I’ve been on several Southwest flights that had flight attendant stand-up comedy routines. But this is probably the best one in the fleet.
Russian Prime Minister Dmitry Medvedev said today that Ukraine is in a state of “civil war.”
That’s the pre-text upon which Russia is expected to launch military action against Ukraine — to “protect” ethnic Russians living in eastern Ukraine, as it “protected” ethnic Russians in Crimea.
The “civil war” is actually the government of Ukraine cracking down on pro-Russian groups that have been causing unrest over the past few days. Ukraine’s action, while necessary, falls right along with Russia’s plans.
Meanwhile, forces have been battling over an airport in eastern Ukraine, according to the AP.
KRAMATORSK, Ukraine (AP) — In the first Ukrainian military action against a pro-Russian uprising in the east, special forces on Tuesday recaptured a small airport that had been occupied by militiamen, the government said.
Ukraine’s acting president, Oleksandr Turchynov, had earlier announced an “anti-terrorist operation” against the insurgents who have seized control of numerous buildings in the east of the country.
Heavy gunfire rang out at the airport near the town Kramatorsk. Russian state television reported four to 11 people had been killed, but there was no independent confirmation of any casualties. Much of the shooting appeared to have been warning shots into the air.
The armed pro-Russian militias are occupying government, police and other administrative buildings in at least nine cities in the Russian-speaking east of the country around the major industrial city of Donetsk. They are demanding broader autonomy and closer ties with Russia.
The “militiamen” who seized the buildings might or might not be Russian troops. When Russia invaded Ukraine, its troops wore uniforms without any national markings. Obscuring the identity of the “militiamen” could well be another of Russia’s gambits to create confusion, and some degree of deniability if that turns out to be useful.
People in Colorado may soon have an ultra-convenient option to buy their pot: a vending machine that dispenses medical marijuana and THC-laden snacks.
The machine, called the ZaZZZ, was unveiled at an event in Avon, Colo., over the weekend. Its creators told NPR that the machine uses biometrics to verify a customer’s age. It’s also climate-controlled to keep the products fresh.
These things are going to need more security than an ATM just to keep the delinquent teens at bay. And please, remember, don’t enjoy your “prescription” past its freshness date.
The upside here: the first person who can place a snack vending machine next to one of these will be able to buy an island with the revenue.
In which a shamelessly dishonest administration gets ready to be even more shamelessly dishonest.
WASHINGTON — The Census Bureau, the authoritative source of health insurance data for more than three decades, is changing its annual survey so thoroughly that it will be difficult to measure the effects of President Obama’s health care law in the next report, due this fall, census officials said.
The changes are intended to improve the accuracy of the survey, being conducted this month in interviews with tens of thousands of households around the country. But the new questions are so different that the findings will not be comparable, the officials said.
An internal Census Bureau document said that the new questionnaire included a “total revision to health insurance questions” and, in a test last year, produced lower estimates of the uninsured. Thus, officials said, it will be difficult to say how much of any change is attributable to the Affordable Care Act and how much to the use of a new survey instrument.
“We are expecting much lower numbers just because of the questions and how they are asked,” said Brett J. O’Hara, chief of the health statistics branch at the Census Bureau.
So watch the bouncing ball here. The changes will force a “break in trend” in healthcare uninsured numbers and how the government reports them. The Census Bureau says, now, that the new methods will make comparing the pre- and post-Obamacare numbers an apples and oranges comparison. But when the numbers do come out this fall, the Democrat from Obama on down will crow about them. They will say that Obamacare has reduced the number of uninsured. And the media, including the New York Times that is reporting on the change, will be right there to fail to acknowledge the impact of the change.
What will the low-info voter do with the new, shiny lower numbers?
Over at JuiceVox, late-term abortion filibuster cheerleader Sarah Kliff has already sent up the Media Bias Signal. Nothing to see here, move along.
So it turns out that filibustering again a popular bill and being an ethically challenged leftist aren’t enough to get any traction in Texas. Who knew? Other than everyone who knows anything about Texas, that is…
PPP’s newest Texas poll finds Republicans leading by double digits in all of the state’s major races for 2014.
In the Governor’s race Greg Abbott’s at 51% to 37% for Wendy Davis. Those numbers are largely unchanged from our last poll of the state in early November when Abbott had a 50/35 advantage. Davis had a 39/29 favorability rating right after her famous filibuster last June, but since then voters in the state have mostly moved toward having negative opinions about her and now she’s at a 33/47 spread. Davis’ name recognition is actually 12 points higher than Abbott’s, but his reviews break down favorably with 40% having a positive view of him to 27% with a negative one.
Democrats aren’t doing any better below the governor level.
There’s been some thought that Democratic prospects might be better in the race for Lieutenant Governor but Leticia Van de Putte actually trails by slightly more than Davis, regardless of who her Republican opponent ends up being. Dan Patrick leads her by 16 points at 51/35 and incumbent David Dewhurst leads her by 18 points at 50/32. Even with a divisive Republican nomination fight between Patrick and Dewhurst there doesn’t appear to be much risk of the party failing to unify before the fall- they lead 83/9 and 82/5 respectively with GOP voters in the general election.
I’d put that risk around zero. If Dewhurst is the nominee, he will win the general. If Patrick is the nominee, he will win the general.
The government says it has stopped one of its illegal activities, according to the Washington Post.
The Social Security Administration announced Monday that it will immediately cease efforts to collect on taxpayers’ debts to the government that are more than 10 years old.
The action comes after The Washington Post reported that the government was seizing state and federal tax refunds that were on their way to about 400,000 Americans who had relatives who owed money to the Social Security agency. In many cases, the people whose refunds were intercepted had never heard of any debt, and the debts dated as far back as the middle of the past century.
“I have directed an immediate halt to further referrals under the Treasury Offset Program to recover debts owed to the agency that are 10 years old and older pending a thorough review of our responsibility and discretion under the current law,” the acting Social Security commissioner, Carolyn Colvin, said in a statement.
Hm. That “discretion under current law” may be a major caveat. The confiscations without warning that were taking place were allowed because someone — we still don’t know who — snuck a change of the statute of limitations into the 2008 farm bill. So from that perspective, “current law” allowed Treasury to do what it was doing.
But children are not obligated to pay their parents’ debts from their own assets, according to the Federal Trade Commission. Treasury was violating that in taking the children’s tax refunds. And there’s the matter of due process, which the federal government was just ignoring outright. Someone should face prosecution for violating Americans’ rights.
Along with the Washington Post’s Marc Fisher, who deserves credit for reporting the government’s actions in the first place, Republican Sen. Chuck Grassley deserves credit for taking the issue on from Congress.
In a letter to Treasury Secretary Jack Lew on Monday, Sen. Charles E. Grassley (R-Iowa) said that government agencies were apparently “not properly notifying individuals or allowing them to inspect records of the debt they supposedly owe, which are violations of the law.”
Grassley said that although Congress did authorize the government to seek payment on old debts, the law “says nothing about allowing the government to offset payments from an individual to pay debts not in his or her name. It is unclear where the government has that authority.”
The senator said that Congress created a rigorous system to ensure that debt collection is handled transparently but that “it appears that agencies are abusing this system.”
Well, we have an abusive government that beats up on law-abiding citizens.
What does Dingy Harry mean by this?
Reid tells News4′s Samantha Boatman his take on the so-called cattle battle in southern Las Vegas. “Well, it’s not over. We can’t have an American people that violate the law and then just walk away from it. So it’s not over,” Reid said.
Reid isn’t happy if Americans walk away from “violating the law,” but he’s just giddy if illegal aliens walk around violating the law 24/7.
I’m ambivalent about the cattle battle. The Bundys “don’t have a leg to stand on” legally, according to PowerLine, yet deserve sympathy because of federal land ownership in the western states and how political agendas get mixed into what ought to be ordinary and fair decision making. We’ve all heard about the “war on coal.” It looks like the feds have been waging a quiet war on cattle ranching, too.
BLM coming in with heavily armed troops and snipers to deal with a senior citizen rancher is more evidence that our government treats citizens far worse than it treats non-citizens. This is unacceptable. It has to stop, and it was good to see the feds finally back down over the weekend. BLM and the militia folks who showed up to support the Bundys ran the risk of turning the standoff into another Waco. Hopefully no one wants that, though the feds’ behavior sometimes suggests otherwise.
The Republican National Committee marked Tax Day by suing the Internal Revenue Service.
The lawsuit charges that the IRS is withholding records sought by the RNC’s May 2013 Freedom of Information Act (FOIA) request, in which the committee sought to review documents and correspondence related to criteria used for reviewing and approving 501(c)(4) tax-exempt organizations.
The FOIA request seeks all documents dated between Jan. 1, 2010, and May 20, 2013, containing the words “tea party,” “patriot,” and/or “9/12 project,” referring to the group created by Glenn Beck, along with any documents pertaining to increased scrutiny of 501(c)(4)s, especially using “be on the lookout for” criteria.
Submitted by associate counsel Jonathan Waclawski, the FOIA letter requests “a similar quick response as Pro Publica received.” ProPublica revealed last May that, in its request to see the applications of 67 nonprofits, the IRS gave them confidential information on conservative groups.
That’s left the IRS with 226 business days, by the RNC’s count, to fulfill the request. The committee said the agency “requested several extensions in order to complete the RNC’s request, but has yet to present the information.”
“The RNC believes the undue delay in producing the requested documents is unacceptable and inexcusable, given that many of these documents have been already produced to other requesting entities. Release of the requested documents is in the public interest, as Americans deserve to know how the IRS interprets and enforces the tax laws—and why it would deliberately target people because of their values and beliefs,” the RNC said in a statement.
The filing in the U.S. District Court for the District of Columbia details numerous letters over the past year in which in the IRS told the RNC that it was still trying to locate the requested information. A letter dated Jan. 16 said, “I will contact you by April 18, 2014, if I am still unable to complete your request.”
RNC Chairman Reince Priebus said the party filed suit “because the Obama administration has a responsibility to be transparent and accountable to the American people.”
“The IRS has a legal obligation to answer our inquiry for these records. On Tax Day especially Americans deserve to know whether they can trust the agency to which they’re sending their taxes,” Priebus said.
“If the IRS and the Obama administration don’t have anything to hide, why not answer the request? Their delays and distractions make Americans think they’re trying to cover up their actions, just like ex-IRS employee Lois Lerner. We’re going to keep fighting to hold the IRS and Obama administration accountable because Americans deserve a government that treats them fairly and not one that harasses them because of their beliefs nor an administration that goes after its perceived political enemies.”
The mayor of Jerusalem told CNN that “God forbid” the city be carved up in a peace plan to give the Palestinians East Jerusalem as the capital of a state.
“Let me take you back 3,000 years. Jerusalem is the capital of the world, the temple of the middle, and it was never divided to the tribes. But everyone was welcome to come to the city of Jerusalem. The DNA of Jerusalem is a united city respecting all people, residents, visitors, and Jerusalem has a role to play,” Mayor Nir Barkat said.
“And that DNA of the past, that’s how Jerusalem functioned for a thousand years, is our future. By definition it cannot be divided. Our role is to open up and to enable people that come peacefully to the city of Jerusalem to have freedom of religion that did not existed for 2,000 years. Today you go to walk the streets of Jerusalem, you’ll find that the churches are managed by the Christians, the mosques are managed by the Muslims, and the Jews manage the Jewish sites. It was not like that.”
The Palestinians have said that any deal which doesn’t give them East Jerusalem is a non-starter, and the plan being pushed by Secretary of State John Kerry reportedly includes half of the city in return for the Palestinians recognizing Israel as a Jewish state.
“There are solutions to that, but there is not a solution of, God forbid, dividing the city of Jerusalem. It will never function. It’s against the DNA of the city. And by the way, there is not one example of a city in the world that ever got split and became functional,” Barkat said.
“…You can call Ramallah, the center of the Palestinian people, they can bring their embassy to Jerusalem. They today have freedom of movement, freedom of religion. Today Jerusalem is an open international city, and by the way it’s doing extremely well. Jerusalem, if you look at the trends in the city of Jerusalem, our economy has been growing 8 percent from year to year.”
Barkat stressed that “satisfaction of all residents — Muslims, Christians, Orthodox, secular, is otherwise, our crime rates are .1 an average of any American city. When I fly to the States I pray because I know I’m 10 times more exposed to crimes in the United States than I am back home in Jerusalem. And all of that, the economy going north, crime rates going south, all of that, we must be doing something right.”
And giving half of that to Palestinians, he added, is “a very clear no.”
“I’m committed to serve all my residents, the Muslim, the Christian, the Jewish residents. For me they’re all the same. That’s what the Jewish tradition, that’s what the Jewish Bible says. You’ve got to treat everyone equally, and that’s exactly what we’re doing. And there are gaps to close on the Arab neighborhoods, and the Jewish neighborhoods, and I’m committed to closing those gaps,” Barkat said.
“I think it’s a demand that has to be off the table, because whoever raises such a demand doesn’t understand the importance of the city of Jerusalem as a united city. And unfortunately, sometimes I feel that Israel does not have a partner to negotiate with because the charter of, unfortunately, many of the Palestinians and our neighbors is to destroy Israel. And when somebody wants to destroy Israel, sometimes we feel that this is a salami-style negotiations,” he continued. “Let’s take a piece now and then we’ll argue about the rest. It’s — the whole concept of negotiating with the Palestinians has to take another route. They have to understand that Jerusalem will never function as, God forbid, a divided city.”
A Democrat on the House Intelligence Committee said that the sanctions against Russia need to be far more biting than some travel bans on high-ranking officials.
Rep. Adam Schiff (D-Calif.) told CNN that he was in Ukraine a couple of weeks ago and “Ukrainians were worried about exactly what’s happening — that the Russians would provoke violent confrontations on the streets of Ukraine and use it as a justification to invade.”
“And I think the U.S. really needs to do a few things. We need to step up our sanctions, and that means really trying to get Europe together around sector wide sanctions if the Russians further incur into Ukraine,” he said. “Sanctions on their energy industry, on their mining industry, on their banking industry, things that would really cripple Russia’s economy. And now this is going to be hurtful to Europe as well. It won’t be great for us either, but if Europe and the United States are serious about deterring further Russian aggression, we’re really going to have to go with sector-wide sanctions.”
Schiff also advocated deploying “NATO assets to our NATO allies in the region to give them some level of confidence that we’re going to stand behind Article V of the NATO treaty, that says an attack on any of the NATO countries is an attack on all of the NATO countries.”
The White House said President Obama called Russian President Vladimir Putin yesterday and “expressed grave concern about Russian government support for the actions of armed, pro-Russian separatists who threaten to undermine and destabilize the government of Ukraine.”
“The President emphasized that all irregular forces in the country need to lay down their arms, and he urged President Putin to use his influence with these armed, pro-Russian groups to convince them to depart the buildings they have seized. The President reiterated the importance of Russia withdrawing its troops from Ukraine’s border in order to defuse tensions,” said the readout from the administration. “…The President noted Russia’s growing political and economic isolation as a result of its actions in Ukraine and made clear that the costs Russia already has incurred will increase if those actions persist.”
“The President noted the upcoming contact group meeting in Geneva and said that while he continues to believe that a diplomatic solution is still possible, it cannot succeed in an environment of Russian military intimidation on Ukraine’s borders, armed provocation within Ukraine, and escalatory rhetoric by Kremlin officials.”
The EU, U.S., Russia and Ukraine are scheduled to hold talks in Geneva on Thursday.
Schiff said “the problem has been the sanctions have been too mild, too target-specific, going after a few of the oligarchs that really haven’t hurt the Russian government or the Russian people.”
“Sector-wide sanctions, on the other hand, would really cripple Russia’s economy. It would make Putin pay a real price and it will take a little of the luster off of his bellicose foreign policy,” he added. “Right now the Russians applaud what Putin is doing. If the Russians got to feel the economic impacts they might decide this is not such a great course for Russia after all. But I think the only thing Putin is going to respect is strength and I don’t think we’ve shown it significantly in the response we’ve had yet.”
“…And I think if we want to prevent a third kind of territorial invasion, you know, after Georgia, now Ukraine, we’re going to have to really get serious about imposing substantial costs and repercussions. We have the power to do it. We and Europe have the power to do it. The question is, do we have the will to do it? I think Putin right now questions whether we have the will to step up to the plate.”
A primary challenger of House Speaker John Boehner (R-Ohio) is hitting at his challenger by using, well, the mispronunciation of the Speaker’s name.
In the campaign ad meant to resemble a Cialis commercial, teacher and Tea Party candidate J.D. Winteregg accuses Boehner of having a “electile dysfunction.”
“It could be a question of blood flow. Sometimes when a politician has been in D.C. too long, it goes to his head and he just can’t seem to get the job done,” the ad states, advising “if you have a Boehner lasting more than 23 years, seek immediate medical attention.”
Boehner has held Ohio’s 8th Congressional District since 1991.
He faces three challengers in the May 6 primary: Winteregg, Matthew Ashworth, and Eric Gurr. Winteregg filed a campaign finance report at the end of last year reporting nearly $1,600 in his campaign war chest; Boehner had more than $2.8 million on hand.
The only congressional leader ever known to admit electile dysfunction, of course, was Bob Dole.
As soon as the photograph of Soviet propaganda posters in Jay Carney’s kitchen hit the Internet, right-wing pundits began to draw conclusions about White House Press Secretary’s ideology, morals, and political leanings. It was as if things that a man merely places on his walls and looks at day after day can be any indication of his life choices.
If that were so, the meals in Carney’s kitchen would also probably match the menu of the place and time of the posters. His family would be living on a diet of beets, gruel, occasional rat, and thinly sliced boiled jackboots, which is what many Soviets ate at the time these posters were produced.
One poster was made in 1918, calling men to join the Red Army in the civil war against the anti-communist opposition, while the country lay in ruins due to the economic mismanagement as much as due to intense fighting. The other poster was made during WWII, calling women to replace men at the factories, as the country lay in ruins, once again, due to intense fighting as much as due to the economic mismanagement.
The diet of the Carney family, however, does not include any of the food that the impoverished and starving Soviet people ate during the above wars. They eat more like the members of the Soviet Politburo and even better than that. They feast on fresh organic produce, succulent meat, delicious seafood, and tropical fruit delivered to the United States from all over the world. And as they enjoy the abundance of the American way of life in their kitchen, the Carneys like to stare at the two propaganda posters made for starving people. It never fails to improve their feeling of self-worth and digestion.
It is beyond imagination that anyone could misconstrue the Soviet agitprop in Jay Carney’s kitchen as an indication that White House Press Secretary Jay Carney and his wife somehow share the same ideas as the perpetrators of a brutal regime that starved its own citizens while the political elites lived in luxury, abused power, prosecuted the opposition, and ruled the country by means of executive orders.
Next, they would claim that that a neat stack of Chairman Mao’s Little Red Books in Valery Jarrett’s bathroom is not there merely to serve as an elegant accent to complement the shower curtains; or that the Black Panther Party insignia on Michelle Obama’s pajamas isn’t merely a bold decorative pattern; or that the black flag of holy Jihad in Huma Abedin’s bedroom is somehow indicative of her sympathies towards the Muslim Brotherhood.
Following such flawed right-wing logic, one might even speculate that Saul Alinsky’s books on Hillary Clinton’s living room mean anything other than an effort to disguise an obscure dried spot that had mysteriously appeared on the coffee table in the last year of her husband’s presidency.
We invite our readers to take virtual tours of America’s other prominent political and cultural leaders and see what potentially “compromising” items they may have in their houses, so that we can pre-emptively debunk any accusations and witch hunts, such as the one to which the unfortunate White House Press Secretary is exposed today.
Louisiana Gov. Bobby Jindal, likely 2016 GOP hopeful, has a couple of ideas for “improving” Obamacare according to a Bloomberg editorial. One of them will expose Americans to substandard medical treatment.
Jindal’s plan includes two excellent ideas. The first is to let nurse practitioners and other medical professionals practice to the full extent of their abilities.
Jindal’s second idea involves giving tax breaks for purchasing insurance plans. But it’s the one above that’s troubling, and I say that as an admirer of Jindal. We’ve looked at it before here at Tatler.
Obamacare is creating a doctor shortage in a couple of ways. One, it’s driving doctors straight out of practice over growing frustration with the new systems mandated by the law. Two, over the long term it’s expected to create more demand by insuring more people (supposing that it actually ends up insuring more people).
The idea of allowing medical practitioners who are not physicians to perform tasks, including diagnosis and some surgeries, limited to physicians is not a new idea. Two groups, optometrists and nurse practitioners, have been trying to increase the number of kind of treatments they are allowed to perform for a few years, to add to the scope of their practices and increase revenue. Neither are MDs and therefore do not have the years of training that MDs have. Most Americans probably don’t realize it, but optometrists do not receive anything close to the kind, scope and length of training that ophthalmologists receive. The latter graduate medical and are specialists in their field. Some optometry schools do not even require a college degree.
Allowing non-MDs to do tasks reserved for doctors has already caused problems.
Jindal’s plan would do at least two bad things. The first is that it would expose unsuspecting Americans to substandard treatment at the hands of people who are professionals, but are not fully trained medical doctors. The second is that it might contribute to saving Obamacare, a bad policy that needs to be repealed in full and replaced with a thoughtful market-based reform.
Sylvia Burwell is President Obama’s pick to replace Kathleen Sebelius atop the Department of Health and Human Services, despite her having no experience in the healthcare industry. This administration’s motto seems to be “no experience required.” Burwell’s main claims to fame up to now aren’t terribly impressive. She ran the Gates Foundation, which never had any money troubles, and she ran the Walmart Foundation, which also never had any money troubles. Foundations tend to be easier to run when they’re flush with cash and can do whatever they want.
She has also headed the Office of Management and Budget, at a time when the US government is spending money at insane rates. OMB doesn’t just work on budgets, though, according to Marc Thiessen.
When speechwriters finish a draft presidential address, it is circulated to the White House senior staff and top cabinet officials in what is known as the “staffing process.” As part of that process, nonpartisan career policy experts at OMB review the speech and are responsible for attesting to the factual accuracy of everything the president says.
So thanks to Burwell’s nomination, Americans may finally get to the bottom of how the biggest presidential lie in recent memory made it though OMB’s fact-checking process — not once but dozens of times.
The first time the lie surfaced — when Obama told the American Medical Association on June 15, 2009, “If you like your doctor, you will be able to keep your doctor, period. If you like your health-care plan, you’ll be able to keep your health-care plan, period. No one will take it away, no matter what” — it wasn’t on Burwell’s watch.
But Burwell was OMB director when Obama declared on Sept. 26, 2013: “Now, let’s start with the fact that even before the Affordable Care Act fully takes effect, about 85 percent of Americans already have health insurance — either through their job, or through Medicare, or through the individual market. So if you’re one of these folks, it’s reasonable that you might worry whether health-care reform is going to create changes that are a problem for you — especially when you’re bombarded with all sorts of fear-mongering. So the first thing you need to know is this: If you already have health care, you don’t have to do anything.”
Burwell should explain to Congress and the American people how her office allowed blatant falsehoods to get into presidential speeches, including whether political aides overruled career policy advisers who warned that the president’s claims were untrue.
Too bad OMB wasn’t involved in briefing Susan Rice…
Burwell will still get confirmed, only this time there will be harder questions and maybe a handful of votes against her.
The Federal Bureau of Investigation today warned American students abroad to be mindful of other countries trying to recruit them for intelligence purposes.
More than 280,000 American students studied abroad last year, the FBI said, gaining language and cultural skill that “makes these students tempting and vulnerable targets for recruitment by foreign intelligence officers whose long-term goal is to gain access to sensitive or classified U.S. information.”
The bureau stressed the case of Glenn Duffie Shriver, sentenced to four years in federal prison three years ago for taking $70,000 from the Chinese government to apply for U.S. government jobs.
The FBI said students leaving for study abroad should view a video on the case before leaving the country.
“Foreign intelligence officers don’t normally say they work for intelligence services when developing relationships with students—they claim other lines of work,” the agency warned. “Intelligence officers develop initial relationships with students under seemingly innocuous pretexts such as job or internship opportunities, paid paper-writing engagements, language exchanges, and cultural immersion programs.”
“As relationships are developed, the student might be asked to perform a task and provide information—not necessarily sensitive or classified—in exchange for payment or other rewards, but these demands grow over time. Intelligence officers might suggest that students—upon completion of their schooling—apply for U.S. government jobs (particularly for national security-related agencies).”
The FBI specifically warns students to “minimize your contact with people who have questionable government affiliations.”
According to the American Thinker, the Masters Golf tournament in Augusta, GA (April 10-13) was marked by a plethora of anti-Obama posters, making fun of Obama’s golf presidency with clever captions like “Sub Par” and “If you like your handicap, you can keep your handicap.”
We have already written about this type of conservative counter-culture in February, when dozens of posters of golfing Obama captioned “Sub Par” had been spotted inside and outside the PGA’s golf tournament near the upscale and liberal Riviera Country Club in Los Angeles.
The same mysterious artist, apparently, is determined to travel from one golf tournament to another, challenging the rich and connected Obama supporters who shell out thousands of dollars for the tickets, and urging them to take a better look at Barack Obama’s disastrous presidency in a symbolic language they can understand.
Here’s the latest crop of pictures from Augusta. More can be found here: Obama Posters at The Masters Augusta 2014.
Additionally, it appears that this time this anonymous artist has a Zazzle store where you can buy “Sub Par” posters, t-shirts, mugs, and other merchandize to support his future operations.
Notice how the cropped “Guest Parking” sign in the last picture has become “Jest Parking.”
Former Hidalgo County Sheriff Lupe Trevino (D) — he stepped down a couple of weeks ago — has pleaded guilty today to federal charges of money laundering, according to the McAllen Monitor.
Just 17 days after stepping down as sheriff and three days after his former chief of staff entered a related plea, Treviño stood before U.S. District Judge Micaela Alvarez and pleaded guilty for his part in laundering campaign contributions that were tied to a convicted drug trafficker.
Testimony in court this morning suggested that the amount of money laundered could be anywhere between $70,000 and $120,000.
Treviño was composed as he entered his guilty plea. After the hearing with Judge Alvarez, Treviño appeared before US Magistrate Peter Ornsby, who set the former sheriff’s bond at $30,000 unsecured, which means that Treviño could bond out with a simple signature.
Trevino presided over a sheriff’s department that has been accused of a wide range of corruption. As the PJ Tatler and PJTV reported in 2012, the Hidalgo County Sheriff’s department falsified crime statistics to serve both Trevino’s and the Obama administration’s political interests. In an exclusive hidden-camera video, a crime analyst with the Hidaldo County Sheriff’s Department admitted that she and others within the department including Trevino himself change the way in which crimes are classified in order to improve the overall statistics.
Deputy: Hey what’s up? (unintelligible question)
Analyst: No, I can do it for you.
Deputy: Cool. (unintelligible, but he asks about changing a code)
Analyst: I guess. Cause he’s the one changing everything.
Deputy: Changing the stats?
Analyst: (nods) He’s the one…
Deputy: Well how is he changing them?
Analyst: He reads the reports and fiddles with you if it’s not linking. Like, with a robbery, he redrizzles it down to a simple, like an, if it’s like uh, aggravated assault (looks away to see if anyone can hear), he orders a downgrade to assault. Or if…
Deputy: It’s real simple to do because most people are gonna, think you’re gonna have more.
(Analyst tilts head skeptically)
Deputy: You can justify it both ways.
Analyst: Yeah, but some of them, no. (crosstalk) Like, as far as the standards go, from the UCR, yeah.
Deputy: So. You can get in trouble.
Deputy: You can get in trouble?
Analyst: Not us, but…yeah the sheriff.
Deputy: Him (points in the direction of the sheriff’s office).
Analyst: Yeah. Not me.
The department’s anti-narcotics Panama Unit, in which Trevino’s son was an officer, has been the subject of half a dozen indictments. Ten of its officers, including Jonathan Trevino, have been charged with a range of crimes including stealing drugs with intent to distribute them.
Trevino’s department remains accused not only of falsifying crime statistics to attract and hold federal COPS grants, but also of pressuring deputies into supporting him politically or face losing their jobs.
Trevino has been Hidalgo County Sheriff since 2005. He now faces the possibility of 20 years in prison and fines.
Hidalgo County is one of the most important counties along the US-Mexico border. Its county seat, McAllen, is one of the nation’s fastest-growing cities. It also has the most border crossing points of any county along the Texas-Mexico border. Across the border from McAllen is Reynosa, which has been among Mexico’s most violence-plagued cities in that country’s drug war.
As a state senator, Wendy Davis (D-Ft. Worth) has promised to never use her political office for personal gain. But a new Dallas Morning News story provides evidence that Davis has broken that promise, and used her career in the Texas Senate to enrich herself. Davis is the Texas Democratic Party’s nominee for governor.
The story details the complex relationship that Davis has with the North Texas Tollway Authority, both in her career in the senate and as a partner in the Newby Davis law firm. That firm, which she formed with Bryan Newby, has come up previously in Davis’ work on public debt. Davis and Newby, who is Gov. Rick Perry’s former chief counsel, formed their partnership as a minority-owned business. Such businesses tend to receive favorable treatment in government contracting, in the name of assisting underserved populations. Both Newby and Davis are far from underserved, by any reasonable definition.
The tollway story looks like straightforward trading support and votes for contracts that enrich Davis personally. The DMN has published a timeline to explain how Davis worked legislation to her personal favor.
Nov. 5, 2008: Wendy Davis is elected to the Texas Senate.
April 6, 2009: Davis opposes a North Texas Tollway Authority-backed bill to give local tollway authorities right of first refusal to build toll projects.
Feb. 25, 2010: Davis’ Senate office asks the Texas Department of Transportation for information about qualifications for certification of minority-owned businesses for highway contracts.
March 2, 2010: Fort Worth-based Cantey Hanger law firm announces it has hired Davis.
March 22, 2010: Davis and Bryan Newby, a former chief of staff to Gov. Rick Perry, form a minority-owned law firm, Newby Davis.
June 10, 2010: Davis writes to U.S. Transportation Secretary Ray LaHood seeking federal funding for the Chisholm Trail Parkway project. The law firm handling the project is Cantey Hanger.
Feb. 1, 2011: Sen. Jane Nelson introduces a bill to cap fees charged to drivers with unpaid tolls.
March 17, 2011: NTTA’s legal services committee approves hiring Newby Davis to do land-condemnation work for the Chisholm Trail Parkway project.
March 23, 2011: Davis drops her version of a fee-cap bill and signs onto Nelson’s bill, which has NTTA support. The bill sets the fees regimen that would be the starting point that law firms subsequently hired by NTTA would use to seek settlements.
March 29, 2011: The Senate approves a measure supported by NTTA to give local tollway authorities right of first refusal to build toll projects. Davis votes for it, saying it’s better than the version she opposed in 2009.
May 27, 2011: Newby Davis begins billing NTTA for work on the Chisholm Trail project. In the Senate, Davis votes for Nelson’s fee-cap collection bill, which goes to the governor, who later signs it.
Aug. 15, 2012: NTTA chooses Newby Davis as one of six litigation firms to collect fees and delinquent tolls.
Aug. 30, 2012: Davis subcontracts with a Chicago collection agency to handle delinquent toll and fee settlements.
The author of the story is veteran Texas political reporter Wayne Slater. He broke the story of Davis embellishing her own origins story in January.
President Obama has hosted numerous celebrities, sports champions, foreign leaders and supporters and lobbyists at the White House. Last week he hosted the Boston Red Sox. He has also hosted the LA Galaxy soccer team, the Miami Heat, the Dallas Mavericks, the Green Bay Packers, the Baltimore Ravens, even the 1972 Miami Dolphins, all at the White House.
Not all of Obama’s meetings have been celebrations of celebrity or championships.
But for nearly five years now, Barack Obama has declined to meet with victims of the 2009 shooting rampage at Fort Hood, Texas. Even though the president appeared at Fort Hood on April 9, for a ceremony to mark the second shooting at the base.
Alonzo Lunsford is among the nearly three dozen who were wounded when jihadist Nidal Hasan shouted “Allahu Ackbar!” and opened fire on the base, which is a designated gun-free zone. Hasan shot Lunsford seven times. The Obama White House denied Lunsford’s request to meet with the president for just 10 minutes.
Why? “In all honesty, they refuse to face the truth,” Lunsford tells Tucker Carlson. Lunsford has questioned President Obama’s response to the 2009 Fort Hood shooting, and he says that he believes that is behind the president’s refusal to meet with him now.
The Obama administration is very aware of Hasan’s jihadist beliefs, and killed his online mentor, Anwar al-Awlaki, in a drone strike in September 2011. But it classifies the 2009 Fort Hood massacre as “workplace violence,” placing it on a par with incidents in which disgruntled workers open fire on their co-workers, and denying combat-related benefits to Lunsford and the other survivors.
Nazism is an evil ideology, but in a pound-for-pound battle of which ideology was more murderous, Communism has to be the clear winner over Nazism. For one thing, Communism has had a longer run in more countries. Wherever it has reigned, Communism has killed. The Soviets murdered about 20 million of their own countrymen, starving millions of Ukrainians to death intentionally. The Khmer Rouge — Communists, again — murdered millions in Cambodia. Mao’s Communists murdered about 65 million in China. The Communists who won the Vietnam war murdered millions.
President Obama’s press secretary, Jay Carney, has Soviet propaganda hanging on the walls of his home. The one ideology that’s more murderous than Nazism. It occupies places of prominence in the home of a major American official, whose job is to deliver the administration’s propaganda, er, message.
The story in which that photo appears, in Washingtonian Magazine, has its own fawning, propagandist tone. It’s worshipful of the presidential mouthpiece. The photo itself is staged propaganda worthy of the Soviets: Look how beautiful and perfect our hearty and prosperous leader’s family is! The huge pile of pancakes on the table in the background (presumably for a family of four?), the entire loaf of bread laid out as if they’re catering continental breakfast at the local Hampton Inn, the unnecessarily air-flipped egg (which would break the sunny side, no?), and the actual propaganda on the walls behind the action — they all send out a message: Look how perfect your life can be if you find favor with the regime.
It’s lovely stagecraft. If you like propaganda.
A Kansas Republican congressman said two members of his church were teenage boy and grandfather shot and killed outside of the Jewish community center in Overland Park yesterday.
“I didn’t know them personally, but our entire community feels connected to this family,” Rep. Kevin Yoder (R-Kansas) told CNN. “This is a suburban area of Kansas City. This is an area of lots of schools and families. And yesterday afternoon when this news came out that this killing had occurred right here in Overland Park just about 12 blocks from my house, it struck all of us personally.”
“I attended church services later in the day about 5:00 where our pastor, Adam Hamilton, at the United Methodist Church of Resurrection informed us that the people who had been killed had not been identified at that time were members of the congregation, usually attend that service, were volunteers in the church and were really just upstanding community members.”
Yoder said not much is known about the third victim, a woman shot outside an assisted living center.
“I will say, standing in front of the Jewish community center, which is a center that serves the entire community. We’ve got a very active Jewish community here with a very active community that attends the center and is involved. The first shooting occurred here, but the second shooting occurred almost eight blocks away at a village for a retirement community that also serves people of many denominations,” he said. “And so we don’t know much about the victim there yet, but we do know that the rampage started here and moved on down the road and took another victim. We’re still trying to learn about what occurred there. But, obviously, it’s something that stunned a lot of us.”
Frazier Glenn Miller, 73, of Aurora, Mo., who also goes by the last name Cross, was arrested in the shootings and was filmed yelling “Heil Hitler” as he was led away. Miller is a former KKK leader.
“We don’t know enough about what his motives are but, boy, his history tells us a lot about what his motives probably were,” Yoder said. “This is an individual that we’re learning this morning had a long history of anti-Semitism, racism, had been the head of several white supremacy groups. He is a Missouri resident, we understand, from several hours away that, as far as we can tell, had no connection to our community here in suburban Kansas City, who drove, apparently, into our community yesterday to commit these acts.”
“Now, to pick the Jewish community center and to pick the Village Shalom, given his background, really tells us these are probably targeted killings and that he had anti-Semitism as his driving force as he arrived here yesterday.”
The congressman said the Christianity of the two Jewish center victims proves “his anti-Semitism hit home to our entire community, no matter what religion you’re from.”
“But it appears to be driven by hate. And I know the FBI is investigating this today… And so we’ll hopefully learn much more in the hours and days to come.”
Marking the release of Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change Working Group 3 report over the weekend, Secretary of State John Kerry said the document “makes very clear we face an issue of global willpower, not capacity.”
The report warned that greenhouse gases have built up at an unprecedented rate and said switches to clean energy are needed immediately to avert catastrophic global warming. The scientists involved said it’s not a matter of phasing out fossil fuels but phasing out plants that don’t use carbon-capture technology.
“We’ve already had wake-up call after wake-up call about climate science. This report is a wake-up call about global economic opportunity we can seize today as we lead on climate change,” Kerry said in a statement Sunday. “So many of the technologies that will help us fight climate change are far cheaper, more readily available, and better performing than they were when the last IPCC assessment was released less than a decade ago. Good energy solutions are climate solutions and this report shines a light on energy technologies available right now to substantially reduce global emissions.”
“These technologies can cut carbon pollution while growing economic opportunity at the same time. The global energy market represents a $6 trillion opportunity, with 6 billion users around the world. By 2035, investment in the energy sector is expected to reach nearly $17 trillion,” he continued.
“We already know that climate science is unambiguous and that every year the world defers action, the costs only grow. But focusing only on grim realities misses promising realities staring us right in the face.”
Sen. Sheldon Whitehouse (D-R.I.), who gives a weekly speech warning about climate change on the Senate floor, is using this week’s recess to go on a climate-change tour along the country’s southeast coast from the Carolinas to Miami.
“Climate change is among the most serious issues facing Rhode Island. It affects our economy, our homes and businesses, and our very way of life,” said Whitehouse. “We’re doing what we can in Rhode Island to limit the damage of climate change, but this is a worldwide problem that we can’t address alone. We need other states – and ultimately other nations – to join us in reducing emissions, investing in clean energy, and taking steps to adapt to the changes that are already occurring.”
“This road trip will be an opportunity for me to see how climate change is affecting other areas of our country; to hear about what these states are doing to address climate threats; and to bring new ideas back to Washington as I continue working to get Congress to wake up and take action on this issue.”
In the past week, Rep. Elijah Cummings (D-MD) has been implicated in the IRS abuse scandal. Cummings is the ranking Democrat on the House Oversight and Government Reform Committee, which is the main body investigating the IRS for abusing conservative groups. Emails show that he was seeking the same information from Texas-based True the Vote that the IRS sought, and that his staff was communicating directly with Lois Lerner at the agency.
Other emails suggest that Lerner acted on Cummings’ orders/requests by pestering subordinate Holly Paz to obtain the information that Cummings wanted. And other emails put the abuse in the hands of President Obama’s own deputy assistant, Jeanne Lambrew.
Evidence uncovered earlier in the scandal links the abuse to Obama political appointees at the IRS and within the White House counsel’s office. Cummings unilaterally declared the scandal “over” in June of 2013, before any of these revelations came out.
Reporter Bob Woodward of Watergate fame appeared on Fox News Sunday. The legendary investigative reporter told host Chris Wallace “There’s obviously something here” in the IRS scandal despite President Obama’s declaration that there “isn’t a smidgen of corruption” in it.
“For the president to take that position is very, very unusual,” Woodward said.
He added that reporters should “dig into it — there should be answers.” He did not explain why reporters have not done that.
One reporter who did look into the Benghazi and Fast and Furious scandals, Sharyl Attkisson, lost her job at CBS News.
Woodward also questioned whether the House committee investigating the scandal is capable of properly carrying the investigation out.
Woodward has a strong point. Cummings’ position on the committee and the implication that he is involved with the abuse, and his own history with the IRS, plus President Obama’s “smidgen” statement and how that implicates the president himself in an ongoing coverup, show that the committee is compromised and the White House will never cooperate. Congress needs to appoint a select committee to investigate.
Several weeks after Russia invaded Crimea and annexed the peninsula, the State Department says it has evidence of Russian support for the “destabilization” of Ukraine.
“On April 12, armed pro-Russian militants seized government buildings in a coordinated and professional operation conducted in six cities in eastern Ukraine. Many of the militants were outfitted in bullet-proof vests and camouflage uniforms with insignia removed and carrying Russian-origin weapons. These armed units, some wearing black and orange St. George’s ribbons associated with Russian Victory Day celebrations, have raised Russian and separatist flags over the buildings they seized, and called for referendums and union with Russia,” the department said in a note to media on Sunday.
“Even more so than the seizure of main government buildings in Ukrainian regional capitals Donetsk, Luhansk, and Kharkiv last weekend, these operations bear many similarities to those that were carried out in Crimea in late February and culminated in Russia’s illegal military intervention and purported annexation of Crimea. In the earlier Crimean case, highly organized, well-equipped, and professional forces wearing Russian military uniforms, balaclavas, and military gear without identifying insignia moved in first to take control of Crimean government and security facilities before being later replaced by regular Russian military forces.”
The State Department said simultaneous takeovers in Donetsk, Slavyansk, Krasnyi Liman, Kramatorsk, Chervonoarmiysk, and Druzhkovka are an indication that the April 12 operations were planned in advance.
“There are reports that additional attempts to seize buildings in other eastern Ukrainian towns failed. Inconsistent with political, grassroots protests, these seizures bear the same defining features and tactics across diverse locations, including takeover of government administration buildings and security headquarters, seizure of weapons in the targeted buildings, forced removal of local officials, rapid establishment of roadblocks and barricades, attacks against communications towers, and deployment of well-organized forces. In Slavyansk, armed units have now also moved beyond the seized buildings to establish roadblocks and checkpoints in the nearby area,” the note said.
“The Ukrainian Government has reporting indicating that Russian intelligence officers are directly involved in orchestrating the activities of pro-Russian armed resistance groups in eastern Ukraine. In addition, the Ukrainian Government detained an individual who said that he was recruited by the Russian security services and instructed to carry out subversive operations in eastern and southern Ukraine, including seizing administrative buildings. All of this evidence undercuts the Russian Government’s claims that Ukraine is on the brink of ‘civil war.’”
In a statement to European leaders last week, Russian President Vladimir Putin warned that Gazprom “is compelled to switch over to advance payment for gas deliveries, and in the event of further violation of the conditions of payment, will completely or partially cease gas deliveries.”
“In other words, only the volume of natural gas will be delivered to Ukraine as was paid for one month in advance of delivery,” Putin said. “Undoubtedly, this is an extreme measure… However, the fact that our European partners have unilaterally withdrawn from the concerted efforts to resolve the Ukrainian crisis, and even from holding consultations with the Russian side, leaves Russia no alternative.”
The State Department noted that the “events of April 12 strongly suggest that in eastern Ukraine Russia is now using the same tactics that it used in Crimea in order to foment separatism, undermine Ukrainian sovereignty, and exercise control over its neighbor in contravention of Russia’s obligations under international law.”
“In the face of these provocations, the legitimate government of Ukraine in Kyiv continues to show restraint and has only used force when public safety was at risk and attempts to resolve the situation through dialogue failed. Prime Minister Yatsenyuk was in the region on Friday, April 11, to discuss the central government’s willingness to work with regions on decentralization – including such issues as local elections, local control of budgets and finances and education, and enshrining Russian as an official language – in advance of the May 25 presidential elections.”