, Trump’s fast start suddenly hit a wall.
Just three weeks into his term, Democrats, in and out of the media, smelled blood. Many already were going for the kill.
They won’t get it, at least now. Trump bought himself time yesterday.
Yet those determined to bring him down won’t give up, and the insidious leaks of secret material suggest some opponents are members of the permanent government who are willing to use their position and the media to undermine him.
Indeed, the most serious leaks seem to vindicate a warning that Democratic Sen. Chuck Schumer made in early January after Trump criticized leaders of the spook agencies.
“Let me tell you, you take on the intelligence community, they have six ways from Sunday at getting back at you,” Schumer told an interviewer. “So even for a practical, supposedly hard-nosed businessman, he’s being really dumb to do this.”
That incredible statement reflects what a dangerous game rogue agents are playing. The world is on fire yet the president is the target of partisan revenge in his own government. It’s a scandal and it’s outrageous, but it’s a fact that Trump must confront.
Finding the leakers and prosecuting them, which he promises to do, is part of the solution.
rAnother part comes Saturday, when Trump takes his solo act to Florida for a massive public rally. It’s smart for him to get out of Washington and soak in the enthusiasm of the populist movement he leads.
He should do it regularly, and also hold smaller, town-hall style forums where ordinary citizens can ask him questions in more intimate settings. Any way he can speak directly to the American people and hear from them democratizes his presidency and reduces the power of big biased media and the Washington establishment.
Yet the only sure and lasting way to keep ahead of the lynch mob is by producing results. Success will be Trump’s savior.
And nothing says success like jobs, jobs, jobs. Getting the economy to reach lift-off speed is essential so it can deliver the good-paying jobs and prosperity that he promised and the nation needs.
While Republican honchos in congress say they’re getting ready to move on tax cuts and replacing ObamaCare, nothing will happen without presidential leadership. That means Trump’s fate is in his own hands and he must keep himself and his White House team focused on delivering an economic revival.
If he does that, the lynch mob will be left holding an empty rope.
Story 1: President Trump’s New Vision of Restoring The American Dream and Making America Great Again — America First! — Videos
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Chief Justice Roberts, President Carter, President Clinton, President Bush, fellow Americans and people of the world – thank you.
We the citizens of America have now joined a great national effort to rebuild our county and restore its promise for all our people.
Together we will determine the course of America for many, many years to come.
Together we will face challenges. We will confront hardships. But we will get the job done.
Every four years we gather on these steps to carry out the orderly and peaceful transfer of power.
And we are grateful to President Obama and First Lady Michelle Obama for their gracious aid throughout this transition. They have been magnificent, thank you.
Today’s ceremony, however, has very special meaning because today we are not merely transferring power from one administration to another – but transferring it from Washington DC and giving it back to you the people.
For too long a small group in our nation’s capital has reaped the rewards of government while the people have borne the cost.
Washington flourished but the people did not share in its wealth. Politicians prospered but the jobs left and the factories closed.
The establishment protected itself but not the citizens of our country.
Their victories have not been your victories. Their triumphs have not been your triumphs. While they have celebrated there has been little to celebrate for struggling families all across our land.
That all changes starting right here and right now because this moment is your moment. It belongs to you. It belongs to everyone gathered here today and everyone watching all across America today.
This is your day.
This is your celebration.
And this – the United States of America – is your country.
What truly matters is not what party controls our government but that this government is controlled by the people.
Today, January 20 2017, will be remembered as the day the people became the rulers of this nation again.
The forgotten men and women of our country will be forgotten no longer. Everyone is listening to you now.
You came by the tens of millions to become part of a historic movement – the likes of which the world has never seen before.
At the centre of this movement is a crucial conviction – that a nation exists to serve its citizens.
Americans want great schools for their children, safe neighbourhoods for their families and good jobs for themselves.
These are just and reasonable demands
Mothers and children trapped in poverty in our inner cities, rusted out factories scattered like tombstones across the landscape of our nation.
An education system flushed with cash, but which leaves our young and beautiful students deprived of all knowledge. And the crime and the gangs and the drugs which deprive people of so much unrealised potential.
We are one nation, and their pain is our pain, their dreams are our dreams, we share one nation, one home and one glorious destiny.
Today I take an oath of allegiance to all Americans. For many decades, we’ve enriched foreign industry at the expense of American industry, subsidised the armies of other countries, while allowing the sad depletion of our own military.
We’ve defended other nations’ borders while refusing to defend our own.
And spent trillions and trillions of dollars overseas while America’s infrastructure has fallen into disrepair and decay.
We have made other countries rich while the wealth, strength and confidence of our country has dissipated over the horizon.
One by one, shutters have closed on our factories without even a thought about the millions and millions of those who have been left behind.
But that is the past and now we are looking only to the future.
We assembled here today are issuing a new decree to be heard in every city, in every foreign capital, in every hall of power – from this day on a new vision will govern our land – from this day onwards it is only going to be America first – America first!
Every decision on trade, on taxes, on immigration, on foreign affairs will be made to benefit American workers and American families.
Protection will lead to great prosperity and strength. I will fight for you with every bone in my body and I will never ever let you down.
America will start winning again. America will start winning like never before.
We will bring back our jobs, we will bring back our borders, we will bring back our wealth, we will bring back our dreams.
We will bring new roads and high roads and bridges and tunnels and railways all across our wonderful nation.
We will get our people off welfare and back to work – rebuilding our country with American hands and American labour.
We will follow two simple rules – buy American and hire American.
We see good will with the nations of the world but we do so with the understanding that it is the right of all nations to put their nations first.
We will shine for everyone to follow.
We will reinforce old alliances and form new ones, and untie the world against radical Islamic terrorism which we will eradicate from the face of the earth.
At the bed rock of our politics will be an allegiance to the United States.
And we will discover new allegiance to each other. There is no room for prejudice.
The bible tells us how good and pleasant it is when god’s people live together in unity.
When America is united, America is totally unstoppable.
There is no fear, we are protected and will always be protected by the great men and women of our military and most importantly we will be protected by god.
Finally, we must think big and dream even bigger. As Americans, we know we live as a nation only when it is striving.
We will no longer accept politicians who are always complaining but never doing anything about it.
The time for empty talk is over, now arrives the hour of action.
Do not allow anyone to tell you it cannot be done. No challenge can match the heart and fight and spirit of America. We will not fail, our country will thrive and prosper again.
We stand at the birth of a new millennium, ready to unlock the mysteries of space, to free the earth from the miseries of disease, to harvest the energies, industries and technologies of tomorrow.
A new national pride will stir ourselves, lift our sights and heal our divisions. It’s time to remember that old wisdom our soldiers will never forget, that whether we are black or brown or white, we all bleed the same red blood of patriots.
We all enjoy the same glorious freedoms and we all salute the same great American flag and whether a child is born in the urban sprawl of Detroit or the windswept plains of Nebraska, they look at the same night sky, and dream the same dreams, and they are infused with the breath by the same almighty creator.
So to all Americans in every city near and far, small and large, from mountain to mountain, from ocean to ocean – hear these words – you will never be ignored again.
Your voice, your hopes and dreams will define your American destiny.
Your courage, goodness and love will forever guide us along the way.
Together we will make America strong again, we will make America wealthy again, we will make America safe again and yes – together we will make America great again.
Dominic Rushe, Lois Beckett, Spencer Ackerman, Jessica Glenza, Oliver Milman, Molly Redden and Oliver Laughland
Friday 20 January 2017 15.16 ESTLast modified on Friday 20 January 2017 18.40 EST
Donald Trump’s economic nationalism was on full display in his inauguration speech. The president spoke of the “American carnage” he claims has been wrought on America, leaving “rusted out factories scattered like tombstones” across a nation with “little to celebrate”, and blamed it on the outsourcing of US jobs. “America first” will be his presiding philosophy.
Those people left behind by the globalization and the deindustrialization of America helped elect Trump and they will be cheered by his message. But who benefitted from this transformation? According to a report published in Decemberby University of California at Berkeley economists Thomas Piketty, Emmanuel Saez and Gabriel Zucman, the average pre-tax income of the bottom 50% of adults has stagnated since 1980 at about $16,000 per adult while the average pre-tax income of the top 1% rose from $420,000 to about $1.3m. The wealthiest 1% now owns over 37% of household wealth, the bottom 50% – some 160 million people – owns a mere 0.1%.
Trump’s supporters can blame outside forces for their feelings of economic insecurity but it is people like Trump and his cabinet, set to be the richest in history, who have been the main beneficiary of the economic forces that have reshaped America. Trump’s supporters will have to trust them to work against their own interests if they want to Make America Great Again. Dominic Rushe
Trump continued to position himself as a “law and order” president, painting a stark image of a country ridden with “the crime and gangs and drugs that have stolen too many lives and robbed our country of so much unrealized potential”.
“This American carnage stops right here and stops right now,” he pledged.
Obama spent the past two and a half years trying to delicately push forward both gun control laws and a fraught debate over how to reduce police violence towards black Americans. He repeatedly emphasized the good work of most police officers, but also refused to dismiss the mistrust and frustration many black Americans feel towards law enforcement.
Trump famously claimed during the campaign that Chicago police could stop the city’s sudden spike in gun violence “in one week” by “being very much tougher”. “Using tough police tactics,” was the key, he said, “which is OK when people are being killed”.
After years of record lows in murder and violent crime, the United States saw a troubling 10.8% uptick in murders in 2015 – the biggest single-year increase in decades, though one that left the number of murders roughly the same they had been in 2009.
Experts say it’s too soon to know how serious this increase might be – much less what has caused it. But Trump has selectively taken the worst statistics and waved them like a bloody flag.
The new president has made clear that he will take a tough-on-crime stance. despite the building bipartisan consensus that a less-punitive, less-costly criminal justice system is likely to make Americans safer. Lois Beckett
Of all the striking moments in Donald Trump’s caustic inaugural address, few were more discordant than a president whose associates are under investigation for their connections to a foreign power using “America first” as a slogan.
The intelligence agencies that Trump has been feuding with since his electoral victory have concluded Russia interfered in the election for his benefit. They have sought a foreign-intelligence surveillance warrant to examine his associates’ connections to Russia and reportedly are combing through foreign communications and financial transaction records to that end. Additionally, the Senate intelligence committee has initiated an inquiry into the same subject, and has signaled its willingness to subpoena Trump aides.
The course of those inquiries will be the backdrop under which Trump conducts US foreign policy and stewards its national security.
In his address, which portrayed him as leading the nation out of an era of “American carnage” unleashed by parasitic elites, Trump beat a loud nationalist drum. Every foreign capital will soon learn, “it’s only going to be America first”, Trump said. His only sop to a universalist vision of America was to say that every nation has the right to similarly place their interests first.
Trump alluded to forging new alliances – a seeming reference to his oft-stated desire to bring the US closer to Russia – in order to “unite the civilized world against radical Islamic terrorism, which we will eradicate from the face of the earth.” While moments earlier, Trump lamented the loss of “trillions of dollars” through wasteful foreign conflicts, he set a rhetorical commitment to an expansive war against an undifferentiated adversary.
For years, the far right has argued that only a willingness to blame an amorphous concept called “radical Islam” – often conflated with Islam itself, and understood that way by millions of Muslims in the US and worldwide – can precipitate a victorious conclusion to the 9/11 era. They are about to have their test case in president Trump.
“It’s going to be America first” is a statement that conceals more than it reveals, particularly on national security.
While Trump offered few specifics, he criticized the US “subsidiz[ing] the armies of foreign countries while allowing the depletion of our own military”. That “subsidy” is the “by, with and through” approach to training foreign militaries that gave Barack Obama’s Pentagon an alternative to the ponderous ground warfare Trump first embraced in Iraq and then repudiated. Several of those armies, including Kurdish peshmerga irregulars, Iraqi soldiers, Syrian rebels and Libyan government forces – Muslims all – comprise the forces fighting the Islamic State across Mosul, on the approaches to Raqqa and in Sirte. An early test of Trump’s stewardship will come when he decides whether to revoke such subsidies or jettison his inaugural rhetoric. Spencer Ackerman
Trump was inaugurated with just a nod to one promise he campaigned on – making America’s healthcare great again.
Though Trump devoted portions of his dark speech to crime, trade, immigration, jobs and even gangs, his only reference to American’s struggles to afford their healthcare was a promise to “to free the Earth from the miseries of disease”.
However, if the new president is interested in fulfilling promises to listen to the American people made during his speech, he might take a second look at Congressional Republican’s plan to repeal Barack Obama’s signature health law, the Affordable Care Act.
Only 20% of the public wants Congress to repeal the ACA without a replacement in hand, according to a January Kaiser Family Foundation poll. Another 47% don’t want the law repealed at all, and a remaining 28% want a plan first. But, so far, Republicans have been coy with details.
Trump’s speech did touch on one specific health problem: addiction. “The crime and gangs and drugs that have stolen too many lives and robbed our country of so much unrealized potential,” said Trump. “This American carnage stops right here and stops right now.”
In fact, there is one significant reform that helped cover millions of Americans’ addiction treatment – the Affordable Care Act. Jessica Glenza
Unsurprisingly given its anonymity during the election, there was no mention of climate change or the environment in Donald Trump’s inauguration speech. He mentioned mountains and oceans, but only in context of locations in America that will be great again once he solves all of its maladies.
Trump did mention the US foolishly spending “trillions of dollars overseas” which partly references climate spending that the new president wants to axe. Barack Obama managed to push $500m out of the door for developing countries threatened by rising seas and droughts in his final week in office. Further assistance is now unlikely.
Most telling was what was happening off-stage. The White House website’s expansive section on climate change has now been deleted. In its stead is an “America first energy plan” in which Trump promises to scrap the “harmful and unnecessary” climate action plan. This move, as well as Trump’s speech, is a clear indication the president will simply ignore climate change, as if it does not exist, during his term. Oliver Milman
President Trump referred to border protection three times throughout his short inauguration speech, a sure sign of the emphasis he will place upon it as he attempts to enforce the draconian immigration reforms he pledged on the campaign trail.
“We’ve defended other nation’s borders while refusing to defend our own,” Trump said.
Critics would argue the remark is patently false. The Obama administration deported more undocumented immigrants than any before it, and took significant measures to secure America’s southern border.
Trump has also pledged to suspend America’s intake of Syrian refugees, who are already subjected to substantial security vetting before they enter the country, and it seems likely the president will move forward with this promise within the next few days.
Coupled with Trump’s infamous promise to erect a wall across the entire southern border, it remains unclear just how much damage he will do to some of the world’s most vulnerable people in the name of border defense.
Trump didn’t mention gender issues in his inaugural speech. But in the days leading up to his swearing-in, his transition team unveiled a plan to eliminate $480m in Violence Against Women grants and his nomination for education secretary, Betsy DeVos,refused to commit to upholding the Obama administration’s aggressive stance on campus sexual assault or the rights of trans students.
Republicans in Congress have moved swiftly to repeal Obamacare, which expanded contraception access and prohibited insurers from charging women more for health care, and to cut off Planned Parenthood’s participation in Medicaid. Molly Redden
I will be the People’s President: Trump pledges to put America first in brutally uncompromising first speech as POTUS 45 in full frontal assault on elites at home and with a warning for nation’s rivals abroad
President-elect Donald Trump has taken the oath of office to become the 45th President of the United States
In his inaugural address, Mr Trump delivered an elegy to Americans who felt neglected by their government
‘I will fight for you with every breath in my body,’ he pledged. ‘And I will never, ever, let you down’
Trump promised ‘America first’ would become the central organizing principle of his new government
Among those in the stands for the ceremony was Hillary Clinton – Trump’s rival in the election
By David Martosko, Us Political Editor For Dailymail.com At The U.s. Capitol and Geoff Earle, Deputy Us Political Editor For Dailymail.com and Ashley Collman For Dailymail.com and Wires
PUBLISHED: 07:23 EST, 20 January 2017 | UPDATED: 18:43 EST, 20 January 2017
Donald Trump delivered a populist rallying call to Americans who felt left behind enough to send a non-politician to do the most powerful job on earth, after he was sworn in Friday as America’s 45th president.
‘I will fight for you with every breath in my body,’ he pledged. ‘And I will never, ever let you down.’
Trump promised ‘America first’ would become the central organizing principle around which his government is organized.
‘We will follow two simple rules. Buy American and hire American,’ Trump declared.
At 1,453 words, his inaugural address was the shortest since Jimmy Carter’s in 1977. His slogans were just as tight.
‘America first,’ a mantra that he put into common use as he campaigned for the White House, found some flesh on its bone Friday.
‘Every decision on trade, on taxes, on immigration on foreign affairs, will be made to protect American workers and American families,’ he said.
Trump’s oath of office – which he called ‘an oath of allegiance to all Americans’ – was marred by a protester blowing a whistle and another handful shouting muffled slogans in the distance.
But the moment passed. Trump spoke his vows. And America had a new leader.
President Donald Trump delivers his inaugural address after being sworn in as the 45th president of the United States during the 58th Presidential Inauguration at the U.S. Capitol in Washington, Friday, Jan. 20, 2017
Donald Trump is sworn in as the 45th president of the United States by Chief Justice John Roberts as Melania Trump looks on during the 58th Presidential Inauguration at the U.S. Capitol in Washington, Friday, Jan. 20, 2017
Donald Trump is sworn in as the 45th president of the United States by Chief Justice John Roberts as Melania Trump looks on during the 58th Presidential Inauguration at the U.S. Capitol in Washington, Friday, Jan. 20, 2017
U.S. President Donald Trump (L) takes the oath of office from U.S. Supreme Court Chief Justice John Roberts (R) with his wife Melania, and children Barron, Donald, Ivanka and Tiffany at his side during inauguration ceremonies at the Capitol in Washington, U.S., January 20, 2017
Former President Obama gave one last wave before boarding Marine One. He and his family are taking a vacation to Palm Springs
Marine One, carrying outgoing President Barack Obama and outgoing First Lady Michelle Obama, takes off from the capitol after Donald J.Trump’s inauguration as the 45th President of The United States on Jan. 20, 2017 in Washington, D.C.
President Donald Trump, First Lady Melania Trump, Vice President Mike Pence, and Karen Pence wave as former President Barack Obama and Michelle Obama depart during the 2017 Presidential Inauguration at the U.S. Capitol in Washington, D.C., U.S.
Donald Trump sworn in as the 45th president of the United States
Newly inaugurated President Donald Trump and Pence preside over a military parade during Trump’s swearing in ceremony
What Trump left out of his teleprompter-aided remarks was just as obvious as what he kept in.
There was no act of reconciliation with journalists, who have become his ink-armed foils and a new enemy as vexing to Trump as the Democratic Party.
Absent, too, was a spoken olive-branch to women who felt alienated after evidence of his ‘locker room talk’ and past coarseness around the fairer sex became part of his political epic.
Asked if Trump hit the right tones of contrition, Senator John McCain of Arizona told DailyMail.com: ‘I just think it was a continuation of his campaign.’
Asked if that was as it should be, McCain shrugged: ‘It’s his choice; he’s the president-elect.’
Other senators and top Trump advisers were more enthusiastic.
‘I loved it,’ said Lt. Gen. Mike Flynn, Trump’s national security advisor.
‘I think it was an amazing speech,’ Flynn told DailyMail.com. ‘I think the American people know that they have a president that stands for them – and I mean for all Americans.’
‘And I think the world actually heard a great message today.’
Asked if Trump hit all the right notes, Senator Jeff Sessions of Alabama – soon to be U.S. attorney general, said: ‘Yeah. It was a good day.’
Donald Trump signed his first orders as president surrounded by his children and grandchildren
One of Trump’s grandsons hammed it up for the cameras as the president got to work on Friday
HILLARY’S HUMILIATION AT ATTENDING TRUMP’S INAUGURATION
Hillary Clinton finally came face-to-face with her political rival, President Donald Trump, as he entered Sanctuary Hall to take part in the traditional inaugural lunch.
Clinton, a guest of her ex-president husband, had her presidential ambitions swamped by Trump’s populist November victory.
She gamely participated in America’s famed peaceful transfer of power, despite falling short of being the day’s focus – but her face told the story of how she felt.
US President Donald Trump greets Hillary Clinton in Statuary Hall in the US Capitol for the Inaugural Luncheon following Donald Trump’s inauguration as the 45th President of the United States, in Washington, DC, on January 20, 2017
Clinton was Trump’s rival in the election. She attended his election as the wife of a former president
Former Democratic presidential nominee Hillary Clinton (L) and former President Bill Clinton (R) arrive on the West Front of the US Capitol for the inauguration ceremony of Donald J. Trump taking the oath of office to be sworn in as the 45th President of the United States in Washington, DC, USA, 20 January 2017. Trump won the 08 November 2016 election to become the next US President
President Donald Trump and first lady Melania Trump greet former President Bill Clinton at the Inaugural Luncheon in the US Capitol January 20, 2017 in Washington, DC. President Trump will attend the luncheon along with other dignitaries after being sworn in as the 45th President of the United States
Trump finally shakes hands with Hillary after snub at swearing-in
And among the crowd some people chanted ‘lock her up’ at the moment she and her husband were announced.
Some Democrats, including many in Congress, have questioned that decision, saying it tended to normalize the incoming president while their party aims to ostracize him.
But she showed up in a white pantsuit and coat, alongside Bill and their daughter Chelsea, smiling for cameras during an appearance she never thought she would make without hearing ‘Hail to the Chief’ played in her honor.
And she used Twitter to issued a veiled to rebuke to those who boycotted it – saying: ‘I’m here today to honor our democracy & its enduring values. I will never stop believing in our country & its future.’
Clinton won points from a former adversary for bucking up for the occasion.
‘I think it takes a lot to show up in that situation after the kind of campaign that was run against her,’ said Tad Devine, a top adviser to Vermont Sen. Bernie Sanders, who challenged Clinton in the Democratic primaries.
Trump hinted at economic decline in America’s rust belt and breadbasket during his predecessor’s eight years in office.
‘The wealth of our middle class has been ripped from their homes and redistributed all over the world,’ he claimed. ‘But that is the past. We are looking only to the future.’
And in a hat-tip to one of his most famous catch-phrases, one that made hundreds of appearances on the campaign trail, the unlikeliest president promised that ‘America will start winning again, winning like never before.’
‘We will bring back our dreams,’ Trump said, and ‘determine the course of America and the world for many, many years to come.’
‘We will face challenges, we will confront hardships, but we will get the job done.’
The billionaire’s improbable resonance with the middle class and the poor found new voice on Friday, as he framed his election and inauguration as a power-shift from Washington to the rest of America.
‘We are transferring power from Washington, D.C. and giving it back to you, the people,’ he said to cheers.
‘For too long a small group in our nation’s capital have reaped the rewards of government while the people bore the costs.’
View of the West Front as President-elect Donald Trump arrives on the platform of the US Capitol in Washington, DC, on January 20, 2017, during his swearing-in ceremony
WASHINGTON, DC – JANUARY 20: Vice President Mike Pence takes the oath of office from Supreme Court Justice Clarence Thomas as wife Karen Pence holds a bible on the West Front of the U.S. Capitol on January 20, 2017 in Washington, DC. In today’s inauguration ceremony Donald J. Trump becomes the 45th president of the United States
The historic National Mall sits half-empty during Trump’s inauguration (left). At Obama’s 2009 inauguration (right) there was an estimated 1.8million people in attendance despite the below freezing weather��
Vice President Mike Pence is sworn in as this wife Karen holds the bible during the 58th Presidential Inauguration at the U.S. Capitol in Washington, Friday, Jan. 20, 2017
Mike Pence is sworn in to serve as vice president
President-elect Donald Trump pumps his fist as he arrives for his Presidential Inauguration at the U.S. Capitol in Washington, Friday, Jan. 20, 2017
President-elect Donald Trump flashes a thumbs up during the 58th Presidential Inauguration at the U.S. Capitol in Washington, Friday, Jan. 20, 2017
Donald Trump introduced to his inauguration
‘The jobs left and the factories closed. The establishment protected itself. But not the citizens of our country. Their victories have not been your victories,’ he said.
‘That all changes starting right here and right now, because this moment is your moment. It belongs to you.
‘It belongs to everyone gathered here today and everyone watching all across America. This is your day, this is your celebration, and this, the United States of America, is your country.’
Speaking of the ‘American carnage’ of inner city blight, crime and failing schools, he vowed that it ‘stops right here, and stops right now.’
‘We are one nation, and their pain is our pain. Their dreams are our dreams, and their success will be our success. We share one heart, one home and one glorious destiny.’
Trump pumped a fist in triumph after he finished speaking.
Asked how it felt moments after the ceremony concluded, Eric Trump grinned and flashed a thumbs-up.
Former Trump rival Ohio Governor John Kasich was in no mood to reflect on the change of leadership.
‘I’m not doing any interviews right now,’ he told DailyMail.com inside the Capitol.
Trump didn’t let the threat of Washington, D.C. rain showers spoil his inauguration, the long-time-coming culmination of an improbable political revolution that shows no sign of letting up.
PRESIDENT DONALD TRUMP’S INAUGURAL ADDRESS
Chief Justice Roberts, President Carter, President Clinton, President Bush, President Obama, fellow Americans and people of the world, thank you.
We, the citizens of America, are now joined in a great national effort to rebuild our country and restore its promise for all of our people.
Together, we will determine the course of America and the world for many, many years to come. We will face challenges. We will confront hardships. But we will get the job done.
Every four years we gather on these steps to carry out the orderly and peaceful transfer of power.
And we are grateful to President Obama and first lady Michelle Obama for their gracious aid throughout this transition. They have been magnificent. Thank you.
Today’s ceremony, however, has a very special meaning because today we are not merely transferring power from one administration to another or from one party to another, but we are transferring power from Washington, D.C., and giving it back to you, the people.
For too long, a small group in our nation’s capital has reaped the rewards of government while the people have bore the cost. Washington flourished, but the people did not share in its wealth. Politicians prospered but the jobs left and the factories closed.
The establishment protected itself, but not the citizens of our country. Their victories have not been your victories. Their triumphs have not been your triumphs. And while they celebrated in our nation’s capital, there was little to celebrate for struggling families all across our land.
That all changes starting right here and right now, because this moment is your moment. It belongs to you.
It belongs to everyone gathered here today and everyone watching all across America.
This is your day. This is your celebration. And this, the United States of America, is your country.
What truly matters is not which party controls our government, but whether our government is controlled by the people.
January 20th, 2017, will be remembered as the day the people became the rulers of this nation again.
The forgotten men and women of our country will be forgotten no longer. Everyone is listening to you now. You came by the tens of millions to become part of a historic movement, the likes of which the world has never seen before.
At the center of this movement is a crucial conviction that a nation exists to serve its citizens. Americans want great schools for their children, safe neighborhoods for their families and good jobs for themselves.
These are just and reasonable demands of righteous people and a righteous public.
But for too many of our citizens, a different reality exists.
Mothers and children trapped in poverty in our inner cities, rusted out factories scattered like tombstones across the landscape of our nation.
An education system flush with cash but which leaves our young and beautiful students deprived of all knowledge.
And the crime and the gangs and the drugs that have stolen too many lives and robbed our country of so much unrealized potential. This American carnage stops right here and stops right now.
We are one nation, and their pain is our pain.
Their dreams are our dreams, and their success will be our success. We share one heart, one home and one glorious destiny.
The oath of office I take today is an oath of allegiance to all Americans.
For many decades we’ve enriched foreign industry at the expense of American industry, subsidized the armies of other countries while allowing for the very sad depletion of our military.
We’ve defended other nations’ borders while refusing to defend our own. And we’ve spent trillions and trillions of dollars overseas while America’s infrastructure has fallen into disrepair and decay.
We’ve made other countries rich while the wealth, strength and confidence of our country has dissipated over the horizon.
One by one, the factories shuttered and left our shores with not even a thought about the millions and millions of American workers that were left behind.
The wealth of our middle class has been ripped from their homes and then redistributed all across the world. But that is the past, and now we are looking only to the future.
We assembled here today are issuing a new decree to be heard in every city, in every foreign capital and in every hall of power. From this day forward, a new vision will govern our land.
From this day forward, it’s going to be only America first, America first. Every decision on trade, on taxes, on immigration, on foreign affairs will be made to benefit American workers and American families. We must protect our borders from the ravages of other countries making our product, stealing our companies and destroying our jobs.
Protection will lead to great prosperity and strength. I will fight for you with every breath in my body, and I will never ever let you down.
America will start winning again, winning like never before.
We will bring back our jobs. We will bring back our borders. We will bring back our wealth, and we will bring back our dreams.
We will build new roads and highways and bridges and airports and tunnels and railways all across our wonderful nation.
We will get our people off of welfare and back to work, rebuilding our country with American hands and American labor.
We will follow two simple rules: Buy American and hire American.
We will seek friendship and goodwill with the nations of the world, but we do so with the understanding that it is the right of all nations to put their own interests first.
We do not seek to impose our way of life on anyone, but rather to let it shine as an example.
We will shine for everyone to follow.
We will re-enforce old alliances and form new ones and unite the civilized world against radical Islamic terrorism, which we will eradicate completely from the face of the earth.
At the bedrock of our politics will be a total allegiance to the United States of America, and through our loyalty to our country we will rediscover our loyalty to each other.
When you open your heart to patriotism, there is no room for prejudice.
The Bible tells us how good and pleasant it is when God’s people live together in unity. We must speak our minds openly, debate our disagreements honestly, but always pursue solidarity. When America is united, America is totally unstoppable. There should be no fear. We are protected and we will always be protected. We will be protected by the great men and women of our military and law enforcement. And most importantly, we will be protected by God.
Finally, we must think big and dream even bigger. In America, we understand that a nation is only living as long as it is striving. We will no longer accept politicians who are all talk and no action, constantly complaining but never doing anything about it.
The time for empty talk is over. Now arrives the hour of action.
Do not allow anyone to tell you that it cannot be done. No challenge can match the heart and fight and spirit of America. We will not fail. Our country will thrive and prosper again.
We stand at the birth of a new millennium, ready to unlock the mysteries of space, to free the earth from the miseries of disease, and to harness the energies, industries and technologies of tomorrow.
A new national pride will stir ourselves, lift our sights and heal our divisions. It’s time to remember that old wisdom our soldiers will never forget, that whether we are black or brown or white, we all bleed the same red blood of patriots.
We all enjoy the same glorious freedoms and we all salute the same great American flag.
And whether a child is born in the urban sprawl of Detroit or the windswept plains of Nebraska, they look up at the same night sky, they fill their heart with the same dreams and they are infused with the breath of life by the same almighty creator.
So to all Americans in every city near and far, small and large, from mountain to mountain, from ocean to ocean, hear these words: You will never be ignored again. Your voice, your hopes and your dreams will define our American destiny. And your courage and goodness and love will forever guide us along the way.
Together we will make America strong again, we will make America wealthy again, we will make America proud again, we will make America safe again.
And, yes, together we will make America great again.
Thank you. God bless you. And God bless America.
President-elect Donald Trump kisses his wife Melania Trump before the 58th Presidential Inauguration at the U.S. Capitol in Washington, Friday, Jan. 20, 2017
Melania Trump arrives for the Presidential Inauguration of Donald Trump at the US Capitol in Washington, DC, on January 20, 2017
Melania Trump (R) embraces Barron Trump on the West Front of the U.S. Capitol on January 20, 2017 in Washington, DC. In today’s inauguration ceremony Donald J. Trump becomes the 45th president of the United States
President Barack Obama, left, arrives with Vice President Joe Biden before the 58th Presidential Inauguration for President-elect Donald Trump at the U.S. Capitol in Washington, Friday, Jan. 20, 2017
Melania Trump arrives at inauguration
The brash billionaire capped off a three-day parade of dinners, speeches, prayers and a concert with pomp and circumstance in front of the U.S. capitol as hundreds of thousands of Americans who he has said were ‘forgotten’ during the Obama years cheered him on.
The 45th president’s hated ‘dishonest media’ watched as storm clouds threatened, along with four former presidents, most of the U.S. Congress and a sea of ‘Make America Great Again’ devotees.
The sea of faces on the National Mall was dotted with red caps, Trump’s signature campaign items bearing that slogan, itself an artifact from Ronald Reagan’s 1980 campaign.
When Trump was introduced, he turned and faced the crowd, smiled, and offered a wave.
Quoting Abraham Lincoln, Missouri Senator Roy Blunt, who headed the inaugural committee in the Congress, told the nation: ‘What we do here is both commonplace and miraculous.’
Blunt called it ‘not a celebration of victory,’ but ‘a celebration of democracy.’
Other senators visible on the balcony overlooking reporters included West Virginia Senator Joe Manchin, who met with Trump at Trump Tower, and Senator Richard Burr of North Carolina. Burr will oversee a Senate Intelligence Committee investigation into Russian election-year hacking.
Across the balcony to the south, House Appropriations chair Harold Rogers of Kentucky, who will oversee funding of Trump’s proposed wall on the U.S.-Mexico border, picked a prominent standing position.
Standing next to Rogers was Rep. Dana Rohrabacher of California, who had been a candidate for secretary of state.
Obama and Biden introduced at Trump inauguration
Donald Trump’s children Ivanka Trump (L), Tiffany Trump, Donald Trump Jr, and Eric Trump arrive on the West Front of the U.S. Capitol on January 20, 2017 in Washington, DC. In today’s inauguration ceremony Donald J. Trump becomes the 45th president of the United States.
President Obama and Donald Trump are pictured above leaving the White House Friday morning on their way to the Inauguration
Mrs Obama and future first lady Melania were seen leaving the White House after tea
The President and President-elect make the drive from the White House to Capitol Hill on Friday
US First Lady Michelle Obama (L) and Dr. Jill Biden arrive for the Presidential Inauguration of Donald Trump at the US Capitol in Washington, DC, January 20, 2017
Former Democratic presidential nominee Hillary Clinton greets Michelle Obama as former President Bill Clinton and former President George W. Bush look on at the West Front of the U.S. Capitol on January 20, 2017 in Washington, DC. In today’s inauguration ceremony Donald J. Trump becomes the 45th president of the United States
President-elect Donald Trump’s children, from left, Tiffany, Donald Trump Jr. and Ivanka Trump arrive for the 58th Presidential Inauguration at the U.S. Capitol for President-elect Donald Trump in Washington, Friday, Jan. 20, 2017
Ivanka Trump arrives on Capitol Hill in Washington, Friday, Jan. 20, 2017, for the presidential inauguration of her father Donald Trump
Donald Trump, Jr., and Ivanka Trump arrive for the Presidential Inauguration of their father Donald Trump at the US Capitol in Washington, DC, January 20, 2017
Tiffany Trump (L) and Eric Trump arrive on the West Front of the U.S. Capitol on January 20, 2017 in Washington, DC. In today’s inauguration ceremony Donald J. Trump becomes the 45th president of the United States
Trump children arrive at the inauguration
A U.S. Marine Corps band played Sousa marches. Chants of ‘U.S.A.!’ broke out. Cheers erupted when the vice-president elect, Mike Pence, was announced, among the standing-room crowd stretching more than a mile to the west.
And as giant TV screens flashed mobs of Americans their first glimpse of the new president behind the scenes, a rock concert-like whoop went up. Before he was introduced, screams of ‘Trump! Trump! Trump!’ reverberated on a scale even though he has never seen or heard.
Among Trump’s living predecessors, only George H.W. Bush failed to make the trip, owing to his hospitalization in Texas. He sent his regrets to Trump, writing that his doctor warned sitting outside in the cold would put him ‘six feet under.’
Standing on the dais were his son, George W. Bush; Jimmy Carter; Bill Clinton; and Barack Obama.
Trump’s crowd applauded the outgoing chief executive of the U.S., audibly surprising some members of the media whose seats were far to the front.
They were less kind to Sen. Charles Schumer, the newly minted Democratic minority leader. As his speech stretched beyond their patience, they broke into shouts of ‘We want Trump!’
Obama and the former first lady released a video message Friday morning, saying they would take a break from public life and ‘sit still for a little bit’ as they become private citizens again.
The message was an appeal for supporters to weigh in on the future of the Obama Presidential Center on the south side of Chicago.
Clinton’s wife, the Democrat whom Trump defeated soundly in the Electoral College more than ten weeks ago, also participated Friday in America’s peaceful transition of power.
Obamas welcome the Trumps to the White House
The Obamas welcomed the Trumps to the White House Friday morning, ahead of the swearing-in ceremony
As is tradition, the current president and first lady welcome the president-elect and his wife to the White House for a pre-Inauguration tea
Mrs Trump brought a large gift from Tiffany’s which she then handed over to Mrs Obama. It’s unclear what was in the box
President Obama asked how Mr Trump was doing and shook his hand. Their wives then hugged
Before Mr Trump arrived at the White House, the Obama shared a sweet kiss – one of their last moments as president and first lady
Some Democrats, including many in Congress, have questioned that decision, saying it tended to normalize the incoming president when their party should be ostracizing him.
But she gamely attended in a white pantsuit, alongside Bill and their daughter Chelsea, smiling for cameras during an appearance she never thought she would make without hearing ‘Hail to the Chief’ played in her honor.
Clinton won points from a former adversary for bucking up for the occasion.
‘I think it takes a lot to show up in that situation after the kind of campaign that was run against her,’ said Tad Devine, a top advisor to Vermont Sen. Bernie Sanders, who challenged Clinton in the Democratic primaries. Devine spoke to The Hill newspaper.
Trump castigated Mrs. Clinton repeatedly as ‘Crooked Hillary,’ interrupting her during debates and projecting a generally belligerent attitude as he unseated the would-be first female president.
Even in victory, he has thrown a few shoulders.
Jared Kushner and a guest attend the inauguration ceremonies to swear in Donald Trump as the 45th president of the United States at the U.S. Capitol in Washington, U.S., January 20, 2017
epa05735079 Donald Trump, Jr. (C) and his wife Vanessa Trump (2-L) arrive on the West Front of the US Capitol for the inauguration ceremony of Donald J. Trump taking the oath of office to be sworn in as the 45th President of the United States in Washington, DC, USA, 20 January 2017. Trump won the 08 November 2016 election to become the next US President. Others are not identified
Donald Trump Jr and his wife are seen with two of their children heading to the Inauguration Friday morning
The Trump family and dignitaries arrive for inauguration
Hillary Clinton, Trump’s rival in the election, is attending today’s ceremony as the wife of former President Bill CLinton. As is tradition, all living presidents attend the Inauguration of a new president
Clinton’s all-white outfit may have been a subtle nod to the Suffragettes. If she had won the election, she would have been the first female president
Former President George W. Bush and his wife Laura arrive at the Capitol Building on Friday. President Bush told reporters that his parents, former President George H.W. Bush and first lady Barbara Bush, are doing better at the hospital
Former President Jimmy Carter and his wife Rosalyn arrive for the 58th Presidential Inauguration for President-elect Donald Trump at the U.S. Capitol in Washington, Friday, Jan. 20, 2017
Senator Bernie Sanders, left, who lost the Democratic nomination arrives at the Capitol on Friday. He’s pictured next to Arizona Senator John McCain, who ran a failed campaign against President Obama in 2008. McCain has now become a main opponent of Trump, despite being a senior member of the president’s party
Senator Elizabeth Warren (in a pink scarf) arrives at the Capitol Building. Warren is a liberal voice in the Democratic party and a front runner for the 2020 ticket
L-R(FRONT) US Chief Justice John Roberts, Justice Anthony Kennedy and Justice Clarence Thomas, Back L-R: Justice Ruth Bader Ginsburg, Justice Sonia Sotomayor and Justice Stephen Bryer on the platform of the US Capitol in Washington, DC, on January 20, 2017, before the swearing-in ceremony of US President-elect Donald Trump.
Thursday night during a candlelight dinner at Washington’s Union Station, Trump jabbed at the Clinton campaign for planning a fireworks display in New York City when they thought they had the presidency locked up.
Ultimately, Team Clinton canceled its fireworks permit as Election Day closed in.
‘They spent $7 million on fireworks. And they canceled it – and that’s because history has proven that if you’re going to lose, you don’t want fireworks, right?’ Trump joked.
Trump’s sprawling family, the most visible sign of his softer side as he stumped for the White House, were out in force Friday.
Wife Melania, daughters Ivanka and Tiffany, and sons Don Jr., Eric and Barron beamed, along with three spouses and assorted Trump grandchildren.
Ivanka Trump’s power-husband, real estate investor Jared Kushner, will soon move into a White House office to become a ‘senior adviser’ to the president.
The wealthy and well-connected Orthodox Jew (Ivanka converted before their wedding) is expected to have a broad foreign-policy portfolio that includes a Middle-East peace mission to reconcile Israel and the Palestinian Authority.
Trump relied heavily on Kushner’s counsel during the campaign. He said Thursday night at the dinner that ‘all my life I’ve been hearing that’s the toughest deal in the world to make. And I’ve seen it.’
‘But I have a feeling Jared’s going to do a great job,’ Trump said, addressing his son-in-law. ‘If you can’t produce peace in the Middle East, nobody can.’
Donald and Melania arrive at church on Trump’s Inauguration Day
Donald Trump and Melania attend church Friday morning to kick off Inauguration Day. Melania channeled Jackie Kennedy in a matching dress, jacket and gloves in powder blue
Melania Trump channeled Jackie O in a powder blue sheath dress topped with a fitted bolero jacket. She matched her conservative frock with a pair of stiletto pumps and opera length gloves for a look that was both elegant and sophisticated.
We love the high neckline and wrap silhouette that gives an air of modesty to Melania’s ensemble, a perfect choice to accompany her husband’s classic navy blue suit. It’s a custom piece by Ralph Lauren so sadly you won’t find it online.
But you can emulate the new First Lady’s style with a cropped jacket of your very own from the edit below. From Oscar de la Renta to Le Bos all budgets are covered.
A view inside St John’s Episcopal Church Friday morning
Mr Trump, his wife, Vice President-elect Mike pence and his wife sat in the front row of the church
Rev Luis Leon greets President-elect Donald Trump and his wife Melania as they arrive for a church service at St. Johnís Episcopal Church across from the White House in Washington, Friday, Jan. 20, 2017, on Donald Trump’s inauguration day
All of Trump’s children were with him, except youngest son Barron, age 10. Pictured above from left to right: Vanessa Trump with daughter Kai, Donald Trump Jr with one of his sons and Eric Trump holds hands with his wife Lara
Ivanka Trump and husband Jared Kushner pictured left. Tiffany Trump, Trump’s daughter with second wife Marla Maples, pictured attending church with her boyfriend
Rev Luis Leon greets Vice President-elect Mike Pence and his wife Karen upon their arrival for church service at St. Johnís Episcopal Church across from the White House in Washington, Friday, Jan. 20, 2017, on Donald Trump’s inauguration day
Kellyanne Conway, advisor to U.S. President-elect Donald Trump, departs for a church service before the 58th Presidential Inauguration in Washington, U.S., January 20, 2017
Washington, DC was bathed in red light this morning, hours before President-elect Donald Trump was set to be sworn in as the 45th president of the United States
Trump will take the oath of office around 11:30am outside the Capitol Building (pictured Friday morning), before giving his Inaugural Address
As is tradition, Donald Trump stayed at the president’s guest house, Blair House (white townhouse above), Thursday night
Soon-to-be President Donald Trump left Blair House Friday morning to kick off Inauguration Day in Washington, DC. His wife Melania wore a chic blue jacket and skirt
SCHEDULE OF EVENTS FOR INAUGURATION DAY
BEFORE THE CEREMONY
8:30am – Donald and Melania Trump attend service at St. John’s Church
9:40am – President Barack Obama and first lady Michelle Obama welcome the Trumps to the White House
9:45am – Obamas host a coffee and tea reception for the Trumps.
10:30am – Trumps, Obamas leave White House for U.S. Capitol
AT THE CAPITOL
11:16am – Sen. Roy Blunt, Inaugural Committee chairman, delivers opening remarks
11:21am – Timothy Michael Cardinal Dolan, Rev. Dr. Samuel Rodriguez and Pastor Paula White-Cain deliver invocations
11:35am – Vice Presidential oath is administered by Associate Justice Clarence Thomas
11:47am – Presidential oath is administered by Chief Justice John Roberts
11:51am – President Donald Trump delivers inaugural address
12:12pm – Rabbi Marvin Hier, Rev. Franklin Graham and Bishop Wayne T. Jackson deliver benedictions
12:18pm Jackie Evancho performs the National Anthem
AFTER THE CEREMONY
12:30pm Obama departs by helicopter from East Front
12:54pm President’s Room signing ceremony
1:08pm – Luncheon
2:35pm – Review of the troops
3pm – Parade from the Capitol to the White House
7pm – Inaugural balls get underway
Trump’s sister Maryanne, a senior judge of the United States Court of Appeals in Philadelphia, made the trip. Trump noted her presence Thursday night.
Nearly 70 Democrats from the House of Representatives said they would skip Trump’s swearing-in, however. Trump allies decried them as politically motivated crybabies.
The U.S. hasn’t seen as large an inaugural boycott since southern Democrats stayed away from the Capitol when Abraham Lincoln took the oath of office in 1861.
At that time, seven southern states had already declared war on the Union.
New Jersey Rep. Frank Pallone was one Democrat who decided to attend on Friday. But he told DailyMail.com that the new president’s remarks were ‘not at all’ sufficiently unifying.
‘I think that it was very contemptuous of the previous administration,’ Pallone said.
‘I think in many ways he was suggesting that, you know, President Obama and the previous administration were not looking out for the needs of the people. And I would say just the opposite. I would say that the Trump policies are going to hurt the average American, not help.’
Trump seemed to brush off the partisan rancor over what some Democrats called his ‘illegitimate’ victory, tweeting positive messages in the run-up to the most consequential day of his 70-year life.
‘It all begins today!’ he wrote on Twitter, his preferred method of mass communication.
‘I will see you at 11:00 A.M. for the swearing-in. THE MOVEMENT CONTINUES – THE WORK BEGINS!’ he added.
Crowds began pouring into the National Mall as the sun rose, and steady lines stretched behind security checkpoints
Kellyanne Conway, the pollster-turned-campaign manager who will be among the new president’s closest counselors in the West Wing, promised Friday morning that Trump would show himself throughout the day as ‘a man of action, a man of resolve.’
Conway, who celebrated her 50th birthday as the inauguration unfolded, arrived in a red, white and blue Gucci outfit with buttons that resembled snarling cats. The dress was a cross between continental soldier and Christmas nutcracker.
She told San Francisco-based NBC reporters that it was ‘Trump revolutionary wear.’
Conway said during a morning CBS interview that as the Obama era ends, America was ‘a divided country’ – but Trump ‘will lay down an important marker to try to unify’ Americans.
Some of that division was on display early in the morning, as so-called ‘J20’ protesters tried to interfere with inaugural ticket-holders entering security-screening north of the Capitol building.
Some held signs reading ‘Let freedom ring.’ Others hoisted ‘Free Palestine’ messages, blurring the protesters’ more pointed anti-Trump theme.
A few wore orange jumpsuits in protest of the continued operation of a U.S. military prison in Guantanamo Bay, Cuba.
Police held the agitators at bay, standing between them and the steady river of ticket-holders streaming onto the heavily secured Capitol grounds.
A few black clad protesters 20 blocks away, including some in black masks, drew pepper spray from police as they smashed a window of a Starbucks coffee shop.
Far larger protests are planned for Saturday – a ‘women’s march’ that could draw up to 200,000 feminists who rejected Trump from the beginning.
As is tradition, President Obama was seen leaving a letter for the incoming president on the Resolute Desk of the Oval Office
As he left the West Wing one last time, President Obama told reporters he was feeling nostalgic
Vice President Joe Biden, and wife Dr Jill Biden, are seen walking out of the Oval Office Friday morning
Trump kicked off Friday as usual – with a tweet. He said: ‘It all begins today! I will see you at 11:00 A.M. for the swearing-in. THE MOVEMENT CONTINUES – THE WORK BEGINS!’
This view taken January 20, 2017 shows people gathering on the mall to witness President-elect Donald Trump take the oath of office as the 45th president of the United States
The event’s organizers have framed it as a wholesale repudiation of Trump’s long-past comments about women that surfaced as he ran for the White House, including an 11-year-old tape in which he describes the ease with which famous men can get away with sexual assault.
The march’s leaders attracted unwanted attention this week when they decided to exclude a contingent of women who oppose abortion rights. Planned Parenthood, the nation’s largest abortion provider, is among the event’s sponsors.
As is usually the case when single-issue protesters gather in the nation’s capital, hangers-on representing other interest groups will march on the margins.
Some will shout against the darkness of Trump’s loud condemnation of Mexican illegal immigrants, whose numbers he claimed – in his campaign’s first speech – include drug dealers and rapists.
Gay-rights demonstrators will also attend, although Trump has broken with the evangelical wing of the Republican Party by embracing and defending the LGBT community.
Trump will likely be a far more disruptive agitator in his own way, bringing to the White House his take-no-prisoners business instincts and an internal bias toward action that at times seems hard-wired into his DNA.
Insiders told DailyMail.com to expect a flurry of executive orders on Monday including a few high-impact pen strokes affecting healthcare policy, taxes and diplomatic missions.
In particular, one senior aide said Wednesday that Trump is mulling an order that would give his State Department a clear path to immediately move the U.S. embassy in Israel from Tel Aviv to Jerusalem, the nation’s ‘eternal capital.’
Trump in many ways is expected to be the yin to President Barack Obama’s yang, executing one 180-degree turn after another in ways that will dismiss the federal government’s tendency to move in slow, stepwise motion.
Another senior aide said Thursday that Trump plans to institute some form of a federal hiring freeze for non-essential personnel in departments not linked to national security.
Such a move would, as bureaucrats retire or quit, give the new president a quick route to budget savings that would not be subject to congressional review or interference from government workers’ unions.
WASHINGTON, DC – JANUARY 20: People gather on the National Mall prior to Donald Trump’s Presidential Inauguration on January 20, 2017 in Washington, DC. Trump is being sworn in as the 45th President of the United States
Thousands of people were out in the streets before sunrise to get their spot for the Inauguration and parade
This view taken January 20, 2017 shows people in their seats at the US Capitol where President-elect Donald Trump will be taking the oath of office as the 45th president of the United States
People gather on the National Mall prior to Donald Trump’s Presidential Inauguration on January 20, 2017 in Washington, DC. Trump is being sworn in as the 45th President of the United States
A worker cleans steps on the inaugural stand on January 20, 2017, at the U.S. Capitol in Washington, DC, before the inauguration of US President-elect Donald Trump
Spectators wait in line to pass through security checkpoints for President-elect Donald Trump’s inauguration, Friday, Jan. 20, 2017, in Washington
The newly sworn-in President Trump will watch his Inagural Parade from this covered structure outside of the White House. It’s pictured above before dawn on Friday
Military personnel man a security checkpoint ahead of President-elect Donald Trump’s inauguration on Friday, January 20, 2017 in Washington, DC
Trump supporters come out to support him at inauguration
In addition, Trump may use an executive order to rescind Obama’s ‘DACA’ and ‘DAPA’ programs, a collective promise that the federal government won’t deport illegal immigrants who were brought to the U.S. as children, or their parents.
A Trump aide speculated Thursday that the president-elect is not planning a mass-deportation, but sees the programs as an impediment to ejecting ‘criminal aliens’ from the United States if they fall into one of those two groups.
Republican Senator Charles Grassley of Iowa, who chairs the Senate Judiciary Committee, told DailyMail.com on Friday that he has no idea what kind of executive orders Trump is cooking up for his first days in office.
‘All I’ve heard is that Monday he’s going to sign a lot of what he can sign,’ Grassley said.
‘I haven’t heard anything specific about what that would be. Since I haven’t talked to anybody in the new administration I don’t have any basis for saying what they might do or might not do.’
Sessions offered no opinion about reports that the FBI is part of a multi-agency task force examining whether wire intercepts and financial records might show Russian interference in the 2016 election.
‘I’m not commenting on any of that, and I haven’t seen it either,’ he told DailyMail.com.
America’s political soothsayers never saw Friday’s inauguration coming 18 months ago, when Trump descended a lobby escalator in his Trump Tower skyscraper to announce his candidacy.
Newspaper editorials mocked him as a ‘carnival barker’ and a ‘charlatan.’ His fellow Republican White House hopefuls snickered as they plotted to undermine him, even as his star power seemed to monopolize the national media landscape.
Journalists and the pundit class, however, missed a groundswell of support from disaffected Republicans and independent voters who were ready for Trump’s message of economic populism.
As they pummeled him with bombshell accusations of misogyny and questioned the degree to which Russia-directed computer hacking gave him a decisive edge over Democrat Hillary Clinton, he never batted an eye.
Reporters and their employers became the enemy. Some were banned from campaign events. Others found themselves called out by name as thousands of chanting Trump fans egged him on.
Those same scribes will have to make their peace with covering ‘The Donald’ as he brings what actor Matthew McConaughey conceded to the Associated Press would be ‘a dynamic four years.’
Unlike most of institutional Hollywood, which supported Clinton almost unanimously, McConaughey said Americans should ’embrace’ their new leader and ‘shake hands with the fact that this is happening and it’s going down.’
Filmmaker Robert Redford, too, seemed resigned to reality on Thursday at his Sundance Film Festival.
‘Presidents come and go, the pendulum swings back and forth,’ he mused during the festival’s opening press conference.
Barbara Streisand, however, vented her spleen Trump-ward with a Huffington Post essay titled ‘Clueless, Reckless, Graceless, Mindless and Heartless: Our President Elect.’
‘He has demonstrated he is both dangerous and unfit for office,’ the aging actress and singer wrote.
A Rasmussen daily tracking poll released Friday showed that 56 per cent of Americans who were ‘likely voters,’ including 85 per cent of Republicans, have a positive view of Trump’s job performance as he takes over the Oval Office.
More than half – 55 per cent – of independent voters, those unaffiliated with either major political party, give Trump a thumbs-up. But 70 per cent of Democrats disagree.
Obama entered office with a 67 per cent approval rating in the same poll, as the nation’s first black president.
But he and the outgoing first lady embraced Friday’s transition, warmly greeting Donald and Melania Trump to the White House for the traditional pre-inauguration coffee and tea reception in the Blue Room.
The Trumps presented Michelle Obama with a gift, wrapped in an unmistakable Tiffany box.
Trump Tower adjoins the luxury jeweler’s New York City flagship store in, which this week reported a sales decline since airtight security began disrupting foot traffic on Fifth Avenue.
Donald and Melania Trump attended a black-tie dinner in Washington D.C. on Thursday night, their final engagement before he is sworn in as the 45th president
The dinner came after a busy day of inaugural events for the future First Family. At around 7pm, they waved goodbye to crowds at Lincoln Memorial after a concert
Following the tradition of previous presidents, Trump visited Arlington National Cemetery with Mike Pence to lay a wreath at the Tomb of the Unknown Soldier later
A presidential inauguration is a day of sometimes awkward adjustments, including one as the Trumps arrived following a prayer service at nearby St. John’s church.
Melania approached Michelle Obama for a handshake. Mrs. Obama went in for a hug. They ended up embracing – a hopeful gesture on display for the world to see, and to ponder.
The staff who oversees the White House residence presented the Obamas with a token of respect: the flag that flew over the presidential mansion Friday morning, and one that flew on the first day of his presidency.
After his inauguration, Trump is scheduled to attend a traditional luncheon with members of Congress, before participating in a parade that ends at the White House – where he will get used to sitting behind the Resolute Desk as he begins to shift from campaigning poetry to governing prose.
The first thing he will see is a letter from Obama, another tradition meant as a warm welcome as the baton is passed.
Obama aides wouldn’t say on Friday morning what the outgoing president wrote.
Trump’s inauguration didn’t set an attendance record – that honor belongs to Obama’s historic 2009 swearing-in.
But he did distinguish himself as the incoming president accompanied by the most prayers and invocations.
Three separate invocations at the beginning, and three benedictions after Trump’s speech, bookended the ceremonies as a rabbi, a Catholic bishop, and several protestant leaders bowed their heads along with the nation.
Story 1: Will Trump Stop The Dumbing Down of Education By Appointing Larry P. Arnn The Last Secretary of the Department of Education? –American People Would Cheer!– Videos
Larry P. Arnn Wins 2015 Bradley Prize
Published on Jun 16, 2015
Dr. Larry P. Arnn, president of Hillsdale College, was presented with the 2015 Bradley Prize for Outstanding Achievement.
Trump and Conservatism – Constitution Day Celebration
Published on Sep 17, 2016
Hillsdale College President Larry P. Arnn, National Review Senior Editor Jonah Goldberg, and Professor of Political Science John Marini discuss presidential candidate Donald J. Trump’s role in conservatism in America.
“Education and Politics” – Larry P. Arnn
Dr. Larry P. Arnn at Freshman Convocation | Hillsdale College
Larry Arnn on Reclaiming America’s First Principles
What Problem Does the Constitution Solve?
“Conservatism and Constitutionalism” – Larry P. Arnn
Education, Self-Government and Our Current Crisis
Time to Give Up or Time to Fight On?
Introduction to the U.S. Constitution – 2011-09 – Dr. Larry Arnn
Charlotte Iserbyt – Deliberate Dumbing Down of the World
Charlotte Iserbyt: The Miseducation of America
Trump says he’s going to cut Dept of Ed and EPA
Donald trump on cutting the EPA an department of education (CleanAirMatters)
Abolish Public Education: Privatize All Schools – Ron Paul (1988)
Rand Paul – Eliminating the Department of Education
Ted Cruz Abolish the Dept of Education AFP Defending the American Dream Summit 08 22 2015
The Cruz Radical Agenda: Eliminate the Dept. of Education
Glenn Beck -4-14-2010-The Plan Part 3- Abolish The Department of Education Part 1
National Campaign Launched to Abolish U.S. Education Department
THE SECRETARY OF EDUCATION FOR PRESIDENT-ELECT TRUMP SHOULD BE … NOBODY
By: Brian Darling | November 14, 2016
Now that President-elect Donald J. Trump has shocked the world and won the presidency, the talk has quickly shifted to the individuals he should consider for positions in his administration.
President-elect Donald Trump does not have the traditional cadre of Washington insiders and donors to build out his Cabinet, but his transition team has spent the past several months quietly building a short list of industry titans and conservative activists who could comprise one of the more eclectic and controversial presidential Cabinets in modern history.
As USA Today reports, there are plenty of names being floated for various administration positions. However, the best way to make the federal government great again (if that is even possible) is to shrink it. One interesting appointment should be Trump’s decision on who is to be the next Secretary of Education, and he could use that appointment to send a strong small government message. In Trump’s book, as reported by Business Insider, Trump has implied that the U.S Department of Education should be abolished.
During his campaign, President-elect Donald Trump repeatedly hit at the role of federal government in education, arguing instead for increased local control of schools. He has also hinted that the Department of Education should be abolished.
“A lot of people believe the Department of Education should just be eliminated. Get rid of it. If we don’t eliminate it completely, we certainly need to cut its power and reach,” he wrote in his book “Great Again: How to Fix Our Crippled America.”
It would be a bold move for President Trump to refuse to nominate a new head of the Department of Education to show that he is committed to abolishing it. For years, abolishing the Department of Education was part of the Republican platform until President George W. Bush teamed up with a liberal icon, the late Senator Edward Kennedy of Massachusetts, to pass No Child Left Behind that expanded federal intervention in education.
Education is best left to the states. That issue came into focus again when in May the Obama administration issued a letter ordering every public school in America to allow transgender students to use the bathroom of the opposite sex. Furthermore, the Department of Justice sued North Carolina over a law that prohibited people from the opposite sex to use public bathrooms. This action showed all followers of national news that the power of the federal government over education policy has gone haywire.
When one scans the Constitution, one cannot find any reference to education policy as an enumerated power of the federal government. Education has traditionally been a function of the states and ideas like No Child Left Behind have perverted that concept.
The time is now to create some incremental change in federal policy, particularly with regard to education. A good first step to at least scaling back the Department of Education would be for President Donald J. Trump to refuse to appoint anyone to be the next Secretary of Education.
Bruce Fein, former Associate Deputy Attorney General and General Counsel to the FCC under President Ronald Reagan takes my recommendation a few steps further and tells Conservative Review,
Trump should refuse to fill Department of Education, HUD, Department of Energy, Department of Commerce, Department of Labor, Consumer Product Safety Commission, Consumer Finance Protection Board. If there are one or a few serious things any of these agencies do, Trump should transfer them to another Cabinet Department, like DOE control over nuclear facilities.
That would be a bold, bold move and would show that Trump truly is coming to Washington to dismantle big government.
The time is now to create some incremental change in federal policy, particularly with regard to education.
At a minimum, leaving the Secretary of Education position vacant would be a daring move that would help in convincing conservative and libertarian Republicans that the president-elect is serious about implementing small government reforms.
Filling the dozen top jobs in Trump’s Department of Education
Frederick M. Hess
In Washington, when a new president is elected, it sparks weeks of feverish ruminating on each personnel decision, with breathless discussions of everything from high-profile cabinet appointments to who should (or will) be the Bureau of Migratory Waterfowl’s next deputy assistant secretary for planning and policy. All of this tends to invest these jobs with more glamour than they probably deserve—since they’re mostly marathons of meetings, glad-handing, budgeting, damage control, and bureaucratic oversight. But that’s how Washington works.
And the truth is that these appointments really do matter. As the old saw has it: “Personnel is policy.” It’s the appointees in the various departments who will ultimately shape the Trump administration’s educational priorities and agenda. This has never been truer than now, given how much of Trump’s educational platform is a blank slate—or one filled with only the broadest of notional directives (e.g. school choice good, Common Core bad).
I’ll be clear: I don’t know who will populate the Trump administration’s Department of Education. I do have a few thoughts on some of the folks I’d like to see in the mix, though—and I figured I’d share them with you, if only so that fewer folks feel obliged to inquire. Please understand that this isn’t an exhaustive, careful, or complete list. After all, I have no particular thoughts, for instance, on the commissioner of the Rehabilitation Services Administration. It’s more an eclectic mix of some names I’d like to see considered. I’m sure I’ve forgotten some names that I’d have included if I’d given this more thought, and it’s obviously limited to individuals who I’m guessing/hoping might be willing to serve in this choice-friendly, Common Core-skeptical, Republican administration. I’ve also omitted some of the most outspoken NeverTrumpers (like John Bailey and Mike Petrilli), for obvious reasons.
Keep in mind that I have no juice in any of this and there’s no reason to expect anyone to listen to me. But so it goes. With all that in mind, here are some of the names I’d love to see considered for a dozen of the top jobs (I’m not bothering with bios or current positions; if you don’t know who someone is, just ride the google):
U.S. Secretary of Education: Mitch Daniels, Scott Walker, Bill Evers, Gerard Robinson
Deputy Secretary: David Cleary, Brian Jones, Lisa Graham Keegan, Larry Arnn
Under Secretary: Nina Rees, Paul Pastorek, Jim Peyser, Vic Klatt, Hanna Skandera
Assistant Secretary – Civil Rights: Joshua Dunn, Greg Lukianoff, Robert Scott
Assistant Secretary – Communications and Outreach: Jenna Talbot, Joy Pullmann, Holly Kuzmich
Assistant Secretary – Elementary and Secondary Education: Dwight Jones, Robert Pondiscio, Tom Luna, Matt Ladner, Jim Stergios
Assistant Secretary – Legislation and Congressional Affairs: Lindsay Fryer, D’arcy Philps, Lindsey Burke
Assistant Secretary – Planning, Evaluation and Policy Development: Peter Oppenheim, Brad Thomas, Andy Smarick, Robert Enlow
Assistant Secretary – Postsecondary Education: Andrew Kelly, Jason Delisle, James Bergeron
Assistant Secretary – Special Education and Rehabilitative Services: Joe Siedlecki, Mike McShane, Max Eden
Assistant Secretary – Vocational and Adult Education: Tom Stewart, Tony Bennett
Institute of Education Sciences – Director: Patrick Wolf, Jay Greene, Caroline Hoxby, Martin West, Rick Hanushek
President-elect Donald Trump doesn’t have a track record on education, which means that his choice of education secretary will send a really important signal on where he wants to go in terms of policy on the Every Student Succeeds Act, higher education, and more.
So who is on the short list? Tough to say, but here are some names making the rounds inside the Beltway:
Dr. Ben Carson: The neurosurgeon was among Trump’s opponents in the Republican presidential primaries and later endorsed him. As a candidate, Carson’s proposed education agenda, like Trump’s, centered on school choice. It’s easy to imagine that Carson, who is famous for separating conjoined twins, would spend a lot of time as secretary talking about the importance of science education. It’s unclear what form that would take though, given some of Carson’s other views. As secretary, Carson could revive the culture wars over how to teach evolution, since he’s said in the past he doesn’t believe in it. UPDATE: It doesn’t look like Carson is interested in serving in Trump’s cabinet, according to Bloomberg.
Gov. Scott Walker of Wisconsin: Walker, also a one-time Trump GOP primary rival, is probably best known for rolling back collective bargaining rights for public employees, including teachers, in Wisconsin. It’s unclear if he wants to sit at the helm of the education department, but a lot of Republicans in Washington have him on the top of their wish list. Since Walker is, or at least was, a rising star in the party, such a pick could elevate the importance of the issue.
Williamson Evers: A research fellow at the Hoover Institution at Stanford University, he served in a top policymaking role—assistant secretary of planning, evaluation, and policy—during the tail end of the President George W. Bush’s administration. Evers, who has worked for past GOP presidential campaigns, is also a leader of the Trump transition team. He’s a veteran of the so-called “math wars” in California, has opposed teacher tenure, and was part of the Bush administration’s efforts to restart K-12 education in Iraq. More in this story. One possibility: Evers doesn’t become secretary, but gets a key role in the administration that could matter just as much on K-12, such as deputy secretary (the No. 2 post in the department).
Rep. Luke Messer, of Indiana: The GOP congressman pushed legislation that would allow Title I money for disadvantaged kids to follow students to the school of their choice, including a private school. That proposal ultimately foundered, but Messer has done some deep thinking on the question of how small-government-friendly Republicans could push choice. And he has a track record of working in a bipartisan way. He’s teamed up with Rep. Jared Polis, D-Colo., on student data privacy legislation, for instance.
Former Indiana state chief Tony Bennett: Bennett, who was a driving force in Chiefs for Change in its early days, is close to both former Florida Gov. Jeb Bush and incoming Vice President Mike Pence, who served as governor of Indiana. As state chief, Bennett, a Republican, pushed for an ambitious education redesign agenda, including teacher evaluation through student outcomes, A through F grades for schools, an expansion of charter schools and vouchers, and more. He was also a consistent supporter of the Common Core State Standards, which Trump doesn’t like. But his hard charging style didn’t sit well with some educators, and he was defeated in his bid for re-election by Glenda Ritz, a Democrat. (Ritz went on to lose her own re-election bid this year.) Later, Bennett became Florida’s state chief.
Admiral William McRaven: He is a former United States Navy admiral who oversaw special operations, and is the current chancellor of the University of Texas system. He’d be the first secretary with a primarily higher education background since Lauro Cavazos who served as education secretary under Presidents Ronald Reagan and George H.W. Bush.
Tony Zeiss: The former president of Central Piedmont Community College in Charlotte, N.C. retired in February after more than two decades of service. The school became a national leader in workforce development under his watch, according to the Charlotte Observer. His work even got a shout-out in President Barack Obama’s 2012 State of the Union address. Zeiss, whose name surfaced late Tuesday, would be another higher education pick. And like Pence, he’s a Hoosier.
Eva Moskowitz or Michelle Rhee: Both of these “reformey” Democrats were floated by a Trump spokesman during an appearence on MSNBC. Moskowitz is the founder of Success Academy Charter Schools, Rhee is the controversial former chancellor of public schools in the District of Columbia, where she pushed through policies like performance pay. Both are Democrats, so their policies could be pretty different from most of the other folks on this list.
In addition, two other school choice advocates, Betty DeVos, a philanthropist, and Kevin Chavous, a former D.C. City council member and a Democrat, are also possibilities. Both sit on the board of directors of the American Federation for Children, a school choice advocacy organization. (Hat tip: Politico). And CNN has reported that Michelle Rhee, the former DC schools chancellor, is on the short list.
Of course, filling the lower-level positions at the department, such as the deputy secretary and assistant secretaries, can have an equally outsized impact on K-12. Over at Rick Hess Straight Up, the education policy director at AEI has some ideas.
Dumbing down is the deliberate oversimplification of intellectual content within education, literature, cinema, news, video games and culture in order to relate to those unable to assimilate more sophisticated information. The term “dumbing down” originated in 1933 as movie-business slang, used by motion picture screenplay writers, meaning: “[to] revise so as to appeal to those of little education or intelligence”. Dumbing-down varies according to subject matter along with the reasons for lowering the intellect of the subject or topic. It often involves diminishment of critical thought involving the undermining of intellectual standards within language and learning; thus trivializing meaningful information, culture, and academic standards, as is the case of popular culture.
In the late 20th century, the proportion of young people attending university in the UK increased sharply, including many who previously would not have been considered to possess the appropriate scholastic aptitude. In 2003, the UK Minister for Universities, Margaret Hodge, criticised Mickey Mouse degrees as a negative consequence of universities dumbing down their courses to meet “the needs of the market”: these are degrees conferred for studies in a field of endeavour “where the content is perhaps not as [intellectually] rigorous as one would expect, and where the degree, itself, may not have huge relevance in the labour market”: thus, a university degree of slight intellectual substance, which the student earned by “simply stacking up numbers on Mickey Mouse courses, is not acceptable”.
In 2007 Wellington Grey, a high school physics instructor in London, published an Internet petition objecting to what he described as a dumbed-down curriculum. He wrote: “I am a physics teacher. Or, at least, I used to be”; and complained that “[Mathematical] calculations – the very soul of physics – are absent from the new General Certificate of Secondary Education.” Among the examples of dumbing-down that he provided were: “Question: Why would radio stations broadcast digital signals, rather than analogue signals? Answer: Can be processed by computer/ipod” to “Question: Why must we develop renewable energy sources?” (a political question).
In Dumbing Us Down: The Hidden Curriculum of Compulsory Schooling (1991, 2002), John Taylor Gatto presented speeches and essays, including “The Psychopathic School”, his acceptance speech for the 1990 New York City Teacher of the Year award, and “The Seven-Lesson Schoolteacher”, his acceptance speech upon being named as the New York State Teacher of the Year for 1991. Gatto writes that while he was hired to teach English and literature, he came to believe he was employed as part of a social engineering project. The “seven lessons” at the foundation of schooling were never explicitly stated, Gatto writes, but included teaching students that their self-worth depended on outside evaluation; that they were constantly ranked and supervised; and that they had no opportunities for privacy or solitude. Gatto speculated:
Was it possible, I had been hired, not to enlarge children’s power, but to diminish it? That seemed crazy, on the face of it, but slowly, I began to realize that the bells and confinement, the crazy sequences, the age-segregation, the lack of privacy, the constant surveillance, and all the rest of the national curriculum of schooling were designed exactly as if someone had set out to prevent children from learning how to think, and act, to coax them into addiction and dependent behavior.
In examining the seven lessons of teaching, Gatto concluded that “all of these lessons are prime training for permanent underclasses, people deprived forever of finding the center of their own special genius.” That “school is a twelve-year jail sentence, where bad habits are the only curriculum truly learned. I teach school, and win awards doing it. I should know.”
Increased business competition and the introduction of econometric methods changed the business practices of the mass communications media. The business monopoly practice of media consolidation reduced the breadth and the depth of the journalism practiced and provided for the information of the public. The reduction of operating costs (overhead expenses) eliminated foreign news bureaus and reporters, in favour of presenting the public relations publications (news releases) of governments, businesses, and political parties as fact.
Refinements in measurement of approval ratings and audience size increased the incentive for journalists and TV producers to write simplistic material, diminishing the intellectual complexity of the argument presented, usually at the expense of factual accuracy and rationality. Cultural theorists, such as Richard Hoggart, Raymond Williams, Neil Postman, Henry Giroux, and Pierre Bourdieu, invoked these effects as evidence that commercial television is an especially pernicious contributor to the dumbing-down of communications. Nonetheless, the cultural critic Stuart Hall said that the people responsible for teaching critical thinking – parents and academic instructors – can improve the quality (breadth and depth) of their instruction by occasionally including television programmes.
In France, Michel Houellebecq has written (not excluding himself) of “the shocking dumbing-down of French culture and intellect as was recently pointed out,  sternly but fairly, by TIME magazine.”
In popular culture
The science fiction film Idiocracy (2005) portrays the U.S. as a greatly dumbed-down society 500 years later, in which the low cultural condition was achieved with dysgenics, over-reproduction by people of low intelligence being greater than the rate of reproduction of people of high intelligence. Similar concepts appeared in earlier works, notably the science fiction short story The Marching Morons (1951), by Cyril M. Kornbluth which also features a modern-day protagonist in a future dominated by low-intelligence persons. Moreover, the novel Brave New World (1931), by Aldous Huxley, discussed the ways that society was effectively dumbed down in order to maintain political stability and social order.
The social critic Paul Fussell touched on these themes (“prole drift”) in his non-fiction book Class: A Guide Through the American Status System (1983) and focused on them specifically in BAD: or, The Dumbing of America(1991).
In 1980, Arnn become an editor for Public Research, Syndicated in the United States. He was one of four founders of the Claremont Institute in Claremont, California, and served as its president from 1985 to 2000. In 2000, he was named the twelfth president of Hillsdale College. In this capacity, he set the ambitious goal of $400 million for the college’s Founders Campaign, beginning in 2001, and under his watch, several new buildings have arisen on the campus.
Arnn has been a trustee of the conservative Heritage Foundation since 2002. In 2012 it offered its presidency to Arnn, who decided to stay in academe instead.
Discussing politics at Hillsdale, Arnn remarked, “If you take the reading of an old book on the view that it’s valuable, you have already discarded the modern Left.” Arnn supported Donald Trump for President in the 2016 US election
“Dark Ones” Comment
In 2013, Arnn was criticized for his remarks about ethnic minorities when he testified before the Michigan State Legislature. In testimony against the Common Core curriculum standards, in which Arnn expressed concern about government interference with educational institutions, he recalled that shortly after he assumed the presidency at Hillsdale he received a letter from the state Department of Education that said his college “violated the standards for diversity,” adding, “because we didn’t have enough dark ones, I guess, is what they meant.” After being criticized for calling minorities “dark ones”, he explained that he was referring to “dark faces”, saying: “The State of Michigan sent a group of people down to my campus, with clipboards … to look at the colors of people’s faces and write down what they saw. We don’t keep records of that information. What were they looking for besides dark ones?” Michigan House Democratic Leader Tim Greimel condemned Arnn for his comments, which he called “offensive” and “inflammatory and bigoted”, and asked for an apology. The College issued a statement apologizing for Arnn’s remark, while reiterating Arnn’s concern about “state sponsored racism” in the form of affirmative action policies.
Liberty and Learning: The Evolution of American Education (2004)
The Founders’ Key: The Divine and Natural Connection Between the Declaration and the Constitution and What We Risk by Losing It
“Churchill’s Trial: Winston Churchill and the Salvation of Free Government” (2015)
Jump up^Higgins, Lori; Jesse, David (August 1, 2013). “Hillsdale president get heat over racial remark”. Detroit Free Press. Retrieved September 26, 2013. ‘No offense was intended by the use of that term except to the offending bureaucrats, and Dr. Arnn is sorry if such offense was honestly taken. But the greater concern, he believes, is the state-endorsed racism the story illustrates.’
Mike Pence scored a narrow win over Tim Kaine in the vice presidential debate Tuesday night,according to a CNN/ORC instant poll, with 48% of voters who watched the debate saying Pence did the better job while 42% think Kaine had the best night.
With two relatively unknown politicians taking the stage, those watching seemed more impressed by Pence than Kaine. About two-thirds of debate-watchers said Pence’s performance was better than they expected, just 14% said he did worse than they thought he would. Reviews of Kaine tilted toward the negative, with 43% saying he did worse than they expected and 38% saying he outperformed their expectations.
The debate itself focused more on the candidates at the top of the ticket than the two men on stage. Most debate watchers said Kaine did the better job defending Hillary Clinton, 58%, while just 35% thought Pence better defended Donald Trump.
Still, 29% of debate watchers said what they saw Tuesday made them more apt to vote for Trump, compared with 18% who said it made them more likely to back Clinton. Most debate watchers, 53%, said their vote was not swayed by Tuesday’s face off. After the first Clinton-Trump debate last week, 34% said it made them more apt to vote Clinton, 18% Trump.
Kaine’s performance fell short of Clinton’s on several other measures in the poll as well. Tuesday’s debate watchers were split on which candidate expressed his views more clearly, 47% named each, a metric on which Clinton soundly beat Trump in last week’s presidential debate.
And 48% said Kaine had a better understanding of the issues, edging out Pence at 41%. Clinton topped Trump by a better than 2-to-1 margin on that score after their first debate.
Kaine and Pence emerge from the debate with near identical and net-positive favorability ratings, but Kaine appears to have taken a hit among those who watched. Pence, meanwhile, boosted his numbers somewhat.
Pence was largely seen as the more likeable candidate on the stage, 53% to 37%, and nearly all of the movement in Kaine’s favorability rating post-debate was toward the negative side: His unfavorable rating rose from 28% among this same group of debate watchers when they were interviewed pre-debate to 40% after, while his favorability number held about even at 55%. For Pence, his favorability rating bumped up 7 points to 57%, from 50% pre-debate. His unfavorable numbers held about even 40%.
Both men are broadly judged qualified to take over the office of president if needed, 77% say Pence is qualified, 70% that Kaine is. Most voters who watched Tuesday night said Kaine’s positions on the issues are about right ideologically (57%) while 36% see him as too liberal and 5% too conservative. Assessing Pence’s positions, about half, 49%, think he’s about right, 46% too conservative and just 3% too liberal.
The CNN/ORC post-debate poll includes interviews with 472 registered voters who watched the October 4 vice presidential debate. Results among debate-watchers have a margin of sampling error of plus or minus 4.5 percentage points. Respondents were originally interviewed as part of a September 28-October 2 telephone survey of a random sample of Americans, and indicated they planned to watch the debate and would be willing to be re-interviewed when it was over.
Pence left the Indiana Policy Review Foundation in 1993, a year after beginning to host The Mike Pence Show, a talk radio program based in WRCR-FM in Rushville, Indiana. Pence called himself “Rush Limbaugh on decaf” since he considered himself politically conservative while not as outspoken as Limbaugh. The show was syndicated by Network Indiana and aired weekdays 9 a.m. to noon (ET) on 18 stations throughout the state, including WIBC in Indianapolis. From 1995 to 1999, Pence also hosted a weekend political talk show out of Indianapolis.
U.S. House of Representatives
Pence as a U.S. Congressman
In 1988, Pence ran for Congress against Democratic incumbent Phil Sharp, but lost the election. Pence ran against Sharp again in 1990, quitting his job in order to work full-time in the campaign, but once again lost the election. During the race, Pence used “political donations to pay the mortgage on his house, his personal credit card bill, groceries, golf tournament fees and car payments for his wife.” While the spending was not illegal at the time, it reportedly undermined his campaign.
During the 1990 campaign, Pence ran a television advertisement in which an actor, dressed in a robe and headdress and speaking in a thick Middle Eastern accent, thanked his opponent, Sharp, for doing nothing to wean the United States off imported oil as chairman of a House subcommittee on energy and power. In response to criticism, Pence’s campaign responded that the ad was not about Arabs; rather, it concerned Sharp’s lack of leadership. In 1991, Pence wrote an essay, “Confessions of a Negative Campaigner”, published in the Indiana Policy Review, in which he apologized for running negative ads against Sharp.
Mike Pence rejuvinated his political career by running for the U.S. House of Representatives again in 2000, this time winning the seat in Indiana’s 2nd congressional district after six-year incumbent David M. McIntosh opted to run for governor of Indiana. The district (renumbered as Indiana’s 6th congressional district beginning in 2002) comprises all or portions of 19 counties in eastern Indiana. As a Congressman, Pence adopted the slogan he had used frequently on the radio, describing himself as “a Christian, a conservative and a Republican, in that order.”
In his first year in office Pence established a reputation as one with strong convictions willing to go his own way. He opposed President George W. Bush‘s No Child Left Behind Act in 2001, as well as President Bush’s Medicare prescription drug expansion the following year. Pence was re-elected four more times by comfortable margins. In the 2006 and 2008House elections, he defeated DemocratBarry Welsh.
In 2008, Esquire magazine listed Pence as one of the ten best members of Congress, writing that Pence’s “unalloyed traditional conservatism has repeatedly pitted him against his party elders.” Pence was mentioned as a possible Republican candidate for president in 2008 and 2012. In September 2010, he was the top choice for president in a straw poll conducted by the Values Voter Summit. That same year he was encouraged to run against incumbent Democratic Senator Evan Bayh, but opted not to enter the race, even after Bayh unexpectedly announced that he would retire.
In May 2011, Mike Pence announced that he would be seeking the Republican nomination for governor of Indiana in 2012. Incumbent Republican Governor Mitch Danielswas term-limited. Despite strong name recognition and a popular outgoing governor of the same party, Pence found himself in a heated race, eventually pulling out a close win with just under 50 percent of the vote against Democrat John R. Gregg and Libertarian nominee Rupert Boneham. Pence was sworn in as the 50th governor of Indiana on January 14, 2013.
Fiscal and economic policy initiatives
Pence “inherited a $2 billion budget reserve from his predecessor, Mitch Daniels, and the state has added to that reserve under his watch, though not before requiring state agencies, including public universities, to reduce funding in years in which revenue fell below projections.” The state finished fiscal year 2014 with a reserve of $2 billion; budget cuts ordered by Pence for the $14 billion annual state budget include $24 million cut from colleges and universities; $27 million cut from the Family and Social Services Administration; and $12 million cut from the Department of Correction. During Pence’s term as governor, the unemployment rate reflected the national average. Indiana’s job growth lagged slightly behind the national trend. In 2014, Indiana’s economy was among the slowest-growing in the U.S., with 0.4% GDP growth, compared to the national average of 2.2%; this was attributed in part to sluggish manufacturing sector.Carrier Corp. and United Technologies Electronic Controls (UTEC) announced in 2016 that they would be closing two facilities in Indiana, sending 2,100 jobs to Mexico; Pence expressed “deep disappointment” with the moves. Pence was unsuccessful in his efforts to persuade the companies to stay in the state, although the companies agreed to reimburse local and state governments for certain tax incentives that they had received.
In 2013, Pence signed a law blocking local governments in Indiana from requiring businesses to offer higher wages or benefits beyond those required by federal law. In 2015, Pence also repealed an Indiana law that required construction companies working on publicly funded projects to pay a prevailing wage. Indiana enacted right-to-work legislation under Pence’s predecessor, Republican governor Mitch Daniels. Under Pence, the state successfully defended this legislation against a labor challenge.
Pence made tax reform, namely a 10% income-tax rate cut, a priority for 2013. While he did not get the 10% cut he advocated, Pence did accomplish his goal of cutting state taxes. Legislators cut the income tax by 5% and also killed the inheritance tax. Speaker of the House Brian Bosma said that the legislative package was the “largest tax cut in our state’s history, about $1.1 billion dollars.” By signing Senate Bill 1, the state corporate income tax would be dropped from 6.5% to 4.9% by 2021, which would be the second-lowest corporate income tax in the nation
On June 12, 2013, the Indiana Legislature overrode Pence’s veto of a bill to retroactively authorize a local tax. Lawmakers overrode Pence’s veto in a 68–23 vote in the House and a 34–12 one in the Senate. With an interesting twist, Republican legislators overwhelmingly voted against Pence, while most Democrats supported his veto. The Jackson–Pulaski tax fix, one of three bills vetoed by Pence during the session, addressed a 15-year-old county income tax which had been imposed to fund the construction of jail facilities with the stipulation that the tax be lowered by 1% after the first several years. The reduction was not implemented and thus county residents paid an additional 1% tax that they were legally not required to pay. The bill, which was passed by a huge majority of legislators and subsequently vetoed by Pence, allowed money to be kept and not returned to the tax payers as would have otherwise been necessary.
As governor, Pence pressed for a balanced budget amendment to the state’s constitution. He initially proposed the initiative in his State of the State address in January 2015. The legislation passed the state Senate and is progressing through the House. Indiana has had AAA credit ratings with the three major credit-rating agencies since 2010, before Pence took office; these ratings have been maintained throughout Pence’s tenure.
In 2014, Pence supported the Indiana Gateway project, a $71.4 million passenger and freight rail improvement initiative paid for by the American Recovery and Reinvestment Act of 2009 (the federal stimulus package), which Pence had voted against while a congressman. In October 2015, Pence “announced plans to pay off a $250 million federal loan” to cover unemployment insurance payments that spiked during the recession. In March 2016, Pence signed legislation to fund a $230 million two-year road-funding package.
During his tenure as governor, Pence supported significant increases in education funding to pre-schools, voucher programs, and charter schools, but frequently clashed with supporters of traditional public schools. In 2014, a little over one year after taking office, Pence helped establish a $10 million state preschool pilot program in Indiana and testified personally before the state Senate Education Committee in favor of the program to convince fellow Republicans (several of whom opposed the proposal) to approve the plan. Although the plan was initially defeated, Pence successfully managed to revive it, “getting Indiana off the list of just 10 U.S. states that spent no direct state funds to help poor children attend preschool.” Demand for enrollment in the program “far outstripped” capacity, and Pence at first refused to apply for up to $80 million in federal Health and Human Services Preschool Development Grant program funding, arguing that “Indiana must develop our own pre-K program without federal intrusion.” After coming under sustained criticism for this position, Pence reversed course and sought to apply for the funds.
In 2015, Pence secured significant increases in charter-school funding from the Legislation, although he did not get everything he had proposed. Legislation signed into law by Pence in 2013 greatly increased the number of students in Indiana who qualify for school vouchers, making it one of the largest voucher programs in the United States. The annual cost of the program is estimated to be $53 million for the 2015-16 school year.
Despite successful advocacy for more funding for pre-schools, voucher programs, and charter schools, Pence has frequently clashed with teachers unions and supporters of public schooling. In one of his first acts as governor, Pence removed control of the Educational Employment Relations Board, which is in charge of handling conflicts between unions and school boards, from Glenda Ritz, a Democrat who is the Indiana Superintendent of Public Instruction (a separately elected position in the state). Pence created a new “Center for Education and Career Innovation” (CECI) to coordinate efforts between schools and the private sector; Ritz opposed the Center, viewing it as a “power grab” and encroachment on her own duties. Pence eventually disestablished the Center in order to help defuse the conflict. In May 2015, Pence signed a bill stripping Ritz of much of her authority over standardized testing and other education issues, and reconstituting the State Board of Education dominated by Pence appointees. The bill also allowed the board to appoint a chairman other than the Superintendent of Public Instruction starting in 2017, and added the State Board of Education (controlled by Pence) as a “state educational authority” along with the Department of Education (controlled by Ritz) for purposes of accessing sensitive student data. Pence and Ritz also clashed over non-binding federal guidelines that advised Indiana public schools must treat transgender students in a way that corresponds to their gender identity, even if their education files indicate a different gender.
Energy and environment
During Pence’s term in office, the Republican-controlled Indiana General Assembly has “repeatedly tried to roll back renewable energy standards and successfully ended Indiana’s energy efficiency efforts.” Pence is an outspoken supporter of the coal industry, declaring in his 2015 State of the State address that “Indiana is a pro-coal state,” expressing support for an “all-of-the-above energy strategy,” and stating: “we must continue to oppose the overreaching schemes of the EPA until we bring their war on coal to end.” In 2015, Pence sent a letter to President Obama denouncing the EPA’s Clean Power Plan (which would regulate carbon emissions from existing power plans) and stating that Indiana would refuse to comply with the plan. Indiana joined other states in a lawsuit seeking to invalidate the plan. In 2016, Pence stated that even if legal challenges failed, Indiana would continue to defy the rule and would not come up with its own plan to reduce emissions.
In 2014, over the opposition of Indiana school organizations, Pence signed a bill which allows firearms to be kept in vehicles on school property. In 2015, following a shooting in Chattanooga, Pence recruited theNRA to train the Indiana National Guard on concealed carry. Some National Guard officials from other states questioned why a civilian organization would be involved in a military issue. In May 2015, Pence signed into law Senate Bill 98, which limited lawsuits against gun and ammunition manufacturers and sellers and retroactively terminated the City of Gary‘s still-pending 1999 lawsuit against gun manufacturers and retailers that allegedly made illegal sales of handguns. The bill was supported by Republicans such as state Senator Jim Tomes, who hoped that the measure would attract more gun-related businesses to Indiana, but opposed by Gary mayor and former Indiana attorney generalKaren Freeman-Wilson, who viewed the measure as “an unprecedented violation of the separation of powers between the legislative and judicial branches of state government.” In 2016, Pence signed Senate Bill 109 into law, legalizing the captive hunting of farm-raised deer in Indiana.
Public health issues
Beginning in December 2014, there was an HIV outbreak in Southern Indiana. In 2011, Planned Parenthood ran five rural clinics in Indiana. They tested for HIV and offered prevention, intervention and counseling for better health. The one in Scott County performed no abortions. The Republican controlled legislature and Pence defunded Planned Parenthood. Scott County has been without an HIV testing center for two years. Pence had long been a vocal opponent of needle exchange programs, which allow drug users to trade in used syringes for sterile ones in order to stop the spread of diseases, despite evidence that such programs prevent the spread of AIDS and hepatitis C, and do not increase drug abuse.
In March 2015, after the outbreak began, Pence allowed at least five counties to open needle exchanges, but has not moved to lift the state ban on funding for needle exchanges. Critics say Pence’s compromise has been ineffective because counties had no way to pay for needle exchanges themselves. Indiana State Health Commissioner Jerome Adams defended Pence, saying that publicly-funded needle exchange programs are controversial in many conservative communities. In middle America, Adams said, you can’t “just point your finger at folks and say, ‘You need to have a syringe exchange and we’re going to pay for it with your tax dollars.’”
In 2015, Pence and the Obama administration agreed to expand Medicaid in Indiana, in accordance with the Affordable Care Act. As part of the expansion, Pence negotiated modifications to the program for Indiana that included co-payments by participants. The co-payments are linked to healthy behaviors on the part of the participants, so that, for example, a participant who quit smoking would receive a lower co-payment. Participants can lose benefits for failing to make the payments.
Mike Pence addressing supporters at a church service at the Living Word Bible Church.
Despite several successful policy initiatives, Pence found himself in several high profile controversies, including some that brought national attention. On March 26, 2015, Pence signed Indiana Senate Bill 101, also known as the Indiana “religious objections” bill (Religious Freedom Restoration Act, or RFRA), into law. The law’s signing was met with widespread criticism by people and groups who felt the law was carefully worded in a way that would permit discrimination against LGBT persons. Such organizations as the NCAA, the gamer convention Gen Con, and the Disciples of Christ spoke out against the law. Apple CEO Tim Cook and Salesforce.com CEO Marc Benioff condemned the law, with Salesforce.com saying it would halt its plans to expand in the state.Angie’s List announced that they would cancel a $40 million expansion of their Indianapolis based headquarters due to concerns over the law. The expansion would have moved 1000 jobs into the state. The mayors of San Francisco and Seattle banned official travel to Indiana. Thousands protested against the policy. Five GOP state representatives voted against the bill, and Greg Ballard, the Republican mayor of Indianapolis, criticized it as sending the “wrong signal” about the state.
Pence defended the law, stating that it was not about discrimination. In an appearance on the ABC News program This Week with George Stephanopoulos, Pence stated, “We are not going to change this law”, while refusing to answer whether examples of discrimination against LGBT people given by Eric Miller of anti-LGBT group Advance America would be legal under the law. Pence denied the law permitted discrimination and wrote in a March 31, 2015, Wall Street Journal op-ed, “If I saw a restaurant owner refuse to serve a gay couple, I wouldn’t eat there anymore. As governor of Indiana, if I were presented a bill that legalized discrimination against any person or group, I would veto it.” In the wake of the backlash against the RFRA, on April 2, 2015, Pence signed legislation revising the law to prevent potential discrimination.
Another controversy arose in March 2016 when Pence signed into law H.B. 1337, a controversial bill that both banned certain abortion procedures and placed new restrictions on abortion providers. The bill banned abortion if the reason for the procedure given by the pregnant person was the fetus‘ race or gender or a fetal abnormality. In addition, the bill required that all fetal remains from abortions or miscarriages at any stage of pregnancy be buried or cremated, which according to the Guttmacher Institute is not currently required in any other state. The law was described as “exceptional for its breadth”; if implemented, it would have made Indiana “the first state to have a blanket ban on abortions based solely on race, sex or suspected disabilities, including evidence of Down syndrome.” Days after the U.S. Supreme Court issued its decision in Whole Woman’s Health v. Hellerstedt, a federal court issued a preliminary injunction blocking the bill from taking effect, with U.S. District Judge Tanya Walton Pratt determining that the bill was likely to be unconstitutional and that the State of Indiana would be unlikely to prevail at trial.
In June 2013, Pence was criticized for deleting comments of others posted on his official government Facebook page; he apologized.
On January 26, 2015 it was widely reported that Pence had planned to launch a state-run, taxpayer-funded news service for Indiana. The service, called “JustIN”, was to be overseen by a former reporter for The Indianapolis Star, and would feature breaking news, stories written by press secretaries, and light features. At the time, it was reported that the two employees who would run the news service would be paid a combined $100,000 yearly salary. The target audience was small newspapers that had limited staff, but the site would also serve to communicate directly with the public. The publisher of the Commercial Review of Portland, Indiana, said, “I think it’s a ludicrous idea … the notion of elected officials presenting material that will inevitably have a pro-administration point of view is antithetical to the idea of an independent press.” There was speculation that the news service would publish pro-administration stories that would make Pence look good in the event of a presidential run.
According to the Associated Press, the idea “of stories prewritten for the media set off a wave of criticism from journalists around the country, who likened the Indiana endeavor to state-run media in Russia and China. Headlines like ‘Pravda in the Plains’ accompanied calls for Pence to scrap the idea.” David A. Graham of The Atlantic regarded the announcement of JustIN as evidence of a disturbing changing trend in how the public gets news. After a week or so of controversy about the idea, Pence scrapped the idea saying, “However well-intentioned, after thorough review of the preliminary planning and careful consideration of the concerns expressed, I am writing you to inform you that I have made a decision to terminate development of the JustIN website immediately.”
As governor, Pence attempted unsuccessfully to prevent Syrian refugees from being resettled in Indiana. In February 2016, a federal judge ruled that Pence’s order to cut off federal funds for a local non-profit refugee resettlement agency was unconstitutional; Pence has appealed. In December 2015, Pence stated that “calls to ban Muslims from entering the U.S. are offensive and unconstitutional”.
Pence ran for a second term as governor. He was unopposed in the May 3, 2016, Republican primary for governor. He was to face Democrat John R. Gregg, former speaker of the Indiana House of Representatives, in a rematch of the 2012 race. However, Pence filed paperwork ending his campaign on July 15, 2016, as Trump announced his selection of Pence as his vice presidential running mate.
Donald Trump considered naming Pence as his vice presidential running mate along with other finalists including New Jersey governor Chris Christie and former House speaker Newt Gingrich. The Indianapolis Star reported July 14 that Pence would end his re-election campaign and accept the Republican vice presidential nomination instead. This was widely reported on July 14, 2016. The following day, Trump officially announced on Twitter that Pence would be his running mate.
Immediately after the announcement, Pence said that he was “very supportive of Donald Trump’s call to temporarily suspend immigration from countries where terrorist influence and impact represents a threat to the United States”. Pence said that he was “absolutely” in sync with Trump’s Mexican wall proposal, stating that Mexico is “absolutely” going to pay for it.
According to a FiveThirtyEight rating of candidates’ ideology, Pence is the most conservative vice-presidential candidate in the last forty years.
Pence has stated that his role model as vice president would be Dick Cheney.
During Pence’s twelve years in the House, he introduced 90 bills and resolutions; none became law.
Abortion and Planned Parenthood
Pence began seeking to defund Planned Parenthood in 2007, by introducing legislation aimed at preventing any organization that provides abortion services from receiving Title X funding.
In 2009, Pence opposed birthright citizenship (the legal principle set forth by the Citizenship Clause of the Fourteenth Amendment to the United States Constitution that “All persons born or naturalized in the United States, and subject to the jurisdiction thereof, are citizens of the United States and of the State wherein they reside”). He co-sponsored a bill that would have limited citizenship to children born to at least one parent who is a citizen, immigrants living permanently in the U.S. or non-citizens performing active service in the U.S. Armed Forces.
Freedom won today in the Supreme Court. Today’s ruling in the Citizens United case takes us one step closer to the Founding Fathers’ vision of free speech, a vision that is cherished by all Americans and one Congress has a responsibility to protect. If the freedom of speech means anything, it means protecting the right of private citizens to voice opposition or support for their elected representatives. The fact that the court overturned a 20-year precedent speaks volumes about the importance of this issue.
Then-U.S. Representative Pence (third from left) standing behind then-governor Mitch Daniels at a 2008 press conference in Martinsville, Indiana
Pence was a supporter of earmark reform. He voted against the $139.7 billion Transportation-Treasury spending bill in June 2006, and in favor of a series of amendments proposed that same month by Jeff Flake which would strip other members’ earmarks from the federal budget. On occasion, however, Pence secured earmarks for projects in his district.
Pence was a co-sponsor of H.J.Res.73, a 2011 spending limit amendment to the U.S. Constitution. This amendment would limit federal spending to “the average annual revenue collected in the three prior years, adjusted in proportion to changes in population and inflation.” In regards to adopting the gold standard, Pence stated in 2011, “the time has come to have a debate over gold and the proper role it should play in our nation’s monetary affairs”. Pence proposed legislation to end the dual mandate of the Federal Reserve (maximizing employment and stabilizing prices), requiring the Fed to just focus on price stability and not full employment.
He voted against the American Recovery and Reinvestment Act of 2009. He had publicly opposed the bill denouncing it as a failure, and called for a federal spending freeze. Nevertheless, several months after voting against the bill, Pence privately sought $6 million in stimulus funds for projects in his district, and in 2010, hosted a job fair for stimulus-backed employers. A Pence spokesperson stated “… once it became law, he had a responsibility to support local efforts to secure funding for projects that could benefit people in his district.”
Pence “does not accept the scientific consensus that human activity is the primary driver of climate change.” In 2001, Pence wrote in an op-ed that “Global warming is a myth,” saying that “the earth is actually cooler today than it was about 50 years ago”. In 2006 and 2009, Pence expressed the view that it was unclear whether climate change was driven by human activity, and in 2009 he told political commentator Chris Matthews that there was a “growing skepticism in the scientific community about global warming”.
On September 27, 2016, however, Pence said “there’s no question” that human activity affects both the climate and the environment, while defending Trump’s position on the matter.
Crime and drug policy
Pence has questioned proposals to decrease penalties for low-level marijuana offenses in Indiana, saying that the state should focus “on reducing crime, not reducing penalties.” In 2013, Pence expressed concern that a then-pending bill to revise the state’s criminal code was not tough enough on drug crimes, and successfully lobbied to limit the reduction in sentencing of marijuana offenses.
In 2016, Pence signed into law a measure that reinstated a ten-year mandatory minimum prison sentence for certain drug offenders.
During 2014, Governor Pence sent a letter to U.S. Attorney General Eric Holder which said that Indiana would not comply with federal prison rape elimination standards because they were too expensive. According to the Indiana Department of Corrections, it would cost the state $15–20 million annually to comply with the guidelines. Pence said that a number of rape prevention measures had already been implemented.
In 2015, Pence signed Senate Bill 94, which lengthened the statute of limitations for rape — continuing for five years after sufficient DNA evidence is uncovered, enough recorded evidence is brought forth or discovered, or the offender confesses to the crime. Pence also signed Senate Bill 8, allowing the death penalty for beheadings was allowed if the victim was alive at the time of the offense.
During the Iraq War, Pence opposed setting a public withdrawal date from Iraq. During an April 2007 visit to Baghdad, Pence and John McCain visited Shorja market, the site of a deadly attack in February 2007, that claimed the lives of 61 people. Pence and McCain described the visit as evidence that the security situation in Iraqi markets had improved. The visit to the market took place under tight security, including helicopters overhead, and the New York Times reported that the visit gave a false indication of how secure the area was because of the extremely heavy security forces protecting McCain.
Pence has opposed closing the Guantanamo Bay detention camp and trying the suspected terrorists in the U.S. As an alternative, Pence has said that the “enemy combatants” should be tried in a military tribunal.
Pence has stated his support of Israel and its right to attack facilities in Iran to prevent the Iranians from developing nuclear weapons, has defended the actions of Israel in its use of deadly force in enforcing the blockade of Gaza, and has referred to Israel as “America’s most cherished ally”. He visited Israel in 2014 to express his support, and in 2016 signed into law a bill which would ban Indiana from having any commercial dealings with a company that boycotts Israel.
Pence is an advocate of federal restrictions of online gambling. In 2006, he was one of 35 cosponsors of H.R. 4411, the Goodlatte–Leach Internet Gambling Prohibition Act, and H.R. 4777, the Internet Gambling Prohibition Act.
In 2000, Pence stated “Congress should oppose any effort to recognize homosexuals as a ‘discrete and insular minority‘ entitled to the protection of anti-discrimination laws similar to those extended to women and ethnic minorities.” He called for “an audit to ensure that federal dollars were no longer being given to organizations that celebrate and encourage the types of behaviors that facilitate the spreading of the HIV virus” and instead advocated for resources to be directed toward conversion therapy programs, “[for] those seeking to change their sexual behavior.”
Pence opposed the 2009 Matthew Shepard Hate Crimes Act, saying that Barack Obama wanted to “advance a radical social agenda” and said that pastors “could be charged or be subject to intimidation for simply expressing a Biblical worldview on the issue of homosexual behavior.”
Pence opposes both same-sex marriage and civil unions. While in the House, he said that “societal collapse was always brought about following an advent of the deterioration of marriage and family”. He has advocated a constitutional same-sex marriage ban but did not champion such a proposed ban for his first year as governor.
In June 2006, Pence unveiled an immigration plan (which he described as “No Amnesty Immigration reform”) that would include increased border security, followed by strict enforcement of laws against hiring illegal aliens, and a guest worker program. This guest worker program would have required participants to apply from their home country to government-approved job placement agencies that match workers with employers who cannot find Americans for the job. The plan received support from conservatives such as Dick Armey, but attracted criticism from other conservatives such as Phyllis Schlafly, Richard A. Viguerie, and Pat Buchanan, who viewed Pence as lending “his conservative prestige to a form of liberal amnesty.”
In 2010, Pence voted against the DREAM Act, which would grant the undocumented children of illegal immigrants conditional non-immigrant status if they met certain requirements. In 2010, Pence stated thatArizona S.B. 1070, which at the time of passage in 2010 was the U.S.’s broadest and strictest anti-illegal immigration legislation, was “a good faith to try and restore order to their communities”.
Pence opposed President Obama’s executive order eliminating restrictions on embryonic stem-cell research. Pence stated, “I believe it is morally wrong to create human life to destroy it for research… I believe it is morally wrong to take the tax dollars of millions of pro-life Americans.” He asserted that “scientific breakthroughs have rendered embryonic stem-cell research obsolete”.
When asked if he accepts evolution, Pence answered “I believe with all my heart that God created the heavens and the earth, the seas and all that’s in them. How he did that I’ll ask him about some day.” In a 2002 statement on the floor of the House (reported in the Congressional Record), Pence told his colleagues “… I also believe that someday scientists will come to see that only the theory of intelligent design provides even a remotely rational explanation for the known universe.”
In 2001, Pence wrote an op-ed arguing against the tobacco settlement and tobacco regulation, saying that they would create “new government bureaucracies” and encroach on private lives. He stated that “despite the hysteria from the political class and the media, smoking doesn’t kill.” Pence asserted, “2 out of every three smokers does not die from a smoking related illness and 9 out of ten smokers do not contract lung cancer,” while acknowledging that “smoking isn’t good for you” and people who smoke should quit.
In 2002, Pence criticized a speech by then-Secretary of State Colin Powell where Powell stated that it was “important for young people… to protect themselves from the possibility of acquiring any sexually transmitted disease” through the use of condoms. Pence called Powell’s comments a “sad day” and expressed his support for abstinence education. Pence asserted that “condoms are a very, very poor protection against sexually transmitted diseases” and that Powell was “maybe inadvertently misleading millions of young people and endangering lives”.
When asked in 2010 if he would be willing to make cuts to Social Security, Pence answered, “I think everything has to be on the table.” When asked if he would raise the retirement age, he said, “I’m an all-of-the-above guy. We need look at everything on the menu.”
Pence voted against the Trade and Globalization Act of 2007, which would have expanded trade adjustment assistance to American workers adversely affected by globalization. However, in 2014 Pence called for the “swift adoption” of the Trans-Pacific Partnership (TPP), urging Indiana’s congressional delegation to support the trade deal.
Pence, and his wife, Karen, speaking at CPAC 2015 in Washington, D.C.
Kaine had a largely apolitical childhood, but became interested in politics in part due to the influence of his wife’s family and his experience attending Richmond city council meetings. In May 1994, Kaine was elected to the city council of the independent city of Richmond, from the City’s 2nd District. He defeated incumbent city councilman Benjamin P.A. Warthen by 97 votes. Kaine served four terms on the council, the latter two as mayor.
Mayor of Richmond (1998–2001)
On July 1, 1998, Kaine was elected mayor of Richmond, succeeding Larry Chavis. He was chosen by an 8-1 vote on the majority-black City Council,[b] becoming the city’s first white mayor in more than ten years, which was viewed as a surprise.Rudy McCollum, an African-American city councilor also interested in the position of mayor, decided to back Kaine after a private meeting between the two, clearing the way for Kaine to win election. Previous mayors had treated the role as primarily a ceremonial one, with the city manager effectively operating the city; Kaine treated the office as a full-time job, taking a more hands-on role.
Along with Commonwealth’s Attorney David Hicks, U.S. Attorney James Comey, and Police Chief Jerry Oliver, Kaine was a support of Project Exile, which a reporter described as a “controversial but effective program,” that shifted gun crimes to federal court, where armed defendants faced harsher sentences. The effort “won broad political support” and the city’s homicide rate fell by 55% over Kaine’s tenure in office. Kaine later touted Project Exile during his campaign for lieutenant governor in 2001.
On several occasions, Kaine voted in opposition to tax increases, and supported a tax abatement program for renovated buildings, which was credited for a housing renovation boom in the city. Richmond was named one of “the 10 best cities in America to do business” by Forbes magazine during Kaine’s term.
According to John Moeser, a professor emeritus of urban studies and planning at Virginia Commonwealth University and later a visiting fellow at the University of Richmond‘s Center for Civic Engagement, during his time as mayor Kaine “was energetic, charismatic and, most important, spoke openly about his commitment to racial reconciliation in Richmond.” The New York Times wrote that Kaine “was by all accounts instrumental in bridging the city’s racial divide.” In the early part of his term, Kaine issued an apology for the city’s role in slavery; the apology was generally well received as “a genuine, heartfelt expression.” In the latter part of his term, a contentious debate took place in the city over the inclusion of a portrait of Confederate generalRobert E. Lee in a set of historic murals to be placed on city floodwalls. Many African-Americans were outraged that Lee would appear on city walls, while Southern heritage groups demanded that Lee’s picture remain. Kaine proposed a compromise in which Lee would appear as part of a series of murals that also included figures like Abraham Lincoln and Powhatan Beaty. Kaine’s stance drew criticism from the NAACP; Kaine argued that placing Lee on the floodwall made sense in context, and that “Much of our history is not pleasant; you can’t whitewash it.” Kaine’s compromise proposal passed the council on a 6-3 vote.
During his tenure as mayor, Kaine drew criticism for spending $6,000 in public funds on buses to the Million Mom March, an anti-gun-violence rally in Washington, D.C.; after a backlash, Kaine raised the money privately and reimbursed the city.
Lieutenant governor of Virginia (2002–2005)
Kaine in an F-14 Tomcat while touring a naval base in 2003