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Biden’s Yemen withdrawal will only embolden the terrorists

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Biden's Yemen withdrawal will only embolden the terrorists

All through the 2020 presidential campaign, both Joe Biden and Kamala Harris signaled their intention to end US support for the Saudi-led military effort against the Houthi terrorists attempting to install a radical, Iran-style theocracy on the kingdom’s southern border. On Thursday, President Biden, possibly in preparation for diplomatic engagement with Tehran, made the formal announcement that US engagement in Yemen is ending.

The president’s preemptive concession has little hope of success and considerable potential to make a bad situation worse. 

On Jan. 23, just three days after Biden’s inauguration, the Houthi — who are supported and trained by Iran’s Islamic Revolutionary Guard Corps —  launched a missile or drone toward Riyadh, which Saudi air defenses fortunately intercepted. The intent was clear: to indiscriminately target civilians (including Americans) and civilian infrastructure in or near the Saudi capital. 

The attack was so brazen the Biden State Department was compelled to issue an official statement condemning it and pledging support for Saudi Arabia’s defense. Two weeks later, Biden continues to pay lip service to the kingdom’s defense, but apparently not at the cost of eradicating the source of the attacks — which is hardly going to deter the Houthi or their IRGC enablers.

This most recent Houthi attack on Saudi Arabia was a test of the new administration’s resolve, and Thursday’s announcement shows it is sorely lacking. The Houthi and the IRGC, both designated Foreign Terrorist Organizations by the Trump administration, will now be emboldened to attempt more sophisticated and far-reaching attacks against our friends and allies across the region, including Israel.

Biden’s withdrawal from Yemen may have been intended as an olive branch to Tehran in anticipation of renewed diplomatic engagement, but it is unlikely the Iranian regime will respond reasonably to any such outreach when it senses weakness from the United States.

The Yemen mission has never been popular for the simple reason that the Houthi, bolstered by the formidable Iranian propaganda machine, have successfully cast themselves in the court of public opinion as brave rebels battling Saudi imperialism. Those who unquestioningly accept this narrative fail to recognize the grim threat the Houthi pose to the stability of the entire Arabian peninsula, as well as to the vital shipping lane into the Red Sea through the Bab al-Mandeb strait.

US support for the Yemen campaign — initiated, notably, by the Obama administration in 2015 — is limited to training to reduce civilian casualties and counter-terrorism missions, but it is an important symbol of American commitment to our alliance with the kingdom. This shift in policy sends a dangerous signal to the region that the United States is weak and conflicted, and that our support for our allies is wavering.

No one, including the Saudis, wants to engage in Yemen, and no one is suggesting expanding US involvement. But at the very least, we should not undermine a key ally while it is taking live fire from enemies who hate us both in a futile attempt to placate Tehran or score domestic political points with constituents hostile to Saudi Arabia. 

Furthermore, escalating attacks that disrupt the Bab al-Mandeb strait would be a severe blow to an international economy still reeling from the pandemic and a potentially significant disruption to energy supplies at a delicate moment — both of which would directly and negatively affect the United States.

Those of us old enough to remember the attack on the USS Cole in the Bay of Aden know how dangerous Yemen can be, and if Yemen is abandoned to the Houthi and the IRGC, a bad problem could quickly metastasize into something far worse.

The vast majority of Americans can’t find Yemen on a map today. It’s the job of those who govern to keep it that way.

Victoria Coates is a senior fellow at the Center for Security Policy.

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Opinion

Biden’s outrageous giveaway to federal bureaucrats should enrage you

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Biden's outrageous giveaway to federal bureaucrats should enrage you

If you were to design a legislative provision outrageous enough to inspire another Tea Party-style political uprising, you would be hard-pressed to do better than Section 5111 of the American Rescue Plan Act of 2021.

President Biden’s $1.9 trillion coronavirus-relief clunker is full of items with perverse incentives (long-term unemployment top-offs and blue-state pension-fund bailouts) and others that are just obviously injurious (a federal minimum-wage hike which the Congressional Budget Office says would cost 1.4 million jobs). But nothing quite compares to its “Emergency Federal Employee Leave Fund” for the righteous indignation it should arouse in most Americans.

The provision sets aside money for a leave program that would allow any federal employee not working for the military to take up to 15 weeks of paid leave and collect up to $21,000 ($1,400 a week) between whenever the bill is passed and Sept. 30, 2021, if the pandemic has had certain deleterious effects on their lives.

Some of the effects in question aren’t entirely unreasonable. For example, you can access the leave fund while you are bedridden with the disease itself, or if you are caring for a family member who is. Others are worthy of a squint and head shake — employees could conceivably take the day to get vaccinated while pulling in a cool $35 an hour.

And then there is the pièce de résistance of these goodies. The paid leave also applies to any federal worker who “is caring for a son or daughter of such employee if the school or place of care of the son or daughter has been closed, if the school of such son or daughter requires or makes optional a virtual learning instruction model or requires or makes optional a hybrid of in-person and virtual learning instruction models, or the childcare provider of such son or daughter is unavailable, due to COVID-19 precautions.”

For as long as schools remain closed — and remember, the Biden administration’s kind-of-sort-of, wishy-washy contention is that they should until more money is spent, even though there remains over $100 billion in unspent education appropriations from the last relief bill — bureaucrats whose paychecks are provided by John and Jane Q. Taxpayer would be able to collect from the comfort of their own homes, where they supervise their children and catch up on their favorite shows. Again, it would be difficult to devise a targeted giveaway more likely to inspire wrath and resentment.

Families across the country continue to have the costs of the pandemic passed down to them by the Democratic Party and its patrons in the teachers unions. American children are suffering scholastically and emotionally. Parents are left to deal with both of these heartbreaking consequences, as well as the practical problem of where their kids are supposed to be during the typical workday.

The Biden administration proposes not to put an end to this inequitable cost distribution, but to provide 15 weeks of paid vacation time to any member of another core Democratic constituency whose kids have the option of attending school virtually. After all, there is no time like a pandemic to encourage federal workers to take a holiday.

Not only is this a manifestly unjust and ill-advised addition to an already unjustifiable boondoggle, it has the potential to extend the school closures by creating a new group of people with more than a little motivation to advocate a delay to in-person instruction.

In many ways, the Emergency Federal Employee Leave Fund is perfectly representative of the American Rescue Plan as a whole. Both are best understood not as measures designed to provide much-needed relief to those hit hardest by the pandemic and pull a weary people across the finish line of this long year — but an opportunity to squeeze every last opportunity this crisis provides to hand out treats to the Democratic Party’s favorite interest groups: teachers unions, bureaucrats and the hapless incompetents running Illinois.

We live in an angry time. The self-interested behavior of many in our governing class — Democrats and Republicans alike — during the coronavirus crisis has served only to make it angrier. If the American Rescue Plan Act passes with this provision included, though, it may be evidence we’re not nearly angry enough.

Isaac Schorr is an Intercollegiate Studies Institute fellow at National Review, from which this column was adapted.

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How is Chris Cuomo still on the air at CNN?

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How is Chris Cuomo still on the air at CNN?

Is there a bigger joke in broadcast news than Chris Cuomo?

Now, he says, he cannot cover his brother, Gov. Andrew Cuomo, because it’s a conflict of interest. You don’t say? Apparently no such conflict arose when Chris constantly hosted his brother during the height of the pandemic, tastelessly turning his nightly news show into “The Cuomo Brothers Variety Hour.”

The governor took time out of his busy schedule — consisting of daily ego baths dressed up as press conferences and writing a book about leadership while allegedly sexually harassing at least one young employee and eugenically shunting old people with COVID into nursing homes and certain death — to answer hard-hitting questions and accusations such as these, posed by little brother Chris:

“No matter how hard you’re working, there’s always time to call Mom. She wants to hear from you.”

“You know that what people are saying about how you look really can’t be accurate, so it must be hard for you to make sense of what is real and what is true now. I feel for you.”

“Now I’ve seen you referred to a little bit recently as the LuvGuv and I’m wondering if that’s bleeding into your demeanor at all and making you a little soft on the president?”

“Do you think you are an attractive person now because you’re single and ready to mingle?” (Those last two haven’t aged well at all.)

This unethical coverage, by the way, was cheered on by the mass media: The “Today” show, Oprahmag.com, NBC News, USA Today — to name a few — heartily endorsed it.

“That is one thing the Cuomo brothers do: They love one other,” New York Times media columnist Ben Smith wrote last April. “On March 30, the day a Navy hospital ship arrived in New York, they said, ‘I love you,’ twice each, in quick succession.”

This reads more like a soggy diary entry written by a teenage girl.

The same day Smith’s column ran, April 5, 2020, the Times reported that new state data showed 4,183 people had died in New York nursing homes from COVID.

Not that Chris Cuomo asked his brother about that.

Nor has CNN been on top of Gov. Cuomo’s latest scandal, the three credible allegations of sexual harassment against him.

And so many on the left still wonder why the mainstream media is mistrusted — 33 percent of Americans having “none at all,” according to a recent Gallup poll.

“Obviously I love you as a brother,” Chris told Andrew on his show last June. “Obviously I’ll never be objective.”

Imagine: A CNN anchor just admitted on-air what we all knew — he could not do his job, but would continue to do it anyway!

Seriously, what does Chris Cuomo have on Jeff Zucker? Why does he still have this job? I realize this may be a hypothetical given Brian Williams, that other puffed-up fabulist, is back on MSNBC, but still — Chris Cuomo, reported annual salary $6 million, is a special case.

Lest we forget his self-indulgent chronicles once he tested positive for COVID (according to his own self-report), then roaming around the Hamptons without a mask and calling a local who spotted him a “jackass loser fat-tire biker”; later faking his emergence from basement quarantine on CNN; spanked by management of his NYC building for repeatedly entering, exiting and riding the elevator without a mask, and — as Page Six reported last December — flexing his muscles and admiring himself in that same mirrored elevator.

Ron Burgundy doesn’t come close to Chris Cuomo.

Yet here he was Monday night, dressed somberly in black suit and tie, opening his show with his trademark ooze of condescension and hypocrisy.

“Let me say something that is very obvious to you who watch my show — and thank you for that. You’re straight with me, I’ll be straight with you. Obviously, I’m aware of what’s going on with my brother.”

As a so-called journalist, one would hope.

“And obviously,” he continued, “I cannot cover it because he is my brother.”

Now he can’t cover it! Right, of course. Makes total sense.

This past year has made one thing painfully obvious: Chris Cuomo isn’t at CNN because of his searing intellect, his unique take on the world, his prosecutorial questioning of those in power, or his instinct for a good story.

No: He’s at CNN because his older brother is the governor of New York. If Andrew goes, how much value does Chris actually add?

Funny how their fates are intertwined like that.

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Opinion

Dr. Seuss outrage: ‘The Cat in the Hat’ says don’t cancel that!

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Dr. Seuss outrage: ‘The Cat in the Hat’ says don’t cancel that!

On the second day of MarchI got out of my bedAnd what did I seeThat mixed up my head? Thing One and Thing TwoWere locked up in chainsMy good pals, those sweet impsWere now writhing in pain! “Chins up and let’s roll,”Said I to my boys“The Cat in the HatIs here to make noise!” “No,…

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