Extra Crispy? California Solar Farm Killed 3,500 Birds
Sunday, April 26
By Matt Vespa
Ivanpah is a $2.2 billion dollar solar energy projected aimed at powering up to 140,000 homes for twice the electrical cost. It also killed 3,500 birds in the first year of its operation (the Desert Sun):
More than 3,500 birds died during the 377-megawatt Ivanpah solar project’s first year of operation, a new report estimates.
Bird deaths were known at the “power tower” project, which is located in San Bernardino County off Interstate 15 just southwest of the Nevada border. But how many was unclear. Even at the 3,504 estimate, the report considers the deaths a “minimal proportion of local, regional, or national populations” of birds.
Ivanpah, the world’s largest concentrated solar project, uses thousands of mirrors that direct sunlight at boilers on top of three 459-foot tall towers, heating a liquid to create steam used to run a turbine. Carlsbad-based NRG Energy operates the Ivanpah project, which it co-owns with Google and Oakland-based BrightSource Energy.
The U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service previously called Ivanpah — the world’s largest concentrated solar project — a “mega-trap” for birds and insects, although the exact number of deaths has been a subject of fiery debate.
An executive with Abengoa–one of the project’s developers–said the bid death problem is “solvable.”
Birds are killed when they fly through the towers, which can reach 1,000 degrees Fahrenheit, according to a Wall Street Journal article published in February of 2014. At the time, the publication noted that regulators knew some birds would die, but didn’t expect the dozens of avian deaths during the project’s construction and testing phase. They’re reaching the conclusion of their two-year study on the solar farm’s effects on birds.
Nevertheless, this isn’t an isolated incident. A solar panel farm in Nevada was frying birds flying through the facility. In one test, engineers and biologists noticed trails of smoke emanating from burning birds.
Clinton Foundation On Tax Returns: ‘Yes, We Made Mistakes’
Sunday, April 26
By Matt Vespa
Today, Maura Pally, the acting CEO of the Clinton Foundation, released this blog post addressing some of the concerns raised by the media regarding the foundations donors, donations, and tax returns. Of course, the gist of the post revolved around the good work the foundation is doing worldwide; how they’ve gone “above and beyond” what normal non-profits do regarding transparency; and noted how “donor disclosure and foreign government contributor policy is stronger than ever.” As for Clinton Giustra Enterprise Partnership, which is based in Canada, those individual donors aren’t listed since Canadian law prohibits such disclosure without express permission from each donor (via Clinton Foundation):
I also want to address questions regarding our 990 tax forms. We have said that after a voluntary external review is completed we will likely refile forms for some years. While some have suggested that this indicates a failure to accurately report our total revenue, that is not the case. Our total revenue was accurately reported on each year's form – our error was that government grants were mistakenly combined with other donations. Those same grants have always been properly listed and broken out and available for anyone to see on our audited financial statements, posted on our website.
So yes, we made mistakes, as many organizations of our size do, but we are acting quickly to remedy them, and have taken steps to ensure they don't happen in the future. We are committed to operating the Foundation responsibly and effectively to continue the life-changing work that this philanthropy is doing every day. I encourage you to read more about that good work at www.clintonfoundation.org.
To recap, The New York Times reported on a controversial energy deal regarding a Russian state-owned corporation taking over a Canadian mining company–Uranium One–which was responsible for 20 percent of uranium production in the United States. The deal had to be approved by the Committee On Foreign Investment since uranium is part of America’s national security interest; the State Department was one of the principal actors on the committee. The deal was approved, but not after interests with ties to the deal poured cash into the Clinton Foundation. During this period, Mr. Clinton received a $500,000 speaking fee from a Russian bank involved in the deal. Also, the donors who made these contributions were not disclosed, despite an agreement with the Obama White House to do so.
This image courtesy of The New York Times.
As for the Clinton Foundation’s tax returns, they were a bit off (via Reuters):
For three years in a row beginning in 2010, the Clinton Foundation reported to the IRS that it received zero in funds from foreign and U.S. governments, a dramatic fall-off from the tens of millions of dollars in foreign government contributions reported in preceding years. Those entries were errors, according to the foundation: several foreign governments continued to give tens of millions of dollars toward the foundation's work on climate change and economic development through this three-year period.
With Clinton’s approval numbers falling, and her rather poor numbers regarding trustworthiness, Pally’s letter “jumps on the grenade,” as the Washington Post’s Philip Bump wrote–and tries to divert some of the attention away from the Clintons by saying the tax return foul-up was on the foundation:
First, she needed to respond in order to clear any clouds hanging over the foundation itself. And, second, better that the foundation own the mistakes than that they be Hillary Clinton's.
Which isn't to imply that Clinton's campaign asked Pelly to write the note; it's not clear that it did. But there's no doubt that Clinton's (still very young) presidential campaign would like to keep the foundation's problems within the foundation's orbit, even as they expand outward -- and even as Clinton's trustworthiness sinks.
This week, Quinnipiac University released poll numbers showing that more than half of Americans don't consider Clinton to be trustworthy. There's a big partisan split, as you'd expect, but more than 60 percent of independent voters held that view. So too did more than half of women.
Pelly's letter hopes to dissipate some of the smoke that implies there's a metaphorical fire burning under these stories. Voters probably aren't paying much attention now, and we'll have to wait to see if other stories emerge or if these ones -- neither of which proves any improper activity on Clinton's part -- have traction. The candidate's problem is that it reinforces a perception problem that the Quinnipiac polling makes clear.
She'd probably welcome a shift that resulted in people thinking that only the foundation had made big mistakes.
We shall see if this puts out any fires, but there will probably be more stories regarding Hillary, Bill, and the Clinton Foundation that will raise the same ethical questions. We shouldn’t be shocked if more come down the pipeline on this matter.
As expected, the president spoke to Washington's rich and famous for some 22 minutes, chiding and criticizing himself as well as politicians (and celebrities) from both political parties. Truth be told, his gags were remarkably bipartisan. Not even Hillary Clinton escaped the night unscathed.
The following, therefore, are five jokes I found particularly funny—and perhaps you will too:
1). “Being president is never easy. I still have to fix a broken education system, issue veto threats, negotiate with Iran, all while finding time to pray five times a day.”
2). “I’m so old John Boehner has already invited Netanyahu to speak at my funeral.”
3). “Let’s face it, there is one issue on every reporter’s mind, and that’s 2016. Already we’ve seen some missteps. Turns out Jeb Bush identified himself as Hispanic back in 2009. Look, I understand. It’s an innocent mistake. Reminds me of the time I identified myself as American back in 1961.”
4). “Hillary kicked things off by going completely unrecognized at a Chipotle. Not to be outdone, Martin O’Malley kicked things off by going completely unrecognized at a Martin O’Malley campaign event.”
5). “And Bernie Sanders might run. I like Bernie. Bernie’s an interesting guy. Apparently some folks want to see a pot-smoking socialist in the White House. We could get a third Obama term after all!”
That last one, of course, drew thunderous applause. Watch the full clip below:
HRC: Religious Beliefs Must Be Changed For Abortion Rights
Sunday, April 26
By Leah Barkoukis
After a week where some much-needed sunlight was shone on Hillary’s foreign cash and tax scandals, she capped it off by actually being honest about something herself.
Speaking at the Women in the World summit, Hillary explained how she believes access to abortion will open up: by fundamentally transforming changing religious beliefs and cultural norms.
“Far too many women are denied access to reproductive health care and safe childbirth, and laws don’t count for much if they’re not enforced. Rights have to exist in practice — not just on paper,” she said.
“Laws have to be backed up with resources and political will,” she continued. “And deep-seated cultural codes, religious beliefs and structural biases have to be changed. As I have said and as I believe, the advancement of the full participation of women and girls in every aspect of their societies is the great unfinished business of the 21st century and not just for women but for everyone — and not just in far away countries but right here in the United States.”
As Matt Lewis aptly notes: “Regardless of how one feels about gay rights or the abortion debate, it is interesting that liberals are finally getting around to openly confessing something all of us sort of know — yet few will say out loud: Achieving a liberal social agenda will necessarily require first extirpating many “deep-seated” Christian values and tenets.”
Video: Vietnam Veteran Receives Gracious Letter From Anonymous Admirer
Sunday, April 26
By Daniel Doherty
Well, it’s Sunday and the news is slow, so I figured I'd post this video, which is both heartwarming and kind of amazing—a gesture that may or may not make you weepy.
Richard Smith, as he remembers, was not given the warm welcome US veterans of foreign wars deserve when he arrived home from the war in Vietnam. Many in his generation, after all, were spit on, sneered at, and even accused of war crimes—although he makes no mention of these things actually happening to him. Nevertheless, when he found a small note inside the handle of his parked car (which, understandably, he assumed was an unwelcome missive informing him that his vehicle had been accidentally damaged) he was pleasantly surprised by its contents.
Oh Geez: University Of Maryland Students Cannot Identify Ronald Reagan
Saturday, April 25
By Matt Vespa
MRCTV’s Dan Joseph had a little thought experiment this week. He ventured onto the campus of the University of Maryland to ask students if they recognized one of the best presidents to ever occupy the Oval Office–Ronald Reagan.
With a paddle covered with Reagan pictures, Joseph found students who had no clue who our 40th president was–one student said the picture on the paddle was “George Bush.” Other guesses were “a country singer, John Wayne, Kenny Rogers, and Bush’s dad.”
Granted, a few students were able to name President Reagan. One student was surprised when Joseph told them nearly half the people he spoke with did not know who he was, while another said she would believe that.
Should Joseph do similar experiments by showing folks pictures of Presidents Kennedy, Clinton, or Lincoln?
Bruce Jenner Comes Out as Transgender, Republican
Saturday, April 25
By Christine Rousselle
Former Olympic athlete and current reality TV star Bruce Jenner admitted in an interview with Diane Sawyer last night that he is transgender and is in the process of transitioning to become a female. While this had been long speculated, Jenner also revealed another, perhaps more-shocking facet of his life: he's a conservative Republican.
When Sawyer asked if Jenner cheered when Obama became the first president to even say the word “transgender” in a State of the Union address, the 65-year-old replied that he “would certainly give him credit for that.”
“But not to get political,” Jenner continued, “I’ve never been a big fan, I’m kind of more on the conservative side.”
“Are your a Republican?” Sawyer asked in response, to which Jenner replied, “Yeah! Is that a bad thing? I believe in the constitution.”
“Do you think that would be an unsettling thing for some people in the conservative wing of the party?” Sawyer asked.
“I’ve thought about that,” says Jenner, adding that neither political party has a monopoly on understanding.
Twitter reacted accordingly:
#BruceJenner just came out... as a Republican! Now THAT's shocking!!!!!!!!
Jenner said that while this will be his last interview as "Bruce," he will not reveal his new name just yet.
Bombshell: So Far, Only Three People Have Been Fired After VA Scandal
Saturday, April 25
By Cortney O'Brien
The scandal at the Office of Veterans Affairs last year proved that our veterans were being shamelessly ill-treated. Among other atrocities, our former soldiers were forced to wait months to be seen by doctors and, once they were finally admitted, were often treated in unsanitary and dangerous conditions. Politicians demanded change and accountability. VA Secretary Eric Shinseki resigned. Yet, months later, new internal documents prove that the mess is hardly cleaned up at all.
The documents given this month to the House Committee on Veterans Affairs, which provided them to The New York Times, show that the department punished a total of eight of its 280,000 employees for involvement in the scandal. One was fired, one retired in lieu of termination, one’s termination is pending, and five were reprimanded or suspended for up to two months.
That means only three people have actually been fired from their positions. Three.
Oh, and the only person actually fired, Sharon Helman, the director of the Phoenix VA hospital was not fired because of her role in the scandal, but because she had accepted “inappropriate gifts,” according to the New York Times.
The Phoenix VA hospital was especially toxic. It’s reported that dozens of patients may have died awaiting care.
Former Texas Governor Rick Perry was stunned at the government's inaction.
“It is outrageous that the Obama administration has not held people accountable for manipulating wait times in VA hospitals after promising to take action against those implicated in the scandal,” said Perry.
Our vets gave their all for us, they deserve to be first in line for the best health care we have to offer. Former Governor Sarah Palin gave an important speech about our vulnerable veterans and their needs at this year’s CPAC. She felt the need to speak for them, because our humble vets are unlikely to ask for anything themselves.
"The reason you don't hear about these scandals, is because our vets don't complain."
Our veterans are too important to be sidelined. It’s time to remove anyone from the VA who believes or acts otherwise.
Mitt Romney: You Know, It Sure Looks Like Hillary Was Bribed at State
Weighing in, the former Republican presidential nominee stated flatly that the scandal is very “troubling” to him – and has “every earmark of bribery.”
HH: Pleased to welcome back to the program former Massachusetts Governor and 2012 Republican nominee for president, Mitt Romney. Governor Romney, always a pleasure, welcome back.
MR: Thank you. It’s good to be with you, Hugh.
HH: Governor Romney, I know you’ve had a chance to read, I assume you’ve had a chance to read the Jo Becker/Mike McIntire New York Times piece today about the cash flowing into the Clinton Foundation from the Russians as they got control of Uranium One. What’s your reaction to this story?
MR: You know, I’ve got to tell you, I was stunned by it. I mean, it looks like bribery. I mean, there is every appearance that Hillary Clinton was bribed to grease the sale of, what, 20% of America’s uranium production to Russia, and then it was covered up by lying about a meeting at her home with the principals, and by erasing emails. And you know, I presume we might know for sure whether there was or was not bribery if she hadn’t wiped out thousands of emails. But this is a very, very serious series of facts, and it looks like bribery.
HH: I just asked Senator Lindsey Graham last hour if they would hold hearings into the donors to the Clinton Family Foundation, because if the Russians can give them that much money, is it possible the Iranians have as well, Governor Romney?
MR: Well, we don’t know who gave money, and the IRS apparently is making it known that the filings of the Clinton Foundation did not include the fact that foreign governments were making contributions. And they had misstated their filings over the past several years. This is obviously a very troubling setting. But even what we do know, based on what was written by the New York Times, and is being reported by Fox and others, it has every earmark of bribery. And this is from the office of Secretary of State. This is a very troubling set of facts, and clearly, there’s got to be some kind of investigation to find out what the truth is here, because around the world, people are going to look at Hillary Clinton, a potential candidate for president, a former Secretary of State, and say gosh, is this a person who could be trusted? And I think the American people are asking that question as well.
Indeed they are. A new poll finds that 54 percent of Americans do not believe Hillary Clinton is “honest and trustworthy.” So perhaps we can all agree this scandal isn't going to do her any favors.
NYT, WSJ Editorial Boards Hit Clinton Over Foundation Dealings
Friday, April 24
By Matt Vespa
Earlier this week, Team Clinton found itself besieged by continued questions over foreign donations to the family’s non-profit. Such inquires have lingered since the winter when it was discovered that the Clinton Foundation accepted a donation from the Algerian government when Hillary was Secretary of State, which appeared to have violated an ethics agreement with the Obama White House. Speculation intensified when Reuters reported that the Clintons haven’t disclosed their donors since 2010, despite a 2008 promise Hillary made in a move to be more transparent. Now, we have cash flowing into the Clinton Foundation from the family foundation of the chairman of Uranium One, who was in the middle of securing a deal with Rosatom, a state-owned Russian energy corporation. Bill Clinton would then receive a $500,000 speaking fee from a bank with connections to this deal. Uranium One was a mining company that was responsible for 20% of the United States’ uranium production. Despite an agreement with the Obama administration, the names of the donors who made these contributions were not disclosed, and the review of this deal by the Committee on Foreign Investment in the United States, who “are charged with reviewing any deal that could result in foreign control of an American business or asset deemed important to national security,” according to the Times–was met with approval. All of this, just prior to Clinton’s exit as Secretary of State–the State Department was a principal actor on the committee.
As a result, the editorial boards are showing the former first lady no love. The New York Times demanded she disclose all the Foundation’s donations and donors, while chastising her for breaking her pledge regarding disclosing such donors when she became Secretary of State:
The increasing scrutiny of the foundation has raised several points that need to be addressed by Mrs. Clinton and the former president. These relate most importantly to the flow of multimillions in donations from foreigners and others to the foundation, how Mrs. Clinton dealt with potential conflicts as secretary of state and how she intends to guard against such conflicts should she win the White House.
The only plausible answer is full and complete disclosure of all sources of money going to the foundation. And the foundation needs to reinstate the ban on donations from foreign governments for the rest of her campaign — the same prohibition that was in place when she was in the Obama administration.
The donations, which included $2.35 million from a principal in the deal, were not publicly disclosed by the foundation, even though Mrs. Clinton had signed an agreement with the Obama administration requiring the foundation to disclose all donors as a condition of her becoming secretary of state. This failure is an inexcusable violation of her pledge. The donations were discovered through Canadian tax records by Times reporters. Media scrutiny is continuing, with Reuters reporting that the foundation is refiling some returns found to be erroneous.
There is no indication that Mrs. Clinton played a role in the uranium deal’s eventual approval by a cabinet-level committee. But the foundation’s role in the lives of the Clintons is inevitably becoming a subject of political concern.
It’s an axiom in politics that money always creates important friendships, influence and special consideration. Wise politicians recognize this danger and work to keep it at bay. When she announced her candidacy, Mrs. Clinton resigned from the foundation board (Bill Clinton remains on the board). This was followed by the announcement of tighter foundation restrictions on donations from foreign countries, which had resumed after she left the State Department.
These half steps show that candidate Clinton is aware of the complications she and Bill Clinton have created for themselves. She needs to do a lot more, because this problem is not going away.
The Wall Street Journal said this was nothing short of “graft.”
We’re not the first to make the comparison, but Bill and Hillary Clinton’s adventures in the uranium trade recall nothing as much as Tammany Hall’s concept of “honest graft.” Except maybe their never-ending use of power and status for personal and political gain requires a new special terminology. Dishonest graft?
The New York Times reported Thursday on the foreign cash that flowed into the Clinton Foundation between 2009 and 2013 as subsidiaries of the Russian state nuclear energy agency Rosatom acquired control of a Canada-based mining company called Uranium One. The story features the familiar Clinton touches: lucrative Kazakh mining concessions for the tycoon Frank Giustra, with Bill along as a character reference; a half-million-dollar-a-pop speech by the former President in Moscow for a Kremlin-linked bank; $2.35 million in secret donations from one family foundation to another.
All the while, Mrs. Clinton was serving in her capacity as Secretary of State on the U.S. Cabinet committee that screens foreign investment for national-security risks. The group approved the deal, despite critics who warned it would give the Russian government control over the world’s nuclear fuel—the same material Vladimir Putin is now selling to Iran. Oh, and don’t forget this was also amid the famous “reset” of relations with Mr. Putin.
Thursday was a banner day in the unfolding scandal of the Clinton Foundation.
We learned that a Russian government-controlled company has taken control of one-fifth of all uranium producing capacity in the US by acquiring a Canadian firm whose chairman, Frank Giustra, has pledged over $130 million to the foundation.
Bill Clinton also got $500,000 in speaking fees from a Russian bank that had been promoting the Canadian firm’s stock. And Hillary’s State Department signed off on the acquisition, which has serious national-security implications.
Giustra also reaped huge profits when Hillary reversed her earlier “clear and firm” opposition to a trade deal with Colombia.
Her ex-president hubby, meanwhile, actively promoted the agreement the same month he accepted $800,000 for speeches, delivered after flying on Giustra’s private jet, to a pro-agreement group.
Bill also hosted a meeting in his home to introduce Colombian President Alvaro Uribe to Giustra, then eyeing Colombian oil contracts.
Meanwhile, the Clinton Foundation is now hurriedly re-filing five years worth of tax returns that somehow failed to list any of the millions it received in foreign donations. And Bill and Hillary’s family charity only acted after journalists uncovered the discrepancy.
The Clinton camp is trying to frame this as a right-wing hit job, while their supporters have seemingly begun to smear the author of the upcoming book on the Clinton Foundation’s dealings–Peter Schweizer–on the airwaves. The problem: it’s not going to work. Mainstream news outlets have begun investigating the claims made in Schweizer’s book, and it’s a fact that these news outlets– Reuters, Bloomberg, The New York Times, Politico, and The Washington Post– are not part of this “right wing” conspiracy against the Clintons. To say otherwise, is desperate and a bit nutty.
Flashback: That time Hillary said then-Sen. Obama had some questions to answer about his alleged backroom deals with a nuclear power company–Exelon–who were also one of his biggest donors. Oh, and she's Mrs. Transparency.
Poll: Majority Says Obama 'Too Soft' on Iran, More Evidence of Rubio Surge
(1) President Obama's job approval rating has slipped to (42/53), sliding six net points since last month. He's underwater on all four big issues, and down double digits on three:
(2) His low marks on Iran stem from deep mistrust of that country's leadership. By a 36-point margin, Americans say the regime poses a threat to US national security, with a 51 percent majority saying that the Obama administration has been "too soft" with Tehran. Just two percent say Obama's posture has been "too hard," with one-third of respondents approving of the "balance." Multiple polls show public support for engaging in negotiations with Iran (though suspicion of the regime remains sky high -- and rightly so), but Fox words the question slightly differently, producing a noticeably different result:
(3) On the 2016 race, Fox's numbers are strikingly similar to the fresh Quinnipiac data we examined earlier in the week. Hillary has some significant image problems (a majority calls her untrustworthy), but holds modest leads over potential GOP rivals (between three and six points; hovering around 46 percent support). It also confirms the Rubio bounce:
Florida Sen. Marco Rubio receives a five percentage-point bump after his April 13 announcement and has the backing of 13 percent in the race for the Republican nomination -- just a touch over Wisconsin Gov. Scott Walker who gets 12 percent among self-identified GOP primary voters. Kentucky Sen. Rand Paul comes in at 10 percent, former Florida Gov. Jeb Bush and former Arkansas Gov. Mike Huckabee earn 9 percent each and Texas Sen. Ted Cruz gets 8 percent.
Rubio is seen as honest (+13), and a leader of the "future" vs. the "past" (+29). Clinton is (-6) and (+2) on those measures, respectively. Fox's write-up also features this nugget, which may be ominous for Jeb Bush: "The Bush dynasty is seen as a negative while the Clinton dynasty is a positive. By a 58-34 percent margin, voters say being related to previous presidents is a disadvantage for Jeb Bush, yet by a 52-39 percent margin they think it’s an advantage for Hillary Clinton." I'll leave you with Hillary Clinton lamenting that America's pro-life culture stems from deep seated" religious beliefs that "have to be changed:"
Democratic presidential candidate Hillary Clinton on Thursday said "deep-seated … religious beliefs" have to be changed before the world's women will get full access to abortion. “Far too many women are still denied critical access to reproductive health care and safe childbirth. All the laws we've passed don’t count for much if they’re not enforced,” Clinton said. “Rights have to exist in practice — not just on paper,” Clinton argued. “Laws have to be backed up with resources and political will." “And deep-seated cultural codes, religious beliefs and structural biases have to be changed,” Clinton added.
Although it's true that much of the moral opposition to abortion is rooted in faith (a great many of our societal norms and mores are derived from the Judeo-Christian tradition), Hillary ignores the numerous scientific, ethical and logical reasons to support the pro-life cause. She also breezily calls for the extirpation of deep-seated values in order to achieve political ends -- a phenomenon with which she is intimately familiar (minus the authentically "deep-seated" bit).
The Friday Filibuster: Bought and Paid For?
Friday, April 24
By Leah Barkoukis
The Friday Filibuster: The one-stop-shop for everything you need to know about this week in politics.
52% of Americans believe defending gun rights is more important than gun control, as opposed to 46% who believe gun ownership should be restricted.
91%—The chance Sen. Lindsey Graham will run for president.
49%-43%--Rubio takes the lead in Florida over Hillary Clinton.
The head of the DEA is set to resign after a Justice Department OIG report revealed that several agents had engaged in ‘sex parties’ with prostitutes paid for by Colombian drug cartels; more MSNBC hosts have been slapped with tax warrants; and two hostages were killed in a US counterterrorism operation.
Congress Is Legislating Again Because Harry Reid Is No Longer Majority Leader
Friday, April 24
By Matt Vespa
As Chris Cillizza of the Washington Post wrote, we’ve seen the confirmation of Loretta Lynch (we’re not discussing whether it was a good or bad thing), the passage of a Medicare doc fix, a human trafficking bill, and fast-track authority on the Trans-Pacific trade deal, which has President Obama fighting among his fellow Democrats.
Congress is working somewhat again–and the reason seems to be because Harry Reid was toppled as Senate Majority Leader or at least that’s what Republicans on Capitol Hill told Cillizza:
I also asked a handful of longtime Republican congressional hands to explain the sudden unfreezing. The name that kept coming up in those conversations was Sen. Harry Reid (D-Nev.).
"I think there was a significant pent-up desire on both sides to return to legislating," said Billy Piper, a former top aide to Sen. Mitch McConnell and now a GOP lobbyist. "These guys don't work so hard to win elections to just come up here and be potted plants. They want to accomplish things, and the last several years they have been prevented by Leader Reid from even trying."
Added another smart Republican mind: "Following the collapse of the Grand Bargain talks in the summer of 2011, Reid essentially shut down the Senate (presumably at President Obama’s request) until after the presidential election. . . . Now, McConnell is making the Senate work again, and President Obama (in the final quarter of his presidency) would like some sort of second-term legacy. So things are moving."
It's not just Republicans who are blaming Reid. Sen. Joe Manchin (D-W.Va.), who announced this week that he will seek reelection in 2016 rather than run for governor, took a shot at Reid's tenure as leader, too. “His leadership and the things he thought would work did not," Manchin said on "Morning Joe." "So with that, you just move on.”
For the record, not all Democrats -- or even most -- blame Reid. Democrats generally insist that the reason things have begun to work better is because their side isn't willing to block legislation the same way Republicans did when they served in the Senate minority.
My sense is that it's a combination of these factors. Yes, it is true that McConnell has opened up the amendment process in the Senate, allowing more voices to be heard and members -- Republicans and Democrats -- to feel as though they are a bigger part of the process.
Vox’s Jonathan Allen, formerly of Bloomberg, wrote that there could be a “bipartisan consensus” on reauthorizing No Child Left Behind and a bill that taxes foreign earnings of corporations to finance a new infrastructure bill. Yet, Allen also noted that the thaw in the Senate since Reid was booted from the Majority Leader slot:
The biggest change is in the Senate, where McConnell's intransigence and Harry Reid’s hammerlock on the floor schedule over the past four years frustrated lawmakers in both parties. Reid didn't want Republicans to force Democrats into tough votes before the last election. The amendment process was cut off. Nothing moved. Now McConnell has opened up the floor, and that’s encouraging Republicans and Democrats to cobble together coalitions both in committee and on floor amendments.
"One of the side benefits of all the floor time is that members have more time to talk while they’re down there, and so things just start happening," said a senior GOP aide. "Budget votes ran into 4 am a few Thursdays back. McConnell fed both sides and their staffs out of his office. Stuff like that just leads to more things happening legislatively."
Yet, this can always change in a heartbeat. Case in point, the overwhelmingly bipartisan human trafficking bill that just passed hit a nasty partisan bump when Democrats pathetically tried to accuse Republicans of sneaking in Hyde Amendment language. This led to Republicans tying the passage of the trafficking bill to the Loretta Lynch Attorney General confirmation vote. Now, both cases have been resolved, but it gridlock could happen again.
At the same time, gridlock isn’t universally bad. As George Will has said repeatedly, gridlock isn’t an American problem; gridlock is an American achievement” to which he then lists the mechanisms of government (veto, veto override, supermajorities, and judicial review) that are meant to slow the pace of government.
Yet, I think we can all agree that Harry Reid not being Senate Majority Leader is quite refreshing.
Team Hillary: Critics Can't Prove Corruption With a 'Shred' of Direct Evidence
The New York Times (building on reporting in the forthcoming book 'Clinton Cash') revealed the sordid web of cash and coziness wherein the Clintons and their foundation found themselves much richer, and the Russian government found itself in possession of a very large percentage of American uranium capacity. Reutersblew the whistle on Clinton organizations' -- shall we say -- incomplete tax filings dating back years, which failed to report tens of millions in overseas cash, including from foreign governments. These "mistakes", evidently unnoticed by the Clintons' bookkeepers and the savvy professionals at the IRS, are prompting Clintonworld to re-file at least five years' worth of returns:
The Clinton campaign's response to these scandals, aside from the standard "old news" / attack the messenger playbook, is to tout their own transparency (!), and loudly point out that there isn't smoking gun proof that can directly connect the millions flowing into Clinton Inc's coffers to State Department favors orchestrated by Hillary Clinton. Let's set aside all of the financial bread crumbs and obvious interests at play in the Times story, and layer in several additional pieces of compelling circumstantial evidence. Exhibit A, from that same Times article:
As the Russians gradually assumed control of Uranium One in three separate transactions from 2009 to 2013, Canadian records show, a flow of cash made its way to the Clinton Foundation. Uranium One’s chairman used his family foundation to make four donations totaling $2.35 million. Those contributions were not publicly disclosed by the Clintons, despite an agreement Mrs. Clinton had struck with the Obama White House to publicly identify all donors. Other people with ties to the company made donations as well. And shortly after the Russians announced their intention to acquire a majority stake in Uranium One, Mr. Clinton received $500,000 for a Moscow speech from a Russian investment bank with links to the Kremlin that was promoting Uranium One stock. At the time, both Rosatom and the United States government made promises intended to ease concerns about ceding control of the company’s assets to the Russians. Those promises have been repeatedly broken, records show.
Deliberate opacity and broken rules. Exhibit B, raised by Allahpundit earlier (toggle ahead to the 5:20 mark):
The Clinton camp flat-out denied that a key meeting held at the couple's private home had ever occurred…until they were confronted by photo evidence from a New York Times reporter, at which point they were forced to admit that the nonexistent meeting actually did happen after all. This is called "lying." And Exhibit C is the ever-present fact that Hillary Clinton flouted every rule in the book by setting up a secret, private email server in her basement, on which she conducted all official business at State. When people started sniffing around, Hillary's lawyers examined the emails without any oversight (later shifting their story about how they culled "personal" missives from public documents), and deleted more than 30,000 of them. Before wiping the server clean, of course. It is not unreasonable to infer that perhaps some of the concrete evidence of quid pro quo corruption Clinton loyalists are demanding doesn't exist anymore because Clinton loyalists actively destroyed said evidence. Between the smell test, the facts laid out by several news outlets, the lack of required disclosures of foreign donations, the very shady tax "errors," the Chappaqua meeting lie, and Hillary's eradicated paper trail, the Clintons have not earned the benefit of the doubt on any of this. Quite the opposite. I'll leave you with the Clinton machine desperately slinging mud until enough time has passed to allow them to declare all of this "old news" again:
Ah yes, the infamous Fox News/New York Times alliance is conspiring to victimize the clean-as-the-wind-driven-snow Clintons. Sure. Also, hmmmm:
A plugged-in Democrat just told me he's getting the same sinking feeling he had when John Kerry was the nominee http://t.co/eC8blYdbl9
— Taegan Goddard (@politicalwire) April 23, 2015
Addenda: WaPo's Jennifer Rubin points out that the lack of smoking fun evidence does not provide political or legal salvation for the Clintons in this case -- which I discussed with Gretchen Carlson yesterday:
Editors Note:A version of this item is cross-posted at HotAir.com
Hugh Hewitt and Ted Cruz on Obama's non-deal with Iran. Michael Medved on Obama squaring Iran's "death to America" mantra. Bill Bennett and and Bing West on Obama's inability to deal with aggressive Iranian war ships. Hewitt and John Kasich on Kasich's possible run in '16. Medved with Jeb Bush on why he would make a good president. Hewitt and Rick Perry's on Perry's credentials if he decides to run in '16. Prager on the non-terrorist Muslims throwing numerous Christians overboard and murdering them because they prayed to God.
Good News: North Korea Has More Nukes Than We Thought
Friday, April 24
By Matt Vespa
His imperial majesty, Kim Jong-un, has more nuclear weapons than originally assessed by U.S. officials, and they could double their nuclear arsenal by next year. Currently, the country has at least 16, maybe even 20, nuclear warheads. By 2020, this communist dictatorship could have as many as 100 nuclear warheads (via USA Today):
The Chinese experts believe North Korea has a greater domestic capacity to enrich uranium than previously thought, Siegfried Hecker, a Stanford University nuclear expert and former head of the Los Alamos National Laboratory, told the Journal.
The Chinese estimates were shared in a closed-door meeting with U.S. nuclear specialists in Beijing this February, said the report. The growing stockpile will complicate international efforts to halt Pyongyang's nuclear program, said Hecker, who attended the February meeting.
U.S. Rep. Ed Royce, R-Calif., chairman of the House Foreign Affairs Committee, said the revelations cast a shadow on the pending nuclear deal the United States and other world powers are negotiating with Iran to curtail that country's nuclear program.
Zhu Feng, a leading Chinese security expert at Peking University, could not confirm the numbers given by the Journal, but agreed North Korea is expanding its nuclear arsenal. "There are a lot of signs indicating North Korea is working very hard on their bomb-making and it is quite likely their warheads and bombs are increasing," Zhu said.
North Korea currently has up to 16 nuclear weapons and could build as many as 100 by 2020, according to a February report by the U.S.-Korea Institute at Johns Hopkins University's School of Advanced International Studies. The country can put these on at least medium-range missiles capable of hitting most targets in Japan and South Korea, and it is developing longer-range missiles to reach the USA, the report said.
Earlier this week, the United States has re-negotiated a deal with South Korea, who will not be able to reprocess spent nuclear fuel or enrich uranium (via Jennifer Rubin):
The U.S. and South Korea on Wednesday signed a new nuclear-energy cooperation pact that approves Seoul’s nuclear research but doesn’t allow the Asian nation to produce its own fuel.
During nearly five years of negotiations, South Korea has been pushing for U.S. approval to make its own fuel for its fleet of 23 nuclear reactors. Washington has been resistant, concerned about nuclear proliferation in Northeast Asia.
In a compromise, the deal allows Seoul to research a nascent nuclear-reprocessing technology known as “pyroprocessing” that may eventually provide fuel for reactors. The technique is considered by some scientists hard to use to make nuclear weapons.
The Wall Street Journal noted that nuclear technology has been a contentious issue between Seoul and Washington, as the latter is concerned about nuclear proliferation, while the former notes that its neighbor–Japan–is allowed to reprocess spent nuclear fuel from their reactors, but they can’t.
Concerning Japan, there was probably little hesitation over allowing the island nation reprocessing spent nuclear fuel. It’s the only industrialized nation to reject nuclear weapons. It’s also the only country to have suffered multiple nuclear strikes–and the scars remain deep. Yet, it was partially responsible for the creation of one of the most memorable movie monsters of all time. Its armed forces are confined to a self-defense capability only–and the notion of nuclear armament is such a toxic issue that it forced its Vice Minister for Defense to resign in 1999, for suggesting that they do so.
Yet, as the Washington Post’s Jennifer Rubin noted, South Korea is an ally, a trade partner, and a rational actor in the diplomatic realm. We have nearly 30,000 troops stationed along the 38th parallel to aid in their defense from invasion, yet we can’t trust them on the enrichment of uranium, but with Iran; it’s okay. Something is off here.
Jake Tapper Gets Big Promotion at CNN
Friday, April 24
By Daniel Doherty
Jake Tapper, who has a reputation for objectivity and asking tough questions, will permanently replace Candy Crowley as anchor of CNN’s flagship weekend television program "State of the Union." The network released a promotional video accompanying the news – and the journalist himself released a statement.
"I couldn't be more excited about this election season and the new platform I will have at CNN to cover it," he said, according to CNN. "'State Of The Union' has a rich tradition and I hope to not only build on its history but expand the definition of what a Sunday show can be."
Tapper, for his part, will also keep his current job as the host of CNN’s "The Lead", which airs weekdays at 4:00 PM EST.
“With his new position, Tapper will become the second man to work weekdays and Sunday mornings,” CNN reports. “ABC's George Stephanopoulos is both a co-host of "Good Morning America" and the moderator of "This Week."
And yet Stephanopoulos is also one of the few Sunday talk show hosts to actually be sticking around. Chuck Todd, after all, recently replaced David Gregory as the anchor of NBC’s "Meet the Press," and John Dickerson will take the reins over at CBS’ "Face the Nation" after Bob Schieffer retires this summer.
Change, as they say, is in the air.
The Liberal Media’s War on a Film About the Cosmos
Friday, April 24
By Cortney O'Brien
“The greatest power in the world is to tell the creation story,” said writer and producer Rick Delano. Yet, it is this same story the liberal media is trying to silence. ‘The Principle,’ Delano’s latest film project, challenges the Copernican principle, the notion that humans are just an insignificant speck in the universe. Interviews with cosmologists, in depth studies and surveys will leave viewers wondering whether we are indeed a unique species. Yet, it seems this is exactly what liberal academics and the mainstream media don’t want.
“There’s no question at all that this film clearly threatens some very powerful people,” Delano told Townhall. “When I made this film, one of the things that became really apparent to me was, when you really look at the history of modern civilization, it really begins with Copernicus. The idea that we’re not the center. It’s such a powerful change in the way we view ourselves. Of course it had tremendous implications in terms of the relative power of the church versus the academy. It is this change that really brings the modern world into existence…If we construct a worldview based on the fact that we are the center of creation, and that the entire reason and existence of this universe is us, you’re going to have a certain kind of civilization that flows from that assumption.”
Some specific ways the media targeted the film was by contacting the cast and other people involved in the production and convincing them they had been tricked.
“First of all, the actual media assault was the result of an attempt to call these guys up out of the clear blue and say, ‘Hey, do you know you just got duped into making a movie with a bunch of crazed geocentrists who made you sound like you believe in geocentrism?’ If you put yourself in the position of these guys getting these calls, it would be highly embarrassing for them.”
Despite the media firestorm, a conservative grassroots effort has been building to get the film to as many theaters as possible.
“That was nothing other than our determination not to allow the film to be buried,” Delano explained. “It’s been an incredible experience. We were able to secure a passionate base of supporters who were willing to go out there and find an audience for us.”
They chose areas where they had the most support and launched a limited release. So far, the film has arrived in ten cities and has been met with a positive reception.
“The overwhelming response we’ve received from people who have actually seen the film is tremendous,” he said. “We have been absolutely vitiated in the mainstream media and it’s clear that’s never going to change. It’s sort of like a culture war. But, so many of the people who have reviewed the film have written amazing reviews of the film. Our entire audience is people who have heard about the film through word of mouth or who have come in contact with it through our Facebook page or website and have gone to see it and told their friends, ‘You’ve got to see this.’”
Facing a ruthless media goliath and a lack of resources isn’t stopping ‘The Principle’ team from trying to expand its audience.
“We don’t have the money, we don’t have the connections, we don’t have the media support to expect this thing to go to wide theatrical release, but let’s go as far as we can.”
‘The Principle’ DVD is set to come out midsummer. You can find more information on the film here.
Dana Perino: A Glimpse Into President Bush's Kindness and Character
Friday, April 24
By Guy Benson
Dana Perino, former White House Press Secretary and co-host of Fox News' The Five, is out with a new book, entitled, 'And the Good News Is,' which Katie wrote about here. It's a delightful blend of autobiographical anecdotes, political observations, and morsels of sound advice gathered over an extraordinary career in public life. I taped a radio interview about the book with Dana last evening, and thought I'd relay one of the stories she shared about President Bush's very personal role in helping to mend an important relationship in her life:
PERINO: One of the reasons I wrote this book is that historians and political analysts will be writing and talking about and studying the Bush administration for many years to come, but they'll only be looking at public policy decisions and the political decisions. My book provides a personal look because the president became much more than my boss; he was like a second father to me. And what I write about is this one scenario where President Bush gave me back my relationship with my dad, and it meant so much to me. My dad had not come to visit [me] in Washington DC. My parents had divorced. It wasn't that we were estranged, so much as that I hadn't seen him. People are busy, and it was hard, and you sort of grow apart because I was so busy those years. We were coming to the end of the administration, and there was one big dinner left for [Italian] Prime Minister Berlusconi, and I come from an Italian-American family, so I got invited to the dinner. My husband loves anything American, any event, he will go -- he loves it. But I told him that I wanted to invite my dad. If he declined, I would understand; but to my surprise, he said yes. So my husband, Peter, arranged for him to get a flight, and then he rented my dad a tux, which was the first time my dad had ever worn a tux..."
DP: The president knew about my relationship with my dad...he knew about how I'd felt sort of abandoned after my parents divorced, even though I was 28. So one day after the invitations had gone out, I'm on Marine One waiting for the president to board so we could go to Andrews Air Force Base. He gets on the chopper and he's looking out the window, and he says, 'so, I see you invited your dad to the White House.' And I said, 'yes sir, I did.' He's still looking out the window, waving at everyone down below, and he said, 'that's a big deal.' [I responded] 'Yes sir, it is.' Just then, we were passing by the Washington monument, and I'll never forget it because he looked right up into my eyes, and he said, 'I am so proud of you.' And that meant so much to me because he knew how big of a deal this was.
So my dad comes to the White House. It's Italian-American fest, okay? You've got Giuliani, and Alito, and Scalia, and Peter Pace, and I could go on. They all know me, and they're giving me hugs, and they're so excited to see me, and I think it was kind of overwhelming for my dad. He wasn't saying much. He was just observing and smiling -- trying to play it cool. We get into the line to be announced by the military aides to see the president for a photograph, and before they could say our names, the president stops them and says, 'I know who this is! Leo Perino, we have been waiting for you for years. We are so excited that you're here. Have you met Condi Rice? Do you want to meet her?' He takes my dad off my hands, and I never saw him again 'til the end of the night. The president took him to meet the Cheneys, (he sat next to them for the dinner), and [Bush] took him around to see some of the paintings and historical artifacts.
As we were leaving, my dad and I were walking on [West Executive Drive] to get to my Jeep. And I said, 'it sure is something, isn't it?' My dad said, 'yeah, it's really cool.'
DP: It was great, and it meant so much to me because that restarted my relationship with my dad.
And the Good News Is... is available online and in bookstores everywhere; my full interview with Dana airs this weekend on my radio program in Chicago and Washington, DC.
Report: O'Malley To Officially Challenge Hillary in "Late May"
Former Maryland Gov. Martin O’Malley’s supporters are getting ready for a likely presidential campaign launch in Baltimore in late May, while the candidate meets with prospective donors in the San Francisco area this week.
It’s part of a significant ramp-up in activity to take advantage of the media vacuum that’s resulted from Hillary Clinton’s status as the only declared Democrat in the presidential race. O’Malley, who left the Maryland governor’s mansion in 2015 after eight years, has recently given a handful of national interviews, including one with NPR during which he raised eyebrows — and his profile — by labeling Republican claims that regulation leads to income inequality as “kind of patently bullshit.”
Realistically, what are his chances? If, for instance, it’s only him vs. Mrs. Clinton, perhaps not zero. The safe bet is, after all, that HRC will be the nominee, period. No one can hold a candle to her infrastructure or lead in the polls. That’s especially true if no one serious puts his (or her) name forward. But after comparing resumes, O’Malley certainly has a case to make, doesn’t he?
He’s served in government (in an executive capacity) for some 16 years, and he doesn’t have the kind of baggage that Hillary has. And while he’s polling in the low single digits, it’s still early.
Question: Doesn’t he have a better argument to make than, say, Mayor Bill de Blasio, who is reportedly eager to stretch his presidential legs and fill the progressive void?
The X factor here, of course, is whether or not Elizabeth Warren will take the plunge. Some say she might. If she does, all bets are off. Progressives, given the option to pull the lever for Martin O’Malley, or the progressive senator from Massachusetts, will likely choose the latter every time.
But at least to his credit, O'Malley's attacks on Mrs. Clinton are becoming increasingly more explicit. So it begins:
Former Gov. Martin O’Malley (D-Md.) is prodding his fellow Democratic White House hopeful Hillary Clinton in a fundraising email designed to highlight his opposition to the trade deal burgeoning on Capitol Hill.
The email includes the subject line “Hard choice?” a less-than veiled reference to Clinton’s 2014 book of the same name. The reference conjures up questions about Clinton’s recent support of the Trans-Pacific Partnership (TPP), which she’s backed away from in recent public appearances.
NYT Slams Clinton Minions For Misdirection and Obfuscation Surrounding Money Scandal
Friday, April 24
By Katie Pavlich
The New York Times is slamming the Clinton campaign and their allies for accusing the newspaper of outsourcing their journalism to "right-wing" authors and sources.
"I wonder is if the Clinton message machine ever decides to kind of recalibrate and dial it back a little bit. Because right now, and this isn't all coming from the Clinton camp itself but from the orbit around them where you have these people whose main goal is to misdirect and obfuscate every time there's the slightest bit of criticism about the Clintons leadership," NYT reporter Jeremy Peters said during an interview with MSNBC. "They are definitely misdirecting here. I mean, this is what Media Matters exists to do."
Team Clinton has argued allegations Hillary Clinton traded political favors for donations to the Clinton Foundation during her time at the State Department, which are apparently detailed in the new book Clinton Cash by Peter Schweizer, are simply part of a vast right-wing conspiracy. The allegations are being pursued by the New York Times, Washington Post, Reuters, and Fox News Channel.
Team Clinton Gears Up To Smear Author Peter Schweizer After Attacking His Credibility
Friday, April 24
By Katie Pavlich
As the allegations against Hillary Clinton and her alleged trading of political favors for donations to the Clinton Foundation during her time at the State Department pile up, her team is gearing up to further go after Clinton Cash author Peter Schweizer.
As revelations in Clinton Cash were reported earlier this week by the New York Times, Reuters and Fox News, Hillary Clinton's campaign team hit the airwaves to push back, calling the allegations a "right-wing conspiracy." Clinton allies John Podesta, David Brock and Howard Dean have been on multiple national television shows not to deny the allegations, but to attack Schweizer.
“It is sad, but not surprising, that [the Clintons’] philanthropic work has become the subject of false, right-wing attacks,” Fallon writes in the note, which carries the subject line, “What We Already Know About ‘Clinton Cash’: Book and Author Attacking Hillary Clinton Widely Discredited.”
“These types of books are standard fare in political campaigns now, and this one is clearly part of a coordinated Republican strategy. But this is not the first work of partisan-fueled fiction about Hillary Clinton’s record, and we know it will not be the last."
Podesta: "He's [Schweizer] cherry-picked information that's been disclosed and woven a bunch of conspiracy theories about it. The facts, there's nothing new about. The conspiracy theories we'll get to judge when we read the book."
Brock: "The book isn't out yet and I haven't read it," Brock said and then went on to paint Schweizer as homophobic.
Dean: "The author is getting money from donors -- big donors who support Ted Cruz. That has a problem."
Nina Bureleigh (reporter and woman who offered Bill Clinton oral sex so long as he keeps abortion legal): "I don't know how much time you have, but it's not good that these major newspapers had to farm out their investigative work to this right-wing hatchet man."
This is just the beginning. Smearing the sources of legitimate questions and those who expose wrongdoing is how the Clintons do business. The long-practiced Clinton tactic is to attack someone personally as a distraction so that all of the attention is placed on that person defending themselves, rather than focusing on the allegations against the Clintons themselves.
Clinton Cash comes out on May 5.
Trey Gowdy: Madam Secretary, We Request Your Presence Before The Select Committee
Thursday, April 23
By Matt Vespa
In a letter sent to Clinton’s lawyers today, Rep. Trey Gowdy (R-SC), chairman of the House Select Committee on Benghazi, has requested former Secretary of State Hillary Clinton to appear before the committee to address questions relating to her private email system and the 2012 terrorist attacks in Libya. Gowdy noted that both David Kendall–Clinton’s lawyer–and Rep. Elijah Cummings (D-MD)–the committee’s ranking member–agreed to have the former first lady appear before the Committee sometime in November of 2014. This was obviously before we knew that Clinton had used a private email address for all State Department business, had operated a personal server, and had submitted emails the former secretary of state deemed work-related; all of this was included in the letter.
“Thank goodness the Committee did not schedule Secretary Clinton’s appearance when some asked us to, or else that hearing would have been woefully and now obviously premature,” Gowdy wrote. He also reiterated how a transcribed interview, which was rejected by Clinton’s legal team, should have been an option for the former first lady–and that the Committee is willing to travel to her “if that would make the scheduling of this interview easier for the Secretary.”
Gowdy also said that if she chose to appear before the Committee, they “would anticipate the hearing lasting until all relevant questions have been asked on both sides of the aisle.” They’re hoping to have this public hearing the week of May 18.
The letter contained over 100 sample questions for Hillary Clinton regarding the use of her private email account.
He also requested the former secretary to testify twice to the Committee from the press release issued earlier today, and reiterated some of the points mentioned in the letter to Clinton’s lawyers–specifically not having Clinton appear on the original date that was set:
It is necessary to call Secretary Clinton twice because the committee needs to ensure we have a complete and responsive record and all the facts before we then substantively question her on the Benghazi terrorist attacks.
“From there, as I have said countless times before, the committee investigation will go wherever the facts may lead. I have made no presumption of right or wrongdoing on anyone’s part with respects to the Benghazi terrorist attacks.”
If the committee had called the former secretary when Mr. Cummings and Mr. Kendall first invited us to, the committee would not have had possession of the 300 emails we now have or known about her exclusive use of a personal server and email account to conduct official business,” Gowdy added. “Unlike previous investigations, this committee uncovered Clinton’s use of personal email to conduct official business and is now in possession of thousands of pages of documents from the ARB [Accountability Review Board] review and other documents no other committee has had access to. The committee also is continuing to interview eyewitnesses to the Benghazi terrorist attacks no other committee has spoken to.
Shocker: California's New Immigration Policies Are A Mess
Thursday, April 23
By Matt Vespa
Earlier this week, California Democrats said they’re preparing to give illegal immigrants a host of new rights and privileges, one of which flies in the face of federal law. It’s a feel good moment with zero foresight–and it does a disservice to immigrants, according to Ruben Navarrette, Jr’s. article in the Daily Beast. The Golden State has already passed measures, like granting illegals the ability to have driver’s licenses, but this goodie bag seeks to create a new state position–the Office of New Americans within the governor’s office–provide them with subsidized health care, and restrict businesses using E-Verify during their employment processes. Yes, this proposal is a train wreck waiting to happen, especially with the health care and E-Verify provisions [emphasis mine]:
At a news conference in Sacramento, a group of Democratic legislators—switching back and forth between English and Spanish—recently unveiled a package of 10 bills that would, among other things: create an Office of New Americans in the governor’s office to better serve the undocumented; provide illegal immigrants with subsidized health care by extending Medi-Cal coverage to all Californians, regardless of immigration status; limit use of “E-Verify” (the government-run database that employers use to check if prospective hires are legally eligible to work) and prevent “abuse” by employers; and ban businesses from discriminating against residents based on their immigration status, citizenship, or language.
That last one is a beauty. If it extends to hiring, it flies in the face of federal law, namely the 1986 Immigration Reform and Control Act that made it a federal crime to knowingly hire an illegal immigrant. Now California wants to make it a state crime to not hire one? Employers can now pick their poison: They can violate one law or the other.
The health care provision is the most expensive item on the menu, with a tab that was originally set at $1.3 billion. Yet no one will say where the money is supposed to come from in cash-strapped California.
Navarrette did mention that one of the bills protects immigrants from being taken advantage of by lawyers, and provides them with a toll-free number to report fraud to state bar. I agree with him that keeping predatory lawyers accountable isn’t a bad thing, but he also noted the many problems with these Democratic initiatives:
First, the undocumented never asked for these things. I’ve interviewed dozens of illegal immigrants over the years, and they always say they want three things and only three things from this country—a work permit, a driver’s license, and the ability to travel back and forth across borders to visit the families they left behind. The rest is just window dressing whipped up by politicians to serve their agendas, not those of immigrants.
Second, these kinds of legislative giveaways serve to legitimize unlawful behavior. It’s still a crime—correction, a civil infraction—to enter the United States illegally or overstay a visa and we shouldn’t be embarrassed about saying so. Every time we chip away at the infraction of trampling our borders—whether it’s by pressuring media companies to stop using the phrase “illegal immigrant,” or showering the undocumented with things they didn’t even ask for, we make it more socially acceptable to be an illegal immigrant.
How is that in the national interest? And what incentive does it provide others to come to this country legally? For that matter, what incentive does it give the undocumented to attempt to change their status if there ever is anything resembling comprehensive immigration reform? Why bother if, thanks to well-intentioned but misguided Democratic legislators in California, you’re already comfortable the way you are?
As Erika Johnsen wrote on Hot Air, California was nowhere near a balanced budget in early 2014. Moreover, we know immigrants come to America for work, not to vote. Nevertheless, it’s probably safe to assume that California Democrats want some political dividends from these initiatives. Yet, if there is no incentive to assimilate, apply for legal status, or become citizens–how will Democrats accomplish that end goal? Then again, let’s also not marginalize the fact that illegal immigrants have broken federal law. They may pay property, sales, and even income taxes in some cases through Tax Identification Numbers, but the point that Navarette makes about how this only diminishes the offense for folks who arrive illegally by “trampling our borders” is disconcerting in the extreme. One of the many functions of a nation is to protect its territorial integrity–and it seems Washington has moved sluggishly in defending that principle. And that goes for both parties. Nevertheless, save for the common sense provision that protects people from slimy lawyers, these proposals are just detached from reality.
Petraeus Sentenced to Probation and $100K Fine For Military Leak
Thursday, April 23
By Leah Barkoukis
Former CIA Director David Petraeus, whose career came crashing down after an extramarital affair with biographer Paula Broadwell, was sentenced on Thursday to two years' probation and fined $100,000 for sharing classified information with her.
The sentencing came two months after he agreed to plead guilty to a federal misdemeanor count of unauthorized removal and retention of classified material.
The plea agreement carried a possible sentence of up to a year in prison. In court papers, prosecutors recommended two years' probation and a $40,000 fine. But Judge David Keesler increased the fine to "reflect seriousness of the offense." He said Petraeus committed a "grave and uncharacteristic error in judgment." […]
Petraeus attorney Jake Sussman said this was not a case about the public dissemination of classified information, but the wrongful removal of materials.
But prosecutor James Melendres said, "This is a serious criminal offense. He was entrusted with the nation's most classified secrets. The defendant betrayed that trust." Melendres says Petraeus compounded that trust by lying to the FBI.
Petraeus apologized for “the pain [his] actions have caused” but said he was looking forwarding to moving on in life after the two-and-a-half year ordeal.