PJ Tatler

The PJ Tatler

The Rise of Political Persecution in the Age of Obama

Tuesday, April 21st, 2015 - by Debra Heine

David French has a chilling must-read at National Review  regarding the infamous “John Doe” investigations of Scott Walker and Wisconsin conservatives. In the fall of 2013, conservative activists saw their lives upended for the crime of exercising their First Amendment rights and supporting the wrong party. The political witch-hunts and subsequent home invasions that were conducted by hyper-political district attorney John Chisholm were  assisted by a corrupt, rubber-stamping judge, and a depressingly compliant police force.

In Wisconsin, citizens who thought they were doing their civic duty by getting involved in the political process found out what it feels like to live in a police state where cops show up at their doorsteps with battering rams:

Cindy Archer, one of the lead architects of Wisconsin’s Act 10 — also called the “Wisconsin Budget Repair Bill,” it limited public-employee benefits and altered collective-bargaining rules for public-employee unions — was jolted awake by yelling, loud pounding at the door, and her dogs’ frantic barking. The entire house — the windows and walls — was shaking. She looked outside to see up to a dozen police officers, yelling to open the door. They were carrying a battering ram.

She wasn’t dressed, but she started to run toward the door, her body in full view of the police. Some yelled at her to grab some clothes, others yelled for her to open the door.

“I was so afraid,” she says. “I did not know what to do.” She grabbed some clothes, opened the door, and dressed right in front of the police. The dogs were still frantic.

“I begged and begged, ‘Please don’t shoot my dogs, please don’t shoot my dogs, just don’t shoot my dogs.’ I couldn’t get them to stop barking, and I couldn’t get them outside quick enough. I saw a gun and barking dogs. I was scared and knew this was a bad mix.”

She got the dogs safely out of the house, just as multiple armed agents rushed inside. Some even barged into the bathroom, where her partner was in the shower. The officer or agent in charge demanded that Cindy sit on the couch, but she wanted to get up and get a cup of coffee.

“I told him this was my house and I could do what I wanted.” Wrong thing to say. “This made the agent in charge furious. He towered over me with his finger in my face and yelled like a drill sergeant that I either do it his way or he would handcuff me.”

They wouldn’t let her speak to a lawyer. She looked outside and saw a person who appeared to be a reporter. Someone had tipped him off. The neighbors started to come outside, curious at the commotion, and all the while the police searched her house, making a mess, and — according to Cindy — leaving her “dead mother’s belongings strewn across the basement floor in a most disrespectful way.” Then they left, carrying with them only a cellphone and a laptop.

This is but one of several horror stories highlighted by French, who described how terrified private citizens were assailed and at times verbally abused by heavily armed police early in the morning, with property taken from their homes while neighbors watched. In every case, the citizens were told they were not allowed to talk about what happened because if they did, they could go to jail.

For select conservative families across five counties, this was the terrifying moment — the moment they felt at the mercy of a truly malevolent state. Speaking both on and off the record, targets reflected on how many layers of Wisconsin government failed their fundamental constitutional duties — the prosecutors who launched the rogue investigations, the judge who gave the abuse judicial sanction, investigators who chose to taunt and intimidate during the raids, and those police who ultimately approved and executed aggressive search tactics on law-abiding, peaceful citizens. For some of the families, the trauma of the raids, combined with the stress and anxiety of lengthy criminal investigations, has led to serious emotional repercussions. “Devastating” is how Anne describes the impact on her family. “Life-changing,” she says. “All in terrible ways.”

As blogger Patterico put it — these  raids on law-abiding citizens in Wisconsin amounted to “state sponsored swattings.”

Unfortunately, in the age of Obama, Wisconsin’s  ”John Doe” abomination is not an isolated case of the state using brute political force to punish conservatives/Republicans.

Between 2009 and 2011, IRS audits against small businesses increased 32%. Federal warrants against businesses also increased substantially, with many of the raids conducted by SWAT teams.

Among the hundreds of businesses raided by the IRS and Department of Justice, using paramilitary, gestapo-like tactics, were Mountain Pure Water Bottling Company and Duncan Outdoors, Inc. (both situated in Arkansas) and Gibson Guitar (located in Tennessee).

Conservatives know about the raid on Gibson Guitars where armed agents from the Dept. of Fish and Wildlife raided four Gibson factories, confiscating guitars and sending hundreds of employees home. Gibson was accused of using illegal wood in violation of the century-old Lacey Act.

Grossly underreported at the time was the fact that Gibson’s chief executive, Henry Juszkiewicz, contributed to Republican politicians. Recent donations have included $2,000 to Rep. Marsha Blackburn, R-Tenn., and $1,500 to Sen. Lamar Alexander, R-Tenn.

By contrast, Chris Martin IV, the Martin & Co. CEO, is a long-time Democratic supporter, with $35,400 in contributions to Democratic candidates and the Democratic National Committee over the past couple of election cycles.

Mountain Pure water was also targeted by government agents for a trumped-up charges pertaining to an SBA loan the owner secured through the Federal Emergency Management Agency to recover tornado losses to his home, warehouse, and associated equipment. Mountain Pure Water’s chief executive, John Stacks, is also a Republican who has donated to Republican candidates.

At 8:00 a.m. on January 18, 2012, 40 -50 heavily armed, hostile government agents raided Mountain Pure water, scaring the dickens out of everyone in the building.

John Stacks, the owner of Mountain Pure Water said that he was cursed at, spat on,  and bullied in such an egregious fashion, he felt like they were trying to provoke him to react violently. His son, Court Stacks, the General Manager, had a loaded gun pointed to his face. His seven and a half month pregnant wife watched news coverage of the raid at home in horror. She would later lose the baby.

“I am not a militant”, Jerry Miller the Comptroller of Mountain Pure Water said. “They’ve thrown the Constitution away!”

John Stacks and his  son Ryan, an attorney, were not allowed to enter the building. According to Miller, one of the agents told him, “we’re the federal government and we can do anything we want to.”

“They threw our liberties out the window”, Miller concluded. “They treated us like third class citizens…if people are not outraged, they need to be. This used to be America – now it’s not.”

“I never fathomed that something to this extent could take place in the United States”, said Ryan Stacks. He went on to say they were being  treated similarly to “some type of terrorists, essentially.”

Duncan Outdoors faced a similar gestapo like raid with the eerily familiar refrain from one of the officers, “we’re from the IRS and we can do anything we want.”

As if the IRS targeting scandal wasn’t bad enough, one tea-party group in Texas was targeted by the IRS, the FBI, OSHA, and the ATF.

Catherine Engelbrecht’s tale has all the markings of a classic conspiracy theory: She says she thinks that because of her peaceful political activity, she and her family were targeted for scrutiny by hostile federal agencies. Yet as news emerges that the Internal Revenue Service wielded its power to obstruct conservative groups, Catherine’s story becomes credible — and chilling. It also raises questions about whether other federal agencies have used their executive powers to target those deemed political enemies.

Before the Engelbrecht family’s three-year ordeal began, Catherine says, “I had no real expectation or preparation for the blood sport that American politics is.” Sounding weary on the phone, she continues: “It’s all been a through-the-looking-glass experience.” Cleta Mitchell, a lawyer who specializes in representing conservative organizations, says that the Engelbrecht family’s experience is “just the tip of the iceberg. . . . I think there’s definitely a Chicago-politics-style enemies list in this administration, and I think it permeates this branch of the federal government.”

More examples of militarized law enforcement and abuses of power during the age of Obama can be found here.

The use of SWAT teams for routine law enforcement is a dangerous trend that accelerated exponentially during the Obama years.  Because when the totalitarian hard-left has power, the gloves come off. Many law-abiding conservatives across the country have found this unfortunate truth out the hard way.

 

 

 

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Video: Franklin Graham Calls on U.S. to Halt All Immigration of Muslims Coming from Countries with Islamic Terror Cells

Tuesday, April 21st, 2015 - by Debra Heine

Reverend Franklin Graham, son of Billy Graham and CEO of Samaritan’s Purse, has called on the United States government to “stop allowing immigration of Muslims into this country.”

“Each day’s news seems to reveal new horrors from militant Islam,” Graham said Monday in a post on Facebook.  ”Can it be that the world is no longer as shocked by Christians having their heads cut off and then ISIS proudly promoting this on video? We should continue to be horrified and nauseated.”

“We should make sure our government and the current administration recognizes Islam for the danger it is, and that they are doing all they can to work against it,” he said.

“Our government needs to: (1) Immediately look at immigration reform to halt all immigration of Muslims from countries that have active terrorist cells—the threat this poses to our nation is huge and could end up costing thousands of lives in the future if we don’t act now. And (2) Take immediate military action to defeat ISIS.”

“The influence of radical Islam is spreading, not diminishing,” he concluded.

Rev. Graham went on Fox News Monday morning to discuss with Gretchen Carlson the disturbing new video that was released by ISIS showing the mass execution of Ethiopian Christians in Libya. He reiterated his call for a moratorium on Muslim immigration.

The reverend stated that Obama is not doing enough to stop ISIS and that “he is responsible for ISIS” because he pulled troops out of Iraq and created a vacuum which ISIS filled.

He called on the president to “declare war with ISIS,” saying that “we need to go wherever they are — whether it’s Iraq, whether it’s Libya.” He added, “We need to put boots on the ground. We’re not going to defeat ISIS the way we’re doing it now.”

Graham went on to say that “we have to stop allowing immigration of Muslims into this country who come from countries that have active terror cells. I am calling for the halt to all immigration of Muslims to this country if they come from a country that has Islamic terror cells.”

Carlson challenged him, asking, “How do we know, though? How do we know that they are actually terrorists?”

“You don’t,” Graham answered matter-of-factly. “You just can’t allow people to keep coming from these countries that are going to bring terrorism into this nation.”

Gretchen pressed him further, saying, “I’m just wondering if we’re going to run into difficulty with discrimination if we do something as drastic as you’re suggesting.”

“Of course — we’re going to have people calling this discrimination but this is war,” Graham insisted. “If you’re in a war, you’re going to have to discriminate.”

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It’s extremely  unlikely Rev. Graham’s call for an immigration moratorium will be heeded by the Obama administration. Even in the days after 9/11 similar calls were quickly shot down.

Refugee resettlement contractors have been demanding 12,000-15,000 Syrians a year be admitted into the country. The government is reportedly reviewing 11,000 resettlement applications from Syrians — the vast majority of them Muslims.

The United States is scheduled to take in its largest tranche of Syrian refugees to date — up to 2,000 by this fall, compared with a total of about 700 since the civil war in Syria began four years ago, according to the State Department.

The U.S. decision to accept more refugees reflects how swiftly the Syrian civil war has morphed into the most pressing humanitarian crisis in recent years. Generally, resettling large numbers of refugees happens long after other options are exhausted, like the possibility of displaced people eventually returning home.

Recently, the FBI testified to the House Homeland Security Committee that there is no way they can properly screen the Syrians.

US authorities are facing a difficult task screening Syrian refugees for potential extremists because of a shortage of intelligence from the war-torn country, officials told lawmakers Wednesday.

Michael Steinbach, assistant director of the Federal Bureau of Investigation, said the US government had data and intelligence to draw on when it performed background checks on refugees from Iraq in recent years but in the case of Syria, there was “a lack of information.”

America is not ready to face this problem yet because nobody in “the land of the free” wants to be accused of being “Islamophobic.” But the day may come when they have no choice but to choose between liberty or mass Muslim immigration.

 

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Has Marco Rubio’s Breakout Moment Arrived?

Tuesday, April 21st, 2015 - by Michael van der Galien

Senator Marco Rubio has been criticized by many Tea Party activists for his stance on illegal immigration, but that doesn’t seem to hold him back in the polls. Look at these results from CNN’s latest poll among Republican voters:

Overall, 17% of Republicans and Republican-leaning independents back Bush for the GOP nomination, while 12% support Wisconsin Gov. Scott Walker. Paul and Rubio stand at 11% each, with former Arkansas Gov. Mike Huckabee at 9% and Cruz at 7%…

Remarkable: Bush and Rubio both poll at 18% when respondents are asked which candidate best represents the future of the Republican Party. In Florida, his home state and one of the states the Republican nominee will have to win, Rubio even beats Hillary, which is in no small part due to his popularity among Hispanic voters:

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Bush is still at the top of the polls, but Rubio is getting closer. If he keeps this up — and I see no reason to believe he won’t — he isn’t merely a contender, but one of the top favorites. Yes, this could very well be his breakout moment, especially if he beats Bush for the Hispanic vote.

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Should We Ticket Slow Drivers? A WA State Lawmaker Thinks So

Tuesday, April 21st, 2015 - by The Tatler

It’s one of the most annoying driving experiences of all, getting trapped behind a slow driver who wants to coast leisurely along in the highway fast lane.  But now, such behavior could result in a traffic violation if a Washington state lawmaker has his way.

Senate bill 6105, filed last week by Sen. Michael Baumgartner, R-Spokane, would create a series of fines for driving any slower than the speed limit in the left lane, with the amount of the fine going up depending on how much slower than the limit a car is going.

The bill describes driving slow in the left lane as “obnoxious, inconsiderate and dangerous behavior.”

The law would be similar to the speed limit laws and “the slow-driving bill would mean any driver in normal traffic who is not precisely driving the speed limit in the left lane could be ticketed.”

But should we institute a law for this? If we have a law stating drivers must obey the speed limit, perhaps we need a law that says drivers must obey the speed minimum?

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Uber Driver Pulls Gun, Shoots Gunman Firing on Crowd of People

Tuesday, April 21st, 2015 - by Liz Sheld

Amen.

An Uber driver pulled out his shotgun and fired on a gunman who was “firing a pistol into a group of people on a Logan Square sidewalk, according to prosecutors.”

The driver used his shotgun to fire six blasts and injured 22-year-old Everado Custodio.

Apparently the blasts injured only the alleged shooter.

NBC Chicago reports: “Custodio suffered wounds to his shin, knee and lower back and was still in Advocate Illinois Masonic Medical Center on Sunday, when Cook County Judge Peggy Chiampas refused to grant bail on charges of aggravated battery with a firearm and illegal possession of a firearm.”

Assistant State’s Attorney Barry Quinn said the Uber driver “was acting in self-defense and in the defense of others.”

The altercation took place last Friday night, after the Uber driver had just dropped off a passenger near Logan Square. Custodio allegedly was shooting in the direction of the driver, aiming for a group of people.

Jen Mullin, a spokeswoman for Uber, said that the company requires its drivers to abide by all local and state firearm laws.  NBC Chicago reports the driver had a concealed-carry permit.

“Police patrolling the area heard the shots and arrived to find Custodio on the ground and bleeding. Police also recovered a handgun found near Custodio, Quinn said.”

Here we see the beauty of carrying a concealed weapon.  Beware, criminals: you have no idea who around you might have a firearm to stop your evildoing.

No charges will be filed against the Uber driver.

 

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Domestic ISIS Arrests Show We Really Are Hated for Our Freedoms

Monday, April 20th, 2015 - by Walter Hudson

Six Somali-Americans were arrested Sunday and have since been charged with planning to fight for ISIS overseas. Notably, these were not downtrodden struggling kids who were handed a raw deal and grew bitter. On the contrary, each had a promising future at their fingertips and chose to abandon it to declare war on freedom. The Minneapolis Star Tribune reports:

It’s not clear how the six men, who range in age from 18 to 24, met or how well they knew each other, but it appears that their paths crossed again and again as they grew up in Minneapolis. After graduating from South High, Farah, Musse and Omar enrolled at Minneapolis Community and Technical College (MCTC). Farah and Musse majored in liberal arts; Omar was a pre-nursing student. Abdurahman, also a graduate of the Minneapolis Public Schools, enrolled at MCTC and studied computer support…

One of the men, in a conversation recorded by an FBI source, describes his disgust with living in the United States. “The American identity is dead. Even if I get caught, whatever, I’m through with America. Burn my ID,” he said, according to a transcript filed with the case.

They were raised in a condition of relative affluence, certainly compared to the rest of the world, and particularly compared to the lives they would have led if raised in Somalia. After experiencing such freedom firsthand, they made the conscientious decision to reject and destroy it.

This flies in the face of the seductive narrative that terrorism is fostered by poverty or exploitation. Terrorism is fostered by an evil ideology.

 

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Michigan Lawmakers Want Homeschooled Children Registered Like Dogs and Inspected by Social Workers

Monday, April 20th, 2015 - by Paula Bolyard

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In the wake of the tragic murders of two Michigan children whose mother tortured them before stuffing them into the family’s freezer, lawmakers are calling for more stringent regulation of homeschooling in the state.

The proposed legislation from state Rep. Stephanie Chang, a Detroit Democrat, would require homeschooled children to be inspected twice per year by a licensed social worker or law enforcement officer. The bill would also require homeschooling parents to register their children — like dogs or sex offenders — with the superintendent of the school district in which they reside. Michigan is one of eleven states that do not require homeschooling parents to report to state or local authorities.

CBS Detroit reported:

Chang cited the case of Stoni Ann Blair and Stephen Gage Berry as a reason for planning the legislation. Investigators believe Stephen was 9 when he died in August 2012 and that Stoni was 13 when she died the following May. Their mother, who is accused of torturing and killing them and then stuffing their bodies in the freezer, had said she homeschooled them.

“We all failed Stoni and Stephen because Michigan does not maintain a list of homeschooled children and so we have no way to identify and then protect any child who could be at risk for abuse,” Chang said. “Most homeschool parents have their child’s best interest in mind, and many do a fine job homeschooling, but with Stephen and Stoni, that wasn’t the case.”

Every few years legislation like this pops up as a knee-jerk reaction to some terrible tragedy that was inflicted upon children who were allegedly homeschooled. The most recent was in Ohio in 2013, when Democratic state Senator Capri Cafaro introduced Teddy’s Law in reaction to the very tragic death of Teddy Foltz-Tedesco in January 2013. The law (which was quickly withdrawn after an outpouring of state and national opposition) would have required homeschoolers to pass background checks and have their children inspected by authorities before being allowed to educate them at home. Teddy was killed by his mother’s boyfriend after he was withdrawn from school  because officials there suspected abuse. Relatives and neighbors say they reported the abuse to the children services board on repeated occasions but were rebuffed.

That’s a common thread in most of these tragic stories. In nearly every case — almost without exception — the family had a history of contact with child welfare officials because of allegations of abuse. And in almost every case — almost without exception — the authorities dropped the ball. In the case of the children in Detroit, the state had investigated allegations of abuse in 2002 and 2005 and the mother was referred for counseling. In the Ohio case, family members called authorities multiple times but nothing was done. They said they were accused of lying.

It’s absurd to think that a mother who tortured her children with scalding hot water and a searing hot curling iron before murdering them and stuffing them into the freezer — all while committing welfare fraud — is going to file a pile of paperwork that would trigger an inspection of her children — the children she has stored in the freezer. People who commit diabolical crimes against children will just go further underground if such a law is enacted — they’ll move to a different school district and pretend they don’t have any children, they’ll ignore the regulations, or worse, they’ll go off the grid completely, compounding the danger to the children.

It’s not the sick, twisted individuals like Stoni and Stephen’s mother who will be caught up in the state’s dragnet. Instead, it’s law-abiding parents who are exercising their constitutional right to home educate their children — and doing an admirable job of it —  who will be harmed by these intrusive regulations. In addition to the creepy registry, they’ll be forced to live under a presumption of guilt and will be required to “prove” twice per year to some (allegedly qualified) government official that they are not abusing their children.

I wrote this in response to the proposed Ohio law in 2013:

The logic — if you can call it that — behind this law seems to be that parents cannot be trusted with their own children. Unless they are under the watchful eye of state officials, children face great peril and so there must be new laws enacted in order to mitigate the risk. This ignores the fact, of course, that children from birth to age six are the most likely to die from child abuse — they account for 76% of fatalities. Will the next step be to subject all parents to interrogations by social workers from birth until the time they enroll their children in the safe bubble of the public school? And why stop there? After all, many children are abused at home and become experts at hiding and excusing the bumps and bruises. Shouldn’t we hire armies of government agents to keep an eye on what’s going on in the home after school? Not only that, according to the National Center for Education Statistics, violent victimization rates at school were 34 per 1,000 students ages 12–14 and 14 per 1,000 students ages 15–18. Shouldn’t the government just require semi-annual interrogations of all students to solve the school violence problem? You can see the absurdity of this logic.

Not only that, but if the proposed legislation in Michigan becomes law, an estimated 50,000 children will be added to the caseloads of already overburdened social workers, law enforcement officers, and truant officers who will be tasked with tracking these newly “registered” children in much the same way they monitor parolees and sex offenders, requiring them to periodically report their whereabouts and show up for meetings and inspections. Instead of spending scarce resources on known cases of child abuse and neglect, they’ll be forced to cast a wide net over thousands of law-abiding families without probable cause — or any cause — to suspect there’s abuse in those homes.

The courts have ruled that parents have the right to direct the upbringing and education of their children. In any system where citizens are allowed to exercise their liberties and their rights are protected there will always be those who abuse those freedoms, occasionally with tragic consequences. We don’t solve the murder problem by putting body cameras on all gun owners — just to keep some from murdering. We don’t solve the problem of thievery by frisking everyone who exits a store — just in case someone has pocketed an eyeliner or a package of batteries. In the same way, we don’t surveil all homeschooling families — treating them like de facto criminals and subjecting their children to intrusive “registries” and inspections —  just so we can net a handful of bad actors.

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For Now, America Still Safe From Lynch Confirmation Vote, But ‘Progress’ Made

Monday, April 20th, 2015 - by Stephen Kruiser

Via Politico:

The Senate is inching toward a deal to resolve a month-long dispute that’s halted a human trafficking bill and confirmation of attorney general nominee Loretta Lynch, even as Minority Leader Harry Reid on Monday resumed his rhetorical attacks on Republicans for the delay.

Top sources in both parties — and even Reid himself — said negotiators had made headway toward a compromise on abortion language included in the sexual trafficking bill that Democrats have strongly opposed.

The Democrats are still accusing the Republicans of trickery here, but that’s kind of how the Senate works. Perhaps they’re just surprised that McConnell is actually acting like he’s in charge of the majority for once. I know I am.

Politico maintains its hack cred for propping up Jeb Bush (while getting in a dig at his brother) and praising him for saying that Lynch deserved a vote.

What this really boils down to is the Democrats’ overriding commitment to the fight to make abortions easier to afford than a pack of gum. They’re prioritizing the fight for the dream of federally funded abortions for all over the fight against human trafficking.

It remains to be seen whether the “progress” made will eventually lead to total caving by the majority, but the current game of hard ball has been refreshing.

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How Do You Even…? Man Faked Kidnapping by Tying Himself to Tree

Monday, April 20th, 2015 - by Paula Bolyard

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According to police, an Akron, Ohio, man faked his own kidnapping, claiming he was abducted and tied to a tree for three days. Clarence Taylor, 44, has been charged with falsification, a first-degree misdemeanor. Police say they believe he tied himself to the tree. 

According to Cleveland.com:

Taylor’s 45-year-old girlfriend reported to police on Nov. 1 that Taylor had been missing for five days.

A friend of Taylor’s called the girlfriend as she spoke with investigators and said that Taylor had been located bound to a tree with zip ties in a wooded area near Stoner Street and Pickford Avenue.

The friend led police to where Taylor was tied. He had duct tape on his mouth and was still tied to the tree, according to police reports. Police cut him down and took him to Akron General Medical Center.

Taylor told police that he was walking on Beechwood Drive when three men with shotguns abducted him and forced him into a van. He said they stole $2,500 from him and tied him to the tree, where they left him for several days.

Police say that Taylor had no visible injuries, despite his claims of being in the cold and rain for several days, and he was not dehydrated. When investigators subpoenaed his medical records from his hospital stay, they found that his condition was not consistent with his story about being abducted and tied to a tree.

Some parts of this story just don’t add up. First, is it even possible for someone to tie himself to a tree with zip ties? Second, why didn’t the friend who called Taylor’s girlfriend to report his whereabouts untie him? Why wait for police to arrive?

Was Taylor hoping for a GoFundMe campaign to replace the money he said was “stolen” from him? Or was there another motive? Police say they don’t know — and he’s still at large with a warrant for his arrest.

Get out your Encyclopedia Brown spyglasses and tell me what you think happened.

 

 

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USS Theodore Roosevelt May Intercept Iranian Convoy Headed for Yemen

Monday, April 20th, 2015 - by Rick Moran

According to senior Pentagon officials, the aircraft carrier Theodore Roosevelt is moving into position to intercept a flotilla of Iranian ships headed for Yemen. The Pentagon thinks that the ships — 7 to 9 warships and cargo vessels — are going to try to re-supply the Houthi rebels.

The Gulf states have ships off the coast of Yemen trying to impose an arms blockade against the Houthis, so the carrier group may not actually stop and board the Iranian vessels. But stopping a hostile power’s warships on the high seas could lead to a rapid escalation by Iran, at which point, an aircraft carrier is a nice back up to have.

NBC News:

There is no indication that U.S. or other coalition warships have been in contact with the Iranians, but one official told NBC News, “They know we’re there.”

Some U.S. officials are concerned that the leak of the information is not good, coming at the same time as the United States and other countries try to reach a final agreement on Iran’s nuclear program.

“Since this is now public, the Iranians may feel they’ve been backed into a corner” and attempt to run through any blockade set up by the coalition warships, one official said.

Publicly, the Pentagon is denying that the carrier group would intercept the Iranian vessels:

Warren specifically denied a media report that the two American ships were being moved so they could assist in the interception of a flotilla of seven to nine Iranian ships headed to Yemen to re-supply Houthi rebels.

“They are not going to intercept Iranian ships,” said Warren. “That is absolutely not the case.”

On April 1, the U.S. Navy boarded a Panamanian-flagged ship that was believed might be transporting supplies from Iran to the Houthis. No weapons were found and there have been no other boardings since then.

Seven other American warships have been operating in the Gulf of Aden for weeks, including the amphibious assault ship USS Iwo Jima.

A public confirmation of the Roosevelt’s role would inflame the situation, so it’s not surprising that officials are saying one thing in public and another in private.

The Saudis have already said they will prevent any arms from reaching Houthi rebels. This sets up a confrontation at sea with the Iranians at which time anything could happen.

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Of Lawfare and Battering Rams

Monday, April 20th, 2015 - by Rick Moran

You have got to read this National Review piece by David French about the Wisconsin “John Doe” investigations that targeted conservative individuals and groups for harassment, intimidation, and state terror.

Yes, this is happening in America today — now.

“IT’S A MATTER OF LIFE OR DEATH.”

That was the first thought of “Anne” (not her real name). Someone was pounding at her front door. It was early in the morning — very early — and it was the kind of heavy pounding that meant someone was either fleeing from — or bringing — trouble. “It was so hard. I’d never heard anything like it. I thought someone was dying outside.”

She ran to the door, opened it, and then chaos. “People came pouring in. For a second I thought it was a home invasion. It was terrifying. They were yelling and running, into every room in the house. One of the men was in my face, yelling at me over and over and over.” It was indeed a home invasion, but the people who were pouring in were Wisconsin law-enforcement officers.

Armed, uniformed police swarmed into the house. Plainclothes investigators cornered her and her newly awakened family. Soon, state officials were seizing the family’s personal property, including each person’s computer and smartphone, filled with the most intimate family information.

Why were the police at Anne’s home? She had no answers. The police were treating them the way they’d seen police treat drug dealers on television. In fact, TV or movies were their only points of reference, because they weren’t criminals.

They were law-abiding. They didn’t buy or sell drugs. They weren’t violent. They weren’t a danger to anyone. Yet there were cops — surrounding their house on the outside, swarming the house on the inside. They even taunted the family as if they were mere “perps.”

As if the home invasion, the appropriation of private property, and the verbal abuse weren’t enough, next came ominous warnings. Don’t call your lawyer. Don’t tell anyone about this raid. Not even your mother, your father, or your closest friends.

The backstory, as told by French, involves a hyper-partisan, runaway prosecutor whose wife was a teachers’ union shop steward opposed to the public union reforms of Governor Scott Walker. The “investigations” eventually encompassed five counties in Wisconsin, with a partisan, rubber-stamp judge signing off on the targeting subpoenas and search warrants.

Dozens of conservatives experienced almost exactly the same terror as Anne. Many conservative groups were destroyed by investigations that appropriated their donor lists and advocacy files. Funding sources dried up as no one wanted to be associated with people whose lives were destroyed by minions of the state in league with a politically motivated prosecutor.

This is “domestic lawfare” as French points out. It is increasingly being used by liberals in government in league with left-wing legal advocacy groups to target conservatives in order to silence them and criminalize dissent.

It’s an incredible story told with dispassionate clarity by French. Share with your friends. The time for silence on this matter is over.

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Graham 91 Percent Sure He’s Running for President

Monday, April 20th, 2015 - by Bridget Johnson

Sen. Lindsey Graham (R-S.C.) said he’s 91 percent sure he’s going to run for president, and needs the needle to move up “another point or two” before he takes the plunge.

“I’ve got to put the financing together. It sort of goes like this: Exceed expectations in Iowa,” Graham told MSNBC this morning. “Finish in the top tier in New Hampshire, win South Carolina. And by then, I think three or four people are left. And I’d be one of those three or four.”

It’s going to certainly be a campaign heavy on foreign policy.

“This whole idea, their problems are their problems, makes no sense because radical Islam is trying to kill us, not because we’re in Libya and Iraq, because we just don’t agree with their religion,” he said. “…Radical Islam is not a grievance about us supporting dictators.”

“This is a religious war. They’re trying to purify their religion. They’re trying to create a caliphate in the Mideast, destroy Israel, and come after us.”

Graham acknowledged that he and Hillary Clinton are friends, but saying that means he can’t run a strong campaign against her “would disqualify Jeb because, apparently, Bill is like his illegitimate brother.”

“The bottom line is there used to be a day in American politics where you could like people and say: You’re going to take the country one way and I’m going to take it another way. You’re not a bad person, I just disagree with you,” he said. “I don’t dislike Hillary Clinton. I think she’s the third term of Barack Obama. I think she’s the architect of failed foreign policy. Her and Bill did a better job of selling Obamacare than he did. So to me, if we can get a qualified nominee, she loses, because she represents a failed president. She is part of it.”

Not counting himself, who could win South Carolina in 2016? “I think Jeb would do well. The Bushes are well-likedAn,” Graham replied. “Anybody who do — wins New Hampshire, other than Mitt Romney — I like Mitt Romney, but he would never play. I don’t think Chris Christie would go from New Hampshire to South Carolina. Marco would. Anybody that wins New Hampshire is going to do pretty well in South Carolina. Don’t discount how New Hampshire affects South Carolina. But Marco, you know, Jeb, there are several people that could do well.”

Graham gave some more opinions on CNN Sunday on the other Republicans in the field.

“Marco Rubio, I think, will be president some day. Whether 2016 is his time, time will tell. He embraced immigration reform. He seems to have backed off. I’ll let him explain why. I think comprehensive immigration reform while securing your border and dealing rationale with 11 million is the only way we’re going to solve this problem. I like Rubio,” he said.

Graham previously disagreed with Sen. Ted Cruz’s (R-Texas) assertion that the Second Amendment is the ultimate defense against government tyranny.

“The ultimate check against government tyranny is an informed electorate who will elect people who believe in limited government. I don’t want to embrace the idea we want people to take to the streets with guns. I want people to go to the voting booth and check an out of control government by electing conservatives,” Graham said.

On Sen. Rand Paul (R-Ky.), “the Lindsey Graham view of foreign policy is going to beat Rand Paul’s libertarian view of foreign policy.”

“He said at this summit that a terrorist detained under the law of war at Gitmo is entitled to a trial. I’ve been a military lawyer for 33 years. A member of al-Qaeda or their affiliate group can be detained under a law of war as long as their threat to our nation without a trial,” Graham said. “He wants to fight a crime. I’m fighting a war. Big difference.”

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It’s 420 Day: Support for Legal Marijuana Reaches All-Time High

Monday, April 20th, 2015 - by Liz Sheld

CBS polling reveals that support for legal marijuana use has reached an all-time high, with more than half (53%) saying marijuana should be legal.  Over the last 30 years we’ve seen a massive shift in public opinion on this issue, as support for legalized marijuana use has grown by 25%.  CBS News says that only four years ago, in 2011, a majority of Americans did not support legalization.

CBSPoll1

A notable difference on the marijuana issue is both gender-based and partisan.  A majority of men support legalization while women are split on the issue; and on the partisan front, “most” Democrats favor legalization while most Republicans are opposed.

Perhaps the changing opinions are based on marijuana use, as the survey also shows that more people are using marijuana now than 18 years ago. The survey found that 43% say they have tried marijuana, while back in 1997 only 34% said they had.  CBS explains, “not surprisingly, 74 percent of those who have tried marijuana think it should be legal, compared to just 35 percent who have never tried it.”

Even so, the marijuana issue isn’t a huge campaign issue. Three-quarters say it wouldn’t matter if a presidential candidate used marijuana, and those numbers are consistent across party lines.

This poll was conducted by telephone April 8-12, 2015 among a random sample of 1,012 adults nationwide.

 

 

 

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Remembering Mark Harding, the man “sentenced to Islam” before 9/11

Monday, April 20th, 2015 - by Kathy Shaidle
Mark Harding and friend. (Photo: Blogwrath)

Mark Harding and friend. (Photo: Blogwrath)

Tonight I’ll be attending a memorial service for Toronto pastor Mark Harding.

A friend remembers:

Let me just say now that what shortened his life and caused his untimely death was his passion to help others. He was one of the first Christian ministers to see the threat of the militant Islam. He didn’t hate Muslims – he saw them as misguided souls in a need of help to get out of their trap. Some of them loved him back and appreciated his efforts, others, and they were the majority, hated him and did everything in their power to destroy him. In 1997, through the efforts of the Muslim fanatics, he was convicted for “hate speech” over criticizing Islam

As his “community service,” Harding was sentenced to study the Koran for over 300 days.

I’m not kidding.

Here’s Ezra Levant with Harding’s story, and a conversation with the man himself:

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‘It’s Not a Fad, So Don’t Get Mad’: The ISIS ‘Jihadi Wives’ Poem

Monday, April 20th, 2015 - by Bridget Johnson

This poem was posted on a file-sharing site three days ago with the preface, “We are not slaves to our inclinations when will the west understand?!”:

We are the jihadi wives
We feel no shame
We are the jihadi wives
It’s all in the name

Wife to a warrior
It’s not a fad
Wife to a muwahid
So don’t get mad

Attempting to defame our names
Calling it democracy
Attempting to defame our game
A loosing mockery

We are the jihadi wives
Take down this memo
We are the jihadi wives
Raising a new nation

Enjoying ardul izzah
Preparing our cubs for your slaughter
Enjoying ardul izzah
The next to come might be your daughter

The muhajiraat keep expanding
Coming from all across the globe
The muhajiraat keep expanding
Coming bolder and stronger

Jihadi wives here to stay
Supporting martyrdom or victory
So be displeased as you you
Jihadi wives here to stay

The “cubs,” or ISIS children, are put into indoctrination programs and training camps at an early age. There was no designated author of the “Jihadi Wives” poem, but ISIS has been making a concerted effort to lure women to the Islamic State to become brides to their fighters.

One ISIS handbook advises women to arrange contacts beforehand, to learn some conversational Turkish, not travel on the same plane in groups larger than three, buy a SIM card for a cell phone at the airport, and to “be chill to the airport officers.” Once at a hotel, the woman would call contacts for a ride to a home of an ISIS sympathizer in preparation to cross the border at night or dawn. It cautions that if you leave your luggage at the safehouse “they might steal your stuff.” The guide also recommends bringing an extra abaya in case a woman rips hers while crawling under barbed wire at the border.

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SCOTUS Will Not Weigh In on Fish Pedicure Ban

Monday, April 20th, 2015 - by Liz Sheld

If you were waiting to find out if you would be able to get an exotic fish pedicure in Arizona, I’m sorry to tell you that you will not.

Let me tell you about the latest fad in pedicures, for those who are out of the loop on the latest pedicure innovations. A fish pedicure is one where you put your feet into water filled with small fish, the Garra Rufa species, and the fish eat away at the dead skin on your feet.

Full disclosure: I have never had a fish pedicure.

Here’s a picture to give you a better idea of what I’m talking about.

Mideast Iraq Fishy Business

The Supreme Court will not be hearing an appeal from an Arizona owner of a “fish spa” over the decision of local regulators to shut down her shop.  Regulators claimed the fish were not safe for exfoliation because, I’m not kidding here, “the fish couldn’t be sanitized between uses.”

“The justices on Monday left in place a lower court ruling that said the state Board of Cosmetology didn’t violate Cindy Vong’s constitutional rights.”

De gustibus non est disputandum.

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Webb on Iran: Nuke Deal Is a Treaty, So Congress Must ‘Really Scrub’ It

Monday, April 20th, 2015 - by Bridget Johnson

Potential 2016 presidential candidate and former Sen. Jim Webb (D-Va.) has a very different view on the Iran nuclear negotiations than the Obama administration.

“I don’t believe that you can have a legally binding international commitment without the full consent of the Congress, not the oversight that they are offering in this bill, although I would say I think [Bob Corker] has made quite an accomplishment by getting this bill through the committee in the form that it is,” Webb told CNN on Sunday.

Any eventual deal needs to be treated just like a treaty: “Specific approval.”

“And I said this when the Bush administration was putting together the strategic framework agreement in Iraq in ’08. I said it when President Obama said he was going to have a binding legal arrangement with respect to climate change. You cannot do that without the specific consent of the Congress,” he added.

Webb stressed that “we don’t want to be sending signals into this region that we are acquiescing to the situation where Iran might become more dominant.”

“We don’t know what is in this, the particulars. So, it’s vitally important that Congress come forward and examine this agreement in detail and get a vote,” he said.

“We know our interpretation of the outline of the agreement. And we see that Iran has given its interpretation, which is another reason why we need to really scrub this whole idea.”

Webb warned that “the end result of this could well be our acquiescence in allowing Iran to develop a nuclear weapon.”

“We don’t want that. I don’t — I’m not — I don’t think the Iranians really want that, because, if they look in this region, they’re going to see that you’re going to have proliferation,” he said. “But we need to really be on top of this. And I think the piece that Secretary Kissinger and George Shultz wrote in The Wall Street Journal summed it up about as well as it could summed up.”

That op-ed by the pair of former secretaries of State, which eviscerated what had been revealed about the framework, was panned by the administration as unrealistic.

State Department spokeswoman Marie Harf said she heard “a lot of sort of big words and big thoughts” in the piece, “but I didn’t hear a lot of alternatives about what they would do differently.”

Webb, a Vietnam veteran who was an assistant secretary of Defense and secretary of the Navy under President Reagan, stressed “the questions that Kissinger and Shultz raised about verification and what was on the other side are really important.”

“That’s why the Congress needs to scrub this and give specific approval, if — and I am saying as someone who potentially could be in — obviously in the executive branch, but I think it’s healthy for the country,” he added.

Of that potential challenge to Hillary Clinton, Webb said he’s “looking at it and looking at it hard.”

“I think the reality, obviously, I have been independent all my political career. It’s how I could work comfortably in the Reagan administration and then comfortably serve as a Democrat. But we’re never going to have this financial leviathan machine that is going to pull in $2.5 billion, as some people do,” Webb said in reference to Hillary’s expected fundraising haul.

“I’m never going to have a political consultant at my side whispering what I should say or how I should dress or whether I ought to go to Wal-Mart or not. But what we do have is long experience on the issues in and out of government, strong beliefs about where the country needs to go, and I think the kind of leadership that — where we can govern and we can pull in people who love our country and try to develop some strong positions on fairness at home and common sense and foreign policy.”

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New ISIS Video Shows Mass Executions of Christians in Libya

Monday, April 20th, 2015 - by The Tatler

Reprinted with permission from MEMRI.

On April 19, 2015, the Islamic State (ISIS) released a 29-minute video titled “Until There Should Come to Them Clear Evidence.”[1] The film, produced by the organization’s media company Al-Furqan and posted on jihadi forums such as Shumoukh Al-Islam,[2] is subtitled in five languages: English, French, German, Russian and Arabic. It explains that Christianity is a deviation from true monotheism, and presents the laws which ISIS applies to the Christians under its rule: they must either convert to Islam or pay the jizya tax. Otherwise, the Muslim will fight them. To exemplify this, it discusses the fate of the Christians in Raqqa, Syria, who complied with these rules, versus the fate of the Christians of Mosul, Iraq, who did not.

The last part of the video shows the mass execution of Christians in Libya who, according to the film, likewise refused to comply with the laws of Islam. A masked speaker, apparently North American, declares that ISIS will fight all Christians who behave in a similar manner. This message is then reiterated by an ISIS cleric, who tells Muslims worldwide that ISIS will reach them. When it does, he says, they will have to either convert or pay the jizya tax. Otherwise, their men will be killed and their women and children will be taken captive.

The following are details:

In the first part of the video, a narrator explains that Christianity deteriorated after the time of Christ and deviated from the path of monotheism. Next, a senior ISIS cleric, Abu Malek Anas Al-Nashwan, explains that, according to the laws of Islam, Christians under Muslim rule have two options: they must either convert to Islam, or else pay the Jizya tax and accept Muslim dominance as part of a pact of protection (dhimma). He says that the Muslims of Raqqa in Syria accepted these terms and thereby ensured that they and their property would not be harmed, whereas the Christians in Ninveh province in Iraq refused them, and therefore faced the death penalty. However, the Caliph [ISIS leader Abu Bakr Al-Baghdadi] decided to spare them and ordered instead to exile them from their homes and from their land. Their property was seized in accordance with the laws of Islam, says the sheikh.

The film presents testimonies of Christians in Raqqa who claim that, since they paid the jizya tax, their situation has been excellent – so much so that they urged fellow Christians who had fled from the city to return and live there in peace. Christians also testify that ISIS’s Muslim courts handle their cases fairly and without discrimination.

Turning to Mosul in Iraq, the film shows ISIS members smashing crosses and destroying the churches of the Christians, who refused to either convert or pay the jizya tax.

ISISLibya1

ISISLibya2

ISISLibya3

The last part of the film shows the mass execution of African Christians in two locations in Libya: on a beach in Barqa (Cyrenaica) province and in a desert area in Fezzan in the south of the country. The prisoners in Barqa are dressed in the orange uniforms familiar from other ISIS execution videos, whereas those in Fezzan are dressed in dark uniforms. According to the film, the latter prisoners are members of the Ethiopian church. They are executed with a bullet to the back of the head, whereas those in Barqa are beheaded.

The Fezzan execution is presided over by a masked individual who speaks fluent English with a North American accent, dressed in black after the fashion of “Jihadi John.” He delivers a message in which he threatens all Christians, and adds that he and his comrades will continue fighting all those who disbelieve in one god until they either convert or pay the jizya.

ISILibya4

ISISLibya5

ISISLibya6

ISISlibya7

The video ends with a message from Abu Malek Anas Al-Nashwan to Christians everywhere: “The Islamic State will spread, with Allah’s help, and will reach you, even if you are in your strongholds. Whoever converts to Islam will be safe, and whoever pays the jizya tax will be safe. But whoever refuses will recieve from us only the punishment specified by Muslim law: the men will be killed, the women and children will be taken captive, and the homes and property will be taken as booty.”


[1] The title is taken from Koran 98:1: “Those who disbelieve from among the people of the Scripture (Jews and Christians) and among Al-Mushrikun,were not going to leave (their disbelief) until there should come to them clear evidence.”

[2] Shamikh1.info, April 19, 2015.

 

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FBI Chief Likens Poles to Nazis, Hears About It Pronto

Monday, April 20th, 2015 - by Michael Walsh

It seems every major post in the American government is now occupied by a blithering idiot:

Polish officials were up in arms Saturday after FBI Director James Comey suggested that their country shared responsibility for the Holocaust. Comey, in a Friday column in the Washington Post, compared Poles and Hungarians to the Nazis during World War II.

“In their minds, the murderers and accomplices of Germany, and Poland, and Hungary, and so many, many other places didn’t do something evil,” Comey wrote. “They convinced themselves it was the right thing to do, the thing they had to do. That’s what people do. And that should truly frighten us.”

Whoops! Might want to check your history books on that one, Jimbo. Poland was one of the first victims of World War II, attacked, partitioned and occupied by the two socialist bosom buddies, Nazi Germany and the Union of Soviet Socialist Republics in 1939. The Poles had a government-in-exile in London, the Polish underground fought heroically, and even infiltrated Auschwitz to try to warn the world what was happening.

Anne Applebaum quickly straightened Comey out, also in the pages of the Post:

The Polish ambassador to Washington has protested, the Polish president has protested, the speaker of the Polish parliament (to whom I am married) has protested — and the U.S. ambassador to Warsaw has apologized profusely. Why? Because James Comey, the director of the FBI, in a speech that was reprinted in The Post arguing for more Holocaust education, demonstrated just how badly he needs it himself. In two poorly worded sentences, he sounded to Polish readers as if he were repeating the World War II myth that most drives them crazy: Namely, that somehow, those who lived in occupied Eastern Europe shared full responsibility for a German policy.

So no, it is not true, as Comey made it sound, that “murderers and accomplices” in Germany, Poland and Hungary and lots of other places were somehow responsible for the Holocaust. And no, it isn’t true that the Holocaust is a story of so many otherwise “good” people who “convinced themselves it was the right thing to do.”

On the contrary, it’s a story about the power of fear, the danger of lawlessness and the horror that was made possible by a specific form of German state terror in the years between 1939 and 1945 – a terror that convinced many people to do things that they knew were terribly, terribly wrong. If the FBI director wants to take some lessons from Washington’s excellent Holocaust museum, that’s very admirable. But first he should make sure he’s understood what he’s seen.

Good Lord.

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Diversity, Shmaversity: Geriatric White People Form Core of Democrat Presidential Field

Monday, April 20th, 2015 - by Michael Walsh

If you seek “diversity,” which after all is supposed to be our strength, look elsewhere:

Why are the Democrats running for president so old? Blame the Clintons. There are five Democrats who have either declared or are thinking about running for president. Three — Joe Biden, Bernard Sanders, and Jim Webb — will be over 70 years old on Inauguration Day 2017. Frontrunner Hillary Clinton will be nine months short of 70. Only Martin O’Malley, who will turn 54 a couple of days before the 2017 swearing-in, has not reached retirement age already.

What accounts for the Democrats’ dramatic change from the party of youth to the party of age?

“It’s the snuffing out of young talent by the strength and size and sheer velocity of the inevitable nominee,” says a well-connected Democratic strategist. “The Clintons took all the air out of the collective Democratic room. There are a lot of people who would be running who are much younger, but they’ve got their future in front of them, and they don’t want the Clintons to ruin it, in this campaign or after this campaign. So they’re waiting for a moment when there is enough oxygen to run.”

The elderly field is dismaying for some Democrats, but not overwhelmingly so. They believe, rightly, that if a Republican wins in 2016, then everything Barack Obama has accomplished in eight years will be endangered. To protect those achievements — most notably, national health care — a Democrat must keep the White House. If that is Hillary Clinton, fine.

So… how’s that Hillary! campaign working out for you, Dems?

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Is Reid’s Fall Making Life Easier in the Senate for Manchin?

Monday, April 20th, 2015 - by Bridget Johnson

Though Sen. Joe Manchin (D-W.Va.) has complained about the frustration of partisanship in Congress, he’s decided to stay right where he is in 2018 instead of plotting a return to the governor’s mansion.

First he’ll have to get through his 2016 re-election bid. But maybe his decision has something to do with the new leadership in the upper chamber.

“Harry’s a good man, OK. His leadership and the things he thought would work did not. So with that, you just move on,” Manchin told MSNBC this morning.

Minority Leader Harry Reid (D-Nev.) is retiring at the end of the 114th Congress and wants the leadership reins to go to Sen. Chuck Schumer (D-N.Y.).

The senator released a statement Sunday saying that “it has been a harder transition than I had expected” from governor to senator, “but I believe that, after five years, we are beginning to make a difference.”

“We are simply bringing a greater sense of bipartisanship and commitment to working together for the good of the American people. It is because of that optimism that I have decided to continue serving the people of West Virginia in the United States Senate. My main purpose in the Senate, has, and always will be, to represent the great people of West Virginia to the best of my ability, and I have always said that when my country succeeds, my state succeeds. I feel that I can have the greatest impact on West Virginia and America by staying in Washington,” Manchin said. “This place may not be working now, but I’m not going to stop fighting to make it work.”

Manchin told MSNBC he’s “seen some glimmers of hope” in the upper chamber.

“I think we put our country before we put our political party or our politics,” he said.

A key focus of the senator right now is prescription drug abuse.

“This drug culture we have, it is killing America and it’s definitely a number-one killer in West Virginia. That’s the thing I can do, maybe make a difference and change some things and save some peoples’ lives,” Manchin said. “…The bottom line is you don’t hear anybody that’s running for president talking about the number-one killer in America. And I don’t know why. And we keep bringing more powerful drugs on. Why does the FDA keep approving it? I’ve got two bills right now to try to stop that and not — and just go ahead and pass things through that are killers.”

In the GovTrack rating of senators’ votes, Manchin has drifted more into red territory than any other Democrat.

Screen Shot 2015-04-20 at 9.48.23 AM

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Why Does Obama Want to Kill the Warthog?

Monday, April 20th, 2015 - by Michael Walsh

Obama’s contempt for the American military knows no bounds, but nothing speaks to his animosity more than his ongoing attempt, with the help of his apparatchiks in the Air Force and the Defense Department, to mothball the venerable, but lethally effective, A-10 fighter. Arizona Rep. Martha McSally, a former A-10 pilot herself, makes the case for the most feared weapon we have in the war against Islam:

WHEN American troops find themselves fighting for their lives, there is no better sound than an A-10, a plane officially nicknamed the Thunderbolt II but known affectionately by the troops as the Warthog, firing its enormous 30-millimeter gun at the enemy. It might not be pretty, but the A-10 is our most capable close air-support aircraft, and its arrival on the battlefield signals survival for our troops and annihilation for our enemies.

Yet over the last two years, the Obama administration and the Air Force leadership have been working overtime to mothball our entire A-10 fleet, 13 years ahead of schedule. They claim that other, newer planes can do the same job, that it’s too slow and vulnerable and that it’s too expensive.I appreciate the budget pressures that the Pentagon faces these days. But those arguments have serious flaws — and if we retire the A-10 before a replacement is developed, American troops will die.

That apparently matters little to the nation’s commander-in-chief; a man who, after hearing the news that four Americans had been killed at Benghazi,  can roll over and go back to sleep before jetting off to party in Las Vegas the next day is capable of anything.

The A-10 has unique strengths for the most complex and dangerous such missions. It can loiter over the battlefield for long periods without refueling. It can maneuver in difficult terrain at low altitudes, fly slowly enough to visually identify enemy and friendly forces and survive direct hits. And it’s one of our most lethal aircraft, especially against moving targets, with its 1,174 rounds of ammunition, missiles, rockets and bombs. Not only is the A-10 best equipped for close air support, but it is crucial to leading combat search and rescue missions of downed pilots. After the barbaric murder of a captured Jordanian F-16 pilot by ISIS, these capabilities are more important than ever — indeed, A-10s are on round-the-clock alert during American missions against ISIS.

The A-10 was designed as a Cold War tank killer, and its cannon is the only one in the Air Force that can fire armor-piercing depleted-uranium 30-millimeter bullets. In a recent hearing, I asked the general in charge of our forces in South Korea what the loss of the A-10 would mean for our anti-armor capabilities. It would leave a major gap, he conceded…

Yet the administration and the Pentagon persist. Recently, Air Force leaders said the fight to save the A-10 was “emotional.” Of course it is. Just ask the families of Master Sergeant Wells and his men. The A-10 has supporters because we know it works — and that the American military can’t afford to retire it.

Quick, crack press corps: somebody ask Barry whether he cares.

 

 

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State Legislator: We Need to Defeat ISIS Before You Can Buy Beer on Sunday

Monday, April 20th, 2015 - by Walter Hudson

MilitentsIt’s 2015. We still can’t ride hover-boards or pilot flying cars. Worse yet, Minnesota consumers can’t buy liquor on Sundays. An archaic blue law remains on the books which bans such commerce on the Christian sabbath. An effort to repeal the ban has become perennial, failing session after session despite broad public support across party lines.

After committee chairs in the Minnesota state Senate refused to hear a bill to repeal the ban, an amendment to the same effect was offered to an omnibus liquor bill last week. The amendment failed, with Republicans and Democrats split both for and against the measure.

Facing heat for his vote against Sunday liquor sales, Republican state Senator Dave Brown took to his Facebook account expressing frustration:

Brown1Brown’s post was likely in direct response to yours truly. In testimony before the House Commerce Committee, speaking on behalf of the Republican Liberty Caucus of Minnesota, I had described the Sunday sales issue as a litmus test for determining whether elected representatives believe in individual rights and free markets. I also called out Brown by name in a social media post following the vote. I went on to describe the issue as “a line in the sand,” a phrase repeated by Brown in conversation with constituents.

Brown2Let’s consider this perspective offered by Brown. By his logic, constituents may not fairly condemn votes on issues of liberty so long as greater violations take place anywhere in the world. Since few issues claim the gravity of Islamic beheadings, this effectively means that constituents may not rightly complain about anything.

The best response to Brown’s claim comes from Craig Westover, retired journalist and former communications director of the Republican Party of Minnesota.

Brown5Brown and others of similar mindset think this is about buying booze. It’s not. It’s about the principles which Republicans campaign on, and whether activists and voters can trust that those principles will be applied to issues both grand and trivial. Indeed, if we can’t trust legislators to uphold principle on matters of lower priority, on what would we base expectations for issues of higher priority?

The excuses didn’t end there.

Brown3See? We don’t have a free market anyway. So why would anyone expect a legislator to vote for a free market? Makes sense, right?

Brown4In the final analysis, according to Brown, Minnesotans don’t just need to wait until beheadings end in the Middle East before they can buy a beer on the sabbath. They also need to wait until business licensure and municipal liquor stores are abolished.

Missing from this order of legislative operation is an actual justification. Why do we have to wait? What is it about voting to end an archaic blue law that somehow prevents action on any other issue? Was Brown too busy fighting Middle Eastern beheadings to vote appropriately here?

Another brand of deflection was exhibited by Democrat state senator Jim Carlson:

Don’t blame me! It was the committee chairs.

Right. Look, we all get how the game is played. The committee chairs answer to the leadership. The leadership answers to their caucus members. The whole process is set up to deflect responsibility and set up plausible narratives to excuse inaction or wrong action. It’s a tired old schtick that doesn’t impress anyone anymore. Voters expect better.

 

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30 Ethiopian Christians Executed by Islamic State

Sunday, April 19th, 2015 - by Rick Moran

The Islamic State released a video on their official media site purporting to show up to 30 Ethiopian Christians captured in Libya being brutally executed.

Last month, IS released another video showing the execution of 21 Coptic Christians from Egypt. The victims in both cases appear to be migrant workers captured by Islamic State for the express purpose of executing them in a very public, very horrific way.

Daily Mail:

Initial reports did not make clear who the captives were or when they were captured. 

The video bore the official logo of the IS media arm Al-Furqan and resembled previous footage released by the extremist group.

Redwan Hussein, an Ethiopian government spokesman, said officials were in contact with its embassy in Cairo to verify the video’s authenticity. 

He said he believed those killed were likely to have been Ethiopian migrants hoping to reach Europe. Libya has become a hub for migrants across Africa hoping to cross the Mediterranean to enter Europe for work and better lives.

‘If this is confirmed, it will be a warning to people who wish to risk and travel to Europe though the dangerous route,’ Mr Hussein said. 

He added that Ethiopia, which does not have an embassy in Libya, would help repatriate Ethiopians if they wanted to leave. Libyan officials were not immediately available for comment. 

Abba Kaletsidk Mulugeta, an official with the Ethiopian Orthodox Tewahdo Church’s Patriarchate Office, said he also believed the victims were likely to have been migrants.

‘I believe this is just another case of the IS group killing Christians in the name of Islam. Our fellow citizens have just been killed on a faith-based violence that is totally unacceptable. This is outrageous,’ he said. 

‘No religion orders the killing of other people, even people from another religion.’

Ethiopia’s options to retaliate remain slim, given its distance from Libya. 

However, Ethiopian Ambassador to Egypt Mohammed Edrees said his country could partner with Cairo to strike the militants.

‘That could be an option,’ Mr Edrees said. ‘We will see and explore what is possible to deal with group.’ 

Frederic Wehrey, a senior associate for the Middle East Programme at the Carnegie Endowment for International Peace, said: ‘The Islamic State in Libya is still focused on this consolidation phase of announcing its presence through these very high-profile executions. But they face some structural limits in terms of how much local support they can get because they haven’t captured real revenue streams.’

Islamic State has a lot of competition in Libya from other wacko extremists. You have to figure that the pool of twisted fanatics has to be limited, so their executions aims to maximize their efforts. It is important to keep the pressure on them in Iraq and Syria so they can’t send reinforcements to Libya where it would be possible for them to carve out a section of that failed state for their own.

Here’s a link to the very graphic, entire 29 minute video. I debated posting it on the site but I think people would be right to criticize us for posting murder porn. We can be outraged without having images of human beings at the last instant of life having their heads cut off.

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Rand Paul Sounds Like a Democrat Criticizing GOP Rivals’ Foreign Policy

Sunday, April 19th, 2015 - by Rick Moran

Bernie Sanders couldn’t have said it better:

“There’s a group of folks in our party who would have troops in six countries right now — maybe more,” the Kentucky senator told hundreds of activists at a GOP cattle call that has drawn every major presidential aspirant. “This is something, if you watch closely, that will separate me from many other Republicans. The other Republicans will criticize Hillary Clinton and the president for their foreign policy, but they would have done the same thing – just 10 times over!”

“Six countries – maybe more”? Which countries, Senator? And how many of your rivals have proposed sending troops to Syria? To Yemen? To Libya? (Do we have to count Lindsey Graham?)

Rand Paul is trying to separate himself from other candidates on foreign policy while not appearing to be a head-in-the-sand isolationist. But in doing so, does he have to lie like a Democrat about his opponents?

“Everyone who will criticize me wanted troops on the ground, our troops on the ground, in Libya,” he said. “It was a mistake to be in Libya. We are less safe. Jihadists swim in our swimming pool now. It’s a disaster.”

Did Ted Cruz want troops on the ground in Libya? Did Scott Walker, Chris Christie, or any other GOP governor who might run for president want troops on the ground in Libya? Marco Rubio specifically advised against troops on the ground in Libya, believing that the president could have intervened “more decisively” but rejecting American military intervention.

Paul’s statement is either an ignorant rant or a baldfaced lie. Falsely accusing opponents of things they don’t believe and wouldn’t do obscures Paul’s real problems with rank-and-file Republicans who want a president to stand up strongly for American interests and want to make America the pre-eminent military and economic power in the world once again. Many simply don’t believe his foreign-policy ideas are proactive enough. They are suspicious of his libertarian leanings on national-defense strategy.

One aspect of a Paul campaign Republican regulars can get behind is his position on NSA snooping:

Contrasting himself with most others in the field, Paul also promised to end the federal government’s collection of American phone records if elected president. “I’m a Republican who believes in the right to privacy,” he said. “It doesn’t mean collecting 300 million people’s phone records. The 4th amendment is not consistent with a warrant that says Mr. Verizon on it. Last I heard Mr. Verizon isn’t a person.”

“Your phone records are yours,” he declared. “It’s none of the government’s damn business what you’re doing on your phone.”

“You can say damn in New Hampshire, can’t you?” he quipped.

“Damn straight,” a man yelled back from the crowd.

NSA spying is a peripheral national-security issue and there is disagreement among the candidates about how much of what the NSA has been doing is really necessary. This is a legitimate way for Paul to put distance between himself and his rivals — as long as he accurately enumerates their positions.

But otherwise, Paul’s rank dishonesty in describing what his opponents would do if elected is intolerable. Might we see a sound bite of Paul dishonestly ripping his opponents in a Hillary Clinton commercial? Perhaps the senator should think about that the next time he feels compelled to grossly exaggerate the positions of his opponents.

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Iranian Ship Convoy Heads for Yemen

Sunday, April 19th, 2015 - by Rick Moran

Seven to nine Iranian ships are headed for Yemen, according to US military officials. The Pentagon is worried that the ships may dock at a port controlled by Houthi rebels in order to resupply them.

Saudi ships are patrolling off the coast, looking to impose a blockade on supplies to the rebels Obviously, a dangerous situation may develop if Iran tries to run the blockade.

The Hill:

Officials fear the move could lead to a showdown with the U.S. or other members of a Saudi-led coalition, which is enforcing a naval blockade of Yemen and is conducting its fourth week of airstrikes against the Houthis.

Iran sent a destroyer and another vessel to waters near Yemen last week but said it was part of a routine counter-piracy mission.

What’s unusual about the new deployment, which set out this week, is that the Iranians are not trying to conceal it, officials said. Instead, they appear to be trying to “communicate it” to the U.S. and its allies in the Gulf.

It is not clear what will happen as the convoy comes closer to Yemen. Saudi Arabia has deployed ships around Yemen to enforce the blockade, as has Egypt. An official said the ship convoy could try to land at a port in Aden, which the Houthis have taken over.

Although the U.S. is assisting with the Saudi-led air campaign, it is not participating in the naval blockade of Yemen, said U.S. Central Command spokesman Col. Pat Ryder.

However, the U.S. Navy is in the region and has already “consensually boarded” one Panamanian-flagged ship in the Red Sea on April 1 on the suspicion it was illegally carrying arms for the Houthis.

None were found, but the move raised alarm bells in Washington over an increasingly active U.S. military role in the conflict. The Pentagon indicated this week that more boardings could occur.

“We will continue to vigilantly defend freedom of navigation and to conduct consensual searches in an effort to ensure that drugs, human trafficking, weapons trafficking and other contraband are limited,” Army Col. Steve Warren said on Monday.

Officials fear a naval confrontation between Iran and Saudi Arabia could escalate what has become a proxy war between the two countries.

I don’t think either the Saudis or the Iranians want to go to war. It doesn’t make sense for Iran to negotiate a nuclear deal with the west that will lift sanctions and then start a war that’s sure to bring a response from the US. Not only that, but Iran’s military would be overwhelmed by the Arab army assembled by Saudi Arabia. They may be fanatics in Tehran but they’re not stupid.

From the Saudi point of view, there are several countries in their coalition with large Shia minorities who might cause trouble if there’s a war with Iran. And while the war in Yemen is seen as an effort to help the recognized government, a war with Iran would be seen as a sectarian conflict that might blow up the entire Middle East.

Still, you can have the best of intentions not to go to war and one will start anyway. That’s the nature of confrontation and all it takes is one mistake by one Iranian or Saudi ship’s captain for the shooting to begin.

So why is Iran risking war?

U.S. officials say they are unsure why Iran is making the brazen move. One theory they have floated is that the Saudi-led coalition has effectively blockaded any air routes into Yemen and there are no other ways to resupply the Houthis.

Another theory is that Iran is trying to distract the coalition from another ship it has tried hard to conceal that is currently docked at Oman — a potential land route for smuggling arms into Yemen.

Yet another theory is that Iran wants to force a confrontation with Saudi Arabia that it believes it will win, because Iran views the Saudi military as weak and suspects the U.S. lacks the willpower to support its Gulf ally.

Iranian Supreme Leader Ali Khamenei last week on Twitter taunted Saudi Arabia, calling its military puny and smaller than Israel’s. He also said the air campaign was tantamount to genocide of innocent Yemeni civilians and that the U.S. would also fail in Yemen.

The Saudi military may be weak, but they have assembled a 40,000 man Arab army. And Egypt, with the largest military in the region, has said they would contribute troops if called upon. Pakistan has also said they would consider sending troops if Saudi Arabia was threatened.

A confrontation between Iran and the Saudis would quickly escalate. Let’s hope there aren’t any nervous trigger fingers on any of the ships from either side.

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The Senate’s Red Line: No Immediate Sanctions Relief as Demanded by Iran

Sunday, April 19th, 2015 - by Bridget Johnson

The leader of the panel that unanimously passed out of committee a bill requiring congressional approval of any deal with Iran vowed to stop any sanctions repeal that isn’t incremental.

Iran has insisted publicly for many weeks now that it will not accept anything less than all sanctions repealed on the day they sign the final deal.

“As you know, at present, right now, the leadership in Iran is telling their citizens one thing. Our president and others are telling us another. The only way we will ever know what are the details, understand what is in the classified annexes is for us to pass these pieces of legislation that are before us, because, otherwise, we may never know until way after the fact exactly what the agreement is,” Senate Foreign Relations Committee Chairman Bob Corker (R-Tenn.) told CNN this morning.

“So, look, I think it’s very important, yes, that the phased — the sanctions be phased, so that we see how Iran is behaving, and whether they are actually living up to the arrangement, that we are building up trust,” Corker said. “But, no, to alleviate those on the front end obviously just gives them immediately more money to conduct terrorist acts throughout the Middle East and to continue the hegemony that they have been involved in for the last several years.”

Asked directly if he would stop the Obama administration from lifting sanctions in a manner that was not phased in over time, he replied, “Yes.”

The chairman stressed there are “lots of questions right now, when you start teasing out the details from Secretary Kerry and others.”

“What are our abilities to — on an instant, to get into these facilities, to know what is happening? Are we going to go back to exactly what happened under Saddam Hussein, where they kept moving the ball, where, for months and months and months, we didn’t have the ability to get in?” Corker asked.

“…The public will never see, never see the classified annexes. And I think, on their behalf, they want someone, they want Senator Cardin, myself, our colleagues, the 98 others who will have the opportunity to do this, to actually see those details prior to the sanctions being relieved, to be able to debate those, and certainly to be able to make sure that they comply.”

Ranking Member Ben Cardin (D-Md.) declared on CNN that “America is stronger today” because of the 19-0 vote on the Corker-Menendez bill last week.

“It’s not unusual to have any administration disagree as to what role Congress should play in any of the work that they are doing, but I think we have worked out the right way, the right way for a thoughtful review by Congress to look at sanctions, since we imposed the sanctions, as to how those sanctions will be handled,” Cardin said.

Said Sen. Lindsey Graham (R-S.C.) on Fox this morning: “Don’t think there’s a snowball chance in hell that a Congress is going to approve this framework the way it’s set up.”

“The ayatollah saying he gets immediate sanction relief with no intrusive inspections,” Graham said. “…And I don’t think there’s any chance we’re going to lift congressional sanctions as long as you have hardened sites like Fordow still open.”

“If the final agreement doesn’t allow any time, anywhere inspections, it has a large enrichment program, it keeps Fordow, an underground secret site, reinforced site open that he will get his — it will be rejected large enough to override a veto because members of the Senate understand that this is the most consequential vote we will ever take and the Iranians can’t be trusted, they lie, they cheat.”

As the White House, knowing it was defeated on Corker-Menendez, acquiesced and said it could live with the bill as written, Congressional Republican leadership fired a shot across President Obama’s bow Saturday by turning the weekly GOP address over to Sen. Mark Kirk (R-Ill.), co-author of the Menendez-Kirk sanctions bill.

“Iran is the world’s biggest state sponsor of terror. Iran’s aytatollahs are now trying to build their own nuclear weapons. Iranian leaders have repeatedly threatened to annihilate Jewish families across the state of Israel,” Kirk said.

“Four years ago I authored a bipartisan Iran sanctions Legislation that passed the Senate by a vote of 100-0. These sanctions forced Iran back to the negotiating table. They were so effective that they dropped the value of Iran’s currency by three-quarters. This was probably the entire reason why the Iranians even showed up at the negotiations,” he continued.

“Lately, Iran has tried to backtrack on the promises they made to President Obama. Iran now wants sanctions immediately lifted, which would fund Iran’s terror subsidiaries with billions. Secretary Kerry recently testified before the Senate and said it would only take two more months for Iran to build a bomb. We must use strong economic pressure on Iran to prevent them from getting nuclear weapons.”

Stopping Iran from getting the bomb, the senator stressed, is “the greatest challenge to peace in our time.”

“After the Holocaust we promised ‘never again,’” Kirk said. “We must keep terrorists from hurting our allies and our nation.”

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Mother of Mercy, Is This the End of the Golden State?

Sunday, April 19th, 2015 - by Michael Walsh

Paradise, laid low by malignant morons. The great Joel Kotkin lays out the indictment:

California has met the future, and it really doesn’t work. As the mounting panic surrounding the drought suggests, the Golden State, once renowned for meeting human and geographic challenges, is losing its ability to cope with crises. As a result, the great American land of opportunity is devolving into something that resembles feudalism, a society dominated by rich and poor, with little opportunity for upward mobility for the state’s middle- and working classes.

The water situation reflects this breakdown in the starkest way. Everyone who follows California knew it was inevitable we would suffer a long-term drought. Most of the state—including the Bay Area as well as greater Los Angeles—is semi-arid, and could barely support more than a tiny fraction of its current population. California’s response to aridity has always been primarily an engineering one that followed the old Roman model of siphoning water from the high country to service cities and farms.

But since the 1970s, California’s water system has become the prisoner of politics and posturing. The great aqueducts connecting the population centers with the great Sierra snowpack are all products of an earlier era—the Los Angeles aqueduct (1913), Hetch-Hetchy (1923), the Central Valley Project (1937), and the California Aqueduct (1974). The primary opposition to expansion has been the green left, which rejects water storage projects as irrelevant.

Yet at the same time greens and their allies in academia and the mainstream press are those most likely to see the current drought as part of a climate change-induced reduction in snowpack. That many scientists disagree with this assessment is almost beside the point. Whether climate change will make things better or worse is certainly an important concern, but California was going to have problems meeting its water needs under any circumstances.

They didn’t pave paradise and put up a parking lot: they deliberately and with malice aforethought turned it back into a desert, just so they could grab even more power and keep the grubby Okie rubes from the interior at bay.

The generation that built the sinews of modern California—most notably the late Governor Pat Brown Sr., the current governor’s father—sprang from the old progressive spirit which saw in infrastructure development a chance not only to create new wealth, but also provide opportunity to working- and middle-class Californians.

Indeed, if you look at California’s greatest achievements as a society, the Pat Brown legacy stands at the core. The California Aqueduct turned vast stretches of the Central Valley into one of the most productive farming regions in the world. The freeway system, now in often shocking disrepair, allowed for the construction of mass suburbia that offered millions a quality of life never experienced by previous generations. At the same time the development of energy resources—California still boasts the nation’s third-largest oil production—helped create a huge industrial base that included aerospace, semiconductors, and a host of specialized industries, from logistics to garment manufacturing.

In contrast, Jerry Brown has waged a kind of Oedipal struggle against his father’s legacy. Like many Californians, he recoiled against the sometimes haphazard and even ugly form of development that plowed through much of the state. Cutting off water is arguably the most effective way to stop all development, and promote Brown’s stated goal of eliminating suburban “sprawl.” It is typical that his first target for cutbacks this year has been the “lawns” of the middle-class suburbanite, a species for which he has shown little interest or tolerance.

Read the whole thing. They hate us. They really hate us.

 

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On ‘Immigration,’ Lawless President Heading for Fresh Defeat in Fifth Circuit

Sunday, April 19th, 2015 - by Michael Walsh

Not that he cares, of course. Barack Hussein Obama would rather ask forgiveness than permission for any of his lawless “executive orders.” He’s counting on the fact that once America is flooded with illegals, there won’t be the political will to deport them, so say Hola! to “fundamental transformation.” Suddenly, however, there might be a roadblock:

A federal appeals court signaled Friday that it is unlikely to allow President Barack Obama’s request to go ahead with a new round of relief for illegal immigrants, making it likely that the White House will have to take its legal case to the Supreme Court within days.

The oral arguments before the 5th Circuit U.S. Court of Appeals in New Orleans were being closely watched by both sides in the heated immigration debate as a sign of whether the administration will be able to move forward with its plan to grant quasi-legal status and work permits to about 4 million illegal immigrants. Notably, one Republican-appointed judge used the president’s own comments to put the Justice Department on the defensive.

By the time the court session wrapped up, it appeared likely the appeals judges will rule, 2-1, against the administration’s request for a stay of a district court injunction, which would most likely leave the Supreme Court to decide whether the program can move ahead while lawsuits play out in the states. If the administration can’t get its new moves underway sometime this year it may have difficulty getting them done before Obama leaves office.

Gee, that’s too damn bad. On balance, though, the “fundamental transformation” movement has been very well timed and cleverly executed, boiling the frog step by step. The key was getting past the hapless Willard in the 2012 election and neutralizing the Tea Party; with those shoals cleared, America lies prostrate before the first anti-American administration.

The Obama administration contends that the programs announced last November — officially known as Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals (DACA) and Deferred Action for Parents of Americans (DAPA) — are lawful exercises of prosecutorial discretion. Texas and other states that have filed lawsuits challenging the moves. arguing that only Congress can authorize these kinds of sweeping actions.

Implementation of the program was stalled when U.S. District Court Judge Andrew Hanen issued an order blocking the actions. A Justice Department appeal brought the matter before the 5th Circuit.

I wonder how many of the idiots who heard “fundamental transformation” knew what Obama meant?

 

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This Outrageous Story Shows Why Marijuana Must Be Legalized in All 50 States

Sunday, April 19th, 2015 - by Michael van der Galien

What do you think of this? Despicable and outrageous, or just the school and police doing their duty?:

On March 24, cannabis oil activist Shona Banda‘s life was flipped upside-down after her son was taken from her by the State of Kansas. The ordeal started when counselors at her 11-year-old son’s school conducted a drug education class. Her son, who had previously lived in Colorado for a period of time, disagreed with some of the anti-pot points that were being made by school officials.

The school called the police. Coppers showed up at Shona’s home, searched everything, and ended up finding two ounces of cannabis oil which she uses to treat her Crohn’s disease. The result? She could lose her child — her ex has already been granted temporary custody of her son — and Shona faces the battle of her life.

If this horrendous story doesn’t convince you that marijuana should be legalized, I don’t know what will. It’s absolutely insane that Shona and many others like her are treated like psychopathic mass murderers, just because they use cannabis to treat an illness and because they believe others should be allowed to do the same.

Here’s the video of this ridiculous search:

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Washington Is Hollywood for Ugly People: Menendez, Melgen and the Babes

Sunday, April 19th, 2015 - by Michael Walsh

The New York Post has the juicy scoop on the continuing adventures of soon-to-be-former U.S. Senator from New Jersey Robert Menendez, his creepy doctor pal Salomon Melgen, and the women in their lives:

They are the models who could bring down a senator. Sen. Robert Menendez mobilized his staff to secure a visa for a Brazilian actress who posed nude on the cover of Sexy magazine; he stepped up for a sultry Ukrainian student who wanted a plastic-surgery consult; and he directd a staff member to “call Ambassador asap” in order to reverse a visa denial to a 22-year-old Dominican model.

The young women were all paramours of Dr. Salomon Melgen, 60, a married eye doctor and one of Menendez’s biggest donors, prosecutors charge. The New Jersey Democrat’s efforts on behalf of Melgen’s lovers came to light in a 68-page indictment against the two men unsealed this month.

Menendez is accused of using his power and influence to benefit Melgen in exchange for almost $1 million in gifts and campaign contributions. If convicted, Menendez faces up to 15 years in prison on each of eight bribery counts alone. Both men have pleaded not guilty.

Lots of details at the link, including photographs of two of the models. Based on the information from the indictment, it doesn’t look good for Bob.

The senator is also accused of trying to influence a State Department official on Melgen’s behalf in a dispute involving one of the doctor’s business interests in the Dominican Republic. Prosecutors also say Menendez and his staff tried to help Melgen in a Medicare billing conflict. Melgen was charged with Medicaid fraud last week in a separate 76-count indictment.

But the strangest aspect of the government’s case focuses on Menendez’s Herculean efforts to build Melgen’s harem. No fewer than six Senate staffers acted with a sense of urgency to get the job done.

Like Bill Clinton, frequent passenger aboard the “Lolita Express,” Sen, Menendez is, of course, a Democrat.

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Not-So-Earth-Friendly Crowd Leaves Big Trash Mess Behind After Earth Day Concert

Sunday, April 19th, 2015 - by Debra Heine

earth day trash

Thousands of environmentally conscious citizens converged on the National Mall on Saturday to be part of the Global Citizen Earth Day rally and concert. Performers like Mary J. Blige, Usher, and No Doubt performed to the crowd  to highlight global poverty and climate change.

Via USA Today:

Earth Day Network President Kathleen Rogers said eliminating poverty will require solving climate change. So advocates on both issues are collaborating to push for sustainable international development and hope Saturday’s event inspires people to support it. The rally was a cooperative effort with Global Citizen. The actual Earth Day observance is April 22.

“Whether it’s the big migrations we expect to see or soil depletion or emptying the oceans, loss of species, loss of timberland — all these things are creating poverty at the same time that they are also creating climate change issues,” Rogers said.

Unlike the cold and dreary Earth Day rally of 2012 — when none but the most die-hard Gaia worshippers came out — this Earth Day rally was on a beautiful spring day and was well attended. Unfortunately, well-attended events on the left do have a well-known downside…and that downside has a tendency to undercut their “earth-friendly” message.

Forget the “emptying of the oceans.” Someone needs to empty these trash cans.

Via Weasel Zippers:

 

 

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Shroud of Turin Goes on Display Tomorrow

Saturday, April 18th, 2015 - by Rick Moran

The most baffling religious relic of the Catholic Church goes on display tomorrow for the first time since 2010.

The Shroud of Turin is rarely displayed these days because of its deteriorating condition. But starting tomorrow through June 24th, the relic will will be available for public veneration in the Turin Cathedral.

Numerous scientific tests conducted on the shroud have been inconclusive in determining how old it is and how the image of an apparently crucified man was imprinted on the 14-foot-long cloth — except one. A radiocarbon dating test conducted in 1988 proved the cloth to be a medieval forgery — probably. Or maybe. Two separate labs working with small pieces of the shroud snipped off by scientists determined that the linen was manufactured in a 130-year period between 1260 and 1390.

Try as they might, those who believe the shroud to be the burial cloth of Christ have offered no convincing proof that the radiocarbon test was flawed. The latest efforts center on trying to prove that the cloth is actually 2000 years old and that it had been cross contaminated with more modern pollens or bacteria. Another explanation for the later date has to do with the sample taken by scientists coming for a patch used to repair the shroud following a fire that damaged it in the 16th century.

For those who believe, no proof is necessary. For those who don’t believe, no proof is possible.

What makes the shroud such a compelling and mysterious object is the way it appears in photographic negatives. Until 1898, all that was visible was the faint outline, presumably in blood, of a human form. But an amateur photographer, Secondo Pia, was astonished after being allowed to take a photo of the shroud, to see the clear image of a human male that showed up on the negative.

0000.jpg - Shortcut.lnk

But no one has an answer to the question of how the image got on the shroud. It’s not paint. It’s not a pigment of any kind. And there is no evidence that the various techniques to produce an image known by medieval artists were used.

But few of the nearly 1 million people who will view the shroud in the next two months care much about the scientific arguments.

Associated Press:

The 4.3-meter-long (14-foot) cloth will be displayed April 19-June 24. Pope Francis will view it on June 21 on an overnight trip to the Turin area, which will include private time with relatives.

Public viewings of the cloth were last held in 2010.

“Many pilgrims who had already seen the shroud in past showings come back, even though some saw it just five years ago,” Archbishop Cesare Nosiglia said on Saturday.

“That’s not a long time. And yet many of the bookings we have are people who have already seen the shroud. That means there is a fundamental need in people’s hearts to renew this incredible experience that they had the first time they saw it,” the prelate told reporters.

Reservations are mandatory but free of charge to see the shroud, displayed in a climate-controlled case, in Turin’s cathedral. Turin’s mayor said recently that more that 1 million people had made reservations. In 2010, some 2.5 million people came, according to organizers of the display.

The pope’s predecessor, Benedict XVI, has described the cloth as an icon “written with the blood” of a crucified man. Benedict said there was “full correspondence with what the Gospels tell us of Jesus.”

When Pope John Paul II saw the shroud in 1998, he said the mystery forces questions about faith and sciences and whether it really was Jesus’ burial linen. He urged continuous study.

Skeptics say the linen bearing the figure of a crucified man is a medieval forgery.

Nosiglia said people of all faiths will come to see the shroud, not just Christians. “Even non-believers will come. It’s an occasion that brings everybody together and aims to give a precise response to the violence in this world. It tells us that the way to build a fairer world is not violence, but love,” he said.

I am not a believer but I find the shroud the most fascinating religious artifact in the world. There is nothing comparable in any other religion of which I am aware. It is certainly the most debated, the most studied religious artifact  – and for that, a trip to Turin to view it is most definitely worth it.

More at PJ Lifestyle: 

Does New Study of Burial Cloth Add to Existing Proof that Jesus Was Resurrected Around 33 AD?

 

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Celebrate ‘Diversity’ by Having Girls Wear Muslim Head Scarf?

Saturday, April 18th, 2015 - by Rick Moran

This is one of the most bizarre efforts by diversity freaks to advance their cause.

A high school principal has canceled an exercise dubbed “The Covered Girl Challenge,” where girls would cover their heads with a Muslim head scarf. The event was nixed after intense criticism from people not besotted with idiotic notions of cultural relativism.

But, hey! Her heart was in the right place:

Intense criticism has prompted an Ohio high school’s principal to cancel a student event in which girls would celebrate diversity by spending a day wearing a Muslim headscarf.

Mason High School Mindy McCarty-Stewart also issued an apology in an email Thursday to district families, saying the intent of the April 23 student-led event was meant to be positive, the Cincinnati Enquirer reported.

“I now realize that as adults we should have given our students better guidance. After much consideration and after talking with the student event organizers, we have canceled the event,” she said.

Well, if the point of the event was supposed to be positive, obviously everything is OK. The fact that it was a display of profound ignorance about Islam and the brutal way it treats women — covered or not — should have had no bearing on the happy happy path to diversity and understanding the event would have promoted.

Sharon Poe, a former school board candidate in the district, told the Enquirer she opposed the “Covered Girl” event.

“My belief is wearing these hijabs represents the oppression of women and Sharia law,” she said, adding that public schools should not be promoting one religious tradition over another.

However, Yasmeen Allen, an Iraqi native with two teenagers at Mason High, told the newspaper that Muslim students at the school “were robbed of an opportunity” to counter negativity their religion faces around the world.

McCarty-Stewart said she decided to cancel the event because it was clear it was not reaching its goal of teaching tolerance, the Dayton Daily News reported.

She also said it was a mistake for the event, which was sponsored by a Muslim student group, to be promoted by the school’s student activities department.

The decision to cancel the event has since prompted its own backlash, with some complaining that the school caved in to anti-Muslim bigotry, The Associated Press reported.

To be intolerant of intolerance is the best lesson those kids can learn out of this. Since when is it “anti-Muslim bigotry” to protest against the reality of Muslim treatment of women? Sheesh.

Only radical multiculturalists promote diversity in a vacuum. When you ignore the reality of Islam’s oppressive 8th century ideas about women and celebrate one of the major symbols of that oppression — the hijab — you give aid and comfort to the very people and ideas you are supposed to be fighting.

Muslims do not celebrate “diversity.” They punish it — harshly. The price for non-conformity is sometimes death, always ostracization. And the hell of it is, the principal is clueless about the gaping dichotomy of celebrating diversity by having girls wear an anti-diversity symbol.

Someone that dense should be fired.

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Last Two Doolittle Raiders Honored on Anniversary

Saturday, April 18th, 2015 - by Rick Moran

Only two men are left alive from the 80 airmen and pilots who took off from the deck of the USS Hornet on April 18, 1942, and set out to send Japan a message that the U.S. would stop at nothing to win the war begun by Japan a few months earlier.

Retired Lt. Col. Richard “Dick” Cole, 99, and Staff Sgt. David Thatcher, 93, are the last of the Doolittle Raiders — the men who struck the first blow against the Japanese empire by bombing Tokyo. They are in Dayton, Ohio, today to present the Raiders Congressional Gold Medal to the National Museum of the US Air Force.

Associated Press:

“It just happens that way, I guess,” Thatcher, of Missoula, Montana, said of being one of the last survivors.

“Something’s just got to give,” said Cole, a Dayton native who lives in Comfort, Texas.

The museum’s director, retired Lt. Gen. Jack Hudson, accepted the medal, the highest honor Congress can give a civilian, for them in Washington on Wednesday. In a video message, Cole said it was an honor to receive the medal “on behalf of 78 fallen Raiders who we proudly served with on that famous raid.”

The latest Raider to fall was Lt. Col. Robert Hite, who died March 29 at age 95 at a Nashville, Tennessee, nursing facility. Hite was also the last of the eight Raiders who were captured by Japanese soldiers. Three were executed and a fourth died in captivity. Three other Raiders were killed soon after the bombing run, as most crash-landed or had to ditch.

Cole was the co-pilot for their mission’s leader, James “Jimmy” Doolittle, in plane No. 1 of the 16. Thatcher was engineer-gunner aboard the 7th plane, nicknamed “The Ruptured Duck,” whose crew’s crash-landing and evasion of Japanese troops in China was depicted in the movie “Thirty Seconds Over Tokyo.”

Thatcher, who was played by Robert Walker in the movie while Spencer Tracy portrayed Doolittle, chuckled as he recounted how the Raiders had given little thought at the time of the raid about earning a place in history.

“We figured it was just another bombing mission,” he said in a phone interview from his home this week.

In the years afterward, though, he said, they realized: “It was an important event in World War II.”

Thatcher, who said he uses a cane and walker but otherwise is “getting around OK,” was looking forward to weekend events including reunions with family members of the other Raiders to share stories and remembrances.

“You learn something new every time,” Thatcher said.

Sixteen specially outfitted B-25s — a land-based bomber not designed for carrier take-offs — flew the long, perilous mission to drop a few bombs on the Japanese capital, also hitting targets in Yokohama and one each in Yokosuka, Nagoya, Kobe and Osaka. They took off 10 hours early after the task force was sighted by a Japanese picket boat, but all 16 crews managed to make it to the coast of China where most of the crews bailed out after running out of fuel.

Friendly villagers rescued all but 10 of the Raiders, which resulted in massive, brutal retaliation by the Japanese.

Smithsonian:

That generosity shown by the Chinese would trigger a horrific retaliation by the Japanese that claimed an estimated quarter-million lives and would prompt comparisons to the 1937-38 Rape of Nanking. American military authorities, cognizant that a raid on Tokyo would result in a vicious counterattack upon free China, saw the mission through regardless, even keeping the operation a secret from their Pacific theater allies. This chapter of the Doolittle Raid has largely gone unreported—until now.

Long-forgotten missionary records discovered in the archives of DePaul University for the first time shed important new light on the extent to which the Chinese suffered in the aftermath of the Doolittle raid.

n the moments after the attack on Tokyo, Japanese leaders fumed over the raid, which had revealed China’s coastal provinces as a dangerous blind spot in the defense of the homeland. American aircraft carriers not only could launch surprise attacks from the seas and land safely in China but could possibly even fly bombers directly from Chinese airfields to attack Japan. The Japanese military ordered an immediate campaign against strategically important airfields, issuing an operational plan in late April, just days after the Doolittle raid.

Survivor accounts point to an ulterior objective: to punish the Chinese allies of the United States forces, especially those towns where the American aviators had bailed out after the raid. At the time, Japanese forces occupied Manchuria as well as key coastal ports, railways and industrial and commercial centers in China.

[...]

By early June, the devastation had begun. Father Wendelin Dunker observed the result of a Japanese attack on the town of Ihwang:

“They shot any man, woman, child, cow, hog, or just about anything that moved, They raped any woman from the ages of 10 – 65, and before burning the town they thoroughly looted it.”

He continued, writing in his unpublished memoir, “None of the humans shot were buried either, but were left to lay on the ground to rot, along with the hogs and cows.”

The Japanese eventually captured eight of the Americans, executing three for “war crimes.” One American died in captivity and the remaining four were eventually rescued by soldiers when Nanking, where the prisoners were being held, was liberated.

The audaciousness of the raid had a big effect on American morale, but it was the Japanese, shaken by the notion that their cities were not invulnerable, who were affected even more. The military actually moved up plans to attack Port Morseby, New Guinea and Midway Island. When our codebreakers, who had cracked one of the Japanese navy cyphers, intercepted the information, the resulting naval engagements in Coral Sea and especially the decisive battle off of Midway Island sealed the fate of Japan and sent us on the road to victory.

The World War II generation is rapidly receding into history, but exploits like the Doolittle Raid will never be forgotten as long as courage and fortitude are celebrated in America.

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