Joe Biden’s Heart Tells Him He’d ‘Make A Good President’

Vice President Joe Biden may or may not decide to run for President in 2016, but at least he thinks he’d make a good one. At least, that’s what his heart tells him.

Biden told NBC News today it’s simply a question of him making up his own mind about getting in the race. “In my heart, I’m confident that I could make a good president,” he said. “It’s a very different decision to decide whether or not to run for president.”

To which we can only say – listen to your heart and run, Joe, run.

BOOM

Constitution Absent From Barack Obama’s State Of The Union

President Barack Obama delivered a State of the Union address last night that reflected a parallel-universe vision of America very different from the one most of us inhabit in the present day. It’s almost as though he had this speech written five years ago, on the cusp of taking his first Oath of Office, and had to redact and revise swaths of visionary optimism to save face after the embattled 5th year he just completed. It was a vainglorious, self-indulgent victory lap in an empty, echoing stadium.

Some of his promises sounded very Republican, borrowed from conservative critics. At other times, he took credit for things that are either demonstrably unsuccessful or, where successful, can’t be attributed to a hand up from the government – and certainly not from his. The days to come will yield a wealth of commentary and criticism, but let’s knee-jerk over a few highlights from the President’s speech.

 

Yes, He’s Taking Action

But what I offer tonight is a set of concrete, practical proposals to speed up growth, strengthen the middle class, and build new ladders of opportunity into the middle class. Some require Congressional action, and I’m eager to work with all of you. But America does not stand still – and neither will I. So wherever and whenever I can take steps without legislation to expand opportunity for more American families, that’s what I’m going to do. … I will act on my own to slash bureaucracy and streamline the permitting process for key projects, so we can get more construction workers on the job as fast as possible. … My administration will keep working with the [natural gas] industry to sustain production and job growth while strengthening protection of our air, our water, and our communities [No mention of the Keystone pipeline]. And while we’re at it, I’ll use my authority to protect more of our pristine federal lands for future generations. … I have seen the courage of parents, students, pastors, and police officers all over this country who say “we are not afraid,” and I intend to keep trying, with or without Congress, to help stop more tragedies from visiting innocent Americans in our movie theaters, shopping malls, or schools like Sandy Hook. Citizenship demands a sense of common cause; participation in the hard work of self-government; an obligation to serve to our communities.

Obama must have seen the storm coming over his widely-anticipated promise to convert the Presidency to a monarchy. But it didn’t mute that promise; it only forced him to add a spoonful of sugar to the rhetoric. The President pledged to take executive action on domestic economic policy, environmental protection and – even in the wake of last year’s resounding Congressional defeat – gun control. Because, evidently, moral and cultural bankruptcy have nothing to do with mass murders – more unConstitutional laws do.

 

We Can Spend More Money To Save More Money

Of all the things Obama said Tuesday, his dogged negligence in reconciling a cavalcade of government-expanding ideas with returning our Nation to financial solvency on the global stage stands as the most perplexing – even if, by now, it ought to be a familiar Obama-Administration refrain. Here are some examples:

Last month, thanks to the work of Democrats and Republicans, this Congress finally produced a budget that undoes some of last year’s severe cuts to priorities like education. Nobody got everything they wanted, and we can still do more to invest in this country’s future while bringing down our deficit in a balanced way.  But the budget compromise should leave us freer to focus on creating new jobs, not creating new crises.

Translation: The sequester’s over, the tap is turned on, and the Republicans didn’t get what they wanted. Someone in the future can worry about balancing out my Adminstration’s escalation of the Federal debt.

It’s not just oil [again, no mention of Keystone] and natural gas production that’s booming; we’re becoming a global leader in solar, too.  Every four minutes, another American home or business goes solar; every panel pounded into place by a worker whose job can’t be outsourced.  Let’s continue that progress with a smarter tax policy that stops giving $4 billion a year to fossil fuel industries that don’t need it, so that we can invest more in fuels of the future that do.

Translation: Let’s kill coal, which we have in abundance and which supports an established domestic economy with a well-developed infrastructure, and throw more Federal money at disastrous, discredited pipe dreams like Solyndra. Petroleum is for fat cats, and it’s time they helped pay their fair share to put themselves out of business.

When we rescued our automakers, for example, we worked with them to set higher fuel efficiency standards for our cars.  In the coming months, I’ll build on that success by setting new standards for our trucks, so we can keep driving down oil imports and what we pay at the pump.

Translation: Small businesses, farmers and domestic industries need to bear the cost of a senseless tax on the very vehicles they rely on to produce a product. It’s the government’s job to vilify automakers by passing that financial burden on to the consumer. I am clueless that Ford – the only automaker the government didn’t bail out – didn’t need a government mandate to develop a new series of lightweight, fuel-efficient aluminum trucks in response to a need it saw in the marketplace.

I’m also convinced we can help Americans return to the workforce faster by reforming unemployment insurance so that it’s more effective in today’s economy.  But first, this Congress needs to restore the unemployment insurance you just let expire for 1.6 million people.

Translation: Just what we need – another Obama-inspired insurance initiative to stand alongside the efficient, well received, seamless and cost-effective monument to nanny-state salvation that is Obamacare.

 

I Can Call Women Fools, And No One Will Notice Because Democrats Stand For Equality

Today, women make up about half our workforce. But they still make 77 cents for every dollar a man earns. That is wrong, and in 2014, it’s an embarrassment. A woman deserves equal pay for equal work. She deserves to have a baby without sacrificing her job. A mother deserves a day off to care for a sick child or sick parent without running into hardship – and you know what, a father does, too. It’s time to do away with workplace policies that belong in a “Mad Men” episode. This year, let’s all come together – Congress, the White House, and businesses from Wall Street to Main Street – to give every woman the opportunity she deserves.

Translation: No one in this room reads conservative news sources, so I can get away with patronizing women without fear that someone may call out my own White House for paying female staffers $9,000 a year less than the males. And all this rhetoric is really in the service of a larger goal: European-style socialism that converts the private sector into a clearinghouse for government-mandated, privately-funded corporate welfare.

 

Let Government Manage Your Money

Obama took pride in his forthcoming policy tweak, which will reset the Federal minimum wage for contracted workers at $10.10 per hour.

“And as a chief executive, I intend to lead by example: Profitable corporations like Costco see higher wages as the smart way to boost productivity and reduce turnover. We should too. In the coming weeks, I will issue an Executive Order requiring federal contractors to pay their federally-funded employees a fair wage of at least $10.10 an hour – because if you cook our troops’ meals or wash their dishes, you shouldn’t have to live in poverty,” he said.

Never mind that Costco is a successful company that pays its employees well because of across-the-board sound business practices.

The Federal government is in no financial position to hike wages. Unlike the government, Costco didn’t shut down three months ago, restart itself through borrowed money and make company-wide pay raises its first priority.

Then there was this:

Let’s do more to help Americans save for retirement. Today, most workers don’t have a pension. A Social Security check often isn’t enough on its own. And while the stock market has doubled over the last five years, that doesn’t help folks who don’t have 401ks. That’s why, tomorrow, I will direct the Treasury to create a new way for working Americans to start their own retirement savings: MyRA. It’s a new savings bond that encourages folks to build a nest egg. MyRA guarantees a decent return with no risk of losing what you put in. And if this Congress wants to help, work with me to fix an upside-down tax code that gives big tax breaks to help the wealthy save, but does little to nothing for middle-class Americans.

Well, that’s interesting. As long as we’re living in a land of fiat currency, this will either work great until, one day, it doesn’t – or it’s just ambitious pomp that isn’t intended to get off the ground. After all, George W. Bush had us going to Mars by 2030, if anyone remembers.

There’s also a possibility that this MyRA plan is the first baby step toward the government requiring people to buy into a mandatory, wealth-redistributing pension program with penalties for opt-outs. That sounds like another of Obama’s signature legacies.

It also sounds a lot like a long-range Social Security replacement program that solves nothing. And anyway, wouldn’t it be grandiose enough an ambition either to reform Social Security in the first place, or abolish it outright? Obama said little else, so it seems like early days for this one – let’s hope.

 

Enjoy The Silence

And, louder than any of his spoken words was the President’s roaring silence on what he’s done wrong – Obamacare’s fundamental unsustainability; a head-in-the-sand foreign policy; spending too much printed money while claiming a trimmed deficit; forcing the free market to behave like an overwrought government; using phony numbers to prop up economic optimism; and, above all, wilfully neglecting to countenance and rectify the many recent shameful scandals that lie squarely at his feet: IRS discrimination. The Department of Justice’s adversarial relationship with the American people and press.  His Administration’s simpering, self-serving ignorance of the terror attack on our consulate in Benghazi.

The list goes on – but what difference does it make?

*Sam Rolley contributed to this analysis.

Democratic Senators Side With Obama Administration In Hobby Lobby Birth Control Fight

Nineteen Democratic Senators filed an amicus brief siding with the Obama Administration Tuesday in a long-running court case which could determine whether the government has the power to enforce a controversial Obamacare provision over the religious objections of Christian business owners.

The family of David Green, who owns the Hobby Lobby retail chain, filed the lawsuit to block the Obama Administration from forcing the company to pay for its employees’ birth control under Obamacare. The family, citing religious convictions, maintains that the government cannot require companies to fund mandatory programs that company owners deem immoral according to their interpretation of Biblical moral precepts.

The Greens’ case had already won a victory in U.S. District Court last summer, when an Oklahoma City Judge issued a preliminary injunction exempting the company from having to follow the contraception mandate until after the lawsuit had run its course. The case has since moved to the U.S. Supreme Court, where the Democratic Senators filed their Tuesday brief.

The Senators argue that Hobby Lobby as a company cannot avail itself of the same protections afforded to individuals by the Religious Freedom Restoration Act of 1993. The Act was passed to protect individuals and nonprofit organizations against government policies that infringe on their religious beliefs, but the Obama Administration argues the law does not apply to companies.

Late Tuesday, A group of 18 Republican Senators countered by filing an amicus brief of their own in support of Hobby Lobby. They argued that the Obamacare contraception mandate violates the 1st Amednment’s Free Exercise Clause, in addition to portions of the RFRA.

“The First Amendment guarantees every American the right to free exercise of religion,” said Senator Ted Cruz (R-Texas), one of the lawmakers attached to the brief. “Yet, the Obama administration has chosen repeatedly to break the law by giving breaks to big business and Congress, while refusing to grant those same waivers to people with sincerely held religious beliefs.”

Hobby Lobby employs 13,000 people.

Dinesh D’Souza Gets Arrested In Obama Witch Hunt; Ted Cruz Defends Him On TV; CBS Edits It Out

Although it wasn’t widely reported in the mainstream press, you may have heard about about Dinesh D’souza’s recent troubles with the U.S. Department of Justice.

D’souza, the conservative commentator, writer and filmmaker responsible for the damning 2013 documentary “2016: Obama’s America,” was indicted last Thursday on Federal charges that he funneled money illegally to a Senate candidate — widely rumored to be 2012 Republican candidate Wendy Long of New York, although the court didn’t name her — in violation of campaign finance laws.

The U.S Attorney’s office accuses D’souza of circumventing election funding laws that capped individual contributions at $2,500 by reimbursing straw donors to the candidate’s unsuccessful Senate campaign. D’souza is accused of repaying donors a total of $20,000 in donations that were redistributed into the campaign at $2,500 a pop.

D’Souza pleaded “not guilty” on Friday and was released after meeting a $500,000 bail. Here’s a list of nine people accused of violent crimes who didn’t have to come up with that kind of bail money.

D’souza is a prolific critic of President Barack Obama. At the time of his indictment, he was in the midst of filming a follow-up documentary to “2016: Obama’s America” simply titled “America.” Now he’s been charged with a Federal crime: one he may or may not be guilty of. Even if he is guilty, the charade seems selective, contrived and politically motivated.

As with so many scandals close to the Obama Administration, the gun used to assassinate D’souza is warm but it isn’t smoking. The State Trooper may be letting speeders whiz by his parked cruiser all day long; but when the call comes in to follow the beige sedan, it’s not difficult to catch the driver speeding. And as long as you catch your mark breaking the law, who cares if other people are doing it?

D’souza likely won’t get the treatment Pierce O’Donnell received. In 2012, O’Donnell struck a plea deal for committing the exact same crime in 2004, on behalf of then-Presidential candidate John Edwards. O’Donnell ended up pleading guilty to two misdemeanors.

The Department of Justice claims it “caught” D’souza by sitting on the side of the road with a radar gun. D’souza, they allege, was the lone speeder:

The Indictment is the result of a routine review by the FBI of campaign filings with the FEC by various candidates after the 2012 election for United States Senator in New York.

Rick Moran of the PJ Tatler finds that problematic:

How is it possible that a measly $20,000 in donations could leap out at investigators during a “routine review”? Most people charged with this crime front hundreds of thousands of dollars — and end up with far lesser charges. And are we to believe this “routine review” only snared Mr. D’Souza? If $20,000 in contributions leapt out at the FBI, are we to believe that D’Souza is the only contributor guilty of setting up straw donations? Where are the other lawbreakers?

On Sunday, Senator Ted Cruz (R-Texas) appeared on CBS’s “Face the Nation” and tried to connect D’souza’s indictment with the Obama Administration’s larger pattern of political persecution. Here’s how part of his exchange with host Bob Schieffer went:

Cruz: …Just this week it was broken that Dinesh D’Souza, who did a very big movie criticizing the President, is now being prosecuted by this Administration.”

Schieffer: “Senator– “

Cruz: “Can you image the reaction if the Bush Administration had went; gone — and prosecuted Michael Moore and Alec Baldwin and Sean Penn?”

Schieffer: “Senator– “

Cruz: “It should trouble everyone the government uses government power and the IRS in particular to target their enemies and you are talking in a few minutes to Chuck Schumer–“

Schieffer: “We are going to leave this for another day, Senator. Thank you for joining us and we’ll talk to you again.”

Every word of that exchange was edited out of the broadcast. Cruz revealed the contents of the entire exchange on his YouTube channel.

McCain Adds Another Dubious Honor To His RINO Trophy Case

Senator John McCain (R-Ariz.) picked up the most illustrious of the many trophies he’s been collecting for his RINO mantle over the weekend, receiving a formal censure by the Arizona Republican Party for a voting record that betrays conservative values.

The official condemnation represents the latest in a series of scoldings the Senator has received from Republicans in Arizona. Republicans in his home county of Maricopa formally censured McCain on for similar reasons earlier this month on an overwhelmingly lopsided vote. But Saturdays’ censure vote, coming via the State Republican Party, marks the broadest reprimand McCain has yet received.

The resolution describes McCain’s voting record as “disastrous and harmful” and castigates the Senator for his recent positions on immigration reform, the funding of Obamacare and 2nd Amendment issues, among other offenses. The resolution concludes that McCain’s brand of “conservatism” has forced the Arizona Republican Party to “no longer support, campaign for or endorse John McCain as our U.S. Senator.”

The censure, which passed on a voice vote, carries no repercussions other than to draw a public line between party conservatives and McCain. But that sort of bad publicity can become its own quite tangible form of punishment.

Establishment GOP lawmakers quickly closed ranks to protect McCain following the vote. Former Arizona Republican Senator John Kyl evoked McCain’s own Tea Party-bashing language by telling The Arizona Republic the censure was “wacky.”

“To say that John McCain doesn’t work with Republicans, doesn’t have a conservative voting record — that’s just baloney,” said Kyl. “I served with him in the Senate for 18 years, 26 years all together, and we didn’t always vote alike, but his record is very conservative. It’s just wacky to say otherwise.”

Retiring House Democrat Jim Moran Wakes Up; Admits Obamacare Is Underwater

Congressman Jim Moran (D-Va.), who’s not seeking a 13th term in office after his current term ends, told American University’s radio station Friday he doesn’t see a way for Obamacare to succeed if it continues to rely on human nature and market forces to meet its enrollment goals.

Moran candidly expressed concern that young people in the so-called “millennial generation” demographic will never voluntarily enroll for overpriced health care coverage as long as there remains no financial incentive to do so. Without an abundant enrollment of healthy, self-paying customers, there’s no way for insurers to benefit financially under Obamacare unless the government simply devises a way to bail them out.

“I’m afraid that the millennials, if you will, are less likely to sign up. I think they feel more independent, I think they feel a little more invulnerable than prior generations,” said Moran. “But I don’t think we’re going to get enough young people signing up to make this bill work as it was intended to financially.

“And, frankly, there’s some legitimacy to their concern because the government spends about $7 for the elderly for every $1 it spends on the young…I just don’t know how we’re going to do it frankly. If we had a solution I’d be telling the president right now.”

NSA Exploits Mobile Apps To Find Out Whether You’re Gay Or Straight

Have you installed Google Maps or Angry Birds on your smartphone? Apps for mobile devices – including those two phenomenally popular ones – evidently offer the National Security Agency a gateway into your device, and therefore a great deal of insight about who you are – your age, your sex, your whereabouts, and even whether you’re straight or gay; celibate or promiscuous.

The Guardian released yet another Edward Snowden revelation today that outlines how the NSA (as well as Britain’s Government Communications Headquarters, or GCHQ) can use so-called “leaky” mobile apps – programs that transmit user data across the Internet – to monitor user behavior and build databases that harbor very personal information, as well as delineate broad patterns across wide demographics.

From The Guardian:

The data pouring onto communication networks from the new generation of iPhone and Android apps ranges from phone model and screen size to personal details such as age, gender and location. Some apps, the documents state, can share users’ most sensitive information such as sexual orientation – and one app recorded in the material even sends specific sexual preferences such as whether or not the user may be a swinger.

Many smartphone owners will be unaware of the full extent this information is being shared across the internet, and even the most sophisticated would be unlikely to realise that all of it is available for the spy agencies to collect.

Dozens of classified documents, provided to the Guardian by whistleblower Edward Snowden and reported in partnership with the New York Times and ProPublica, detail the NSA and GCHQ efforts to piggyback on this commercial data collection for their own purposes.

Scooping up information the apps are sending about their users allows the agencies to collect large quantities of mobile phone data from their existing mass surveillance tools – such as cable taps, or from international mobile networks – rather than solely from hacking into individual mobile handsets.

The newspaper published a leaked NSA instructional graphic that demonstrates the type of personal information a leaky app can yield – including, according to The New York Times, “address books, buddy lists, phone logs and the geographic data embedded in photos when someone sends a post to the mobile versions of Facebook, Flickr, LinkedIn, Twitter and other services.” The program has reportedly been operational since at least 2007.

Content Director Revealed Newspaper Company Plan To Build Concealed Carry Database

A media company that owns dozens of newspapers in 12 States “considered” creating private “state-by-state databases” tracking “those who have the right to carry a concealed weapon” as part of its strategy to report on “the explosion of ‘conceal and carry’ gun permits” across the Nation.

Civitas Media is a newspaper conglomerate that operates 88 newspapers. A confidential source within the company leaked an internal email that mentioned the plan to the Ohio-based Buckeye Firearms Association (BFA).

In a blog post built at 8 a.m. Friday, BFA spilled the beans about Civitas Media’s plan.

Content Director Jim Lawitz sent the email on Jan. 19 to “All Content Directors,” “All Content Producers” and “All Content Producers” at Civitas’ regional newspapers. BFA contacted some of those newspapers; no one would comment.

After all the hoopla stemming from BFA’s report, Civitas Media CEO Michael C. Bush issued a statement, which was on the company’s website by mid-afternoon Friday:

Civitas Media never had any plans or intentions of publishing in print or online lists of holders of “conceal and carry” permits. Nor will Civitas Media develop databases of permit holders. A poorly crafted internal memo meant to highlight editorial discussions and planning incorrectly indicated that such a database was being planned; it has been considered and rejected.

But that isn’t what the email indicates. See it for yourself. The first paragraph under the heading is the relevant one:

civitas-email

Several online commenters pointed out that “those who have the right to carry a concealed weapon” is perverse phrasing for a universal, natural right that the 2nd Amendment simply codifies as a safeguard to protect citizens from tyranny.

The company likely would have been met with varying degrees of success, depending on the public records laws in State where requests were filed. As BFA pointed out, its home State of Ohio has a rocky history of protecting the privacy of lawful gun owners with laws. The organization even struck back against another newspaper, the Sandusky Register — which in 2007 published a list of more than 2,600 Ohio concealed handgun license holders — by making public similar information about that paper’s managing editor:

In response, Buckeye Firearms Association decided to use truly publicly-available records to obtain information about [managing editor] Matt Westerhold and publish that information, which included his address and photos of his home, a description of his vehicle and license plate number, (which he had been driving when he committed a recent traffic offense). Later, in an article entitled “What is the harm in publishing lists of concealed handgun license holders?,” we used Westerhold as a case study to show how a person can use public records to obtain information that could be used by someone with intent to do harm. We obtained (but did not republish in its entirety even though it was acquired through public record) his birth date, social security number, and even the name of his then-pre-teen child. We pointed out that from the information we gathered though public record it would have been easy for a criminal to determine where the child went to school, what bus the child rode on, etc.

In short, our point is and always has been that THE ONLY USE FOR THESE LISTS IS TO TARGET AND VICTIMIZE GUN OWNERS.

Americans Hate Congress In General Worse Than Their Congressmen In Particular

While the results of a Gallup poll last week shouldn’t give any sitting member of Congress great cause for optimism, they do affirm a pervasive feature of the American political zeitgeist: It’s easier to hate everyone else’s Congressional delegates than it is to hate your own.

While the poll indicates few incumbent Congressmen seeking to hold on to their seats should feel safe in 2014, it does reveal that people have an innate tendency to sympathize with their own elected leaders’ shortcomings more than the shortcomings of elected officials hailing from other States.

According to Gallup’s annual “Mood of the Nation” poll, 46 of Americans said they will vote for their Congressional incumbents again — and that’s a record low. But it’s still a more favorable approval rating than Americans have for Congress as a whole: Only 17 percent of those questioned said that “most members of Congress” should be re-elected.

From the summary:

The legendary Speaker of the House Tip O’Neill famously coined the phrase “all politics is local,” a dictum that guided his Democratic majorities against Republican electoral waves in the 1980s. More generally, the saying describes the local versus national phenomenon that also occurs when the public is asked about such things as healthcare, education, and crime. But now that adage rings less true as voters see their own U.S. representative in the same way that they see most other members of Congress — as not deserving re-election.

Relative to previous polls, that’s true. But local sympathies still win out over generalizations. With the gap in public opinion closing in, however, 2014 could be a tumultuous election in which some incumbents defy expectations by surviving brutal campaigns, while others fall to insurgents from both sides of the political spectrum who promise not to repeat the mistakes of their predecessors.

“Typically, results like these have presaged significant turnover in Congress, such as in 1994, 2006, and 2010,” Gallup observes. “So Congress could be headed for a major shake-up in its membership this fall. However, unlike those three years, when one party controlled both houses of Congress, the beneficiary of the anti-incumbent sentiment is not clear in the current situation, in which one party controls the House and the other, the Senate.”

Whatever the outcome, expect most of the real turnover to occur in the primaries, when partisan voters get their chance to exact righteous vengeance by ousting the incumbents and replacing them with newcomers who’ve risen within the same political party.

Pentagon To Deploy High-Altitude Blimps Over D.C.

Citing a lapse in the Nation’s defense infrastructure that could allow a low-flying missile to strike strategic targets, the Pentagon is planning to deploy blimps that will hover indefinitely at high altitude over the Washington, D.C. area.

The Department of Defense will place two surveillance blimps over Aberdeen Proving Ground in Maryland later this year, ostensibly to fill a gap in the DoD’s ability to spot incoming cruise missiles near the capital. The unmanned aircraft will reportedly use radar to monitor the lower reaches of the atmosphere, signaling interceptor missiles to destroy the incoming bombs.

The blimps carry radars that can search for hundreds of miles to detect the launch of a cruise missile and relay the data to interceptor missiles which have been positioned around Washington since Sept. 11, 2001.

The blimps also carry the capability to track moving vehicles on the ground with radar and cameras. “That would give the government the ability to follow American citizens as they go about their daily lives,” reports CBS News.

The DoD maintains the military has no intention of taking advantage of that feature, although civil libertarians are skeptical.

“Right now there are no rules. There’s nothing that bars us from having high-powered cameras monitoring our every public movement,” the ACLU’s Christopher Calabrese told the network.

Smith & Wesson Plans Slow Exit From California Semi-Auto Handgun Market

Smith & Wesson announced Wednesday it will no longer sell its popular range of M&P (military and police) handguns in California, thanks to new gun-identifying regulations that are driving up manufacturing costs in the State while forcing more American citizens onto a registry that allows the government to keep track of their firearms.

The company released a statement Thursday criticizing California’s Unsafe Handgun Act, which forces companies to begin “microstamping” each newly made weapon’s firing pin with a unique identifying marker that, at least in theory, can serve as a “fingerprint” to match spent shell casings with the gun from which they are fired.

Smith & Wesson also pledged to end civilian sales of its M&P line of pistols (with one exception) by August of this year, as the company allows its lineup of semi-automatic handguns to fall off the California roster of “approved” firearms. As The Truth About Guns observed, though, the company made no mention of whether it will continue to sell the same guns to California police departments. The law expressly exempts the police from having to carry handguns that can be traced through microstamping. Think about the implications of that for a second.

The press release is lengthy, but here are the highlights:

SPRINGFIELD, Mass. (January 23, 2014) — Smith & Wesson Corp. announced today that although it continually seeks ways to refine and improve its firearms so that consumers have access to the best possible products, the State of California is making that impossible when it comes to California residents.

Under California’s “Unsafe Handgun Act,” any new semi-automatic pistol introduced into that state must comply with microstamping laws. In addition, California asserts that anything other than a cosmetic change to a handgun already on the California Roster of Handguns Certified for Sale, including performance enhancements and other improvements, requires it to be removed from the roster and retested. For semi-automatic pistols, this means it must comply with the microstamping requirements, as well.

Smith & Wesson does not and will not include microstamping in its firearms. A number of studies have indicated that microstamping is unreliable, serves no safety purpose, is cost prohibitive and, most importantly, is not proven to aid in preventing or solving crimes. The microstamping mandate and the company’s unwillingness to adopt this so-called technology will result in a diminishing number of Smith & Wesson semi-automatic pistols available for purchase by California residents.

This is not a problem unique to Smith & Wesson. The microstamping legislation and California’s position regarding performance enhancements and other improvements creates the same challenge for all firearm manufacturers, since presumably all of them refine and improve their products over time.

…James Debney, Smith & Wesson President & CEO, said, “As our products fall off the roster due to California’s interpretation of the Unsafe Handgun Act, we will continue to work with the NRA and the NSSF to oppose this poorly conceived law which mandates the unproven and unreliable concept of microstamping and makes it impossible for Californians to have access to the best products with the latest innovations. At the same time, we will do our best to support our customers in California with state-compliant products, enabling them access to at least a portion of the firearms to which we believe all citizens are entitled. In these challenging times, we hope you will support Smith & Wesson, and all gun manufacturers, in our fight to make the Unsafe Handgun Act about safety. We also encourage you to support the NSSF’s lawsuit and other efforts to stop microstamping, before it impacts your Constitutional rights.”

The “lawsuit” refers to the National Shooting Sports Foundation’s (NSSF) filing of a suit against the State of California earlier this month on behalf of gun manufacturers challenging the validity of microstamping.

Smith & Wesson joins Sturm, Ruger as the second firearms maker this month to announce a slow exit from the California handgun market through legal attrition.

Obama Administration Preps ‘Weaponized’ IRS For Deployment Against Conservatives In 2014

Last week, reports began circulating that President Barack Obama was readying a new series of regulatory recommendations that, if approved, would essentially equip the Internal Revenue Service with sufficient power to choke conservative grass-roots organizations out of effectiveness in time for the 2014 midterm elections.

The new rules, of course, would apply equally to nonprofits of all ideological persuasions — in theory. But thanks to the specific areas of operation the Obama Administration seeks to empower the IRS to scrutinize, it’s clear they were tailor-made to hobble conservatives. On top of that, the Obama Administration has set a precedent for picking and choosing which fish it wants to shoot out of the partisan barrel.

There’s no better phrasing to explain that well-established fact than that delivered by Tea Party Patriots member Ernest Istook, whose column in The Washington Times last week condemned Obama even as it lamented how little is likely to change:

The power to tax is the power to destroy. Its new powers will let the IRS destroy certain groups, especially those connected to the Tea Party, by imposing a tax on their work and messages during campaign seasons.

[T]he Obama Administration is notorious for selective enforcement, meaning it could choose to give a pass to friendly groups while it puts conservatives out of business. They could use this in efforts to shut down groups like the Faith and Freedom Coalition, Club for Growth, Americans for Prosperity and the National Rifle Association, while ignoring People for the American Way, American Civil Liberties Union, USAction and the Democratic Leadership Council.

The new rules would institute a litany of new no-nos to cover both 501(c)(4) nonprofits and, if the Administration wishes to strictly enforce the rules, 501(c)(3)s as well.

But how do the new changes manage to target conservatives if, technically, they apply generally to nonprofits of every stripe? Because the proposal specifically exempts the left’s grass-roots bread and butter: labor unions and trade groups.

Here’s a sampling of what conservative groups — now a year removed from the same IRS scandal that was supposed to put a stop to further discrimination — will face in 2014 (H/T: Matt Barber for WND):

In an explosive [2013] scandal that continues to grow, the Obama IRS was caught — smoking gun in hand — intentionally targeting conservative and Christian organizations and individuals for harassment, intimidation and, ultimately, for political destruction.

…Not only has Obama faced zero accountability for these arguably impeachable offenses, he has since doubled down. With jaw-dropping gall, his administration has now moved to officially weaponize the IRS against conservatives once and for all.

…Specifically, here’s what the proposed regulations would do to conservative groups and their leaders:

  • Prohibit using words like “oppose,” “vote,” “support,” “defeat,” and “reject.”
  • Prohibit mentioning, on its website or on any communication (email, letter, etc.) that would reach 500 people or more, the name of a candidate for office, 30 days before a primary election and 60 days before a general election.
  • Prohibit mentioning the name of a political party, 30 days before a primary election and 60 days before a general election, if that party has a candidate running for office.
  • Prohibit voter registration drives or conducting a non-partisan “get-out-the-vote drive.”
  • Prohibit creating or distributing voter guides outlining how incumbents voted on particular bills.
  • Prohibit hosting candidates for office at any event, including debates and charitable fundraisers, 30 days before a primary election or 60 days before the general election, if the candidate is part of the event’s program.
  • Restrict employees of such organizations from volunteering for campaigns.
  • Prohibit distributing any materials prepared on behalf a candidate for office.
  • Restrict the ability of officers and leaders of such organizations to publicly speak about incumbents, legislation, and/or voting records.
  • Restrict the ability of officers and leaders of such organizations to make public statements regarding the nomination of judges.
  • Create a 90-day blackout period, on an election year, that restricts the speech of 501(c)(4) organizations.
  • Declare political activity as contrary to the promotion of social welfare.
  • Protect labor unions and trade associations by exempting them from the proposed regulations.

These regulations are timed to coincide with the onset of election season. And a new set of discriminatory rules isn’t the only enforcement tactic the IRS is ready to deploy. The New York Times reported Wednesday on Friends of Abe, a conservative group composed of mostly anonymous Hollywood types, that’s found itself in the agency’s crosshairs after applying for tax-exempt status under the existing guidelines:

Last week, federal tax authorities presented the group with a 10-point request for detailed information about its meetings with politicians like Paul D. Ryan, Thaddeus McCotter and Herman Cain, among other matters, according to people briefed on the inquiry.

The people spoke on the condition of anonymity because of the organization’s confidentiality strictures, and to avoid complicating discussions with the I.R.S.

…Friends of Abe — the name refers to Abraham Lincoln — has strongly discouraged the naming of its members. That policy even prohibits the use of cameras at group events, to avoid the unwilling identification of all but a few associates — the actors Gary Sinise, Jon Voight and Kelsey Grammer, or the writer-producer Lionel Chetwynd, for instance — who have spoken openly about their conservative political views.

Tellingly, the IRS has been after the group for two years. Even in the wake of last year’s scandal (which a very friendly Department of Justice is supposedly investigating), the IRS remains emboldened in targeting conservatives under the very rules it has admitted it selectively applied.

Remember that bit earlier about the Obama Administration picking and choosing whether to target 501(c)(3)s based on the political benefits? That’s exactly what’s happening with Friends of Abe.

“[U]nlike most of [last year’s targeted] groups, which had sought I.R.S. approval for a mix of election campaigning and nonpartisan issue advocacy, Friends of Abe is seeking a far more restrictive tax status, known as 501(c)(3), that would let donors claim a tax deduction, but strictly prohibits any form of partisan activity,” The Times reported.

So the Tea Party’s concern isn’t merely academic.

You can file a public comment on the proposals until Feb. 27, and you can sign a petition sponsored by Liberty Counsel Action (another targeted conservative group) imploring the Senate Committee on Finance: Taxation and IRS Oversight “to ensure all 501(c)(4) organizations formed to promote conservative values will be treated fairly by the IRS.”

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.