Sunday News Show Roundup

U.S. foreign policy ruled Sunday’s TV talk.

Although they didn’t quite see eye to eye, two standout Republican Senators with possible 2016 Presidential ambitions kept yesterday’s roster of television punditry squarely on the topic of America’s role in policing the rest of the world.

Senators Rand Paul (R-Ky.) and Ted Cruz (R-Texas), fresh off an invigorating CPAC welcome that saw them finish first and second, respectively, in the conservative conference’s annual Presidential straw poll, each sat for interviews on major networks Sunday to talk about whether, and how, the U.S. should weigh in on Russia’s continued intervention in the tumultuous political affairs of another former Soviet state.

Both men invoked former President Ronald Reagan’s tough-but-approachable brand of diplomacy as they criticized President Barack Obama’s weak-sauce rhetoric toward Russian President Vladimir Putin. However, Paul and Cruz interpreted the reach of Reagan’s language a little differently.

“[Reagan] said to [Mikhail Gorbachev] our potential adversary, ‘Don’t mistake our reluctance for war for a lack of resolve.’ People knew that with Ronald Reagan,” Paul told “Fox News Sunday.”

“They still need to know that with the United States. And part of the problem is, I think, this President [Obama] hasn’t projected enough strength, and hasn’t shown a priority to the national defense. That is something that, were I in charge, I would.”

Sounds like Paul is thinking about life in the White House.

Cruz was a bit more definitive in his Reagan-channeling Sunday, insinuating to ABC’s “This Week” that the United States has a proper moral justification to act, at pivotal historic moments, as a global police force.

“… I think there’s a vital role [for U.S. intervention], just as Ronald Reagan did,” said Cruz, invoking the GOP’s favorite President on his own terms. “When Ronald Reagan called the Soviet Union an ‘evil empire,’ when he stood in front the Brandenburg gate and said, ‘Mr. Gorbachev, tear down this wall,’ those words changed the course of history.”

Like Paul, Cruz used his post-CPAC TV junket to play upon the idea that, were he the current occupant of the White House, America would be handling international crises differently. He described the Obama White House as a friend to foreign aggression and an enemy of America’s own diplomatic corps.

“You’d better believe that Putin sees that in Benghazi: four Americans murdered, and nothing happens,” said Cruz. “No retribution. You’d better believe that Putin sees that in Syria: Obama draws a ‘red line,’ and ignores it.”

On the whole, Cruz sounded a lot more hawkish than Paul — even though each relied on the Reagan diplomatic legacy to make his point.

Elsewhere, the talking heads cast about to give the Obama Administration a pass on yet another week of inaction and mixed signals concerning what, if anything, will spur the U.S. to action in the awkward Russia-Ukraine conflict.

Deputy National Security adviser Tony Blinken appeared on NBC’s “Meet the Press” to describe how Obama is employing his community organizing philosophy to the rest of the world in fomenting a consensus-based opposition to Russia’s Ukrainian encroachment.

“[T]he President [is] mobilizing the international community in support of Ukraine, to isolate Russia for its actions in Ukraine, and to reassure our allies and partners,” Blinken said. “We’ve seen the President put together a major international support package. He’s invited the Ukrainian prime minister, [Arseniy] Yatsenyuk, to come to the White House on Wednesday, to further demonstrate that support, and to consult with him.”

Hoo, boy. Putin, look out.

Gay Conservatism A Non-Issue At CPAC 2014, But Progressives Take Shots Anyway

Whether to cast the canopy of the conservative Big Tent wide enough to welcome homosexuals into the fold has largely been a non-issue at this year’s Conservative Political Action Conference, thanks in no small part to the controversial dis-invite of another marginal group: conservative atheists.

This year’s spat between the American Atheists and the American Conservative Union, which organizes CPAC, assured homosexual conservatives, perhaps only temporarily, a lower profile in the ongoing battle to define the territorial boundaries of organized conservatism. There’s been little coverage of any GOP-versus-the-gays controversy emanating from CPAC this year.

But that hasn’t stopped the progressive left from taking shots from afar. The Huffington Post released a predictable article today bashing CPAC’s atmosphere of alleged intolerance, carrying the flag for the subversive leftist tactics that label all conservative organizations and gatherings an exclusionary form of so-called “hate speech.”

A tiresomely disproportionate amount of ink (pixels?) gets wasted on the inclusion/exclusion argument when it  comes to homosexuality in the GOP, largely because the percentage of homosexuals – both conservative and otherwise – who make up the American population is far smaller than the abundance of sensational eyeball-seeking headlines would suggest.

But here we are yet again, staring down another progressive rant that seeks to take an important, but marginal, issue and co-opt the argument by painting with the broadest possible brush.

“The few times the issue of gay rights has come up at CPAC were indirect mentions – and they weren’t in the direction of inclusion,” the HuffPo story states. “On Thursday, for example, Louisiana Gov. Bobby Jindal (R) referenced his support for the star of the reality TV show ‘Duck Dynasty,’ who faced a backlash after making anti-gay remarks.”

Nice try, noted Breitbart’s Joel B. Pollak.

Having just published a column in which I called the 2014 Conservative Political Action Conference “the gayest CPAC ever,” I was surprised to read a piece by Amanda Terkel at the Huffington Post claiming that gay rights were “missing” at CPAC. Terkel claims that gay issues weren’t mentioned at all at the conference.

…Terkel appears to have filed her story from the conference (the dateline is “NATIONAL HARBOR, Md.”) at 1:15 p.m. EST. Perhaps she should have waited about 25 minutes, because the topic of gay rights came up on a panel discussion about the relationship between libertarians and social conservatives.

One of those on the panel was conservative talk show host Michael Medved, who earned applause from the audience for defending the right of gay couples to adopt children.

But why let the facts ruin a good story attack, right? So file early, and file often.

Of course, the left comes at the gay rights issue primarily with a strategy of defending gay marriage. That’s a red herring for many libertarians, who wish for a government that bows out of the marriage “recognition” game for all Americans who want their personal business, including the rituals they embrace without any need for government recognition or sanction, to remain personal.

Is Arizona Finally Turning On John McCain?

Should Senator John McCain (R-Ariz.) seek another Senate term in 2016, all that matters, perhaps, is that he’s popular in his State. But according to a new poll from the Public Policy Polling Institute, that’s about the only place he can still lay claim to broad-based voter support — and that’s on the strength of an election turnout that’s now nearly four years stale.

In fact, the Institute declared McCain the least popular Senator in the country Thursday, based on the results of a three-day phone survey carried out in late February and early March.

The Institute finds McCain is universally reviled across the party spectrum — and being a Republican doesn’t give him any real standing with most Americans who identify politically as Republicans. Only 35 percent of Arizona Republicans surveyed said they approve of the job he’s doing, compared with 55 percent who said they don’t. That barely exceeds his abysmal approval rating among Democrats and independents.

From the summary: 

Only 30% of Arizonans approve of the job McCain is doing to 54% who disapprove. There isn’t much variability in his numbers by party — he’s at 35/55 with Republicans, 29/53 with Democrats, and 25/55 with independents.

“The low opinion both Republicans and Democrats have of John McCain now means he could be vulnerable in both the primary and the general election next time around,” said Dean Debnam, President of Public Policy Polling. “George McGovern lost his Senate seat 8 years after losing his Presidential bid and McCain could suffer a similar fate.”

Is Arizona finally turning the corner on McCain? The Institute indicates Arizona voters might send him home if an election were held today. In hypothetical pairings against Richard Carmona and Gabrielle Giffords (yes, Gabrielle Giffords), McCain trails by 6 and 7 percentage points, respectively. He’s still slightly more popular than former Arizona Governor and DHS Secretary Janet Napolitano, leading his hypothetical race against her by 8 percentage points.

McCain has remained coy about his intentions after his current term ends, but has hinted that he’s already considering another run. If these poll numbers hold, though, we could be reading stories next year announcing his retirement from an illustrious Senate career.

Out with the old.

Obamacare Sign-Up Rate For The Uninsured: One In Ten

Two new surveys reveal something President Barack Obama and his Congressional yes-men (and women) should have known – indeed, according to some single-payer prognosticators, have known – all along: uninsured Americans, the people intended to benefit the most from Obamacare, are all but refusing to sign up for it.

As The Washington Post reported today, the two surveys – one from The Urban Institute; the other from consultants McKinsey & Co., indicate that as few as one in every ten uninsured Americans has volunteered their information, and their money, to enroll in an Obamacare plan through Federal or State-operated insurance exchanges.

“One of the surveys, by the consulting firm McKinsey & Co., shows that among people who are uninsured and do not intend to get a health plan through one of the exchanges, the biggest factor is that they believe they cannot afford it,” observes the Post.

And therein lies the rub. The law requires that these people – people who aren’t eligible for Obama’s swollen new Medicaid – sign up and pay their own money for insurance they couldn’t afford, even back when it was cheaper than it’s become under Obamacare.

What in the world is going to force them to pay more now that Obamacare is the law of the land?

Of course, recruiting paying customers from the ranks of previously-uninsured Americans is the crux of Obamacare’s success. Without them, Obamacare simply becomes a gigantic unfunded mandate that individuals nullify by preferring a tax penalty to the high cost of insurance.

And it looks like de facto nullification is just fine for nine out of every ten uninsured Americans.

McConnell’s CPAC Gun Stunt A Cheap Shot At Conservatives

Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-Ky.), already an odd fellow amid the heady mix of conservatives and libertarians at this year’s Conservative Political Action Conference, knew his only reason for appearing at the event would be to pander to the few stragglers in the GOP’s anti-establishment movement gullible enough to believe whatever he had to say.

So he made a silent overture to the Constitutional crowd by tottering onstage holding a rifle. Things got awkward fast:

McConnell presented the rifle to retiring Senator Tom Coburn (R-Okla.), who has chosen not to seek re-election because of ongoing cancer-related health issues. Classy, huh?

Maybe. But Coburn and everyone else in the room knew that McConnell, one of the few CPAC invitees with conservative targets on their backs, was waving that gun around as a spirit stick to assure skeptical conservative voters he’s truly one of them.

This is the same guy who called Tea Partiers “bullies” whose upstart political clout merits a punch “in the nose” from the GOP establishment.

Thankfully, the intelligence-insulting motive for McConnell’s empty gesture wasn’t lost on the Internet. Here’s the most biting example we saw:

Want Ben Carson For President? There’s A PAC For That

When we ran a poll Tuesday that offered a limited number of choices of GOP Presidential contenders for 2016, a lot of readers, especially on Facebook, rejected our offerings and “wrote in” the names of potential candidates we didn’t mention.

Yesterday’s poll was necessarily limited by the topic of the story it accompanied. But that didn’t stop people from coming forward with their own choices — and one of the names our Facebook commenters most frequently mentioned was that of Dr. Ben Carson.

If you’re among the many who’ve been hoping Carson’s name might gain significant political and popular traction as we inch closer to the 2016 primary season, you might be pleased to know you’re not stranded on an island. In fact, there’s a PAC for that.

The pro-Carson PAC, the “National Draft Ben Carson for President Committee,” formed in August of 2013. In the six months of fundraising since its beginnings, the PAC has amassed close to $3 million in what, so far, has been a very grass-roots effort.

In a release Tuesday, the PAC announced it had raised $2,837,401 on the strength of nearly 47,000 individual contributions, with an average donation amount of $45. That’s about as grass-roots as you can get, but the committee is optimistic about the relatively strong reaction Carson’s name has elicited — considering the group’s fundraising method is intentionally a small-scale inversion of the efforts employed by large PACs on behalf of establishment candidates.

Much of the fundraising has come in the form of individual donations via RunBenRun.org, the PAC’s campaign website. Building a tiny war chest, one voter at a time, is a method of incremental fundraising the committee’s not ashamed of, despite its relatively modest take through six months of Internet campaigning.

“The Committee’s fundraising efforts are outpacing similar efforts designed to draft other high-profile candidates into the 2016 presidential race,” the PAC boasted in its release. “A political action committee encouraging former Secretary of State Hillary Clinton to enter the race for the Democratic nomination raised approximately $1.3 million in its first six months of operation, and roughly $2.75 million in its second six-month span.”

That certainly gives some perspective to the Carson movement, but the biggest stumbling block to a Carson candidacy may be Carson himself. Although he has demonstrated a fearless will to speak with conviction without regard for whom he might offend — he famously blasted Obamacare at last year’s National Prayer Breakfast, with President Barack Obama sitting right under his nose — Carson has explicitly distanced himself from the fundraising efforts that aim to put him in the 2016 primary field.

“I have not endorsed any of these organizations and have neither any professional nor personal relationships and am not in communication with any of them,” the former Johns Hopkins neurosurgeon said late last year. “I have not authorized any solicitation of funds in my name or likeness.”

But Carson has also revealed a grudging openness to the idea of a Presidential run, should larger circumstances obligate him.

“If the Lord grabbed me by the collar and made me do it, I would. It’s not my intention,” he told FOX News a year ago.

“Dr. Carson has said he will consider running for president if the American people are clamoring, and the tremendous outpouring of donations shows that the people are indeed clamoring,” said pro-Carson PAC campaign director Vernon Robinson in Tuesday’s press release. “Hundreds of thousands have signed the petition asking him to run, donated to the grassroots effort and volunteered their time to represent the Committee at events around the country…Grassroots conservatives are drawn to Dr. Carson because they know he is the only candidate capable of healing our land and uniting our country to overcome the crises created by recent administrations.”

Nuclear Option Fails Obama; Hillary Supporters Caught Off Guard; Secrets Put Bad Blood Between Congress, CIA; Curbing Big Pharma’s Conflicts Of Interest; Who’s Behind The Violence In Kiev? — Personal Liberty Digest™ P.M. Edition 3-5-2014

Brush up on the day’s headlines with Personal Liberty’s P.M. Edition.

Nuclear Option Backfires: Senate Rejects Obama’s Choice For DOJ Civil Rights Division; Obama Calls It A ‘Travesty’

Not even the nuclear option could clear a path for President Barack Obama’s pick to lead the Justice Department’s Civil Rights Division today. Crossover votes from Senate Democrats helped the Republican minority carry the day on a 47-52 vote against Obama’s nominee, Debo P. Adegbile. Harry Reid wasn’t happy, and neither was Obama. Read More…

 

Watch Hillary Supporters Cast About To Name Any Of Her Accomplishments

She married Bill, moved to New York, become a Senator, lost out to Obama in 2008, and then teamed up with him to lead the State Department down a shameful path before dropping out of the White House over health issues. Are those the makings of a Presidential campaign? Watch these Hillary supporters stammer. Uhm…

 

CIA Inspector General Seeks Probe Of Agency Conduct Over Senate Report

The CIA Inspector General’s office asked the U.S. Department of Justice to investigate the agency’s conduct in an unreleased Senate study of secret detention programs. That request marks a huge disintegration in relations between the CIA and its Congressional overseers amid a non-public battle over a report on the CIA’s use of harsh interrogation techniques on suspected terrorists held in covert prisons overseas. Read More…

 

As Full Disclosure Nears, Doctors’ Pay For Drug Talks Plummets

Some of the Nation’s largest pharmaceutical companies have slashed payments to health professionals for promotional speeches amid heightened public scrutiny of such spending, a new ProPublica analysis shows. Read More…

 

Kiev Violence A False Flag

A leaked telephone conversation reveals that the snipers who shot at protesters and police in Kiev leading to charges of criminality against the deposed Ukraine President Viktor Yanukovych were hired by U.S.-backed opposition leaders. Read More…

Nuclear Option Backfires: Senate Rejects Obama’s Choice For DOJ Civil Rights Division; Obama Calls It A ‘Travesty’

Not even a Democrat-led rule change last November, one requiring only a simple majority confirmation vote for executive nominees, was sufficient to clear President Barack Obama’s pick to lead the Justice Department’s Civil Rights Division today.

Crossover votes from Senate Democrats helped the Republican minority carry the day, despite last year’s “nuclear option” rule changes that were supposed to make this sort of thing a cakewalk for the Democratic majority. The Senate voted 47-52 against confirming Obama’s nominee, Debo P. Adegbile, to step into the role left vacant by Thomas Perez’s confirmation as U.S. Secretary of Labor.

Obama was none too happy, calling the down vote “a travesty based on wildly unfair character attacks against a good and qualified public servant” and said that Adegbile, who was once a child actor on “Sesame Street,” had become a victim of “Washington politics.”

Much has been made over Adegbile’s defense of convicted murderer Mumia Abu-Jamal, who is serving a life sentence for killing Philadelphia cop Daniel Faulkner in 1981, as the basis for Senate Republicans’ strong opposition to his confirmation. Rhetorically speaking, Adegbile’s role in providing Abu-Jamal’s criminal defense was low-hanging fruit for sanctimonious opposition to his nomination — and the threat of populist political repercussion in this election year may, in fact, have helped sway some Democrats to cross over on the confirmation vote.

But the deeper reason for the GOP’s resistance may lie with Adegbile’s record as a defender of the Voting Rights Act, a portion of which the Supreme Court struck down last year. Adegbile has been affiliated with the NAACP Legal Defense Fund from more than 10 years, and keeping some States’ district-drawing sovereignty under the thumb of the Federal government has been a particularly dear passion of his over much of that time.

In all, eight Democrats voted against Adegbile’s confirmation — none more hypocritically (you can’t make this stuff up) than Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid (D-Nev.), who saw the writing on the wall and cast the “no” vote so that he might retain the prerogative, under Senate rules, to reconsider the vote. Why he thinks the outcome will be different, after such an embarrassing misfire of his beloved nuclear option, is anybody’s guess.

Watch Hillary Supporters Cast About To Name Any Of Her Accomplishments

Well, she married Bill, she moved to New York (by way of Arkansas and Washington, D.C.) to become a Senator, she lost out to Barack Obama in 2008, and she teamed up with Barack Obama to lead the State Department down a shameful path before dropping out of the White House over health issues.

Are those the makings of a Presidential campaign?

Hillary Clinton’s most ardent supporters aren’t sure. Most of the ones in this video can’t even think of as many of her achievements as we just listed.

The Media Research Center, Brent Bozell’s conservative organization that seeks to expose mainstream media liberal biases, trolled the winter meeting of the Democratic Party on Feb. 28, asking members of the Democratic National Committee to say some nice things about Hillary Clinton’s political résumé.

They thought of things like this:

“OK, ahm — her abortion stand.”

“I think she’s spent eight years in the White House.”

“All her foreign affairs experience being Secretary of State [Hello — Benghazi qualifies as experience?!] …and being next to the President for eight years.”

And just wait ’til Dan Joseph of Media Research Center TV asks these people what Hillary’s greatest accomplishment as Secretary of State was. … Crickets.

One guy said she “didn’t create a problem” during her time under Obama. Way to toe the party line!

Rick Perry’s Texas Economy Racks Up Another Pro-Business Award

When it rains, it pours.

The State of Texas picked up yet another accolade for its business-friendly regulatory climate, topping Site Selection magazine’s annual ranking of States that have landed the most commercial projects for the second year in a row.

Site Selection awarded Texas Governor Rick Perry its “Governor’s Cup” trophy for drawing 657 unique new and expanded ventures in 2013 — a number that far outdistanced second-place Ohio’s 480 projects. It’s the fifth time Texas has been so honored since Perry first took office as Governor in 2000.

Perry, who hasn’t missed an opportunity to tout the connection between a low regulatory threshold and Texas’ attractiveness to new ventures, didn’t break form in accepting this year’s award.

“With all due respect, Texas is crushing it,” he told the magazine. “We have been doing this now for 12 years. It’s not a theory any more. It’s a fact. Companies nationally and internationally know what we have structured here in Texas.”

Here’s more from the report:

Perry says states have to do four things right to be of interest to most corporate executives scouting new facility locations: taxes, regulation, the legal environment and a skilled workforce. “Businesses can figure out pretty quickly whether a state has done those right,” he tells Site Selection. “They need to work in any state.

…In addition to the four factors already mentioned, says Perry, three others are increasingly priorities for states, including Texas, to get right. “An adequate supply of water, affordable power and transportation infrastructure that allows products and citizens to move around safely and expeditiously are very important. We’ve been working on those last three for the last decade as well. In the competitive world we are in today, we had better play our best game every day. This experiment that we started in 2003 has proven to be very, very successful.”

One might also add aggressive recruitment. As the story notes, Perry hasn’t shied away from visiting States plagued by stagnating business policies to lure companies to Texas.

“One reason I go into these states is that I truly believe that if our country is going to recover economically and if we are going to be as strong as we can be and if Americans are going to be able to have access to good-paying jobs, it will come from states being free from one-size-fits-all policies emanating from Washington, D.C. That is always the core message. In fact I would elevate that message going forward as Washington seems to be less and less capable of functioning in any type of thoughtful way. It needs to get out of the healthcare business and the education business and the energy business and the infrastructure business and let the states do it. Quit strangling innovation in the states, because that’s where the real future of America is,” he said.

Site Selection also introduced a new award category for 2014, awarding a second Governor’s Cup to the State that has attracted the most new and expanded ventures per capita. That award went to Nebraska and Governor Dave Heineman — who, like Perry, is also a Republican who favors minimal regulatory burdens for the private sector.

“We are a right-to-work state with a strong work ethic among our employees. We are a low energy cost state, and we have a reasonable regulatory climate, which is very critical. We have very good public and private education systems, a low cost of living and an outstanding quality of life. All of those come into play when people are looking at your business climate,” Heineman said.

See the full report at Site Selection’s website.

Obama Reveals Ambitious Budget Plan; Blames Republicans That It’s Not More Ambitious

President Barack Obama unveiled a $3.9 trillion spending proposal for the 2015 fiscal year Tuesday, calling on Congress to approve $56 billion in new “stimulus” spending in excess of Congressionally set limits, while blaming resistance from Republican lawmakers for not aiming even higher.

The election-year proposal is keyed to assuage the public’s demand for more job opportunities after five years of rhetoric from the Administration, and it includes more than $300 billion in new infrastructure spending throughout the remainder of Obama’s second term. It also would authorize spending that exceeds Federal budget caps for the next seven years, by a cumulative $370 billion.

Despite the proposed bloat, the President didn’t hesitate to blame Republicans in the House of Representatives for checking his gargantuan spending appetite down to one that’s simply huge.

From the White House budget summary:

In last year’s Budget, the President included a compromise proposal intended as a show of good faith to spark additional negotiations with Congressional Republicans about the nation’s long-term deficits and debt and to encourage all parties to come together to remove the economically-damaging sequestration cuts. Although that compromise proposal remains on the table, given Congressional Republicans’ unwillingness to negotiate a balanced long-term deficit reduction deal, the President’s 2015 Budget returns to a more traditional Budget presentation that is focused on achieving the President’s vision for the best path to create growth and opportunity for all Americans, and the investments needed to meet that vision.

What Obama’s proposal doesn’t mention is its spend-and-print philosophical underpinnings, which the President laid bare during last year’s government “shutdown” theater. “It does not increase our debt. It does not grow our deficits. All it does is allow the Treasury Department to pay for what Congress has already spent,” Obama said at time, urging the House to raise the Federal debt ceiling.

That infantile, intelligence-insulting subversion of logic (and shifting of blame) rivals that of the teenager who demands that his parents pay off the note on that new car he purchased — but can’t (or won’t) pay for himself — before it’s repossessed by the bank. “I already borrowed the money; it’s only right that we pay it off — never mind that I wouldn’t listen to my shoulder angel, who advised me not to take the plunge, back when I still had the luxury of choosing wisely. The parents are the bad guys because they want me to default on my debts. And since I’m still credit-worthy, I might as well cross the street and shop for a boat…”

And, as The Washington Times observed last fall, Obama’s complicity in ensuring that the Federal debt balloons is anything but passive: It is he who signs off on whatever Congress approves, and Obama has demonstrated that he and his majority of Senate Democrats will accept nothing less than a superabundance of the best.

“The president rarely mentions that he, by law, approves congressional spending, and his argument glosses over the nation’s burgeoning total debt,” the Times’ Dave Boyer noted last October. In a story Tuesday, the Times crunched the numbers on where the Federal deficit will stand in 10 years if, at present rate, its growth isn’t checked. It projected a near-tripling of the Federal deficit, from $10.6 trillion in 2009, to $27.5 trillion by 2024. Is the President’s role in all this simply to close ranks with his party caucus over spending increases and to sign off when his Congressional servants finally bring him the bill he wants?

Obama’s new budget proposal gives you your answer. The Congressional midterms can’t come soon enough.

CPAC Organizers Make Statement With Boehner Snub

We expect to encounter any number of conservatives, libertarians, Tea Partiers and, yes, a few token RINOs invited to speak at this year’s CPAC conference, which we’ll be covering from the floor of the Gaylord National Resort & Convention Center in National Harbor, Md.

But one person we know we won’t be running into is House Speaker John Boehner (R-Ohio). Nobody bothered asking him to come.

Evidently nonplussed by the Speaker’s ongoing offensive against grassroots conservatives, the event’s organizers didn’t think it appropriate to invite him.

The Washington Times, a presenting sponsor at this year’s CPAC, called the non-invite a “major snub.”

House Speaker John A. Boehner, who has tangled repeatedly with the right wing of the Republican Party, has not been invited to this week’s Conservative Political Action Conference, a major snub at the annual gathering and a sign of the top Republican officeholder’s struggle to find common ground with grass-roots activists.

People familiar with CPAC’s planning, who spoke only on the condition of anonymity, said the American Conservative Union, which hosts the event, never sent an invitation to Mr. Boehner, in part because it wanted the focus this year to be on leading conservative thinkers at the grass-roots level and not at the congressional or party leadership level.

While attendees and conservatives reading along at home may applaud the conference’s statement dis on Boehner, the message is a mixed one. Embattled moderate New Jersey Governor Chris Christie is slated for a key speech, and Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-Ky.), a particular target of conservatives’ disgust, is also expected to contribute. Then there’s always a Trump troll or two.

Look for our on-the-scene coverage of CPAC 2014 starting Thursday – including tweets, photos from the floor, Facebook updates and, of course, regularly-updated blurbs and features at personalliberty.com.

Oregon Accidentally Enrolls Thousands Of Illegal Aliens In Obamacare

Oregon’s trials and tribulations with Cover Oregon, the State’s in-house Obamacare health exchange marketplace, got a lot worse over the weekend.

Actually, the latest headache happened weeks ago, but the public just found out about it over the weekend. On Saturday, The Oregonian reported that Cover Oregon accidentally enrolled nearly 4,000 illegal immigrants in full-fledged health insurance coverage thanks to a “goof” whereby the illegals’ enrollment in a (legal) pregnancy services program was somehow conflated with Cover Oregon’s enrollment database.

From The Oregonian:

The Cover Oregon health insurance exchange was designed to communicate electronically with the Oregon Health Authority, which has a system for tracking Oregon Health Plan members.

That interface failed to work, however, and in late November Cover Oregon set up a backup system by which new OHP enrollee information is sent to the Oregon Health Authority, where state workers upload the data manually.

The information was sent over incorrectly and in an incomplete fashion until a few weeks ago, Paul said Friday. That resulted in 3,800 applicants for the Citizen/Alien-Waived Emergent Medical program receiving full OHP benefits instead. The program is set up for immigrants who are either undocumented or haven’t met the residency requirement for Medicaid.

Of course, Cover Oregon is having to fix the problem manually, one case at a time, because the system was never designed to correct problems it wasn’t developed to have in the first place. In fact, several aspects of Cover Oregon’s intended automated case-management functionality have had to be redundantly carried out by human staffers because the exchange has never worked properly.

“Oregon Health Authority workers have had to send out federally required notices to OHP members by hand, rather than in the automated way originally intended,” the story observes.

And the newspaper reviews some of the exchange’s other problems:

  • Thousands of OHP enrollees were labeled as individuals rather than family members, meaning some families were split between care organizations — creating needless hassles for parents seeking care.
  • For months, the State grappled with inaccurate Medicaid coding, crucial to securing accurate Federal matching funds.
  • Department of Human Services workers who used to help clients afflicted by erroneous information now face difficulties doing so because their responsibilities have been transferred to Cover Oregon.

Of course, these are just a few mundane examples of problems that have plagued a glitch-riddled, unpopular, bloated and ineffectual mess of a website that, during its first month of operation, managed to enroll not a single person.

Now that the site has finally managed to rack up more than 100,000 (presumably legitimate) enrollments, State officials are beginning to gloat about the first signs of success — never mind that two-thirds of its enrollees, to date, are nonpaying residents in the Oregon Health Plan, Oregon’s Medicaid-style free-coverage program.

Ready For More Boehner? Boehner Is

House Speaker John Boehner (R-Ohio) said Monday he fully intends to be Speaker of the House again when the dust has settled after the 2014 midterm elections. In fact, he’s all but certain of it.

Boehner told The Cincinnati Enquirer Monday that not only does he plan to seek another term as speaker, but, he gloated, “It won’t even be close” when Congress reconvenes to select a speaker following the midterms.

Boehner chalks up his next shoo-in not to the good will of voters in Ohio’s 8th Congressional District or to a broad-based clamor from Americans appreciative of his leadership, but to a swelling chumminess with other House Republicans who’d rather see him continue in the position than offer up a new Congressman for the position.

“I think I’m in better shape with my own caucus than I have ever been in the last three years,” Boehner explained.

So far, Boehner looks to be a lock for the GOP nomination to retain his House seat. He faces opposition in the primary election from a trucker and an anti-amnesty, anti-Fed computing consultant. The Tea Party Leadership Fund PAC also recruited schoolteacher J.D. Winteregg to run against Boehner in the May 6 primary.

In all, Boehner faces eight Republican challengers, a handful of whom agree on most of the Tea Party’s conservative talking points. Each of them will have a steep uphill climb against Boehner.

Although the Speaker of the House doesn’t have to be an elected Congressman, tradition has always placed a Congressman in the role.

Counting Down Obama’s Worst Executive Actions

Last week, The Heritage Foundation put together a handy list of President Barack Obama’s most flagrant abuses of his pen and his phone.

Arguing that Obama has willfully set aside the Constitutional separation of powers in order to accomplish agenda items actions in unprecedentedly ambitious ways, Heritage starts at the bottom with the DOJ’s refusal, under Obama, to enforce standing Federal drug laws in States where marijuana has been made legal — and works its way to the top with Obamacare’s many examples of selective enforcement.

Here’s its top 10 ranking of Obama’s most unConsititutional executive actions… so far.

  1. Amending Obamacare’s employer mandate, providing an unauthorized subsidy to congressional staff, and encouraging state insurance commissioners not to enforce certain requirements.
  2. Inventing labor law “exemptions” in violation of the WARN Act so that workers would not receive notice of impending layoffs days before the 2012 election.
  3. Waiving the mandatory work requirement under the 1996 comprehensive welfare reform law, which required able-bodied adults to work, prepare for work, or look for work in order to receive benefits under the Temporary Assistance for Needy Families (TANF) program.
  4. Ignoring a statutory deadline and refusing to consider an application related to nuclear waste storage at Yucca Mountain, which activists sought to block for years.
  5. Circumventing the Senate’s duty to provide advice and consent on appointments and instead making “recess” appointments in violation of Article II, Section 2 of the Constitution when the Senate was actually in session.
  6. Deciding not to defend the constitutionality of the federal definition of marriage in court.
  7. Implementing Common Core national standards through strings-attached waivers from the No Child Left Behind Act.
  8. Intimidating Florida to stop its voter roll cleanup, which included removing ineligible voters such as noncitizens, before the 2012 election.
  9. Imposing the DREAM Act by executive fiat under the guise of “prosecutorial discretion.”
  10. Refusing to enforce federal drug laws in states that have legalized marijuana.

A note on No.10: It’s great that States have given their voters a choice on the marijuana issue. But the Obama Administration’s blind eye to marijuana enforcement in those States — which Federal law still very much prescribes — outs Obama’s hypocrisy over his relentless series of end runs to continue propping up the enforcement of the preclearance requirement of the Voting Rights Act of 1965 — a measure which the Supreme Court has unequivocally decided in the States’ favor.

Appeals Court Upholds School Ban On Wearing American Flag Clothing

In a case almost as bizarre as that of the Modesto, Calif., kid who was barred from handing out free copies of the Constitution, an appeals court has ruled that a school district in another central California community was right to ban a trio of students in 2010 from wearing T-shirts that feature the American flag.

The case, Dariano v. Morgan Hill Unified School District, centered on three students who showed up to Live Oak High school on May 5, 2010 — yes, that’s Cinco De Mayo — wearing American flag T-shirts. Some of the students at the school welcomed them with threats of violence, and school administrators elected to order the students wearing the T-shirts to turn them inside out, or to go home for the day with excused absences. School officials did not think to resolve the threats by ordering the offending students to stop making them.

There was a definite component of nationalism/racism/tribalism to the underlying circumstances motivating both the flag-wearers and their bullies, and, from the case itself, it appears that both parties were primed for conflict well before anyone decided to don an American flag T-shirt and wear it to school:

This case arose out of the events of May 5, 2010, Cinco de Mayo, at Live Oak High School (“Live Oak” or “the School”), part of the Morgan Hill Unified School District in Northern California. The Cinco de Mayo celebration was presented in the “spirit of cultural appreciation.” It was described as honoring “the pride and community strength of the Mexican people who settled this valley and who continue to work here.” The school likened it to St. Patrick’s Day or Oktoberfest. The material facts are not in dispute.

Live Oak had a history of violence among students, some gang-related and some drawn along racial lines. In the six years that Nick Boden served as principal, he observed at least thirty fights on campus, both between gangs and between Caucasian and Hispanic students. A police officer is stationed on campus every day to ensure safety on school grounds.

On Cinco de Mayo in 2009, a year before the events relevant to this appeal, there was an altercation on campus between a group of predominantly Caucasian students and a group of Mexican students. The groups exchanged profanities and threats. Some students hung a makeshift American flag on one of the trees on campus, and as they did, the group of Caucasian students began clapping and chanting “USA.” A group of Mexican students had been walking around with the Mexican flag, and in response to the white students’ flag-raising, one Mexican student shouted “f*** them white boys, f*** them white boys.” When Assistant Principal Miguel Rodriguez told the student to stop using profane language, the student said, “But Rodriguez, they are racist. They are being racist. F*** them white boys. Let’s f*** them up.” Rodriguez removed the student from the area.

At least one party to this appeal, student M.D., wore American flag clothing to school on Cinco de Mayo 2009. M.D. was approached by a male student who, in the words of the district court, “shoved a Mexican flag at him and said something in Spanish expressing anger at [M.D.’S] clothing.”

A year later, on Cinco de Mayo 2010, a group of Caucasian students, including the students bringing this appeal, wore American flag shirts to school. A female student approached M.D. that morning, motioned to his shirt, and asked, “Why are you wearing that? Do you not like Mexicans[?]” D.G. and D.M. were also confronted about their clothing before “brunch break.”

As Rodriguez was leaving his office before brunch break, a Caucasian student approached him, and said, “You may want to go out to the quad area. There might be some–there might be some issues.” During the break, another student called Rodriguez over to a group of Mexican students, said that she was concerned about a group of students wearing the American flag, and said that “there might be problems.” Rodriguez understood her to mean that there might be a physical altercation. A group of Mexican students asked Rodriguez why the Caucasian students “get to wear their flag out when we [sic] don’t get to wear our [sic] flag?”

Boden directed Rodriguez to have the students either turn their shirts inside out or take them off. The students refused to do so.

Rodriguez met with the students and explained that he was concerned for their safety. The students did not dispute that their attire put them at risk of violence. Plaintiff D.M. said that he was “willing to take on that responsibility” in order to continue wearing his shirt. Two of the students, M.D. and D.G., said they would have worn the flag clothing even if they had known violence would be directed toward them.

School officials permitted M.D. and another student not a party to this action to return to class, because Boden considered their shirts, whose imagery was less “prominent,” to be “less likely [to get them] singled out, targeted for any possible recrimination,” and “significant[ly] differen[t] in [terms of] what [he] saw as being potential for targeting.”

The officials offered the remaining students the choice either to turn their shirts inside out or to go home for the day with excused absences that would not count against their attendance records. Students D.M. and D.G. chose to go home. Neither was disciplined.

In the aftermath of the students’ departure from school, they received numerous threats from other students. D.G. was threatened by text message on May 6, and the same afternoon, received a threatening phone call from a caller saying he was outside of D.G.’s home. D.M. and M.D. were likewise threatened with violence, and a student at Live Oak overheard a group of classmates saying that some gang members would come down from San Jose to “take care of” the students. Because of these threats, the students did not go to school on May 7.

Following a precedent set by a 1969 case in which the Supreme Court ruled that students’ rights in schools can be limited in situations that present the potential for disruption or interference, the California 9th Circuit ruled that the school administrators in this case acted appropriately by telling the students not to display the American flag on their clothing.

Eugene Volokh acknowledged in his new blog at The Washington Post that the 1969 precedent allowed for the 9th Circuit’s interpretation. But, he added, the decision in favor of the bullies represents “a classic ‘heckler’s veto.’”

This is a classic “heckler’s veto” — thugs threatening to attack the speaker, and government officials suppressing the speech to prevent such violence. “Heckler’s vetoes” are generally not allowed under First Amendment law; the government should generally protect the speaker and threaten to arrest the thugs, not suppress the speaker’s speech.

… Somehow, we’ve reached the point that students can’t safely display the American flag in an American school, because of a fear that other students will attack them for it — and the school feels unable to prevent such attacks (by punishing the threateners and the attackers, and by teaching students tolerance for other students’ speech). Something is badly wrong, whether such an incident happens on May 5 or any other day.

And this is especially so because behavior that gets rewarded gets repeated. The school taught its students a simple lesson: If you dislike speech and want it suppressed, then you can get what you want by threatening violence against the speakers. The school will cave in, the speakers will be shut up, and you and your ideology will win. When thuggery pays, the result is more thuggery. Is that the education we want our students to be getting?

Obamacare: You Can Get In, But Can You Get Out?

What happens if you enroll in Obamacare and then decide somewhere down the road that you want out? It’s early days, but here’s one Florida man’s anecdote — and it’s not encouraging.

“People who signed up for coverage are finding it impossible to cancel their plans,” reported Orlando’s WFTL-TV last week in a feature highlighting an Orange County man who, after six weeks of effort, had not been able to extricate himself from the Federal health plan.

“Andrew Robinson was looking forward to getting health insurance through the Affordable Care Act,” explained reporter Lori Brown. “He has a small publishing business and works part time, so he hasn’t had coverage. In early January, he signed up for a plan that cost nearly $300 a month. About a half hour later, he and his wife realized they could barely afford that. They quickly found a less expensive plan through Humana — for $116 a month.”

Whoops. That uneasy feeling you may have had about throwing your personal information into a bureaucratic black hole may have been well justified, if what happened to Robinson is any indication.

“I immediately called back the Florida Blue and asked them to cancel the policy I just set up,” he said. But this isn’t Amazon.com; it’s Obamacare:

[H]e quickly learned canceling Obamacare is no easy task. He says Florida Blue told him if he signed up for the other policy, his Florida Blue policy would cancel automatically.

“I got the premium two days later, and it almost wiped out our account.”

More than six weeks later, after spending 50 to 60 hours on the phone, his policy is still not canceled. And he is still waiting for the payment Florida Blue withdrew from his account to be refunded.

“This is like, just taking my patience right to the end; and I am on the verge of just exploding,” Robinson said.

According to Florida Blue, the company can’t cancel Robinson’s insurance until it receives notification from the Federal insurance marketplace that he has, in fact, obtained other insurance to take its place.

And that brings up another enforcement feature of Obamacare that, so far, has been overshadowed by the hoopla over the Internal Revenue Service’s expanded powers: The Federal health care marketplace itself can act as an Obamacare enforcer, tethering people who voluntarily approached the exchange for coverage to their initial decision for a very long time — no matter whether they later wish to exercise their own free will to drop coverage outright, or simply find a better deal somewhere else.

What Do You Think About Rand Paul’s Calculated Political Compromises?

No one can be elected President of the United States without compromising his ideals at various points along the pathway leading to the White House. To murmur to oneself that a President is even capable of harboring any secret idealism is, in a way, to admit a profound misunderstanding of the office. All politicians swim in dirty water.

We love and long remember leaders whose vestigial idealism lies near the surface of their public personae: John F. Kennedy. Martin Luther King Jr. Ronald Reagan. Ron Paul. Maybe even Ted Cruz — we’ll see.

What about Rand Paul (R-Ky.)? His idealism lurks very near the surface. As a Senator on the periphery of the narrowing spotlight that will soon shine brightly on the field of 2016 Presidential primary contenders, he has so far been able to persuasively come off as a guileless politician whose Congressional work hasn’t been muddled by any mixed signals sent through dissonant acts — the sort of head-scratching about-faces so often borne of political necessity.

The Tea Party is filled with moral absolutists at the grass-roots level. Many other independent-minded conservatives and libertarians, who scoff at the Tea Party appellation, nonetheless share with the Tea Party a seething anger at nominal conservative leaders who, time and again, demonstrate a congenital lack of backbone. But no candidate aspiring to national office will survive a bumpy gauntlet of fundraising, base-bolstering, margin-courting and endorsement-dealing without spilling a fair amount of idealism — however pure — from the full cup with which he started.

So the question is: how much compromise? What is necessary to succeed, to get your man in office? And where is the line that, once crossed, places principled candidates inside the alarming realm of familiar crony politics? That’s a hard boundary for any politician who’s lost the good will of his supporters to ever reconquer.

National Journal ran an interesting article Tuesday that dealt largely with how great a menace Paul is to the GOP establishment, the old party hands who are jockeying to place yokes on compliant beasts of burden to field in the 2016 Presidential primary. It’s a good read, and it suggests there’s a spot of hope for conservatives who long for a principled candidate whose ideals can’t be completely flattened by the GOP stamping machine.

Then there’s this outlier paragraph near the end:

Paul’s mutually beneficial alliance with Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell, who faces reelection this year, is a prime example of his political foresight. McConnell has helped him build chits with the establishment, including donors skeptical of his national viability. McConnell, meanwhile, has gotten tea-party validation to get him through a contested primary against businessman Matt Bevin. He’s also benefited from Paul’s swipes at former President Clinton, who is emerging as an important surrogate for McConnell’s Democratic challenger, Alison Lundergan Grimes. McConnell, if he survives the general election, could become the next majority leader. But Paul, in taming the establishment skepticism toward him, could end up with the bigger prize.

A lot of us did a double take last month when we learned that Paul had freely allowed his sterling reputation for maverick conservative idealism to be waved around by a GOP wet blanket like McConnell (R-Ky.). McConnell is in a fight to retain his Senate seat, and he’s been trying to shore up the conservative base after angering them with his voting record, his history of standing aside for Democrats, and his outright hostility toward Tea Party “bullies.”

National Journal’s Josh Kraushaar calls the Paul-McConnell alliance an example of political foresight on Paul’s part. It’s the first of what may be a great many necessary political compromises to keep Paul on track to a nomination. He may spill a little water, but a smart candidate can make the right compromises, minimize his risks and grow a diverse support network — all while keeping his most ardent supporters loyally at his side.

What do you think? Was the Paul-McConnell deal a harbinger of Paul’s ultimate cave-in, or was it an acceptable display of acumen from a leader who understands how to play politics while holding his principles dear?

If Paul or another conservative sets out to navigate a Presidential electoral season with good will from his base, how patient will his base be with him when he starts shaking a dirty hand or speaking before a tainted crowd?

For principled dark horses who rise from the conservative ranks, asking “how much compromise?” is, as always, to ask how close one can fly to the sun.

Lerner Won’t Back Down From Immunity Deal; What Does She Know?

Lois Lerner told the House Oversight Committee in May that she did not want to incriminate herself in giving testimony about the Internal Revenue Service discrimination scandal targeting Tea Party and conservative nonprofit groups during President Barack Obama’s re-election campaign.

She did a bad job of pleading the 5th last year, but has nevertheless remained adamant that she won’t testify unless ordered to do so by a judge — or unless she’s granted immunity from any prosecution her testimony might otherwise elicit. Lerner, the former director of the IRS Exempt Organizations Division, appears to know enough to be scared. She reiterated her immunity sine qua non again Wednesday after the Oversight Committee issued a fresh order for her to appear at a hearing next week.

Through her attorney, Lerner had reportedly been nearing an agreement with the Oversight Committee to give them a preview of what she might say if she were to testify — a first step toward answering a summons without invoking the 5th Amendment.

Lerner stepped down from her IRS role in September, five months after telling the Oversight Committee they couldn’t make her talk unless they could guarantee her freedom. Nearly a year later, and five more months removed from her job, she hasn’t budged — even as the IRS scandal fades from public consciousness.

What does she know?

Obamacare Has Little Appeal For The Uninsured

Few uninsured Americans believe Obamacare is a worthy solution for their healthcare coverage needs. And only a quarter of them even know when the government expects them to sign up for health insurance, despite massive advertising campaigns that feature irresponsible idiots attempting to make Obamacare look cool as they go about their vapid lives.

The results of the latest Kaiser Family Foundation monthly tracking survey reveal an ongoing combination of ignorance, indifference and mild revulsion toward Obamacare among the uninsured.

Perhaps the key takeaway is that only 22 percent of uninsured Americans hold a favorable opinion of the healthcare law, while 56 percent hold an unfavorable view. Yet the negativity hasn’t managed to reach the level of a critical consensus demanding that the Affordable Care Act should be repealed.

From the poll summary:

Overall public opinion on the ACA in February looks much like it has since last November, with nearly half (47 percent) having an unfavorable view of the law and just over a third (35 percent) viewing it favorably. A plurality of the public (44 percent) say their impression of the law is based mostly on what they’ve seen in the media, while smaller shares say it’s based on their own experience (23 percent) or what they’ve heard from friends and family (18 percent).

… When it comes to next steps on the law, a majority say it should be kept in place, including 48 percent who want Congress to work to improve it and 8 percent who say it should be kept as is. Fewer say Congress should repeal the law and replace it with a Republican-sponsored alternative (12 percent) or repeal it and not replace it (19 percent).

… Last month’s tracking poll found a negative shift in opinion of the ACA among those who are currently uninsured, and that trend continues in February, with 56 percent of the uninsured having an unfavorable opinion of the law and 22 percent a favorable one.

Among those who don’t have insurance, there’s an ocean of indifference. Half of the uninsured surveyed said they don’t know enough about Obamacare to know how the law will affect them. Thirty-seven percent admitted to knowing “only a little” about the glitch-plagued Obamacare online exchanges. And 26 percent said they know “nothing.” Only 24 percent said they know the Federal deadline for signing up. (It’s March 31.)

Kaiser Family Foundation monthly tracking survey

According to the monthly tracking poll, public opinion toward Obamacare among both insured and uninsured Americans  veered into negative territory in November 2012 and, with minor fluctuations, has trended downward ever since. It now stands at 47 percent unfavorable, 35 percent unfavorable and 18 percent who say they don’t know or don’t wish to weigh in.

Perceptions of the Affordable Care Act have been trending negative among people without health insurance since February. Tuesday’s poll found that 56 percent now view the law unfavorably, while 22 percent view it favorably.

Note from the Editor:
As you’ve just read, the Obamacare abomination doesn’t bode well for anyone. But if you know how to navigate the system you can still control your own healthcare—as every American should! My trusted friend and medical insider, Dr. Michael Cutler, and I have written a concise guide to help you do just that. I urge you… Click here for your free copy.

Venezuelan Opposition Leader’s Letter To Pope Francis Puts Our Domestic ‘Problems’ In Perspective

While establishment leaders from both parties and their many hangers-on in mainstream media feed the 24-hour consumer news cycle with banal and insipid debates about partisan wars on women, homosexuals, minorities and the poor, there are people outside the U.S. who would love to have our problems – and who would likely be confused by the political games Americans lawmakers play with non-issues in order to incite indignity in ignorant voters.

Take Venezuela, where Hugo Chavez’ successor, Nicolas Maduro, is alternating between free-market threats and populist-pandering bread and circuses in order to quell an ongoing uprising that has killed at least 50 people and featured police state treatment in the face of popular protest.

Forget gay marriage and minimum wage: Maduro has declared war on basic human rights – private property, free speech, self-determination and peaceful dissent. People in Venezuela don’t have the sort of problems our elected class tries to convince us we have – they have problems that don’t have to be explained by enlightened interpreters. And many of the fundamental problems Americans do face are buffered from the meddling of most elected leaders, safe from legislative adjustment and secreted from the 24-hour news cycle and its vapid talking heads. Our problems are a slow suck toward tyranny, but there are places in the world where we can see in real time where we might be headed.

Read this appeal to Pope Francis, penned last week by Venezuelan opposition leader (and Princeton educated) Leopoldo Mendoza, for some perspective on what a real war on freedom looks like. It sure as hell doesn’t look like a “war on women” or some such similar nonsense in this country:

His Holiness

Pope Francisco

Supreme Pontiff

With deep admiration and full of humility, I ask your blessings to the people of Venezuela in moments of profound difficulty for all Venezuelans hit by the most severe economic crisis, by insecurity accompanied by unleashed impunity and the loss increasingly accelerated of our freedoms for all Venezuelans, especially those of us who have contrary thoughts to those who govern today.

I am writing this letter from the underground and within a few hours of appearing before the manipulated justice of my country, which has issued an arrest warrant attributing against me the crimes of murder and terrorism, for the simple fact of having called our people to exercise our right to protest as it is protected in our Constitution and the fundamental rights of free men. This situation of persecution and criminalization of protest has affected hundreds of youth who have been detained, tortured and subjected to unfounded processes that seek to plant fear and limit the voice of millions of Venezuelans who promote change.

I have taken the audacity to write these lines because I am convinced, as millions are in Venezuela , that your voice , your guidance and your blessing to our people at this time can make a profound impact on the next destination of our country.

A few years ago I had the opportunity to talk with the Polish leader Lech Walesa, who I asked what was the most decisive event in his years long struggle that culminated with the fall of communism, his response was immediate and very precise: The visit and the message of John Paul II to Poland.

I understand that the historical circumstances are very different , but like the twilight years of communism in Europe, now in Venezuela we are living in times of deep despair and hopelessness, a word, a sentence, a message from you I’m sure could make a significant impact, the encounter of our people with peace, liberty and democracy.

Chances are when you read this letter I will already be jailed on the orders of Nicolas Maduro; a situation that I ‘m willing to take on if in something it contributes to awaken our people on the need to together make a change.

With the mere fact that you read these lines and keep a place in your heart for the Venezuelan people will give us immense strength to move forward, guided by the teachings of Christ our Lord.

Benediction,

Leopoldo López Mendoza

Sure enough, López was arrested the next day.