Last Friday, Organizing for Action exploited the six-month anniversary of the Newtown shooting. They mobilized their supporters for a series of anti-gun rallies across the country. In San Bernardino, that call to action was answered by three people. Ryan Hagen of the Sun, a local paper, wrote on June 14 about the failed rally.
On Flag Day growing up, I used to always wave a flag with my grandson, and it hit me that the victims of that horrible tragedy won’t ever be able to do that,” said Curtis Lewis, the group’s gun violence prevention coordinator. “We need people to stand up and write to Congress to say they want laws that respect the Second Amendment but also help prevent these tragedies.”
Lewis said he supported HR 1565, a bill that would require background checks for sales at gun shows and online, “close the gun show and other loopholes,” and create a commission to study the causes of mass violence in the United States.
The protest drew three members of Organizing for Action, a nonprofit group that supports President Barack Obama’s agenda, to the National Orange Show Events Center.
“It’s three people today, but it will be 23 next time, and we’ll see the time after that,” Lewis said.
Well, that’s progress. In the meantime, Michael Bloomberg is softening Sen. Mark Pryor in Arkansas over gun control, but it’s an issue that isn’t gaining much traction with the public. With the failure of the Manchin-Toomey bill, 62% of Americans want Congress to move on to other issues. They don’t want a reboot of this failed campaign, which– on a positive note – robbed Barack Obama of the most precious moments of his second term. In one of the most liberal states in the country, only three people showed up for an anti-gun rally. It’s another example of the absent voter intensity that pervades the gun control crowd.
(H/T Lachlan Markay)
In November of 2012, CNET reported that the government would be able to read through your e-mails without a warrant. Admittedly, I blogged about it. However, the story turned out to be false. As Kashmir Hill at Forbes reported on November 20, 2012, “The version of the bill that Declan McCullagh [of CNET] excerpts in his report appears to be one of many that have been drafted and passed around, but is not a version that would be considered seriously at a hearing to review the bill next week.’Senator Leahy does not support broad carve outs for warrantless searches of email content,’ says a Senate Judiciary aide. ‘He remains committed to upholding privacy laws and updating the outdated Electronic Privacy Communications Act.”
In all, the story was debunked. Granted, the NSA was tracking the internet and phone activity of Americans, but it was authorized by a secret warrant issued by the FISA court. A court that rarely, if ever, turns down a request for covert surveillance. Now, CNET is back. And they’ve dropped another whopper on June 15 claiming that the NSA was listening to Americans’ phone conversations without warrants.
The National Security Agency has acknowledged in a new classified briefing that it does not need court authorization to listen to domestic phone calls, a participant said.
Rep. Jerrold Nadler, a New York Democrat, disclosed on Thursday that during a secret briefing to members of Congress, he was told that the contents of a phone call could be accessed “simply based on an analyst deciding that.”
If the NSA wants “to listen to the phone,” an analyst’s decision is sufficient, without any other legal authorization required, Nadler said he learned. “I was rather startled,” said Nadler, an attorney and congressman who serves on the House Judiciary committee.
Not only does this disclosure shed more light on how the NSA’s formidable eavesdropping apparatus works domestically, it also suggests the Justice Department has secretly interpreted federal surveillance law to permit thousands of low-ranking analysts to eavesdrop on phone calls.
Well, that’s exactly not true. Buzzfeed reported on June 15 that Congressman Nadler basically retracted the claim of warrantless phone surveillance.
Update Rep. Nadler in a statement to BuzzFeed says: “I am pleased that the administration has reiterated that, as I have always believed, the NSA cannot listen to the content of Americans’ phone calls without a specific warrant.”
Gabriel Malor at Ace of Spades was skeptical from the beginning.
Why in the world are we treating Nadler’s hearsay from Unnamed Official as if it is true?
— Gabriel Malor (@gabrielmalor) June 16, 2013
The headline for every damn story on the CNET/Nadler claim should come with a giant question mark at the end.
— Gabriel Malor (@gabrielmalor) June 16, 2013
As a result, CNET’s Declan McCullagh, who reported on this development and the Sen. Leahy story, issued this update.
Updated 6/16 at 11:15 a.m. PT The original headline when the story was published on Saturday was “NSA admits listening to U.S. phone calls without warrants,” which was changed to “NSA spying flap extends to contents of U.S. phone calls,” to better match the story. The first paragraph was changed to add attribution to Rep. Nadler. Also added was an additional statement that the congressman’s aide sent this morning, an excerpt from a Washington Post story on NSA phone call content surveillance that appeared Saturday, and remarks that Rep. Rogers made on CNN this morning.]
Yet, the Nadler claim is still in the lead paragraph.
As former resident of the Garden State, it doesn’t surprise me that New Jersey Democrats fumbled their own bill. Right now, they’re crafting a gun control bill that is being championed as a model for the nation. The bill (S2723) would encode a firearm owner’s ID on their driver’s license, establish a system of instant background checks, and force gun owners to show that they’ve received the proper training. There’s only one problem. They didn’t have enough votes.
Dave Urbanski at the Blaze wrote on June 14 about the legislative kerfuffle.
The author of the bill, state Senate President Stephen Sweeney, a Democrat, calls the legislation a “national model,” says NJ.com. And while it passed the state Senate, a political adversary of Sweeney’s stood in its way — Assemblyman Joseph Cryan (D-Union), who abstained from voting on the measure in the Assembly’s Law and Public Safety committee.
Cryan’s lack of support was critical, leaving the bill without enough votes to advance.
Apparently seeing the fallout ahead, the committee’s chairman — Charles Mainor (D-Hudson) — stopped the vote and called a recess, briefly conferring with abstainer Cryan. When the committee resumed, the intention was to move to another bill. But another member of the committee objected, saying rules prohibited stopping the vote.
Here’s the language from Assembly rules:
Cryan worried about the cost of the new law. He said, “I abstained based on cost concerns…I along with many other thousands of New Jerseyans have lost a motor vehicle office in our district. We had some real cost concerns about the bill.” Then again, as Urbanski noted, Cryan and Sweeney are both vying for the chairmanship of the state Democratic Party. Thus, some political maneuvering may be at work here. Cryan supported a bill that would limit magazine sizes from fifteen to ten rounds. It passed the state Assembly, but Sweeney shelved it in the senate.
With Ed Snowden exposing the NSA’s surveillance programs, we shouldn’t be surprised that the agency gave members of Congress talking points to justify the spying of American citizens. The talking points indicate that the programs aren’t secret, despite that fact that Americans were unaware that their phone records and internet activity were being monitored, collected, and analyzed.
Zack Carter of Huffington Post wrote on June 13 that:
The talking points originate from the Democratic side of House Permanent Select Committee on Intelligence, where Rep. Dutch Ruppersberger (D-Md.) serves as ranking member.
[D]ivided into two documents, one dedicated to a program that allows the U.S. government to collect the phone call records of all American citizens, including the telephone numbers involved and length of calls. The other document is dedicated a program that collects mass metadata on Internet activities, including email, that relate to matters the NSA deems a foreign threat to the United States.
Both documents assert that the programs are not secret. But the programs have alarmed Americans because most citizens were unaware of their existence prior to the recent articles, and the programs were authorised by a special Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Court, whose rulings are, in fact, secret.
The talking points regarding the Internet program read:
Section 702 is a vital legal tool that Congress reauthorized in December 2012, as part of the FISA Amendments Act Reauthorization Act, after extensive hearings and debate. Under Section 702, the Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Court (FISA Court) certifies foreign intelligence collection. There is no secret program involved — it is strictly authorized by a U.S. statute. The talking points for the phone records program read:
The news articles have been discussing what purports to be a classified, lawfully-authorized order that the Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Court (FISA Court) issued under an Act of Congress — the Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Act (FISA). Under this Act, the FISA Court authorized a collection of business records. There is no secret program involved here — it is strictly authorized by a U.S. statute.
According to a staffer of Rep. Ruppersberger’s, “some of the articles that have been out there in the media have been confusing for members, so we put together this information to help them understand the programs.” I haven’t made up my mind about Snowden being a traitor or a patriot, but one thing I’m not comfortable with is government perusing through my phone and internet activity. What’s funny is that Barack Obama shared that opinion during the 2008 election.
Let me start by saying that I’m not sold on the new immigration bill. The additional costs, especially with health care, should have everyone asking whether this comprehensive reform should be divided up into separate bills. As I wrote back in January, Philip Klein at the Washington Examiner aptly noted that:
…the CBO estimated that the law would cover an additional 11 million people on Medicaid (at a cost of $643 billion from 2013 through 2022) and 25 million through the exchanges (at a cost of just over $1 trillion over the same period). So, for every additional 1 million people on Medicaid, the federal government will be spending about $58 billion over the next decade and for every 1 million people on the exchange, taxpayers would be spending about $41 billion. Projecting this out for 8 million new beneficiaries would give a range of $328 billion to $464 billion.
So, the fact that we haven’t found way to pay for this new immigration push has me on the opposite side of Sen. Marco Rubio, but for those who feel that this will destroy the GOP, like Ann Counter, those convictions are misplaced. Coulter has called Rubio the “Kevorkian” of the Republican Party since she believes these reforms will lead to more liberal voters, which would forever keep the GOP in a “permanent minority.” That’s fallacious.
James Pethokoukis of the American Enterprise Institute has a rather insightful post Thursday debunking some of these myths.
Let me respond with three numbers: 775,000, 0, and 45%.
1. The first number refers to the Democratic Hispanic Bonanza Scenario and supposed deluge of 11 million illegal immigrants/undocumented workers. What if all those folks were citizens last November? Well, of that 11 million, only 10 million are adults. And of that 10 million, only 8 million are Latino. And of that 8 million, only 3.5 million would have been voting-age citizens if undocumented Hispanic immigrants became citizens at the rate equal to that of eligible Hispanic immigrants. And of that 3.5 million, only 1.7 million would actually bother to vote. And of that roughly 1.7 million, how many of these new Latino Americans would be net Democratic votes, nationally? Just 775,000 or so, according Harry Enten, polling analyst at The Guardian. So President Obama would have done about a half percentage point better vs. Mitt Romney. Some bonanza.
2. The second number refers to the Electoral College. Wouldn’t those 775,000 net Democratic voters have flipped a few more states Obama’s way? Not one, according to RealClearPolitics polling analyst Sean Trende. Zero. And key swing states would have been only marginally more difficult to win. Obama would have done, for instance, only 0.2 percentage point better in Ohio, New Hampshire, Missouri, and Minnesota.
3. The third number refers to the average share of the popular vote that GOP presidential candidates have garnered over the past six elections, a pathetic 45%. Republicans don’t need someone to help them commit political suicide. They’re managing just fine on their own. And that deterioration might accelerate if Americans think the GOP killed immigration reform mainly because the party feared reform would produce more Democratic voters. And why wouldn’t Americans think that given the comments of some conservative pundits such as Coulter.
775,000 new Hispanic voters, nationally, is hardly a number to be worried about given that the Millennial generation is becoming the most pro-Democratic generation ever. If conservatives are worried about a surge of Democratic voters, they’re already here.
So, can we now focus on how this immigration reform will increase the burden of the state on American taxpayers? It’s a message that can resonate more successfully with voters, and if done properly – the GOP can come off looking like the party that’s trying doing immigration reform properly. Roy Beck of Numbers USA has already stated the threats this bill has to American workers, and said this wouldn’t be the problem that it is now if Congress had honored it’s own immigration reforms in 1986, 1990, and 1996. All three promised border security, but never delivered. That’s Washington for you. In the meantime, the status quo remains the cheapest option for taxpayers, but it’s an unsustainable course of action. Heck, even Rich Trumka of the AFL-CIO has called on Congress to improve worker protections, which only highlights that no one is really happy about how this is going.
House Minority Leader Nancy Pelosi was adamant that late-term abortions are “sacred” at her weekly press conference today. The issue of abortion has re-emerged due to Rep. Trent Franks’ (R-Arizona) bill, which would ban the procedure after 20 weeks into a pregnancy. The Weekly Standard was present at the conference, and noted that Pelosi wrongly claimed that Franks’ bill would ban all abortions. In reality, it would bar the killing of babies during the last four months of a pregnancy, with exceptions for the life and health of the mother. John McCormack, who reported on this development, noted that this is also the “point at which science indicates babies can feel pain and some babies can survive long-term if born.”
Yet Pelosi, a Catholic, feels that “this [late-term abortion] is sacred ground to me when we talk about this. I don’t think it should have anything to do with politics.” Sadly, when you work on the Hill, everything is politics. Additionally, when pressed about the moral difference between Gosnell’s actions and those of Leroy Carhart, who was caught in a Live Action investigative video agreeing to a legal abortion in Maryland at 28 weeks, fireworks ensued.
THE WEEKLY STANDARD: Madam Leader, you mentioned the bill that passed out of the House Judiciary committee. Members who have proposed that bill have done that in the wake of this murder trial in Philadelphia.
They argue that there really isn’t much of a moral difference between what someone like Dr. Gosnell did to infants born at 23, 24, 25 weeks into pregnancy, and what can happen [legally] at a clinic down the road in Maryland where a doctor says he’ll perform an elective abortions 28 weeks into pregnancy. So the question I have for you is what is the moral difference between what Dr. Gosnell did to a baby born alive at 23 weeks and aborting her moments before birth?
PELOSI: You’re probably enjoying that question a lot, I can see you savoring it. [Laughter in press corps] Let me just tell you this.
TWS: Could you answer the question?
PELOSI: Let me just tell you this. What was done in Philadelphia was reprehensible and everybody condemned it. For them to decide to disrespect a judgment a woman makes about her reproductive health is reprehensible. Next question.
TWS: So what’s the moral difference? I just asked a simple question. … What’s the moral difference then between 26 weeks elective abortion and the killing of that same infant born alive. This is the issue that they’re trying to–
PELOSI: This is not the issue. They are saying that there’s no abortion. It would make it a federal law that there would be no abortion in our country. You’re taking the extreme case. You’re taking the extreme case. And what I’m saying to you what happened in Philadelphia was reprehensible. And I do not think you.
PELOSI: I’m not going to have this conversation with you because you obviously have an agenda. You’re not interested in having an answer.
PELOSI: I’ve responded to you to the extent that I’m going to respond to you. Because I want to tell you something. As the mother of five children, my oldest child was 6 years old the day I brought my 5th child home from the hospital, as a practicing and respectful Catholic, this is sacred ground to me when we talk about this. I don’t think it should have anything to do with politics. And that’s where you’re taking it and I’m not going there.
TWS [after tape ends]: It was a simple question. You didn’t answer.
So, there you have it. The leader of House Democrats has endorsed late-term abortion, she considers it sacred, and any questions that are critical of infanticide are “disrespectful” to women. A baby at 20 weeks is not a”judgement” on “reproductive health.” It’s a person, and to terminate that child is murder. Liberals know this, which is why Pelosi ran away.
From government telling us what to do to the life of the mother superseding that of her child, it is all part of the top-down model liberals have for civil society. What’s even more depraved is the fact that child murder is “sacred” in the eyes of the political left.
Today, Live Action released another investigative video centering on Dr. Carmen Landau of New Mexico. This is part of the organization’s prolonged investigation into the late-term abortion industry. For the past two months, the organization has exposed the lurid details that pervade this underreported sector of American medicine. In fact, it’s shown the nation that late-term abortionists are murdering babies that are viable outside the womb, which is a violation of federal law.
In the case of Dr. Landau, she likens killing a child to a “flu shot.”
According to Live Action’s press release:
the video features newly released recordings from Dr. Carmen Landau, of Southwest Women’s Options in Albuquerque, New Mexico, and a counselor employed at the same facility.
When asked by the Live Action investigator, “Is it a baby?,” the counselor answers:
Well what – how – what do you consider a baby? It’s definitely a fetus. … Um, it depends what the term “baby” means to you, and how you perceive it.
When asked if the possibility of the pre-born baby feeling pain bothers her, the New Mexico counselor replies:
I feel that it’s, um, necessary for the procedure to happen and, ultimately, um, safest, and kind of the most, kinda, humane way to do it, you know?
Abortion doctor Carmen Landau tells the investigator that the injection that will kill her baby is “like any shot, you know, like a flu shot, or a vaccine, really.” Contrary to a large body of evidence, she alleges that babies in the womb do not feel pain or anguish from a poisonous injection, claiming that “it’s not like you and I [sic] where when we get a flu shot, we’re kind of, ‘Ugh!’ – not – that – that – that experience of anxiety and suffering is not – it [the baby]‘s not capable of.”
Lila Rose, President of Live Action, says she hopes to educate the nation on the true nature of abortion.
“These babies,” said Rose, “whom Carmen Landau calls ‘not a thinking being,’ are unique and precious human persons. They feel, they dream, they grow…and when an abortionist tries to kill them with a needle or with forceps, they react. They fight for their lives, just as any of us would.
“Our investigation has exposed the disturbing willingness of abortionists to engage in illegal and inhuman acts,” Rose said, “including misleading pregnant women, pushing them into abortion, and even infanticide. This is horrible, but Americans should know just as well the horrifying practices that are still legal, that we allow to happen every day.”
The first half of Live Action’s latest video details abortionists’ estimation of the humanity of the unborn child. Abortionist Laura Mercer assures the investigator that her 24-week baby “doesn’t even look like a baby yet.” Live Action provides several images of premature babies born as early as 23 weeks.
LeRoy Carhart, the subject of Live Action’s previous Inhuman video, is quoted as follows:
Well, in my heart and my mind, you know, life begins when the mother thinks it begins, not when anybody else thinks it begins. For some women, it’s before they conceive; for some women, it’s never. Even after they deliver, it’s still a problem, not a baby.
Here’s another “problem.” Would you trust a doctor who received medical training in Cuba? That’s where Landau got her credentials. A New York Times article from 2007 reported:
U.S. authorities have suggested, however, that it is unclear whether Americans who receive Cuban medical training can meet licensing requirements in the United States. The graduates will have to pass two exams to apply for residency at American hospitals, then eventually pass a third.
However, the piece also noted that some graduates of the Latin American School of Medicine (ELAM) have received residencies in American hospitals, but questions still remain. Cat Wise, of PBS Newshour, wrote in 2010 that “because many medical supplies, like advanced diagnostic equipment, are in short supply, students learn medicine the old-fashioned way: listening closely to a stethoscope, relying on their hands to feel for abnormalities.”
In the second debate between Republican Gabriel Gomez and Democratic Rep. Ed Markey, two things were clear. One, Gomez isn’t “too conservative.” Second, Markey is clueless to think that he is some “Mitch McConnell clone.” Yet, we’re talking about Ed Markey here. On the budget, Markey had these words of wisdom last night: ”it’s really not math. It’s just arithmetic.” Then again, Gomez is no Ted Cruz.
As Rand Paul said after the 2012 election, Republicans need to be competitive everywhere. If you don’t like Gomez, that’s fine. It’s unlikely he’ll be given a chairmanship of a committee if Republicans retake the senate next year. Gomez isn’t a conservative. He’s another Scott Brown, which is the only type of Republican that can survive in Massachusetts. As much as I would like Gomez to be Ted Cruz, he’s not. And if he was – we would be giving the seat on a platter to the Democrats.
During the debate, Joshua Miller and Martin Finucane of the Globe noted that Gomez:
…appeared to be appealing to those [independent] voters tonight by supporting the Paycheck Fairness Act, which calls for equal pay for women; by calling himself a “green Republican” and saying that “there are people in my party who deny science;” and by saying that he was “ashamed” that only a handful of Republicans voted for the Toomey-Manchin bill, which would have expanded background checks for gun buyers. Gomez also said he supported an increase in the federal minimum wage to $10 and expressed support for gay marriage.
Gomez was at times combative, starting off the debate with charges that Markey had raised a “fundamental question of character and trust” by attacking him in misleading campaign ads.
But Markey remained unruffled and pivoted quickly. Markey said he believed assault weapons and high-capacity weapons should be banned, while Gomez only favors expanded background checks.
“He takes the side of the NRA,” said Markey, noting that he wanted to fight to make “NRA” stand for Not Relevant Anymore.
Again, Markey is delusional if he thinks the NRA will disappear after their epic shutdown of gun control groups – post-Newtown – last Spring. Nonetheless, Gomez’s positions will drive conservatives crazy. We’re not for a national right to gay marriage, although I can stomach state-by-state initiatives on this issue, and conservative loathe gun control. As for the Paycheck Fairness Act, conservatives are for equal pay for equal work, but women – in recent years– have worked hard to virtually close the gap. It’s near the point of erasure, so what’s the need for more laws from Washington?
However, Bay State folks love this rhetoric. Gomez needs independents to win, and this is one way to capture them. He may lose on June 25, but at least he put up a fight for Kerry’s seat. No, I’m not a soldier for the establishment. I’m a die-hard Tea Party conservative, but there comes a time when you may have to back the Republican, not the conservative, in order to combat the bigger threat: Barack Obama. Gomez winning on June 25 will move the GOP one seat closer to having all the gavels in their hands. They will be able to give the Obama agenda (2009-2015) a proper funeral.
Nonetheless, this sort of action should be given a proper name, like the Northeastern Protocol, and it shouldn’t be executed often. Conservatives already have a hard enough time keeping squishes, like John McCain, accountable. We don’t need anymore moderates making that task more difficult.
Scott Walker defeated the recall attempt to remove him from office in 2012. He earned more votes than he did in the 2010 gubernatorial race, which whisked him into the governor’s mansion. He remains the only governor to survive a recall election. He stood up against the public sector unions and won. Now, with 2014 on the horizon, he seems to have beaten his Democratic foes into submission. He’s currently unopposed for a second term. WSAU reported on June 10 that:
Wisconsin Democrats repeatedly made the argument at their state convention over the weekend that Governor Scott Walker needs to be defeated in 2014. However, there continue to be few hints about exactly who will take on that challenge in the coming months.
Speaking to delegates, Democratic Party of Wisconsin Chairman Mike Tate said it does no good to give Governor Walker a “target to shoot at one day sooner than we have to.” Tate said Walker has a political history of not promoting his ideas on the campaign trail, but by “making himself the least worst option on the ballot.”
Still, Tate reassured the crowd gathered in Oconomowoc that there are several talented and qualified people considering running. Those possible contenders could include Assembly Democratic Leader Peter Barca (D-Kenosha), a vocal critic of Walker, and Professional Fire Fighters of Wisconsin President Mahlon Mitchell, who made an unsuccessful run last year in the recall against Lt. Governor Rebecca Kleefisch. Both say that they are open to a run for governor, but those decisions are still far off in the future.
The list of possible candidates did shrink a little over the weekend. Congressman Ron Kind (D-WI) said he will not take on Walker in 2014. Former U.S. Senator Russ Feingold (D-WI) teased that he had no plans to be a candidate for office in the next two years, but hinted in his convention speech that he might be interested in a rematch against Republican Senator Ron Johnson in 2016.
So, for now, Walker is cruising to re-election.
Alas, a left-leaning publication has admitted that the gender pay gap – long championed by the feminist left – is a lie. As Derek Thompson wrote in the Atlantic on May 30, when you compare men and women with similar education backgrounds, responsibilities, employers, and companies with likeminded staff, that gap virtually evaporates. In fact, in major urban areas, women out-earn their male peers by at least 10%.
Nevertheless, Thompson did note that wage inequality does exist concerning the top jobs in the United States. Nine of the ten highest-earning jobs in the country are dominated by men, and the data is further skewed considering that women are more likely to enter social work than engineering. Yet, that’s where Thompson exposes the fundamental truth in this debate, which is often ignored by the political left to keep the Sisterhood of the Traveling Pants together: it’s about choices, not the same job.
But even if the gender gap disappears after controlling for experience and job selection, it’s hard to imagine that men thoroughly dominating the highest-paying positions is a good outcome. For example, the expectation that women more than men bear the responsibility to raise children gently nudges thousands of highly educated women out of full-time work.
There is a wage difference. But it might not be the wage difference that you thought. The real gap isn’t between men and women doing the same job. The real gap is between men and women doing different jobs and following different careers.
That gap should continue to tighten. Women have earned the majority of bachelor’s degrees for the last few years. They’re well-positioned to benefit from a growing professional service economy, and working moms are already the primary breadwinners in 40 percent of households with kids, an all-time high. But if women are more likely to go into health care than manufacturing, more likely to work in human resources than software, and more likely to leave their careers early to start a family, the gaps will persist.
Ideally, some day soon, it won’t take a statistical “control” to show that men and women are fundamental equal partners — and equal competitors — in the work force. It will just be the obvious truth.
So, there’s no need for a Paycheck Fairness Act. There’s no need for government intervention at all. Women will continue to strive in this economy, especially as they continue to earn more higher education degrees than men. As with any societal shift, it’s going to take some time. In all, it seems that the erasure of the gender pay gap won’t be due to feminism, but women acting in their own right to shape their futures. So far, they’re succeeding, and that’s not a bad thing.
While Bryan Preston reported on the State Department’s dabbling in prostitutes, cocaine, and sexual assault on June 10, two more developments arose at the Department of Energy and Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services. One involved a senior official using his position to obtain jobs for his children, while the other concerned government employees having foreknowledge of a Medicare decision worth billions of dollars to private health care providers, which saw their stock shares rise as a result. It’s good ole’ fashioned nepotism and insider trading.
Concerning the DOE, Lachlan Markay of the Washington Free Beacon wrote on June 10 that:
A senior Energy Department official used his position to attempt to secure internships at the department for his three children, a report released Monday by federal watchdogs has found. The official denied any wrongdoing. Officials in DOE’s Human Capital office told investigators that the practice of advocating the hiring of family members is common among Energy Department employees.
However, other officials called the practice “problematic.” The apparent nepotism was revealed in a report from the DOE inspector general. The report substantiated whistleblower allegations of nepotism, though it did not substantiate more serious charges that the DOE official enrolled his children in expensive training programs.
Federal law prohibits employees of a federal agency from hiring, promoting, or advocating on behalf of a relative within the same agency. An internal DOE memo on the statute advises that it applies to internships as well as full-time agency positions.
Shifting to Medicare, the Washington Post reported last Monday of the insider trading relating to the health care market.
Hundreds of federal employees were given advance word of a Medicare decision worth billions of dollars to private insurers in the weeks before the official announcement, a period when trading in the shares of those firms spiked.
The surge of trading in Humana’s and other private health insurers’ stock before the April 1 announcement already has prompted the Justice Department and the Securities and Exchange Commission to investigate whether Wall Street investors had advance access to inside information about the then-confidential Medicare funding plan.
Sen. Charles E. Grassley (R-Iowa) told The Washington Post late last week that his office reviewed the e-mail records of employees at the Department of Health and Human Services and found that 436 of them had early access to the Medicare decision as much as two weeks before it was made public.
The Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services (CMS) made the April 1 decision to increase funding to the private-sector Medicare Advantage program by $8 billion. Officials there did not dispute Grassley’s tally of how many employees had advance word but said the complexity of Medicare policy requires wide and careful review.
“CMS takes the security and integrity of sensitive information very seriously,” Brian Cook, a spokesman for the centers, said in a statement. “Our agency regularly handles sensitive information regarding payment rates, coverage decisions, and other technical policy decisions that need to be safeguarded until public release.”
The agency officials said they take care to safeguard information and carefully vet which employees have access to it. Employees are educated regularly about the need for confidentiality, and CMS documents are often stamped with warnings about early disclosure.
While many federal agencies take steps to prevent early disclosure of potentially market-moving information, there are wide variations among departments, said Kathleen Clark, a professor at Washington University School of Law.
“The Labor Department literally puts in place physical constraints on the information rather than just stamping ‘confidential’ on it,” Clark said. “They know to be concerned about the fact that advance access could advantage some people over others.”
The roughly two dozen Labor Department economists who calculate the monthly unemployment and jobs figures are typically locked down for a one-week stretch as they prepare information for public release, with limited access to their other colleagues.
These acts of misconduct are piling up. It’s the reason why big government isn’t a good government. If there’s one takeaway from everything that’s happened over the past two months, it’s that our $4 trillion bureaucracy is too vast for efficient accountability, let alone competent execution of its responsibilities.
Al Gore is beside himself with anguish. He wants tornados to be linked with global warming. He has the formula all worked out: more destruction = more coverage = a national dialogue about climate change – again. It’s depraved – and a bit hypocritical since he sold his coveted Current TV to the oil-rich owners of the Qatar-based Al-Jazeera network. Yet, it’ll be the same show all over again. People will become worried, but when they find out that these environmentalists intend to tax and spend their way to a green utopia – they’ll balk at their agenda.
Zack Colman of the Hill wrote on June 11 that:
Former Vice President Al Gore lamented on Tuesday that scientists “won’t let us yet” link tornadoes to climate change.
ore said there’s a political interest in determining climate change causes extreme weather. He said lawmakers cannot address the root of disasters without first making a connection between emissions, climate change and extreme weather.
Failing to acknowledge that connection will imperil future relief efforts as disasters grow more frequent and expensive, Gore said.
“There are beginning to be big arguments in this building about whether we can afford to clean up these disasters,” noting the congressional battles over providing relief aid following Hurricane Sandy and the Moore tornado.
Insurance agencies and climate activists contend the government will be increasingly on the hook for disaster cleanup as a result of climate change. They say storms are growing fiercer, subjecting more areas to disaster-related damage that private insurers are hesitant to cover.
Gore advocated putting a price on carbon to limit emissions as a way to subdue those incidents.
Granted, carbon taxes are transparent. For example, consumers can calculate how much they’re paying right there at the gas pump, but it’s part of a dubious green agenda that is dependent on the discredited notion that government will invest the additional revenue wisely. Plus, it’s a new tax pitched to us during a weak recovery, which will only exacerbate our current economic torpor.
Yet, I can see why Al Gore wants to plunge the nation into global warming monomania, since the New York Times reported on June 10 about the sudden decrease in global temperatures.
The rise in the surface temperature of earth has been markedly slower over the last 15 years than in the 20 years before that. And that lull in warming has occurred even as greenhouse gases have accumulated in the atmosphere at a record pace.
The slowdown is a bit of a mystery to climate scientists. True, the basic theory that predicts a warming of the planet in response to human emissions does not suggest that warming should be smooth and continuous. To the contrary, in a climate system still dominated by natural variability, there is every reason to think the warming will proceed in fits and starts.
But given how much is riding on the scientific forecast, the practitioners of climate science would like to understand exactly what is going on. They admit that they do not, even though some potential mechanisms of the slowdown have been suggested. The situation highlights important gaps in our knowledge of the climate system, some of which cannot be closed until we get better measurements from high in space and from deep in the ocean.
Before the scandals, Obama promised to address this threat to the world. It seems that isn’t going to happen anytime soon.
As Republican Gabriel Gomez and Democrat Ed Markey enter the final stretch in the Massachusetts senate race to fill John Kerry’s vacancy, the polls are obviously in limbo. Some have Markey in the lead, while others show Gomez coming up from behind. As a result, President Obama and Debbie Wasserman Schultz are being deployed to the Bay State to prevent another Republican upset, and inject a shot of life into Markey’s slothful campaign. According to pollster John McLaughlin, this race is undeniably a dead heat – and one that could potentially end in embarrassment for the Democratic Party.
The results of our survey show the new comer, Republican Gabriel Gomez, has stolen the momentum in the special election to be held on June 25th. Gomez and long time Democratic Congressman Ed Markey are in a statistical dead heat, with Gomez receiving 44.3%, Markey 45.3%, and 10.5% undecided.
**If the special election were held today, which one of the following best describes how you are likely to vote in the special election for United States Senate between (ROTATE) Gabriel Gomez, the Republican candidate and Ed Markey, the Democratic candidate?
COMBO GABRIEL GOMEZ 44%
Definitely Vote Gomez 31%
Probably Vote Gomez 10%
Lean Gomez 4%
COMBO ED MARKEY 45%
Definitely Vote Markey 28%
Probably Vote Markey 11%
Lean Markey 6%
**Ed Markey’s high unfavorable ratings are clearly impacting his ballot rating. With a one-to-one favorable to unfavorable rating, Ed Markey will have a difficult time increasing his ballot share. What’s more, the intensity lies with Markey’s unfavorable rating, as the plurality of voters, 29%, is “very unfavorable” to Markey.
Opinion Ed Markey
Very Favorable 18%
Somewhat Favorable 25%
Somewhat Unfavorable 13%
Very Unfavorable 29%
NEVER HEARD OF 14%
NO OPINION 2%
**Conversely, nearly half of the voters, 48%, are favorable to Gabriel Gomez, and he receives a relatively low unfavorable rating of 27%. With a high favorable rating and low unfavorable rating, Gabriel Gomez is giving the voters a strong alternative to Ed Markey.
Opinion Gabriel Gomez:
Very Favorable 21%
Somewhat Favorable 28%
Somewhat Unfavorable 12%
Very Unfavorable 5%
NEVER HEARD OF 22%
NO OPINION 3%
With less than 3 weeks to go to Election Day, Gabriel Gomez has the momentum in the race. Gomez’s high favorable ratings will be a strong asset over Markey’s high unfavorable ratings in this neck-and-neck race.
So, the New York Times editorial board was mad about Obama’s NSA program yesterday, and said that he has “lost all credibility” concerning transparency and accountability within his administration. They also said that his justifications for overreaching on national security matters are becoming trite. It was a rather scathing piece from a publication that usually kowtows to this administration. There was a glimmer of hope that the New York Times would actually hold this administration accountable over the fiasco concerning the NSA’s surveillance program, but that was only for a few hours.
The piece went through some revisions according to NewsDiffs.com, which is a site that tracks updates on articles. In the end, the Times decided to say that the president had “lost all credibility on this issue.”
Here’s a portion of “credibility” graf in the original piece published at 4:35pm June 7, 2013
Those reassurances have never been persuasive — whether on secret warrants to scoop up a news agency’s phone records or secret orders to kill an American suspected of terrorism — especially coming from a president who once promised transparency and accountability. The administration has now lost all credibility. Mr. Obama is proving the truism that the executive will use any power it is given and very likely abuse it. That is one reason we have long argued that the Patriot Act, enacted in the heat of fear after the 9/11 attacks by members of Congress who mostly had not even read it, was reckless in its assignment of unnecessary and overbroad surveillance powers.
Here’s the revised version finally updated at 8:36pm
Those reassurances have never been persuasive — whether on secret warrants to scoop up a news agency’s phone records or secret orders to kill an American suspected of terrorism — especially coming from a president who once promised transparency and accountability.
The administration has now lost all credibility on this issue. Mr. Obama is proving the truism that the executive branch will use any power it is given and very likely abuse it. That is one reason we have long argued that the Patriot Act, enacted in the heat of fear after the Sept. 11, 2001, attacks by members of Congress who mostly had not even read it, was reckless in its assignment of unnecessary and overbroad surveillance powers.
H/T (Daily Caller) (FromNJ)
In light of the NSA surveillance program, the New York Times wasn’t amused. In fact, it seems this development has finally made the editorial board at the Times say, “enough!” In their op-ed today, they said:
within hours of the disclosure that the federal authorities routinely collect data on phone calls Americans make, regardless of whether they have any bearing on a counterterrorism investigation, the Obama administration issued the same platitude it has offered every time President Obama has been caught overreaching in the use of his powers: Terrorists are a real menace and you should just trust us to deal with them because we have internal mechanisms (that we are not going to tell you about) to make sure we do not violate your rights.
Those reassurances have never been persuasive — whether on secret warrants to scoop up a news agency’s phone records or secret orders to kill an American suspected of terrorism — especially coming from a president who once promised transparency and accountability. The administration has now lost all credibility. Mr. Obama is proving the truism that the executive will use any power it is given and very likely abuse it. That is one reason we have long argued that the Patriot Act, enacted in the heat of fear after the 9/11 attacks by members of Congress who mostly had not even read it, was reckless in its assignment of unnecessary and overbroad surveillance powers.
This sort of tracking can reveal a lot of personal and intimate information about an individual. To casually permit this surveillance — with the American public having no idea that the executive branch is now exercising this power — fundamentally shifts power between the individual and the state, and repudiates constitutional principles governing search, seizure and privacy.
The senior administration official quoted in The Times said the executive branch internally reviews surveillance programs to ensure that they “comply with the Constitution and laws of the United States and appropriately protect privacy and civil liberties.”
That’s no longer good enough. Mr. Obama clearly had no intention of revealing this eavesdropping, just as he would not have acknowledged the killing of Anwar al-Awlaki, an American citizen, had it not been reported in the press. Even then, it took him more than a year and a half to acknowledge the killing, and he is still keeping secret the protocol by which he makes such decisions.
The board writes that the Patriot Act needs to be “curtailed if not repealed” over these abuses. That’s a separate debate, but it appears that the liberal newspaper is sick of the trite responses the administration gives when abuses of government power are exposed. Good for them! Either way, Obama’s buffer provided by the media, which is a love-hate relationship, seems to be crumbling at a time when he needs them most to deflect legitimate questions surrounding the IRS, Benghazi, Fast and Furious, AP, and EPA scandals. Oh, and this one with the NSA as well.
The Times is doing their job, but liberals may see it as racist.
The New York Times now says that the Obama administration has ‘lost all credibility.’ When did they become so racist?
— Kevin Eder (@keder) June 6, 2013
President Obama is playing hardball. He vows no compromise with his judicial appointments to the D.C. Circuit Court of Appeals, and this has some on the left, like Slate editor Emily Bazelon, excited. After all, Obama isn’t a fighter. He’s a reformer, or at least, that’s what his platform was in 2008. At that time, the fighter was Hillary. Yet, is this a ‘squirrel’ moment? Obama has a few scandals that are engulfing his presidency, and this “in your face” move with the judiciary just could be something new for the lapdog press to write about, instead of the corrupt and illegal practices of the IRS. Additionally, the fighter label wears off when you discover that Obama’s nominees are faring better than his predecessors. Also, the D.C. Court of Appeals is probably, as Ed Whelan noted, “one of the most underworked courts in the country.”
Concerning nominees, David Grant of the Christian Science Monitor wrote on June 4 that:
By some measures, President George W. Bush’s judicial nominees got rougher treatment than have Obama’s, according to the Congressional Research Service. The report found that 82 percent of Obama’s first-term circuit court nominees were confirmed, versus 76.9 percent of Mr. Bush’s. Both Obama and Bush had a lower percentage of nominees confirmed than Ronald Reagan, George H. W. Bush, or Bill Clinton.
Obama’s 80.5 percent approval rate for all his first-term judicial nominees to district and circuit courts is better than the approval rate for George H.W. Bush’s nominees (77.4 percent) and not far behind the rate for Mr. Clinton’s nominees (83.7 percent), according to the Congressional Research Service.
Yet, on the other hand:
Obama’s judicial nominees waited an average of 228 days between their nomination and confirmation through May of this year, according to an analysis by the American Constitutional Society. That’s about 50 percent longer than George W. Bush’s nominees waited.
So, is Obama mad that his nominees can’t get through, or that they wait longer than his predecessor? Well, they are being confirmed. That’s the point. It’s what matters in the end. Nonetheless, if the president is frustrated over the waiting period, which I’m sure college applicants can empathize with, then he’s just being ridiculous. Furthermore – and Grant alludes to this in his piece – it’s Senate Democrats who control the legislative calendar. Then again, the legislative torpor over these nominees shouldn’t be viewed as a life and death situation for how our judicial system works.
Ed Whelan at National Review wrote on May 29 that:
there is no neutral principle that justifies the Obama administration’s sudden rush on the D.C. Circuit. The D.C. Circuit may well be the most underworked court in the country.
If the White House were seriously interested in relieving the judicial workload, it would presumably be giving high priority to the “judicial emergencies” identified by the Administrative Office of the U.S. Courts. The three D.C. Circuit vacancies are not included among the 32 existing judicial emergencies. Further, it’s striking that of those 32 judicial emergencies, the White House has made nominations to only eight of those seats, and four of those eight nominations were made just this month. Of the remaining 24 judicial emergencies for which the White House has made no nomination, vacancies have existed for periods as long as:
One of the D.C. Circuit vacancies has existed for only 95 days. The oldest of the three—for the seat John Roberts vacated to become Chief Justice—is indeed quite old (2,799 days), but the fact that then-Senator Obama and his fellow Senate Democrats blocked President George W. Bush’s nomination of Peter Keisler, an outstanding candidate who won remarkable bipartisan acclaim, amply demonstrates that they perceived no urgent need to fill that seat.
Now, let’s be honest. For the Obama administration, this is an emergency. The D.C. Court of Appeals has recently taken steps to curtail his agenda, namely, ruling on the unconstitutionality of the president’s NLRB recess appointments. As a result, Obama needs to get these three in, stack the court, and prevent further road bumps to his initiatives. Then again, his whole second term could be stalled with these five scandals eating away at what’s left of his political capital.
The Institute of International Studies at UC Berkley, which has a long-running program called Conversations with History hosted by its executive director, Harry Kreisler, had a familiar face as a guest in 2002. That guest was Samantha Power. It was here that Power, who will be nominated to be our next ambassador to the UN, endorsed an invasion of Israel to prevent future genocide.
HARRY KREISLER: “Let me give you a thought experiment here, and it is the following: without addressing the Palestine — Israel problem, let’s say you were an advisor to the President of the United States, how would you respond to current events there? Would you advise him to put a structure in place to monitor that situation, at least if one party or another [starts] looking like they might be moving toward genocide?”
SAMANTHA POWER: “What we don’t need is some kind of early warning mechanism there, what we need is a willingness to put something on the line in helping the situation. Putting something on the line might mean alienating a domestic constituency of tremendous political and financial import; it may more crucially mean sacrificing — or investing, I think, more than sacrificing — billions of dollars, not in servicing Israel’s military, but actually investing in the new state of Palestine, in investing the billions of dollars it would probably take, also, to support what will have to be a mammoth protection force, not of the old Rwanda kind, but a meaningful military presence. Because it seems to me at this stage (and this is true of actual genocides as well, and not just major human rights abuses, which were seen there), you have to go in as if you’re serious, you have to put something on the line. Unfortunately, imposition of a solution on unwilling parties is dreadful. It’s a terrible thing to do, it’s fundamentally undemocratic. But, sadly, we don’t just have a democracy here either, we have a liberal democracy. There are certain sets of principles that guide our policy, or that are meant to, anyway. It’s essential that some set of principles becomes the benchmark, rather than a deference to [leaders] who are fundamentally politically destined to destroy the lives of their own people. And by that I mean what Tom Freidman has called “Sharafat.” I do think in that sense, both political leaders have been dreadfully irresponsible. And, unfortunately, it does require external intervention, which very much like the Rwanda scenario — that thought experiment — if we had intervene early, any intervention will come under fierce criticism. But we have to think about lesser evils, especially when the human stakes are becoming ever more pronounced.
At the time, the Second Intifada was raging, which is what I’m guessing Kreisler was alluding to with this question, although it could’ve been within a more general context given the history in the region. Nevertheless, this policy prescription isn’t within the realm of reality, let alone possibility. Is there any politician that would endorse an American invasion of Israel? No, although it seems that her nomination may be a smooth one. The Hill reported on June 5 that Sen. John McCain, the face of the Republican Party on national security, supports her nomination.
Sen. John McCain (R-Ariz.) on Wednesday [June 5, 2013] said he supported President Obama’s nomination of Samantha Power to be the new U.S. ambassador to the United Nations.
“I believe she is well-qualified for this important position and hope the Senate will move forward on her nomination as soon as possible,” said McCain in a statement.
McCain backs a person that supports an invasion of Israel, yet labeled conservatives as “wacko birds” for questioning Obama’s drone policy. Someone needs to primary McCain in ’16, and he’s further tarnished his reputation as a spokesman for American foreign policy. Mr. McCain, I respect your service to our country, but you’re flat out wrong about this nomination.
For the 70% of American Jews that voted for Obama in 2012, I hope you’re happy.
Sen. Kay Hagan (D-North Carolina) is one of the most vulnerable incumbents to run for re-election next year. As a result, she needs to hit hard against her opponents, define them, and pray that it resonates throughout the state to provide a buffer against an anti-Democrat groundswell. One candidate that could set off an anti-Hagan wave is Thom Tillis. He’s the Speaker of the North Carolina House of Representatives, who announced his intention to challenge Hagan – and is only trailing her by seven points in the polls.
In a Hill story written by Alexandra Jaffe today, it noted how the DSCC said that,” Tillis created disaster in Raleigh, leading the ultra right wing North Carolina legislature and becoming a favorite of the special interests - the same special interests who now fund a super PAC to elect Tillis to the U.S. Senate, ” according to Justin Barasky, a spokesman at the Democratic Senatorial Campaign Committee. Additionally:
Barasky goes on to charge that Tillis has a “long record of putting his own career ahead of creating jobs” in North Carolina.
The DSCC cites criticism from one of Tillis’ colleagues in the state House that his Senate intentions had affected his legislative efforts.
And it notes a super PAC launched by Tillis allies to support his Senate bid, called Grow NC Strong. Tillis also received support for his legislative agenda from a nonprofit group called North Carolina House Legislative Partners, which ran an ad in March touting his plans in the statehouse.
The release comes just days after Tillis announced his bid to challenge Hagan, who’s considered by Republicans one of the most vulnerable Democrats in the nation.
Then again, Democrats have been attacking Tillis on this angle for weeks, and hasn’t produced stellar results in moving Hagan towards a safe re-election. The NRSC has described the anti-Tillis campaign waged by the left as ‘stale.’
Washington doesn’t seem to do anything right these days, and Kay Hagan doesn’t seem to do anything at all – her own staff even admits she seems to ‘play it safe,’ on the tough issues. North Carolina will have a new Senator after election day, 2014,” said NRSC spokesman Brad Dayspring.
Additionally, given that this isn’t a presidential election year, Hagan can’t bank on the coattails of a national Democrat’s campaign. Thus, her vote to expand gun checks in the failed Manchin-Toomey bill could’ve been a fatal blunder.
Kermit Gosnell may be spending the rest of his life in prison for the egregious crimes he committed at his abortion clinic in Philadelphia, but he did some cross border raids into Delaware as well. Sadly, he won’t be charged for the ‘snipping of necks’ in the Blue Hen state. Steven Ertelt at Life News cited Delaware Online, who reported today that:
According to investigators and court papers, Gosnell used the same type of risky, labor-inducing approach to abortions at the Atlantic clinic in Wilmington that sometimes resulted in children being delivered alive by abortion patients.
Others told investigators they saw Gosnell snipping spinal columns of babies that were delivered at the Atlantic clinic.
But the problem for Delaware investigators was that they did not have witnesses who could testify to seeing Gosnell severing the spinal cords of any of the babies who showed apparent signs of life after they were delivered at Atlantic.
“The Wilmington police and the Attorney General’s Office were understandably concerned and suspicious that similar conduct was occurring here in Delaware,” said Deputy Attorney General Steven Wood.
“We uncovered anecdotal evidence that concerned us, but police were never able to uncover sufficient evidence to justify an arrest or prosecution [in Delaware],” Wood said.
One of the three first-degree murder convictions against Gosnell – and the only one that tied Gosnell directly to ending the life of a baby who was delivered alive by an abortion patient – was the case of “Baby A,” whose 17-year-old mother first consulted Gosnell in July 2008 at the Atlantic clinic.
According to testimony, the girl was well past the 24th week of pregnancy and Gosnell started an illegal late-term abortion in Wilmington, giving her labor-inducing drugs at the Atlantic clinic, with instructions to report to the Philadelphia clinic the next day
Ed Markey doesn’t read the news. It’s either that, or he’s exceptionally awful with Twitter. On Monday, the congressman tweeted that the Hill reported on June 1 that Gabriel Gomez, his opponent, would be ”key to Republican attempts to obstruct President Obama’s agenda.” There’s only one problem: the Hill never said that. It came from Markey’s own ad, which was the basis for the Hill ‘s story. Therefore, what Markey tweeted was an abject lie. Here’s what Russell Berman reported:
The Markey campaign produced a web video highlighting the money pitch and characterizing a Gomez victory as key to Republican attempts to obstruct President Obama’s agenda. “Mitch McConnell led Republicans creating gridlock in the U.S. Senate,” reads a message in the video. It cites McConnell’s opposition to Wall Street reform, an assault weapons ban and the Violence Against Women Act.
The video plays an excerpt of a McConnell speech from before the 2012 election, when he said the GOP’s top “political priority” was denying Obama a second term. “Don’t let national Republicans get their way,” reads another message
Luckily, JB Britten at Judicial Watch caught this egregious lie. Additionally, the ad is quite confusing. Obama did get a second term, the so-called obstructionism over gun control was bipartisan, and Obama’s agenda is virtually stalled with his scandals. One-third of the House committees are investigating his presidency, his attorney general may have perjured himself, and Obamacare is opposed by 54% of the American people. Republicans didn’t do that, somebody else made that happen. Guess who?
Yet, for now, conservatives can openly mock Congressman Markey for not properly reading news about his own campaign.
— Ed Markey (@EdMarkey) June 3, 2013
— JB (@JWBritten) June 3, 2013
The special election to fill John Kerry’s vacancy will be held on June 25.
Ok, so the DOJ confessed to informing News Corp. of the Rosen investigation in 2010, which is why some liberals took to their laptops to blog about how this scandal really isn’t a big deal. Ryan Lizza of the New Yorker, who’s done some great reporting on this fiasco, feels differently. On May 27, he wrote a pretty thorough post about the DOJ admission, and noted that News Corporation’s legal counsel wasn’t informed about the search into James Rosen’s emails.
Left-wing rag Mother Jones, which Lizza went after for their blasé attitude towards this scandal, was typical in their response to this development on May 25.
There’s also this interesting tidbit from the same story:
While Fox News was informed nearly three years ago about the subpoena for call logs for five lines related to Mr. Rosen — apparently after the phone company had already provided them — it did not publicly disclose the action. Instead, it emerged only this month when court papers were unsealed that also showed that the government had separately obtained a warrant for the contents of Mr. Rosen’s private e-mail account. A lawyer and spokesmen for Fox did not respond to requests for comment.
So Fox has known about this since 2010. They only went public with the outrage when it became convenient to slot it in as part of Scandalmania™. How about that.
Yet, Lizza aptly noted in his May 27 post that:
[W]hile the Nixon and George W. Bush Administrations talked about the possibility of holding journalists criminally liable for reporting classified information, Obama’s is the first Administration to make the argument in federal court. While the Justice Department didn’t indict Rosen, it carefully laid out the legal case for charging him as spy, a dangerous precedent that will undoubtedly tempt future prosecutors.
This is a big deal. A journalist was basically called a spy, which was the pretence for the warrant into his emails. Furthermore, the DOJ may have informed News Corp., but its legal counsel wasn’t happy with how these events were detailed by the media. After all, it matters when you were never informed of the subpoena.
Lawrence A. Jacobs, who was the actual legal counsel for News Corp. back in 2010 when Justice allegedly sent the notification…almost immediately…went public with a story that contradicted the account being peddled jointly by Justice and News Corp.
He told NPR, the Los Angeles Times, and the New York Times that he never received the notification, and that if he had he would have immediately told Roger Ailes, the head of Fox News. On Monday, Jacobs told me the same thing.
“If I had seen it, I would remember having seen it, even though it was three years ago. The first thing I would have done is call Roger Ailes,” Jacobs said. “What possible motive would I have to sit on this? If the Justice Department really wanted to make sure Fox News was aware of it, why didn’t they send it to Fox News and why didn’t they follow up with the company they sent the fax to? I’m not calling them liars and I’m not saying they didn’t send it. I’m just saying I never saw it. I can’t believe I wouldn’t remember receiving a certified letter from the Justice Department.”
Privately, Jacobs and News Corp had heated conversations over the weekend in which the company’s former lawyer demanded that News Corp. clarify its position on the matter. Perhaps there was a letter and fax and e-mail; by Sunday, though, News Corp. had reversed course and issued a new statement, first reported by the Los Angeles Times yesterday afternoon. But even then, News Corp.’s response was surprisingly deferential to Eric Holder’s Justice Department: “While we don’t take issue with the DOJ’s account that they sent a notice to News Corp., we do not have a record of ever having received it. We are looking into this matter.”
Lizza wrote that this failure in communication could be due to News Corporation’s 2011 phone hacking fiasco across the pond in the UK. As such, their settlement talk to resolved this matter could take an “awkward” turn if they decide to unload on Holder.
While there has been little attention paid of late to any legal liability News Corp. might face here in the United States, Bloomberg Businessweek recently noted the following:
In the U.S., the Department of Justice continues to investigate News Corp. under the Foreign Corrupt Practices Act (FCPA), a law that makes it illegal for U.S. companies to offer gifts or payments to government officials overseas to gain a competitive edge. “Certainly, within News Corporation, there remains a persistent, if not a paranoid, fear that the Department of Justice is going to move against them,” Wolff says. “The ultimate resolution has yet to take place.”
In 2011, News Corp. hired D.C. law firm Williams & Connolly to handle the FCPA investigation. In March, the Wall Street Journal reported that in addition to looking into the phone-hacking and police bribery charges in London, the DOJ has also been investigating allegations that Journal employees in China gave gifts to government officials in exchange for information. According to the Journal, the federal probe is nearing completion—possibly setting the stage for Williams & Connolly and the government to begin negotiating a settlement. “You hire Williams & Connolly because it says, ‘We are local, we get the game, and we are innocent. Oh, and by the way, if we’re not, we can work out a deal,’” says Levick, the crisis management fixer in Washington.
It seems that Rosen is truly alone in this case. The government went after him, and his employer seemingly kept that information from him.
Well, it looks like an EPA regulation killed a person. On May 30, a man suspected of opening fire on police was shot and was rushed to the hospital. Yet, a device within the ambulance aimed at curbing diesel emissions shut the vehicle down before they could reach the medical center. A second ambulance had to be called to finish transporting the suspect, but he eventually died.
WUSA9, a CBS affiliate in Washington D.C., reported that:
The device which is mandated by the EPA to be on all newer model diesel vehicles is designed to burn of diesel toxins. It does it either automatically or manually. If neither of those happens during a common cycle known as a “re-generating cycle” warning lights will go off and eventually force the vehicle to lose power and shut off.
It a rare occurrence but DC Fire Deputy Chief John Donnelly says that’s appeared to have happened to Medic 19.
Donnelly said, “To my knowledge it’s never created a problem for us, but something different happened on this call.”
Critics of this EPA mandate say there should be exemptions for emergency vehicles so this won’t happen.
What if this happened to a member of your family? Someone has a heart attack, stroke, or a fall etc. – and the ambulance dies before they could reach the hospital. It’s terrifying. Now, the second ambulance did pick up the suspect seven minutes later, but that could be the difference between life and death in some circumstances.
This is truly bizarre. The Democratic Party, which pushed hard for so-called universal background checks last winter, has reversed their position in Arkansas. After all, the pro-gun control camp again failed miserably, and the president wasted the most precious moments of his second term on this bad piece of legislation. Did the Democrats learn their lesson? No. Yet, are you surprised? No. If anything, Democrats are now doubling down on both pro-gun control and pro-gun rights positions, which only highlights the fact that liberals have no spine.
Currently, Sen. Mark Pryor is getting softened up by Mayor Bloomberg’s idiotic strategy of running ads against Pryor, who opposed background checks in the Manchin-Toomey bill. That’s great. He’s making it easier for us to be replace him with a pro-gun, conservative Republican. If Pryor is ousted next year, a perverted aspect of that development would be that conservatives should probably send Bloomberg a thank you card and some flowers. After all, Bloomberg would be credited for doing a nice job getting Pryor all bloodied and bruised for us to take him out, which is highly possible.
In an ad released last week, Pryor said – and rightfully so – that the Manchin-Toomey bill wouldn’t have stopped future Newtowns, and highlighted that he would seeks ways to curb gun violence, while protecting gun rights. Nevertheless, it’s all a ruse. Pryor has a C- rating from the NRA, and voted to reauthorize the 2004 assault weapons ban. The renewed ban was part of a bill that would prohibit certain lawsuits against gun manufacturers. Yet, the most interesting twist in this fiasco is the DSCC supporting Pryor’s ad.
Nic Holton at the Arkansas Project posted on May 31 that:
[I]t seems that national Democratic groups are now touting the ad. This is pretty strange when you consider that they’ve been lobbying for the same measures that Pryor is speaking against.
Pryor’s ad claims that the gun control bill he recently voted against (Manchin-Toomey) would have done “nothing to prevent tragedies like Newtown, Aurora, Tucson, or even Jonesboro.” Strange, because the DSCC’s spokesman recently told The Hill that “his party’s commitment to expanding background checks for gun sales cannot be doubted.” By touting Pryor’s ad, is the DSCC now saying that their background check efforts would do nothing to prevent tragedies, but they’re fully committed to them anyway? I mean, that’s what I tend to think, but it seems a bit startling to see the DSCC admitting this.
Meanwhile, they’re still gathering petition signatures for background checks and lashing out at Republican supporters of the 2nd Amendment. What a strange world we live in.
HA HA HA.
Social Security will be unable to give full benefits to retirees by 2033, and that’s not all. Medicare is expected to be insolvent by 2026. Thus, the end of the social safety net. The Hill reported that:
Unless Congress acts, Social Security will no longer be able to pay full benefits to retirees after 2033. Only three-quarters of benefits will be delivered after the projected insolvency date.
The trust fund that pays disability benefits through Social Security is headed for insolvency in 2016 and will only be able to pay out 80 percent of benefits after that date, the trustees found.
Medicare’s trust fund will become insolvent in 2026 — two years later than previously estimated. By that date, the fund that covers Medicare’s hospital benefit will begin to spend more money than it takes in.
The additional two years of Medicare solvency projected this year were due to lower-than-expected spending. The insolvency date for Social Security is unchanged from last year.
House Budget Committee Chairman Paul Ryan’s (R-Wis.) office said the report means action needs to be taken immediately to fix the entitlement programs.
“Today’s report is yet another reminder that Medicare and Social Security are in great danger. We need to protect and strengthen these critical programs. And we must take action now, so we can keep our promises to current seniors and future retirees,” Ryan spokesman William Allison said Friday.
The trustees report was signed by Health and Human Services Secretary Kathleen Sebelius, Acting Labor Secretary Seth Harris, Acting Social Security Commissioner Carolyn Colvin, Treasury Secretary Jack Law and public trustees Charles Blahous and Robert Reischauer.
The trustees had previously said that President Obama’s healthcare law extended the life of the Medicare trust fund — a finding that Lew and Sebelius were quick to highlight on Friday.
So, while liberals pat themselves on the back for extending the life of Medicare, it’s still going to be insolvent,unless further reforms are made. Conservatives – and some fiscally hawkish Democrats– have known this for years, but for a president that has only spent 3.6% of his time focusing on the economy – we shouldn’t expect much over the next three years. Obama has some scandals to deal to resolve.
Well, the IRS fiasco just keeps on getting more and more interesting. The Wall Street Journal reported on May 31 that a group called Freedom’s Watch, which was formed in 2007 to support President Bush’s escalation in Iraq, was targeted by the IRS in February of 2010. That probe leeched into “executive compensation,” which led to five donors being audited for “their contributions that sought to impose gift taxes on their donations to the group, according the Journal’s Dionne Searcy and John D. McKinnon. The group, which only lasted two years, was a 501(c)(4), which meant it was allowed to engage in some political activity. The gift tax, which prompted the audits, was designed to keep wealthy individual from avoiding death taxes by “giving away their assets.” Yet, it seemed the agency again overreached in their enforcement.
Tax experts say that effort was highly unusual. The IRS generally hadn’t sought to impose the gift tax on donations to tax-exempt groups such as Freedom’s Watch in at least 20 years, perhaps longer, following an unfavorable court ruling and changes in the law by Congress, according to lawyers and IRS documents.
The IRS action “was kind of like a nuclear bomb going off,” said Rob Kelner, who heads the election-law practice at Covington & Burling LLP. “Although we always knew this was a possibility, it disrupted that long-standing understanding among election lawyers that this was an area where the IRS wasn’t likely to go.”
The IRS efforts were made public after a lawyer brought up the audits at a tax conference in mid-2011. Republican lawmakers complained to the agency, saying the abrupt action was unfair and would chill constitutionally protected free speech.
That was in 2011, and as a result, the probe was suspended. Nevertheless:
[The gift tax] is broadly worded and could be applied to many types of transfers. Legislation in the 1970s clarified that campaign contributions to parties, candidates and political action committees aren’t subject to the gift tax.
“It’s perfectly plain to see that Freedom’s Watch’s donors were singled out…in a complete break with decades of precedent and IRS procedure,” said Ari Fleischer, a board member of the group and former White House press secretary for Mr. Bush, in an interview.
In response to questions in 2011, the IRS confirmed it had sent the gift-tax audit letters to five taxpayers. The five letters resulted from “a single matter,” then-IRS commissioner Douglas Shulman said in May 2011. In July, in response to the outcry on Capitol Hill, the IRS announced it was ending the audits and wouldn’t conduct any more until after a review.
Mr. Shulman and Ms. Lerner didn’t respond to requests for comment.
For good reason, especially for Lerner since her unit within the agency conducted the audit, and had access to the names in question.
The audit of Freedom’s Watch was conducted by Ms. Lerner’s exempt-organizations unit. The gift-tax audits were conducted by workers in the estate and gift-tax unit, housed in a separate division of the sprawling IRS.
In a 2011 letter, GOP lawmakers asked whether the exempt-organizations unit played a role in the gift-tax audits. In a written response, a top IRS official implied the exempt-organizations unit referred the matter to the estate-and-gift tax unit.
The official, Steven Miller, who was recently ousted as acting commissioner, said the gift tax unit didn’t have access to the names of donors to 501(c)(4) groups. Instead, those names are directly available only to Ms. Lerner’s unit.
If you’ve has seen the movie Predator, Jesse Ventura’s character says, ” you lose it here, you’re in a world of hurt.” He was commenting about the almost suffocating environment of the jungle. Now, it seems that he has lost it, and he’s inflicting unnecessary pain on the wife of a slain American hero.The Daily Mail reported on May 31 that Ventura is suing the widow of Navy Seal Chris Kyle because his feelings got hurt after reading the deceased sniper’s book.
Ventura initially filed the suit against Chris Kyle, the SEAL who had the most confirmed kills in American military history, because Kyle said that he knocked Ventura to the floor during a fight outside of a bar.
Ventura, now 61, has now refiled the suit and against Kyle’s wife Taya after Kyle was killed in February when he was shot by a former soldier who allegedly had PTSD.
According to the Minnesota Star Tribune, Ventura’s lawyers argued that the suit outlasts Mr Kyle,/
‘Although Kyle is deceased, his ‘American Sniper’ book continues to sell and it is soon to be made into a movie,’ the motion read.
‘It would be unjust to permit the estate to continue to profit from Kyle’s wrongful conduct and to leave Governor Ventura without redress for ongoing damage to his reputation.’
In January of 2012, while promoting his book, Kyle allegedly got into a fight with Ventura over anti-war comments he made at a bar that was a popular spot for members of the military. It was packed since many were in the area for a funeral for a fallen SEAL, who was killed in action, according to the Daily Mail.
‘He was bad-mouthing the war, bad-mouthing (former President) Bush, bad-mouthing America,’ Mr Kyle told Fox News’ Bill O’Reilly.
‘He told us that we were killing innocent people over there, men women children, that we were murders,’ Mr Kyle said, adding that he told the governor to tone down his rhetoric.
‘And then he said that we deserved to lose a few guys.’
That’s when Mr Kyle slugged Mr Ventura in the face, he says.
‘That happened? You knocked him out?’ Mr O’Reilly asks.
‘Well, I knocked him down,’ Mr Kyle responds.
Mr Ventura denies that version of events, and believes that the lawsuit is necessary given the possibility for profit by his widow.
Ventura is also a former SEAL. He has a television show that’s devoted to Alex Jones-like material, which Ventura now thinks – ironically – that there’s a conspiracy to shut down it down. While this lawsuit being redirected towards Kyle’s wife is shameless, it was to be expected after his death, which is why his lawyers aren’t too unfazed.
Ventura has denied the incident. He tried to clear things up during an interview with Alex Jones in January of 2012, where he said that Kyle’s alleged smearing of him was due to his support for Ron Paul. It seems that Ventura didn’t get the memo. When you want to clarify a situation, you should never go on Alex Jones.
In New York City, the mecca of soda bans, an abortion is just a phone app away. Yes, that’s right. There’s a phone app for finding an abortion clinic. Thus, in a city where 40% of pregnancies end in abortion, the Big Apple is keeping its tradition as a bastion of infanticide. Penny Starr at CNS News reported on May 28 that:
The New York City Health Department’s NYC teen website now includes an app that teens can download to their smart phones to get information on “sexual health,” including where they can get birth control and abortions.
The app, under the heading “Important Links and Info,” has three main links – Where to Go; sexual health services, What to Get; condoms and birth control; and What to Expect; at the clinic.
Under the health services link the user can choose what service they want, including Gold Star clinics (those that offer free birth control and other services), emergency contraceptive or Plan B, and abortion.
If the user picks abortion, they can then choose the area in the city where they want to find services. If the user picks Manhattan, for example, they will be directed to three places that perform abortions – Family Planning Clinic, Harlem Hospital; Planned Parenthood Margaret Sanger Center; and Project Stay – Services to Assist Youth at New York Presbyterian Hospital.
Under the “info” tab on the app, teens are told that New York state does not have parental consent law when it comes to getting sexual health services.
“Remember, teens in New York State have the right to sexual health services without getting permission from parents, girlfriends/boyfriends or anyone else,” the app says.
The app also provides a link to the NYC Teen website, which reminds teens about the lack of parental consent law in various formats, including a video called “Samantha’s Story,” found on the “Dating and Friends” section of the website.
So, it seems that after the Gosnell trial, the alleged barbarism at abortionist Douglas Karpen’s clinic in Texas, and the investigative reports from Live Action – the left has no shame with rolling out this new app. Steven Ertelt at Life News also wrote about this development on May 29, and noted that:
of the 203, 514 viable pregnancies in New York City in 2011, 80,485 were terminated by abortion. 2,085, or 2.59%, of the abortions performed in the City in 2011 were performed at gestational ages of 21 weeks or later.
When you add liberalism, political correctness, and gun control monomania, you’ll get a toxic combination of absurdity. In the very blue state of Massachusetts, one six-year-old was suspended over a toy gun about the size of a quarter. Do you hear that? It’s common sense going down the drain.
Jason Howerton at the Blaze wrote on May 29 that:
A 6-year-old kindergarten student in Massachusetts is accused of causing a “disturbance” and “traumatizing” other students by bringing a very tiny plastic toy gun on the school bus last week.
The “gun” brandished by the young boy was barely bigger than a quarter.
The child’s mother, Mieke Crane, told WGGB-TV that school officials at Old Mill Pond Elementary in Palmer, Mass., seriously overreacted after another student saw the toy and told the bus driver on Friday.
The driver said the 6-year-old “caused quite a disturbance” and left other children “traumatized,” according to Crane.
The student has written an apology note to the bus driver, but Howerton noted this isn’t an isolated incident.
In April, The Blaze first reported that a New York father had his pistol license revoked after his son and two of his classmates talked about going to a boy’s house with a water gun, “paint gun” and a BB gun. School officials called police and apparently felt they had enough cause to revoke John Mayer’s handgun license.
In March, a 7-year-old boy was suspended from school for chewing a breakfast pastry into a shape that somewhat resembled a gun. The boy maintained he didn’t mean to make his food look like a gun.
In January, a Philadelphia fifth-grader was scolded and even searched in front of her entire class for pulling out a piece of paper that was torn into a gun-like shape. A school administrator reportedly yelled at her while other students called her a “murderer.”
Also in January, a 5-year-old girl was suspended for ten days and reportedly labeled a “terrorist threat” for threatening to shoot her friend with a toy bubble gun.
And the list goes on and on.
With crackdowns on toy soldiers on cupcakes, Pop Tart guns, and toy bubble guns, when does this madness stop?
On May 23, Erika Eichelberger at Mother Jones reported on Sen. David Vitter’s (R-Lousiana) food stamp proposal, and mentioned how it may have a racially skewed impact. In other words, Sen. Vitter – and the GOP – are being racist with food stamp reform. It’s a frivolous accusation, but ironically, the case against Vitter’s amendment is also based on racial assumptions.
On Wednesday the Senate agriculture committee approved a GOP proposal  that would amend the farm bill the Senate is considering to ban “convicted murderers, rapists, and pedophiles” from getting food stamps. On its surface, the idea sounds unobjectionable, but the measure would have “strongly racially discriminatory effects,” according to the non-partisan Center on Budget and Policy Priorities (CBPP).
The amendment, introduced by Sen. David Vitter (R-La.), and agreed to by unanimous consent in the committee, would bar anyone who has ever been convicted of certain violent crimes—even if they committed the crimes in their youth and have served their sentence—from ever getting food stamps (called SNAP benefits) ever again. CBPP president Robert Greenstein slammed the amendment in astatement  Tuesday, calling it “stunning.” Because African Americans are incarcerated at a higher rate than other races, he says, “the amendment would have a skewed racial impact. Poor elderly African Americans convicted of a single crime decades ago by segregated Southern juries would be among those hit.” Under current law, there is only a lifetime ban on food stamps for convicted drug felons, and many states have opted out of that ban.
So, liberals think that black men are more inclined to be violent criminals, and commit acts of violence, which is why this proposal is bad. Yet, we’re the ones who are racist. It’s a shame that African Americans are disproportionally incarcerated, but that’s due to a whole host of issues, like a failed education system, which aren’t racially based. If anything, education can play a critical role in reversing that trend, but liberals don’t seem to be putting reform on the top to their to-do list. For now, liberals seem content with labeling all blacks as criminals to stifle meaningful reform to government programs. That’s just classy.
What do you do when you have no heavyweight candidates in any key senate races for next year? You go on a rather cantankerous rant against candidates who may, or may not, be running. In Arkansas, where Democrats are defending the highly vulnerable Sen. Mark Pryor, the DSCC has done just that, with a comical attack on Republican Congressman Tom Cotton over Iran.
On May 23, Peter Urban on the Times Record, a local news outlet, reported that:
At a House Foreign Affairs Committee meeting [last] Wednesday, Cotton sought to extend sanctions that would be imposed on Iranian human rights violators to close family members of the “primary malfeasant.”
Some Democrats on the panel raised concerns that the proposal was unconstitutional because it would violate “due process” protections guaranteed under the Fifth Amendment. Cotton, R-Dardanelle, argued that those protections only apply to U.S. citizens.
The Democratic Senatorial Campaign Committee issued a news release [last] Thursday that claimed Cotton’s proposal would “completely disregard American citizens’ due process rights guaranteed under the Fifth Amendment.”
“To call Tom Cotton an extreme ideologue is not overstating anything. He is proposing legislation that would eliminate the constitutional right to due process for grandchildren, nieces and nephews of Americans accused of a crime,” said Justin Barasky, a DSCC spokesman.
Cotton said the aim of his proposal was to prevent a human rights violator from avoiding sanctions by simply shifting assets to a family member as has happened in the past.
This reeks of desperation. Foreign policy doesn’t award you success at home anymore, especially when everyone is worried about their bank accounts and job security. If Democrats are trying to discourage Cotton from challenging Pryor with this Iranian nonsense, then it’ll fail miserably. If they wish to keep Pryor somewhat alive in Arkansans, they need to talk to Mike Bloomberg, who is softening Pryor up for Republicans through his anti-gun ads.
Jennifer Rubin at the Washington Post blogged today about this development. She noted how the Democratic attacks against Cotton won’t gain much traction since Iranian sanctions are supported by both parties. Lastly, with inanity filling the air, she suggests that Pryor could take the road many have taken before him: retirement.
First, Michael Bloomberg’s Mayors Against Illegal Guns is running an ad attacking Pryor for his vote. I imagine the state GOP is thrilled, hoping this will depress his support among Democrats.
The Democratic Senatorial Campaign Committee issued a news release Thursday that claimed Cotton’s proposal would “completely disregard American citizens’ due process rights guaranteed under the Fifth Amendment.”
What?!? The DSCC thinks we shouldn’t sanction Iranians because of the Fifth Amendment? If this is how they are going to craft a campaign against the GOP’s potential candidate, Cotton will be a lucky man.
Between attacks on Pryor from the left and wacko attacks on Cotton from the DSCC, the Senate race in Arkansas is shaping up to be a nightmare for Pryor. Might he just follow the parade of retirees?
Well, it seems Republican consultant Mike Murphy has decided to assist the anti-gun left. Jazz Shaw at Hot Air posted about his involvement with Bloomberg’s anti-gun ads directed towards Arkansas’ Democratic Senator Mark Pryor on May 26. While many conservatives might disagree with Murphy’s political analysis, he’s always entertaining to watch on Meet the Press. Yet, this little tryst with the pro-gun control crowd is nothing short of idiotic.
The ads that New York City Mayor Michael Bloomberg’s gun group has run defending Sen. Pat Toomey (R-Pa.) and criticizing Sen. Mark Pryor (D-Ark.) were cut by GOP strategist Mike Murphy, sources familiar with the spots said.
Murphy’s ads come on the heels of DCI Group leading the work for Mayors Against Illegal Guns’s spots against Democratic Senators.
A MAIG spokeswoman confirmed Murphy shot the anti-Pryor spot POLITICO reported on this week. Sources familiar with the ads said Murphy, who worked on Mitt Romney’s 2002 Massachusetts governor’s race and Meg Whitman’s California governor’s race in 2010, also cut the spots defending Toomey.
Jazz concluded his post by saying:
In addition to being pretty smart, he’s hilarious.) But none of that changes the fact that I’ve got to look at him in a somewhat different light now. You have to know who the enemy is, even if he’s popping up in your own back yard.
Murphy has tried to justify his activity by saying he’s pro-second amendment, but supportive of universal background checks – like the NRA was in ’99. Yet, the fact remains: if give a liberal an inch, they’ll take several hundred miles. The way to defeat a possible national registry for firearms in this country is to defeat legislation that could lead to its creation. Additionally, we already have comprehensive background checks, as anyone with a FFL has to conduct one with any purchase. You’re playing for the wrong team, Mike.
Note to “traitor” howlers: I’m proud to support comprehensive background checks and the 2nd amendment.Just like the NRA did in ’99.
— mike murphy (@murphymike) May 27, 2013
In California, ten teachers are suing over forced union dues. With unions engaging in political activity, these teachers feel that adhering to so-called “agency shop laws” violates their constitutional rights to free speech. Even if teachers disagree with their union, or their political activities, they still have to fork over cash. The Center for Individual Rights (CIR), who has taken their case, said in a press release on April 30 that:
[A] suit was filed against the lead defendants, the California Teachers Association (CTA) and the National Education Association (NEA), as well as ten affiliated local teachers’ unions, and local school officials.
As a condition of public employment, the State of California and its public school districts, in cooperation with the CTA, requires every public school teacher, including non-union members, to pay several hundred dollars in fees each year for “chargeable” expenses that are related to the teacher unions’ collective-bargaining efforts. Even for “non-chargeable” union expenses related to lobbying and political activities outside of the collective-bargaining process, non-union teachers who do not wish to contribute must go through an annual “opt out” process that is often intimidating and time consuming. This so-called “agency shop” arrangement violates the First Amendment guarantee of free speech and free association by imposing compelled subsidies of political activity while serving no “compelling state interest” and failing to be “narrowly tailored” to any government interest, according to the complaint.
“Forcing educators to financially support causes that run contrary to their political and policy beliefs violates their First Amendment rights to free expression and association and cannot withstand First Amendment scrutiny,” said Michael A. Carvin, partner with Jones Day and lead counsel for the plaintiffs. “The Supreme Court questioned the continued constitutionality of ‘agency shop’ laws last year in the Knox decision.”
Last year, the Supreme Court ruled in Knox v. Employees Intl. Union, 132 S.Ct.2277,2285 (2012), that the Service Employees International Union (SEIU) in California violated the First Amendment rights of its non-union members by forcing them to pay a 25 percent increase in union dues without their consent to help fight ballot initiatives in the State.
Writing for the Supreme Court, Justice Samuel Alito warned:
“Because a public-sector union takes many positions during collective bargaining that have powerful political and civic consequences, the compulsory fees constitute a form of compelled speech and association that imposes a significant impingement on First Amendment rights.” Knox v. Serv. Emps.Int’l Union, Local 1000, 132 S. Ct. 2277, 2289 (2012).
“Individual teachers have a constitutional right to decide for themselves whether to join a union and financially support its efforts,” said Terry Pell, President of the Center for Individual Rights. “The government may not compel teachers to provide financial support to policies with which they fundamentally disagree.”
The money collected by forced dues in California are huge. In an editorial published in USA Today this month, CIR reported that “the California Teacher Association alone takes in more than $190 million per year.” That’s a rather large war chest to fight anti-union policies, like school vouchers, which some teachers may agree with, concerning enhancing education opportunities for students. That’s the constitutional argument in this case. Plaintiff Rebecca Friedrichs supports vouchers, but was still forced to pay dues to the teachers union that is vociferously against anything that would break up their cartel.
As conservatives, we shouldn’t try to emulate liberals by using the judicial system to change society. Our nation should, in the words of Justice Antonin Scalia, progress democratically. Thus, the legislature should be the focal point for advocacy groups to lobby for such legislation. Yet, as Neil McCabe wrote for Townhall on May 12:
in the last decade, the CTA gave 89 percent of its contributions to ballot initiatives, 10 percent to Democrats and less than 1 percent to Republicans, according to the site. The union backed 299 winners, 77 losers and a total of 625 incumbents.
California is a state with a huge political tradition of getting things done by ballot referendum, and the union was deeply involved in left-wing causes. In 2003, the union gave $250,000 to a fund called: Californians Against the Costly Recall of the Governor, during the recall election of Democrat J. Graham “Gray” Davis Jr., and 2008 the union donated $1.3 million to defeat Proposition 8, a referendum that amended the state constitution to outlaw same-sex marriage.
In 2012, the CTA spent $21 million to successfully defeat Proposition 32, which would have prohibited paycheck-deductions to unions to support political causes. If that seems like a lot of money, consider the teachers union was only in for a third of the $65 million raised from dozens of other unions in the state.
With the defeat at the polls, California opponents to compulsory support of union political activities need are turning to the courts.
Hence, California may be the exception, especially concerning labor relations. Due to the state’s overt liberalism, it’s virtually hopeless for conservatives to change anything in Sacramento. It also doesn’t help that the California GOP has been politically ineffective since 1994 due to the fallout from the Prop. 187 initiative. The state party has never recovered from that legislative disaster, and the Democrats have since ruled the roost.
For now, CTA spokesman:
Frank Wells said in an email that the suit is a “baseless challenge” intended to dilute worker rights.
Wells, the union spokesman, said no one is forced to join a union or spend money on political activity, and he disputed the account that it was difficult for teachers to “opt out” of the fees.
“The lawsuit seems self-contradictory. It acknowledges that those represented by unions can opt-out of paying … and then complains that they are somehow forced to pay for them,” Wells wrote.
It should be interesting how this case turns out. If the California courts agree that forced dues are a serious infringement on First Amendment rights, at least the Bill of Rights is respected. If not, we certainly live in two Americas, but there is a glimmer of hope.
In Texas, the attorney general ordered this month that teachers’ paychecks can’t be used to fund political action committees of unions. Also, Michigan’s law barring the collection forced dues was upheld on May 9 by the U.S. 6th Circuit Court of Appeals, who said that the provision “does not restrict the unions’ speech at all…the act merely directs one kind of public employer to use its resources for its core mission, rather than the collection of unions dues.”
The Obama administration is embroiled in five scandals. Some on the right are saying that the IRS and AP fiascoes, in particular, are impeachable offenses. These incidents of government abuse are awful and they have members of both sides outraged over these developments. The media, at the moment, has turned against the president. All over social media, we have petitions to impeach the president, but let’s not get ahead of ourselves.
Obama is out in 2016. He’s finished. But his ideology will continue to live on in future elections. This is the point Ben Domenech made in his May 16 column in Real Clear Politics. Conservatives need to play the ‘long game’ with these scandals. While we have an extraordinary chance to cut the achilles tendon of this administration, we have an even better opportunity to gut the core of American liberalism, and their inane love affair with big government.
The point is that these scandals cut at the core conceit of Obama’s ideology: the healthy and enduring confidence of big government to be good government. As technological capabilities advance and the scope of government expands, the types of domestic scandals we’re seeing here are only going to increase in frequency and invasiveness, with personal information shared more frequently, easier for even low level bureaucrats to acquire and manipulate. At the same time, Americans are becoming increasingly skeptical and cynical about their public institutions, with their trust in the federal government at historic lows. They distrust the agencies and bureaucrats even as the politicians of our age are investing more and more power in them.
Today, the media, the Obama administration, and David Axelrod are undertaking the task that conservatives could not: illustrating with each passing day that the progressive approach to modern governance and policy is inherently flawed and that vast governments are ripe for abuse. What we are seeing from the IRS and the DOJ is not something new, nor does it represent a perverse approach to benign bureaucracy: it is the inevitable consequence of an approach which puts mechanisms in place and then assumes they will not be used for ill. You should expect government to go as far as it can, whenever it can, in any ways that it can, toward the full exploitation of the power made available to it. Expecting government to behave otherwise is to expect the scorpion not to sting the frog.
When this period of scandal draws to a close, if the idea still survives that a more competent and ethical president would be able to effectively govern a $4 trillion bureaucracy, it will be a sign Republicans have failed. They can succeed by ignoring the tempting bait of making this about the president they despise, and focusing instead on the false philosophy of expansive government which represents the true danger to the American experiment. Doing so will require them to go against their own short-term viewpoint, so prevalent in recent years, and look instead to the long game.
Then again, this is all dependent on flawless execution on behalf of the Republican leadership in Congress, which hasn’t been all that spectacular, especially with members of the old guard, like McCain and Graham, still clogging things up. Yet, if successful, we could stain liberalism for years to come, and that could lead to making inroads with Millennials, who already have a strong distrust of government. Nevertheless, the chance Republicans can overreach with these scandals is also high.
As Moore, Oklahoma comes together, grieves, and assess the damage done by a major tornado, America’s left-wing is blaming global warming and budget cuts for the disaster. Sen. Sheldon Whitehouse (D-CT) blamed Republicans for the disaster on the Senate floor last week.
So, you may have a question for me,” Whitehouse said. “Why do you care? Why do you, Sheldon Whitehouse, Democrat of Rhode Island, care if we Republicans run off the climate cliff like a bunch of proverbial lemmings and disgrace ourselves? I’ll tell you why. We’re stuck in this together. We are stuck in this together. When cyclones tear up Oklahoma and hurricanes swamp Alabama and wildfires scorch Texas, you come to us, the rest of the country, for billions of dollars to recover. And the damage that your polluters and deniers are doing doesn’t just hit Oklahoma and Alabama and Texas. It hits Rhode Island with floods and storms. It hits Oregon with acidified seas, it hits Montana with dying forests. So, like it or not, we’re in this together.”
Leslie Eastman’s May 21 post on Legal Insurrection aptly noted that:
There is a fairly long list of tornado outbreaks that have impacted this country over its history. They include time periods before the use of fossil fuels and the Republican Party (e.g., The Great Natchez Tornado of 1840).
More dead than injured
Today, most government agencies — the National Water Service, Federal Emergency Management Agency and others — put the death toll at 317 and 109 injured, the only tornado where the dead outnumber the injured…The tornado’s destruction on land and water was estimated at $1,269,000 in 1840 dollars. That would translate today into about $21 million.
How strong was it?
So destructive was the storm that a piece of a steamboat window was reportedly carried 30 miles. Government weather agencies have no idea where on the Fujita scale of F1 to F6 the tornado would rank, though it seems likely that its devastation would certainly equal an F5, the highest ever recorded, which carries winds of 207-260 mph
It would be very refreshing to see a Democratic representative refrain from using children’s deaths to deride Republicans for a change.
Sen. Whitehouse has since invoked the Sgt. Schultz protocol, saying he didn’t know the tornado was destroying Moore when he gave the speech. Nevertheless, David Sirota of Salon, who hoped the Boston bomber was a white guy, wrote an equally stupid commentary last Tuesday stating that sequestration is to blame for the disaster.
One thing, however, that shouldn’t be up for debate is whether or not we should be as prepared as possible for inevitable weather events like tornadoes. We obviously should be — but there’s an increasing chance that we will not be, thanks to the manufactured crisis known as sequestration.
As the Federal Times recently reported, sequestration includes an 8.2 percent cut to the National Weather Service. According to the organization representing weather service employees, that means there is “no way for the agency to maintain around-the-clock operations at its 122 forecasting offices” and also means “people are going to be overworked, they’re going to be tired, they’re going to miss warnings.”
Perhaps, though, the devastation in Oklahoma City will serve as a reminder of why that’s the wrong path. After all, the wreckage is an explicit commentary on how bad things can be even when our weather forecasting system works — and, thus, an implicit reminder of how much worse things could be if it doesn’t. It is also a reminder that we shouldn’t think of weather forecasting as the insignificant television arena of dim-witted Brick Tamlands, but instead as an integral part of homeland security infrastructure.
When the ideology of austerity and Congress’s manufactured crises like the sequestration collectively jeopardize that infrastructure, we are needlessly inviting unnecessary and tragic consequences.
First, sequestration was a White House initiative. Second, how would more money invested into the systems that track and warn us about twisters save Moore? It wouldn’t have saved Moore. The city would still have been destroyed. Luckily, Slate’s Dave Weigel decided – on the same day – to clear up this whole debate concerning sequestration.
There are currently no furloughs in place at the National Weather Service—or anywhere within NOAA,” said Ciaran Clayton, a spokesman for the agency, via email. “We are still in good faith negotiations with our unions on our proposal—which is for four furlough days across NOAA—some 12,000 employees (due to sequestration, the NWS was facing up to 10 days of furloughs, and other offices within NOAA were facing up to 20—in order to mitigate that on our employees and operations, we have proposed 4 furlough days across the organization). Employees are entitled to a 30-day furlough notice as well—and as of today those have not been issued.”
So, Rep. Ed Markey seems to have violated his own pledge about outside campaign cash flowing into the Massachusetts special election to fill John Kerry’s vacant seat. Shoshana Weissmann at PolicyMic, a site that I also write for in my spare time, wrote yesterday that, “the ‘People’s Pledge‘ is ‘an agreement that imposes financial penalties on candidates any time an outside group runs a TV, radio, Internet, or mail advertisement on their behalf.” For Markey, there’s a ton of money coming to support him.
Alexandra Jaffe of the Hill reported on May 22 that:
Billionaire Tom Steyer is gearing up to engage in the Massachusetts Senate race yet again, a potentially pivotal development that Steyer and his aides hope will boost the Democratic nominee, Rep. Edward Markey, to a resounding win.
“NextGen, working with our local partners, will be seeking to be a politically disruptive force between now and Election Day,” reads the memo sent by Chris Lehane, a spokesman for Steyer’s NextGen super-PAC, to the PAC’s campaign team, and obtained exclusively by The Hill.
Steyer, a California billionaire and climate activist, spent $650,000 in attacks on Rep. Stephen Lynch (D-Mass.) in the Democratic primary, despite the fact Markey remained the clear frontrunner in nearly every poll of the race. His attacks centered around Lynch’s support for construction of the Keystone XL pipeline, which Steyer opposes.