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.”