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Christian Woman on Death Row in Pakistan: “Please Don’t Abandon Me”

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Nicholas Kristof devoted precious New York Times space to the pleadings of one Christian Pakistani family to save their wife and mother from a death sentence:

Note: Asia Bibi, a Christian Pakistani woman, was sentenced to death for blasphemy against Islam in 2010. The year before, while picking fruit with Muslim women, she took a sip of water from the local well. She was immediately accused of making the water impure by ​the other workers, ​who told her that they could no longer use the well. A​ccording to her husband, Ashiq Masih, and others, men and women started beating her and accusing her of making derogatory remarks against the Islamic prophet Muhammad, a charge she denies. Asia is currently in prison waiting to be hanged after losing an appeal ​on ​Oct. 16. She has told her story in a memoir, Blasphemy: A Memoir: Sentenced to Death over a Cup of Water, written with French journalist Anne-Isabelle Tollet. 

Below is an open letter by Ashiq addressed to the world community. (Madam Mayor refers to Paris Mayor Anne Hidalgo, who has offered her support to Asia.)

Her husband writes, in part:

I live in hiding with my five children as near as possible to Asia. She needs us very much to help keep her alive, to bring her medicine and good food when she is sick.

After my wife had spent four long years in prison in terrible conditions, we were hoping that the High Court of Lahore would free my wife. She did not commit blasphemy, never. Since the court confirmed the death sentence on the 16th of October, we do not understand why our country, our beloved Pakistan, is so against us. Our family has always lived here in peace, and we never had any disturbance. We are Christians but we respect Islam. Our neighbors are Muslims and we have always lived well with them in our little village. But for some years now the situation in Pakistan has changed because of just a few people, and we are afraid. Today many of our Muslim friends cannot understand why the Pakistani justice system is making our family suffer so much.

We are now trying our best to present the final case to the Supreme Court before the 4th of December. But we are convinced that Asia will only be saved from being hanged if the venerable President Mammon Hussain grants her a pardon. No one should be killed for drinking a glass of water.

Posted at 7:44 am on November 24th, 2014 by

‘Under Pressure,’ Hagel Out as Secretary of Defense

President Obama is expected to announce at 11:10 a.m. EST that Defense Secretary Chuck Hagel is stepping down.

According to the New York Times, Hagel is doing so “under pressure” after two weeks of meetings with Obama.

More from the NYT:

The officials described Mr. Obama’s decision to remove Mr. Hagel, 68, as a recognition that the threat from the Islamic State would require a different kind of skills than those that Mr. Hagel was brought on to employ. A Republican with military experience who was skeptical about the Iraq war, Mr. Hagel came in to manage the Afghanistan combat withdrawal and the shrinking Pentagon budget in the era of budget sequestration.

But now “the next couple of years will demand a different kind of focus,” one administration official said, speaking on the condition of anonymity. He insisted that Mr. Hagel was not fired, saying that he initiated discussions about his future two weeks ago with the president, and that the two men mutually agreed that it was time for him to leave.

But Mr. Hagel’s aides had maintained in recent weeks that he expected to serve the full four years as defense secretary. His removal appears to be an effort by the White House to show that it is sensitive to critics who have pointed to stumbles in the government’s early response to several national security issues, including the Ebola crisis and the threat posed by the Islamic State.

Earlier this month Hagel said there was critical need for overhaul of the country’s nuclear force — plans that the House Armed Services Committee chairman feared would clash with Obama’s “global zero” anti-nuke plans.

Hagel told reporters that both internal and external reviews found “a consistent lack of investment and support for our nuclear forces over far too many years has left us with too little margin to cope with mounting stresses.”

Hagel’s recommendations included “changes in organization, policies, and culture,” while “others require an increase in resources, allocated to the nuclear mission.”

“I hope the president will listen to his senior civilian and military national security leaders, take this as seriously as they do, and cast aside his Global Zero vision that is in reality unilateral disarmament,” Armed Services Chairman Buck McKeon (R-Calif.) said at the time. “We can work together to follow the blueprint established by Secretary Hagel and his review and show the leadership our men and women in uniform deserve.”

Obama passed over Deputy Secretary of Defense Ashton Carter for the job after Defense Secretary Leon Panetta resigned. Carter, a highly knowledgeable and powerful force inside the Pentagon, stepped down in October 2013. A week later, Press Secretary George Little resigned.

Panetta has since unleashed on the administration in a memoir, saying last month that the president drawing an unenforced red line on Syria was “damaging” to U.S. credibility.

Panetta’s book notes that Obama too often ”relies on the logic of a law professor rather than the passion of a leader” and sometimes he “avoids the battle, complains, and misses opportunities.”

Posted at 6:45 am on November 24th, 2014 by

SecDef Chuck Hagel Is Resigning

Breaking news today: Defense Secretary Chuck Hagel is leaving the Obama administration. The NY Times reports that Hagel is the first casualty from the Democrats’ massive defeat on Nov. 4.

WASHINGTON — Defense Secretary Chuck Hagel is stepping down under pressure, the first cabinet-level casualty of the collapse of President Obama’s Democratic majority in the Senate and a beleaguered national security team that has struggled to stay ahead of an onslaught of global crises.

The president, who is expected to announce Mr. Hagel’s resignation in a Rose Garden appearance on Monday, made the decision to ask his defense secretary — the sole Republican on his national security team — to step down last Friday after a series of meetings over the past two weeks, senior administration officials said.

Hagel has “struggled to fit in” with Obama’s close circle of advisers, according to the Times, and initiated talks over his future in October.

Hagel’s departure will be announced in the White House Rose Garden this afternoon.

Hagel was the lone Republican left in Obama’s national security team. He got off to a disheartening start at Defense, in incoherent confirmation hearings. Hagel has presided over a sharp rise in the Islamic State threat, a threat that he and President Obama publicly saw very differently.

He raised the ire of the White House in August as the administration was ramping up its strategy to fight the Islamic State, directly contradicting the president, who months before had likened the Sunni militant group to a junior varsity basketball squad. Mr. Hagel, facing reporters in his now-familiar role next to General Dempsey, called the Islamic State an “imminent threat to every interest we have,” adding, “This is beyond anything that we’ve seen.” White House officials later said they viewed those comments as unhelpful, although the administration still appears to be struggling to define just how large is the threat posed by the Islamic State.

Possible replacements include former undersecretary of defense Michèle Flournoy, Democrat Sen. Jack Reed (RI), and former deputy defense secretary Ashton Carter, according to the Times.

Posted at 6:39 am on November 24th, 2014 by

Graham: House Intelligence Committee Report Clearing Admin of Misleading on Benghazi is ‘Full of Crap’

Sen. Lindsey Graham (R-S.C.) blasted the House Intelligence Committee’s final report on Benghazi as “full of crap.”

The committee found no big intelligence failure in the Sept. 11, 2012, attack on a diplomatic facility that took four American lives, including Ambassador Chris Stevens.

It also cleared the administration of wrongdoing in the time it took to launch a rescue operation for consulate staff. And it found that current National Security Adviser Susan Rice wasn’t being deliberately misleading when she made the rounds on the networks to deliver inaccurate talking points that, in part, pointed the finger of blame at anger over an anti-Muhammad video on YouTube.

“As the Committee’s bipartisan report makes clear, the House Intelligence Committee’s investigation into the Benghazi attacks focused on the Intelligence Community’s activities before, during, and after the attacks in Benghazi, Libya, on September 11-12, 2012,” Intelligence Chairman Mike Rogers (R-Mich.) said in a statement Saturday. “The bipartisan panel concluded that there was no stand down order issued by or to intelligence community personnel, and there was no denial of air support to intelligence community officers on the ground. The officers present testified to that effect.”

“The Committee did receive evidence about the activities of the Defense Department, State Department, and White House personnel, which are explained in both the report and the additional views,” he added. “But the Committee does not make final conclusions about other agencies to the extent they were not the focus of the Committee’s investigation.”

Rogers said all members of the committee “were given an opportunity to provide written comments on the Committee’s work and the report.” The retiring chairman “wrote additional views to provide further comments on the motivations and actions of some senior officials.”

“Similarly, the Minority Members provided additional comments. The Committee urges those commenting on the report to read both the report and the additional views.”

Rep. Trey Gowdy’s (R-S.C.) Select Committee on Benghazi said it “received the Intelligence Committee’s report on the Benghazi terrorist attack months ago, and has reviewed it along with other Committee reports and materials as the investigation proceeds.”

“It will aid the Select Committee’s comprehensive investigation to determine the full facts of what happened in Benghazi, Libya before, during and after the attack and contribute toward our final, definitive accounting of the attack on behalf of Congress.”

Said Graham on CNN Sunday: “I think the report is full of crap.”

“To say that Mike Morell — well, the deputy director of the CIA, when I ask him, do you know who changed the talking points, and — with Senator Ayotte and McCain and Susan Rice sitting by his side, said the FBI changed the talking points when it came to references to al-Qaeda,” Graham said. “Only later did we find out through a lawsuit that Mike Morell was deeply involved in changing the talking points, the deputy director of the FBI. When he was sitting in front of a congressional panel and he was asked, does anybody here know who changed the talking points, he sat silent. So, no, the intel community through him lied.”

The House Intelligence Committee, the senator charged, “is doing a lousy job policing their own.”

“I’m saying that anybody who has followed Benghazi at all knows that the CIA deputy director did not come forward to tell Congress what role he played in changing the talking points. And the only way we knew he was involved is when he told a representative at the White House, I’m going to do a hard review of this, a hard rewrite,” he said.

“Three days after the attack, they did not give a damn about the intelligence. They wanted to create a political narrative to protect the president. And I’m not going to stop until someone is held accountable for allowing it to be a death trap, somebody be fired for not coming to the aid of these people for nine-and-a-half-hours. And somebody ought to be fired for lying to the American people. They were worried about the reelection, not telling the truth. And when Susan Rice said, ‘I have no regrets, I gave the American people the best evidence available,’ that’s a bald-faced lie.”

Graham added that when the House Intelligence Committee “says there is no manipulating of the American people, that is absolute garbage.”

“When they say there is no evidence that CIA personnel misled the Congress regarding changing the talking points, that is a lie, because I was on the receiving end of the lie.”

Sen. Mark Kirk (R-Ill.) told CNN that Graham’s reaction to the report was “right on target.”

“You know, when you look at this administration it seems like they very much wanted to say that there was no successful al-Qaeda out there,” Kirk said.

House Intelligence Committee member Adam Schiff (D-Calif.) told the network that “calling it crap doesn’t change the fact that it was an exhaustive and objective review.”

“It reminds me of a lawyer’s maxim that, if the law is not on your side, emphasize the facts. If the facts aren’t on your side, bang on the table. I think we heard Lindsey banging on the table quite a bit this morning,” Schiff said.

“This was a two-year exhaustive investigation. It was released by the Republican chairman of the Intelligence Committee and had the support of all the Republicans and Democrats on the committee. It’s designed to be the definitive word on what happened from the intelligence community’s point of view… There were 21 intelligence assessments at the time that it began as a protest. Those turned out to be wrong, but there was no malice in getting it wrong.”

Posted at 6:30 am on November 24th, 2014 by

More Defections of ‘Vetted Moderate’ Free Syrian Army Rebels to ISIS

Earlier this month I reported here at PJ Media on the surrender and defections of U.S.-backed Syrian rebel troops to Jabhat al-Nusra (Al-Qaeda’s official affiliate), most notably the Syrian Revolutionaries Front, which the DC foreign policy establishment was hailing as “the West’s best fighting chance against Syria’s Islamist armies,” and Harkat al-Hazm, the first group to receive heavy weaponry from the U.S. earlier this year.

Now Mona Mahmood of the Guardian reports that elements of the Free Syrian Army (FSA) are defecting to ISIS:

US air strikes in Syria are encouraging anti-regime fighters to forge alliances with or even defect to Islamic State (Isis), according to a series of interviews conducted by the Guardian.

Fighters from the Free Syrian Army (FSA) and Islamic military groups are joining forces with Isis, which has gained control of swaths of Syria and Iraq and has beheaded six western hostages in the past few months.

Some brigades have transferred their allegiance, while others are forming tactical alliances or truces. Support among civilians also appears to be growing in some areas as a result of resentment over US-led military action.

“Isis now is like a magnet that attracts large numbers of Muslims,” said Abu Talha, who defected from the FSA a few months ago and is now in negotiations with other fighters from groups such as the al-Nusra Front to follow suit.

As the article notes, rebels perceive the U.S. airstrikes against ISIS and Jabhat al-Nusra as a “war on Islam”:

[FSA fighter Murad] and his fellow fighters were awaiting the arrival of Isis militants in Homs, he added. “The moment Isis fighters touch the soil of the Homs countryside, we will be the first to fight with them at the front. This [US-led] military coalition is not against Isis, it is against entire Islam.”

This sentiment is hardly aberrant among the so-called “vetted moderate” Syrian rebels. As I reported back in September, the U.S.-backed Harakat al-Hazm issued a statement at the outset of the U.S. anti-ISIS bombing campaign saying it was  ”an attack on the revolution.”

And I’ve also previously reported that many of these U.S.-backed and armed “vetted moderate” groups have shifting alliances that include fighting with ISIS and Jabhat al-Nusra.

As far back as July there were reports that large groups of FSA units were defecting to al-Qaeda and ISIS, surrendering their U.S.-provided weapons along the way, and that other FSA units were forging peace deals and fighting alongside al-Qaeda and ISIS in some areas.

While most of the D.C. foreign policy establishment was promoting the arming of the so-called “vetted moderate” FSA, a few of us were openly skeptical of any effort to back so-called “moderate jihadists.” Whether by Republicans or Democrats, such efforts in the past have always ended in tears for the U.S. and led to increased threats to our national security.

This policy in Syria has been so disastrous the Obama administration has been openly distancing themselves from their “vetted moderate” Syrian rebel partners.

Remarkably, as I noted earlier this month, congressional Republican leadership jumped on board with Obama’s policies at the very moment he was abandoning them, voting to spend another $500 million to arm and train the “vetted moderates.” Meanwhile, some GOP figures who supported Obama’s policies of supporting and arming the FSA since 2011, namely John McCain and Lindsey Graham, have been unapologetic in the face of the collapse and defections of their “vetted moderate” friends.

It remains to be seen whether the new Congress that will be seated in January will follow the folly of the current Congress in providing training, money and weapons to the FSA. But expect these defections by the FSA and other U.S.-backed groups to ISIS and Jabhat al-Nusra to continue.

Posted at 6:20 am on November 24th, 2014 by

Obama Honors ‘At Times Tumultuous’ Life of Marion Barry

President Obama said he was “saddened” at the loss of D.C. political “fixture” Marion Barry, the colorful four-term former mayor who died Sunday at age 78.

Barry had diabetes and kidney disease, and the D.C. medical examiner said the cause of death was hypertensive cardiovascular disease.

He was still on the City Council representing Ward 8.

Barry kicked off the 1990s with a six-month stint in federal prison on a cocaine possession charge. An infamous hotel sting video of the bust had Barry muttering “bitch set me up” as he was hauled away in cuffs.

In 1992 he was back, running for and winning his council seat on the campaign slogan, ”He may not be perfect, but he’s perfect for D.C.”

“Marion was born a sharecropper’s son, came of age during the Civil Rights movement, and became a fixture in D.C. politics for decades. As a leader with the Student Nonviolent Coordinating Committee, Marion helped advance the cause of civil rights for all,” Obama said in a statement.

“During his decades in elected office in D.C., he put in place historic programs to lift working people out of poverty, expand opportunity, and begin to make real the promise of home rule,” the president continued. “Through a storied, at times tumultuous life and career, he earned the love and respect of countless Washingtonians, and Michelle and I extend our deepest sympathies to Marion’s family, friends and constituents today.”

Obama was golfing at Lake Las Vegas in Henderson, Nev., when the news broke. Among his partners for the game was onetime Tiger Woods golf coach Butch Harmon.

D.C.’s delegate to Congress, Eleanor Holmes Norton (D), said, “From my earliest encounter with Marion Barry, when he was the first chair of the Student Nonviolent Coordinating Committee until I came back home and found him mayor of my home town, I have seen Marion take hold and write his signature boldly on his own life and times and on the life of the nation’s capital.”

“Many took his struggle to personify in some way their own, endearing him and making him a larger-than-life figure as he became a creator of post-home-rule D.C.,” Norton said.

The District said the public memorial for Barry could be postponed until after Thanksgiving. Verizon Center and the Convention Center are being considered as venues.

Marion Barry’s last tweet:

 

Posted at 5:57 am on November 24th, 2014 by

Cleveland Police Officer Shoots 12-Year-Old Boy Carrying Airsoft Gun

cleveland-police-officer-shoots-12-year-old-boy-04600e4e02eb25eb

Cleveland police reported that an officer shot a 12-year-old male at a recreation center on the city’s West side on Saturday. Tamir E. Rice, of Cleveland, died at MetroHealth Medical Center early Sunday morning. According to a press release from the Cleveland police department:

Officers responded to a radio assignment outside of the recreation center for a male with a gun. The Preliminary information reveals that witnesses reported that a male was in the playground area of the center, waiving [sic] a gun and pointing it at people. Upon arrival on scene, officers located the suspect and advised him to raise his hands. The suspect did not comply with the officers’ orders and reached to his waistband for the gun. Shots were fired and the suspect was struck in the torso. EMS was contacted and the suspect was transported to MetroHealth Medical Center for treatment.

A 9-1-1 caller told dispatchers “a guy with a gun was pointing it at people” at the recreation center. He said (twice) that the gun was “probably fake,” but said the person was scaring people.

Police dispatchers radioed officers that there was “a male with a gun threatening people” outside the rec center.

Cleveland Police Patrolmen’s Association President Jeffrey Follmer said dispatchers did not relay that the gun was “probably fake.”

“Besides, we have to assume every gun is real,” he said. “When we don’t, that’s the day we don’t go home.”

Police said that the weapon the suspect was waving was an “airsoft” type replica gun resembling a semi-automatic pistol, with the orange safety indicator removed.

Deputy Chief of Field Operations Ed Tomba told reporters the incident was “very, very tragic” as a handful of community activists shouted obscenities from behind the reporters.

“We don’t come to work everyday and want to use force on anybody,” Tomba said. “That’s not what our job is. We’re part of this community.”

Follmer said a rookie officer and a 10-15 year veteran responded to the call at the playground of the recreation center. The rookie officer saw a black gun sitting on the table and saw the suspect pick up the gun and put it in his waistband.

According to Tomba, Rice did not threaten the officer verbally or physically; however, when told by the officer to put his hands up, Rice allegedly reached into his waistband, pulled out the gun and the rookie officer fired two shots.

Posted at 9:09 pm on November 23rd, 2014 by

Why Is the Ferguson Grand Jury Taking So Long?

Grand jury deliberations are as secretive as the conclave of cardinals who elect the pope. Unlike trial juries, which can be sequestered, grand juries live and work in the community, meeting several times a month to hear witnesses and weigh evidence. They are fully aware of the situation in their communities and what’s at stake with their decision.

You can imagine the pressure on the Ferguson grand jury as they are exposed to threats of violence from thugs, as well as pleas for “justice” from more peaceful advocates. And while there may, indeed, be an intimidation factor from those who threaten to riot and loot, you would hope they ignore outside forces and render their decision based on the facts.

So why has it taken so long? CNN’s Steve Almasy explains that it’s a matter of the time the grand jury spends on the case and the fact that the prosecutor has given them all the evidence he has. Normally, a prosecutor will withhold as much ammunition as he can so as not to give the defense a heads up on what he has until he absolutely has to. But in this case, prosecutor Robert McCulloch wanted the grand jury to have everything.

Almasy explains that the grand jury usually only meets once a week, although in the Brown case, “the panel is allowed to meet on days when all 12 jurors can get together. Once agreed upon, the schedule is given to the prosecuting attorney’s office.” So, it’s more often than once a week but less than 5 days a week.

McCulloch told CNN’s Ana Cabrera that it had taken longer than expected to get some of the witnesses in front of the grand jury.

The grand jury meets in secret, so it is impossible to know whether all the evidence has been presented and all the witnesses have testified. One possibility is the grand jury wanted to hear from a witness again.

Another scenario is that the grand jurors took a break before starting their deliberations.

McCulloch has told CNN that if there is no indictment, he will seek to publicly release all evidence in the case.

Paul Fox, St. Louis County’s director of judicial administration, sent a statement to media on Sunday that said that a judge must approve such a request and that the court will have to “analyze the need for maintaining secrecy of the records with the need for public disclosure of the records.”

There are several possible outcomes to the grand jury’s deliberations:

Posted at 4:15 pm on November 23rd, 2014 by

Al-Shabab, Boko Harum Attacks Kill Nearly 90

Two horrific terrorist attacks yesterday carried out against civilians by two of the worst terrorist groups in the world.

A group of Somalia-based al-Shabab gunmen stopped a bus full of Kenyans at dawn on their way to Nairobi. The gunmen then began to ask the 60 passengers to recite a verse from the Koran. Those that couldn’t were told to lie on the ground.

A primary school headteacher who was the only survivor of the Kenya bus massacre has said he was saved because his would-be killers became confused as he lay waiting to be murdered.

Non-Muslim Douglas Ochwodho, who was singled out to to be killed, said one gunman shot from the right and one from the left, each killing their victims lying in a line on the ground.

They grew closer and closer to Mr Ochwodho, who was in the middle, then the shooting stopped. Apparently each gunman thought the other shot Mr Ochwodho, who remained perfectly still until the 20 Islamic extremists left the scene.

Twenty-eight passengers were murdered when Somalia’s al-Shabab group attacked a bus in northern Kenya at dawn yesterday and picked out those who could not recite an Islamic creed who they assumed to be non-Muslims.

Nineteen men and nine women were killed.

Those who could not say the Shahada, a tenet of the Muslim faith, were shot at close range, Mr Ochwodho, who spoke from a hospital bed where he was being treated for shock, said.

Al-Shabab claimed responsibility for the killings through its radio station in Somalia, saying it was in retaliation for earlier raids by Kenyan security forces on four coastal mosques.

Kenyan troops are fighting alongside government troops against al-Shabab in Somalia, and the terrorists are murdering civilians in retaliation. Last September, 4 al-Shabab gunmen walked into the upscale Westlake Mall in Nairobi and gunned down 63 men, women, and children. They, too, singled out people who could not recite the Muslim profession of faith, “There is no god but allah and Mohammed is his prophet.”

Meanwhile, in Nigeria, Boko Harum rampaged through a small town killing at least 60 innocents.

An attack by Islamic extremists killed dozens in the northeastern Nigerian village of Doron Baga, a major fishing center on the shores of Lake Chad, witnesses said.

Fisherman Usman Abubakar told the Associated Press that suspected Boko Haram members drove into Doron Baga, in Borno state, “shooting people on sight.”

“I counted 60 bodies with my own eyes,” Abubakar said.

He said he, his wife and three children hid in their home before fleeing to the state capital of Maiduguri about 200 kilometers (124 miles) away.

Abubakar said he is among the many residents who are fleeing Borno and returning to their state of origin, Sokoto in northwestern Nigeria.

Nigerian security official Gideon Jubrin, spokesman for the Borno state police, told AP he has not received any official confirmation of the attack.

Communication in the area are difficult because Boko Haram have destroyed mobile phone masts across the northeastern region, which means attacks often go unreported for days.

Baga was the site of a mass killing in April 2013 where almost 200 people, mostly civilians, were killed and more than 2,000 homes were destroyed in crossfire between the Nigerian troops and Boko Haram.

An attack on Wednesday in Azaya Kura village in Borno left at least 45 people dead when Boko Haram members surged through the village raiding homes and stealing livestock.

Most observers in the region don’t think the Nigerian military can stand up against Boko Harum. Besides, the people fear the military almost as much as they hate Boko Harum. Without the population on their side, Boko Harum will only grow stronger while the Nigerian government fumbles its way to defeat.

Posted at 1:36 pm on November 23rd, 2014 by

What the President Didn’t Tell You About His Amnesty Plan

Newt Gingrich, writing at CNN, contrasts the words that President Obama used to describe his deferred deportation plan with what his administration is actually proposing.

The President also said in his speech that his actions would offer relief only to people who met certain criteria he described, including having child dependents in the United States. But the actual policy memo makes clear that “DHS will direct all of its enforcement resources at pursuing” people who are “national security threats, serious criminals, and recent border crossers.”

In other words, there will be one group, estimated at 4 million or so, who are eligible for the new work authorization program. But at the same time, there will be no resources directed at enforcing immigration law against the other 7 million people here illegally as long as they do not fall into a few narrow categories, according to the President’s Office of Legislative Affairs. And indeed, a “senior administration official” told Roll Call that the administration “will order immigration agents to prioritize deportations of criminals and recent arrivals — and let people who are not on that priority list go free.” This is not at all the program the President described in his speech.

As I wrote yesterday, drunk drivers, sex abusers, drug traffickers, and even burglars will not be “prioritized” as far as deportations are concerned. Most local governments don’t turn illegals over to the feds anyway, so not much will change. Still, for the federal government to ignore the immigration laws already on the books by looking the other way and “deferring” deportations for almost all 11 million illegal aliens is a breathtaking expansion of executive power.

Posted at 10:55 am on November 23rd, 2014 by

SNL Snubs Obama, Mocks Executive Order

IJReview picked up on one of the funniest SNL sketches in recent (a.k.a. post-original cast) history. It was a Schoolhouse Rock! parody that aired last night, mocking Obama’s latest immigration-related executive order and complete disregard for the constitutional process:

It starts out with the familiar boy climbing the steps of Capitol Hill and asking what kind of bill is on the Hill with him. The bill responds with a jingle that he is an “immigration bill” and that he hopes he can be passed into law someday.

Cue the President shoving the bill down the stairs before inviting his buddy, the cigarette smoking “executive order,” into the picture.

The boy exclaims in bewilderment that what the President is doing is unconstitutional, but the executive order just laughs at the boy’s belief that he still thinks that is how government works.

The sketch may be tongue-in-cheek payback on the part of NBC after being snubbed by the president, whose administration just so happened not to request air time from the Big 4 to announce his executive order plans in prime time. Dubbed “The Commander-in-Chief of MSNBC,” Obama has employed his “heckler’s veto” multiple times in the past, and Saturday Night Live sketches were far from immune. Last night’s humor is obviously a sampling of what can happen when Tina Fey no longer manages the Obama campaign from its 30 Rock location.

Despite the president’s latest appearance on Univision and Telemundo, the majority of Latino voters disagree with his executive order and rate amnesty low on their list of priorities:

By a margin of 56 percent to 40 percent, Hispanic voters oppose allowing illegal immigrants to obtain federal benefits, including Obamacare benefits, “while they are going through the legalization process and before the 90% goal is reached.”

When asked to choose which of four issues — the economy, immigration reform, education, or health care — is most important to them, registered Hispanic voters said immigration reform was their lowest priority. Just 31 percent ranked the issue first or second, compared with 62 percent for the economy, 57 percent for health care, and 45 percent for education. Non-registered voters, on the other hand, ranked immigration reform as their highest priority.

Apparently SNL did a better job of marketing to a new target demographic than the Big-O.

Watch the video on the next page.

Posted at 8:13 am on November 23rd, 2014 by

Even With Iran Nuke Deal, the Military Option is Back on the Table for Israel

An alarming article in the Jerusalem Post reports that Israel may take military action against Iranian nuclear sites even if a deal being negotiated between Iran and the west is reached.

The Israelis point to several concessions made by the west that does not reassure them of Iran’s intent with its nuclear program.

In fact, Israel sees these concessions as a threat. One official cited a “sunset clause” in proposed comprehensive deal, which guarantees Iran a path into the nuclear club and may corner Israel into war.”

But reflecting on the deal under discussion with The Jerusalem Post on the eve of the deadline, Israel has issued a stark, public warning to its allies with a clear argument: Current proposals guarantee the perpetuation of a crisis, backing Israel into a corner from which military force against Iran provides the only logical exit.

World powers have presented Iran with an accord that would restrict its nuclear program for roughly ten years and cap its ability to produce fissile material for a weapon during that time to a minimum nine-month additional period, from the current three months.

Should Tehran agree, the deal may rely on Russia to convert Iran’s current uranium stockpile into fuel rods for peaceful use. The proposal would also include an inspection regime that would attempt to follow the program’s entire supply chain, from the mining of raw material to the syphoning of that material to various nuclear facilities across Iran.

Israel’s leaders believe the best of a worst-case scenario, should that deal be reached, is for inspections to go perfectly and for Iran to choose to abide by the deal for the entire decade-long period.

But “our intelligence agencies are not perfect,” an Israeli official said. “We did not know for years about Natanz and Qom. And inspection regimes are certainly not perfect. They weren’t in the case in North Korea, and it isn’t the case now – Iran’s been giving the IAEA the run around for years about its past activities.”

“What’s going to happen with that?” the official continued. “Are they going to sweep that under the rug if there’s a deal?”

On Saturday afternoon, reports from Vienna suggested the P5+1 – the US, United Kingdom, France, Russia, China and Germany – are willing to stop short of demanding full disclosure of any secret weapon work by Tehran.

Speaking to the Post, a senior US official rejected concern over limited surveillance capabilities, during or after a deal.

“If we can conclude a comprehensive agreement, we will have significantly more ability to detect covert facilities – even after its duration is over – than we do today,” the senior US official said. “After the duration of the agreement, the most intrusive inspections will continue: the Additional Protocol – which encompasses very intrusive transparency, and which Iran has already said it will implement – will continue.”

That may be wishful thinking. In fact, the inspection regime falls short of being “intrusive,” as Iran will still be able to deny immediate access to their facilities. In other words, no “snap” inspections. And without full disclosure of Iran’s previous bomb making efforts, the inspectors may not even know where to look for dual-purpose facilities.

Meanwhile, the calculus for and against Israel taking military action to degrade or destroy Iranian nuclear infrastructure hasn’t changed, except it’s probably a more difficult mission than it was 2 years ago. Facilities have been hardened or built underground. Even with an attack lasting several days, there’s no guarantee that Israel can destroy enough of Iran’s nuclear program to make big difference.

But given the threat, Israel may feel itself backed into a corner and would attack anyway. And as the J-Post article makes clear, it may not matter what kind of deal might be reached between Iran and the west.

Posted at 7:58 am on November 23rd, 2014 by

Benghazi Annex Security Team Members Disagree Forcefully with House Intel Committee Report

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Saturday on C-SPAN’s Book TV, CIA Benghazi annex security team members Kris Paronto and Mark Geist answered questions about a report released Friday by the House Intelligence Committee on the 9/11 attack on the U.S. consulate in Benghazi in 2012. The two former CIA contractors pushed back forcefully against parts of the the committee’s conclusions about the night that Ambassador Chris Stevens, U.S. Foreign Service Information Management Officer Sean Smith, and CIA contractors Tyrone Woods and Glen Doherty were killed in Benghazi.

The report by the U.S. House of Representatives Permanent Select Committee on Intelligence (HPSCI), chaired by Republican Rep. Mike Rogers, concluded that “the CIA ensured sufficient security for CIA facilities in Benghazi” and that “appropriate U.S. personnel made reasonable tactical decisions that night.” The committee “found no evidence that there was either a stand down order or a denial of available air support.” The report, according to the House Intelligence Committee, is meant to serve as the “definitive House statement on the Intelligence Community’s activities before, during, and after the tragic events that caused the deaths of four brave Americans” so that the American public can separate “facts from the swirl of rumors and unsubstantiated allegations.”

Kris “Tanto” Paronto, co-author of the book 13 Hours: The Inside Account of What Really Happened in Benghazireacted to the report on Twitter Friday night and Saturday morning, prior to the C-SPAN interview:

During the Book TV interview, Paronto and Mark “Oz” Geist, who also co-wrote the book (along with Mark Teigen, who attended the interview but did not appear on camera), explained that it took them over an hour to get to the consulate from the time they heard about the attack. Asked why it took so long for them to reach the scene Paronto said, “That’s the million dollar question.”

Paronto stood by the claim made in the book that they were ordered to stand down, a claim that was disputed in this week’s House Intelligence Committee report. “We were told to stand down. We were delayed for approximately 27 minutes on our compound,” he said. “We do not know, as far as outside of our chain of command outside Libya, where that came from. We know that the stand down orders and the waits and the delays came from Libya. Came from chief of station, chief of base. Whether it came from anybody higher, we don’t answer that. We don’t know. And we’d like to know, but we have no idea.”

Posted at 6:50 pm on November 22nd, 2014 by

Give Me Your Tired, Your Poor, Your Drunk Drivers, Your Sex Abusers, Your Drug Traffickers…

A good, prudent immigration policy would allow people into the country who can contribute something to the culture or the economy. Job skills, talent, brainpower — these are qualities in people that the U.S, should be encouraging to come, or stay.

Some of the people who will qualify under “deferred deportation” have other kinds of talents. Burglars who have demonstrated a proficiency in robbing people are welcome, according to new rules issued by DHS. Also, those excellent illegal-drug salesmen — some of whom are so good they could probably sell crack cocaine to a 10 year old — have talents desired by President Obama.

Sex abusers, drunk drivers — I mean, it’s obvious that President Obama feels we have a shortage of low-life scumbags in America.

Byron York writes of the new rules issued by U.S. immigration authorities:

The new priorities are striking. On the tough side, the president wants U.S. immigration authorities to go after terrorists, felons, and new illegal border crossers. On the not-so-tough side, the administration views convicted drunk drivers, sex abusers, drug dealers, and gun offenders as second-level enforcement priorities. An illegal immigrant could spend up to a year in prison for a violent crime and still not be a top removal priority for the Obama administration.

In the memo, DHS Secretary Jeh Johnson says his department must develop “smart enforcement priorities” to exercise “prosecutorial discretion” in order to best use his agency’s limited resources. Johnson establishes three enforcement priority levels to guide DHS officers as they decide whether to stop, hold, or prosecute an illegal immigrant.

Priority One is the “highest priority to which enforcement resources should be directed,” the memo says. The category includes “aliens engaged in or suspected of terrorism or espionage, or who otherwise pose a danger to national security.” It also includes “aliens apprehended at the border or ports of entry while attempting to unlawfully enter the United States.” In addition, any illegal immigrant convicted of an offense involving a criminal street gang, or convicted of a felony — provided that immigration status was not an “essential element” of the charge — is targeted. Finally, any illegal immigrant convicted of an aggravated felony is included in Priority One.

The guidelines say Priority One aliens “must be prioritized” for deportation unless they qualify for asylum or unless there are “compelling and exceptional” factors that indicate the alien is not a threat.

Priority Two offenders, whose cases are less urgent than criminals in Priority One, include the following:

aliens convicted of a “significant misdemeanor,” which for these purposes is an offense of domestic violence; sexual abuse or exploitation; burglary; unlawful possession or use of a firearm; drug distribution or trafficking; or driving under the influence; or if not an offense listed above, one for which the individual was sentenced to time in custody of 90 days or more (the sentence must involve time to be served in custody, and does not include a suspended sentence)

DHS further defines a “significant misdemeanor” as an offense for which the maximum term of imprisonment is one year or less, but greater than five days. In addition, the guidelines contain a possible out for illegal immigrants accused of domestic abuse. “Careful consideration should be given to whether the convicted alien was also the victim of domestic violence,” the guidelines say. “If so, this should be a mitigating factor.”

It’s bad enough that an illegal with one conviction on any one of those crimes can stay. But a burglar caught and convicted twice is still eligible to remain in the U.S. under Obama’s new rules.

The president told America during his speech on Thursday night that those convicted of “serious” offenses would be deported. But rape is sometimes reduced to a sexual abuse misdemeanor. Other charges related to burglary, like strong-arm robbery, can be dropped. A drug-dealing gangbanger can be convicted of trafficking if the amount of illegal drugs he’s caught with is less than a felony.

The point being, just because a criminal is convicted of a couple of misdemeanors doesn’t mean he’s not a threat to the community. It’s apparent that President Obama and the rest of America have different ideas on what constitutes a “serious” crime.

Posted at 3:34 pm on November 22nd, 2014 by

US Desperation Sets in as Iran Nuke Deal Deadline Looms

Go figure. It’s Iran whose economy has been crippled by sanctions. It’s Iran that is isolated and nearly alone in the world. It’s Iran that’s literally under the gun to make a deal as, theoretically, the deal would virtually guarantee the US — and probably Israel — would forgo an attack.

Then why in the name of all that is good and holy is it the US that’s desperate to make a deal?

Reuters:

World powers are pressing Iran to stop stonewalling a U.N. atomic bomb investigation as part of a wider nuclear accord, but look likely to stop short of demanding full disclosure of any secret weapon work by Tehran to avoid killing an historic deal.

Officially, the United States and its Western allies say it is vital that Iran fully cooperate with a U.N. nuclear agency investigation if it wants a diplomatic settlement that would end the sanctions severely hurting its oil-based economy.

The six powers face a delicate balancing act at talks in Vienna, due to end by Monday; Israel and hawkish U.S. lawmakers – wary of any rapprochement with old foe Iran – are likely to pounce on a deal if they believe it is too soft on Tehran.

A senior U.S. official stressed that the powers had not changed their position on Iran’s past activities during this week’s talks: “We’ve always said that any agreement must resolve the issue to our satisfaction. That has not changed.”

Privately, however, some officials acknowledge that Iran may never be prepared to admit to what they believe it was guilty of: covertly working in the past to develop the ability to build a nuclear-armed missile – something it has always denied.

A senior Western official said the six would try to “be creative” in finding a formula to satisfy those who want Iran to come clean about any atomic bomb research and those who say this is simply unrealistic.

What’s the point of inking a nuclear deal with Iran if it doesn’t guarantee their enrichment program won’t be used to build a nuclear weapon? Isn’t that the the major reason for these cockamamie negotiations in the first place?

Sheesh.

The IAEA issued a report in 2011 with intelligence information indicating concerted activities until about a decade ago that could be relevant for developing nuclear bombs. It said some of these might be continuing.

IAEA Director General Yukiya Amano this week said Iran had again failed to provide the explanations needed for the IAEA inquiry, which has made scant headway in months.

Iran for its part has said these “possible military dimensions” (PMD) are an issue it will not budge on. “PMD is out of the question. It cannot be discussed,” an Iranian official said.

Another Western official said many inside the IAEA and Western governments felt uneasy about compromising on the issue, but added: “I believe the PMD issue is not a deal-breaker, even though it probably should be.”

Just so we have this straight…

Most western governments believe that Iran should come clean about any military dimensions to its nuclear program (that includes work on ballistic missiles). Those same people believe Iran’s failure to be forthcoming should be a deal breaker.

But the desire for a deal — any deal — is so strong, Iran’s secrecy about its nuclear bomb program will be overlooked in order to make history.

If a deal is signed, there will be great fanfare with President Obama perhaps traveling to Tehran to sign the document. We will be told it’s “historic.” We will be told it’s a great step forward. We will praise Iran’s “moderate” new government.

And in a few years when it becomes obvious that Iran has a nuclear weapon, these same people will throw their hands in the air and claim it wasn’t their fault.

Posted at 1:19 pm on November 22nd, 2014 by

Latest Obamacare ‘Tweak’ a Doozy

Americans are inveterate tinkerers — a trait commented on by observers from de Tocqueville to Winston Churchill.

That’s why it’s not surprising that the bureaucrats at the Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services would want to keep tweaking Obamacare. Mind you, it’s not so much because they think they can perfect the law. Rather, they keep tweaking the law in order to keep the American people from brandishing pitchforks and coming to Washington to tar and feather them and ride them out of town on a rail.

Self-preservation can be a marvelous motivating factor.

The geniuses who brought us the dysfunctional website healthcare.gov are in a panic because just about every Obamacare policy is going up in price. So rather than having American citizens deal with such unpleasantness, our intrepid bureaucrats have hit upon a brilliant scheme: why not change the auto-renewal rules of Obamacare premiums by automatically shifting a consumer from a policy that went up in price over to a cheaper policy? Of course, the cheaper policy will have fewer benefits and a larger deductible. And some people may actually like the policy they have now.

But what does that matter to the jamokes at HHS? They know what’s best for you. Just ask them.

Peter Suderman writes:

In a 300-page regulatory proposal released late this afternoon, the Department of Health and Human Services announced that it is considering changing Obamacare’s auto-renewal rules so that, within the health law’s exchanges, instead of being automatically renewed into your current health plan, you’d be moved into the lowest cost plan from the same service tier.

From the attached fact sheet:

Under current rules, consumers who do not take action during the openenrollment window are re-enrolled in the same plan they were in the previous year, even if that plan experienced significant premium increases. We are considering alternative options for re-enrollment, under which consumers who take no action might be defaulted into a lower cost plan rather than their current plan.

(Fact sheet via Adrianna McIntyre; proposal first noted by Politico.)

States running their own exchanges could start doing this in 2016, and federal exchanges could start in 2017.

It’s not just auto-reenrollment. It’s auto-reassignment, at least for those who pick that option. Basically, if you like your plan, but don’t go out of your way to intentionally re-enroll, the kind and wise folks at HHS or state health exchanges might just pick a new plan—perhaps with different doctors, clinics, cost structures, and benefit options—for you. And if you want to switch back? Good luck once open enrollment is closed. There’s always next year.

A hassle? Maybe. But have faith: They know what’s best.

Presumably the idea came up because, even though by some measures premiums aren’t rising by large amounts this year, premiums for many of the lowest cost and most popular plans from last year are rising quite a bit. And since HHS decided over the summer to institute auto-renewal, and since the majority of Obamacare enrollees are expected to take no action and thus stay in their current plans, the reality is that under the current system a lot of enrollees are likely to see large premium hikes, just because they didn’t shop around for a new plan.

Bless their nanny state hearts. The thoughtfulness of liberals is neverending, isn’t it? As we are constantly reminded by many on the left, Americans are just too stupid to realize what their best interests are, so why not make it easy on us and take decisions on our health insurance out of our hands and place the responsibility with our all-knowing betters in government?

Posted at 10:42 am on November 22nd, 2014 by

Two New Black Panther Party Members Arrested in Ferguson Bomb Plot

According to a spokesman for St. Louis County prosecutor Bob McCulloch, the grand jury considering whether to indict officer Darren Wilson on charges relating to the Michael Brown shooting in Ferguson, MO, was still meeting as of Friday morning, although McCulloch’s office put the media on notice to expect an announcement in the near future.

And in a sting operation, the FBI has told some media outlets that they have arrested two members of the New Black Panther Party on charges related to a bomb plot connected to the Ferguson protests. Brandon Orlando Baldwin and Olajuwon Davis, recently indicted on charges of trying to purchase handguns under false pretenses, were being charged with federal firearms offenses for trying to buy material for pipe bombs they planned on setting off during protests.

Reuters reports:

Against this backdrop of heightened tensions, according to a law enforcement source, two men described as reputed members of a militant group called the New Black Panther Party, were arrested in the St. Louis area in an FBI sting operation.

As initially reported by CBS News, the men were suspected of acquiring explosives for pipe bombs that they planned to set off during protests in Ferguson, according to the official, who spoke to Reuters on condition of anonymity because he was not authorized to publicly discuss the case.

The official said the two men are the same pair named in a newly unsealed federal indictment returned on Nov. 19 charging Brandon Orlando Baldwin and Olajuwon Davis with purchasing two pistols from a firearms dealer under false pretenses.

Both men were arraigned on Friday in federal court, the law enforcement source said.

The FBI and other federal agencies were reported to have stepped up their presence in the St. Louis area in recent days in anticipation of renewed protests after the grand jury’s decision in the Brown case is made known.

An FBI official in St. Louis declined to comment except to say that the two men named in the indictment had been arrested. Officials from the U.S. Attorney’s Office for eastern Missouri were not immediately available for comment.

In 2012, the New Black Panther Party offered a bounty on George Zimmerman, the man acquitted of murdering Trayvon Martin.

The New Black Panther Party’s most notorious act was intimidating voters at a precinct in Philadelphia during the 2008 presidential election. For no announced reason, Attorney General Eric Holder dropped those charges in 2009.

Posted at 7:42 am on November 22nd, 2014 by

Congressional Black Caucus Chairman Hopes Ferguson Grand Jury Finds Evidence of a Crime

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North Carolina Rep. G.K. Butterfield, who was elected chairman of the Congressional Black Caucus (CBC) this week, told WUNC on Wednesday that the CBC is “laser-focused on what’s happening in Ferguson.” He added,  ”We are very, very concerned about it.”

Butterfield, a former Superior Court judge and civil rights attorney, said in an interview with WUNC, the North Carolina Public Radio affiliate, that he expects a report from the grand jury in the Michael Brown shooting case next week.

“I was a judge, as you probably know, for fifteen years in North Carolina and I presided over many grand juries,” the congressman said. “So I would certainly hope that the grand jury in Ferguson, Missouri, will find that there is sufficient evidence to conclude that a crime probably was committed, to lay out that crime, and to let a jury of twelve in Missouri decide the guilt or innocence of the police officer. ”

Butterfield didn’t say whether he had seen any evidence indicating that a crime “probably was committed.” Nevertheless, he had a stern warning for the grand jury: “If they turn their backs on justice there will be…there will be pushback from those who are concerned about it — and I’m one of those who’s concerned about it. There will be pushback. We will be asking questions.”

The North Carolina congressmen, who has represented his district since 2004, said he hopes that any demonstrations in Ferguson will be peaceful and non-violent. “And I would hope that law enforcement would not inflame citizens who want to express their First Amendment rights.”

Audio here.

Posted at 7:28 pm on November 21st, 2014 by

Hillary Clinton Offers Her Own Condescending Hispanic Stereotype

Remember, this is an MSNBC guy reporting this, so it’s probably accurate. He also probably didn’t notice how cringe-inducing the statement was.

Again, she is an extraordinarily awful candidate. All she has to do is speak extemporaneously and she does more damage to herself than any opponent ever could. As I wrote on Wednesday, the press has a herculean task ahead of them to make this woman likable.

Posted at 5:50 pm on November 21st, 2014 by

Boehner Is Under Obama’s Thin Skin, Let’s Hope He Stays There

We noted earlier that Boehner wasted no time in raining on Obama’s parade.

Well, it worked.

President Barack Obama defended his decision to bypass Congress and overhaul U.S. immigration policy on his own on Friday, saying he was forced to act because House of Representatives Speaker John Boehner would not let legislation come to a vote.

With many Americans skeptical of his decision to bypass Congress and impose an immigration overhaul unilaterally, Obama attempted to rally support for his move in a speech at a Las Vegas high school, saying illegal immigrants need a chance to come out of the shadows.

He engaged in a cross-country debate with Boehner, the top U.S. Republican, who accused Obama in Washington of sabotaging chances for bipartisan legislation and vowed to lead a fight to block his executive actions.

As a long-time Boehner detractor, it’s been a relief to write a couple of things praising him. It would be nice to see the Republicans take the victory handed to them by the American people and be as forceful as legally possible to slow down a president who is likely to become more unhinged as his celebrity in-chief days wind down. (Think of America as the Michael Douglas character in Fatal Attraction and President Obama as Glenn Close: HE WON’T BE IGNORED.)

In the past, Boehner has talked about common ground with the president on immigration reform. This toddler fit of Obama’s seems to have genuinely irritated him. If he remains irritated, the president’s executive exercises may not yield the results he wants.

More: 

With 3 Words Obama Admits His Just-Announced Immigration Actions Are Illegal

Posted at 5:17 pm on November 21st, 2014 by

Comforting: China Building an Island Big Enough for Airstrip in Disputed Territory

So this is happening.

Satellite images show China is building an island on a reef in the disputed Spratly Islands large enough to accommodate what could be its first offshore airstrip in the South China Sea, a leading defence publication reported on Friday.

The construction has stoked concern that China may be converting disputed territory in the mineral-rich archipelago into military installations, adding to tensions over waters also claimed by Taiwan, Malaysia, the Philippines, Vietnam and Brunei.

IHS Jane’s, a leading defence publication, said images it had obtained showed the Chinese-built island on the Fiery Cross Reef to be at least 1.9 miles long and 660-980ft wide, which it noted is “large enough to construct a runway and apron”.

The building work flies in the face of US calls for a freeze in provocative activity in the South China Sea, one of Asia’s biggest security issues. Concern is growing about an escalation in disputes even as claimants work to establish a code of conduct to resolve them.

Such is the state of the world these days that we often forget about the potential trouble spot that our military has been worried about for quite some time. China is no doubt emboldened by the fact that the United States has a weak president and knows it has at least until January 2017 to push its luck.

At least we can be assured that we won’t run out of distractions.

Posted at 4:40 pm on November 21st, 2014 by

Laugh Of The Week: Harold Ickes Says Bush/Portman Ticket Would Doom Hillary

I wouldn’t lie to you.

What could derail the Democratic Party in 2014? A combined Jeb Bush-Rob Portman ticket.

That, at least, is the assessment of Harold Ickes, a longtime Hillary Clinton adviser and one of the organizers of Ready for Hillary, the super PAC that has been laying the groundwork for a Clinton campaign.

Ickes made his assessment before reporters during a meeting Friday of Ready for Hillary’s national finance committee at a hotel in Midtown Manhattan.

A Bush-Portman ticket could doom Democrats in Bush’s native Florida and in Portman’s Ohio, Ickes said, and Bush’s Hispanic support would make Colorado a difficult lift as well.

“Bush has what appears to be very strong credentials with Hispanics,” Ickes said of the former governor, whose wife, Columba, is Mexican-American. “I’m told he speaks Spanish at home, and I’m told that he actually thinks in Spanish.”

It is always fun to watch the lefties tell us which Republicans should run for president to make their lives easier. The swooning over Jon Huntsman in 2012 was like a bad journalistic romance novel. I kept waiting for a Time cover of a chiseled Huntsman riding shirtless on a white stallion to save the GOP.

The only thing that would make Democrats happier than another Romney run is Jeb Bush running, and that’s because Jeb is the one Republican with name recognition who would probably under perform Mitt’s 2012 showing.

Portman keeps getting mentioned simply because he’s from Ohio, which is supposed to give the Republicans a boost there. The big problem with him is that no one outside of Ohio has any idea who he is. He is so bland there’s a good chance many in Ohio aren’t aware of him either.

This is a dream ticket only if you’re a Democrat who doesn’t want to have to campaign full time for the next two years.

Like Hillary Clinton.

Posted at 3:56 pm on November 21st, 2014 by

30,000 Lois Lerner Emails that Were Missing Have Been Found

The U.S. Treasury Inspector General for Tax Administration (TIGTA) has informed several committees of Congress that approximately 30,000 emails from Lois Lerner, the former chief of the IRS Exempt Organizations Division, that were thought to be lost forever have been found.

The TIGTA said it would take several months to retrieve the emails because they have been stored on “disaster recovery tapes” and separating them is a laborious and time consuming task.

The emails take in the years 2009-11. Some may be duplicates of emails Lerner has already supplied to Congress.

From the Washington Examiner:

Committees in the House and Senate are seeking the emails, which they believe could show Lerner was working in concert with Obama administration officials to target conservative and Tea Party groups seeking tax-exempt status before the 2012 presidential election.

The missing emails extend from 2009 to 2011, a period when Lerner headed the IRS’s exempt-organizations division. The emails were lost when Lerner’s computer crashed, IRS officials said earlier this year.

In June, IRS Administrator John Koskinen told Congress the emails were probably lost for good because the disaster recovery tape holds onto the data for only six months. He said even if the IRS had sought the emails within the six-month period, it would have been a complicated and difficult process to produce them from the tapes.

The IRS also lost the emails of several other employees who worked under Lerner during that period.

Lerner, who retired from the IRS, has refused to be questioned by Congress.

She provided a statement at a March hearing, but then clammed up, following the advice of her lawyer to avoid self-incrimination.

The House, led by Republicans, voted in May to hold Lerner in contempt of Congress.

Congressional aides said officials from the inspector general’s office said it could take weeks to get the recovered emails off the tape before sending them to lawmakers in Capitol Hill.

In all, investigators from the inspector general’s office combed through 744 disaster recovery tapes. They are not finished looking.

There are 250 million emails ion the tapes that will be reviewed. Officials said it is likely they will find missing emails from other IRS officials who worked under Lerner and who said they suffered computer crashes.

Let’s get the obvious out of the way first: They will find no smoking gun that definitively ties the White House to the targeting scandal. Those emails — if they ever existed — would have been destroyed long ago. It’s not likely that there is any kind of electronic or paper trail that leads back to the White House. These guys may not be the brightest bulbs in the room, but is there anyone in Washington stupid enough to leave bread crumbs for a prosecutor to follow?

Posted at 3:38 pm on November 21st, 2014 by

Report: Multiple Opportunities to Help and/or Stop Sandy Hook Shooter Missed

Whaddya know.

Medical professionals and school staff missed multiple opportunities to help Adam Lanza with his severe emotional and psychiatric disorders before he burst into Sandy Hook Elementary School in Newtown, Conn., on Dec. 14, 2012, and shot dead 20 children and six educators, a Connecticut state review panel has concluded.

The Connecticut Office of the Child Advocate released a lengthy report Friday detailing Lanza’s troubled history and recommending systemic changes in the public health system to better identify and support children with multiple mental health challenges.

But the authors cautioned against drawing a direct line from Lanza’s mental illness — or the inadequate response to his needs — to the brutality at Sandy Hook. “Authors do not conclude that [these factors] add up to an inevitable arc leading to mass murder,” they write.

The “inevitable arc” statement is nonsensical. There will never be a way to look at a set of behavioral factors and claim that they will inevitably lead to a certain outcome. It’s a dodge. Yes, this is a guessing game but it is supposed to be a well-informed guessing game. If the information isn’t treated seriously enough to at least consider a tragic outcome then everyone has failed.

This kid was telegraphing some sort of meltdown for quite a long time and it was ignored. In many (most?) recent mass murders this has been the case. Mass murderers are sociopaths, and that’s not something you just wake up with one day. Somewhere after the fiftieth or sixtieth red flag, the professionals need to take serious note and whatever action they can, rather than just leave it up to subjective parental decisions and hope for the best.

Posted at 1:37 pm on November 21st, 2014 by

A Rational, Legal Counter to Obama’s Immigration Tantrum Is Underway

Adults in the room.

The morning after President Barack Obama announced his sweeping action to overhaul the U.S. immigration system, conservative groups and states were already pulling together legal strategies to dismantle the plan.

Opponents said there will likely be a three-pronged legal approach to stymie Obama’s moves: Congress could sue the president for constitutional overreach, states could file lawsuits arguing the action strains local finances, or individuals could try to prove they’ve been harmed by the order. Just hours after the speech, an Arizona sheriff filed suit arguing the reform is unconstitutional.

“There is going to be massive litigation all over the place because there is tremendous legal confusion about what the administration is doing and what the states’ obligations will be,” said Dan Stein from the Federation for American Immigration Reform (FAIR), which calls for restrictions on immigration.

While law scholars say the president is on strong legal footing, a flurry of lawsuits will cause headaches for the Obama administration in its final two years and may stir public opinion against a policy meant to be one of his signature triumphs.

How the members of the MSM don’t sustain orthopedic injuries from the contortions they go through to cover for Obama in everything they write is beyond me. At the end of the above quote we see the standard press contention that public opinion is overwhelmingly on the side of the president when it comes to immigration, which it is not. They’ve also made a host of legal scholars who side with the president appear out of the ether to reassure us that all is legit, a story even the New York Times doesn’t completely buy.

The important thing to note here is that Election Night 2014 also gave the Republicans strength at the state level. There is very little cover beyond the usual suspects in the media for the president on this issue. Were his authority “strong” and clear, they wouldn’t be fretting about what the public thinks when the courts weigh in.

Posted at 12:08 pm on November 21st, 2014 by