PJ Tatler

The PJ Tatler

If They Can’t Get Your Guns, They’ll Get Your Ammo

Thursday, May 14th, 2015 - by Liz Sheld

Tilting at windmills.

After numerous failed attempts at moving the gun-control ball forward, House Democrats have trained their sights on your ammunition.

The Stop Online Ammunition Sales Act of 2015 was introduced by Rep. Bonnie Watson (D-NJ). The bill would regulate online ammunition sales much the same way online gun sales are regulated, which means that a consumer would not be able to have an online ammunition purchase delivered to his home, but rather would have to display a photo ID to an “authorized dealer” to retrieve his purchase.

I know Democrats like to pretend you can go on a gun-shopping spree and have your pile of guns delivered to your front door, but you can’t.

This is the first step in trying to ban online ammunition sales, no matter how they spin it. “The bill would stop short of imposing an outright ban on online ammunition sales, said Courtney Cochran, Watson Coleman’s communications director.” It’s just another roadblock for exercising your constitutionally guaranteed right to bear arms.

And if these gun-grabbers get their way, the government will know exactly how much ammunition you have, as the bill would require “sales of more than 1,000 rounds within five consecutive days to the U.S. attorney general if the person purchasing ammunition is not a licensed dealer.”

“Far too many times, we have seen the shocking images of unspeakable gun violence that could have been prevented,” Rep. Frank Pallone, Jr. (D., N.J.), one of the bill’s original cosponsors, told The Hill. “Our bill to limit the online sale of ammunition is a long-overdue common sense reform that I am hopeful will spark Congress to put aside party difference and come together to help prevent such senseless tragedies.”

This ridiculous bill has no chance at all of ever passing the House, but it’s good to be reminded that gun-grabbers never rest…and neither can we.

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Common Core: Creating a Productive Citizenry of Sex-Bots

Thursday, May 14th, 2015 - by Susan L.M. Goldberg

According to the National Sexuality Education Standards for Common Core, children as young as the second grade are expected to comprehend that gender is a cultural construct. By 5th grade they need to be able to identify what HIV is and how to prevent it medically. By the end of 8th grade they need to identify “credible sources of information about sexual health.” They also need to comprehend how abstinence contributes to the prevention of pregnancy and sexually transmitted diseases, much to the chagrin of Jenny Kutner, resident sexpert at Salon, who does not view abstinence to be “medically accurate” let alone a form of “sex education at all.”

Kutner justifies her opinion based on a recent California judge’s ruling regarding sex ed in public school classrooms. “Access to medically and socially appropriate sexual education is an important public right,” as is everything nowadays from wedding cakes to vandalizing major cities in the name of civil rights. Why is sex ed a public right? According to the Common Core standards:

Improvements in public health, including sexual health, can contribute to a reduction in health care costs. [And] Effective health education can contribute to the establishment of a healthy and productive citizenry.

The last time the government was so concerned about public sexual health, they handed out condoms by the boatload to soldiers. That’s right, folks, your public school kid is a soldier in America’s new “productive citizenry” army.

What neither the nationalized sex ed curriculum, nor the judge in California, nor Jenny Kutner ever expect students to understand is that if they want children one day, they need to have a plan to prioritize or balance family and career by the time they’re 18. Female students need to understand that the longer they push off having children, the harder that process will be. They also need to understand the medical ramifications of various birth control methods and how those may impact their ability to have children down the line as well. 

Since the procreation of life is conveniently lumped in with the prevention of disease, it is safe to assume that the cultural standard is to avoid both by all costs. After all, that’s what a productive citizen would do — place the needs of the state before their own selfish desires in order to avoid diseases of all kinds that could inhibit their ability to contribute to society.

So, why not promote abstinence, the only method of avoidance with a 100% guarantee? The loyalties expressed in abstinence-only education, to God, monogamous life-partners, and the unborn, pose the greatest threat to this State-focused mentality. The State doesn’t care if your kids have sex. They just don’t want to have to deal with the consequences.

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Mark Levin Lashes Out at Libs Politicizing Amtrak Disaster While Bodies Aren’t Even Cold Yet

Thursday, May 14th, 2015 - by Michael van der Galien

On his increasingly popular radio show, Mark “The Great One” Levin lashed out at liberals yesterday for trying to politicize the Amtrak disaster. He played several audio files of Democratic politicians and pretend-journalists who didn’t even wait until the victims’ bodies were cold before they started playing their usual political games, and rightfully responded with great outrage:

Almost since last night, but since early this morning — while emergency personnel are at the crash scene trying to find bodies, trying to save people, trying to get them to the hospital — early this morning, within hours of the accident, the media, the Democrats, the liberals … in front of the microphones … all of a sudden it’s a spending issue. It’s a spending issue!

Levin then continued to play audio files from MSNBC and other leftist media proving his point. One after the other, liberals — journalists and politicians — said the disaster was caused by too little spending. If the government had just spent a bit more, this tragedy would never have occurred.

The only problem with that? There isn’t enough information out yet to conclude anything, except that the train was going 106 mph on a part of the track where the maximum speed was 50 mph.

But hey, we’re talking about liberals here; famous for “never let a good crisis go to waste.” And so they wasted no time putting blame on the shoulders of those darned Republicans, while the victims’ bodies were still warm and rescue workers were trying to save lives.

It’s all because of conservatives who hate to spend! If it was up to Democrats, this would never have happened! May those cold-hearted Republicans be damned for their willingness to put lives in jeopardy, just to save a few bucks.

Levin went on:

They want to spend more, so anyone who doesn’t is now against safety. In fact, they’re part of the problem with Amtrak.

Of course, “billions and billions of taxpayers’ dollars have been poured into Amtrak.” But it didn’t make the slightest difference. In fact, if anyone — at all — is to blame for possibly underfunding Amtrak, it’s Democrats, not Republicans:

Ladies and gentlemen, when Obama controlled the Senate and the House, and the entire Congress, they passed an over $800 billion stimulus program, and you may recall that when Paul Ryan came on this program — he doesn’t come on anymore — but a few years ago, he said $9 billion of the over $800 billion went to infrastructure.

So they stole that money, they were greasing palms, they were sending it to their community interests’ front groups. They didn’t use it for infrastructure, bridges and railroad tracks and all the rest. And so they’re pushing hard once more — once more! — they want massive spending; not for infrastructure — to spread the wealth yet again.

As usual, Democrats and their cronies in the media brush aside inconvenient facts. After all, much easier to blame everybody else and argue for spending increases, with money that simply doesn’t exist, at the same time.

Here’s the audio from the show:

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USDA Nannies Develop GMO-Free Food Label

Thursday, May 14th, 2015 - by Liz Sheld

The nannies at the Agriculture Department will now certify your food is free from genetically modified ingredients should a manufacturer want their product labeled as such.

“Certification would be voluntary — and companies would have to pay for it. If approved, the foods would be able to carry a ‘USDA Process Verified’ label along with a claim that they are free of GMOs.”

The food labeling battle has continued to grow over the last few years.  On the one hand, several states have passed laws or will have measures on their ballots that would mandate GMO food be identified with a label. On the other, is the Big Agra industry, which is concerned its bottom line will be affected if their food is given a scary label like “genetically modified.”

In order to pre-empt the state laws, the fedgov backed by Big Agra payola is trying to find some kind of workaround. “Agriculture Secretary Tom Vilsack outlined the department’s plan in a May 1 letter to employees, saying the certification was being done at the request of a ‘leading global company,’ which he did not identify. A copy of the letter was obtained by The Associated Press.”

“Recently, a leading global company asked AMS to help verify that the corn and soybeans it uses in its products are not genetically engineered so that the company could label the products as such,” Vilsack wrote in the letter. “AMS worked with the company to develop testing and verification processes to verify the non-GE claim.”

The AMS is the Agriculture Marketing Service. Yes, that’s a thing: the Department of Agriculture has a marketing department.

Some food products already have a non-GMO label without the government’s interference. “Many companies use a private label developed by a nonprofit called the Non-GMO Project.” Apparently that is not sufficient. Enter the government.

Nanny Congressman Mike Pompeo (R-KS) has introduced a bill that would crush the state effort to have mandatory GMO labels. “The USDA label is similar to what is proposed in a GOP House bill introduced earlier this year that is designed to block mandatory GMO labeling efforts around the country. The bill, introduced earlier this year by Rep. Mike Pompeo, R-Kan., provides for USDA certification but would not make it mandatory. The bill also would override any state laws that require the labeling.

What people chose to eat and feed their family is an intensely personal issue. The food labeling battle is simply a reflection of a disturbing trend to have the government regulate or get involved in even the most personal and private life choices. We have the anti-GMO crowd, on one side, who are lobbying state governments to force a GMO label on food companies; and on the other side, the corporate interests that are fighting back against a predicted hit to their bottom line.

How about no mandatory labels at all? The free market has already taken care of this issue; it’s easier than ever to purchase food that comes from your preferred source, whether that source is Big Agra at your local grocery chain or organic food from Whole Foods or any number of stores that offer organic food choices including farmer’s markets.  (The government, however, doesn’t want you buying food directly from small farms, but that’s a story for another day.)

This is how the government Leviathan is born: big-government Democrats use the power of the state to force regulations on businesses, and big government Republicans use the force of government to protect those businesses from such regulations. Either way, we are left with big government.



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Christians in Yemen Face ‘Terrible’ Conditions

Thursday, May 14th, 2015 - by Chris Queen

Since tensions flared up in Yemen this spring, Christians in the city of Aden have faced what the Anglican bishop of Cyprus and the Gulf has referred to as “terrible” conditions, even as tensions appear to have died down.

More than 600 people have been killed in the city and 3,000 wounded, while 22,000 residents had been displaced since the Iran-backed Houthi rebels first pushed into the city on March 25.

Fighting in the city has seen damage to the city’s Christ Church and its associated clinic, Ras Morbat.

Rt Rev Michael Lewis wrote in a prayer letter that the buildings’ windows had been blown out as a result of blast waves from sustained shelling. However, he added, “we are told that all our staff are safe so far, and for that we thank God”.

He said: “The general state of Aden is terrible: lack of fuel means lack of electricity, and telecommunications and even basic movement around the large city have become hugely difficult. Food is limited, and money to buy it even more so.

“Our administrator is very thankful for the many prayers that he knows have been made for him, for all who work at Ras Morbat, and for the people of Aden and the Yemen as a whole, a country sorely abused by those with the power, if they chose to use, to promote the common good to the glory of God.”

A coalition of Middle East nations have bombed Houthi army units and other rebel strongholds, while Sunni-led Saudi Arabia believes that Shi’ite Iran is behind the rebels, who have taken control of much of the country since late March. The coalition seeks to restore Yemen’s President Abd-Rabbu Mansour Hadi.

A five-day cease fire, which began earlier this week, appears to be holding steady, though locals do not expect it to lead to a lasting peace.

Aid agencies said the five-day break in fighting to allow fuel, medicine, food and aid workers to enter Yemen could be a “lifeline” for civilians trapped in conflict zones.

The United Nations believes 828 civilians, including 182 children, have been killed across Yemen since March 26.

Aden locals expressed doubts that the ceasefire would last.

“Aden needs a humanitarian truce so badly, given the lack of food, fuel and everything else. But we question the intentions of the Houthis and believe they will take advantage of the truce to take more areas,” said Hassan al-Jamal, a resident of Aden.

Featured image courtesy of Shutterstock / patrice6000


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Charles Krauthammer: ‘Pathological’ President ‘Doesn’t Know a Damn Thing About Fox’ (Video)

Wednesday, May 13th, 2015 - by Debra Heine

On Hugh Hewitt’s radio program Wednesday, Charles Krauthammer, a licensed psychiatrist, couldn’t decide if President Obama is delusional or merely cynical. He also said the president is “sort of … pathological” in the way he picks up “these (anti-Fox) memes” while not knowing “a damn thing” about what’s on Fox News.

Dr. K. was reacting to the startling comments Obama made at George Washington University Tuesday:

“There’s always been a strain in American politics where you’ve got the middle class, and the question has been who are you mad at if you’re struggling, if you’re working, but you don’t seem to be getting ahead,” the president said.. “And over the last 40 years, sadly, I think there’s been an effort to either make folks mad at folks at the top, or to make be mad at folks at the bottom. And I think the effort to suggest that the poor are sponges, leeches, or don’t want to work, are lazy, you know, or undeserving, got traction. And look, it’s still being propagated. I mean, I have to say that if you watch Fox News on a regular basis, it is a constant menu. They will find, like folks who make me mad, and I don’t know where they find them, right? They’re all like, like I don’t want to work. I just want a free Obama phone or whatever. And that becomes an entire narrative, right, that gets worked up. And very rarely do you hear an interview of a waitress, which is much more typical who’s raising a couple of kids, and is doing everything right, but still can’t pay the bills. And so if we’re going to change how John Boehner and Mitch McConnell think, (!) we’re going to have to change how our body politick thinks, which means we’re going to have to change how the media reports on these issues, (!!) and how people’s impressions of what it’s like to struggle in this economy looks like, and how budgets connect to that. And that’s a hard process, because that requires a much broader conversation than typically we have.”

We’ve all come to expect these little mask-slipping episodes  from Obama these past six+ years, but comments about controlling the media are particularly unsettling. What on earth was he proposing?

Hewitt asked Krauthammer for his take on the remarks.

Krauthammer quipped, “I remember we talked about it last night on Special Report, and I suggested that Fox buy a full-page ad touting the fact that Barack Obama is apparently now a constant viewer of Fox News, he’s such an expert on it.”

“He said if you watch it all the time, so I’m glad to know that he’s joined this vast audience that Fox commands. Look, this is sort of a pathological Obama where you know, he picks up these memes. He doesn’t know a damn thing about what’s on Fox. The idea that Fox is constantly showing, you know, sponges and leeches, and never shows the waitress trying to make it, it’s just sort of the mythological world that he lives in. Or he may be cynical. I mean, he may know it’s all nonsense. I mean, I can’t tell. I mean, after all, you probably need a psychiatrist to figure that out. But it’s either cynical or just hopelessly deluded on this. I would prefer to think he’s cynical, because I’d like somebody in the White House who’s not delusional. And this is the usual Obama cynicism. It’s the media, it’s the press, they’re underreporting liberal successes. I mean, look, the fact is a war on poverty, the billions poured into helping the poor, which in my 20s I rather supported until in my 30s, the empirical social science evidence began to come out that not only was money poured down the drain, but it was undermining the traditional structures of even the poorest neighborhoods and leading to real terrible pathologies, including helping to accelerate the breakdown of the family. So these are, there’s just the empirical social science refuting the liberal nostrums about how to help the poor. But he never engages in an argument. It’s all ad hominin.”

Hewitt agreed whole-heartedly with Krauthammer’s take. “I spent 15 years on the Children and Families Commission out here in California,” he said. “And Robert Putnam, the Harvard sociologist, who is a man of the left, just wrote this book, Our Kids, which documents in great detail everything you just said. The Times of London calls him the most influential academic in the world. He’s a lefty, right, but he recognizes the devastation brought about by all the wrong policy choices of the 60s on the family in America. It’s got nothing to do with Fox News.”

Dr. K did make one firm diagnosis.

“He’s got a tick,” he said. “I said last night, he’s got a tick, and it’s curable. I was going to offer to cure it myself, but I’m otherwise occupied. And even though licensed, I don’t practice anymore.”

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My own take is that Obama — our first Alinsky-trained president — loves to get in front of young audiences and spout anti-Fox News propaganda because he knows that Fox News is unpopular on college campuses. So he gets to throw out what should be a hugely controversial trial balloon in a completely safe environment.

Of course, one can only speculate about what sort of policy prescriptions he has in mind to make the media more to his liking, but a controversial FCC program that was considered about a year ago could provide us with a clue.

In February of 2014, Republican FCC Chairman Ajit Pai blew the whistle on an FCC scheme that would have put researchers in American newsrooms to grill reporters, editors and station owners about how they decide on which stories to run.

In a Wall Street Journal piece titled ”The FCC Wades Into the Newsroom,” Pai wrote:.

The purpose of the CIN, according to the FCC, is to ferret out information from television and radio broadcasters about “the process by which stories are selected” and how often stations cover “critical information needs,” along with “perceived station bias” and “perceived responsiveness to underserved populations.”

How does the FCC plan to dig up all that information? First, the agency selected eight categories of “critical information” such as the “environment” and “economic opportunities,” that it believes local newscasters should cover. It plans to ask station managers, news directors, journalists, television anchors and on-air reporters to tell the government about their “news philosophy” and how the station ensures that the community gets critical information.

After a two-week long (conservative) media firestorm, the FCC retreated from their bizarre plan, but given Obama’s comments at Georgetown this week, one can’t help but wonder if he’s thinking about imposing some similar scheme in newsrooms across America in the time he has left.


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At This College, ‘Hurtful Statements’ Are Now Reportable to Authorities

Wednesday, May 13th, 2015 - by Rick Moran

I wonder if any college level literature courses teach George Orwell’s 1984 anymore. They evidently don’t teach it at the University of Colorado-Boulder, judging by a new campaign launched by the school to urge students to report the names of those responsible for any “bias-motivated incident” via an online form.

The Campus Fix:

The “Bias Incident Reporting” effort aims to “address the impact of demeaning and hurtful statements as well as acts of intolerance directed towards protected classes,” CU Boulder’s website states.

Examples of bias, according to a corresponding poster campaign highlighting the reporting system, include calling people names or making fun of their culture.

“This in no way is meant to curtail free speech,” campus spokesman Ryan Huff told The College Fix in an email. “We support the First Amendment and want our students to challenge one another in academic ways. We don’t support, however, the use of racial slurs and other demeaning bias-motivated acts.”

Students who perceive or witness “bias-motivated incidents” are asked to report them immediately by filing a “student of concern” report.

Is Mr. Huff a lunatic? Of course the policy is meant to “curtail free speech.” It’s truly frightening that so many people in positions of power have no clue what “free speech” actually means, and think they aren’t squelching it when they threaten people with being reported for saying anything anyone doesn’t much care for.

The reporting effort is designed to “ensure timely and appropriate responses to incidents that appear to be bias-motivated involving University of Colorado students,” the university’s website states. Bias reports are not treated as confidential, it adds.

The diversity commission of CU Boulder’s student government launched the Bias Motivated Incident poster campaign in late April, marked by a slew of posters hung up around campus.

One poster reads, “Go back to Africa, you don’t belong here.” Another says, “Your mom must be the janitor ‘cause that’s the only job for dirty Mexicans.” The student 2883D8F300000578-0-image-a-51_1431235643381government claims both statements, along with others used on various posters, originated from real incidents of bias that have occurred on campus.

“The purpose behind the campaign is two-fold,” student government officials stated on their Facebook page. “One of the objectives is to encourage and inform students to report bias motivated incidents on our campus and the surrounding community. The other purpose of this campaign is to highlight the fact that indeed BMI’s [Bias-Motivated Incidents] happen here on our very own campus and that we are not immune to acts of racism, sexism and overall discrimination toward people’s identities.”

It will be like walking on egg shells on that campus. You can well imagine activists claiming racism, sexism, homophobia and the like against people who disagree with them politically. Conservatives will probably have to wear specially colored armbands as a trigger warning for sensitive liberals who can’t abide anyone disagreeing with them.

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Jeb Bush Confirms Our Worst Fear

Wednesday, May 13th, 2015 - by Stephen Kruiser

He’s not kidding.

Republican Jeb Bush appears to have unintentionally announced his candidacy for president in 2016 in a conversation with reporters on Wednesday that was caught on video.

Speaking in Nevada, the former Florida governor seemed to acknowledge he was a candidate but right afterward indicated he had not made up his mind.

“I’m running for president in 2016, and the focus is going to be about how we, if I run, how do you create high sustained economic growth,” Jeb Bush said in the video posted on the NBC News website.

Bush announced in December that he would “actively explore” a run for the White House, but he has yet to formally declare he is running.

The difference between considering a run and actually jumping into the race affects what he can and cannot do under the law with regard to fundraising. Once candidates formally enter the presidential race they face tighter restrictions on raising money.

The republic, and the world, for that matter, don’t need entitled legacy candidates for the most powerful job on Earth. Since the Democrats are determined to unleash their version on us, the only way to make sure we don’t turn into England Lite is to not counter with the same.

Pollsters who keep coming up with Bush-favorable results must only be calling every octogenarian Republican in America, because I certainly haven’t met anyone who isn’t on a Hoveround who supports him.

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Here Comes the Red Line Again as Syria Found Lying About Sarin

Wednesday, May 13th, 2015 - by Bridget Johnson

The White House expressed no eagerness today about coming up against — again — President Obama’s red line on chemical weapons in Syria.

The administration repeatedly asserts that President Bashar al-Assad disposed of his chemical weapons stockpile in a deal brokered by Russia to avoid military action at the last red line, when more than 1,400 people were killed in a Damascus suburb with sarin delivered via rockets. For example, Chief of Staff Denis McDonough told the J Street conference in March that they “peacefully removed Syria’s entire declared stockpile of chemical weapons.”

Assad has turned to chlorine gas as his chemical weapon of choice, with repeated deadly attacks on civilians as the administration has continued counting the red-line avoidance as a foreign policy success.

Reuters reported Friday that Organisation for the Prohibition and Chemical Weapons inspectors found traces of sarin and VX nerve agent at a military research site that was not declared as a chemical weapons storage or production facility.

“This is a pretty strong indication they have been lying about what they did with sarin,” one diplomatic source told Reuters. “They have so far been unable to give a satisfactory explanation about this finding.”

White House press secretary Josh Earnest said today the administration is “aware that the OPCW continues to receive credible allegations that the use of chemical weapons in Syria is still taking place.”

“Attempts by the OPCW to resolve some gaps and inconsistencies in Syria’s declaration of their chemical weapons have gone unresolved,” Earnest said. “And we’re also concerned that progress toward destroying all remaining chemical weapons reduction facilities in Syria have been agonizingly slow.”

Earnest acknowledged the Assad regime “continues to not abide by international standards and norms, including the Chemical Weapons Convention and United Nations Security Council Resolutions 2118 and 2209.”

“But as has also been well documented, the Assad regime continues to terrorize the people of Syria through indiscriminate airstrikes, barrel bombings, arbitrary detention and other gross acts of violence that are committed against their own people,” he added.

Asked what the response would be from the White House upon another crossing of the red line, Earnest replied, “Well, this is something that, you know, we obviously are very concerned about and closely monitoring. And we’re aware of these allegations and we believe it’s important for the OPCW to investigate them fully.”

At the end of March, Sen. Robert Menendez (D-N.J.) urged Obama to act swiftly against Assad’s chlorine gas attacks.

“Bashar al-Assad and those forces backing his regime, including the government of Iran and its proxy force, Hezbollah, are once again challenging the world and testing the boundaries of the will of the international community to respond,” Menendez wrote.

In September 2013, Menendez’s Senate Foreign Relations Committee passed an Authorization for the Use of Military Force Against the Government of Syria to Respond to Use of Chemical Weapons.

“It is clear,” he said, that the administration’s agreement with Assad to prevent military action “has not prevented the use of chemical weapons against Syrian civilians, nor has international pressure changed Assad’s calculus with respect to murdering his own people.”

“Worse, Assad’s supporters, including the Iranian regime, the Russian government, and Hezbollah have actually increased their support for the regime as these attacks have continued and increased in nature and scope,” Menendez wrote. “All options for response must be explored. We must send a clear signal to Assad and his backers that the international community will not tolerate further such attacks.”

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Hang Them All and Start Over

Wednesday, May 13th, 2015 - by Michael Walsh

For treasons. Or violation of the Logan Act. Or spitting on the sidewalk.  I refer, of course, to members of the United States Congress, ten of whom just pulled this little oopsie-daisy:

The state-owned oil company of Azerbaijan secretly funded an all-expenses-paid trip to a conference at Baku on the Caspian Sea in 2013 for 10 members of Congress and 32 staff members, according to a confidential ethics report obtained by The Washington Post. Three former top aides to President Obama appeared as speakers at the conference.

Lawmakers and their staff members received hundreds of thousands of dollars’ worth of travel expenses, silk scarves, crystal tea sets and Azerbaijani rugs valued at $2,500 to $10,000, according to the ethics report. Airfare for the lawmakers and some of their spouses cost $112,899, travel invoices show.

The State Oil Company of the Azerbaijan Republic, known as SOCAR, allegedly funneled $750,000 through nonprofit corporations based in the United States to conceal the source of the funding for the conference in the former Soviet nation, according to the 70-page report by the Office of Congressional Ethics, an independent investigative arm of the House.

The nonprofit corporations allegedly filed false statements with Congress swearing that they were sponsoring the conference. The findings have been referred to the House Committee on Ethics for investigation of possible violations of congressional rules and federal laws that bar foreign governments from trying to influence U.S. policy.

Ever wonder how these clowns enter Congress and poor lawyers and leave (even when it’s feet first) as very rich lawyers? Let’s call the roll of the Permanent Bipartisan Fusion Party malefactors:

The lawmakers who took the trip were Reps. Jim Bridenstine (R-Okla.), Yvette D. Clarke (D-N.Y.), Danny K. Davis (D-Ill.), Rubén Hinojosa (D-Tex.), Sheila Jackson Lee (D-Tex.), Leonard Lance (R-N.J.), Michelle Lujan Grisham (D-N.M.), Gregory W. Meeks (D-N.Y.), Ted Poe (R-Tex.) and then-Rep. Steve Stockman (R-Tex.). Clarke is a member of the Ethics Committee.

Guess who else was there?

The Post reported about the trip at the time, in an article noting that three former Obama political advisers — Robert Gibbs, Jim Messina and David Plouffe — spoke at the conference, which was attended by current and former members of Congress.

Although lawmakers told investigators that they were unaware that the Azerbaijani government had underwritten the trip through its oil company, investigators noted that SOCAR organized much of the conference in plain sight. The oil company issued invitations, sponsored visa entries for the lawmakers and staff members, and hung banners and placards emblazoned with SOCAR’s logo throughout the conference halls in Baku.

The investigators concluded in their report that “a person’s ignorance of the true source of travel expenses is not an absolute shield from liability for receipt of travel expenses from an improper source.”

The worst Congress that money can buy.


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Bill Looking Forward to Moving Back to the White House… If Only Hillary Will Let Him

Wednesday, May 13th, 2015 - by Michael van der Galien

Ah. It looks like Bill Clinton is in da house:

Bill Clinton hopes to be Hillary Clinton’s First Man in the White House, but there’s a big “if” … if she invites him to live at 1600 Pennsylvania Avenue. ”If she wins the election, the chances are 100 percent that I’ll move back,” the former president told David Letterman Tuesday night on “The Late Show.” ”By the way, if I’m asked!” he added with a smile.

Ha-ha! Cracking jokes about cheating on your wife (because that’s what this all refers to of course): hilarious! Oh man, I can’t stop laughing. Especially because people in their position should try to be great role models for young generations. It’s killing me! Great fun!

Morality and the Clintons. They just don’t go together, do they?

In any case, of course Hillary wants Bill to join her. After all, it’s not about love and faithfulness with the Clintons, but about politics. Americans want a First Couple, not just a president. The U.S.  has its first black president now. If Hillary wins it’ll have the first woman president. But the first single mom president? No, I don’t see that one happening anytime soon — and neither does Hillary, which explains why she never divorced her lying, cheating husband.

Besides, the two are a born power couple. Bill pretends he only told his wife to “have fun” on the campaign trail, but anyone who knows anything about the Clintons also knows that they most certainly are loyal political allies. They have always supported each other politically (Hillary even stood by Bill when the Lewinsky scandal broke; of course not out of love for him but because she had great plans for her own career) and rely heavily on each other for strategic advice. 

In other words, Bill is full of it and he proves himself to be a utterly and completely immoral.

What else is new?

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Women Prove the Strongest Supporters of HR36 Act Banning 20 Week Abortions

Wednesday, May 13th, 2015 - by Susan L.M. Goldberg

According to the Washington Post:

In fact, of four major polls conducted in recent weeks on the 20-week abortion ban, each one shows women are actually more supportive of the law than men.

A new Quinnipiac poll shows 60 percent of women prefer allowing unrestricted abortions for only the first 20 weeks of pregnancy rather than the Supreme Court-prescribed 24 weeks. Among men, 50 percent support the 20-week law — a 10-point gap.

Washington Post-ABC News poll showed the gap at seven points, while two other polls (from NBC/Wall Street Journal and National Journal) showed it at six and four, respectively.

And those numbers may actually understate support among women for the new restrictions.

In the Post-ABC poll, rather than choosing between a 20-week ban and the current 24 weeks, 8 percent of women volunteered that abortion should never be legal, and 3 percent volunteered that the window should be smaller than 20 weeks. If you add them to the 60 percent of women who support the 20-week abortion ban, then 71 percent of women would seem to support the effort to increase abortion restrictions.

Perhaps the overwhelming female support of the ban is a result of the physical reality of the mother-child bond at 20 weeks of fetal development, the official halfway point of gestation. By that time, most moms have felt their babies move in the womb. They’ve seen the baby a minimum of twice, once for a diagnostic confirmation of pregnancy at roughly 8 weeks and once more for fetal screening at 12 weeks. If they are under the age of 35, they’re just about to learn the sex of their baby at their 20 week ultrasound. (Bonus for feminist supporters of the bill: If the baby is a girl, she’s developed roughly 7 million primitive eggs in her ovaries by this point.) If mom has been keeping regular appointments, mothers have heard their child’s heartbeat a minimum of 3 times.

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Video: White House Expects Apology From Senator for Implying Obama’s Sexist (Update: No Apology )

Wednesday, May 13th, 2015 - by Debra Heine

The “civil war” among Democrats over President Obama’s Trans-Pacific Partnership trade bill is getting more delicious by the minute. It has now escalated to the point that the White House is awaiting an apology from Sen. Sherrod Brown for suggesting  that  Obama’s remarks regarding Sen. Elizabeth Warren’s opposition are sexist.  

In recent days, the president has been lashing out at Democrat critics of the bill in the same demagogic fashion he usually reserves for Republicans.  He has repeatedly singled out  Sen. Elizabeth Warren (D., Mass.), saying she’s ”absolutely wrong” about its provisions.

Obama addressed Warren’s claim that the TPP could potentially allow future presidents to roll back the Dodd-Frank regulation of Wall Street by blasting the American-Indian senator’s logic.

“She’s absolutely wrong,” he said. ”Think about the logic of that, right? The notion that I had this massive fight with Wall Street to make sure that we don’t repeat what happened in 2007, 2008. And then I sign a provision that would unravel it? I’d have to be pretty stupid, and it doesn’t make any sense … There is no evidence that this could ever be used in this way. This is pure speculation. She and I both taught law school, and you know, one of the things you do as a law professor is you spin out hypotheticals.”

He added that “her arguments don’t stand the test of fact and scrutiny.” Left-wing presidential hopeful Sen. Bernie Sanders (I., Vt.) is also among those in fierce opposition to the TPP, saying it “follows in the footsteps of other disastrous trade agreements that have cost us millions of jobs,” but Obama ripped that type of logic as being “based on fears.”

Obama has also suggested — as is his wont — that his critics are motivated by crass political considerations.

Some lefty politicos like Brent Budowsky are enraged. This type of character assassination is only okay when it is directed at conservatives, you see. Via The Observer, here is one of the most un-self-aware comments ever made by a liberal political pundit:

Mr. Obama’s tirades on trade have included accusations that these liberal Democrats are ignorant about trade policy, insincere when offering their opinions, motivated by politics and not the national interest, and backward looking towards the past. Obama’s repeated attacks against Sen. Elizabeth Warren (D-Mass.), in which he charged that Warren’s concern about the trade bill is motivated not by a reasoned view of what is right for America but by her personal political motivations, is one of the most dishonest and repellent examples of character assassination and contempt by any American president, against any leading member of his own party, in my lifetime.

Since 2008, this president has engaged in the politics of demonization against Republicans. He’s used dishonest and ad hominem attacks against his Republican opponents and critics for over seven years. And this guy from the Observer is only noticing it now?

So uber-lefty Senator Sherrod Brown retaliated by engaging in the same sort of identity politics libs usually reserve for the right, calling the president “sexist” for repeatedly calling Senator Warren by her first name.

See what I mean about “delicious”?

“I’m confident after he has gotten a chance to take a look at the comments he made yesterday that he’ll find a way to apologize,” Earnest said on MSNBC’s “Morning Joe.”

Earnest later sought to clarify he “didn’t dictate” whether Brown should apologize.

At his daily press briefing, The spokesman said he “wouldn’t necessarily expect a public apology” from the Ohio senator.


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It appears no apology will be forthcoming:

Via The Hill:

Sen. Sherrod Brown (D-Ohio) brushed aside a suggestion from the White House that he should apologize to President Obama for implying that Obama’s criticism of Sen. Elizabeth Warren (D-Mass.) was sexist.

Brown was asked on MSNBC’s “Andrea Mitchell Reports” to respond to White House press secretary Josh Earnest, who said he was “confident” that Brown would apologize.

“Do you have any apologies to offer to the president about [those] comments,” Andrea Mitchell, the show’s host, asked Brown.

“I don’t want this to be personal either way,” Brown said.

“This to me is about how we put people to work, and how our workers are retrained, and how we enforce trade rules and take care of those workers that inevitably lose their jobs from wrong-headed trade agreements.”


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Derailed Train Reportedly Going Twice the Speed Limit, Engineer Not Speaking to Investigators

Wednesday, May 13th, 2015 - by Stephen Kruiser

Via the Philadelphia Inquirer:

Investigators of Tuesday’s deadly Amtrak derailment say they are focusing on reports that the train was traveling more than twice the 50-mile-an-hour speed limit when it entered a sharp curve in Frankford.

An automatic train control system designed to prevent speeding was not in place where Amtrak Train 188 crashed, killing seven people and injuring more than 200.

The train’s engineer, who has not been identified, declined to give a statement to police investigators and left the East Detectives Division with an attorney, police commissioner Charles H. Ramsey said Wednesday.

The fact that the engineer left with his attorneys may simply be a union precaution but the reports about the egregious speeding certainly make it seem otherwise.

In news that may or may not be related, a Philadelphia commuter train was struck by a projectile about twenty minutes before the Amtrak derailment and fairly close by.

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Media Bias 101: Politico Upset That Non-Candidate Walker Isn’t Taking Questions on Israel Tour

Wednesday, May 13th, 2015 - by Stephen Kruiser

Despite the presence of a declared candidate for the 2016 presidential race who isn’t taking questions, Politico really wants its readers to know that Scott Walker isn’t talking to them this week.

Want to know what Scott Walker thinks about the Obama administration’s preliminary deal with Iran on its nuclear program? Or the composition of Israel’s new government? This week, you’re out of luck.

The Wisconsin governor, the current Republican front-runner in some early voting state polls, is in Israel until Thursday, but he isn’t taking questions. Stung by his own past gaffes and those of other Republican presidential hopefuls abroad, Walker has locked the media out of his Israel trip, moving to burnish his foreign policy credentials without actually talking about foreign policy.

Oh good, a “gaffes” mention too!

The reason Mrs. Bill doesn’t take a lot of questions is because she’s so gaffetastic that she should be relegated to a YouTube channel rather than running for president of the United States again. Also, it’s sexist #WarOnWomen bullying to point out that she can’t campaign and chew gum at the same time or that she’s an imperious shrew who is disdainful of the very same media that constantly goes to bat for her.

But that Walker guy who isn’t even a candidate yet? HOW DARE HE?!?!?

Scott Walker scares the Democrats, hence the devotion to his lack of press interaction replete with digs at his foreign policy experience.

You know who else the MSM hardly ever says anything negative about?

John Ellis Bush.

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Dems After Amtrak Derailment: ‘Shrieking Whistles of Warning’ Call for Rail Funding

Wednesday, May 13th, 2015 - by Bridget Johnson

Before investigators have even determined the cause of the deadly Amtrak derailment in Philadelphia, the tragedy has gotten political.

The House Appropriations Committee had previously scheduled a meeting to consider a transportation bill that includes Amtrak funding, with lawmakers split on reducing or increasing funding for rail infrastructure.

Rep. Joe Crowley (D-N.Y.), vice-chairman of the House Democratic Caucus, told reporters on the Hill today that lawmakers should be reminded of the “chaos that has ensued” since the Washington to New York line went down.

“It is a reminder of the investments that need to be made to continue to make sure our tracks and our roads and bridges are in place, but right now, I think the focus needs to be on the loss of life, the injuries that are sustained and the need to get that operation up and running again as soon as possible,” Crowley said.

“We see what happens when something happens that is unexpected,” caucus chairman Rep. Xavier Becerra (D-Calif.) said. “Last night, a tragedy involving a couple hundred — 200 or 300 passengers who were on an Amtrak train headed to New York suffered, in some cases, death, grave injury. We — our thoughts and prayers go out to the families of the Americans who have lost their lives. I believe the count is six. And there are over 140 who have been injured. And you never know what’s going to happen, but you have to be ready.”

“And we don’t know yet the circumstances behind the derailment of that Amtrak train,” he continued. “But certainly, we want to make sure we’re always doing whatever we can to make sure that Americans are safe, whether it’s riding on a train, or whether it’s knowing that their military forces will be there to protect our national security. And so we have to do everything we can to make sure we are ready. And that’s why we can’t be playing games with something as important as the funding and appropriations and authorization for the Department of Defense.”

Becerra accused Republicans of trying to “return to their social agenda at a time when we’re less than three weeks away from watching money for our transportation programs expire,” including an abortion bill “which will not get a president’s signature.”

Sens. Richard Blumenthal (D-Conn.) and Chuck Schumer (D-N.Y.) said in a joint statement that “it’s too soon to conclude the cause, but one thing is certain and that is that this horrific accident spotlights the urgent need to improve railroad safety all across this country.”

“Crashes and derailments leading to mayhem and death have become far too common, contributing to an alarming spike in railroad-related deaths this last year,” the senators said. “We simply cannot ignore the shrieking whistles of warning telling us: it is long past time to upgrade our rail infrastructure and implement comprehensive railroad safety reform.”

Sen. Ben Cardin (D-Md.) said “while the cause of this derailment will take time to determine, investments in safer cars and positive train control as well as maintaining and improving the curves of the track to handle higher speeds may have prevented an accident like this from happening, or minimized the extent of the damage and injuries.”

“We cannot continue to put public safety in jeopardy by undercutting federal investments in our infrastructure,” Cardin added. “I urge the appropriators in the House of Representatives to pay close attention to this crash and use it as a strong foundation to reconsider their dangerous plan to slash funding for Amtrak and other critical infrastructure.”

The White House reaction wasn’t pushing policy, with Vice President Joe Biden reminiscing on all the times he’s taken Amtrak.

“Amtrak is like a second family to me, as it is for so many other passengers. For my entire career, I’ve made the trip from Wilmington to Washington and back,” Biden said in a statement. “I’ve come to know the conductors, engineers, and other regulars—men and women riding home to kiss their kids goodnight—as we passed the flickering lights of each neighborhood along the way.”

Sen. Tom Carper (D-Del.) was on the train, but got off in Wilmington, before the derailment.

Sen. Robert Menendez (D-N.J.) thought his son was on the train.

“There was a period of time last night when I didn’t know the whereabouts of my son, who was scheduled to be on an Amtrak back to New Jersey, and later found out he was on the next train and safe,” Menendez said. “Unfortunately, many New Jersey families this morning aren’t as fortunate as they search for loved ones and answers.”

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Oracle’s Larry Ellison Will Host Big Money Fund Raiser For Rubio

Wednesday, May 13th, 2015 - by Stephen Kruiser

That’s some expensive chicken.

Sen. Marco Rubio now has another billionaire in his corner: Oracle founder Larry Ellison.

Ellison will host a fundraiser for the Florida Republican’s White House bid at his mansion in Woodside, Calif., on June 9, according to an invitation obtained by POLITICO.

A VIP reception and photo opportunity with Rubio will cost attendees $2,700 per person. The fundraiser will also include a host committee dinner for couples who have raised $27,000.

This is some nice early money for Rubio. Ellison has been a Republican donor in the past and is a major Silicon Valley get for the campaign given that Rand Paul has been the most open about going after donor dollars there.

This will also give the Rubio campaign extra time for their candidate to prepare for an appearance on Mark Halperin’s “How Cuban Are You?” show.

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ISIS Warns Female Social Media Supporters to Stop Tempting Their Jihadis

Wednesday, May 13th, 2015 - by Bridget Johnson

ISIS has warned the group’s online female admirers not to praise their jihadi studs too much lest the guys get all lusty.

A message online signed by Abu Sa’eed Al-Britani, believed to be a onetime supermarket worker in south England who ran off to join ISIS, draws from his video “Message Of A Mujahid.”

Addressed to “sisters on social media,” Abu Sa’eed notes “every man needs the comfort of a woman besides him, so praising a Mujaahid online does more damage than good.”

“If you really love and respect the Mujaahideen then do du’aa for their success in the last hours of the night, in sujood, etc. But do not praise him to his face.”

The issues with women continue, as he claims “the biggest fitnah for a man is a woman.”

“Just having a sister follow you on Facebook or Twitter is a fitnah which triggers waswasah [whispers of Satan] in his mind. Even if a man was married to four women, a fifth can also cause him fitnah. Imagine being the cause for a Mujaahid slipping in his intentions. Even a passing thought of riya [showing off] is sufficient to damage all his good deeds. So my sisters, please be considerate when following Mujaahideen online.”

Abu Sa’eed acknowledges that “sometimes a sister may be completely innocent and pure hearted when she speaks to a Mujaahid and expresses her admiration of him, however man was created weak, and is easily inclined towards the tenderness of a female.”

After all, he said, the longer a guy jihads, the more he wants some female company.

“And if a Mujaahid sees a glimmer of this from a sister online, it can distract him and blur his vision and mindset. Indeed, it can effect his intention, and land him in Hell,” Abu Sa’eed said.

“And imagine the feeling on the Day of Judgement knowing a pious brother, a Mujaahid, entered the depths of hell because of you? So my dear sisters, do not distract him from his goal, instead help the Mujaahideen by doing dua for them at the last third of the night. A simple dua behind his back can have much more effect than praising him to his face.”

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Kerry Plucks Hagel’s Old Spokesman to Replace Psaki

Wednesday, May 13th, 2015 - by Bridget Johnson

Jen Psaki has a replacement at the State Department: the last spokesman at the Defense Department.

Rear Adm. John Kirby, now retired, was renowned for some of the soundbites he dropped (and the word “zorching”) as Chuck Hagel’s spokesman. When Ashton Carter became Defense secretary, he moved to bring in his own spokesman.

“I am pleased to welcome John Kirby as our new State Department spokesperson,” Secretary of State John Kerry said in a statement today. “I first got to know John’s work several years ago, when I was on the Senate Foreign Relations Committee and he was spokesperson for Admiral Mike Mullen and then Chief of Information for the Navy.”

“John was known as the Navy’s indispensable utility player – it didn’t matter whether he was serving as an instructor at the U.S. Naval Academy, a public affairs officer for the Blue Angels, or aboard multiple Navy vessels – name the challenge – at every stage of his career, including in his most recent assignment as the Pentagon’s top spokesman, John has stood out for his impeccable judgment, collegiality, and character,” he continued. “And he understands the media – absolutely.”

About plucking a spokesman from the military, Kerry added, “John has always – intuitively, instinctively – gravitated toward diplomacy, and I know that he is looking forward to that focus as he retires from the Navy and moves into civilian life. All of this makes him the perfect person to help tell America’s story to the world.”

Kerry lauded the “extraordinary work” of deputy spokeswoman Marie Harf, “who stepped in seamlessly” as acting spokesperson when Psaki left for the White House.

“Marie has made a contribution to every important thing I’ve done as secretary and plays a particularly important role in leading the communications strategy for our Iran negotiations,” he said. “I am privileged to work with a remarkable team and grateful to each of them for their contributions.”

The parody accounts that were disappointed when Carter moved Kirby aside are anxious to get back to work.


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Earnest: Obama Not Criticizing Private School Parents, Just Reminding Them to Think of the Collective

Wednesday, May 13th, 2015 - by Bridget Johnson

White House press secretary Josh Earnest said President Obama, who attended a private prep school and sends his children to the most exclusive private school in D.C., wasn’t criticizing people who send their kids to private school.

Obama made the comments while talking about society’s elites at a forum on poverty Tuesday at Georgetown University.

“Those who are doing better and better — more skilled, more educated, luckier, having greater advantages — are withdrawing from sort of the commons, kids start going to private schools, kids start working out at private clubs, instead of the public parks, on anti-government ideology than dis-invest from those common goods and those things that draw us together,” Obama said. “And that, in part, contributes to the fact that there’s less opportunity for our kids.”

Earnest told MSNBC this morning that Obama was making the point “that it’s important for us to recognize that as a country, we all have an interest investing in the common benefits that our country has to offer.”

“His point is that, even if you send your kids to private school, we all have an interest in making sure that we have good, high-quality public schools in this country that are available to everybody. And it’s not that far from the White House that we do have some of the best public schools in the country over in Fairfax County, Virginia. And that is an example — that is also a more wealthy than average county in the country. And that is an example of a society and of a community that is invested in a common good for the benefit of their community,” Earnest continued.

“I don’t think that he’s criticizing people for sending their children to private schools.”

Instead, Earnest said, Obama is “suggesting that all Americans need to keep in mind that it’s in our collective best interest as a country and as individual citizens for us to invest in the common good, for us to invest and make sure that we have good quality public schools are available for everybody, so that everybody has a fair shot, everybody has a fair shake, everybody has an equal opportunity to succeed and will let their ambition and their hard work take them as far as it — as it will carry them.”

“That’s what this country is all about,” he said. “And we start to lose sight of those basic values in this country, if we all start to sort of retract back into our own private clubs and our own private schools and lose sight of the fact that we all have an interest, even if our kids aren’t going to the public schools, that we want those public schools to be good.”

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‘The End of Great Britain’? Who Cares?

Wednesday, May 13th, 2015 - by Michael Walsh

As a confirmed non-Anglophile, I must admit I don’t much care one way or the other what happens to Great Britain, Britain, or Little England. But, as I tweeted after the British elections, it’s clear Scotland has already seceded, and the rest of the breakup is now just a matter of time. Anne Applebaum ponders:

This election will be remembered as the one that rescued the career of David Cameron, the British prime minister, who was publicly contemplating his own exit from politics only two months ago. It will also be remembered as the election that abruptly ended the career of the Labor Party leader, Ed Miliband, who had confidently carved his electoral promises onto a large piece of limestone only last week. Above all, it will be remembered as the election that every single major pollster got wrong: All the dire talk of hung parliaments, minority coalitions and the intervention, even, of the queen has vanished with the emergence of a solid Conservative majority. But long after these various dramas are forgotten, it might also be remembered as the election that marked the beginning of the end of Great Britain, at least in the form that we now know it.

Certainly it could literally mark the beginning of the end of the United Kingdom, that union of four nations — Welsh, English, Northern Irish and Scottish — whose stability hasn’t seriously been challenged for quite some time. For one, the Scottish National Party, which calls openly for Scottish secession, has just won 56 of 59 Scottish parliamentary seats, wiping out both Labor and the Liberal Democrats and in some places achieving a 30 percent or even 40 percent electoral swing. More to the point, it’s now clear that not everybody in London is terribly upset by this news. “I never really felt ‘British’ anyway,” a friend told me very late on election night. “I feel English.”

I don’t think he was alone. Suddenly, a vision of a different future has opened up, especially for a certain kind of English Tory: Without dour, difficult, left-wing Scotland, maybe they could rule the rest of what used to be Great Britain, indefinitely. For U.S. readers who find the significance of this hard to understand: Imagine that a Texan secessionist party had, after years of campaigning, just taken every Texan seat in Congress. And now imagine that quite a few people in the rest of the country — perhaps in the Democratic Party — had, after years of arguing back, finally begun to think that Texan secession really might not be so bad and were beginning to calculate the electoral advantages accordingly.

The imaginary — what? country? province? occupied territory? — of “Northern Ireland” is sure to join the Republic, especially now that only two of the Six Counties under British control still have Protestant majorities. The other Celtic nations, Wales and Cornwall, are less restive, but may eventually swing with the tide as well. Ms. Applebaum tries to put a brave face on things:

The voters have spoken, and to English Tories, the message has come through loud and clear: Without Scotland, without the outside world, they will do just fine. They’ll always have London, with one of the world’s most lucrative financial sectors; they’ll always have England, with some of the world’s greenest countryside; and they’ll always have the memory of a grander history — and maybe that’s enough.

But given the Muslim birthrate in what used to be English cities — maybe not.

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High School Soccer Player Punches Referee Over Call in Final Game

Wednesday, May 13th, 2015 - by Chris Queen

High school sports can be as competitive as professional sports — especially in the South. Just ask the soccer team at Chattahoochee High School north of Atlanta. At their April 29 game, the last of the season, senior Andrew Gray disagreed with a call from the referee, so Gray responded with a sucker punch.

From WSB-TV:

A police report obtained by Channel 2’s Mike Petchenik said the referee, Christopher Heintzman, told police the incident happened after Chattahoochee lost a playoff game to Milton High School on April 29.

“That student walked over to him and acted as if he wanted to shake hands but instead that student sucker-punched him on the right side of the face,” the report stated.

When police questioned Gray, the report said he began to cry and said that Heintzman’s penalty call against him near the end of the game messed up his career.

“He wanted to apologize to the official,” the report said, but Heintzman told police the next time he wanted to see the student was in front of a judge.

The school system would not comment on the specifics of the case, but athletics director Steven Craft said that the system would take measures to ensure that incidents like the one involving Grey do not happen again.

“When they put on that jersey they’re representing themselves, their family, the school and the community and we want them to understand that,” Craft told Petchenik.  “We have an expectation of what we expect our student athletes to act like.  They’re going to be respectful, they’re going to compete hard…but we’re going to do it the right way.”

Craft said he will require the Chattahoochee High School soccer team and its coaches to undergo sportsmanship training to ensure this does not happen again.

“It is an isolated incident, but it gives us the great opportunity to make sure we’re sending the right message to everybody,” he said.

Gray is due in court later this week to answer to the charges against him. When local media contacted his attorney, the attorney had no comment on the matter.

Featured image courtesy of Shutterstock / Gines Romero

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No ‘Migrants’ for Southeast Asians – Boat People Turned Back In Indonesia, Malaysia

Wednesday, May 13th, 2015 - by Michael Walsh
Rohingya 'migrants' in Malaysia

Rohingya ‘migrants’ in Malaysia

Some people understand what’s going on:

Malaysia has joined Indonesia in vowing to turn back vessels ferrying a wave of migrants to south-east Asian shores, days after hundreds of hungry and weak migrants were rescued from its waters. The announcement came despite a United Nations appeal for a rapid rescue operation to avoid a humanitarian crisis.

About 2,000 Rohingya Muslims from Myanmar and impoverished Bangladeshi migrants were rescued off the coasts of Indonesia and Malaysia earlier this week, amidst growing concern of people-smuggler ships at sea.The rickety boats appear to have been bound for Thailand, where the discovery of mass migrant graves in “slave camps” has prompted the government to crack down on human trafficking.

Just what Thailand needs: more Muslims:

A silent war continues to rage in the remote southern regions of Thailand. Thailand is an overwhelmingly Buddhist country (representing about 94 percent of the population, according to the CIA/World Factbook), but Muslims dominate the three provinces of Pattani, Yala and Narathiwat (plus parts of Satun and Songkhla) in the “Deep South” of the country along the Malaysian border. The three main aforementioned provinces belonged to a Malay Muslim sultanate before Thailand (then called Siam) annexed the region in 1909.

Now, more than a century later, Muslim rebel groups in the region, particularly the Barisan Revolusi Nasional (the National Revolutionary Front), continue to reject the authority of the central government 650 miles to the north in Bangkok and have periodically staged attacks in an insurgency against symbols of the Thai state, including even schoolteachers. As in Myanmar (Burma), this is a war that usually pits minority Muslims against majority Buddhists.

Meanwhile, back in Muslim-majority Malaysia:

Malaysia said it would turn away boats entering its waters, except if they were in imminent danger of sinking. ”The policy has always been to escort them out of Malaysian waters after giving them the necessary provisions” including fuel, water and food, First Admiral Tan Kok Kwee of the Malaysian Maritime Enforcement Agency said. The Indonesian navy confirmed it had turned around a boat carrying about 400 people, after providing it with fuel and food.

Europe could learn from them.

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Obama Calls Successful Americans ‘Society’s Lottery Winners’

Wednesday, May 13th, 2015 - by Walter Hudson

When President Obama told American business owners that they didn’t build their own success, he shifted the credit to government for providing things like infrastructure and public schools. Now, he’s attributing success to another factor – dumb luck. From the New York Times:

Speaking to a gathering of faith leaders at Georgetown University, Obama said …his unsuccessful effort to raise taxes on hedge fund managers is an example of the refusal by conservatives to compromise for the benefit of the poor…

“If we can’t ask from society lottery winners to just make that modest investment, then really this conversation is for show,” Obama said. He added later, “If we can’t bridge that gap, I suspect we are not going to make as much progress as we need to.”

That single comment defines the president’s economic worldview. Success doesn’t come to those who act rationally in pursuit of their values. It doesn’t come from hard work performed intelligently. No, it comes from the roll of a die.

There’s a lot more code language in the clip from the Georgetown “poverty summit” embedded above. Obama lamented successful Americans “divesting” from “the commons” by sending their children to private school or working out in private clubs. He claims these acts of free association and pursuit of happiness foster an “an anti-government ideology” which endangers “those things which draw us together.”

It all adds up to a vision of America as a place where success is unearned and exploitative. The president thus prescribes punishing the successful and discouraging individual achievement.

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Christie Seeks Court Power to Overturn His Own Legislation

Wednesday, May 13th, 2015 - by Susan L.M. Goldberg

New Jersey Governor Chris Christie is attempting to use the courts to overturn the “2011 pension reform he once called his ‘greatest governmental victory.’ Ironically, Christie now contends the statute he had championed is unconstitutional, and therefore unenforceable.”

That’s right, the guy who chatted up his 5-point plan for national economic growth in New Hampshire yesterday is busy petitioning the courts to overturn his own budgetary legislation. What’s the Governor’s solution for New Jersey’s ailing pension fund? “Transferring control [of] the assets, liabilities and risks of the retirement plans to public employee labor unions.” 

According to the latest Bloomberg poll, Christie is hovering between stronger, more conservative candidates and the flash-in-the-pan ideologues like Carson and Huckabee. While he’s roughly where he was a month ago now it’s Rand Paul, the isolationist, not Donald Trump, the 80′s celebrity, who is beating the Governor to the White House. Who’s the overall winner of the Republican ticket so far? Wisconsin Governor Scott Walker, the guy who took power away from the unions instead of recommending they get given the reins.

Looks like Mary Pat Christie better brush off that resume.

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What Else Is New? Obama ‘Hurls Insults’ At Foes

Wednesday, May 13th, 2015 - by Michael Walsh

Except this time, the trash-talking Playground President’s object of scorn is members of his own party. But don’t take it from me; take it from lefty Brent Budowsky, who’s butthurt by what’s going on:

President Obama’s performance in pushing for approval of fast track legislation of the Trans Pacific Partnership trade deal, in which he’s allied with Republicans and has spent the last week castigating and insulting liberal Democrats, has been one of the most bizarre and ill-advised performances of his presidency.

I spent many years working for senior Democratic Senators such as Lloyd Bentsen and House Democratic leaders beginning with the legendary Speaker Tip O’Neill, and have never seen any president of either party insult so many members of his own party’s base and members of the House and Senate as Mr. Obama has in his weeks of tirades against liberals on trade.

In Mr. Obama’s speech at Nike last week, his comments to Matt Bai of Yahoo over the weekend, and White House press secretary Josh Earnest’s comments to reporters on Monday, Mr. Obama and his White House staff have repeated a string of personal insults directed against prominent liberal Democrats in Congress, liberal Democrats across the nation, organized labor, and leading public interest and environmental groups who share doubts about the TPP trade deal.

The Democrats have responded by blocking Barry’s super-top-secret “fast track” authority power grab, in which of course he was aided and abetted by the loathsome Mitch McConnell and other apparatchiks of the Permanent Bipartisan Fusion Party.

Mr. Obama’s tirades on trade have included accusations that these liberal Democrats are ignorant about trade policy, insincere when offering their opinions, motivated by politics and not the national interest, and backward looking towards the past. Obama’s repeated attacks against Sen. Elizabeth Warren (D-Mass.), in which he charged that Warren’s concern about the trade bill is motivated not by a reasoned view of what is right for America but by her personal political motivations, is one of the most dishonest and repellant examples of character assassination and contempt by any American president, against any leading member of his own party, in my lifetime.

Of course Ms. Warren, the most nationally respected liberal leader in American politics, is motivated by what she believes is right for the nation. Doubts about the trade bill are not limited to Ms. Warren. They are shared by the leader of Senate Democrats, Sen. Harry Reid (D-Nev.), the leader of House Democrats, Rep. Nancy Pelosi (D-Calif.), and a majority of Democrats in the Senate and House as well as a significant number of leading liberal economists.

For the President to suggest that he knows more about trade then all of them do, and that they are all ignorant about the trade bill and trade policy, is staggeringly false and contemptuous of many who have been working on trade policy far longer than he has and know far more about trade, in truth, than he does.E

To which the only possible, deeply sympathetic response from the Right is: ha ha ha ha ha ha ha ha ha ha. Which is probably what Elizabeth Warren is saying right about now as well.

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How Your Tax Dollars Fund Childhood Obesity

Wednesday, May 13th, 2015 - by Susan L.M. Goldberg

A recent survey indicates that 95% of parents think their overweight children “look just right”. Cue Michelle Obama’s latest national panic attack: We don’t know what fat looks like anymore! But before you allow the Feds to implement yet another government-mandated solution, read on. “African American and low-income parents had the most inaccurate perceptions” of what a healthy child should look like. These populations are also the ones reaping the benefits of federal programs like WIC, the Women, Infants and Children special supplemental nutritional program administered by the USDA.

According to a 2013 Time article, the answer to “Why Obesity Rates are Falling” was WIC “…which provides nutritious foods and information on healthy eating and health care referrals to low-income pregnant women, promotes breastfeeding and offers whole fruits and vegetables instead of fruit juice.” How far did those statistics really fall? A whopping 1%. The minority big enough to protest against on Wall Street is also a cause for celebration among fans of tax-subsidized food programs. If only every American’s standards were so low.

How does WIC produce fat kids 99% of the time? By providing a budget that allows for a greater consumption of sugars, carbohydrates and fats than fruits and vegetables. The monthly food package for a child ages 1-4 permits for 128 fluid ounces of juice, 2 pounds of bread, 1 dozen eggs… and $8 worth of fruits and vegetables in cash vouchers. For a whole month.

That’s right, you don’t even get the food directly. You get a cash voucher and hope you can access fresh fruit and veggies, which can be hard to find in low-income areas often dubbed “food deserts.” Even if fruit and veg are accessible, they are some of the most expensive items at the food store. (I’m still waiting for my coupon for brussel sprouts.)  In fact, according to the journal Pediatrics, “high prices for fresh fruits and vegetables are associated with higher Body Mass Index (BMI) in young children in low- and middle-income households.”

The Feds have created a culture of obesity currently fed and later medically supported by your tax dollars. I guess those low-income and minority babies aren’t good enough for Michelle O’s salad of the week. Save those greens for the middle class. They’ll need the energy to get to work.


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University of Virginia Administrator Files Suit Against Rolling Stone

Wednesday, May 13th, 2015 - by The Tatler

The tabloid rag that is Rolling Stone is being sued for  running a debunked “gang rape” story at the University of Virginia campus. The magazine’s parent company and the author of the article are also being sued.  The suit asks for $7.85M in damages.

The lawsuit charged that Nicole Eramo, associate dean of students and top administrator in dealing with sexual assaults, was defamed by Rolling Stone, Wenner Media and reporter Sabrina Rubin Erdely in the November 2014 article about an alleged 2012 gang rape at the Phi Kappa Psi fraternity.

The article “A Rape on Campus” was the subject of immediate criticism when it was published last year. Eventually, the magazine started to walk back its claims about the subject matter and the student who was the source of the story.

Rolling Stone apologized in December for “discrepancies” in the account and admitted it never sought comment from seven men accused of the alleged rape.

The lawsuit charges

Erdely and Rolling Stone acted with actual malice when they published A Rape on Campus. Erdely and Rolling Stone knew that Jackie was not a reliable source for truthful information about her interactions with Dean Eramo. They had serious doubts about the truth of the disparaging claims they planned to make about Dean Eramo, but intentionally violated commonly accepted journalistic norms and consciously failed to investigate sources and information that they believed would have revealed the falsity of the charges they leveled. Erdely and Rolling Stone were intent on painting a narrative that depicted Dean Eramo as complicit in a cover up of Jackie’s allegations and, having made the decision to so accuse Dean Eramo, celebrated their preconceived narrative by including an intentionally doctored illustration of Dean Eramo that depicts her as callous toward a sexual assault victim sitting and crying in her office.

The Columbia Review of Journalism ripped the magazine for lapses in their editorial and reporting judgement last month.

The lawsuit, filed in state Circuit Court in Charlottesville, Virginia, said Rolling Stone, Wenner Media and Erdely aimed to depict the University of Virginia as indifferent to rape on campus.

“To personify the university’s alleged institutional indifference to rape, Erdely and Rolling Stone cast Dean Eramo, who met with and counseled Jackie (the alleged rape victim), as the chief villain of the story,” it said.

They falsely claimed that Eramo tried to persuade Jackie not to report the rape and that she was indifferent to her allegations, the lawsuit said.

The lawsuit filed by attorney Tom Clare of Alexandria, Virginia, seeks at least $7.5 million in compensatory damages and $350,000 in punitive damages.

This isn’t the only lawsuit on the horizon for Rolling Stone. The fraternity at the center of the fake story has also said it is planning to sue the magazine.

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Wednesday, May 13th, 2015 - by Michael Walsh

Geez, the homicidal midget with nukes ruling the Hermit Kingdom sure is a touchy l’il fella:

North Korea’s defense minister has been executed by antiaircraft fire for disloyalty and showing disrespect to dictator Kim Jong Un, senior officials from Seoul’s National Intelligence Service told South Korean lawmakers in a closed hearing Tuesday. Defense Minister Hyon Yong Chol allegedly fell asleep during military events and talked back to the leader, the officials told the Intelligence Committee of South Korea’s National Assembly, according to a person familiar with the briefing.

Several others in Pyongyang’s top brass were also removed from their posts, the person said. The moves are the latest shuffling of officials that began when Mr. Kim inherited power from his father in late 2011. The frequency of the changes is higher than in previous regimes, observers say.

Another day in Norkland, another firing squad — hang on! Did somebody say antiaircraft fire? That’s gotta hurt.

Mr. Hyon’s execution was watched by hundreds of officials at a public execution site north of Pyongyang, the intelligence service said at the hearing. Satellite images taken in October of that site showed what appeared to be six antiaircraft guns and unidentified people at an imminent execution, a recent report by the Committee for Human Rights in North Korea said.

South Korean government officials have said dozens of officials have been executed, some by machine gun, since Mr. Kim took power. The highest-profile case came in late 2013 when Jang Song Thaek, an influential adviser and an uncle to Mr. Kim, was executed for treason.

Guess family doesn’t count for much when the chips are down in Psychoville.

North Korea hasn’t officially acknowledged the public execution or the officials’ removal through its state media and it wasn’t possible to independently verify any of the information provided to the committee hearing.

Lim Byung-chul, spokesman for South Korea’s Unification Ministry, which handles inter-Korean affairs, said Wednesday Mr. Hyon was last seen in public late last month but couldn’t confirm the execution’s timing. North Korea’s purges should be viewed as a way to “create an atmosphere of terror” to consolidate Mr. Kim’s grip on power, Mr. Lim added.

“At atmosphere of terror” — um, yeah, that’s one way to look at it. Another is that L’il Kim is just doing what comes naturally to Leftist fascist communists everywhere. They’ll do it here, too, when and if they can.



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The Media Objects to Senate’s Secret Defense Bill Markup

Wednesday, May 13th, 2015 - by The Tatler

The Senate Armed Services Committee will keep the defense authorization (NDAA) markups secret, despite members of the Capitol Hill press corp asking them to open the process to the public.

John McCain (R-AZ) is chairman of the Armed Services Committee said the committee members have voted to keep the process secret. “We voted and that was the decision of the committee,” Senate Armed Services Chairman John McCain, R-Ariz., said Monday evening. “I asked the committee what their views were and they decided that’s what they wanted.”

The Senate markup has traditionally been kept from the public because some of the material under discussion is classified. The senators would have to switch in and out of a classified session if the process was open, so they say.

The press however, is having none of it. “The process of making decisions should itself be visible to the American people in real time — as it is in most other corners of Congress,” Kathleen Hunter of Bloomberg, the chairwoman of the Standing Committee of Correspondents for the Senate Daily Press Gallery, wrote in a May 6 letter to McCain.

The House of Representatives Armed Services Committee has an open session on their markups.

“The House Armed Services Committee openly marks up the companion to the Senate bill,” wrote Hunter. “In that chamber, the process is smooth on the rare occasions when the committee does decide to close a markup to discuss classified data.”

One senator is happy the media is pushing to open the process to the public. “I think it’s great they sent it,” Sen. Claire McCaskill said of the press gallery’s letter. The Missouri Democrat is a proponent of opening up the markup. “I wish that more of my colleagues would see the value in us opening it,” she said.

The full NDAA bill will dominate this week in the Senate  and the House with some final details making it to the public by the end of this week.



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Pulitzer Prize Winner Hawks ‘Protocols of the Elders of the Anti-Islam Movement’ in the New Yorker

Wednesday, May 13th, 2015 - by Patrick Poole

A document entered into court evidence by Justice Department prosecutors in the largest terrorism financing trial in American history, and later cited affirmatively by the federal judge in the case and cleared by the federal appeals court, would seem an unlikely target for a former journalist to try to spin a conspiratorial tale around, namely slandering others of hawking a racist/”Islamphobic” “Protocols of the Elders of Islam.”

And yet that is what David K. Shipler, a former New York Times reporter and winner of the 1987 Pulitzer Prize, is now trying to do.

Clearly upset that so-called “Islamophobes” have been successful using the document – again, discovered by the FBI, submitted into the evidence by federal prosecutors and approved as genuine by the federal court – to expose the Muslim Brotherhood roots of some of America’s largest Islamic organizations, Shipler wields his “Islamophobia” harpoon like Ahab at his “anti-Islam industry” Moby Dick.

He makes his dubious case in a new book out this week, entitled “Freedom of Speech: Mightier Than the Sword” (Alfred A. Knopf), which includes an entire chapter on the subject, and summarizes it in an article published on Tuesday in The New Yorker, “Pamela Geller and the Anti-Islam Movement.” The book received a very lukewarm review in the New York Times this past Sunday.

In the New Yorker article, Shipler claims:

Virtually all the alarm over the coming Islamic takeover and the spread of Sharia law can be traced back to an old document of questionable authority and relevance, “An Explanatory Memorandum on the General Strategic Goal for the Group in North America.” Dated May 22, 1991, it was found in 2004 by the F.B.I., buried in one of a large number of boxes uncovered during a search of a house in northern Virginia. (I reported on the discovery and the use of the document for my book “Freedom of Speech: Mightier than the Sword.”) It is cited on numerous Web sites, and in articles, videos, and training materials, which quote one another in circular arguments. Its illusion of importance was enhanced by federal prosecutors, who included it in a trove of documents introduced into evidence in the 2007 trial of the Holy Land Foundation, a charitable organization ultimately convicted of sending money to Hamas.

The memo, however, is far from probative. It was never subjected to an adversarial test of its authenticity or significance. Examined closely, it does not stand up as an authoritative prescription for action. Rather, it appears to have been written as a plea to the Muslim Brotherhood leadership for action, by an author we know little about, Mohamed Akram. He is listed elsewhere as a secretary in the Brotherhood, but he writes in the tone of an underling. Islam watchers do not quote his appeal that the recipients “not rush to throw these papers away due to your many occupations and worries. All that I’m asking of you is to read them and to comment on them.” These lines reveal the memo as a mere proposal, now twenty-four years old. No other copies have come to light.

Two features of the memo are highlighted by the Islam watchers: first, its assertion that “the Ikhwan [Muslim Brotherhood] must understand that their work in America is a kind of grand jihad in eliminating and destroying the Western civilization from within,” and, second, “a list of our organizations and the organizations of our friends.” [emphasis added]

What’s remarkable about Shipler’s treatment of the Explanatory Memorandum in his article and in his book is how much he is willing to quickly dismiss facts that completely undo his case, and how he pays no attention to the glaring contradictions he ends up wrapping himself into trying to debunk the document. At major points he contradicts himself. He breezes over the mountain of evidence that he has to overcome, but that means he can’t plead ignorance of it. One is only left with the conclusion that he’s being intentionally mendacious.

I beg the reader’s indulgence, for I will quote lengthy passages and on occasions paste screenshots from the court documents themselves so you know I’m not engaged in anything dodgy. Tellingly, most of these quotes never appear in Shipler’s book, and if so, only in selectively edited form.

So let’s start with the evidence.

The document he is trying to cast doubts on is known generally as the “Explanatory Memorandum,” but it’s actual title is “An Explanatory Memorandum on the General Strategic Goal of the Group in North America.” The document is dated May 22, 1991, and was entered into evidence as “Elbarasse Search – 3″ by federal prosecutors in the Holy Land Foundation terrorism financing trial in 2008.

Helpfully, the federal court overseeing the case in an unusual move posted the trial evidence on their own website. The Explanatory Memorandum and the FBI translation of the document can be found here.

At this point, we can turn to what the Justice Department said in federal court about the Explanatory Memorandum. In one court filing, available on the ACLU’s website, federal prosecutors state (p. 12):

The evidence introduced at trial, for example, established that ISNA and NAIT were among those organizations created by the U.S.-Muslim Brotherhood.8 Govt. Exh. 3-64 (seized from the home of HAMAS leader Ismail Elbarasse); Govt. Exh. 3-3 (Muslim Brotherhood document noting that ISNA was founded by the US-Muslim Brotherhood) ; Govt. Exh. 3-85 (1991 memorandum authored by U.S.-Muslim Brotherhood Shura Council member Mohamed Akram Adlouni, recognizing ISNA and NAIT as Muslim Brotherhood organizations.) Government’s Exhibit 3-85, entitled An Explanatory Memorandum on the General Strategic Goal of the Group, described the Brotherhood’s strategic goal as a kind of “grand Jihad”:

The Ikhwan must understand that their role in America is a kind of grand Jihad in eliminating and destroying the Western Civilization from within and sabotaging its miserable house by their hands and the hands of the believers so that it is eliminated and God’s religion is made victorious…. [emphasis added]

So the Justice Department states that:

1) Two Islamic organizations – the Islamic Society of North America (ISNA) and the North American Islamic Trust (NAIT) – were created by the U.S. Muslim Brotherhood (based on other trial evidence as well as the Explanatory Memorandum);

2) The Explanatory Memorandum was authored by U.S. Muslim Brotherhood Shura Council member Mohamed Akram Adlouni;

3) That the memo describes the Brotherhood’s strategic goal as “a kind of grand Jihad in eliminating and destroying Western Civilization from within.”

Now please note that these claims were not made by “Pamela Geller and the Anti-Islam Movement” but the Justice Department in a federal court filing. He can tilt at all of the “anti-Islam” windmills he wants, but fundamentally he still has to explain away the court evidence.

And as stated earlier, much to the consternation of Shipler, the federal court agreed in a published opinion with the Justice Department’s analysis of the document when Judge Jorge Solis ruled on motions from three separate organizations named as unindicted co-conspirators in the trial — ISNA, NAIT, and the Council on American-Islamic Relations (CAIR) — asking to be removed from the Justice Department’s co-conspirator list. The judge’s ruling against removing the groups from the unindicted co-conspirator list was unsealed in 2010.

In that ruling, Judge Solis states (p. 15):

Government Exhibit 3-85 is titled “An Explanatory Memorandum on the General Strategic Goal for the Group in North America,” authored by Mohamed Akram of the Shura Council of the Muslim Brotherhood and dated May 22, 1991. (Gov’t Ex. 3-85 (Elbarasse 3) at 21.) The “Explanatory Memorandum” includes a section titled “Understanding the role of the Muslim Brother in North America,” which states that the work of the Ikhwan in the United States is “a kind of grand Jihad in eliminating and destroying the Western civilization from within and sabotaging its miserable house by their hands and the hands of the believers so that it is eliminated and God’s religion is made victorious over all other religions.” (Id.) Also contained in that document is a list of the Muslim Brotherhood’s “organizations and the organizations of our friends,” which includes ISNA, NAIT, the Occupied Land Fund (“OLF”) (HLF’s former name), and the United Association for Studies and Research (“UASR”). (Id. at 32.)

So Judge Solis found that:

1) The Explanatory Memorandum was authored by Mohamed Akram of the U.S. Muslim Brotherhood Shura Council;

2) That the document describes the agenda of the Muslim Brotherhood’s “grand Jihad in eliminating and destroying the Western Civilization from within”;

3) That the document lists the Muslim Brotherhood’s “organizations and the organizations of our friends,” including ISNA and NAIT.

At this point Shipler laughably believes he has room to maneuver. In the New Yorker article and in his book, he makes three general claims:

1) That the judge blindly accepted the Justice Department’s argument about the origins and importance of the memo and never allowed adversarial challenges to its provenance;

2) That the Explanatory Memorandum was admitted as hearsay, meaning that the groups named in the memo were never allowed to challenge in court;

3) That the judge failed to distinguish between the memo’s list of “our organizations” and “the organizations of our friends.”

Let’s take these in order.

1) Judge Solis accepted the Justice Department’s description of the Explanatory Memorandum unquestioningly and never allowed adversarial challenges.

In discussing the order by Judge Solis in response to the motions of the three Islamic organizations, Shipler states in his book (p. 190):

CAIR and two other groups moved to have themselves removed from the list of unindicted co-conspirators, but the effort backfired and gave Islam watchers more ammunition. Not only was their motion denied by Judge Jorge Solis, who presided over the retrial, conviction, and sentencing of the five Holy Land Foundation defendants (the first trial had ended in a hung jury). He also accepted the government’s assertions by citing the seized Elbarasse documents, including the Explanatory Memorandum, without testing their accuracy in an adversarial proceeding. He did not distinguish between the memo’s list of “our organizations” and “the organizations of our friends.” He ruled, “The Government had produced ample evidence to establish the associations of CAIR, ISNA [Islamic Society of North America], and NAIT [North American Islamic Trust] with HLF [Holy Land Foundation], the Islamic Association of Palestine (“IAP”), and with Hamas.” [emphasis added]

Remarkably, Shipler contradicts himself just a few pages later, quoting a defense attorney for the Holy Land Foundation defendants who said that the Elbarasse documents had, in fact, been challenged by the defense team (p. 198):

The defense team lodged vigorous objections to the introduction of this and the other documents from the Elbarasse search, and two attorneys on the defense team, Nancy Hollander and Marlo Cadeddu, scoffed at Guandolo’s statement. “There was no such stipulation by the defense,” said Cadeddu. “Nor would we ever have stipulated to any such thing. Any claims to the contrary are simply untrue.” Indeed, after the five Holy Land officials and fund-raisers were convicted, their lawyers argued specifically, in an unsuccessful appeal to the Fifth Circuit, that the trial judge had erred in admitting the documents, which the attorneys branded hearsay, irrelevant to the charge that the defendants had funneled money to Hamas. [emphasis added]

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Politico Posts Dig at GOP over Amtrak Funding While Details of Tragedy Still Coming In

Tuesday, May 12th, 2015 - by Stephen Kruiser

Here’s Politico editor Blake Hounshell’s tweet that he posted even before mentioning the casualties:

This is why it’s difficult to see the political landscape getting any better in America any time soon, if ever. The agenda and the narrative trump all for liberals.

Fatalities in a tragedy?

Yeah, yeah, we’ll get to those in a minute, gotta remind everyone that the Republicans want to cut the budget first.

There is no discussion with people who think it’s appropriate to launch into an infrastructure spending tirade even as first responders are just arriving on the scene of a tragedy. They truly believe this happened because evil Republicans kept just the magic amount of money away from Amtrak to make it safe.

They are all from the Krugman school of thought that says any federal spending that didn’t do the trick failed simply because enough wasn’t spent.

And then you’re on an infinity loop of tax dollar demands that isn’t even slowed down by the presence of dead bodies.

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Megyn Kelly Asks Jeb Bush Softball Questions on Common Core

Tuesday, May 12th, 2015 - by Paula Bolyard

Megyn Kelly interviewed former Governor Jeb Bush on Monday and took the opportunity to ask him about his support for the Common Core education standards. Unfortunately, she asked the wrong questions and didn’t follow up when Bush gave a glib and weaselly little speech about how he’s a firm believer that the federal government shouldn’t be involved in education standards.

Kelly noted that Common Core is wildly unpopular with Republican voters. According to the latest Gallup poll, 58% of Republican parents have a negative view of it and only 19% favor it. “They say it makes no sense. It forces teaching to the test. They say kids are in tears over it. Are they wrong?” Kelly asked.

Bush responded:

Common Core means a lot of things to different people, so they could be right based on what’s in front of them. I respect people having a view, but the simple fact is we need higher standards. They need to be state driven. The federal government should play no role in this, either in the creation of standards, content or curriculum. That’s what I believe. And if we don’t have high standards and assess to them faithfully, we get what we have today which is about a third of our kids being college and/or career ready. And by the way, we spend more per student than any other country in the world other than two or three countries.

But the federal government does play a role — a huge role — in the Common Core standards and Bush knows it.

The next logical questions should have been, “You say you don’t believe the federal government should have a role in education standards, but it’s been well-documented that the federal government has been an integral driver of the adoption of the Common Common standards and we know they are playing a significant role in driving the testing which has caused considerable consternation to parents and teachers across the country. Some say your position on this doesn’t square with the facts about Common Core. How do you respond?”

But Kelly didn’t press Bush on his inconsistency. She didn’t ask him how the federal coercion that resulted in near-national standards aligns with his view that the feds shouldn’t be involved in standards. Instead, she asked him about those confusing math lessons.

“It sounds good. Like higher standards sound good. But what they seem to be complaining about is that in practice, it’s irritating,” Kelly said. “The kids don’t like it, the parents don’t like it, the teachers don’t like it.”

Bush responded, “I hear legitimate complaints about it changing, which is a dramatic change as it relates to math, where you’re not just memorizing a multiplication table or an addition table, but you’re also…in the classroom, you’re challenging kids to explain why you got to — “

“You’ve got to understand it now,” Kelly interrupted.

Bush went on to explain that the standards would enable kids to eventually take “higher order math.”

Kelly asked him how he expected to get the GOP base to support him when they disagree with him on this issue. Bush said that he would stand on his record of success as governor of Florida — ending social promotion, expanding school choice, and increasing graduation rates.

But that was all before Common Core. Everything changed in 2009 when 46 states agreed to implement common standards in exchange for a chance to compete for federal Race to the Top funding.

I wrote in February:

Ultimately, the buck stops at the tests. Testing drives everything from publishing, to local hiring decisions, to the way math is taught in kindergarten. Advocates of the Common Core standards claim there will be no erosion of local control and deny there will be any federal influence on state and local decision-making. But it won’t be local teachers and school board members — or even states — deciding what will be on the high-stakes tests, and within a few years those tests will be the primary driver of what is taught in most of the classrooms across the country.

The Common Core standards will eventually lead to a one-size-fits all, top-down education with little opportunity for individual choice or state innovation because all children will have to pass the same tests. As Common Core takes root in local districts and classrooms nationwide, local control and state innovation will be abandoned as schools move increasingly toward a nationally directed approach to education with decisions overseen by officials at the Department of Education.

It’s a shame Kelly didn’t ask Bush about that. In fact, after the interview aired, she discussed the subject with Mark Theisen and seemed to defend Bush’s positions.

“It’s seen as a federal takeover of the education system,” Theisen said.

 ”But it’s not!” Kelly exclaimed.

Sigh. I hope the next time Bush sits down for an interview someone thinks to ask him about something more substantive than those irritating math lessons, because the most serious charges Common Core opponents levy against the standards are not about individual math problems, but about the federal takeover of our education system.

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The New York Times Begins Publishing On Facebook Tomorrow

Tuesday, May 12th, 2015 - by Stephen Kruiser

The Grey Lady’s death rattle?

Tomorrow morning, in what marks a tectonic shift in the publishing industry, the New York Times is expected to officially begin a long-awaited partnership with Facebook to publish articles directly to the social media giant, a source with direct knowledge of the talks told me. According to people familiar with the negotiations, the Times will begin publishing select articles directly into Facebook’s news feed. Buzzfeed, NBC News and NatGeo are said to be also joining the roll out, among others.

The deal raises all sorts of knotty questions for the Times. How many articles will Facebook get to publish per day? What is the revenue sharing breakdown? How does the Times protect the independence of its journalism, say, if the paper runs a hard-hitting investigation on Facebook? And what happens when the Times allows Facebook to insert itself between its journalism and its readers?

Not surprisingly, the prospect of a Facebook partnership is generating palpable anxiety inside the Times newsroom, with some Times journalists casting it as an end-of-the-Times-as-we-know-it inflection point. When rumors of a deal surfaced last October, the Times’ late media columnist David Carr articulated this view, writing “the wholesale transfer of content sends a cold, dark chill down the collective spine of publishers, both traditional and digital insurgents alike.”

Many will say that this is the final nail in the coffin of what we used to call journalism. Just as many will probably posit that leftist bias buried it so long ago the coffin has already begun rotting.

Whatever the actual case may be, one thing is for certain, that air of exclusivity and swagger is gone now. Every displaced New Yorker’s favorite Sunday affection in Los Angeles is now slumming it alongside BuzzFeed and sponsored ads for a Mr. Clean Magic Eraser. It’s just now adopting a distribution channel that drunk college girls made famous ten years ago.

While this may very well breathe new financial life into the Times, it certainly can’t be a good sign for newspapers or journalism in general. What was once a news destination is now arm-wrestling NatGeo for the attention of people who just want to see if they’re missing any friends’ birthdays.

The Times‘ management wants to keep its digital subscriber base and somehow thinks it will protect the content that lures them all the while throwing Facebook enough “news” to keep Zuckerberg and company happy.

Good luck with that.

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On ‘Broad Cooperation’ Visit to Russia, Kerry Chides Ukraine

Tuesday, May 12th, 2015 - by Bridget Johnson

(Photo: Kremlin)

President Vladimir Putin showed up for his Sochi meeting with Secretary of State John Kerry today, prompting Kerry to gush at a press conference later that he was “particularly grateful” to Putin “for the very significant and serious conversation that he engaged in, for the very significant amount of time that he committed to this discussion.”

“And I express President Obama’s gratitude for Russia’s willingness to engage in this discussion at a time when the exchange of views could not be more important,” Kerry continued. “So we thank them for talking through these issues face-to- face as we try to come together and find workable solutions to very important issues to all of us.”

Putin’s website led with a story about his meeting with defense ministers and the military-industry complex. Underneath that was a brief about his Kerry meeting: “Vladimir Putin received United States Secretary of State John Kerry. The State Secretary arrived at the Russian leader’s Sochi residence after his talks with Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov.”

The Kremlin released two photos of the meeting, both with Putin giving Kerry his characteristic power smirk.

Russian Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov said the two parties talked about Ukraine and the “contradiction and divergences between Russia and the U.S.” along with “ways to settle the conflict in Syria.” Russia has been a key arms supplier to Bashar al-Assad.

“Among other things, we shared our views on the implementation of our agreements aimed at resolving the Iran’s nuclear program. We also discussed the situation in Yemen, Libya, and other Middle East countries. We also discussed the situation in Afghanistan, in the Korean Peninsula, and we emphasize that both U.S. and Russia are advocating denuclearization of the Korean Peninsula,” Lavrov said.

“Of course, we discussed the state of our bilateral relations, including some specific irritators that have been in place recently. But in a broader context, we also discussed our views related to bigger problems that had been accumulating for several years. Sometimes our opinions diverged and we did not always find common understanding of the issues.”

Putin, Lavrov said, “firmly emphasized that we are ready for as broad cooperation as possible and as close interaction as possible with the U.S.A. based on equal rights and mutual respect of interests and positions of each other.”

Kerry said he’s “grateful” to Putin for “his directness, and for his very detailed explanations of Russia’s position with respect to some of these challenges.”

On Syria, Lavrov said “there should be no attempts to use the issue of alleged use of chemical weapons to exercise any political pressure.”

Assad has been attacking communities with chlorine gas since the Russian-forged agreement to dispose of his chemical weapons stockpiles.

“With regard to Syria, our positions with our U.S. partners are very similar,” Lavrov said. “We believe that this process should be representatives, but given the contradictions within the opposition groups themselves, it is very important that all the external actors that can influence these other group have to encourage them to continue negotiations and to implement the Geneva communique as of June 30th. And it requires work with different Syrian groups and units, and it also requires participation of some external actors. We have discussed that today as well.”

In response to a Russian media question about Ukrainian President Petro Poroshenko vowing to eventually recpature and rebuilt Donetsk Airport, Kerry said he hadn’t heard the speech but unleashed some criticism on the Ukrainians anyway.

“If indeed President Poroshenko is advocating an engagement in a forceful effort at this time, we would strongly urge him to think twice not to engage in that kind of activity, that that would put Minsk in serious jeopardy. And we would be very, very concerned about what the consequences of that kind of action at this time may be,” Kerry said.

Kerry acknowledged Poroshenko may have been talking about operations in the long term, but “I do know that resort to force by any party at this point in time would be extremely destructive at a moment when everyone has brought together the working groups, the working groups have met, and the working groups have an ability to try to provide a path forward on all of those issues that many of us have been concerned about over the course of the last months.”

“I absolutely agree to what John Kerry – John has just said,” Lavrov said.

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