Obama: ‘We Don’t Have A Strategy Yet’ To Move On The Islamic State

White House staffers had a major cleanup job on their hands after President Obama got done with his statement on a pair of global crises today.

“I don’t want to put the cart before the horse. We don’t have a strategy yet,” Obama responded when asked whether he would approach Congress for authorization to intervene with the Islamic State in Syria.

Here’s his full response (H/T: Zero Hedge):

QUESTION: Do you need Congress’s approval to go into Syria?

OBAMA: You know, I have consulted with Congress throughout this process. I am confident that as commander in chief I have the authorities to engage in the acts that we are conducting currently. As our strategy develops, we will continue to consult with Congress, and I do think that it’ll be important for Congress to weigh in and we’re – that our consultations with Congress continue to develop so that the American people are part of the debate.

But I don’t want to put the cart before the horse. We don’t have a strategy yet.

I think what I’ve seen in some of the news reports suggests that folks are getting a little further ahead of where we’re at than we currently are. And I think that’s not just my assessment, but the assessment of our military, as well. We need to make sure that we’ve got clear plans, that we’re developing them. At that point, I will consult with Congress and make sure that their voices are heard.

But there’s no point in me asking for action on the part of Congress before I know exactly what it is that is going to be required for us to get the job done.

That would sound prudent, maybe, if the Islamic State (at the time calling itself ISIS) hadn’t been storming Mosul and Kirkuk, while obliterating a swath of the Iraq-Syria border, in June. Regardless of whether you advocate a strong statement of intent to do something or to do nothing, this isn’t a crisis hasn’t exactly crept up on the world.

Press Secretary Josh Earnest was on Twitter ASAP, saying exactly the opposite of what Obama had just said:

Federal Debt Has Doubled Since 2007

The Congressional Budget Office (CBO) released an update to its ten-year budget and economic outlook report Wednesday. It begins by touting the ongoing reduction in the federal budget deficit – that is, in the simplest terms, the amount of money the government is spending each year beyond what Congress budgeted for that year. In other words, we’re getting nominally closer to hitting the number Congress sets for the budget, but we’re still spending more than that.

Read on, though, and you’ll find the statistic that actually matters: the actual federal debt held by the public is growing rapidly, and is closing in on a figure that parallels three-quarters of the United States’ annual Gross Domestic Product (GDP).

Right now, that number represents 74 percent of the annual GDP – up twofold from 2007 – and it’s on track to hit 77 percent of GDP by 2024. Publicly-held debt is the only type of federal debt reported on the government’s books as a liability. It outpaces the other type of federal debt – debt held by government accounts – by almost three to one. Debt held by government accounts, according to the Government Accountability Office, “represents balances in the federal government’s accounts—primarily trust funds—that accumulate surpluses…Trust funds for Social Security, Medicare, Military Retirement and Health Care, and Civil Service Retirement and Disability account for the vast majority of the total debt held by government accounts.”

Here’s the CBO’s Doug Elmendorf, who authored the official remarks on the updated projections:

Looking ahead, CBO’s baseline projections show what we think would happen if current laws governing taxes and spending generally remain unchanged. Those baseline projections are designed to serve as a benchmark that policymakers can use when considering possible changes to laws.

…We expect that federal debt held by the public will reach 74 percent of GDP at the end of this fiscal year—more than twice what it was at the end of 2007 and higher than in any year since 1950. And in our baseline projections, that debt reaches 77 percent of GDP in 2024 and is on an upward trajectory.

Such large and growing federal debt would have serious negative consequences, including:

  • Increasing federal spending for interest payments;
  • Restraining economic growth in the long term;
  • Giving policymakers less flexibility to respond to unexpected challenges; and
  • Eventually increasing the risk of a fiscal crisis.

Remember, that projection operates on the assumption that the next president and Congress won’t approve accelerated borrowing and spending, but will instead maintain the rate of increase that exists now.

The federal debt currently stands (or rises, rather) at $17.65 trillion.

 

Having It His Way: Candidate Slams Burger King Move While Husband’s Stock In Acquired Company Climbs

Not pleased that Burger King is acquiring a Canadian company and relocating its headquarters to Canada, where the corporate tax rate is lower (and not universally applied to global revenues), Democratic candidate Sean Eldridge is slamming the deal — even as his husband watches his stock in one of the partner companies climb.

Eldridge, who’s seeking to topple incumbent Republican Congressman Chris Gibson in New York’s 19th Congressional District, told the Catskill, New York, paper The Daily Mail that Burger King’s attempt to set down roots in a country where the (lower) corporate tax rate applies only to the money it makes in that country is “really frustrating,” and that Congress needs to make the law more punitive for other companies who would follow suit.

“… I think we need to reform our tax code so that we are not benefiting companies that are sending jobs elsewhere,” he said.

But Eldridge’s husband, Facebook co-founder Chris Hughes, is benefiting from the deal — at least, so long as it’s profitable for shareholders. And Eldridge’s campaign, in turn, is benefiting from Hughes’ wealth.

From The Washington Free Beacon on Thursday:

[Burger King] announced this week that it will acquire Canadian fast food chain Tim Horton’s and shift its corporate headquarters north of the border. The move, commonly known as a tax inversion, will allow Burger King to pay Canadian corporate tax rates, which are substantially lower than American ones.

Eldridge did not say whether investors in the deal are also unpatriotic. They include his husband, Facebook co-founder Chris Hughes, who owns between $50,000 and $100,000 in Tim Horton’s stock, according to Eldridge’s financial disclosure forms.

Tim Horton’s stock has shot up more than 25 percent since Burger King announced the acquisition.

… To the extent that the inversion improves Burger King’s bottom line, it will also benefit not just the company, but also its shareholders and those of Tim Horton’s, which include Hughes.

Eldridge has recently tried to turn his husband’s fortune into a political asset, claiming his financial independence will free him from obligations to “special interests.”

Eldridge last week got dodgy when he was asked about whether he’d hang around his Congressional district if he failed to defeat Gibson, saying he was “very much committed to the Hudson Valley.” In that spirit, Hughes has reportedly bought up several homes not only in the 19th district, but in the nearby 18th as well, according to a separate Free Beacon story. Eldridge was born in Montreal and has been a U.S. citizen since 2006.

Former HHS Cyber Security Director Guilty On Numerous Child Porn Charges

The former acting director of cyber security for the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services was convicted on Tuesday of several child pornography crimes, including “engaging in a child exploitation enterprise,” according to an official release from the Department of Justice.

Timothy DeFoggi, 56, who held a top-level security clearance as cyber security director for HHS, was convicted by a federal jury of engaging in a child exploitation enterprise, conspiracy to advertise and distribute child pornography, and accessing a computer with intent to view child pornography. The Maryland resident was tried in Nebraska, where several people accused of participating in an Omaha-based online child pornography ring already have been convicted. 

DeFoggi registered as a member of a website called PedoBook (it is what it sounds like) in March of 2012, and remained a member of the site until the FBI shut it down in December of that same year. 

The PedoBook site was a part of the so-called “deep web,” concealed from typical search access by means of the Tor browser, which (ideally) offers anonymous internet searching of deep web sites both illicit (think drugs, fringe porn and hit men) and benign (hobbyists and serious members-only information-sharing groups that don’t want to be bothered by newcomers from the “public” internet). Tor is also touted as an option for regular folks who just want to surf the internet but are spooked by the NSA (though it’s by no means infallible). 

“Through the [PedoBook] website, DeFoggi accessed child pornography, solicited child pornography from other members, and exchanged private messages with other members where he expressed an interest in the violent rape and murder of children,” DOJ stated in its press release. “DeFoggi even suggested meeting one member in person to fulfill their mutual fantasies to violently rape and murder children.”

DeFoggi’s attorney argued that talking about “disgusting fantasies” on the internet isn’t the same as enacting them — a valid point, if not for the preponderance of evidence that DeFoggi was indeed viewing child pornography. 

“Law enforcement caught DeFoggi red-handed when serving a search warrant at 5:30 a.m. in April 2013,” reports the Omaha World-Herald. “When officials entered his house, DeFoggi was in the midst of downloading child pornography, federal prosecutor Keith Becker told the jury during his closing arguments.”

It took a federal jury two hours to convict him. He’ll be sentenced in November.

Vice President Biden Won’t Rest Until His Granddaughters Have Equal Rights

On Tuesday, Vice President Joe Biden took a stand on Twitter, where the Obama administration goes any time it really needs to take a stand. On this outing, which coincided with Women’s Equality Day, Biden’s thoughts were heavy:

Take a nap, Joe.

Just make sure your granddaughters don’t get jobs at the White House, and everything should be okay.

Government Backs ‘Social Pollution’ Database To Track Political ‘Misinformation’ On Twitter

The National Science Foundation (NSF) is backing the creators of a Web-based service that intends to monitor Twitter to “mitigate the diffusion of false and misleading ideas,” an effort its backers assert will “assist in the preservation of open debate.”

The NSF has awarded nearly $1 million to the project, the vision of Indiana University researchers who assert the service will be a nonpartisan effort to inform the public of who on Twitter is sharing right ideas — and who isn’t.

From The Washington Free Beacon on Monday:

The federal government is spending nearly $1 million to create an online database that will track “misinformation” and hate speech on Twitter.

The “Truthy” database, created by researchers at Indiana University, is designed to “detect political smears, astroturfing, misinformation, and other social pollution.”

…“This service could mitigate the diffusion of false and misleading ideas, detect hate speech and subversive propaganda, and assist in the preservation of open debate,” the grant said.

…“Truthy” claims to be non-partisan. However, the project’s lead investigator Filippo Menczer proclaims his support for numerous progressive advocacy groups, including President Barack Obama’s Organizing for Action, Moveon.org, Greenpeace, the Sierra Club, Amnesty International, and True Majority.

The name, Truthy, is a take on a term satirizing conservatives and popularized by “The Colbert Report.”

“The name Truthy comes from a term coined by Stephen Colbert, truthiness, which describes claims that feel like they ought to be true, but aren’t necessarily,” the project’s FAQ site explains. “Our first application was the study of astroturf campaigns in elections; ideas spread by astroturf techniques are typically truthy.”

How does it work? By asking Twitter users to look over their neighbors’ shoulders. “We also plan to use Truthy to detect political smears, astroturfing, misinformation, and other social pollution,” the creators state.

“While the vast majority of memes arise in a perfectly organic manner, driven by the complex mechanisms of life on the Web, some are engineered by the shady machinery of high-profile congressional campaigns. Truthy uses a sophisticated combination of text and data mining, social network analysis, and complex networks models. To train our algorithms, we leverage crowdsourcing: we rely on users like you to flag injections of forged grass-roots activity. Therefore, click on the Truthy button when you see a suspicious meme!”

Here’s the NSF award abstract indicating the government’s commitment to getting this program off the ground.

Federal Judges Deliver A Pair Of Small 2nd Amendment Victories

Two federal judges in different states have issued rulings this week striking down local and state restrictions on access to firearms, garnering a pair of small but significant victories for 2nd Amendment rights.

In California last Friday, federal judge Anthony W. Ishiji struck down the state’s 10-day waiting period law for firearms purchases, ruling the law is unconstitutional. Two California gun owners, along with the Calguns Foundation, filed a suit challenging the law.

According to the Calguns Foundation, Ishiji said in his decision the waiting period “‘violate[s] the Second Amendment’ as applied to members of certain classifications, like [plaintiffs] Silvester and Combs, and ‘burdens the Second Amendment rights of the Plaintiffs.’”

More from Calguns:

Under the court order, the California Department of Justice (DOJ) must change its systems to accommodate the unobstructed release of guns to gun buyers who pass a background check and possess a California license to carry a handgun, or who hold a “Certificate of Eligibility” issued by the DOJ and already possess at least one firearm known to the state.

In Louisiana on Monday, another federal judge overturned a local gun ordinance in Baton Rouge that prohibited gun owners from keeping their firearms inside their cars while on the property of a business that sells alcohol. 

Federal judge Brian Jackson pointed out the inherent absurdity of such a requirement, according to the Baton Rouge Advocate:

“[A]ny law-abiding citizen who exercises his or her right to keep or bear arms within the confines of his or her personal vehicle will violate [ordinance] 13:95.3 anytime he or she, for example, stops to refuel a vehicle at a service station that sells alcohol, or stops to purchase groceries at a grocery store that sells alcohol,” the judge wrote.

“Similarly, the ordinance prohibits law-abiding citizens from purchasing and possessing firearms at any establishment that sells alcohol, thereby rendering the sale of firearms at establishments like Wal-Mart a criminal act,” he said.

Jackson also issued an injunction permanently forbidding East Baton Rouge Parish, including Baton Rouge, from enforcing the ordinance. 

The case stems from a legal challenge brought by Baton Rouge resident Ernest Taylor, who was stopped in 2012 for allegedly failing to turn on his headlights after leaving a bar. Police found three rifles in his vehicle and arrested him under the now-enjoined ordinance. 

“Taylor, who had no prior felony convictions, alleged the ordinance conflicts with a 2008 Louisiana law that permits firearms in locked vehicles in ‘any parking lot, parking garage or other designated parking area,’” The Advocate noted.

Jackson agreed, setting an October hearing to determine the amount of damages the parish and city may have to pay Taylor. Taylor got his confiscated guns back in June.

IRS Admits It Destroyed Lois Lerner’s Blackberry After Congress Began Investigating Scandal

When the IRS met Judge Emmet G. Sullivan’s deadline last Friday to produce sworn documents explaining a variety of things about how and why Lois Lerner’s emails went missing, it dropped a couple of bombs for anyone who’s been following the ever-simmering IRS scandal.

The IRS admitted that it had destroyed Lerner’s mobile Blackberry device months after it learned that member of Congress were looking into allegations of political discrimination against conservative groups during Barack Obama’s reelection campaign.

The agency’s designated oath-taker for this testimony, IRS tech officer Stephen Manning, told the court the IRS had wiped the data from Lerner’s Blackberry — issued to her in November 2009 — in June 2012 and had issued her a fresh one in February 2012.

The New York Observer’s Sidney Powell (a former DOJ attorney for 10 years) put this in context:

We all know by now that Lois Lerner’s hard drive crashed in June 2011 and was destroyed by IRS. The emails of up to twenty other related IRS officials were missing in remarkably similar “crashes,” leading many to speculate that Lois Lerner’s Blackberry perhaps held the key. Now, the Observer can confirm that a year after the infamous hard drive crash, the IRS destroyed Ms. Lerner’s Blackberry — and without making any effort to retain the emails from it.

Judge Sullivan has had to pry information from the IRS to learn anything about Ms. Lerner’s Blackberry. Now, with these latest revelations, I’m confident he’s not finished.

In two elusive and nebulous sworn declarations, we can glean that Ms. Lerner had two Blackberries. One was issued to her on November 12, 2009. According to a sworn declaration, this is the Blackberry that contained all the emails (both sent and received) that would have been in her “Outlook” and drafts that never were sent from her Blackberry during the relevant time.

With incredible disregard for the law and the Congressional inquiry, the IRS admits that this Blackberry “was removed or wiped clean of any sensitive or proprietary information and removed as scrap for disposal in June 2012.” This is a year after her hard drive “crash” and months after the Congressional inquiry began.

…Lerner was issued another Blackberry for Valentine’s Day 2012 — also after she came under fire for her targeting of conservative groups. The IRS still has that Blackberry. It’s now in the possession of the Inspector General of the Treasury, but the new device would not have the data from the prior three years. That was most likely the point of getting the new device.

The Blackberry news came on the same day that a lawyer from the Department of Justice representing the IRS admitted to Judicial Watch — the plaintiff in a lawsuit against the IRS over its alleged discrimination — that the federal government backs up everything, everything, everything in case of a cataclysmic event, and that includes Lois Lerner’s emails.

So they do exist after all; apparently, they always have.

But, the DOJ lawyer argued, it would be too tough to retrieve those emails from the boundless trove of government data (kinda obviates the act of backing the data up in the first place, doesn’t it?)

Here’s how Judicial Watch responded to that on Monday:

Department of Justice attorneys for the Internal Revenue Service told Judicial Watch on Friday that Lois Lerner’s emails, indeed all government computer records, are backed up by the federal government in case of a government-wide catastrophe.  The Obama administration attorneys said that this back-up system would be too onerous to search.  The DOJ attorneys also acknowledged that the Treasury Inspector General for Tax Administration (TIGTA) is investigating this back-up system.

We obviously disagree that disclosing the emails as required would be onerous, and plan to raise this new development with Judge Sullivan.

This is a jaw-dropping revelation.  The Obama administration had been lying to the American people about Lois Lerner’s missing emails. There are no “missing” Lois Lerner emails – nor missing emails of any of the other top IRS or other government officials whose emails seem to be disappearing at increasingly alarming rate. All the focus on missing hard drives has been a diversion. The Obama administration has known all along where the email records could be — but dishonestly withheld this information. You can bet we are going to ask the court for immediate assistance in cutting through this massive obstruction of justice.

Free Military Gear To Cops Has Resulted In 184 Local Police Departments ‘Losing’ Guns, Humvees

When the federal government places leftover military weapons, MRAPs, Humvees, fire trucks and even ready-to-eat meals and sleeping bags in the hands of local fire and police forces, it’s at least trusting that those agencies will hang onto them — even if they’re used to restrain and repress civilians.

But even that is too much to ask for dozens upon dozens of local departments. Since the federal 1033 program was implemented almost 25 years ago, the feds have suspended nearly 200 local agencies from participating because they “lost” some of the equipment they received or violated other terms tied to receiving the free stuff.

From Fusion TV (a Disney/Univision-owned network) Monday:

Fusion has learned that 184 state and local police departments have been suspended from the Pentagon’s “1033 program” for missing weapons or failure to comply with other guidelines. We uncovered a pattern of missing M14 and M16 assault rifles across the country, as well as instances of missing .45-caliber pistols, shotguns and 2 cases of missing Humvee vehicles.

… More troubling yet is the possibility that some of the missing weapons, which were given to local police departments as part of a decades’ old government program to equip cops for the wars on terrorism and drugs, are actually being sold on the black market, Lynch said.

… Since the program began in 1990, more than $4.3 billion in equipment and weapons has been transferred to more than 8,000 participating police departments, according to the Pentagon.

Three bad outcomes for the price of none: militarizing the local police; the local police “losing” guns that end up for sale elsewhere; and controlling local agencies by dangling yet another rotten carrot that the local police can’t nibble — unless they comply with all the federal guidelines (because we don’t have enough of that.)

The story goes on to list specific instances of the cops misplacing automatic weapons, handguns and pistols in California, Mississippi, Arkansas, Arizona and Georgia.

As one commenter pointed out, the government holds itself to a much lower standard of accountability than that to which it holds the governed: “when it come[s] to weapons there is no normal for lost or missing. The acceptable number for unaccounted weapons is 0. Just ask any FFL [Federal Firearms License holder] when the BATF comes around to check. Certainly we can expect the police to meet the same standards as the private sector.”

Read the rest of Fusion’s in-depth piece here.

Paperwork May Delay Tax Returns For Patients Covered Under Obamacare

Obamacare customers will have to fill out additional paperwork next year in order to verify their eligibility for tax credits under the Affordable Care Act. Tax preparers acquainting themselves for the changes say that, given Obamacare’s track record of delays and glitches, it’s difficult to imagine the added layer of bureaucracy won’t delay many of those patients’ tax returns.

The verification document, the federal 1095A form, is supposed to be in the hands of every eligible tax filer by Jan. 31, 2015. Anyone who purchased health insurance through a government-funded exchange must file the form. But according to The Washington Times, tax professionals already foresee delays, not only with the January deadline, but for everything that follows afterward.

“It really strains credulity to think 1095A is not going to be a big problem,” Jackson Hewitt vice president for health programs George Brandes told The Times.

One major concern is the deadline itself: Many people receive their federal W-2 form much earlier than Jan. 31. Many of those same people simply aren’t yet aware of just how pervasively Obamacare’s financial stipulations will reach into other aspects of their financial lives and, therefore, may prepare and file their taxes before the 1095A form ever hits their door.

One tax professional interviewed for the Times piece said it’s “absolutely critical” that patients covered under Obamacare have the 1095A form before filing their taxes, but even then, it’s not clear that many will know what the form is for.

Also:

The IRS has released drafts of the forms taxpayers will see next year, but stakeholders are still waiting on instructions that explain how to calculate subsidy amounts to see if they correctly match up with a person’s income.

So even if the forms do arrive on time and customers do know exactly what they’re for, they may still have a hard time figuring out the precise numbers they must share with the IRS (under penalty of perjury, no less).

In related Obamacare news last week, the Federal Reserve Bank of Philadelphia released its August business outlook survey, which revealed that businesses are dramatically altering their hiring patterns in order to avoid Obamacare’s coverage mandates for full-time employees.

tax graphic

“In special questions this month, firms were asked qualitative questions about the effects of the Affordable Care Act (ACA) and how, if at all, they are making changes to their employment and compensation, including benefits,” the survey summary stated.

“Over 18 percent of the firms indicated that the number of workers was lower because of the ACA; 3 percent indicated higher levels. The same percentage (18 percent) indicated that the proportion of part-time workers had increased.”

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