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Rick Moran

Rick Moran is PJ Media's Chicago editor and Blog editor at The American Thinker. He is also host of the"RINO Hour of Power" on Blog Talk Radio. His own blog is Right Wing Nut House.
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Attkisson Sues Justice Department for Hacking Her Computers

Monday, January 5th, 2015 - by Rick Moran

Former CBS News investigative reporter Sharyl Attkisson is suing the Department of Justice for illegal surveillance. Attkissons computers were hacked while she was investigating several of the Obama administration scandals.

Fox News:

In a series of legal filings that seek $35 million in damages, Attkisson alleges that three separate computer forensic exams showed that hackers used sophisticated methods to surreptitiously monitor her work between 2011 and 2013.

“I just think it’s important to send a message that people shouldn’t be victimized and throw up their hands and think there’s nothing they can do and they’re powerless,” Attkisson said in an interview.

The department has steadfastly denied any involvement in the hacking, saying in a 2013 statement: “To our knowledge, the Justice Department has never compromised Ms. Attkisson’s computers, or otherwise sought any information from or concerning any telephone, computer, or other media device she may own or use.”

In the lawsuit and related claims against the Postal Service, filed in Washington, Attkisson says the intruders installed and periodically refreshed software to steal data and obtain passwords on her home and work computers. She also charges that the hackers monitored her audio using a Skype account.

The award-winning reporter says she and her attorneys have “pretty good evidence” that these efforts were “connected” to the Justice Department. She said she was caught in a “Catch-22,” forcing her to use the lawsuit and an administrative complaint to discover more about the surveillance through the discovery process and to learn the identities of the “John Does” named in the complaints.

“The Justice Department has not been very forthcoming with questions,” she said. “The question is, will anybody ever be held responsible?”

The multimillion-dollar damage figure relates to her loss of privacy and that of her husband and family, she said.

Attkisson learned through a Freedom of Information request that the FBI opened an investigation of the hacking case in May 2013, but says the bureau never interviewed her or even notified her of the probe.

The reporter detailed some of the hacking in her book, Stonewalled:

In her book, Stonewalled, Attkisson alleged that a “government-related entity” had planted classified documents on her computer in order to go after her for her reporting that was critical of the Obama Administration. To back up that accusation, in October, she released a disturbing video showing an unknown entity scrolling through her documents and deleting large segments of it. And in emails released last November, a DoJ press aide called Attkisson “out of control.”

There is a surreal quality to the hacking that makes your skin crawl. Double checking a map…yes, this is the United States of America and although getting worn and tattered, the First Amendment hasn’t been repealed that I’ve heard.

But then, it is apparent that, for this administration, the First Amendment only applies to those who are not “out of control” and not freely reporting the facts no matter where they lead. Such rebels should be intimidated and punished for not toeing the line.

Trying to wrest information from this crew during discovery is going to be difficult, if not impossible. The possibility that the FBI itself initiated the hacks cannot be dismissed, which means that any information about the hacks will be behind a national security firewall. Attkisson better hope she gets a bulldog of a judge who won’t stop until the truth is revealed. Otherwise, the probability is whoever violated her First Amendment rights will get away with it.

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Anti-Cop Protestors Disrupt Senator Wyden Townhall

Sunday, January 4th, 2015 - by Rick Moran

About a hundred protestors shouting “hands up, don’t shoot” and “I can’t breathe” disrupted a townhall meeting in Portland of Senator Ron Wyden, where 100 year old Dario Raschio was to receive medals he earned during World War II.

Raschio — who looks about 70, not 100 — was chagrined by the interruption, but recovered quickly.

The Oregonian:

Shortly after Wyden began speaking, though, protesters erupted in the back of the room, shouting “hands-up, don’t shoot!” More than 100 pushed through the doors, banged on the windows from outside and hoisted signs.

Raschio and his daughter, Pam Brown of Portland, had a front-row seat to the spectacle. Raschio’s smile faded.

Demonstrators across the country have used “don’t shoot” and “hands up” as rallying cries following the fatal shooting of Michael Brown by a white police officer in Ferguson, Missouri, last fall. “I can’t breathe” references the death of Eric Garner, an unarmed black man who died in July following a chokehold by a New York City police officer.

The medal presentation was to be the first event at a Wyden town hall, one of several the senator, D-Oregon, is holding around the state this week. After 15 minutes of shouting, Wyden persuaded the group to stop and let him proceed with the medal presentation.

Raschio’s smile returned as Wyden presented him with a frame filled with medals. He was awarded the U.S. Naval Aviator Badge, the American Campaign Medal, the Asiatic Pacific Campaign Medal, the World War II Victory medal, the American Defense Service Medal, the “Ruptured Duck” award and the U.S. Navy Honorable discharge pin.

He was also given a flag flown over the U.S Capitol.

“It is never too later for Oregon and America to remember one of our heroes,” Wyden said.

Indeed, Raschio joined the Navy at age 27 and piloted observational planes. He was once shot down in the Pacific and rescued by the timely arrival of a destroyer.

But Raschio had a message for the protestors:

As he grabbed the mic to speak, more shouts came from the back of the room, demanding the military exit from Iraq.

The feisty centenarian quickly responded, “Give me a chance” which brought chuckles from the audience. He further chastised the shouters, saying “Let’s show a little respect for this occasion,” to which the crowd applauded.

He accepted the medals on behalf of those who died in WWII and ended his short speech by saying, “God bless America. And you people that are here for a cause, whatever it might be—show respect to Sen. Wyden.”

Wyden took back the mic, and followed up, “One of the reasons that we can come here today and be heard and express our views is because of veterans like Dario.”

But before Raschio could even sit down the unrest resumed. A protester at the front of the room announced that “for 4.5 minutes we are going to take time to pay respect to everybody who has been killed by police in this nation.”

With that, the chanting began again. At 3:15, after waiting 45 minutes for the meeting to begin, organizers called it off.

I could go on a rant and chastise the protestors for ruining the special day of a 100 year old veteran, but the anti-cop agitator’s actions speak louder and clearer than any commentary I could add.

I will say this: If the protestors don’t realize that, with their actions in Portland, they damaged their cause with the ordinary people they should be counting on to support them to reform the police and the criminal justice system, then they prove themselves to be little better than ignorant hot heads — ill-mannered and boorish.

A few more incidents like this and the public will be demanding that the protestors leave the stage and never come back.

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Al Sharpton’s Shakedown Operation

Sunday, January 4th, 2015 - by Rick Moran

You have to ask what’s more nauseating? Al Sharpton’s threats to cry “racism” at corporations who don’t ante up or the corporations themselves who meekly acquiesce to the Reverend’s bullying tactics?

Sharpton has a lot of pull with New York state and local government officials and he has traded that influence for large sums of cash from companies who seek to avoid being labeled “racist.”

The mafia couldn’t run a shakedown operation this efficiently.

New York Post:

Want to influence a casino bid? Polish your corporate image? Not be labeled a racist?

Then you need to pay Al Sharpton.

For more than a decade, corporations have shelled out thousands of dollars in donations and consulting fees to Sharpton’s National Action Network. What they get in return is the reverend’s supposed sway in the black community or, more often, his silence.

Sony Pictures co-chair Amy Pascal met with the activist preacher after leaked e-mails showed her making racially charged comments about President Obama. Pascal was under siege after a suspected North Korean cyber attack pressured the studio to cancel its release of “The Interview,” which depicts the assassination of dictator Kim Jong-un.

Pascal and her team were said to be “shaking in their boots” and “afraid of the Rev,” The Post reported.

No payments to NAN have been announced, but Sharpton and Pascal agreed to form a “working group” to focus on racial bias in Hollywood.

The National Action Network can organize boycotts or protests that present a PR nightmare for any corporation. It’s an extremely efficient method of extracting protection money. Like the mafia guy who tells a store owner it would be a shame if his business went up in flames, NAN’s threats of “community action” against companies keeps them paying for Sharpton’s restraint.

Tell me this doesn’t sound like a criminal enterprise:

“Al Sharpton has enriched himself and NAN for years by threatening companies with bad publicity if they didn’t come to terms with him. Put simply, Sharpton specializes in shakedowns,” said Ken Boehm, chairman of the National Legal & Policy Center, a Virginia-based watchdog group that has produced a book on Sharpton.

And Sharpton, who now boasts a close relationship with Obama and Mayor de Blasio, is in a stronger negotiating position than ever.

“Once Sharpton’s on board, he plays the race card all the way through,” said a source who has worked with the Harlem preacher. “He just keeps asking for more and more money.”

And the amount of money flowing into NAN and finding its way into his and nis crony’s pockets is staggering:

In 2008, Plainfield Asset Management, a Greenwich, Conn.-based hedge fund, made a $500,000 contribution to New York nonprofit Education Reform Now. That money was immediately funneled to the National Action Network.

The donation raised eyebrows. Although the money was ostensibly to support NAN’s efforts to bring “educational equality,” it also came at a time that Plainfield was trying to get a lucrative gambling deal in New York.

Plainfield had a $250 million stake in Capital Play, a group trying to secure a license to run the coming racino at Aqueduct Racetrack in Queens. Capital Play employed a lobbyist named Charlie King, who also was the acting executive director of NAN.

Sharpton has said that most of the Plainfield contribution went to pay King’s salary.

King’s company, the Movement Group, was paid $243,586 by NAN in 2008, tax records show.

NAN itself is corrupt, being caught by the IRS for not paying more than a million dollars in payroll taxes, and being accused of keeping shoddy records.

With companies terrified of him and government officials in league with him, Sharpton is often called the most powerful African American in the country. A frequent White House visitor and with many friends in Washington, it’s not likely that any serious investigation into his or his organization’s activities will be forthcoming.

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Longtime ESPN Sportscaster Stuart Scott Dead at 49

Sunday, January 4th, 2015 - by Rick Moran

ESPN personality Stuart Scott lost his courageous battle against cancer on Sunday, dying at the age of 49.

His was a distinct personality and voice in the often cliche-ridden world of sportscasting and many enjoyed his singular vocabulary when analyzing replays:

1. “Like gravy on a biscuit, it’s all good!”

Scott accompanies this quote with a player having a career day or when a player makes a smart play.

2. “And the Lord said you’ve got to rise up!”

Bryce Harper hits a homerun as a rookie, giving the Washington Nationals the lead after trailing the Atlanta Braves at home.

3. “See, what had happened was…”

This is amongst Stuart Scott’s popular references. During the 2004 Eastern Conference Finals between the Pistons and Pacers, he teased Rasheed Wallace after throwing up an air ball from the 3 point line.

4. “Vlade Daddi, he likes to party, he don’t cause trouble, he don’t bother nobody.”

From Slick Rick’s “Lodi Dodi” covered by Snoop Dogg from the Doggystyle album. Pertaining to any Vlade Divac play, it gave the Sacramento Kings Center some much needed respect as he was rearing towards the descent into basketball irrelevancy.

5. “You ain’t got to go home, but you got to get the heck up outta here.”

No shade, Stuart Scott just wants to let you know you either struck out, or you messed up for getting ejected from a game.

6. “He treats him like a dog. Sit. Stay.”

After Allen Iverson broke a defender’s ankles, Scott dropped this one on the poor guy.

7. “Just call him butter cuz he’s on a roll.”

My personal favorite Stuart Scottism: “He must be the bus driver cuz he was takin’ him to school.”

ESPN president John Skipper released an emotional statement on Scott’s death:

ESPN and everyone in the sports world have lost a true friend and a uniquely inspirational figure in Stuart Scott,” said ESPN president John Skipper. “Who engages in mixed martial arts training in the midst of chemotherapy treatments? Who leaves a hospital procedure to return to the set?

“His energetic and unwavering devotion to his family and to his work while fighting the battle of his life left us in awe, and he leaves a void that can never be replaced.”

ESPN hired Scott in 1993 for the launch of ESPN 2, hoping to attract a younger audience to the network. Scott didn’t disappoint his bosses as the 18-29 crowd flocked to his late-night SportsCenter show. The combination of a cool personality and his hip-hop lite references made him the most popular personality on the network.

Last July, he accepted the “Jimmy V Award,” for courage in sports, given in honor of former North Carolina State basketball coach Jimmy Valvano whose own battle with cancer was memorialized in an emotional speech given at the first ESPY Awards in 1993. Scott referenced Valvano’s fight in his acceptance speech:

During Scott’s acceptance speech, he thanked loved ones and colleagues for supporting his efforts, then showed his modest side, noting that he never thought he belonged in the same category as people who had received past Jimmy V awards.

“At my gut level, I really didn’t think that I belonged with those great people,” Scott said. “But I listened to what Jim Valvano said 21 years ago, the most poignant seven words ever uttered in any speech anywhere: ‘Don’t give up. Don’t ever give up.’ Those great people didn’t. Coach Valvano didn’t. So to be honored with this, I now have a responsibility to also not ever give up. I’m not special. I just listened to what the man said.”

Scott also talked about how difficult it is to suffer with a disease like cancer. In fact, prior to the show, he underwent four surgeries in the span of seven days. Scott wasn’t even sure if he was going to survive. But with the help of his medical staff, his family, his friends and his fans, he made it to the awards ceremony. And that’s when he realized the whole battle is “not a solo venture.”

“When you die, that does not mean that you lose to cancer. You beat cancer by how you lived, why you lived and in the manner in which you lived,” Scott said. “So live. Live. Fight like hell. And when you get too tired to fight, then lay down and rest and let somebody else fight for you.”

After every chemotherapy session, Scott would head to the gym and train in mixed martial arts. His reasoning?

“I can take this,” he said at the time. “Deal with it easier than some people I see. So I think for the ones who can’t punch a heavy bag, can’t spar, who can’t do any of that. I’ll do it for you.”

Scott is survived by his two daughters, Taelor, 19,and Sydni, 14. Of fatherhood, Scott said, “The best thing I have ever done, the best thing I will ever do is be a dad to Taelor and Sydni.”

Stuart Scott — as cool as the other side of the pillow.

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Outrage! Sarah Palin Posts Facebook Photo of Her Son Standing on Dog

Saturday, January 3rd, 2015 - by Rick Moran

Sarah Palin had to know before she posted this photo that the left would go ballistic. Her New Year’s Facebook post is lighting up Twitter and causing a collective clucking of tongues because, along with the sentiments, she posted a photo of her son Trig standing on top of the family dog to reach the counter.

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As you can imagine, the People for the Ethical Treatment of Animals had a figurative and proverbial cow:

PETA assailed Palin Friday, calling her a “bizarrely callous woman.”

“It’s odd that anyone—let alone a mother—would find it appropriate to post such a thing, with no apparent sympathy for the dog in the photo,” PETA said in a statement on its website Friday.

“Then again, PETA, along with everyone else, is used to the hard-hearted, seeming obliviousness of this bizarrely callous woman, who actually thought it appropriate to be filmed while turkeys were being slaughtered right behind her in full view of the camera,” the activist group added referring to a 2008 interview at Triple D Farm in Palmer, Alaska.

Palin, who was at the farm to pardon a turkey in the week before Thanksgiving, did a lengthy TV interview while live turkeys were being fed head first into a machine behind her.

Palin’s New Year’s post was still up Friday night. Though some Facebook commenters supported Palin, calling the picutures “cute,” others expressed concern for Trig’s safety and the dog.

“Not only the dog, but is she not worried the boy will fall and bust his head on the counter???? Nope. Keep snapping pictures,” one commenter wrote.

Oh dear.

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Iran Nuke Deal: U.S. Says the Two Sides Are Closer but Iran Denies It

Saturday, January 3rd, 2015 - by Rick Moran

How badly do you think the Obama administration wants an “historic” deal with Iran? So bad that they’re willing to see things that aren’t there.

Diplomats told the AP that the two sides have tentatively agreed to a formula that would send excess enriched uranium from Iran to Russia for disposal. This is a proposal that’s been floated for years and Iran has continually rejected it.

Also, the diplomats say that the two sides agreed on a framework to identify which issues there is general agreement on and outlining different approaches to the remaining issues.

The diplomats said differences still dominate ahead of the next round of Iran-six power talks on Jan. 15 in Geneva. But they suggested that even agreement to create a to-do list would have been difficult previously because of wide gaps between the sides.

Iran denies it wants nuclear arms, but it is negotiating with the U.S., Russia, China, Britain, France and Germany on cuts to its atomic program in hope of ending crippling sanctions. The talks have been extended twice due to stubborn disagreements.

The main conflict is over uranium enrichment, which can create both reactor fuel and the fissile core of nuclear arms. In seeking to reduce Iran’s bomb-making ability, the U.S. has proposed that Tehran export much of its stockpile of enriched uranium — something the Islamic Republic has long said it would not do.

The diplomats said both sides in the talks are still arguing about how much of an enriched uranium stockpile to leave Iran. It now has enough for several bombs, and Washington wants substantial cuts below that level.

But the diplomats said the newly created catalog lists shipping out much of the material as tentatively agreed upon. The diplomats, who are familiar with the talks, spoke to the AP recently and demanded anonymity because they are not authorized to comment on the closed negotiations.

But Reuters is reporting that the Iranian foreign ministry says that there is no tentative agreement on transferring the enriched uranium:

“Such news is spread out of political motives and its goal is to tarnish the climate of the talks and make it more complicated to reach a settlement,” the state IRNA news agency quoted her as saying.

The semi-official ISNA agency, citing an “informed source”, also denied the report: “The topic of transferring (enriched) uranium abroad has been circulating for a while, but we haven’t had any agreement in this regard.”

The head of Iran’s atomic energy agency, Ali Akbar Salehi, told worshippers at Friday prayers that the long nuclear conflict was drawing to an end.

“Have no doubt that the nuclear issue will be resolved in Iran’s favour and we will soon celebrate Iran’s victory,” he was quoted as saying by Mehr News.

Iran and the six powers “P5+1″ — the United States, Russia, China, France, Britain and Germany — are to resume low-level talks on Tehran’s nuclear activities in Geneva on Jan 15, but wide gaps remain in their positions.

At what cost Iran’s “victory”? To Israel? To the Gulf states? You can be sure that any agreement made will guarantee Iran’s ability to enrich uranium. That one aspect constitutes a victory for Iran, who has insisted for the last decade that they have that right while two administrations held the position that the U.S. would not negotiate until Iran agreed to abandon its enrichment program.

And they will doubtless be allowed to continue improving their enrichment infrastructure, including being able to build ever faster, more powerful centrifuges so that the time it takes to enrich uranium to bomb-grade levels shrinks to a matter of weeks rather than months. It’s also a near certainty that any inspection regime agreed to will not be as stringent or as intrusive as it needs to be to prevent Iran from constructing a nuclear weapon.

The next round of talks have been extended for several months. There is no sign that deadlines mean anything to either side and talks will continue until Iran wears us down and gets what it wants.

But as a consolation prize, President Obama will make some more history. Isn’t that comforting?

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Commissioner Bratton Warns Officers Not to Protest de Blasio Appearance at Wake

Saturday, January 3rd, 2015 - by Rick Moran

Commissioner Bill Bratton, trying his best to narrow the rift between police and the mayor, told his officers not to disrespect the mayor at the wake of Officer Wenjian Liu, the officer assassinated 2 weeks ago, reminding them “that when you don the uniform of this department, you are bound by the tradition, honor and decency that go with it.”

Bratton believes that the show of defiance to the mayor takes attention away from honoring the service of the slain officers and the grieving families.

Fox News  reports:

The police killings ramped up emotions in the already tense national debate over police conduct. Since Ramos and Liu were killed, police in New York have investigated at least 70 threats made against officers, and more than a dozen people have been arrested.

At Ramos’ funeral, hundreds of officers turned their backs to TV monitors displaying Mayor Bill de Blasio’s remarks to show their frustration for what police union officials have said is the mayor’s role in creating an environment that allowed the killings.

In a message to be read to officers on Friday, Saturday and Sunday, NYPD Commissioner William Bratton said that act “stole the valor, honor, and attention that rightfully belonged to the memory of Detective Rafael Ramos’s life and sacrifice.”

“I issue no mandates, and I make no threats of discipline, but I remind you that when you don the uniform of this department, you are bound by the tradition, honor and decency that go with it,” Bratton said.

Liu, 32, had been on the police force seven years and had gotten married two months before he died. His widow, Pei Xia Chen, gave a tearful statement days after the shooting.

Bratton claims he understands where the officers are coming from:

Mr. Bratton, who has been serving as a peacemaker of sorts between the mayor and angry members of the NYPD, wrote that he understood “emotions are high.” But the focus of Sunday’s funeral should be on remembering a “life tragically cut short” and on the officer’s family, he wrote.

Mr. Bratton suggested the collective memory of Officer Ramos’s funeral is now fixated on what he described as an “act of disrespect” shown by a portion of the officers gathered. While every officer at the funeral didn’t do it, he said, “all the officers were painted by it.”

Bratton is right. As emotionally satisfying the show of defiance is for officers, the act of turning one’s back on the mayor deflects attention from where it belongs — on the slain officers and their families. In essence, turning your back on the boss is a political statement and not suitable for a wake or funeral.

Bratton’s fence-mending efforts between the police and the mayor will take a long time to bear fruit. There are other issues besides de Blasio’s statements about the Garner grand jury. The mayor ran an anti-police campaign for one, and some difficult negotiations coming up with the police unions are another source of tension.

In essence, de Blasio brought this problem on himself. And many observers believe only de Blasio can defuse the tension by apologizing for his comment implying that the NYPD is a racist organization.

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Bush Resigns from Remaining Board Memberships

Thursday, January 1st, 2015 - by Rick Moran

Any doubts that Jeb Bush is going to run for president in 2016 are fast disppearing as the former Florida governor has now resigned from all of his memberships on the boards of corporations and non-profits.

With recent polls showing Bush with a 10 point lead over the field of likely GOP candidates, the candidate’s “exploration” of a run appears on track for a springtime announcement.

AP:

Jeb Bush has resigned all of his board memberships — both nonprofit and business — in a move that helps clear a path toward a 2016 presidential campaign.

The former Florida governor stepped down from his remaining board memberships on Wednesday, the last day of the year, an aide said Wednesday night. It’s a continuation of a process that began earlier in the month when Bush announced plans to actively explore a White House bid.

Spokesman Kristy Campbell called Bush’s review of his business interests “a natural next step as he turns his focus to gauging whether there is support for a potential candidacy.”

Bush, the son of one president and brother of another, is seen as an early favorite of the Republican establishment as the next presidential primary season begins. He launched a series of private business ventures after leaving the Florida governor’s mansion in 2007.

Potential foes in both parties have already begun to pour through Bush’s extensive private dealings in search of fodder for criticism.

The Wednesday moves, first reported by The Washington Post, do not affect other business interests in which he is a partner. Those include his business consulting company, Jeb Bush and Associates, and Britton Hill Holdings, a Florida-based private equity and business advisory group.

While some strategists have said Bush’s private-equity work could open him to some of the same criticisms that dogged Mitt Romney, the GOP’s last presidential nominee, Bush himself has said his business record would be an asset in a campaign.

He previously announced plans to step down from the board of Tenet Healthcare Corp. and leave his advisory role with British banking giant Barclays by Dec. 31. He severed ties to other business entities on Wednesday including the for-profit education company Academic Partnerships, Empower Software Solutions and CorMatrix Cardiovascular Inc.

Earlier in the week Bush resigned from the board of timber company Rayonier Inc.

So does Jeb have a “Mitt problem“? Perhaps not, but there’s plenty of ammunition for a decent oppo researcher to uncover.

In July, Lou Dubose reported on Bush’s role as spokesman for a Miami firm that bilked millions from investors, and whose founder, Claudio Osorio, is now serving time in federal prison. Osorio was a known fraud before Bush came on board, and Bush stayed on board even as Osorio was under investigation. As Dubose wrote in The Washington Spectator, the evidence suggests at least “an ethical blind spot that led Bush to ignore the fact that the book value and returns reported by InnoVida executives were impossible under any reasonable set of financial assumptions. … Bush endorsed a company that defrauded its shareholders and the government while failing to deliver its product to market.”

Romney’s problems were cumulative. Revelations about Bain Capital were spun to paint a dramatic picture of Romney as a robber baron capitalist who didn’t care about ordinary people.

Will the Democrats be as successful in drawing a caricature of Jeb Bush? Romney came off as a northeastern patrician even without the Bain baggage. But Bush’s southern charm and approachable personality might make him more electable. His name may be a detriment in some quarters and his positions on immigration and Common Core — to name just two issues — will cause him trouble with Republicans.

But he is going to have more money than anyone else, and a network of supporters from coast to coast. Jeb Bush is not guaranteed a victory. But he’s got a tremendous head start on the rest of the field.

What he does with that early advantage will be the key to a successful run.

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Brandeis Student Under Attack for Calling Out Leftist Hate

Sunday, December 28th, 2014 - by Rick Moran

What is acceptable speech on campus these days?

Apparently, if you attend Brandeis University, you can express the most outrageous opinions about dead policemen, advocate violence, and countenance an attack on the student journalist who exposes it.

A petition on Change.org explains:

On December 20th, Brandeis student journalist Daniel Mael reported on inflammatory statements made by a Brandeis student leader on Twitter. Referring to the two NYPD policemen, Rafael Ramos and Wenjian Liu, who were recently assassinated, she wrote, “I have no sympathy for the nypd officers who were murdered today,” and “lmao [laughing my a—off] i just really dont have sympathy for the cops who were shot. i hate this racist f—ing country.” Most alarmingly, the student leader’s online messages included calls for violence in comments like, “burn this country down,” and, “i need to get my gun license. asap.”

Commenters, responding to Mael’s article, posted disparagements, curses and threats to the student who had insulted the dead policemen. Daniel Mael immediately and in no uncertain terms publicly condemned these reactions.

Soon however, Mael himself became the target of personal, sometimes violent threats to his safety and well-being made by his fellow students on the Brandeis campus and others. Instead of censuring the hatred expressed toward innocent murder victims, an array of student groups, including several students in student leadership positions at the university, launched a campaign of vilification and intimidation against Mael, demanding that the Brandeis administration punish him for doing nothing more than truthfully reporting hateful comments made in a public forum by a student in a position of authority at the university.

University officials have a legal and moral obligation to protect their students.  Since the crisis began on December 20th, University President, Fred Lawrence, has remained silent. This silence encourages the violent incitement against Daniel Mael, who did nothing wrong. At the same time, it implies official tolerance for community members using derogatory language to intimidate a student journalist — behavior that may be in violation of the school’s own code of conduct.

Brandeis officials must take immediate steps to ensure that no harm will come to any student. The climate of intimidation and hostility to free speech on the Brandeis campus must end immediately.

We call on Brandeis Trustees and Brandeis President Fred Lawrence to take the following steps:

  1. Declare that any Brandeis student who threatens or intimidates another student will be held accountable.
  2. Condemn any Brandeis student or faculty member who expresses support for the murder of policemen, or any human being, for that matter. Students have the right to their opinions; the University has the duty to judge some opinions as beneath contempt.

The incredible shape the criticism of Mael took was reported on the Daily Caller:

Brandeis senior Michael Piccione, a member of the 2014-15 student conduct board, sent an urgent email to the president of Brandeis, senior administrators, radical leftist professors and students.

The email — entitled “VERY IMPORTANT: Holding Daniel Mael accountable, and other threats to student safety!” — claimed that “Mael has exposed Khadijah to the largely white supremacist following of the website.” (The website to which Piccione refers is Truth Revolt.)

For reporting about Lynch’s vile tweets, Piccione declared, Mael “has potentially violated multiple parts” of a Brandeis code of student conduct including “stalking.”

“Khadijah specifically requested that her personal comments be removed from the website and the article in question taken down, but her wishes were ignored,” the student conduct board member also whined.

Piccione’s lament refers to Lynch telling Truth Revolt that her public tweets are her “own personal opinion.” Lynch had threatened that she does not want her tweets “publicized in any form and if you do not abide my wishes i constitute your disregard as slander.”

Lynch does not appear to understand the difference between slander, which is spoken, and libel, which is written. Her fellow students at Brandeis appear similarly unable to comprehend this distinction.

On the Brandeis Class of 2017 OFFICIAL page, a closed Facebook group, sophomore William Amara has written: “I am sorry that Khadijah has to put up with these fu**ing assh**es publishing (and likely distorting) her private opinions to further incite racial hatred and oppression. I hope the university will stand with you if these co**su**ers cause things to escalate further.”

Amara calls the quoting of Khadijah’s tweets “slander.”

Clifton Joseph Masdea also calls the publication of Khadijah’s tweets “slanderous.” In addition, after asserting that Truth Revolt is home to “racist a-holes,” Masdea calls Mael’s publication of Lynch’s tweets “a classic case of cyberbullying.”

Not a word of reproach for Khadijiah’s “private opinions” that included laughing her butt off at the death of policemen.  It’s amazing that directly quoting those “private opinions” constitutes “harassment,” “cyberbullying,” or “stalking.”

Positively unreal.

The Change.org page links to a petition you can sign in support of Mr. Mael.  If you want to get the goat of those utterly confused and ignorant lefties, makes sure you click through and sign it.

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Quietly, US and NATO End the War in Afghanistan

Sunday, December 28th, 2014 - by Rick Moran

With zero fanfare, a small flag-lowering ceremony was conducted in Kabul that marked the end of the war in Afghanistan.

As the military and political leadership continues to assure us that the Afghanistan army is up to the challenge of defending the country, the Taliban has continued to advance in several provinces while attacking targets of opportunity all across the country.

New York Times:

In front of a small, hand-picked audience at the headquarters of the NATO mission, the green-and-white flag of the International Security Assistance Force was ceremonially rolled up and sheathed, and the flag of the new international mission called Resolute Support was hoisted.

U.S. Gen. John Campbell, commander of ISAF, commemorated the 3,500 international soldiers killed on Afghan battlefields and praised the country’s army for giving him confidence that they are able to take on the fight alone.

“Resolute Support will serve as the bedrock of an enduring partnership” between NATO and Afghanistan, Campbell told an audience of Afghan and international military officers and officials, as well as diplomats and journalists.

“The road before us remains challenging, but we will triumph,” he added.

Beginning Jan. 1, the new mission will provide training and support for Afghanistan’s military, with the U.S. accounting for almost 11,000 of the 13,500 members of the residual force.

“Thanks to the extraordinary sacrifices of our men and women in uniform, our combat mission in Afghanistan is ending, and the longest war in American history is coming to a responsible conclusion,” U.S. President Barack Obama said in a statement issued in Hawaii, where he is on vacation with his family.

Afghan President Ashraf Ghani, who took office in September, signed bilateral security agreements with Washington and NATO allowing the ongoing military presence. The move has led to a spike in violence, with the Taliban claiming it as an excuse to step up operations aimed at destabilizing his government.

ISAF was set up after the U.S.-led invasion as an umbrella for the coalition of around 50 nations that provided troops and took responsibility for security across the country. It ends with 2,224 American soldiers killed, according to an Associated Press tally.

The mission, which was initially aimed at toppling the Taliban and rooting out al-Qaida following the Sept. 11, 2001 attacks, peaked at 140,000 troops in 2010. Obama ordered a surge to drive the insurgents out of strategically important regions, notably in the southern provinces of Helmand and Kandahar, where the Taliban had its capital from 1996 to 2001.

Taliban spokesman Zabihullah Mujahid called Sunday’s event a “defeat ceremony” and said the insurgents’ fight would continue.

No victory celebration, but that was inevitable once President Obama decided to withdraw. According to some experts, the Afghan army is hanging tough against the Taliban in many areas and the terrorists are finding it difficult to hang on to real estate:

“They are conducting attacks, but when it comes to holding territory they have not been able to [do] that successfully,” said Lisa Curtis, senior research fellow for Asian studies at the conservative-leaning Heritage Foundation. “The Afghan forces have been hanging in and have remained in control of large swathes of territory, but the Taliban’s continual attacks are contributing to a sense of instability across many regions and resulting in a lot of deaths.”

That circumstance is evident in the casualty rates among Afghan security forces: They have suffered more than 4,600 deaths in 2014 alone, surpassing the number of deaths sustained by the coalition since the war began in 2001, according to the Economist. In context, it’s a huge increase in the overall death toll, accounting for about one-third of the 13,000 Afghan security personnel killed in 13 years of war, based on figures reported by the New York Times.

This high death toll helped convince U.S. President Barack Obama to commit 1,000 extra troops above the 9,800 due to remain in the country past the date that will signal the end of combat operations in Afghanistan: Dec. 31. That will leave about 13,000 NATO troops in the country overall.

The military situation is challenging enough, but it’s political problems that may doom the Afghan government to extinction. Afghan President Ashraf Ghani’s government is plagued with factionalism and still lacks a cabinet months after the election. Ghani is forced to share power with Prime Minister Dr. Abdullah Abdullah who still appears to be scheming to take control. Of the power sharing agreement, one analyst says “It’s a recipe for disaster.” Otilie English, who worked in Kabul before the Taliban took over and after 9/11 also says, ““I really think the country is evolving back to conditions prior to the civil war in the 90’s in which Kabul was destroyed.”

Not words to cheer western allies who shed blood and spent treasure to try and prevent Afghanistan from once again becoming a safe haven for terrorists. The chances for a different outcome, where a free and independent Afghanistan heals itself and takes its place among the nations of the world unfortunately appear to be slim.

But America can be somewhat comforted with the idea that our military did everything that was asked of them and did it successfully. If anything untoward happens to the Afghanistan government — if the Taliban ends up in charge — the fault will lie with others, and not the men and women who sacrificed so much to get the job done.

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GQ Can’t Find Many Democrats to Put on Their ‘Craziest Politicians’ List

Sunday, December 28th, 2014 - by Rick Moran

The magazine GQ is one of the most annoying publications in America. It is painfully and self-consciously liberal, embracing every leftist cause with a cheerleader’s enthusiasm while being unrelentingly hostile to the right.

That’s why it shouldn’t surprise us that when compiling a list of “America’s 20 Craziest Politicians” author Stephen Sherrill couldn’t find more than three Democrats.

To be sure, most of the Republicans on the list fully deserve to be there. A few examples:

  1. Rep. Michael Grimm [R-NY]
    Actual thing he said:

    “You ever do that to me again, I’ll throw you off this fu**ing balcony…. I’ll break you in half. Like a boy.”

    Fun fact:

    He said it on-camera, in the atrium of a congressional building, immediately following President Obama’s State of the Union address, to a reporter who had asked him about a federal investigation into his campaign-finance practices.

    In his defense:

    He represents Staten Island, so this incident was kind of like a free campaign ad. And sure enough, in November he was re-elected by thirteen points.

State Rep. Gordon Klingenschmitt [R-CO]

Just how crazy?

Has repeatedly bragged about performing a gay exorcism (he’s a former Navy chaplain) to rid a woman of “the foul spirit of lesbianism,” and also tried to perform a long-distance exorcism on President Obama because of something about the NSA. Believes that Obamacare “causes cancer” and that Obama’s former FCC chairman was driven by the Devil to “molest and visually rape your children.”

Actual thing he said:

“Father in Heaven, we pray against the domestic enemies of the Constitution, against this demon of tyranny who is using the White House occupant, and that demonic spirit is oppressing us.”

Fun fact:

Calls himself Dr. Chaps, which is not the least bit creepy.

Rep. Jody Hice [R-GA]

Just how crazy?

Claimed that “four blood moons” falling on “major Jewish holidays” could be a sign of “world-changing, -shaking type events.”

In his defense:

Blood moons are freaky.

ACTUAL THING HE WROTE:

Some ask the question ‘How does same-sex “marriage’ threaten your marriage?’ The answer is similar to asking, ‘How does a trashy neighborhood affect you?’ “

There are some on the list who probably don’t deserve to be there — Ted Cruz, for example. GQ uses McCain’s “wacko bird” epithet as proof that Cruz is crazy. Probably the only time in the mag’s recent history they agreed with anything a Republican said.

There are three Democrats on the list. They, too, deserve to be there.  Perhaps pre-empting criticism, Sherrill wrote this disclaimer at the end of the article:

Yes, this list is Republican-heavy, and while that may seem like standard liberal-media bias, the reality is that Democrats just aren’t keeping pace right now in the crazy department. But to even the score, here’s an incomplete list of crazy Dems from yesteryear: Rod Blagojevich, David Duke, at least one or two of the Kennedys, Anthony Weiner/Carlos Danger, and Jim McGreevey.

In the spirit of Christmas, the New York Post’s Kyle Smith decided to give GQ a hand and he came up with 16 Democrats that — somehow — the magazine overlooked…

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North Korea Blames U.S. for Another Internet Outage, Hurling Racist Insults at Obama

Sunday, December 28th, 2014 - by Rick Moran

Another DOS attack hit the North Korean internet on Saturday just hours after the official news agency referred to President Obama as a “monkey.” In addition to the internet, the 3G wireless network was also disabled.

It’s the third time this week that North Korea has lost its internet connectivity.

ABC News reports:

North Korea faced a five-hour Internet outage Saturday, the country’s third major outage in the past week.

The Internet went out in the nation around 10:42 p.m. local time and remained down for five hours, according to Dyn Research, an Internet management performance company that measures global Internet traffic.

The network had previously gone down twice in the past week, with the first outage lasting for more than nine hours on Dec. 22, and the second lasting for just over 30 minutes on Dec. 23.

After the third outage today, North Korean officials released a statement insulting the president.

“Obama always goes reckless in words and deeds like a monkey in a tropical forest,” an unidentified spokesman at the commission’s Policy Department said in a statement carried by the country’s official Korean Central News Agency, according to The Associated Press.

In recent days some internet commentators have discussed the possibility over social media that another entity besides North Korea was actually behind the Sony hack. The FBI completely dismissed those theories in a statement today

“The FBI has concluded the Government of North Korea is responsible for the theft and destruction of data on the network of Sony Pictures Entertainment,” read a portion of the statement given to ABC News. “Attribution to North Korea is based on intelligence from the FBI, the U.S. intelligence community, DHS, foreign partners and the private sector. There is no credible information to indicate that any other individual is responsible for this cyber incident.”

It’s not the first time that the NoKo’s have insulted President Obama with crude, racist insults:

In May, its official news agency called Obama a “crossbreed” and “a wicked black monkey,” while referring to South Korean President Park Geun-hye as “an old prostitute.”

In August, it called Secretary of State John F. Kerry a wolf with a “hideous lantern jaw.”

Yeah, well…OK Kerry does have a lantern jaw and it’s a matter of opinion whether it’s “hideous” or not.

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Truly, John Paul II Is a Saint

Saturday, December 27th, 2014 - by Rick Moran

Startling news out of the Vatican. Mehmet Ali Agca, the man who tried to kill Pope John Paul II in 1981, visited the tomb of the saint. where he laid a bouquet of white roses.

Australian Broadcasting Company:

The Turkish man who tried to assassinate Pope John Paul II has laid flowers at the late pontiff’s tomb in the Vatican.

Mehmet Ali Agca arrived back in Rome unexpectedly and presented himself to police to declare his intention to lay the flowers.

“I felt the need to make this gesture,” he told police, according to Italian media who had been tipped off in advance about his visit.

Agca’s visit came exactly 31 years after John Paul visited him in prison in Rome to forgive him for the 1981 shooting that nearly killed the leader of the world’s Catholics.

Then aged 23, Agca shot the Pope twice at close range in St Peter’s Square, with one bullet passing through John Paul’s abdomen and another narrowly missing his heart.

Granted authorisation to pay his respects under a discreet police escort, Agca was filmed by the ADNKronos news agency murmuring a prayer at the side of the tomb after he placed his bouquet of white roses.

“A thousand thanks holiness,” he said in Italian.

“This is a miracle that goes on. The mystery of Fatima goes on. Long live Jesus Christ!”

The former extremist requested a meeting with Pope Francis when the current pontiff visited Turkey last month.

That was declined as was a fresh request for an audience this weekend in Rome.

“He has put flowers on the tomb of John Paul II. I think that is enough,” Francis’s spokesman, Federico Lombardi, told La Republica.

A remarkable turn of events, although it should be said that Agca is not counted among the most balanced people on the planet. His continual and conflicting claims that he did not act alone in the assassination attempt — that Russians and Bulgarians assisted him — may make perfect sense but have never been proved in any way.

Still, the former pontiff must have touched his heart in some way. Agca’s gesture, no matter how staged, still proves the healing power of forgiveness.

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Slain NYPD Officer Laid to Rest: Cops Turn Their Backs on de Blasio Again

Saturday, December 27th, 2014 - by Rick Moran

Officer Rafael Ramos received a hero’s funeral today, as an estimated 25,000 police officers from around the country looked on.

Several eulogists, including Governor Cuomo, Vice President Biden, and Police Commissioner Bill Bratton, praised Ramos as an outstanding officer and a warm person. But when Mayor Bill de Blasio began to speak, several hundred NYPD officers watching on viewscreens outside the church turned their backs to the screen.

Fox News:

Thousands of police officers from across the country assembled in winter sunshine in New York City for the funeral of Rafael Ramos, a police officer shot to death with his partner in an ambush last week.

The officers in dress blue uniforms stood outside the Christ Tabernacle Church in Queens for the Saturday morning services. The sea of blue stretched more than six city blocks.

In his eulogy, Mayor Bill de Blasio offered the city’s condolences to the Ramos family.

“All of this city is grieving and grieving for so many reasons,” he said. “But the most personal is that we lost such a good man.”

Vice President Joe Biden expressed his condolences to Ramos’ two sons.

“You’ve shown tremendous courage these past days,” he said.

He said Ramos and his partner Wenjian Liu were officers who were committed, passionate and vigilant.

“Being a cop was not what they did, it was who they were like every man and woman in uniform today and they, like every one of you here and outside, all joined for the same reason,” Biden said.

The church applauded when Biden called the New York Police Department the finest in the world.

“When an assassin’s bullet targeted two officers, it targeted this city and it touched the soul of an entire nation,” the vice president said.

“I believe this police force will show the nation how to bridge any divide,” he said.

Police Commissioner Bill Bratton told the mourners they knew who officer Ramos was. “Father, son, brother and husband,” he said. “He was a New Yorker. He was a New York City police officer.

The church erupted in applause when Bratton ended by saying Ramos was a hero.

There were also cheers when Bratton said he had promoted Ramos to detective first grade and appointed him an honorary department chaplain.

Bratton said Ramos and his partner were assassinated because of who they were. “They were killed for their color,” the commissioner said. “They were blue.”

Gov. Andrew Cuomo called the shooting of the two officer “an attack on all of us.”

De Blasio has been scrambling since the shootings to bury his remarks earlier this month when he told an audience after the Eric Garner grand jury refused to indict that he had warned his bi-racial son to be careful around police.

It is apparent that many in the New York City Police Department have long memories:

Dozens of police officers turned their backs in silent protest Saturday as Mayor de Blasio eulogized their slain colleague Officer Rafael Ramos.

The officers were part of the overflow crowd standing outside the Christ Tabernacle Church in Queens, watching the funeral on large video screens, when de Blasio stepped into the pulpit.

A mixture of NYPD members and officers from other departments then turned their backs toward the screen above Myrtle Ave. in Queens.

They stood mutely as the mayor’s words of praise for both Ramos and the NYPD echoed across the cool December morning, falling on deaf ears.

Officers had done the same thing one week earlier when de Blasio arrived at Woodhull Hospital after the double murder.

Patrolmen’s Benevolent Association head Patrick Lynch said the mayor had “blood on his hands” after the killings last weekend in Brooklyn.

000000

De Blasio has taken great pains to praise the police department vociferously and often in the week since the shootings. It hasn’t taken. It appears that what the police officers want most from de Blasio — aside from his resignation — is an apology. This is something the mayor will probably not give them. It’s a sign of weakness de Blasio can’t afford at this juncture of his war with the department.

The wound is deep, but will almost certainly scab over. Neither side can afford a total break. But the cops have de Blasio on notice and it won’t take much for open warfare to break out again.

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Obama Thinks Race Relations Have Gotten Better Since He Took Office

Saturday, December 27th, 2014 - by Rick Moran

You have to wonder sometimes what planet the President of the United States is living on.

Earlier this month, the president told BET that race relations were better because we’ve made progress over the last 50 years.

“If you talk to your parents, grandparents, uncles, they’ll tell you that things are better — not good, in some cases, but better,” he continued. “And the reason it’s important for us to understand progress has been made is that then gives us hope that we can make even more progress.”

This is true, and it’s something we rarely hear from the Al Sharpton’s of the so-called civil rights movement.

But yesterday, President Obama told NPR that progress has actually been made since he took office — that the nation is less racially divided today than it was in 2008.

New York Post:

President Obama says the United States is less racially divided despite the tensions raging from deadly police shootings and emotional protests.

Compared to six years ago when he made history as the first black president, Obama says American race relations are on the upswing.

“I actually think that it’s probably in its day-to-day interactions less racially divided,” Obama told National Public Radio.

Americans, however, seem to disagree.

A Bloomberg Politics survey out this month found a majority of Americans – 53 percent – feel interactions between white and black communities have deteriorated since Obama took office.

The choke-hold death of Eric Garner on Staten Island and fatal shooting of Michael Brown in Ferguson, Mo. sparked nationwide outrage when the white officers in both cases were not criminally charged. Obama has sought to channel the frustration into a national campaign for better police relations.

Americans have been divided by race over the outcome. The majority of white Americans agreed with the decision not to charge Ferguson Officer Darren Wilson in Brown’s death, while nearly all blacks disagreed.

A slight majority of whites, however, disagreed with a grand jury’s decision not to charge Office Daniel Pantaleo in New York, according to Bloomberg’s survey.

My own personal observation is that I haven’t seen the racial divide this bad since the early 1970′s. I don’t know what kind of metrics you can use to measure the racial divide, but polls are only a small part of the equation. Two recent Pew Polls — one following the grand jury decision in Ferguson not to indict Officer Wilson and another that measured the reaction following both the Michael Brown and Eric Garner grand jury decisions, show a deep divide between blacks and whites.

Whites viewed the grand juries as acting correctly in the Ferguson and Staten Island cases by 64% and 47% respectively.

The numbers of black Americans who saw the grand juries come to incorrect decisions was 80% and 90%.

How much of this is President Obama to blame for?

Clearly, the president had nothing to do with the incidents that set off the latest round of protests. But his attorney general, Eric Holder, has federalized both cases, and is investigating both officers for violating the dead men’s civil rights. Also, statements made by both Obama and Holder leaves no doubt that they have taken sides in both cases and that their sympathies lie with the protestors.

If both Obama and Holder would look behind the activist leaders of these protests and see the cadres of Communists, anarchists, and cop haters filling the ranks, they would see the damage their advocacy has caused.

The country is a tinderbox right now with another cop killing or shooting of an unarmed kid for whatever reason threatening to act as a catalyst for widespread unrest. The racial divide has not narrowed in the president’s six years in office. In fact, Barack Obama’s legacy will be to hand a deeply embittered nation, cleaved in two by racial misunderstanding and mistrust, to his successor.

And he will leave office with the knowledge that he not only did nothing to heal the divide, but actually made it worse.

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Happy…er…Merry…um…Whatever. It’s Kwanza

Saturday, December 27th, 2014 - by Rick Moran

Making up holidays is a fine American tradition. Just ask Hallmark Cards and their invention of “Secretary’s Day” and “Boss’s Day.” “Mother’s Day” began as a celebration decreed by a few states in the early 20th century and morphed into a commercial bonanza during the 1920s.

But that’s American capitalism at work. To make a “black holiday,” the inventor of Kwanza, Dr. Maulana (Swahili for “master teacher”) Karenga, AKA Ron N. Everett, had to put one over on black Americans and have them buy into the notion that a holiday invented for American blacks actually originated in Africa.

Warren Beatty, writing in the American Thinker, gives us the definitely politically incorrect history of Kwanza — an account you probably won’t find in too many other places.

Here’s a fact about Kwanzaa that liberals won’t tell you. Most Afro-Americans are descendants of people who came from west Africa, primarily Ghana. But Kwanzaa is a holiday based upon the use of the Swahili language and traditions. Swahili is spoken by people in Southeast Africa. Where Swahili is spoken is about three thousand miles from Ghana. So when making up Kwanzaa, Karenga was either ignorant of African geography and languages, or he was contemptuous of Afro-Americans, or (most probably) both.

As William J. Bennett says, “Karenga has concocted some bits of lore, lingo, and mumbo-jumbo that are intended to make Kwanzaa look like something out of Africa instead of something from Los Angeles County, but his efforts have been feeble.”

Further, the “Official Kwanzaa Website” refers to a book by Karenga published by the University of Sankore Press. There is today no University of Sankore. In fact, the ancient University of Sankore was a group of Islamic schools in Timbuktu in the 14th, 15th and 16th centuries. In an effort to give itself some creditability, the website says:

The University of Sankore Press takes its name from the famous University of Sankore in Timbuktu, Mali which was founded in the fourteenth century…  Our mission is to continue this legacy of commitment to African scholarship and learning by publishing scholarly yet accessible books on Continental and diasporic African life, culture and history with due attention to issues of race, ethnicity, gender and cultural diversity.  [emphasis mine]

There is a link to the “Kwanzaa Shop” where you can buy, among other things, muhindi — corn.  But corn wasn’t known at all in ancient Africa.

The website says that Kwanzaa’s “… origins are in the first harvest celebrations of Africa from which it takes its name,” and that “…celebrations are recorded in African history as far back as ancient Egypt and Nubia…[.]“  Yet there is no explanation of why ancient Egyptians or Nubians celebrated harvest festivals at a time fully two months after their harvest was complete. Or why ancient Egyptians or Nubians celebrated harvest festivals on a northern hemisphere schedule. Or even why Egyptians are included.

Also on the website is the statement “… Swahili, a Pan-African language which is the most widely spoken African language.” Swahili is spoken by about 7 percent of African people. Arabic is the language most spoken in Africa. As for “Pan-African,” Swahili is a Bantu language, with many words coming from Arabic, Persian, and Indian languages. Swahili was originally written in Arabic script.

Well, you get the picture.

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Malaysian PM Criticized for Golfing with Obama While Homeland Suffers from Flooding

Thursday, December 25th, 2014 - by Rick Moran

It is to say, “bad optics” that’s plaguing Malaysian Prime Minister Najib Abdul Razak after news reached his homeland of his round of golf with President Obama.

Massive flooding has displaced tens of thousands of people and critics are calling on Razak to return home to deal with the crisis.

News24:

Malaysian Prime Minister Najib Abdul Razak was under fire at home on Thursday for spending his holiday golfing with US President Barack Obama in Hawaii while the country faces one of its worst floods.

More than 91 000 people have been displaced, the official news agency Bernama reported.

Netizens bombarded Najib’s Facebook page with calls for him to return home and deal with the disaster after news reports surfaced about him playing golf with Obama.

Najib’s latest Facebook post Thursday, in which he mentioned that he has contacted his deputy, who is also the chairman of the National Disaster Management Committee, to step up efforts to assist the victims, received over 1 300 comments. Many commenters took issue with him playing golf during the floods.

Bernama reported that as of noon on Thursday, over 91 000 people have fled their homes and were staying in the hundreds of shelters set up in the six states most affected.

The east coast states that face the South China Sea such as Kelantan, Terengganu and Pahang were the worst hit. Many roads were cut off and train services to the east coast states were cancelled.

Kelantan saw the highest number of displaced victims at over 32 000 people. Part of the main hospital in the capital, Kota Bharu, had to be evacuated on Wednesday involving about 200 patients, according to the Harian Metro daily. Four people have died in Kelantan due to the floods that started last week.

I know that if President Obama remained in Hawaii after a big natural disaster hit America, he would come in for similar criticism, so it’s not surprising that Malaysians would be upset at their prime minister’s seeming indifference to suffering. Recall the criticism directed at President Bush who chose to remain on his ranch after Hurricane Katrina made landfall along the gulf coast.

A national leader has to be aware of this sort of thing, even though in practical terms. there’s no difference between Razak being on a golf course in Hawaii or back in his office in Kuala Lampur. But no matter how often the truth is repeated, the opposition licks its chops at this sort of symbolic image. Ordinary people want to know that their leader feels their pain and stands in solidarity with them.

Razak currently as no plans to return early to Malaysia.

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JetBlue Offers Free Flights to Cops Attending Funeral of Slain NYC Officers

Thursday, December 25th, 2014 - by Rick Moran

In an extraordinary gesture of support for police across the country, JetBlue announced that it would fly police officers wanting to attend the funeral of the two murdered New York cops free of charge.

New York Post:

JetBlue airlines said Wednesday it will be offering free flights to police officers from around the country who wish to attend the funerals for the two slain NYPD cops killed over the weekend.

The airline said it will allow up to two cops from each department to fly at no charge from anywhere across its route network to New York City.

“We’re honored to do what we can to support the communities we serve, and our team has made flights available to law enforcement agencies … who wish to send representatives to New York to support their brethren,” said JetBlue spokeswoman Sharon Jones.

Officer Rafael Ramos’ funeral will be held Saturday at the Christ Tabernacle Church in Glendale, Queens, and is expected to be packed with cops from far and wide.

Funeral services for Officer Wenjian Liu have not been finalized, but JetBlue said it is working with a partner carrier to bring the cop’s relatives to New York from China at no charge.

Very heartening, and a generous gesture this Christmas season. I hope hundreds of police jurisdictions take advantage of JetBlue’s generosity and send officers to stand in solidarity with their brothers and sisters in New York and around the country.

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Report: North Korea Internet Totally Offline

Monday, December 22nd, 2014 - by Rick Moran

A report from DYN Research based on information from North Korea Tech says that North Korean internet connectivity grew steadily worse over the last 24 hours and is now completely offline.

Speculation for the reason centers on some sort of attack in retaliation for the Sony hack, or it could be North Korea itself trying to prevent a cyber attack.

CNBC reports:

“I haven’t seen such a steady beat of routing instability and outages in KP before,” Doug Madory, director of Internet analysis at DYN Research, told North Korea Tech. “Usually there are isolated blips, not continuous connectivity problems. I wouldn’t be surprised if they are absorbing some sort of attack presently.”

In an interview with Re/code, Madory said that even typically strong connections are experiencing disruptions. (CNBC’s parent NBC Universal is an investor in Re/code’s parent Revere Digital.)

“They’re pretty stable networks normally,” he told Re/code. “In the last 24 hours or so, the networks in North Korea are under some kind of duress, but I can’t tell you exactly what’s causing it.”

He added that there is no way to know if the outages are the result of an attack, or are just from maintenance or a power outage. Still, “given the timing,” a cyberattack is worth considering, he told Re/code.

In a Friday media conference, Obama promised a response “at a place and time and manner that we choose,” and he declined to rule out military force or economic penalties.

When asked for comment, a White House National Security Council representative told CNBC, “We don’t have any new announcements on North Korea today.”

“We aren’t going to discuss publicly operational details about the possible response options or comment on those kind of reports in anyway except to say that as we implement our responses, some will be seen, some may not be seen,” Marie Harf, a deputy spokeswoman at the State Department, said during a media briefing.

It would be satisfying, indeed, if U.S. cyberwarriors hit back at the blowhard regime. But at least one expert thinks there could be another reason for the outage:

Speaking with The Wall Street Journal, Cloudflare CEO Matthew Prince suggested that North Korea’s loss of Internet connectivity may not necessarily be the result of U.S. action. In fact, he told the Journal, the country could have shut off its own Internet to assert control over its population or guard against cyberattacks. China—which provides Internet to the embattled nation—also could have taken North Korea offline in response to American pressure, he said.

Looks like Kim Jong-un is going to have to go without his NBA.com fix for a while.

If this is a U.S. counter to the North Korean hack of Sony, it’s hardly “proportional.” But it is a useful message to send: screw with us and we’ll take down the whole shebang.

At the very least, it’s a message that even Kim and his henchmen can understand.

More on North Korea:  The Villains You Choose

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Obama’s Response to Sony Hack: Slow and Inadequate

Sunday, December 21st, 2014 - by Rick Moran

A curious CNN interview conducted between Candy Crowley and President Obama aired today, with the president claiming that North Korea’s hack of Sony Corporation was not “an act of war” but “an act of cybervandalism.”

Obama said in a Friday news conference that Sony made “a mistake,” and that he wished the company had called him first. That led Sony Entertainment CEO Michael Lynton to tell CNN that Obama and the public “are mistaken as to what actually happened.” He blamed movie theater companies that opted not to show the film, saying they forced Sony’s hand.

Obama shot back, saying: “I was pretty sympathetic to the fact that they have business considerations that they got to make. Had they talked to me directly about this decision, I might have called the movie theater chains and distributors and asked them what the story was.”

The President told Crowley that his problem wasn’t with Sony specifically, but with the precedent the company’s decision set.

The FBI on Friday pinned blame on North Korea for a hack into Sony’s computer systems. Obama said both foreign governments and hackers outside government present cyberthreats that are part of the modern business landscape.

“If we set a precedent in which a dictator in another country can disrupt through cyber, a company’s distribution chain or its products, and as a consequence we start censoring ourselves, that’s a problem,” Obama said.

“And it’s a problem not just for the entertainment industry, it’s a problem for the news industry,” he said. “CNN has done critical stories about North Korea. What happens if in fact there is a breach in CNN’s cyberspace? Are we going to suddenly say, are we not going to report on North Korea?

“So the key here is not to suggest that Sony was a bad actor. It’s making a broader point that all of us have to adapt to the possibility of cyberattacks, we have to do a lot more to guard against them.”

It’s a problem that the president is simply not addressing. Congress has been complaining since news of the hack broke that the government has been dragging its feet on cyber security measures. And House intel chair Rep. Hal Rogers thinks that the president’s reaction to the hack itself has been lacking:

President Obama should move have moved swiftly against North Korea following a cyberattack on Sony Pictures that has cost the company tens of millions of dollars and caused it to pull its controversial comedy, “The Interview,” House Intelligence Committee Chairman Mike Rogers (R-Mich.) said Sunday.

“Saying ‘aloha’ and getting on the plane to Hawaii is not the answer,” Rogers said on “Fox News Sunday,” referring to Obama’s annual holiday trip. “This was a nation state attack on the United States.”

In fact, one tech analyst is wondering why Sony has been left to deal with the North Koreans. Isn’t that the president’s job?

President Obama was quick to second-guess Sony Pictures Entertainment for its handling of the North Korean terrorist threat, which has critics asking why a movie studio has been left to conduct foreign policy instead of the White House.

“This is not something Hollywood is equipped to handle, which is, ‘How do you battle a foreign country?’” said Hemanshu Nigam, a cybersecurity expert who previously headed worldwide Internet enforcement for the Motion Picture Association of America.

“That’s the job of the White House, and if anyone needs to show leadership in that area, it’s the White House,” he said.

Byron York reminds us of what a strong leader is capable of when confronted by the kind of bullying facing Sony. In 1940, a Captain America comic appeared that showed the hero punching Adolf Hitler in the face. The creators received death threats because of it. York relates what happened next:

“The theme was ‘death to the Jews,’” Simon wrote in his memoir. “At first we were inclined to laugh off their threats, but then, people in the office reported seeing menacing-looking groups of strange men in front of the building on 42nd Street, and some of the employees were fearful of leaving the office for lunch.”

Simon called the cops, and as soon as the police showed up, the phone rang. Mayor Fiorello La Guardia wanted to speak to the creators of Captain America. Simon got on the line. “You boys over there are doing a good job,” the voice squeaked. “The city of New York will see that no harm will come to you.’”

That is how it’s supposed to work in a democracy.

Mayor De Blasio made no offer to safeguard New York theaters. President Obama certainly didn’t call the theater chains and offer federal security assistance. All Obama did was second-guess Sony for their decision not to release the film — a moot point when all the major chains refused to run it.

A president shouldn’t give only lip service to freedom of speech. He should do everything in his power to defend it. I wonder if it had been a controversial film about race if the president would have immediately offered federal security for movie theaters under threat.

Just asking.

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De Blasio Reaping What He Sowed

Sunday, December 21st, 2014 - by Rick Moran

New York City Mayor Bill de Blasio is hearing it from all sides today as he pays the consequences for his ill considered remarks following the failure of a grand jury to indict a police officer in the death of Eric Garner.

De Blasio enraged police when he told a crowd of supporters in Staten Island earlier this month that he feared for his bi-racial son’s safety when dealing with the police:

Chirlane and I have had to talk to Dante for years about the danger that he may face … how to take special care in any encounters he has with the police officers who are there to protect him.”

De Blasio added, “We are dealing with centuries of racism that have brought us to this day. That is how profound the crisis is.” The implication was clear that he thought the officer’s actions were motivated by racism.

Needless to say, the police unions were livid over these remarks, as well as the general tone of de Blasio’s support for the protestors.

The whole thing now has blown up in his face because of the execution style murders of two officers in Brooklyn yesterday. The police unions, politicians, and pundits are letting him have it.

Rudy Giuliani didn’t pull any punches:

Critics of New York City Mayor Bill de Blasio (D) and President Obama claimed the two stoked hostility against law enforcement by empathizing with protesters who have bemoaned the deaths of Eric Garner and Michael Brown, two black men killed by police this year in New York and Missouri.

“We’ve had four months of propaganda — starting with the president — that everybody should hate the police,” former New York City mayor Rudy Giuliani (R) said in an interview on “Fox and Friends Weekend.” “I don’t care how you want to describe it: That’s what those protests are all about.”

Authorities said the man who shot the officers on Saturday later took his own life.

Giuliani added that he thinks “it goes too far to blame” de Blasio for the deaths of the officers. But, he added, “I don’t think it goes too far to say the mayor did not properly police the protests.”

That’s for sure. Just ask Police Commissioner Bill Bratton, who was spattered with fake blood in Times Square during a protest against grand jury decision.

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Former New York Governor  George Pataki said that he was “sickened by these barbaric acts, which sadly are a predictable outcome of divisive anti-cop rhetoric” of the mayor and Attorney General Eric Holder.

But the real venom was unleashed by Patrolmen’s Benevolent Association President Patrick Lynch:

“There’s blood on many hands tonight,” Lynch said Saturday, adding, “That blood on the hands starts at City Hall in the office of the mayor.”

Lynch’s members showed their utter contempt for de Blasio when he came to pay his respects to the dead officers at the hospital:

Believing City Hall has betrayed them, cops demonstrated their anger Saturday by turning their backs on Mayor de Blasio as he entered a Brooklyn hospital to pay his respects to two murdered officers.

A startling video shows a hallway at Woodhull Hospital filled with officers silently facing away from de Blasio as he walks a blue gantlet.

The demonstration, captured by WPIX11 News, included the presidents of the Patrolmen’s Benevolent Association and the Sergeants Benevolent Association.

 

New York Rep. Gregory Meeks defended the mayor:

“I think the tone that the mayor is trying to set is a tone that brings people together,” Rep. Gregory Meeks (D-N.Y.) said on “This Week.” He called comments made by Patrolmen’s Benevolent Association President Patrick Lynch criticizing de Blasio “unfortunate.”

“We stand with the police department. No one has ever given up on the police department or said we were anti-police department. What we were crying for was just saying how African Americans feel — how their communities are policed,” the congressman said.

Protestors aren’t anti-police. When New York protestors chanted “What do we want? Dead cops!” and when they threw fake blood on Commissioner Bratton, they were only spreadin’ the love, man.

President Obama, AG Holder, and de Blasio have been the three major enablers of these protests. They speak piously of peaceful protestors when most of the demonstrators are visibly and vocally anti-police.

What has made their actions and rhetoric so despicable over the last few months is that they know exactly what they’re doing. They claim to want to unite people, when they deliberately try to drive a wedge between the races.

They are the ones who have exacerbated this issue so that the nation is split along racial lines. I wish I could give them the benefit of the doubt and ascribe noble motives to their actions. But we’ve all been watching these people for six years and doubts are all that’s left.

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Social Media Explodes in Joy as News Breaks of Dead NY City Police Officers

Sunday, December 21st, 2014 - by Rick Moran

I suppose we shouldn’t be surprised by the outpouring of nauseating hate and joy expressed by many on the left over the execution of two New York City police officers. In truth, there is a case to be made to ignore the celebration of death, not give it any oxygen to breathe nor acknowledge it exists in any way.

But holding up these examples of inhumanity for all to see is both necessary and proper. It is necessary because it’s a record of hypocrisy that the entire left cannot ignore. And it is proper because it is instructive as to the depths that humans can sink in their depravity.

They were compiled — many of them — by LilMissRightie from #BlueLivesMatter, a hashtag hijacked by protestors earlier.

I will simply let the tweets speak for themselves. Via Twitchy:

 

 

LMR apologizes for upsetting people:

It gets worse:

 

 

 

LilMissRightie should be commended for her compilation of mentally unbalanced thoughts from some pretty despicable human beings. Two more from her on the next page.

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Rep. Peter King Calls on Sports Teams to Wear NYPD Patch in Honor of Slain Officers

Sunday, December 21st, 2014 - by Rick Moran

Recently, professional athletes have made their feelings known about the protests sweeping the country over grand jury decisions not to indict police officers for the deaths of Michael Brown and Eric Garner.

Four members of the St. Louis Rams ran on to the field with their hands up, indicating their solidarity with protestors advancing the myth that Michael Brown died while surrendering. NBA players Derrickk Rose and LeBron James both wore “I can’t breathe” T-shirts during warm ups before recent games.

Whether intended or not, the protests cast blame upon the police, and caused much anger in the ranks of officers.

Now, New York Representative Peter King is suggesting that pro sports teams wear a NYPD patch on their uniforms to honor the officers executed yesterday. In an email, King urged:

To honor the memory of the two NYPD officers who were assassinated yesterday and to demonstrate solidarity with the brave men and women of law enforcement, I urge college and professional basketball, football and hockey teams to wear NYPD insignia on their uniforms. This would bring honor and dignity to the NCAA, the NBA, the NFL and the NHL.

The players would almost certainly refuse to wear the patches. How could they when they’ve already sworn allegiance to protestors who are celebrating the death of the officers? Will there be any signs of solidarity with police at all?

The players have placed themselves in an impossible situation. They swear their protest was not directed against the police. But that’s exactly how the protestors viewed their actions. Changing their stance and wearing a NYPD patch on their uniforms would bring cries of hypocrisy from the activists who are fanning the flames of racial unrest.

My guess is that before NFL games today, there will be a moment of silence to honor the police officers. That will be the extent that the NFL sticks its neck out for the police.

 

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Two NY City Police Officers Shot Dead in Brooklyn

Saturday, December 20th, 2014 - by Rick Moran

Two New York City police officers were shot dead in Brooklyn while sitting in their patrol car.

The suspect came up behind them and shot them execution style. The perp then fled to a subway station, where he eventually shot himself.

Fox News reports:

“The perp came out of the houses, walked up behind the car and lit them up,” a high-ranking police official told the Daily News.

An NYPD spokesman confirmed to Fox News that two officers were shot in the incident and were immediately moved to a nearby hospital. Police later told The Associated Press that both officers died from their injuries..

The New York Post reported that both officers were shot in the head at point-blank range.

“It’s an execution,” one law enforcement source told The Post.

The gunman just started “pumping bullets” into the patrol car, another source said.

The suspect then fled to a nearby subway station before he shot and killed himself.

The shooting comes at a time when police in New York and nationwide have been criticized by some over the circumstances surrounding the chokehold death of Eric Garner, a black man who was stopped by police for selling loose, untaxed cigarettes.

Now, if I were to analyze this incident the same way that liberals analyze similar incidents where they think they can blame conservatives, I would blame the shootings of these two officers on liberal websites fanning the flames of rage against the police. I would blame the murders on Al Sharpton, Jesse Jackson, the Black Caucus, the parents of Michael Brown — all the race hustlers who have been exploiting the situation for their own benefit.

I’d blame Eric Holder and Barack Obama for pandering to black anger. I’d blame the climate of cop hatred that has been created by so-called activists and has sprung up and infected black communities across the country.

But I’m not a liberal so I am going to withhold judgment until we find out why the perpetrator committed this horrific act. Anyone who takes their own life is a disturbed individual, so it’s possible that all of the above had little or nothing to do with his act of murder.

More from Ed Driscoll: 

Its Orgin and Purpose, Still a Total Mystery

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A Christmas Present Courtesy of Obamacare

Saturday, December 20th, 2014 - by Rick Moran

To the old adage ‘Nothing is certain in life except death and taxes” can be added…and Obamacare.

It appears that once the government has their claws into you after you purchase an insurance plan at healthcare.gov, the government is not going to let you go. A new rule promulgated by the Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services will re-enroll you automatically in a new Obamacare plan without your knowledge or consent, nor with knowledge of your medical history.

Outrageous? You betchya. And millions of people who don’t realize they have to renew their policy every year are going to fall victim to it.

Washington Times:

It seems CMS is taking a page from Jonathan Gruber’s book; rather than allowing the “stupid” masses to make a decision on their own health plan, CMS has proposed a new rule that includes an overly reaching provision allowing CMS to re-enroll anyone who has not made the annual trek back to healthcare.gov in a cheaper plan of CMS’ choosing.

That’s right, the government will choose your plan, perhaps limit access to your doctor, and ultimately make the decision on what is “best” for you.

Not to worry, just like Lady Justice, who wears a blindfold when determining guilt or innocence, CMS will use a blindfold to pick your plan. The agency will select your plan without knowing your medical history. They will do so without knowing if you are currently undergoing treatment or working with a specific doctor. They will do so without knowing your financial status. Despite the fact that the millions of people who already enrolled chose the plan that they believed was best for them.

CMS has laid the perfect trap: Sign up at healthcare.gov one time in your life and we will never let you go. If you don’t continually re-enroll each and every year, CMS will keep you on the plan that it chooses because, after all, CMS knows what’s best and they always make the best decision. Oh, and if you don’t believe that, please go to the 600 million dollar website that will give you all kinds of testimonials handcrafted by MIT professors.

To be clear, a citizen will sign up once for a private plan with a healthcare provider, only to have that plan changed by the federal government. Moreover, CMS will change your plan after the open enrollment period ends, leaving you and your family stuck with a potentially unwanted plan for the year.

The only people that will be happier than the MIT economics professors and “government-knows-best” elitists will be the lawyers who will have the chance to litigate this bureaucratic fiasco. I actually just advised my son to change his studies to healthcare law.

More complexity and subterfuge. This is a feature, not a bug of this law. Think of how much of the law has not been implemented yet because doing so would be wildly unpopular. Hiding the bad news from citizens appears to be the goal of bureaucrats who continue to expand their power at our expense.

Now, in America we have a kind of law called the Constitution and I bet you thought that document would save us from this idiocy. They’ve ignored the Constitution so far, why should they start paying attention to it now?

I hope Republican candidates are making a list and checking it twice of idiotic and inane rules and regulations being foisted on the public by the Obama administration. The list is so long it will probably take two terms for the Republican president to address it.

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Cuban Dissidents Cite ‘Betrayal’ by Obama

Saturday, December 20th, 2014 - by Rick Moran

President Obama and those supporting the opening to Cuba have been repeating a mantra the last few days that our engagement will help the Cuban people toward their goal of achieving democracy.

What do the people fighting for freedom in Cuba today think? Perhaps the president should have talked to them before taking this step. An editorial in the Washington Post details the reaction of major dissidents in Cuba, and, not surprisingly. it turns out that they feel betrayed by the president.

PRESIDENT OBAMA said he decided to normalize relations with Cuba because “we can do more to support the Cuban people and promote our values through engagement.” So it’s important to know the reaction of those Cubans who have put their lives on the line to fight for democracy and human rights. Many have supported engagement and opposed the U.S. embargo. But they are now pretty much unanimous in saying that the way Mr. Obama has gone about this is a mistake.

Actually, “mistake” is the polite word used by Berta Soler of the Ladies in White, an astonishingly courageous group of women who march each week in support of political prisoners. “Betrayal” was the term used by several others, who asked why Mr. Obama had chosen to lift economic restrictions and dispatch an ambassador without requiring the “significant steps toward democracy” he once said must precede liberalization.

Guillermo Fariñas, the general director of the dissidents’ United Anti-Totalitarian Front, told reporters in Havana that Mr. Obama had promised in a November 2013 meeting with himself and Ms. Soler that any U.S. action on Cuba “would be consulted with civil society and the nonviolent opposition. Obviously this didn’t happen . . . they didn’t take into account Cuban democrats.”

What does a promise to people risking their lives for freedom matter when there’s history to be made! This president’s mania for getting his name in the history books has already led to a gargantuan health insurance law that isn’t working, the enabling of Iran (the world’s most fanatical and dangerous regime) to build a nuclear weapon, the abandonment of Iraq to the forces of evil in his historic bid to end the war, and the amnestying of 6 million people without congressional approval.

The president is making history, alright — no matter how many people are hurt along the way.

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NLRB Drops the Hammer on McDonald’s Corporation

Saturday, December 20th, 2014 - by Rick Moran

We’ve got two years left of this crap, while the president and his appointees are going to constantly redefine the concept of “transforming America.”

The National Labor Relations Board took the unprecedented step of filing complaints against not only McDonald’s franchises for labor violations, but also the parent company, McDonald’s Inc. The franchise agreement explicitly states that McDonald’s, Inc. will have nothing to do with hiring, firing, and supervising franchise restaurant employees. But the NLRB, seeking to boost the employee drive to unionize, targeted the parent company as well as franchises in their complaints.

Politico:

The complaints allege that the company and its franchisees retaliated against protesters by reducing their hours or firing them. It’s illegal to retaliate against any worker for “concerted activities” to protest workplace conditions, even when no union organizing takes place — which was almost always the case in the fast food protests.

The action, undertaken by the National Labor Relations Board’s general counsel, will be met immediately by a high-spending business campaign to counter it through litigation, lobbying and public relations. The International Franchise Association, the most active Big Business lobby opposing the complaints, has already retained lobbyists at the law firm Akin Gump Strauss Hauer & Feld, including Ed Pagano, a former Senate liaison and deputy assistant to President Barack Obama for legislative affairs and longtime staffer for Democratic Sen. Pat Leahy of Vermont.

NLRB general counsel Richard Griffin, who acts as a sort of prosecutor, may issue legal complaints against any business, including a franchisee. In July Griffin drew considerable consternation from McDonald’s and other franchisors when he determined that the McDonald’s corporation could be named a “joint employer” in such complaints.

Griffin did just that on Friday, alleging in 13 complaints against franchisees around the country that McDonald’s jointly employed workers against whom franchisees unlawfully retaliated for protesting working conditions — chiefly low wages. That’s a first for the NLRB and makes McDonald’s potentially liable, financially, for any back pay that an administrative judge or the NLRB may order, and potentially responsible, legally, for any failure to carry out an order to reinstate an employee. (The NLRB is unable by statute to impose fines or require payment of compensatory or punitive damages.) By questioning McDonald’s Corp.’s contention that it exists entirely separate and apart from its franchisees, Griffin’s actions could eventually set in motion NLRB actions that compel McDonald’s to bargain with franchisee employees.

If you’re confused about this, you’re not the only one. Here’s the NLRB’s explanation for the action:

“Through its franchise relationship and its use of tools, resources and technology,” the office of general counsel said, McDonald’s “engages in sufficient control over its franchisees’ operations, beyond protection of the brand, to make it a putative joint employer with its franchisees.” This finding, the statement said, was “further supported by McDonald’s’ … nationwide response to franchise employee activities while participating in fast food worker protests to improve their wages and working conditions.”

A “putative joint employer”? What the heck does that mean? The parent company still doesn’t hire employees, or fire them, or set their hours, or exercise any other “control” that a reasonable person would recognize as such. Clearly, there is some other logic at play that makes the NLRB think they can railroad the company into granting the demands of the workers.

For the record, the NLRB is not supposed to take sides in labor disputes. In this case, they have bent over backwards, overreaching to find McDonald’s, Inc. liable for something they are not. It may be the most egregious example yet of pro-union bias by the agency during the Obama years.

Given the nature of the fast food industry, there could be any number of reasons why an employee is fired, or has their hours reduced — most notably, in addition to going out on “strike,” they may be consistently late or call in sick, or screw up on the job. Fast food employees are not rocket scientists, and my experience with teenagers and young adults working in menial jobs is that many of them are irresponsible, having no idea how to hold down a job, and take no pride in the work itself.

This NLRB action is a shot across the bow to the fast food industry. It will also be a test of a union strategy to bring fast food corporations to their knees in order to make them do their bidding.

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Obamacare Tax Rules a Boon for Preparers

Thursday, December 18th, 2014 - by Rick Moran

Tax preparation for the average American is going to be a lot more complicated this year as Obamacare penalties will be assessed for those who fail to purchase government-approved insurance.

Taxpayers have until February 15 to buy an approved insurance plan. Failure to do so will result in a fine being assessed of $325 or 2% of your income, whichever is greater.

Both insurance companies and tax preparation outfits are playing up the fines for non-insurance as a marketing tool. Companies like H&R Block and Jackson-Hewitt are inviting tax payers to pay them a visit to ensure they are in compliance with IRS regs.

The Hill:

Part of the pitch is helping consumers avoid the mandate through an exemption if they are eligible.

A variety of hardship qualifications makes this route possible for many people, including those who experienced the death of a close relative, had their previous health plan canceled or saw an increase in necessary expenses due to caring for an aging family member.

“There are a lot of people who will qualify for an exemption,” said Avalere Health CEO Dan Mendelson. “If a company can save someone the 2 percent fine on $50,000 of income, that is significant.”

Firms are also offering to help current enrollees understand how changes in income can affect their tax credits to buy coverage. In some cases, they can also help the uninsured select health plans.

In promotional materials, H&R Block and Jackson Hewitt Tax Service say they can provide consumers relief, arguing that healthcare reform is making tax planning more difficult.

“The ACA [Affordable Care Act] has changed the landscape of both healthcare and tax,” H&R Block states online, inviting consumers to calculate their mandate penalty or receive a “tax impact analysis” when they become a client.

Jackson Hewitt urges consumers to stop by one of its locations, promising that their employees “work harder to keep up with the latest tax law changes to protect you from possible penalties — not everyone else does.”

The marketing around the healthcare law is taking flight at a time when surveys show the public remains deeply confused about the mandate.

Almost half of U.S. adults are unaware they must report their health insurance status on their 2014 tax returns, according to a TurboTax survey released earlier this month.

And while about three in five uninsured people know the law penalizes people without coverage, nearly 90 percent do not realize the 2014 deadline has already passed.

As a result, experts are urging insurers and the federal government to do more to emphasize the mandate this enrollment period.

Some Americans are going to get a nasty surprise when they realize what exactly the individual mandate means. It’s relatively simple if you have insurance through your employer. But if you buy insurance on the open market, here are 13 pages of instructions that tell you how to fill out IRS Form 8965. (PDF)

Of course, most taxpayers won’t even attempt it, which is where the boon for tax prep companies is going to be huge. Complexity in this case is not a bug; it’s a feature.

But there’s a dirty little secret that the IRS doesn’t want you to find out. They won’t have a clue if your insurance plan is in compliance with the law or not:

Call it confusion over what to call the law – “Obamacare,” the “Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act,” the “Affordable Care Act,” the “PPACA,” or the “ACA.” Or a technical glitch. Or insufficient funding to write the program. But for whatever reason, the IRS has absolutely no way of verifying whose insurance coverage did not qualify under the law and who pays the penalty.

With just under 25 million people enrolling in the federal and state health exchanges (including Medicare and Medicaid recipients), plus the estimated 150 million who have employer-paid health care plans, there are still some 62 million people who would have to pay a penalty but likely will not. For those who do the math the IRS apparently did not, that’s a potential loss of nearly $6 billion in revenue – potentially out-pacing the EITC fraud everyone is so enraged over.

But wait, it gets worse. Some 3.6 million more people were laid off during the year and lost their health benefits – becoming liable for some or all of the penalty for the months they were not covered. Call that another billion and a half dollars.

And even worse. Those who successfully did enroll in Obamacare and received a premium credit must repay the overage if the IRS finds that the customer’s 2014 income increased over the 2012 income used as a benchmark. That’s the theory, but with the start of tax season mere weeks away there is no mechanism to make that comparison. The final rules say there will be income comparisons, but who will do this?

And worse yet. Those who do not meet the “essential minimum coverage” threshold for individuals can still avoid paying the penalty if they meet one of the dozen or so exemptions, which seem to be granted to any person who breathes air, or has a life crisis like missing a utility bill payment, or having a family member becomes ill or even a family pet with a flea problem. It really doesn’t matter, because there is no place to report either the coverage status or the exemption if you are not already enrolled in a qualified program. Those are supposed to be covered under rules that the IRS has not yet drafted.

This is a clusterfark waiting to happen. Literally millions of Americans have no idea the piano that is about to be dropped on their heads. Of course, for many of them, it’s their own fault for not paying attention to what’s going on in the country. You would think that by this time, Obamacare would hold no surprises for an informed citizenry.

But an “informed citizenry” is a relative term these days, so millions won’t see the piano. Meanwhile, H&R Block and their fellow tax preparation companies are leading the way in Obama’s economic recovery, generating wealth (their own) and creating jobs.

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Nations Reach Deal on Outline of New Climate Treaty

Sunday, December 14th, 2014 - by Rick Moran

A deal to reach a deal next year on a new climate change treaty was reached by 190 nations in Lima, Peru, on Sunday, as nations put off big decisions on what to do about global warming until a conference in Paris in 2015.

Major points of agreement included appeasing emerging economies like China and India by making rich nations mostly responsible for funding third world climate mitigation efforts, despite the fact that China is the number one emitter of greenhouse gases in the world and India is 4th.

The Lima deal also recognizes for the first time that all nations have to cut their emissions — a sop to rich countries who complained that global warming is a global problem and that all countries must participate in the reduction schemes.

But in the end, the deal is relatively meaningless. All the issues that nearly caused the talks to collapse were put off until the Paris conference next year.

Associated Press:

More than 30 hours behind schedule, delegates from more than 190 countries agreed on what information should go into the pledges that countries submit for the expected Paris pact.

They argued all day Saturday over the wording for the watered-down deal, with developing nations worried that the text blurred the distinction between what rich and poor countries can be expected to do.

Many developing countries, the most vulnerable to climate change’s impacts, accuse rich nations of shirking their responsibilities to curb climate change and pay for the damage it inflicts.

The final draft of the deal alleviated those concerns with language saying countries have “common but differentiated responsibilities” to deal with global warming.

“As a text it’s not perfect, but it includes the positions of the parties,” said Environment Minister Manuel Pulgar-Vidal, who was the conference chairman and had spent most of the day meeting separately with delegations.

In presenting a new, fourth draft just before midnight, Peru’s environment minister gave a sharply reduced body of delegates an hour to review it. Many delegates had already quit the makeshift conference center on the grounds of Peru’s army headquarters.

It also restored language demanded by small island states at risk of being flooded by rising seas, mentioning a “loss and damage” mechanism agreed upon in last year’s talks in Poland that recognizes that nations hardest hit by climate change will require financial and technical help.

“We need a permanent arrangement to help the poorest of the world,” Ian Fry, negotiator for the Pacific Island nation of Tuvalu, said at a midday session.

However, the approved draft weakened language on the content of the pledges, saying they “may” instead of “shall” include quantifiable information showing how countries intend to meet their emissions targets.

Also, top carbon polluter China and other major developing countries opposed plans for a review process that would allow the pledges to be compared against one another before Paris.

In Lima, the momentum from last month’s joint U.S.-China deal on emissions targets faded quickly as rifts reopened over who should do what to fight global warming. The goal of the talks is to shape a global agreement in Paris that puts the world on a path to reduce the heat-trapping gases that scientists say are warming the planet.

That “financial and technical assistance” will come out of the pockets of largely western taxpayers. Cost estimates have varied wildly, but one study predicted a cost of $2 trillion a year worldwide by 2050, with most of that being born by the US and the EU. By then, the US is expected to decrease its carbon emissions by 80%.

Not all of that cost will be in taxes, but a sizable portion will be. There are also expected to be some savings as we move to more efficient energy sources. But that’s just for morale. The fact is, climate change will cut economic growth significantly, which means fewer jobs created and less wealth.

The world seems hell bent on fighting climate change even though there is scant evidence that the “solutions” being offered will affect the rise in temperatures. What these treaties will accomplish will be the social goal of transferring wealth from rich countries to the control of thugs, deadbeats, kleptocrats, and fanatics in poor countries.

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Ted Cruz: The Democrats’ Best Friend

Sunday, December 14th, 2014 - by Rick Moran

Senator Ted Cruz is now officially on the outs with most of the GOP caucus. I’m sure that suits him fine, and no doubt wins him friends and supporters among those conservatives who cheer his grandstanding and futile legislative gestures that have zero chance of passing.

For Cruz, playing to the peanut gallery on the right in service to his overweening ambition to be president trumps all. Forget reason. Forget logic. Why bother with those trivialities when there’s red meat to throw at his supporters?

And if, in the process of satisfying the bloodlust of his supporters, he helps the opposition and damages his party and its causes, that is secondary to his narcissistic compulsion to make everything about him.

Twenty-four Obama administration nominees to the bench and important agency positions that were blocked for months by his fellow Republicans were set on the path  to easy confirmation over the weekend because Cruz wanted to blow up the budget deal. By preventing the Senate from leaving town on Friday when he objected to the unanimous consent request by Majority Leader Harry Reid to adjourn until Monday, Cruz not only forced a vote on his motion to deny funding to Obama’s executive orders on immigration on Saturday night — a vote that would have happened Monday anyway — he allowed Reid and the Democrats the extra time they needed to ram through a couple of dozen ultra-liberal nominees who will do more damage to the causes in which conservatives believe than all of Obama’s executive orders put together.

The judges will be sitting for years. The agency personnel will be writing regulations for the next two years that I doubt Cruz would be happy with. Just what possessed this demagogue to put his personal, political interests ahead of the goals of his party and his ideology?

There was never any chance his legislative gambit would work, as evidenced by the final vote on his amendment — 74-22. Meanwhile, Obama’s choice for surgeon general, Vivek Murthy, whom Republicans had been blocking for months, will be confirmed in a vote later this week. Murthy once suggested that guns should be regulated as a health hazard.

Thanks a lot, Ted.

Democrats are also thanking Cruz:

Most Republican senators had no idea what Cruz was trying to accomplish. Cruz joined them in that cluelessness:

“GOP [senators] should quit complaining about Cruz and Lee and start working with us to stop amnesty,” tweeted Amanda Carpenter, Cruz’s spokeswoman.

What does Cruz think the rest of the caucus was doing when they got the Democrats to agree to a short-term funding bill for the Department of Homeland Security? The whole point of the limited funding for DHS is so that the issue of Obama’s executive orders on immigration can be revisited when Republicans have a majority in both houses of Congress.

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Senate Republicans Grumbling Over Cruz Tactics

Saturday, December 13th, 2014 - by Rick Moran

Late Friday afternoon, Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid was all set to enact an agreement he made with Minority Leader Mitch McConnell that would adjourn the Senate for a nice weekend and then come back on Monday to vote on the Cromnibus spending bill.

Reid proceeded with the pro forma motion to adjourn — until Senator Ted Cruz objected. From that point forward, all of Reid’s and McConnell’s best laid plans went haywire.

Instead of adjourning, Reid is using the time this weekend to ram through several nominations. Meanwhile, Cruz is trying to maneuver Reid into holding a vote on his amnesty defunding bill. It doesn’t appear the majority leader is about to give in, and Cruz’s tactics have some Republican senators grumbling.

Associated Press:

Asked if Cruz had created an opening for the Democrats, Sen. Orrin Hatch, R-Utah said, “I wish you hadn’t pointed that out.”

Hatch added, “You should have an end goal in sight if you’re going to do these types of things and I don’t see an end goal other than irritating a lot of people.”

Added Sen. Jeff Flake, R-Ariz.: “I fail to see what conservative ends were achieved.” He also said he was worried about what the events means for next year, when Republicans are in charge.

“The other concern I have here now is the nominations that are going to get through that otherwise wouldn’t,” said Sen. John Hoeven, R-N.D.

Appearing irritated, some Republicans spoke with Cruz on the Senate floor about his actions. At another point, Cruz huddled in the rear of the chamber with Sen. Mike Lee of Utah, who had supported him on Friday evening, and Sen. Rand Paul of Kentucky, another tea party-backed lawmaker.

The GOP leader, Kentucky Sen. Mitch McConnell, made no public comment on the events, even though Cruz suggested Friday night McConnell and House Speaker John Boehner, R-Ohio, should not be entirely trusted to keep their pledge to challenge Obama’s immigration policy when Republicans gain two-house control of Congress in January.

“We will learn soon enough if those statements are genuine and sincere,” Cruz said.

Cruz and the Banzai Charge Caucus in the Senate will not get their way this time around. Most Republicans — even those adamantly opposed to the president’s immigration orders — would prefer to keep their powder dry and, less than a month from now, take on the defunding issue when Republicans control both houses of Congress. At the very least, it is likely some kind of defunding measure will end up on the president’s desk, forcing him to veto it. That route is far preferable to the futile gesture of trying to get a defunding measure passed through a Democratic Senate.

Cruz doesn’t care what other senators think of him — a rarity on the Hill. His constituency is outside of Washington and sees nothing wrong with his hopeless, but emotionally satisfying, tactics. Americans overwhelmingly reject the president’s actions on immigration but they are equally opposed to shutting down the government. But Cruz and his small band of GOP outriders aren’t listening, which only makes them look petulant and small.

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Cops Union Tells de Blasio to Stay Away from Their Funerals

Saturday, December 13th, 2014 - by Rick Moran

A police union in New York City is so incensed with Mayor de Blasio’s statements following the grand jury decision in the Eric Garner case that they are asking their members to sign a waiver requesting that the mayor refrain from attending their funerals if they are killed in the line of duty.

The union is also asking members to disinvite Council Speaker Melissa ​Mark-​Viverito.

The Patrolmen’s Benevolent Association sent out a flyer headlined “Don’t Let Them Insult Your Sacrifice,” urging members to download and sign the waiver from their website.

New York Post:

“I, as a New York City police officer, request that Mayor Bill de Blasio and City Council Speaker Melissa Mark-Viverito refrain from attending my funeral services in the event that I am killed in the line of duty,” the waiver states.

“Due to Mayor de Blasio and Speaker Mark-Viverito’s consistent refusal to show police officers the support and respect they deserve, I believe that their attendance at the funeral of a fallen New York City police officer is an insult to that officer’s memory and sacrifice.”

Officers can download the form on the PBA’s Web site and drop off a signed copy to their PBA delegates.

The mayor traditionally attends funerals for fallen officers.

“This is deeply disappointing,” the mayor and the council speaker said in a joint statement.
“Incendiary rhetoric like this serves only to divide the city, and New Yorkers reject these tactics.

“The mayor and the speaker both know better than to think this inappropriate stunt represents the views of the majority of police officers and their families.

Hizoner is being deeply disingenuous. The mayor told a group of protestors that he had warned his mixed race son to be careful around the police:

“We’ve had to literally train him, as families have all over this city for decades, in how to take special care in any encounter he has with the police officers who are there to protect him,” the mayor said.

PBA President Patrick Lynch reacted to that by accusing the mayor of throwing cops “under the bus.”

The Post reported that amid protests on the Garner verdict, a “Pro-Cop Rally” at City Hall is being planned for next Friday.

Ordinarily, the advice given by de Blasio to his son is sound, although then was not the time to say it and the way he said it implied he was in danger. Most of these recent police shootings are the direct result of people not doing what the police are telling them to do. Trying to be a hard ass and resist the police is extraordinarily dangerous. When encountering the cops, no matter what the circumstances and even if you think the police are in the wrong, cooperation with their wishes is not only smart, it’s the law.

That’s the message that black parents should be giving their children. When stopped by an officer, do as you’re told, don’t mouth off or talk back, and if taken into custody, don’t resist. If you know it’s a mistake, keep your mouth shut until you get legal representation. These simple rules are a no brainer when dealing with the police and are virtually guaranteed to prevent the kinds of tragedies that have occurred in recent weeks.

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How Long Can Elizabeth Warren Resist the Siren Song of High Office?

Saturday, December 13th, 2014 - by Rick Moran

You are probably familiar with the creatures from Greek mythology known as the Sirens. They lived on an island in the Aegean Sea and it was said that if sailors heard their seductive and beautiful song, they would go mad and crash their ship into the island’s rocky shores.

In Homer’s Odyssey, the hero Odysseus very much wanted to hear the song of the Sirens, but he didn’t want to be shipwrecked. So he had his men tie him to the mast and plug their ears with beeswax. He ordered them not to release him under any circumstances, no matter how much be begged or threatened them.

Sure enough, as Odysseus’s ship sailed past the Sirens’ island, the singing drove the hero to near madness. He pleaded and begged his men to release him, to no avail. But Odysseus became known as the only human who resisted the siren song, albeit because he was restrained.

You have to wonder if Massachusetts Senator Elizabeth Warren, whose profile has been raised considerably this week because of her public break with President Obama and her opposition to Cromnibus, is lashed tight enough to the mast in order to resist the growing chorus from the left, urging her to run for the Democratic presidential nomination.

For months, Warren has been almost Shermanesque in her denials that she’s running for president. But you have to wonder if the left’s Siren Song urging her to run might be giving her second thoughts.

The liberal magazine that used to be The New Republic features an article by Danny Vinik that highlights Warren’s anti-Wall Street cred with the liberal base of the Democratic Party, embodied in two issues: opposition to the Wall Street giveaway in Cromnibus, and the nomination of Antonio Weiss to be undersecretary of Treasury for Domestic Finance:

It’s rare for such a nominee to become a political issue, much less a political issue within a party. But that’s what has happened to Antonio Weiss, whom Obama nominated on November 12.

A week later, Warren came out vocally against Weiss, arguing that he was both unqualified for the job and another example of Democrats’ filling senior government positions with people from Wall Street. “The over-representation of Wall Street banks in senior government positions sends a bad message,” she wrote in the Huffington Post. “It tells people that one—and only one—point of view will dominate economic policymaking. It tells people that whatever goes wrong in this economy, the Wall Street banks will be protected first. That’s yet another advantage that Wall Street just doesn’t need.”

On Tuesday, Warren took her criticism of Weiss’s nomination up a notch. Speaking at a conference on the Federal Reserve, Warren tore into Weiss’s qualifications and ripped her party for cozying up to Wall Street.

This is red meat for the rabid anti-capitalist base of the Democratic Party, and the netnuts cheered her on.

But it is her threat to shut down the government over language in the spending bill that grants Wall Street some security in derivatives trading that has the base so excited:

But Warren’s biggest moment this week was her crusade against a must-pass spending bill over a little-known policy rider that would have eliminated a part in the Dodd-Frank financial regulation bill. Section 716 prevents banks from using taxpayer-backed funds to trade in riskier financial products known as custom swaps. On Wednesday, Warren delivered a vicious speech on the Senate floor in which she implored House Democrats to kill the bill.

“Now, the House of Representatives is about to show us the worst of government for the rich and powerful,” she said. “The House is about to vote on a budget deal, a deal negotiated behind closed doors that slips in a provision that would let derivatives traders on Wall Street gamble with taxpayer money and get bailed out by the government when their risky bets threaten to blow up our financial system.… This provision is all about goosing the profits of the big banks.”

The provision has also garnered significant Democratic support in the past. In 2013, for instance, 70 Democrats voted for it in a bill that died in the Senate. Warren’s speech had made the issue toxic and persuaded other House Democrats to vote against not just the provision but a massive spending bill.

This position put her at direct odds with the White House. President Obama not only supported the bill, but he and Vice President Joe Biden made calls to individual Democratic congressman asking for their votes and White House Chief of Staff Denis McDonough was dispatched to the Hill as well. In the end, Obama prevailed. Fifty-seven Democrats sided with 162 Republicans and the bill barely passed. But Warren had taken on the Democratic establishment and came within just a few votes of winning.

Warren is a populist whose appeal crosses party lines on issues like income inequality and Wall Street reform. It would be a mistake to underestimate her. Just because she’s a rabid leftist who wants to arrest bankers and punish the wealthy (she is the originator of the “you didn’t build that” theme) doesn’t mean that a decent Republican candidate could defeat her easily. She is very tough and would be a formidable opponent.

But could she beat Hillary for the Democratic nomination?

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Taliban Condemns US Torture, Then Takes Responsibility for Suicide Bombing

Thursday, December 11th, 2014 - by Rick Moran

The obliviousness — or cynicism — of third world thugs and terrorists who are criticizing the United States for torture is beyond belief. Now comes word that those fine respecters of human rights and the rights of the accused — the Taliban — have weighed in on the issue and has harshly condemned the US for its interrogation practices.

A couple of hours earlier, the Taliban had blown up a French cultural center killing 4 innocents and injuring 23.

NBC News:

Among the critics blasting U.S. policy in the wake of a Senate CIA torture report are the Taliban — the same group that routinely carries out suicide attacks, and just on Thursday claimed responsibility for a bombing at a film screening in Kabul that killed at least four people.

The Taliban, which calls itself the Islamic Emirate, released a statement Thursday that said the Senate report “reveals the true face of America.” The report, released Tuesday, said U.S. interrogators used extreme tactics that included simulated drownings, beatings and confinement in coffin-sized boxes in the years after the Sept. 11 terror attacks.

The Taliban said that the alleged abuses in the Senate Intelligence Committee’s long-awaited report are continuing in Afghanistan, and called for the international community to investigate.

Earlier Thursday, the Taliban claimed responsibility after a teenage boy blew himself up in a packed auditorium at a French cultural center in Kabul, where a documentary — about suicide bombers — was being screened. The Taliban also vowed revenge against American forces for the alleged abuses in the CIA torture report.

I’m sure it slipped the Taliban’s mind that they tortured US deserter Bowe Bergdahl when they held him for 5 years.

Those who are protesting the loudest are usually the ones who are guilty of even more horrific acts than a few interrogators at the CIA. Torture is built into the Taliban culture; their punishment for adultery is stoning, arguably generating more terror and pain than the CIA ever caused a terrorist.

Those who live in glass houses…

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Will Michigan Governor Snyder Ride Detroit Resurgence to the White House?

Thursday, December 11th, 2014 - by Rick Moran

Don’t look now but the city of Detroit, which has gone through the largest municipal bankruptcy in American history, is poised to regain control of its own destiny.

And that’s very good news for Michigan Governor Rick Snyder.

To be sure, Detroit’s underlying problems are immense and whether civic leaders have learned anything from the past is open to question. But the city has gotten it’s pension problems under control, it has shed billions in debt, police and fire response times have improved, and there appears to be a new determination among politicians to address problems that previous administrations allowed to fester.

At a press conference on Wednesday, Snyder announced that the emergency manager he appointed to guide the city’s finances through the bankruptcy would be stepping down, giving city fathers control over their budget once again. And it wasn’t lost on observers that Snyder said he wanted to take the message of Detroit’s resurgence on the road next year to “explain the Michigan story to the rest of the country.”

Politico:

“As we solve these problems, one of the things you find is the perception of an area tends to lag five or 10 years behind the reality of it,” he said. “As we’ve shown the vast improvement over the last few years, now it’s time to start talking about the success in Michigan.”

Although officially the trips are aimed at promoting the local economy, they will also help boost Snyder’s national profile at a time when the emerging 2016 GOP field is anything but settled.

And while Snyder’s uneasiness talking about social issues means he will have a tough time winning the party’s nod — and he’s not taking active steps toward a candidacy — his economic background and success governing a blue state could make him an attractive running mate.

Snyder plays coy when asked if he’ll run for the White House, keeping the door wide open. He says his focus – “right now” – is on launching his second-term initiatives.

“I don’t want to even start that speculation, but you know that there are traditional timelines that people have to look at if they’re looking at those things,” he said. “I’m just focused on being governor right now. I appreciate you asking, though.”

Michigan is a purple state with enough of a blue tinge that the Democratic Senate candidate asked President Barack Obama to come campaign with him, even as most in his party shunned him this year.

Detroit in particular has been a haven for Democrats. Obama won Wayne County — which includes Detroit — by 47 points in 2012.

When Snyder put Detroit into managed bankruptcy, Democrats pushed back. Public employee unions said they would not let allow any cuts to benefits. But the Republican governor, who just won reelection in November by 4 points, worked with local leaders, creditors and the conservative state legislature to strike a so-called “grand bargain.”

Snyder, a former chief executive of Gateway Computers, told POLITICO that the federal government could learn a lot from what he and his allies just accomplished.

Snyder is one of several governors who have emerged in the Obama era as “technocratic Republicans.” Mitt Romney was the most prominent of this new breed of GOP politician, until he tried to rebrand himself as a conservative ideologue.

Basically, the technocrats eschew ideology in favor of conservative pragmatism. Social issues like abortion and gay marriage are downplayed in favor of fiscal conservatism and competent governance. This is a formula that has proven itself successful for Republicans who govern in blue and purple states, which is why Snyder has suddenly gotten some people interested in his chances for 2016.

Wisconsin’s Governor Scott Walker, Iowa’s Terry Branstad, and Snyder would all be considered second tier presidential candidates if they were to run. But what about the second spot? A strong conservative like Ted Cruz might look very hard at a blue or purple state governor for the vice presidential slot. Not so much to “balance” the ticket but because their statewide organizations would be of great help in getting out the Republican vote in the general election.

But who knows? By 2016, Detroit might be in big trouble again and people will have forgotten Rick Snyder’s role in saving it. And it’s not like the GOP doesn’t have enough candidates already. Snyder isn’t even the most prominent RINO who would be entering the race.

Given all of that, Snyder will probably pass on running in 2016.

 

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