In a tense, middle-of-the night press conference early Tuesday morning, Missouri Highway Patrol Capt. Ron Johnson lectured members of the media about safety and implored them to assist law enforcement in calming tensions in the city.
After reporting that two individuals had been shot and several police officers injured during another night of protests in response to last week’s shooting of Michael Brown, Johnson showed members of the media items that law enforcement officials had confiscated during the previous night’s protests including a Molotov cocktail, fireworks that had been thrown into a crowd, and two guns. Johnson said the guns were confiscated from individuals who shot at an apartment complex from their vehicle, which was then stopped near the media staging area. He said journalists were swarming the car to snap pictures as officers were trying to secure the weapons, making the confrontation even more dangerous.
Johnson said that when the media is asked to relocate, it is for their own safety or to facilitate law enforcement operations.
“I’d ask you not to glamourize their activities,” Johnson said of the protesters who were bent on illegal activities and provoking confrontations with police. There were 31 arrests on Monday night along with several fires set by protesters around the city.
Johnson described the volatile situation on the ground. “You were out there. You saw the chaos. You saw the shootings. We had officers in the midst of gunfire. In the midst of gunfire! And I guarantee you that the officers’ wives and husbands and parents are calling them now,” an emotional Johnson said. “I stood there and heard on the radio the screams of the officers who were under gunfire. I got back to our SWAT vehicle and saw the gentleman laying in the back who had been shot. I saw a car pull up and drop a gentleman off who had been shot in the hand that was dazed walking down the street.” Capt. Johnson added, “We can’t have this. We do not want any citizen hurt. We do not want any officers hurt. But when you’re shooting at apartment complexes and children are laying in the bed in apartment complexes and bullets are flying through the air, the saying on the street is, ‘a bullet has no name.’ We do not want to lose another life in this community.”
Missouri Highway Patrol Captain Ron Johnson gave a rousing and heartfelt speech at a rally today at a Ferguson church for Michael Brown, the unarmed 18-year-old man who was shot by police a week ago. In a rally attended by the parents of Brown and a lineup of nationally known civil rights leaders, Johnson, who has become the face of the law enforcement effort in Ferguson, was greeted with a standing ovation by the crowd of approximately 1500 people.
Capt. Johnson began by speaking to Michael Brown’s family. “I want you to know my heart goes out to you and I say that I’m sorry. I wear this uniform and I should stand up here and say that I’m sorry,” Johnson said. The crowd cheered and again gave Johnson a standing ovation.
“This is my neighborhood,” Johnson continued. “You are my family, you are my friends, and I am you.” He vowed to protect the community’s right to protest.
He said his heart was full seeing a church full of people clapping and cheering. “This is what the media needs to put on TV.”
Johnson admitted that the last 24 hours had been tough for him, saying that he had met some members of Michael Brown’s family. “They brought tears to my eyes,” Johnson said. “And shame to my heart,” he added.
He said, however, that his daughter had encouraged him with the story of Peter and Jesus in the New Testament. “When Peter failed, Jesus picked him back up,” his daughter told him.
He promised to stay with the community of Ferguson “as long as it takes.” Capt. Johnson said, “Because when this is over I’m going to go into my son’s room — my black son, who wears his pants sagging, wears his hat cocked to the side, got tattoos on his arms, but that’s my baby.” Johnson paused for another standing ovation.
“And we all ought to be thanking the Browns for Michael,” he continued. “Because Michael’s gonna make it better for all of our sons so they can be better black men. It will be better for our daughters so they can be better black women. Better for me so I can be a better black father. And we know they’re going to make our mamas even better than they are today.”
Johnson encouraged the community to pray and allow the death of Mike Brown to make them better. “I love you, I stand tall with you, and I’ll see you out there,” Johnson concluded.
Watch video on the next page.
Missouri Governor Jay Nixon declared a state of emergency in Ferguson and ordered a curfew beginning Sunday at midnight until 5 a.m. in an attempt to curb the ongoing looting and protests in response to the shooting of Michael Brown by a police officer last week.
Nixon, surrounded by community leaders at a Ferguson church, announced the curfew during a “press conference” that was more like a gathering of community activists. Nixon was shouted down at several points during his remarks and during the Q & A as members of the community demanded the immediate indictment of the police officer involved in the shooting and demanded that the police stand down and cease their strong-arm tactics against the protesters.
Nixon would not say how long the curfew would last and would not say whether journalists would be arrested for curfew violations. He did say there would be a “staging area” available for the media to ensure “transparency.”
Many in the crowd made it clear that the protests would continue until “justice” was meted out for the shooting. “This poor child…this 18-year-old young man was killed in cold blood. That’s why people have been in the streets,” shouted one woman from the back of the room.
A fragile peace was shattered early Saturday morning as looters again robbed businesses while police in riot gear watched, mostly without intervening. Some protesters tried to stop the looters on their own, guarding stores and businesses to protect them from theft and property damage. Police have been under fire for the use of excessive force in opposing the protesters in Ferguson, utilizing armored vehicles, tear gas, and rubber bullets to control the crowds.
While Gov. Nixon praised the “courage and resolve” of protesters who tried to stop the looting, New Black Panther leader Malik Shabazz asked for “rules of engagement” between police and protesters and said the police wouldn’t be able to enforce the curfew. “We gotta do it ourselves. They go out there, it’s over,” Shabazz said.
Congressman Lacy Clay (D-MO) said at the meeting that he has asked Attorney General Eric Holder to take over the investigation into the shooting, asking him to investigate it as a civil rights violation. “Let the Feds prosecute. You’re not going to get a fair trial in St. Louis County,” Clay said.
After disregarding pleas from the police in Ferguson, Missouri, to restrict their protests to daylight hours, angry demonstrators took to the streets for a fourth night in a row in response to the police shooting of 18-year-old Michael Brown on Saturday.
The Ferguson Police Department expressed sympathy over the unarmed teen’s death, saying “police are working to restore confidence in the safety of our community and our neighborhoods so that we may begin the healing process.”
The city and the police department pledged to cooperate fully with local and federal investigations into the shooting.
“We ask that any groups wishing to assemble in prayer or in protest do so only during daylight hours in an organized and respectful manner,” the statement said. “We further ask all those wishing to demonstrate or assemble to disperse well before the evening hours to ensure the safety of the participants and the safety of our community.”
But early Wednesday evening a crowd gathered around a burned down gas station for another night of protesting. Officers set up barricades in an attempt to control the area, but when protesters refused to disperse and blocked a busy street, police moved in with tear gas and rubber bullets sending protesters running.
In the middle of the melee, Twitter started lighting up with messages of solidarity from Palestinians in Gaza, some of them sending advice for how to resist police or deal with the effects of tear gas.
Inas Safidi, whose Twitter profile says she lives in “Palestine,” began with a message of support for the protesters:
— Inas Safadi (@InassSafadi) August 14, 2014
— Inas Safadi (@InassSafadi) August 14, 2014
Saying that the Islamic State of Iraq (ISIS/ISIL) is conducting a campaign of genocide against Christians, Yazidis, and others in Iraq in it’s efforts to establish a caliphate, a group of religious leaders has signed a petition calling on the United States to destroy the terrorist group.
ISIS/ISIL has engaged in crimes against humanity by deliberately causing mass starvation and dehydration, and by committing unconscionable acts of barbarism against noncombatants, including defenseless women, children, and elderly persons.
It is imperative that the United States and the international community act immediately and decisively to stop the ISIS/ISIL genocide and prevent the further victimization of religious minorities. This goal cannot be achieved apart from the use of military force to degrade and disable ISIS/ISIL forces.
Signatories of the petition include Robert P. George, professor of Jurisprudence at Princeton University, Russell Moore, President of the Ethics and Religious Liberty Commission of the Southern Baptist Convention, Ben Carson, author and retired neurosurgeon, author and speaker Eric Metaxas, and Edward Whelan, head of the Ethics and Public Policy Center.
The group approved of President Obama’s use of airstrikes against ISIS/ISIL in key cities and the humanitarian aid the U.S. has provided but said much more needs to be done and, “There is no time to waste.”
Saying they always favor non-military means of resolving disputes and protecting human rights, unfortunately, they believe the evidence is overwhelming that such means will not be able to halt the genocide unfolding in Iraq.
Therefore we call upon the United States and the international community to do everything necessary to empower local forces fighting ISIS/ISIL in Iraq to protect their people. No options that are consistent with the principles of just war doctrine should be off the table. We further believe that the United States’ goal must be more comprehensive than simply clamping a short-term lid on the boiling violence that is threatening so many innocents in ISIS/ISIL’s path. Nothing short of the destruction of ISIS/ISIL as a fighting force will provide long-term protection of victims.
They called upon President Obama and Congress to expand airstrikes against ISIS/ISIL and to provide full air support for Kurdish and others opposing ISIS/ISIL. They also said the United States should provide arms, ammunition, equipment, and intelligence to Kurdish forces, Sunni tribesmen, and others fighting ISIS/ISIL.
In addition to military aid, the signatories said the humanitarian crisis is urgent. “Local churches and aid agencies are overwhelmed, and we have grave concerns about how these victims of violent religious persecution will be cared for this winter. The U.S. can and should take the lead in providing food, water, medicine, and other essential supplies.”
The group said it was important to note that the U.S. “is not without responsibility for the plight of victims of ISIS/ISIL genocide.” They said the crisis in Iraq would not be happening “but for errors and failures of our nation’s own in Iraq.” Though they were not all in agreement on precisely what the errors and failures were and who was to blame for the problems, they did agree that, “The point is not to point fingers or apportion blame, but to recognize that justice as well as compassion demands that we take the steps necessary to end the ISIL/ISIS campaign of genocide and protect those who are its victims.”
President Obama made a surprise video appearance at the opening ceremonies of the 2014 Gay Games in Cleveland on Saturday. Joining Greg Louganis, Lance Bass, the Pointer Sisters, and Broadway’s Andrea McArdle and Alex Newell in celebrating the event, Obama said, “Since 1982 the Gay Games have given lesbian, gay, bisexual, and transgender athletes and supporters around the world a chance to come together to compete, celebrate, and inspire others.”
President Obama, who is vacationing on Martha’s Vineyard, noted how the country has changed since the games began in 1982. “We’ve also seen America change in that time, even since 2006, when the games were last held in the United States in my hometown of Chicago. We’ve come a long way in our commitment to the equal rights of LGBT people here and around the world,” he said.
As international crises continue to dominate the world stage, the president took a break from his vacation and busy golf schedule to record the message for the Gay Games, boasting about his accomplishments on behalf of the LGBT movement since becoming president. ”I’m proud of my administration’s record and of the citizens who’ve helped push for justice.”
The president had a special message for those living in countries that persecute LGBT individuals, explaining what he believes to be the “very idea” of America. “You should know that the United States stands with you and for your human rights, just as our athletes stand with you on the field at these games,” he said. “After all, the very idea of America is that no matter who you are, what you look like, where you come from, or who you love, you can make it if you try. That’s who we are. That’s who we should continually strive to be. ”
Obama wished the athletes well. “We’re also a country that loves competition, so let’s get these games underway. Good luck to the athletes, have a great time in Cleveland and Akron, and go, Team U.S. A.!”
“The Gay Games is thrilled to have President Obama take his time to show his commitment to the Games’ mission of inclusion, participation and personal best,” said Hollie Ksiezyk, co-chair of the 2014 Gay Games.
Fellow co-chair Steve Sokany agreed. ”It was a special moment that no one in the arena will forget and a great way to kick off the exciting Games week,” he said.
Journalist Connie Schultz, wife of Ohio Senator Sherrod Brown, tweeted about how deeply moved she and Sen. Brown were by the opening ceremony:
— Connie Schultz (@ConnieSchultz) August 10, 2014
— Connie Schultz (@ConnieSchultz) August 10, 2014
Approximately 8,000 athletes are expected to participate in 36 events over the next week.
Watch the video of Obama on the next page.
Dr. Kent Brantly, the doctor who was flown home to the U.S. from Liberia after being infected with the deadly Ebola virus, released a statement from his isolation room at Emory University Hospital today. ”I am growing stronger every day, and I thank God for his mercy as I have wrestled with this terrible disease,” Brantly said. He thanked those who had been praying for his recovery as well as for the recovery of Nancy Writebol, the nurse who was also infected and flown home, and for the people of Liberia and West Africa.
He said that he and his wife and children did not move to Liberia specifically to fight Ebola. “We went to Liberia because we believe God called us to serve Him at ELWA Hospital.” Nevertheless, he said that God often leads people to unexpected places. “When Ebola spread into Liberia, my usual hospital work turned more and more toward treating the increasing number of Ebola patients. I held the hands of countless individuals as this terrible disease took their lives away from them. I witnessed the horror first-hand, and I can still remember every face and name.”
When Brantley started feeling ill, he immediately isolated himself until the test confirmed his diagnosis three days later. Upon hearing that the result was positive, “I remember a deep sense of peace that was beyond all understanding. God was reminding me of what He had taught me years ago, that He will give me everything I need to be faithful to Him,” Brantly said in the statement released by Samaritan’s Purse, the missionary organization that assisted in bringing Dr. Brantly home for treatment.
Now that he is back in the United States, Brantly said his focus remains the same, “to follow God.” Brantly asked that as people continue to pray for his recovery, “More importantly, pray that we would be faithful to God’s call on our lives in these new circumstances.”
Samaritan’s Purse reported that Dr. Kent Brantly’s condition is improving. His wife, Amber, has been able to visit him in the isolation unit at Emory University Hospital and said he was in good spirits.
“I have been able to see Kent every day, and he continues to improve,” she said. “I am thankful for the professionalism and kindness of Dr. (Bruce) Ribner and his team at Emory University Hospital. I know that Kent is receiving the very best medical treatment available.”
At a Monday fundraiser in Iowa, Sen. Rand Paul (R-KY) bolted when “DREAMer” Erika Andiola interrupted his lunch with Congressman Steve King (R-IA). Andiola, the co-director of DREAM Action Coalition, approached the table where Paul and King were seated and introduced herself.
“My name is Erika,” she said. “I’m actually a DREAMer myself.” Immediately upon hearing the word “DREAMer,” Sergio Gor, Paul’s communications director, nodded to the senator, who had just taken a bite of his burger, and the two stood up and left before Paul could even finish chewing the chunk of burger in his mouth.
Rep. King hung around to have a lengthy and rather animated discussion with the young woman, who had been brought to the U.S. illegally by her mother when she was 11 years old.
It was clearly an ambush designed to provoke responses from King and Paul. After Paul departed, Andiola invited King to tear up her Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals (DACA) card and she followed that up with a recitation of the typical talking points of the pro-amnesty crowd, all designed for maximum YouTube exposure.
King listened to Andiola’s concerns and then passionately (and mostly patiently) tried to explain to the young woman that the president didn’t have the constitutional authority to issue DACA cards, attempting to sell Andiola on the benefits of a country that is governed by rule of law. The exchange went on for more than seven minutes.
In an email to National Review, Sergio Gor said Paul had to leave to meet with the media. “Senator Paul had a media avail after the event and that’s where we had to be. CNN, Buzzfeed, Wall Street Journal and several local outlets attended the media avail.”
Appearing later on MSNBC, Andiola said that Rand Paul should think twice about being seen with Steve King if he’s considering running for president in 2016. “Steve King has been one of the most extreme anti-immigrant folks in Congress and I don’t know if Rand Paul actually learned a lesson from Mitt Romney, but Mitt Romney lost the election with the Latino vote because he didn’t support the DREAM Act and he believed in self-deportation.”
Andiola also said that Paul would need to face the issue of DREAMers if he wanted to run for president. “It’s a tough issue, but the reality is that if you have someone that is actually affected by it that’s trying to talk to you, you don’t run away. You actually sit there and you try to talk,” she said, “At least King … he talked to us. And Rand Paul, who is trying to run for office in 2016 didn’t even finish his burger and, you know, bailed out.”
So, was Rand Paul’s departure from what was clearly an ambush by the pro-amnesty activist a canny demonstration of political acumen or an act of cowardice?
Brent Larkin, former editorial director at the Plain Dealer wrote on Tuesday:
Not only will Cuyahoga County Executive Ed FitzGerald lose the election for governor by a huge margin, he’ll probably take the entire statewide ticket down with him. At this point, not even a scandal in the administration of Gov. John Kasich would prevent the Republicans from sweeping all five administrative offices.
That’s a pretty serious indictment, and it’s one that hardly anyone would disagree with after the week the Democrat candidate for governor Ed FitzGerald has had.
His campaign for governor was already on shaky ground. According to a recent Quinnipiac poll FitzGerald trailed Gov. Kasich by 12 points, with 65% of voters not knowing enough about him to form an opinion him less than 100 days before the election. Now, his name ID has likely increased significantly, but for all the wrong reasons.
On August 1, news broke about a 4:30 a.m. brush with police in 2012 in the parking lot of an industrial complex after an electrician working nearby called to report what he thought was suspicious activity in a car in the middle of the night.
“I don’t know if they’re having sex in the parking lot or what they’re doing here,” Casey Hager told a dispatcher. “I don’t know if they don’t notice all my lights inside … but all I keep seeing is like something going back and forth, and I’m like, eh, you know what, this is a little fishy. And I know the owner here wouldn’t really want this here.” Hager later said he saw two people climb into the back seat of the vehicle.
Westlake police who responded to the call found FitzGerald — the Cuyahoga County executive at the time — in the front seat of the car with a woman who was not his wife. The woman turned out to be Joanne Grehan, who was visiting Cleveland with a trade delegation from Ireland. According to FitzGerald, the two had been at a restaurant with a group and he offered to drop her off at her hotel. He said they got lost trying to find her hotel and pulled into the industrial park to figure out how to get to their destination. According to the police report, FitzGerald and the woman were just talking and no charges were filed.
Former Ohio Congressman Steve LaTourette hurled another grenade in his war on the conservative wing of the Republican Party, this time writing in Politico that leaders of groups like Club for Growth, FreedomWorks, and Tea Party Patriots are “grifters” and con artists who are “lining their pockets with the hard-earned money of working men and women … promising things in return that they know they can’t deliver.”
And Ted Cruz is the devil (or something), because Cruz makes a great malefactor in LaTourette’s Us vs. Them faux unity fairy tale. Grifters are the new Wacko Birds.
LaTourette, who retired in a huff after he was denied chairmanship of the House Transportation and Infrastructure Committee in 2012, compared Jenny Beth Martin, Chris Chocola, and Matt Kibbe to snake-oil salesmen and Ponzi scheme operators and said groups like his Defending Main Street PAC and the Chamber of Commerce are working to run them out of Washington.
LaTourette’s vitriolic Politico tantrum comes as he and his friends at the U.S. Chamber of Commerce sit licking their wounds after failing to muscle through the immigration reforms they’ve been championing.
“Just look at what happened this past week, when hard-right House members with extensive ties to these outside groups, egged on by Texas Sen. Ted Cruz, snarled up a sensible effort to pass a bill that would at least begin to address the crisis of undocumented children at the U.S.-Mexico border,” LaTourette wrote at Politico. “It was an embarrassing display of congressional dysfunction, and it showed that the grifting wing has learned nothing from last fall’s shutdown fiasco.”
In the article, LaTourette takes great pains to try to paint President Reagan as the Great Compromiser of Our Time, a man who demonstrated his goodness and brilliance by giving in to Democrats at every turn. “Reagan’s record and rhetoric stands in marked contrast to the grifting win [sic] of the party today, even as the grifters invoke his memory in their disingenuous appeals,” he fumes.
LaTourette is clear that he wants the “grifters” exposed and removed from his party.
“Exposing the grifters is exactly what is happening in the Republican Party today. Groups like the organization that I head, groups like the Chamber of Commerce, business groups and traditional Republican organizations are working to run the political snake-oil salesman out of town—or at least out of our party,” LaTourette said. [emphasis added]
But LaTourette is the last person who should be accusing anyone of being a grifter or a con artist.
It all started with Michael Needham from Heritage Action saying that President Obama is “lawless.” Liberal National Journal columnist Ron Fournier interrupted, saying “You’re calling him lawless?” as if Needham had hurled a racial epithet at the president. That set off a heated panel discussion on Fox News Sunday between Needham, Fournier, and Juan Williams, who ultimately concluded that the Republican Party has become “almost a completely white party.”
Williams said that Republicans and those on the right “have demonized” the president with talk about impeachment. He said, ”Lots of people, especially in the minority communities, see it as an attack on the first black president. Think it’s unfair. And so it’s going to spur their turnout in the mid- terms, which is going to be critical in several races.”
Fox News Sunday host Chris Wallace asked Williams to clarify his comments. “Do you think that the Republican opposition to this president … is racial, or do you think it is based on principles and policies?” Wallace asked.
“Well, all I can do is look at the numbers. If you look at the core constituency, the people who are in, let’s say Tea Party opposition, support of impeachment, there’s no diversity, it’s a white, older group of people. As to whether or not it’s racial, look, President Obama and others have said there are some people who don’t like him because of his race; some people who do like him. But I would say if you just break it down as a matter of political analysis and say who is this group, it reminds me that the Republican Party has become almost a completely white party,” Williams said.
Needham objected strongly to Williams’ charges. “Chris, if you were to open up your dictionary to the word irony, you would find Juan Williams in there claiming I’m demonizing people because I am saying the president of the United States is lawless, which by the way the Supreme Court agreed with.” Needham added, “You’re the one demonizing people who are concerned about the fact that we have a crisis of the Constitution, with Jonathan Turley, a liberal law professor, just testifying in the last couple of weeks … you are the one demonizing. You’re demonizing good people who are concerned about a president who’s weak and out of control.”
Williams shot back at Needham’s accusation that the president was lawless. “We had a principled argument about President Obama’s actions and use of executive actions and authority. But you call him lawless as if he’s an outlaw. As if, you know, you have him riding the range. We got to go get that guy.”
Williams then reached for the race card. “The people who want him impeached, they’re all white and they are all older and guess what, they are all in the far right wing of the Republican Party.”
“And he might as well have said they are all racist. That’s ridiculous,” Needham responded.
Watch the video on the next page.
On Fox News Sunday Rep. Steve King (R-IA) implored President Obama to avoid the constitutional crisis that would result if the president acts without congressional approval on immigration. King stopped just short of actually saying the word “impeachment,” instead calling it the “i” word.
“None of us want to do the thing that’s left for us as an alternative,” King said. “I think Congress has to sit down, have a serious look at the rest of this constitution, and that includes that ‘i’ word that we don’t want to say.”
King warned the president that unilateral action on immigration could have dire consequences. “I only say that now on this program because I want to encourage the president, ‘Please don’t put don’t put America into a constitutional crisis — please don’t do that. There’s too much at stake in this country to be deciding that you can take over the Constitution and write it at will.” King said.
Chris Wallace pressed King on whether impeachment would be on the table if the president “were to do that.”
“I think then we have to sit down and take a look at that — where would we draw the line otherwise? If that’s not enough to bring that about then I don’t know what would be,” King said, again avoiding the word ‘impeachment’. ”We’ve never seen anything in this country like a president that said, ‘I’m going to make up all immigration law that I choose and drive this thing, regardless of the resistance of Congress.’”
The Republican leadership has distanced itself from the prospect of impeachment with Speaker Boehner saying on Tuesday, “We have no plans to impeach the president. We have no future plans. It’s all a scam started by people at the White House.”
This week three Ohio abortion clinics were fined or closed after recent health inspections revealed unsafe conditions at the clinics that endangered the lives and health of women in the state.
Planned Parenthood in Bedford Heights was fined $25,000 by the Ohio Department of Health for a variety of violations including improper disinfection of surgical equipment used in abortions, the use of expired tests and chemicals, and improper disposal and storage or urine samples. In addition, the health department found:
- expired contracts for hazardous biomedical waste removal and cleaning
- failure to follow the state’s tuberculosis control plan
- violations of the single-use rule for certain medical items
- an unwrapped and extended condom, used for vaginal probe ultrasounds
- failure to have on staff a director of nursing who is an RN with surgical experience
- incomplete medical records on patients transferred to hospitals due to complications from abortions
- failure to adhere to infection control procedures
The clinic has ten days to submit a plan of correction and a month to attain compliance with the findings of the health department.
The Northeast Ohio Women’s Center in Cuyahoga Falls was denied a health care facility license after the health department found multiple code violations including a lack of staff training and emergency preparedness, a failure to employ a Director of Nursing who is an RN with surgical experience, and expired medications at the facility.
The Ohio Department of Health also issued an adjudication order revoking and refusing to renew Capital Care Network’s health facility license due to it’s failure to obtain a transfer agreement with a hospital. Ohio law requires ambulatory surgical centers to maintain a written agreement to transfer patients to a hospital in the event of complications or medical emergencies. The clinic had submitted to the state an agreement with the University of Michigan Health System in Ann Arbor, Michigan, but the Health Director found that an agreement with a hospital 52 miles away from the clinic violated the requirements of the Ohio Revised Code. Capital Care Network was the last remaining abortion facility in Toledo.
The two-year state budget, passed last year by the Republican-controlled legislature and signed into law by Governor Kasich, codified into law a rarely-enforced health department administrative rule that requires the transfer agreements. The budget also prohibited public hospitals from entering into such agreements with abortion clinics.
“We will have to close as a surgery center if we do not get a stay from the courts,” Capital Care owner Terry Hubbard said.
“Without Capital Care Network, life in Toledo will be safer for women and children,” said Mike Gonidakis, president of Ohio Right to Life. “This week, our government assured all of us that women’s health and patient safety is priority number one. It is deeply troubling that some people are advocating for this illegal operation to remain open, putting women’s lives at risk.”
Gonidakis added, “We’re deeply concerned, though admittedly unsurprised, that multiple abortion facilities are jeopardizing the lives and health of women. The real war on women is being waged everyday in these unsafe and unsanitary abortion mills. These reports shock the conscience and reaffirm our resolve to protect life from Ohio’s abortion industry.”
[HT: Truth Revolt]
Hours before the September 11, 2001 terrorist attacks, Bill Clinton told a group of Australian business leaders that he could have killed Osama bin Laden, but chose not to because the risk of civilian casualties was too great.
Former Australia Liberal Party President Michael Kroger appeared on Sky News’ Paul Murray Live on Wednesday and released an audio recording of a speech former president Bill Clinton gave to a group of 30 Australian business leaders just ten hours before the planes flew into the World Trade Center.
“Bill Clinton was answering a question from a member of the audience about international terrorism and he made some extraordinary remarks, which have hitherto remained in my vault,” Kroger told Murray. “It was only when we talked about Clinton and bin Laden last week and many, many people contacted me and said they were quite interested to hear what they’d forgotten — that Clinton was in Australia the day before the planes hit the World Trade Center.” Kroger said he then remembered the tape and the comments Clinton made about bin Laden just a few hours before the planes hit the World Trade Center.
“I’m just saying, you know, if I were Osama bin Laden — he’s a very smart guy, I’ve spent a lot of time thinking about him, and I nearly got him once,” Clinton said to the business leaders on September 10, 2001. “I nearly got him. And I could have gotten, I could have killed him, but I would have had to destroy a little town called Kandahar in Afghanistan and killed 300 innocent women and children. And then I would have been no better than him.”
Clinton added, “And so I didn’t do it.”
Kroger said that in the days after the attack, those who had heard Clinton’s September 10th remarks were “saying, ‘My God! Did you hear what he said at the meeting? He could have killed bin Laden and he didn’t!’”
Kroger noted that thousands were killed in the attacks and “the world changed. The world changed. And we’ve never been the same since, whether it’s airport security, whether it’s planes not flying over countries that are at war … the world has never been the same since September 11, 2001 and there’s President Clinton admitting just a few hours before it happened that he could have taken out bin Laden but decided not to. So it was an extraordinary thing for the president to say.”
“Here was a moment in time when — terribly for the world — this man, bin Laden, was allowed to continue with his terrorist activity as Clinton was made aware of where bin Laden was,” Kroger said.
Kroger also noted in the interview that the Rwandan genocide is another black mark against Clinton’s name. “He says in his diaries — in his autobiography — that he should have intervened in Rwanda and he didn’t and there was a massive slaughter that took place there and the Americans did nothing,” Kroger told Murray.
At Tuesday’s Ways and Means Subcommittee on Social Security hearing, Dr. Charles Blahous of the Social Security and Medicare Boards of Trustees testified that Americans owe $24 trillion in unfunded liabilities to those already in the Social Security system.
Congressman Jim Renacci (R-OH), a CPA, asked Blahous what the impact would be on the Social Security trust fund if all unfunded liabilities needed to paid out. Blahous said that they usually highlight the 75-year “open group obligation” which is currently $10.6 trillion, but said the “actual amount of unfunded obligations within the Social Security system is actually substantially higher than that. ” According to Blahous, the reason is that the shortfall does not play out gradually over time. “It’s actually something that is on the books now. There is an excess of benefit obligations over contributions for people who are already in the system. And that’s actually about $24 trillion. And that’s about 4.4% of future wages going forward,” Blahous said.
Actually, it’s even worse to that, according to the Social Security Trustees’ 2014 Annual Report to Congress. Tucked way in the back in Table VI.F1 in the appendix we find, “The excess of the present value of cost for past and current participants over the present value of dedicated tax income for past and current participants produces an unfunded obligation for past and current participants of $26.1 trillion.” (But what’s a of couple trillion here or there?)
Asked by Renacci if Social Security taxes this year will be adequate to fund current benefit obligations, Blahous explained that there will be a shortfall of around $80 billion this year alone.
Renacci wanted to know where the money will come from to make up the difference.
“Well, when the payroll taxes fall short of benefit obligations, the difference has to be made with payments from the general fund. Right now they’d be in the form of interest payments from the general fund to the trust fund and a large share of those interest payments would go out the door immediately to pay beneficiaries,” said Blahous. He added that $80 billion would be added to the federal deficit this year as a result of the shortfall.
Renacci thought the unfunded liabilities should have received more attention in the Trustees’ report. “So we have $17 trillion in debt, we have potentially $10-20 trillion in unfunded liabilities, we could have over $50 trillion total liabilities — just in those two areas — and we have $80 billion each year, at least this year, that is going to exceed what comes in,” Renacci said. ”I would somewhat believe we have a current problem that we need to fix and it’s something that we can’t kick down the road, as I continue to hear.”
Congressman Renacci’s office released highlights of the Trustees’ report:
- The combined trust fund reserves are still growing and will continue to do so through 2019. Beginning with 2020, the cost of the program is projected to exceed income.
- The projected point at which the combined trust fund reserves will become depleted, if Congress does not act before then, comes in 2033 – the same as projected last year. At that time, there will be sufficient income coming in to pay 77 percent of scheduled benefits.
- The projected actuarial deficit over the 75-year long-range period is 2.88 percent of taxable payroll — 0.16 percentage point larger than in last year’s report.
“As a CPA and former businessman, I came to Washington to bring a business perspective to an institution that sorely lacks it. We know that we spend more than we should, but the American people do not fully know the extent of our country’s dire financial situation. This is partly due to the fact that the Treasury leaves some of the largest liabilities, including Social Security, off of its balance sheet,” said Renacci, adding that he recently introduced the bipartisan Federal Financial Statement Transparency Act.
The bill would establish a Federal Accounting Standards Advisory Board to develop Federal financial accounting concepts and standards. Renacci said the bill would lead to “a more honest depiction of our nation’s finances to ultimately allow Congress to better address our growing $17 trillion debt.” He said a clean balance sheet will serve as a benchmark for beginning to preserve Social Security programs for current seniors and for future generations.
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.
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.”
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.
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.
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:
Then again, I guess I never had a chance w/ the vampire vote since the dead tend to vote overwhelmingly for Dems: https://t.co/U6uCqsRpuS
— Ted Cruz (@tedcruz) July 22, 2014
Cruz’s senior communications advisor (and frequent tag-team Twitter partner) Amanda Carpenter agreed:
True Blood plot showing vampires crashing Cruz fundraiser clearly false. Everyone knows dead people vote Democrat.
— Amanda Carpenter (@amandacarpenter) July 22, 2014
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.
UPDATE: Richard Stengel deleted the tweet with the #UnitedForGaza hashtag early Sunday morning and tweeted that it had been “a mistake.”
Earlier tweet with wrong hashtag was a mistake. My bad.
— Rick Stengel (@stengel) July 20, 2014
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:
— Get Whiggy With It (@RachelRyansDad) July 20, 2014
— Meklove (@Meklove) July 20, 2014
— Southern Comfort (@kmgriner) July 20, 2014
— Mr. Aye Dee (@MrAyeDee) July 20, 2014
Several people offered excuses for Stegel’s tweet:
— Barbara Mazor (@StopBDS_PSFC) July 20, 2014
— Gotta Face Fact (@iFaceFact) July 20, 2014
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.
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.
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.
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)
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.
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.
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.
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.
“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.
[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.
“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.”
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.”
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.”
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.