Buck Brief: Obama vs. ISIS

Filling in for Glenn on Tuesday, Buck Sexton introduced his trademarked "Buck Brief," a short monologue related to national security he performs on his regular afternoon show on TheBlaze Radio. After some cool, digital sound effects and a voice saying, "This is a secure space. All outside comms are down. Prepare to receive the Buck Brief," Buck dove into President Obama's policies dealing with ISIS and other global threats.

Listen or read the full transcript below.

BUCK: Well, it took years. And the casualties in the Syrian civil war have reached well over 250,000. But finally, the United States and Turkey are intervening or planning to intervene in a substantial fashion in that conflict, trying to do something that will have a real effect on the ground. Turkey and the U.S. have agreed in general terms to put together what they're calling a safe zone in northern Syria. Now, this it must be said, is distinct from a no-fly zone, which has been talked about for years as a method of protecting certain areas of Syria. Of course, it hearkens back to the days of the no-fly zone in Iraq, during which the Shia South and the Kurdish North were protected from Saddam's Air Force by the U.S. no-fly zone, by Saddam's helicopters, by whatever else he could put up in the sky.

There's been talk about this for some time. Now, let's keep in mind, there are already efforts that have been underway for years to do something about this conflict that has given rise to not only the Islamic State, but has also seen the usage of chemical weapons. It is believed at least dozens of times, chemical weapons deployed on the battlefield. The creation of mass casualty weapons, deployed as mass casualty weapons, like barrel bombs, which is essentially a giant IED dropped by Assad's helicopters from the sky over civilian-populated areas. Just a large -- large tub of gasoline with shrapnel attached to it, and it just blows up and tries to wound, kill and maim as many people as possible.

That's the conflict as it's been going on now. As I said, grinding on the rise of the Islamic State. Also, other Islamic groups, most notably Jabhat al-Nusra, which is really just al-Qaeda in Syria. We don't call it that. I don't really know why. But it is the al-Qaeda in Syria branch. And then there are other groups like Alra-hasham (phonetic). And these hard-lined Islamist and jihadist groups that are not technically a part of that, but have sort of taken a piece of Syria as their own territory. It is a giant mess. The efforts for the U.S. to do something so far and with coalition allies, has been to call it lackluster would be generous. The airstrikes in Syria have been minimal. There's an unwillingness for this administration to have any real casualties on their side of the battlefield. On ISIS, because they're so afraid of hitting civilians in the process. And that's unfortunately not a method for really hitting an enemy. If you're so concerned with this, you're not going to have any impact. And that's what we've seen so far.

Now, the creation of this safe zone, which will take some time in coordination with Turkey, which, of course, shares the border with Syria could be a good development. It seems to be a welcome development particularly for the rebel forces. The so-called modern Syrian forces. Whatever that means. Your guess is as good as mine. The modern Syrian forces on the ground in this conflict. Who have been, of course, pushed back and have become one of the least effective of all the fighting forces on the ground in Syria. The ones that the US wants to win have been allowed to take a beating and are not in a position to take the fight to the enemy and hold territory.

It was publicized just a few weeks ago that the Pentagon has managed to train a total of 60 fighters for the Syrian conflict. Sixty fighters is what we've pulled together. That is certainly not enough to make any real difference. And it shows you just how slow and plotting the administration's response to this grinding humanitarian and security catastrophe in Syria. Remember, the Islamic State based out of Raqaa still holding a lot of territory, is growing as a state, is becoming increasingly sophisticated, increasingly well armed, and is able to go on offense on multiple fronts at once with coordination and tactical precision. That's the enemy that our allies on the ground face.

Now, finally we're saying, there's going to be a safe zone in northern Syria. Well, that's going to require some doing on our part and from the Turks. And, of course, the Turks have their own problems. Not just with the civil war that is right across their border to the south and the prospect that if they become too enmeshed in all this, they may find themselves targeted by the Islamic State. That's a very real concern. That all of a sudden you could have a series of suicide bombings in Ankara or Istanbul that the Islamic State is claiming credit for. But beyond that, of course, they have their own problems with the Kurds. The Kurds who have been a useful force against the Islamic State are a political risk for Turkey.

Turkey has always had this problem with its Kurdish minority based largely down in the southeast of the country, along the Syrian and Iraqi borders. They're worried that if the Kurds are allowed to be the ones that establish their own de facto safe zone in these areas, groups that are tied to or part of the PKK, which is an insurgent group that has been fighting against the Turks for a very long time, might also stir up trouble on Turkish soil. They'll have to figure out a way to both push back against Kurdish forces, while also creating a safe space in the midst of this massive conflagration that is Syria, that of course has spilled across the border into Iraq and has now spawned a terrorist state, not just a state sponsor of terror, but a full-blown terrorist state with ISIS. That is setting up franchises well outside the Iraq/Syria corridor in places as far flung as Libya, Afghanistan, the Sinai Peninsula, even Boko Haram has pledged its fealty (phonetic) in Nigeria. And, of course, is calling for attacks from all over the world against the West. Against America. Against Europe. With lone wolves given free reign to figure out how best to strike at the Christian and Zionist invaders as the jihadists refer to them.

So this is the reality now of what they're trying to deal with in northern Syria. And, of course, many of us look at this and say, well, this certainly feels like too little too late. Why would this be sufficient to do anything in this conflict that will actually change any trajectory. That will start -- as the stated goal of the administration is to -- to degrade and destroy ISIS. Why do we think that's the case? What evidence do we have that this will be sufficient?

Keep in mind that they're going for a safe zone. Not a no-fly zone. Because once again, the administration thinks, well, if we call it something else and take a half measure, then I can't be blamed as much if this goes wrong. Because at least we're not what that silly Bush administration was. That's really one of the main motivations that they have on a lot of foreign policy issues when it comes to dealing in the Middle East, it's certainly one of the more prominent theories they operate from. Don't be Bush. That's what Obama thinks about whenever he's looking at this on a map, whenever he's briefed by chairman of the JCS, or whoever -- head of the CIA. Head of the various national intelligence agencies. He's got to be sitting there thinking, well, I can't be Bush. I can't be dragged into a quagmire. And so what's the minimum?

What we find out though is that minimum -- and this from a president, by the way, who said never again. Who made it a point to set up some sort of an international response mechanism to ethnic cleansing and to genocide. That half measures and minimalist approaches have allowed for slaughter of Christians in the Middle East. The near extinction of Christian communities in parts of Iraq. An ancient Christian community, by the way. Well, we've as a country been told that it's just a matter of time before they -- the administration gets its act together and takes real action here. Decides that it's going to do something meaningful.

Well, here we have it. It might be a few years too late. But a safe zone. A safe zone that, give it some time, will turn into a no-fly zone. But that will be on the next president's watch. Once again, you see, this president just wants to get out of office without being Bush, without making those same mistakes, without taking us down those same paths. You can decide for yourself what you think the wisdom of all that is. But that's the reality of his policy in Syria.

And that's the Buck Brief for today.

On Wednesday's TV show, Glenn Beck sat down with radio show host, author, political commentator, and film critic, Michael Medved.

Michael had an interesting prediction for the 2020 election outcome: a brokered convention by the DNC will usher in former First Lady Michelle Obama to run against President Donald Trump.

Watch the video below to hear why he's making this surprising forecast:

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On Thursday's "Glenn Beck Radio Program," BlazeTV's White House correspondent Jon Miller described the current situation in Virginia after Gov. Ralph Northam (D) declared a state of emergency and banned people carrying guns at Capitol Square just days before a pro-Second-Amendment rally scheduled on Martin Luther King Jr. Day.

Jon told Glenn that Gov. Northam and the Virginia Legislature are "trying to deprive the people of their Second Amendment rights" but the citizens of Virginia are "rising up" to defend their constitutional rights.

"I do think this is the flashpoint," Jon said. "They [Virginia lawmakers] are saying, 'You cannot exercise your rights ... and instead of trying to de-escalate the situation, we are putting pressure. We're trying to escalate it and we're trying to enrage the citizenry even more'."

Glenn noted how Gov. Northam initially blamed the threat of violence from Antifa for his decision to ban weapons but quickly changed his narrative to blame "white supremacists" to vilify the people who are standing up for the Second Amendment and the Constitution.

"What he's doing is, he's making all all the law-abiding citizens of Virginia into white supremacists," Glenn said.

"Sadly, that's exactly right," Jon replied. "And I think he knows exactly what he's doing."

Watch the video to catch more of the conversation below:

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Ryan: Trump Louisiana Finale

Photo by Jim Dale

Part One. Part Two. Part Three.

At the end of Trump rallies, I would throw on my Carhartt jacket, sneak out of the press area, then blend in with everyone as they left, filing out through swinging doors.

Often, someone held the door open for me. Just 30 minutes earlier, the same person had most likely had most likely hissed at me for being a journalist. And now they were Sunday smiles and "Oh, yes, thank you, sir" like some redneck concierge.

People flooded out of the arena with the stupidity of a fire drill mishap, desperate to survive.

The air smacked you as soon as you crossed the threshold, back into Louisiana. And the lawn was a wasteland of camping chairs and coolers and shopping bags and to-go containers and soda cans and articles of clothing and even a few tents.

In Monroe, in the dark, the Trump supporters bobbled over mounds of waste like elephants trying to tiptoe. And the trash was as neutral to them as concrete or grass. They plodded over it because it, an object, had somehow gotten in their way.

It did not matter that they were responsible for this wreckage.Out in the sharp-edged moonlight, rally-goers hooted and yapped and boogied and danced, and the bbq food truck was all smoke and paper plates.

They were even more pumped than they had been before the rally, like 6,000 eight year olds who'd been chugging Mountain Dew for hours. Which made Donald Trump the father, the trooper, God of the Underworld, Mr. Elite, Sheriff on high horse, the AR-15 sticker of the family.

Ritualistic mayhem, all at once. And, there in Louisiana, Trump's supporters had gotten a taste of it. They were all so happy. It bordered on rage.

Still, I could not imagine their view of America. Worse, after a day of strange hostilities, I did not care.

My highest priority, my job as a reporter, was to care. To understand them and the world that they inhabit. But I did not give a damn and I never wanted to come back.

Worst of all, I would be back. In less than a week.

Was this how dogs felt on the 4th of July? Hunched in a corner while everyone else gets drunk and launches wailing light into the sky? configurations of blue and red and white.

It was 10:00 p.m. and we'd been traveling since 11:00 a.m., and we still had 5 hours to go and all I wanted was a home, my home, any home, just not here, in the cold sweat of this nowhere. Grey-mangled sky. No evidence of planes or satellites or any proof of modern-day. Just century-old bridges that trains shuffled over one clack at a time.

And casinos, all spangles and neon like the 1960s in Las Vegas. Kitchy and dumb, too tacky for lighthearted gambling. And only in the nicer cities, like Shreveport, which is not nice at all.

And swamp. Black water that rarely shimmered. Inhabited by gadflies and leeches and not one single fish that was pretty.

Full of alligators, and other killing types. The storks gnawing on frogs, the vultures never hungry. The coyotes with nobody to stop them and so much land to themselves. The roaches in the wild, like tiny wildebeests.

Then, the occasional deer carcass on the side of the road, eyes splayed as if distracted, tongue out, relaxed but empty. The diseased willows like skeletons in hairnets. The owls that never quit staring. A million facets of wilderness that would outlive us all.

Because Nature has poise. It thrives and is original.

Because silence is impossible. Even in an anechoic chamber, perfectly soundproofed, you can hear your own heartbeat, steady as a drum. A never-ending war.

I put "Headache" by Grouper on repeat as we glided west. We were deadlocked to asphalt, rubber over tarface.

And I thought about lines from a Rita Dove poem titled "I have been a stranger in a strange land"

He was off cataloging the universe, probably,
pretending he could organize
what was clearly someone else's chaos.

Wasn't that exactly what I was doing? Looking for an impossible answer, examining every single accident, eager for meaning? telling myself, "If it happens and matters the next year, in America, I want to be there, or to know what it means. I owe it to whoever cares to listen."

Humans are collectors and I had gone overboard.

Because maybe this wasn't even my home. These landmarks, what did they mean? Was I obvious here? When I smiled, did I trick them into believing that I felt some vague sense of approval? Or did my expressions betray me?

Out in all that garbage-streaked emptiness — despite the occasional burst of passing halogen — I couldn't tell if everything we encountered was haunted or just old, derelict, broken, useless. One never-ending landfill.

Around those parts, they'd made everything into junk. Homes. Roads. Glass. Nature. Life itself, they made into junk.

I cringed as we passed yet another deer carcass mounded on the side of the road.

As written in Job 35:11,

Who teaches us more than the beasts of the earth and makes us wiser than the birds in the sky?

Nobody. Look at nature and you feel something powerful. Look at an animal, in all of its untamable majesty, and you capture a deep love, all swept up in the power of creation. But, here, all I saw were poor creatures who people had slammed into and kept driving. Driving to where? For what reason? What exactly was so important that they left a trail of dead animals behind them?

So I crossed myself dolorously and said an "Our Father" and recited a stanza from Charles Bukowski's "The Laughing Heart"

you can't beat death but
you can beat death in life, sometimes.
and the more often you learn to do it,
the more light there will be.

Out here, nothing but darkness. Needing some light, by God. Give me something better than a Moon that hides like an underfed coward.

Jade told me about some of the more traumatic things she'd seen while working at the State Fair.

"Bro, they pull roaches out of the iced lemonade jugs and act like nothing happened."

"All right but what about the corn dogs?"

"You do not want to know, little bro."

She looked around in the quiet. "Back in the day, the Louisiana Congress refused to raise the drinking age from 18 to 21," she said. "They didn't want to lose all that drunk gambler money. So the federal government cut off funding to highways."

We glided through moon-pale landscape for an hour before I realized what she had meant. That there weren't any light poles or billboards along the road. Nothing to guide us or distract us. Just us, alone. And it felt like outer space had collapsed, swallowed us like jellybeans.

Like two teenagers playing a prank on the universe.

In the cozy Subaru Crosstrek, in the old wild night, brimming with the uncertainty of life and the nonchalance of failure, we paraded ourselves back to Dallas. Alive in the river silence that follows us everywhere.

New installments come Mondays and Thursdays. Next, the Iowa caucuses. Check out my Twitter. Email me at kryan@blazemedia.com

The Iowa primary is just around the corner, and concerns of election interference from the last presidential election still loom. Back in 2016, The Associated Press found that a majority of U.S. elections systems still use Windows 7 as an operating system, making them highly susceptible to bugs and errors. And last year, a Mississippi voter tried multiple times to vote for the candidate of his choice, but the system continuously switched his vote to the other candidate. It's pretty clear: America's voting systems desperately need an update.

That's where blockchain voting comes in.

Blockchain voting is a record-keeping system that's 100% verifiable and nearly impossible to hack. Blockchain, the newest innovation in cybersecurity, is set to grow into a $20 billion industry by 2025. Its genius is in its decentralized nature, distributing information throughout a network of computers, requiring would-be hackers to infiltrate a much larger system. Infiltrating multiple access points spread across many computers requires a significant amount of computing power, which often costs more than hackers expect to get in return.

Blockchain voting wouldn't allow for many weak spots. For instance, Voatz, arguably the leading mobile voting platform, requires a person to take a picture of their government-issued ID and a picture of themselves before voting (a feature, of course, not present in vote-by-mail, where the only form of identity verification is a handwritten signature, which is easily forgeable). Voters select their choices and hit submit. They then receive an immediate receipt of their choices via email, another security feature not present in vote-by-mail, or even in-person voting. And because the system operates on blockchain technology, it's nearly impossible to tamper with.

Votes are then tabulated, and the election results are published, providing a paper trail, which is a top priority for elections security experts.

The benefits of blockchain voting can't be dismissed. Folks can cast their vote from the comfort of their homes, offices, etc., vastly increasing the number of people who can participate in the electoral process. Two to three-hour lines at polling places, which often deter voters, would become significantly diminished.

Even outside of the voting increase, the upsides are manifold. Thanks to the photo identification requirements, voter fraud—whether real or merely suspected—would be eliminated. The environment would win, too, since we'd no longer be wasting paper on mail-in ballots. Moreover, the financial burden on election offices would be alleviated, because there's decreased staff time spent on the election, saving the taxpayer money.

From Oregon to West Virginia, elections offices have already implemented blockchain voting, and the results have been highly positive. For example, the city of Denver utilized mobile voting for overseas voters in their 2019 municipal elections. The system was secure and free of technical errors, and participants reported that it was very user-friendly. Utah County used the same system for their 2019 primary and general elections. An independent audit revealed that every vote that was cast on the app was counted and counted correctly. These successful test cases are laying the groundwork for even larger expansions of the program in 2020.

With this vital switch, our elections become significantly more secure, accurate, and efficient. But right now, our election infrastructure is a sitting duck for manipulation. Our current lack of election integrity undermines the results of both local and national elections, fans the flames of partisanship, and zaps voter confidence in the democratic system. While there's never a silver bullet or quick fix to those kinds of things, blockchain voting would push us much closer to a solution than anything else.

Chris Harelson is the Executive Director at Prosperity Council and a Young Voices contributor.