Iraq, U.S. Domestic Energy And Rising Gas Prices

As many Americans hit the road en route to the perfect spot to celebrate the Fourth of July, their patriotic feelings may give way to grumblings about the foreign policy and energy independence failures of the Nation’s leaders in recent decades.

According to AAA, gas prices throughout the U.S. for Fourth of July travel are at an average of about $3.68 per gallon, about 20 cents higher than this time last year.

Gas prices usually fall slightly preceding what has become the Nation’s busiest summer travel holiday. But this year the prices are on the rise as the result of the United States’ failures to create a stable Iraq in the oil-rich Mideast.

The U.S. imports only about 300,000 barrels of oil per day from Iraq. But as radical extremists make their way across the war-torn country and move into regions dominated by oil production, an already thin global oil supply is being stretched to its limits. High demand for petroleum from China and other rapidly developing nations combined with a standstill in production in oil-producing regions such as Libya, Sudan and Nigeria are also factors that make Iraq’s ability to produce petroleum paramount.

Moreover, American petroleum consumers are further forced to pay higher prices at the pump because of U.S. sanctions barring the purchase of petroleum from Iran and Syria.

Currently, extremist Sunni factions in Iraq working under the banner of the Islamic State of Iraq and Syria (ISIS) haven’t made major inroads into the country’s Shiite-dominated southern regions, where the glut of Iraq’s oil industry is situated. But ISIS advances in the northern part of the country have shut oil fields and forced companies to evacuate workers from areas that were once considered primed for growth on the heels of the United States’ long-standing occupation.

While gas prices in the U.S. are nearing highs that Americans haven’t seen since about 2008, some watchers have noted that the situation could be much worse if not for the shale boom that has led to increased U.S. oil production.

“The net amount of crude the U.S. has added to global markets has resulted in one of the longest periods of oil price stability in years, and has helped push the broader trend down,” Business Insider’s Rob Wile noted last month.

Republican lawmakers have made moves in recent weeks to seize on the energy stability produced by increased domestic oil and natural gas production by passing legislation to expand drilling offshore and on publicly owned lands.

Representative Doc Hastings (R-Wash.), who sponsored the bill, said the legislation was an effort to force the Barack Obama Administration to remove “roadblocks” to U.S. energy production.

“In order for America to prosper, we need access to reliable and affordable energy,” Hastings, chairman of the House Natural Resources Committee, said in a statement. “The best way to create jobs and help address rising prices is to develop the American energy resources we have right here at home.”

Other lawmakers are focused on combating energy price spikes, especially those stemming from the current Iraq crisis, by compelling the oil market regulators at the Commodity Futures Trading Commission to tamp down on Wall Street speculation of commodity prices.

“I am getting tired of big oil companies and Wall Street speculators using Iraq as an excuse to pump up oil and gas prices,” Senator Bernie Sanders (I-Vt.) said last week.

Obama Vows To Handle Immigration Reform On His Own

President Barack Obama, reportedly giving up on the prospect of Congressional immigration reform, announced Monday that he plans to use executive actions to deal with the tide of illegal immigrants flowing over the U.S.’s southern border.

“If Congress will not do its job, at least we can do ours,” Obama said from the White House Rose Garden.

The President said that unilateral action was necessary, claiming that Republican lawmakers were afraid to stand up to the Tea Party faction of the GOP and address the immigration issue.

“While I will continue to push Republicans to drop excuses and act,” Obama said, “Americans cannot wait forever for them to act.”

“I don’t prefer taking administrative action,” the President also said. “I’ve made that clear multiple times … I only take executive action when we have a serious problem, a serious issue and Congress chooses to do nothing.”

Obama’s remarks came after House Speaker John Boehner (R-Ohio) announced last week that he would not lead Republicans in his legislative chamber into the immigration reform debate. Following the President’s Monday statement, Boehner called into question Obama’s leadership ability.

“In our conversation last week, I told the president what I have been telling him for months: the American people and their elected officials don’t trust him to enforce the law as written,” Boehner said in a statement. “Until that changes it is going to be difficult to make progress on this issue.”

Boehner went on to question the reasoning behind Obama’s decision to act unilaterally on immigration reform, charging that the current border crisis was the direct result of Obama’s policies.

“The president’s own executive orders have led directly to the humanitarian crisis along the southern border, giving false hope to children and their families that if they enter the country illegally they will be allowed to stay,” Boehner said.

“The White House claims it will move to return these children to their families in their home countries yet additional executive action from this president isn’t going to stem the tide of illegal crossings, it’s only going to make them worse.”

Last week, Democratic Senator Dick Durbin of Illinois hinted that the President was planning to address immigration unilaterally, saying Thursday that Obama “will borrow the power that is needed to solve the problems of immigration.”

“I don’t know how much more time he thinks he needs, but I hope that Speaker Boehner will speak up today,” Durbin said. “And if he does not, the president will borrow the power that is needed to solve the problems of immigration and he shouldn’t be sued as a result of it.”

Americans Want Jobs, Not Immigrants

A new poll finds that Americans are in favor decreasing immigration levels. Meanwhile, separate research from the Center for Immigration Studies shows that net employment growth in the U.S. since the year 2000 has gone entirely to immigrants, both legal and illegal.

“Americans’ views on immigration have varied a bit in the past 15 years, with the dominant view shifting between decreasing immigration and maintaining it at the current level,” Gallup reported. “Some of these changes may reflect the ebb and flow of Americans’ reactions to the 9/11 attacks in 2001 as well as rocketing unemployment in 2009, with both events triggering a temporary surge in anti-immigration sentiment.”

According to Gallup, 41 percent of Americans report that they would like to see government make moves to reduce the number of immigrants coming to the U.S. Among those who prefer a reduction in immiffgration, 50 percent are Republicans, 43 percent independents and 32 percent identify as Democrats.

Thirty-three percent of respondents said that immigration is fine at its present levels, and just 22 percent of those polled wanted to see an increase.

One of the most important factors in determining whether Americans are accepting of increased immigration is the economy.

“Deciding how many new immigrants to welcome each year can be controversial, particularly when unemployment is high, and seeming competition for good jobs already fierce,” Gallup said.

According to the Center For Immigration Studies, for the past 14 years immigrants to the U.S., both legal and illegal, have had an easier time finding employment in the Nation than people who were born in the Nation.

“All of the net increase in employment went to immigrants in the last 14 years partly because, even before the Great Recession, immigrants were gaining a disproportionate share of jobs relative to their share of population growth,” the report found. “In addition, natives’ losses were somewhat greater during the recession and immigrants have recovered more quickly from it.”

The study found that 58 million working-age Americans who are native to the country are out of work, including: 8.7 million native college graduates, 17 million Americans with some college education and 25.3 million natives with no more than a high school education.

The study’s authors contend that their findings shoot holes in many of the arguments that are made for increasing immigration.

“The long-term decline in the employment for natives across age and education levels is a clear in­dication that there is no general labor shortage, which is a primary justification for the large increases in immigration (skilled and unskilled) in the Schumer-Rubio bill and similar House proposals,” the study said.

*Updated* Anti-Amnesty Group: Mail Your Soiled Used Underwear To Obama, Boehner

Editor’s Note: ALIPAC’s William Gheen emailed Personal Liberty to request that the word “dirty” be changed to “used” in the following article. “We specifically asked people to not send soiled garments but leftist groups like talking points memo are making the false dirty underwear claim,” Gheen explained.

Americans for Legal Immigration PAC (ALIPAC), an anti-amnesty group, is urging Americans to mail their dirty used underwear to the White House and House Speaker John Boehner after the Federal government put in a request for new briefs to provide the illegal immigrants flowing over the U.S.’s southern border.

The Department of Homeland Security recently made a solicitation for thousands of “White 100% Cotton Men’s Briefs” from medium sizes to 6X large pairs.

The solicitation, posted on the Federal Business Opportunities website, says that the underwear are bound for El Paso, Texas.

“This [request for quote] is a normal solicitation for routinely procured items needed at ICE-owned detention facilities around the country,” an immigration official told Breitbart earlier this month. “At ICE-owned detention facilities, the agency is required to provide basic necessities in order to feed and clothe detained aliens.”

But ALIPAC has a better idea for anyone who wants to send whitie-tighties to the Feds.

“Obama and Boehner have proven once and for all that their talk of passing immigration reform amnesty, instead of enforcing America’s existing border and immigration laws, only brings more unwanted and destructive illegal immigration!” said William Gheen, president of ALIPAC, on the group’s website.

“Instead of using our tax money to buy illegals 42,000 pairs of new underwear, we would like to send the illegals and DC politicians a message by mailing them our used underwear, and some of our pairs are in really bad shape due to the bad economy and all of the jobs illegal immigrants are taking from Americans.”

ALIPAC concludes that Americans upset over the government’s failure to fix the Nation’s immigration problems are “encouraged to mail their used underwear to Barack Obama at The White House, 1600 Pennsylvania Avenue NW, Washington, DC 20500, and John Boehner at Office of the Speaker, H-232 The Capitol, Washington, DC 20515.”

Sunday News Show Roundup

Guests on Sunday’s political talk shows this week discussed the worsening immigration crises at the U.S.’s southern border, Republican efforts to challenge President Barack Obama’s executive authority and potential 2016 Democratic Presidential candidate Hillary Clinton’s money problem.

Border Crises

A White House official told CNN this weekend that President Obama will likely ask Congress for more than $2 billion to set up detention spaces for the thousands of young illegal immigrants flowing across the border and work out a plan to stem the tide of illegal immigration.

The President appeared in a recorded interview with ABC’s George Stephanopoulos Sunday, urging foreigners not to send minors to the U.S.

“Do not send your children to the borders. If they do make it, they’ll get sent back. More importantly, they may not make it,” the President said.

Representative Michael McCaul (R-Texas) told CBS’s Bob Schieffer that he applauded the President’s statement but said there is more to be done to address the border crisis.

“Well, first, it’s a crisis like nothing I’ve ever seen before at the border. We have refugee camps now in my and your home state of Texas. It’s a very serious concern,” the lawmaker said. “I don’t think the flow will stop until a message of deterrence is sent back to Central America.

“The drug traffickers are making $5,000 a child on these children, advertising that if you get into the United States, you can stay. And to some extent, that is accurate. So I think a message of deterrence, I know the President came out with a strong statement today. I applaud that,” McCaul continued. “But I think, you know, we have to be humanitarian at the same time, let them know that if they do come, they cannot stay here; otherwise, we’ll never stop the flow.”

Obama Lawsuit

Representative Bob Goodlatte (R-Va.) appeared on “Fox News Sunday” to discuss House Speaker John Boehner’s (R-Ohio) decision to file a lawsuit against the President for what he and other members of the GOP view as his Administration’s “trampling of the Constitution.”

“This is all about the United States Constitution,” Goodlatte said, rejecting Democratic criticisms that the lawsuit is an election year political stunt.

The lawmaker argued that Obama’s pattern of failing to enforce laws and changing laws that are already in place runs afoul of Article 1 of the Constitution.

“We … have the power to bring causes of action when we believe that the President of the United States is exceeding his authority and is trampling upon Article 1 of the Constitution,” Goodlatte said. “To me, it makes a whole lot of sense to do this.”

Speaking on behalf of the left, House Democratic Caucus Chairman Xavier Becerra (D-Calif.) disagreed with the Republican lawmaker’s assertions.

“The President simply said I’m going to do what I can within the confines of the law to make this work,” Becerra said. “Absolutely, he’s implementing the law … he’s not rewriting it.”

Out of Touch Hillary

Obama was also asked about Clinton’s comments about being “dead broke” when she and former President Bill Clinton left the White House during his appearance Sunday.

“As soon as you jump back into the spotlight in a more explicitly political way, you’re going to be fly-spec like this,” Obama said. “She’s accustomed to it. Anybody who gets involved in public life is accustomed to it. Over time I don’t think it’s going to make a big difference.”

Obama, who in 2008 tried to portray Clinton as out of touch, also took up for the presumable 2016 Democratic candidate.

“I think that Hillary has been to this rodeo a bunch of times,” he said. “She is in public service [be]cause she cares about the same folks that I talked to here today. Her track record on that speaks for itself.”

The President also hinted that a Clinton Presidency would be an extension of his own.

“This whole notion of you got the centrist Democrats and the liberal Democrats, if you look at Democrats generally, their agenda is grounded in the things that middle-class families are concerned about generally,” Obama said. “Wages, incomes, fairness, opportunity, college costs, and so you don’t have some of the same old ideological divisions. In fact, the big challenge we have right now is frankly finding a Republican Party that is even close to the center so that we can actually do some work with them.”

After SCOTUS Strikes Down 12 Obama Power Grabs, Boehner’s Lawsuit Could Finish The Lawless Administration

Democrats have widely dismissed House Speaker John Boehner’s (R-Ohio) announcement that he plans to file a lawsuit against President Barack Obama for misuse of executive orders. But many Americans believe that Boehner may have a real case against the President, especially after the Supreme Court delivered a ruling Thursday against Obama Administration efforts to expand executive power.

The Supreme Court’s nine Justices ruled that the three so-called recess appointments the President made to the National Labor Relations Board in 2012, as Congress conducted pro forma sessions every three days to avoid going into recess, were unConstitutional.

The ruling serves as a point of vindication for members of the GOP who have claimed that Obama’s unilateral actions in defiance of Congress in making the appointment and with regard to various other matters illustrate the Administration’s utter disregard for the Constitution.

“Today, the Supreme Court invalidated President Obama’s unlawful abuse of the President’s recess appointments power. President Obama ignored the plain text of the Constitution and attempted to make unilateral recess appointments — circumventing the checks and balances of confirmation — when the Senate was not, in fact, in recess,” Texas Republican Senator Ted Cruz said after the ruling was handed down. “Today, a unanimous Court rightly rejected that presidential abuse of power.”

Cruz added, “This marks the twelfth time since January 2012 that the Supreme Court has unanimously rejected the Obama Administration’s calls for greater federal executive power.”

In April 2013, when the tally of unanimous Supreme Court rulings against the Administration sat at nine, Cruz issued a report detailing what the Nation would look like had Obama gotten his way in court.

“If the Department of Justice had won these cases, the federal government would be able to electronically track all of our movements, fine us without a fair hearing, dictate who churches choose as ministers, displace state laws based on the president’s whims, bring debilitating lawsuits against individuals based on events that occurred years ago, and destroy a person’s private property without just compensation,” he wrote at the time.

For the time being, the Senate has rendered moot the recess appointment issue at the center of the Thursday ruling because of a rule change that allows for nominee confirmations with a majority vote. However, the decision serves as a censure of Obama’s view of Presidential power; and that is paramount.

The ruling also gives Boehner’s forthcoming lawsuit traction that his Congressional critics on the left hadn’t anticipated.

“The Constitution makes it clear that a president’s job is to faithfully execute the laws. In my view, the president has not faithfully executed the laws,” the House Speaker said, announcing his intentions on Wednesday. “When there are conflicts like this between the legislative branch and the administrative branch, it’s… our responsibility to stand up for this institution.”

In a memo sent to fellow Republicans, Boehner said that he will challenge the “king-like authority” Obama has exerted by issuing executive orders to enact policies affecting healthcare, energy, education, foreign policy and other matters of national importance. Boehner didn’t provide a list of specific executive orders that he plans to challenge, but told lawmakers that he plans to bring legislation on the matter to the floor in July once the Rules Committee has reviewed the plan.

The House Speaker said that the main point of the lawsuit is protecting the balance of government powers, as set forth in the Constitution.

“What we’ve seen clearly over the last five years is an effort to erode the power of the legislative branch,” Boehner said. “On behalf of the institution and the Constitution, standing up and fighting for this is the best long-term interest of the Congress.”

The House General Counsel and the Bipartisan Legal Advisory Group, a group of lawmakers that includes whips from both parties and majority and minority leaders, would ultimately bring the suit against the Obama Administration if Boehner’s plan moves forward.

Democrats have responded to Boehner’s plan with familiar groans, accusing the GOP of baseless criticism of the Administration and insinuating that the lawsuit is the precursor to a fruitless impeachment endeavor.

“In this case it seems that Republicans have shifted their opposition into a higher gear. Frankly, I didn’t know it was a gear that even existed,” White House press secretary Josh Earnest said Wednesday. “They are considering a taxpayer funded lawsuit against the president of the United States for doing his job… [It’s] the kind of step that I think most Americans wouldn’t support.”

But George Washington University Law Professor Jonathan Turley, a noted Obama supporter on many issues, isn’t so sure that the Obama Administration is immune to damning outcomes that could result from the suit.

“I think there is a case against the President for exceeding his authority,” Turley told a baffled MSNBC pundit Wednesday. “I happen to agree with the President on many of his priorities and policies, but as I testified in Congress I think he has crossed the Constitutional line.”

While the professor said that it is difficult to sue a sitting U.S. President, it isn’t impossible. And Obama certainly hasn’t done himself any favors in avoiding the potential legal challenge.

“[W]hen the President went to Congress and said that he was going to go it alone, it obviously raises a concern,” Turley noted. “Because there’s no license for going it alone in our system.”

Polls: The More American Parents Learn About Common Core, The More They Disapprove

New polling data illustrate that the more American parents of school-aged children are exposed to the new Common Core education standards, the more they oppose the education overhaul.

A Rasmussen telephone survey conducted over the weekend found that just 34 percent of American parents with children in elementary or secondary school favor policies requiring all of the Nation’s schools to meet the Federal Common Core standards. The approval rate is down 18 points from 52 percent of members of the same group supporting Common Core implementation in November.

Forty-seven percent of the parents who participated in the Rasmussen poll oppose Common Core and 19 percent remain undecided.

In an interview with Breitbart, Pioneer Institute for Public Policy Research director Jim Stergios said that the falling poll numbers are the result of Americans learning things about the educational standards that were intentionally hushed by Common Core proponents.

“Common Core proponents always banked on stealth — on keeping parents from knowing about the Core until it was too late,” Stergios told Breitbart education reporter Susan Berry. “When that didn’t work, they paid for push polls to fabricate a sense of popular support.”

“What’s important about the Rasmussen poll is it’s the first high-quality poll done on the question of support for Common Core,” he added. “And what it tells us is unsurprising: The more people learn about the mediocre quality, the unfunded mandates and the questionable legality of the Core, the less they like it.”

A separate survey conducted by the Friedman Foundation for Educational Choice also found that a majority of those asked disapprove of the standards by a margin of 49 percent to 44 percent who support the standards.

While the Friedman “Schooling in America” survey showed a smaller gap between support and disapproval, it provides the added knowledge that more Americans strongly oppose the standards (33 percent) than strongly support them (12 percent).

Cruz: Impeach Holder If He Doesn’t Appoint Special Prosecutor For IRS Investigation

Texas Republican Senator Ted Cruz on Thursday called for Attorney General Eric Holder’s impeachment in the Department of Justice fails to appoint a special prosecutor to investigate the Internal Revenue Service’s targeting of conservatives and former IRS employee Lois Lerner’s mysteriously missing emails.

Cruz said that the IRS’s “computer crash” excuse for not providing Congressional investigators with two years’ worth of Lerner’s emails screams of a criminal conspiracy.

“We’re told that the hard drive crashed, and that the documents are irretrievable under any circumstance,” Cruz said. “We also know that hate IRS didn’t follow the law when it failed to report the hard drive crash that we’re told occurred.”

Cruz likened the IRS tactics to those used to cover up wrongdoing during the Nixon Administration.

“Make no mistakes. These emails haven’t just been lost. These emails have been deleted, taped over, and the hard drive physically destroyed according to public news reports. Madame President, this is Rosemary Woods,” Cruz charged. “Madame President, when you have Federal government officials destroying evidence, in the ordinary parlance that’s called obstruction of justice. The hard drive magically collapses, magically crashes and is physically destroyed right after the investigation begins.”

If a Republican Administration were in power as the IRS scandal unfolded, according to Cruz, every Democrat and mainstream media outlet would be trying to get to the bottom of the abuse of power.

“If Attorney General Eric Holder continues to refuse to appoint a special prosecutor, he should be impeached,” Cruz concluded. “Madame President, when an Attorney General refuses to enforce the law, when an Attorney General mocks the rule of law, when an Attorney General corrupts the Department of Justice by conducting a nakedly partisan investigation to cover up political wrongdoing, that conduct by any reasonable measure constitutes high crimes and misdemeanors.”

Cruz called for unanimous consent on his resolution to require Holder to appoint a special prosecutor— Senator Ron Wyden (D-Ore.) objected on Democrats’ behalf, blocking passage of the measure.

Democrats Threaten Obama Unilateral Action On Immigration If GOP Doesn’t Act

Top Democrats threatened Thursday that President Barack Obama will unilaterally decide what changes should be made to the Nation’s immigration policy if Congressional Republicans don’t act soon.

Obama has so far held off on changes to the Administration’s deportation policy, urging Republicans to bring immigration reform legislation to the floor before July.

“We’re at the end of the line,” Senator Robert Menendez (D-N.J.) said Thursday. “We’re not bluffing by setting a legislative deadline for them to act.

“Their first job is to govern,” Menendez added. “…[I]n the absence of governing, then you see executive actions.”

Democratic Senator Dick Durbin (Ill.) also chimed in on the issue of immigration reform Thursday, urging House Speaker John Boehner to move on the issue which hasn’t seen Congressional action since the Senate passed a broad bipartisan reform measure last year.

“I hope that Speaker Boehner will speak up today,” Durbin said. “And if he does not, the president will borrow the power that is needed to solve the problems of immigration.”

A day earlier, however, Boehner issued a memo to fellow Republicans informing lawmakers that he plans to sue the President for the very sort of executive actions the Democrats claim Obama will use to force the immigration issue.

The GOP isn’t likely to bring immigration reform legislation in the House, especially with a crisis currently unfolding at the border due to Administration policies which have provoked a flood of illegal unaccompanied minors coming to the U.S.

And any unilateral actions the President takes are likely to be cited in Boehner’s lawsuit if it gains traction.

ICE And Border Patrol Representatives Tell Congress Illegal Children Are Clearing The Way For Cartels

The chief of the Nation’s Border Patrol union told Congress Wednesday that the flood of unaccompanied minors coming across the Nation’s southern border is crippling the Border Patrol’s ability to do its job. And the gaps in security are giving dangerous Mexican cartels an advantage in bringing drugs and criminals into the United States.

National Border Patrol Council President Brandon Judd told members of Congress that laws requiring special treatment for young people coming into the United States illegally have tied up roughly 40 percent of Border Patrol manpower. The union president told lawmakers that the Barack Obama Administration’s “catch and release” immigration policies are largely to blame.

“This program is bad policy and encourages people from countries other than Mexico to enter the United States illegally,” he told the House Judiciary Committee. “Under this policy, and in most cases, individuals entering the U.S. illegally know they will be released if apprehended.”

“The result is no one is afraid of breaking the law,” Judd continued.

Mexican cartels, which already employ a strategy of bringing illicit materials and dangerous people into the Nation by crossing the border at multiple locations, are also finding it easier to break the law and increasing criminal activity along the border while the agents are tied up, according to Judd.

“The cartels purposely cross between ports of entry to tie up Border Patrol manpower, creating holes in our enforcement and facilitating their other lines of business, such as drug smuggling and the smuggling of known criminals into the U.S. Make no mistake, this is big business for the cartels,” he said.

To make matters worse, agents who are usually tasked with tracking dangerous fugitives from other countries who have illegally made their way into the U.S. interior have been reassigned to help with the influx of young illegal immigrants.

“ICE ERO Fugitive Operations Teams in some areas have been completely shut down with ICE officers reassigned to process and transport UACs and Family units. Officers in other vital ERO criminal enforcement programs such as the Criminal Alien Program and Secure Communities Program likewise are being pulled daily from their critical public safety missions,” Chris Crane, who heads the union representing Immigrations and Customs Enforcement agents, told lawmakers in a prepared testimony. “There is no doubt that ICE ERO’s many critical missions, to include its criminal enforcement and public safety missions are impacted. Ironically, as ICE ERO and the Border Patrol spend millions of dollars and shift resources from vital programs to process family units and UACs, it is unlikely that a significant number of these illegal entrants will be removed from the United States unless changes are made to current immigration.”

The liberal media scoffed earlier this month when outspoken Maricopa County, Ariz., Sheriff Joe Arpaio lamented that the southern border is vulnerable because Nation’s Border Patrol officers are too busy changing diapers due to the massive numbers of unaccompanied minors flowing across the border.

“The Border Patrol is too busy changing diapers and not going after dope peddlers and illegal immigrants,” Arpaio told FOX News.

Congressional Black Caucus Member: Cochran Should Reward Black Voters

Following Mississippi establishment Republican Senator Thad Cochran’s successful bid to beat Tea Party challenger Chris McDaniel making black voters in the State believe his opponent is racist, Representative Bennie G. Thompson (D-Miss.) of the Congressional Black Caucus says that the Senator should reward black voters to keep their support.

“We have historically black colleges in our state who do the best job they can trying to educate our citizens,” Thompson told National Review Online Wednesday. ”I’d like to see efforts that they receive full funding. I’d like to see the health care of our citizens improved; our children die too young. I’d like to see an increased effort to make sure that the minority unemployment rate in our state is reduced. So, there are a lot of opportunities for us to start with.”

Thompson also said that Cochran didn’t have a hard time rallying the voters to help him beat his challenger, because African Americans despise the Tea Party.

“Their platform is counter to a lot of the beliefs of many African Americans. We think there is a place in government to make the lives of its citizens better; that there is a place in government to make sure that education, health care, and other things are available to all citizens,” he said. “So, that’s a reasonable expectation of government. But this ‘limited government’ and other things that you hear from a lot of tea-party candidates does not resonate well with the black community.”

Of course, these insulting, unattributed fliers obviously aimed at low-information voters probably helped a little too.

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Conservative talk radio host Rush Limbaugh called Cochran’s campaign tactics “reprehensible” on his show Wednesday.

“The Republican establishment sought victory via Democrat voters in the runoff, and they got them. Without the African-American vote from Democrat-leaning counties, Thad Cochran would have lost by eight or nine percent last night,” he said.

Computer Crash: EPA Follows IRS Lead In Covering Up Wrongdoing

Officials at the Environmental Protection Agency are following the Internal Revenue Service’s example and claiming that they are unable to provide copies of email communications to Congress because an employee’s hard drive crashed.

On Wednesday, EPA Administrator Gina McCarthy told House Oversight Committee members that she can’t turn over agency documents related to a proposed pebble mine near Bristol Bay, Alaska, because of a computer crash that occurred in 2010.

“We’re having trouble getting the data off of it and we’re trying other sources to actually supplement that,” McCarthy told the lawmakers. “We’re challenged in figuring out where those small failures might have occurred and what caused them occur, but we’ve produced a lot of information.”

Lawmakers believe that former Alaskan EPA employee Phillip North, who currently is in New Zealand and refuses to cooperate with lawmaker inquiries, collaborated with fellow EPA officials to veto the mine before the agency ever bothered to investigate its potential environmental impacts.

House Oversight Chairman Darrell Issa (R-Calif.) told McCarthy during the hearing, “[The Oversight Committee has ]tried to serve a subpoena on your former employee and we have asked for the failed hard drive from this Alaskan individual who now is in New Zealand, and seems to never be returning.”

The EPA informed lawmakers about the 2010 hard drive crash months ago; but, according to McCarthy, she only notified the National Archives and Records Administration (NARA), the agency which enforces the Federal Records Act, this week.

Democrats Want Taxpayers To Pay Illegal Immigrant Legal Bills

As a flood of illegal immigrants, many of them unaccompanied minors, continues to flow across the southern U.S. border, the Barack Obama Administration and Congressional Democrats are proffering plans to protect the undocumented newcomers at taxpayer expense.

According to multiple reports, the Obama Administration has ordered border security agencies to stand down and allow the illegal immigrants to make their way into the U.S. interior.

The Associated Press reports:

Most of the immigrant families are from Honduras, El Salvador or Guatemala and cannot be immediately repatriated, so the government has been releasing them into the U.S. interior and telling them to report within 15 days to the nearest U.S. Immigrations and Customs Enforcement offices. Despite promises for better transparency on immigration issues, the administration has been unwilling to say how many immigrant families it’s released — hundreds or thousands — or how many of those subsequently reported back to the government after 15 days as directed.

The Texas-based alternative media site Infowars interviewed McAllen Emergency Management Coordinator Kevin Pagan earlier this month, learning that the immigrant “detainees” are being dropped off at bus stations with vouchers for bus travel into the Nation’s interior with instructions to appear before an immigration judge at a later date.

Meanwhile, a group of House Democrats has proposed legislation that would ensure that illegal immigrants who are minors are well-represented at taxpayer expense if and when they show up in immigration court.

The bill, the Vulnerable Immigrant Voice Act (VIVA), is sponsored by House members Hakeem Jeffries (D-N.Y.), Karen Bass (D-Calif.), Lucille Roybal-Allard (D-Calif.) and Judy Chu (D-Calif.). It would provide legal representation to minor illegal immigrants in an effort to help undocumented aliens who are mentally disabled or are under the age of 21 understand the claims they can make to avoid deportation.

“Some of the children who have come to this country may not have a valid legal basis to remain, but some will. Yet, it is virtually impossible for a child to assert a valid claim under immigration law in the absence of legal representation,” Representative Hakeem Jeffries (D-N.Y.), a co-sponsor of the bill, said this week.

Those immigrants under 21 are currently able to achieve special status by claiming that they’ve been abandoned by parents or were the victim of a crime.

“Most undocumented children are not aware of the claims they can make in immigration court,” Jeffries’s said. “The claims are technically available without counsel, but it is highly unlikely these children can vindicate their rights absent legal representation.”

Senate Democrats attached a similar provision to last year’s failed comprehensive immigration bill, which passed the Senate but went nowhere in the House.

As The Washington Times observed in its report on the measure, Federal law forbids the use of public funds to provide “legal representation to those going through the immigration system — though they are able to hire attorneys themselves, and the Obama administration has announced a program to try to recruit dozens of volunteer lawyers to help out where they can.”

The Administration of President Barack Obama has estimated that more than 50,000 unaccompanied minors have illegally entered the U.S. since October of last year; the U.S. Department of Homeland Security estimates more than 150,000 will enter the U.S. illegally over the next year.

Staff writer Ben Bullard contributed to this report.

Personal Liberty Digest™ P.M. Edition 6-24-2014: IRS Admits It Abused Conservatives; Even Democrats Don’t Believe ‘Lost Emails’ Story; Awkward Times At The Capitol; Smith V. Maryland Turns 35; Lawmakers Call On DHS To Seal The Border

Brush up on the day’s headlines with Personal Liberty’s P.M. Edition news links.

IRS Admits Wrongdoing In Settlement With Traditional Marriage Group Over Leaked Donor List

The IRS has admitted wrongdoing in the illegal release of names on a confidential list on conservative donors to a rival political group and has agreed to pay $50,000 to the conservative group whose members’ names were wrongly leaked. Read More… 

Not Even Democrats Believe The IRS Accidentally Lost Lerner Emails

More than three-fourths of American voters in a poll released today agree that the loss of email communications crucial to the House investigation into the IRS’ discrimination against conservative groups was anything but an accident. Read More… 

Lawmakers Press DHS Secretary To Stop Children Crossing The Border

Department of Homeland Security Secretary Jeh Johnson said Tuesday he had ordered five dozen additional criminal investigators to Texas to prosecute human smugglers responsible for bringing children across the border illegally. Read More… 

Watch: Quite Possibly The Most Awkward Moment Ever Recorded On Capitol Hill

During a Congressional Gold Medal ceremony Tuesday top Democrat and Republican lawmakers joined hands and sung “We Shall Overcome.” The result was one of the most awkward moments ever recorded in politics. Video… 

Smith v. Maryland Turns 35, But Its Health Is Declining

The U.S. Supreme Court’s 1979 decision of Smith v. Maryland turned 35 years old last week. Since it was decided, Smith has stood for the idea that people have no expectation of privacy in information they expose to others. Labeled the third party “doctrine” (even by EFF itself), Smith has come up over and over in the debates surrounding electronic surveillance and NSA spying. Read More… 

University Liberty Group Says School Charged Extra For Pro-Gun Speaker

A conservative student group at Boise State University says students’ free speech rights were trampled when school administrators required the gratuitous and costly hiring of extra security personnel when a gun rights speaker visited the campus.

BSU’s chapter of Young Americans for Liberty (YAL) invited Dick Heller — the former Federal police officer whose 2008 Supreme Court victory cleared the way for handgun ownership in the District of Columbia — to speak on the school’s campus last month.

The YAL students say they were required to pay $465 in last-minute fees for additional security and police officers on campus after school administrators said that they feared members of the community would try to open carry at the event.

According to YAL leaders, claims that open carry organizers would show up were unfounded and certainly didn’t come from members of the conservative group.

“Boise State overstepped its bounds by charging extra security fees last minute for an event where the goal wasn’t to have an open-carry gun rally, but rather provide an educational forum for our students and community regarding a very important, historical Second Amendment Supreme Court ruling,” YAL leader Sherlyn Rose wrote in an email to the Idaho Reporter.

But the college, which says it has charged the additional security fee for other events (a U.S. Bank stockholders meeting, Federal Reserve regional meeting and a Sandra Day O’Connor address ), said that the additional fee was charged as the result of a “threat assessment” — and not because administrators harbor biases against conservative causes.

“We do charge campus groups for security when it is deemed a necessary component of an event, based on threat assessments,” BSU communications staffer Kathleen Tuck told the Reporter.

“In this case, there was concern that a community member had been encouraging folks to open carry,” she continued.

Earlier this month, BSU officials said that the university would need to spend an estimated $500,000 in order to ramp up campus security to comply with a law passed by the Idaho Legislature and signed by Governor Butch Otter that will allow concealed carry on campuses starting July 1.

The bill will allow retired police officers and people who earn an enhanced concealed-weapons permit, which require special training and background checks, to carry on campus.

Family Sues After Cops Shoot WWII Vet In Assisted Living At Close Range With Shotgun Beanbags

How hard can a 95-year-old World War II veteran throw a knife? Hard enough to justify shooting him with five 190-mph beanbag rounds from a 12-gauge shotgun, according to six Chicago police officers.

The family of World War II veteran John Wrana Jr. is suing the Chicago police for killing the 95-year-old on July 26 of last year. At the time, Wrana was a resident at Park Forest Assisted Living Center in Park Forest, Ill.

According to the lawsuit, suburban Chicago police officers Clifford Butz, Michael Baugh, Craig Taylor, Lloyd Elliot, Charlie Hoskins and Mitch Greer arrived at the senior living facility after staff called because Wrana was refusing to leave his room to go to the hospital.

“… Mr. Wrana was alone in his room, suffering from what the facility’s staff believed were symptoms indicative of a urinary tract infection in an elderly person,” the lawsuit states.

After Victory Center employees failed to convince the elderly man to leave his inhabitance in an ambulance to go to the hospital, they called 911.

After the officers attempted unsuccessfully to convince Wrana, who remained alone in his private room throughout the ordeal, to go to the hospital for possibly lifesaving treatment, they formulated a plan to remove the elderly man from the room by force.

The lawsuit explains, “The plan was to re-enter Mr. Wrana’s room and seize him by force with the use of: Commander Baugh’s ballistic shield, Commander Baugh’s Taser, Officer Taylor’s bean bag shotgun and Corporal Elliot’s loaded handgun.

“Defendant Commander Baugh instructed defendant Taylor to stand next to Commander Baugh with the shotgun ready to deploy if the Taser was ineffective in controlling Mr. Wrana. Defendant Corporal Elliot was behind defendants Commander Baugh and Taylor with his PARK FOREST departmentally issued handgun “deployed as lethal cover” in the private residence of 95 year old Mr. Wrana. Defendants Hoskins and Greer, who were also armed, followed inside the room from behind.”

The lawsuit goes on to say that, upon bursting into the elderly man’s residence, the beanbags were immediately fired into his abdomen.

“[E]ach of the other defendant police officers was also armed with a departmentally issued Taser,” the lawsuit says. “None of the other defendant police officers attempted to use their Tasers to resolve the encounter with Mr. Wrana with non-lethal force.

“Instead, defendant Taylor immediately deployed his ‘less lethal’ shotgun directly at Mr. Wrana and fired five rounds within just a few seconds at Mr. Wrana, striking and wounding him in his abdomen, chest and arm. Taylor fired the five rounds from his shotgun from a distance of only approximately six to eight feet from Mr. Wrana.”

Media reports contradict the lawsuit, stating that one officer tried, unsuccessfully, to stun the elderly man with a Taser.

According to Wrana’s family, the officers then cuffed the elderly man as he screamed in pain, photographed his injuries and required him to wait for treatment until a municipal ambulance arrived on the scene — even though the private ambulance that was originally scheduled to carry the man to the hospital stood by.

The elderly veteran subsequently died as a result of internal bleeding from his injuries. His death was ruled a homicide by investigators.

The officers claimed the need to use force because Wrana brandished a knife, which he threatened to throw at the officers, along with a cane and a shoehorn. But Wrana’s family says the officers’ claims are dubious because the elderly man was barely able to get around with the help of a cane or walker.

Furthermore, the lawsuit says, Wrana committed no crime by refusing treatment in the first place.

“At all relevant times, Mr. Wrana was alone in his private residence and had committed no crime by refusing to be transported to the hospital. Defendants were without lawful authority to enter his residence, and there was no immediate lawful reason to implement any police action against Mr. Wrana, including the use of police tactical intervention,” states the complaint.

The officers are being sued for unreasonable seizure, failure to train and supervise, conspiracy, wrongful death, violation of due process, excessive force, assault and battery and emotional distress.

Lawmaker Mocks IRS With ‘The Dog Ate My Tax Receipts Act’

Representative Steve Stockman (R-Texas) has introduced legislation that would afford average Americans the ability to “offer a variety of dubious excuses” for not having tax documents for the Internal Revenue Service after “the IRS offered an incredibly dubious excuse for its failure to turn documents over to House investigators.”

Stockman’s tongue-in-cheek legislation, “The Dog Ate My Tax Receipts Act,” would offer taxpayers 10 outlandish reasons for not submitting paperwork requested by the IRS:

1.         The dog ate my tax receipts

2.         Convenient, unexplained, miscellaneous computer malfunction

3.         Traded documents for five terrorists

4.         Burned for warmth while lost in the Yukon

5.         Left on table in Hillary’s Book Room

6.         Received water damage in the trunk of Ted Kennedy’s car

7.         Forgot in gun case sold to Mexican drug lords

8.         Forced to recycle by municipal Green Czar

9.         Was short on toilet paper while camping

10.       At this point, what difference does it make?

Stockman introduced his bill a week after the IRS claimed that it had lost two years’ worth of former official Lois Lerner’s emails because of a computer crash. Lawmakers suspect that some of the missing emails implicate Lerner and others in an IRS plot to target conservative groups.

“Taxpayers shouldn’t be expected to follow laws the Obama administration refuses to follow themselves,” Stockman said in a statement. “Taxpayers should be allowed to offer the same flimsy, obviously made-up excuses the Obama administration uses.”

Canadian Newspaper Takes A Stand Against Granting Mass Murderer Celebrity Status

Following a deadly shooting rampage in Moncton, New Brunswick, which left three Royal Canadian Mounted Police officers dead earlier this month, media in the nation across the United States’ northern border reacted to the tragedy in a way that many Americans would never expect from their own mainstream media. The Canadian Sun News Network decided to do its part in ensuring that the killer, who is very much alive and in police custody, remains an anonymous nobody.

“We will not help give this killer his blaze of glory,” the editorial staff wrote, arguing that media’s infatuation with exploiting sensational violence and the people who perpetrate it plays an enormous role in expanding a culture that fosters copycats, one-upsmanship and a perverse promise of historic notoriety for the next mass killer.

“Sun News Network will not report the name of the killer. We will not show his photo,” the editorial explained:

When it comes to mass murderers, too often, it is attention and infamy they crave. Luckily, shootings of this nature are rare in Canada.

And in the US, they account for less than one per cent of all gun-related deaths. Far more people have been killed in the bad neighbourhoods of Chicago than were killed in all the mass shootings combined. But these rare incidents are never forgotten. And with the rise of social media, they’ve become a spectacle.

It’s easy to report on the life of the killer, to scour his deranged Facebook page, to speculate about motive, but doing so could actually encourage the perception that his heinous acts are somehow justified.

Following the deadly Newtown, Connecticut shooting in December 2012 that left 26 dead, including 20 children, it was discovered that the perpetrator kept a “score sheet” of previous mass shootings.

Did he hope his name would be placed at the top of the list?

This bizarre act is not uncommon. In fact, experts have found a clear path of influence running through some of the most infamous shooters — from Columbine, to Virginia Tech to the Colorado Theatre — including explicit reference to previous killing sprees and calls to empower future “celebrities.”

…When we make the killer’s name and face famous, are we setting the stage for future mass killings?

In the media, it’s a dilemma. We feel an obligation to tell the public what is going on. Our job is to inform. And like the old saying goes, “if it bleeds, it leads.”

…Mental illness, gun control, warning signs, will all come up. These are legitimate points of discussion. But for us in the press — and for society at large — let’s take an honest look in the mirror to see if our hyper-interest might be contributing to this very disturbing phenomenon.

Reader comments beneath the online editorial were overwhelmingly positive. “This is exactly what I have been hoping the news media would do for quite some time now — remove the notoriety incentive and quite possibly remove the mass killing,” wrote one reader, whose remark typified the feelings of many others.

American media has shown no capacity for judicious self-restraint in exercising its immense power. It is a business, and any pretensions of serving the public welfare — to which our news media, both in print and over the airwaves, has a long history of paying earnest lip service — is completely dictated by the profit motive. That’s fine, if only the media were honest with the public (and would stop deceiving itself) about that very fact.

What Sun News Network is proposing is for media to wield its power in good faith, despite the prospect of garnering fewer Web views or TV tune-ins from bloodthirsty oglers. It’s a cultural judgment call that no government should ever be charged with making on media’s behalf, and it’s the right one.

Here’s hoping against hope that American broadcasters and news publications, which set the tone that Western media emulates, will see the long-term value in that decision and follow Sun News Network’s lead.

–Staff writer Ben Bullard contributed to this report.

Sunday News Show Roundup

Guests on Sunday’s political talk show circuit focused squarely on the ongoing deterioration of the situation in Iraq, a nation that some of the Sunday guests—namely former Vice President Dick Cheney—wanted the U.S. to invade nearly twelve years ago. After more than a decade of war and a subsequent troop withdrawal from Iraq, the blame game for the country’s current state of turmoil has commenced.

Appearing on CBS’s “Face the Nation”, House Intelligence Chairman Mike Rodgers (R-Mich.) said that President Barack Obama’s decision to withdrawal troops from Iraq, combined with a failure to proactively deal with threats to stability in the region has helped the Islamic State of Iraq and Syria, the terror group making strides in Iraq, to flourish.

“We didn’t do anything in Syria; we didn’t do anything when they took Falluja; we didn’t do anything when they took Mosul; they got into Tikrit and said, ‘Hey this is a problem,’ ” he said.

Cheney, who was a driving force behind the 2003 invasion of Iraq, agreed with Rodgers’ assessment. The former vice president wrote an op-ed for The Wall Street Journal last week accusing Obama of abandoning Iraq.

Cheney’s criticisms continued on ABC’s “This Week”, where he said, “I think he’s dead wrong in terms of the course he’s taken this nation, and I think we’re in for big trouble in the years ahead because of his refusal to recognize reality and because of his continual emphasis upon getting the U.S. basically to withdraw from that part of the world.”

Iraq’s current problems, the former vice president argued, exist because the Obama White House “created a vacuum” of power by pulling U.S. troops.

Senator Rand Paul (R-Ky.) also agreed that a vacuum of power now exists in Iraq on NBC’s “Meet the Press” but stopped short of blaming Obama for all of the nation’s problems.

“I don’t blame President Obama,” Paul said. “Has he really got the solution? Maybe there is no solution.”

The Kentucky Republican said that it may be wise for Americans to instead question some of the leaders whose decision it was to go into Iraq in 2003, wondering: “Were they right in their predictions? Were there weapons of mass destruction there? Was the war won in 2005, when many of those people said it was won?”

Paul said that he doesn’t believe that G.W. Bush Administration officials fully understood the danger of civil war breaking out in Iraq.

But Cheney contends that Paul’s criticisms are simply the result of the Senator’s “isolationist” views.

“Rand Paul, with all due respect, is basically an isolationist. He doesn’t believe we ought to be involved in that part of the world,” Cheney said. “That didn’t work in the 1930s, it sure as heck won’t work in the aftermath of 9/11, when 19 guys armed with airline tickets and box cutters came all the way from Afghanistan and killed 3,000 of our citizens.”

Cheney also argued that Americans shouldn’t reexamine Bush-era motives, saying, “[I]f we spend our time debating what happened 11 or 12 years ago, we’re going to miss the threat that is growing and that we do face.”

While Cheney is calling for immediate military action in Iraq, Paul said that—barring a threat to the U.S.—the military shouldn’t be deployed until Iraqi Shiites have shown will to defend themselves against the ISIS threat.

“There are times when a president would move quickly to dispel an imminent threat to our country, but where I disagree with the president is that his theory in Libya was that there was an imminent threat in Benghazi. That’s not what an imminent threat is, it’s an imminent threat to our country. And so what I would say is the Shiites who are ripping off their uniforms and running need to stand up and fight. Could we assist them in some way? I’m not ruling that out, but I would first wait to see are the Shiites going to fight for their country or not,” Paul told CNN’s Candy Crowley.

Senator Barbara Boxer (D-Calif.) also said that the U.S. should hold off on reentering Iraq, describing Cheney’s vocal calls for large numbers of U.S. troops to again be sent to the nation as “a nightmare come back to haunt me.”

“The fact is what you’re seeing now is an outgrowth of that bad policy the neocons got us in — that crowd on false pretense that said, ‘Go in there,’ ” Boxer, one of the 23 Senators who voted against the original Iraq invasion, said on “Face the Nation.”

For now, the White House has committed to send up to 300 military advisors to Iraq in an attempt to take control of the situation without committing large numbers of U.S. troops.

“[What] we can’t do is think that we’re just going to play Whac-a-Mole and send U.S. troops occupying various countries wherever these organizations pop up,” Obama said in an interview that aired Sunday on “Face the Nation.”

Senators Worry That Obama Administration Wants To Silence Whistle-Blowers

A bipartisan duo of Senators sent a letter to National Intelligence Director James Clapper Thursday, expressing concerns that new Barack Obama Administration rules endanger intelligence agency whistle-blowers.

Rules put into place after National Security Agency whistle-blower Edward Snowden’s leaks subject government employees with security clearance to “continuous monitoring” and forbid them from discussing intelligence-related matters with people not in the intelligence community.

Senators Ron Wyden (D-Ore.) and Chuck Grassley (R-Iowa) contend that there are major transparency issues with the new rules, which they say are likely unConstitutional.

“If whistleblower communications with Inspectors General or with Congress are routinely monitored and conveyed to agency leadership, it would defeat the ability to make protected disclosures confidentially, which is especially important in an intelligence community context,” the lawmakers wrote. “Truly meaningful whistleblower protections need to include the option of a legitimate channel for confidential disclosures. Inspectors General and Congress provide such an option. However, if potential whistleblowers believe that disclosing waste, fraud or abuse means putting a target on their backs for retaliation, they will be intimidated into silence.”

The lawmakers also questioned whether monitoring of intelligence employees would extend to Congressional staffers with security clearances, which they said would violate Constitutional separation of powers.

“While the Executive Branch is responsible for conducting background checks for congressional staff in the normal course of approving their security clearances, any continuous evaluation or monitoring of holders of clearances in the Legislative Branch by the Executive Branch would raise serious issues related to the separation of powers and potentially violate fundamental privileges of the Legislative Branch guaranteed in the Constitution,” the letter said.

Mitt Romney Is The 2016 GOP Presidential Front-Runner?

It seems American Republicans just aren’t willing to learn from their mistakes. A new poll of GOP-leaning residents in the first-in-the-Nation primary State of New Hampshire indicates that failed 2012 GOP Presidential nominee Mitt Romney is the front-runner in a field of potential 2016 Republican contenders.

The Suffolk University/Boston Herald poll released Thursday found that a field of GOP candidates barring Romney illustrates a possible neck-to-neck Presidential primary season for potential candidates like Senator Rand Paul (R-Ky.) and New Jersey Governor Chris Christie, who were tied at 11 percent; former Florida Governor Jeb Bush and Senator Ted Cruz (R-Texas), who both pulled 8 percent; former Utah Governor Jon Huntsman at 7 percent; and Senator Marco Rubio (R-Fla.) at 5 percent.

But, according to the pollsters, adding Romney to the potential candidate list drastically changed the field.

“When Mitt Romney was added into the mix, he dominated the field among likely Republican voters, securing 24 percent while driving all other potential candidates into single digits,” a press release accompanying the polling data said.

As President Barack Obama’s problems have compounded in recent months with the Veterans’ Affairs scandal, the unpopular prisoner swap to retrieve soldier Bowe Bergdahl from the Taliban and a deteriorating situation in Iraq, Romney has been increasingly visible on network news. His frequent appearances have led some people to speculate that Romney will attempt to run again — though the former Massachusetts Governor says he will not.

“I think people make a lot of compliments to make us all feel good, and it’s very nice and heartening to have people say such generous things,” Romney said in a Washington Post article. “But I am not running, and they know it.”

Explaining the why some Republicans still want him to run again, the former candidate said: “The unavailable is always the most attractive, right? That goes in dating as well.”