Get PJ Media on your Apple

The PJ Tatler

Bryan Preston

Bryan Preston has been a leading conservative blogger and opinionator since founding his first blog in 2001. Bryan is a military veteran, worked for NASA, was a founding blogger and producer at Hot Air, was producer of the Laura Ingraham Show and, most recently before joining PJM, was Communications Director of the Republican Party of Texas.
Follow Bryan:

Obama Just Set up a Headfake for the Democrats on the Keystone

Friday, April 18th, 2014 - by Bryan Preston

It’s Good Friday. Time for the leftwing president to do something bad.

Barack Obama just punted on the Keystone Pipeline, again, and some Democrats say they are angry at him.

The Obama administration once again has punted on a final decision for the Keystone XL pipeline, announcing ahead of the holiday weekend it is extending a key review period indefinitely — a move that could push off a determination until after the midterm elections.

Republicans, as well as red-state Democrats who want the proposed Canada-to-Texas pipeline approved, slammed the administration for the delay. Democrats even threatened to find ways to go around the president to get the project approved.

“It’s absolutely ridiculous that this well over five year long process is continuing for an undetermined amount of time,” Sen. Heidi Heitkamp, D-N.D., said in a statement.

Republican Nebraska Rep. Lee Terry called the decision “shameful,” noting that another spring construction season will come and go without the project.

Do ya think Obama knows or cares about that? Has he ever shown that he cares about jobs? Obama doesn’t govern; he agitates, he positions, and he tees up issues.

Obama doesn’t care about jobs, but he does care some about Democrats keeping the Senate. Eleven Democrats recently wrote him a letter urging approval of the Keystone. They’re all vulnerable senators. If they lose, the Democrats lose the Senate and Obama will find himself cornered during the last two years of his presidency. He doesn’t want the Keystone, but he doesn’t want to be cornered more.

Obama’s heart is clearly with the anti-science environmental radicals who oppose the Keystone. But he doesn’t want to lose the Senate.

My guess is, Obama made this extension indefinite to give himself control over when to end it and announce approval. He’ll do that once he has handed the environmental radicals who oppose it something in return, so they don’t abandon Democrats this fall. They will get some nasty new spin on EPA regulations, another turtle that needs protecting from ranchers, whatever. Around August or September, Obama will announce a change of heart, approve the Keystone, and give vulnerable Democrats something positive to crow about at home close to the elections.

Read bullet | 50 Comments »

LA County Sheriff’s Department Hid Massive Surveillance System From the Public, Because they Suspected that the Public Wouldn’t Like It

Friday, April 18th, 2014 - by Bryan Preston

Maybe it’s the fact that a corrupt county sheriff just pleaded guilty to the least of the crimes he committed, but the idea of a law enforcement agency having the power of persistent surveillance over huge swaths of land and population is extremely disturbing. In the case of Hidalgo County, I’ve only reported a small part of the full story here. My source received credible threats over the course of about three years. On one trip to the county, we were tailed. I was driving a rental car on an unannounced trip — we were tailed because someone was keeping tabs on my source. This was all done, as far as we can tell, by people who answered to Sheriff Trevino, for the purpose of intimidating citizens to keep them quiet.

Now, imagine what he could have done with a system like the LA County surveillance system.

The system, known as wide-area surveillance, is something of a time machine – the entire city is filmed and recorded in real time. Imagine Google Earth with a rewind button and the ability to play back the movement of cars and people as they scurry about the city.

“We literally watched all of Compton during the time that we were flying, so we could zoom in anywhere within the city of Compton and follow cars and see people,” [Ross] McNutt [owner of Persistent Surveillance Systems] said. “Our goal was to basically jump to where reported crimes occurred and see what information we could generate that would help investigators solve the crimes.”

Right. And in the wrong hands, that system is not a crime fighter. It’s a tool of serious oppression.

The LA County Sheriff’s Department may or not be the wrong hands as in Hidalgo County, but they behaved as if they can’t and shouldn’t be trusted.

“The system was kind of kept confidential from everybody in the public,” (LASD Sgt.) Iketani said. “A lot of people do have a problem with the eye in the sky, the Big Brother, so in order to mitigate any of those kinds of complaints, we basically kept it pretty hush-hush.”

That’s just great.

h/t Instapundit, Ace

Read bullet | 5 Comments »

Here’s a Mayor Who Should be Impeached

Friday, April 18th, 2014 - by Bryan Preston

Peoria, IL’s mayor sent the police after someone who parodied him on Twitter, according to Reason.

Jim Ardis, mayor of Peoria, Illinois, ordered police to track down whoever was responsible for a parody Twitter account mocking him.

As a result, police raided a West Bluff home, seized property, and detained three people for questioning. The Twitter account, @PeoriaMayor, has been suspended. According to the Journal Star, the account had all of 50 posts and an equal number of followers. The Twitter profile apparently did not initially indicate that it was a parody account, but added that label in early March.

The label was hardly necessary, though, to prevent reader confusion. The Journal Starexplains that “police were informed of the account by Ardis on March 12. The tweets implied ‘Mayor Ardis utilizes illegal drugs, associates with prostitutes and utilized offensive inappropriate language,’ according to an affidavit filed for the warrant.” Who would actually believe such tweets were coming from the mayor? Well, maybe residents of Toronto.

Well, yeah.

Still, it’s not a crime to be a pest on Twitter.

Check out the update:

Over at Vice, Justin Glawe knows the people involved in the parody account andreports on their fears. He also highlights some of the problems with the police department there. It’s worth a read.

The police seem to have treated the parodist as if he’s the kingpin of an international drug cartel.

Jon Daniel woke up on Thursday morning to a news crew in his living room, which was a welcome change from the company he had on Tuesday night, when the Peoria, Illinois, police came crashing through the door. The officers tore the 28-year-old’s home apart, seizing electronics and taking several of his roommates in for questioning; one woman who lived there spent three hours in an interrogation room. All for a parody Twitter account.

If someone is not suspected of a violent crime — in this case, not a crime at all — what’s the justification for police going all SWAT on them?

After the military-style arrest, Daniel may rack up enough lawyer fees defending himself that he’ll end up bankrupt.

For not committing any crime…

Read bullet | 13 Comments »

Wendy Davis Deals Are the Subject of an FBI Corruption Investigation

Friday, April 18th, 2014 - by Bryan Preston

The Texas Democrats’ great hyped hope has another, very large, problem on her hands. Travis County officials have revealed that state Sen. Davis’ lawyer work with the North Texas Tollway Authority is part of FBI investigation.

The Dallas Morning News has the bombshell.

The Travis County district attorney’s office said last month that details from its review of a 2012 complaint that a rival filed about Davis’ legal and political activities were “the subject of an open investigation” by the FBI. The district attorney’s office closed its review last year without taking any action.

Davis, the Democratic nominee for governor, has said her legal work for the agency posed no conflicts with her legislative duties.

Zac Petkanas, a Davis spokesman, said the FBI has not questioned her. He said Davis was told in August by her legal counsel that others were interested in the information gathered in the Travis County investigation, but she didn’t know it was the FBI until this month when contacted by The Dallas Morning News.

“We are not aware that Wendy Davis is the subject or target of any investigation,” he said.

Travis County is notoriously political, biased toward Democrats since the days of District Attorney Ronnie Earle. That’s not my opinion. It’s a fact.

Travis County prosecutors, in a March 24 letter, told the attorney general’s office that the FBI had informed them that release of files from the district attorney’s now-completed 2013 review of Davis’ legal work for the agency “would interfere with the FBI’s prosecution of the crime underlying the information.”

The county’s letter came in response to The News’ open-records request for the files. The county cited several potential justifications for withholding the files, including the ongoing federal inquiry.

Read the rest.

The complaint against Davis stems from her 2012 run for re-election to the Texas Senate. Her Republican opponent, state Rep. Mark Shelton, filed a complaint with Travis County, which looked into the matter but concluded that since Davis’ actions mostly took place in Tarrant County, Travis authorities lacked jurisdiction. That did not stop them from going after Tom DeLay a few years back, even charging him with actions that were not illegal when they occurred (DeLay’s convictions were overturned on appeal in 2013 — he was fully acquitted). So it’s no surprise that Travis decided not to prosecute Davis, a Democrat.

Read bullet | 13 Comments »

First Photos Emerge from Star Wars VII Set

Thursday, April 17th, 2014 - by Bryan Preston

A pair of photos from the set of Star Wars VII have hit the ‘net. They don’t show much, other than to confirm that shooting on the first true sequel to the Star Wars franchise since Return of the Jedi is underway. It’s set for release in December 2015.

The photos show a desert landscape in Dubai, which has replaced unstable Tunisia as the backdrop for Luke Skywalker’s home planet Tatooine. The second shows what appears to be props to build the foot of an imperial AT-AT. They made their first appearance in 1979′s Empire Strikes Back, in the battle for ice planet Hoth.

Sightings Of The Set Of Star Wars

 

R2-D2 is the only confirmed character to return from the earlier films, but others are expected to make cameo appearances, at least. Disney now owns, and J.J. Abrams now directs, the Star Wars franchise.

h/t HuffPo

Read bullet | Comments »

Media Matters, Union Buster?

Thursday, April 17th, 2014 - by Bryan Preston

The irony in this DC Examiner story is so luxurious and rich I’d like to bathe in it.

Media Matters for America is apparently resisting an effort by Service Employees International Union Local 500 to unionize its staff.

Last week, the union filed a representation petition with the National Labor Relations Board, indicating that the nonprofit media watchdog organization rejected an effort by the union to organize MMFA’s staff through a Card Check election.

[T]he filing does indicate that MMFA is not automatically accepting Local 500′s attempt to represent it’s staff. The nonprofit media watchdog group has hired the law firm Perkins Coie, which specializes in representing management in labor disputes, to represent it before the board.

Media Matters: Big Labor for thee, and thee, and thee…but not for me.

Read bullet | Comments »

Snowden Plays With Putin, and Just Might be a Foreign Spy

Thursday, April 17th, 2014 - by Bryan Preston

So, how did this happen?

NSA leaker Edward Snowden asked Russian President Vladimir Putin about whether Russia uses its own mass surveillance system, in a video during a question-and-answer session on Russian television.

“Does Russia, intercept, store or analyze, in any way, the communications of millions of individuals?” Snowden asked, according to a video clip posted by Russia Today.

The question, which Snowden asked via video from an undisclosed location (not to Putin), afforded Putin the opportunity to set himself up as a greater champion of individual liberty than the American government. Putin took that opportunity and ran with it.

Our intelligence efforts are strictly regulated by our law, so how special forces can use this kind of special equipment to intercept phone calls or follow someone online, and you have to get court permission to stalk a particular person,” Putin said, according to an English translation by Russia Today.

“We don’t have a mass system of such interception and according with our law, it cannot exist,” Putin said.

However, Putin added that “criminals and terrorists” use technology and “of course” Russia’s special services have to use the same means in response.

See, Russia is just a big ol’ Teddy bear!

USA Today is asking whether Snowden was/is a foreign intelligence asset.

Western intelligence services must assume that Snowden – either on purpose or inadvertently – has leaked to the Chinese and Russian governments the totality of the information with which he fled the U.S., says Fox, adding it would be “utterly inappropriate and irresponsible” to assume that Snowden had been to those countries and they had been unable to intercept the data.

Other senior intelligence officials share the same concern over Snowden’s allegiances. Rep. Mike Rogers, R-Mich., the outgoing chairman of the House Permanent Select Committee on Intelligence, believes Snowden is likely connected with Russian spies.

“We know today no counterintelligence official in the United States does not believe that Mr. Snowden, the NSA contractor, is not under the influence of Russian intelligence services,” he said March 23 on NBC’s “Meet the Press.” ”He is actually supporting in an odd way this very activity of brazen brutality and expansionism of Russia. He needs to understand that. And I think Americans need to understand that. We need to put it in proper context.

After today’s public exchange with Putin, the support looks a whole lot more direct. Russian intelligence was notorious for spying on foreign journalists during the Socchi Olympics. Given Putin’s deep history with the KGB, it’s unreasonable to assume that Russia doesn’t spy on its own citizens every day.

Snowden’s last major public address came via video conference, to SXSW in Austin back in March. During that conference, he had very little to say about Russia, other than to claim that neither Russia nor China had been able to break the encryption he had put on the data he took from the US. But supposing he is telling the truth, there is no way that he can know that with certainty. The safe way to bet is that both China and Russia have what he has.

Exit question: Will the recent Pulitzers based on Snowden’s disclosures turn out, years from now, to look just as foolish as the Pulitzer bestowed on Soviet apologist Walter Duranty?

Read bullet | 8 Comments »

Charges Dropped in Ridiculous PA Student Wiretapping Case

Thursday, April 17th, 2014 - by Bryan Preston

The story of the bullied kid who recorded his bullies, only to then get bullied by his school and the local police, is about to end on a happy note. The District Attorney is getting the last say, and will drop the charges entirely.

No one in our office who was authorized to give advice on wiretap issues or school conduct issues was ever contacted in this matter. We have made multiple attempts to contact the officer who wrote the citation. Those attempts have been unsuccessful. It is our intention to withdraw the citation on April 29 because we do not believe his conduct rises to the level of a citation.

Would there have been a positive ending if blogs hadn’t turned the story into a national issue? Unlikely.

h/t Eugene Volokh.

Read bullet | 12 Comments »

What Kind of an Idiot Names His PAC ‘Boats ‘N Hoes’?

Thursday, April 17th, 2014 - by Bryan Preston

This kind.

Political consulting firm employee Shaun Nowacki registered the political action committee, “Boats ‘N Hoes PAC,” with the Texas Ethics Commission on April 1, according to state records.

Nowacki is listed as comptroller for Blakemore and Associates Consulting Firm, whose namesake, Allen Blakemore, is the “senior strategist” for Republican Dan Patrick’s lieutenant governor campaign. The firm also advised Greg Abbott, the GOP nominee for governor, during eight previous campaigns from 1991 to 2004, according to Blakemore’s website.

The distance from that dope to major Texas GOP candidates is considerable, but not enough to keep Democrats from squawking about it. That’s politics. Republicans quickly distanced themselves from the idiotically named PAC, which seems to be named after a comedic, and probably offensive to many, rap in the 2008 movie Step Brothers, which starred Will Ferrell and John C. Reilly.

Perhaps registering it on April 1 is supposed to make it some sort of prank, but whether that’s the case or not, it backfired. The Democrats pounced and commenced with the usual “war on women” bits.

That name constitutes a war on taste and good sense. It’s fair to seriously question the judgement of the individual who registered it, even as a joke.

Read bullet | 6 Comments »

Cantor Rips Obama after Presidential Phone Call on Immigration

Wednesday, April 16th, 2014 - by Bryan Preston

Barack Obama still does not understand that when you insult people in public, they’re unlikely to work with you in private. Rep. Eric Cantor reminded him of that in a statement this afternoon.

“Today, President Obama called me to discuss his desire for comprehensive immigration reform. The President called me hours after he issued a partisan statement which attacked me and my fellow House Republicans and which indicated no sincere desire to work together. After five years, President Obama still has not learned how to effectively work with Congress to get things done. You do not attack the very people you hope to engage in a serious dialogue. I told the President the same thing I told him the last time we spoke. House Republicans do not support Senate Democrats’ immigration bill and amnesty efforts, and it will not be considered in the House. I also reiterated to the President there are other issues where we can find common ground, build trust and get America working again. I hope the President can stop his partisan messaging, and begin to seriously work with Congress to address the issues facing working middle class Americans that are struggling to make ends meet in this economy.”

Well, maybe Obama does understand the impact of his public insults. In that case, he just wants to pick a fight. That’s not what a leader does, but it’s what a community organizer does.

Read bullet | 17 Comments »

Catholic Cardinal: Obamacare Forces Charities to Make One of Four Choices, None of Which Are Good

Wednesday, April 16th, 2014 - by Bryan Preston

Francis Cardinal George of Chicago has written a Lent letter to his parishioners that lays out the stark choices facing the church in the age of Obamacare. The president’s signature law was not written to include abortifacient mandates. Those came with the regulations written by the bureaucracy and signed off on by Kathleen Sebelius and ultimately, Barack Obama. They could be lifted with the stroke of a pen, without Obama behaving in any lawless way. Yet they remain in full effect despite years of protest and lawsuits.

Why? The immediate political point of them, generating backlash and a phony “war on women” for the 2012 election, has already been served.

The mandate forces Catholic institutions — hospitals, adoption agencies, schools, and so forth — into an array of bad options.

So far in American history, our government has respected the freedom of individual conscience and of institutional integrity for all the many religious groups that shape our society. The government has not compelled them to perform or pay for what their faith tells them is immoral. That’s what we’ve meant by freedom of religion. That’s what we had believed was protected by the U.S. Constitution. Maybe we were foolish to believe so.

What will happen if the HHS regulations are not rescinded? A Catholic institution, so far as I can see right now, will have one of four choices: 1) secularize itself, breaking its connection to the church, her moral and social teachings and the oversight of its ministry by the local bishop. This is a form of theft. It means the church will not be permitted to have an institutional voice in public life. 2) Pay exorbitant annual fines to avoid paying for insurance policies that cover abortifacient drugs, artificial contraception and sterilization. This is not economically sustainable. 3) Sell the institution to a non-Catholic group or to a local government. 4) Close down.

It’s that fourth option that the regulations are probably intended to bring about: close down. Leave the government in charge of “charity,” and push the church out of public life altogether. Christians would maintain a “freedom of worship,” but not the freedom to act on their faith. That’s false freedom.

This has already happened in the case of Catholic adoption agencies in Massachusetts. Gay marriage legalization paved the way for destroying those agencies. They closed. So forcing Christian charities to close down to satisfy current political trends is not hypothetical. It has been happening for years. The precedent has been set.

The “freedom of worship” has found recent favor on the left. That’s little more than a trick, writes the cardinal.

Freedom of worship was guaranteed in the Constitution of the former Soviet Union. You could go to church, if you could find one. The church, however, could do nothing except conduct religious rites in places of worship-no schools, religious publications, health care institutions, organized charity, ministry for justice and the works of mercy that flow naturally from a living faith. All of these were co-opted by the government. We fought a long cold war to defeat that vision of society.

If churches are not free to act out the faith of their believers, then what are they for? What is worship for? What is worship? That’s not a peripheral question, it’s at the very heart of what the Obama administration is doing. In a very real way, it is setting up government as a false god, an idol.

Many Americans, I suspect, will not object as long as they continue to get their stream of free stuff from somewhere.

There will be consequences if these mandates are not lifted.

If you haven’t already purchased the Archdiocesan Directory for 2012, I would suggest you get one as a souvenir. On page L-3, there is a complete list of Catholic hospitals and health care institutions in Cook and Lake counties. Each entry represents much sacrifice on the part of medical personnel, administrators and religious sponsors. Each name signifies the love of Christ to people of all classes and races and religions. Two Lents from now, unless something changes, that page will be blank.

Catholic leaders bear some responsibility for chasing their own false god, “social justice,” when they should have been preaching the unvarnished Gospel. The “social justice” strains have empowered the likes of Obama, whose agenda goes far beyond what most saw coming. When he threatened to fundamentally transform the country, he meant it. Five years on, we have the IRS weaponized against dissent, and we have Obamacare kicking Christians out of public life and depriving them of the freedom to act on their faith, among other disturbing facets of the new America.

h/t Hot Air

Read bullet | 11 Comments »

Democrat Candidate Seeks Communications Director. Republican Sends Him an Epic Application Letter.

Wednesday, April 16th, 2014 - by Bryan Preston

Democrat Sean Eldridge is running for the House in New York’s 9th District, against Republican Rep. Chris Gibson. Eldridge has spent nearly a million dollars of his own money and his campaign has been plagued with problems. Of course, he’s also one of those liberals who decry the pernicious influence of money in politics. He’s fine with using his own money, which mostly comes from his wife, the Facebook co-founder Chris Hughes — it’s Republican money that he has a problem with.

Eldridge is now seeking a new communications director who will be tasked with righting a sinking ship. He posted the job notice online, which isn’t how campaigns typically hire staff. That’s usually done through political networking. Rookie mistake.

Ian Prior has written himself into the history books with this reply to Eldridge’s job notice.

Dear Sean,

I am writing to apply for the recently posted position of “Communications Director –  Sean Eldridge for Congress.”

I know that we have had our differences, but I really think I could help out Eldridge for Congress as your Communication Director. As you probably know, I have a very firm understanding of your campaign strategy of (1) self-funding your campaign account with your $700 million fortune, and (2) trying to buy friends and headlines by utilizing your Hudson River Ventures Super PAC, also funded with your $700 million fortune.

I am confident that my aggressive approach and willingness to actually speak to reporters will greatly help your cause. Moreover, my skills and experience certainly line up with what you are seeking in a Communications Director and I could provide to you the perspective of someone who has not been aiming for a Congressional seat since the age of 15, as you have.

Should you choose to hire me, I would advise that you do a few things. First, unlock your campaign doors. While I understand that you may be concerned about volunteers stealing your Cartier watch or other valuable items, this makes you look like an out-of-touch aristocrat.

Second, stop buying so many houses. While most people struggle to pay a rent or a mortgage, you are dropping $5 million for a house here, $2 million for a house there, etc. If you must buy another house, can you get something a little less expensive? Maybe something without an Infinity pool?

Third, stop talking about campaign finance reform. You have spent a million dollars of your own money on your campaign and have spent far more than that through your Hudson River Ventures Super PAC. You also just rejected an offer from your opponent to cap spending in your race. So the more you talk about campaign finance the more you look like a phony. Stop. Please!

We can certainly talk more about some other strategies that would make you seem more likable and less like the hypocrite that you are. I can forward my resume, references, and salary request on demand and look forward to speaking with you soon.

 

Sincerely,

 

Ian Prior

Northeast Regional Press Secretary

National Republican Congressional Committee

Office: 202-646-6419

Cell: 617-584-3345

Twitter: @iprior1177

 

Read bullet | Comments »

Fox News to Launch New Show that You Know You Will Watch

Wednesday, April 16th, 2014 - by Bryan Preston

It’s called Outnumbered, because female panelists will always outnumber the lone male panelist. They’ll talk about issues, etc. It’s kind of an anti-View from the sound of it.

Outnumbered’s engaging dynamic, guided by four savvy women and one man, is designed to provide viewers with a fresh take on the latest news. During each segment, the panelists will examine the top news of the hour, and deliberate the leading pop culture and relationship issues dominating the headlines that day.

FOX Report Weekend anchor Harris Faulkner and FOX Business Network’s Sandra Smith will serve as two of the rotating members who will lead the program’s news coverage. The solo male panelist will vary each day, sometimes serving as a notable figure in the national dialogue that week.

Additional personalities to be featured include co-hosts of “The Five,” Kimberly Guilfoyle and Andrea Tantaros along with FNC contributors Jedediah Bila, Katie Pavlich and Kirsten Powers.

An interesting list, both for who is included and who is not. Some former rising stars seem to have done themselves permanent damage with FNC.

Outnumbered launches April 28 at 12 PM eastern.

Read bullet | 14 Comments »

The Terrifying Implications of the IRS Abuse-DOJ Connection

Wednesday, April 16th, 2014 - by Bryan Preston

Thank God for Treasury Inspector General for Tax Administration J. Russell George. His investigation of what turned out to be the IRS abuse scandal may well have saved the Constitution and the nation.

For his fair and impartial investigation into the Internal Revenue Service’s abuse of Americans who dissent from President Obama’s agenda, Democrats have called for an investigation of him. George should not be investigated, but perhaps the Democrats who want him investigated — Reps. Gerry Connolly (D-VA) and Matt Cartwright (D-PA) — should be. Their call for an investigation of the investigator might constitute interference with the ongoing investigation of the IRS abuse scandal. That would be obstruction of justice, in what may turn out to be the most widespread and damaging scandal in American history.

The implications of today’s email disclosure are stunning and terrifying.

Lois Lerner intended to use her position atop the IRS’ tax exempt approval office to coordinate the prosecution of political speech. The Department of Justice under Attorney General Eric Holder had at least tentatively bought into that. The Federal Elections Commission was being roped in as well. Lerner’s emails prove that beyond doubt.

Democrats in Congress were involved. Rep. Elijah Cummings (D-MD) appears to have led the anti-constitutional attack on free speech in the House. Sen. Sheldon Whitehouse (D-RI) led it from the Senate.

Two days before Lerner was forced to publicly disclose the scandal, she was moving forward with an insidious plan to stamp out conservatives and Tea Party activists’ ability to organize and raise money, by working with the IRS commissioner’s office and the Department of Justice. At the same time, there was no plan for any government crackdown on groups who agreed with President Obama. The traffic was entirely one-way. It was nakedly political, and everyone involved knew it. They also had reason to believe that they would succeed, or they would not have engaged in it. DOJ would serve two roles: Prosecute conservatives, and protect the bureaucrats who were pushing those prosecutions.

Was there a full-fledged plan to use the full power of the federal government to take the abuse, delay and invasive questioning of conservatives to a new level after President Obama’s re-election? Was there a plan to criminalize the mere act of being a conservative activist? Was there a plan to drum up false charges of “lying” on applications in order to put conservatives in jail?

Read bullet | 75 Comments »

NBC Frets About Too Much Money in Politics, then Praises Bloomberg’s Massive-Money Anti-Gun Crusade

Wednesday, April 16th, 2014 - by Bryan Preston

Self-awareness is not the mainstream media’s strong suit. Just a couple of weeks after NBC lamented the presence and impact of there being too much money in politics, its own Savannah Guthrie conducted a glowing interview with Michael Bloomberg. That interview centered on his plan to pour $50 million into his latest anti-gun crusade.

h/t CNS News

Read bullet | 12 Comments »

To Obama, was the Boston Bombing Just an Instance of ‘Workout Place Violence?’

Wednesday, April 16th, 2014 - by Bryan Preston

Fox’s Tod Starnes noticed a curious, deliberate omission in President Obama’s statement on the 2013 Boston Marathon bombing. See if you can spot it.

“A year ago, tragedy struck at the 117th Boston Marathon. Four innocent people were killed that week, and hundreds more were wounded. Today, we remember Krystle Campbell, Lingzi Lu, Martin Richard, and Sean Collier. And we send our thoughts and prayers to those still struggling to recover.

We also know that the most vivid images from that day were not of smoke and chaos, but of compassion, kindness and strength: A man in a cowboy hat helping a wounded stranger out of harm’s way; runners embracing loved ones, and each other; an EMT carrying a spectator to safety. Today, we recognize the incredible courage and leadership of so many Bostonians in the wake of unspeakable tragedy. And we offer our deepest gratitude to the courageous firefighters, police officers, medical professionals, runners and spectators who, in an instant, displayed the spirit Boston was built on – perseverance, freedom and love.

One year later, we also stand in awe of the men and women who continue to inspire us – learning to stand, walk, dance and run again. With each new step our country is moved by the resilience of a community and a city. And when the sun rises over Boylston Street next Monday – Patriot’s Day – hundreds of thousands will come together to show the world the meaning of Boston Strong as a city chooses to run again.”

It’s a curious thing. Leftist like Obama are nanosecond quick to ascribe “hate” as a motivator among their political opponents. But he refuses to speak the word “terrorism” when Islamic radicals kill Americans, unless circumstances leave him absolutely no choice.

Read bullet | 11 Comments »

Boston Marathon Hoaxer Turns Out to be Attention-Seeking Drag Queen

Wednesday, April 16th, 2014 - by Bryan Preston

Tuesday night, a barefoot, black-veiled figure dropped off two backpacks near the Boston Marathon finish line. The backpacks contained pressure cookers filled with confetti. Authorities detonated both in controlled explosions. No one was injured.

The alleged perpetrator of the hoax, one year to the day after the Tsarneav brothers detonated real bombs that killed three and injured hundreds, turns out to be Kevin “Kayvon” Edson, 25.

Mediaite picks up the bizarre story from there.

NECN identified the bomber as 25-year-old Bostonian Kevin “Kayvon” Edson, the founder of a “eco-aware and ethical” fashion company called Natural Selection. Edson was discovered yesterday running barefoot on Boylston Avenue, wearing a black mesh veil and shouting “Boston Strong” over and over again, before dropping two backpack(s), one containing a rice cooker filled with confetti, at the Marathon finish line. (The backpacks were eventually detonated.)

“I really need exposure,” Edson said in a video bio for his company bearing his name, in which he also claimed that that he was bipolar. “I really need to build this world that I’ve already started creating.”

He earlier described himself as a “fashion designer, entrepreneur, performance artist, mental patient, blogger bloggerist, a jailbird, a college dropout, and a drag queen.”

Edson posted this on his Facebook page Tuesday.

Screen-Shot-2014-04-16-at-10.24.35-AM

 

Edson is going to get exposure…to lawyers, courtrooms, and prison. He may not have hurt anyone, but his actions caused real terror.

Read bullet | 7 Comments »

IRS Scandal Spreads to DOJ

Wednesday, April 16th, 2014 - by Bryan Preston

Katie Pavlich reports that newly released IRS emails prove that former IRS honcho Lois Lerner contacted the U.S. Department of Justice about prosecuting some tax exempt groups in May 2013. The emails have been released per a Judicial Watch FOIA.

Lerner wrote the email shortly before an inspector general’s report would make the IRS abuse of conservative groups public. Lerner got ahead of that by apologizing for the abuse via a planted question in a conference call with the American Bar Association.

Lerner emailed the IRS commissioner’s office about the DOJ on May 8, 2013 — just two days before she disclosed the abuse scandal — asking DOJ whether groups could be criminally prosecuted for “lying” on their tax exempt request forms.

“I got a call today from Richard Pilger Director Elections Crimes Branch at DOJ,” Lerner wrote on May 8 to Nikole Flax, chief of staff to former IRS Commissioner Steven Miller. “He wanted to know who at IRS the DOJ folk s [sic] could talk to about Sen. Whitehouse idea at the hearing that DOJ could piece together false statement cases about applicants who “lied” on their 1024s –saying they weren’t planning on doing political activity, and then turning around and making large visible political expenditures. DOJ is feeling like it needs to respond, but want to talk to the right folks at IRS to see whether there are impediments from our side and what, if any damage this might do to IRS programs. I told him that sounded like we might need several folks from IRS.”

Flax responded in email: ”I think we should do it – also need to include CI [Criminal Investigation Division], which we can help coordinate. Also, we need to reach out to FEC. Does it make sense to consider including them in this or keep it separate?”

Flax worked for acting IRS Commissioner Steven Miller. Miller would testify under oath on May 17, 2013 that an “increased workload” was to blame for the abuse. His own chief of staff, at least, knew that that was not true.

By the time of Lerner and Flax’s emails, the abuse had been going on since 2012. Lerner, at least, knew all about it. In these emails, Lerner was seeking to escalate it into criminal prosecutions, based on the wishes of a Democrat senator, and on her communications with the Department of Justice.

Let’s back up to March 27, 2013. Lerner emailed staff about an upcoming Senate hearing.

“As I mentioned yesterday — there are several groups of folks from the FEC world that are pushing tax fraud prosecution for c4s who report they are not conducting political activity when they are (or these folks think they are). One is my ex-boss Larry Noble (former General Counsel at the FEC), who is now president of Americans for Campaign Reform. This is their latest push to shut these down. One IRS prosecution would make an impact and they wouldn’t feel so comfortable doing the stuff,” she wrote to IRS staff. “So, don’t be fooled about how this is being articulated – it is ALL about 501(c)(4) orgs and political activity.”

On April 9, 2013, Sen. Sheldon Whitehouse used a Senate Judiciary Committee Hearing to ask DOJ witnesses why some conservative groups were not being prosecuted. He accused those groups of “lying” on their tax exempt status forms.

After that, Lerner and DOJ communicated about going forward with prosecutions. Only the impending disclosure of the scheme by the IRS inspector general put a stop to that, and got Lerner to disclose the scandal ahead of the IG. If the IG had not been about to go public, the abuse would not only have continued, it would have gone criminal.

We now have a sitting Democrat congressman, Elijah Cummings, a sitting Democrat senator, Sheldon Whitehouse, the Federal Elections Commission, the U.S. Department of Justice, and the Internal Revenue Service all implicated in the scandal. Flax’s involvement puts the abuse squarely into the IRS commissioner’s office. But it takes an entity above all of those agencies to coordinate their actions. That entity can only be the White House.

Read bullet | 13 Comments »

Bloomberg Plans to Use $50 Million, and Naked Fear, to Attack Gun Rights

Wednesday, April 16th, 2014 - by Bryan Preston

Mike Bloomberg just doesn’t get it. He thinks the NRA is successful because of money. He doesn’t understand that the NRA has money because it consistently defends a civil right.

Michael R. Bloomberg, making his first major political investment since leaving office, plans to spend $50 million this year building a nationwide grass-roots network to motivate voters who feel strongly about curbing gun violence, an organization he hopes can eventually outmuscle the National Rifle Association.

Mr. Bloomberg, the former mayor of New York, said gun control advocates need to learn from the N.R.A. and punish those politicians who fail to support their agenda — even Democrats whose positions otherwise align with his own.

“They say, ‘We don’t care. We’re going to go after you,’ ” he said of the N.R.A. “ ‘If you don’t vote with us we’re going to go after your kids and your grandkids and your great-grandkids. And we’re never going to stop.’ ”

The NRA doesn’t do that. It doesn’t threaten children and grandchildren. But Bloomberg intends to.

He added: “We’ve got to make them afraid of us.”

Would you settle for people despising you? Because you’ve already achieved that.

Let’s flash back to note what a towering hypocrite Bloomberg is. He knows it’s a dangerous world out there. And he wants people with guns walking around him to protect him. He just doesn’t want you and I to have the same rights.

YouTube Preview Image

Bloomberg is setting up a new anti-constitution brand name that we’ll all have to watch out for.

Women, and mothers in particular, will be the focus of the organizing and outreach, a path that he and his advisers have modeled after groups like Mothers Against Drunk Driving.

The plans call for a restructuring of the gun control groups he funds, Mayors Against Illegal Guns and Moms Demand Action for Gun Sense in America. They will be brought under one new umbrella group called Everytown for Gun Safety.

He’s also enlisting a high-profile Republican to help him curb our self-defense rights.

Bloomberg is bringing on a new advisory board with prominent Republican and Democratic figures. Tom Ridge, the former Pennsylvania governor and Homeland Security secretary under President George W. Bush; Eli Broad, the philanthropist; Warren Buffett, the investor; and Michael G. Mullen, the former chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff under both Mr. Bush and President Obama, will all be board members.

Bloomberg’s arrogance truly knows no bounds at all.

Pointing to his work on gun safety, obesity and smoking cessation, he said with a grin: “I am telling you if there is a God, when I get to heaven I’m not stopping to be interviewed. I am heading straight in. I have earned my place in heaven. It’s not even close.”

It’s not what you’ve done or what you know that gets you into Heaven. It’s Who you know.

Read bullet | 11 Comments »

J.K. Rowling Intends to Milk Her Harry Potter Success In a Whole New Ridiculous Way

Wednesday, April 16th, 2014 - by Bryan Preston

There is no such thing as a “Quidditch World Cup.” I repeat, there is no such things as a “Quidditch World Cup.”

Harry Potter fans will be able to read regular updates from the Quidditch tournament via the Pottermore website.

Characters from the books will feature in the reports, which will be credited to Harry’s wife Ginny.

Ginny is billed as “the Daily Prophet’s Quidditch Correspondent in the Patagonian desert” where the tournament is said to be staged.

The first installment of Rowling’s History of the Quidditch World Cup was posted on the digital platform last month, with the second part following shortly afterwards.

 

 

 

Read bullet | 8 Comments »

The CIA Director Turned Up in Kiev. Here’s Why.

Wednesday, April 16th, 2014 - by Bryan Preston

The Daily Beast Eli Lake and Josh Rogin report that CIA Director John Brennan visited Kiev to work up a plan to share US intelligence on Russian troop position with Ukraine.

Over the weekend, CIA Director John Brennan met with Ukrainian Prime Minister Arseniy Yatsenyuk and First Deputy Prime Minister Vitaliy Yarema to discuss the formation of new, more secure channels for sharing U.S. intelligence with the country now fighting pro-Russian secessionists in its eastern cities, according to U.S. and Western officials briefed on the meeting.

It’s a vitally important issue because the Ukrainians are badly outmatched by the Russian forces massed on their border and infiltrating their cities. If Kiev is going to have a hope of withstanding the pressure from Moscow, their intelligence on the Russian military’s activities will have to be exquisite.

The military and several members of Congress have pushed for the US to share data on Russian troop positions with Ukraine. Sharing intel with Ukraine is tricky, though, because the Russians have thoroughly penetrated Ukraine’s military and intelligence. Whatever we tell Ukraine is bound to get to Moscow in short order.

So…

The Ukrainian government is said to be requesting advanced secure communications equipment from the United States, one on a long list of items the U.S. government has not yet agreed to provide. On Tuesday, White House Press Secretary Jay Carney declined to say what if any non-lethal military equipment the U.S. might provide the Ukrainian armed forces, beyond the military rations that were delivered earlier this month.

Happy Meals aren’t going to help very much.

Read bullet | Comments »

New Video Shows Largest Al Qaeda Gathering in Years

Tuesday, April 15th, 2014 - by Bryan Preston

CNN reports that rumors of al Qaeda’s demise — which have been spread by President Obama and the Democrats — have been greatly exaggerated.

Washington (CNN) – A new video shows what looks like the largest and most dangerous gathering of al Qaeda in years. And the CIA and the Pentagon either didn’t know about it or couldn’t get a drone there in time to strike.

U.S. officials won’t comment on that, but every frame of the video is now being analyzed by the United States.

In the middle of the clip, the man known as al Qaeda’s crown prince, Nasir al-Wuhayshi, appears brazenly out in the open, greeting followers in Yemen. Al-Wuhayshi, the No. 2 leader of al Qaeda globally and the head of al Qaeda in the Arabian Peninsula, has said he wants to attack the United States. But in the video, he looks unconcerned that he could be hit by an American drone.

All the US domestic spying and electronic monitoring did not help.

Here is the video. It was recently taken in Yemen, where US drones have taken out several al Qaeda terrorists over the past few years.

Read bullet | 23 Comments »

Zero Tolerance: Another Public School Decides to Wreck a Kid’s Life

Tuesday, April 15th, 2014 - by Bryan Preston

The short version of the story: Kid gets bullied at his school in Pennsylvania, school pays no attention and fails to help him. So he records audio of the bully bullying him, to provide proof to his mother. His mother tells the school and lets them hear the audio. The school administrators do the absolute stupidest possible thing. They tell the boy to delete the audio, and call the cops. The responding officer then does the dumbest thing he can do, and charges the kid with a crime.

By the way, the kid who now has a conviction on his record has a learning disability.

The student didn’t even truly commit “wiretapping,” which is what the police officer initially thought to charge him with, despite the fact that there was no longer any audio recording at all. The boy used a school-issued iPad to record the audio. How is that “wiretapping?” I realize that in legalese it may be, but the law is often an ass. The boy was convicted of disorderly conduct last month and removed from the class in which the bullying took place. The bullies are still there, unmolested.

The 15-year-old is being punished harshly for defending himself nonviolently.

The incident and ongoing criminal case happened in Fayette Township, PA. South Fayette High School is the guilty educational establishment.

Everyone involved in the decision to slap the boy with criminal charges should be fired and they should face child abuse charges themselves. The administrator who called the police, the police officer, the judge, everyone — fire them all and slap them with civil lawsuits.

They make these idiotic decisions based on “zero tolerance” policies. It’s past time to hit the adults in these cases with zero tolerance policies as well.

Read bullet | 11 Comments »

Obama Administration Wants UN to Come Up With Fake Numbers to Back ‘Climate Change’ Legislation

Tuesday, April 15th, 2014 - by Bryan Preston

The Obama administration is just fraud all the way down.

U.S. President Barack Obama’s administration is concerned that a crucial United Nations report on climate science may be too harsh in assessing the cost of fighting global warming.

Such a finding may lower the incentive for the world to reduce fossil fuel pollution and feed the arguments of those skeptical about whether it’s worth spending money to curtail rising temperatures.

Global temperatures haven’t risen in 15 years, but never mind that. Pay no attention to the Sun’s role in our climate.

The UN report is set for release next week. Plenty of time to inject some happy math.

“The discussion of the economic costs of mitigation is too narrow and does not incorporate co-benefits of action,” U.S. officials wrote in a submission to the UN, according to a document obtained by Bloomberg. They said including only one side of the equation “unnecessarily skews the information.”

Well, the “side” that the administration wants included isn’t real. It’s conjecture. Made-up.

The comment refers to “global consumption losses” identified in the report of as much as 4 percent in 2030, 6 percent in 2050 and 12 percent in 2100 as a result of action to protect the climate, according to a draft leaked in January.

State Department officials are pressing to factor in improvements to public health and lower energy costs from increased efficiency that would happen if fossil fuels were limited. Those would offset the price to be paid for switching over to cleaner forms of energy such as wind and solar and paring back on lower-cost fuels such as coal.

This is the math on which Solyndra was built. And Obamacare.

Nowhere will the Obama administration ever acknowledge Climate Gate.

Read bullet | Comments »

Pro-Russian Politician Mobbed, Beaten in Ukraine

Tuesday, April 15th, 2014 - by Bryan Preston

Big things have small beginnings.

Oleh Tsarev, who has backed Ukraine’s membership of the Moscow-led customs union rather than European integration, was attacked after giving an interview to Ukraine’s ICTV channel in which his critics said he appeared to back an intervention by Russian troops in Ukraine’s rebellious eastern regions.

He later denied saying this and said he was categorically against Russian forces being sent into Ukraine.

Tsarev tends to go around wearing a “Born in the USSR” shirt.

The 44-year-old Tsarev, whose presidential bid has only the tiniest support, waited two hours at the studios before stepping out into the crowd where, despite some protection from his bodyguards, he was engulfed by a mob who threw eggs at him and then beat him.

He was hustled into a waiting ambulance but members of a far-right nationalist group Right Sector seized him and drove him first to the headquarters of the state security service and then to the prosecutor’s office.

Standing bare to the waist and with a black eye and scratches to his face, Tsarev told journalists: “I did not ask for Russian troops to be sent in. I am categorically against this. I am against a third party interfering in the affairs of Ukraine. Until we learn to listen to each other, Ukraine will stand no chance.”

Tsarev has little support within Ukraine, but may have serious support over the border in Moscow.

Read bullet | Comments »

Hamas Leader Praises Shooting that Left Israeli Father Dead, Pregnant Wife Wounded

Tuesday, April 15th, 2014 - by Bryan Preston

But…Hamas just wants peace!

The prime minister of the Hamas-ruled Gaza Strip on Tuesday praised a shooting that killed an Israeli and wounded his wife and son as they drove through the West Bank the previous evening en route to a Passover meal.

Speaking in Gaza, Ismail Haniyeh said the attack outside the city of Hebron “brought back life to the path of resistance” against Israel and warned of more attacks in the Palestinian territory.

The slain man’s wife is reportedly pregnant. There were several children in the car. One of them was wounded in the same attack.

Read bullet | Comments »

White House Wanted Apology Because Barry Got His Feelings Hurt

Tuesday, April 15th, 2014 - by Bryan Preston

Poor Barry. It must be hard to be humble when you’re perfect in every way, and only have other people’s best interests in your dear heart.

Neurosurgeon Ben Carson says the White House wanted him to apologize for “offending” President Obama after he famously delivered a conservative message at the National Prayer Breakfast last year.

Carson, the former director of pediatric neurosurgery at Johns Hopkins Hospital, recalls the events surrounding his 2013 speech in his new book, One Nation: What We Can All Do To Save America’s Future. The Daily Caller obtained an advance copy of the book, which is set for release May 20.

“He did not appear to be hostile or angry,” Carson writes of Obama, “but within a matter of minutes after the conclusion of the program, I received a call from some of the prayer breakfast organizers saying that the White House was upset and requesting that I call the president and apologize for offending him. I said that I did not think that he was offended and that I didn’t think that such a call was warranted.”

We should all bow down and apologize to Barry. We’re just not good enough for him.

 

Read bullet | 16 Comments »

VIDEO — Along with Cheap Fares, This is Why Southest Airlines Rules

Tuesday, April 15th, 2014 - by Bryan Preston

I’ve been on several Southwest flights that had flight attendant stand-up comedy routines. But this is probably the best one in the fleet.

YouTube Preview Image

Read bullet | Comments »

Has Russia Invaded Ukraine?

Tuesday, April 15th, 2014 - by Bryan Preston

Russian Prime Minister Dmitry Medvedev said today that Ukraine is in a state of “civil war.”

That’s the pre-text upon which Russia is expected to launch military action against Ukraine — to “protect” ethnic Russians living in eastern Ukraine, as it “protected” ethnic Russians in Crimea.

The “civil war” is actually the government of Ukraine cracking down on pro-Russian groups that have been causing unrest over the past few days. Ukraine’s action, while necessary, falls right along with Russia’s plans.

Meanwhile, forces have been battling over an airport in eastern Ukraine, according to the AP.

KRAMATORSK, Ukraine (AP) — In the first Ukrainian military action against a pro-Russian uprising in the east, special forces on Tuesday recaptured a small airport that had been occupied by militiamen, the government said.

Ukraine’s acting president, Oleksandr Turchynov, had earlier announced an “anti-terrorist operation” against the insurgents who have seized control of numerous buildings in the east of the country.

Heavy gunfire rang out at the airport near the town Kramatorsk. Russian state television reported four to 11 people had been killed, but there was no independent confirmation of any casualties. Much of the shooting appeared to have been warning shots into the air.

The armed pro-Russian militias are occupying government, police and other administrative buildings in at least nine cities in the Russian-speaking east of the country around the major industrial city of Donetsk. They are demanding broader autonomy and closer ties with Russia.

The “militiamen” who seized the buildings might or might not be Russian troops. When Russia invaded Ukraine, its troops wore uniforms without any national markings. Obscuring the identity of the “militiamen” could well be another of Russia’s gambits to create confusion, and some degree of deniability if that turns out to be useful.

Read bullet | Comments »

Obama Admin Changes Census Survey, will Obscure Obamacare’s Impact on Health Insurance

Tuesday, April 15th, 2014 - by Bryan Preston

In which a shamelessly dishonest administration gets ready to be even more shamelessly dishonest.

WASHINGTON — The Census Bureau, the authoritative source of health insurance data for more than three decades, is changing its annual survey so thoroughly that it will be difficult to measure the effects of President Obama’s health care law in the next report, due this fall, census officials said.

The changes are intended to improve the accuracy of the survey, being conducted this month in interviews with tens of thousands of households around the country. But the new questions are so different that the findings will not be comparable, the officials said.

An internal Census Bureau document said that the new questionnaire included a “total revision to health insurance questions” and, in a test last year, produced lower estimates of the uninsured. Thus, officials said, it will be difficult to say how much of any change is attributable to the Affordable Care Act and how much to the use of a new survey instrument.

“We are expecting much lower numbers just because of the questions and how they are asked,” said Brett J. O’Hara, chief of the health statistics branch at the Census Bureau.

So watch the bouncing ball here. The changes will force a “break in trend” in healthcare uninsured numbers and how the government reports them. The Census Bureau says, now, that the new methods will make comparing the pre- and post-Obamacare numbers an apples and oranges comparison. But when the numbers do come out this fall, the Democrat from Obama on down will crow about them. They will say that Obamacare has reduced the number of uninsured. And the media, including the New York Times that is reporting on the change, will be right there to fail to acknowledge the impact of the change.

What will the low-info voter do with the new, shiny lower numbers?

Over at JuiceVox, late-term abortion filibuster cheerleader Sarah Kliff has already sent up the Media Bias Signal. Nothing to see here, move along.

Read bullet | Comments »

It’s No Time to Get Cocky, But Abbott Leads Davis by Double Digits in Texas Gov Race

Tuesday, April 15th, 2014 - by Bryan Preston

So it turns out that filibustering again a popular bill and being an ethically challenged leftist aren’t enough to get any traction in Texas. Who knew? Other than everyone who knows anything about Texas, that is…

PPP’s newest Texas poll finds Republicans leading by double digits in all of the state’s major races for 2014.

In the Governor’s race Greg Abbott’s at 51% to 37% for Wendy Davis. Those numbers are largely unchanged from our last poll of the state in early November when Abbott had a 50/35 advantage. Davis had a 39/29 favorability rating right after her famous filibuster last June, but since then voters in the state have mostly moved toward having negative opinions about her and now she’s at a 33/47 spread. Davis’ name recognition is actually 12 points higher than Abbott’s, but his reviews break down favorably with 40% having a positive view of him to 27% with a negative one.

Democrats aren’t doing any better below the governor level.

There’s been some thought that Democratic prospects might be better in the race for Lieutenant Governor but Leticia Van de Putte actually trails by slightly more than Davis, regardless of who her Republican opponent ends up being. Dan Patrick leads her by 16 points at 51/35 and incumbent David Dewhurst leads her by 18 points at 50/32. Even with a divisive Republican nomination fight between Patrick and Dewhurst there doesn’t appear to be much risk of the party failing to unify before the fall- they lead 83/9 and 82/5 respectively with GOP voters in the general election.

I’d put that risk around zero. If Dewhurst is the nominee, he will win the general. If Patrick is the nominee, he will win the general.

Read bullet | Comments »

Feds Stop Snatching Tax Refunds — Because They Got Caught

Tuesday, April 15th, 2014 - by Bryan Preston

The government says it has stopped one of its illegal activities, according to the Washington Post.

The Social Security Administration announced Monday that it will immediately cease efforts to collect on taxpayers’ debts to the government that are more than 10 years old.

The action comes after The Washington Post reported that the government was seizing state and federal tax refunds that were on their way to about 400,000 Americans who had relatives who owed money to the Social Security agency. In many cases, the people whose refunds were intercepted had never heard of any debt, and the debts dated as far back as the middle of the past century.

“I have directed an immediate halt to further referrals under the Treasury Offset Program to recover debts owed to the agency that are 10 years old and older pending a thorough review of our responsibility and discretion under the current law,” the acting Social Security commissioner, Carolyn Colvin, said in a statement.

Hm. That “discretion under current law” may be a major caveat. The confiscations without warning that were taking place were allowed because someone — we still don’t know who — snuck a change of the statute of limitations into the 2008 farm bill. So from that perspective, “current law” allowed Treasury to do what it was doing.

But children are not obligated to pay their parents’ debts from their own assets, according to the Federal Trade Commission. Treasury was violating that in taking the children’s tax refunds. And there’s the matter of due process, which the federal government was just ignoring outright. Someone should face prosecution for violating Americans’ rights.

Along with the Washington Post’s Marc Fisher, who deserves credit for reporting the government’s actions in the first place, Republican Sen. Chuck Grassley deserves credit for taking the issue on from Congress.

In a letter to Treasury Secretary Jack Lew on Monday, Sen. Charles E. Grassley (R-Iowa) said that government agencies were apparently “not properly notifying individuals or allowing them to inspect records of the debt they supposedly owe, which are violations of the law.”

Grassley said that although Congress did authorize the government to seek payment on old debts, the law “says nothing about allowing the government to offset payments from an individual to pay debts not in his or her name. It is unclear where the government has that authority.”

The senator said that Congress created a rigorous system to ensure that debt collection is handled transparently but that “it appears that agencies are abusing this system.”

Well, we have an abusive government that beats up on law-abiding citizens.

Read bullet | Comments »

Harry Reid: Cattle Battle Is ‘Not Over’

Tuesday, April 15th, 2014 - by Bryan Preston

What does Dingy Harry mean by this?

Reid tells News4′s Samantha Boatman his take on the so-called cattle battle in southern Las Vegas. “Well, it’s not over. We can’t have an American people that violate the law and then just walk away from it. So it’s not over,” Reid said.

Reid isn’t happy if Americans walk away from “violating the law,” but he’s just giddy if illegal aliens walk around violating the law 24/7.

I’m ambivalent about the cattle battle. The Bundys “don’t have a leg to stand on” legally, according to PowerLine, yet deserve sympathy because of federal land ownership in the western states and how political agendas get mixed into what ought to be ordinary and fair decision making. We’ve all heard about the “war on coal.” It looks like the feds have been waging a quiet war on cattle ranching, too.

BLM coming in with heavily armed troops and snipers to deal with a senior citizen rancher is more evidence that our government treats citizens far worse than it treats non-citizens. This is unacceptable. It has to stop, and it was good to see the feds finally back down over the weekend.  BLM and the militia folks who showed up to support the Bundys ran the risk of turning the standoff into another Waco. Hopefully no one wants that, though the feds’ behavior sometimes suggests otherwise.

Read bullet | 7 Comments »

Jindal’s Obamacare ‘Fix’ Is a Bad Idea

Monday, April 14th, 2014 - by Bryan Preston

Louisiana Gov. Bobby Jindal, likely 2016 GOP hopeful, has a couple of ideas for “improving” Obamacare according to a Bloomberg editorial. One of them will expose Americans to substandard medical treatment.

Jindal’s plan includes two excellent ideas. The first is to let nurse practitioners and other medical professionals practice to the full extent of their abilities.

Jindal’s second idea involves giving tax breaks for purchasing insurance plans. But it’s the one above that’s troubling, and I say that as an admirer of Jindal. We’ve looked at it before here at Tatler.

Obamacare is creating a doctor shortage in a couple of ways. One, it’s driving doctors straight out of practice over growing frustration with the new systems mandated by the law. Two, over the long term it’s expected to create more demand by insuring more people (supposing that it actually ends up insuring more people).

The idea of allowing medical practitioners who are not physicians to perform tasks, including diagnosis and some surgeries, limited to physicians is not a new idea. Two groups, optometrists and nurse practitioners, have been trying to increase the number of kind of treatments they are allowed to perform for a few years, to add to the scope of their practices and increase revenue. Neither are MDs and therefore do not have the years of training that MDs have. Most Americans probably don’t realize it, but optometrists do not receive anything close to the kind, scope and length of training that ophthalmologists receive. The latter graduate medical and are specialists in their field. Some optometry schools do not even require a college degree.

Allowing non-MDs to do tasks reserved for doctors has already caused problems.

Jindal’s plan would do at least two bad things. The first is that it would expose unsuspecting Americans to substandard treatment at the hands of people who are professionals, but are not fully trained medical doctors. The second is that it might contribute to saving Obamacare, a bad policy that needs to be repealed in full and replaced with a thoughtful market-based reform.

Read bullet | 7 Comments »

Burwell’s Confirmation Hearings to Run Obamacare Just Got a Little More Difficult

Monday, April 14th, 2014 - by Bryan Preston

Sylvia Burwell is President Obama’s pick to replace Kathleen Sebelius atop the Department of Health and Human Services, despite her having no experience in the healthcare industry. This administration’s motto seems to be “no experience required.” Burwell’s main claims to fame up to now aren’t terribly impressive. She ran the Gates Foundation, which never had any money troubles, and she ran the Walmart Foundation, which also never had any money troubles. Foundations tend to be easier to run when they’re flush with cash and can do whatever they want.

She has also headed the Office of Management and Budget, at a time when the US government is spending money at insane rates. OMB doesn’t just work on budgets, though, according to Marc Thiessen.

When speechwriters finish a draft presidential address, it is circulated to the White House senior staff and top cabinet officials in what is known as the “staffing process.” As part of that process, nonpartisan career policy experts at OMB review the speech and are responsible for attesting to the factual accuracy of everything the president says.

So thanks to Burwell’s nomination, Americans may finally get to the bottom of how the biggest presidential lie in recent memory made it though OMB’s fact-checking process — not once but dozens of times.

The first time the lie surfaced — when Obama told the American Medical Association on June 15, 2009, “If you like your doctor, you will be able to keep your doctor, period. If you like your health-care plan, you’ll be able to keep your health-care plan, period. No one will take it away, no matter what” — it wasn’t on Burwell’s watch.

But Burwell was OMB director when Obama declared on Sept. 26, 2013: “Now, let’s start with the fact that even before the Affordable Care Act fully takes effect, about 85 percent of Americans already have health insurance — either through their job, or through Medicare, or through the individual market. So if you’re one of these folks, it’s reasonable that you might worry whether health-care reform is going to create changes that are a problem for you — especially when you’re bombarded with all sorts of fear-mongering. So the first thing you need to know is this: If you already have health care, you don’t have to do anything.”

Burwell should explain to Congress and the American people how her office allowed blatant falsehoods to get into presidential speeches, including whether political aides overruled career policy advisers who warned that the president’s claims were untrue.

Indeed.

Too bad OMB wasn’t involved in briefing Susan Rice…

Burwell will still get confirmed, only this time there will be harder questions and maybe a handful of votes against her.

Read bullet | 12 Comments »