Here’s the story:
A leader of the House Pro-Choice Caucus suggested Tuesday that Republicans don’t have strong feelings against rape.
The remark came as Rep. Louise Slaughter (D-N.Y.) criticized the GOP’s proposed ban on late-term abortions ahead of a House vote on the measure.
Slaughter slammed Republican members of the House Judiciary Committee, all men, who rejected a rape exception to the bill during its markup last week.
“I’m of the opinion now … that if you really were to question all of them, that there is a sort of continuity of thought that rape is really not so bad and that the likelihood of getting pregnant is small,” Slaughter told a press conference.
Vote fraud isn’t so bad for Democrats, so I guess it’s even.
United Liberty has the story:
Sen. Mark Begich (D-AK) seems a litte confused about what party he belongs to. During an appearance on CNBC, the Alaska Democrat tried to distance himself from his the Leftist-wing of his party by telling the hosts that he is a “Rockefeller Republican.”
Begich was probably a shoe-in as Alaska’s next former Senator, but the GOP ads for 2014 now practically write themselves.
Once again, Sacramento proves that to go really over-the-top, you’ve got to go to Democrat California:
The California Senate this week approved a collection of bills, including one (SB 53) that would require background checks, permits, and fees for the purchase of ammunition.
All ammunition sales would have to be face-to-face, happening only in the presence of a store clerk; and vendors selling the bullets would have to submit sales records to the California Department of Justice. Those vendors also would need a permit to sell ammunition.
Kira Davis notes that SB 53 also “requires background checks and a $50 ammo purchase fee.”
It wasn’t that long ago that I saw Dick Durbin on one of the Sunday shows, with the stuff-eating grin on his face, joked about taxing bullets until they cost a hundred or a thousand dollars apiece. Which I could find that video, but no one seems to have grabbed it.
So if you think something like this can happen only in California — think again.
Two pieces today really bring home the incoherence of President Obama’s Syria… “policy,” I suppose is one word for it. Maybe you can think of a better one. But first up, Lee Smith at The Weekly Standard writes about the White House promise to arm the rebels:
However, there are other administration officials who tell the press that the White House is not going to send weapons to the opposition. Josh Rogin at the Daily Beast writes that his source “says that lethal arms are not part of the new items Obama has now authorized.” “The president,” says this official, “has made a decision to provide the Syrian opposition with military items that can increase their effectiveness on the ground, but at this point it does not include things like guns and bullets.”
So is the White House arming the rebels or not? There’s been confusion since Thursday afternoon when Sen. John McCain said on the Senate floor that Obama “will announce that we will be assisting the Syrian rebels by providing them with weapons and other assistance. I applaud the president’s decision.” Shortly after, McCain retracted his remarks, explaining that “the president has not made the final decision on arming.” Afterward, McCain’s spokesman, Josh Rogin reported, said the senator had been told by reliable sources that Obama was planning to arm the rebels.
A White House conference call with reporters Thursday afternoon hardly clarified matters. Deputy National Security Advisor for Strategic Communications Ben Rhodes was asked several times whether the White House intended to arm the rebels, or if it was just going to provide more of the direct non-lethal military assistance (like vehicles and night-vision goggles) that was promised in April but still hasn’t reached the Syrian Military Council. “I can’t go through an inventory of the type of assistance that we’re going to provide,” said Rhodes.
Got that? We may or may not be supplying the rebels with items we can’t inventory.
Over at The American Spectator, Jed Babbin calls it “a farce.” Read:
What the Times — the most faithful chronicler of liberalism — describes is the most desultory, most pointless and least compelling case for a war in American history.
Any case for Obama’s action would have to answer a few basic questions. What are we trying to accomplish? In other words, what is the outcome we desire and how will Obama’s decision produce it for us?
It’s impossible to say what outcome we seek because the president is evidently writing off any prospect of affecting the outcome. Which probably doesn’t matter much because the Syrian rebellion is about nothing more than which bunch of terrorists rules that country for the foreseeable future.
Babbin concludes that Obama can’t even wag the dog properly — and I’m so frustrated here that I won’t even add the obligatory “Obama eats dog” joke.
Right now, our President is in Belfast for the big G-8 conference, where Bloomberg reports that he is sounding out our allies on “how far to go to intervene” in Syria.
Would you put your country’s blood our treasure on the line for a “leader” so confused and feckless?
Here’s one of those local stories which should have gotten national attention:
Blind Chinese dissident Chen Guangcheng, speaking out for the first time since The Post reported the school was giving him the boot, said pressure from Beijing had school officials planning his departure almost as soon as he arrived.
“As early as last August and September, the Chinese Communists had already begun to apply great, unrelenting pressure on New York University,” Chen said in a statement yesterday.
“So much so that after we had been in the United States just three to four months, NYU was already starting to discuss our departure with us.”
According to the report, NYU is trying to get help opening another campus — in Shanghai. And University president John Sexton never once met with Chen.
I don’t recall hearing of any New York or national politicians taking up Chen’s case, either. Isn’t that what we used to do for dissidents of oppressive regimes?
Here’s Senator Paul on the disturbing disparity in drug-related arrest rates between black and white Americans:
In the case of arrests, federal agencies have hamstrung local law enforcement agencies by requiring them to meet numerical arrest goals in order to secure funding. Morally, this is troubling. In practical terms, instead of local enforcement agencies spending their time investigating serious felony crimes, they concentrate on minority and depressed neighborhoods to increase their drug arrest statistics.
The American Civil Liberties Union, which reported on the arrest statistics, highlighted the Edward Byrne Justice Assistance Grant Program. This federal program distributes millions of dollars a year to local law enforcement agencies. Arrest numbers are a performance measure used in doling out the money.
We are literally sending our money to Washington where an overgrown bureaucracy is encouraging racial profiling before the money is allowed to be sent back to us. We should keep more of our money and decision-making power closer to home — and put an end to practices that encourage discrimination.
A radical concept, returning to the states criminal jurisdiction never granted to the federal government by the Constitution.
CBS News’s Cheryl Attkisson has been one of the few — only? — national reporters willing to look hard at Fast & Furious. Now I want you to look hard at her Twitter feed.
It seems certain that somebody hacked her.
Kathleen Sebelius could not be reached for comment:
A 10-year-old girl whose efforts to qualify for an organ donation drew public debate over how organs are allocated was getting a double-lung transplant Wednesday after a match with an adult donor was made.
Sarah Murnaghan, who suffers from severe cystic fibrosis, was receiving her new lungs Wednesday at Children’s Hospital of Philadelphia, family spokeswoman Maureen Garrity said. Murnaghan’s relatives were ‘‘beyond excited’’ about the development but were ‘‘keeping in mind that someone had to lose a family member and they’re very aware of that and very appreciative,’’ Garrity said.
No other details about the donor are known, including whether they came through the regular donor system or through public appeals.
If you don’t like the way organ transplants are decided but haven’t signed your donor card, may I suggest you do so as a temporary patch on the problem?
The Guardian has the story:
A group of 11 local organisations, many of them human rights NGOs, plans to hold the rally at 3pm on Saturday, according to a press release posted online on Wednesday afternoon. “We call on Hong Kong to respect international legal standards and procedures relating to the protection of Snowden; we condemn the US government for violating our rights and privacy; and we call on the US not to prosecute Snowden,” it said.
The rally’s press release said the participants would march past a Hong Kong government office and the city’s US consulate, and suggested that they bring posters reading: “defend free speech, protect Snowden”, “no extradition”, “respect Hong Kong law”, “shame on NSA”, “stop internet surveillance” and “betray Snowden = betray freedom”.
Hong Kong is an odd duck, being a part of Semi-Demi-Communist China but having its own semi-demi-independent political and economic system. Since the British handed Hong Kong back over, Beijing has increased its powers in the region, without ever quite cracking down.
So what I’d like to know is, if any of these 11 groups are fronts for Beijing, or how many of their members might be in cahoots with the mainland. Because Snowden, with a big assist from the NSA and the White House, has handed Beijing an excellent opportunity to embarrass the United States.
For the record, I’m glad Snowden revealed the NSA’s data-mining program — no matter whether his personal motivations were honorable or treasonous. But that doesn’t mean that there won’t be some unpleasant complications.
This is a new version with a much improved guidance system. Israel fears that some of these missiles will be sent to Hezbollah, who might use them against Israeli ships or offshore natural gas field platform facilities. Israel is trying to persuade Russia to stop delivering the missiles but Russia is reluctant to halt these shipments. Iran appears to be paying for this, so the loss of income would be felt in Russia.
This sort of thing has been going on for a while. Two years ago Russia delivered 72 Yakhonts and 18 of the mobile ground launchers (each carrying two missiles) to Syria. Also included were five battery command vehicles. Typically a Yakhont battery consists of one of these vehicles, four launchers, and several more trucks carrying security and maintenance personnel and equipment. The 2011 shipment cost $300 million dollars. The missiles can be stored in their launch containers for seven years before they require major component replacements and refurbishment to stay operational. Yakhonts have a range of 300 kilometers and are very hard to stop.
No matter who wins the Syrian Civil War, the Israelis are going to have their hands full dealing with all the new threats, courtesy of Moscow.
The FBI has dramatically increased its use of a controversial provision of the Patriot Act to secretly obtain a vast store of business records of U.S. citizens under President Barack Obama, according to recent Justice Department reports to Congress. The bureau filed 212 requests for such data to a national security court last year – a 1,000-percent increase from the number of such requests four years earlier, the reports show.
The FBI’s increased use of the Patriot Act’s “business records” provision — and the wide ranging scope of its requests — is getting new scrutiny in light of last week’s disclosure that that the provision was used to obtain a top-secret national security order requiring telecommunications companies to turn over records of millions of telephone calls.
Taken together, experts say, those revelations show the government has broadly interpreted the Patriot Act provision as enabling it to collect data not just on specific individuals, but on millions of Americans with no suspected terrorist connections. And it shows that the Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Court accepted that broad interpretation of the law.
Remember when Obama campaigned on repealing the PATRIOT Act?
Yeah, me neither.
The Hill has the story:
Sen. Jeff Merkley (D-Ore.) on Friday disputed a claim President Obama made at a press conference only moments earlier, when the president said that every member of Congress had been briefed on the National Security Agency’s (NSA) domestic phone surveillance program.
Merkley said only select members of the House and Senate Intelligence Committees had been briefed on the program, and that he was only aware of it because he obtained “special permission” to review the pertinent documents after hearing about it second-hand.
“I knew about the program because I specifically sought it out,” Merkley said on MSNBC. “It’s not something that’s briefed outside the Intelligence Committee. I had to get special permission to find out about the program. It raised concerns for me. … When I saw what was being done, I felt it was so out of sync with the plain language of the law and that it merited full public examination, and that’s why I called for the declassification.”
At a press conference on Friday, Obama said that every member of Congress had been briefed on the phone monitoring program.
Every member who was aware enough after not being briefed to seek out the information on their own. So I guess that clears that up.
The March numbers the USDA released Friday reveal 23,116,441 households enrolled in the Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program (SNAP), or food stamps, each receiving an average monthly benefit of $274.30.
The number of individuals on SNAP did not break any records but remained high, with 47,727,052 people enrolled in SNAP, receiving an average monthly benefit of $132.86.
Maybe it’s just me, but every time I hear a left use the word “sustainability,” I start feeling all slappy.
Hold on to your breakfast for this one:
Taliban militants beheaded two children in southern Afghanistan, a provincial governor’s office said.
The beheadings occurred in Kandahar province, the provincial governor’s office said Monday.
One of those slain was a 10-year-old boy. The other was age 16.
A press release issued by the office said the militants caught and beheaded the 10-year-old Sunday after he had collected food waste from a trash bin in the area of a security checkpoint.
Barbarians, not “militants.”
That’s Gallup, who adds:
Year-over-year comparisons are helpful in determining the degree to which monthly changes are the result of growth in permanent full-time positions rather than temporary seasonal hiring. The decline in P2P versus 2012 indicates that fewer people worked full-time for an employer this May compared with a year ago. The 43.9% found this May is similar to the 43.7% recorded in 2011 and 44.0% in 2010.
Gallup’s P2P metric is an estimate of the percentage of the U.S. adult population aged 18 and older who are employed full time by an employer for at least 30 hours per week. P2P is not seasonally adjusted.
As ObamaCare kicks in, the amount of money flowing out of Washington will grow. But the proportion of workers with even just parttime jobs keeps shrinking.
This will end badly.
So a bunch of economists looked at a bunch of numbers and came up with this:
“Growth in GDP has been positive, but not exceptional,” UCLA economists wrote in their quarterly Anderson Forecast. “Jobs are growing, but not rapidly enough to create good jobs for all.”
The report, which analyzed long-term trends of past recoveries, found that the long-anticipated “Great Recovery” has not yet materialized.
Real GDP growth — the value of goods and services produced after adjusting for inflation — is 15.4% below the 3% growth trend of past recoveries, wrote Edward Leamer, director of the UCLA Anderson Forecast. More robust growth will be necessary to bring this recovery in line with previous ones.
“It’s not a recovery,” he wrote. “It’s not even normal growth. It’s bad.”
If this is news to you, you must live in or around DC.
Twitchy Team is on it for you:
O’Donnell deleted his tweet once he — or one of his brighter young interns — realized just how stupid he’d been.
On Monday it was Chris Cillizza and Sean Sullivan for WaPo, and Caitlin Huey-Burns at RCP. Then Joan Walsh and Alex Witt were warning that the GOP would “overreach” on the IRS scandal. Today, Leonard Pitts:
An old political axiom says that you should never interfere while an opponent is busy destroying himself. Not that Team Obama is destroying itself, but it is undeniably wounded. That should be the story here. Instead, the story is becoming — again — GOP overreach, opportunism and craziness.
The IRS is on the warpath against conservative groups, but Darrell Issa is nuts.
Glad we’re all — all — on the same page here.
Chris Cillizza and Sean Sullivan blogging in today’s paper:
By the end of the week, there will have been six hearings in the House or Senate regarding the IRS’s scandal, which leads to the question: How many is too many?
“My suspicion is Republicans in Congress will stay too obsessed,” former White House senior adviser David Plouffe predicted in an appearance on ABC’s “This Week” program Sunday. “Kind of surfing scandals, trying to repeal Obamacare for the 40th time, and less on the economy, and doing the job they were sent [to do].”
Karl Rove, the chief political strategist for George W. Bush’s presidency, acknowledged that he worries “a little bit” about the possibility of overreach, particularly if his party loses sight of the need to offer its own vision on the economy.
Then there’s the equally-helpful Caitlin Huey-Burns for RCP:
With the field starting to take shape for the 2014 midterm elections, Republicans hope to increase their numbers in Congress. If party leaders have their way, controversy over the IRS targeting of conservative groups and the DOJ’s subpoena of reporters’ records (mixed with the lingering specter of the Benghazi consulate attacks) will consume much of the summer, with the scandals driving a wedge between voters and the president’s party.
That could happen. What also could occur is that the GOP’s zeal could backfire by galvanizing the Democratic base to defend a man they see as being hounded by an obstructionist Republican Party.
These “Quit while your ahead!” stories always come out just when the scandals start to get seriously juicy.
Go get ‘em, Darrell.
Manufacturing in the U.S. unexpectedly contracted in May at the fastest pace in four years, indicating industry will provide scant support for the world’s largest economy.
The Institute for Supply Management’s factory index fell to 49 from the prior month’s 50.7, the Tempe, Arizona-based group’s report showed today. Fifty is the dividing line between growth and contraction, and last month’s reading was the lowest since June 2009. The median forecast of 81 economists surveyed by Bloomberg was 51.
Sorry for the lame Star Wars reference, but I’m all out of “unexpectedly” jokes.
Trey Hardin on KABC’s McIntyre in the Morning:
I will tell you this on the IRS front. I’ve worked in this town for over 20 years in the White House and on Capitol Hill and I can say with a very strong sense of certainty that there are people very close to this president that not only knew what the IRS were doing but authorized it.
It simply just does not happen at an agency level like that without political advisers likely in the West Wing certainly connected to the president’s ongoing campaign organization that didn’t know about it.
Add this to this morning’s little tiff between David Plouffe and the late 1970s version of Darrell Issa, and the White House is already having a terrible, horrible, no good very bad day.
Heh. In the wake of these sorry poll numbers, I’d be hiding too.
Gordon Chang and James Lyons in today’s LA Times:
The Chinese military also has gained substantial influence in the last year, perhaps becoming the most powerful faction in the Communist Party. Beginning as early as 2003, senior officers of the People’s Liberation Army were drawn into civilian power struggles as Hu Jintao, then the new leader, sought their support in his effort to shove aside Jiang Zemin, his wily predecessor who sought to linger in the limelight. Last year, the civilian infighting intensified as the so-called Fifth Generation leadership, under the command of Xi, took over from Hu’s Fourth. Like a decade ago, feuding civilians sought the support of the generals and admirals, making them arbiters in the party’s increasingly rough game of politics.
The result of discord among civilian leaders has been a partial remilitarization of politics and policy. Senior officers are now acting independently of civilian officials, are openly criticizing them and are making pronouncements in areas once considered the exclusive province of diplomats.
Now is now the time to go all wobbly on aircraft carrier deployment and development.
Additional scrutiny of conservative organizations’ activities by the IRS did not solely originate in the agency’s Cincinnati office, with requests for information coming from other offices and often bearing the signatures of higher-ups at the agency, according to attorneys representing some of the targeted groups. At least one letter requesting information about one of the groups bears the signature of Lois Lerner, the suspended director of the IRS Exempt Organizations department in Washington.
The White House now appears willing to sacrifice an IRS department head to the gods of Please Make This Go Away, which forces one to wonder how high the rot really goes.
In related news, Lerner is now expected to be able to testify on what sort of exhaust system is used under a Greyhound.
Surprising number from Rasmussen just hit my inbox:
While employers wrestle with ways to meet the requirements of President Obama’s health care law, most Americans want the option of less health insurance coverage and more take home pay.
If they had a choice, 59% of Likely U.S. Voters would choose a less expensive health insurance plan that covered only major medical expenses and a bigger paycheck. The latest Rasmussen Reports national telephone survey finds that just 31% would opt instead for a more expensive insurance policy that covered just about everything and receive a smaller paycheck.
Under ObamaCare’s regulations, smaller paychecks and bigger coverage are the law of the land. And if most Americans don’t like that, they had a chance to fix it last November — but chose not to.
Let. It. Burn.
“My decision was not influenced by any concerns about my being re-elected,” Bachmann said. She narrowly won a fourth term in 2012 over Democrat Jim Graves, a hotel chain founder who is running again in 2014.
Bachmann also said, “This decision was not impacted in any way by the recent inquiries into the activities of my former presidential campaign.” In January, a former Bachmann aide filed a complaint with the Federal Election Commission, claiming Bachmann made improper payments to an Iowa state senator who was the state chairman of her 2012 presidential run. The aide, Peter Waldron, also accused Bachmann of other FEC violations.
A vocal opponent of the health care overhaul and other policies of President Barack Obama, Bachmann promised her supporters, “I will continue to work overtime for the next 18 months in Congress defending the same Constitutional Conservative values we have worked so hard on together.”
As for her plans beyond Congress, Bachmann said, “There is no future option or opportunity, be it directly in the political arena or otherwise, that I won’t be giving serious consideration if it can help save and protect our great nation.”
Is she setting herself up for a Senate run, or have recent the allegations and investigations driven her from politics?
Here’s Jim Pethokoukis on President Obama’s likely new chief economist, Jason Furman:
He’s a Clinton Democrat. He says good things about free trade and Wal-Mart, which tends to annoy labor groups. When Furman ran the Hamilton Project at Brookings, he divided Democrats into two groups, “pre-tax” and “after-tax.” As I wrote back in 2008:
Pre-tax Dems want to alter the global trading system — maybe through tariffs or pushing China to let the yuan rise or penalizing companies that shift production overseas–to protect the income of workers from foreign competition. … After-tax Democrats think the focus should be on using trade to keep the economy growing and using social policy–better retraining programs, universal 401(k)’s, and wage insurance–to help workers hurt by trade, as well as creating an atmosphere where Americans don’t get so rattled by our fast-changing dynamic economy that they become risk averse.
Furman is more the after-tax Democrat. And unlike his boss, the president, he’s not so quick to write off the past three decades as terrible for the average American.
During Obama’s transition into power four-plus years ago, I was a little shocked by how many Clintonian moderates he was bringing along with him. There was a two- or three-week period just after the election, when I began to wonder if maybe Obama really might govern as a centrist. Then I watched in slightly less shock as the old Clinton hands were either dismissed, ignored, or sidelined by a far-left administration.
So get too excited by the prospect of substantive policy changes with Furman on board. More likely he’ll just be a little Clintonian frosting on a Marxian cake.
British fighter jets escorted a Pakistan International Airlines passenger plane to Stansted Airport near London on Friday, where police went on board and arrested two men on suspicion of endangering an aircraft.
Passengers were leaving the plane and no one was hurt in the incident, a spokesman for the airport said.
Flight PK709 from Lahore in Pakistan had been due to land at Manchester in northern England with 297 passengers on board, but was diverted shortly before arrival.
No word yet on the suspects or what they did to endanger the plane.
That’s all we have for now, but it’s dangerous to Question the Narrative on the IRS.
I also talked to Bill Whittle and Scott Ott about this on today’s Trifecta, but that’s before Dana Loesch broke the news about his firing.
Here’s Dr. Charles Willey on how the IRS has usurped Congress:
Contrary to the clear legislative language in ObamaCare, the administration is directly impeding my ability to design a health plan with proper incentives and long-term affordability for my own employees.
I have always offered quality health insurance to my own employees, striving for a benefit design which increases their short-term economic incentive to become and remain healthy.
As a physician, I know this is a critical strategy to fight chronic illness, especially self-manageable conditions such as obesity, COPD and most type 2 diabetes.
The IRS has, unlawfully, substantively rewritten the employer mandate in the ACA by expanding its enforcement into states where the clear language of the ACA says it does not apply.
The law is only for little people. And as we’ve learned these last few days, the IRS isn’t little people.
“I have not done anything wrong. I have not broken any laws,” Lois Lerner, head of the IRS tax-exempt unit, told the House Oversight and Government Reform Committee.
“I have not violated any IRS rules or regulations, and I have not provided false information to this or any congressional committee,” she said. “Because I am asserting my right not to testify, I know that some people will assume that I have done something wrong. I have not.”
That Lerner chose to give an opening statement before asserting her Fifth Amendment right against self-incrimination angered some lawmakers.
You can be certain that statement comes with an expiration date.
Meanwhile, Ezra Klein has bravely declared that “heads should roll” at the IRS:
Put simply, firing civil servants takes a long time, creates a lot of hassle for management, and needs to be for cause. If it’s not for cause, the termination can be overturned, and the entire process would be for naught. This can lead to excessive reluctance on the part of management to go through the trouble of firing anyone. But what remains unclear in the IRS case is whether the directors even wanted to fire anyone.
In other words, Ezra’s “brave” declaration comes with plenty of room for (Administration-approved?) foot-dragging.
It’s gonna be a long, hot summer.