Tantaros to Rubio: Do You Realize that You’re Destroying Your Political Future by Supporting the Immigration Bill?
Talk show host Andrea Tantaros had a very pointed and uncomfortable question for Sen. Marco Rubio today. She interviewed the Florida Republican about his support for the Gang of Eight’s “comprehensive” immigration reform bill, which puts legalization for millions of illegal aliens ahead of the border security that a majority of American voters want.
“People are saying, Senator, that [the immigration bill] is just like ObamaCare, just like McCain-Feingold. It will be an albatross around your neck and Democrats are pleading with Obama to stay on the sidelines,” Tantaros said. “What would you say to conservatives? What if I said, ‘Senator Rubio, we need you. You are our best hope. You are an unscathed Republican senator. We have to win back the White House. Isn’t the future of the Republican Party, isn’t the success of Marco Rubio, more important than immigration reform?’ Would you walk away?”
Rubio deflected, saying “It’s not the success of Marco Rubio, it’s the success of the United States of America,” adding that he didn’t come to Washington to “aggrandize myself.”
“Senator, we need you,” Tantaros fired back. ” Senator you know how I admire you, I am behind you, my father was an immigrant. But I’m telling you what conservatives are saying. I worry about your future, Senator, because, really, you are the future of the Republican Party. And I have to say, this party needs an undamaged Marco Rubio. What do you say to that concern?”
Rubio answered that he’s “trying to fix something that’s very bad for America.” He then resorted to a straw man argument, that “if nothing happens, we are left with de facto amnesty. We are left with 11 million people that are never going to be deported, aren’t paying taxes, are living among us now, we’re left with no border security, no e-Verify, no entry-exit tracking system, and a broken legal immigration system that doesn’t help us and in fact is hurting us. So standing by and saying let’s not do anything is simply not an option.”
Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid is threatening to hold a vote-a-thon this weekend to push the “comprehensive immigration reform bill” through by July 4. Today, the Senate rejected an amendment by Sen. Chuck Grassley (R-IA) that would have put the security of the border ahead of any legalization of illegal aliens. Democrats were joined by Republican members of the so-called Gang of Eight in scuttling the measure.
As the bill stands now, legalization would be granted in return for a hollow promise of security later. Democrat leader Sen. Chuck Schumer ranted that there is no good reason to hold up legalization for security.
“It says that the 11 million people living in the shadows cannot even get the provisional status to work and travel until the secretary of Homeland Security says the border is completely secure and we know that will take years,” Schumer said. “The problem is very simple, what do we do for five or six years until the border is fully secure?”
The majority of American citizens want security before legalization. How about our elected leaders listen to them instead of catering to people who have broken the law?
The Democrats’ interest in keeping the border unsecured while legalizing millions of illegals and putting them on a path to citizenship is obvious. They want the votes. Republicans’ interest is less obvious but no less real: Business interests that donate heavily to the party want the cheap labor.
Democrats are in an internal spat over the effort to take sexual assault prosecutions and appeals out of the chain of military command.
Senate Armed Services Committee Chairman Carl Levin (D-Mich.), along with Sens. Jim Inhofe (R-Okla.), Claire McCaskill (D-Mo.), John McCain (R-Ariz.), Jack Reed (D-R.I.), Lindsey Graham (R-S.C.), Tim Kaine (D-Va.), Kelly Ayotte (R-N.H.), and Angus King (I-Maine), offered an amendment to the defense reauthorization bill to strike Sen. Kirsten Gillibrand’s (D-N.Y.) and keep sexual assaults under the purview of military justice.
It passed in committee 17-9.
The Levin amendment requires an independent review by the next higher level of the chain of command in those cases when a commander decides not to prosecute a sexual assault allegation.
“I do not support removing the authority of commanders to prosecute sexual assault cases and putting that decision in the hands of military lawyers outside of the chain of command, as the Personnel Subcommittee provision would do. I believe that doing so would weaken our response to sexual assault and actually make it less likely that sexual assaults would be prosecuted,” Levin said. “The provision in question would also unwisely remove the power of the commander to prosecute other kinds of serious crime, including allegations ranging from homicide to barracks larceny.”
“Removing prosecution decisions from the chain of command would likely weaken our response to sexual assault by taking the responsibility for prosecution away from military commanders – who are actually more likely to prosecute – and instead transferring the responsibility to military lawyers – who are less likely to do so,” the chairman added. “…Removing disciplinary authority to prosecute an offense from commanders would also take away an important tool that they need to change a culture that surely needs change.”
Sen. Barbara Boxer (D-Calif.), speaking on MSNBC, called it “a bad day for the opportunity that we have to finally get things right here.”
“You know what Carl Levin and his friends did, it’s very disappointing. He’s my friend but I have to tell you, what they did today is embrace the status quo instead of embracing the victims and using this as an opportunity to bring needed change. They kept the commanders in charge. The commander not only decides whether there will be a prosecution, the commander also decides when and where the court martial will be if it goes forward. And they even pick the jury,” Boxer said.
“This is a nightmare, and it has to change, and I predict we’re going to have a real donnybrook on the Senate floor, because we’re not going to let this go by easily, gently into the night.”
Boxer said she, Gillibrand, and Sen. Susan Collins (R-Maine) will revive the language on the full Senate floor outside of committee.
“My fear is that passing the Chairman’s amendment will look to victims as though we are simply tinkering with the process. The system will essentially remain a black box for them,” Sen. Richard Blumenthal (D-Conn.) said.
Gillibrand said she was “deeply disappointed the voices of the victims of sexual assault have been drowned out by the military leaders who have failed to combat this crisis.”
“While, in my view, we did not take all the steps required to solve the problem, there is no doubt we have taken several significant steps forward with the current version of the bill. I will continue to fight to strengthen this bill by offering the Military Justice Improvement Act as an amendment when the Defense bill is on the full Senate floor for a vote,” she said. “Our advocacy on this issue to remove the sole decision making of the chain of command in serious crimes has only just begun.”
Gillibrand’s proposal is opposed by the Joint Chiefs of Staff and Defense Secretary Chuck Hagel.
“I don’t think you can fix the problem or have accountability within the structure of the military without the command involved in that,” Hagel told the Senate Budget Committee.
Levin said that his language, though, expresses “the sense of Congress that commanding officers are responsible for establishing a command climate in which a victim can report criminal activity, including sexual assault, without fear of retaliation, and should be relieved of command if they fail to do so.”
“This is not an issue on which there is division between those who advocate strong action to address sexual assault in the military and those who don’t,” he said. “…The message we must send to our military is that it has no more important mission today than purging the plague of sexual assault from the ranks, and that we are calling on them and counting on them to win this battle. If we give them the tools they need, they can and will win it.”
A senior Democrat wants to extend Title IX reporting requirements on female athletic opportunities to elementary and high schools as well as colleges.
Sen. Patty Murray (D-Wash.) introduced an amendment that passed in the Senate Health, Education, Labor, and Pensions (HELP) Committee’s markup of the Elementary and Secondary Education Act (ESEA) “as part of a major U.S. Senate education overhaul,” according to Murray’s office.
“Forty years ago, Congress passed Title IX and paved the way for women to get involved in athletics at the college level, but we still don’t do enough to ensure that girls of all ages have equal opportunities to get involved in sports,” said Murray. “We know that girls who play sports live healthier lives and succeed in the classroom and their careers, and there’s no reason they shouldn’t have the chance to get involved with sports at an early age.”
Colleges and universities are required to report information on opportunities for women to participate in athletic programs. There aren’t any federal requirements for grades kindergarten through high school to do the same.
“Despite the growth of female athletic participation since Title IX was enacted forty years ago, schools are providing 1.3 million fewer chances for girls to play sports in high school as compared to boys. Federal law requires colleges to make gender equity in sports information publicly available each year, but elementary and secondary schools are not required to report this data, making it hard to ensure fairness at the elementary and secondary school levels,” Murray’s office said in a fact sheet on the legislation.
“At the same time, we know that access to sports can have a significant positive impact on girls. Research shows girls who had opportunities to play sports have a lower risk of obesity later in life, lower rates of pregnancy, lower incidence of depression, and more positive body image compared to non-athletes. Additionally, young women who play sports are more likely to graduate from high school, have higher grades, and score higher on standardized tests than non-athletes.”
Today, Live Action released another investigative video centering on Dr. Carmen Landau of New Mexico. This is part of the organization’s prolonged investigation into the late-term abortion industry. For the past two months, the organization has exposed the lurid details that pervade this underreported sector of American medicine. In fact, it’s shown the nation that late-term abortionists are murdering babies that are viable outside the womb, which is a violation of federal law.
In the case of Dr. Landau, she likens killing a child to a “flu shot.”
According to Live Action’s press release:
the video features newly released recordings from Dr. Carmen Landau, of Southwest Women’s Options in Albuquerque, New Mexico, and a counselor employed at the same facility.
When asked by the Live Action investigator, “Is it a baby?,” the counselor answers:
Well what – how – what do you consider a baby? It’s definitely a fetus. … Um, it depends what the term “baby” means to you, and how you perceive it.
When asked if the possibility of the pre-born baby feeling pain bothers her, the New Mexico counselor replies:
I feel that it’s, um, necessary for the procedure to happen and, ultimately, um, safest, and kind of the most, kinda, humane way to do it, you know?
Abortion doctor Carmen Landau tells the investigator that the injection that will kill her baby is “like any shot, you know, like a flu shot, or a vaccine, really.” Contrary to a large body of evidence, she alleges that babies in the womb do not feel pain or anguish from a poisonous injection, claiming that “it’s not like you and I [sic] where when we get a flu shot, we’re kind of, ‘Ugh!’ – not – that – that – that experience of anxiety and suffering is not – it [the baby]‘s not capable of.”
Lila Rose, President of Live Action, says she hopes to educate the nation on the true nature of abortion.
“These babies,” said Rose, “whom Carmen Landau calls ‘not a thinking being,’ are unique and precious human persons. They feel, they dream, they grow…and when an abortionist tries to kill them with a needle or with forceps, they react. They fight for their lives, just as any of us would.
“Our investigation has exposed the disturbing willingness of abortionists to engage in illegal and inhuman acts,” Rose said, “including misleading pregnant women, pushing them into abortion, and even infanticide. This is horrible, but Americans should know just as well the horrifying practices that are still legal, that we allow to happen every day.”
The first half of Live Action’s latest video details abortionists’ estimation of the humanity of the unborn child. Abortionist Laura Mercer assures the investigator that her 24-week baby “doesn’t even look like a baby yet.” Live Action provides several images of premature babies born as early as 23 weeks.
LeRoy Carhart, the subject of Live Action’s previous Inhuman video, is quoted as follows:
Well, in my heart and my mind, you know, life begins when the mother thinks it begins, not when anybody else thinks it begins. For some women, it’s before they conceive; for some women, it’s never. Even after they deliver, it’s still a problem, not a baby.
Here’s another “problem.” Would you trust a doctor who received medical training in Cuba? That’s where Landau got her credentials. A New York Times article from 2007 reported:
U.S. authorities have suggested, however, that it is unclear whether Americans who receive Cuban medical training can meet licensing requirements in the United States. The graduates will have to pass two exams to apply for residency at American hospitals, then eventually pass a third.
However, the piece also noted that some graduates of the Latin American School of Medicine (ELAM) have received residencies in American hospitals, but questions still remain. Cat Wise, of PBS Newshour, wrote in 2010 that “because many medical supplies, like advanced diagnostic equipment, are in short supply, students learn medicine the old-fashioned way: listening closely to a stethoscope, relying on their hands to feel for abnormalities.”
Public opinion may finally be moving sharply against President Barack Obama, according to a new Fox News poll. According to the poll, 66% of Americans believe that the IRS “targeted conservative groups as part of a high-level operation to punish political opponents.” At the same time, just 23 percent believe the IRS and administration version of events, which is that the abuse was all driven by low-level employees who had gone “rogue.”
Even Democrats tend to believe that the IRS abuse was deliberate and political.
The new poll, released Wednesday, finds 24 percent think the administration had “absolutely nothing” to do with what the IRS did. The same number felt that way last month.
In May the IRS acknowledged it had targeted Tea Party and other conservative groups for special attention when the groups sought tax-exempt status.
Just 11 percent of those who identify with the Tea Party movement believe the White House had nothing to do with it.
More than three-quarters of voters (78 percent) want Congress to continue to investigate the IRS. That’s a bit higher than the number that thinks Congress should continue to investigate the Justice Department seizing journalists’ records (76 percent) and the Obama administration handling of the attacks in Benghazi (73 percent).
The “rogue employee” defense never made any sense. Unionized workers are not known for taking on work that has not come to them from higher authorities both within in their union as well as within their agencies. The additional questioning and paperwork that the IRS workers engaged in while targeting groups opposed to the Obama agenda constituted a great deal of additional workload. The union had to buy into that before it could ever have been launched. Someone had to draft and approve of the additional questioning. The questioning had to be worked into the IRS’ case system. “Rogue” employees lack the power do accomplish all this. Maybe coincidentally, maybe not, President Obama met with Colleen Kelly, head of the IRS workers union, one day before the targeting began. They met in the White House on March 31, 2010, and the targeting began on April 1. Neither the White House nor the union have ever come forward to explain what that meeting was about.
Some Democrats including Rep. Elijah Cummings (MD) have declared that there’s nothing more to see in the IRS scandal and that America should just move on. The majority of Americans, including the majority of Democrats, disagree.
Continuing the investigation into the IRS scandal has widespread support: Almost all Republicans (90 percent), as well as sizable majorities of independents (76 percent) and Democrats (69 percent) agree lawmakers should persist until they feel they know the truth.
German outrage over a U.S. Internet spying program has broken out ahead of a visit by Barack Obama, with ministers demanding the president provide a full explanation when he lands in Berlin next week and one official likening the tactics to those of the East German Stasi.
When Germans start bringing up one of the darkest chapters in their history to tell you that you’re doing it wrong, you may want to listen.
The Stasi was among the most ruthlessly efficient secret police organizations in existence during the Cold War. Today’s Germans may not just be talking about the NSA spying here. Among the Stasi’s tactics was a method of dealing with opposition figures and groups called “decomposing.” The Stasi dealt opposition not just by disappearing them, though they did that. They would target opposition leaders for campaigns of psychological warfare and systematic intimidation.
The MfS established the decomposition as psychological repression and tracing instrument.  It used the findings of the “operational psychology” at the Law College of national security (century) targeted to undermine to the self-confidence and self-esteem of the victims. These are confused or scared, exposed to constant disappointments and socially uprooted by disruption of relations with other people. In this way, life crises should be caused which should unsettle political opponents and mental strain, so the time and energy for anti-State activities was taken the victims.
That’s auto-translated from German but you can get the gist.
Catherine Engelbrecht of election security advocacy group True the Vote may have been a victim of Obama administration “decomposing” techniques. After she founded TTV and sought tax-exempt status for it, the IRS not only dragged out the process for more than three years, she and her family business were subjected to a blizzard of visits, investigations and audits. They had never been in trouble with any federal agency before. Suddenly several of them had her and her family business on their radar. The policy she had become publicly identified with was one that the Obama government had stood strongly and publicly on the other side of — securing elections from fraud. The Obama government has sued states that have passed sensible voter ID requirement laws.
The purpose of all that activity against Engelbrecht’s family may have been to try dividing her and her husband over something that someone in the Obama administration did not like — her political activity.
As a tried and tested forms of decomposition, the directive lists 1/76, inter alia:
“systematic discrediting the public reputation, reputation and prestige based on interconnected real, verifiable and defamatory, untrue, credible, not widerlegbarer and thus also flow information; systematic organization of professional and social failures to undermine the confidence of individuals; […] Production of doubts as to the personal perspective; Generating mistrust and mutual suspicion within groups [...]; local and temporal prohibit or restrict the mutual relations of the members of a group [...] for example, by [...] Allocation of locally removed the jobs”
-Directive No. of 1/76 operational development and editing operations from January 1976 
It didn’t work, as her husband has stood by her and supported her throughout their travails. But that doesn’t mean the techniques weren’t tried, and wouldn’t work on someone else. Many Tea Party group leaders report giving up after the IRS harassed and abused them.
Back to the current crop of Germans and how they’re seeing the American regime.
In a guest editorial for Spiegel Online on Tuesday, Justice Minister Sabine Leutheusser-Schnarrenberger said reports that the United States could access and track virtually all forms of Internet communication were “deeply disconcerting” and potentially dangerous.
“The more a society monitors, controls and observes its citizens, the less free it is,” she said.
“The suspicion of excessive surveillance of communication is so alarming that it cannot be ignored. For that reason, openness and clarification by the U.S. administration itself is paramount at this point. All facts must be put on the table.”
Markus Ferber, a member of Merkel’s Bavarian sister party who sits in the European Parliament, went further, accusing Washington of using “American-style Stasi methods”.
“I thought this era had ended when the DDR fell,” he said, using the German initials for the failed German Democratic Republic.
So did we.
Just back from the State Department where the US-UK diplomacy on Syria has reached Monty Python levels of double-speak.
William Hague was agitated and impotent as usual. Reflecting long-standing British impatience with the US sitting on its hands over the Syrian conflict, he lambasted Assad in the usual manner: “murder” “tyranny” “grave threat” “urgent crisis”. You get the picture.
Mr Kerry spoke with even more emptiness than Mr Hague, before letting slip this pearl: “We are determined to do everything that we can in order to help the opposition to save Syria,” he said.
Really? “Everything that we can?” Ho-ho. You can just imagine the dark banter among the rebels camps in Aleppo or Homs tonight as Assad’s forces mass in preparation for an attack. Picture the scene:
Revolutionary 1: Where are the Americans? I thought they promised to help us?
Revolutionary 2: Yes. Indeed they have. They are the world’s unrivalled super-power and they are doing “everything they can” – that’s what that nice Mr Kerry said, anyway.
Revolutionary 1: Okay. But isn’t that a helicopter gunship coming towards us? They have all those F-16s, what happened to the no-fly zone?
Revolutionary 2: Ah, yes, that’s right, but what they mean is, it’s “everything they can”, apart from a no-fly zone.
Revolutionary 1: I see. So we’re getting surface-to-air missiles to shoot down the helicopter, right? Thing is, I’ve been back to the pick-up, but I can’t seem to find them? Searched everywhere, even
under the seats. There’s Kalashnikovs and a couple of RPGs, but not sure that’s gonna cut it.
Revolutionary 2: Ah, well, no. I should have been clearer. It’s “everything” apart from the no-fly zones and the SAMs. They can’t do SAMs, apparently, worried the Nusra Front boys might point them in the wrong direction.
Revolutionary 1: Mmm. Okay. Wait…pass the binoculars…oh sh*t. Is that tanks? Well at least the American’s sent those long-range, wire-guided anti-tank missiles…they did, right?
Revolutionary 2: Er…well, not exactly. But aside from no-fly zone, the SAMs and the anti-tank missiles, they’re giving us everything they’ve got.
Revolutionary 1: What?! So what part of “everything” did they send?
[Revolutionary 2 is about to reply when a tank shell bursts nearby, spewing out a strange mustard-coloured powder. Sound of fighters chocking, frothing, clutching at their throats, screams]
Revolutionary 1: Help! I’m hit! I can’t see! My throat’s on fire…the gasmasks, get the gasmasks…
Revolutionary 2: Sorry, seems like there’s been some confusion. They said “everything” but now I’ve gone back and double-checked and – the strangest thing – there’s “nothing” there.
Banks seized more U.S. homes in May as a greater number of Americans found themselves entering the foreclosure process, suggesting lenders were drawing down the pipeline of distressed properties, a report from RealtyTrac showed on Thursday.
Banks repossessed 38,946 homes, an increase of 11 percent from the previous month. The number of homes hit with default notices for the first time grew by 4 percent.
It seems impossible to get consecutive months of any kind of positive economic news. At this point, one has to wonder if the administration isn’t secretly enjoying Scandapalooza because it keeps the citizenry distracted from the sewer-bound economy.
A top Republican messaging shop may be holding a focus group asking questions about the name of the Washington Redskins, but National Football League Commissioner Roger Goodell seems to have already developed his own justification for the name. In a letter responding to members of Congress who have urged Goodell and Redskins owner Daniel Snyder to change that name, Goodell said that it remains “a unifying force that stands for strength, courage, pride and respect,” USA Today reports.
Deadspin has a full copy of the letter, addressed to Rep. Tom Cole (R-OK) and Rep. Betty McCollum (D-MN), the co-chairs of the Congressional Native American Caucus. It is courtesy copied to eight other members of Congress who, along with Cole and McCollum, sent Goodell a letter calling for a name change in May. In the letter, Goodell cites the “overwhelming majority” of Americans who view the name positively and multiple Native American tribal leaders who have said they have no problem with it. The name is honorary and worth preserving, Goodell argues, because “the most recent detailed survey of Native Americans, conducted by the independent and highly respected Annenberg Public Policy Center, found that fewer than 10% considered the name objectionable.”
With all that is going on in this country the fact that taxpayer paid labor was wasted on this nonsense should be an impeachable offense. And the same people that didn’t find the Kermit Gosnell trial newsworthy won’t shut up about the name of a football team.
Unamused by the political overreached, Goodell fined Congress $100,000 and suspended Reps. Cole & McCollum for the 2013 season.
A new poll on the Massachusetts special election for U.S. Senate shows Democrat Ed Markey with a 12-point lead over Republican Gabriel Gomez, with 49 percent supporting Markey and 37 percent supporting Gomez.
The poll, conducted by Harper Polling, a Republican-affiliated firm, on behalf of Conservative Intelligence Briefing, surveyed 498 registered voters in Massachusetts and found that while an overwhelming number of Democrats and Republicans support their party’s candidate, independent voters are split at 41 percent on Markey and Gomez.
It’s all about those fickle independent voters, such as they exist in Massachusetts. Gomez needs to pick up some ground with them in a HURRY. This doesn’t really have a Scott Brown Part One feel to it though.
In the second debate between Republican Gabriel Gomez and Democratic Rep. Ed Markey, two things were clear. One, Gomez isn’t “too conservative.” Second, Markey is clueless to think that he is some “Mitch McConnell clone.” Yet, we’re talking about Ed Markey here. On the budget, Markey had these words of wisdom last night: ”it’s really not math. It’s just arithmetic.” Then again, Gomez is no Ted Cruz.
As Rand Paul said after the 2012 election, Republicans need to be competitive everywhere. If you don’t like Gomez, that’s fine. It’s unlikely he’ll be given a chairmanship of a committee if Republicans retake the senate next year. Gomez isn’t a conservative. He’s another Scott Brown, which is the only type of Republican that can survive in Massachusetts. As much as I would like Gomez to be Ted Cruz, he’s not. And if he was – we would be giving the seat on a platter to the Democrats.
During the debate, Joshua Miller and Martin Finucane of the Globe noted that Gomez:
…appeared to be appealing to those [independent] voters tonight by supporting the Paycheck Fairness Act, which calls for equal pay for women; by calling himself a “green Republican” and saying that “there are people in my party who deny science;” and by saying that he was “ashamed” that only a handful of Republicans voted for the Toomey-Manchin bill, which would have expanded background checks for gun buyers. Gomez also said he supported an increase in the federal minimum wage to $10 and expressed support for gay marriage.
Gomez was at times combative, starting off the debate with charges that Markey had raised a “fundamental question of character and trust” by attacking him in misleading campaign ads.
But Markey remained unruffled and pivoted quickly. Markey said he believed assault weapons and high-capacity weapons should be banned, while Gomez only favors expanded background checks.
“He takes the side of the NRA,” said Markey, noting that he wanted to fight to make “NRA” stand for Not Relevant Anymore.
Again, Markey is delusional if he thinks the NRA will disappear after their epic shutdown of gun control groups – post-Newtown – last Spring. Nonetheless, Gomez’s positions will drive conservatives crazy. We’re not for a national right to gay marriage, although I can stomach state-by-state initiatives on this issue, and conservative loathe gun control. As for the Paycheck Fairness Act, conservatives are for equal pay for equal work, but women – in recent years– have worked hard to virtually close the gap. It’s near the point of erasure, so what’s the need for more laws from Washington?
However, Bay State folks love this rhetoric. Gomez needs independents to win, and this is one way to capture them. He may lose on June 25, but at least he put up a fight for Kerry’s seat. No, I’m not a soldier for the establishment. I’m a die-hard Tea Party conservative, but there comes a time when you may have to back the Republican, not the conservative, in order to combat the bigger threat: Barack Obama. Gomez winning on June 25 will move the GOP one seat closer to having all the gavels in their hands. They will be able to give the Obama agenda (2009-2015) a proper funeral.
Nonetheless, this sort of action should be given a proper name, like the Northeastern Protocol, and it shouldn’t be executed often. Conservatives already have a hard enough time keeping squishes, like John McCain, accountable. We don’t need anymore moderates making that task more difficult.
Scott Walker defeated the recall attempt to remove him from office in 2012. He earned more votes than he did in the 2010 gubernatorial race, which whisked him into the governor’s mansion. He remains the only governor to survive a recall election. He stood up against the public sector unions and won. Now, with 2014 on the horizon, he seems to have beaten his Democratic foes into submission. He’s currently unopposed for a second term. WSAU reported on June 10 that:
Wisconsin Democrats repeatedly made the argument at their state convention over the weekend that Governor Scott Walker needs to be defeated in 2014. However, there continue to be few hints about exactly who will take on that challenge in the coming months.
Speaking to delegates, Democratic Party of Wisconsin Chairman Mike Tate said it does no good to give Governor Walker a “target to shoot at one day sooner than we have to.” Tate said Walker has a political history of not promoting his ideas on the campaign trail, but by “making himself the least worst option on the ballot.”
Still, Tate reassured the crowd gathered in Oconomowoc that there are several talented and qualified people considering running. Those possible contenders could include Assembly Democratic Leader Peter Barca (D-Kenosha), a vocal critic of Walker, and Professional Fire Fighters of Wisconsin President Mahlon Mitchell, who made an unsuccessful run last year in the recall against Lt. Governor Rebecca Kleefisch. Both say that they are open to a run for governor, but those decisions are still far off in the future.
The list of possible candidates did shrink a little over the weekend. Congressman Ron Kind (D-WI) said he will not take on Walker in 2014. Former U.S. Senator Russ Feingold (D-WI) teased that he had no plans to be a candidate for office in the next two years, but hinted in his convention speech that he might be interested in a rematch against Republican Senator Ron Johnson in 2016.
So, for now, Walker is cruising to re-election.
Elizabeth Hofacre worked in the Cincinnati IRS office that abused conservative groups. She doesn’t appreciate her agency superiors placing all the blame on the Cincy office:
Hofacre told House Oversight Committee investigators in an interview, the transcript of which has been reviewed by National Review Online, that her boss immediately called her to apologize on Lerner’s behalf, presumably because “she was flabbergasted that Lois had made such a statement” and “appalled that Lois Lerner said that.”
Responding to a planted question from a friend in the audience at the American Bar Association conference, Lerner revealed that the IRS had inappropriately discriminated against tea-party groups, and pointed the finger at “our line people in Cincinnati.” She also said that Cincinnati employees were responsible for the delays in the processing of tea-party applications and for asking intrusive questions of the groups “that weren’t really necessary for the type of application.”
Upon hearing this, “I was furious,” Hofacre told investigators.
Hofacre also charged that top brass in the IRS, including Lerner, misled the public by blaming the scandal on a few rogue employees. “Everybody that has been making those statements should know they are inaccurate,” Hofacre said. Asked whether “the public has been purposely misled,” Hofacre responded, “Exactly.”
Hofacre adds that the IRS uses a “really tight” case inventory system that precluded any “rogue employees” from going rogue. So, it all had to come from higher up in the IRS — Washington.
In response to my post earlier about how the Obama campaign took its database into the post-campaign, a reader writes:
Not to be picking a nit here, but most of what’s been described about OfA’s database and social media savvy isn’t all that new. As a matter of fact, some of it has been around for quite some time. Worst of all for the RNC is that many of the tools used can be had for a paltry $49 per month.
Check out Gnip.com, Hunch.com, Klout.com, optimize.ly, socialbro.com, and take a look at the developer APIs at Facebook and twitter. Hardcore data analysis is now in the hands of mere mortals thanks to Gnip. You can find out all kinds of things about people’s preferences from Hunch. Klout let’s you know which followers can best spread the message. Optimize.ly can help you optimize your website design to increase conversions (read: donations). Socialbro gives you an easy to read dashboard on how your social media campaigns are working. It also identifies power users and influencers who you might want to engage directly. You’d be shocked what the twitter and Facebook APIs give you access to, with the consent of the user, mind you.
Bottom line is that OfA wasn’t using anything that hasn’t been available for years. With the advent of NoSQL databases, Hadoop, and other tools for handling massive data sets it has become possible to provide actionable analysis in reasonable amounts of time.
The RNC really needs to get a lot more technologically savvy then they are. The tools and systems are only going to get better over the next four years.
The last thought is undoubtedly true, and I know some smart people who are making that happen.
It’s also true that there are many off-the-shelf tools available and many campaigns already use them.
That said, I’m not sure that the Obama campaign/OfA used tools that had all been around “for years.” I don’t think that we who were never inside the campaign know all of the tools that they used or who used them. They haven’t disclosed everything, never will, and would be fools if they do.
They have disclosed quite a bit, as I wrote about back in January in this post. The Obama campaign built the “Cave,” which was a massive data operation run by hires from Silicon Valley. Many of those hires had never been in politics, but are experts in their given fields. The Obama campaign exploited their tools and talents. See page 14 of this PDF of the Cave’s operations. They did use much off-the-shelf technology, such as R. They also built some of their own tech. According to page 53, they hired 40 software engineers for the 2012 campaign. Some of those hires came from Google, Facebook, Twitter and Quora.
Some of their success can be attributed to brute force. They put a lot of volunteers on phones to make a lot of calls and they A-B tested piles of emails until they figured out which messages would work most effectively for them. On page 37 of the PDF, they admit that they also used good old-fashioned fear. See page 44 to see how well fear and loathing worked for Obama.
But then, they didn’t just trust their own campaign and its marvelous machines. The 2008 Obama campaign tried to get the IRS to go after Clinton and Edwards and then conservative groups. Starting in April 2010, the IRS was busy doing deep opposition research, pestering hundreds of groups and thousands of Americans in the year or so leading up to the election. The IRS pushed its internal investigation’s findings on the abuse until after the election, misleading Congress and the American people in the process. Its tactics may or may not have been directly imported from the Obama 2008 campaign, but they certainly resembled them. Obama fixer Bob Bauer was on hand for the ’08 campaign where he tried to get groups opposed to Obama suppressed, then went to work in the Obama White House, then went right back to his 2012 campaign. The unanswered question remains, did the NSA’s data sweeping play any sort of role in all this? It’s too much at this point to assume that the people who populate the top echelons of this government have the scruples to resist turning government into a political instrument.
Up against Obama’s database Death Star, the Mitt Romney campaign was always playing catch-up and it was impossible for them to catch up. They didn’t have the IRS chasing Progress This and Obama for That on their behalf. Their own dashboard management tech, ORCA, was a spectacular failure that was never even game-day tested. They didn’t have droves of tech specialists begging to leave Google and Facebook to join their data-driven campaign.
One clue to why OfA morphed into OfA 2.0 and carried the database with it is on page 56 of the Cave PDF: “Lesson: Future campaigns may need LONGER than the 18 months Obama had to develop their technology stack.”
How much longer? Permanent will suffice, thankyouverymuch. There’s always a mid-term just a short ways away.
Edward Snowden has revealed that the United States hacks China. He must be trolling the NSA along with the media and the rest of the world, because while damaging to disclose, it is not news.
Edward Snowden, the self-confessed leaker of secret surveillance documents, claimed Wednesday that the United States has mounted massive hacking operations against hundreds of Chinese targets since 2009.
The former contractor, whose work at the National Security Agency gave him access to highly classified U.S. intelligence, made the assertions in an interview with the South China Morning Post. The newspaper said he showed it “unverified documents” describing an extensive U.S. campaign to obtain information from computers in Hong Kong and mainland China.
I’m sure the US hacks not only China, but probably Russia, Iran, North Korea and probably dozens of other governments, friendly and otherwise. And they hack us. Cyberspace has been battle space for decades now. Most Americans already suspected or know this, and are fine with it.
This is news to no one with a pulse and a functioning brain. Snowden once joined the military, he claims, to join the Special Forces, though he doesn’t appear to have completed basic training. Their tactics are rather more aggressive than hacking. Is he a naif? Does he not know that nation states engage in arguments and tactics just shy of war all the time?
The Post speculates on why he’s talking about the hacking now.
By speaking with Hong Kong’s oldest English-language newspaper, Snowden seemed to be directly addressing the city he has chosen as his safe harbor. And by disclosing that he possesses documents that he says describe U.S. hacking against China, he appeared to be trying to win support from the Chinese government.
If that’s what he’s really doing, then he’s not just a traitor or hero. Whatever else he is, he is also a geek chic fool for defying one somewhat repressive government and then running into the arms of a far more repressive government. There is no Miranda warning in China. There is no Bill of Rights. There is no right of dissent. There is only the Communist Party and its centralized power and its realpolitik interests.
I suspect that he isn’t actually trying to curry favor with the Chinese government, though. He may be signalling that he knows what they’ve been doing too, or he may be playing some other game.
Update: Lying about easily checked claims is no way to build credibility.
The deputy director of the CIA is leaving the agency and being replaced by a White House lawyer who has never worked at the agency.
“As much as I would selfishly like to keep Michael right where he is for as long as possible, he has decided to retire to spend more time with his family and to pursue other professional opportunities,” CIA Director John Brennan said in a statement announcing Michael Morell’s departure. “In many respects, Michael has come to personify the strengths and qualities of this great organization, and it is difficult for me to imagine CIA without Michael’s exceptionally sharp mind, tremendous energy, and absolute dedication to mission. But I am comforted by the fact that Michael will be able to spend more time with his wonderful family.”
Morell has been at the CIA since 1980 and worked his way up the ranks. He was passed over twice by President Obama for the top job despite running the agency for two gap periods between Obama’s three CIA directors.
Brennan said he was “extremely pleased” that Deputy Assistant to the President and Legal Adviser to the National Security Council Avril Haines will take Morell’s place.
The switch seems sudden because Obama just nominated Haines to another post in mid-April, when he named her to be the next legal adviser to the State Department. Before her White House job, Haines was the State Department’s assistant legal adviser for treaty affairs.
“She has published in the area of private international law and the law of war, has taught classes as an adjunct faculty member at Georgetown University Law School, and has represented the United States in international negotiations at the Hague Conference, the United Nations, and elsewhere,” Brennan said. She hasn’t served at the CIA.
Morell said his last day will be Aug. 9.
“Whenever someone involved in the rough and tumble of Washington decides to move on, there is speculation in various quarters about the ‘real reason.’ But when I say that it is time for my family, nothing could be more real than that,” he said in a statement.
“…From being the PDB briefer at the side of President Bush on that horrific day in September 2001 to being at President Obama’s side as the United States brought Bin Ladin to justice in May 2011—and all the ups and downs in between—few Americans have been as privileged as I have been to work at, and to represent, such an extraordinary organization.”
Can’t say I’m surprised by a bit of this. MSNBC swore off being a news channel. It has hired nothing but political operatives to run its shows. Its shows are produced by and cater to people who prefer one-sided noise, and who don’t know much about anything.
So, you get inconvenient George Wallace, Democrat, turned into a Republican. Ignorance or malice? Does it really matter?
Well, you learn something new every day, as they say. Today’s lesson? Governor George Wallace, the segregationist who served three nonconsecutive terms as Alabama’s chief executive, was a Republican.
At least, so says MSNBC. Noting the 50-year anniversary of Wallace’s infamous “Stand in the Schoolhouse Door,” in which the governor physically blocked two black students from entering the University of Alabama in Tuscaloosa, MSNBC’s All In with Chris Hayes showed a photo of Wallace — identifiying him as “(R) Alabama.”
Hayes has apologized, calling the “mistake” “historically illiterate.” Which is probably why neither he nor his producers caught it.
His network engaged in serial smearing of Mitt Romney during the presidential campaign, and never made similar “mistakes” that hurt Democrats.
MSNBC will smear Republicans again. That’s one of the few things in this cray-crazy world we can count on.
State Department Whistleblower, a Career Foreign Service Officer, Seeks Congressional Protection After State Threatens Her Kids
The State Department whistleblower is Aurelia Fedenisn. She worked in the department’s inspector general’s office until her retirement in December 2012. According to USA Today, she has sought protection as an official whistleblower after the State Department directly threatened her, once at her home. It threatened her with criminal charges when she turned over documents to Sen. Ted Cruz (R-TX) showing evidence that the department had watered down her report, in which she alleged that the department at the highest levels had scuttled eight investigations into a range of criminal wrongdoing.
Dallas lawyer Damon Mathias, who represents Fedenisn, said Fedenisn hired him after two diplomatic security agents spoke in a threatening manner to her teenage children at her home in a Virginia suburb of Washington. The agents arrived at the home to talk to Fedenisn about documents Fedenisn had given to Cruz and told the teens that they demanded to speak to their mom immediately, Mathias said.
Mathias says Fedenisn’s claim is that agents from State’s Diplomatic Security and other divisions engaged in very questionable and possibly criminal conduct; the Inspector General has been hampered in performing its oversight role; “and the findings they wanted to put in the report end up being left out,” Mathias said. “So you have a coverup of the coverup.”
When Fedenisn and her lawyers met with lawyers for the Office of the Inspector General, the government lawyers demanded she hand over the documents or they would refer the matter to the Department of Justice and Fedenisn would face criminal prosecution, Mathias said.
“They made it clear that they would go after her criminally,” he said.
“We refused to turn over the documents” and Fedenisn is now seeking whistle-blower protection, he said.
If this online bio is accurate, Aurelia Fedensin is a 23-year State Department officer who also served in the US military reserves as an intelligence officer. That’s not the typical profile of a crank or someone who just makes things up. The allegations Fedenisn’s IG investigation uncovered include the accusation that Obama bundler turned US ambassador to Belgium Howard Gutman sought the services of prostitutes routinely, including underage girls. Gutman denies, and State denies any cover-up, neither of which are dispositive of the charges. State’s new spokeswoman, Jen Psaki, worked on the Obama campaign and has a history of saying things that are provably false. She comes to the job with no prior experience in the foreign service at all.
Fedensin’s investigations also include accusations that then Secretary of State Hillary Clinton’s security detail used prostitutes when they traveled with Clinton on her million mile march around the world. They also include allegations that State Department officials engaged in an underground drug ring in Baghdad, Iraq. The overarching accusation within all of this is that the State Department at the highest levels scuttled all eight investigations. Specifically, that career officer Patrick Kennedy and Clinton loyalist Cheryl Mills engineered the death of those investigations.
The State Department took Fedensin’s whistleblowing extremely seriously. CBS, which originally broke the story without naming Fedensin, reports that ”Two hours after CBS News made inquiries to the State Department about these charges, investigators from the State Department’s Inspector General showed up at [Fedenisn's] door.” That’s apparently when they threatened her kids.
With all of this swirling around, there’s a decent argument to be made that the State Department’s two scandals — this one plus Benghazi, which has a body count and includes the then Secretary of State blaming a terrorist attack on a movie — make it the top overall scandal going. It has four dead Americans and now at least three threatened Americans, and an inspector general who is now seeking what amounts to asylum in the care of Congress against the executive branch that allegedly threatened her.
It’s hard to say where all of this goes. The US State Department, Justice Department, Treasury Department, National Security Agency and military are all caught up in serious scandals, any of which would dominate headlines if not for the presence and interference from all the other scandals. It looks like our government is in the beginning stages of a collapse.
Kathleen Sebelius could not be reached for comment:
A 10-year-old girl whose efforts to qualify for an organ donation drew public debate over how organs are allocated was getting a double-lung transplant Wednesday after a match with an adult donor was made.
Sarah Murnaghan, who suffers from severe cystic fibrosis, was receiving her new lungs Wednesday at Children’s Hospital of Philadelphia, family spokeswoman Maureen Garrity said. Murnaghan’s relatives were ‘‘beyond excited’’ about the development but were ‘‘keeping in mind that someone had to lose a family member and they’re very aware of that and very appreciative,’’ Garrity said.
No other details about the donor are known, including whether they came through the regular donor system or through public appeals.
If you don’t like the way organ transplants are decided but haven’t signed your donor card, may I suggest you do so as a temporary patch on the problem?
Alas, a left-leaning publication has admitted that the gender pay gap – long championed by the feminist left – is a lie. As Derek Thompson wrote in the Atlantic on May 30, when you compare men and women with similar education backgrounds, responsibilities, employers, and companies with likeminded staff, that gap virtually evaporates. In fact, in major urban areas, women out-earn their male peers by at least 10%.
Nevertheless, Thompson did note that wage inequality does exist concerning the top jobs in the United States. Nine of the ten highest-earning jobs in the country are dominated by men, and the data is further skewed considering that women are more likely to enter social work than engineering. Yet, that’s where Thompson exposes the fundamental truth in this debate, which is often ignored by the political left to keep the Sisterhood of the Traveling Pants together: it’s about choices, not the same job.
But even if the gender gap disappears after controlling for experience and job selection, it’s hard to imagine that men thoroughly dominating the highest-paying positions is a good outcome. For example, the expectation that women more than men bear the responsibility to raise children gently nudges thousands of highly educated women out of full-time work.
There is a wage difference. But it might not be the wage difference that you thought. The real gap isn’t between men and women doing the same job. The real gap is between men and women doing different jobs and following different careers.
That gap should continue to tighten. Women have earned the majority of bachelor’s degrees for the last few years. They’re well-positioned to benefit from a growing professional service economy, and working moms are already the primary breadwinners in 40 percent of households with kids, an all-time high. But if women are more likely to go into health care than manufacturing, more likely to work in human resources than software, and more likely to leave their careers early to start a family, the gaps will persist.
Ideally, some day soon, it won’t take a statistical “control” to show that men and women are fundamental equal partners — and equal competitors — in the work force. It will just be the obvious truth.
So, there’s no need for a Paycheck Fairness Act. There’s no need for government intervention at all. Women will continue to strive in this economy, especially as they continue to earn more higher education degrees than men. As with any societal shift, it’s going to take some time. In all, it seems that the erasure of the gender pay gap won’t be due to feminism, but women acting in their own right to shape their futures. So far, they’re succeeding, and that’s not a bad thing.
While Bryan Preston reported on the State Department’s dabbling in prostitutes, cocaine, and sexual assault on June 10, two more developments arose at the Department of Energy and Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services. One involved a senior official using his position to obtain jobs for his children, while the other concerned government employees having foreknowledge of a Medicare decision worth billions of dollars to private health care providers, which saw their stock shares rise as a result. It’s good ole’ fashioned nepotism and insider trading.
Concerning the DOE, Lachlan Markay of the Washington Free Beacon wrote on June 10 that:
A senior Energy Department official used his position to attempt to secure internships at the department for his three children, a report released Monday by federal watchdogs has found. The official denied any wrongdoing. Officials in DOE’s Human Capital office told investigators that the practice of advocating the hiring of family members is common among Energy Department employees.
However, other officials called the practice “problematic.” The apparent nepotism was revealed in a report from the DOE inspector general. The report substantiated whistleblower allegations of nepotism, though it did not substantiate more serious charges that the DOE official enrolled his children in expensive training programs.
Federal law prohibits employees of a federal agency from hiring, promoting, or advocating on behalf of a relative within the same agency. An internal DOE memo on the statute advises that it applies to internships as well as full-time agency positions.
Shifting to Medicare, the Washington Post reported last Monday of the insider trading relating to the health care market.
Hundreds of federal employees were given advance word of a Medicare decision worth billions of dollars to private insurers in the weeks before the official announcement, a period when trading in the shares of those firms spiked.
The surge of trading in Humana’s and other private health insurers’ stock before the April 1 announcement already has prompted the Justice Department and the Securities and Exchange Commission to investigate whether Wall Street investors had advance access to inside information about the then-confidential Medicare funding plan.
Sen. Charles E. Grassley (R-Iowa) told The Washington Post late last week that his office reviewed the e-mail records of employees at the Department of Health and Human Services and found that 436 of them had early access to the Medicare decision as much as two weeks before it was made public.
The Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services (CMS) made the April 1 decision to increase funding to the private-sector Medicare Advantage program by $8 billion. Officials there did not dispute Grassley’s tally of how many employees had advance word but said the complexity of Medicare policy requires wide and careful review.
“CMS takes the security and integrity of sensitive information very seriously,” Brian Cook, a spokesman for the centers, said in a statement. “Our agency regularly handles sensitive information regarding payment rates, coverage decisions, and other technical policy decisions that need to be safeguarded until public release.”
The agency officials said they take care to safeguard information and carefully vet which employees have access to it. Employees are educated regularly about the need for confidentiality, and CMS documents are often stamped with warnings about early disclosure.
While many federal agencies take steps to prevent early disclosure of potentially market-moving information, there are wide variations among departments, said Kathleen Clark, a professor at Washington University School of Law.
“The Labor Department literally puts in place physical constraints on the information rather than just stamping ‘confidential’ on it,” Clark said. “They know to be concerned about the fact that advance access could advantage some people over others.”
The roughly two dozen Labor Department economists who calculate the monthly unemployment and jobs figures are typically locked down for a one-week stretch as they prepare information for public release, with limited access to their other colleagues.
These acts of misconduct are piling up. It’s the reason why big government isn’t a good government. If there’s one takeaway from everything that’s happened over the past two months, it’s that our $4 trillion bureaucracy is too vast for efficient accountability, let alone competent execution of its responsibilities.
Why are groups like LULAC and the NAACP so concerned with congressional districting in a red state like Texas, but not at all concerned with the lines in blue states? That’s what the Texas-based Conservative Hispanic Society’s executive director Chris Salcedo wants to know. Salcedo, who has frequently written for PJM, recently testified on Texas redistricting. He witnessed the allegedly non-partisan LULAC and NAACP clearly going to bat to carve out racially biased, presumably Democrat-lock seats. Salcedo recounts his experience in a statement to the CHS.
I attended and testified at the Texas redistricting hearing in Dallas. For our members out of state, some extreme left-wing groups are not happy with the lines that were drawn in 2012 in response to the latest census. They alleged “racism” in the drawing of the districts, saying they want Hispanic districts and Black districts instead. A couple of these extreme left-wing groups are LULAC and NAACP. I derive no pleasure from reporting this. These groups come from noble beginnings, but have evolved into overtly political operations that only cater to those who share BOTH their ideology and race. I’m sure many of their members were present at this meeting. Many of the liberal politicians sucked up the public’s speaking time by bloviating their own positions. Once the public was allowed to speak, I watched conservatives both African American and Hispanic testify in favor of the 2012 lines. In turn, I saw the liberal members of the committee doing their best to discredit, malign and confuse those testifying. This happened when I spoke as well. I was astonished as the GOP members of the panel just sat there, like bumps on a log. That’s when it hit me. They were afraid of being seen as racists for opposing the extreme left-wing agenda of LULAC and the NAACP. I’M DONE! I’ll not allow these groups, that work to undermine our Constitution, go unchallenged anymore. They’ll not get a free pass from me. Even though these groups claim to represent ALL Hispanics and ALL blacks, I know LULAC won’t defend Ted Cruz, Bill Flores, Marco Rubio or me because we’re conservative Hispanics. I know the NAACP won’t defend Justice Thomas, Thomas Sowell, Herman Cain or Dr. Benjamin Carson, because they don’t share the NAACP’s liberal agenda. I’LL NOT ALLOW THESE EXTREME LIBERAL GROUPS TO HIDE THEIR IDEOLOGY BEHIND THEIR RACE ANY LONGER! I know, and you know, there’s nothing left-wing about being black. And there’s certainly nothing LIBERAL about being LATINO. The days of kowtowing to these groups, are over.
To its credit, LULAC did once sue the Texas Democratic Party over its biased method of handling its primary-caucus nominating regime. That system handed Barack Obama more delegates despite Hillary Clinton getting more actual votes in 2008. But more recently, LULAC sued Harris County (Houston area) for attempting to clean up its voter rolls. That lawsuit is pretty much a Texas Democratic Party operation, at least in spirit. They sued Harris County Tax Assessor-Collector Don Sumners in 2012:
“The actual allegations in the lawsuit, for the most part, cover the same accusations of the Texas Democratic Party suit of 2008,” Sumners said in a statement. “After months of discovery and the taking of multiple depositions, the lawsuit was resolved when the Democratic Party was unable to produce a single person who had been illegally denied the right to register and vote.”
Texas Republican Rep. Joe Barton emerged from a closed-door National Security Agency briefing this morning still skeptical about the broad use of surveillance techniques described to lawmakers.
“The limited collection and use of data are authorized by the Patriot Act and Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Act and I supported both of those laws because they establish constraints. However, the National Security Agency violated the spirit of the law when it started collecting data from everyone in the country just because technology now makes that possible,” Barton said.
Barton said that during the briefing, which was called in reaction to the leak scandal, “representatives from the NSA went to great lengths to explain that they are only going after terrorists and they are very conscientious in exercising their authority – and I believe them.”
“They have foiled terror plots by tracking their communications,” the congressman added.
“However, in America, you are considered innocent until proven guilty. You don’t target everyone and violate their 4th Amendment rights just because of a handful of threats,” Barton continued. “But that is exactly what is happening at the NSA, at the IRS, at the Justice Department and we are just supposed to accept it. Well, it is wrong and it needs to stop now.”
“To fix this, Congress needs to focus on properly balancing national security and the protection of people’s Constitutional rights.”
Gun control advocates should go tell Jan Cooper of Anaheim, CA why she shouldn’t have a handgun. If they’re brave enough to.
Jan Cooper, of Anaheim, fired one shot from her .357-magnum Smith & Wesson revolver around 12:30 a.m. Sunday as a man attempted to break into her home. During a 911 call of the incident, Cooper can be heard begging with the dispatcher to send deputies and warns that she has a gun at the ready as her Rottweiler barks furiously in the background.
Minutes later, a breathless Cooper says the man has come to the back porch and is trying to get in the house through a sliding door. Through the vertical blinds, Cooper saw his silhouette just inches away through the glass as he began to slide open the door.
“I’m firing!” Cooper shouts to the dispatcher as a loud band goes off.
Cooper then curses at the suspect, shouting at him to “back up.”
She fired, narrowly missed, and the perp was picked up later. Firing the shot caused him to apologize, and stop trying to invade her home. If she hadn’t had the gun and known how to operate it, who knows what might have happened to her and her wheelchair-bound WW2 veteran husband?
Turns out that the perp is a repeat offender. Brandon Alexander Perez, 31, was on parole and staying at a halfway house on other burglary and narcotics charges when he made the mistake of taking on Jan Cooper. It’s evidently too much to ask to keep actual criminals in actual jails anymore.
NSA leaker/whistleblower/hero/traitor/dropout/overachiever Edward Snowden has resurfaced, briefly. He gave an interview to the South China Post’s Lana Lam, and in the interview he defends his reason for using Hong Kong as his base after leaving the United States.
“People who think I made a mistake in picking Hong Kong as a location misunderstand my intentions. I am not here to hide from justice; I am here to reveal criminality,” Snowden said in an exclusive interview with the South China Morning Post.
“I have had many opportunities to flee HK, but I would rather stay and fight the United States government in the courts, because I have faith in Hong Kong’s rule of law,” he added.
Snowden cited Hong Kong’s court system and its “long tradition of protesting in the streets,” a tradition that has been strained since the city-state’s reversion to mainland communist China’s control in 1997.
But that tradition hasn’t been broken entirely. Hong Kong has retained its capitalist spirit and remains a global and regional media hub. Groups have already risen up to defend Snowden and protest in Hong Kong on his behalf.
If Snowden intended to call out both governments for their online tactics and data mining, then Hong Kong may have been an ideal place to run to. He could also have chosen Taiwan, but it’s less a regional media hub and its hostility to Beijing make basing himself there much less of a statement against the mainland than Hong Kong, which is under loose but real Chinese control.
Any protest in Hong Kong on his behalf targets not just the US government, but the mainland Chinese government as well. They would be protesting against both governments’ interests in taking Snowden into custody. They would be protesting against both governments’ violations of free speech and Internet surveillance. Chinese citizens outside Hong Kong may see the pro-Snowden protests and wonder both why they can’t protest about things they care about, and why their own government is so appallingly heavy-handed on Internet surveillance and censorship.
Rep. Peter King (R-N.Y.) is continuing his advocacy for punishment of the reporters involved in publishing the stories about NSA surveillance programs.
King told CNN yesterday that Edward Snowden, the contractor with Booz Allen Hamilton who leaked the information to the Guardian and Washington Post, is “a defector or traitor — I guess take your pick.”
“What he’s done is incredible damage to our country. He’s going to put American lives at risk. I don’t know how he can live with himself. A traitor is as good as a term as any. I think he’s violated the Espionage Act. In my mind, yes, that would make him a traitor, yes,” he said.
The former Homeland Security Committee chairman said the “general” harm from the leaks “is that al-Qaeda and its allies now know …what we’re doing and how we’re doing it.”
“They were not aware of all the details that are out there, and they monitor everything we do on a day to day basis. They were not aware — or could not have been aware of the number of details that have come out, and that to me is certainly putting American lives at risk by giving the enemy such detail about what we are doing that enables them to adjust their tactics and strategies, and that is very damaging to America,” he said.
Snowden’s whereabouts are unknown since he checked out of a Hong Kong hotel this week.
King said if the reporters involved “willing knew that this was classified information” they should be subjected to punishment.
“I know the issue of leaks, I think something on this magnitude, there is an obligation both legal, I believe, against a reporter disclosing something, which would so severely compromise national security. As a practical matter, I guess there have been in the past several years, a number of reporters who have been prosecuted. So the answer is yes,” he said.
King said Director of National Intelligence James Clapper, who told the Senate Intelligence Committee in March that the NSA does “not wittingly” collect data on millions of Americans, should say “we’re not collecting information on individuals. We’re collecting information on phone numbers. I realize that’s a technicality.”
“This has already been discussed in the classified setting,” he said. “When you’re asked something in public about something so classified and so sensitive, it really put the director in an unwinnable position.”
Fresh off the Internal Revenue Service’s confession that it targeted conservative groups seeking tax-exempt status, Congress is now looking into a March 2011 IRS search and seizure of as many as 60 million medical records from a California health care provider.
House Energy and Commerce Committee leaders sent a letter to IRS Acting Administrator Daniel Werfel expressing concern that Americans’ health records will be protected as the IRS moves into its ObamaCare role.
Chair emeritus Joe Barton (R-Texas), Oversight and Investigations Subcommittee Chairman Tim Murphy (R-Pa.), Vice Chairman of the Oversight and Investigations and Health Subcommittees Michael Burgess (R-Texas), and full committee Vice Chairman Marsha Blackburn (R-Tenn.) wrote asked Werfel to outline the IRS’ policies and procedures for requesting and examining protected healthcare information, and keeping it private.
“The Committee on Energy and Commerce is investigating allegations that the Internal Revenue Service (IRS), in the course of executing a search warrant at a California health care provider’s corporate headquarters in March 2011, improperly seized the personal medical records of millions of American citizens in possible violation of the Fourth Amendment to the United States Constitution,” they wrote.
The unnamed health care provider is now suing the IRS and 15 unnamed agents in California Superior Court alleging that the agents stole more than 60 million medical records from more than 10 million American patients during a search conducted March 11, 2011, the lawmakers noted.
“The warrant authorizing that search was apparently limited to the financial records of a former employee of the company and in no way authorized the sweeping confiscation of the personal medical records of millions of Americans who had no connection to the initial IRS investigation,” the letter continues.
“In light of these allegations and in anticipation of the IRS’s increased role in implementing health care under the Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act, we are writing to request information regarding your agency’s ability to both protect the confidential medical information of millions of Americans and respect the safeguards imposed by HIPAA [Health Insurance Portability and Accountability Act].”
According to news reports, the lawsuit alleges that the medical records included “information on psychological counseling, gynecological counseling, sexual and drug treatment, and other sensitive medical treatment data.”
Committee leaders requested that Werfel respond by June 25.
The Guardian has the story:
A group of 11 local organisations, many of them human rights NGOs, plans to hold the rally at 3pm on Saturday, according to a press release posted online on Wednesday afternoon. “We call on Hong Kong to respect international legal standards and procedures relating to the protection of Snowden; we condemn the US government for violating our rights and privacy; and we call on the US not to prosecute Snowden,” it said.
The rally’s press release said the participants would march past a Hong Kong government office and the city’s US consulate, and suggested that they bring posters reading: “defend free speech, protect Snowden”, “no extradition”, “respect Hong Kong law”, “shame on NSA”, “stop internet surveillance” and “betray Snowden = betray freedom”.
Hong Kong is an odd duck, being a part of Semi-Demi-Communist China but having its own semi-demi-independent political and economic system. Since the British handed Hong Kong back over, Beijing has increased its powers in the region, without ever quite cracking down.
So what I’d like to know is, if any of these 11 groups are fronts for Beijing, or how many of their members might be in cahoots with the mainland. Because Snowden, with a big assist from the NSA and the White House, has handed Beijing an excellent opportunity to embarrass the United States.
For the record, I’m glad Snowden revealed the NSA’s data-mining program — no matter whether his personal motivations were honorable or treasonous. But that doesn’t mean that there won’t be some unpleasant complications.
After the IRS abuse scandal broke, Progress Texas stepped forward to claim that its own application to the IRS had drawn extra scrutiny similar, too. Some liberals used that claim to argue that the IRS abuse wasn’t partisan after all.
Progress Texas took things even a step farther, and stated that two-thirds of the groups that the IRS abused weren’t even conservative. So, no scandal at all.
That, it turns out, was not true, according to PolitiFact.
We asked how Progress Texas concluded that most of the groups were not conservative. Political director Phillip Martin told us by email that the statement was based on a May 12, 2013, Washington Post news story about a leaked report from the U.S. Treasury inspector general that the government released two days later.
The Post story said that according to the report, “Of the 298 groups selected for special scrutiny … 72 had ‘tea party’ in their title, 13 had ‘patriot’ and 11 had ‘9/12.’ ” That equaled 96 groups, Martin said, or 32.2 percent of the declared 298.
Were the other 202 groups nonconservative? Neither the report nor the story described those groups, and Progress Texas did not reply to our follow-up requests for relevant information.
Progress Texas has twice said that two-thirds of the groups whose applications for tax-exempt status were scrutinized by the IRS were not conservative.
The group’s fraction appears to be an unsupported assumption tied to a government report saying that 96 of 298 IRS-scrutinized organizations, or about a third, had “tea party,” “patriot” or “9/12″ in their names. The report listed other criteria the IRS used, some of which appeared to be aimed at conservatives.
But the report has no information on the political makeup of the other groups, and we see no other indications that their political leanings have been authoritatively summed up or individually revealed, though the IRS has said the scrutinized groups without “tea party” in their names reflected “all political views,” which presumably would fold in liberals to moderates to conservatives.
Progress Texas’ claim shakes out as incorrect and, given the lack of backup documentation, ridiculous. Pants on Fire!
Whether Progress Texas lied, as per PolitiFact’s finding, as part of a larger pushback and distraction campaign or on its own initiative is not clear.
Since our last edition of Hillary Watch 2016 posted in early May, a political tsunami has occurred in our nation’s capital. And to prove just how much that tsunami has altered the political landscape, remember it was only the Benghazi whistle blower hearings that were front and center at that time.
Now consider how many scandals, revelations, and leaks have befallen the Obama administration since then, with no break in between.
Sex! Lies! Horny Ambassadors! Fixers! Cover-ups!
It’s all so juicy and easy for the general public to understand (as opposed to those bor-ring Benghazi talking points).
Watch as Hillary’s famous Benghazi hearing question, “What difference does it make?” is sure to be asked again and turned on her as more details are revealed. After all, this was her domain and these were her people so the “I know nothing” defense will not fly.
OK, so we have now established that there will be some rough patches ahead for Hillary 2016. However, 2016 is decades away in political dog years. As noted above, what has happened politically since early May is a fine example of political dog years in action. One day, one week, one month, is enough time for a 180 degree turnaround in politics.
It is a given that circumstances will change, but there is one question that will not change and that question will have the most impact on Hillary’s 2016 prospects.
That question is, “Can Hillary win Obama’s third term?”
Let’s examine the recent record for some examples.
Daddy Bush won Reagan’s third term in 1988.
Al Gore won the popular vote for Clinton’s third term in 2000.
John McCain did not and could not win George W. Bush’s third term in 2008.
So, that brings us up to The Question of 2016.
As a loyal Republican who will vote for whomever is running against Hillary in 2016, my answer to The Question is “Yes she can.” Republicans must assume she can and fight all the harder for the following reasons:
Hillary as the “first female president” is real, appealing, gigantic, important, enormous, and the media will turn it into a mantra.
I have written about this mantra before and I will mention it again and again. For once this huge social movement starts rolling, a heavy-set white man from New Jersey, or two first-term senators from Kentucky or Florida will not stand a chance.
That brings me to the second reason behind, “Yes she can,” which also happens to be a question that I have raised in numerous past Hillary Watch 2016 installments.
How in 2016 does any Republican presidential candidate win 270 electoral votes?
It is a question that must be asked and examined but the facts make the answer difficult with so many demographic groups such as women, youth, Hispanics, African-Americans, Asians, unions, government employees, gays, and teachers all aligned against the GOP.
Furthermore, Hillary’s favorable/unfavorable Gallup poll ratings are going down and up, from an early 2013 sky-high favorable of 66% to a still very respectable 58%. Contrast that to her current unfavorable rating, rising from a low of 29% to 39%. Still all VERY ACCEPTABLE for a nationally known and somewhat polarizing figure.
Hillary’s new Twitter account also made a big splash this week indicating she is gearing up and ready for the modern age.
And with the modern age comes Clinton-era nostalgia that will be re-packaged, re-modeled and re-branded as Hillary is positioned to win Bill’s “third term.”
Now this is key to answering the major question I have posed and right out of Mad Men. “If you don’t like the question change the conversation.” And here is how Hillary could do just that; she could win Obama’s third term while running against Obama using this argument:
We, as a nation, were all hoodwinked in 2008. Obama offered us hope and change and after Bush we were all so desperate for anything new and shiny.
So we made a mistake…twice. The first time I tried, I cried, and I came pretty close, even warned you about him taking phone calls at 3 AM. But it was not my time so new and shiny won out, first in 2008 and then again in 2012. So let’s reset the clock and now in 2016 I will do for this nation what I was going to do in 2008.
Seriously folks, you might hear something like this from Hillary in 2016.
Hillary must run for Obama’s third term, but Team Clinton, along with the media, will make us think that it’s really Bill’s third term for which she is running.
In January 2013, after the president had been re-elected and before the IRS abuse scandal broke, President Obama’s campaign was crowing about two things. It was crowing about its love of all things data, and it was crowing that it had morphed from a presidential campaign into a permanent “social welfare” organization. Its name had to change, from Obama for America, to Organizing for America, to Organizing for Action. But the personnel stayed in place, and the group’s massive database went seamlessly along with them into the new future of permacampaigning.
NBC’s Michael Isikoff reported on OfA’s shapeshifting on January 28, 2013.
Organizing For Action (OFA), the advocacy group set up in recent weeks by the president’s top political aides, has already acquired access to the database under a leasing agreement with the Obama campaign, Katie Hogan, a former Obama campaign aide who is now serving as spokeswoman for the lobbying group, told NBC News. The information will be used to unleash an “army of the door knockers” to back the president’s legislative agenda as well as raise money for “issue ads” – particularly in crucial congressional districts, she said.
Dubbed the “nuclear codes” by campaign aides, the Obama campaign database is widely described as one of the most powerful tools ever developed in American politics. According to published reports, it contains the names of at least 4 million Obama donors – as well as millions of others (the campaign has consistently refused to say how many) compiled from voter registration rolls and other public databases. In addition, the campaign used sophisticated computer programs — with code names like “Narwhal” — to collect information through social media: Anybody who contacted the campaign through Facebook had their friends and “likes” downloaded. If they contacted the campaign website through mobile apps, cellphone numbers and address books were downloaded. Computer “cookies” captured Web browsing and online spending habits.
Obama campaign managers Jim Messina and Stephanie Cutter made the one-inch leap from the presidential campaign to the post-presidential campaign. They dropped a name tag on one end of a table and picked up a new one on the other end. The IRS never questioned them or the group or its purpose at all.
“The way it’s organized, we legally can’t participate in elections,” Stephanie Cutter, a top Obama campaign official who now serves on the board of OFA, said at a recent Politico-sponsored inaugural event. “But that doesn’t mean the issues we’re organizing around won’t mobilize the American people to vote for things — to vote for that economy we’ve been working for, to vote for immigration reform, to vote for common sense gun reforms. I think we can affect elections, we just can’t legally be involved in them — for this particular organization.”
Gun-control advocates will double-team the Hill next week as families of victims in last week’s Santa Monica College shooting join Newtown families for a meeting with House Speaker John Boehner (R-Ohio).
The Santa Monica gunman who killed five, John Zawahiri, was kicked out of a continuation high school in 2006 for “disturbing behaviors” centering “around his discussion of weapons and violence,” the Los Angeles Times reported today. Police officials said the 23-year-old carried an AR-15 and .44 revolver and had 40 magazines packed with 30 rounds each strapped to his body and in a bag he was carrying.
House Minority Whip Steny Hoyer (D-Md.) laughed talking to reporters yesterday on the Hill when asked if there’s “a snowball’s chance” of gun-control being successfully revived in the House.
“I’m very doubtful what with the House leadership has any intention of bringing a bill to the floor. I think that’s unfortunate. I think background checks — 85 to 90 percent of Americans believe that having a background check for somebody to purchase a weapon makes common sense. The NRA supported it 10 years ago and, opposes it now. I don’t know what their rationalization is. I’m sure they have one,” Hoyer said.
When asked about the meeting with victims’ families, Hoyer said he believes Boehner is “an empathetic person.”
“I mean I think that you know he’s not a hard-hearted person. I think these folks have sustained a loss, they want to meet with the Speaker and I think it shows respect for them that he will listen to them. But I don’t know that they will move him to action,” Hoyer said.
Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid (D-Nev.) has said recently that he wants to revive gun control in the upper chamber.
“Every single time something like this happens, I think this does give us wind at our back,” Sen. Barbara Boxer (D-Calif.) said on MSNBC after the Santa Monica shooting.
“Whether it’s with staunch opponents or senators on the fence, they can be powerfully persuasive, and show that this bill is very much alive and well,” Sen. Richard Blumenthal (D-Conn.) said on the visit by victims’ families. “We’re not standing down. The bill will be brought back. The majority leader has promised that it will be. And I think we’ll have another vote before the end of the year.”
Hoyer said he presumed the Republican appointed to temporarily fill the seat of late Sen. Frank Lautenberg (D-N.J.), Attorney General Jeff Chiesa, will support gun control.
“Which means that Senator Reed still needs to get five additional votes. I don’t know whether he can do that, I hope he can. I commend him for bringing it back up and, I think it makes sense,” he added. “And I would hope we would move it here, but I don’t see any indication, Republican leadership being that Mr. Boehner or, Mr. Cantor or Mr. Goodlatte — I guess that this committee would be in each committee has any intention of doing so. So we’ll see.”
Appreciate @govchristie‘s thoughtful choice for senator. Gabby and I are hopeful we can work with Sen Chiesa to expand background checks.
— Mark Kelly (@ShuttleCDRKelly) June 6, 2013
As the Obama administration responds to criticism of Guantanamo Bay with fervent vows to close the prison facility in Cuba, the Pentagon announced charges against one of the high-value detainees held there.
Military commissions have been ongoing yet are still very much in the pretrial hearing stage for professed 9/11 mastermind Khalid Sheikh Mohammed and his alleged co-conspirators and Abd al-Rahim al-Nashiri, believed to have masterminded the USS Cole attack.
This week the Defense Department announced that Abd al Hadi al Iraqi, an Iraqi national held by the U.S. since 2006, will face perfidy charges — an offense in which those who are the targets of attack are killed, injured, or captured after the attackers have “invit[ed] the confidence or belief… that [the attackers] were entitled to… protection under the laws of war.”
Abd al Hadi, as a senior member of al-Qaeda, is charged in a series of attacks in Afghanistan from 2001 to 2004.
The government charges that he had joined al-Qaeda by 1996, “that, in furtherance of the group’s hostile and terrorist aims, he served as a high-ranking leader on various senior councils that set al Qaeda’s agenda and policies; that he was a significant al Qaeda liaison to the Taliban, to al Qaeda in Iraq, and to other allied groups; that Abd al Hadi directed his fighters to kill all coalition soldiers encountered during their attacks, thereby denying quarter to potential captive or wounded coalition soldiers.”
“Following his tenure as commander of al Qaeda’s insurgency in Afghanistan and Pakistan, the charges allege that Abd al Hadi continued his liaison role with al Qaeda in Iraq and was ultimately assigned by Usama bin Laden to travel to Iraq to assume a position among the leadership of al Qaeda’s insurgency there,” the Pentagon said.
Abd al Hadi faces a possible maximum sentence of life in prison.
The convening authority will now weigh the charges to determine if they’ll be referred to a military commission.
The announcement came a day before the White House threatened to veto the House version of the defense reauthorization bill because, in part, because provisions within “would continue unwise funding restrictions that would prohibit the construction or modification of a detention facility in the United States to house Guantanamo detainees, and would constrain our ability to transfer Guantanamo detainees, including those who have already been designated for transfer to other countries.”
“Operating the facility at Guantanamo weakens our national security by wasting resources, damaging our relationships with key allies, and reinforcing propaganda used by al-Qaeda to attack the United States and our values,” OMB said.