Obama Nominee For Norway Ambassadorship Insults Norway By Knowing Less Than Nothing About Norway

George H.W. Bush couldn’t help it when he literally vomited on Japan’s Prime Minister at a state dinner in 1992. So what’s George Tsunis’ excuse?

Tsunis, one of several Obama fundraisers awaiting a plum ambassadorship as a reward for lavishing Team Obama with hundreds of thousands in bundled campaign funds in the 2012 election cycle, figuratively puked all over Norway, his host nation, during a perfunctory Senate confirmation hearing today.

Tsunis may know a lot about raising campaign funds, but he evidently knows less than nothing about Norway. Norwegian English-language news outlet The Local reported on Tsunis’ upchuck of ignorance in a story headlined “Future US envoy displays total ignorance of Norway” and described his Thursday performance as a “jaw-dropping diplomatic blunder”:

Asked by Senator John McCain what he thought it was about the “anti-immigration” Progress Party that appealed to Norwegian voters, Greek American businessman George Tsunis seemed unaware of the party’s role in the ruling coalition.

“You get some fringe elements that have a microphone and spew their hatred,” he said in the pre-appointment hearing. “And I will tell you Norway has been very quick to denounce them.”

McCain interrupted him, pointing out that as part of the coalition, the party was hardly being denounced.

“I stand corrected,” Tsunis said after a pause.  “I would like to leave my answer at… it’s a very, very open society and the overwhelming amount of Norwegians and the overwhelming amount of people in parliament don’t feel the same way.”

The blunder came after a faltering, incoherent performance from Tsunis, in which he made a reference to Norway’s “president”, apparently under the impression that the country is a republic rather than a constitutional monarchy.

It would have been better for both Tsunis and Obama if Tsunis had simply admitted he knew nothing about Norway, rather than fabricating an on-the-spot alternative version that never existed.

Tsunis is only one of many Obama donors who will be getting ambassadorial honorifics in exchange for their help on the campaign junket, continuing a perverse form of virtual office-selling in which both Republican and Democratic Presidents have wrongly indulged. The perversion of the practice is compounded by Presidents’ tendencies to send clueless cheerleaders to the nice countries, while reserving the tough and dangerous ambassadorships in destabilized nations for career diplomats.

The irony in the Tsunis screw-up is that Tsunis’ first foray into big political spending came in 2008 – when he gave then-candidate McCain $50,000.

So it was McCain who stood before Tsunis today and corrected him, as Yahoo News’ Oliver Knox observes:

To recap: Tsunis described Norway as having a president (“apparently under the impression that the country is a republic rather than a constitutional monarchy,” as the Local Norway’s News notes dryly). And he characterized the anti-immigration Progress Party as being among “fringe elements” who “spew their hatred” and have been denounced by the government.

That prompted McCain’s disbelieving answer: “The government has denounced them? The coalition government — they’re part of the coalition of the government.”

McCain, already flummoxed by the apparent inability of Obama’s choice to be ambassador to Hungary to list strategic U.S. interests there, closed his questioning with a bit of sarcasm: “I have no more questions for this incredibly highly qualified group of nominees.”

Again, all of Thursday’s perfunctory confirmation hearings amounted to nothing more than a dog-and-pony act, thanks to Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid’s (D-Nev.) rules-changing coup in November of last year. None of Obama’s ambassadorial nominees will face a Senate filibuster, regardless of how inept any of them is to serve in a diplomatic role.

NYT Exec: Obama Administration ‘Most Secretive’ White House She’s Ever Seen

In an interview with Al-Jazeera America Tuesday, the executive editor of The New York Times described the Obama Administration “the most secretive White House that I have ever been involved in covering” and said it’s inconceivable to think President Obama himself isn’t directly responsible for the cloak-and-dagger policies that have made it difficult for even hoary publications like The Times to get a straight answer.

Al Jazeera’s John Seigenthaler asked Jill Abramson, who’s served as NYT’s executive editor since 2011, to grade the Obama Administration’s transparency with traditional media outlets, and Abramson gave him more than an earful:

Seigenthaler: Let me move on to another topic in the Obama administration. How would you grade this administration, compared to others, when it comes to its relationship with the media?

Abramson: Well, I would slightly like to interpret the question as “How secretive is this White House?” which I think is the most important question. I would say it is the most secretive White House that I have ever been involved in covering, and that includes — I spent 22 years of my career in Washington and covered presidents from President Reagan on up through now, and I was Washington bureau chief of the Times during George W. Bush’s first term.

I dealt directly with the Bush White House when they had concerns that stories we were about to run put the national security under threat. But, you know, they were not pursuing criminal leak investigations. The Obama administration has had seven criminal leak investigations. That is more than twice the number of any previous administration in our history. It’s on a scale never seen before. This is the most secretive White House that, at least as a journalist, I have ever dealt with.

Seigenthaler: And do you think this comes directly from the president?

Abramson: I would think that it would have to. I don’t know that, but certainly enough attention has been focused on this issue that, if he departed from the policies of his government, I think we’d know that at this point.

Seigenthaler: So it makes it more difficult for The New York Times to do its job.

Abramson: Absolutely.

This from a woman who unflinchingly agreed, in the same interview, that “[t]here’s no question that the editorial stance of The New York Times is a liberal point of view.”

Abramson, of course, had plenty to say about the W. Bush years, too, although she cast the Bush Administration’s brand of deception as more innocent and clueless than the Obama White House’s self-willed information lockdown. Read the full interview here.

McConnell Challenger Picks Up Endorsement From Conservative SuperPAC

Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-Ky.), who can’t decide if he wants to anger Kentucky’s fiscal conservatives by directly insulting them or merely by being patronizing, is already facing a significant primary challenge from the right this year. And the challenger, Matt Bevin, keeps picking up the kind of endorsements that bring the primary into sharper focus as a voter referendum on the future of the GOP establishment in Washington, D.C.

Bevin, a businessman and former Army captain, received an endorsement Wednesday from FreedomWorks, the conservative nonprofit instrumental in the success of other GOP insurgents like Senator Mike Lee (Utah).

Judging from its official statement, the group’s endorsement is as much a ringing condemnation of McConnell as it is a warm embrace for Bevin. Even though there’s no reason to suspect any tension between Bevin and his new, influential backer, it’s clear FreedomWorks has set out to reflect Kentucky voters’ disgust with McConnell’s tenure in the Senate.

“For far too long Mitch McConnell has sat on the sidelines of pivotal fights, helping the Democrats pass unprecedented surveillance powers, the TARP/Wall Street bailout, numerous tax hikes and debt ceiling increases, and Medicare Part D,” said FreedomWorks president Matt Kibbe. “… Now more than ever, we need strong fiscal conservatives who will fight to cut spending on the front lines, not the sidelines. Matt Bevin is a great upgrade for Kentuckians who are serious about transparency, fiscal responsibility and accountability in government.”

The support comes with a tangible benefit for the Bevin campaign: money. FreedomWorks for America, a “super PAC” that has spent more than $19 million on Congressional races since 2011, will spend who-knows-how-much money to unseat McConnell. (It’s already spent more than $1 million apiece on six separate Congressional candidates in the two short years since the PAC was first created.)

McConnell’s response to the news was predictable: FreedomWorks is just riding the Tea Party train.

“[I]nstead of standing with Kentucky conservatives, a group that used to pride itself on grassroots empowerment has endorsed a self-funding New England millionaire who takes taxpayer bailouts and falsely claims he attended MIT,” said a McConnell campaign spokeswoman.

Bevin has an uphill climb to unseat an entrenched incumbent with strong establishment support. But to get a taste of how far the McConnell camp is having to reach in order to come up with bogus ad hominem barbs in the early going, check this out.

Signing Up For Obamacare Increases Your Chances Of Being Audited

Need another reason to stay away from Obamacare? How about the fact that signing up for health insurance through Healthcare.gov or any of the State-run insurance websites is likely to compound your chances of being targeted for an audit by the Internal Revenue Service?

Thanks to the Affordable Care Act’s reliance on the IRS to enforce Americans’ compliance with its insurance mandate, the agency has hired 2,000 additional agents to pore over individual filing statements. And, unlike IRS audits of the past, they will have access to more non-financial information about their targets than ever before — thanks to Obamacare.

In particular, qualifying for a government subsidy to bolster your insurance premium payments places you under significantly greater scrutiny. In a report released last month titled “5 Ways The IRS Will Enter Your Life Under Obamacare,” the Foundation for Government Accountability examined how Obamacare will introduce unprecedented government intrusions into Americans’ private lives.

Here’s just a sampling:

Enrolling in an exchange plan and taking the Obamacare tax credit leaves you even more vulnerable to an audit by a newly-empowered IRS. Similar high-dollar tax credits have resulted in a greater likelihood of being targeted for an IRS audit. For example, almost 70 percent of the families that have participated in the adoption tax credit have been subject to an IRS audit. These audits routinely last years and can be costly.

The IRS’s own national taxpayer advocate, Nina Olson, highlighted serious problems in how the IRS ran its audit process for the adoption credits. She also warned that the risk and harm to citizens as a result of that program will pale in comparison to the potential impact on your finances during administration of the ObamaCare tax credits. Ms. Olson has publicly stated that she is concerned the IRS will not be able to “administer the new health care credits and penalty taxes in a fair and compassionate way.”

Continuing with the adoption credit comparison, Olson predicted Obamacare will necessarily expand the size and scope of the IRS, if there’s to be any hope the agency doesn’t repeat previous mistakes in enforcing the adoption code.

“[T]he IRS’ implementation of the expanded adoption credit does not bode well for its implementation of the premium tax credit….If the IRS does not take the time to learn from its adoption credit experience and be thoughtful about how it administers future refundable credits, it may face problems with the [Obamacare] Premium Tax Credit — including high examination rates — that will overwhelm IRS resources and severely burden taxpayers,” she wrote.

If an actual IRS employee is that concerned about the agency’s own ability to keep pace with Obamacare — to say nothing whatsoever of enrollees’ actual concerns about privacy and security — it’s no wonder the Foundation for Government Accountability advises potential enrollees to think twice.

“Individuals must be fully aware of the relationship they are entering into with the IRS before they enroll in an exchange plan,” the report concludes. “Time will tell if the IRS’s troubling history of implementing other tax credits will resurface under the massive health insurance tax credit program.”

Editor’s note: If you have bought or tried to buy health insurance through the Obamacare exchange, we want to hear from you. Please tell us about your experience. Was the site easy to access and easy to navigate? Were the prices you found what you expected or too high, or were they lower than you expected? Were the coverage options too inclusive, just right, not inclusive enough? Are you concerned about the security of the private information you submitted? Email your experience to freedomwatch@personalliberty.com. We’d love to hear from you your thoughts on Obamacare.

Prosecutors Give MSM Anchor A Sweet Deal On Gun Charge; Throw The Book At Regular Guy For Similar Possession ‘Crime’

Last year, NBC News anchorman David Gregory almost got in trouble with the law for waving a 30-round ammunition magazine in front of the camera during an interview with NRA leader Wayne LaPierre on “Meet the Press.” The show was being broadcast from Washington, D.C., where it’s illegal under local law to possess even an empty magazine capable of holding more than 10 rounds of ammo.

Irvin Nathan, the Attorney General for the District of Columbia, huddled with staffers to decide whether to make a public example out of Gregory for his very public stunt. But Nathan ended up exercising “prosecutorial discretion to decline to bring criminal charges against Mr. Gregory, who has no criminal record, or any other NBC employee based on the events associated” with that incident.

Now a regular guy who lives in Washington, D.C. is confronted with a similar problem under the city’s restrictive gun laws. But in the case of D.C. resident Mark Witaschek, who faces prosecution for allegedly possessing a small cache of inert and spent ammunition inside his Georgetown apartment, the same well of magnanimity, common sense and good will that slaked AG Nathan’s thirst for justice in the David Gregory case has apparently run dry.

Witaschek was reportedly outed to the cops last year by a jaded ex-wife who allegedly told police they’d find illegal guns in his home. They hastily raided the place and found no guns (he keeps those at a relative’s house in Virginia.) But they did find some unspent rifle ammo – “evidence” that a judge dismissed because it was illegally obtained without a warrant. But the prosecution, now too entrenched in its detective work to abandon the case, pressed on. Here’s how The Washington TimesEmily Miller describes their continued effort to make Witaschek pay for his sins:

Undeterred, the prosecutors continued with the two items from the second raid [yes, they came back with a warrant] — a misfired 12-gauge shotgun shell and a box of muzzleloader sabots.

Sabots are plastic covers that make it easier to push the bullet into a muzzleloader gun. There is no propellent on the bullet or sabot — because the gunpowder is separated — so it is not clear that it can be categorized as ammunition and thus only registered gun owners can possess it.

Thus, the single vaguely legitimate remaining charge for “unregistered ammunition” is the misfired shotgun shell that Mr. Witaschek has kept as a souvenir from deer hunting years earlier. The shell cannot be fired because the primer was already stricken and failed to propel it.

Like Gregory, Witaschek doesn’t have a criminal record. Miller reports that he appears to represent the “first known case of a citizen being prosecuted in D.C. for inoperable ammunition. … Mr. Nathan’s office has spent countless hours and taxpayer money to try to nail a man who is an upstanding member of society with no intent to harm anyone.”

For more background on the case, read Miller’s Oct. 2013 report. Unless AG Nathan exercises his self-avowed “prosecutorial discretion” and elects to drop the charge, Witaschek will face a jury trial, whereafter a (hopefully unlikely) conviction could land him in jail for a up to a year.

Co-Opting MLK Day To Sell Obamacare

The progressive left’s solipsistic monopoly on all things equitable and virtuous was in full swing over the weekend, as Health and Human Services Director Kathleen Sebelius rode piggyback on the legacy of Martin Luther King Jr. in order to make a not-so-subtle association between the civil rights leader and ideological support for Obamacare.

Sebelius released a statement late last week that began by praising King not only for his leadership in bringing about a sea change in government’s de facto treatment of black Americans, but also for his “passionate advocacy on behalf of the poor.”

“Dr. King memorably described inequality in health care as the ‘most shocking and inhumane’ form of injustice,” Sebelius wrote. “These words continue to resonate, as there is nothing more essential to opportunity than good health.”

As an aside, here’s an interesting article at The Huffington Post discussing the origins of the King quote Sebelius (like other partisan healthcare reformers before her) used. There’s no reason to believe King did not say this — or some version of it — but it takes a giant leap, both of one’s imagination and one’s conscience, to take these words out of their now-lost context and recast them in a new, obviously partisan, one.

But, of course, Sebelius and the rest of the Barack Obama Administration will presume they have King fully in their ideological corner as the most sacrosanct of endorsers for Obamacare. And that’s obviously a very cynical and hypocritical sort of disservice to the true legacy of a man they all claim to emulate and revere.

The rest of Sebelius’ statement reads like a commercial — which, of course, it is:

Because of the Affordable Care Act, it’s a new day in health care that is bringing new security and opening new doors of opportunity. Across the nation, millions of Americans are signing up for quality, affordable health insurance through the new Health Insurance Marketplace.

Thanks to rights and protections guaranteed by the health care law, millions of individuals no longer have to worry about their coverage running out when they need it most. Insurers can no longer refuse to offer coverage because of a preexisting condition, like high blood pressure, heart disease or asthma. And no woman can be charged more for coverage just because she’s a woman.

As we celebrate the inspirational life of Dr. King, please join us in this historic effort by helping your friends, neighbors, and loved ones get covered through the Marketplace.

Open enrollment continues through March 31 and there are many ways to sign up for a plan: online at HealthCare.gov; by phone at 1-800-318-2596/TTY 1-855-889-4325, on paper, and through an agent, broker, or issuer. You also can find in-person help in your community at localhelp.healthcare.gov.

Whether it comes from the left or the right, can the endless co-opting of King’s name just stop?

Of course that won’t happen. But what can happen is that regular American people deluged by this kind of shameful propaganda can train themselves to recognize it for what it is — and prove its inefficacy by ignoring it.

Did The White House Threaten A Reporter’s Career Over Benghazi? Greta Van Susteren Says Yes

Love her, hate her or ignore her outright, Greta Van Susteren isn’t a media figure who makes her living by testing the bounds of plausibility along the outermost fringes of conspiracy theory. That’s why it’s hard not to sit up and take notice when she writes that someone inside the Obama Administration threatened to end the career of a fellow reporter who was digging too deep into the Benghazi story.

Late last week, Van Susteren posted a damning account of how the Administration of President Barack Obama handled inquiries from FOX News after the Sept. 11, 2012 U.S. Consulate attack in Benghazi, Libya, took the lives of one ambassador and three other Americans.

Given the demographics of its viewer base, it’s not remarkable that FOX News would go after the White House with more ardor than other mainstream news agencies when it comes to the concocted narrative spun by then-Secretary of State Hillary Clinton and the Obama Administration. But Van Susteren spoke with jarring conviction when she offered this (boldface and underline features are preserved from the original text):

As an aside, does the Obama Administration think politics is the reason the Democratically led Senate Intelligence Committee opened its investigation [into Benghazi]? Obviously not.

It is also interesting to note that The New York Times, thought by many to be the gold standard in journalism, recently reported that it was not Al Qaeda. According to the bipartisan Senate Intelligence Committee report, the NY Times reporting is wrong. (Yes, the same New York Times that reported there were weapons of mass destruction in Iraq. That was wrong, too.)

And then as I was sitting at my desk thinking about the reporting since September 2012, I thought about the weirdest of all and the worst of all for me personally! I remembered a disturbing phone call from a good friend in the Obama Administration. I have known this friend for years. The call was a short time after 9/11 (maybe Oct. 2012?) In the call, my friend told me that my colleague Jennifer Griffin, who was aggressively reporting on Benghazi, was wrong and that, as a favor to me, my friend in the Administration was telling me so that I could tell Jennifer so that she did not ruin her career. My friend was telling me to tell Jennifer to stop her reporting. Ruin her career? 

In 20 plus years, I have never received a call to try and shut down a colleague — not that I even could — this was a first. Here is what I know: Jennifer is a class act….experienced..and a very responsible journalist. One of the absolute best in the business — no axe to grind, she just wants the facts. 

I told my friend before I go to Jennifer telling her she is wrong, I need proof she is wrong, strong proof and you need to be specific — what are you saying she is getting wrong? We went around and around — including the statement again that this was just a call as a favor to Jennifer and me to save Jennifer’s career from reporting incorrect information. I got no proof. Zero. I smelled a rat. Favor to me? Hardly. My friend was trying to use me. I feel bad that a friend did that to me, tried to use me for a dirty reason. I knew then — and it is now confirmed by BIPARTISAN Senate Intelligence Committee — Jennifer was getting her facts right. I think it is really low for the Administration to stoop this low.

Even as the left dissembles away the Benghazi conspiracy (after all, an election’s coming up), the scandal just won’t go away. With mainstream reporters like Susteren and CBSs Sharyl Atkisson coming forward not only with new information about the attack itself, but also the Obama Administration’s iron-fisted damage control, it’s an open question whether the American public has truly heard the last explosion in the long series of Benghazi bombshells.

What Is Barack Obama Talking About With These Obtuse Sports References?

A recent long-form feature on President Barack Obama hit The New Yorker’s website over the weekend, and it’s filled with all kinds of sports references. It juxtaposes the imagery of Obama getting hit in the mouth playing basketball with the harsh political blows he’s taken over the past year as scandals have rocked the White House and the President’s approval numbers have tanked.

But Obama himself is the source for some of the interview’s most confusing sports analogies. He called the resurgent al-Qaida – which even CNN recently admitted controls more of the Middle East now than ever before – as “jayvee.” That’s “jayvee” as in J.V. – junior varsity.

“The analogy we use around here sometimes, and I think is accurate, is if a jayvee team puts on Lakers uniforms that doesn’t make them Kobe Bryant,” Obama told the magazine. “…I think there is a distinction between the capacity and reach of a bin Laden and a network that is actively planning major terrorist plots against the homeland versus jihadists who are engaged in various local power struggles and disputes, often sectarian.”

Wait. So Osama bin Laden was the terrorist Black Mamba, and now – without a worthy adversary – the U.S. military is just out there chasing chickens? Aside from being inappropriate, that analogy betrays the kind of dismissive, head-in-the-sand thinking that leads to ambassadors in unsecured consulates getting murdered.

Obama also shifted to lighter fare, weighing in on the concussion-causing brutality of full-contact NFL action:

“I would not let my son play pro football,” he said. “But, I mean, you wrote a lot about boxing, right? We’re sort of in the same realm… At this point, there’s a little bit of caveat emptor. These guys [pro athletes], they know what they’re doing. They know what they’re buying into. It is no longer a secret. It’s sort of the feeling I have about smokers, you know?”

How old are pro athletes? A lot of them are young, but nearly all are over the age of 18. Would Obama – who, if he had a son, might look like an NFL athlete – be able to forbid a grown man from playing a man’s game? Evidently.

Then again, that sort of delusional nannying wouldn’t be a deviation for a man whose Administration – from EPA regulations, to gun control, to Let’s Move, to Obamacare – reflects a “daddy knows best” mentality.

Here Are The Republicans Who Helped Pass The $1.1 Trillion Spending Bill

We all know that no one — Republican or Democrat — who voted to pass the Omnibus Appropriations Bill last week read even a sliver of what’s inside the 1,500-page government purchase order. But we do know who the nominal “conservatives” are in the Senate who voted for it anyway.

Several conservative blogs and news outlets were quick to publicize the list of every House and Senate Republican who favored the Omnibus, with critics noting the myriad needless spending measures in the bill — any one of which would have elicited opposition from a true fiscal conservative. Here’s a sampling from the Conservative HQ blog:

Funding U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA) advertising programs for food stamps in foreign countries like Mexico.

$35 million for the United Nations Population Fund (UNFPA), an organization believed to be involved in China’s coercive one-child policy of forced abortions and involuntary sterilizations.

Funding for the implementation of Obamacare, including elective abortion coverage.

Earmarking Export-Import Bank funds for “green energy.”

The National Endowment for the Arts and National Endowment for the Humanities.

Over $34 million to pay salaries and expenses for the supposedly terminated TARP program (Troubled Asset Relief Program) that bailed-out Wall Street and foreign banks.

The House passed the bill on a 359-67 vote, with 64 Republicans and three Democrats opposing. It went through the Senate the next day, where it sailed through on a roll-call vote by a 72-26 margin.

The Heritage Foundation compiled an interactive list detailing how the voting went down in the House. To find out whether to thank or blame your Congressman, check it out here.

Calling Out Obama’s False Climate Change Claims

Senator Jim Inhofe (R-Okla.) went off Friday on President Barack Obama’s continued reliance on a false climate change narrative, telling a Senate committee the President is more or less lying by repeating disproved, dire claims that global temperatures are on an irrevocable upward surge.

At issue, said Inhofe, are two “facts” Obama often unpacks whenever he launches into a climate change policy speech; both allege that global temperatures have increased at a faster rate than scientists predicted even in recent years.

“On multiple occasions, and most recently on May 30th of last year, President Obama has said — and this is a quote he has used several times — he said that ‘the temperature around the globe is increasing faster than was predicted even ten years ago’ and that ‘the climate is warming faster than anybody anticipated five or ten years ago,’” Inhofe said. “Both claims are false.”

Then Inhofe got specific:

[W]e’ve asked the EPA to provide us with the data backing up these two statements, the two statements made by the President, but they don’t have any data and referred us to the UN IPCC. And, their scientists, apparently — the EPA thought they were the source of this.

Well, we went there and they had nothing to back it up, so apparently the President just made that up. And I think that’s very important because, when you get statements that are made, they’re supposed to be logic and on truth, you have to check them out.

Last week’s record cold temperature brought the global warming debate back to the public’s attention, but that’s only important to the extent that it’s bringing more awareness to the uncertainty of the science around the debate.

…When you go back and look at the at look at the temperature projections from climate models and compare them to actual temperatures, two that two things are readily evident: first, temperatures have flat-lined over the last fifteen years; and second, an average of over 100 climate models from the last decade shows that the scientific community did not predict this would happen.  And to my knowledge, not a single climate model ever predicted that a pause in global warming would ever occur. Senator [Jeff] Sessions [R-Ala.] is going to go deeper into this.

The truth completely contradicts the President’s statements and begs the question why he and the EPA not only continue to deny the truth but why it has raced to stop this information from disseminating into the scientific record.

There is no doubt that the President’s agenda on climate change lies beneath his dogged insistence on false data. A Friday report in The Washington Free Beacon revealed internal emails at the Environmental Protection Agency that show strong favoritism toward special interest groups that advocate a policy solution to man-made climate change — along with a commensurate stonewalling of fossil fuel industry representatives striving to have their voices heard by the Obama Administration.

H/T: CNS News for the Inhofe transcript.

Victory For Citizen Journalism: Court Sides With Bloggers In 1st Amendment Challenge

An appeals court has tossed out a lower court’s finding that would have denied bloggers the same 1st Amendment protections afforded to mainstream journalists.

That’s an enormous victory for citizen journalism, as well as for the essential right of every American to freely and plainly speak (and write) his mind.

In taking up an appeal of a case in which a blogger was sued for defamation, the 9th Circuit Court of Appeals weighed whether bloggers generally could claim the same protections under the 1st Amendment as conventional journalists, who can write enterprise pieces questioning the actions of public officials while protecting their sources.

Here’s The Hollywood Reporter’s synopsis of that case:

In a blog post, [Crystal] Cox accused Obsidian Finance Group and its co-founder Kevin Padrick of committing tax fraud while administering the assets of a company in a Chapter 11 reorganization. At trial, a jury awarded the plaintiffs a total of $2.5 million over false assertions.

Before the case got to trial, however, Cox pointed to landmark judicial opinions including New York Times Co. v. Sullivan to make the argument that because the blog post involved a matter of public concern, the plaintiffs had the burden of proving her negligence in order to recover for defamation. Alternatively, she asserted that Padrick and Obsidian were public figures and as such, they needed to show she acted with “actual malice.”

The trial judge responded that she had failed to submit “evidence suggestive of her status as a journalist.”

But the 9th Circuit ruled that Cox didn’t need, under the Bill of Rights, to provide any kind of evidence to qualify her right to report on such a matter.

“The protections of the 1st Amendment do not turn on whether the defendant was a trained journalist, formally affiliated with traditional news entities, engaged in conflict-of-interest disclosure, went beyond just assembling others’ writings, or tried to get both sides of a story,” wrote Circuit Judge Andrew Hurwitz in his ruling. “…In defamation cases, the public-figure status of a plaintiff and the public importance of the statement at issue – not the identity of the speaker – provide the 1st Amendment touchstones.”

Cox’ case will be retried under different merits that weigh whether she was negligent in her reporting. But the Circuit Court ruling has effectively denied the plaintiffs from any attempt to segregate citizen journalists such as Cox away from the same Constitutional protections afforded the mainstream-media class – and, indeed, every American citizen.

That flies in the face of draconian, segregationist measures posited by progressives like Dianne Feinstein (D-Calif.) and Chuck Schumer (D- N.Y.), who have pushed a bill that aims to limit 1st Amendment protections only to those who belong to a professional class of government-sanctioned journalists.

New Mexico Man Violated By Police In Illegal Anal Probe Settles For $1.6 Million

In November, we told you about the New Mexico man who was suing two municipalities and one hospital for participating in a thorough – and we do mean thorough – body cavity search without probable cause, without a legal warrant, and without finding any drugs on him – or in him.

Now that man can claim at least a partial victory. After filing a lawsuit against the City of Deming, Hidalgo County and the Gila Regional Medical Center in November, 54 year-old David Eckert agreed to settle with the two municipal entities for $1.6 million. His lawsuit against the hospital is still in litigation.

What precipitated the lawsuit? A longer version is here, but basically, the police made up an excuse to stop Eckert’s vehicle, repeatedly searched him for drugs after alleging they didn’t like the way he had suspiciously clinched his rear end while exiting his vehicle, and then hauled him out of the county (on an in-county warrant that expired midway through the ordeal) to a hospital – where doctors obediently conducted no fewer than four anal searches involving enemas and a surgical colonoscopy. There were no drugs.

The ordeal took 14 hours, and Eckert never consented to any of the searches. The colonoscopy required that he be sedated – again, without his consent. When it was done, Eckert was billed for all of the medical procedures.

The settlement was reached in late December, less than two months after Eckert filed the suit, but the terms were not made public until this week.

Eckert has understandably kept his profile low in order to avoid being forever linked to the incident in social media. He said in a post-settlement statement that he did not want his image “linked with jokes related to anal probing.”

How Did The Maryland Transportation Police Know An Unarmed Man From Florida Was A Concealed Carry Gun Owner Before They Pulled Him Over?

A Florida man was traveling South with his family on the way home from a wedding in New Jersey when the Maryland Transportation Authority Police (MTAP) began tailing his Ford Expedition. After about 10 minutes, the police pulled him over and told him they knew he owned a gun. They demanded he produce it for them on the spot — even though the firearm was locked away in a safe 1,000 miles away.

John Filippidis of Hudson, Fla., told The Tampa Tribune he wasn’t speeding or doing anything illegal when the cops took an interest in his car. In fact, he’d intentionally left his Kel-Tec .38 pistol locked up at home precisely because he understood the potential legal headaches that can arise when traveling through multiple State jurisdictions with a firearm.

“I know the laws and I know the rules,” he said. “But I just think it’s a better idea to leave it home.”

So when the Maryland police pulled him over, they took his license and registration back to the patrol cruiser, then returned to the car and ordered him to get out. Here’s the Tribune’s narrative:

Ten minutes later he’s back, and he wants John out of the Expedition. Retreating to the space between the SUV and the unmarked car, the officer orders John to hook his thumbs behind his back and spread his feet. “You own a gun,” the officer says. “Where is it?”

“At home in my safe,” John answers.

“Don’t move,” says the officer.

Now he’s at the passenger’s window. “Your husband owns a gun,” he says. “Where is it?”

First Kally [John’s wife] says, “I don’t know.” Retelling it later she says, “And that’s all I should have said.” Instead, attempting to be helpful, she added, “Maybe in the glove [box]. Maybe in the console. I’m scared of it. I don’t want to have anything to do with it. I might shoot right through my foot.”

The officer came back to John. “You’re a liar. You’re lying to me. Your family says you have it. Where is the gun? Tell me where it is and we can resolve this right now.”

Of course, John couldn’t show him what didn’t exist, but Kally’s failure to corroborate John’s account, the officer would tell them later, was the probable cause that allowed him to summon backup — three marked cars joined the lineup along the I-95 shoulder — and empty the Expedition of riders, luggage, Christmas gifts, laundry bags; to pat down Kally and [daughter] Yianni; to explore the engine compartment and probe inside door panels; and to separate and isolate the Filippidises in the back seats of the patrol cars.

Ninety minutes later, or maybe it was two hours — “It felt like forever,” Kally says — no weapon found and their possessions repacked, the episode ended … with the officer writing out a warning.

The incident left Filippidis angry and embarrassed, outraged that his children had to endure the unnecessary ordeal while watching the police treat their father like a criminal. And he has no idea how the Maryland Transportation Authority Police knew about his lawful firearm, obtained and maintained in the State of Florida.

MTAP wouldn’t comment to the Tribune, citing an internal investigation into the matter. The police captain who supervises the officer who made the stop has apologized to Filippidis, along with an MTAP Internal Affairs officer.

But Filippidis still doesn’t know why he was stopped, how any of them knew that he was a lawful gun owner in Florida or why it made any difference to the police once they had him in their sights.

Out Of Touch: Almost No One Except Obama Views ‘Income Inequality’ As An Urgent Problem

By now you’ve probably seen some stories about the latest Gallup poll, which again indicates that more Americans view the government itself as the Nation’s greatest problem over any other issue.

Gallup conducts the polls without itemizing a list of issues from which participants must choose. Rather, the polls are open-ended, soliciting respondents to offer their own thoughts on what America’s problems are.


More interesting than learning that government itself topped the list of evils for the fourth month in a row is that President Barack Obama’s urgent focus on closing the wealth gap in America is barely on anyone’s radar. Simply put, almost no one views income inequality as a problem — especially compared with the overall economy, unemployment, healthcare and, of course, government itself.


As the graph indicates, public concern over hot-button issues fluctuates as the political seasons change. Fretting about the Federal deficit has taken a roller-coaster ride over the past year — depending on how embroiled Washington happened to be in debt-ceiling battles or rhetorical standoffs over spending. But concerns over healthcare have shown a steady rise, particularly after the launch of Obamacare in October.

But Gallup acknowledges that Obama’s push to tackle the wealth gap sets his priorities apart from those of the general public. Even among self-identified Democrats and independents, there just aren’t a lot of people wringing their hands over a lack of income parity in the U.S.

“Four other issues are mentioned by at least 5% of any party group, and of these, the ‘gap between rich and poor’ shows the most disparity [along political allegiances],” the poll summary states. “This issue that President Barack Obama has focused on is cited by 6% of Democrats and 5% of independents, but only 1% of Republicans.”

Boehner Backfire: Speaker’s Anti-Obama Facebook Boast Draws Outrage From Followers Demanding An End To Spineless Leadership

How could he not have seen it coming? House Speaker John Boehner (R-Ohio) got on Facebook Wednesday to slam President Obama for threatening to usurp Congress’ legislative powers by posting two contrasting photos and remarking on the President’s aggressive language about resorting to executive orders.

On one side of the graphic, Boehner’s photo post  has a picture of President Obama with an overlaid caption: “President Obama Has His Pen And His Phone.” A cartoon pen and phone have been Photoshopped into the image. On the other side is a picture of Boehner himself holding what appears to be some pocket version of the Constitution, with an overlaid caption that reads “We Have The Constitution” (“We” evidently means either Congress or all of America.)

Both pictures are accompanied by a comment from Boehner: “President Obama says he has a pen and a phone he can use to bypass Congress. Pens and phones are nice, but we have the Constitution…”

By late Thursday afternoon, the post had garnered nearly 3,000 comments. And nearly all of them said things like this:

  • What’s taking so long for YOU to do SOMETHING!? Appoint a special committee to investigate Benghazi, already! Impeach Eric Holder for lying to congress about Fast and Furious. And, prosecute those responsible for using the IRS to harass American citizens, all the way up to and including those in, the White House. Do it! Now!


  • With All Due Respect Sir,The Constitution is Apparently Only As Good As Your Willingness To Up Hold It!


  • Then cowboy up and use the dang thing! Notice how your playing nice with Ofraudulent didn’t work out so well for you OR us. Do your job!!!


  • I fear nothing will happen and John Boehner is an enabler.


  • Yes Boehner you and the republicans have the constitution. Will you have the backbone and stamina to stand up in obama’s face and use it. Your past record says no. You want to talk big for a while to try and make people think you are going to do something but when the time comes to prove it you cave and bow to obama. Move over and let Cruz take the wheel you have been blinded by obama’s false light.


  • Ha! Mr. Speaker, you have lost all appearance of having any authority as the leader of the most useless Congress in history. Please step aside.


  • Then use it! Impeach him! and read the comments on this post.. The people of the country are tired of your words and no ACTION…Mr Speaker!


  • Quit talking and DO something about it!


  • At what point does your oath to protect us kick in?


  • Stop dancing with him, and prosecute him!


  • You apparently haven’t read it.. If you had, you would have already impeached him….. And now you are acting like the democrats and passing a 1500+ page bill without reading it. You are not a leader, you are acting like his lap dog..


  • Worst. Speaker. Ever.

It goes on and on and on. See for yourself here.

Obamacare Off The Rails: Oregon Considers Abandoning State Exchange After Rollout Disaster

Oregon has spent more money than any other State to bring its State-managed Obamacare website, Cover Oregon, into existence. After lavishing millions of dollars on advertising, website development and an endless series of quick fixes and workarounds, the website has failed to successfully enroll a single person in a health insurance plan.

Now Democratic Governor John Kitzhaber, who’s taken a public beating for his aloofness throughout the launch of Cover Oregon, and for walking out of an interview when pressed to discuss the site’s shortcomings (including a smoking-gun email about problems with the site), is indicating the State may just let the whole mess revert to Federal government oversight.

A health policy staffer for the governor’s office said Tuesday Kitzhaber is now considering making the switch to Healthcare.gov, a site that’s certainly not without its share of technical and security problems. But the move would amount to a political Jonah moment for Kitzhaber, who could jettison his longtime support for the State’s participation in Obamacare in order to mount a credible re-election campaign this year.

The Cover Oregon disaster isn’t the first instance of a Democratic gubernatorial administration fielding calls for a Federal takeover of its nascent Obamacare program. On the whole, the story of Maryland’s Obamacare rollout is worse than Oregon’s.

Democratic Maryland Governor Martin O’Malley, however, has continually maintained that the State’s health insurance website is just about to turn a corner — even as liberal hometown critics like the editorial board at The Baltimore Sun continue to paste him for his delusional optimism.

Say-Huh? Judge Upholds 100-Mile ‘Constitution-Free Zones’ As Constitutional

This week, Federal Judge Edward Korman upheld the Federal government’s contention that law enforcement can conduct warrantless searches of individuals’ electronic equipment within 100 miles of any U.S. border, regardless of whether they have suspicion that the target is involved in any illegal activity whatsoever.

The ruling upends the efforts of the American Civil Liberties Union and other advocates to reverse U.S. Customs’ practice of stopping and searching travelers and their belongings as they move in areas at – or even near – the border. The Obama Administration has sided with Customs in defending the practice.

From Fox News:

The ACLU originally challenged the administration’s policy, which can be applied anywhere within 100 miles of the border, after U.S. Customs agents stopped student Pascal Abidor on a train traveling from Canada to New York. After noticing Abidor had two passports – not uncommon for journalists and those with dual citizenship – agents asked to see his laptop. Since Abidor was a student of Middle Eastern affairs, his computer contained photos of political rallies held by Hamas and Hezbollah, known terrorist groups.

“I explained to the immigration officer that the reason I had these photos was this was my research,” said Abidor, a U.S. citizen. “I determined they looked at my personal photos and personal chats with my girlfriend. I knew I needed help.”

Abidor’s case was considered a strong challenge to the Obama Administration because of Abdior’s citizenship: if it can happen to one U.S. citizen, it can happen to any U.S. citizen.

But Judge Korman ruled that the searches are sufficiently infrequent and judicious in their targeting of subjects to pose no threat to the Constitutional rights of Americans.

The ACLU, which coined the “Constitution-Free Zone” appellation to illustrate what’s at stake in the government’s selective application of Americans’ rights, is weighing whether to take the case to a higher court.

Mississippi Bill Would Overturn State’s Castle Doctrine

With the convening of State Legislatures for their 2014 sessions comes the inevitable early deluge of pet bills that serve the personal interests of their sponsors. So it is with Mississippi’s Deborah Dixon, a Democratic Representative who wants to overturn the State’s very strong Castle Doctrine laws with a bill that would abolish legal protection for people forced to kill someone in self defense — unless such harrowing ordeals happen to occur within 30 feet of their own homes.

The bill, HB 179 before the Mississippi House of Representatives, includes language remarkable for its apparent criminalization of innocent victims. From the Mississippi Gun News blog:

In HB 179 proposed today [Jan. 13] by Rep. Deborah Dixon (D-District 63)  the protection citizens have when defending themselves anywhere other than within 30 feet of their home would be removed.

In her bill she proposes the protections of criminal liability provided in Mississippi’s Castle Doctrine  “not be extended to any person who, in the act of resisting the commission of a felony upon him or within his dwelling, kills the aggressor outside of the immediate premises thereof.”

Dixon has a personal tragedy in her past which undoubtedly supplies an abundance of emotional fuel for a crusade to make the world a less violent place. Her son, Broderick, was murdered in cold blood in 2009 in Birmingham, Ala., by an off-duty police officer evidently jealous of his friendship with a mutual female acquaintance. But the law she’s proposing is counterproductive to her cause and, like every other attempt at re-evaluating the scope of the 2nd Amendment, is unConstitutional.

As one blog commenter pointed out, a 30-foot domicile limit on the Castle Doctrine law would, in fact, have favored the shooter in her son’s murder. Someone going by “Mississippi Guy” offered the following thoughtful breakdown:

I read the story of the tragic death of Rep. Dixon’s son at the hands of an off duty Alabama police officer “over a woman”. The police officer basically executed an unarmed man for no reason. I am very sorry for her loss.

NOW, if her son had a gun to defend himself (and survived), and a law like she filed was in effect where he lived, he would probably lose all protections of the Castle Doctrine and be subject to a civil suite [sic] by the cop or his family since he most likely was more than 30 feet from his residence when he was attacked (in his apartment parking lot and running away from the rogue cop).

I think a law to weed out mentally unstable cops would be of more value rather than to make the victim of crime a victim a second time in the courts.

Currently, Mississippi law does not subject a would-be crime victim who killed in self defense to civil recrimination for their actions — and that’s the way it should stay.

Disclosure Act Would Force White House To Stop Hoarding And Hiding Obamacare Information

Congressman Lee Terry (R-Neb.) has a proposal before the House that would require the Administration of President Barack Obama to give weekly updates to Congress on the progress of the implementation of the Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act. Predictably, the White House is against it.

The bill, dubbed the Exchange Information Disclosure Act, seeks to force the Department of Health and Human Services (HHS) to report on Obamacare enrollment and payment data to Congress on a weekly basis, as well as break down the demographic composition of enrollees and compare the matrix of paying insurance customers with that of new Medicaid enrollees. There would also be a tally of ongoing functional problems with Healthcare.gov and a rolling report on Obamacare Navigators’ training and certification.

The bill will come before the House this week, but the likelihood of it making it to the Senate floor — should it pass the Republican-controlled House — is anybody’s guess.

Breitbart described the effect of such a law as that of a “rolling subpoena,” an evergreen law that would compel HHS to begin sharing with Congress data that it’s so far sheltered from the public.

It obviously smells like politics; no Democrat would have ever proposed this sort of constraint on a Democratic Presidential Administration. But Terry is right when he questions the Obama Administration’s self-promoting claim of “transparency” and points out that HHS is simply not going to voluntarily share politically damaging news about Obamacare with any frequency, if at all.

“The American people have a right to know what’s happening with their health care coverage,” he said last week. “If you have nothing to hide, then there is no reason why the President and Congressional Democrats shouldn’t support the immediate passage of the Exchange Information Disclosure Act.”

Maybe so. One would have hoped that the President and Congressional Democrats would have simply shared a single conviction that HHS is responsible to deliver, without compulsion or Congressional intervention, the public’s business with the public.

The Obama Administration is pushing Democrats in Congress to go against the measure, claiming the law would frivolously waste taxpayer money. But the Congressional Budget Office has already calculated that the law will not cost a dime to implement. Someone just has to show up each week and tell Congress what only HHS and a few Administrative insiders already know — even if that news is underwhelming for those who’ve supported Obamacare.

Another Member Of Mayors Against Illegal Guns In Trouble For A Gun Crime

Last month, we offered up a sampling of hypocritical and criminal behavior from members of Mayors Against Illegal Guns, former New York Mayor Michael Bloomberg’s pet gun control group.

One Pennsylvania Mayor who made it on the list was James Schiliro, who was arrested last February for reckless endangerment after he fired off a gun to intimidate a guest who was attempting to leave Schiliro’s home.

Schiliro, formerly the Mayor of Marcus Hook, Pa., went to jail Monday after a judge sentenced him to at least 10 months of prison, five years of probation and 50 hours of community service. He was convicted in November of reckless endangerment, unlawful restraint, false imprisonment, official oppression and furnishing liquor to a minor.

The Philadelphia Inquirer’s account of Schiliro’s behavior needs no sensational embellishment:

Schiliro was sentenced to 10 to 20 months for an alcohol-fueled episode last February in which he had a police car bring a former neighbor — a 20-year-old to whom he said he was attracted — to his home, made him drink wine, and refused to let him leave for 3 ½ hours.

During the encounter, Schiliro threatened to kill himself and fired a gun into a stack of papers. The man eventually left and later called police.

… At the house that night in February, Schiliro told [houseguest Nicholas] Dorsam he wanted to commit suicide. Then Dorsam talked about Schiliro’s daughter, who was asleep upstairs.

“I was so drunk and so upset with myself for what I did, if Nick didn’t mention my daughter I would have killed myself,” Schiliro said. “That is the only thing that kept me from pulling the trigger.”

Schiliro, who sold the weapon shortly after the encounter, entered an alcohol-treatment program and underwent counseling.

Emotional testimony and passionate pleas from friends and family had little effect on Judge James F. Nilon, who said he was skeptical that Schiliro, even after the conviction, grasped the seriousness of his behavior.

National Review observed Tuesday that Schiliro was among the 600 municipal and regional leaders who signed a letter last year calling on Congress to enact tougher Federal gun control laws — and that Mayors Against Illegal Guns removed his name from the list of signers after he was arrested.

Here’s a graphic, created by the Second Amendment Foundation, that features even more current and former mayors whose esteem for the rule of law calls into question their preoccupation with legislating guns.

maig_jpg (2)

Schiliro didn’t make the list because his crime took place in February of 2013 — three months after this graphic was made.

President Obama Has Begun Openly Flaunting His De Facto Fiat Power Over The Legislative Branch

“I’ve got a pen, and I’ve got a phone.”*

That’s how President Barack Obama phrased his open threat Tuesday to bypass Congress in 2014 if his agenda suffers the same legislative opposition it met last year.

“We are not just going to be waiting for legislation to make sure that we’re providing Americans with the help that they need,” said the President. “I’ve got a pen and I’ve got a phone. I can use that pen to sign executive orders and take executive actions and administrative actions that move the ball forward.”

Is this a preview of his State of the Union Address? The dictatorial, Constitution-abasing braggadocio comes even as the Obama Administration found itself justifying, as the defendant in a case before the Supreme Court Monday, the President’s previous end-runs around the Constitution in making board appointments while Congress is not convened at the Capitol building.

But what of this new rhetoric? Well, the “pen” part is easy, since the President had the sand to say exactly what he meant: he means to bypass Congress, which he considers inactive because it didn’t pass enough laws last year to melt his progressive heart.


As for the “phone” part, Obama is evidently going into community organizer mode to mobilize people and companies and so on to go out in the yard and stand around a fire or…something.

I’ve got a phone that allows me to convene Americans from every walk of life, nonprofits, businesses, the private sector, universities, to try to bring more and more Americans together around what I think is a unifying theme; making sure that this is a country where if you work hard, you can make it.

Obama didn’t hint at which parts of his agenda are first in line to be decreed into law. It’s a safe bet he’s waiting for Congress to reach its first significant legislative stalemate of the year before he decides to figuratively cross the Rubicon Potomac.


* [Maybe it’s an Obamaphone.]