Townhall/Gravis Poll: Jeb Bush is the Nominal Frontrunner in SC

In 2012, former House Speaker Newt Gingrich won the South Carolina GOP presidential primary. If that election were held today, however, Jeb Bush would win it, according to a freshly released Townhall/Gravis Marketing poll:

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Almost 800 Republican primary voters participated -- an acceptable if not ideal sample. Usually, we'd like to see at least 1,000 respondents surveyed in a poll of this kind. Nevertheless, the reason Jeb Bush edges everyone else is because he does exceptionally well among crucial demographics. Despite the fact respondents were overwhelmingly white (87 percent), as Neil McCabe first pointed out, Bush is the most popular choice among women (17 percent), African-Americans (27 percent), and Hispanics (36 percent). That latter statistic is particularly impressive, although not necessarily surprising given his unrelenting support for comprehensive immigration reform.

The poll therefore suggests that if and when Jeb Bush enters the race -- that is, if he can keep his campaign afloat through Iowa and New Hampshire -- he stands a solid chance of winning the Palmetto State primary.

That’s especially true if Hispanics and African-Americans show up to the polls in greater numbers than the Townhall/Gravis poll projects:

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Department of Justice: "Hands Up, Don't Shoot" Never Happened

"Hands up, don't shoot."

That was the rallying cry adopted by liberal activists after the tragic death of Ferguson, Missouri, resident Michael Brown. Entertainers embraced it. As did sports teamssupposed journalists, and of course, Democrats in Congress.

There is just one problem. 

According to the man who shot Brown, Officer Darren Wilson, the phrase is a total fiction. 

Brown never raised his hands or asked Wilson not to shoot. 

And Wednesday the Department of Justice released a report confirming Wilson's story.

From the report:

Although there are several individuals who have stated that Brown held his hands up in an unambiguous sign of surrender prior to Wilson shooting him dead, their accounts do not support a prosecution of Wilson. As detailed throughout this report, some of those accounts are inaccurate because they are inconsistent with the physical and forensic evidence; some of those accounts are materially inconsistent with that witness’s own prior statements with no explanation, credible for otherwise, as to why those accounts changed over time. Certain other witnesses who originally stated Brown had his hands up in surrender recanted their original accounts, admitting that they did not witness the shooting or parts of it, despite what they initially reported either to federal or local law enforcement or to the media. 

The DOJ report also found that, as Wilson claimed, Brown did reach inside Wilson's vehicle and strike him. The report also concluded that Brown did reach for Wilson's gun and was shot at close range in the vehicle when Wilson fought back.

In addition, no evidence was found that Wilson shot Brown in the back while Brown was running away from Wilson. All the evidence showed that Wilson only shot Brown after Brown stopped, turned around, and then charged Wilson.

In a footnote that report even notes, "The media has widely reported that there is witness testimony that Brown said, ‘Don’t shoot’ as he held his hands above his head. In fact, our investigation did not reveal any eyewitness who stated that Brown said, ‘Don’t shoot.’ ”

The closest the report comes to mentioning such a "hand up don't shoot" scenario is an account of the shooting from "Witness 101" who gave multiple interviews to the media after the incident occurred. This is what the Department of Justice concluded about Witness 101's credibility:

Witness 101 has a misdemeanor conviction for a crime of dishonesty likely admissible in federal court as impeachment evidence. As described above, material parts of Witness 101’s account are inconsistent with the physical and forensic evidence, internally inconsistent from one part of his account to the next, and inconsistent with other credible witness accounts that are corroborated by physical evidence. It is also unclear whether Witness 101 had the ability to accurately perceive the shootings. Witness 101 likely crouched down next to a white Monte Carlo as Wilson chased Brown. The Monte Carlo was facing west with a view of the passenger side of the SUV. Brown ran in the opposite direction that the Monte Carlo was facing. Witness accounts vary as to whether Witness 101 was ducking for cover on the passenger side of the Monte Carlo with his back to the shooting, or whether he fled the scene prior to the final shots being fired. Both Witness 101’s inconsistencies and his ability to perceive what happened, or lack thereof, make his account vulnerable to effective cross-examination and extensive impeachment. 

Clinton Loses The Washington Post: "Use of Private E-mail Shows Poor Regard For Public Trust"

Hillary Clinton's email scandal is getting worse and for once, the mainstream media is paying attention in the right way. 

Earlier this week it was the New York Times that broke the story exposing Clinton used a private email account to conduct all of her government business during her time as Secretary of State. Then the Associated Press piled on with a report revealing Clinton not only used a private email account, she controlled her own server from her home in Chappaqua, New York. 

Now in a scathing op-ed, the Washington Post editorial board is pummeling Clinton for her bad judgement, pointing out it's especially egregious with her consideration of a White House run. Emphasis is mine. 

HILLARY RODHAM CLINTON has served as first lady, a senator from New York and secretary of state. She is no newcomer to the corridors of power. Her decision to exclusively use a private e-mail account while secretary suggests she made a deliberate decision to shield her messages from scrutiny. It was a mistake that reflects poor judgment about a public trust.

Ms. Clinton is not the first high-ranking government official to write private e-mails about public business. But a host of questions arise from her decision to use private e-mail exclusively while serving as secretary. How secure was the private e-mail? What was her motive? Did anyone ask why the secretary of state was breaking with an announced administration policy? Why did she not turn over the e-mails promptly upon leaving office? Has she withheld anything?

It may be that Ms. Clinton used private e-mail because she anticipated Republicans would be on the prowl for scandal and wanted to control what part of her record might be scrutinized. Such fears would have had ample basis, but they do not excuse a penchant for control and secrecy that she has exhibited before — and that remains a worrying attribute as Ms. Clinton possibly enters a presidential campaign. Nor is fear of partisan criticism an even remotely valid excuse for using a private channel for official business.

If people aspire to public service, they should behave as stewards of a public trust, and that includes the records — all of them. Ms. Clinton’s use of private e-mail shows poor regard for that public trust.

Ouch.

The Post does give Clinton some leeway when it comes to compliance with federal records laws. The legality of Clinton's actions are very much in question. Liberal George Washington University professor Jonathan Turley has described the situtation as "certainly running against the grain when it comes to federal laws."

Is Obama Letting Iran Take Iraq?

Part of the reason President Obama is so eager to give Iran a nuclear weapons deal is that he wants the regime in Tehran to become "a very successful regional power."

So it should come as no surprise then, that not only is the White House well aware that Iran is participating in the current battle for Tikrit, but that Iran is actually leading the battle. Newsweek reports:

A notorious Iranian commander is spearheading the Iraqi offensive on the ISIS-held city of Tikrit, providing tactical expertise and a key link to Tehran for supplies to the Iraqi militias advancing on the terror group’s territory.
...
Major General Qasem Soleimani, the shadowy former leader of the elite Quds Force, the special operations arm of the Iranian Revolutionary Guard Corps (IGRC), is directly overseeing the eastern offensive on Tikrit. The Iranian general has been pictured on the outskirts of the city in photos shared widely on social media.

Asked about Tikrit Wednesday, White House Press Secretary Josh Earnest had nothing but praise for the operation and Iran's involvement in it:

This is an operation that the United States has been aware of for some time. The United States was aware of the planning for this operation and was obviously aware when it was begun. ... The good news is that this operation includes a multisectarian force. ... So that is why we are gratified that there aren’t just Iraqi security forces involved, but there are also fighters associated with local Sunni tribes who are engaged in this effort. ... The other thing that we’re mindful of is that Iranian forces are also involved. And we have said from the beginning that the United States will not coordinate militarily with the Iranians, but the fact that some Iranian military personnel are involved doesn’t change the priority that the Iraqis can and should place on this operation to ensure that it’s inclusive and multi sectarian. 

(emphasis added) Earnest did stress that "this is an operation that is led by Iraqi security forces," but is that really true? Where do the Iranian forces end and the Iraqi forces begin and does the Obama White House even care?

Bloomberg's Eli Lake reported last month:

On the front lines of Iraq’s war against Islamic State, it’s increasingly difficult to tell where the Iraqi army ends and the Iranian-supported Shiite militias begin. ... Late last year, the U.S. formally committed to train and equip three divisions of the Iraqi army. While some senior U.S. officials have had positive words for Iran’s role in the fight against Islamic State warriors, official U.S. policy is to support the integration of Iraq’s sectarian militias into the Iraqi Security Forces.

In Diyala Province northeast of Baghdad, however, it’s the other way around. On a tour of areas recently liberated from Islamic State control, General Ali Wazir Shamary told me that ultimately his orders came through a chain of command that originated with Amiri. In other words, the Iraqi army is integrating into Amiri’s Badr Organization in Diyala as opposed to integrating the militias into the army

If it is Iranian forces, and not the Iraqi army, that ends up in control of Tikrit, that would be quite a gift to Tehran. And if the attack on Mosul scheduled for later this summer proceeds in much the same manner, and Earnest confirmed Wednesday it likely would, then it is worth asking how much of Iraq Obama will end up giving to Iran in addition to the right to build nuclear weapons.

That Time Hillary’s State Department Booted An Ambassador For Using…A Private Email Account

Well, this is awkward. Sean Davis at the Federalist  wrote about a rather interesting development in the Clinton email saga by finding a State Department Inspector General report from 2012 highlighting that Scott Gration, then-Ambassador to Kenya, was booted from his position after he … set up a private email account for his office in 2011 [bold text indicates State Department IG report]:

Although Hillary Clinton and her allies may be claiming that her private e-mail system is no big deal, Hillary’s State Department actually forced the 2012 resignation of the U.S. ambassador to Kenya in part for setting up an unsanctioned private e-mail system. According to a 2012 report from the State Department’s inspector general, former U.S. ambassador to Kenya Scott Gration set up a private e-mail system for his office in 2011.

The inspector general’s report offered a scathing assessment of Gration’s information security practices — practices that are eerily similar to those undertaken by Clinton while she served as Secretary of State:

Very soon after the Ambassador’s arrival in May 2011, he broadcast his lack of confidence in the information management staff. Because the information management office could not change the Department’s policy for handling Sensitive But Unclassified material, he assumed charge of the mission’s information management operations. He ordered a commercial Internet connection installed in his embassy office bathroom so he could work there on a laptop not connected to the Department email system. He drafted and distributed a mission policy authorizing himself and other mission personnel to use commercial email for daily communication of official government business. During the inspection, the Ambassador continued to use commercial email for official government business. The Department email system provides automatic security, record-keeping, and backup functions as required. The Ambassador’s requirements for use of commercial email in the office and his flouting of direct instructions to adhere to Department policy have placed the information management staff in a conundrum: balancing the desire to be responsive to their mission leader and the need to adhere to Department regulations and government information security standards. The Ambassador compounded the problem on several occasions by publicly berating members of the staff, attacking them personally, loudly questioning their competence, and threatening career-ending disciplinary actions. These actions have sapped the resources and morale of a busy and understaffed information management staff as it supports the largest embassy in sub-Saharan Africa.

The inspector general’s report specifically noted that Gration violated State Department policy by using a private, unsanctioned e-mail service for official business. In its executive summary listing its key judgments against the U.S. ambassador to Kenya who served under Hillary Clinton, the inspector general stated that Gration’s decision to willfully violate departmental information security policies highlighted Gration’s “reluctance to accept clear-cut U.S. Government decisions.” The report claimed that this reluctance to obey governmental security policies was the former ambassador’s “greatest weakness.”

Now, to be fair, there were other things that paved the way for Gration’s exit. He was reportedly “erratic, controlling and bullying” in his management style. Josh Rogin, now with Bloomberg Viewwrote in Foreign Policy at the time that it was “one of the worst reviews of an ambassador’s performance written by the IG’s staff in several years.” Besides the private email system, Rogin added that Gration:

[S]et up private offices in his residence — and an embassy bathroom — to conduct business outside the purview of the embassy staff.

Other sources close to the embassy who worked with Gration related several anecdotes circulated by current and former embassy staff that are meant to highlight Gration’s erratic, controlling, and sometime bullying behavior.

Gration is said to have, upon entering the embassy, ordered that all heights of all the tables be adjusted and that all the clocks in the embassy be recalibrated, an indication of his eccentric style of micromanagement.

At one point in his battles with his newfound employees, Gration told embassy staff he would "shoot them in the head" if they didn’t follow his instructions, and the staff formally complained about that remark, according to one unconfirmed account.

Gration often bragged about his close ties to the White House and to the president himself, although the White House stopped returning his phone calls after the IG’s investigation results became known inside the administration.

Mark Hemingway at the Weekly Standard wrote that the standard cited in the 2012 IG report should apply to Hillary since it showed–rather explicitly–that government employees using a personal email account for official business isn’t acceptable.

Regarding Hillary’s personal email use, it’s still unclear if she broke the law, but some folks in left-leaning media outfits are saying she might have concerning the 2009 National Archives and Records Administration regulation on recordkeeping. Mother Jones’ David Corn (who appears to have moved on from the O'Reilly Falklands ordealwrote that Clinton and her staff should have known better, it was a wholly avoidable situation, and that it adds to the ongoing narrative that the Clintons are secretive and play by their own rules. Oh, and the State Department really didn’t answer his questions regarding if those personal emails were stored in the State Department’s system [bold text indicates NARA regulation]:

[A]ccording to the National Archives and Records Administration, there was a regulation in place governing Clinton's use of personal email for official business while she was secretary of state. And it seems she did not fully abide by this. In a statement issued today, the National Archives notes that it has "reached out to the State Department to ensure that all federal records are properly identified and managed." And the statement says:

Since 2009, NARA's regulations have stated that "Agencies that allow employees to send and receive official electronic mail messages using a system not operated by the agency must ensure that Federal records sent or received on such systems are preserved in the appropriate agency recordkeeping system."

This rule is clear: If Clinton used personal email to conduct official business—which apparently did not violate any federal rules at the time—all of those emails had to be collected and preserved within the State Department's recordkeeping system. That makes sense: The whole point of preserving official records of government business is to have this material controlled by the government, not by the individual official or employee. Yet in this case, Clinton and her aides apparently did not preserve all her emails within the system.

Asked whether her emails were kept within Foggy Bottom's system, her spokesman Nick Merrill replied with a terse email, "They were. State can speak to this." He did not respond to an email requesting further details. And when I asked the State Department if Clinton's emails were preserved, an official replied with a statement from deputy spokeswoman Marie Harf: "The State Department has long had access to a wide array of Secretary Clinton’s records—including emails between her and Department officials with state.gov accounts." This did not address the question at hand: Were all her emails preserved within the department's system? Finally, I heard from another State Department official who explained on background that the department had preserved some of Clinton's emails, given that her emails to and from others within the State Department (at their official email accounts) had been kept within the system. Still, official-business emails Clinton sent to and received from people outside the State Department were not captured and preserved by the department's system in real time.

This seems to be a clear violation of that law, but there are still some die-hard Clintonites, like David Brock, who shamelessly defend this whole ordeal as a nothing burger. Noah Rothman over at Hot Air was able to clip Brock’s Morning Joe appearance, where his defense of the Clinton emails drew disbelief from the show’s hosts. Joe Scarborough read the 2009 NARA regulation repeatedly, but Brock held his ground to the point where co-host Mika Brzezinski said, “I’m not sure what planet I’m on right now; are you reading [the 2009 NARA regulation] the same thing we are?”

“Sure I am, yeah,” responded Brock.

Poll: Obama Approval Slips as Americans See Weakness


A few notes from the latest Fox News poll, which spells out exactly who's winning the extraordinary public relations battle between Israel's Prime Minister and the Obama White House:






Team Obama and his Congressional lackeys continue to escalate their war on Bibi, which has felt historically acrimonious for awhile now. Americans love Israel, the Middle East's one flourishing, pluralistic, pro-America democracy -- but self-identified Democrats aren't so sure:


I'll leave you with this nugget on public views on Obamacare, which Americans understand is neither "working in the real world" nor "proving its critics wrong:"



Judicial Watch Sues For Clinton's Emails With Egypt's Muslim Brotherhood

After ignoring a Freedom of Information Act request submitted in August 2014, government watchdog Judicial Watch has issued a lawsuit against the State Department for all emails between former Secretary of State Hillary Clinton, her top aide Huma Abedin and wife of Muslim Brotherhood leader Mohammed Morsi, Nagla Mahmoud, from January 2009 to January 2013. It was discovered earlier this week that both Clinton and Abedine used personal email accounts to conduct government business, potentially violating federal records laws. 

The Judicial Watch lawsuit specifically seeks the following: 

A. Any and all records of communication between Secretary of State Hillary Clinton and Nagla Mahmoud, wife of ousted Egyptian president Muhammad Morsi, from January 21, 2009 to January 31, 2013; and
B. Any and all records of communication between former State Department Deputy Chief of Staff Huma Abedin and Nagla Mahmoud from January 21, 2009 to January 31, 2013.

“Now we know why the State Department didn’t want to respond to our specific request for Hillary Clinton’s and Huma Abedin’s communications,” Judicial Watch President Tom Fitton said in a statement. “The State Department violated FOIA law rather than admit that it couldn’t and wouldn’t search the secret accounts that the agency has known about for years. This lawsuit shows how the latest Obama administration cover-up isn’t just about domestic politics but has significant foreign policy implications.”

WH Counsel's Office: Wait, Hillary Used Her Personal Email While She Was Secretary Of State?

Despite Hillary’s tweet, where she proudly proclaimed that all would be able to read her emails, this doesn’t really fix anything. Clinton could release them on her own time given that her personal email address was registered on a server operating out of her family home. To make matters worse, the White House Counsel’s Office reportedly didn’t know Clinton was using her personal email while serving as Obama’s Secretary of State, which not only opened the administration to data breaches, but was not in compliance with the guidelines given to agencies about using government email addresses for government business (via AP):

The White House counsel's office was not aware at the time Hillary Rodham Clinton was secretary of state that she relied solely on personal email and only found out as part of the congressional investigation into the Benghazi attack, according to a person familiar with the matter.

The person said Clinton's exclusive reliance on personal email as the nation's top diplomat was inconsistent with the guidance given to agencies that official business should be conducted on official email accounts. Once the State Department turned over some of her messages in connection with the Benghazi investigation after she left office, making it apparent she had not followed the guidance, the White House counsel's office asked the department to ensure that her email records were properly archived, according to the person who spoke on a condition of anonymity without authorization to speak on the record.

Since the revelations surfaced this week, the Obama administration has been pummeled by endless questions about Clinton, who hasn't formally announced a run. In the absence of an official campaign to defend her, the White House press secretary has been put in the awkward position of being a de facto Clinton spokesman and the most public voice speaking on her behalf.

Yet, as our White House Correspondent Conn Carroll wrote yesterday, the administration couldn’t say that they trust the Clinton camp in whether she followed the law concerning the use of her personal email account:

White House Press Secretary Josh Earnest refused to say Wednesday whether or not he or the president trusts Hillary Clinton's claims that she followed the law when choosing to use a personal email account to conduct official State Department business.

"I haven't seen any evidence to indicate that they didn't do what they said they did," Earnest said when asked if he had confidence in Clinton's claims that she and her employees have turned over all of her personal emails relating to official government business. "But I also just want to be crystal clear abut the fact that this is a responsibility that they assumed," Earnest continued, "to review her personal email and make sure that it was properly transmitted to the Department of State so that it could preserved and maintained."

"I don't mean to suggest that I somehow think they are not being honest," Earnest said, "I'm just making it clear that it is not something that, that it was not a task that was performed by an Obama administration official. It was a task the was performed by Secretary Clinton or someone on her team."

As I mentioned in a previous post, this is quite the unforced error on Clinton’s part; something you don’t want hanging around your neck when your national campaign announcement is reportedly a month away. Not only that, given today’s media, did she really expect us not to find out she used her personal email for official business? Ron Fournier’s of National Journal wrote that this trip-up should make Hillary reconsider her presidential ambitions. I like the sound of that, but as Guy wrote yesterday, it’s probably a pie in the sky idea: voters have short memories and we’re talking about the Clintons here; nothing will stand in their way to get what they want–even if the road to meet that end isn’t pretty. Yet, Guy gave three good reasons why this could effect her ambitions for higher office:

  1. A good chunk of Democrats–and the media–already don't like her for a variety of reasons ranging from policy to personality.
  2. Her record as Secretary of State isn't something that should be highlighted on the campaign trail because it's pretty bad.
  3. The email fiasco, coupled with the allegation that the Clinton Foundation accepted money from foreign governments while she served as Secretary of States, reminds people of the "ugliness" exuded during the Clinton years in the White House.  She's brings nothing new in the ways Obama–for better or worse–did in 2008.

Washington Post’s Chris Cillizza added to Guy's points, writing that she can’t tweet her way out of this, and

it "reinforces" every negative thing the American public thinks about the Clintons:

1. "They don't think the rules apply to them.": The idea that Clinton never had an official government e-mail address reeks of the idea that she believes that she is apart from (and above) the rules that govern those serving in government. No, Clinton isn't the first person in government to use a private e-mail but, as the Times piece suggests, she may be the first person to exclusively use one.

2. "They are surrounded by enablers.": Maybe the most amazing part of this story -- at least to me -- is that NO ONE ever took Clinton aside during her four years at State and said something like "Look, I know you mostly use your private e-mail address. But why don't we just set up an official government one, too." It's impossible to believe that everyone on the State staff thought that only using a private e-mail address was the right course of action for Clinton and that it had no possibility of backfiring on her.

3. "They're always hiding something.": It's, of course, possible that Clinton used a private e-mail account because she liked the user interface on it better than a clunkier government version or some other banal reason like that. But using an e-mail domain that is not subject to the same federal archiving rules -- yes, Clinton turned over 55,000 pages of e-mails, but who decided what e-mails to turn over and which not to? -- looks suspicious even to people who are not disinclined to take Clinton at her word. (And there are LOTS of people who are disinclined to do so.)

4. "They only think about politics.": The timing of the setup of Clinton's private e-mail account, first reported by Philip Bump in this space Monday night, is very problematic for the "nothing to see here" argument being put forward by the Clinton types. It was established on the same day that Clinton began her confirmation hearings to be secretary of state. The expiration on the domain is shortly after the 2016 election.

5. "They never own up to anything.": The Clinton camp response has been predictable -- and not so good. (In their defense, I'm not sure there exists a good way to respond to a story like this one.) “Both the letter and spirit of the rules permitted State Department officials to use non-government email, as long as appropriate records were preserved,” Clinton spokesman Nick Merrill told The Post. Of course, that depends on what the meaning of "appropriate" is -- and is just the sort of statement that makes people think that these people really don't get it.

John Heileman and Mark Halperin, the managing editors for Bloomberg Politics, said that this email foul-up is both stupid and detrimental to Hillary’s pending campaign rollout. It divides Democrats between “those who are blindly loyal to the Clintons no matter what and those who say if she is going to run and win and govern effectively if she wins, she's got to change doing things that make her look entitled,” said Halperin. I appreciated Heileman’s Godzilla reference (I’m a HUGE Godzilla fan) in describing how dumb this move was on Clinton’s part saying, “It's like Godzilla with Mothra riding on his back dumb… It feeds the narrative of the Clintons only play by their own rules.”

Rep. Van Hollen: 'I'm Running for Senate'

Rep. Chris Van Hollen (D-MD), who is a regular fixture on the major television networks and currently serves as a ranking member on the House Budget Committee, is making moves:

Rep. Chris Van Hollen (D-Md.) announced Wednesday he plans to run for the U.S. Senate in 2016.

"I am writing to let you know that I have decided to run for the United States Senate from our great state of Maryland," Van Hollen wrote in an email to supporters. "In my very first election for Congress I believed that people were tired of politics as usual, and I ran a campaign based on key issues and ideas that matter to our future. The same is true today."

As a rising star in the Democratic Party and close confidant of the House Minority Leader, Van Hollen was rumored to be a viable candidate for Speaker if and when House Democrats put together a winning coalition. Apparently, however, he saw an opportunity and he's taking it. That being said, Van Hollen won’t necessarily coast to the nomination -- other progressive candidates will soon jump in -- although his electoral prospects got a bit better with this announcement.

Naturally, then, the general consensus is that the Democratic nominee (whomever that will be) will inevitably succeed outgoing Sen. Barbara Mikulski (D-MD). But is there any hope for a Republican upset? Real Clear Politics’ Sean Trende, for his part, offers some very cautious optimism:

Could a Republican win the general election? Probably not. Maryland is something of a city-state, with most of its population living in urban and suburban areas around D.C. or Baltimore. Many of these voters are socially liberal, depend on the federal government for their livelihoods, and resist GOP anti-government rhetoric. Overall, this was Obama’s fifth-best state in 2012, giving the president a larger victory margin than Massachusetts or California.

In other words, a candidate like Dr. Ben Carson (who apparently has more ambitious plans in 2016 and little interest in Maryland politics) would struggle to catch fire. Then again, as Jonah Goldberg wrote earlier this week, since his presidential chances in 2016 are growing bleaker by the day, perhaps he should at least try:

I’m not trying to get Carson out of the race for president. By all means, there’s a little time for him to continue testing the waters. The filing deadline in Maryland is January of 2016. But if the outlook for the Oval Office looks bleak, he could do a great service to his party and his country by looking toward a more winnable race. If a Republican wins in 2016, there’s going to be a lot of work to do replacing Obamacare. Under those circumstances, it would be good to have another doctor in the house or, in this case, the Senate.

Of course it would. But barring a major reversal, it appears Dr. Carson's mind is already made up.

Gowdy's Benghazi Committee Will Subpoena Hillary's Secret Emails


UPDATE - Hillary weighed in late last night, cynically feigning transparency:


That's what passes for "rapid response" in Clintonland these days, it seems. A near-midnight tweet, two days later. Here's what she doesn't mention -- from the original New York Times  story:


She's asked State to review and release the emails that her staff has already hand-selected for public consumption. Seems legit.

ORIGINAL POST:


The House Select Committee on Benghazi, the creation of which liberals opposed as a partisan witch hunt and a waste of time -- even after the Obama administration was caught suppressing relevant evidence -- revealed this week that Secretary of State Hillary Clinton used a private email system to conduct public business throughout her time in government. She did so in a calculated, and likely illegal, attempt to suppress and frustrate future investigations into her conduct working on behalf of the American people. To that end, she never established or used an official government account, as required, which would have been subject to transparency mechanisms such as Freedom of Information Act (FOIA) requests.  Unsurprisingly, Trey Gowdy's panel wants access to her secret emails, so subpoenas are about to fly:

A House investigative committee is preparing to send out subpoenas later Wednesday to gather a deeper look into former secretary of state Hillary Rodham Clinton’s nearly exclusive use of personal e-mails to do her official business as the government’s top diplomat, according to people familiar with the probe. The House Select Committee on Benghazi, which first discovered Clinton’s use of a personal e-mail based on a home server in its inquiry into a fatal 2012 terrorist attack on a U.S. diplomatic compound in Benghazi, Libya, is asking for all e-mails related to the attack from all Clintonemail.com accounts and any other staff members’ personal accounts. The subpoenas are expected to go out to the State Department later Wednesday. The move escalates the panel’s conflict with Clinton and could complicate her expected run for president. Numerous federal records and legal experts have questioned Clinton’s use of a personal e-mail for government business and whether it violated the Federal Records Act. Her practice was first reported by the New York Times on Monday.

Expect a legal fight from Team Clinton (or insulting head-fakes -- see update above). These types of nettlesome inquiries from watchdogs and investigators were precisely the reason her dodgy email scheme was hatched in the first place.  She doesn't want her emails on Benghazi to see the light of day, along with untold scores of additional documents on other subjects.  To be clear, these aren't her "private" emails.  These are official government correspondences that are mandated to be searchable and retrievable.  Hillary decided (in advance, she made this move just before taking over at State) that such rules didn't apply to her, and she's likely to fight like hell to protect her illegitimate opacity.  As we noted yesterday, experts are raising concerns that the presidential hopeful's secret email server may have served her political purposes, but it was probably vulnerable to foreign hackers.  And the State Department...can't say whether HRC had any highly sensitive information sitting in her private email trove, just waiting to be compromised:


National Journal's Ron Fournier, as is his wont, says he trusts Hillary on both the secret email and foreign money fronts, but demands that she come clean:

She can't spin her way out of this. Her henchmen can't bully everybody. When she tries to shift blame, the people's fingers all point back to her. I would suggest she try a new strategy, two simple actions that would speak louder than any words.

1. Return all foreign donations received by the Clinton Foundation, which can continue its good works without creating a perception that foreign countries are trying to buy influence.

2. Turn over all her emails—every last one of them—to a person or entity whose independence is beyond reproach. Truly private emails should be returned to Clinton, never disclosed. The rest— hundreds of thousands, maybe millions, of pages—would be handled for what they are: the public's documents. Emails concerning government business don't belong to Clinton; they belong to us.

Personally, I don't think the Clintons are corrupt. I don't think she can be bought by a foreign country. I don't assume there's something nefarious in those emails. But you shouldn't have to take my word for it. Or even her word for it. If she wants to be president, Clinton needs to realize that transparency and accountability are not luxuries; they're the life's blood of modern public life.

Agreed, but even if she partially complies, I do wonder how anyone can ever be certain that she's turned over everything.  The whole point of doing what she did was to protect her political image.  She was willing to flagrantly break the rules to do so.  Why wouldn't she be willing to sue, delete and destroy to achieve the exact same end?  Incidentally, recently-uncovered State Department emails yet again confirm that the US government knew virtually immediately that the Benghazi raid was an organized terrorist attack, and who the perpetrators were.  One email sent on September 11 -- the day of the massacre -- bluntly stated, “Ansar al Sharia Claims Responsibility.”  Days later, Hillary Clinton and other Obama officials were still peddling tales about protests and YouTube videos for public consumption.  I'll leave you with White House spokesman Jay Carney assuring reporters in 2011 that all administration officials conduct their business on official government email accounts:


Except for when they invent false names to hide their correspondence from public records requests, or, in Hillary's case, decline to follow the rules at all.

Really: Jane Fonda Says 'Patriarchy' is Partly to Blame for Rise in Terrorism

Before she joins the United Nations next week in a discussion about gender equality, actress/fitness guru Jane Fonda was interviewed by the Associated Press and offered her two cents on what she deems to be one of the world’s most dire threats:

Male power is "wounded now but there's nothing more dangerous than a wounded beast, thrashing about, flailing its tail with the barbs on it, and a lot of people are really getting hurt badly," she said.

The patriarchy has been a favorite target of feminists like Fonda for quite some time. Along with Gloria Steinem, she helped found The Women's Media Center, an organization that likes to produce sexist reports that place white men in their own box. It is thanks to male-dominated companies and male-claimed leadership roles, last year's report read, that women have struggled to progress in the business world. The only way to fix this, Fonda demanded, is to elect more female leaders, protest, and tweet.

During Wednesday's interesting phone call, Fonda also explained that patriarchy is one of the causes of…terrorism.

She said "the most intractable problem that humanity faces is the problem of patriarchy," which she partly blames for the rise in terrorism and the destruction of the environment.

Hm. Somehow that didn’t make it into Graeme Wood’s now historically important piece on the rise of ISIS.

Perhaps I’m not alone in saying I don’t care about Fonda’s opinion on world affairs. Throughout her “career,” she has done little more than invoke the wrath of our nation’s veterans and encourage teenage sexuality.

Fonda will be appearing at the UN on March 12 to help the women’s rights group Equality Now launch a campaign asking government to combat gender discrimination. While Fonda thinks male dominance is one of the top issues in our modern world, she and her UN friends would make better use of their time helping to combat the terrorism she only briefly mentioned.

Despite ATF and White House Claims, AR-15 Ammo Doesn't Pose a Special Risk to Law Enforcement

Two weeks ago the Bureau of Alcohol Tobacco and Firearms released a proposal banning commonly used AR-15 ammunition through executive action. The proposal was issued under the guise of law enforcement safety, with ATF officials saying the ban in necessary to protect officers from "armor piercing" AR-15 ammunition, should it be used in a handgun.

First, AR-15 ammunition isn't being used in handguns in the way ATF claims. Second, although any kind of ammunition used unlawfully against law enforcement officers is concerning, the specific AR-15 "green tip" ammunition ATF is trying to ban isn't being used against officers as ATF claims. 

In fact, the executive director of the Fraternal Order of Police James Pasco told the Washington Examiner yesterday there is no history of criminals using the type of ammunition in question. 

"Any ammunition is of concern to police in the wrong hands, but this specific round has historically not posed a law enforcement problem," Pasco said to the Examiner.

Last night Executive Director of NRA-ILA Chris Cox made an appearance on The Kelly File to discuss the next step in fighting the ban. 

"The President tried to ban the most popular rifle in America but he couldn't get it through Congress so now he's trying to ban the ammunition for the most popular rifle," Cox said."It's interesting that they're lying on this because there's no national cop group that's calling for this ban. The head of the National Fraternal Order of Police said that this wasn't necessary. The reason it's necessary is not one police officer has died a result of vest penetration from one of these rounds being fired from a handgun in the last 30 years, since ATF exempted this ammo. So why are they doing it? This is a solution not to a problem, it's a solution to Barack Obama's gun control problem. He couldn't get it through Congress so he'd doing it backdoor." 

"The five million members of the National Rifle Association are going to fight this every step of the way," Cox promised.

The White House has argued this ban in necessary to protect men and women in law enforcement and has hinted President Obama will use executive action to get the ban implemented. 

ATF is taking public comments about the ban through March 16, 2015. You can get in touch with them here:

-Email: APAComments@atf.gov
-Fax: 202) 648-9741
-Snail mail: Denise Brown, Mailstop 6N-602, Office of Regulatory Affairs, Enforcement Programs and Services, Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms, and Explosives, 99 New York Avenue, NE, Washington, DC 20226: ATTN: AP Ammo Comments

Hillary Clinton Says She Wants People to Read Her Email...When The State Department Releases Them

After days of controversy surrounding the use of personal email for all of her official State Department Business, former Secretary Hillary Clinton is breaking her silence.

Late Wednesday night Clinton sent out a tweet saying she has asked the State Department to release her emails. 

As soon as possible? How about Clinton, who has access to all of her emails thanks to running private server from her house, releases them herself? And if she really wants the public to read her emails, she should do it now.

State Department Spokeswoman Marie Harf, who has defended Clinton's use of private email for official business, said early this morning that the review will "take some time." 

"The State Department will review for public release the emails provided by Secretary Clinton to the Department, using a normal process that guides such releases. We will undertake this review as quickly as possible; given the sheer volume of the document set, this review will take some time to complete," Harf said in a statement.

Yeah, some time to "delete." In the meantime the House Select Committee on Benghazi, headed by Rep. Trey Gowdy (R-SC) has subpoenaed Clinton for her emails as part of their ongoing investigation into the 9/11/2012 attack on the U.S. consulate in Libya.

Student Paper Mocks Terrorists, University Warns Not to Disrupt 'Cultural Harmony'

The University of Minnesota has warned one of its student-run publications that it needs to be more “culturally sensitive” when it comes to terrorists. Naturally, they didn’t word it quite that way.

According to Campus Reform, during the Minnesota Republic’s annual funding request, the university dug-up a cover from four years ago and used it to admonish the paper for its “overt lack of sensitivity to the Arab world.”

Anyone looking at the actual cover, however, would see the paper was merely mocking terrorists.



The headline, “The Minnesota Republic: Terrorists Hate It,” makes the paper’s point acutely clear—the paper champions free speech and freedom of the press. Apparently, however, the university’s Student Service Fees Committee (SSFC) is not fully on board with these First Amendment rights.

When students applied for funding for the Minnesota Republic, the SSFC committee came forward with the 2011 cover photo [emphasis added]:

“While reviewing one of the sample publications, committee members came across material that demonstrated an overt lack of sensitivity to the portrayal of members of the Arab world.

When pressed for information on how this piece made it into print, representatives informed the committee that, based on the date of this particular publication, the members responsible for that work are no longer in the organization and that this particular piece is not representative of the work produced by the organization today.

After assessing this information, the Student Service Fee Committee would like to emphasize for the group the significance of culturally sensitive discourse on a campus like the University of Minnesota, which prides itself on being home to a wide range of values and beliefs held by members that originate from countless cultures across the globe.

In the future, close attention may be paid to the content published by Students for a Conservative Voice to ensure that any material that is produced with student fee funds does not compromise the cultural harmony of the campus and to ensure that the material that is produced is not at odds with the criteria in place for receiving this funding.”

Why would the committee feel the need to bring this issue up now? They themselves pointed out that no one from the particular issue is likely on staff. It was nothing more than fearmongering.

More importantly: what about free speech and freedom of the press? The committee blatantly threatened the paper and for nothing less than the protection of terrorists. 

Lastly, speaking of being 'culturally sensitive,' isn't it a bit ignorant of the committee to imply that all members of the Arab world can relate to...terrorists? 

According to University of Minnesota student and Campus Reform correspondent Allison Maass, the paper habitually stirred up the embers around campus:

"Our publication, derived from the University of Minnesota’s Students for a Conservative Voice (SCV), allows students on campus to share their viewpoints no matter what—even if they are considered offensive.

And no other publication on campus can say that.

When Vice Provost of Student Affairs and Dean of Students Danita Young Brown apologized to students for a student group throwing a fiesta on the grounds that it might offend the Chicano and Latino students, we printed Goldy Gopher with a sombrero on the front cover. After the Charlie Hebdo attacks, we put a drawing of Muhammad on the cover, asking for speech over terror."

As someone who has worked as the senior news editor of my university paper, I can say from personal experience that this is an absolute outrage. I hope the students of the Minnesota Republic continue to challenge their fellow students to think deeply and to converse openly about cultural issues. 

NBC News President Could Lose Position After Williams Fiasco

We go a little into the rumor mill on this one, but it seems NBC News isn’t really out of damage control yet after the Brian Williams fiasco. Williams has been given a six-month suspension after reports revealed his story about being shot down while riding in a Chinook helicopter in Iraq was a work of fiction. The authenticity of other field reports he’s filed, like in New Orleans post-Katrina and Lebanon during Israel’s 2006 incursion, is being called into question as well.

With Williams gone (temporarily), NBC News president Deborah Turness, who was already fearful of losing her job, might be on her way out of the president’s chair, though Variety  is reporting she'll probably remain employed with the embattled network in some other capacity:

Former NBC News president Andrew Lack is in negotiations to return to a top post at NBC Universal’s news division in a management shakeup following the debacle that led to the suspension of “Nightly News” anchor Brian Williams and other recent missteps.

A source close to the situation emphasized that Deborah Turness, NBC News president, is also staying with the company, though her role may change. Turness has been under fire for the division’s response to the controversy that erupted over Williams’ misleading statements on “NBC Nightly News” about his experiences will covering the Iraq war in 2003. The incident led to the anchor being suspended for six months without pay last month.

Turness took the helm at NBC News in 2013 after leaving the UK-based ITV network, where she has served as editor since 2004.

Could this be some version of a woman in a position of power falling off the "glass cliff"?  It remains to be seen, but a notable exception is that NBC News wasn't a mess (biased, yes) at the time of Williams' collapse. It was the most-watched evening news broadcast in the country.  Typically, the "glass cliff" that revolves around a woman being ushered into a position of leadership–usually in business–after some awful situation has caused a PR nightmare.  If no quick fix can be obtained, she's shown the door. 

That doesn't seem to be the case here, but I'm sure you'll see some lefty feminist criticize the network for replacing a woman with a man as president even though it was a man–Williams–who put the entire network in a vise.  Let's see how this pans out, especially since many are reporting that it's unlikely that Williams will return.    

If so, this move, along with Williams' six-month delay in being told he's been let go, is just an awkward way of keeping your network accountable.  Then again, we're talking about the liberal media.  They could be just hoping that we all might forget, like the story surrounding Hillary Clinton's use of her personal email for official business when she was Secretary of State.

Even After A Brutal Rape, She Decided To Choose Life… At Age 12

You can read Leah’s excellent post about Pastor Lee Jong-rak and how he’s helping abandoned babies in South Korea, but here’s another "choose life" story that’s just as incredible.

Lianna Rebolledo was only 12-years-old when two men raped her not far from her home. The attack resulted in a pregnancy. Her doctor said she should have an abortion, but when she asked if aborting her child would wipe away the emotional pain of her assault; the doctor plainly said no. At that point, Rebolledo decided to keep her baby. She’s now 35, but has no regrets in her decision to choose life (via Life News):

She said, “If abortion wasn’t going to heal anything, I didn’t see the point. I just knew that I had somebody inside my body. I never thought about who her biological father was. She was my kid. She was inside of me.”

Now Lianna, 35, says she has no regrets about choosing life for her child and that her daughter has helped her overcome suicidal thoughts. She said, “It was really hard, but just to see that little person telling me how happy she was that I gave her her life. When she said that — and she was only four years old when she told me: ‘Mommy thank you for giving me life’ — I realized that she was the one who gave me my life back.”

She concluded, “In my situation, two lives were saved. I saved my daughter’s life, but she saved my life. Even though [the rape] was a very hard moment, if I had to go through that [again] just to know and to love my daughter, I would go through that again. She’s always been there for me. She’s the only person who has shown me a real love. And I always will be grateful.”

All life should be celebrated and protected–and this remarkable story is often underreported, or straight up ignored, in today’s media outlets when these brave women do come forward. Stories like these are great, but they’re also highly personal. I admire Lianna’s courage to come forward to discuss her harrowing ordeal and what followed afterwards. It’s beautiful.

At the same time, there are some Republicans who could use a little more tact in explaining their pro-life positions to voters.

Feds Raid "Birth Tourism" Hotels in California

I've written previously about the unsettling rise in "birth tourism"—a practice in which wealthy women from another country (typically China or Turkey) pay tens of thousands of dollars to give birth in the United States to an American citizen before returning to their home country with their child. Yesterday, federal agents raided several hotels and apartment complexes used by birth tourism rings to house pregnant women, citing suspicions of visa fraud and money laundering.

While nobody was arrested, the IRS and Dept. of Homeland Security launched the raids after two Homeland Security Investigations agents posing as pregnant Chinese women were told how to hide their pregnancies and fabricate employment histories in order to gain entry to the United States to have a child. There were also concerns that despite the thousands of dollars paid to birth tourism agencies, the hospitals where women actually gave birth were never compensated.

From USA Today:

Agents also said hospitals were defrauded. In one case, new parents last year paid just $4,080 of a $28,845 hospital bill, even though their bank account showed charges at Louis Vuitton, Rolex and Wynn Las Vegas hotel-casino.

Agents with search warrants raided about 20 locations in Orange, Los Angeles and San Bernardino counties, including a luxury apartment complex in Irvine that was home to an operation called "You Win USA Vacation Resort."

Authorities did not reveal how many women were found, or say whether any -- or how many -- might be allowed to stay to give birth. Cases will be handled on an individual basis.

The practice of coming to the United States to give birth isn't illegal, but visa fraud most certainly is.

While I empathize with people attempting to beat China's oppressive one-child policy, I think it's a tad absurd that people are able to waltz over to the United States, give birth to an American citizen, and then leave as soon as the baby is able to fly. As I've said before, citizenship should mean something, not just be used as something to exploit when it comes time to apply for college. (American citizens living abroad do not have to apply to U.S. schools through the international pool, which tend to be more competitive than the domestic pool of applicants.) While Congress has toyed with bills to restrict the "birth tourism" practice and redefine the United State's policy of jus soli citizenship, they haven't gone anywhere. The United States and Canada are the only two developed nations on earth who grant citizenship to every child born on its soil. Most countries require that one or both parents are either citizens of or legally residing in the country in order to transfer citizenship to a child. The practice of "birth tourism" should end.

White House Refuses To Say They Trust Hillary On Emails

White House Press Secretary Josh Earnest refused to say Wednesday whether or not he or the president trusts Hillary Clinton's claims that she followed the law when choosing to use a personal email account to conduct official State Department business.

"I haven't seen any evidence to indicate that they didn't do what they said they did," Earnest said when asked if he had confidence in Clinton's claims that she and her employees have turned over all of her personal emails relating to official government business. "But I also just want to be crystal clear abut the fact that this is a responsibility that they assumed," Earnest continued, "to review her personal email and make sure that it was properly transmitted to the Department of State so that it could preserved and maintained."

The Obama White House has walked a fine political line on the issue since The New York Times first reveled Monday that Clinton did not use an official government email address, and instead used a personal email account to conduct all of her business as Secretary of State. 

Federal law requires all federal officials to give their employing government agencies all personal emails relating to official government business. It is then the job of the federal agency to make sure those emails are preserved and maintained. 

A follow up Associated Press story Wednesday reveled that Clinton not only used a private email, but that she and her employees created and maintained their own email server in Clinton's private residence in New York. 

Clinton and her employees claim that they have reviewed all of the emails on Clinton's private server and have given the State Department all of the emails pertaining to official government business.

But since Clinton's email server is privately maintained, there is no independent party that can verify whether or not Clinton has turned over every email she used to conduct official State Department business. The American people just have to take Clinton's word for it.

Earnest has been careful to stress that while he can say that the State Department has properly preserved all the emails Clinton has provided them, he cannot confirm whether or not Clinton has provided all the relevant emails as required by law.

"I don't mean to suggest that I somehow think they are not being honest," Earnest said, "I'm just making it clear that it is not something that, that it was not a task that was preformed an Obama administration official. It was a task the was performed by Secretary Clinton or someone on her team."

Surprise: Keystone Override Vote Goes Nowhere

Even though Republicans control both chambers of Congress their power is limited and therefore not absolute. For instance, after wildly popular legislation passed both the U.S. House and Senate last month approving the construction of the Keystone XL Pipeline, the president flexed his political muscles and vetoed it anyway. There was nothing Republicans could do about it. And while his ‘Four Pinocchios'-inducing rationale was widely panned by lawmakers on both sides of the political aisle, an override vote was always a long shot.

Today, it officially fell short by five votes:

Stay tuned for updates.

DOJ Report: Michael Brown Fought With Officer Wilson, Reached For His Gun

Remember, “Hands up, don’t shoot?” It’s the gesture that some said encapsulated the shooting death of Michael Brown by then-Officer Darren Wilson in Ferguson, Missouri last summer–and now we can finally put this narrative to rest. It’s false–and the Department of Justice confirms it. Their report, which cleared Officer Darren Wilson of civil rights violations, noted that Michael Brown fought with Wilson, reached for his gun, and then charged the beleaguered policeman, leading him to fire his weapon in self-defense (via NYT):

The Justice Department has cleared a Ferguson, Mo., police officer of civil rights violations in the shooting of Michael Brown, a black teenager whose death set off racially charged and sometimes violent protests last year.

The decision, which was announced on Wednesday, ends a lengthy investigation into the shooting last August, in which Officer Darren Wilson shot and killed Mr. Brown in the street. Many witnesses said Mr. Brown had his hands up in surrender when he died, leading to nationwide protest chants of “Hands up, don’t shoot.”

But federal agents and civil rights prosecutors rejected that story, just as a state grand jury did in November. The Justice Department said forensic evidence and other witnesses backed up the account of Officer Wilson, who said Mr. Brown fought with him, reached for his gun, then charged at him. He told investigators that he feared for his life.

“There is no evidence upon which prosecutors can rely to disprove Wilson’s stated subjective belief that he feared for his safety,” the report said.

The report found that witnesses who claimed that Mr. Brown was surrendering were not credible. “Some of those accounts are inaccurate because they are inconsistent with the physical and forensic evidence; some of those accounts are materially inconsistent with that witnesses’ own prior statements with no explanation,” it said.

“Although some witnesses state that Brown held his hands up at shoulder level with his palms facing outward for a brief moment, these same witnesses describe Brown then dropping his hands and ‘charging’ at Wilson,” it added.

We shall see how the Ferguson community, Al Sharpton, the NAACP, and the media react to the DOJ report–and see if they continue to peddle falsehoods about the case. But I think it's safe to say that the Brown-Wilson portion of the Ferguson saga is over...finally.

Wilson has since resigned from the Ferguson Police Department.

Correction: The original post had Michael Brown as "Michael Wilson." We apologize for the error and the post has been updated to reflect the changes. 

Rasmussen Poll: Walker Beats Clinton Among Informed Voters

If the 2016 presidential elections were held today, Hillary Clinton would become the next President of the United States, according to a Rasmussen poll released Tuesday.

But Governor Scott Walker would give her a run for her money.

Rasmussen asked 1,000 likely voters who they would vote for in head-to-head choices between Clinton and other likely GOP nominees. Between Clinton and Walker, 46 percent of respondents said they would support Clinton, while 41 percent would vote for Walker -- a five-point difference, and the strongest Republican lead in the poll.

Walker’s lead is even stronger among informed voters: among the 35 percent of respondents that claimed to be keeping up to date with reports about next year’s elections “very closely,” Walker beat Clinton 51 to 43 percent.

Former Governor Jeb Bush and retired neurosurgeon Ben Carson were runners up in the poll. Both took 36 percent of voter support in head-to-head pairings with Clinton, leaving the former Secretary of State with a minimum 9-point lead in both cases.

Despite heavy funding and name recognition, Bush seems to be losing popularity in the polls. After coming in 15 points behind Walker in a Quinnipiac poll last week, he came in fifth in the CPAC straw poll, having been booed throughout the conference. Bush came in eight points behind Walker in a new poll from Nevada.

He's even having trouble in his home state: the latest poll from Florida shows Walker just one point behind Bush for 2016 primaries.

The Rasmussen poll didn’t include questions about Sen. Rand Paul -- a favorite among millennials. Paul won the CPAC straw poll for the third consecutive year, taking a 5-point lead over Walker.

In South Korea, Abandoned Babies Find Hope in an Unusual Place

"Ding-dong! Ding-dong!"

Anywhere else this would be the innocuous sound of a doorbell. But at the Jusarang Community Church in Seoul, South Korea, it’s the sound of a baby being abandoned by its mother in a makeshift drop box at the front entrance.

Appropriately inscribed above the ‘baby box’ is Psalm 27:10—“For my father and my mother have forsaken me, but the Lord will take me up.”

It’s in the wee hours of the morning, under the cover of darkness, when many mothers bring their babies to Pastor Lee Jong-rak, who’s made it his mission in life to care for these children so they are not abandoned on the streets to die. To him, every child is wanted, every child is loved, no matter the deformities, genetic disorders, or health issues.

Pastor Lee holding an orphan. Photo credit: TheDropBoxFilm.com

“Lord, thank you,” he says upon looking into the eyes of each new “delivery.”

Child abandonment in South Korea is described as a “common practice.” So common that Pastor Lee said to himself, “If I don’t do something to protect these children, I could be picking up their dead bodies at my gate.”

In a society that highly stigmatizes children born out of wedlock and those with disabilities, so many women (and sometimes their family members) feel abandonment is their only choice. The country’s birth registration system makes anonymity impossible, opening the door to public ridicule and, for teen mothers, being kicked out of high school.

While the box was set up to address this very problem, Pastor Lee says he never expected anyone to use the baby box, even praying, “God, please don’t let any baby be abandoned in the world. . . . Only if the child’s life is being threatened. Or if the baby box is their last hope. Then, Jesus, open up the door for these children.”

So far, Pastor Lee, who’s the subject of a new documentary “The Drop Box,” which is produced and distributed in partnership with Kindred Image of South Korea, Pine Creek Entertainment, Focus on the Family, and Fathom Events, has helped save more than 600 babies, many of whom have disabilities.

Pastor Lee with some of the children in his home. Photo credit: TheDropBoxFilm.com

The film tells not only the story of Pastor Lee’s heroic and selfless deeds, but also explores the emotional, physical, and financial toll associated with taking in the orphans. Most importantly, however, it’s a story about hope and love, and one which has the power to change hearts and minds about the dignity, preciousness, and value of every human life--a lesson Pastor Lee and his wife, Chun-ja, learned most intimately through their son, Eun-man, a name that means “full of God’s grace.” 

Eun-man, 26, was born with severe cognitive disabilities and physical deformities and spent more than half his life in hospitals. With twisted limbs unable to bear his weight, he is bed-ridden and in need of constant care. Yet it is this son that Pastor Lee proudly calls his teacher—it is through him, he explains, that he learned life’s dignity. And it is because of him that the baby box exists, proving that all lives have purpose.

“When Eun-man was born, I asked God at that moment ‘Why?’ Why did he give me ‘that kind of baby’? Why didn’t he give me a healthy baby? That thought immediately came to my mind,” Pastor Lee candidly recalled. “But it wasn’t even 30 seconds before I repented, ‘God, I am sorry. Thank you for giving him to me.’ So step-by-step, with faith, prayer and His words, I lived. That’s how I started this work.”

While Pastor Lee has changed an untold number of lives in South Korea through his work, the film made a profound impact on one other person: Brian Ivie, the film’s director, who became a Christian in the process.

Pastor Lee and director Brian Ivie. Photo credit: TheDropBoxFilm.com

During the March 3-5 screenings at theaters across the nation, moviegoers can hear more about his experience creating the film, as well as listen in on a brief panel discussion with Focus on the Family’s president, Jim Daly, Steven Curtis Chapman, and others. 

“The Drop Box is ultimately a story of hope," Daly said in a statement. "Even in the midst of a heart-wrenching situation, we see the heart of a father's love in Pastor Lee.

"Not everyone is called to do what he's doing or adopting a child themselves, but all Christians are called to care for orphans," he continued. "Watching this documentary changes a person; it draws you to care even more deeply for the most vulnerable among us."

For more information on the film and to find out ways you can help, visit www.thedropboxfilm.com

As Swirling Scandals Take Toll, Hillary Retreats Into 'Womanhood' Narrative


The New York Times' Brendan Nyhan writes an analysis today positing that Hillary Clinton's email scandal ultimately won't damage her presidential ambitions too badly. Why? Because voters have short memories, and don't much care about this sort of thing anyway.  Allahpundit thinks Nyhan is basically correct.  Ethical lapses are a central element of the Clintons' brand, he argues, and they've learned over the years that abusing power and skirting the rules rarely results in lasting consequences, politically or otherwise.  While I by and large agree that extra-legal (at best) email concealment via private server won't necessarily be a "game changer," I'm not as willing to chalk it up as a passing irrelevancy, for three reasons:

(1) Many self-stylized good government types on the Left, including a good number of journalists, already dislike Hillary.  A major contingent within the Democratic base is just itching for an Obamaesque, Liz Warren-like figure to emerge -- and they'd bolt in a heartbeat.  "Ready for Hillary" is not a universal sentiment on the Left.  This email story is ammo for them, confirming their worst suspicions about Clintonworld.

(2) Coupled with the other current -- and more potent, I think -- Hillary scandal, average Americans are being reminded of the ugliness that has followed the Clintons throughout their decades of public life.  If the electorate is in a mood to turn the page and elect someone fresh and untainted by seemingly ancient political baggage in 2016, every negative headline and unseemly revelation draws some blood.  These things build.  What voters have been hearing for two weeks is that (a) the Clintons' organization accepted big, often unvetted, gifts from foreign governments during her time as Secretary of State (and again, as her campaign ramps up) -- raising conflict of interest concerns and reminders that Hillary is uber-wealthy practitioner of cronyism and corporatism -- and (b), that she deliberately skirted transparency laws by conducting government business through an extraordinary private email system, the entire purpose of which was to avoid legitimate oversight and scrutiny.  One of her justifications for her actions has already begun to crumble.  Some experts say her gerry-rigged system maximizes her ability to slow-walk domestic investigations into her official conduct, while also opening up significant security vulnerabilities.  Her political ambitions are safe.  Her sensitive correspondence as the nation's top diplomat, not so much.  Pile these two problems atop her widely-ridiculed "dead broke" bumbling from last year, and some of her biggest forays back into the public realm have been marred by self-inflicted wounds and unforced errors.

(3) One of the bases for Hillary's inevitable presidential run will be her experience at the State Department.  Previously, the knocks on her record were that she didn't accomplish much beyond racking up miles on the jet, and, of course, the Benghazi massacre.  As the Clinton/Obama foreign policy continues to unravel across the globe -- in Russia, in Libya, in Yemen, in Iraq and Syria, etc. -- Hillary looks more and more like a central player in a parade of  dangerous, costly failures that have diminished America's standing in the world, and have made America less secure.  Now there are two new, serious broadsides against her record as Secretary of State: She intentionally violated email archiving rules to ensure that she couldn't be held accountable for her work on behalf of the American people, and her foundation vacuumed up foreign money from nations that were lobbying her in her formal, powerful role at State.  The Wall Street Journal has already established that domestic donors to the Clintons often seemed to enjoy preferential treatment from Hillary's State Department -- wouldn't the same follow for, say, Middle Eastern regimes?  Adding to the stench is the State Department's initial attempt to lie about the ethics safeguards (not) employed to vet these foreign contributions.  Oh, and by the way, the email scandal was uncovered by Congress' special committee on Benghazi, which has now gathered even more proof that the White House didn't (and couldn't have) turned over "all" Benghazi-related emails, as claimed.  Hillary's simply weren't available, because she chose not to use a (required) official government email account.  Drip, drip, drip.

Hillary surely knows that running on her record at State, and in the Senate (she was an Iraq war supporter), and as a polarizing First Lady, will be fraught with pirfalls and unflattering flashbacks. Perhaps she's been "brushing up" on foreign policy (!) in order to figure out how to distance herself from the outcomes of her own work to date.  But to the extent that she's unfazed by her recent struggles, it's because she's probably comforted by her early across-the-board polling advantages, and because her campaign will be firmly rooted in identity politics. She's a woman trying to make history, and it's time for a woman president, and did she mention she's a woman?  Everything else will be downplayed and treated as noisy, silly, and quite possibly sexist, distractions from her all-important womanhood narrative.  Expect to be inundated with these sorts of messages for the next two years, America:

At her first public event since voters learned that she used personal email to handle sensitive government business for four years, former secretary of state Hillary Clinton avoided any suggestion or shadow of the scandal, instead delivering a dress rehearsal campaign speech to an audience of pro-choice advocates. As for her long-deferred announcement about the 2016 presidential race, Clinton did no more than repeat old quips about the difficult question of whether to run for president, at one point asking: “I suppose it’s fair to say: don’t you someday want to see a woman president?”

Hillary has decided that if she turns this into the Girl Power election, she wins. And she might be right. I'll leave you with two clips. The first is Her Highness waxing poetic about -- giggle -- her commitment to transparency, followed by her 2000 admission that she doesn't "do email" because that would only help those trying to investigate her (skip ahead to the 3:30 mark on that video):



White House Squirms Over Hillary's Email Scandal, Forgets Embrace of Regular Law Breaking

The email scandal surrounding Hillary Clinton's time at the State Department is only getting worse, with new revelations she set up a "home brew" email server at her house and went around federal records laws by conducting all of her official State Department business through a personal email account. 

In light of Clinton's latest scandal, the White House is attempting to justify the use of a personal email account while distancing itself from the practice. 

"That I can tell you is that very specific guidance has been given to agencies all across the government, which is specifically that employees of the Obama administration should use their official email accounts when they’re conducting official government business. However, when there are situations where personal email accounts are used, it is important for those records to be preserved consistent with the Federal Records Act," White House Press Secretary Josh Earnest said yesterday at the daily briefing. "the policy, as a general matter, allows individuals to use their personal email address as long as those emails are maintained and sent to the State Department -- which, if you ask Secretary Clinton’s team, that’s what they completed in the last month or two."

But a look at the history of Obama's "most transparent administration in history" reveals the use of private email accounts to evade federal records laws is and has been standard practice. The Obama administration is notorious for using personal e-mail accounts, and even fake alias accounts, to conduct official government business as a way to avoid Freedom of Information Act laws and congressional investigations.

IRS: 

Former head of tax exempt groups at the IRS Lois Lerner, who was a key player in targeting conservatives between 2010 and 2012, used a personal email account to conduct official government business.

"Through the course of the investigation, we have learned that you sent documents related to your official dendrites from your official IRS e-mail account to an msn.com e-mail account labeled 'Lois Home.' This raises some serious questions concerning your use of a non-official e-mail account to conduct official business. Accordingly, we write to request documents related to your official duties that are housed in non-official e-mail accounts," former Chairman of the House Oversight Committee Darrell Issa and former Subcommittee Chairman Jim Jordan sent in a letter to Lerner last year. "The use of non-official e-mail accounts to conduct official business implicates federal records requirements. Use of a non-official e-mail account to conduct government business raises the prospect that records -- as defined by the Federal Records Act -- are not captured by official government e-mail archiving systems. It also creates difficulties in fulfilling the IRS' obligations under the Freedom of Information Act and other litigation requests. You use of non-official e-mail account also frustrates congressional oversight obligations."

Are we really surprised she plead the fifth? 

Department of Justice: 

During Operation Fast and Furious, former Assistant Attorney General Lanny Breuer got caught forwarding and editing official information about the scandal to his personal email account. Former DOJ Civil Rights attorney and current Labor Secretary Tom Perez used his personal email account during his time at DOJ for official business. From 2013:

Today, House Oversight and Government Reform Committee Chairman Darrell Issa sent a letter to Department of Labor nominee Thomas Perez reminding him that has he not met his legal obligations to produce documents related to official business in his personal e-mail account pursuant to a subpoena issued by the committee. Documents viewed by the committee and an admission from the Justice Department show that Perez used his private e-mail account to leak non-public information about official business outside of compliance with the Federal Records Act.

“You have a personal responsibility to comply with the Committee’s subpoena,” wrote Chairman Issa in today’s letter. “To date, you have not personally complied with the Committee’s request or the terms of the subpoena. In addition, you have not personally certified the veracity of the statements made by the Department in this matter and you have not certified that the Department’s assertion about the volume of responsive communications is accurate and complete. The Department has an unfortunate history of misleading Congress, and you have a personal record of providing incomplete testimony to the U.S. Commission on Civil Rights… Given this previous experience, the Committee requires the production of all responsive records to ascertain the true degree of your compliance with the Federal Records Act.”


Environmental Protection Agency: 

Former EPA Administrator Lisa Jackson engaged in the practice of conducting official government business through a personal email account under a made up name thousands of times. From National Review's Chris Horner

Not one but two former fairly senior EPA officials have contacted me to provide the alias used by Obama’s EPA administrator, Lisa Jackson, to keep her mail secret. I was told it was “one of the alternate email addresses she used.” 

Ms. Jackson is the “eco-warrior”, “most progressive EPA chief in history” — pushing Obama’s backdoor march (other ways “of skinning the cat”) toward cap-and-trade. Or, as you may come to know her, “Richard Windsor.” 

This morning, we proceeded with a request under the Freedom of Information Act (in-boxes don’t close on federal holidays) in order to find out what she was saying in private about her radical plan to avoid public scrutiny. “Richard Windsor.” That is the name — sorry, one of the alias names — used by Obama’s radical EPA chief to keep her email from those who ask for it.

Most recently, a federal judge ruled the EPA has deliberately delayed or deliberately failed to comply with information requests made by conservatives. 

A federal judge warned the EPA on Monday not to discriminate against conservative groups in how it responds to open-records requests, issuing a legal spanking to the agency that he said may have lied to the court and showed “apathy and carelessness” in carrying out the law.

Judge Royce C. Lamberth said he couldn’t prove that officials intentionally destroyed documents, but he described as “absurdity” the way the Environmental Protection Agency handled a Freedom of Information Act request from the Landmark Legal Foundation and then the court case stemming from it — including late last week admitting that it misled the court about how it went about searching for documents.

In a scorching 25-page opinion, the judge accused the agency of insulting him by first claiming it had conducted a full search for records, then years later retracted that claim in a footnote to another document without giving any explanation for how it erred.

“The recurrent instances of disregard that EPA employees display for FOIA obligations should not be tolerated by the agency,” the judge said. “This court would implore the executive branch to take greater responsibility in ensuring that all EPA FOIA requests — regardless of the political affiliation of the requester — are treated with equal respect and conscientiousness.”

Department of Homeland Security: 

In 2013, former Secretary of Homeland Security Janet Napolitano claimed she doesn't do email or have an email address because "it's a time suck." She made this claim right in the middle of the Fast and Furious gunrunning scandal, when Congressional investigators were looking for answers, and shortly after the Department was directly tied into the tactics of the fatal operation. 

On how she thinks about email:

"I think email just sucks up time ... in a job like mine [it's] inefficient."

On how she gets information without it:

"I have a variety of ways. Uh, uh, I'm constantly getting reports and emails throughout the day that come in through my headquarter staff that get to me. ... I do a lot of my own work by phone."

On the last time she used email:

"I stopped using email when I was the Attorney General of Arizona. Because I was just getting, I was starting to get hundreds and hundreds of things all the time and I was like: 'Why I am spending the time scrolling through this and responding to stuff that doesn't really need to be responded to?' "

On how email can come back to bite you:

"I also don't like the process where people could send you an email and then say: 'See, you were told, or you know this.' And then it comes back two years later to say: 'Hey you got this email among the thousands you got every day.' "

In other words, Napolitano didn't want to be held responsible for her statements or what she was told. Whether she really didn't have an email account is still up for question and there's no proof at this point she was using private email, but I don't buy it. After all, Hillary Clinton once said she doesn't do email, too.

State Department: 

The New York Times reported earlier this week former Secretary of State Hillary Clinton went around federal records laws by conducting all, not some, all, of her government business through a personal email account. 

Hillary Rodham Clinton exclusively used a personal email account to conduct government business as secretary of state, State Department officials said, and may have violated federal requirements that officials’ correspondence be retained as part of the agency’s record.

Mrs. Clinton did not have a government email address during her four-year tenure at the State Department. Her aides took no actions to have her personal emails preserved on department servers at the time, as required by the Federal Records Act.

It was only two months ago, in response to a new State Department effort to comply with federal record-keeping practices, that Mrs. Clinton’s advisers reviewed tens of thousands of pages of her personal emails and decided which ones to turn over to the State Department. All told, 55,000 pages of emails were given to the department. Mrs. Clinton stepped down from the secretary’s post in early 2013.

Her expansive use of the private account was alarming to current and former National Archives and Records Administration officials and government watchdogs, who called it a serious breach.

To make matters worse, Clinton went out of her way to make sure the server she used for that account was one she could control from home.

The computer server that transmitted and received Hillary Rodham Clinton's emails — on a private account she used exclusively for official business when she was secretary of state — traced back to an Internet service registered to her family's home in Chappaqua, New York, according to Internet records reviewed by The Associated Press.

The highly unusual practice of a Cabinet-level official physically running her own email would have given Clinton, the presumptive Democratic presidential candidate, impressive control over limiting access to her message archives.

These are just some of many examples and surely there are many more instances of public officials evading federal records laws that we just don't know about yet. A culture of non-transparency and corruption doesn't stop with Hillary Clinton, but in fact can be found in nearly every major federal government agency the Obama administration has turned into a political tool to unilaterally change policy over the past six years.The questions now are 1) Will anyone be held accountable for breaking federal records laws? 2) Will the culture change? 

Sadly, the answer to both is probably no.

Clinton Used Server From Family Home For Personal Emails, Gave Her Additional Legal Protections

As Katie reported earlier this morning, Rep. Trey Gowdy, who chairs the House Select Committee on Benghazi, will probably ask former Secretary of State Hillary Clinton–and her email providers–about those electronic communications in the coming days–and it may take more than one visit. Now, while this might not be a blatant violation of the Federal Records Act, it does bring questions about transparency and accountability; things that Clinton she said was a model for and wanted those characteristics implemented in Washington during the 2008 Democratic primaries (via the Hill):

“What she did was not technically illegal,” said Patrice McDermott, a former National Archives staffer and the head of the Open The Government coalition, a transparency group.

However, “it was highly inappropriate and it was inappropriate for the State Department to let this happen,” she said.

The New York Times on Monday reported that Clinton did not use an official government email account while serving in Obama’s Cabinet, nor did she back up the messages to a government server.

John Wonderlich, the policy director at the Sunlight Foundation, agreed that the practice “seems like it’s not unlawful, which suggests to me that we’re in pretty serious need of a legal reform.”

“When the secretary of State of the United States is using personal email exclusively, that suggests a pretty serious public accountability program,” he added.

Also, it seems the server that Clinton used for her personal email address was based in her family’s home in Chappaqua, New York. This location actually gives her extra legal protections from government and private subpoenas from criminal, civil or administrative cases since her lawyers could object, according to the Associated Press. The publication also noted that the Secret Service (and/or the Diplomatic Security Service who are responsible for the Secretary of State’s security) guarded the residence, so no fear of theft or physical hacking. Yet, there still was a huge risk for a cyber security breach [emphasis mine]:

The computer server that transmitted and received Hillary Rodham Clinton's emails — on a private account she used exclusively for official business when she was secretary of state — traced back to an Internet service registered to her family's home in Chappaqua, New York, according to Internet records reviewed by The Associated Press.

The highly unusual practice of a Cabinet-level official physically running her own email would have given Clinton, the presumptive Democratic presidential candidate, impressive control over limiting access to her message archives. It also would distinguish Clinton's secretive email practices as far more sophisticated than some politicians, including Mitt Romney and Sarah Palin, who were caught conducting official business using free email services operated by Microsoft Corp. and Yahoo Inc.

Most Internet users rely on professional outside companies, such as Google Inc. or their own employers, for the behind-the-scenes complexities of managing their email communications. Government employees generally use servers run by federal agencies where they work.

Operating her own server would have afforded Clinton additional legal opportunities to block government or private subpoenas in criminal, administrative or civil cases because her lawyers could object in court before being forced to turn over any emails. And since the Secret Service was guarding Clinton's home, an email server there would have been well protected from theft or a physical hacking.

But homemade email servers are generally not as reliable, secure from hackers or protected from fires or floods as those in commercial data centers. Those professional facilities provide monitoring for viruses or hacking attempts, regulated temperatures, off-site backups, generators in case of power outages, fire-suppression systems and redundant communications lines.

It’s this abject disregard for the values of government openness and transparency that were touted by Clinton in prior years that will not make this story go away any time soon. And it shouldn’t.