June 17, 2014
Sharyl Attkisson on the Missing IRS Emails
Is there any possibility that the Obama administration and the IRS are not criminally obstructing the House Ways and Means Committee investigation into the targeting of Tea Party and conservative groups? On Friday the IRS announced that it had lost email communications between Lois Lerner and outside agencies for the period between January of 2009 and April of 2011. A computer crash, the IRS said.
It so happens that the emails requested by Ways and Means included Lerner's communications with the White House, the Treasury Department, the Department of Justice, the Federal Elections Commission and the offices of congressional Democrats. Just those communications, for just that particular time period when the IRS was admittedly targeting Tea Party and conservative groups, are the ones that the IRS now claims were lost because of the crash. How is that possible?
In light of this announcement Sharyl Attkisson has formulated some questions for the IRS.
- Please provide a timeline of the crash and documentation covering when it was first discovered and by whom; when, how and by whom it was learned that materials were lost; the official documentation reporting the crash and federal data loss; documentation reflecting all attempts to recover the materials; and the remediation records documenting the fix. This material should include the names of all officials and technicians involved, as well as all internal communications about the matter.
- Please provide all documents and emails that refer to the crash from the time that it happened through the IRS’ disclosure to Congress Friday that it had occurred.
- Please provide the documents that show the computer crash and lost data were appropriately reported to the required entities including any contractor servicing the IRS. If the incident was not reported, please explain why.
- Please provide a list summarizing what other data was irretrievably lost in the computer crash. If the loss involved any personal data, was the loss disclosed to those impacted? If not, why?
- Please provide documentation reflecting any security analyses done to assess the impact of the crash and lost materials. If such analyses were not performed, why not?
- Please provide documentation showing the steps taken to recover the material, and the names of all technicians who attempted the recovery.
- Please explain why redundancies required for federal systems were either not used or were not effective in restoring the lost materials, and provide documentation showing how this shortfall has been remediated.
- Please provide any documents reflecting an investigation into how the crash resulted in the irretrievable loss of federal data and what factors were found to be responsible for the existence of this situation.
- I would also ask for those who discovered and reported the crash to testify under oath, as well as any officials who reported the materials as having been irretrievably lost.
Is it still possible to believe that Obama himself had no hand in the targeting? Hard to imagine.
Update: Mark Tapscott notes in a Washington Examiner column:
On the same day the new HOGR report was made public, Mitchell -- a partner in the Foley & Lardner law firm -- reminded Justice Department attorneys that multiple federal laws require preservation of all emails concerning official government business.
The emails must also be preserved as evidence in litigation, including the civil suit Mitchell filed against the government and a dozen individual IRS employees on behalf of True the Vote, one of the Tea Party group's most egregiously harassed by the IRS.
In other words, besides destroying federal property, anybody who may have had a hand in making that computer crash could also face evidence-tampering charges. Serious jail time follows convictions.
This isn't going away soon.
May 04, 2014
The Broader Policy Failure
Up until disclosure of the Ben Rhodes email outlining Benghazi talking points for U.N. Ambassador Susan Rice, the Obama administration has managed to keep the narrative away from the central issue that was the reason for a coverup in the first place. According to the White House there wasn't a coverup, but the Ben Rhodes email and others that were procured by Judicial Watch all but confirm that there was and that the White House had a hand in it.
Let's step back for a moment. In the months leading up to the murder of Ambassador Christopher Stevens by Islamic terrorists, the State Department had denied several requests by the ambassador for additional security at the consulate in Benghazi, Libya. Aside from testifying that she took responsibility for what happened, Hillary Clinton who was Secretary of State at the time, never satisfactorily addressed the issue of why those requests were denied. Oh, a few State Department careerists were shuffled from one job to another in a show of accountability exacted, but that was pretty much the end of it.
In Washington today, particularly the Obama administration, saying that you take responsibility does not mean you are responsible. That sort of talk is just for show. In another day you might expect a resignation to follow when someone takes responsibility for such a gross failure of security. You would expect real men and real women to own up. But not now, and certainly not Hillary Clinton, not ever.
No, Hillary blamed a film maker and promised a grieving father that the film maker would be brought to justice. Susan Rice laid the groundwork for it when just days after the attack, she made the rounds of five Sunday morning talk shows, reciting the Ben Rhodes talking points at each one: There was a spontaneous protest, not an attack. And this was supported by the best intelligence available to the administration at the time. Even after it became inescapably clear that there were no protests, the administration stuck with the "best available intelligence" story. They still do.
But the damaging issue is why the ambassador's requests for more security were denied. The administration began by maintaining a Sergeant Schultz style of innocence: "I know nothing! I see nothing! NOTHING!" A CNN article purporting to "fact check" statements by Joe Biden and Paul Ryan during their Vice Presidential Debate in October, 2012 quoted the Vice President saying just that:
Biden: "We weren't told they wanted more security. We did not know they wanted more security."
Ryan: "There were requests for extra security. Those requests were not honored."
On Wednesday, the State Department's former point man on security in Libya told the House Oversight Committeethat he asked for additional security help for the Benghazi facility months before the attack, but was denied.
Various communications dating back a year asked for three to five diplomatic security agents, according to testimony at Wednesday's hearing. But Eric Nordstrom, the one-time regional security officer, said he verbally asked for 12 agents.
The request for 12 agents was rebuffed by the regional director of the State Department's Bureau of Near Eastern Affairs, Nordstrom testified.
Biden went on to say that Republicans were to blame for the lapse in security, anyway. He argued that the ambassador others who were killed were actually victims of Republican budget cuts. The Obama administration couldn't afford to beef up security in Benghazi.
A scramble was on to evade blame. Hillary Clinton testified, "specific security requests they didn't come to me. I had no knowledge of them." Is it possible that those two, Joe and Hillary, really didn't know about the dangers that Ambassador Stevens faced in Benghazi? Let's just say we're willing to concede the point: They didn't know.
The fact is, they should have known. And the email from Ben Rhodes makes clear that they knew that they should have known.
The Rhodes email was sent on sent on Friday, September 14, 2012, at 8:09 p.m. with the subject line: “RE: PREP CALL with Susan, Saturday at 4:00 pm ET.” The documents show that the “prep” was for Amb. Rice’s Sunday news show appearances to discuss the Benghazi attack.
The document lists as a “Goal”: “To underscore that these protests are rooted in an Internet video, and not a broader failure or policy.”
As the attack was being carried out, all of them knew. Security at consulate in Benghazi was insufficient and somebody should have done something about it. The Ben Rhodes email portrays a quick thinking politically minded administration settling on a political strategy to address a domestic political crisis.
Out came Susan Rice with their story: There was no attack by armed terrorists. There was no connection to Al Qaeda. A mob of otherwise peaceful civilians, our Libyan friends, became justifiably incensed by an insulting video. Out of the blue. Completely without warning. Who could have predicted a protest would get so badly out of control? Send in the troops against civilians? Enlightened administrations don't do that sort of thing.
It implied that leaving the Benghazi consulate unprotected was what anybody in the same circumstances would have done. With a little stretching it might even explain why there was no military response, no attempt to save the ambassador, when the attack on the consulate was under way — when everybody, Obama and Hillary included, knew it. That was what the internet video was intended to explain away.
In actuality the Obama administation had implemented a policy to normalize operations in Libya. Several weeks after the embassy was attacked, a Washington Times report described what that policy meant.
The shift in narrative from the State Department comes amid revelations the Obama administration told U.S. diplomats during the months leading up to the attack to draw down security in Libya in an effort to show that life was returning to normal after the revolution that shook the North African nation last year.
That policy, formulated by Barack Obama and carried out by Hillary Clinton, was behind the denial of those requests. The bitter fruit of those denials is why there was this nonsensical story about an internet video. It's why Ben Rhodes outlined a strategy to "underscore that these protests are rooted in an Internet video, and not a broader failure or policy."
The broader failure was in imposing a policy that dictated a denial of each and every request by Ambassador Stevens for the security forces that might have prevented his death. Barack Obama and Hillary Clinton both knew it. The Ben Rhodes email was the administration plan for shielding themselves from blame for their own policies. That's the normal operation in the Obama administration. It was like that in the Clinton administration. (Who can forget Bill, wagging his finger?) It will be like that in the next Clinton administration. If there is one.
April 30, 2014
Politics Before Transparency?
Under the headline "National Journal Writer: Obama W.H. Put Politics Before Transparency on Benghazi" the Washington Free Beacon reports:
National Journal’s Ron Fournier on Wednesday argued the Obama Administration always “put politics first” rather than disclosing the truth when dealing with their latest scandals.
I would go much further than that. I suspect that Obama administration had put politics even ahead of security at the Benghazi consulate, refusing Ambassador Christopher Stevens' many request for additional forces because administration political goals were to promote Barack Obama as having decimated al Qaeda. Beefing up security would have been an uncomfortable contradiction to that narrative.
The more important questions arose months earlier. Those questions centered around apparent refusals to beef up security at the consulate in Benghazi, even in the face of repeated requests for more of it.
Eric Nordstrom earlier told congressional investigators that he had requested more security but that request was blocked by a department policy to "normalize operations and reduce security resources."
Too bad four Americans died so that Barack Obama could hold that pose as conquering hero.
April 29, 2014
As we've all thought all along, that idiotic story blaming the death of Ambassador Christopher Steven on an internet video was a tale cooked up by the White House to cover for Obama. Documents procured by Judicial Watch through a June 21, 2013 FOIA lawsuit included an email by senior White House advisor Ben Rhodes dated September 14, 2012 8:09 pm ET.
Subject: RE:PREP CALL with Susan: Saturday at 4:00 pm ET
This was the email that outlined the plan for Susan Rice to hit the Sunday morning talk shows and say that according to the best intelligence Christopher Stevens died in a protest over a video. Among other things it said:
To underscore that these protests were rooted in an Internet video, not a broader failure of policy.
However, in the same trove of documents received by Judicial Watch were emails contradicting Rhodes' contrived story line. The Judicial Watch press release describes the contradictions:
The documents obtained by Judicial Watch also contain numerous emails sent during the assault on the Benghazi diplomatic facility. The contemporaneous and dramatic emails describe the assault as an “attack”:
As reported, the Benghazi compound came under attack and it took a bit of time for the ‘Annex’ colleagues and Libyan February 17 brigade to secure it. One of our colleagues was killed – IMO Sean Smith. Amb Chris Stevens, who was visiting Benghazi this week is missing. U.S. and Libyan colleagues are looking for him…
At 8:51 pm, Pelofsky tells Rice and others that “Post received a call from a person using an [sic] RSO phone that Chris was given saying the caller was with a person matching Chris’s description at a hospital and that he was alive and well. Of course, if the he were alive and well, one could ask why he didn’t make the call himself.”
Later that evening, Pelofsky emailed Rice that he was “very, very worried. In particular that he [Stevens] is either dead or this was a concerted effort to kidnap him.” Rice replied, “God forbid.”
- September 11, 2012, 4:49 PM – State Department press officer John Fogarty reporting on “Libya update from Beth Jones”:
Beth Jones [Acting Assistant Secretary, Bureau of Near Eastern Affairs] just spoke with DCM Tripoli Greg Hicks, who advised a Libyan militia (we now know this is the 17th Feb brigade, as requested by Emb office) is responding to the attack on the diplomatic mission in Benghazi.”
Understandable that the White House would be loath to release such damning information, especially after the entire administration stayed on the internet video message for months. Rice, Clinton, and Obama all maintained that the attack was not an attack but a spontaneous protest. They kept it up through the November election and all the way through the congressional committee hearings the following year. They had help from the media who studiously ignored the story.
David Rhodes was named President of CBS News in February 2011.
As President, he is responsible for programs including the award-winning broadcasts "CBS Evening News with Scott Pelley", "CBS This Morning", "CBS Sunday Morning with Charles Osgood", "Face the Nation with Bob Schieffer", and "48 Hours." He directs network newsgathering for all CBS News platforms including television, CBSNews.com, and CBS News Radio.
Some news is quite obviously not worth gathering. Like Benghazi. It is particularly not worth gathering when you have a brother neck deep in the story.
Sharyl Attkisson, CBS’s top investigative reporter: gone, resigned, floating free, unchained, now viewed by the news establishment as an outsider, a defector, a weirdo with an axe to grind.
Among the controversial stories she covered at CBS: Benghazi. Just as she was digging below the surface of the Obama coverup, she was cut off and shut down by her network bosses.
Here’s the crux. The Rhodes brothers.
Ben Rhodes, David Rhodes.
Ben is a deputy national security advisor to Obama and writes speeches for him. In September 2012, Ben was “instrumental,” according to ABC News, in changing the White House talking points (the story) on what happened in Benghazi.
Ben’s brother, David, is president of CBS News. Attkisson was working for David. She was investigating all the changes (12) in the Benghazi talking points. She was shut down.
Nothing to see there, move along, eyes straight ahead, go back to sleep, zombie-zombie, it’s all good don’t worry, be happy, hope and change, the audacity of whatever.
Now, on top of this, Attkisson’s computers, at work and at home, were hacked while she was still at CBS. The network acknowledged this and said “they were investigating.” They’re still investigating.
Our "free press" colludes with, rather than reports on, the people who would be subjects of their stories. It's mutually beneficial. Ambitious "journalists" advance their careers further and faster by being nice to the powers be, and in return the powers that be get good press. Or as in this case, Benghazi, the powers that be get no press. Better still.
Senior White House advisor Ben Rhodes was a brilliant pick by Obama. No worries about "journalist" Rhodes ever speaking truth to, or about, Obama. And what a bonus! Rhodes has a brother who has been doing a bang up job of muzzling one of the original big three news networks, CBS, on behalf of Obama. It's mutually beneficial. Hell! It's family!
April 14, 2014
Obama Backs Off
Well, well. Barack Obama is backing off from his plan to hand over the internet to totalitarian-minded governance. Color me surprised.
Less than a month after announcing its plan to abandon U.S. protection of the open Internet in 2015, the White House has stepped back from the abyss. Following objections by Bill Clinton, a warning letter from 35 Republican senators, and critical congressional hearings, the administration now says the change won't happen for years, if ever.
"We can extend the contract for up to four years," Assistant Commerce Secretary Lawrence Strickling told Congress last week, referring to the agreement under which the U.S. retains ultimate control over the Internet Corporation for Assigned Names and Numbers, known as Icann. If the administration makes good on that reassurance, it would punt the decision to 2019 and the next president.
How unlike the president. Obama has never been bashful about shutting people up, insinuating that dark forces are at work buying up American democracy. He may be right about that, but the dark forces are labor unions and billionaire progressives who somehow manage to extract billions in loan guarantees, grants and gifts thanks to Obama's federally financed kindness. In return the progressive/labor coalition showers Obama and the Democrats with campaign cash.
Talk radio is a place where you might hear about these embarrassing connections. So is the Tea Party, so is Fox News, and so is the internet. Democrats have been complaining about talk radio and Fox News for years, and the Obama administration has even unleashed the IRS on the Tea Party. But up to now nobody has taken on the internet, except for those occasional cracks about bloggers sitting around in their pajamas. You have to give Obama his due. He's proven himself ambitious enough to take on the World Wide Web.
The Commerce Department tasked Icann to come up with a plan to invite authoritarian governments to participate while still keeping the Internet open. This is likely impossible—and wholly unnecessary. Nongovernmental "multi-stakeholders," such as engineers, networking companies and technology associations, now run the Internet smoothly. They are free to do so because the U.S. retains ultimate control over Internet domains, blocking authoritarian regimes from censoring or otherwise limiting the Internet outside their own countries.
The Obama administration proposal would have treated other governments as equal stakeholders, turning the concept of private-sector self-governance on its head. Robert McDowell, a former commissioner at the Federal Communication Commission, pointed out at the Hudson Institute event that "'multi-stakeholder' historically has meant no government," not many governments.
It is vintage Obama, leading from behind again. And up front could have been any number of dictatorial regimes willing and able crush inconvenient, embarrassing discourse on the net. But apparently the outcry, even from the left end of the political spectrum, forced him to back off. Some errant synapses, perhaps, firing in left leaning minds set off an epiphany about dangers of empowering somebody to silence your critics. When they have it they'll silence you. But who would ever have expected the left to get that?
April 13, 2014
Quote of the Day
As majority leader of the United States Senate, Reid holds one of the highest offices in the land. Using his high office to inveigh against the “Koch brothers,” Reid has shown an infinite capacity for disgrace, dishonesty and hypocrisy. He is the perfect face of the Democratic Party in the Age of Obama.
April 07, 2014
This Is What You Get...
...when you vote for Democrats. There is a "pervasive culture of retaliation and intimidation" at the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau. A senior enforcement attorney at CFPB has testified at a House Committee on Financial Services hearing that senior managers at the agency retaliated against her for speaking out against mismanagement.
Scott Pluta, the CFPB assistant director of the Office of Consumer Response, demoted Martin after she filed a formal complaint of discrimination for being “isolated” and prevented from doing any “meaningful work” in December 2012. Martin has not been assigned a single case or enforcement matter since she dissolved her own law practice to work for the CFPB in 2011.
After filing her complaint, Martin, a former civilian attorney for the judge advocate general at Fort Bragg, was then removed from all of her job duties.
Misty Raucci, a workplace private investigator who was hired by the CFPB to investigate the case, supported Martin’s testimony.
After six months, Raucci said she became a “veritable hotline for employees at CFPB, who called to discuss their own maltreatment at the bureau, mainly at the hands of Scott Pluta or [CFPB official] Dane D’Alessandro.”
Raucci said Martin was subjected to “open bashing, bullying, and marginalization” from D’Alessandro. Pluta removed Martin from her position as chief counsel in the Office of Consumer Response.
Raucci suggested that Pluta colluded with two lower-level employees—Cathaleen Skinner and Cora Hume—to have them file complaints against Martin. Skinner “stood to benefit directly from Ms. Martin’s removal from her position as Chief Counsel,” Raucci said.
This is how Democrats believe the U.S. government should work — by intimidation and retaliation. Consider this case concerning the EPA.
The US Supreme Court Wednesday ruled unanimously in favor of an Idaho couple seeking to have their day in court to challenge an Environmental Protection Agency order that scuttled plans to build their dream home on a subdivided lot the EPA said was a federal wetland.
The couple, Chantell and Michael Sackett, had started to fill the home site with dirt and gravel to prepare for construction. But the EPA intervened, announcing that the property was a regulated wetland. Agency officials ordered the couple to restore the land to its original state or face up to $75,000 a day in fines.
Or how about this one?
All Andy Johnson wanted to do was build a stock pond on his sprawling eight-acre Wyoming farm. He and his wife Katie spent hours constructing it, filling it with crystal-clear water, and bringing in brook and brown trout, ducks and geese. It was a place where his horses could drink and graze, and a private playground for his three children.
But instead of enjoying the fruits of his labor, the Wyoming welder says he was harangued by the federal government, stuck in what he calls a petty power play by the Environmental Protection Agency. He claims the agency is now threatening him with civil and criminal penalties – including the threat of a $75,000-a-day fine.
And if you don't happen to be a landowner subject to EPA regulations, there is the IRS to harass you if you should happen to stray from the liberal orthodoxy. Don't file for tax exempt status if your organization has Tea Party" or "Patriot" in its name.
The Obama administration obviously considers Catherine Engelbrecht, founder of two public service organizations, “King Street Patriots” and “True the Vote”, to be a very dangerous person. She apparently gained that ominous distinction soon after filing to obtain tax-exempt IRS status for King Street Patriots in July 2010…approval, incidentally, which has yet to be granted. Nor has tax-exempt status been awarded for a True the Vote filing which was submitted at the same time.
Catherine’s life has changed dramatically since submitting those applications. The organization has been questioned by the FBI on numerous occasions; she has had her personal tax returns audited by the IRS; and has also had her small manufacturing business tax returns audited by the IRS. In addition, her business has been subjected to two unscheduled audits by the U.S. Bureau of Alcohol, and Tobacco and Firearms (BATF) and has undergone another unscheduled business audit by the Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA).
And that's how Democrats think the government is supposed to work. Get in the way, and you get run over. It's what you get when you vote for a Democrat.
April 06, 2014
A Momentary Pause -- 17 Years and 8 Months
Yesterday Anthony Watts posted on his Climate Change blog Watts Up With That? an article by Christopher Moncton.
Times are not easy for true-believers just now. The RSS satellite lower-troposphere temperature anomaly for March, just in, shows no global warming at all for 17 years 8 months. This remarkable 212-month period, enduring from August 1996 to March 2014, represents half of the entire 423-month satellite record since it began in January 1979
Figure 1. The remarkable 212-month absence of global warming, notwithstanding a record rate of increase in CO2 concentration. The Pause – the least-squares trend on the data for the past 17 years 8 months – now extends to just over half the entire 423-month Remote Sensing Systems satellite record since January 1979.
That's quite remarkable — 17 years and 8 months with no warming. Signs of desperation are appearing as the global warmists rejoin the attack with a renewed ferocity, threatening ever more dire consequences should we ignore their warnings of climate catastrophe. Just because it isn't getting warmer doesn't mean it isn't getting warmer! Or something.
But it hasn't been getting warmer for almost two decades, and though warmists have been at a loss to explain it, they've acknowledged the truth of it. Realizing that rising temperatures have not been rising for quite some time, the warmists traded in their "Global Warming" title for the more versatile, "Global Climate Change." Not sure if it's going to be hotter or colder? Global Climate Change! That's the ticket. No matter which way the satellite data goes, we've still got a crisis!
And it's a crisis that has not gone to waste.
According to the GAO, annual federal climate spending has increased from $4.6 billion in 2003 to $8.8 billion in 2010, amounting to $106.7 billion over that period. The money was spent in four general categories: technology to reduce greenhouse gas emissions, science to understand climate changes, international assistance for developing countries, and wildlife adaptation to respond to actual or expected changes. Technology spending, the largest category, grew from $2.56 billion to $5.5 billion over this period, increasingly advancing over others in total share. Data compiled by Joanne Nova at the Science and Policy Institute indicates that the U.S. Government spent more than $32.5 billion on climate studies between 1989 and 2009. This doesn’t count about $79 billion more spent for climate change technology research, foreign aid and tax breaks for “green energy.”
The excerpt above is from an August, 2011 article in Forbes. I'm not going to add up the billions, but a lot of spending has gone on and is still going. It doesn't get the mention that it should. What you'll hear instead is from the parties cashing in on the government funding binge. Deniers are in the pay of the oil industry! So the hysteria continues.
And Obama has no plan to curtail it or cut spending of any kind. Well, that's not true. He will cut defense spending, but certainly not climate change spending, even if it's stopped getting warmer. We had more snow in New Hampshire this winter than a lot of people have seen in years — or ever. No matter. There has to be a crisis, so global warming will get a lot of government cash.
But the real crisis is political. Democrats expect to be in for a bad election year, so Obama's spending, global warming included, is the kind that's intended to win votes and campaign contributions for the Democratic party. It doesn't matter what the satellite data says.
Update: The Wall Street Journal notes the U.N. IPCC's "Fifth Assessment Report" on cimate which is somewhat less alarmists than reports past, but not by much.
The IPCC also turns out to have an agenda that's less about climate change than income inequality and redistribution. What else given the liberal fashions of the day? "Recognizing how inequality and marginalization perpetuate poverty is a prerequisite for climate-resilient development pathways," the IPCC insists, before suggesting that the costs for "global adaptation" should run between $70 billion and $100 billion a year from now until 2050.
Then we come to a bit of WSJ naivete.
[I]f you believe that the risks of climate change are sufficiently plausible that we should at least be considering an insurance policy of sorts, then the IPCC's policy recommendations could hardly be worse. The best environmental policy is economic growth. The richer you are, the more insurance you have. Wealth is what pays for robust safety standards and prevents sensible environmental regulations from being ignored or corrupted.
Yet the IPCC supports the very regulation, income redistribution and politically favored misallocation of resources that will make the world poorer—and less able to adapt if the climate threat proves to be as real as the U.N.'s computer models claim.
Income redistribution is the whole point of the global warming hysteria.
Another update: The report also says this:
"Existing gender inequalities are increased or heightened by climate-related hazards," says the report, while dilating on the deleterious effects global warming has on "discrimination based on gender, age, race, class, caste, indigeneity, and (dis)ability."
I wonder if that's "settled science" as well.
April 02, 2014
The Supreme Court ruled today that individuals may not be limited in the number of political candidates to whom they can contribute during an election. At the same time the justices left in place the maximum donation that can be made to a single candidate, which remains at $2,600.
Chief Justice John G. Roberts Jr., in the controlling opinion in the 5-4 ruling, said that while the government has an interest in preventing corruption of federal officeholders, individuals have political rights that include being able to give to as many candidates as they want, in order to show support.
“Money in politics may at times seem repugnant to some, but so too does much of what the First Amendment vigorously protects,” the chief justice wrote. “If the First Amendment protects flag burning, funeral protests, and Nazi parades — despite the profound offense such spectacles cause — it surely protects political campaign speech despite popular opposition.”
Under the current limit, a donor can’t give more than $123,200 to candidates, parties and political action committees. Of that, just $48,600 can go directly to candidates.
That means if someone wanted to give the maximum donation, he could only contribute to nine candidates.
Chief Justice Roberts said it made no sense that someone couldn’t give to a 10th candidate or more — and said the government didn’t offer a clear line on where corruption would come into play.
Progressives were overwrought already, demonizing the libertarian leaning Koch brothers over their bankrolling of anti-ObamaCare political ads. Democrats' fight for campaign finance reform has always been about limiting the voices of private citizens in the politics, while inviting massive spending and corruption by activist labor unions. Fourteen of the top 25 political contributors are unions.
• The top campaign donor of the last 25 years is ActBlue, an online political-action committee dedicated to raising funds for Democrats. ActBlue’s political contributions, which total close to $100 million, are even more impressive when one realizes that it was only launched in 2004. That’s $100 million in ten years.
• Fourteen labor unions were among the top 25 political campaign contributors.
Democrats say that money from wealthy individuals will corrupt the system, but there are two sides to every transaction. If influence can be bought, there is somebody to sell it. While Democrats complain about money from shadowy groups they have no second thoughts about where their own money comes from. Campaign finance limits are for the other side. Remember when the Obama campaign disabled credit card address verification? That meant campaign money was potentially untraceable. If there is corruption it will be from rent seeking Democrats more often than not.
Make no mistake. This is a victory for libertarians.
April 01, 2014
Quote of the Day
From Susan Vass, under the pseudonym Ammo Grrrll writing in “Thoughts from the ammo line” on its diversity.
Contrary to anti-gun propagandists who assert that the only gun owners are certifiably insane old white men, the ammo line also reflects our diversity. The guy who beats me there on Saturdays is a black great-grandpa I’ll call Steve, on account of that’s his name. He shows up pre-dawn after his swing-shift job. Today he is wearing a T-shirt that says “Ammo is scarce – there will be no warning shots.”
Media -- Got the Memo
If Nate Silver is to be believed, the Democrats are in for a tough time this election season. Silver gives the edge to a Republican takeover in the Senate. Dragging the Dems down are a number of things: failure of ObamaCare to deliver anything but higher costs and fewer options, politization of the IRS, Obama's pathetic responses to Bashar Assad's war on his citizens and the Russian incursion into Crimea to name a few.
Unable to defend their policy choices, Democrats turn to a familiar game plan. Demonize the Koch brothers.
The Nevada Democrat, in the first of two floor speeches on the subject Wednesday, questioned the veracity of new advertisements from Koch-backed groups that feature individuals sharing stories about the apparent hardships they've faced because of the Affordable Care Act.
One features a Michigan resident who said she was fighting leukemia and had her insurance canceled because of the new law. The woman says Rep. Gary Peters' vote to pass the law "jeopardized my health." Peters is the Democratic candidate for Michigan's open Senate seat.
Reid called that ads "absolutely false," and said it was part of an effort by the Koch brothers to "buy" the election.
But he returned to the floor hours later with a hint of a retraction, saying he was not in position to say that all ads from the group were lies — only "the vast, vast majority of them."
But he went further in attacking the ads' fiscal backers.
"It's time that the American people spoke out against this terrible dishonesty of these two brothers, who are about as un-American as anyone that I can imagine," Reid said.
The Koch brothers are Un-American liars, said Harry Reid from the Senate Floor. There's a reason he stood at the Senate podium to deliver his diatribe. He's immune from any charges of libel when speaking in the Senate. The news media are shielded from libel, too. Rarely do public figures win libel suits. So following along from Harry's lead, lefty news media outlets are jumping on the anti-Koch-brother bandwagon. Here is The Nation hyperventilating in its headline:
What’s Really Behind the Koch Attacks on Democrats
Hint: it’s not about healthcare.
Do you want to guess what it's all about? Here's a hint: Oil. Well, OK that was more than a hint.
The Kochs’ investments in fossil fuel include petrochemical complexes and thousands of miles of pipeline and refineries in Alaska, Minnesota, and Texas, an empire that emits over 24 million tons of carbon pollution every year, about as much as 5 million cars. Thanks to a recent investigation by the International Forum on Globalization, we now have confirmation of what was long suspected: the Kochs are one of the biggest investors in Alberta’s tar sands, with a Koch subsidiary holding leases on 1.1 million acres of land in the region, giving them a major stake in the approval of the Keystone XL pipeline—despite their insistence otherwise. [My emphasis]
Every couple of years the left breathlessly reveals the same nefarious plot. It's the one where dull witted, unsuspecting Americans are lured into gas stations to fill up. Fools. And who's to blame? Why, the Koch brothers, of course.
There is, however, some dispute over the Koch brothers' interests as relate to the Keystone Pipeline. According to PowerLine Blog, the Koch brothers have none, as John Hinderaker explained to the Washington Post, who also jumped on Harry Reid's bandwagon.
On Thursday, the Washington Post published an article by Steven Mufson and Juliet Eilperin titled “The biggest lease holder in Canada’s oil sands isn’t Exxon Mobil or Chevron. It’s the Koch brothers.” The article’s first paragraph included this claim:
The biggest lease holder in the northern Alberta oil sands is a subsidiary of Koch Industries, the privately-owned cornerstone of the fortune of conservative Koch brothers Charles and David.
The theme of the article was that the Keystone Pipeline is all about the Koch brothers; or, at least, that this is a plausible claim. The Post authors relied on a report by a far-left group called International Forum on Globalization that I debunked last October.
So Thursday evening, I wrote about the Post article here. I pointed out that Koch is not, in fact, the largest leaser of tar sands land; that Koch will not be a user of the pipeline if it is built; and that construction of the Keystone Pipeline would actually be harmful to Koch’s economic interests, which is why Koch has never taken a position on the pipeline’s construction. The Keystone Pipeline, in short, has nothing whatsoever to do with the Koch brothers. [All emphasis in the original]
Which is not to say that the Koch brothers don't support approval of the Keystone Pipeline. To be honest, I don't know if they do or they don't, but I would be willing to bet that they do — not because they would profit from it, since apparently they would not, at least in the immediate term, but because it would strengthen America. It would create American jobs. It would boost the economy.
But elements of the media have gotten the memo, so to speak. There is so little that Democrats can campaign on in the current election season. Their stewardship has been dismal at best, if we're talking about the economy. Foreign policy? A disaster.
That leaves only one thing. Find a target and demonize it: The Koch brothers. Isn't it heart warming to know the media is there to help.
March 31, 2014
Quote of the Day
Michael Goodwin of the New York Post:
"No president can win ’em all, but Obama’s foreign-policy record is unblemished by success."
Covered California, the agency in charge of implementing ObamaCare in the Golden State, is doing exactly what Obama had intended — they're getting out the Democratic vote.
LA MESA, Calif. - A local couple called 10News concerned after they received an envelope from the state's Obamacare website, Covered California. Inside was a letter discussing voter registration and a registration card pre-marked with an "x" in the box next to Democratic Party.
Just what we need — another government program dedicated to Democratic majorities. Using ObamaCare this way was brought to light earlier in a PJ Media piece by J. Christian Adams.
Leading From Behind -- Internet Crackdown
The Obama administration has apparently decided that it's unfair for the United States to maintain control over the domain-name system and the Internet Corporation for Assigned Names and Numbers (Icann). Well that's what the administration would like you to think. The reality is more like this:
An Icann planning meeting last week in Singapore gave new reasons for alarm. No plan was even proposed to keep authoritarian regimes from censoring the global Internet. Steve DelBianco of the NetChoice trade association posed this question on the CircleID website, for which Icann had no answer: "What happens if governments advise Icann to remove [top-level domains] from the root in order to suppress dissent and free expression?"
From its inception the Obama administration has been relentlessly working to suppress opposing viewpoints. An activist Federal Election Commission posed significant obstacles to conservatives looking to promote their message until Citizens United made it legal for corporations to spend money on political speech. It was a setback for the administration, which it countered by transferring Lois Lerner from the FEC to the IRS where her war against the conservative message took a tactical shift. Ms. Lerner oversaw the systematic delay and denial of conservative applications for 501(c)(4) non-profit status. Any outfit with the words "tea party" or "patriot" have been targeted for special scrutiny.
Throughout all of this there has been the Obama's ongoing unhappiness over the internet and how there are these conservative blogs that get to say whatever they please. His proposal to turn over Icann to international control is his solution that problem, as described by none other than Bill Clinton:
"A lot of people who have been trying to take this authority away from the U.S. want to do it for the sole purpose of cracking down on Internet freedom and limiting it and having governments protect their backsides instead of empower their people."
Mr. Clinton asked Jimmy Wales, founder of Wikipedia: "Are you at all worried that if we give up this domain jurisdiction that we have had for all these years that we will lose Internet freedom?"
"I'm very worried about it," Mr. Wales answered. People outside the U.S. often say to him, "Oh, it's terrible. Why should the U.S. have this special power?" His reply: "There is the First Amendment in the U.S., and there is a culture of free expression."
He recalled being told on Icann panels to be more understanding of differences in cultures. "I have respect for local cultures, but banning parts of Wikipedia is not a local cultural variation that we should embrace and accept. That's a human-rights violation."
Just earlier crackdowns on free speech were delegated to activist bureaucrats, Obama hopes to lead from behind on regulating the internet. Countries sharing his distaste for political expression that might be considered regime unfriendly will be given greater control. Who knows? Someday they might be in position to do him a favor.
March 29, 2014
DaTechGuy on DaRadio
Peter Ingemi invited me to be a panelist on his radio show today.
In Hour two we bring on old friend Brad Waitt to the studio to talk about his race for State Rep and the Poison Poll and at 1:15 DaMagnificent Panel comes on board with Brad, Joe Mangiacotti, Maxine Baptiste from the left and old friend Tom Bowler of Libertarian Leanings.
It was great fun.
March 28, 2014
The Broken Record
That would be me. As we continue to marvel at the slow motion, never ending train wreck that is ObamaCare, we shouldn't lose sight of its purpose. I've said it before, and I'll say it again. ObamaCare is not about health care. It's about power. When, you may ask, might I have said that before? Actually, I it was before ObamaCare was even passed. For instance, August 15, 2009:
[W]hy go blindly along on health care reform when so often the president's arguments are not correct? Why, when nearly every Obama claim is questionable or false, from the number of Americans who are uninsured, to scare stories about people currently being denied care, to his imagined cost savings. What is the point? And why are progressives so hot for a single payer system, when single payer systems have been shown time and again to result in reduced quality of care and government directed rationing?
It so happens, Bill Clinton delivered the answer at a convention for progressive bloggers in Pittsburgh.
PITTSBURGH - Former President Bill Clinton told an audience of liberal online activists Thursday evening that the nation has “entered a new era of progressive politics” that could last for decades if Democrats can pass ambitious measures such as health care reform and climate change.
In a nearly hour-long keynote address to the fourth annual Netroots Nation convention in Pittsburgh, a gathering of roughly 1,500 progressive bloggers and activists, Clinton said the nation—and public opinion—has dramatically changed in the 16 years since he took office. But he noted that President Barack Obama and the Democratic-controlled Congress needed the support of the online community to achieve their agenda.
“We have entered a new era of progressive politics which, if we do it right, can last 30 or 40 years,” Clinton said. “America has rapidly moved to another place on a lot of these issues.”
“The president needs your help,” he said, “and the cause needs your help.”
As we all know, ObamaCare passed, and the results were as expected, which means ObamaCare is nowhere close to what was promised. Contrary to its billing, under the "Affordable" Care Act premiums are higher, deductibles are higher, choices are fewer, and the uninsured for the most part remain uninsured. ObamaCare doesn't just fail to fix any of those problems. It makes them worse.
We also know that when Obama promised, "If you like you plan, you can keep your plan — period," he was lying. And he knew he was lying. So what is the point of making an absolute mess of health care in America? In one of his "Rule of Law" columns a couple of days ago J. Christian Adams gave us a concrete example of what is the point.:
A settlement between California and left-wing groups begins to reveal the political architecture of Obamacare. From the ACLU press release:
In a victory for voting rights, the state of California has agreed to mail voter registration cards to nearly 4 million Californians who have signed up for health insurance through the state health exchange, Covered California, and to ensure that Californians who apply for health benefits through the exchange going forward are provided voter registration opportunities...
Here’s the simple version: Obamacare requires millions of people to interact with the government who never would have done so before. At the point of interaction, NVRA requires them to be pushed to register to vote. Presto. Millions of people are now touched by a political touch when they just wanted to see a doctor. The politicization of health care has a GOTV component for the Democrat party.
That's my emphasis above. In one way or another, that is what the Affordable Care Act was always intended to do — increase the number of voters who are more inclined to vote for a Democrat. If it costs the rest of us an arm and a leg and our healthcare, so be it.
If you happen to be one of those people who knew that ObamaCare couldn't possibly add millions to the insurance rolls without making healthcare more expensive and less available, guess what. You're the enemy. Defeating you is the cause that Bill Clinton urged the Netroots Convention to get behind when he envisioned those 30 or 40 years of progressive politics.
Now, you might be tempted to think progressives have embarked on their campaign to defeat you so that they can more easily implement their ever compassionate policies like ObamaCare. You have it backwards. ObamaCare is the means to defeat you. It provides a taxpayer funded recruitment mechanism that is intended to keep Democrats in power by overwhelming the voices of Americans who might be averse to wasteful spending in Washington. Democrats intend to keep the gravy train running. And isn't it funny how the money seems to rub off.
Update: The link I've been looking for!
The fact that Harry Reid’s political and influence operation includes his five children has been established for some time. A few weeks ago, when I first heard Reid accuse private citizens of being un-American, I dredged up a Los Angeles Times article from 2003 with the headline, “In Nevada, the Name to Know Is Reid.” Chuck Neubauer and Richard T. Cooper’s meticulously researched and reported article begins with the story of the “Clark County Conservation of Land and Natural Resources Act of 2002,” a land bill of the sort that puts people to sleep. “What Reid did not explain” when he introduced the bill in the Senate, Neubauer and Cooper wrote, “was that the bill promised a cavalcade of benefits to real estate developers, corporations, and local institutions that were paying hundreds of thousands of dollars in lobbying fees to his sons’ and son-in-law’s firms.” I wonder why he left that part out.
Firms tied to the Reid family, the Los Angeles Times reported, earned more than $2 million from 1998 to 2002 “from special interests that were represented by the kids and helped by the senator in Washington.”
Does it ever rub off! This, along with that mess called ObamaCare, is what you get when you vote for a Democrat.
February 27, 2014
A Constitutional Tipping Point
In testimony before Congress yesterday, Jonathan Turley of George Washington University Law School warned that America has reached a constitutional tipping point.
We are now at the constitutional tipping point for our system. If balance is to be reestablished, it must begin before this President leaves office and that will likely require every possible means to reassert legislative authority. No one in our system can “go it alone” – not Congress, not the courts, and not the President. We are stuck with each other in a system of shared powers—for better or worse. We may deadlock or even despise each other. The Framers clearly foresaw such periods. They lived in such a period. Whatever problems we are facing today in politics, they are problems of our own making. They should not be used to take from future generations a system that has safeguarded our freedoms for over 250 years.
Mr. Turley believes that President Obama has exceeded his authority and that our system of government with its checks and balances is threatened, and that means our freedoms and our childrens' freedoms are threatened. These are not the ravings of a wild-eyed conspiracy theorist, but the concerns of a constitutional scholar with very liberal tendencies. As he said in his testimony,
As someone who voted for President Obama and agrees with many of his policies, it is often hard to separate the ends from the means of presidential action. Indeed, despite decades of thinking and writing about the separation of powers, I have had momentary lapses where I privately rejoiced in seeing actions on goals that I share, even though they were done in the circumvention of Congress. For example, when President Obama unilaterally acted on greenhouse gas pollutants, I was initially relieved. I agree entirely with the priority that he has given this issue. However, it takes an act of willful blindness to ignore that the greenhouse regulations were implemented only after Congress rejected such measures and that a new sweeping regulatory scheme is now being promulgated solely upon the authority of the President. We are often so committed to a course of action that we conveniently dismiss the means as a minor issue in light of the goals of the Administration. Many have embraced the notion that all is fair in love and politics. However, as I have said too many times before Congress, in our system it is often more important how we do something than what we do. Priorities and policies (and presidents) change. What cannot change is the system upon which we all depend for our rights and representation.
Unlike Mr. Turley, I do not believe that the accrual of power in the executive branch is a side effects of Obama's good faith effort to bring about policy change. It's the other way around. Policy prescriptions chosen by this president are calculated to enhance progressive power. It was always his plan to transform America, and so to accomplish that goal everything he proposes, from health care reform to action on climate change, requires enhanced regulatory power in government and reduced economic power for private citizens. The power of Congress, and of the people, is diminishing by design.
February 24, 2014
Piers Morgan Puffery
So, Piers Morgan gets canned, and David Carr of the New York Times thinks it's the accent.
There have been times when the CNN host Piers Morgan didn’t seem to like America very much — and American audiences have been more than willing to return the favor. Three years after taking over for Larry King, Mr. Morgan has seen the ratings for “Piers Morgan Live” hit some new lows, drawing a fraction of viewers compared with competitors at Fox News and MSNBC.
It’s been an unhappy collision between a British television personality who refuses to assimilate — the only football he cares about is round and his lectures on guns were rife with contempt — and a CNN audience that is intrinsically provincial. After all, the people who tune into a cable news network are, by their nature, deeply interested in America.
Oh, those provincial Americans. What's a brilliant, sophisticated Brit to do, asks the brilliant and sophisticated David Carr?
Old hands in the television news business suggest that there are two things a presenter cannot have: an accent or a beard. Mr. Morgan is clean shaven and handsome enough, but there are tells in his speech — the way he says the president’s name for one thing (Ob-AA-ma) — that suggest that he is not from around here.
Oh, If only we could get over that accent. Clearly, his departure from CNN is an opportunity lost for us American clods, but any hope that Piers would nudge us away from our provincial ways is gone now. And it's only because he's a foreigner! With an accent! According to David Carr, anyway.
While I may share his feelings about the need for additional strictures on guns, having grown up in the Midwest, I know that many people come by their guns honestly and hold onto them dearly for sincere reasons.
Mr. Morgan’s approach to gun regulation was more akin to King George III, peering down his nose at the unruly colonies and wondering how to bring the savages to heel. He might have wanted to recall that part of the reason the right to bear arms is codified in the Constitution is that Britain was trying to disarm the citizenry at the time.
He regrets none of it, but clearly understands his scolding of “stupid” opponents of gun laws was not everyone’s cup of tea.
Perhaps "brilliant" and "Piers Morgan" don't really go together after all. But then you knew I was kidding about the "brilliant, sophisticated Brit" part. Come to think of it, the words don't really go that well with "David Carr" either. He agrees with Pier's attitude towards guns, but seems only dimly aware — in hindsight of course — that Piers might have made a mistake when he labeled a segment of his CNN audience "'stupid' opponents of gun laws." Sure, it sounded so good when he said it, but maybe it didn't help in the ratings war.
We don’t look for moral leadership from CNN, or from a British host on a rampage. Guns, along with many other great and horrible things, are knit into the fabric of this country,
No, "we" don't look for moral leadership from a British host on the rampage, but I'd be willing to bet that David Carr does. And he seems to wish we would, too. Tough luck, Carr. We ain't listenin' to no damn foreigner!
Another Dem Retiring
Michigan Democrat John Dingell is retiring after 58 years in congress, and he doesn't have kind words for congress on his way out the door.
In the speech, he had harsh words for Congress, calling it a "great disappointment to everyone." And he said the blame was with lawmakers and voters. "There will be much blaming and finger pointing back and forth, but the members share fault, much fault; the people share much fault, for encouraging a disregard of our country, our Congress, and our governmental system," he said.
Well, I'll go along with that. The voters share much of the blame, and as the longest serving congressman in history, he is the strongest evidence yet of voter culpability in the matter.
His wife, Debbie Dingell, 60, is said to be considering a bid for the seat, which is likely to stay in Democratic hands. Ms. Dingell is chairwoman of the Wayne State University board of governors and previously served as a senior executive at General Motors for more than 30 years. President Barack Obama won the district with about two-thirds of the vote in 2012.
So, there's not much hope that voters will rectify the situation anytime soon.
February 22, 2014
It's An Election Year
Still wondering why Jay Leno left the Tonight Show in favor of Jimmy Fallon? Leno was forced out. Here is a little snippet about it from an April, 2013 Washington Post column.
“We are purposefully making this change when Jay is #1, just as Jay replaced Johnny Carson when he was #1,” Burke said in Wednesday’s news.
There’s one big difference: Carson shocked NBC suits in May of 1991 when he announced his retirement at an affiliate conference in New York. (That, following press reports NBC was concerned that Carson (who was in his mid-60’s) was losing younger viewers, and that NBC had guaranteed Leno the gig when Carson retired.
Leno, 62, on the other hand, is being told when to step down — again. Leno’s contract expires in ’14.
Leno didn't want to leave, but NBC forced him out. Leno's final broadcast was an emotional farewell. So, why did NBC want Jay Leno out? He was an equal opportunity joker. He was one of a very few in Hollywood who was willing to poke fun at Obama. On the other hand, in Jimmy Fallon Democrats have an activist ally.
The Obamas have had few more obsequious media allies than NBC's Jimmy Fallon. Now that he's taking over the hallowed ground of "The Tonight Show," Fallon's proven ability to spread his reach into viral videos on YouTube promises to become even more politically potent.
Fallon's Obama-friendly sketches and interviews have become immediate "news" grist for the Comcast corps at NBC and MSNBC. The same sensation happens when Fallon is ripping into a Republican.
Just as NBC and MSNBC were tearing Gov. Chris Christie apart over "Bridgegate," Fallon joined this political crusade by bringing on liberal rock star Bruce Springsteen for a jokey version of the hit "Born to Run."
Fallon and Springsteen sang clumsy lyrics that Christie was "killing the working man who is stuck in Governor Chris Christie's Fort Lee, New Jersey traffic jam." The YouTube video went viral, while the media played it up as another nail in the coffin they were building for Christie's career.
The NBC press agents are trying to paper over Fallon's political tilt.
Well, it's an election year. Timing is everything.