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


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.

“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.

New Surveillance Leak Prompts Feds To Help Friendly Reporter Steal Scoop

The Federal government has declared that there is a new leaker exposing surveillance secrets after The Intercept revealed Tuesday that almost half of the 680,000 people on the government’s terrorist watchlist have no known ties to terror.

The analysis of the government’s Terrorist Screening Database by The Interceptco-founded by Glenn Greenwald, who published Edward Snowden’s National Security Agency leaks — is based on newly obtained classified government documents.

From the piece:

The classified documents were prepared by the National Counterterrorism Center, the lead agency for tracking individuals with suspected links to international terrorism. Stamped “SECRET” and “NOFORN” (indicating they are not to be shared with foreign governments), they offer the most complete numerical picture of the watchlisting system to date. Among the revelations:

• The second-highest concentration of people designated as “known or suspected terrorists” by the government is in Dearborn, Mich.–a city of 96,000 that has the largest percentage of Arab-American residents in the country.

• The government adds names to its databases, or adds information on existing subjects, at a rate of 900 records each day.

• The CIA uses a previously unknown program, code-named Hydra, to secretly access databases maintained by foreign countries and extract data to add to the watchlists.

A U.S. counterterrorism official familiar with watchlisting data told The Intercept that as of November 2013, there were approximately 700,000 people in the Terrorist Screening Database, or TSDB, but declined to provide the current numbers. Last month, the Associated Press, citing federal court filings by government lawyers, reported that there have been 1.5 million names added to the watchlist over the past five years. The government official told The Intercept that was a misinterpretation of the data. “The list has grown somewhat since that time, but is nowhere near the 1.5 million figure cited in recent news reports,” he said. He added that the statistics cited by the Associated Press do not just include nominations of individuals, but also bits of intelligence or biographical information obtained on watchlisted persons.

Read the full report at The Intercept.

After learning that the new media outlet had obtained the secret documents, government officials reportedly fed the scoop to an Associated Press reporter, presumably in an effort to pre-empt The Intercept’s story with a friendlier version.

Huffington Post’s Ryan Grim explains:

After the AP story ran, The Intercept requested a conference call with the National Counterterrorism Center. A source with knowledge of the call said that the government agency admitted having fed the story to the AP, but didn’t think the reporter would publish before The Intercept did. “That was our bad,” the official said.

Asked by The Intercept editor John Cook if it was the government’s policy to feed one outlet’s scoop to a friendlier outlet, a silence ensued, followed by the explanation: “We had invested some quality time with Eileen,” referring to AP reporter Eileen Sullivan, who the official added had been out to visit the NCTC.

“After seeing you had the docs, and the fact we had been working with Eileen, we did feel compelled to give her a heads up,” the official said, according to the source. “We thought she would publish after you.”

According to the source, Cook told the official that in the future the agency would have only 30 minutes to respond to questions before publication.

“They also were saying, with most news organizations we’d have a real back-and-forth and we’d have an opportunity to discuss what should be redacted, but with you guys, you’ve made it clear you’re not going to have those kinds of conversations with us,” the source said.

What a shining example of the government’s mainstream media propaganda machine in action.

Alabama Lawmaker: Democrats Are Waging ‘War On Whites’

During an appearance Monday on Laura Ingraham’s radio show, Alabama Republican Congressman Mo Brooks said that Democrats’ rolling accusations of GOP racism are part of a leftist plan to exploit political correctness to wage a “war on whites” in America.

Brooks was addressing comments made Sunday by National Journal editorial director Ron Fournier, who suggested that Republican immigration positions are disenfranchising Hispanic voters.

Fournier argued during an appearance on “Fox News Sunday” that the GOP ought to change its tune on immigration, or risk losing potential minority voters in the November midterms.

“This party, your party, cannot be the party of the future beyond November if you’re seen as the party of white people,” he said.

Brooks charged that perceptions of racism in GOP immigration policy are fueled by Democratic efforts to deflect attention from real problems facing the Nation.

“This is a part of the war on whites that’s being launched by the Democratic Party. And the way in which they’re launching this war is by claiming that whites hate everybody else,” he told Ingraham. “It’s a part of the strategy that Barack Obama implemented in 2008, continued in 2012, where he divides us all on race, on sex, greed, envy, class warfare, all those kinds of things. Well that’s not true.”

The Alabama Congressman also cited recent polls, which he contends show unease over current immigration policies that spans demographics.

“It doesn’t make any difference if you’re a white American, a black American, a Hispanic-American, an Asian-American or if you’re a woman or a man. Every single demographic group is hurt by falling wages and lost jobs,” Brooks said.

“Democrats, they have to demagogue on this and try and turn it into a racial issue, which is an emotional issue, rather than a thoughtful issue,” he added. “If it becomes a thoughtful issue, then we win–  and we win big. And they lose– and they lose big. ”

Ingraham distanced herself from Brooks’ statements, calling his “war on whites” comments “a little out there.”

“That phraseology might not be the best choice,” she said.

Why So Sensitive?: Pelosi Rages At ‘Insignificant’ Republican On House Floor

“There are some people in Congress that think they are royalty … What happened there is a prime example of why we need term limits,” Representative Tom Marino (R-Pa.) told Fox News on Monday as he discussed House Minority Leader Nancy Pelosi’s (D-Calif.) reaction when he laid blame for the immigration crisis at Democrats’ feet on the House floor.

On Friday, Pelosi stormed across the House floor wagging her finger at the GOP lawmaker and calling him “insignificant” after he questioned why Democrats are so keen on forcing an immigration overhaul now when the Party ignored the Nation’s immigration issues when they controlled Congress and the White House.

“You know something that I find quite interesting about the other side?” Marino had said on the House floor. “Under the leadership of the former speaker [Pelosi], and under the leadership of the former leader, when in 2009 and 2010, they had the House, the Senate and the White House, and they knew this problem existed … they didn’t have the strength to go after [immigration] back then.”

Pelosi then began making her way toward the lawmaker and exclaiming that his remarks were untrue, prompting Marino to address her directly.

“It’s true, madam leader, I did the research on it,” Marino said. “You might want to try it. You might want to try it, madam leader. Do the research on it. Do the research. I did it. That’s one thing that you don’t do.”

As the rhetorical standoff calmed, Marino urged lawmakers to act on GOP immigration legislation because, “Apparently I hit the right nerve.”

As the Republican left the floor, Pelosi could be seen briskly walking toward him waving her finger.

On Monday, Marino hinted to Fox that Pelosi’s actions were an attempt to “belittle” and intimidate him. The lawmaker said it didn’t work.

“I’m a former prosecutor … and I’ve been threatened by drug dealers and organized crime and murderers, and this was a walk in the park,” he told cable news outlet. “I’m not going to put up with this. I don’t talk to people like this.”

He added: “I’m having one of the wealthiest people in Congress say that I’m inconsequential and I’m not important.”

According to The Hill, a Pelosi handler said that the Congresswoman simply “wanted to remind the Congressman that House Democrats had the courage to pass the DREAM Act – and have the courage to stand up for what the American people want: bipartisan, comprehensive immigration reform.”

The GOP border bill was passed in the House on a 223 to 189 vote.

But the question of why Democrats remain so sensitive to the subject of their own immigration inaction when they in charge was revived when Fox News reporter Ed Henry asked White House Press Secretary Josh Earnest during a Monday press briefing.

“Nancy Pelosi and Harry Reid, they were running the House and Senate,” Henry said. “They failed to act for two years. Why didn’t [Obama] do anything then?”

“At the time, you recall back in 2009, there were many things on the President’s plate,” Earnest deflected.

Henry countered incredulously, “As there are now — Israel, Gaza, Syria, the economy — he has a lot going on now, right?”

Earnest insisted that the problems that existed in 2009, the “financial system and our economy hemorrhaging jobs” was the focal point of Congress and the White House.

Federal Court: Alabama Abortion Restrictions unConstitutional

Dealing the second blow to anti-abortion activists in less than a week, a Federal judge has ruled that an Alabama law that would have shut three of the State’s five abortion clinics is unConstitutional.

The law, a version of which has been passed in multiple states across the country in recent years, requires doctors performing abortions to have admitting privileges at nearby hospitals. A similar Mississippi law was blocked last week by a Federal appeals court in one of the most conservative districts in the country.

“The court is convinced that, if this requirement would not, in the face of all the evidence in the record, constitute an impermissible undue burden, then almost no regulation, short of those imposing an outright prohibition on abortion, would,” wrote U.S. District Judge Myron Thompson, in his 172-page opinion, released Monday.

The ruling, by a vote of 2-1, leaves similar laws vulnerable to challenges, but it also raises the possibility that this issue will advance to a higher court. Before the Mississippi law was blocked last week, a similar Texas law was allowed to stand by a different panel of judges, and the Supreme Court often steps in when different courts offer contrasting decisions on the same issue.

Alabama’s attorney general announced soon after the ruling that the State will appeal.

The Alabama lawsuit was filed by Planned Parenthood Southeast and Reproductive Health Services, which argued that none of the doctors who provide abortions in Montgomery, Birmingham or Mobile would be able to obtain admitting privileges, and that closing the clinics would make it onerous for women to travel to have abortions.

Thompson agreed, writing that the admitting privileges requirement “would have the effect of imposing a substantial obstacle for women who would seek abortions in Alabama. The law would therefore impose an undue burden on their constitutional right to have an abortion.”

The Alabama law, which was enacted in 2011, had not been enforced while the lawsuit was pending. Similar laws were enacted in Oklahoma and Kansas the same year; an Idaho law passed in 2011 was permanently blocked by a federal district court. Arizona’s admitting privilege law, enacted in 2012, has been permanently blocked by a Federal appeals court.

But similar laws still stand in Arkansas, Indiana, Kansas, Nebraska, Oklahoma and Texas. It will go into effect in Louisiana on Sept. 1.

Many of the legislators who have sponsored or supported admitting privileges laws have been clear: They would completely ban abortion, if they could.

“Even though I continue to be disappointed that the U.S. Supreme Court has allowed abortion to remain the law of the land, we can take these measures to protect the health of women,” said Alabama state Senator Scott Beason, who sponsored the law.

The Alabama lawmakers have passed other abortion restrictions: banning abortion if a fetal heartbeat can be heard and lengthening the period of time a woman must wait before she gets an abortion to 48 hours, from 24.

Abortion rights activists cheered the ruling Monday as a pushback against the laws that have been passed across the country in recent years.

“As the judge noted today, the justifications offered for this law are weak at best,” said Louise Melling, deputy legal director of the ACLU. “Politicians, not doctors, crafted this law for the sole purpose of shutting down women’s health care centers and preventing women from getting safe, legal abortions.”

-Alana Semuels


©2014 Los Angeles Times

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Sunday News Show Roundup

As President Barack Obama’s U.S.-Africa Leaders Summit gets underway this week, on Sunday’s political talk shows Dr. Tom Frieden, director of the Centers for Disease Control, discussed the ongoing Ebola outbreak in West Africa and whether Americans should be concerned. Meanwhile, Texas Governor Rick Perry talked tough on immigration.

Ebola Outbreak

The African Ebola outbreak killed 826 people by the end of last month after spreading from Guinea to Liberia and Sierra Leone.

Frieden appeared on four separate programs to ease concerns over the possibility of an Ebola outbreak in the U.S.

“We know it’s possible that someone will come in. If they go to a hospital and that hospital doesn’t recognize it’s Ebola there could be additional cases or their family members could have cases. That’s all possible, but I don’t think it’s in the cards that we would have an outbreak in this country,” Frieden said on CBS’ “Face the Nation.”

“The way it spreads in Africa is really two things. First, in hospitals where there isn’t really infection control and second in burial practices where people are touching the bodies of people who have died from Ebola. So it’s not going to spread widely in the U.S. Could we have another people here, could we have a case or two, not impossible … but we know how to stop it here.”

Fears of Ebola spreading in the U.S. grew last week with the announcement that American aid workers Dr. Kent Brantly and Nancy Writebol who contracted the disease would be taken to Atlanta for treatment. Brantly arrived on Saturday.

“I can understand why people are scared of Ebola,” Frieden said on Fox News Sunday. “It’s deadly, it’s a gruesome death … but I hope and I’m confident that our fears are not going to overwhelm our compassion. We care for our own. We bring people home if they need to come home.”

Immigration Crisis

On CNN’s “State of the Union”, Perry discussed the immigration crisis along the Nation’s southern border and the steps being taken in his State to address the problem.

“What I’m prepared to do is not just the National Guard, but our Department of Public Safety, our Texas Ranger Recon Teams, the Parks and Wildlife wardens that we have deployed there,” Perry said. “And then I will suggest to you there will be other individuals who come to assist in securing that border … I think that’s what the American people want. They’d like to see a president who leads this country and says, you know what, we do have a problem on our southern border. We’re going to deal with it.”

CNN’s Candy Crowley then suggested that Perry’s tough border stance was related to a possible 2016 Presidential bid.

“I’m the Governor of the state of Texas,” Perry replied. “My citizens’ safety is what is foremost here. And it hasn’t got anything to do with anything other than those numbers of individuals who are coming across the border. And when you think about the idea that some of them are from countries that have substantial terrorist ties, whether it’s Pakistan or Afghanistan or Syria, we are at historic record highs with individuals being apprehended from those countries.”

“We say it’s time to secure the border,” Perry continued. “Hasn’t got anything to do with anything, other than the American citizens expect Washington to respect the Constitution and secure the border, one of the things that’s actually enumerated in the Constitution. We’d like for them to do their duty.”

Defense Panel: Obama Making U.S. Too Weak

The National Defense Panel appointed to conduct independent reviews of the Nation’s military readiness warned last week that President Barack Obama is making the U.S. Armed Forces too weak to respond to growing global threats.

A new report out from the panel said that defense budget cuts and the Obama Administration’s assertions that the U.S. should have a smaller military in the President’s 2014 Quadrennial Defense Review (QDR) leave the U.S. with a military that is “inadequate given the future strategic and operational environment.”

According to the defense experts, the U.S. is in need of upgrades and expansions to meet global challenges that cause the Nation to have to respond to multiple threats at once.

From the report:

The Air Force now fields the smallest and oldest force of combat aircraft in its history yet needs a global surveillance and strike force able to rapidly deploy to theaters of operation to deter, defeat, or punish multiple aggressors simultaneously. As a result of the budget constraints imposed by the 2011 Budget Control Act, the Air Force’s Bomber, Fighter and Surveillance forces are programmed to drawdown to approximately 50% of the current inventory by 2019. In the panel’s opinion, the programmed reduction in the Air Force’s decisive enabling capabilities will put this nation’s national security strategy at much higher risk and therefore recommends increasing the number of manned and unmanned aircraft capable of conducting both ISR and long range strike in contested airspace.

We are convinced the 2014 QDR’s contemplated reduction in Army end strength goes too far. We believe the Army and the Marine Corps should not be reduced below their pre-9/11 end-strengths – 490,000 active-duty soldiers in the Army and 182,000 active Marines–bearing in mind that capability cannot always substitute for capacity.

According to the panel, the White House’s current plan for the military is focused too heavily on providing justification for defense spending cuts and not enough on keeping the U.S. in a strong position to respond to global threats.

In order for the military to be powerful enough to protect the Nation, the defense experts argue, the U.S.’s fighting force must be able to operate equally in multiple theaters.

“We find the logic of the two-war construct to be as powerful as ever and note that the force sizing construct in the 2014 QDR strives to stay within the two-war tradition while using different language. But given the worsening threat environment, we believe a more expansive force sizing construct — one that is different from the two-war construct but no less strong — is appropriate.”

Border Crisis Continues As Congressional Recess Looms

After Congressional drama over the immigration legislation on Thursday, Texas Governor Rick Perry said that legislators should put off their five-week summer recess and remain in Washington until the “job is completed” in handling the border crisis.

“While Texas has taken what steps it can to mitigate the damage caused by a porous border, Congress and the President have a duty to address our border security issues without further delay. Congress should not go into recess until the job is completed,” he said in a statement.

On Thursday afternoon House Republicans cancelled voting on a $656 million bill to address the problem. Later, as GOP leaders huddled, incoming House Majority Leader Kevin McCarthy of California announced that “additional votes are possible” on the measure.

The problem many conservatives had with the legislation is that it provides funding without guaranteeing that political factors behind the immigration flood are addressed.

Senator Jeff Sessions (R-Ala.) voiced opposition to versions of immigration legislation being considered in both chambers of Congress, arguing on the Senate floor that any legislation should include a provision preventing the President from taking executive action on immigration. Such a provision, he added, would never make it through the Senate.

“It’s not the kind of crisis where we have to rush out and pass a bill tonight,” Sessions said. “We can’t just throw money at this problem which is what this legislation does.”

“We must prevent the President’s massive amnesty from going forward,” Sessions also said. “That is why have said that Congress, as an institution, must not support any border package that does not expressly prohibit the President’s executive amnesty and block funds for its implementation. How can we not take this position?”

Barring substantial Congressional action on immigration legislation, it is likely that President Barack Obama will jump at the chance to act while lawmakers are out of town.

On Twitter, White House senior adviser Dan Pfeiffer cited the House’s decision to cancel the immigration vote as proof that Obama must act unilaterally.

After a closed-door meeting House Republicans relayed that they would, as Perry suggested,  stay in Washington until a vote occurred rather than adjourning on Thursday afternoon as planned.

Stay tuned…

DHS Report: Immigration Officials Being Exposed To Diseases

A Department of Homeland Security report reveals that government employees working with illegal immigrants flooding across the U.S.’s southern border are being exposed to communicable diseases such as “respiratory illnesses, chicken pox, tuberculosis, and scabies.”

According to the DHS report, government workers tasked with maintaining sanitary conditions at immigration processing and detention centers are having a tough time due to the sheer numbers of illegal immigrants making their way into the country and lack of funds.

The report also notes that disease is being spread among the immigrants and government employees due to “UAC [unaccompanied alien children] and family unit illnesses and unfamiliarity with bathroom facilities” resulting in staff exposer to human waste.

Via the report:

DHS employees reported exposure to communicable diseases and becoming sick on duty. For example, during a recent site visit to the Del Rio USBP Station and Del Rio Port of Entry, CBP personnel reported contracting scabies, lice, and chicken pox. Two CBP Officers reported that their children were diagnosed with chicken pox within days of the CBP Officers’ contact with a UAC who had chicken pox. In addition, USBP personnel at the Clint Station and Santa Teresa Station reported that they were potentially exposed to tuberculosis.

Amid global concerns of a deadly outbreak of Ebola virus in Africa and the threat of the virus spreading to other parts of the world through global travel, some people, including Georgia Representative Phil Gingrey, have questioned whether the immigration influx could increase the possibility of a similar outbreak in the U.S.

“Reports of illegal immigrants carrying deadly diseases such as swine flu, dengue fever, Ebola virus and tuberculosis are particularly concerning,” Gingrey wrote in a letter to the Centers for Disease Control earlier in the month.

“Many of the children who are coming across the border also lack basic vaccinations such as those to prevent chicken pox or measles,” he continued. “This makes Americans who are not vaccinated — and especially young children and the elderly — particularly susceptible.”

The CDC said it would look into the lawmaker’s concerns but has also noted that U.S. isolation and infection control measures would make an outbreak—however it was sparked—unlikely in the Nation.

Rand Paul Offers Legislation To Keep Government From Stealing Innocent Citizens’ Property

Civil forfeiture laws, which allow the government to seize assets like cars, homes, property, cash and just about anything else merely suspected by law enforcement of being used for criminal activities, are an affront to Americans’ Constitutional property rights. Senator Rand Paul (R-Ky.) recently unveiled a plan to reform them.

Paul’s legislative proposal, dubbed the FAIR (or the Fifth Amendment Integrity Restoration) Act, would take on a legal system that not only allows, but incentivizes, confiscation of private property from individuals who haven’t been charged or convicted of breaking any laws.

“The federal government has made it far too easy for government agencies to take and profit from the property of those who have not been convicted of a crime. The FAIR Act will ensure that government agencies no longer profit from taking the property of U.S. citizens without due process, while maintaining the ability of courts to order the surrender of proceeds of crime,” Paul said.

While convicting a person of a crime requires law enforcement to provide evidence that the individual is guilty “beyond a reasonable doubt,” the government has to prove only that property was likely to have been used in a crime in order to steal it from its rightful owner. Meanwhile, unlike in criminal proceedings, the property owners are considered guilty until proven innocent.

Getting property back from the government can mean a long, costly — and often unsuccessful — legal battle. And even though confiscating a car, property or cash from a person who the government has not linked directly to a crime does nothing to make the public safer, you can bet that law enforcement agencies will fight hard to hang on to what they have confiscated.

That’s because current civil forfeiture laws provide direct cash incentives to agencies in some States by allowing them to sell what they confiscate and reap the financial rewards. In States with better property protections for residents, law enforcement can get some help stealing stuff from innocent people by reaching out to Uncle Sam’s Justice Department.

Via The Institute for Justice:

Federal law provides a loophole called “equitable sharing” to law enforcement in states with good civil forfeiture laws. This program allows state law enforcement to turn seized assets over to the federal government, which forfeits the property under federal  law. In turn, the feds give up to 80 percent of the forfeited property back to the state agency for its own use, even if state law would have required those proceeds to go into a general fund.

Paul’s civil forfeiture reform would de-incentivize confiscation of innocent Americans’ belongings by making it tougher for the government to make a case against an individual’s property. Furthermore, it would remove the Federal assist in most cases by requiring all State agencies to defer to State laws regarding confiscated property.

Another provision in Paul’s legislation would provide that the profits from all property that is legitimately confiscated by the Federal government by way of civil forfeiture be placed in the U.S. Treasury’s General Fund, not the Attorney General’s Asset Forfeiture Fund. The funding redirect is important because it creates a situation where there is no direct financial incentive for law enforcement to take property — consequently, making it more likely that property is taken only when legitimate public safety concerns exist.

The FAIR Act is the latest in a series of attempts the Kentucky Senator is making to reform the U.S. judicial system by challenging aspects of the Nation’s failed War on Drugs (which largely abetted the rise in civil forfeiture cases) and sentencing guidelines that make rehabilitation more difficult than it should be for some low-level offenders.

Video: Shotgun Silencers Are Pretty Cool, But Johnny Dronehunter Makes Them Cooler

Can you imagine a future where a flock of privacy-invading drones is liable to swarm you to make sure that you are following government commands at any moment? Utah-based SilencerCo. did— then they imagined a character who, without hesitation, would take back his rights.

The action takes place in a new advertisement for a product called the Salvo 12, which SilencerCo. says is “the first and only commercially-viable shotgun suppressor on earth.”

A description accompanying the Johnny Dronehunter ad reads as follows:

In the not-too-distant future, privacy is a thing of the past. Undeniable rights degrade like the paper they were written upon, and Big Brother has a constant eye on you and your family.

It will take a determined man and an unequaled weapon to make a stand. And explosions. Yeah, lots of explosions.

If trouble was what they were after, they found it.

Well done.

H/T: Motherboard