Racial Division On Display As Ferguson Unrest Continues

A new poll examining how Americans feel about the unrest in Ferguson, Missouri, where police recently shot an unarmed black teen, finds that opinions about protests in the community and the police’s response are strongly divided along racial lines.

The data, out from Pew Research, shows that black Americans are overwhelmingly more likely to say that there’s a strong racial component to the police shooting of Michael Brown, a black 18-year-old. Eighty percent of black Americans polled said that the situation in Ferguson should foment a national discussion about race relations, while 47 percent of white Americans reported that they feel the issue of race is overblown.

Feelings about the police response to protests in the community are similarly divided along racial lines. Just 35 percent of white respondents told Pew that they believed the police have gone too far in responding to the unrest in Ferguson, compared to 65 percent of black Americans who decried the police actions.

Age and political affiliation also influenced opinions in the Pew poll.

Fifty-five percent of Americans younger than 30 reported that the events in Ferguson highlight important racial issues. Other age demographics were divided about whether race plays a key role.

Democrats were more likely than Republicans to view race as an important part of the Ferguson story, as 68 percent said that Brown’s death should lead to renewed discussions about race in America. A majority of Democrats (56 percent) also said that the police response was too heavy-handed. GOP voters expressed near opposite views, with 61 percent saying that the racial component of Brown’s death is overblown and 43 percent reporting that the police are responding to the Ferguson protests appropriately.

The usual-suspect lineup of race hucksters (Al Sharpton, Jesse Jackson, et al.) has latched on to the racial component of the Ferguson protests. But reflections on race and law enforcement in the U.S. resulting from the situation in Ferguson are a little more surprising.

Republican Sen. Rand Paul has made no secret of his efforts to broaden his Party’s appeal to black voters. But his decision to dive feet first, via a column published in TIME last week, into the Ferguson debacle was met with skepticism from some Americans on the left and criticism from GOP factions.

“Anyone who thinks that race does not still, even if inadvertently, skew the application of criminal justice in this country is just not paying close enough attention,” Paul wrote in his piece. “Our prisons are full of black and brown men and women who are serving inappropriately long and harsh sentences for non-violent mistakes in their youth.”

Matt Wills, executive director of the Missouri Republican Party, later criticized Paul’s remarks on race as “unhelpful.”

“This is a tragedy for all communities — not just African-American communities,” Wills told The Hill. “I think this all just too much too soon from these politicians. We’re still learning new details. I can’t fault the police for wanting to protect themselves and the community, and I also have a deep place in my heart for the civil liberties we have as Americans.”

The situation in Ferguson deteriorated over the weekend after a period of relative calm late last week, prompting Missouri Gov. Jay Nixon to deploy state National Guard units to the community.

“The Guard’s immediate and limited responsibilities under the direction of Colonel Ron Replogle of the Missouri State Highway Patrol, are to provide protection, and ensure the safety of our Unified Command Center, which was the target last night of a coordinated attack,” Nixon said in a statement. “The Guard will concentrate its resources on carrying out this limited mission.”

Political Satirist On Ferguson: Take The ‘F*cking Toys’ From Police

On the Sunday edition of his HBO show “Last Week Tonight”, comedian John Oliver issued a scathing rebuke of the police response to recent civil unrest in Ferguson, Missouri, suggesting that law enforcement agencies throughout the country are increasingly equipped with weapons and vehicles that they don’t need.

“This whole story is depressingly familiar,” Oliver began. “And there are so many unanswered questions regarding why an officer would shoot an unarmed teenager. What is absolutely clear is that the police have handled everything since then terribly.”

The comedian noted that “not all cops are bad” but added that the militarization of police departments throughout the country enabled by the War on Drugs and post-9/11 attitudes has left police department like Ferguson’s “troublingly” equipped as if they are preparing to “launch an assault on Fallujah.”

“The police are not soldiers. So why in this photo from Ferguson are they wearing fucking camo? They are northwest of St. Louis, not northwest of the Amazon,” Oliver said. “If you are a cop in the United States, you should dress for the job you have, not the job you want.”

Oliver also criticized Missouri Governor Jay Nixon‘s decision to issue a curfew.

“So you took a community tired of being treated like criminals, and then imprisoned them in their own houses, and in the process of doing so, took on the tone of a pissed-off vice principle trying to restore order at a school assembly,” Oliver said.

The comedian called the governor’s response to the situation “profoundly patronizing.”

“I know the police love their ridiculous, unnecessary military equipment,” he continued. “So here’s another patronizing test: let’s take it all away from them, and if they can make it a whole month without killing an unarmed black man, only then can they get their fucking toys back.”

America: Throw The Bums Out

Americans are fed up with elected officials, according to recent polling data which finds that just 19 percent of likely voters believe that most members of Congress deserve to be re-elected.

gallupchart

On Monday, Gallup reported that the number of Americans who feel that most members of Congress should be replaced is the second highest since the polling agency began asking the question in 1992.

“These negative evaluations of Congress have historically been related to lower rates of incumbent re-election in midterm elections and a higher turnover of congressional seats,” Gallup reports.

To better understand what the numbers could mean for the upcoming midterm elections, will to reelect sitting members of Congress is 14 points lower than in 2010 and 19 points lower than in 1994, both years that saw midterm shakeups due to voter dissatisfaction.

The flipside to the high rate of disproval, however, is that 50 percent of voters say that their particular Congressional representative deserves to be re-elected.

“This percentage essentially ties with the response to this question in 2010, and is just slightly higher than the 48% in 1992,” Gallup notes. “So while this measure is historically low, it has not dropped to the record-low depths of the ‘most members’ question.”

Sunday News Show Roundup

Guests on Sunday’s political talk shows discussed the ongoing violence in Ferguson, Missouri, Texas Governor Rick Perry’s indictment and the continuing threat of the Islamic State terror group.

Ferguson

“There are times when force is necessary, but we really felt that that — that that push at that time was a little aggressive, obviously, and those images were not what we were trying to get to,” Missouri Gov. Jay Nixon said on ABC’s “This Week” in response to criticism over police response protests in the town.

On Sunday, a curfew was put into place in the town in an effort to quell violence without hampering legal protests.

“We are trying to use the least amount of force to provide people to — the ability to speak, while also protecting the property of the people of Ferguson,” Nixon said during another appearance on “Meet the Press.”

Nixon also noted that a decision to place state police in control of the Ferguson situation rather than the local officers who were initially in charge had changed the dynamic of the situation.

“We are trying to use the least amount of force to provide people to — the ability to speak, while also protecting the property of the people of Ferguson.”

Perry

Texas Gov. Rick Perry on Sunday continued to question two felony abuse of power indictments handed down by a grand jury last week, calling the accusations political.

On Friday the governor was indicted on charges of improperly vetoing $7.5 million in funding for an agency which handles Texas political-corruption cases after a Democratic prosecutor refused to resign following a drunk-driving arrest.

“I very clearly, I very publicly, said that as long as that individual is going to be running that agency, I had lost confidence in her, the public had lost confidence in her, and I did what every governor has done for decades, which is make a decision on whether or not it was in the proper use of state money to go to that agency, and I vetoed it. … I stood up for the rule of law in the state of Texas, and if I had to do it again, I would make exactly the same decision,” Perry said on “Fox News Sunday.”

ISIS

“If we allow ISIS to get bigger and bigger, they’re going to plot homeland attacks on us,” Rep. Eliot Engel (D., N.Y.), ranking House Committee on Foreign Affairs member, told “Fox News Sunday.”

Engel wasn’t alone on Sunday, as a number of lawmakers said that not eliminating ISIS as a threat now means dealing with a terror threat at home.

Rep. Adam Kinzinger (R., Ill.) told ABC’s “This Week” that things couldn’t get much worse for the U.S.

“What we’re watching in Iraq and in Syria, frankly, is the worst-case scenario for the Middle East. This cancer that’s growing; that is consuming all over the place … Today, we see [ISIL] in the tens of thousands, and they’re only continuing to metastasize.”

The bottom line, according to the lawmaker, is that the U.S. must take the steps to neutralize ISIS as soon as possible.

“It’s something that we have to be involved in stopping with the Iraqi government, with the peshmerga. I think we’re on the right start, but there’s a lot more to do,” said Kinzinger.

“At the end of the day, I think the defeating of ISIS is the mission, and so I think everything has to be on the table for that end result. I understand the president doesn’t want to put troops on the ground. I don’t either. You can’t reintroduce 200,000 American troops, but I think things like special forces embedded with the Iraqi military as the Iraqi military regrows its spine to take its country back is going to be essential and important.”

DHS Says Law Enforcement Should Prepare For More Citizen Enemies

The militarized police response to protests in Ferguson, Missouri has led Americans from all walks of life to question whether law enforcement agencies have gone too far in arming themselves and training as though the civilian population is an ever-present enemy.

Meanwhile, leaked documents from the Department of Homeland Security suggest that police militarization is only likely to increase as officials claim that they are planning for increased “anti-government violence over the next year.”

DHS’s seven-page report, “Domestic Violent Extremists Pose a Threat to Government Officials and Law Enforcement,” cites the standoff between the Feds and Nevada rancher Cliven Bundy as a “perceived victory at Bunkervile” for domestic extremism that will “likely prompt more violence.” DHS officials go on to cite the crimes of Jerad and Amanda Miller, who killed three people in Las Vegas after spending a brief time at Bundy’s ranch before being asked to leave, as more evidence of increasing extremism.

Via the report:

After years of only sporadic violence from violent domestic extremists motivated by anti-government ideologies, I&A has seen a spike within the past year in violence committed by militia extremists and lone offenders who hold violent anti-government beliefs. These groups and individuals recognize government authority but facilitate or engage in acts of violence due to their perception that the United States Government is tyrannical and oppressive, coupled to their belief that the government needs to be violently resisted or overthrown.

If the DHS report sounds familiar, it’s because it echoes the sentiments of a report produced earlier in the summer by the liberal Southern Poverty Law Center.

The organization argued in its executive summary:

For those harboring deep hatred of the federal government, the BLM pullout was seen as a dramatic victory, one instance where the armed radicals of the right stared through their own gunsights at the gun barrels of law enforcement officials and won. Rather than being condemned, their actions garnered the support of numerous politicians, including the governor of Nevada and commentators like Fox News’ Sean Hannity — a truly repulsive spectacle. This pandering to the far right by both politicians and media figures ended in a hurry, however, when Bundy engaged in racist blather about “the Negro.” Racism was crossing a line, apparently, but the calls from the ranch for revolution and outright defiance of federal law enforcement seemed to be just fine with the Hannitys of the world.

Ferguson Fiasco Reveals Standing Army By Proxy

The police response to protesters in Ferguson, Missouri, is latest example of how citizen abuse is an unavoidable result of the unconstitutional collusion between community law enforcement, the Federal government and the military-industrial complex.

Tactical officers work their way north on West Florissant Avenue in Ferguson, Mo., clearing the road of residents, on Wednesday, Aug. 13, 2014. (Robert Cohen/St. Louis Post-Dispatch/MCT)
MCT: Tactical officers work their way north on West Florissant Avenue in Ferguson, Missouri.

Since the passage of the 1990 Defense Authorization Act, which included a clause allowing for the transfer of military equipment from the Defense Department to local law enforcement departments throughout the Nation, America’s police officers have begun to look more and more like soldiers on the battlefield.

A USA Today column published as Americans began to question why Ferguson so resembles a war zone explains how the legislation has changed law enforcement in the area in recent years.

From the column:

St. Louis County law enforcement agencies received twelve 5.56 millimeter rifles and six .45 caliber pistols from the Department of Defense between Aug. 2, 2010, and Feb. 13, 2013, a Missouri public safety official confirmed Thursday. Ferguson, Mo., is within St. Louis County. The Pentagon allows information on “tactical” equipment to be released only at a county level, so which police department(s) in the county received the weaponry is not available.

In addition to the firearms, the town has received heavy duty military vehicles through the program.

The Cato Institute’s Walter Olson recently posed some legitimate questions about the scene in Ferguson:

Why armored vehicles in a Midwestern inner suburb? Why would cops wear camouflage gear against a terrain patterned by convenience stores and beauty parlors? Why are the authorities in Ferguson, Mo. so given to quasi-martial crowd control methods (such as bans on walking on the street) and, per the reporting of Riverfront Times, the firing of tear gas at people in their own yards? (“‘This my property!’ he shouted, prompting police to fire a tear gas canister directly at his face.”) Why would someone identifying himself as an 82nd Airborne Army veteran, observing the Ferguson police scene, comment that “We rolled lighter than that in an actual warzone”?

In the years since, the proliferation of military equipment in local police arsenals has been accompanied by increasingly heavy-handed police practices.

A Wall Street Journal essay published last summer, titled “Rise of the Warrior Cop,” chronicles a number of examples of local police forces acting like military units, using undue force and terrorizing residents who are involved — and sometimes mistakenly believed to be involved — in nonviolent criminal activities.

Some highlights from the piece:

  • “The country’s first official SWAT team started in the late 1960s in Los Angeles. By 1975, there were approximately 500 such units. Today, there are thousands. According to surveys conducted by the criminologist Peter Kraska of Eastern Kentucky University, just 13% of towns between 25,000 and 50,000 people had a SWAT team in 1983. By 2005, the figure was up to 80%.”
  • “The number of raids conducted by SWAT-like police units has grown accordingly. In the 1970s, there were just a few hundred a year; by the early 1980s, there were some 3,000 a year. In 2005 (the last year for which Dr. Kraska collected data), there were approximately 50,000 raids.”
  • “Among the new, tough-minded law-enforcement measures included in [the War on Drugs] was the no-knock raid—a policy that allowed drug cops to break into homes without the traditional knock and announcement. After fierce debate, Congress passed a bill authorizing no-knock raids for federal narcotics agents in 1970.”

Unfortunately, rather than work out a targeted plan to deal with the criminals involved in illegal activities instead of Constitutionally protected peaceful protests, local police have taken a military approach and suited up for a blitzkrieg assault on everyone in the streets.

Officials: It’s ‘Objectively Reasonable’ For Cops To Terrorize Innocent Civilians

A lawsuit filed by an Indiana resident who was the victim of a botched SWAT raid is being challenged by local authorities on the grounds that it is “objectively reasonable” for law enforcement officials to carry out potentially deadly operations based on faulty intelligence.

On June 21, 2012, police in Evansville, Ind., shattered the glass door of 68-year-old Louise Milan’s home, tossed in flash grenades and stormed the residence, terrorizing the elderly woman and her 18-year-old adopted daughter.

“The officers smashed Milan’s window and storm door and threw in two flash-bang grenades that created property damage in addition to the destroyed window and storm door. The officers used flash-bang grenades despite the fact that [there] were no threatening suspects visible,” the lawsuit says. “Milan and her daughter were ordered on to the floor at gunpoint, handcuffed and paraded in front of their neighbors into police vehicles. Both were detained and questioned by the officers.”

The heavy -handed raid was carried out after officers obtained a warrant to apprehend a person they believed made terroristic online threats targeting their department from the home. Unfortunately, the police failed to realize that the threats had been made by a criminal taking advantage of Milan’s unsecured Wi-Fi router.

The person who made the threats, suspected gang leader Derrick Murray, actually lived in his mother’s nearby  house. Murray later admitted to using his smartphone to access Milan’s router, which was not protected by a password, and making the threats.

The failures in intelligence gathering notwithstanding, in defense of Milan’s lawsuit alleging Constitutional abuses related to their ill-informed raid (an emotionally charged show of force) the cops say their actions aren’t subject to judgment.

The Evansville Courier and Press explains why:

City attorneys Keith Vonderahe and Robert Burkart argued in the motion that police are protected by the legal principle of qualified immunity. In it, the U.S. Supreme Court has ruled that “government officials performing discretionary functions generally are shielded from liability for civil damages” as long as their conduct does not “clearly” violate established “statutory or constitutional rights.”

The case is an important one for anyone who wishes to see more accountability in American law enforcement. Sadly, it isn’t likely to result in an outcome that will slow the threat of America’s increasingly militarized police.

Rand Paul Says He’d use Executive Orders If President… But Only To Revoke Previous Executive Orders

Speaking to constituents in Kentucky this week, Senator Rand Paul (R-Ky.) said that he would use his executive power to reverse the damage done by his predecessors’ propensity for legislating by fiat if he were elected President.

Paul’s statement came in response to a direct question about whether he’d embrace the power of executive orders if he found himself in the Oval Office, pen and phone at arm’s length.

“Only to undo executive orders. There’s thousands of them that can be undone,” said Paul. “And I would use executive orders to undo executive orders that have encroached on our jurisprudence, our ability to defend ourselves, the right to a trial, all of those I would undo through executive order.”

President Barack Obama has become notorious for flaunting his ability to legislate via executive order, each time claiming that Congressional gridlock has forced his hand. Paul contends that the President ought to simply try harder to work with the Nation’s lawmakers.

“You got to try harder because it’s not easy to get people to agree, but democracy’s messy,” he said. “You can’t just say because it’s messy, I’m going to do whatever I want. And that’s my real objection to his president.”

According to WFPL, however, Paul later “appeared to soften” his position as he spoke with local reporters.

“It wasn’t sort of a response of exactness. My inclination would be that there have too many executive orders and that really you shouldn’t legislate through executive orders.”

“I never want to make a blanket statement without looking at everything. My general inclination is you should have less executive orders but that the executive orders could be used to undo a lot of executive orders that have overstepped their bounds.”

Whether Paul will get the opportunity to back up his claims in 2016 is still unknown. While many of the Senator’s actions of late appear to indicate that he is positioning himself for a Presidential bid, recent polling data could put a damper on exploratory efforts.

According to numbers out from Public Policy Polling, half of likely voters in Paul’s home State of Kentucky say that the Senator should not run in 2016.  Though, for his work in the Senate, Paul continues to enjoy approval ratings hovering around 47 percent.

The GOP May Finally Fall In Love With Obama

A new poll suggests that President Barack Obama could be a key asset to the GOP in the 2014 midterm elections as likely voters report that the President’s failures make them more likely to vote for Republicans.

In polling data out from McClatchy, voters say that the President makes them more likely to select Republican candidates by a 42-32 percent margin.

The increasing dissatisfaction with Obama’s handling of his job has helped Republicans to win the generic ballot measure for the first time by a margin of 43 to 38 percent. One analyst told the newspaper that the numbers hint that the Democratic Party is “sputtering.”

As foreign policy becomes increasingly problematic for the President, just 40 percent of respondents approved of how the Obama is handling his job.

McClatchy reports:

Foreign crises are helping to drive down Obama’s standing.

Just 30 percent approve of the way he’s handling the conflict between Israel and Hamas, while 55 percent disapprove. The numbers are worse among independents: 24-60 percent.

Also, just 32 percent approve the way he’s handling the turmoil in Ukraine, while 51 percent disapprove. Independents approve by 24-54 percent.

Politically coveted independent voters expressed the greatest level of dissatisfaction with the President. They reported that they would vote for GOP candidates by a margin of 40 percent to 26 percent. A healthy majority of independents said Obama is doing a poor job on both the economy and foreign policy.

Government Watchdog: Obama Administration Released Hundreds Of Illegal Immigrants With Criminal Convictions

Remember when the Obama Administration attempted to make the 2013 government budget sequestration look like a bigger deal than it actually was by shuttering national monuments and keeping elderly veterans from visiting war memorials? Well, the Administration also used the feigned crisis to further its immigration agenda by releasing thousands of illegal immigrant detainees, including some convicted felons.

According to the IG report, a combination of increased apprehension of illegal immigrants in 2012 and forthcoming 2013 budgetary shortfalls — worsened by a glaring lack of a financial contingency plan — led top Immigration and Customs Enforcement officials to deem a “sharp and immediate reduction in detention bed space” as the best plan to remain solvent.

As a result, Administration officials made the decision to release 2,226 detained illegal immigrants — including 617 with criminal convictions on record — as the drama surrounding the government shutdown reached critical mass in 2013.

The agency’s budgetary justification for releasing the criminals was faulty, according to the IG report. The agency is required to be capable of maintaining an average daily illegal immigrant detainee population of 34,000. Congress covers the cost of 31,300 detainees. ICE is expected to obtain funding for the remaining detainees via budgetary juggling or requesting additional funding.

But as funding issues loomed in January 2013, ICE leadership seems to have jumped at the chance to release detainees rather than balancing the agency’s books.

“Only after House appropriations staff informed ICE’s Chief Financial Officer on January 31, 2013, that maintaining 34,000 average daily population is a statutory requirement did ICE executive leadership realize ICE would need to obtain additional funding to cover the detention budget shortfall,” the IG report notes.

But ICE chief financial officer Radha Sekar, who was ultimately responsible for freeing the detainees, moved forward with the releases in February and March, even before it was clear whether the White House Office of Management and Budget would provide additional funds. The reason for the move remains unclear.

“We were not able to determine why ICE executive leadership did not wait for OMB to make a decision on releasing additional funding,” says the IG report.

Raising further questions about the stated budgetary reason behind the detainee releases, 1,450 of the illegal immigrants were released during weekend hours. As a result, involved Federal employees received overtime pay at 23 of the 24 ICE facilities where illegal aliens were processed out.

ICE officials attempted to release the immigrants quietly into the U.S. to avoid public outrage; therefore, when news broke of the scheme, the political propaganda machine set into full motion at all levels of the Obama Administration.

In March 2013 Homeland Security Chief Janet Napolitano claimed that only hundreds, not thousands, of illegal immigrants were released. She also shrieked that the initial report — a product of The Associated Press — was inaccurate and hyperbolic.

As the border crisis continues, the IG report maintains that ICE is in no better place to deal with detained illegal immigrants now than it was in 2013:

Since the February 2013 releases, ICE has not improved communication or transparency with key stakeholders. Officials from DHS’ CFO said they have difficulty obtaining sufficient information from ICE’s CFO to conduct adequate oversight. The ERO officials we interviewed, including budget staff, said they did not have reliable information on available funding. ICE executive leadership’s ability to  track expenditures and available funding has not improved. After the budgetary releases, DHS transferred funding from other DHS components to fund detention bed space. Despite this transfer, ERO officials said ICE executive leadership instructed them several times to increase detention populations and then release detainees.

While the report outlines outrageous immigration irresponsibility in 2013 on the Administration’s part, Border Patrol agent Chris Cabrera suggested during a recent interview on Fox that releasing illegal aliens with criminal pasts has been institutionalized in the government’s handling of the current border invasion.

“If they have family in the United States, they’ll release them to the family, even if they’re admitted gang members,” he said. “We’ve had a couple that had admitted to murders in their home country. They were 17 years old, 16 years old, and the United States government thought it fit to release them to their parents here in the United States.

“Even if he’s a confirmed gang member, a confirmed criminal even by self-admission, we for some reason don’t send them back to their home country, we release them into our country.”

Obama Calls ‘Horsesh*t’ After Clinton Criticizes Foreign Policy Decisions Made While She Was Still In Office

“Horseshit.”

That’s how Democratic members of Congress report that President Barack Obama expressed his view of former Secretary of State Hillary Clinton, whom he appointed, calling him out on his policy toward Syria.

What has become a noticeable rift between two Washington fixtures who most people would assume agree, or should publically pretend to agree, on the Administration’s recent foreign policy decisions began when Clinton blamed Obama for the ISIS advances in a recent interview with The Atlantic.

According to the former top diplomat, the Administration could have made it more difficult for ISIS to gain support throughout the Middle East by doing more to support rebels in Syria when that country was initially besieged by civil war.

“The failure to help build up a credible fighting force of the people who were the originators of the protests against Assad—there were Islamists, there were secularists, there was everything in the middle—the failure to do that left a big vacuum, which the jihadists have now filled,” Clinton said.

Clinton’s remarks on Syria illustrate a clear disconnect from the view Obama has taken since the earliest days of the civil conflict, that heavily involving the U.S. military in a protest-turned-armed uprising would only make matters worse.

Obama has been criticized by foreign policy hawks on both sides of the aisle (notably Republican Senator John McCain)  for not doing more to help Syrian rebels take control of the country and establish a governmental structure.

“The president still feels very strongly that we are deluding ourselves if we think American intervention in Syria early on by assisting these rebels would have made a difference,” Representative Eliot Engel, a Democrat present for Obama’s recent rebuttal to the Clinton claim, told The Daily Beast in an interview. “He still believes that. I disagree, respectfully. They were not looking for U.S. troops, they were looking for help and the Syria civil war started with the most noblest of causes.”

Indeed, Obama has remained steadfast in insisting that getting more involved with rebels in Syria not only wouldn’t have helped, but would also have created other geopolitical problems.

“This idea that we could provide some light arms or even more sophisticated arms to what was essentially an opposition made up of former doctors, farmers, pharmacists and so forth, and that they were going to be able to battle not only a well-armed state but also a well-armed state backed by Russia, backed by Iran, a battle-hardened Hezbollah, that was never in the cards,” Obama said in an August 8th interview with The New York Times.

In another criticism that likely got under Obama’s skin, Clinton mocked the President’s trademark “don’t do stupid stuff” foreign policy motto.

“Great nations need organizing principles and ‘Don’t do stupid stuff’ is not an organizing principle,” Clinton said during the Atlantic interview.

On Tuesday, White House senior adviser David Axelrod hit back at Clinton on Twitter, saying, “Just to clarify: ‘Don’t do stupid stuff’ means stuff like occupying Iraq in the first place, which was a tragically bad decision.”

Unlike Obama, Clinton was a supporter of the Iraq invasion launched by Obama’s predecessor, an issue that became a key point of contention when the two both vied for the Democratic nomination for President in 2008.

If the current Obama-Clinton drama appears to be an exercise in classic political theater, there’s a reason. Clinton’s very public rebuke of Obama’s foreign policy—at a time when the Administration’s approval numbers on the matter are tanking— has been pegged by most political watchers as the first of many in the beginning stages of a likely Clinton 2016 Presidential bid.

GOP Lawmaker: Big Banks, Corporations Reap Millions Abusing Tax Credit Designed For Needy Communities

Senator Tom Coburn (R-Okla.) released a report this week detailing how corporate interests and big banks are abusing a tax incentive designed to empower poor Americans.

During the Bill Clinton Administration, Republican lawmakers created the New Markets Tax Credit to provide incentive for banks to finance projects that would create new markets in financially struggling communities.

But Coburn’s latest waste-illuminating report, “Banking on the Poor,” finds that the program is being used by big banks like Goldman Sachs, Wells Fargo and SunTrust, Hollywood and a number of corporations.

“This tax credit intended to benefit the poor is instead lining the pockets of the well-off, such as big banks and other private investors that claim more than $1 billion in NMTC annually,” Coburn said. “Because it is funded by taxing the labor of Americans, NMTC is essentially a reverse Robin Hood scheme paid for with the taxes collected from working Americans to provide pay outs to big banks and corporations in the hope that those it took the money from might benefit.”

NMTC works through a complicated process—but the crux of the scheme is incentivizing private investment in projects that will increase employment or provide beneficial services to the public by offering lavish tax subsidies to investors.

According to Coburn, 40 percent of the current investments are made by banks. The report outlines how those financial institutions are cashing in on tax credits equaling 39 percent of NMTC investment for 7 years after scheming to maximize profits at taxpayer expense.

From the report:

Many banks have set up their own CDEs in order to receive tax credit allocations from the Treasury, making them both the recipient of the tax credits and the lender. Many of the top CDEs receiving tax credit allocations are subsidiaries of major banks including Bank of America, JP Morgan Chase, Wachovia (now Wells Fargo), and SunTrust banks (see Appendix I). From 2003 to 2013, Bank of America’s CDE was awarded $696 million in tax credit allocation authority, while $450 million went to Chase Bank, $488 million to Wachovia, and $428 million to Sun Trust. In the latest round of NMTC allocations alone, Chase announced it was awarded a $60 million allocation and Sun Trust was awarded a $43 million allocation.

Along with setting up their own CDE’s, banks invest in other CDE’s, which provide them with tax credits in return for an investment. Investors in the National Development Council, a CDE that has received $486 million in tax credit allocation authority include Citibank, Citizens Bank, Deutsche Bank, Dudley Ventures, JPMorgan Chase, Key Bank, PNC Bank, Sun Trust, Wells Fargo, and U.S. Bank Enterprise Community Partners, another CDE, has worked with U.S. Bank, Bank of America, JP Morgan Chase, and others on over 55 developments.

“While Washington politicians tout the program’s goal is to put more money into the hands of businesses in struggling communities, the real beneficiaries are Wall Street banks, the CDE’s, and other large investment enterprises,” Coburn said.

The lawmaker also outlined how NMTC funds are often used on frivolous projects in areas from Beverly Hills to the Hamptons, where the taxpayer-funded economic boost isn’t even needed. Coburn cites the Congressional Research Service in noting that the definition of qualified low-income communities qualifies “virtually all of the country’s census tracts [neighborhoods and communities]” to NMTC eligibility.

The abuses of the NMTC funds listed in the budget hawk’s report include:

  • A financially-failing health center in Desert Hot Springs, California, complete with a $65,000 NMTC funded outdoor sculpture
  • A $13.5 million contribution leveraged using NMTCs for lighted water fountains in the Nation’s Capital
  • The city of St. Louis offered $10 million in financing through federal New Markets Tax Credits to a Fortune 500 company, Peabody Energy Corporation, to keep their business where it is, rather than move 10 miles outside of downtown St. Louis
  • $40 million in tax credits to help SunTrust and Wells Fargo invest in a dolphin show at the Atlanta aquarium.

Coburn said that, in addition to underwhelming success at fulfilling its intended purpose, the NMTC duplicates other wasteful government programs at a cost of $6.5 billion to taxpayers each year— the report even provides examples of NMTC funding being used along with money from programs it duplicates.

“When government picks winners and losers, the losers usually end up being taxpayers,” Coburn said. “Washington should reduce federal taxes on working Americans and all business owners who create jobs by eliminating tax earmarks, loopholes, and giveaways like the New Markets Tax Credit.”

 

California Congressman Wants Body Armor Sales Banned

Congressman Mike Honda, a California Democrat, has proposed legislation that would prohibit Americans who aren’t affiliated with government law enforcement or military organizations from owning body armor.

Honda’s bill, which has already gained approval from a handful of district attorneys and law enforcement organizations, would make illegal “body armor, including a helmet or shield, the ballistic resistance of which meets or exceeds the ballistic performance of Type III armor.”

Currently, body armor rated Type III or higher — designed to minimize injury caused by handgun and rifle rounds, according to the National Institute of Justice — is available in the for sale new or used U.S., including armor designed for traditional tactical applications as well as discreet self-defense items.

bulletproof backpack
Bullet Blocker sells bulletproof backpacks, including child-sized ones.

In Honda’s opinion, however, body armor sales in the U.S. are targeted directly at the dangerous criminal element.

“There is no reason this type of armor, which is designed for warfare, should be available in our communities except for those who need it, like law enforcement,” Honda said of his bill.

“There’s nothing more dangerous than what a well-armored, unstoppable active shooter can do. This bill is common-sense and long overdue.”

The Violence Policy Center’s Kristen Rand agrees.

“By limiting civilian access to body armor that is designed to protect against ‘law enforcement ammunitions’ and weapons that are ‘generally only used in tactical situations,’ the legislation would be an important step forward in reducing the availability of military-style gear that enables shooters to attack innocent civilians and confront law enforcement responders with a level of firepower that has no place on America’s streets,” she said.

Rand’s organization, in a statement regarding the Honda bill, erroneously claimed that mass shootings “including the 2012 massacre at a movie theater in Aurora, Colorado that left 12 dead and 58 injured” and “the 2009 mass shooting at the American Civic Association immigration center in Binghamton, New York, which left 14 dead and four wounded” are often carried out by armor-clad individuals.

It’s worth noting that, as with firearms, Federal law prohibits people with violent criminal pasts from owning body armor.

Pentagon Official: Airstrikes Aren’t Enough To Eliminate ISIS Threat

President Barack Obama’s strategy of using airstrikes against the Islamic State (ISIS) terrorists attempting to take control of Iraq isn’t likely to weaken the overall capabilities of the sophisticated terror group, a top Pentagon official said Monday.

U.S. airstrikes on ISIS positions have been ongoing since last Friday. Army Lt. Gen. William Mayville told reporters assembled for a Monday afternoon Pentagon briefing that the strikes had only temporarily disrupted ISIS advances toward the Kurdish city of Erbil.

Mayville warned, however, that ISIS remains dedicated to its mission of gaining ground throughout Iraq and “will sustain its attacks against Iraqi and Kurdish security forces and their positions, as well as target Yazidis, Christians and other minorities” despite the airstrikes.

According to the Pentagon official, the U.S. currently has no plans to expand operations beyond ending the siege of Mt. Sinjar and protecting U.S. interests in Erbil.

Mayville deemed the U.S. bombing campaign as a temporary solution, but noted that it has helped give Kurdish Peshmerga fighters time to regroup against ISIS.

“U.S. airstrikes are … providing the Kurdish security forces with time to fortify their defensive positions with the supplies they’re receiving from the central government of Baghdad,” he said.

“As a result, the Kurdish security forces are holding territory in the vicinity of Erbil, and it has been reported in the media they retook key communities near Erbil itself.”

The U.S. is currently making provisions to provide the Kurdish forces with more weaponry.

Meanwhile, Mayville said that he expects ISIS to refocus its efforts on other areas of Iraq. He added that the terrorists are already making efforts to blend in with civilians to thwart future U.S. strikes.

“The targeting in this is going to become more difficult,” he said.

Sunday News Show Roundup

Guests on Sunday’s political talk shows focused largely on President Barack Obama’s decision last week to launch airstrikes in Iraq in an effort to weaken the Islamic State terror group that has made major gains across the region in recent weeks. Republicans slammed the President’s response to the terror threat as too weak; meanwhile, most Democrats maintained tacit support for Obama’s limited response.

On Saturday, Obama announced that the U.S. was providing air support to the Iraqi Defense Forces and Kurdish Peshmerga in response to the humanitarian crisis created by the Islamic State threat. While the President left the door open for a sustained bombing campaign by declining to give a timetable for the strikes, he stressed that the current efforts don’t include U.S. boots on the ground.

Republican Senator John McCain (Ariz.) said that the Obama Administration’s response should focus more on the Islamic State’s threat to the U.S.

“This is an Iraqi problem, but it’s a United States problem, and it is a threat to our national security,” he said.

During his appearance on CNN’s “State of the Union,” McCain said that he is not alone in viewing the Islamic State as a major threat to U.S. security.

“I say that with the full backing, or the quotes, from our Director of National Intelligence, our Secretary of Homeland Security, the Director of the FBI, and even the Attorney General of the United States. This is turning into, as we had predicted for a long time, a regional conflict which does pose a threat to the security of the United States of America, and launching three strikes around a place where a horrible humanitarian crisis is taking place, meanwhile ISIS continues to make gains everywhere,” he said.

McCain’s opinions were echoed by other Republicans on the Sunday talk shows.

On NBCs “Meet the Press,” Representative Peter King, a New York Republican, suggested that failing to properly eliminate the Islamic State threat could lead to another 9/11 scenario.

“Every day that goes by ISIS builds up this caliphate and it becomes a direct threat to the United States of America. They are more powerful now than al Qaida was on 9/11,” he said. 

King also said it is a mistake for Obama to place limits on a U.S. response to the situation in Iraq, adding that boots on the ground isn’t the only option available beyond airstrikes.

“Let’s not set up the false argument that it has to be troops on the ground. We have the entire weight of the American military, plus we can work with the Kurds,” he said. “We can provide weaponry to the Kurds, who have been good fighters. No one has been more loyal to us then the Kurds.”

Democrats, on the other hand, largely expressed support for the Administration’s current response to the Islamic State problem.

On “Meet the Press,” Senator Dick Durbin (D-Ill.) said that the President’s “surgical” strikes on the Islamic State fit into Obama’s long-term plan to restore stability to the region.

“We cannot send the troops, we must not send the troops,” he said. “We need to be sure that what we do has surgical precision to it and a clear goal of success.”

Durbin also insisted that a humanitarian and limited military response to the threat is all that the U.S. should offer because “only Iraq can save Iraq.”

“Escalating it is not in the cards. Neither American people nor Congress are in the business of wanting to escalate this conflict beyond where it is today,” he said.

Appearing on “Fox News Sunday,” conservative talk radio host Laura Ingraham summed up the no-win situation that the U.S. faces in Iraq and avoided criticizing Obama’s current strategy.

“I don’t think you can judge how [President Obama] did right now,” she said. “We’re almost in an impossible situation, right? The American people really have no appetite for America to reengage…What are we going to do? What are we going to accomplish?”

“So I think he’s reacting to that,” Ingraham continued. “But he’s also…reluctantly seeing the perils of inaction. If we do nothing, then what? Let’s say Iraq does fall — which I think is a possibility, Iraq may fall — if indeed there are no boots on the ground, not gonna happen, can’t happen, then that’s very empowering to ISIL, right? If they know American troops are not going to be on the ground at all, and I’m not saying I want them there, then they know they get an artillery position hit as they did yesterday, then they flood back in.”

Americans Feel Way Of Life Under Attack By Illegal Immigration

As President Barack Obama defies public opinion and mulls executive action on immigration reform, new poll numbers reveal the reason that a majority of Americans don’t want to see the President make it easier for illegal immigrants to remain in the country.

According to the results of a Reuters/Ipsos poll out this week, 70 percent of likely voters in the U.S. fear that the flood of illegal immigrants threatens America’s culture and economy. Respondents who identified as Republicans were the most likely group to see trouble on the horizon: 86 percent of the group expressed concerns that illegal immigration will damage the American way of life.

Among those polled, Hispanic and liberal voters were the most likely to welcome unilateral immigration reform action from Obama.

“The findings suggest immigration could join Obamacare — the healthcare insurance overhaul — and the economy as hot button issues that encourage more Republicans to vote in November’s congressional election,” Reuters said of the online poll.

Reuters contends that the growing prominence of immigration concerns is likely related to a deluge of media coverage of the issue, but the polling numbers indicate that immigration worries are also gaining ground on concerns about Obamacare and the economy because Americans believe the three are related. Sixty-three percent of the likely voters polled said that they believed the illegal immigrants making their way into the Nation by the thousands economically burden the U.S.

The poll also revealed some surprises.

The most widespread opposition to illegal immigration isn’t found in regions along the Nation’s southern border or in particularly conservative parts of the country. Rather, with 80 percent of respondents in the area opposed to illegal immigration, New Englanders were most apt to express concerns that the border crisis will damage the Nation.

The poll also found that a majority of Americans are concerned about the number of people allowed to immigrate to the country legally, as 45 percent said fewer should be permitted. Just 17 percent said the U.S. should embrace more legal immigrants, and 38 percent said that current legal immigration numbers are satisfactory.

Establishment GOP’s War On Tea Party Continues

House Majority Whip Steve Scalise has enlisted John Feehery, a Federal lobbyist with a deep hatred of the “racists” and “hucksters” who he believes make up the Tea Party, to help fill staff positions.

That’s according to a new report illustrating the disconnect between the GOP establishment and Main Street American conservatism.

The piece, written by reporters Anna Palmer and Jake Sherman, was shrugged off as a non-story by some because it focuses largely on ethical questions regarding Scalise’s decision to seek staffing advice from someone with such cozy K-Street relationships.

Via the report:

Quinn Gillespie & Associates’ John Feehery sat in on and participated in multiple official interviews with job candidates last month for the new majority whip’s press operation. Scalise has not yet announced who he will name as his communications director.

Sometimes lawmakers rely on lobbyists for strategic advice. But inviting a lobbyist into an interview is highly unusual. Several ethics lawyers and current and former leadership aides said they have never heard of a similar arrangement.

Scalise enjoys closer relationships with lobbyists than many House conservatives — a reality that is sometimes helpful but also adds to his reputation of being closer to the establishment wing of the party than some in the conference had wanted.

Feehery is registered to lobby on behalf of major corporations like AT&T, Sony Corp., Qualcomm, 21st Century Fox and others that have interests before Congress and the House Energy and Commerce Committee, of which Scalise is a member.

But conservative Republicans have more to fret about Feehery than his lobbying ties. He also deeply dislikes the Tea Party faction of the GOP and wants it destroyed.

Since the POLITICO story broke, there has been a lot of attention on the lobbyist’s blog “The Freehery Theory”. There, the man helping Scalise assemble a crack team of K-street-compliant staffers, offers opinions on who he thinks the GOP good guys are in posts with titles like “The Tea Party Must Be Crushed.” (Trigger Warning: He describes Mitch McConnell as “probably the most conservative leader of either party in the history of the Senate.”)

Here’s a sample:

The Tea Party was started in the middle of Barack Obama’s first year, as he moved to nationalize the auto industry, the banking industry, the health care industry, and the energy sector.

Rick Santelli, the CNBC correspondent, sparked the revolt when he asked a simple and profound question: Why do people who play by the rules have to bail out people who broke the rules?

It was a good question, and it is still a good question.

When the Tea Party started, it was a national movement of good people who were worried about the future of the country.

But today’s Tea Party has morphed into something far different. It has become a collection of wing-nuts, racists, hucksters, extremists, con-men and front-men, who collaborate with Hollywood and left-wing organizations to plot the demise of Republicans in good standing, Republicans such as Mitch McConnell, who is probably the most conservative leader of either party in the history of the Senate.

Why does Freehery dislike the Tea Party so much?

He explains in another post, titled “Tea Party Treachery”:

Its vision of conservative varies with the Tea Party group.   Some of the Tea Partiers focus on immigration. Others attack crony capitalism. Still others hate all government spending.   Some think the Constitution needs to be rewritten, just as they call themselves constitutional conservatives.

They hate common core standards. Hate Obamacare. Hate extending the debt limit. Hate reopening the government. Hate the NSA. Hate immigrants. Hate the establishment. Hate big corporations. Hate Labor. Hate the Federal Reserve. Hate foreigners.   Hate. Hate. Hate.

Freehery’s rants are reminiscent of House Speaker John Boehner’s February declaration that the Tea Party had “lost all credibility” as he touted a two-year, $1.1 trillion budget and a separate $950 billion farm bill, both of which were widely maligned by fiscal conservatives.

The lobbyist’s current moment in the spotlight is an indication that the GOP establishment’s effort to purge lawmakers who don’t toe the party leadership’s line is alive and well. In fact, it’s likely kicking into high gear to quell the threat of a Tea Party-linked Republican stealing the thunder (and GOP primary support) of the stuffed suit the establishment leadership decides is up for a chance (or third chance) to carry the GOP Presidential ticket.

Lawlessness At The Border Taking Inevitable Toll On U.S. Crime

Immigration-related lawlessness along the U.S.’s southern border has caused crime rates in the region to rise. The trend is expected to continue— and some observers believe a Nationwide immigration-related crime wave will result.

Judicial Watch analyzed Federal crime statistics to produce a report this week which reveals that about half of the Nation’s Federal criminal cases were filed in areas near the Southern U.S. border, including: 6,130 in the southern part of Texas; 4,848 in Southern California; 3,889 in New Mexico; and 3,538 in Arizona.

Via Judicial Watch: 

Not surprisingly, most of the offenses were immigration related. In fact, 38.6% of all federal cases (23,744) filed last year involved immigration, the DOJ report confirms. Nearly 22% (13,383) were drug related, 19.7% (12,123) were violent crimes and 10.2% (6,300) involved white-collar offenses that include a full range of frauds committed by business and government professionals. This is hardly earth-shattering news in fact, the nation’s southern border region has for years been known for its high crime rate compared to the rest of the country.

However, the problem has escalated at an alarming rate in the last few years. Last spring Judicial Watch reported that violence in the region has gotten so out of control that both Mexican and American journalists have largely stopped reporting it out of fear that drug cartels will retaliate against them and their families. Around the same time a small town paper in Reynosa, the twin borer city of McAllen in south Texas, bravely ran a story describing the fear and panic that filled the streets during a three-hour firefight between rival drug cartels.

Meanwhile, ranchers and other landowners in areas near the border are reporting increasing occurrences of trespassing and property damage related to the immigration surge.

Texas-based ABC 13 reports:

In just one constable’s precinct in Hidalgo County that reaches into the ranch land, there have been 47 calls from ranchers concerning traffickers busting through fences on ranches in the first six months of 2014, according to crime statistics provided by officials with Precinct 4.

“I promise you the number of incidents of ranch crossings is double or triple that,” Precinct 4 Sgt. Aaron Moreno told ABC-13.

Those stats also show a total of 64 “bailouts,” in those ranch areas in that six-month span. That’s where an officer stops a vehicle, or a vehicle crashes and the passengers scatter.

On Wednesday alone between 1 and 3 pm, in the ranches covered by Precinct 4’s constables, there were three incidents of vehicles carrying large groups of people that busted through fences. Those vehicles were either were stopped by officers or crashed and the passengers fled.

Americans in the Nation’s heartland may, for the moment, feel insulated from the immigration-related crime wave by distance, but Border Patrol agent Chris Cabrera, who spoke to Fox News on Wednesday, suggested that illegal aliens with criminal pasts are making their way to communities throughout the country.

“If they have family in the United States, they’ll release them to the family, even if they’re admitted gang members,” he said. “We’ve had a couple that had admitted to murders in their home country. They were 17 years old, 16 years old, and the United States government thought it fit to release them to their parents here in the United States.

“Even if he’s a confirmed gang member, a confirmed criminal even by self-admission, we for some reason don’t send them back to their home country, we release them into our country.”

Cabrera blamed the admittance of known criminals to the U.S. on an immigration loophole.

“They found a loophole with the unaccompanied women and children,” he said. “We don’t have anywhere to house these women and children and if the child has no family back in his home country, or claims he has no family back in his home country, we have to release him to a parent who is here.”

Trickle-Down Tyranny: Cop Doesn’t ‘Give A Damn’ About Constitution Because Obama Doesn’t

A New Jersey police officer refusing to entertain a citizen’s complaints about 1st and 4th Amendment violations recently made it crystal clear how disregard for liberty and the law of the land is a trickle-down problem.

http://youtu.be/F9_6jGHpy5w

“Obama has decimated the friggin Constitution, so I don’t give a damn. ’Cause if he doesn’t follow the Constitution, we don’t have to,” Borough of Helmetta Police Department Special Police Officer Richard Recine said on film.

The incident occurred when Steve Wronko visited a municipal building with a list of complaints about the local animal shelter, which has been the center of a corruption scandal.

Wronko provides a little background on the situation on a Facebook page where he promotes reforming the shelter:

The current Mayor of Helmetta, Nancy Martin, is also the Tax Collector for the City of Perth Amboy. The current Director and Assistant Director of Helmetta Regional Animal Shelter are Michal and Richard Cielesz. This couple used to run the Perth Amboy Animal Shelter until, for unknown reasons, they no longer did. Fast forward to June, 2011, when Helmetta Regional Animal Shelter opened. Michal was named Director and her husband was given the position of Assistant Director. The Tax Collector from the previous town they worked in, Perth Amboy, is the Mayor of the current town they are working in, Helmetta. The Mayor’s son, Brandon Metz, is the head Animal Control Officer of Helmetta and works at the shelter. On a side note, the Mayor also gave her son a few other jobs in Helmetta: Animal Cruelty Investigator, Borough Laborer, Water Meter Reader, and Certified Recycling Co-ordinator. Good deal, right?

Wronko filmed throughout his visit to the government building. That didn’t sit well with Recine, a retired Franklin, N.J., cop who pads his $79,000 annual pension doing hourly work for the borough. Recine said that he was called to the building because employees were “alarmed” and repeatedly asserted that the resident had no right to film inside a public building.

When Wronko said that New Jersey law and his Constitutional rights provide legal evidence to the contrary, Recine let the resident know that he takes his Constitutional cues from the President.

By that time, an unidentified officer and Police Director Robert Manney had arrived. The officers threatened Wronko with arrest and physically removed him from the building.

After the story began to get national attention on Wednesday, Manney — who is seen in the video ordering Wronko to leave the building — changed his tune.

“I’ve already spoken to that officer in regards to that. In my opinion it’s an embarrassment,” he told a reporter.

America Urges Obama To Use Restraint As He Considers Immigration Reform By Decree

Congress’ inability to reach an agreement on border legislation before lawmakers left Washington for summer recess has increased the prospect of unilateral action from the White House on the immigration issue. Meanwhile, it seems like just about everyone who isn’t a diehard Democrat or an illegal immigrant is urging the President to leave his pen and phone out of the matter.

To the chagrin of the Democratic Party, House GOP lawmakers voted last week in favor of suing President Obama for overstepping his Constitutional authority when he changed the Affordable Care Act by fiat after it was passed by Congress.

According to a Rasmussen poll the Nation is split (45 percent in favor, 44 percent not) with regard to whether voters support the GOP lawsuit. The equality in the lawsuit’s favorability rating is likely tethered to partisan leanings.

When it comes to whether the President should make laws on his own, a clear majority of Americans (63 percent) disagree with Obama’s penchant for executive orders and say that Congress must approve legislative changes.

Rasmussen also notes, “Fifty-five percent (55%) of voters believe that when it comes to dealing with issues the president considers important to the nation, the government should only do what the president and Congress agree on.”

Aside from public opinion, other unexpected criticisms of the President’s plan to act on immigration via executive order have cropped up.

The Washington Post’s editorial board on Tuesday published a piece titled: “Frustration over stalled immigration action doesn’t mean Obama can act unilaterally.”

In tones that were unsurprisingly sympathetic to Obama, the Post argued that Congress’ inaction doesn’t grant Obama the right to “tear up the Constitution.”

From the editorial:

Mr. Obama now seems to be jettisoning that stance in the name of rallying his political base. He is considering extending temporary protection from deportation to millions of illegal immigrants, including the parents of U.S.-born children and others who have lived in the United States for years. Conceivably, this would give Democrats a political boost in 2016. Just as conceivably, it would trigger a constitutional showdown with congressional Republicans, who could make a cogent argument that Mr. Obama had overstepped his authority.

The president should think twice. Some of the same Democrats and pro-immigrant advocates urging him to protect millions of undocumented immigrants from deportation would be outraged if a Republican president took a similarly selective approach to enforcing the laws — say, those that guarantee voting rights or prohibit employment discrimination. Mr. Obama’s instincts — “we’re also a nation of laws” — were and remain correct.

Over at MSNBC there’s a lot of worry about political fallout if Obama Acts alone—and, more particularly, how it would affect vulnerable Democrats in the 2014 midterms:

The political fallout from any executive action – expected to land just weeks ahead of the midterms – almost certainly endangers Democratic hopes of hanging onto the Senate. Two vulnerable Democrats – Sens. Mark Pryor of Arkansas and Kay Hagan of North Carolina – broke from their party last week by opposing a procedural vote on a border funding package.

Beyond efforts to fund relief for immediate border crisis, any executive action to protect millions living in the shadows from deportation could have dire political consequences for red and purple state Democrats.

Despite the worries from Democrats, lack of public support and the clear notion that executive action would violate the law of the land, White House Press Secretary Josh Earnest said Wednesday that he couldn’t “rule anything in or out at this point” when asked about possible legislation by fiat.

Obama Rhetoric Suggests Executive Actions On Immigration, Taxes Are Coming

President Barack Obama defended his use of executive actions during a press conference that closed the African Leaders Summit on Wednesday.

ABC reporter Jon Karl asked Obama whether he believes Congressional inaction gives him the “green light to push the limits of executive power, even a duty to do so.”

“When you were running for President you said, quote, ‘The biggest problems that we’re facing right now have to do with George Bush trying to bring more and more power into the executive branch and not go through Congress at all. And that’s what I intend to reverse when I’m president of the United States of America.’” Karl reminded the President.

The reporter continued, “Does it bother you more to be accused of being an imperial president pushing those limits, or to be accused of being a do-nothing president who couldn’t get anything done because he faced a dysfunctional congress?”

Obama eschewed the suggestion that he felt he had the “green light” to act, before laying out broad executive actions he could take.

“I think that I never have a green light. I’m bound by the Constitution,” Obama replied. “I’m bound by separation of powers. There’s some things we can’t do.”

The President went on to vow to “scour our authorities” and act “wherever I have the legal authority to make progress.”

“We’re going to make sure that every time we take one of these steps that we are working within the confines of my executive power,” he said. “But I promise you the American people don’t want me just standing around twiddling my thumbs and waiting for Congress to get something done.”

It’s worth noting that there is ample polling data to the contrary. In fact, a recent Rasmussen poll found that a clear majority of Americans (63 percent) disagree with Obama’s penchant for executive orders and say that Congress must approve legislative changes.

Possible executive actions include measures to prevent tax inversions— U.S. companies moving headquarters out of the Nation to avoid taxes— and changes to U.S. immigration laws.

“We don’t want to see this trend grow,” Obama said of tax inversions.

The President suggested that Administration is examining policy measures to “at least discourage some of the folks who may be trying to take advantage of the loophole.”

“It’s not fair. It’s not right. The lost revenue to Treasury means it has to be made up somewhere,” he said.

On immigration, the President hinted at a couple of possible Administrative measures.

“We have a broken system, it’s under-resourced and we’ve got to make decisions in how we allocate personnel and resources,” Obama said.

Obama suggested that executive actions could be used to direct immigration officials to focus deportation efforts only on illegal immigrants guilty of serious crimes not related to their citizenship status.

“We’re going to have to prioritize — that’s well within our authorities and prosecutorial discretion,” Obama said. “My preference would be an actual comprehensive immigration law.”

The President is also expected to expand his deferred action program that allows young immigrants to apply for temporary legal status and work permits.