Last week, James O’Keefe’s Project Veritas released video showing Battleground Texas operative Jennifer Langoria admitting that the group uses its voter registration activities to conduct data-mining operations. It collects people’s personal information off of the voter registration forms it gets them to fill out, which is against state law governing the behavior of voter registrars in the state.
For a week, Democrat Wendy Davis has remained silent on the matter. The media in Texas have either clouded the issue or not asked her about it. Battleground Texas has defended the practice as legal.
But today, at the tail end of a Reuters infomercial on BGTX, the group admits that it has quietly scuttled the tactic. Reuters didn’t just bury the lead, it sunk it at the bottom of a trench.
O’Keefe released a video last week showing Battleground volunteers copying phone numbers from voter-registration forms they had collected from residents, which Republicans say violated state law.
Brown said it was legal, but added that Battleground had discontinued the practice before the video came out.
“We decided to change it because the law was unclear and we knew attacks would be coming at some point,” she said.
Unclear? Not really. Texas Lt. Gov. David Dewhurst has called for the group to be investigated, but complicating that, the state attorney general’s office would be in charge of such an investigation. Texas’ attorney general is Greg Abbott, the Republican front-runner for governor. His opponent, Wendy Davis, is allied to Battleground Texas. Any state investigation would very likely have Democrats all over the country mischaracterizing it as a witch hunt and casting Davis and BGTX as the victims — not the perpetrators.
Feast your eyes on how Apple hopes you remember its visionary founder, Steve Jobs.
That thing is a scale- model of the winning design, which was selected from among 10,000 entries. Were they all this ugly?
It’s memorable, for whatever that’s worth. It’s also nothing like anything Jobs would have probably approved. He was all about clean design that made intuitive sense. That statue has Cyrillic letters sticking out of the side, because the designer is Serbian. Also, it has a tiny, pitted pinhead. It is basically a disturbing Pez dispenser, but without candy. The full-size 10 to 15 foot version will be built and stand outside Apple HQ in Cupertino, CA, where it will frighten children and impressionable adults for generations to come.
What can you say anymore? If it’s not a public school in Texas suspending a kid for doing the right thing, it’s a Chicago cop slapping a 13-year-old with a felony for chucking a snowball at him.
You can call the cop a big baby, and you’d be right. If you called him that to his face, he’d probably arrest you on some trumped-up charge like those Austin cops did last week.
According to police, a 13-year-old boy was charged as a juvenile with felony aggravated battery against a police officer Wednesday after he hit the officer in the arm with a snowball while the officer was parked in his vehicle in the 4900 block of West Congress Parkway about 3:20 p.m.
Let’s shake our heads until our necks break at this next bit.
Local idiot educator Ray Fields felt this was a totally appropriate response to snowball-throwing.
“If [the boy] had gotten away with it, who’s to say what they’d do next? If it doesn’t stick to them now, they’ll be 16 or 17, and they’ll have a gun,” Fields said, adding that he has experience with local teens as a teacher and was the victim of a home burglary by neighborhood teens in 2010.
Cop and teacher — government employees — on the same idiotic side, slapping a kid with a felony for snowball assault. I’m so not surprised that you probably can’t even find my pulse.
I realize that the vast majority of police and teachers are not idiots. Most of them are good folks who would never dream of ruining a kid’s life because he threw a snowball. But the non-idiotic ones aren’t the ones making the headlines these days.
Kids of all ages should watch out: Throwing a snowball is now felony assault, at least in Chicago. Every snowfall will now be followed by a terrible crime spree. Snowball control cannot be far off now.
Does this mean that everyone holding a snowball may now be suspected of violent crime and shot on sight by police? Do you want to be the person who tests that?
More: Cops in Oklahoma killed an innocent man for no reason.
In 2004, Hillary Clinton promised that all Clinton records would be released earlier than the law requires.
Clinton’s records have not been released ahead of schedule. In fact, a huge pile of them remain under seal.
A trove of Clinton White House records long processed for release remains hidden from public view at the Clinton Presidential Library in Little Rock — even though the legal basis initially used to withhold them expired more than a year ago.
The papers contain confidential advice given to or sought by President Bill Clinton, including communications with then-first lady Hillary Clinton, and records about people considered for appointments to federal office.
About 33,000 pages of documents are involved, according to the National Archives, which runs the library.
Under the Presidential Records Act, such records can be withheld for up to 12 years after a president leaves office. However, at the 12-year mark, those broad restrictions fall away and the once-secret presidential papers are generally subject to disclosure. For the Clinton files, that milestone came and went in January 2013.
And here we are, a year after that. The link above goes to establishment media Politico. When Hillary runs for president, watch Politico fail to remember or ever ask Clinton about this broken promise.
This broken promise isn’t likely to matter. The election will instead turn on other lies — “war on women” and so forth, and whether Hillary Clinton is indeed likable enough. Not whether she is qualified or honest.
I might be all out of words. How we vote no longer matters. The majority of Americans don’t want Obamacare, and do want the IRS abuse investigated. Obamacare stays, IRS abuse won’t be resolved — majority does not rule. Many of our public schools are run by people who are incapable of thinking. So are many of our police departments. When you mix unthinking idiots in education with unthinking Keystone cops, you get powerful idiots doing idiotic things to our children.
A Texas family is appealing their son’s suspension after he brought a can of beer to school.
Christi Seale said her 17-year-old son Chaz was running late Monday and accidentally grabbed a beer instead of a soda to pack in his lunch.
When Chaz realized his mistake, Seale said he immediately gave it to a teacher at Livingston High School, about 90 minutes north of Houston.
But the school didn’t buy the story. The teacher called the principal and Chaz was suspended for three days. He will also have to attend an alternative school for two months.
“I think it’s not black and white. There has to be a gray area. You can’t punish a kid for doing the right thing. It’s the same punishment you would give a kids that you catch doing the wrong thing,” Seale said.
Livingston ISD is standing by the teacher and the principal, because of course. No one is allowed to think, this is a public school!
The story gets even worse. The campus cops got involved. A cop committed the crime of thinking.
So the teacher called the principal’s office, and the principal referred Seale to campus police. Police swiftly issued him a citation for being a minor in possession of alcohol.
But the officer revoked the citation after learning of the circumstances of the incident, tearing up the slip in front of Seale.
Undeterred, the school district suspended Seale for three days. The police officer reportedly got into trouble with his superiors for refusing to pursue the first citation.
Common denominator: These are all government employees.
If our big government were smart, that would be one thing. I still wouldn’t support it, but at least it would defensible. Our big government is stupid, which makes it an active threat.
The fundraising totals for the Wendy Davis campaign tell a story. Despite her attempts to run away from her signature issue — support for late-term abortion in substandard clinics — the industry knows where her heart really is.
Democrat Wendy Davis collected $100,000 in the last month from Austin Planned Parenthood board member Aimee Boone and $100,000 from EMILY’s List, a political committee that supports Democratic women who back abortion rights.
Other big donors during the most recent reporting period included investor Rani Clasquin of Austin, $50,000; League City trial lawyer Ronald Krist, $50,000; and eight contributions of $25,000, including from Cecilia Boone and Suzanne Bartolucci.
In addition, her most recent report shows that Planned Parenthood’s political committee spent $20,000 to conduct a poll on Davis’ behalf and $9,000 for Web design and staff time.
More than a quarter, 27%, of Davis’ campaign funding is coming from sources outside Texas. The most effective part of her campaign is Battleground Texas, which was dispatched here by Barack Obama to do his bidding. Make of all that what you will.
We Americans are an arrogant lot. Or at least, some of our judges are.
SAN ANTONIO — A federal judge in San Antonio has declared Texas’ ban on gay marriage unconstitutional.
U.S. District Judge Orlando Garcia, however, also issued a stay, meaning the ban stays in effect for the time being.
One gay couple married in Massachusetts and want to force Texas to recognize them. Another want to get married in Texas. Both couples sued. They’ve won.
In 2005, 76% of Texans voted in favor of banning same-sex marriage. That vote will be nullified if this ruling stands.
Those who believe that the evolving laws on marriage will leave any room for anything other than the most radical court interpretations will be proven wrong.
Those who believe that the logic of these rulings will not open up Pandora’s Box to further redefinition of marriage and the family will also be proven wrong.
Those who believe that these moves will not result in the marginalization of Christians have already been proven wrong — in San Antonio.
Update: Texas will appeal.
Update: Lt. Gov. David Dewhurst responds:
I am a longtime defender of marriage as a union between one man and one woman, which is why I led the effort to pass the Defense of Marriage Act back in 2003 and pressed for a Constitutional amendment in 2005. Once again, an activist federal judge has unilaterally attempted to undermine the will of the people of Texas who affirmed this amendment with 76% of the vote. I am insisting that the state of Texas appeal this ruling to protect our time-tested, traditional Texas values.
Putin has ordered a Russian military exercise right next to Ukraine.
President Vladimir V. Putin ordered a surprise military exercise of ground forces on Ukraine’s doorstep Wednesday, intending to demonstrate his country’s military preparedness amid tensions with Europe and the United States over the turmoil gripping Russia’s western neighbor.
Mr. Putin’s order applied to forces in western Russia and air forces across the country, and a separate order issued by Defense Minister Sergei K. Shoigu included unspecified measures to ensure the security of Russia’s Black Sea Fleet in southern Ukraine’s Crimea peninsula, a region that was a part of Russia until 1954 and is still heavily populated by ethnic Russians.
The Russian muscle flexing came as thousands of ethnic Russians demonstrated in Crimea’s regional capital of Simferopol, protesting the political upheavals in Kiev that felled the pro-Moscow government of President Viktor F. Yanukovych over the weekend and turned him into a fugitive.
“Crimea is Russian!” some screamed, as brawls erupted with rival demonstrators from Crimea’s ethnic Tatar population who support Kiev’s new interim authorities created by the Parliament.
Ukraine is primed for civil war. Russia is primed for building up its alternative to the European Union, the anti-democratic and Moscow-dominated Eurasian Union. Ukrainians tend to tilt west toward the EU; Ukraine’s ethnic Russians (about 17% of the population of Ukraine) tilt east toward Moscow. Ukraine needs a lot of money in aid and loans to bail its economy out. The EU is militarily weak and with the Obama administration now slashing U.S. defense forces to a level not seen since the end of World War II (as many of us warned in 2008 that he wanted to do), Defense Secretary Chuck Hagel declaring the “end of American military dominance” as the administration ramps up domestic entitlement spending, the West won’t be in much of a position to do anything if events lead to confrontation. Weakness (and the perception of weakness) begets confrontation. Obama’s force cuts could end up encouraging Putin to act.
Putin is a nationalist autocrat, and he isn’t stupid. If anything, he’s opportunistic. He did not call this military exercise while the Olympics were still going on and made no aggressive moves while the eyes of the world were on Sochi. But he is moving now.
Update: Are you kidding me?
— David Gregory (@davidgregory) February 26, 2014
We had a commenter come here the other day and note that we’re not reporting on the Obamacare websites’ failures anymore, implying the sites have been fixed.
Sure we are, because the sites haven’t been fixed. Here’s video from Fox 12 TV of folks from Rhode Island. The state’s Obamacare website isn’t working for them.
Fox 12 Reporter SUSAN HOGAN: “It’s certainly no secret that computer glitches literally rocked the health care system worldwide. And Health Source Rhode Island is not immune to these issues either. And since it launched, Call 12 for Action has received 97 complaints. David McDonald from Bristol applied for health insurance from Health Source Rhode Island, but ever since, he’s had big problems.”
MCDONALD: “Every time we had a question we got a different answer. We though we had things resolved.”
HOGAN: “The problem started when David decided to deactivate his account and obtain insurance directly through BlueCross. It should have been an easy cancellation request, but turned out to be a costly problem.”
MCDONALD: “The next month, we had a bill. And so we called them up and they apologized, and said it had been taken care of.”
HOGAN: “Not exactly.”
MCDONALD: “The month after that, we got another bill.”
HOGAN: “Four bills in total.”
MCDONALD: “You’d think after that many times they could correct the problem But they can’t. And if they can’t do that, how do we — how does anybody know that they’re doing anything accurately?”
HOGAN: “That’s when David called 12 for Action.”
MCDONALD: “I came to you because I didn’t think they’d listen to me.”
Get that? The man got so fed up with the government’s lack of response that he felt like he had no choice but to go to the media. The station took his and the “many other” complaints it has received to the state’s Obamacare bureaucracy.
The answer coming from that bureaucracy is not inspiring: Christine Ferguson, of the Rhode Island healthcare exchange, tells Hogan that “At the end of the day, the most important thing is that we evolve this into really excellent customer service, that the system gets fixed.”
Why didn’t this expensive beast work to start with? Why, nearly six months on, hasn’t the “really excellent customer service” “evolved” yet? Who is accountable for this debacle? What role is Healthcare.gov’s lack of a working back end playing in sites like Rhode Island’s inability to function?
Who is accountable for the fact that David McDonald, along with millions of others, has now lost his health insurance thanks to this mess?
Virginia’s 100th state House district went 54-44 for Obama in 2012, and 55-45 for Democrat Tim Kaine for Senate in the same year.
Last night, it held a special election. The Republican candidate won, by a landslide, 60% to 40%.
It’s a special election, but in a mid-term year in which Democrats are on the run over Obamacare, and President Obama is in his second term — a point at which the party of the sitting president usually loses seats.
Losing seats they recently won by as many as ten points is unusual, though.
Democrat Alex Sink is running for Florida’s 13th House District. During a debate Tuesday night, she said this:
SINK: “Immigration reform is important in our country. We have a lot of employers over on the beaches that rely upon workers and especially in this high-growth environment, where are you going to get people to work to clean our hotel rooms or do our landscaping? We don’t need to put those employers in a position of hiring undocumented and illegal workers.”
Translated: We really need to maintain a permanent legal underclass of cheap labor, and should ensure that blue collar jobs go to those who have broken our laws, not those born here or who came here legally.
Army Pfc. Tariqka Sheffey has made at least two major choices in her life. One was to volunteer for the United States Army. That’s a brave choice that could cost her her life. Joining the Army is very serious business.
The second is her decision to publicly disrespect the flag that represents the United States. This was a foolish choice that could cost her dearly.
A soldier who hid in her car to avoid saluting the flag — and then flaunted it on Instagram — is the latest service member to come under attack via social media and be accused of dishonoring her service.
Pfc. Tariqka Sheffey, whose Instagram handle is “sheffeynation,” posted a selfie with a caption that reads:
“This is me laying back in my car hiding so I don’t have to salute the 1700 flag, KEEP ALL YOUR ‘THATS SO DISRESPECTFUL/HOWRUDE/ETC.’ COMMENTS TO YOURSELF cuz, right now, IDGAFFFF.”
The image was distributed via Facebook and also sent to Army Times. Angry service members, Gold Star mothers and spouses have called for the soldier’s removal from service.
The IDGAFFFF is profane slang for “I don’t care what you think about me or my actions at all.” A person with that attitude is a discipline problem. A person who puts that attitude out on social media is begging for trouble. This is not a free speech issue.
Sheffey is not a civilian. She is a member of a unit at Ft. Carson, Colorado. Her commanders will care about what she has done, and she will have to care about what they think. When she volunteered for the Army, Sheffey voluntarily put herself under their authority. She is subject to discipline under the Uniform Code of Military Justice. She has yet to apologize for her actions, but apologies may not even matter. Her actions threaten her unit’s and the Army’s good order and discipline. Commanders will take the good of the unit into account as they decide what discipline Sheffey faces. That doesn’t automatically mean that she will be ejected. Commanders can be pretty creative about maintaining order. Her punishment will depend on her prior discipline record and how she treats this issue, and could be as simple as ordering her to report to the flag lowering every day to stand apart from the ranks and salute for an extra amount of time. Or she could be booted if she sticks to that IDGAFFFF attitude. Being booted may be what she wants. People have done all kinds of things to shirk the duty they have volunteered for.
Exit question: What are the odds that Sheffey’s actions make her a cause célèbre to some on the left?
It doesn’t take a political genius to see the problem with this:
The Houston Chronicle reported last week that Barry Smitherman, the Texas Railroad Commission chairman and Republican candidate for attorney general, made the remark in a League of Women Voters election guide.
“Child support division accounts for over half of the Attorney General’s budget,” Smitherman said in the guide. “I’ve been told some staff have become disinterested paper pushers, no longer working to ensure the best interests of the child are met. I will make certain that mothers and fathers are receiving mandated visitation rights so that the parent-child relationship is maintained with both parents.”
AG Abbott replied that under his watch, Texas’ child support division has climbed to number one in the nation.
Smitherman had to walk his criticism back:
On Tuesday Smitherman’s campaign said his comment in the voters guide was taken out of context, and that he was only rehashing what he had been told by others.
He praised Abbott’s work.
“Barry Smitherman thinks that General Abbott has done an amazing job as attorney general and with his child support collection record,” said Jared Craighead, a spokesman for Smitherman. “Barry has no argument with General Abbott’s record.”
“Rehashing what he had been told by others…” Shouldn’t he have checked things out before saying what he said?
Abbott is running for governor, and is likely to be the GOP nominee against Democrat Wendy Davis. Her campaign and its allies are likely to use Smitherman’s criticism against Abbott in the general election. The commercials will practically write themselves — “Even his fellow Republicans are criticizing Greg Abbott’s record on child support enforcement! Can you really trust Greg Abbott?”
If HHS Secretary Kathleen Sebelius were a corporate officer or CEO, she would have been fired a long time ago. She oversaw the terrible rollout of Healthcare.gov. Now she’s lying about what constitutes success in the program.
This month, Sebelius touted the Obama administration’s figure of 4 million enrollments as success. She also said that seven million was never the administration’s goal.
That 4 million number is itself dubious. The government cannot even say how many enrollees have paid their premium. About 6 million Americans lost their healthcare due to Obamacare. The president and Sebelius are counting ordinary Medicaid enrollments among Obamacare enrollments, even though those enrollments would have happened anyway. They’re essentially touting increasing the number of Americans who have had to go on a version of welfare as “success.”
But for the sake of argument, let’s give them the 4 million. It’s just over half the number that Sebelius herself said would define success back in September.
Sebelius says in the clip above, “I think success looks like at least 7 million having signed up by the end of March.” She didn’t cite the CBO. She set 7 million as the floor, the bare minimum measure of success.
A corporate CEO caught lying like Sebelius does here would be gone. Fired. They might be facing an SEC investigation and the possibility of fines or jail time. Sebelius is lucky that she works for a boss who doesn’t value competence or honesty very highly.
By the way, wanna see a joke? Here’s Buzzfeed’s Andrew Kaczynski claiming that Sebelius has “changed her mind” on the 7 million number. That claim is no more honest than Sebelius’ own.
h/t Guy Benson
Is this a stunt, some idiot lobbyist’s idea to get back at gay marriage supporters, or what? Whatever it is, you can’t pass laws banning people from playing football because they’re gay. Can’t, shouldn’t, won’t happen.
Washington lobbyist Jack Burkman on Monday said he is preparing legislation that would ban gay athletes from joining the National Football League.
Burkman in a statement said he has garnered political support for the bill, though his statement didn’t mention any specific lawmakers who are behind it.
”We are losing our decency as a nation,” Burkman said in a statement. “Imagine your son being forced to shower with a gay man. That’s a horrifying prospect for every mom in the country. What in the world has this nation come to?”
Burkman said he came up with the idea after college football star Michael Sam publicly revealed he is gay a few weeks ago. If drafted, Sam would be the first openly gay player in the NFL.
Of course he did. Does Burkman know about Robbie Rogers, the LA Galaxy soccer player who is gay and played last season? It being soccer, probably not. Hardly any American pay attention to the MLS. But it happened, and the only question that arose was why were the Galaxy still playing him late in the season when it was pretty clear that he wasn’t pulling his weight? His being gay had nothing to do with that; his being past his prime and the Galaxy’s shallow bench did. None of the adult players on the professional team were complaining about the showers.
Burkman is a Republican lobbyist. His little effort is probably going to be used to paint every Republican as a bigot and set the cause of protecting Christians and churches from lawsuits over same-sex marriage back a bit. He says the idea is meant for his clients to show how conservative they are to their home districts. All that will do is broaden the brush with which the left will paint his clients and the entire GOP as bigots.
Burkman’s clients should fire him.
First, “failure to identify” is a thing in Texas, legally, according to this ex-cop, but it doesn’t apply in this case.
OK, it is fairly simple. If you are under arrest refuse to provide your name, date of birth, or residence address, you commit a Class C misdemeanor unless you have warrants outstanding, when it is a Class B misdemeanor. If you are either under arrest or lawfully detained, it is an offense to provide a false name, date of birth or address. The later is a Class B or A misdemeanor, dependent on whether you have outstanding warrants.
What is not an offense is refusing to provide your name, date of birth, or residence address when you are lawfully detained.
The jogger was not even being detained when she refused to identify herself. She was arrested because she refused to identify herself, after police came upon her from behind while she was jogging with earbuds, and she couldn’t hear them.
Austin PD Chief Art Acevedo hasn’t covered himself in glory in this story. He and his department have given conflicting info as to whether police were on that street corner as part of a jaywalking enforcement crackdown.
Acevedo accuses her of throwing herself to the ground and “doing the limp routine.”
Those are crimes now?
He also said that the jogger is lucky he wasn’t the arresting officer, because he wouldn’t have been as nice as the actual arresting officers were to her.
Really? That begs the question, what would Art have done with a jogger who was caught from behind while maybe jaywalking but otherwise committing no crime?
In a press conference, he said this:
“In other cities there’s cops who are actually committing sexual assaults on duty, so I thank God that this is what passes for a controversy in Austin, Texas.”
Acevedo apologized in a press release, in a way that sounds like he’s still trying to pat himself on the back because none of the arresting officers sexually assaulted the jogger while they were arresting her for no reason.
Yesterday’s press conference related to the arrest of a jogger by members of the Austin Police Department (APD) was the culmination of an emotional week for the APD, our extended APD family and me personally.
During the press conference I attempted to place the arrest into context by bringing attention to the fact that law enforcement deals with many acts of serious misconduct. This includes recent instances in the news of sexual assault by police officers in other cities.
In hindsight I believe the comparison was a poor analogy, and for this I apologize. I stand committed to transparent leadership and will continue to engage the community we serve in an open, honest, and timely manner.
Austin PD had four officers detaining one jogger for no good reason. They dragged her off to a squad car for no reason. She was later released. Apparently Acevedo is expecting a thank-you card from her now.
I won’t presume that this tweet is about me or today’s earlier piece on Kirsten Powers’ selective use of Scripture and Jim Crow as weapons against her fellow Christians. I’m not prominent enough to merit a direct response.
I”m starting to understand why @AnneRiceAuthor “quit Christianity” while still loving Jesus. The Pharisees are alive and well.
— Kirsten Powers (@kirstenpowers10) February 24, 2014
She says in another tweet that she isn’t quitting the church, and I say that it would be an awful thing if she did. She is where she is for a reason, though at times like these it’s not obvious what that reason is. It’s not always obvious to me why I’m still breathing and writing, for whatever that’s worth. We all have our off-pitch verse to sing in humanity’s song.
It would be an awful thing if Powers’ politics end up pushing the church into the corner in which it is now being forced, by Powers’ political allies, to retreat. Powers has deployed serious rhetorical weapons against the church. This is no small thing. If her side wins and Christians get no legal protection on matters of conscience, Powers’ own rhetorical devices and tactics will have contributed some measure to the marginalization of Christianity in America. That will have grave consequences far beyond the First Amendment and the debate about who can marry whom.
To highlight but one, Powers rightly speaks out on the persecution of Christians around the world. This truth cannot be told enough. I am glad to see that it concerns her. She blames some of the wrong people, as I noted earlier. She blamed Christian leaders for a good bill on persecution dying in the Senate — which the Democrats control. Republicans, given control of the House by evangelicals and others, had passed that bill. How is the Senate scuttling that bill the fault of anyone but the Democrats who control the Senate? How is it the fault of the evangelical church leaders Powers calls out? The Democrats don’t listen to evangelicals and haven’t for about 30 years or more. They accuse us of being horrible people, waging “war on women” and the like. That’s why most of us vote the other way. We haven’t been pushed out of the GOP, yet. Some moderates would like to change that. My cynical side expects that they’ll succeed at some point, which will hand the Democrats unchallenged power for a while.
I’ve brought up Powers’ take on persecution twice now, for a reason. Her take is not fair to the Christians she criticizes. It absolves the wrong people and blames the wrong people, in both cases revealing that politics trump the truth. This suggests that she is doing the same in the marriage debate. My cynical side wonders whether she isn’t pushing things so hard now because her party is poised to lose big this fall.
A fair take on speaking out against persecution would highlight the fact that Pat Robertson’s Christian Broadcasting Network, and CBN’s courageous terrorism reporter Erick Stakelbeck, speak out on persecution all the time. So does Catholic EWTN. They don’t belong to a politically correct news outlet, though, and Pat Robertson often earns criticism, which might account for the lack of any mention of them by Powers (and many others), and the lack of Pulitzers on Stakelbeck’s wall. It’s fair to doubt whether an article praising CBN would ever get published at the Daily Beast.
Setting that aside, if Powers and her allies succeed in knocking the church into a defensive crouch here in the United States, how effective will the church be in helping those facing much more serious persecution abroad? How many missions will go unstaffed, and souls unreached (setting Calvin aside for now)? The simple fact of the matter is that for probably 150 years or so, Christians from the United States have done more to evangelize the world than Christians from other countries. I’m not being rah-rah ‘Murica jingoistic here, but it’s simply a fact that religious freedom here strengthens the church and allows it to project people and resources abroad. Christianity in America, I believe, is stronger because it is not part of the state and is also not subject to the state. It’s a fact that our economic dominance creates more disposable wealth, some of which will be used to advance missions and assist the persecuted. It’s also a fact that with prosperity come temptation and decadence. If the church is under assault and facing expensive, time-wasting litigation here, though — as a few of its members are and churches themselves soon will be over the issue of same-sex marriage — how likely is it to continue projecting people and resources abroad? The missionary call will not go away, but if the funding dries up, fewer will be sent into the fields to harvest. If our politics and culture further marginalize the church, this will not end well. Fewer will have the time and resources to fight persecution of our brothers and sisters overseas. Some will be stuck in court, and/or under attack in the culture and from politicians and pundits, and their faith might crack in ways that Powers and Rice probably haven’t taken into account. Once Christians get the message that the First Amendment no longer protects us, and the culture actively despises us, how many will go underground or leave faith altogether? How many already have?
I suppose one response to that would be, why not just go ahead and give in then? If only it were that easy. The political cause of the day tends to crack up against the Gospel. As it should.
Was the title of my first post on this inflammatory? Was it cutting? You bet. That doesn’t mean that it isn’t true or that it’s unfair. It’s unfair to caricature the difficult decisions that Christians are facing now in a debate over an issue that was not even on the radar a few years ago, and on which the culture has been pushed so swiftly. It’s unfair to demand surrender on a serious, fundamental issue without even bothering to give people an idea where this will all end up. We’re not talking here about lunch counters and buses, the iconic moments of the civil rights era and the deserved justice of overturning Jim Crow. We are talking about fundamentally redefining marriage and the family.
Taking a wider view, I’m not endorsing either the Kansas or Arizona proposals. For one thing, I don’t think either will defend Christians’ right of conscience. If any state passes a law on this that the administration does not like, that state can expect to be sued and demonized and turned into a campaign issue. The federal government in its current guise will not pass a federal law, President Obama won’t sign one, and even if he did, he would simply choose to ignore it. No law matters much to a lawless government.
Having already politicized life, we are now politicizing the definition of the family. Those who demand tolerance most loudly are not practicing it and have no intention of practicing it. It’s clearly dividing Christians. This won’t end well.
The Department of Health and Human Services (HHS) is seeking a “social media analytic tool” that will give the government access to “full Twitter historical data,” according to a solicitation released on Tuesday.
The agency is seeking feedback for a “possible future acquisition to provide near real time social media analysis.” HHS said it wants to use the tool for “ongoing monitoring” of public health issues.
HHS provides a long list of requirements, including “access to real-time social media posts,” and “access to full Twitter firehose.”
The agency requires an archive that goes back at least five years of “full Twitter historical data.” The government will also need “access to multiple account log-ins,” “real-time alerting,” the “ability to construct lengthy Boolean searches,” and a function that can filter search results based on the location of a Twitter user.
Under “additional attributes that we would find useful,” HHS said the “ability to export full data into excel or another spreadsheet program” would be beneficial.
HHS said it would use the social media tool for public health concerns and emergencies such as Superstorm Sandy. “In the midst of an event we want to know when hospitals and/or nursing homes are evacuating patients,” HHS said under “scenarios of how we would utilize this tool.”
If that’s the use, HHS doesn’t need all tweets for all time. They just don’t.
This government has been collecting our cell phone metadata and lied about it, under oath.
It wanted to track our license plates.
It wants our twitter data.
Big Brother’s appetite seems to know no end.
In honor of the end of Piers Morgan’s primetime run on CNN, the folks at Grabien have compiled this montage of the man’s lowest moments on TV. He likes nannying, hates the Second Amendment, and perhaps least surprising, he really loves himself.
This may be the most awful tweet by a major political figure in the history of Twitter. Samantha Power is the US ambassador to the United Nations. Sunday, she tweeted this:
Daniel Pearl's story is reminder that individual accountability & reconciliation are required to break cycles of violence. @DanielPearlFNDN
— Samantha Power (@AmbassadorPower) February 24, 2014
Daniel Pearl was a Wall Street Journal reporter, kidnapped and beheaded because he was Jewish, and also because he was American. He was on his way to interview a radical Pakistani Islamic cleric when he was taken against his will on January 23, 2002. His captors sawed his head off on camera, chanting “Allahu Ackbar!” while they killed him. His dismembered body was later found buried on property that belonged to an Islamic charity.
In what universe does Pearl’s murder have anything to do with what Power says? In what universe was it part of any “cycle of violence”? Pearl was a reporter. In what universe did his kidnapping and killing have anything at all to do with “individual accountability”? What does that even mean in this context?
Today, February 24, is the 178th anniversary of one of the most heroic letters ever written. On February 24, 1836, Lt. Col. William Barret Travis and just 188 fellow freedom-fighters were holed up in a mission in San Antonio, Texas. The mission was originally called Mission San Antonio De Valero, but by 1836 had long been known as the Alamo.
On February 24, Travis commanded the small group of Texians inside the mission turned fortress. Four days earlier Texas had declared its independence from Mexico, reacting to Santa Anna’s despotism. Surrounded by a hostile army far outnumbering his own forces, Travis wrote the following letter.
Commandancy of the The Alamo
Bejar, Feby. 24th. 1836
To the People of Texas & All Americans in the World—
Fellow Citizens & compatriots—
I am besieged, by a thousand or more of the Mexicans under Santa Anna — I have sustained a continual Bombardment & cannonade for 24 hours & have not lost a man — The enemy has demanded a surrender at discretion, otherwise, the garrison are to be put to the sword, if the fort is taken — I have answered the demand with a cannon shot, & our flag still waves proudly from the walls — I shall never surrender or retreat. Then, I call on you in the name of Liberty, of patriotism & everything dear to the American character, to come to our aid, with all dispatch — The enemy is receiving reinforcements daily & will no doubt increase to three or four thousand in four or five days. If this call is neglected, I am determined to sustain myself as long as possible & die like a soldier who never forgets what is due to his own honor & that of his country — Victory or Death.
William Barrett Travis.
Lt. Col. comdt.
P. S. The Lord is on our side — When the enemy appeared in sight we had not three bushels of corn — We have since found in deserted houses 80 or 90 bushels and got into the walls 20 or 30 head of Beeves.
The Alamo fell on March 6, 1836. Relief for the Texians within the Alamo never arrived, but Travis’ letter was key to bringing in more troops and support to fight for Texas. The 13-day siege gave Gen. Sam Houston time to gather forces to attack and defeat Santa Anna at San Jacinto on April 21. The Republic of Texas won its independence.
Lt. Col. William Barret Travis died in the Battle of the Alamo. He was just 26 years old.
The Tea Party-friendly Club for Growth has released its annual scorecard for lawmakers. In Texas, Sen. John Cornyn faces primarying from three opponents, including GOP Rep. Steve Stockman. Stockman claims that he is representing the Tea Party, though no Tea Party group has endorsed him to date. One of Cornyn’s primary opponents, Dwayne Stovall, has earned a Tea Party endorsement.
Add to that, the fact that the Club for Growth rates Stockman as less conservative than Cornyn.
According to the Club’s scorecard, Cornyn is the 8th most conservative senator. He has a 93% conservative rating (88% lifetime). Over in the House, Rep. Stockman ranks 39th. That’s on a par with Cornyn’s ranking in the Senate, as there are fewer senators than representatives. But Stockman’s conservative rating comes in at 87%, six points less than Cornyn on the most recent congressional session, and 87% lifetime. That’s not a whole lot of daylight between the candidates. There may be some other reason or reasons to support one of more of Cornyn’s challengers, but voting records don’t support claims that Stockman is more conservative.
Just so readers know where I’m coming from, I don’t endorse in GOP primaries, though I may explain how I vote once I’ve voted. I have no objection in principle to primarying incumbent Republicans, in fact, it’s often a good thing. Power and Washington (or Austin, or the county seat) are seductive. Letting incumbents know that they can and will be primaried is a means of holding them accountable. Some incumbents richly deserve to be primaried and sent packing, taking their consultants with them. But I’m not in the “throw all incumbents out” camp, as not all incumbents are as bad as all other incumbents. Some of the are actually good, or at least less dangerous than others, and more qualified than some of their challengers. Likewise, not all challengers are challenging for noble reasons, and not all challengers are capable of holding things together well enough to win a general election. We have to be shrewd in choosing which incumbents we choose to primary, and which of their challengers deserve backing. Every movement of any size attracts false prophets before long. I’m not specifying that there is a false prophet in this race. I’m just noting that just as not all incumbents are automatically devils, not all challengers are angels.
Having heard a million speeches, I’ve become all too aware that anybody can say anything to get elected. That goes for incumbents and challengers alike, in all political parties.
You may remember where you were sitting or standing when you heard this news. Or, given Piers Morgan’s pitiful ratings, you may have to be reminded that he has a show at all. In either case, here’s some good news for a Monday: Crusading against our Second Amendment rights has finally cost Piers Morgan his primetime gig at CNN.
I received a return call from Mr. Morgan and was prepared for an endless argument over my assumptions. Not so. His show, he conceded, was not performing as he had hoped and was nearing its end.
“It’s been a painful period and lately we have taken a bath in the ratings,” he said, adding that although there had been times when the show connected in terms of audience, slow news days were problematic.
“Look, I am a British guy debating American cultural issues, including guns, which has been very polarizing, and there is no doubt that there are many in the audience who are tired of me banging on about it,” he said. “That’s run its course and Jeff and I have been talking for some time about different ways of using me.”
The bathrooms could probably use a good scrubbing. It would be more honest work than anything Morgan has engaged in up to now as well.
CNN is mulling over kicking Morgan to some kind of “special event interview” show. Which means that they don’t really want to fire him, even though he did not perform in his job. It must be nice to be a leftwing pundit.
If I were Jeff Zucker and had that 9 p.m. timeslot to fill now, I would not do what is expected of CNN. What he should do is learn from the network that is dominating right now. Fox is succeeding not necessarily because it is “conservative.” Fox succeeds by mixing a few elements together that work. People talk about Fox’s eye-candy factor, and there’s not getting around the fact that many of Fox’s talent are easy on the eyes. They are also sharp and in command of their air. Fox is far less predictable than either CNN or MSNBC, and by that, I mean that on any given night you will see Megyn Kelly, Greta Van Susteren, Sean Hannity and Bill O’Reilly bring on commenters from all over the political spectrum. All of Fox’s hosts are serious professionals, and only one of them is identifiably Republican. But they all strive to be fair to conservative viewpoints and liberal viewpoints alike. They also mix in cultural stories and the latest outrageous legal cases, reaching into tabloid land without going full TMZ.
Morgan never even pretended to try to be fair. He is predictable, obnoxious and pretentious — and more than a shade dishonest. All of that is off-putting, and generates must-watch-whatever-else-is-on TV.
CNN would do well to find a host who is more engaging, fair and honest, highly informed and capable of dealing with all comers with sound arguments and wit, unpredictable, more of an iconoclast to both sides than a water carrier for either one. Here’s a suggestion.
Kirsten Powers believes that Christians who are defending their right of conscience to object to performing services for same-sex marriages are enacting a new Jim Crow. She writes her thoughts on the matter down for the Daily Beast.
Let’s destroy that analogy before moving forward, in the hope that it never rears its idiotic head again.
Jim Crow laws, which were perpetrated on black Americans by Powers’ very own and beloved Democratic Party, were designed to oppress an entire race of people. They were not in any sense a reaction to an offense. They were not in any sense based on any Christian biblical principle. They were not in any sense about freedom of conscience. The Democratic Party’s Jim Crow regime was designed for purposes of pure racism. Its “separate but equal” regime was done by powerful people to oppress those who had no power — powerful Democrats oppressing powerless black Americans.
A pair of states have considered passing laws concerning same-sex marriage. Kansas and Arizona are considering laws that would allow a Christian who owns a business to opt out, for reasons of religious conscience, of performing services for same-sex marriages. Nothing in these laws would deny services of the government to same-sex marriages or force the state’s hand should disputes over services arise. The purpose of these laws would be to prevent Christians from facing expensive, time-consuming lawsuits if they refuse service to same-sex couples in wedding contexts. Such lawsuits have already happened, and the Christians have lost them. In one case that it still ongoing, a Mennonite couple in Iowa face a civil rights lawsuit because they refused to host a same-sex wedding reception in their art gallery. Their gallery is open to all most of the time, but they do rent it for receptions. As Christians, they do not believe in anything but the traditional definition of marriage. For this, they are being sued. They counter that their refusal is based on their own civil rights — the right of religious conscience to decline participation in events and ceremonies that they believe are against God, based on beliefs that long pre-date the state. This case follows the Colorado case of a wedding cake bakery that was sued for declining a same-sex wedding, and a photographer in New Mexico who similarly declined a same-sex wedding. Losing those lawsuits threatens the Christians’ right to make a living free of harassment, and may deprive them of their private property, while they have their names dragged through the mud thanks to a media that is very much hostile to traditional Christians in this country. Unfortunately, that hostile media includes the likes of Kirsten Powers.
In all of these cases, the Christians were literally minding their own businesses when the question of same-sex marriage hit them. They were not going out of their way to oppress anyone. They were not in control of the mechanisms of the state to exact any form of oppression. None of these cases resemble the Democrats’ Jim Crow regime at all. Jim Crow was government-enforced, top-down oppression based on race. Powers’ use of Jim Crow exhibits shallow, ill-informed and frankly illogical thinking. If there were licenses required for punditry, hers would be open to revocation on grounds of malpractice.
Powers may lack the critical thinking skills to understand why her use of Jim Crow is so far off the mark, but she is very intelligent and politically she knows exactly what she is doing. Invoking Jim Crow is intended to bully and coerce those of us who disagree with her, to silence us into submission, while at the same time it rallies forces on her side to go on the attack. Given the pieces and layout on this particular chess board, it’s not too much to say that Powers is using her position in media to persecute Christians. I won’t accuse Powers of engaging in Jim Crow oppression herself, as that analogy does not hold up. But she can perhaps be likened to Saul, the sincere first century scholar who sincerely set about attacking the early Church because he thought it was the morally right and politically correct thing to do. People can be and often are sincerely wrong.
Powers, we should keep in mind, sets about attacking Christians not just on same-sex marriage. She has written accusing America’s churches of “staying silent” in the face of growing persecution of Christians around the world. I won’t presume to speak for Powers’ church, but America’s evangelical churches are far from silent on the matter. We here at PJ Media are far from silent on the matter. Conservatives in general are far from silent on the matter. Ray Ibrahim, Brigitte Gabriel, Robert Spencer, myself, talk show hosts like Laura Ingraham, National Review’s Kathryn Jean Lopez and many many others write regularly on the persecution of the church abroad. Churches actively support missionary efforts to build Christian communities in the most dangerous places on earth, and highlight when governments go on the offensive against Christians. We take the oppressed in whenever possible.
The program to install monitors in America’s newsrooms has been suspended according to Ars Technica. But not killed dead, as it ought to be.
Yesterday, FCC Chairman Tom Wheeler told staff to remove the offending questions, a commission statement today said. The statement noted that the FCC is required to “report to Congress every three years on the barriers that may prevent entrepreneurs and small business from competing in the media marketplace, and pursue policies to eliminate those barriers. To fulfill that obligation in a meaningful way, the FCC’s Office of Communications Business Opportunities consulted with academic researchers in 2012 and selected a contractor to design a study which would inform the FCC’s report to Congress.”
“However, in the course of FCC review and public comment, concerns were raised that some of the questions may not have been appropriate,” the statement continued. “Chairman Wheeler agreed that survey questions in the study directed toward media outlet managers, news directors, and reporters overstepped the bounds of what is required. Last week, Chairman Wheeler informed lawmakers that the Commission has no intention of regulating political or other speech of journalists or broadcasters and would be modifying the draft study. Yesterday, the Chairman directed that those questions be removed entirely.”
So they removed the questions that raised everyone’s alarms. But the project itself is not dead. The FCC says that “the pilot will not be undertaken until a new study design is final.”
Which means that they’re going to wait a while, change a few words around, and try again from another angle.
The evident purpose, reinstating the Orwellian Fairness Doctrine, has just been delayed a bit.
Austin, Texas, is supposed to be weird. It is not supposed to be a police state. But take a look at this video, taken downtown near the University of Texas campus and posted Thursday.
In the video, a pair of police officers can be seen standing over a woman who is sitting on the sidewalk. She speaks to the videographer across the street, telling him that she hasn’t done anything wrong. The officers cuff her and lead her to their squad car to take her to the police station. At that point, she begins to scream at full volume that she has done nothing wrong.
According to the Daily Caller and local news, the police had camped on a corner and were issuing jaywalking citations. The jogger came along, wearing earbuds listening to music. That’s common around the university, around the city, around the entire world.
Police ordered her to stop, and she did not hear them and continued jogging. Police then chased her and tried to grab her to get her attention, and she reacted as just about anyone would, and tried to brush them off before realizing that they were police officers. A witness, Chris Quintero, saw the incident and said that it was clear that the woman could not hear the police officers when they first approached her, and reacted to being touched from behind.
Jaywalking is a class c misdemeanor, not typically an offense that leads to arrest. Police say the jogger was arrested for failure to identify herself and for a traffic signal violation. The arrest is under investigation.
Municipalities often use traffic violation citations to generate revenue.
Somewhat unrelated, but it was so controversial for Arizona to require green card-holding immigrants to identify themselves whenever law enforcement demand, that the Obama administration sued the state to get rid of that law.
James O’Keefe and his Project Veritas captured Battleground Texas organizer Jennifer Langoria admitting that the group uses its voter registration drives as data-mining operations for their political operations. Whatever one thinks of Project Veritas, it did not put words into Battleground Texas’ mouth.
“So every time we register someone to vote we keep their name and number,” Langoria says.
According to Texas election law, it is unlawful to transcribe, copy, or otherwise record a telephone number furnished on a voter registration application.
Battleground Texas has, therefore, been caught in what appears to be election fraud.
It’s not the first time. Earlier this year, Project Veritas captured a Battleground Texas volunteer discussing forging a signature on official voting documents. “It happens all the time,” she said.
It’s also illegal. Project Veritas did not put those words into the mouth of that Battleground Texas volunteer.
Texas Lieutenant Governor David Dewhurst and state Sen. Ken Paxton, candidate for attorney general, are calling for the group to be investigated.
The media in Texas have done their dead-level best to ignore both of Project Veritas’ videos as long as they possibly could. When the media here do cover them, they have tended to downplay the videos’ potential significance. The Texas Tribune even interviewed a Democrat election lawyer — but not a Republican one — to defend Battleground Texas’ actions seen in the Veritas video. The prevailing media opinion seems to be that, because leftwing outfits have often criticized Project Veritas, every story that it unearths is worthless or worse.
Leftwing outfits are often created expressly to attack Republicans and to defend Democrats and their allies. The media ignore that, too. Media often cite these leftwing groups as if they are non-partisan watchdogs, while either joining criticism of Project Veritas or downplaying what the group finds. This is neither fair nor balanced journalism.
Wendy Davis should not be allowed to ignore the Project Veritas videos. Wendy Davis should answer for them. Davis is the presumed Democratic Party’s nominee for governor in Texas. She is running for office, presumably, to represent all of Texans and Texas values.
The opposition to building the Keystone pipeline is shrinking by the day. Another former Obama adviser has come out in favor of building it.
Marcia McNutt, prominent scientist, former head of the U.S. Geological Survey, and now the editor-in-chief of Science magazine writes in aneditorial [subscription required]:
I drive a hybrid car and set my thermostat at 80°F in the Washington, DC, summer. I use public transportation to commute to my office, located in a building given “platinum” design status by the U.S. Green Building Council. The electric meter on my house runs backward most months of the year, thanks to a large installation of solar panels. I am committed to doing my part to cut greenhouse gas (GHG) emissions and minimize global warming. At the same time, I believe it is time to move forward on the Keystone XL pipeline to transport crude oil from the tar sands deposits of Alberta, Canada, and from the Williston Basin in Montana and North Dakota to refineries on the U.S. Gulf Coast.
Former Obama Interior Secretary Ken Salazar and former National Security Adviser Tom Donilon have previously left the administration and then come out in favor of building the Keystone.
h/t US Chamber of Commerce
Ukraine is in crisis. Venezuela is in crisis. The Middle East is its usual self plus an additional civil war or two.
What’s your president doing with his time? He’s selling insurance. Take a look at the ad that the President of the United States rolled out today, in a desperate bid to boost Obamacare enrollments.
The ad is repetitive and dull, but watch to the end, when it swings from dull to cheezy.
Texas Lt. Gov. David Dewhurst is calling for an investigation after a video showed what appears to be a data-mining operation attached to a Democratic voter registration drive. In a letter to Texas Secretary of State Nandita Berry, Dewhurst writes that he is outraged by the video of Battleground Texas organizer Jennifer Langoria admitting that the group uses personal information that it gleans from its voter registration drives in Texas. Dewhurst calls for the Texas secretary of state to hand complaints about Battleground Texas’ conduct to Texas Attorney General Greg Abbott.
In the letter, Dewhurst writes: ”It appears that representatives of Battleground Texas were either official registrars who misused personal voter information, or they unlawfully posed as official voter registrars to trick people into handing over personal information. Either of these actions is a violation of Texas law.”
“In my view, the seriousness of this issue merits immediate referral to the Attorney General’s office,” Dewhurst writes.
Battleground Texas is providing much of the field operations for Democrat Wendy Davis’ campaign for governor. Davis has yet to comment on the video or the allegations.
Update: State Sen. and attorney general candidate Ken Paxton is also calling for an investigation.
CNN has had Brit Piers Morgan on the air for a little over three years now. Never a ratings juggernaut, Variety reports that he is now hitting a stride, of sorts. Morgan is consistently reigning over a show that hardly anyone is watching.
The show, hosted by anti-gun crusader Morgan, continues to struggle in the Nielsens. And this month, the start of the Michael Dunn loud-music murder trial in Florida has put the issue of gun control back in the forefront. February has also produced six of the show’s smallest 10 audiences since it bowed in January 2011.
Tuesday’s telecast, which included coverage of the uprisings in Kiev and an interview with Rudy Giuliani, drew the show’s second smallest audience to date in the key news demo of adults 25-54 (50,000). It also drew just 270,000 total viewers, according to Nielsen, the show’s ninth smallest gathering ever.
“Piers Morgan Live” has fallen below the 300,000-viewer mark on seven other occasions in February. And while the Winter Olympics on NBC may be to blame for some of the audience loss this month, “Piers Morgan” is drawing just a fraction of the audience attracted by competing shows on CNN and MSNBC.
Opposite “Piers Morgan” on Tuesday, “The Kelly File” on Fox News Channel drew 2.07 million viewers (including 354,000 adults 25-54) while MSNBC’s “The Rachel Maddow Show” attracted 906,000 (including 227,000 in the demo).
Morgan is equal parts prissy and ill-informed, always blowing hard but hardly ever thinking. He may be the most predictable and least interesting host on cable news. When he isn’t ranting about guns, he rants about soccer on Twitter, providing proof of his opinionated ignorance across multiple fields.
Morgan also did not come to CNN with a record of integrity, but one of perpetrating fraud, unapologetically, leaving it an ongoing mystery why CNN hired him in the first place. Just what is a disqualifying resume point in CNN’s eyes? How could he have possibly addressed that in his job interview?
Calling his guests “unbelievably stupid” has not harmed him. Losing a debate on guns, his signature issue, to Nancy Grace hasn’t harmed him either.
HLN host Nancy Grace was among the guests, and she didn’t want to hear more gun-control talk from Morgan.
“Are you back on gun control again?” she asked. “If it weren’t for the British, we wouldn’t even have to have protections to carry guns. It was the British way back when they founded America. They were running through all of our homes trying to take our stuff. So we’re protected under the Constitution.
“So it’s not really right for a Brit to jump up and start talking to us about gun control.”
Morgan said he vehemently disagreed, but after a moment’s pause, he said: “Let’s not talk about gun control because Nancy’s made her statement and I was riposted.”
He wasn’t riposted, he was crushed and left to bleed out, by another of CNN/HLN’s questionable picks for host.
It is grating for Americans to hear the likes of Morgan lecture us about our Constitution and our rights. Millions of immigrants come from all over the world to learn our ways and become Americans. Morgan would rather bend Americans to his will, browbeating us on how we’re stupid and backward. That attitude just will not attract a large audience.
Morgan’s terrible ratings and their foreboding trajectory haven’t hurt him, yet. Other than reliability on leftwing causes, just what could the network see in him?
Both the NYT and Washington Post headline a deal that has been inked between Ukraine’s Maidan protesters and the government. The NYT notices that, at least as of press time, the Russians had not signed onto the deal. Given Russia’s role behind the scenes, its desire to build up the Eurasian Union, and the potential for it to move into Ukraine directly once the Olympics are over, that lack of ink may prove significant.
The agreement itself calls for early elections, the return of Ukraine’s 2004 constitution and the formation of a “unity government.” Russia won’t like any of that. Putin is likely to bide his time. Or maybe he’ll sign it and then break his word. The Sochi Olympics close on February 23.
Poland, an EU member since 2004, has played a major role in keeping the talks going. Which makes this Telegraph story both terrifying and significant.
The Polish foreign minister has been filmed telling a protest leader that if the opposition did not sign up to a deal offered by Ukrainian President Viktor Yanukovych “you will all be dead”.
Radoslaw Sikorski, one of three European foreign ministers who brokered Friday’s agreement to end the bloody standoff, was emerging from talks with opposition leaders when he issued the stark warning.
“If you don’t support this [deal] you’ll have martial law, the army. You will all be dead,” he said, in comments that were captured on film by ITV News.
When asked if he had managed to convince the opposition, the minister, clearly frustrated, muttered: “I don’t know.”
After a break in talks, the ministers returned to the negotiating table, and shortly after announced that the opposition had agreed to sign the deal.
Sikoski later reiterated the martial law threat from Ukraine’s government, which has been spotted deploying snipers to fire on the Maidan protesters during the week.
“To my knowledge interior ministry troops were being readied,” he said according to the news channel.
Given that, what are we all to make of this deal?
It comes at a time when the government’s support has been crumbling, but that doesn’t always mean a whole lot. It doesn’t even mean a whole lot here in the US, where a majority never wanted Obamacare and wouldn’t support the FCC imposing itself on our newsrooms, yet the Obama administration made the first a law and has not yet backed down on the second. Here the government owns the media’s hearts and minds, removing one check on its power. There the government has Russia’s backing. Russia isn’t the beast it once was, but it is far from toothless.
Dictators tend not to give up their power unless they’re invaded, force to step down by their external patrons, or are snatched up by their domestic enemies and put up against a wall. Of those three alternatives, the second is the most likely scenario for Yanukovyc, but it also sets up the possibility of Putin just installing another of his allies.
DNC chair Rep. Debbie Wasserman Schultz promised that Democrats would run on Obamacare this year as they try to hold onto the Senate. Sen. Joe Manchin has other ideas, though. The West Virginia Democrat told a local group that Obamacare repeal is in the air.
“I will vote tomorrow to repeal [the Affordable Care Act], but I want to fix the problems in it,” Manchin told an audience.
Manchin has consistently criticized Obamacare as “more than a rollout problem.”
This is the first time he has come out for repeal, though, and he is the first sitting Democrat senator to suggest repealing President Obama’s signature law. As things stand right now, Democrats are likely to lose the Senate because of Obamacare.
Democrats are learning that they can earn applause from home audiences by claiming that they voted against Obamacare.
Update: That didn’t last long.
I've never supported repealing the ACA because I came to Washington to find solutions to our country’s problems. http://t.co/MfhGQJFppG
— Senator Joe Manchin (@Sen_JoeManchin) February 21, 2014
I’m not an expert on Ukraine, but neither is Barack Obama. Unfortunately, he’s the president, and he doesn’t like to learn new things.
Let’s flash back to see His Smugness dismiss Mitt Romney’s concerns about Ukraine during the 2012 presidential debate. Obama mocked Romney, playing the part of the schoolyard bully who knows far less about the world than he will ever admit.
Obama declares in the clip that “the Cold War has been over for 20 years.” That’s true, but Romney wasn’t talking about the Cold War. Romney was talking about what Russia is up to now and where it intends to be in a few years.
Russia is setting up an alternative to the European Union, called the Eurasian Union. As Timothy Snyder explains in the March 20 New York Review, the Eurasian Union is a key part of the ongoing Ukraine unrest.
The course of the protest has very much been influenced by the presence of a rival project, based in Moscow, called the Eurasian Union. This is an international commercial and political union that does not yet exist but that is to come into being in January 2015. The Eurasian Union, unlike the European Union, is not based on the principles of the equality and democracy of member states, the rule of law, or human rights.
On the contrary, it is a hierarchical organization, which by its nature seems unlikely to admit any members that are democracies with the rule of law and human rights. Any democracy within the Eurasian Union would pose a threat to Putin’s rule in Russia. Putin wants Ukraine in his Eurasian Union, which means that Ukraine must be authoritarian, which means that the Maidan must be crushed.
The dictatorship laws of January 16 were obviously based on Russian models, and were proposed by Ukrainian legislators with close ties to Moscow. They seem to have been Russia’s condition for financial support of the Yanukovych regime. Before they were announced, Putin offered Ukraine a large loan and promised reductions in the price of Russian natural gas. But in January the result was not a capitulation to Russia. The people of the Maidan defended themselves, and the protests continue. Where this will lead is anyone’s guess; only the Kremlin expresses certainty about what it all means.
Snyder’s article is long but worth a read. Suffice it to say that it’s not a Cold War unrest that we are witnessing in Ukraine. The Cold War is over, and Putin is doing his best to put that defeat behind Russia as he seeks to forge a new union of socialist republics from the shards of the old union of socialist republics that lost the Cold War.
It’s also not a Cold War unrest that is engulfing Venezuela. That Communist state may be collapsing.
While the Ukraine and Venezuela unrest unfolds, leading no one knows where, Obama’s top diplomat is not evidently engaged in the matters at all. Instead, John Kerry is off giving speeches in which he declares that global warming is the new weapon of mass destruction. It’s as if all of Obama’s cabinet would rather run the EPA than advance America’s interests abroad.
Minnesota Democrats Think It’s High-Larious that Obamacare Hasn’t Brought Insurance Costs Down, as Promised
Three Democrats — Sen. Amy Klobuchar, Rep. Tim Walz and Rep. Collin Peterson, held a townhall this week. As anyone might expect, the subject of Obamacare came up. Four years after passing that bill into law, the Democrats still don’t have good answers for it. A constituent asks why, despite Democrat promises that premiums would go down $2500 per family, that hasn’t happened.
The Democrats laugh. Then the two men at the table hand off the mic to Sen. Klobuchar. Take a look. The Obamacare discussion came after a discussion of the ag bill.
The question: “I thought the Affordable Care Act would save $2500 per family. What happened?”
After Sen. Klobuchar and Rep. Walz looked at each other, laughter broke out in the room.
Rep. Peterson quickly picked up the microphone to say, “I voted ‘no’, so I’ll let these guys handle that,” to the applause of the crowd.
Even in Minnesota, a Democrat can earn applause by saying he voted against Obamacare.
At the end of the clip, Walz pushes the old Democrat line that while things are bad now, the old system was worse. That’s not true, though. Before Obamacare, about 85% of Americans were happy with their healthcare. Even about 50% of the uninsured were find with where they were.
h/t David Freddoso