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Iranian Parents Remove Noose from Neck of Son’s Killer

Friday, April 18th, 2014 - by Bridget Johnson

Balal execution

Under its implementation of Sharia law, the Iranian regime has turned the justice system into a grotesque theater of public executions after often sketchy trials and dubious charges.

One Iranian couple who held no doubt about who killed their son, though, weren’t going to let that happen.

From UAE newspaper The National:

The dramatic climax followed a rare public campaign to save the life of Balal, who at 19 killed another young man, Abdollah Hosseinzadeh, in a street fight with a knife back in 2007.

Shargh newspaper said police officers led Balal to a public execution site in the northern city of Nowshahr as a large crowd gathering on Tuesday morning.

Samereh Alinejad, mother of the victim who lost another son in a motorbike accident four years ago, asked the crowd whether they know “how difficult it is to live in an empty house”.

Balal, black-hooded and standing on a chair before a makeshift gallows, had the noose around his neck when Ms Alinejad approached.

She slapped him in the face and removed the rope from his neck assisted by her husband, Abdolghani Hosseinzadeh, a former professional footballer.

“I am a believer. I had a dream in which my son told me that he was at peace and in a good place … After that, all my relatives, even my mother, put pressure on me to pardon the killer,” Ms Alinejad told Shargh.

“The murderer was crying, asking for forgiveness. I slapped him in the face. That slap helped to calm me down,” she said. “Now that I’ve forgiven him, I feel relieved.”

Balal’s mother, who had been sitting on the ground in a daze among the crowd waiting to see the hanging, tearfully embraced Alinejad after they removed the noose.

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Snowden: I’ve ‘Sworn No Allegiance’ to Russia, Had No ‘Ulterior Motive’ in Putin Show Appearance

Friday, April 18th, 2014 - by Bridget Johnson

Former NSA contractor and leaker Edward Snowden, who asked a staged question of Russian President Vladimir Putin during a TV show yesterday, defended his actions in a Guardian op-ed.

Putin was addressing the nation in a four-hour television appearance in which he took a handful of questions, including from a 6-year-old boy who asked Putin if he thought President Obama would save him from drowning.

When told by host Anna Pavlova that he had a “surprise” video call from Snowden, who has been granted indefinite asylum in Russia to escape prosecution in the U.S., Putin said, “Do I really?”

“Does Russia intercept, store, or analyse in any way the communications of millions of individuals, and do you believe that simply increasing the effectiveness of intelligence or law enforcement investigations can justify placing societies – rather than subjects – under surveillance?” Snowden asked.

Putin addressed Snowden as “a former intelligence officer, and I have worked for an intelligence agency, too.”

“Russia has laws that strictly regulate the use of special equipment by security services, including for the tapping of private conversations and for the surveillance of online communications. They need to receive a court warrant to be able to use this equipment in each particular case. So there is no, and cannot be any, indiscriminate mass surveillance under Russian law,” he said. “Since criminals, including terrorists, use these modern communication systems for their criminal activity, security services should be able to respond accordingly and use modern equipment to combat crime, including terrorism.”

“Yes, we do this, but not on such a large scale and not arbitrarily,” Putin continued. “Hopefully – I hope very much – we will never act in this manner. Besides, we do not have such technical capabilities and funds as the United States. But the main thing is that, happily, our security services are strictly controlled by the state and society and their operation is strictly regulated by law.”

Snowden wrote that his questions were  ”intended to mirror the now infamous exchange in US Senate intelligence committee hearings between senator Ron Wyden and the director of national intelligence, James Clapper, about whether the NSA collected records on millions of Americans, and to invite either an important concession or a clear evasion.”

“Clapper’s lie – to the Senate and to the public – was a major motivating force behind my decision to go public, and a historic example of the importance of official accountability,” Snowden claimed, adding that Putin “denied” and “dodged” in his answer in a way “remarkably similar” to Obama.

“I was surprised that people who witnessed me risk my life to expose the surveillance practices of my own country could not believe that I might also criticise the surveillance policies of Russia, a country to which I have sworn no allegiance, without ulterior motive. I regret that my question could be misinterpreted, and that it enabled many to ignore the substance of the question – and Putin’s evasive response – in order to speculate, wildly and incorrectly, about my motives for asking it,” the former Booz Allen Hamilton contractor continued.

“…So why all the criticism? I expected that some would object to my participation in an annual forum that is largely comprised of softball questions to a leader unaccustomed to being challenged. But to me, the rare opportunity to lift a taboo on discussion of state surveillance before an audience that primarily views state media outweighed that risk. Moreover, I hoped that Putin’s answer – whatever it was – would provide opportunities for serious journalists and civil society to push the discussion further.”

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U.S. Government Tells Wiesenthal Center ‘We Don’t Know’ Who’s Behind Anti-Semitic Flier

Friday, April 18th, 2014 - by Bridget Johnson

The Simon Wiesenthal Center said that they asked the U.S. ambassador to Ukraine who is behind the fliers ordering Jews to register with regional pro-Russia authorities in Donetsk, and received a succinct answer: “We don’t know who.”

The fliers, which were handed out by masked, armed men as eastern Ukrainian Jews left a Passover synagogue service, demanded that all Jews register and list their property, paying a $50 fee to do so, or else face deportation and revocation of citizenship. Some people who received the fliers sent images to relatives in Israel, where the story spread quickly in the media.

In response to an email query, Ambassador Geoffrey Pyatt told the Wiesenthal Center that the fliers were “clearly part of a general effort to sow fear among Ukrainian Jews.” Beyond that, the U.S. doesn’t know much.

“The Wiesenthal Center denounces this grotesque action that is clearly designed to spread more fear among the Jewish community, already reeling from the increased instability that has racked the region for the past few months, “said Rabbis Marvin Hier and Abraham Cooper in a statement released in Los Angeles. “We urge authorities to take all necessary measures to ensure the safety of Jewish communal institutions.”

The Anti-Defamation League noted that the leader of the Donetsk People’s Republic, whose name appeared in the document’s signature, has publicly disavowed the flier.

“We are skeptical about the flier’s authenticity, but the instructions clearly recall the Nazi era and have the effect of intimidating the local Jewish community,” said ADL national director Abraham H. Foxman. “We have seen a series of cynical and politically manipulative uses and accusations of anti-Semitism in Ukraine over the past year. The perpetrators and their targets are opposing politicians and political movements, but the true victims are the Jewish communities. We strongly condemn the anti-Semitic content, but also all attempts to use anti-Semitism for political purposes.”

Sen. Marco Rubio (R-Fla.) said it’s critical that the international monitors from the Organization for the Security and Co-operation in Europe deploying to Ukraine as part of yesterday’s Geneva agreement “examine this issue closely to ensure that religious and ethnic minorities do not become targets.”

“This sort of intimidation and persecution is unacceptable and cannot be tolerated in the 21st century,” he said.

Rep. Cory Gardner (R-Colo.) stressed that “the world has seen this before and it cannot be tolerated.”

“This act of hate is atrocious and must be brought to a halt immediately,” the congressman said. “I call on President Obama to ensure that this movement is dismantled without delay.”

Secretary of State John Kerry called the fliers “grotesque.” A State Department spokeswoman said they were investigating the pamphlets’ origin but felt that Russia opposes anti-Semitism.

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Grandpa Bill and Grandma Hill: Chelsea Expecting First Child

Thursday, April 17th, 2014 - by Bridget Johnson

The Clintons announced today that they’re adding a new member to their clan:

 

 

Chelsea, 34, married investment banker Marc Mezvinsky, son of former Dem Rep. Ed Mezvinsky (Iowa), in 2010. She said last October that 2014 would be their “year of the baby.”

“And please, call my mother and tell her that. She asks us about it every single day,” Chelsea added then.

She bought a $10 million condo in Manhattan last year and works at her family’s foundation.

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Even Hillary Clinton Isn’t Sure What We Should Like About Hillary Clinton

Thursday, April 17th, 2014 - by Stephen Kruiser

The first step is admitting…

It was a simple question to someone accustomed to much tougher ones: What was her proudest achievement as secretary of state? But for a moment, Hillary Rodham Clinton, appearing recently before a friendly audience at a women’s forum in Manhattan, seemed flustered.

Mrs. Clinton played an energetic role in virtually every foreign policy issue of President Obama’s first term, advocating generally hawkish views internally while using her celebrity to try to restore America’s global standing after the hit it took during the George W. Bush administration.

But her halting answer suggests a problem that Mrs. Clinton could confront as she recounts her record in Mr. Obama’s cabinet before a possible run for president in 2016: Much of what she labored over so conscientiously is either unfinished business or has gone awry in his second term.

So…no definitive successes and some clear-cut failures. And that’s the generous New York Times assessment.

The Democrat fantasy story about Mrs. Clinton paints her as strong and accomplished on her own. In reality, this is a woman who is professionally defined almost entirely by two men in her life, both of whom happen to have been two-term presidents. Throw into the mix the fact that her relationship with both is uneasy at best and some vulnerabilities which can be exploited by opponents begin to appear.

The Hillary that both Republicans and Democrats talk about as being dynamic, formidable and inevitable doesn’t really seem to exist in the real world under close examination. She got where she is seemingly by making some uncomfortable compromises with two men she doesn’t seem to like very much. Her greatest electoral victory came because her opponent got cancer.

This Times piece tries to portray her as rather hawkish. Where does that fit in with a constituency that twice propelled President Obama to victory? Does she get a gender free pass from the hopeychangeys?

I know that she is supposed to be a juggernaut because pretty much everyone who isn’t me says she is, but I still don’t see it.

Apparently, neither does she.

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Obama: No Fixes to Obamacare Until GOP has ‘Change in Attitude’

Thursday, April 17th, 2014 - by Bridget Johnson

President Obama stepped out at the White House daily briefing today to again berate Republicans for challenging Obamacare — in what appeared to be an attempt to get politicians to stop talking about the law’s negative effects before midterm elections.

Obama announced “as more data comes in, we now know that the number of Americans who’ve signed up for private insurance in the marketplaces has grown to 8 million people.”

“Before this law added new transparency and competition to the individual market, folks who’ve bought insurance on their own regularly saw double-digit increases in their premiums. That was the norm. And while we suspect that premiums will keep rising, as they have for decades, we also know that, since the law took effect, health care spending has risen more slowly than at any time in the past 50 years,” he said.

“…And this thing is working. I’ve said before, this law won’t solve all the problems in our healthcare system. We know we’ve got more work to do. But we now know for a fact that repealing the Affordable Care Act would increase the deficit, raise premiums for millions of Americans, and take insurance away from millions more, which is why, as I’ve said before, I find it strange that the Republican position on this law is still stuck in the same place that it has always been.”

Republicans, he charged, “still can’t bring themselves to admit that the Affordable Care Act is working. They said nobody would sign up; they were wrong about that. They said it would be unaffordable for the country; they were wrong about that. They were wrong to keep trying to repeal a law that is working when they have no alternative answer for millions of Americans with pre-existing conditions who’d be denied coverage again or every woman who’d be charged more for just being a woman again.”

“I know every American isn’t going to agree with this law, but I think we can agree that it’s well past time to move on as a country and refocus our energy on the issues that the American people are most concerned about, and that continues to be the economy, because these endless, fruitless repeal efforts come at a cost.”

Instead of taking dozens of votes to repeal, replace or otherwise fix Obamacare, Obama said, lawmakers could have taken votes “to create jobs by investing in things like infrastructure or innovation, or 50 votes to make it easier for middle-class families to send their kids to college, or 50 votes to raise the minimum wage or restore unemployment insurance that they let expire for folks working hard to find a new job.”

“The point is, the repeal debate is and should be over,” he added. “The Affordable Care Act is working. And I know the American people don’t want us spending the next two-and-a-half years re-fighting the settled political battles of the last five years. They sent us here to repair our economy, to rebuild our middle class, and to restore our founding promise of opportunity, not just for a few, but for all. And as president, that’s exactly what I intend to keep doing as long as I’m in this office.”

On House Majority Leader Eric Cantor’s (R-Va.) charge that Obama is without cause attacking the GOP on immigration reform, the president slightly smirked and said he “actually had a very pleasant conversation with Mr. Cantor yesterday.”

“I wished him happy Passover. And what I said to him privately is something that I would share with him — that I’ve said publicly, which is, there is bipartisan support for comprehensive immigration reform,” Obama added. “…I know there are Republicans in the House, as there are Republicans in the Senate, who know this is the right thing to do. I also know it’s hard politics for Republicans, because there are some in their base that are very opposed to this.”

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Rick Hasen’s Pitiful Request for Notes of Praise

Thursday, April 17th, 2014 - by J. Christian Adams

Today I had this post about the IRS scandal.  It had this lede:

Yesterday was a significant day in the IRS abuse scandal. The scandal evolved from being about pesky delays in IRS exemption applications to a government conniving with outside interests to put political opponents in prison.

But it also singled out the role of law professor Rick Hasen’s blog in giving the speech regulators a forum to move their regulatory narrative.  Dissenting views are often ignored at his blog and listserve or given very short attention.

So who are the speech regulators seeking to impose government limits on the exercise of the First Amendment? Like bats in the belfry, they tend to congregate online at University of California at Irvine Law Professor Rick Hasen’s election blog. Hasen runs an online meeting hall for all the would-be speech totalitarians. They post, bluster, and kibitz about the latest news on their effort to erode the First Amendment and increase federal power

Hasen obviously felt uncomfortable with the PJ piece.  This afternoon he made a pitiful request for notes of praise from conservatives.

I have a favor to ask those who self-identify as conservatives or libertarians.
If you have expressed your support for the listserv (and/or my moderation of it) in a post to the listserv or if you are willing to  write a public message about it, please let me know (by sending an email that I can publish your remarks). I will likely include some of them in a post on the Election Law Blog. I only want to post from those persons who are willing to have their names included.
Thanks!

PJ Media will be sure to cross post here any notes of support from conservatives that he receives.

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Kerry: ‘In the Year 2014,’ Fliers Telling Jews to Register are ‘Grotesque’

Thursday, April 17th, 2014 - by Bridget Johnson

Secretary of State John Kerry confirmed that Donetsk Jews received fliers ordering them to register with pro-Russian authorities, calling the news “grotesque.”

Appearing with EU High Representative Catherine Ashton after a Geneva meeting on the Ukraine crisis, Kerry said “the parties agreed today that all sides must refrain from the use of violence, intimidation, or provocative actions. And we strongly condemned and rejected all expressions of extremism, racism, and religious intolerance, including anti-Semitism.”

“Let me say a quick word about that. Just in the last couple of days, notices were sent to Jews in one city indicating that they had to identify themselves as Jews. And obviously, the accompanying threat implied is – or threatened – or suffer the consequences, one way or the other,” Kerry continued.

“In the year 2014, after all of the miles traveled and all of the journey of history, this is not just intolerable; it’s grotesque. It is beyond unacceptable. And any of the people who engage in these kinds of activities, from whatever party or whatever ideology or whatever place they crawl out of, there is no place for that. And unanimously, every party today joined in this condemnation of that kind of behavior.”

The U.S., Russia, Ukraine and EU agreed “all illegal armed groups must be disarmed; all illegally seized buildings must be returned to legitimate owners; all illegally occupied streets, squares and other public places in Ukrainian cities and towns must be vacated.”

“Amnesty will be granted to protestors and to those who have left buildings and other public places and surrendered weapons, with the exception of those found guilty of capital crimes,” continues their statement.

State Department spokeswoman Marie Harf told reporters today that the U.S. is still looking into who was behind the fliers.

“As we said in the joint statement, all four parties very clearly condemn anti-Semitism. So again, I don’t have more details on where the reports are coming from, but I know we’re looking into it,” Harf said. “I think the Secretary made very clear that we take this very seriously.”

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First Photos Emerge from Star Wars VII Set

Thursday, April 17th, 2014 - by Bryan Preston

A pair of photos from the set of Star Wars VII have hit the ‘net. They don’t show much, other than to confirm that shooting on the first true sequel to the Star Wars franchise since Return of the Jedi is underway. It’s set for release in December 2015.

The photos show a desert landscape in Dubai, which has replaced unstable Tunisia as the backdrop for Luke Skywalker’s home planet Tatooine. The second shows what appears to be props to build the foot of an imperial AT-AT. They made their first appearance in 1979′s Empire Strikes Back, in the battle for ice planet Hoth.

Sightings Of The Set Of Star Wars

 

R2-D2 is the only confirmed character to return from the earlier films, but others are expected to make cameo appearances, at least. Disney now owns, and J.J. Abrams now directs, the Star Wars franchise.

h/t HuffPo

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Media Matters, Union Buster?

Thursday, April 17th, 2014 - by Bryan Preston

The irony in this DC Examiner story is so luxurious and rich I’d like to bathe in it.

Media Matters for America is apparently resisting an effort by Service Employees International Union Local 500 to unionize its staff.

Last week, the union filed a representation petition with the National Labor Relations Board, indicating that the nonprofit media watchdog organization rejected an effort by the union to organize MMFA’s staff through a Card Check election.

[T]he filing does indicate that MMFA is not automatically accepting Local 500′s attempt to represent it’s staff. The nonprofit media watchdog group has hired the law firm Perkins Coie, which specializes in representing management in labor disputes, to represent it before the board.

Media Matters: Big Labor for thee, and thee, and thee…but not for me.

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Chilling: East Ukraine Jews Ordered to Register with Pro-Russia Authorities

Thursday, April 17th, 2014 - by Bridget Johnson

donetskjews

Israel’s Ynet News is reporting on a chilling flier given to Jews in the eastern Ukrainian province of Donetsk, ordering them to register with the local authorities:

A leaflet distributed in Donetsk, Ukraine calling for all Jews over 16 years old to register as Jews marred the Jewish community’s Passover festivities Monday (Passover eve), replacing them with feelings of concern.

The leaflet demanded the city’s Jews supply a detailed list of all the property they own, or else have their citizenship revoked, face deportion and see their assets confiscated.

It was signed by the head of government in the region and was distributed by masked men outside the Donetsk synagogue after Passover prayers, and beyond. The region is home to about 17,000 Jews.

The leaflet was written in Russian and had Russia’s national symbol on it, as well as the Donetsk People’s Republic insignia.

“Dear Ukraine citizens of Jewish nationality,” the flyer began, “due to the fact that the leaders of the Jewish community of Ukraine supported Bendery Junta,” a reference to Stepan Bandera, the leader of the Ukrainian nationalist movement which fought for Ukrainian independence at the end of World War II, “and oppose the pro-Slavic People’s Republic of Donetsk, (the interim government) has decided that all citizens of Jewish descent, over 16 years of age and residing within the republic’s territory are required to report to the Commissioner for Nationalities in the Donetsk Regional Administration building and register.”

The leaflet detailed what type of documents the Jewish citizens would need to supply: “ID and passport are required to register your Jewish religion, religious documents of family members, as well as documents establishing the rights to all real estate property that belongs to you, including vehicles.”

If the message was not made clear enough, the leaflet further stipulated the consequences that would come to those who failed to abide by the new demands: “Evasion of registration will result in citizenship revoke and you will be forced outside the country with a confiscation of property.”

To add insult to injury, the leaflet demanded the Jews pay a registration fee of $50.

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Obama Suggests Republican Successor Would Continue Some of his Policies

Thursday, April 17th, 2014 - by Bridget Johnson

Vice President Joe Biden said he wouldn’t do a thing differently if he decides to shoot for the White House, while President Obama suggested that a Republican victor would continue some of his policies.

Obama and Biden went on the road together yesterday to promote job training at a New York community college.

When CBS asked whether a 2016 run would alter what Biden is doing for the president, the veep responded, “There is nothing I would do differently.”

“If I absolutely knew I wasn’t going to run or I absolutely knew I was, there’s nothing I’d do differently over the next seven, eight, ten months. We have a very important job to do. The president and his agenda is one I strongly believe in, and we have upcoming elections in 2014,” Biden said.

“If I decide to run, believe me, this would be the first guy I talk to. But that decision hasn’t been made, for real. And there’s plenty of time to make that. We have a lot of work to do between now and November.”

Obama lauded Biden as “somebody who I think will go down as one of the finest vice presidents in history,” while also giving some kudos to Hillary Clinton.

“He has been, as I said earlier, a great partner in everything that I do. I suspect that there may be other potential candidates for 2016 who have been great friends and allies. I know that we’ve got an extraordinary secretary of State who did great service for us and worked with me and Joe to help make the country safer,” he said.

“Whoever the Democratic standard bearer is is going to continuing to focus on jobs, making sure that our kids are getting a great education, making sure that we’re rebuilding prosperity from the middle class out in this country. And I am very much interested in making sure that some of the stuff that we’ve gotten started continues.”

When asked if that meant supporting someone who would essentially continue a third term for the Obama presidency, Obama interjected, “Oh, I don’t want to start — I don’t want to necessarily jam them up.”

“We all are a part of this relay race, whether we’re vice presidents, presidents. You know, the truth is that we build off of what folks have done previously. And in some cases that includes, by the way, Republican presidents. That’s the beauty of democracy. It keeps on evolving,” he continued.

“And I’m sure that there are going to be some things that, whoever the next president is, want to continue. There are going to be some things I’m sure they want to do differently. But the trajectory, hopefully, is going to continue to be one in which we’re broadening opportunity for every American.”

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Obama: Putin’s Invasions Really Come from a Place of Weakness, Not Strength

Thursday, April 17th, 2014 - by Bridget Johnson

President Obama told CBS that Russian President Vladimir Putin’s aggression toward Ukraine is really done out of weakness, not strength.

“Contrary to all the rhetoric that you’re hearing from Russia, there’s no excuse for not only Russian troops being massed along the borders of Ukraine, but also, there’s no excuse for the covert support and certainly the rhetorical support that you’re seeing for these militias that are taking over government buildings and causing chaos,” Obama said.

“What I’m saying is, is that the Russians generally have not been respecting the sovereignty and territorial integrity of Ukraine. And that’s not simply my opinion. That’s world opinion,” he continued. “The question now becomes whether or not this can be de-escalated and resolved in a way that gives Ukrainians a chance to make their own decisions about their own lives.”

“What I’ve said consistently is that each time Russia takes these kinds of steps that are designed to destabilize Ukraine and violate their sovereignty, that there are going consequences. Mr. Putin’s decisions are not just bad for Ukraine. Over the long term, they’re going to be bad for Russia.”

The president stressed, though, “we want to give diplomacy a chance as long, ultimately, the decisions are being made by Ukrainians, not by Russians, not by Americans, not by other European nations, but by Ukrainians themselves.”

“None of us think that somehow Ukraine can ignore Russia, should be hostile towards Russia, but we also don’t think that Ukraine should be a vassal state. Now, what we have said consistently is, is that we’re not going to see a military resolution to this problem,” he said.

“What Mr. Putin has been doing he does out of sense of weakness, not strength. The fact that he’s willing to endanger his economy and lose all credibility all around the world the way he has is indicative of the fact that Ukrainians are unsatisfied with a relationship in which you’ve got another country trying to dictate their foreign policy and their economy, and they want to move forward.”

When asked about this week’s tauntin of a U.S. warship in the Black Sea with repeated passes by a Russian fighter jet, Obama brushed off the assertion that it could have been a mocking gesture.

“I have to tell you that everybody around the world understands the superiority of our military. And as commander in chief, I don’t make decisions based on perceived signals. We make decisions very deliberately based on what’s required for our security and for the security of the allies,” he said. “The Russians understand that. They’re not interested in any kind of military confrontation with us, understanding that our conventional forces are significantly superior to the Russians. We don’t need a war.”

During a four-hour television interview today, Putin was asked by a small child if Obama would save him from drowning.

“I don’t want to be drowning!” Putin said, laughing. “… I don’t think I have a close personal relationship with Obama. I think Obama is courageous and a good person, and for sure he would save me.”

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U.S., South Korean Defense Officials Huddle in Washington About Stopping Kim Jong-un

Thursday, April 17th, 2014 - by Bridget Johnson

The Department of Defense and South Korean Ministry of National Defense wrapped up their fifth defense dialogue in Washington this week with an agreement to “substantively” increase cooperation against North Korean aggression.

Over the course of the two-day meeting, ROK Deputy Minister for Defense Policy Yoo Jeh Seung met with the U.S. Chief of Staff to the Secretary of Defense Mark Lippert, Deputy Assistant Secretary of Defense for East Asia David Helvey, and Deputy Assistant Secretary of Defense for Nuclear and Missile Defense Policy Elaine Bunn, the Pentagon said.

“The two sides reaffirmed the shared view that recent North Korean provocations, including recent missile launches, artillery fire in the Yellow Sea, the infiltration of small unmanned aerial vehicles, and the looming threat of a fourth nuclear test undermine stability of the Korean Peninsula and the region. The two sides also addressed ways to strengthen coordinated actions and the importance of continued close collaboration within the alliance to enable better deterrence of and response to North Korean provocations,” the DoD described the meeting.

“The two sides discussed ways to strengthen the combined defense posture to defend the Republic of Korea and to deter North Korean aggression by enhancing combined Alliance capabilities, and continuing combined exercises. The ROK and U.S. also discussed the ROK proposed conditions-based approach to wartime OPCON transition. The ROK and the U.S. will continue cooperating to develop the future command structure, combined operational plans, ROK critical military capabilities, and U.S. bridging and enduring capabilities.”

Particularly welcome was the South Korean National Assembly’s recent ratification of more cost-sharing support to “offset costs associated with stationing U.S. forces on the Korean Peninsula.”

“The 2014-2018 agreement will provide for continued ROK support in logistics, labor, and construction and will help ensure that we have the resources necessary for the combined defense of the Korean Peninsula,” the Pentagon said.

“The two sides also addressed various areas of alliance cooperation, including regional and global cooperation, and efforts to counter weapons of mass destruction and interdiction, command, control, communications, computers, and intelligence interoperability, and cyber and space cooperation.”

That included a “continued U.S. commitment to provide and strengthen extended deterrence for the ROK using the full range of military capabilities, including the U.S. nuclear umbrella, conventional strike, and missile defense capabilities.”

“The two countries discussed implementation of the tailored deterrence strategy to include combined exercises to ensure that deterrence and extended deterrence remains credible, capable, and enduring,” the Pentagon continued. “Both sides also discussed efforts to counter North Korean missile threats, including the continued combined development of comprehensive counter-missile capabilities to detect, defend against, disrupt, and destroy North Korean missile threats, in particular strengthened missile defense interoperability, including the ROK ‘Kill Chain’ and Korean air and missile defense systems.”

A sixth round of talks is scheduled in Seoul this July.

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Schumer Lobbies Pentagon for Iraq, Afghanistan Veterans’ Parade

Thursday, April 17th, 2014 - by Bridget Johnson

Sen. Chuck Schumer (D-N.Y.) is lobbying the Defense Department to host an official welcome-home ticker-tape parade for Iraq and Afghanistan vets down Broadway in Manhattan.

Schumer said former Mayor Michael Bloomberg tried to get this after President Obama announced an end to the Iraq war, but was told by the Pentagon that the conflicts are interrelated and “because many people who served in Iraq went to serve in Afghanistan and vice versa, that they shouldn’t do it.”

“Now, the president called for combat to end by the end of 2014. Hagel seconded this. So, now is the time to get moving and prepare and do the great parade that New York can do down the Canyon of Heroes. I talked to DoD. And — they, you know, they’re the bureaucracy of bureaucracies, and they’re jumping through 100 hoops. But they have been very positive,” the senator told MSNBC.

It can be done without the Pentagon, he added, but with cooperation “we can have the top military brass come. We can have flyovers. We can have all kind of military bands and everything else. It will be a grand, grand parade.”

“So, the other parades were good. But to give these women and men who served us and risked their lives for us, the recognition they deserve, there is nothing like a parade in the Canyon of Heroes with the full support of our nation’s Defense Department and all extra things that that entails.”

Schumer, who says he cut his “political teeth” protesting the Vietnam war back in the day, stressed it was “wrong” that those veterans didn’t get a parade for a decade.

“There was just so much anger at the establishment in Vietnam that it boiled over unfortunately into the veterans as almost symbols of the establishment,” he said. “In Iraq, people thought the war was wrong. But there wasn’t the same hostility to the whole way America was going. Vietnam was sort of an awakening to a lot of people.”

He conceded “it will take some money,” but said the city of New York is willing to chip in as are many veterans organizations.

“I think paying for it won’t be the hard part. It’s getting it organized. And we’ll have to figure out when we can do it,” Schumer said, adding Veterans Day would be a “great” day to hold the parade.

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Snowden Plays With Putin, and Just Might be a Foreign Spy

Thursday, April 17th, 2014 - by Bryan Preston

So, how did this happen?

NSA leaker Edward Snowden asked Russian President Vladimir Putin about whether Russia uses its own mass surveillance system, in a video during a question-and-answer session on Russian television.

“Does Russia, intercept, store or analyze, in any way, the communications of millions of individuals?” Snowden asked, according to a video clip posted by Russia Today.

The question, which Snowden asked via video from an undisclosed location (not to Putin), afforded Putin the opportunity to set himself up as a greater champion of individual liberty than the American government. Putin took that opportunity and ran with it.

Our intelligence efforts are strictly regulated by our law, so how special forces can use this kind of special equipment to intercept phone calls or follow someone online, and you have to get court permission to stalk a particular person,” Putin said, according to an English translation by Russia Today.

“We don’t have a mass system of such interception and according with our law, it cannot exist,” Putin said.

However, Putin added that “criminals and terrorists” use technology and “of course” Russia’s special services have to use the same means in response.

See, Russia is just a big ol’ Teddy bear!

USA Today is asking whether Snowden was/is a foreign intelligence asset.

Western intelligence services must assume that Snowden – either on purpose or inadvertently – has leaked to the Chinese and Russian governments the totality of the information with which he fled the U.S., says Fox, adding it would be “utterly inappropriate and irresponsible” to assume that Snowden had been to those countries and they had been unable to intercept the data.

Other senior intelligence officials share the same concern over Snowden’s allegiances. Rep. Mike Rogers, R-Mich., the outgoing chairman of the House Permanent Select Committee on Intelligence, believes Snowden is likely connected with Russian spies.

“We know today no counterintelligence official in the United States does not believe that Mr. Snowden, the NSA contractor, is not under the influence of Russian intelligence services,” he said March 23 on NBC’s “Meet the Press.” ”He is actually supporting in an odd way this very activity of brazen brutality and expansionism of Russia. He needs to understand that. And I think Americans need to understand that. We need to put it in proper context.

After today’s public exchange with Putin, the support looks a whole lot more direct. Russian intelligence was notorious for spying on foreign journalists during the Socchi Olympics. Given Putin’s deep history with the KGB, it’s unreasonable to assume that Russia doesn’t spy on its own citizens every day.

Snowden’s last major public address came via video conference, to SXSW in Austin back in March. During that conference, he had very little to say about Russia, other than to claim that neither Russia nor China had been able to break the encryption he had put on the data he took from the US. But supposing he is telling the truth, there is no way that he can know that with certainty. The safe way to bet is that both China and Russia have what he has.

Exit question: Will the recent Pulitzers based on Snowden’s disclosures turn out, years from now, to look just as foolish as the Pulitzer bestowed on Soviet apologist Walter Duranty?

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Charges Dropped in Ridiculous PA Student Wiretapping Case

Thursday, April 17th, 2014 - by Bryan Preston

The story of the bullied kid who recorded his bullies, only to then get bullied by his school and the local police, is about to end on a happy note. The District Attorney is getting the last say, and will drop the charges entirely.

No one in our office who was authorized to give advice on wiretap issues or school conduct issues was ever contacted in this matter. We have made multiple attempts to contact the officer who wrote the citation. Those attempts have been unsuccessful. It is our intention to withdraw the citation on April 29 because we do not believe his conduct rises to the level of a citation.

Would there have been a positive ending if blogs hadn’t turned the story into a national issue? Unlikely.

h/t Eugene Volokh.

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What Kind of an Idiot Names His PAC ‘Boats ‘N Hoes’?

Thursday, April 17th, 2014 - by Bryan Preston

This kind.

Political consulting firm employee Shaun Nowacki registered the political action committee, “Boats ‘N Hoes PAC,” with the Texas Ethics Commission on April 1, according to state records.

Nowacki is listed as comptroller for Blakemore and Associates Consulting Firm, whose namesake, Allen Blakemore, is the “senior strategist” for Republican Dan Patrick’s lieutenant governor campaign. The firm also advised Greg Abbott, the GOP nominee for governor, during eight previous campaigns from 1991 to 2004, according to Blakemore’s website.

The distance from that dope to major Texas GOP candidates is considerable, but not enough to keep Democrats from squawking about it. That’s politics. Republicans quickly distanced themselves from the idiotically named PAC, which seems to be named after a comedic, and probably offensive to many, rap in the 2008 movie Step Brothers, which starred Will Ferrell and John C. Reilly.

Perhaps registering it on April 1 is supposed to make it some sort of prank, but whether that’s the case or not, it backfired. The Democrats pounced and commenced with the usual “war on women” bits.

That name constitutes a war on taste and good sense. It’s fair to seriously question the judgement of the individual who registered it, even as a joke.

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There’s a New Obama Selfie in the House

Wednesday, April 16th, 2014 - by Bridget Johnson

 

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The Ultimate Source of Islamic Hate for Infidels

Wednesday, April 16th, 2014 - by Raymond Ibrahim

Who is ultimately responsible for the ongoing attacks on Christians and their churches throughout the Islamic world?

Focusing on one of the most obvious nations where Christians are regularly targeted—Egypt’s Coptic Christians—one finds that the “mob” is the most visible and obvious culprit.  One Copt accused of some transgression against Muslim sensibilities—from having relations with a Muslim woman, to ruining a Muslim man’s shirt—is often enough to prompt Muslim mobs to destroy entire Christian villages and their churches.

Recently, for example, after her cross identified Mary Sameh George as a Christian, a pro-Muslim Brotherhood mob attacked, beat, and slaughtered her.

However, a recent Arabic op-ed titled “Find the True Killer of Mary” looks beyond the mob to identify the true persecutor of Christians in Egypt. According to it:

Those who killed the young and vulnerable Mary Sameh George, for hanging a cross in her car, are not criminals, but rather wretches who follow those who legalized for them murder, lynching, dismemberment, and the stripping bare of young Christian girls—without every saying “kill.”  [Islamic cleric] Yassir Burhami and his colleagues who announce their hate for Christians throughout satellite channels and in mosques—claiming that hatred of Christians is synonymous with love for God—they are the true killers who need to be tried and prosecuted…  The slayers of Mary Sameh are simply a wretched mob, with the body of a bull but the brain of a worm.  It’s not the puppets on the string who need punishing, but rather the mastermind who moves the puppets with his bloody fingers behind closed curtains that needs punishing.

One fact certainly validates this Arabic op-ed’s assertions: the overwhelming majority of attacks on Christians in Egypt and other Muslim nations—including the slaughter of Mary Sameh George—occur on Friday, the one day of the week that Muslims congregate in mosques for communal prayers and to hear sermons.

The significance of this fact can easily be understood by analogy: what if Christians were especially and consistently violent to non-Christian minorities on Sunday—right after they got out of church?  What would that say about what goes on in Christian churches?

What does it say about what goes on in Muslim mosques?

The Arabic op-ed also does well to name Sheikh Yassir al-Burhami as one of those who “announce their hate for Christians throughout the satellite channels and in mosques, claiming that hatred of Christians is synonymous with love for God.”

For example, Dr. Burhami—the face of Egypt’s Salafi movement—once issued a fatwa, or Islamic edict, forbidding Muslim taxi- and bus-drivers from transporting Coptic Christian priests to their churches, which he depicted as “more forbidden than taking someone to a liquor bar.”

As for hating non-Muslim “infidels,” many Islamic clerics, especially Salafis, believe that the doctrine of “Loyalty and Enmity” (or wala’ wa bara’) commands Muslims never to befriend or be loyal to non-Muslims.

Burhami himself appears on video asserting that if a Muslim man marries a Christian or Jewish woman (known in Islamic parlance as “People of the Book”)—even he must still hate his wife, because she is an infidel… Keep reading

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Cantor Rips Obama after Presidential Phone Call on Immigration

Wednesday, April 16th, 2014 - by Bryan Preston

Barack Obama still does not understand that when you insult people in public, they’re unlikely to work with you in private. Rep. Eric Cantor reminded him of that in a statement this afternoon.

“Today, President Obama called me to discuss his desire for comprehensive immigration reform. The President called me hours after he issued a partisan statement which attacked me and my fellow House Republicans and which indicated no sincere desire to work together. After five years, President Obama still has not learned how to effectively work with Congress to get things done. You do not attack the very people you hope to engage in a serious dialogue. I told the President the same thing I told him the last time we spoke. House Republicans do not support Senate Democrats’ immigration bill and amnesty efforts, and it will not be considered in the House. I also reiterated to the President there are other issues where we can find common ground, build trust and get America working again. I hope the President can stop his partisan messaging, and begin to seriously work with Congress to address the issues facing working middle class Americans that are struggling to make ends meet in this economy.”

Well, maybe Obama does understand the impact of his public insults. In that case, he just wants to pick a fight. That’s not what a leader does, but it’s what a community organizer does.

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Catholic Cardinal: Obamacare Forces Charities to Make One of Four Choices, None of Which Are Good

Wednesday, April 16th, 2014 - by Bryan Preston

Francis Cardinal George of Chicago has written a Lent letter to his parishioners that lays out the stark choices facing the church in the age of Obamacare. The president’s signature law was not written to include abortifacient mandates. Those came with the regulations written by the bureaucracy and signed off on by Kathleen Sebelius and ultimately, Barack Obama. They could be lifted with the stroke of a pen, without Obama behaving in any lawless way. Yet they remain in full effect despite years of protest and lawsuits.

Why? The immediate political point of them, generating backlash and a phony “war on women” for the 2012 election, has already been served.

The mandate forces Catholic institutions — hospitals, adoption agencies, schools, and so forth — into an array of bad options.

So far in American history, our government has respected the freedom of individual conscience and of institutional integrity for all the many religious groups that shape our society. The government has not compelled them to perform or pay for what their faith tells them is immoral. That’s what we’ve meant by freedom of religion. That’s what we had believed was protected by the U.S. Constitution. Maybe we were foolish to believe so.

What will happen if the HHS regulations are not rescinded? A Catholic institution, so far as I can see right now, will have one of four choices: 1) secularize itself, breaking its connection to the church, her moral and social teachings and the oversight of its ministry by the local bishop. This is a form of theft. It means the church will not be permitted to have an institutional voice in public life. 2) Pay exorbitant annual fines to avoid paying for insurance policies that cover abortifacient drugs, artificial contraception and sterilization. This is not economically sustainable. 3) Sell the institution to a non-Catholic group or to a local government. 4) Close down.

It’s that fourth option that the regulations are probably intended to bring about: close down. Leave the government in charge of “charity,” and push the church out of public life altogether. Christians would maintain a “freedom of worship,” but not the freedom to act on their faith. That’s false freedom.

This has already happened in the case of Catholic adoption agencies in Massachusetts. Gay marriage legalization paved the way for destroying those agencies. They closed. So forcing Christian charities to close down to satisfy current political trends is not hypothetical. It has been happening for years. The precedent has been set.

The “freedom of worship” has found recent favor on the left. That’s little more than a trick, writes the cardinal.

Freedom of worship was guaranteed in the Constitution of the former Soviet Union. You could go to church, if you could find one. The church, however, could do nothing except conduct religious rites in places of worship-no schools, religious publications, health care institutions, organized charity, ministry for justice and the works of mercy that flow naturally from a living faith. All of these were co-opted by the government. We fought a long cold war to defeat that vision of society.

If churches are not free to act out the faith of their believers, then what are they for? What is worship for? What is worship? That’s not a peripheral question, it’s at the very heart of what the Obama administration is doing. In a very real way, it is setting up government as a false god, an idol.

Many Americans, I suspect, will not object as long as they continue to get their stream of free stuff from somewhere.

There will be consequences if these mandates are not lifted.

If you haven’t already purchased the Archdiocesan Directory for 2012, I would suggest you get one as a souvenir. On page L-3, there is a complete list of Catholic hospitals and health care institutions in Cook and Lake counties. Each entry represents much sacrifice on the part of medical personnel, administrators and religious sponsors. Each name signifies the love of Christ to people of all classes and races and religions. Two Lents from now, unless something changes, that page will be blank.

Catholic leaders bear some responsibility for chasing their own false god, “social justice,” when they should have been preaching the unvarnished Gospel. The “social justice” strains have empowered the likes of Obama, whose agenda goes far beyond what most saw coming. When he threatened to fundamentally transform the country, he meant it. Five years on, we have the IRS weaponized against dissent, and we have Obamacare kicking Christians out of public life and depriving them of the freedom to act on their faith, among other disturbing facets of the new America.

h/t Hot Air

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Graham: Allowing Enrichement Puts Iran Nuclear Deal ‘on the Road to Armageddon’

Wednesday, April 16th, 2014 - by Bridget Johnson

Sen. Lindsey Graham (R-S.C.) said he’s “begging” the Obama administration to not give Iran the right to enrich uranium in the ongoing P5+1 talks to arrive at a final agreement.

“I’m sure they will probably continue to negotiate, but here’s what you need to understand about the negotiations. The Obama administration is about to give the ayatollahs in Iran the right to enrich uranium,” Graham told Fox. “This is what they did with North Korea. They allowed the North Koreans a small enrichment program and they were gonna monitor it with the U.N. weapons inspectors. Well, guess what? And that sanctions. The North Koreans have nuclear weapons.”

“We’re on the path to repeating Iran the same mistakes we had in North Korea. I am begging the Obama administration if the Iranians have a nuclear power program, fine, just control the fuel cycle. Do not allow them to enrich uranium. You’ll have a North Korean result on your hand and in the Mideast if the Iranians get a nuclear capability, Sunni Arabs are gonna want one of their own and you are on the road to Armageddon.”

A senior administration official said on background last week that “on some issues, if you can move forward, you may open up trade space on another issue.”

“When we’ve talked about enrichment before, that has many, many pieces to it – from stockpiles to facilities to enrichment levels to centrifuge production,” the official said. “I mean, it’s just a myriad of subsets. And that’s true of every issue.”

Graham said Iran’s recent attempt to send a 1979 hostage-taker to New York as its UN ambassador raises questions about their motives and sincerity.

“If they are really sincere about wanting to reach a peaceful resolution, that nuclear program, why would they do this to begin with? This really tells you all you need to know about this Iranian regime. They are a bunch of thugs,” he said.

“The largest state sponsor of terrorism for the last 30 years. They killed our American soldiers in Iraq providing weapons to people in Iraq to kill American soldiers. They are trying to develop a nuclear weapon, not a peaceful power program. And this is just — tells you all you need to know about the Iranians.”

July 20 has been set by the negotiating parties as the deadline for a final nuclear deal with Iran.

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Military Satire Site Rips at Fort Hood ‘Workplace Violence’ Designation

Wednesday, April 16th, 2014 - by Bridget Johnson

If you’re familiar with The Onion, you’ll love the military version: The Duffel Blog. This satire site counts generals to privates among its readers, and today angered Rep. Jim Moran (D-Va.) with a satire claiming he introduced a bill that would require vets to knock on neighbors’ doors and warn they could snap as a high-risk “powder keg of post traumatic stress.”

Contributors include “disgruntled Marines, annoyed Army guys and sickened sailors,” Duffel Blog founder and former Marine Sgt. Paul Szoldra once quipped. And their coverage since the first Fort Hood shooting has been telling.

From “President Obama Says Latest Fort Hood Shooting ‘Definitely’ A Terrorist Attack,” published Saturday:

Following the speech, many of the president’s supporters hailed Obama as a strong wartime leader, citing his declaration that a ‘red line’ had been drawn and that any further attacks from terrorists on U.S. soil would draw a firm rebuke and censure in the United Nations.

While determined to bring the terrorists — and terror groups that supported this latest attack — to justice, some have raised questions on the differences between the latest attack and the tragic workplace violence incident that happened in 2009, where then-Maj. Nidal Hasan accidentally tripped over his beard and shot more than 40 people.

“There are absolutely no similarities in these two cases aside from the application of violence against our servicemen and women,” said White House spokesman Jay Carney to reporters. “Maj. Hasan had never deployed in support of the wars in Afghanistan or Iraq, so he was obviously unable to absorb any sort of extremist message, and he targeted soldiers in a single location, which meant he clearly had issues relevant to that specific location or population.”

When asked if Hasan’s Muslim faith had any bearing on the decision to label that incident ‘workplace violence’ instead of a terror attack, Carney was adamant that it did not.

…The military had already begun planning overseas contingency operations to rout terrorist networks in Killeen, Texas, Pentagon sources said.

At press time, witnesses had apparently overheard Carney later instructing a nearby aide to double-check the shooter’s DD214 document to ensure he had ties to radical Army terror networks.”

Previous Fort Hood coverage has included “Nidal Hasan Says He’s Amish In Last Ditch Effort To Save Beard”:

Most outsiders assumed from Hasan’s name, his parents’ Palestinian background, and his business card tagline of “Soldier of Allah”, that he was Muslim. The judge, Col. Jeffrey Tribley, pressed Hasan for more information on this discrepancy.

“Yes sir. I am Muslim and Amish,” Hasan responded. “This of course means that my beard is two-times as important to my religion, and under religious exceptions in the UCMJ, it is required.”

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Democrat Candidate Seeks Communications Director. Republican Sends Him an Epic Application Letter.

Wednesday, April 16th, 2014 - by Bryan Preston

Democrat Sean Eldridge is running for the House in New York’s 9th District, against Republican Rep. Chris Gibson. Eldridge has spent nearly a million dollars of his own money and his campaign has been plagued with problems. Of course, he’s also one of those liberals who decry the pernicious influence of money in politics. He’s fine with using his own money, which mostly comes from his wife, the Facebook co-founder Chris Hughes — it’s Republican money that he has a problem with.

Eldridge is now seeking a new communications director who will be tasked with righting a sinking ship. He posted the job notice online, which isn’t how campaigns typically hire staff. That’s usually done through political networking. Rookie mistake.

Ian Prior has written himself into the history books with this reply to Eldridge’s job notice.

Dear Sean,

I am writing to apply for the recently posted position of “Communications Director –  Sean Eldridge for Congress.”

I know that we have had our differences, but I really think I could help out Eldridge for Congress as your Communication Director. As you probably know, I have a very firm understanding of your campaign strategy of (1) self-funding your campaign account with your $700 million fortune, and (2) trying to buy friends and headlines by utilizing your Hudson River Ventures Super PAC, also funded with your $700 million fortune.

I am confident that my aggressive approach and willingness to actually speak to reporters will greatly help your cause. Moreover, my skills and experience certainly line up with what you are seeking in a Communications Director and I could provide to you the perspective of someone who has not been aiming for a Congressional seat since the age of 15, as you have.

Should you choose to hire me, I would advise that you do a few things. First, unlock your campaign doors. While I understand that you may be concerned about volunteers stealing your Cartier watch or other valuable items, this makes you look like an out-of-touch aristocrat.

Second, stop buying so many houses. While most people struggle to pay a rent or a mortgage, you are dropping $5 million for a house here, $2 million for a house there, etc. If you must buy another house, can you get something a little less expensive? Maybe something without an Infinity pool?

Third, stop talking about campaign finance reform. You have spent a million dollars of your own money on your campaign and have spent far more than that through your Hudson River Ventures Super PAC. You also just rejected an offer from your opponent to cap spending in your race. So the more you talk about campaign finance the more you look like a phony. Stop. Please!

We can certainly talk more about some other strategies that would make you seem more likable and less like the hypocrite that you are. I can forward my resume, references, and salary request on demand and look forward to speaking with you soon.

 

Sincerely,

 

Ian Prior

Northeast Regional Press Secretary

National Republican Congressional Committee

Office: 202-646-6419

Cell: 617-584-3345

Twitter: @iprior1177

 

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West Virginia Man Indicted for Threatening to Kill Sen. Manchin

Wednesday, April 16th, 2014 - by Bridget Johnson

A federal grand jury handed down an indictment Tuesday against a 49-year-old West Virginia man for threatening to kill Sen. Joe Manchin (D).

Steven Anthony Major of Barboursville, W.Va., was arrested March 21 after making four calls to the senator’s Charleston and D.C. office from March 17-20. He reportedly left his real name while making threats against Manchin and his family.

“During these calls, Mr. Major told Senator Manchin to stay out of the State of West Virginia and made several violent threats including, but not limited to, the following: ‘You a dead man, you don’t f*** with me [sic];’ ‘Your kids and your wife are done;’ ‘[Senator Manchin] and his family going to have bullets in their brain [sic],’” states the affidavit filed last month.

Major faces four counts in the threats, each carrying up to 10 years in prison.

Last April, Sen. Roger Wicker (R-Miss.) was the target of a poisoning attempt when a ricin-laced letter was sent to his office. It was intercepted at a mail-sorting facility before reaching the senator.

James Everett Dutschke, 42, also sent a ricin letter to President Obama, then tried to frame an Elvis impersonator. He pleaded guilty and will be sentenced May 14, with a 25-year sentence possible.

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Fox News to Launch New Show that You Know You Will Watch

Wednesday, April 16th, 2014 - by Bryan Preston

It’s called Outnumbered, because female panelists will always outnumber the lone male panelist. They’ll talk about issues, etc. It’s kind of an anti-View from the sound of it.

Outnumbered’s engaging dynamic, guided by four savvy women and one man, is designed to provide viewers with a fresh take on the latest news. During each segment, the panelists will examine the top news of the hour, and deliberate the leading pop culture and relationship issues dominating the headlines that day.

FOX Report Weekend anchor Harris Faulkner and FOX Business Network’s Sandra Smith will serve as two of the rotating members who will lead the program’s news coverage. The solo male panelist will vary each day, sometimes serving as a notable figure in the national dialogue that week.

Additional personalities to be featured include co-hosts of “The Five,” Kimberly Guilfoyle and Andrea Tantaros along with FNC contributors Jedediah Bila, Katie Pavlich and Kirsten Powers.

An interesting list, both for who is included and who is not. Some former rising stars seem to have done themselves permanent damage with FNC.

Outnumbered launches April 28 at 12 PM eastern.

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The Terrifying Implications of the IRS Abuse-DOJ Connection

Wednesday, April 16th, 2014 - by Bryan Preston

Thank God for Treasury Inspector General for Tax Administration J. Russell George. His investigation of what turned out to be the IRS abuse scandal may well have saved the Constitution and the nation.

For his fair and impartial investigation into the Internal Revenue Service’s abuse of Americans who dissent from President Obama’s agenda, Democrats have called for an investigation of him. George should not be investigated, but perhaps the Democrats who want him investigated — Reps. Gerry Connolly (D-VA) and Matt Cartwright (D-PA) — should be. Their call for an investigation of the investigator might constitute interference with the ongoing investigation of the IRS abuse scandal. That would be obstruction of justice, in what may turn out to be the most widespread and damaging scandal in American history.

The implications of today’s email disclosure are stunning and terrifying.

Lois Lerner intended to use her position atop the IRS’ tax exempt approval office to coordinate the prosecution of political speech. The Department of Justice under Attorney General Eric Holder had at least tentatively bought into that. The Federal Elections Commission was being roped in as well. Lerner’s emails prove that beyond doubt.

Democrats in Congress were involved. Rep. Elijah Cummings (D-MD) appears to have led the anti-constitutional attack on free speech in the House. Sen. Sheldon Whitehouse (D-RI) led it from the Senate.

Two days before Lerner was forced to publicly disclose the scandal, she was moving forward with an insidious plan to stamp out conservatives and Tea Party activists’ ability to organize and raise money, by working with the IRS commissioner’s office and the Department of Justice. At the same time, there was no plan for any government crackdown on groups who agreed with President Obama. The traffic was entirely one-way. It was nakedly political, and everyone involved knew it. They also had reason to believe that they would succeed, or they would not have engaged in it. DOJ would serve two roles: Prosecute conservatives, and protect the bureaucrats who were pushing those prosecutions.

Was there a full-fledged plan to use the full power of the federal government to take the abuse, delay and invasive questioning of conservatives to a new level after President Obama’s re-election? Was there a plan to criminalize the mere act of being a conservative activist? Was there a plan to drum up false charges of “lying” on applications in order to put conservatives in jail?

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NBC Frets About Too Much Money in Politics, then Praises Bloomberg’s Massive-Money Anti-Gun Crusade

Wednesday, April 16th, 2014 - by Bryan Preston

Self-awareness is not the mainstream media’s strong suit. Just a couple of weeks after NBC lamented the presence and impact of there being too much money in politics, its own Savannah Guthrie conducted a glowing interview with Michael Bloomberg. That interview centered on his plan to pour $50 million into his latest anti-gun crusade.

h/t CNS News

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To Obama, was the Boston Bombing Just an Instance of ‘Workout Place Violence?’

Wednesday, April 16th, 2014 - by Bryan Preston

Fox’s Tod Starnes noticed a curious, deliberate omission in President Obama’s statement on the 2013 Boston Marathon bombing. See if you can spot it.

“A year ago, tragedy struck at the 117th Boston Marathon. Four innocent people were killed that week, and hundreds more were wounded. Today, we remember Krystle Campbell, Lingzi Lu, Martin Richard, and Sean Collier. And we send our thoughts and prayers to those still struggling to recover.

We also know that the most vivid images from that day were not of smoke and chaos, but of compassion, kindness and strength: A man in a cowboy hat helping a wounded stranger out of harm’s way; runners embracing loved ones, and each other; an EMT carrying a spectator to safety. Today, we recognize the incredible courage and leadership of so many Bostonians in the wake of unspeakable tragedy. And we offer our deepest gratitude to the courageous firefighters, police officers, medical professionals, runners and spectators who, in an instant, displayed the spirit Boston was built on – perseverance, freedom and love.

One year later, we also stand in awe of the men and women who continue to inspire us – learning to stand, walk, dance and run again. With each new step our country is moved by the resilience of a community and a city. And when the sun rises over Boylston Street next Monday – Patriot’s Day – hundreds of thousands will come together to show the world the meaning of Boston Strong as a city chooses to run again.”

It’s a curious thing. Leftist like Obama are nanosecond quick to ascribe “hate” as a motivator among their political opponents. But he refuses to speak the word “terrorism” when Islamic radicals kill Americans, unless circumstances leave him absolutely no choice.

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Boston Marathon Hoaxer Turns Out to be Attention-Seeking Drag Queen

Wednesday, April 16th, 2014 - by Bryan Preston

Tuesday night, a barefoot, black-veiled figure dropped off two backpacks near the Boston Marathon finish line. The backpacks contained pressure cookers filled with confetti. Authorities detonated both in controlled explosions. No one was injured.

The alleged perpetrator of the hoax, one year to the day after the Tsarneav brothers detonated real bombs that killed three and injured hundreds, turns out to be Kevin “Kayvon” Edson, 25.

Mediaite picks up the bizarre story from there.

NECN identified the bomber as 25-year-old Bostonian Kevin “Kayvon” Edson, the founder of a “eco-aware and ethical” fashion company called Natural Selection. Edson was discovered yesterday running barefoot on Boylston Avenue, wearing a black mesh veil and shouting “Boston Strong” over and over again, before dropping two backpack(s), one containing a rice cooker filled with confetti, at the Marathon finish line. (The backpacks were eventually detonated.)

“I really need exposure,” Edson said in a video bio for his company bearing his name, in which he also claimed that that he was bipolar. “I really need to build this world that I’ve already started creating.”

He earlier described himself as a “fashion designer, entrepreneur, performance artist, mental patient, blogger bloggerist, a jailbird, a college dropout, and a drag queen.”

Edson posted this on his Facebook page Tuesday.

Screen-Shot-2014-04-16-at-10.24.35-AM

 

Edson is going to get exposure…to lawyers, courtrooms, and prison. He may not have hurt anyone, but his actions caused real terror.

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Video Illustration Of The Pure Clownishness Of CNN

Wednesday, April 16th, 2014 - by Stephen Kruiser

And it’s not even about the plane. Thoughts to follow the video:

OK, how does John King manage to work in a Mitt Romney dig? Oh yeah, because the Leftmedia monkeys can’t criticize a Democrat without throwing in some nonsensical random reference to a Republican who isn’t even on the national stage right now as a palate cleanser.

Then there is Jonathan Martin’s perfunctory, “Hey it’s no big deal when a Democrat does something stupid like this…” response. He says the folks in Louisiana “probably will never know” that the ad is faked, which is most likely his way of saying, “Yeah…no one is watching us talk about this right now.”

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IRS Emails: Jail for Conservatives and IRS Employees Unload on Lerner

Wednesday, April 16th, 2014 - by J. Christian Adams

The IRS Tea Party scandal has all the characteristics of abusive government  – from lies to threats to jail political opponents.

Remember when Lois Lerner and the Obama administration were blaming the IRS targeting scandal on “low level employees in the Cincinnati office?”  It turns out those employees weren’t very happy about it.

New emails obtained by Judicial Watch pursuant to the Freedom of Information Act reveal angry IRS employees who were getting the blame for the targeting of Tea Party groups.  The emails reveal a deceptive public relations strategy cooked up in Washington D.C. that the “low level” employees would have no part of.

Cindy Thomas wrote Lerner an email directly.

“Joseph Grant and others who came to Cincinnati last year specifically told the low level workers in Cincinnati that no one would be ‘thrown under the bus.’  Based on articles, Cincinnati wasn’t publically ‘thrown under the bus’ instead it was hit by a convoy of Mack trucks.”

irs

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Lerner, realizing by now that email might not be the best way to manage damage control responds “I will be back shortly and will give you a call.”  Telephones work better than emails in avoiding Judicial Watch FOIA requests.

irs2

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

The emails also reveal a desire to jail conservative activists working for non-profits.  From one IRS email:

As I mentioned yesterday — there are several groups of folks from the FEC world that are pushing tax fraud prosecution for c4s who report they are not conducting political activity when they are (or these folks think they are). One is my ex-boss Larry Noble (former General Counsel at the FEC), who is now president of Americans for Campaign Reform. This is their latest push to shut these down. One IRS prosecution would make an impact and they wouldn’t feel so comfortable doing the stuff.

Larry Noble is a speech regulator and heads the First Amendment-hostile organization Americans for Campaign Reform which seeks to limit the reach of the First Amendment. He is also a professor at George Washington University School of Law where he teaches law students his limited views of the First Amendment.

Noble

Noble

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

You can read the whole stack of documents Judicial Watch obtained here.  Feel free to post other gems you find in the comments below.

 

 

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IRS Scandal Spreads to DOJ

Wednesday, April 16th, 2014 - by Bryan Preston

Katie Pavlich reports that newly released IRS emails prove that former IRS honcho Lois Lerner contacted the U.S. Department of Justice about prosecuting some tax exempt groups in May 2013. The emails have been released per a Judicial Watch FOIA.

Lerner wrote the email shortly before an inspector general’s report would make the IRS abuse of conservative groups public. Lerner got ahead of that by apologizing for the abuse via a planted question in a conference call with the American Bar Association.

Lerner emailed the IRS commissioner’s office about the DOJ on May 8, 2013 — just two days before she disclosed the abuse scandal — asking DOJ whether groups could be criminally prosecuted for “lying” on their tax exempt request forms.

“I got a call today from Richard Pilger Director Elections Crimes Branch at DOJ,” Lerner wrote on May 8 to Nikole Flax, chief of staff to former IRS Commissioner Steven Miller. “He wanted to know who at IRS the DOJ folk s [sic] could talk to about Sen. Whitehouse idea at the hearing that DOJ could piece together false statement cases about applicants who “lied” on their 1024s –saying they weren’t planning on doing political activity, and then turning around and making large visible political expenditures. DOJ is feeling like it needs to respond, but want to talk to the right folks at IRS to see whether there are impediments from our side and what, if any damage this might do to IRS programs. I told him that sounded like we might need several folks from IRS.”

Flax responded in email: ”I think we should do it – also need to include CI [Criminal Investigation Division], which we can help coordinate. Also, we need to reach out to FEC. Does it make sense to consider including them in this or keep it separate?”

Flax worked for acting IRS Commissioner Steven Miller. Miller would testify under oath on May 17, 2013 that an “increased workload” was to blame for the abuse. His own chief of staff, at least, knew that that was not true.

By the time of Lerner and Flax’s emails, the abuse had been going on since 2012. Lerner, at least, knew all about it. In these emails, Lerner was seeking to escalate it into criminal prosecutions, based on the wishes of a Democrat senator, and on her communications with the Department of Justice.

Let’s back up to March 27, 2013. Lerner emailed staff about an upcoming Senate hearing.

“As I mentioned yesterday — there are several groups of folks from the FEC world that are pushing tax fraud prosecution for c4s who report they are not conducting political activity when they are (or these folks think they are). One is my ex-boss Larry Noble (former General Counsel at the FEC), who is now president of Americans for Campaign Reform. This is their latest push to shut these down. One IRS prosecution would make an impact and they wouldn’t feel so comfortable doing the stuff,” she wrote to IRS staff. “So, don’t be fooled about how this is being articulated – it is ALL about 501(c)(4) orgs and political activity.”

On April 9, 2013, Sen. Sheldon Whitehouse used a Senate Judiciary Committee Hearing to ask DOJ witnesses why some conservative groups were not being prosecuted. He accused those groups of “lying” on their tax exempt status forms.

After that, Lerner and DOJ communicated about going forward with prosecutions. Only the impending disclosure of the scheme by the IRS inspector general put a stop to that, and got Lerner to disclose the scandal ahead of the IG. If the IG had not been about to go public, the abuse would not only have continued, it would have gone criminal.

We now have a sitting Democrat congressman, Elijah Cummings, a sitting Democrat senator, Sheldon Whitehouse, the Federal Elections Commission, the U.S. Department of Justice, and the Internal Revenue Service all implicated in the scandal. Flax’s involvement puts the abuse squarely into the IRS commissioner’s office. But it takes an entity above all of those agencies to coordinate their actions. That entity can only be the White House.

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Priceless: Dems Want Sebelius To Follow Epic Fail With Senate Run

Wednesday, April 16th, 2014 - by Stephen Kruiser

I’m sober, I swear.

Democrats are courting former Health and Human Services Secretary Kathleen Sebelius to challenge Sen. Pat Roberts (R-KS) in the 2014 election cycle, according to The New York Times.

Sebelius has increasingly been mentioned as a strong Democratic challenger against Roberts and, according to the Times, one Democrat who spoke directly with her said she is “thinking about it.”

But a Sebelius Senate run wouldn’t ensure Democrats took control of Roberts’ seat. Not only does her resume include serving as the top healthcare official in the Obama administration for overseeing the Affordable Care Act but Democrats have also not controlled a Senate seat in Kansas since 1939.

Well, now we know what the shelf life for feigned shame over a job poorly done is for them. She’s been gone all of…wait, is she even really gone yet?

Just a few days after the left media tried to-wink, wink, nudge, nudge-pretend that she was the fall gal for the nightmarish Obamacare rollout, they are now touting her troubled tenure as a résumé builder.

The Eternal Sunshine of the Spotless Mind party never really punishes anyone from the ranks for not performing well. Just look at what Anthony Weiner had to do to finally get shunned.

Once you’ve turned a guy who drowned an intern into a lion of your party there isn’t much in the way of embarrassment to go around anyway.

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