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Paula Bolyard

Recently "retired" from homeschooling, Paula is an unapologetic Christian and Constitutional conservative. An enthusiastic Tea Party supporter, she is a member of the Wayne County Republican Executive Committee. She is also a contributor at Ohio Conservative Review. Paula lives in N.E. Ohio with her husband, two dogs, and two parrots.
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Federal Judge Rules D.C. Gun Ban Unconstitutional

Saturday, July 26th, 2014 - by Paula Bolyard

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U.S District Court Judge Frederick L. Scullin, Jr. ruled on Saturday that the District of Columbia’s total ban on carrying firearms outside the home was unconstitutional. Judge Scullin wrote in Palmer v. District of Columbia,

In light of Heller, McDonald, and their progeny, there is no longer any basis on which this Court can conclude that the District of Columbia’s total ban on the public carrying of ready-to-use handguns outside the home is constitutional under any level of scrutiny. Therefore, the Court finds that the District of Columbia’s complete ban on the carrying of handguns in public is unconstitutional.

The court granted the Plaintiff’s motion for summary judgment and ordered the District of Columbia to stop enforcing the District of Columbia codes that effectively ban the carrying of handguns in the District ”until such time as the District of Columbia adopts a licensing mechanism consistent with constitutional standards enabling people to exercise their Second Amendment right to bear arms.”

Judge Scullin went a step further, prohibiting the District from completely banning the carrying of handguns for individuals “based solely on the fact that they are not residents of the District.”

Along with Columbia v. Heller (2008) and McDonald v. Chicago (2010),  Sculling cited the Seventh Circuit’s Moore v. Madigan (2012) decision which said, “[a] blanket prohibition on carrying gun[s] in public prevents a person from defending himself anywhere except inside his home; and so substantial a curtailment of the right of armed self-defense requires a greater showing of justification than merely that the public might benefit on balance from such a curtailment, though there is no proof that it would.”

Noting that the District of Columbia appears to be the only jurisdiction that still has such a complete ban on the carrying of handguns outside the home Sculling wrote, “That does not mean that other jurisdictions are indifferent to the dangers that the widespread public carrying of guns; rather, those jurisdictions ‘have decided that a proper balance between the interest in self-defense and the dangers created by carrying guns in public is to limit the right to carry a gun to responsible persons rather than to ban public carriage altogether[.]‘”

Alan Gura, the lead attorney for the the Second Amendment Foundation, a plaintiff in the case, said on his blog Saturday:

Obviously, the carrying of handguns for self-defense can be regulated. Exactly how is a topic of severe and serious debate, and courts should enforce constitutional limitations on such regulation should the government opt to regulate. But totally banning a right literally spelled out in the Bill of Rights isn’t going to fly … Congratulations Americans, your capital is not a constitution-free zone.

 

 

 

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Obamacare’s Architect Admitted in 2012 That Only State Exchanges Get Subsidies

Friday, July 25th, 2014 - by Paula Bolyard
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In a video discovered by the Competitive Enterprise Institute from January of 2012, one of the chief architects of Obamacare says the Affordable Care Act provides no tax credits for citizens in states that do not set up their own exchanges.

Speaking to an audience at Noblis, a nonprofit scientific and engineering research organization in Falls Church, Virginia, MIT economist Jonathan Gruber urged states to set up their own insurance exchanges so citizens could take advantage of the tax credits. An audience member commented, “It’s my understanding that if states don’t provide [exchanges], then the federal government will provide them for the states.” Gruber responded,

What’s important to remember politically about this is if you’re a state and you don’t set up an exchange, that means your citizens don’t get their tax credits—but your citizens still pay the taxes that support this bill. So you’re essentially saying [to] your citizens you’re going to pay all the taxes to help all the other states in the country. I hope that that’s a blatant enough political reality that states will get their act together and realize there are billions of dollars at stake here in setting up these exchanges. But, you know, once again the politics can get ugly around this. [emphasis added]

At the time, states were being pressured to set up their own exchanges instead of leaving the federal government to manage them.

Gruber’s remarks at Noblis came five months before Halbig v. Burwell was filed. Halbig claimed exactly what Gruber is saying in the video: that Obamacare’s subsidies for private health insurance were limited to state-run health exchanges. Earlier this week, the D.C. Circuit Court agreed, striking down the Obama administration’s implementation of the federal subsidies under an Internal Revenue Service rule. The IRS had expanded the meaning of  the “established by the state” language in the Affordable Care Act to include the federal exchanges after only a handful of states set up their own state-based exchange.

Jonathan Gruber, who helped design the Massachusetts law that was the model for Obamacare and was paid almost $400,000 to consult with the Obama administration on the new law, made no attempt to conceal his feelings about the new health care law in the 2012 speech. “I’m biased, I’m in favor of this type of law, I won’t hide that,” Gruber told the Noblis audience. In the years after the passage of Obamacare, Gruber worked as a busy consultant on the issue, with several states hiring him for his expertise in the area of health insurance markets.

Gruber has since evolved on the issue of subsidies for federal exchanges.

In January 2013, he called the idea that Congress only intended the subsidies and tax credits to be available through state exchanges a “screwy interpretation” of Obamacare. In an interview with Mother Jones, Gruber huffed, “It’s nutty. It’s stupid…it’s essentially unprecedented in our democracy. This was law democratically enacted, challenged in the Supreme Court, and passed the test, and now [Republicans] are trying again. They’re desperate.”

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Romney Says He’s Not Running for President

Wednesday, July 23rd, 2014 - by Paula Bolyard

On Wednesday’s Sean Hannity Show, former Massachusetts governor Mitt Romney told Sean Hannity that he is not running for president in 2016. “I’m not running, Sean, but I’ll be rooting for the nominee,” Romney said. Saying that he had his chance in 2012  and lost, Romney thinks it’s time for someone else to have a shot at beating the Democrats.

He then ticked off a list of potential candidates he hoped would consider running:  Paul Ryan, Jeb Bush, Chris Christie, Scott Walker, and Marco Rubio.

Romney suggested that he wouldn’t fare well in a face-off with Hillary. “I am not the person who should be the nominee to run against the Democratic nominee, who I think will be Hillary Clinton,” he said. However, Romney lambasted the former secretary of State for her disastrous record, including the “reset” button debacle with the Russians.

Romney also criticized President Obama saying, “He lacks the experience to do what America needs to do,” adding that he’s more focused on golf than on world events.

Hannity, meanwhile, gushed about what a great president Romney would have been, saying the country had “buyer’s remorse” for choosing Obama over the more experienced and more qualified Romney.

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GAO “Secret Shopper” Investigation Finds Fraud in Obamacare Exchanges

Tuesday, July 22nd, 2014 - by Paula Bolyard

On Tuesday, Republicans released preliminary results of a Government Accountability Office (GAO) undercover examination of enrollment in the Obamacare exchanges.

Using fake information during an undercover “secret shopper” investigation, the GAO created 18 fictitious identities through the federal exchange by telephone, online, and in-person.  In 17 of 18 attempts the GAO was able to obtain premium subsidies and health insurance with fake information through telephone and online applications. According to the report, 11 out of 12 fake applications for the federal exchanges were approved, with credits totaling $2500 per month ($30,000 per year).

During the investigation, fake shoppers provided fake documents, such as Social Security numbers and proof of income and citizenship. They found that “Federal contractors made no effort to authenticate documents applicants provided” and the fake ID and income information proved to be no impediment to enrollment.  According to the report, the Center for Medicare and Medicaid Services (CMS) is not required to authenticate documentation. “The contractor told us it does not seek to detect fraud and accepts documents as authentic unless there are obvious alterations,” the GAO said.

As of July 2014 the fake enrollees continue to receive subsidized coverage for the 11 applications, including 3 applications where GAO did not provide any requested supporting documents.

When the GAO made attempts to sign up for federal subsidies in person, they were unable to obtain assistance in five of six attempts. “One navigator said assistance was not available because HealthCare.gov was down and another [declined] to provide assistance,” the preliminary report said, noting that navigaors have received tens of millions of dollars in federal grants to provide assistance to those in need of healthcare.

The report also pointed out that CMS officials still do not have the electronic capability to identify enrollees who have “put their policies in force” by paying their premiums. “As a result, CMS must rely on health insurance issuers to self-report enrollment data used to determine how much CMS owes the issuers for the income-based subsidies,” the GAO report said. “Work is underway to implement such a system, according to CMS, but the agency does not have a timeline for completing and deploying it.”

Ways and Means Chairman Dave Camp (R-MI) said, “We are seeing a trend with ObamaCare information systems: under every rock, there is incompetence, waste, and the potential for fraud.” Camp said, “Now, we learn that in many cases, the exchange is unable to screen out fake identities or documents.”

Senator Tom Coburn (R-OK) said, “Fictitious people have used fictitious documents to gain tens of thousands of dollars in real subsidies.  Yet, before subsidies were paid in January, the former secretary ‘certified’ the proper controls were in place to prevent these kinds of improper payments.” Coburn added that such incompetence and gross mismanagement is unacceptable and deeply troubling.  ”At a time when we’re facing a $17 trillion debt, it is imperative that DHS take the necessary steps to address the problems identified in GAO’s report.”

According to GAO, over 2.6 million application inconsistencies have been found for people who have signed up for health plans in the exchange. The House Ways and Means Subcommittee on Oversight will hold a hearing on Wednesday morning with the GAO to discuss the findings of its report.

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Ted Cruz Sorry/Not Sorry About Losing the Vampire Vote

Tuesday, July 22nd, 2014 - by Paula Bolyard

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Senator Ted Cruz (R-TX) responded on Facebook to a True Blood episode that featured a storyline with a massacre at a fundraiser for Ted Cruz at the George W. Bush Presidential Library. In the episode, a pair of  left-leaning vampires show up at the Republican fundraiser to search for the parents of their enemy. Pam, the female vampire, catches a glimpse of herself in a mirror with a sparkly dress and big hair and exclaims, “I’m a Republican!” Except instead of “Republican” she invents a sexually crude word that’s not worth repeating here because it’s juvenile and debauched. After Pam recovers from her shock at looking like a Republican, a bloody massacre ensues at the gala.

On his personal Facebook page, Cruz said he never expected to turn up on the “misogynist and profanity-ridden” show. “I’m sorry to have lost the vampire vote,” Cruz wrote, “but am astonished (and amused) that HBO is suggesting that hard-core leftists are blood-sucking fiends.”

But in retrospect, Cruz acknowledged that he probably never had a chance with the hard-core leftist blood suckers:

 

 

Cruz’s senior communications advisor (and frequent tag-team Twitter partner) Amanda Carpenter agreed:

 

 

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Shocking Allegations About Ohio Charter Schools Tied to Controversial Turkish Leader

Monday, July 21st, 2014 - by Paula Bolyard

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On the heels of an FBI raid of several Horizon-Concept charter schools in Ohio, several former teachers and employees have come forward to make shocking allegations of inflated test scores and falsified attendance records, racist and sexist behavior by Turkish teachers and administrators, and sexual harassment and abuse that went unreported by administrators. At a State Board of Education meeting last week, former employees described not only low educational standards, but also an atmosphere of intimidation — American teachers feared Turkish administrators who fired teachers at the first sign of disloyalty while Turkish teachers were promoted, often despite poor job performance. The charter schools, associated with the Turkish Gülen movement and its controversial leader, Fethullah Gülen, promote Turkish language and culture and many of the schools are known for their academic excellence.

Richard Storrick, who taught at Horizon Science Dayton High School for two and a half years, told members of the state school board about a “sex game” that went on in the middle school classroom of a Turkish teacher, saying that standards differ “whether you are from Turkish descent or of American descent.” Storrick said that no action was taken when the director of the school was informed about the game and in fact, the teacher was re-hired the next year and given additional responsibilities.

Storrick also said that Turkish students were treated differently than American students. “If you were a Turkish student, you knew you could get away with misbehavior, including fighting, and be back the next day. Turkish students were permitted to skip class or school with no repercussions,” Storrick said. Turkish teachers called African American students “dogs” and “monkeys.” Another teacher at the same school, Timothy Neary added, “Racism was an issue. Black kids would be disciplined much more severely than Turkish students. If there was a fight in school, the Turkish students would be back the next day. Many of the black students would get severe consequences.” He also said that sexism was a problem. “It was almost gross how they’d talk to women. They’d tell them to not talk or cut them off in midpoint,” Neary said, adding that the majority of teachers fired were women.

Kelly Kochensparger, who served as the Dayton charter school’s public communications director in addition to her teaching duties, said that middle school students were caught on tape engaging in oral sex. School administrators notified neither the parents nor the authorities, preferring to focus on maintaining the school’s positive image instead, she said.

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State Department Official Tweets #UnitedforGaza

Saturday, July 19th, 2014 - by Paula Bolyard

UPDATE: Richard Stengel deleted the tweet with the #UnitedForGaza hashtag early Sunday morning and tweeted that it had been “a mistake.”

 

 

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Richard Stengel, under secretary for public diplomacy and public affairs at the U.S. Department of State, took to Twitter on Saturday night and appeared to take sides in the conflict between Israel and the Palestinians. Stegel, appointed to his post at the State Department by President Obama last year and confirmed by a 90-8 vote in the senate in April, used his personal Twitter account to call for an investigation into Malaysia Airlines Flight 17. The former managing editor of Time prefaced the tweet with the State Department’s Twitter handle and ended it with the hashtag #UnitedForGaza, indicating his solidarity with the Palestinians.

Not surprisingly, many Twitter uses were offended by the hashtag:

 

Several people offered excuses for Stegel’s tweet:

 

These excuses might possibly be credible if Stegel didn’t have a history of anti-Israel statements and sympathy for Hamas and the Palestinians. In 2010, when he was still with Time, Stengel penned an incendiary article titled “Why Israel Doesn’t Care About Peace.” Discussing the article in a segment on MSNBC’s Morning Joe, he blamed the West Bank security fence for what he considered to be Israel’s complacency in the peace process:

They haven’t had a car bombing in two and a half years. And the sad truth really is that the wall with the West Bank has actually worked. I mean, most Israelis in the course of their lives don’t come into contact with any Palestinians at all. The wall is functioning. And the Gaza strip is so small and so isolated they feel that those folks, the Hamas folks are not that big of a threat…

I mean, the Israelis feel like, you know what? The status quo isn’t so bad and we don’t mind is there is no peace at all.

The fence, of course, was built after Israel offered 98 percent of the West Bank and the Palestinians responded with an intifada that killed more than 2,000 Israelis with bombs and exploding buses.

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Rob Portman Didn’t Know His PAC Paid for Race-Baiting Anti-McDaniel Ads

Friday, July 18th, 2014 - by Paula Bolyard

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Ohio Senator Rob Portman told The Plain Dealer he didn’t know that money his PAC donated to Mississippi Conservatives PAC would be used for ads that portrayed the Tea Party and Senate candidate Chris McDaniel as racists. Portman said he had “absolutely no discretion” over how his donation would ultimately be used. “I believe using race as a political issue, as these ads apparently did, was wrong.”

“United States senators contributed money for ads to call Chris McDaniel a racist and to motivate black Democrats through hatred to come out and to vote for Thad Cochran,” Mitch Tyner, an attorney for McDaniel, told reporters this week. McDaniel ran against incumbent Senator Thad Cochran in the Mississippi primary, losing by just over 7000 votes in the runoff election.

Portman’s PAC, Promoting Our Republican Team, gave $25,000 to Mississippi Conservatives, a group associated with Haley Barbour that not only paid for racially charged anti-McDaniel ads, but also funded another group, All Citizens for Mississippi, that ran ads in the black community saying that McDaniel wanted to suppress the black vote and cut food stamps. A radio ad from All Citizens for Mississippi warned voters that, among other things, “A victory for Chris McDaniel is a loss for the reputation of this state, for race relations between blacks and whites and other ethnic groups.”

“As NRSC finance chair, I am working to secure a Republican majority in the fall, and I support Sen. Cochran’s re-election,” Portman said in a statement to The Plain Dealer. “My PAC donated money to a Mississippi PAC also supporting his election, but I had absolutely no discretion over how that money would ultimately be spent. In fact, I believe using race as a political issue, as these ads apparently did, was wrong. All who believe our country is heading in the wrong direction under the failed policies of the Obama Administration — including Tea Party activists and more moderate Republicans — must come together to take back the Senate and put our country back on the right track.”

Tom Zawistowski, executive director of the Portage County TEA Party and recent past president of the statewide Ohio Liberty Coalition, reacted angrily to Ohio Senator Rob Portman’s claims that he had no idea that the $25,000 from his PAC would be used by the Thad Cochran campaign to air racially charged attacks on the Tea Party.

“Isn’t it convenient Senator Portman, that you had nothing to say about the horrific, disgusting, totally dishonest racist ads run by Thad Cochran’s campaign until you were identified as having provide funding for this despicable human being Thad Cochran?” Zawistowski said in a press release. “Where was your moral outrage the days after the ads became public?”

Zawistowski said the Tea Party is made up of hard working, God-fearing, patriotic Americans who do not hate blacks or any other minority, yet Portman “did nothing to defend those TEA Party members from these vicious attacks” by someone he supported financially.

He asked why Portman is asking Tea Party activists to support a Republican who votes with Democrats most of the time and “who told black voters that the TEA Party is affiliated with the Ku Klux Klan,” saying that they want to deny blacks the right to vote. “Why in hell should we support someone like Thad Cochran after what he did?” Zawistowski asked.

Zawistowski said that Portman, a Republican who is considering a presidential run, should renounce his support of Thad Cochran immediately and demand that he drop out of the race. “You must demand that your fellow senators who supported Cochran do the same. Not to do so would show that you in fact condone the actions of the Cochran campaign and that you do not respect either the TEA Party movement or black voters.”  He said that if Portman does not “choose the moral path at this critical time … we will do everything in our power to make sure that Thad Cochran and every RINO like him loses in the fall.”

Senators Mitch McConnell ($50,000), John Cornyn ($50,000), Bob Corker ($25,000), and Roy Blunt ($5,000) also contributed to the Mississippi Conservatives PAC that supported Cochran. [UPDATE: Just to clarify, the candidates themselves did not donate directly to Cochran's campaign. Instead, their leadership PACs donated to the pro-Cochran Mississippi Conservatives PAC.]

Mississippi Conservatives raised $2.9 million altogether — $1.7 million was spent on opposing McDaniel. A mere $122,904 was used to promote the incumbent Cochran. This week’s FEC filings show that Mississippi Conservatives, the group to which Portman and other Republicans contributed, was the sole funding source for All Citizens for Mississippi.

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Obama Jokes That He’s Like a Circus Bear Off Its Chain

Friday, July 18th, 2014 - by Paula Bolyard
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Politico reported this week that President Obama has been pushing at the constraints of the Oval Office, leaving the White House to go on unscheduled walks in the middle of the day.  ”Forgoing the motorcade on the way to an event at the Interior Department, he joked that he was like a circus bear off its chain, and ‘the bear is loose,’” Politico reported.

Obama repeated the line again on Monday when he seemed to bristle at Secret Service agents scrambling to clear the sidewalk for his unscheduled walk, complaining that they were defeating the purpose of his trip away from the White House.

“Let’s test your wrangling skills,” he said to Secret Service agents at one point, as he shook hands with gawkers he met on the street.

Alright. So now we know that it’s not the most funnest thing in the world to be President Barack Obama. Like, he wants us all to walk a mile in his custom-made Johnston and Murphy shoes. Dude, imagine what it’s like be stuck in the White House, day in and day out, surrounded by Secret Service agents with scary weapons, snipers on the roof, that evil War Room and the big, scary Glenn Beck-ish underground bunker where who-knows-what goes on — not to mention dealing with Michelle and her yammering about the latest twigs and acorn diet. Sure, there are toney vacations, hobnobbing with Hollywood elites, and the 176 rounds of golf, but life is hard when you’re President Barack Obama. Pity the poor man, who is suffering every bit as much the chained animals you see in those horrible late night TV commercials, for crying out loud. (Is there somewhere we can send a donation? Can we sponsor the poor, tortured president and get a card for the refrigerator along with a monthly update?) It’s like we’re some Third World county. Or something.

Thirty years ago we had a very different man in the White House. Ronald Reagan — a grown up by any measure —  spent his eight year tenure as president maintaining a laser-like focus on the threat posed by the spread of Communism (while also managing to turning around the flailing economy, by the way).

In a 1984 campaign ad, Reagan compared the Soviets to a dangerous bear lumbering around in the woods — in the world — seeking to devour some unsuspecting victim. During the campaign, Walter Mondale had tried to attack Reagan on defense spending and arms control, suggesting his policies would escalate the rush to nuclear war. Without naming the Soviets in the ad, Reagan responded by suggesting that taking the threat seriously was preferable to pretending it didn’t’ exist. It was the only sensible course of action.

There is a bear in the woods. For some people, the bear is easy to see. Others don’t see it at all. Some people say the bear is tame. Others say it’s vicious and dangerous. Since no one can really be sure who’s right, isn’t it smart to be as strong as the bear? If there is a bear?

The text at the end of the ad read, “President Reagan. Prepared for Peace.”

Thirty years later President Obama (apparently self-unaware) parodies himself as a submissive, pliant circus animal who occasionally works up the courage to bolt from his captors for a short jaunt around the neighborhood. While the president was perhaps only referring to the shackles of the Secret Service when he spoke of his chains, the larger subtext of the mental image he presented to the world is of a man chained to an ideology — not unlike Mondale in 1984 — that makes the world less safe with each passing day. Like one of Pavlov’s dogs, Obama responds to every crisis on the world stage with predictable leftist pablum about “unacceptable behavior,” warning that he’s going to count to three and send the next evil totalitarian leader to his room if he shoots down another plane.

“The bear” is indeed loose in the world and Circus Bear POTUS can’t seem to see out from under the Big Top of the White House.

 

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Snowden Document Exposes UK’s Orwellian Online Spying Tactics

Tuesday, July 15th, 2014 - by Paula Bolyard

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A new document released by NSA whistleblower Edward Snowden shows that the British Government Communication Headquarters (GCHQ) has developed an extraordinary array of tools, not only for internet surveillance, but also for the purpose of promoting propaganda and manipulating social media.

The document, released to British newspaper, The Intercept, shows that the secretive spy agency — the British equivalent of the NSA — has in its possession tools created by GCHQ’s Joint Threat Research Intelligence Group (JTRIG) to manipulate the results of online polls, artificially inflate page view counts on web sites, “amplify” sanctioned messages on YouTube (or censor video content judged to be “extremist”), and even seed the internet with false information. JTRIG also has ability to find photos of specific targets on Facebook that are not available to the public.

The document—available here—is a Wikipedia-style page from 2012 designed to inform other GCHQ units of JTRIG’s “weaponised capability” in the area of internet technology. The document describes not only the run-of-the-mill tools used to create mayhem online by average hackers (“distributed denial of service” attacks and “call bombing”), but in a disturbing insight into the capabilities of the British government, also reveals tools that could be used to manipulate political discourse and public opinion — and even to disseminate state-approved propaganda.

JTRIG describes some of the tactics as “in development” but says most are “fully operational.” The document brags, “Don’t treat this like a catalogue. If you don’t see it here, it doesn’t mean we can’t build it.” Some of the capabilities described by JTRIG in the document, along with their code names are listed below:

• “Change outcome of online polls” (UNDERPASS)

• “Mass delivery of email messaging to support an Information Operations campaign” (BADGER)

• “Mass delivery of SMS messages to support an Information Operations campaign” (WARPARTH)

• “Disruption of video-based websites hosting extremist content through concerted target discovery”

•  ”Content removal” (SILVERLORD)

• “Find private photographs of targets on Facebook” (SPRING BISHOP)

• “A tool that will permanently disable a target’s account on their computer” (ANGRY PIRATE)

• “Ability to artificially increase traffic to a website” (GATEWAY)

• “Ability to inflate page views on websites” (SLIPSTREAM)

• “Amplification of a given message, normally video, on popular multimedia websites (Youtube)” (GESTATOR)

• “Targeted Denial Of Service against Web Servers” (PREDATORS FACE)

• “Distributed denial of service using P2P. Built by ICTR, deployed by JTRIG” (ROLLING THUNDER)

• “A suite of tools for monitoring target use of the UK auction site eBay (www.ebay.co.uk)” (ELATE)

• “Ability to spoof any email address and send email under that identity” (CHANGELING)

• “For connecting two target phone together in a call” (IMPERIAL BARGE)

 

The new Snowden document also reveals that the agency has the ability to monitor Skype conversations in real time:

• “Active skype capability. Provision of real time call records (SkypeOut and SkypetoSkype) and bidirectional instant messaging. Also contact lists.” (MINIATURE HERO)

JTRIG Tools and Techniques   The Intercept

This raises questions about Microsoft’s cooperation with spy agencies or possible security vulnerabilities with the program. Microsoft uses advanced encryption for Skype and the company claims it “only respond[s] to legal government demands” and only complies with “orders for requests about specific accounts or identifiers.” The document does note that though it is fully operational, there may be some “usage restrictions” for the Skype tool.

The Snowden document does not reveal whether all of the programs were used or how often. It does note that “there can be some reasons our tools won’t work for operational reasons” and adds that “there may also be some legal restrictions” on using the tools.

The release comes as the British parliament is considering an emergency surveillance law that would require telecom companies to retain customer data for a year. The companies had been required to retain data for 12 months under a 2006 European Union directive but the policy was thrown out in April by the European Court of Justice on the grounds that it violated human rights.

Prime Minister David Cameron has championed the surveillance legislation, saying the government’s powers must not be compromised at a time of growing concern over Brits traveling to Iraq and Syria to join militant Islamist groups. Privacy advocates have objected to the legislation, saying it is moving too quickly and without enough public debate about privacy and human rights.

 

 

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House Oversight: FEC Official Who Campaigned for Obama Not Prosecuted After Hard Drive Recycled

Monday, July 14th, 2014 - by Paula Bolyard

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House Oversight and Government Reform Committee Chairman Darrell Issa (R-CA) and Regulatory Affairs Subcommittee Chairman Jim Jordan, R-OH), today exposed yet another federal hard disappearance. This time the missing data involves a federal employee who used Twitter and a webcam for campaign activities during work hours in violation of the Hatch Act. Jordan and Issa today sent a letter to Federal Election Commission Chairman Lee Goodman asking for an investigation into the “recycled” hard drive of an employee who campaigned for President Obama and solicited donations for his campaign in violation of the Hatch Act, which states that federal employees may not conduct political activities during work hours.

“As a part of a settlement agreement with the [Office of Special Counsel], Ms. [April] Sands admitted to violating the Hatch Act by soliciting political contributions via Twitter, conducting political activity through her Twitter account, and participating in a political discussion ‘via webcam from an FEC conference room . . . while on duty,’” Issa and Jordan wrote in their letter. “The FEC [Office of Inspector General] sought to pursue criminal charges stemming from Ms. Sands’s solicitation of political contributions while on duty inside the FEC building.  However, the FEC recycled Ms. Sands’s hard drive before the OIG was able to seize it, and therefore the OIG was unable to show that Ms. Sands’s solicitations and political activity were done from an FEC computer.  The U.S. Attorney’s Office for the District of Columbia thereafter declined criminal prosecution.”

April Sands utilized a Twitter handle, @ReignOfApril, from which she engaged in overtly partisan political attacks on Republicans and endorsements of President Obama and other Democrats candidates. She also solicited financial donations.

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Keep in mind that this federal employee, who refers to Republicans as her enemy, is an attorney charged with the responsibility to enforce federal election laws fairly and dispassionately.

“Although we recognize and appreciate the right of every citizen to participate in the political process, the Hatch Act limits certain political activities conducted by employees of the Executive Branch,” the House Oversight Committee letter said. ”In particular, the Act prohibits Executive Branch employees from engaging in partisan political activity while on official duty at a federal workplace. Certain employees, including FEC employees, are further restricted by the Hatch Act from engaging in partisan political campaigns or management. Additionally, federal law makes it a crime for a federal employee “to solicit or receive a donation of money or other thing of value in connection with a Federal, State, or local election, while in any room or building occupied in the discharge of official duties . . . .”

To make matters worse, according to the letter from Issa and Jordan, “Ms. Sands worked for former IRS official Lois Lerner when Ms. Lerner served as the FEC’s Associate General Counsel for Enforcement.” Though it is unclear whether Ms. Sands ever communicated with Ms. Lerner after Ms. Lerner moved to the IRS, “The Committee is aware that Ms. Lerner maintained communication with some former FEC colleagues.”

The House Oversight Committee is asking FEC Chairman Lee Goodman for all documents and communications related to the recycling of Ms. Sands’s hard drive, the FEC’s practices and policies for retaining FEC documents responsive to investigations, including congressional requests and inspector general investigations, and all documents and communications for retaining and archiving FEC electronic information, including emails, instant messages, and internet browsing histories.

“Like the IRS’s destruction of Lois Lerner’s hard drive, the FEC’s recycling of Ms. Sands’s hard drive may have also destroyed material responsive to Freedom of Information Act and congressional oversight requests,” the letter explains.

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Conflicted About LeBron’s Return to Cleveland

Friday, July 11th, 2014 - by Paula Bolyard

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Four years ago this week, workers tore down the iconic, 10-story-tall  Lebron James Nike mural that had graced the side of the Landmark Office Tower in downtown Cleveland  for most of the Cavaliers star’s tenure with the team. The transparent mural covered the window of my husband’s office in the building and he watched as a part of Cleveland history fell to the ground in heaps that day, along with the hopes of hundreds of thousands of Northeast Ohioans. A handful of diehard fans stood on the sidewalk below that day, snapping pictures of what they thought was the last glimpse of their hero on Cleveland soil. It was a terrible day after a terrible week. In the hours following James’ announcement that he was “taking his talents” to the Miami Heat, angry fans hurled rocks at the mural, which featured a triumphant James with his head thrown back and “We Are All Witnesses” emblazoned on it.

It’s an indisputable fact that James handled his departure poorly, sticking a thumb in the eyes of fans — who had supported him since he was a standout at Akron’s St. Vincent-St. Mary High School — by turning “The Decision” into a national media event. It was tantamount to a high-profile Cleveland-shaming in the eyes of many fans, who burned #23 (and #6) jerseys in response, knowing that their hopes of a Cavaliers championship had just defected to Florida. Cavs owner Dan Gilbert wrote a scathing, emotional letter to Cavs fans that week (which was still on the team’s website until last week) calling James a “former hero” who had “betrayed” the team. Gilbert, founder of Quicken Loans and a major partner in several Ohio casinos, told fans at the time that they didn’t deserve James’ “cowardly betrayal.”

It was a painful episode in a long history of Cleveland sports disappointments. No Cleveland team has won a championship in half a century, not since the 1964 Browns won a (pre-Super Bowl) NFL title. The last time the Indians won a World Series was 1948 and the city has never won an NBA title. So perhaps it’s not difficult to understand, just a little, why LeBron found himself the repository of fifty years’ worth of pent-up frustration.

For the last two weeks Northeast Ohio has been on “LeBron Watch,” waiting for “The Next Decision.” On Thursday reporters and fans were camped outside his Bath Township mansion (just outside Akron, where LeBron has maintained a residence) after the media reported that an announcement was imminent. Fans and pundits speculated about factors the NBA star might be considering as he pondered his decision: money, family, roots, championship, legacy.

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Gov. Rick Perry Reminds Us Why We Flirted with Him in 2012

Friday, July 11th, 2014 - by Paula Bolyard

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“We make men without chests and expect from them virtue and enterprise. We laugh at honor and are shocked to find traitors in our midst. We castrate and bid the geldings be fruitful.”― C.S. Lewis, The Abolition of Man

There is perhaps no greater contrast between the quintessential (and nearly bygone) American masculinity and the feminized Pajama Boy we’ve come to know in recent years than the competing media narratives of Texas Governor Rick Perry and President Obama this week.

While President Obama has projected the image of a flaccid leader who is aloof, distant, and out of touch with the the humanitarian crisis at the Southern border — even appearing to laugh his way through a meeting with Perry and other Texas leaders — Governor Perry has exuded strength, seriousness of purpose, and muscular leadership. Perry has demanded accountability from the Obama administration and has proposed meaningful solutions to the border crisis — he wants the National Guard on the border immediately, strategic fencing, and drones in the air.

Obama, on the other hand, has attended fundraisers with Democrat high rollers, was photographed trolling bars in Denver with Colorado Governor Hickenlooper, and used a press conference to whine about Republican intransigence on immigration reform.

While Perry was storming the Rio Grande on a heavily armed Texas Highway Patrol boat (wearing a flak jacket and a LaRue Tactical ball cap … and likely packing something powerful on his hip), President Pajama Boy sipped hot tea at the Magnolia Cafe before tying up traffic across Central Texas as the presidential motorcade made its way to the Paramount Theatre, where President Obama complained about Republicans threatening to sue him.

It’s quite a stark contrast in both substance and style.

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President Obama: Not Interested in Photo Ops

Thursday, July 10th, 2014 - by Paula Bolyard
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[From Digitas Daily]

President Obama told reporters on Wednesday that he wasn’t interested in seeing the humanitarian crisis at the southern border for himself saying, “I’m not interested in photo ops, I’m interested in solving the problem.”

As everyone knows, President Obama never misses an opportunity to use human props for photo ops when he wants to exploit them to further his policy proposals. Michelle Malkin has a list of some of them here, including teachers, veterans, union members, and cancer patients. Red Alert Politics has another list that includes the president trotting out little children to push his gun control agenda as well as his use of the Minneapolis Police Department and U.S. troops to serve as backdrops for his photo ops. And who can forget that lovely scene in the White House Rose Garden when the president waxed poetic about those who have benefitted from Obamacare — surrounded by people who hadn’t actually benefitted from Obamacare.

Perhaps President Obama’s photo comment to reporters was meant to be ironic. Or comedic. It certainly wasn’t credible or serious.

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New IRS Emails Show Lerner Sought to Hide Information from Congress

Thursday, July 10th, 2014 - by Paula Bolyard
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“I was cautioning folks about email and how we have several occasions where Congress has asked for emails … we need to be cautious about what we say in emails,” former IRS official Lois Lerner wrote in an April 9, 2013 email to IRS technology employee Maria Hooke.

The House Oversight and Government Reform Committee released new e-mails at a hearing on Wednesday with IRS Commissioner John Koskinen showing  that Lerner attempted to hide information from Congress.

Lerner wrote in an email exchange with Hook and IRS Director for Exempt Organizations Exam Unit Manager Nanette Downing,

I had a question today about OCS [Microsoft Office Communications Server]. I was cautioning folks about email and how we have several occasions where Congress has asked for emails and there has been an electronic search for responsive emails – so we need to be cautious about what we say in emails. Someone asked if OCS conversations were also searchable – I don’t know, but told them I would get back to them.  Do you know?

Rep. Jim Jordan (R-OH) speculated in Wednesday’s hearing that Lerner was asking, ”Because Congress might get ahold of them and the American people might actually find out what the IRS is doing,”

Jordan said the House Oversight Committee received the emails on July 3rd, part of a 15,000 piece document dump. He described the OCS system as an “intra-office instant messaging chat-type system” that is used at the IRS.

In response to Lerner’s concerns that Congress could search the OCS system,  the IRS tech person responded that “OCS messages are not set to automatically save” but warned that “parties involved in an OCS conversation can copy and save the contents of the conversation to an email or file.”  Lerner responded, “Perfect.”

Jordan presented a timeline from the Inspector General, noting that on June 13, 2011, ten days after Chairman Camp sent a letter to the IRS expressing concerns about the possible targeting of conservative groups, “a bunch of computers mysteriously crash, including Lois Lerner’s computer.” On March 28, 2013 the Inspector General reported that there was indeed evidence of targeting. Twelve days later, according to Jordan, “[Lerner] says, ‘Perfect’ when she learns that [the OCS is] not traceable, not trackable, not stored.”

“Thirty-one days later she went to a Bar Association speech here in town and told the whole world that Washington had nothing to do with it, even though she tried to make sure her tacks were covered,” Jordan said. “She told the whole world Washington had nothing to do with it. It’s a couple of rogue agents — couple of line agents in Cincinnati.”

In response to Jordan’s questions, Commissioner Koskinen said he had not seen the e-mails and was unfamiliar with the OCS system. He testified that neither the FBI nor the Justice department have discussed the emails related to the OCS system or Lois Lerner’s missing emails with him.

The IRS commissioner also said he did not know why an Exam Unit Manager was copied in the email exchange. Jordan asked why she would have been included, especially in light of recent revelations that Lerner was hoping that Sen. Grassley would be referred for an IRS examination. Koskinen responded, “I have no idea why. None.”

 

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Ted Cruz: Behavior of D.C. Machine in Mississippi Runoff Appalling

Monday, July 7th, 2014 - by Paula Bolyard

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On Monday’s Mark Levin Show, Ted Cruz weighed in on the contentious (and ongoing) runoff election for the Mississippi Republican Senate nomination. “What happened in Mississippi was appalling,” Cruz told Levin. He said the conduct of the “Washington, D.C. Machine” was “incredibly disappointing” in the race between incumbent Senator Thad Cochran and Tea Party favorite Chris McDaniel, who lost the runoff by around 6700 votes.

The McDaniel campaign is poring through ballot boxes in the state ahead of the scheduled certification of the ballot on Monday and his team reports at least 4900 voting irregularities. The FEC is investigating possible campaign finance violations from a pro-Cochran Super PAC and there have been serious allegation that Cochran staffers participated in a cash-for-votes scheme.

Noting that McDaniel won a sizeable majority of Republicans in the runoff election, Cruz, who is Vice Chairman for Grassroots Outreach of the National Republican Senatorial Committee said, “The D.C. Machine spent hundreds of thousands of dollars urging some 30,000-40,000 partisan Democrats to vote in the runoff, which changed the outcome.” Acknowledging that all Republicans want to grow the party, the Texas senator said the actions of the “D.C. Machine” did nothing to further that goal. “Instead, the ads they ran were racially-charged false attacks and there were explicit promises to continue and expand the welfare state,” Cruz said. “And nobody has suggested that the Democrats who voted in the primary will actually vote Republican in the general election,” he added. ”Instead, they were just recruited to decide who the Republican nominee was and that’s unprincipled and it’s wrong.”

Other Republican senators have weighed in on the election. Last week Senator Rand Paul (R-KY) said, “I’m for more people voting, not less people voting. I think the people of Mississippi spoke and I think Thad Cochran has done a lot of good things for Mississippi.” Senator John McCain (R-AZ) praised Cochran’s ”really excellent get-out-the-vote campaign.” McCain said, “There are some people who are complaining that African-American voters voted. I thought one of the major priorities of the Republican Party was to get all minority and ethnic voters out to vote for Republicans.”

Cruz also discussed the serious allegations of voter fraud in the election, saying, “I very much hope that no Republican was involved in voter fraud.” He said the allegations need to be vigorously investigated and anyone involved in criminal conduct should be prosecuted. “The voters of Mississippi deserve to know the truth.”

Cruz told Levin on Monday, ”I think it would be abominable if Republicans were involved in voter fraud and I think the only fair thing to do for voters in Mississippi and the only fair thing for the integrity of the election is to investigate the allegations seriously and then to prosecute anyone who was involved in criminal conduct.”

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Christian Churches Occupied, Shia Mosques Destroyed, Nuns and Orphans Kidnapped in Iraq

Saturday, July 5th, 2014 - by Paula Bolyard

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Islamists militants who seized parts of northern and western Iraq last month posted images online Saturday of at least ten shrines and mosques they claim they have destroyed in the province of Nineveh. Photos show bulldozers knocking down Sunni Arab and Sufi shrines and explosives destroying six Shiite mosques.

Residents of Mosul, which is the capital of Nineveh, said the militants have also occupied two cathedrals belonging to Chaldean and Orthodox Christians. Crosses on the churches have been replaced by the black flag of the Islamic State of Iraq and Syria (ISIS), the group which recently declared the establishment of an Islamic caliphate.

On Tuesday, two nuns and three orphans went missing from an orphanage in Mosul. It is believed they have been kidnapped by ISIS militants. On Saturday, a senior Christian leader in Iraq appealed for their release. “We are appealing for scholars in Mosul and tribal sheikhs to help us release two nuns and three orphans,” said Chaldean Patriarch Louis Sako. ”Christians are not party to these events,” Sako added. “We lived together side-by-side (with Muslims) for 14 centuries. We still want to communicate and live together.”

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Iraq’s Christian community has dwindled to a small fraction of what it had once been — once numbering more than a million nationwide, there are now fewer than 400,000 across the country. Nearly all of  Mosul’s Christians have fled since the city fell to ISIS on June 10th; ISIS members bombed an Armenian church near al-Salaam hospital and ransacked the Church of the Holy Spirit. Two days after the raid on Mosul, ISIS imposed Sharia law and began demanding a poll tax from Christians. On June 21st, ISIS members raped a mother and daughter who could not afford to pay the poll tax and killed four women for not wearing veils.

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Iranian Women ‘Stealthily’ Shed Their Hijabs as Americans Celebrate Independence Day

Saturday, July 5th, 2014 - by Paula Bolyard

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As American women celebrated Independence Day and freedom with parades, picnics, fireworks displays, and demands for free birth control, a handful of Iranian women bravely shed their hijabs and posted their pictures on Facebook along with messages about what freedom means to them. The Facebook page, My Stealthy Freedom, created in May by Iranian journalist Masih Alinejad, currently has over 550,000 likes and offers women the opportunity to anonymously share photos of themselves with their heads uncovered — an act of cultural and religious disobedience that could have serious repercussions in the repressive Iranian society governed by Islamic law.

One young woman, wearing a full black hijab, is shown standing next to the street at night with her head uncovered. She says, “Although people gave me blaming looks, the sweetness of that moment has remained unforgettable.”

Messages of support in Persian and English poured in from around the world: the United States, Denmark, Pakistan, Yemen, Canada, Ireland, Norway, Sweden, Belgium and Israel. One Iranian man simply said, “I’m sorry.”

Another young woman posed in a field with her headscarf billowing in the breeze.

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Her message is inspiring:

Shiraz, my stealthy freedoms, and I

I’ll let the wind blow my burnt moments away. I don’t mind whatever comes next

Freedom is a right I am entitled to have in my life; and I will take it back!
God created freedom! human beings were the ones who created servitude

Hey freedom! All we’ve ever known about you has been just your name ! We have been robbed of you as long as the history

I am a girl from Shiraz. I’ll raise my hand and practice freedom. Freedom! I want you to know that this exhausted bird will go on searching for you and trying to attain you forever.

One man responded to her post:

“The rights [to religious freedom] are of the natural rights of mankind, and … if any act shall be … passed to repeal [an act granting those rights] or to narrow its operation, such act will be an infringement of natural right,” by Thomas Jefferson.

Support from Sweden, for your (Iranian women´s and men´s) right to freedom and all other true democratic rights!

Another woman flaunted her uncovered head on the side of a busy highway in front of what appears to be a billboard with the faces of Iranian mullahs.

I’ll say this simply, I want freedom. It is my right as a human being to be free. I want to shout out my freedom! Exactly in front of the billboard behind me!! I was pulled over one time while driving, because of “inappropriate dressing.” They towed away my car and called me to court. We are suffocating here under the ruling of this tyranny.

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The young woman below normally hides beneath a head scarf. But on this day, her shocking pink tresses hung out the car window and she experienced the freedom of the breeze blowing through her hair, something most American women take for granted. She commented: “We have to respect each other instead of misjudging each other.” She added, “My hair, the blowing wind, and I… in city of Daar-Al-Ebadeh, Yazd.” Her smile of exhilaration speaks volumes about the simple joys of life that are not available to most Iranian women.

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Psychologists Warn of Climate Change “Ecoanxiety”

Thursday, July 3rd, 2014 - by Paula Bolyard

 

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A study sponsored by the American Psychological Association and ecoAmerica warns that climate change, including an expected increase in the global mean temperature, will cause increased “ecoanxiety” resulting in severe psychological and sociological consequences. The study, Beyond Storms and Droughts: The Psychological Impacts of Climate Change, led by College of Wooster psychologist Susan Clayton, warns that “we can expect a likely increase in mental health-related symptoms and conditions as a result of climate change.”

Gradual changes in the environment are likely to cause substance abuse, anxiety disorders, and depression and individuals will experience fear, anger, and feelings of powerlessness, according to the study. In addition, “There is evidence that increases in mean temperature are associated with increased use of emergency mental health services…Higher temperatures seem to provide an additional source of stress that can overwhelm coping ability for people who are already psychologically fragile.”

Communities at risk include those with high levels of poverty, lower education levels, large populations of older adults, children and infants, disabled people, recently arrived immigrants, migrants, or refugees, “all of whom tend to demand greater access to services that climate change can put at risk.”

The researchers say that studies have demonstrated a “causal relationship between heat and aggression.” Aggression rises as the temperature goes up, which has led a leading aggression researcher to predict an increase in violence associated with an increase in average temperatures. The study’s authors concluded that “climactic changes often produce increases in interpersonal violence (such as domestic violence, assault, and rape).”

Adding to the misery, global warming is expected to contribute to an increase in mosquitoes, ticks, allergies, asthma and poison ivy, which will serve to increase global anxiety.

Not surprisingly, thinking about global warming too much can increase anxiety, according to the study. “Watching the slow and largely irrevocable impacts of climate change unfold, and worrying about the future for self, children, and later generations may be an additional source of stress,” the researchers found. They labeled the phenomenon ‘ecoanxiety’ and said people report “feelings of loss, helplessness, and frustration due to their inability to feel like they are making a difference in stopping climate change.”

One study found that people who were thinking about climate change became more hostile to those outside their social groups. “Hostility toward individuals outside of one’s social group can be a way of affirming one’s own group identity in the face of perceived threat,” the researchers said.

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FEC Investigating Possible Campaign Finance Violations by Pro-Cochran Super PAC

Wednesday, July 2nd, 2014 - by Paula Bolyard

The Federal Election Commission (FEC) is investigating possible campaign finance law violations by Mississippi Conservatives, a Super PAC supporting Mississippi Sen. Thad Cochran. The committee has until August 1st to respond to a letter requesting additional information. A failure to do so “could result in an audit or enforcement action.”

Mississippi Conservatives, a group associated with Haley Barbour, shelled out $44,000 for race-baiting robo-calls urging black Democrat voters to vote for Cochran in the waning days the Republican primary last week.

According to the FEC letter, it appears the committee failed to file one or more of the required 24-hour reports regarding “last minute” independent expenditures. Specifically, the FEC says the committee did not file a 24-hour report for a $15,000 payment to Scott Howell & Company on May 30th as an independent expenditure against Chris McDaniel, Cochran’s opponent in the contentious runoff election. Howell, a media consultant, is a Karl Rove protégé with a history of race-baiting ads.

The FEC also asked Mississippi Conservatives to explain an independent expenditure paid to Winning Edge that was reported on a 24-hour report, but was not correlated with the committee’s Schedule E for the 12-Day pre-runoff report covering 5/15 through 6/4. Haley Barbour has been associated with Winning Edge, a direct mail operation, since 2003.

The FEC investigation comes amid allegations of voting irregularities and suggestions that a Cochran staffer was involved in a vote-buying scheme. In May, the Tea Party Patriots Citizens Fund filed a complaint with the Federal Election Commission alleging a bank loan a Mississippi bank gave to the Mississippi Conservatives Super PAC was illegal. On Tuesday, True the Vote announced a lawsuit they were filing against Mississippi Secretary of State Delbert Hosemann and the Mississippi Republican Party. The group, along with twelve Mississippi voters, is asking for an injunction to stop certification of the election results so they can have time to review election documents.

On Wednesday Chris McDaniel’s campaign sent out an email saying that liberal Democrats “stole last week’s runoff election” with “illegal voting.” He called the election a “sham, plain and simple” and asked supporters for donations to help him mount a legal challenge to the election results.

 

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Obama Jokes that White House Pastry Chef Puts Crack in His Pies

Monday, June 30th, 2014 - by Paula Bolyard
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At a White House reception on Monday recognizing LGBT Pride Month, President Obama gave a shout-out to White House executive pastry chef “Bill Yosses — who’s here tonight with his husband, Charlie.”

Calling Yosses “the Crust Master,”  Obama said, “His pies … I don’t know what he does … whether he puts crack in them or … um … but …”

Michelle Obama quickly interjected, “No he doesn’t. There is no crack in our pies.”

The crowd roared with laughter at the president’s drug joke and chuckled when Obama blamed the pasty chef’s pies for his rising cholesterol during his first term. Obama added that they established a “no pie during the week” rule at the White House as a result.

The president expressed his regret that Yosses will be leaving the White House after seven years, and he wished Bill and Charlie the best of luck.

This isn’t the first time President Obama has joked about drugs. At the 2013 White House Correspondents’ Dinner, he said, “But the problem is that the media landscape is changing so rapidly. You can’t keep up with it. I mean, I remember when Buzzfeed was just something I did in college around 2 a.m.”

At a 2013 Kennedy Center Honors Reception in the East Room of the White House, the president joked about Carlos Santana’s drug use at Woodstock.

When a 22-year-old Carlos Santana took the stage at Woodstock, few people outside his hometown of San Francisco knew who he was.  And the feeling was mutual.  Carlos was in such a — shall we say — altered state of mind that he remembers almost nothing about the other performers.  He thought the neck of his guitar was an electric snake.

The crowd at the reception laughed and applauded. The president went on to suggest that Santana’s drug use may have enhanced his Woodstock performance:

But that did not stop Carlos and his band from whipping the crowd into a such frenzy with a mind-blowing mix of blues, and jazz, and R&B, and Latin music.  They’d never heard anything like it.  And almost overnight, Carlos Santana became a star.

In 2012 President Obama made a promotional video for the DNC Convention in which he “called” actor Kal Penn, the former associate director of public engagement for the Obama administration. On a split screen, Penn is seen with his Harold and Kumar co-star John Cho. The two are surrounded by junk food, suggesting that, like the characters in the Harold and Kumar films, Cho and Penn are stoned. At the time BuzzFeed’s Zeke Miller said it was “perhaps the most direct appeal ever for the pothead vote.”

We’ve evolved from Nixon’s “War on Drugs” to Nancy Reagan’s “Just Say No to Drugs” to our president joking about his and others’ drug use.

Hilarious.

Watch the convention video on the next page.

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Sen. Cruz Demands Release of Kidnapped Israeli Teens: ‘Hamas…Give Those Boys Back Now.’

Thursday, June 26th, 2014 - by Paula Bolyard

YouTube Preview Image It’s been two weeks since the abduction of three Israeli Yeshiva students in the West Bank. Sen. Ted Cruz (R-TX) stood before photos of the kidnapped boys on the Senate floor on Thursday and gave an impassioned plea for their release.

Just imagine if these were your children…or any child you know. Just imagine if it was your child who was kidnapped for 14 days and you don’t know where they are or even whether they are still alive. These boys, all smart, hard-working, diligent students were taken on their way home from school. They were waiting at the bus stop. They were only 5 minutes away from their school — one of the finest Yeshivas in all of Israel. These boys weren’t doing anything wrong. They are innocent school children.

Cruz noted that Israel’s Shin Bet has identified two Hamas members as key suspects in the abduction, which he said is “business as usual” for the “violent terrorist organization.”

These two individuals are members of Hamas, a vicious terrorist organization that seeks Israel’s destruction and has launched thousands of rockets into Israel, killing innocent civilians. Those rockets have also killed dozens of Americans in Israel. Now they have kidnapped three schoolboys.  Sadly, this is business as usual for Hamas. This is the same terrorist organization with which the Palestinian Authority recently joined in a so-called “unity” government. There can be no more illusions that Hamas has any role in any future government formed by the Palestinian Authority.  They must not receive any further recognition or legitimization. Hamas is a violent terrorist organization ready and eager to brutalize the most innocent. Hamas is a terrorist organization that kidnaps three innocent school boys.

Sen. Cruz demanded that Hamas return the boys — Naftali Fraenkel, Eyal Yifrah, and Gilad Shaer — to their families.

Hamas, give the boys back. Hamas, give those boys back now. The full weight of the world should bear down on Hamas to give them back safely and immediately. If they do not, we should use all of the available means to stand unequivocally with Israel for however long it takes to find these boys and to bring them home. These are teenagers who were targeted for who they are, who have done no wrong, who have done nothing that comes near to deserving what has happened to them that day while waiting at the bus stop to go home from school.

Cruz said that since the kidnappings,  there have been no pictures or videos of the boys. Their families have received no word about their whereabouts or their conditions. He asked Americans to pray for the missing young men.

It’s easy for us to become desensitized to violence. Desensitized to terrorism. It’s easy for us to forget that these are three teenage boys whose families desperately want their boys back. I ask that all of us lift them up in prayer. I pray for their safe return. I pray that they will soon be home with the families, who so dearly love them and miss them. And I pray that God will cover them with a shield of heavenly protection. And I pray that America will stand strong — will shine a light and do everything possible to apprehend the terrorists and bring these boys home.

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Rep. Ellmers (R-NC) on Obama Foreign Policy: ‘Our Enemies Don’t Fear Us’

Thursday, June 26th, 2014 - by Paula Bolyard
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In an interview with Shark Tank Carolinas, Rep. Renee Ellmers (R-NC) blasted President Obama for his lack of leadership on foreign policy saying that “our allies don’t know if we are with them and our enemies don’t fear us.”

Ellmers also criticized President Obama for not informing Congress about the decision to release five Taliban leaders from Gitmo in exchange for American soldier Bowe Bergdahl. “He is an American, but at the same time, the fact is that we were completely bypassed. And yet those who came and briefed us on this issue fully acknowledged that there were 80 or 90 members of the White House — staff of the White House — that were aware of this situation, but not one member of Congress,” Ellmers said. “Not one representative from the House. Not one senator. Not one member of intel,” she added.

Ellmers said that she reached out via email to a female member of the Afghan parliament who expressed her alarm about the release of the Taliban members. “She responded back very candidly that this puts fear in their minds — that these five Taliban are responsible for thousands being murdered in a couple different provinces,” Ellmers said.

The Afghan parliamentarian asked if Americans truly stand for human rights. “I can’t believe that President Obama would make this choice,” she said, adding that it has caused great fear in Afghanistan.

Ellmers told the Afghan woman that members of Congress “are fully standing behind Afghan women, Afghan people,” explaining that Americans want them to have a democracy. “We want them to be in charge and feel that sense of freedom/ … They need to know that the American people are with them.”

The North Carolina congresswoman said that President Obama’s decision on the prisoner swap damaged our foreign policy credibility. ”I think that was a very, very strong statement we made, that we would release these individuals,” Ellmers said. ”Across the world, our allies don’t know if we are with them and our enemies don’t fear us.”

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Rand Paul on Thad Cochran’s Win: ‘I’m for More People Voting’

Wednesday, June 25th, 2014 - by Paula Bolyard
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Kentucky Senator Rand Paul doesn’t have a problem with Democrats heavily influencing Republican primaries. Paul, a likely contender for the 2016 Republican presidential nomination, refused to criticize Mississippi Sen. Thad Cochran’s campaign efforts to lure Democrats to the polls with race-baiting ads and promises of government handouts. ”I’m for more people voting, not less people voting. I think the people of Mississippi spoke and I think Thad Cochran has done a lot of good things for Mississippi,” Paul told reporters on Wednesday.

What kinds of “good things”? A Tax Foundation study found that Mississippi ranks first in the amount of federal aid as a percentage of state revenue, comprising more than 46% of the state’s income. Sen. Cochran suggested during the campaign that he would like to see the return of earmarks, which lawmakers banned in 2010. Prior to the ban, Cochran steered more earmarks to his state than any other member of Congress.

Sen. Paul also told reporters that one of his sons spent time working on a proposal that would open Kentucky’s closed primary system to independent voters. Mississippi has an open primary system that allows voters to cross party lines on primary day. Paul has also pushed for restoring voting rights for convicted felons and has said that the GOP’s voter ID push is “completely crazy.” He later walked the comment back, explaining that what he meant to say was, “We have to change people’s perception of us as a party so they’ll listen more to what we’re trying to do.”

An estimated 35,000 Democrats crossed over to vote for Cochran in Mississippi after significant ad buys in Democrat strongholds like Jackson. In majority-black neighborhoods, Cochran bragged about his support for historically black colleges and universities, the Jackson Medical Mall, and food stamps. Flyers and radio ads targeting black Democrats took on a darker tone, saying that the Tea Party — and Chris McDaniel —  wanted to keep African Americans from voting and opposed federal funding of public schools and SNAP, the food stamp program funded by the federal Farm Bill. Is that what Sen. Paul has in mind when he says we need to “change people’s perception of us as a party”?

How far is Rand Paul willing to go to in order to get “more people voting”? Cochran succeeded in changing ”people’s perception of us as a party” by race-baiting and sounding like a Democrat. Is this also Rand Paul’s strategy for expanding the ranks for the GOP and winning the Republican presidential nomination?  

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RNC Narrows Convention Site Selection to Two Cities

Wednesday, June 25th, 2014 - by Paula Bolyard
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The Republican National Convention’s Site Selection Committee announced on Wednesday that two cities — Cleveland and Dallas — remain in the running for the 2016 convention. Ryan Mahoney, GOP Deputy Press Secretary, broke the news on Twitter:

 

 

Prior to the announcement Denver’s 9News incorrectly reported that Cleveland and St. Louis were out of the running while Denver and Dallas remained on the list.

 

 

GOP Press Secretary Kirsten Kukowski  disputed the report on Twitter.

 

 

Cleveland is also in the running for the Democratic National Convention. The last time both major party conventions were held in the same city was in Miami in 1972.

On a pair of websites pitching the city to the Democrats and Republicans, Cleveland stressed the importance of Ohio in national elections. The Cleveland DNC 2016 site says, “In 2012, Democrats won Ohio by only 166,000 votes. No county in Ohio cast as many votes as Cuyahoga, the county encompassing Cleveland. Nearly 70% of those votes went to President Obama, the highest percentage in the state. Without Cuyahoga County, the road to the White House is nearly impassable.” The city’s Cleveland RNC 2016 pitch says, “In the 2012 presidential election, no county in Ohio cast as many votes as Cuyahoga County, the county surrounding Cleveland. In that election, a voter swing of as little as 15% in Cuyahoga County would have turned Ohio red.”

Dallas, on the other hand, is selling the city as a destination that’s “ready” for a convention: “As a Top-5 U. S. destination for meetings and conventions, Dallas is poised and ready to host the 2016 Republican National Convention. Millions visit our city each year, and as the second fastest growing city in the nation with $15 billion in uninhibited development, Dallas is bigger and better than ever.”

Following today’s meeting of the RNC’s Site Selection Committee, Chairwoman Enid Mickelsen released a statement saying that after extensive review, “the site selection committee has chosen Cleveland and Dallas as finalists for the 2016 convention. ” Mickelsen added that, “Cleveland and Dallas demonstrated their ability to host a phenomenal convention in 2016, and the RNC is excited about the prospect of hosting our convention in either of these great cities. ” She thanked Denver and Kansas City for the hard work they demonstrated in their bids for the convention.

 

 

 

 

 

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Democratic Congressman Compares IRS Scandal to Area 51, Obama Birth Certificate … and Benghazi

Friday, June 20th, 2014 - by Paula Bolyard
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[From Digitas Daily]

In Friday’s House Ways and Means Committee hearing about Lois Lerner’s missing emails, Rep. Lloyd Doggett (D-TX) compared the investigation to other famous conspiracy theories like Area 51, Obama’s birth certificate … and the murder of four Americans in Benghazi. He said it was not a serious investigation and wondered how IRS Commissioner Koskinen could take it seriously.

Well, that’s not completely true. Rep. Doggett thinks there is something very important worth investigating. “I believe this is a serious matter,” Doggett said. “The use of secret money is a problem enough. But the determination to have that money be taxpayer subsidized in social welfare organizations, in some cases headed by individuals who never had any interest in social welfare until they could claim it for themselves to pollute our democracy, that is a serious problem,” Doggett charged.

So it’s not the targeting of conservative groups or the missing emails and crashed hard drive or the cover-up at the IRS that Democrats are interested in investigating. Doggett and other Democrats on the committee actually want to continue to target conservative organizations.

Democrats were in lockstep during Friday’s hearing, calling the investigation a “witch hunt” and trying to turn Commissioner Koskinen into a victim who was being abused by Republicans on the Ways and Means Committee. Democrat after Democrat also referred to “dark money” that (apparently only) Republicans use to further their political causes through “social welfare groups” that receive tax breaks, with several of them referring to the trumped up investigation into Wisconsin Governor Scott Walker’s campaign.

But the Republican side of the investigation is nothing more the conspiracy theories, according to Doggett, and he’d rather go after the real villains (in his mind).

“I’m pleased you’re going to be coming forward with anything else that you can find because, though this is not a serious investigation, but the endless pursuit — the obsession with conspiracy and conspiracies — we do need to have every bit of information, every shred of information that you can find, even though the people I talk about in Texas who have legitimate issues before the IRS are collateral damage in the process,” Doggett said.  He then got to the heart of what the Democrats really want to look into during the course of this investigation: “But then I guess Mr. Rove and some of his colleagues never much cared about collateral damage in other contexts anyways.”

Related: 

Video Montage: The IRS Gets an Exemption…from Adoring Democrats

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Rep. Peter King Attacks Sen. Ted Cruz … Again

Thursday, June 19th, 2014 - by Paula Bolyard
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Asked about Rep. Peter King’s continued attacks on him, Sen. Ted Cruz told CNN’s Erin Burnett on Tuesday, “I’ve never met him. To be honest, I don’t think I had ever heard of him until he started getting on television attacking me.”

And so continued the verbal volleying between the two outspoken lawmakers on the cable news shows.

Rep. King recently called Cruz a fraud, joining Democrats in blaming the Texas senator for the government shutdown in 2013. After Dave Brat’s stunning defeat of Eric Cantor in Virginia last week, King again went after Cruz, warning on MSNBC, “We can’t allow Eric’s defeat last night to allow the Ted Cruzes and the Rand Pauls to take over the party, or their disciples to take over the party.” King said, “Because this is not conservatism to me. Shutting down the government is not being conservative.”

King, who seems more obsessed with taking down Cruz than he is defeating Democrats has compared Cruz to a “kamikaze pilot” who is “hijacking the party.” The New York representative has also said that people “think he’s crazy” and that “no one has done more to strengthen Obamacare” than the Texas senator.

When Erin Burnett asked him about the attacks, Cruz opted not to respond in kind, instead redirecting the conversation to the tone in Washington. “He’s welcome to express his opinions, and he is entitled to them,” Cruz said of King. “I think there are far too many politicians in Washington in both parties that spend their time attacking each other rather than focusing on the substance.”

Asked on Wednesday to respond to Cruz’s comment on CNN, King again went on the attack, saying Cruz’s comments are an example of the senator’s “smug arrogance” saying they’re the reason he has few friends in Congress.

“This is what happens when guys like Ted Cruz make themselves the center of their own universe,” King told Politico. “They have no idea what’s going on around them.”

King added that he pitied the “ignorant” Cruz because he hasn’t availed himself of King’s sage advice over the years.

“Actually, I feel sorry for him,” he said. “Maybe, if he had a taken the time to listen to me over the years, maybe he’d be a little smarter than he is and be a little less ignorant and maybe he’d have a few more friends. He likes to live in his own little bubble.” King added, “In all seriousness, what I’ve heard about Cruz is that he knows himself and nobody else, basically.”

King found yet another opportunity to attack Cruz with CNN’s Wolf Blitzer on Wednesday. After being shown the clip of Cruz saying he didn’t know him, King responded, “This proves what happens when Ted Cruz has decided to be the center of his own universe — to live in his own world,” King said. “For him not to know who other members of Congress are…other members of the senate, I mean that’s really his problem.”

King again groused that Cruz would “be a little smarter” if he had taken his advice over the years. The New York congressman then went on to list his own intellectual achievements: “But I mean, not to be talking about myself, but I was the third highest Republican on national television shows last year. I’m on your show all the time.” Who knew the Republicans were keeping score?

King fired a parting shot at Cruz, saying he hopes Cruz does not get the presidential nomination.

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Hillary Really, Really, Really Wants You to Know She Made Hard Choices

Wednesday, June 18th, 2014 - by Paula Bolyard
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[Courtesy of Digitas Daily]

Viewer’s of CNN’s pep rally town hall with Hillary Clinton on Tuesday wondered if the former First Lady was contractually obligated to name-drop her book title every 13.5 seconds. The answer to nearly every question led Clinton to recall something she wrote in her book, Hard Choice. Even CNNs Christiane Amanpour, who moderated “Hillary Clinton’s Hard Choices,” couldn’t help herself, pitching Hillary’s book at every opportunity.

Disappointing first week sales may have inspired Hillary Clinton to constantly remind the viewing audience that she’s hawking her new book. Simon & Schuster said this week that the book sold roughly 100,000 copies from the Tuesday when it was released through the following Saturday. That 100,000 number includes includes pre-orders and e-books which get rolled into the first-day sales.

Clinton received an advance of $14 million for the book, significantly more than the $8 million advance she was paid for her first memoir, Living History, which sold 600,000 copies in its first week. That book generated significantly more interest because Clinton dished on some of the scandals the family has been embroiled in over the years.

In comparison, Laura Bush was reportedly paid $3.5 – $5 million in advance for her autobiography, Spoken from the Heart, which sold 147,000 copies in its first week of sales. Former vice presidential candidate Sarah Palin’s book, Going Rogue, sold over 460,000 copies its first week. She reportedly received an advance of $1.25 million for the book.

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Judge Returns Custody of Justina Pelletier to Her Parents

Tuesday, June 17th, 2014 - by Paula Bolyard

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On Tuesday a Massachusetts juvenile court judge ordered the Massachusetts Department of Children and Families to return custody of Justina Pelletier to her parents. 

“I find that the parties have shown by credible evidence that circumstances have changed since the adjudication on Dec. 20, 2013, that Justina is a child in need of care and protection pursuant to G.L. c. 199, 24-26.,” Judge Joseph Johnston wrote in the ruling. “Effective Wednesday, June 18, 2014, this care and protection petition is dismissed and custody of Justina is returned to her parents, Lou and Linda Pelletier.”

In the custody of the Massachusetts Department of Children and Families since February 2013, the Connecticut teen spent most of last year at Boston Children’s Hospital, where her parents had taken her for flu-like symptoms. Doctors there disagreed with her Tufts Medical Center doctors who had diagnosed her with mitochondrial disease in 2011 and instead said her symptoms were caused by somatoform disorder, a mental disorder. Doctors reported to Massachusetts Department of Children and Families that they suspected medical abuse and the state refused to release Justina to her parents, setting off the 16-month ordeal for the Pelletier family.

Justina’s release came days after a video was released showing the teenager begging to return to her family.

The Courant reported Justina’s parents’ responses upon learning of their daughter’s impending release:

Justina’s mother, Linda Pelletier, who has been staying in a hotel near the JRI Susan Wayne Center for Excellence in Thompson where their daughter is being held, got a call from the facility’s director around 3:45 p.m., Lou Pelletier said. The director told her that the Massachusetts Department of Children and Families had received word that custody of Justina would return to her family, he said.

Pelletier said Justina called him from his wife’s cell phone and was “screaming” with happiness.

“Right now it’s ‘Get her home, get the healing going,’ then we’ll deal with the people who put Justina in this horrific physical condition,” Pelletier said.

Matt Staver from the Liberty Council filed a motion on May 30 saying that the family had complied with the terms of a reunification plan issued by John W. Polanowicz, the Massachusetts secretary of Health and Human Services. Staver released a statement on Tuesday saying, “We are thrilled that Justina will finally be returning home.” He added, “The family looks forward to putting this 16-month nightmare behind them. Justina and her family now begin the process of healing both physically, emotionally, and spiritually.”

 

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Did Lois Lerner Violate IRS Policy on Email Preservation?

Tuesday, June 17th, 2014 - by Paula Bolyard

Lois Lerner told the IT technician who was unable to recover the data from her crashed hard drive, “Sometimes stuff just happens.”

A lot is being made of both the alleged crash of Lois Lerner’s hard drive and the lack of backup tapes for the missing time period in the congressional investigation into the IRS’s targeting of conservative groups. The IRS told congressional investigators last week that two years’ worth of emails sent and received by Lerner, the former IRS official at the center of the investigation, have been destroyed because of a computer crash in mid-2011. And now, we learn, the hard drives of six other IRS employees also crashed and the emails have gone missing. But some of the “stuff” that happened to Lois Lerner’s email may be the direct result of her failure to follow IRS policy.

The IRS had policies in place in 2011 to prevent destruction of federal records, including emails. At the time, they also had a policy that limited employee mailboxes to 500 MB, so when employees approached their limit they were required to delete emails from the server to make room.

The Secure Enterprise Messaging system (SEMS) establishes a standard size of 500 MB (500 megabytes) for individual mailboxes. The system mails you daily warning messages that the limit is being approached when your mailbox reaches a size of 475 MB. When it exceeds the 500 MB limit, you will receive the following warning each time you attempt to send a message:

  • “You have exceeded your storage limit on your mailbox ” .
  • Delete some mail from your mailbox or contact your system administrator to adjust your storage limit. (Consider whether any of the items you want to delete may be a federal record. IRM 1.10.3.3.2 above.)

When an email is sent or received it goes to the email server, called an exchange. From there, the email client (Microsoft Outlook, your phone, your home computer) can access the email. It is then stored on the server, sometimes remaining there well beyond the moment the user actually deletes the email from the client. (There are also multiple logs that record all of the actions related to the emails and the servers.) Emails can also be saved in a file on a local computer, so if they’re deleted from the server, the individual still has a record of the correspondence.

The IRS is apparently alleging two things:  that Lerner’s personal computer crashed, rendering emails stored on her computer unrecoverable and also that there is no backup of what was on the email servers in 2011 because the backup tapes are overwritten every six months. Many IT professionals, including a former IRS employee, have called into question the IRS’s assertion that the agency has no backup of data stored on the servers for the time period in question. In fact, IRS commissioner Koskinen testified in March that IRS emails, including Lois Lerner’s, “get taken off and stored in servers.” The IRS also says it was able to recover 24,000 emails that related to Lerner, some of them from an “earlier 2011 data collection of Ms. Lerner’s email.” This would seem to confirm Commissioner Koskinen’s statement that the emails are “stored in servers” since the IRS says they were unable to recover any emails from Lerner’s hard drive.

In a letter explaining the missing emails to Congress the IRS said, “Any of Ms. Lerner’s email that was only stored on that computer’s hard drive would have been lost when the computer crashed and could not be recovered.” IT professionals are also scoffing at the notion that the data was not recoverable.

But before we even get to the problem of a possible backup failure or the computer crash, we must consider how Lerner got to the point of having “email that was only stored on the computer’s hard drive.”

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The Lost Hillary Tapes

Monday, June 16th, 2014 - by Paula Bolyard
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The Washington Free Beacon has a stunning report on newly-discovered recordings of Hillary Rodham Clinton from the 1980s that challenge her image as a champion for women and children. In the recordings, Arkansas reporter Roy Reed interviewed then-Arkansas Gov. Bill Clinton and his wife for an Esquire magazine article that never went to print. In one revealing segment, Hillary described her experience defending Thomas Alfred Taylor, a 41-year-old accused of raping a 12-year old girl after luring her into a car. Newlywed Hillary Rodham had just moved to Fayetteville, Arkansas and was running a legal aid clinic. She took the case at the request of the prosecutor after Taylor requested a female defense attorney. Alana Goodman at the Free Beacon writes:

And though the former first lady mentioned the ethical difficulties of the case in Living History, her written account some three decades later is short on details and has a far different tone than the tapes.

“It was a fascinating case, it was a very interesting case,” Clinton says in the recording. “This guy was accused of raping a 12-year-old. Course he claimed that he didn’t, and all this stuff.”

Describing the events almost a decade after they had occurred, Clinton’s struck a casual and complacent attitude toward her client and the trial for rape of a minor.

“I had him take a polygraph, which he passed – which forever destroyed my faith in polygraphs,” she added with a laugh.

Clinton can also be heard laughing at several points when discussing the crime lab’s accidental destruction of DNA evidence that tied Taylor to the crime.

Her comment about the polygraph seems to indicate that Clinton (who was still Hillary Rodham back then) knew her client was guilty, but even a dozen years later, the self-proclaimed champion of the world’s women and children seems to show no compassion for the young rape victim, instead discussing the case as if she’s a dispassionate law professor. A Chicago law professor with a sugary-sweet Southern accent, it should be noted.

It gets worse.

Alana Goodman at the Washington Free Beacon reports:

According to court documents, the prosecution’s case was based on testimony from the 12-year-old girl and the two male witnesses as well as on a “pair of men’s undershorts taken from the defendant herein.”

In a July 28, 1975, court affidavit, Clinton wrote that she had been informed the young girl was “emotionally unstable” and had a “tendency to seek out older men and engage in fantasizing.”

“I have also been told by an expert in child psychology that children in early adolescence tend to exaggerate or romanticize sexual experiences and that adolescents in disorganized families, such as the complainant’s, are even more prone to exaggerate behavior,” Clinton said.

Clinton said the child had “in the past made false accusations about persons, claiming they had attacked her body” and that the girl “exhibits an unusual stubbornness and temper when she does not get her way.”

“It’s not true, I never sought out older men – I was raped,” the woman said in a 2008 interview with Newsday. Glenn Thrush at Newsday said the victim was stunned when a reporter showed her the affidavit. “It kind of shocks me – it’s not true,” she said. “I never said anybody attacked my body before, never in my life.”

Taylor pleaded guilty to unlawful fondling of a child and was sentenced to one year in prison, with two months reduced for time served. He died in 1992.

The victim, now 52, is divorced and living alone. She has served time in prison for forging checks to fund her drug addiction. She blames the attack for her troubled life and though she declined an interview with the Free Beacon, she “expressed deep and abiding hostility … toward her assailant’s defender, Hillary Rodham Clinton.”

Critics have accused Mrs. Clinton of being a ruthless opponent of anyone who stands in her way, including many of the women who threatened her husband’s power and reputation. This revelation — that she smeared and demonized a 12-year-old victim in order to get a plea deal for a rapist — only furthers that narrative.

Everyone accused of a crime is entitled to a competent — even a vigorous — defense.  That includes vile child rapists. But Hillary Rodham-Clinton (who was not working in the public defender’s office at the time) went the extra mile of destroying the life of a young girl from a troubled home — cruelly blaming the victim and saying that she would “exaggerate or romanticize sexual experiences” and suggesting that she was only “fantasizing” when she accused Taylor of rape. Any good misogynist lawyer would have done the same thing.

And a dozen years later she was laughing about it.

The Free Beacon has the original court documents.

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Great Lakes Finally Ice-Free After Record Freeze

Friday, June 13th, 2014 - by Paula Bolyard

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MSN Weather reported this week:

Following one of the coldest winter’s [sic] on record for the region with temperatures from Jan. 1 to April 1 averaging seven degrees below normal, the Great Lakes hit their second highest ice coverage on record, reaching 92.19 percent on March 6, 2014. Moving into the spring season, more than one-third or 38 percent, of the Great Lakes remained covered in ice in mid-April, causing major problems for the steel industry as the business relied on the waterways for shipping and transporting goods and materials. “There are no years in the last 30 years that are even close to that, so it’s very unusual this late in the season to have that much ice coverage,” AccuWeather.com Lead Long-Range Forecaster Paul Pastelok said. The last time the ice coverage on the lakes lasted nearly this long was in 2003, when the last of the ice cleared on May 29, according to Leshkevich.

Levi Read from the 9th Coast Guard District in Cleveland said that  air temperature, currents of the water, and the water temperatures all played a part in melting the ice but added that, ”The water is still very, very cold and it’s very dangerous for people to go out and get in it.” Read said, “The Coast Guard considers anything below 72 F a cold water rescue.” Currently the lakes are ranging in temperature from the 40s to the mid-60s.

Nature World News reported that at one point in March all of the lakes combined were approximately 91 percent covered in ice, the most since 1979, according to the Great Lakes Environmental Research Center. Scientists with the Great Lakes Integrated Sciences and Assessments Center (GLISA) forecast that surface temperatures over the deepest parts of Lake Superior, the last to thaw this year, will still be in the 40s F (about 4 C), by August.

NOAA’s Great Lakes Environmental Research Center said that the amount of ice cover on the Great Lakes varies from year to year but warned that ”scientists are observing long-term changes in ice cover as a result of global warming.”

 

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Former Johns Hopkins Psychiatrist: Transgender Surgery Isn’t the Solution

Friday, June 13th, 2014 - by Paula Bolyard

A former psychiatrist in chief at Johns Hopkins Hospital has written an explosive editorial at the Wall Street Journal saying, “Policy makers and the media are doing no favors either to the public or the transgendered by treating their confusions as a right in need of defending rather than as a mental disorder that deserves understanding, treatment and prevention.” Dr. Paul McHugh, the former chair of the Department of Psychiatry at Johns Hopkins, challenges the notion that sex-reassignment surgery is good for transgendered persons and provides statistics to back up his assertions.

You won’t hear it from those championing transgender equality, but controlled and follow-up studies reveal fundamental problems with this movement. When children who reported transgender feelings were tracked without medical or surgical treatment at both Vanderbilt University and London’s Portman Clinic, 70%-80% of them spontaneously lost those feelings. Some 25% did have persisting feelings; what differentiates those individuals remains to be discerned.

We at Johns Hopkins University—which in the 1960s was the first American medical center to venture into “sex-reassignment surgery”—launched a study in the 1970s comparing the outcomes of transgendered people who had the surgery with the outcomes of those who did not. Most of the surgically treated patients described themselves as “satisfied” by the results, but their subsequent psycho-social adjustments were no better than those who didn’t have the surgery. And so at Hopkins we stopped doing sex-reassignment surgery, since producing a “satisfied” but still troubled patient seemed an inadequate reason for surgically amputating normal organs.

McHugh has some strong words for parents who decide to treat their young children for gender disorders:

Then there is the subgroup of very young, often prepubescent children who notice distinct sex roles in the culture and, exploring how they fit in, begin imitating the opposite sex. Misguided doctors at medical centers including Boston’s Children’s Hospital have begun trying to treat this behavior by administering puberty-delaying hormones to render later sex-change surgeries less onerous—even though the drugs stunt the children’s growth and risk causing sterility. Given that close to 80% of such children would abandon their confusion and grow naturally into adult life if untreated, these medical interventions come close to child abuse. A better way to help these children: with devoted parenting.

Dr. McHugh explains the fundamental nature of the problem:

At the heart of the problem is confusion over the nature of the transgendered. “Sex change” is biologically impossible. People who undergo sex-reassignment surgery do not change from men to women or vice versa. Rather, they become feminized men or masculinized women.

He notes that transgendered advocates are so powerful that they have persuaded several states, including California, New Jersey and Massachusetts to pass laws making it illegal for psychiatrists, even with parental permission, to attempt to restore natural gender feelings to a transgender minor, despite data that shows many of these children can and do lose their transgendered feelings. He called on his fellow psychiatrists to challenge the “solipsistic concept that what is in the mind cannot be questioned.”

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Federal Judge Orders Ohio to Restore Early Voting on 3 Days Before Election Day

Thursday, June 12th, 2014 - by Paula Bolyard
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U.S. District Court Judge Peter C. Economus sided with the Obama for America campaign on Wednesday, ordering Ohio Secretary of State Jon Husted to restore early, in-person voting on the three days before Election Day. In 2012 the Obama campaign sued after the Ohio legislature passed a law that cut off in-person early voting three days prior to Election Day. The plaintiffs claimed that the law gave military voters an unfair advantage by allowing them to vote until the Monday before the election. I wrote in September, 2012:

The Obama for America campaign, the DNC, and the Ohio Democratic Party sued Ohio Secretary of State Jon Husted in an attempt to overturn several Ohio election reform laws and directives which attempted to assure uniform voting days and times across the state, with some expanded privileges for military voters in accordance with the Uniformed and Overseas Citizens Absentee Voting Act (UOCAVA). Although Ohio has extremely generous no-fault absentee voting, Husted had set the deadline for in-person absentee voting at 6:00 p.m. the Friday before the election and eliminated weekend voting. Prior to his directive, access to the polls varied widely from county to county. Noted in the ruling:

“In 2008, six of Ohio’s 88 counties chose not to offer any in-person absentee voting on the Saturday prior to Election Day, nearly all chose not to do so on that Sunday, and all were open during their regular weekday business hours on that Monday … In 2010, when fewer voters were expected, fourteen counties chose not to offer any in-person absentee voting on that Saturday, nearly all chose not to do so on that Sunday, and all were open on that Monday.”

Ohio has one of the the most generous early voting laws in the country, allowing four weeks of no-fault absentee voting by mail and in person. The defendants argued that the three days prior to Election Day should be focused on preparing for the election rather than processing voters.  Husted asserted that, “An injunction will interfere with their [sic] ability of boards of elections to properly prepare voting locations, supplies, and registration lists during the most crucial time for Election Day preparation.”

Democrats accused Husted and Ohio Republicans of trying to suppress the African American vote by eliminating voting on the Sunday before the election when they said many churches bused voters to the polls. They also said that military voters should have no special privileges.

Judge Economus sided with the Obama campaign’s argument that military voters cannot be treated differently under the law. Obama for America had argued that Ohio’s law giving members of the military extra days and hours to vote constituted “arbitrary and inequitable treatment of similarly situated Ohio voters.”

Economus agreed:

This Court stresses that where the State has authorized in-person early voting through the Monday before Election Day for all voters, “the State may not, by later arbitrary and disparate treatment, value one person’s vote over that of another” … Here, that is precisely what the State has done …

Secretary of State Husted agreed that the state should have uniform voting hours and earlier this year directed boards of elections in all 88 counties to hold the same early, in-person voting hours during the 2014 elections, while still allowing extra hours for UOCAVA voters. The schedule did not include any Sundays.

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Google Bans Porn Ads

Tuesday, June 10th, 2014 - by Paula Bolyard

Google recently updated its AdWords policy and will no longer accept sexually explicit ads. Morality in Media posted an email that was sent to an advertiser potentially affected by the new rules:

Dear AdWords Advertiser,

We’re writing to remind you about a change to Google’s advertising policies we announced in our Policy Change Log that may affect your AdWords account: https://support.google.com/adwordspolicy/answer/4271759

Beginning in the coming weeks, we’ll no longer accept ads that promote graphic depictions of sexual acts including, but not limited to, hardcore pornography; graphic sexual acts including sex acts such as masturbation; genital, anal, and oral sexual activity.

When we make this change, Google will disapprove all ads and sites that are identified as being in violation of our revised policy. Our system identified your account as potentially affected by this policy change. We ask that you make any necessary changes to your ads and sites to comply so that your campaigns can continue to run.

Sincerely,

The Google AdWords Team

Morality in Media credits a productive meeting the group had with Google in May “about how they can help protect individuals, families and children from exploitation.” Google was listed on the group’s 2014 Dirty Dozen list  because of their involvement in and profit from pornography in Google Play, Google Ads, and YouTube.

At the time the 2014 Dirty Dozen list was announced, Morality in Media accused Google of being in the pornography business. “Although their policies somewhat prohibit pornography and/or sexually explicit content on most of their products, both forms of content can be found throughout Google YouTube, Google Play, Google AdWords, Google Images and Google Search,” Morality in Media said.

Today Morality in Media applauded the steps Google is taking to protect children from sexually explicit content:

The company announced a policy change to prohibit pornographic ads and ads directly linking to sexually explicit websites. We are so grateful because this has been one of our top priorities with Google. We raised this specific matter with Google officials in a meeting with them in May.

Another priority of ours was to get Google to stop offering sexually explicit apps in Google Play. Thankfully, Google recently announced an end to such offerings as well.

We are grateful that they are realizing that their profits from porn are not worth the devastation to children and families.

In March, Google banned Google Plays apps that contain sexually explicit material.

Previously Google allowed sexually explicit ads but listed them as “Approved (non-family)” or “Approved (adult)” which meant they were excluded from “safe search” mode and some partner websites refused to accept the adult-oriented ads. Googled warned in March that under the new AdWords policy, “sexually explicit content will be prohibited.”

Morality in Media is calling on Google to further improve their policies and actions, especially on Google Search, Google Images, YouTube and Safe Search.

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