Culture Shift: Obama Administration Rolls Out ‘Unlawful Migration’ To Replace ‘Illegal Immigration’

In an evident attempt to resow the rocky cultural landscape defined by impassioned views of both sides of the Nation’s unfolding illegal immigration crisis, the Administration of President Barack Obama is clarifying its position on the issue by attempting to change the language it uses to describe the act of illegally entering and living in the United States.

The Weekly Standard made note of the Administration’s attempt at subtly changing the narrative of the illegal immigration debate on Friday, observing that Obama unveiled the new terminology in a phone conversation with Mexican president Peña Nieto on June 19.

A summary of that conversation, provided by the White House, includes Obama’s use of the new phrase:

This afternoon President Obama spoke by phone with Mexican President Enrique Peña Nieto to discuss a regional strategy to address the influx of unaccompanied children coming from Central America, through Mexico, to the U.S.-Mexico border. The President noted that Vice President Biden will attend a regional meeting in Guatemala on Friday, June 20, to discuss the urgent humanitarian issue, and welcomed the opportunity to work in close cooperation with Mexico to develop concrete proposals to address the root causes of unlawful migration from Central America. He also discussed the United States and Mexico’s shared responsibility for promoting security in both countries and in the region.

The Obama Administration has used “unlawful migration” at least once before, although — as The Weekly Standard points out — the context was very different. In 2009, the White House used the term in a joint statement between the U.S. and China concerning the two countries’ collaboration on criminal investigations into financial and drug crimes, as well as into — wait for it — “combating unlawful migration.”

Paul Ryan Hammers IRS Chief Koskinen On Missing Lerner Emails: ‘Nobody Believes You’

Congressman Paul Ryan (R-Wis.) led the Republican chorus of bitter criticism today against Internal Revenue Service Commissioner John Koskinen, telling the IRS boss that it’s inconceivable the agency would hold itself to such a lax standard for recordkeeping while it expects American taxpayers to do better with their personal tax documents.

“I’m sitting here, listening to this testimony, I don’t believe it,” Ryan said this morning during Koskinen’s testimony before the House Ways and Means Committee.

“That’s your problem: Nobody believes you. The Internal Revenue Service comes to us a couple years ago and misleads us and tells us no targeting is occurring. Then it said it was a few rogue agents in Cincinnati. Then it said it was also on progressives. All of those things have been proven untrue.

“You are the Internal Revenue Service. You can reach into the lives of hard-working taxpayers and with a phone call, an e-mail or a letter you can turn their lives upside down. You ask taxpayers to hang onto seven years of their personal tax information in case they are ever audited, and you can’t keep six months’ worth of employee e-mails? And now that we are seeing this investigation, you don’t have the e-mails; hard drives ‘crashed.’ You learned about this months ago. You just told us, and we had to ask you on Monday.”

Koskinen struggled to interject a few remarks while Ryan held the floor, but objected that he had had a long career and had never before been told by a colleague that his information couldn’t be trusted. He also told the Committee “I don’t think an apology is owed” for withholding from Congress the knowledge that emails subpoenaed in the House investigation had been lost – even though he shared that same information with the Obama Administration six weeks before sharing it with Congress.

Ryan said that’s not “forthcoming” behavior from an agency that has pledged its full cooperation with the House investigation.

“Here’s what being forthcoming is: If we are investigating criminal wrongdoing, targeting of people based on their political beliefs and the emails in question are lost because of a hard drive crash that is apparently unrecoverable, which a lot of IT professionals would question, and you don’t tell us about it until we ask you about it, that is not being forthcoming,” said Ryan.

Senate Report Condemns Obama For Rushing Obamacare Rollout To Save Face

Politically motivated flogging to hasten the rollout of the Affordable Care Act by the Administration of President Barack Obama was responsible for the disastrous launch of the President’s signature achievement, according to a damning new report issued by a pair of GOP Congressmen.

The report — released Thursday by Senators Orrin Hatch (R-Utah) and Chuck Grassley (R-Iowa), both members of the Senate Finance Committee — comes months after many mainstream media outlets had penned an early epilogue for the Republican-led criticism of Obamacare as a significant 2014 campaign issue.

Titled “Red Flags: How Politics and Poor Management Led to the Meltdown of Healthcare.gov,” the Senate Finance report accuses Obama of willfully ignoring experts’ warnings about the readiness of Healthcare.gov, the Federal Obamacare website, to accept applications for healthcare coverage, to securely store customer information and to process payments.

“Both metaphorically and factually, the website was designed to be the public face of President Obama’s signature achievement,” the report states. “… No one wanted to be the messenger that told the White House that its signature piece of legislation was going to crash at takeoff. The administration prioritized political success over protecting taxpayers.”

The report includes previously unreleased information about a pre-launch audit of the website conducted by TurningPoint Global Solutions, which warned the Administration repeatedly that the site was far from ready, identified “677 serious defects” and found that the system was plagued by more than 20,000 lines of bad programming code and could crash if even 500 people attempted to access the site at the same time.

The report accuses Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services (CMS) administrator Marilyn Tavenner, feeling the pressure to burnish Obama’s political reputation in what was supposed to be his finest moment, of ignoring those warnings and forging ahead with the rollout — even against the advice of at least one colleague who had called for a delay.

On the other side of Obamacare’s fall 2013 rollout, of course, the Obama Administration has been forced thorough its own bad choices to unilaterally and illegally alter the law, issuing delay after delay and adjusting policy rules in order to accommodate the loudest complainers.

“The administration looked the other way on problems, even when the independent contractor hired to monitor the project was waving red flags, pointing to likely failure,” Grassley stated. “This website wasn’t a ‘Field of Dreams’ fantasy where you hope for the best and everything works out because it’s a movie.”

New York Times Endorses Charlie Rangel’s Opponent In New York House Race

Disgraced Congressman Charlie Rangel (D-N.Y.), who has served 22 terms in the House of Representatives, has lost the endorsement of The New York Times, which published an editorial this week supporting Rangel’s challenger in next week’s Democratic primary.

The Times’ editorial board didn’t beat around the bush concerning Rangel’s embarrassing Congressional censure in 2010, nor its effect on his reputation with voters and within power circles in the Nation’s capital.

“After a humiliating censure by Congress four years ago for failing to pay taxes and other ethical lapses, Representative Charles Rangel has steadily lost power in Washington,” The Times asserts. “After nearly 44 years in office, it is now time for him to yield to the next generation.”

The paper instead urges residents of the State’s 13th Congressional District, which lies entirely within the City of New York, to vote for Democrat Adriano Espaillat, a New York State Senator who “has been spent [sic] his 18 years in the States [sic] Legislature, mostly fighting for tenants, day-care staff and farmworkers,” according to The Times. “He has pushed for in-state tuition at public universities for undocumented children, called for a repeal of exorbitant tax breaks for expensive apartment buildings and has strongly supported immigrants’ rights.”

Rangel is trying to win by running on his career longevity, “fighting Espaillat on the campaign trail by arguing his seniority and experience as a legislator will benefit the district,” according to USA Today.

The 84-year-old Congressman was formally censured in December 2010 after a protracted scandal involving his non-payment of taxes on a Dominican beach house and his alleged abuse of elected office for illegal fundraising. Among his many public statements immediately following that embarrassment, Rangel defended his misdeeds by pointing out: “I did not curse out the speaker. I did not have sex with minors. I did not steal money.”

In April of last year, Rangel filed suit against the House Ethics Committee over the censure, not because he disputed his own guilt, but because he thought the House investigation into his activities was sloppy. He has since been the target of bitter criticism, both for revisiting a disgraceful moment in the annals of Congressional decorum and for spending one-third of his 2014 campaign war chest on the legal bills associated with the effort to have the censure overturned.

Michelle Obama Welcomes New U.S. Citizens By Promoting Immigration Agenda

First lady Michelle Obama spoke Wednesday at a swearing-in ceremony commemorating the efforts of 50 freshly-minted U.S. citizens at attaining their citizenship through legal means.

The diverse group of new citizens, reportedly hailing from more than a dozen countries, “waved American flags excitedly as they stood before the nation’s founding documents and completed the oath of citizenship,” The Washington Post reported Wednesday.

Obama congratulated them and praised the contributions that immigrants historically have made to the Nation’s growth.

Then she essentially told them all that they’d just been played, insinuating that future naturalized citizens should have a much easier path toward their goal than the one they’d all just followed.

“Today, here in Washington, folks are still debating whether or not to fix our immigration system, even though just about everyone agrees that it is broken,” said the first lady just before the ceremony ended. “I want you all to know that my husband has made this his top legislative priority because, at the end of the day, this fight isn’t just about principles, it’s about real people.”

Is that something that this group of people – in the very moment their pride in achieving the goal of citizenship through hard work and in accordance with U.S. law is, justifiably, at its zenith – really wants to hear?

The Post described Obama’s choice of occasion and venue as “an important backdrop for the first lady as she pressed her husband’s stagnant immigration agenda. …The first lady did not directly address the number of immigrants living in the country illegally, which, along with the Obama administration’s deportation policy, are sticking points on the contentious issue.”

 

Al Gore Confident Obama Will Block Keystone Pipeline

Former Vice President Al Gore must have some insight into President Barack Obama’s environmental strategy that no one else does. Either that or he’s making generalized, unverifiable statements to sympathetic media outlets again.

In a guest piece for Rolling Stone Wednesday, Gore said Obama has “signaled” that he’ll “reject the absurdly reckless Keystone XL-pipeline proposal,” giving Gore fresh hope that the President — who Gore thinks hasn’t gone far enough to advance climate change policies through his first term — has finally “taken hold of the challenge with determination and seriousness of purpose.”

It’s no secret that Obama’s heart appears to be aligned against Keystone, but the political and economic consequences of an outright rejection have so far left his Administration’s disposition toward the XL (“export limited”) expansion an open-ended question. Canada signed off on the expansion in 2010, but Obama’s Environmental Protection Agency (EPA), already preoccupied with expanding regulations on traditional energy sources, has found various reasons for postponing a final decision.

Gore did not offer any context for his remarks on Obama’s ultimate rejection of the XL project, although Obama has attempted to link the Keystone expansion with unclean air in rhetoric promoting the EPA’s new carbon rules.

Gore attempted to do the same thing, lumping carbon emissions with the current Administration’s stance on the pipeline project:

He [Obama] has empowered his Environmental Protection Agency to enforce limits on CO2 emissions for both new and, as of this June, existing sources of CO2. He has enforced bold new standards for the fuel economy of the U.S. transportation fleet. He has signaled that he is likely to reject the absurdly reckless Keystone XL-pipeline proposal for the transport of oil from carbon­intensive tar sands to be taken to market through the United States on its way to China, thus effectively limiting their exploitation. And he is even now preparing to impose new limits on the release of methane pollution.

All of these welcome steps forward have to be seen, of course, in the context of Obama’s continued advocacy of a so-called all-of-the-above energy policy — which is the prevailing code for aggressively pushing more drilling and fracking for oil and gas.

“Absurdly reckless” is a hyperbolic description of a project that has been studied, re-studied and given the seal of approval by the Department of State Bureau of Oceans and International Environmental and Scientific Affairs.

Then again, hyperbole has been Gore’s calling card ever since leaving his elected role. In the same Rolling Stone article, Gore managed to shake down the philosophical underpinnings of American free enterprise itself, lamenting that “civilization is confronting this existential challenge at a moment in our historical development when our dominant global ideology — democratic capitalism — has been failing us in important respects.”

Obama Says Congress Not Needed For Action In Iraq

If the U.S. takes military action to shore up the Iraqi regime it left in place after leaving on icy terms in 2011, the executive branch won’t seek a permission slip from Congress to do it, President Barack Obama told several lawmakers today.

Meeting at the White House with four members of Congress to discuss the potential role the U.S. might play in beating back Sunni militants as their organization, the Islamic State of Iraq and Syria (ISIS), advances toward Baghdad, Obama said the best lawmakers should hope for is to be apprised of whatever actions the White House will have already decided to take.

Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell, one of the four who met with Obama, said the President pledged only to “keep us posted,” according to The Hill:

“The President briefed us on the situation in Iraq and indicated he didn’t feel he had any need for authority from us for steps that he might take and indicated that he would keep us posted,” Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-Ky.) told reporters after the hour-long meeting at the White House.

Separately, a congressional source familiar with the meeting said Obama told the four leaders that he did not plan to ask for congressional authority because he did not expect to order any action anytime soon that he felt would require congressional approval.

Whether that means Obama will stop short of an act of war, Congressional Democrats argue he’s already permitted wide discretion in planning military action under the same Congressional law that granted President George W. Bush permission to authorize military force in Iraq in 2002.

“I do not believe the President needs any further legislative authority to pursue the particular options for increased security assistance discussed today,” said House Minority Leader Nancy Pelosi (D-Calif.), who also attended the meeting.

As The Hill points out, that’s an ironic statement for supporters of the same Administration that has sought to repeal the Bush-era authorization.

Not all Congressional Democrats are supportive of Obama’s interpretation of his war powers, should he decide to use force. “I certainly believe that the President always has to get Congressional approval,” Senate Foreign Relations Committee member Tim Kaine (D-Va.) told reporters today. “If there’s an emergency, you may need to come back and get a Congressional ratification. That’s the way the process is supposed to work.”

That belief was echoed by Senator Rand Paul (R-Ky.), who told the media the President should not presume he can order proposed air strikes against ISIS on Iraqi soil without coming before the legislative body.

“A new war has started, and if people want to go be involved in a new war, the job of Congress is to vote on it,” said Paul. “I don’t think you can have a Congress of 10 years ago make a decision for the people here 10 years later.”

Video: If Captured Benghazi Suspect Was Talking To Reporters, Why Not Capture Him Sooner By Posing As A Reporter?

State Department spokeswoman Jen Psaki probably didn’t see the obvious question barreling her way when Fox News’ James Rosen got his turn to ask why it had taken so long to capture suspected Benghazi terrorist Ahmed abu Khattalah, who apparently conducted interviews with western media long before his apprehension by U.S. forces this week.

Rosen asked Psaki why it was so easy for the media to lure Khattalah out of hiding for publicity while he effectively eluded U.S. special forces from the time of his alleged involvement in the Sept. 11, 2012 attack on the U.S. Consulate in Benghazi, Libya.

“The question being put to you, it seems to me, is why U.S. special forces couldn’t have an unscheduled meeting with this individual in a period of time less than – as you put it – it just a few years?” Rosen asked.

Psaki tried to explain how complicated it is to catch people who know they’re being hunted, Rosen pressed on:

“Follow your own logic: the next question to be propounded to you is, why didn’t we pose as a reporter to capture him then?”

D’oh!

Psaki was left grasping for an ad hominem: “If you’re volunteering yourself for future endeavors, we’ll take that into account,” she suggested.

“You’re still not addressing the central question, Jen,” Rosen shot back. “You’re not answering the question of why a reporter was able to get within six inches of this guy, and U.S. special forces weren’t, for more than two years. What is the answer to that?”

For a story summarizing Khattalah’s multiple contacts with U.S. and British news sources, see this Fox News article from Tuesday.

IRS Knew Lerner Emails Were ‘Missing’ From Computers, So Where Are The Paper Copies?

So what if Lois Lerner’s emails (and, it turns out, those of six more Internal Revenue Service employees) went “missing” from computers? Shouldn’t there be a paper trail for everything? After all, that’s what Federal law requires.

So far, there is no paper trail, and Congressional investigators into the IRS political discrimination scandal say they’re having a hard time believing a simple computer snafu can account for the perfectly timed unavailability of communications records from the alleged key players — at least the ones we know of so far — involved in the government-sanctioned targeting of conservative groups.

Even as new IRS director John Koskinen was telling the House Oversight Committee that the agency would provide Lerner’s emails after months of stonewalling, he and others within the IRS knew the emails had vanished, according to Ways and Means Committee Chairman Dave Camp (R-Mich.).

“The White House promised full cooperation, the Commissioner promised full access to Lois Lerner emails and now the Agency claims it cannot produce those materials and they’ve known for months they couldn’t do this,” Camp said in a statement last week.

On top of that, Lerner’s communications aren’t the only ones within the IRS that have vanished since the Oversight Committee began investigating.

“It’s not just Lois Lerner’s emails. The Internal Revenue Service says it can’t produce emails from six more employees involved in the targeting of conservative groups, according to two Republicans investigating the scandal,” National Review reported Tuesday.

“The IRS told Ways and Means chairman Dave Camp and subcommittee chairman Charles Boustany (R-La.) that computer crashes resulted in additional lost emails, including from Nikole Flax, the chief of staff to former IRS commissioner Steven Miller, who was fired in the wake of the targeting scandal.”

Computer experts who understand the role information technology plays in government data have since weighed in on the IRS’s admission, with one expert describing the alleged loss as “mind-boggling.”

“It is very well known in both legal and IT circles that as soon as litigation and/or criminal investigation is likely — not actually initiated, but merely likely — it is imperative to preserve any relevant electronic documents, even it if means suspending existing practices of, say, email deletion or purging of backup files,” IT consultant Bruce Webster told FOX News on Tuesday.

Former CBS News reporter Sharyl Attkisson, who left the network in frustration over its alleged rejection of her investigative reporting on scandals emanating from the Administration of President Barack Obama, told a Philadelphia talk show host there is virtually no way the IRS has irretrievably lost any of its communications data.

“One [IRS] official wrote me… to say this is entirely implausible, and he said there are criminal penalties for destroying Federal records, which makes sense, including liability for negligence for not taking the necessary steps to protect files, including a federal requirement to backup data,” said Attkisson. “This doesn’t happen. He said… all email servers are backed up with something called ‘RAID’ (Redundant Array Of Independent Disks), and it’s nearly impossible for something to delete the files, and that even if that were to happen they would not be gone forever.”

Regardless of the legitimacy of the IRS’s claim, the agency has so far offered no excuse for failing to offer access to paper copies of all of the allegedly missing data. Under the Federal Records Act, the IRS has been breaking the law if it hasn’t been archiving hard copies of everything.

“The IRS’s own definition of the Federal Records Act makes clear that emails must be saved and documented, according to an instructional page for employees on the IRS website,” The Daily Caller reported Tuesday.

Indeed, the provided link to the IRS website squares with that report:

The Federal Records Act applies to email records just as it does to records you create using other media. Emails are records when they are:

  • Created or received in the transaction of agency business
  • Appropriate for preservation as evidence of the government’s function and activities
  • Valuable because of the information they contain.

If you create or receive email messages during the course of your daily work, you are responsible for ensuring that you manage them properly. The Treasury Department’s current email policy requires emails and attachments that meet the definition of a federal record be added to the organization’s files by printing them (including the essential transmission data) and filing them with related paper records.

“If it’s true that the emails are lost,” quipped Attkisson, “that’s quite a story in itself.”

Americans Want Nothing To Do With Fresh War In Iraq

An overwhelming majority of Americans has no desire to see the United States place soldiers on the ground as Iraq breaks into Balkanized territories defined by sectarian loyalty. And, according to a poll released Tuesday, it’s a sentiment that transcends political party lines.

Whether Republican, Democrat or independent, most Americans don’t want to revisit the prolonged “boots on the ground” scenario that unfolded over eight years after the Administration of President George W. Bush toppled the regime of then-Iraqi President Saddam Hussein in 2003.

Nearly three-quarters, 74 percent, of all respondents in this week’s survey by Public Policy Polling, a left-leaning polling firm, said they do not want the U.S. to send troops back to Iraq to help current Prime Minister Nouri al-Maliki stave off a nation-shaping insurgency of Sunni militia through the country’s northern half. That insurgency, which has taken control of major cities in a rapid sweep south from the border with Syria, now threatens Baghdad, Iraq’s capital and home to 7 million people — mostly Shiites.

Only 16 percent of respondents said they favor sending U.S. troops back into combat.

Among those Americans who claim a political affiliation, Republicans are the most likely to favor a return to Iraq. But those who do are still decidedly in the minority. Fifty-seven percent of Republicans said they oppose placing U.S. troops into combat in Iraq, while only 28 percent said they favor such a decision.

For Democrats, the opposition is even greater (82 percent opposed to 10 percent in favor); among Independents, it’s higher still (86 percent opposed to 9 percent in favor).

While the survey’s preparers offered no commentary on the results, it’s evident that America’s appetite for renewed military activity in Iraq, in terms of placing soldiers in harm’s way, is meager.

However, public opinion does favor diplomacy and a possible U.S.-led effort at “mobilizing the international community to stabilize the situation” in Iraq: 52 percent said they support a talking solution, compared with 30 percent opposed and a full 18 percent who said they aren’t sure. A majority of those affiliated with the two major parties, as well as independents, all favored a diplomatic response.

House Budget Slashes IRS Funding (Good Luck With That In The Senate)

The GOP-controlled House of Representatives is taking aim at the Internal Revenue Service in a proposed spending bill that trims more than $300 million from the agency’s present allotment.

It’s far from a defund, but fiscal leaders within the Republican Party are making it clear that the proposed reduction has everything to do with the agency’s targeting of conservative groups, as well as its role in administering next year’s non-participation penalties in the still-creaky rollout of Obamacare.

“In order to make these investments and to be good stewards of each and every tax dollar, the bill focuses cuts on lower-priority or poor-performing agencies — such as the scandal-plagued and inefficient Internal Revenue Service,” said House Appropriations Committee Chairman Hal Rogers (R-Ky.) Tuesday.

The 2015 Financial Services and General Appropriations bill still allots approximately $10.95 billion to fund the IRS, although President Obama has requested that Congress increase the agency’s funding to roughly $12.5 billion. It attaches some symbolic strings to the IRS portion:

From the House statement accompanying the bill’s release:

In addition, due to the inappropriate actions by the IRS in targeting groups that hold certain political beliefs, as well as its previous improper use of taxpayer funds, the bill includes the following provisions:

  • A prohibition on a proposed regulation related to political activities and the tax-exempt status of 501(c)(4) organizations. The proposed regulation could jeopardize the tax-exempt status of many non-profit organizations and inhibit citizens from exercising their right to freedom of speech, simply because they may be involved in political activity.
  • A prohibition on funds for bonuses or awards unless employee conduct and tax compliance is given consideration.
  • A prohibition on funds for the IRS to target groups for regulatory scrutiny based on their ideological beliefs.
  • A prohibition on funds for the IRS to target individuals for exercising their First Amendment rights.
  • A prohibition on funding for the production of inappropriate videos and conferences.
  • A prohibition on funding for the White House to order the IRS to determine the tax-exempt status of an organization.
  • A requirement for extensive reporting on IRS spending.

Like nearly everything else of real consequence that emanates from Washington, the chances of the IRS cut making into a final bill are slim. The Senate, which is still under Democrat majority control, isn’t likely to include another key provision in the House bill: severing the IRS from its Obamacare enforcement role. “The legislation would also prevent the IRS from further implementing Obamacare, and a separate rider would bar funding for the IRS to implement the law’s individual mandate,” The Hill reported today.

That’s obviously going nowhere, but that provision could fall away as a built-in bargaining chip GOP leaders may surrender as a means of keeping the fiscal cuts intact.

Commerce Department Says First-Quarter GDP Shrank More Than First Reported

Last month, economic pundits began cautioning that the Commerce Department’s forthcoming estimates of the Nation’s first-quarter gross domestic product (GDP) growth would be flat at best. Two weeks later, when Commerce released its data, it revealed the first-quarter economy had exhibited the same symptoms as a recession.

Last week, Commerce revised its numbers again to reflect even greater pessimism. The Commerce Department’s quarterly services survey, released last Wednesday, overhauled its original May 29 report to accommodate first-quarter health care spending data – and found it had underestimated the GDP contraction by almost half.

The revised figure estimates that the U.S. economy shrank during the first three months of 2014 by 1.7 percent. Commerce had reported on May 29 that American GDP had shrunk by an alarming 1.0 percent.

General consensus among economists acknowledges a national recession if the GDP contracts for two consecutive quarters.

“Should first-quarter GDP be revised sharply lower, economists could trim their growth estimates for 2014, which had been dubbed as a break-out year,” Reuters reported Friday, citing analysts who cautioned that policymakers should temper their original expectations for a dramatic economic rebound in 2014.

“Healthcare spending did not add nearly as much to growth as we initially thought in the first quarter,” Moody’s economist Ryan Sweet told Reuters. “Because we had such a horrible start to the year, you’re going to see GDP estimates for all of 2014 ratcheted down a little bit.”

“[I] t looks like there could be a significant downward revision to healthcare consumption, which would make the healthcare data more in line with most of the other components of GDP which looked weak in the first quarter,” explained JP Morgan economist Daniel Silver.

Forecasters had expected a surge in the demand for health insurance, a function of Obamacare’s mandate for Americans to obtain health coverage, would boost total GDP by 1.0 percent. Actual health insurance spending as a percentage of GDP has since been revised downward to .7 percent, a figure more in line with tepid growth in other sectors, said economists.

Scientists Say Geothermal Warming Responsible For Melting Of Antarctic Ice Sheet – No Mention Of ‘Climate Change’

A study released last week by researchers at the University of Texas reveals the West Antarctic ice sheet indeed appears to be melting – but human activity’s got nothing to do with it.

The study, which attempts to assess glacial erosion of Antarctica’s massive Thwaites Glacier, was conducted by a research team at the university’s Institute for Geophysics. The Texas scientists found that tidal forces are physically eroding glacial material, and that geothermal heat from subglacial magma is exacerbating the pace of that process.

The Thwaites Glacier, according to researchers, is about the size of Florida in area and up to 4,000 meters thick. Understanding the forces behind the glacier’s retreat is “crucial to understanding what might happen to the West Antarctic Ice Sheet,” the research team said in a press release, which makes no mention of man-made global warming:

The cause of the variable distribution of heat beneath the glacier is thought to be the movement of magma and associated volcanic activity arising from the rifting of the Earth’s crust beneath the West Antarctic Ice Sheet.

… Because its interior connects to the vast portion of the West Antarctic Ice Sheet that lies deeply below sea level, the glacier is considered a gateway to the majority of West Antarctica’s potential sea level contribution.

The collapse of the Thwaites Glacier would cause an increase of global sea level of between 1 and 2 meters, with the potential for more than twice that from the entire West Antarctic Ice Sheet.

“The combination of variable subglacial geothermal heat flow and the interacting subglacial water system could threaten the stability of Thwaites Glacier in ways that we never before imagined,” added lead author Dusty Schroeder.

The new research “significantly change[s] the understanding of conditions beneath the West Antarctic Ice Sheet where accurate information has previously been unobtainable,” the team said, noting that the geothermal activity beneath the structure is “much hotter than previously assumed.”

Stonewalling IRS Says It’s Lost Two Years’ Worth Of Lois Lerner’s Emails

Those Lois Lerner emails must really contain things that somebody with access doesn’t want Congress to see. After famously stonewalling the House Oversight Committee’s request to review the former IRS official’s communications, the IRS is now saying that two years’ worth of Lerner’s on-the-job electronic data has been lost to a computer glitch.

The agency informed the House Ways and Means Committee this week that it had forever lost Lerner’s emails from the period spanning January 2009 to April 2011 – a timeframe which overlaps the IRS’ political discrimination against conservative nonprofits leading up to President Barack Obama’s reelection campaign.

The Ways and Means Committee issued a statement today in response to the IRS’ admission, with Chairman Dave Camp (R-Mich.) making his skepticism known:

Today, Ways and Means Committee Chairman Dave Camp (R-MI) issued the following statement regarding the Internal Revenue Service informing the Committee that they have lost Lois Lerner emails from a period of January 2009 – April 2011. Due to a supposed computer crash, the agency only has Lerner emails to and from other IRS employees during this time frame. The IRS claims it cannot produce emails written only to or from Lerner and outside agencies or groups, such as the White House, Treasury, Department of Justice, FEC, or Democrat offices.

“The fact that I am just learning about this, over a year into the investigation, is completely unacceptable and now calls into question the credibility of the IRS’s response to Congressional inquiries. There needs to be an immediate investigation and forensic audit by Department of Justice as well as the Inspector General.

“Just a short time ago, Commissioner [John] Koskinen promised to produce all Lerner documents. It appears now that was an empty promise. Frankly, these are the critical years of the targeting of conservative groups that could explain who knew what when, and what, if any, coordination there was between agencies. Instead, because of this loss of documents, we are conveniently left to believe that Lois Lerner acted alone. This failure of the IRS requires the White House, which promised to get to the bottom of this, to do an Administration-wide search and production of any emails to or from Lois Lerner. The Administration has repeatedly referred us back to the IRS for production of materials. It is clear that is wholly insufficient when it comes to determining the full scope of the violation of taxpayer rights.”

At the end of the day, it’s all good, argued Texas Congressman Steve Stockman: just have the NSA hand over her metadata instead. After all, don’t they surveil government employees the way they surveil everybody else?

“I have asked NSA Director [Mike] Rogers to send me all metadata his agency has collected on Lois Lerner’s email accounts for the period which the House sought records,” said Stockman today. “The metadata will establish who Lerner contacted and when, which helps investigators determine the extent of illegal activity by the IRS.”

The House of Representatives found Lois Lerner in contempt of Congress on May 7 on a 231-187 vote for refusing to continue her testimony in earlier hearings in which she argued she’d done nothing wrong, before invoking her Constitutional protection against self-incrimination. The House is continuing its investigation.

 

‘None Of The Above’ Wins Nevada Democratic Gubernatorial Primary

“None of the above” isn’t the name of a racehorse; it’s simply a placeholder for the name of somebody — anybody — whom Democratic Nevada voters would prefer to elect to the Governor’s office than the choices they were given at the polls on Tuesday.

“None of the above” took 29.96 percent of the vote, with real (if little-known) candidate Robert Goodman receiving 24.9 percent. Under Nevada law, Goodman will move ahead as the Democratic nominee for Governor, facing (and almost certainly losing to) Republican incumbent Governor Brian Sandoval in November.

Goodman finished first among named candidates in an extremely crowded field of Democrats. The Las Vegas Review-Journal described “None of the above’s” victory as an apparent “protest vote” in a primary that featured much lighter voting than did the State’s GOP primary.

“In what appeared to be a protest vote over the lack of a strong challenger to GOP Gov. Brian Sandoval, more Democrats opted for ‘None Of These Candidates’ over the eight actual individuals running for the party nomination,” the Review-Journal reported Wednesday:

Eric Herzik, a political science professor at the University of Nevada, Reno, said he was shocked when the early returns suggested that the choice would outperform all of the actual candidates.

The reasons are twofold, he said. First was the total lack of knowledge most voters had about the candidates, none of whom spent any real money to raise their name recognition.

For many Democratic voters who knew something of the candidates, the reasoning appeared to be that none of them were worthy of support, he said.

“It is absolutely a slap in the face,” Herzik said. “Regardless of why it happened, this adds insult to injury.”

Since Nevada implemented the “None of the above” option for State-level races in 1975, no gubernatorial race has ever ended with the “None” option receiving the most votes — until Tuesday’s Democratic primary.

Cantor Worth More As A Potential Lobbyist Than As A Congressman

The political career of Eric Cantor (R-Va.) is worth more alive than dead on K Street, where headhunters already are assaying the price tag for luring the voter-ousted House Majority Leader into the lobbying business once his six-term Congressional stint ends.

According to The Hill, Cantor’s surprise GOP primary loss to conservative challenger Dave Brat in Virginia’s 7th Congressional District race has set off an “unprecedented” rush among K Street recruiters to put a dollar value on Cantor’s insider’s connections as House Majority Leader.

“The loss instantly catapulted Cantor to the top of the list of prized recruits for trade associations and law firms in Washington,” wrote The Hill Thursday:

Headhunters said the GOP leader would be welcomed with open arms — and a hefty payday — should he decide to leave politics for a new life in the private sector.

“I think Eric Cantor, given his experience and depth and breadth of his relationships — if he decides to go into the field of advocacy would be a highly-prized ‘get,’ if you will,” said Nels Olson, the head of the Washington office for Korn Ferry. “It will take a while for the ramifications to settle.”

… Cantor has more going for him than just his credentials: Between his leadership PAC and his campaign committee, the Virginia Republican has more than $2 million that he can use to support state and federal candidates.

Being an entrenched part of the establishment political class has its perks, and Cantor hasn’t indicated which of his many post-Congressional career options he’ll pursue. If Cantor decides to go full lobby, he’d have to sit out 2015. The law requires former House members to wait a year before entering the lobbying world (former Senators must wait two years.)

As The Hill observes, the lobbying industry cherishes the influence, networked connections and Capitol Hill insight of former party leaders. “Most prominently, former Democratic leader Dick Gephardt (Mo.) founded a consulting firm, the Gephardt Group, not long after retiring from Congress in 2005. Two years later, he registered to lobby and formed an advocacy arm called Gephardt Group Government Affairs,” the paper reports.

“Gephardt’s lobbying operation brought in nearly $4.8 million last year from clients including Google, General Electric, Boeing and UnitedHealth Group.”

For the elected class, getting voted out of office is only the beginning.

Jay Carney Has A Tough Time Explaining How Obama’s Iraq Diplomacy Represents A ‘Signature Achievement’

Departing White House Press Secretary Jay Carney faced reporters today to address a bevy of questions about whether – and how – the U.S. will move to protect what’s left of its interests in Baghdad as an army of highly-organized ISIS insurgents wrest control of cities from the Iraqi government in a decisive trek towards the capital.

ABC’s Jonathan Karl asked Carney whether the ISIS assault discredits the Obama Administration’s repeated boasts over the manner in which it (thought it had) resolved America’s indefinite entrenchment in Iraqi’s young, U.S-installed government.

“The President and senior officials in this White House have repeatedly – over the years and as recently as Tuesday – described as the President’s top foreign policy accomplishment ending the war in Iraq and decimating and destroying core al Qaeda,” said Karl. “Given what we’re seeing now in Iraq, can you still claim those as two of your signature achievements?”

Carney had no choice but to dissemble, eventually offering this:

“What is also the case, and what the President made clear as we wound down the war in Iraq, is that we need to be a good partner to the government in Iraq and provide the assistance that we can at their request to help them meet their security challenges, and we have done that,” Carney said. “Ultimately, Iraq’s future has to be decided through reconciliation of the political factions within Iraq and a unified approach to dealing with the challenge posed by a group like the ISIL [Islamic State of Iraq and the Levant – an appellation interchangeable with ISIS].”

Karl kept trying. All Carney would say is that nobody could argue that “core Al-Qaida” in Afghanistan and Pakistan (he didn’t mention Iraq) had been “severely compromised and decimated.”

 

‘Planeloads’ Of U.S. Contractors Flee Baghdad As ISIS Moves South

As the Islamic State in Iraq and Syria (ISIS) continues its southern sweep across a severely destabilized Iraq, non-government American workers in Baghdad are evacuating to undisclosed areas of the country by the planeload, the State Department told media today.

“We can confirm that U.S. citizens, under contract to the government of Iraq, in support of the U.S. Foreign Military Sales program in Iraq, are being temporarily relocated by their companies due to security concerns in the area,” State Department spokesperson Jen Psaki told media today. “The status of the staffing at the U.S. Embassy and Consulates has not changed.”

The U.S. Embassy in Iraq, a massive city within-a-city opened in 2009 at a cost of more than $700 million, has operated with a reduced (but still sizable) staff since American forces officially withdrew from the country in December of 2011.

The State Department, along with diplomatic offices of several other Western nations, issued a travel warning to civilian nationals in Iraq this week as ISIS-organized militia under the command of Abu Bakr al-Baghdadi took control of key Iraqi cities north of the capital city in a show of force that has elicited mass surrenders from Iraqi forces.

According to The Hill, the State Department disclosed that U.S. citizens were evacuated from the region by the planeload today, with “several hundred more U.S. contractors” in queue to retreat ahead of the expected arrival of ISIS forces.

The Obama Administration resolved Thursday to review possible U.S. military options to bolster the Iraqi government’s feeble resistance to the al-Qaida-spinoff group, with possible air strikes appearing as the most viable option. Psaki said the Administration is not considering a “boots on the ground” operation.

Obama himself said a U.S. response would likely exchange some kind of military assistance for a commitment from the Iraqi government that it will listen to all options in cultivating a stronger defense strategy.

“In our consultations with the Iraqis, there will be some short-term immediate things that need to be done militarily,” Obama said today. “This should be also a wakeup call for the Iraqi government…There has to be a political component to this.”

Obama Doubles Down On Confiscation By Praising Australia’s Gun Laws

Not wishing to let a tragedy go to waste, President Barack Obama on Tuesday reacted to recent highly publicized shootings in California, Nevada and Oregon by telling an Internet audience the United States should emulate Australia’s infamous “assault weapons” ban.

Responding to a gun control question from a student at the University of California at Santa Barbara — the same school attended by former student Elliott Rodger before he gunned down six people and then killed himself last month — Obama told a Tumblr blog audience that a lack of Congressional action on gun control has been one of the biggest disappointments of his Administration.

“I’ve got two and a half years left,” began Obama. “My biggest frustration so far is the fact that this society has not been willing to take some basic steps to keep guns out of the hands of… of people who… can, can do just unbelievable damage.

“We’re the only developed country on Earth where this happens. It happens now once a week. And it’s a one-day story. There’s no place else like this.”

Then Obama brought up Australia, which instituted gun restrictions, a national registry and gun buy-back program following a 1996 massacre in Tasmania that claimed the lives of 35 people.

“Couple of decades ago, Australia had a mass shooting, similar to Columbine or Newtown. And Australia just said, ‘well, that’s it; we’re not doing — we’re not seeing that again,’ and basically imposed very severe, tough gun laws, and they haven’t had a mass shooting since,” said Obama. “I mean, our levels of gun violence are off the charts. There’s no advanced, developed country on Earth that would put up with this.

“Now, we have a different tradition — we have a 2nd Amendment. We have historically respected gun rights. I respect gun rights.”

Obama then went on to outline some of the Democratic Party’s gun control ideas that Congress has so far declined to pass.

It’s worth revisiting the President’s claim that “our levels of gun violence are off the charts.” They do have charts for these sorts of things, and the charts don’t reflect Obama’s claim.

Here’s one from the FBI’s Uniform Crime Reports for 2007-2011 that tracks the overall U.S. rate of violent crime:

VICRIME

And here’s another from the Pew Research Center that shows a general overall trend of decline in the rate of homicide deaths involving firearms since 1981:

PEW

 

Harry Reid Consoles Reeling GOP Establishment: ‘We Need More Lindsey Grahams’

As the GOP establishment tries to close ranks following Tuesday’s stunning primary defeat of six-term incumbent Congressman Eric Cantor (R-Va.), it’s receiving a perverse kind of solace from across the political aisle.

Presumably because it’s in the interest of the Democratic Party’s own establishment to have malleable Republican peers to work with, Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid (D-Nev.) on Wednesday called on voters, if they must elect a Republican, to elect Republicans like establishment darling Senator Lindsey Graham, who sailed through the crowded South Carolina Republican primary on the same day Cantor took his beating.

Reid’s message was one of preaching to the establishment choir.

“I believe the Republicans should follow the lead of Lindsey Graham,” he said. “Lindsey Graham was part of the Gang of Eight to come up with immigration reform. He never backed down, backed up. He kept going forward on this issue.

“We need more Republicans who are Lindsey Grahams. Lindsey Graham is a very conservative man, but I’ve worked with him on a number of issues, some of which we don’t even talk about publicly.”

Graham won his State’s GOP primary despite passionate opposition from jaded South Carolina conservatives for siding with the Administration of Barack Obama on controversial partisan issues. Six Republican challengers, all attacking Graham from the right, jockeyed for space on the primary ballot. None was able to distinguish himself against the field, and Graham cruised through the election, even though his popularity among the party’s base is weak.

By contrast, Cantor faced a single challenger Tuesday in the Virginia GOP primary: Tea Party newcomer Dave Brat, a professor of Economics at Randolph-Macon College. While knee-jerk punditry has credited a single issue (immigration) for propelling Brat to a surprise victory, Brat ran to the right of Cantor not only on immigration reform, but also on Federal spending and for going along simply to get along with the Obama Administration.

“Immigration was the surface reason that galvanized the opposition to Cantor, but the opposition could not have been galvanized with this issue had Cantor been a better congressman these past few years,” conservative pundit Erick Erickson wrote Wednesday. “He and his staff have repeatedly antagonized conservatives. One conservative recently told me that Cantor’s staff were the ‘biggest bunch of a**holes on the Hill.’ … Cantor lost his race because he was running for Speaker of the House of Representatives while his constituents wanted a congressman.”

Video: President Obama Rejects All The Absurd Views Held By Political Straw Men

President Obama has a rhetorical gift for absolutely crushing absurd contrarian views that virtually no one holds. This video mash-up, compiled by the staff at The Washington Free Beacon, offers a Presidency-spanning highlight reel of all the phony political adversaries Obama’s taken down in his growing repertoire of straw-man speeches.

One of our favorites is Obama’s courageous firebrand stance against people who think all problems disappear when you ignore them. “I reject the view that says our problems will simply take care of themselves,” he boldly asserts.

Who doesn’t reject that view? People with no problems?

H/T: The Washington Free Beacon