Fifteen Dollars an Hour for Thee, but Not for Me: California Unions Request Exemption from New Wage Law

Los Angeles recently passed a wage-increase mandate that will eventually raise the minimum wage in the city to $15 an hour--backed by the support of several major labor unions. Those very same labor unions now want an exemption from the wage law.

From the L.A. Times:

But Rusty Hicks, who heads the county Federation of Labor and helps lead the Raise the Wage coalition, said Tuesday night that companies with workers represented by unions should have leeway to negotiate a wage below that mandated by the law.

"With a collective bargaining agreement, a business owner and the employees negotiate an agreement that works for them both. The agreement allows each party to prioritize what is important to them," Hicks said in a statement. "This provision gives the parties the option, the freedom, to negotiate that agreement. And that is a good thing."

Earlier this year, Rusty Hicks co-wrote an editorial at Huffington Post titled "Raise Los Angeles' Minimum Wage and Enforce It."

Nowhere in that editorial is the "leeway" to negotiate a sub-15 dollar wage mentioned. In fact, supporting a law that would raise the wage to a certain price and then backtracking on this support to pay employees something lower sounds eerily similar to the "wage theft" described in the article.

Clearly, there's an economic advantage when non-unionized competitor businesses are forced to pay their employees six dollars more than California's nine-dollar minimum wage. Employers seeking to avoid the higher wage (which has already threatened the survival of some small businesses elsewhere in the state) now have an incentive to join the union, who gains the new union dues and money from these previously non-unionized employees. The unions are the only winners in this (incredibly sneaky and backhanded) wage arrangement. (Or, alternatively, employers will seek out illegal immigrant labor to be paid under the table at a lower wage than 15 dollars an hour.)

L.A.'s minimum wage law hasn't gone into effect yet, and won't reach $15/hour until 2020, but the furious backpedaling has already begun.

Judge: There’s No ‘Good Reason’ To Issue A Stay On DC's Carry Law Ruling

A judge has denied Washington D.C’s request for a stay after the city’s carry law was ruled unconstitutional last week. Judge Frederick J. Scullin ruled that a provision in DC’s concealed carry process, which included a requirement for applicants to show “a good reason to fear injury to his or her person, which shall at a minimum require a showing of a special need for self protection distinguishable from the general community” was unconstitutional. Applicants had to document the threats made against them as well. Two D.C residents and one Florida resident filed a lawsuit over the provision. On May 18, Judge Scullin issued an injunction over the provision, but kept in place other portions of the city's concealed carry law, like areas where carrying was banned, like libraries, government buildings, public transportation, and bars. Permit holders–all eight of them–also have to be at least 1,000 feet away from any foreign or U.S. dignitary.

The Second Amendment Foundation praised the ruling:

The federal district court judge handling the Second Amendment Foundation’s challenge to the District of Columbia’s “good reason” concealed carry permit requirement has denied the city’s request for an immediate administrative stay of his ruling last week granting a preliminary injunction against further enforcement of the requirement. The District is also seeking a stay pending appeal.

Judge Frederick J. Scullin Jr., announced his decision this morning, and set two important dates. By June 22, SAF and its co-plaintiffs must file papers opposing the city’s stay pending appeal request, and the city must respond by June 26. This development is seen as a clear win by SAF founder and Executive Vice President Alan M. Gottlieb.

“The Second Amendment Foundation is pleased that the court ruled immediately against the city and has forced them to start issuing carry permits,” Gottlieb said. “By now they should realize that when we say we will do everything in our legal power to force them to recognize that people have Second Amendment rights we mean it.”

The city has required concealed carry applicants to provide justification for wanting a permit to carry firearms outside the home for personal protection. Judge Scullin ruled last week that the requirement “impinges on Plaintiff’s Second Amendment right to bear arms.”

“Bearing arms is a civil right,” Gottlieb observed, “not a government-regulated privilege subject to arbitrary discretion. This case isn’t about making a political statement, but about making the District of Columbia comply with an earlier court ruling, and with the constitution.

“The city is running out of wiggle room,” he added, “and should immediately start issuing permits to all citizens who meet the legal qualifications.”

The case is Wrenn v. District of Columbia.

Judge Scullin also ruled in the Palmer case, which struck down DC’s law banning carrying firearms outside one’s home last summer. In that case, both parties agreed to a stay in order for the DC City Council to draft a carry law in accordance with the ruling. Every Second Amendment-loving American knew that DC’s carry law was going to be as onerous as any “may issue” carry law could get given the city’s strong anti-gun sentiments.

Baltimore Residents Who Decried Police in Their Neighborhoods Now Want Them Back

In the wake of Freddie Gray’s death in police custody, arrests in Baltimore have dropped significantly. Police are no longer “arresting everybody for every little thing,” according to Baltimore City Councilman Brandon Scott, which he says “led to the underlying issues that we have been dealing with in the city.” In other words: distrust of police.

But more than that, officers are “fearful at doing their jobs,” according to Wicomico County Sheriff Mike Lewis. And that has meant they are no longer being proactive.

And now, of course, we’re seeing a big spike in violence, which has some residents wishing the police would come back.

Antoinette Perrine has barricaded her front door since her brother was killed three weeks ago on a basketball court near her home in the Harlem Park neighborhood of West Baltimore.

She already has iron bars outside her windows and added metal slabs on the inside to deflect the gunfire.

“I’m afraid to go outside,” said Perrine, 47. “It’s so bad, people are afraid to let their kids outside. People wake up with shots through their windows. Police used to sit on every corner, on the top of the block. These days? They’re nowhere.” […]

Now West Baltimore residents worry they’ve been abandoned by the officers they once accused of harassing them. In recent weeks, some neighborhoods have become like the Wild West without a lawman around, residents said.

“Before it was over-policing. Now there’s no police,” said Donnail “Dreads” Lee, 34, who lives in the Gilmor Homes, the public housing complex where Gray, 25, was arrested.

“I haven’t seen the police since the riots,” Lee said. “People feel as though they can do things and get away with it. I see people walking with guns almost every single day, because they know the police aren’t pulling them up like they used to.”

It's not that officers have completely backed down, it's just that they're trying to do their jobs in much different conditions. “Our officers tell me that when officers pull up, they have 30 to 50 people surrounding them at any time,” Police Commissioner Anthony Batts said, reports the AP.

As Lewis said about the violence, “I hope this is a shot fired across the bow of mayors and urban leaders across this country. Once you disembowel your law enforcement officers, then you cannot no longer expect them to go out there and protect you, or protect your communities. This is very troubling, the worst I’ve ever seen in 31 years of law enforcement.”

Maine Senate Passes Constitutional Carry Bill

The Maine Senate has passed a "Constitutional Carry" bill with a vote of 21-14. The bill would permit gun owners to legally carry their weapons concealed without a permit. This is the second time in two years that the Senate has considered this type of bill.

While the votes were mostly split along party lines, three Democrats sided with the Republicans in voting for the measure.

The Senate voted 21-14 to approve the bill, L.D. 652, a heavily lobbied measure that pits gun rights activists against groups seeking more oversight over individuals who carry firearms. Three Democrats joined the Republican majority to support the bill. Two Republicans voted against it.

The bill now moves on to the House of Representatives.

Vermont, Alaska, Arizona, Kansas, and Wyoming all have Constitutional Carry laws that allow permit-free concealed carry within the state. The Brady Campaign gave Maine an "F" grade on its state scorecard in 2013, yet also noted that the state has one of the lowest gun death rates in the nation.

Clinton Foundation Paid Blumenthal $10K Per Month While He Was Fact-Finding In Libya

Recap: Sidney Blumenthal was involved in a secret intelligence network that fed Mrs. Clinton unsubstantiated information to her private email address–the one that her lawyers insisted didn’t exist when she was at State, but that turns out to be another lie. At the time, we didn’t know if Mrs. Clinton read or even responded to the emails. Now, we know she did read some of them and forwarded a few to a State Department staffer. The House Select Committee on Benghazi has subpoenaed him. He’s a die-hard Clintonite, who circulated some of Obama’s dirty laundry that prevented him from taking a job at State after the 2008 election. And he might have received a request from Clinton to find information on Libya, as reported by the Washington Post’s David Ignatius. If this is true, then Clinton’s claim that Blumenthal sent her “unsolicited” emails on Libya really isn’t true.

Yet, one question remained: who bankrolled this whole network? The Atlantic’s Conor Friedersdorf noted that one trip cost this little network tens of thousands of dollars. He wondered if the money came from the Clinton’s personal fortune, or some buried figure within the State Department. We still don’t know, but what we do know is that the Clinton Foundation paid Blumenthal $10,000 per month while he was on his little intelligence gathering trips in Libya (via Politico):

Sidney Blumenthal, a longtime confidant of Bill and Hillary Clinton, earned about $10,000 a month as a full-time employee of the Clinton Foundation while he was providing unsolicited intelligence on Libya to then Secretary of State Hillary Clinton, according to multiple sources familiar with the arrangement.

Blumenthal was added to the payroll of the Clintons’ global philanthropy in 2009 — not long after advising Hillary Clinton’s presidential campaign — at the behest of former president Bill Clinton, for whom he had worked in the White House, say the sources.

While Blumenthal’s foundation job focused on highlighting the legacy of Clinton’s presidency, some officials at the charity questioned his value and grumbled that his hiring was a favor from the Clintons, according to people familiar with the foundation. They say that, during a 2013 reform push, Blumenthal was moved to a consulting contract that came with a similar pay rate but without benefits — an arrangement that endured until March.

A Clinton loyalist who first earned the family’s trust as an aggressive combatant in the political battles of the 1990s, Blumenthal continues to work as a paid consultant to two groups supporting Hillary Clinton’s 2016 presidential campaign — American Bridge and Media Matters — both of which are run by David Brock, a close ally of both Clinton and Blumenthal.

Blumenthal’s concurrent work for the foundation, the Brock groups and a pair of businesses seeking potentially lucrative contracts in Libya underscores the blurred lines between her State Department work and that of her family’s charitable and political enterprises

In his own statement last week, Blumenthal suggested that he did not write the memos on behalf of the foundation or any other entities with which he may have been associated, but rather as “a private citizen and friend” of Clinton’s.

Sources: John Kasich To Enter 2016 Fray

I can’t even keep track anymore. Seriously, now that Rick Santorum is already in, and George Pataki is about to be, the list of seemingly no-shot candidates running for president grows bigger by the day. The latest scoop, via the Washington Post, indicates that Ohio Gov. John Kasich (R) has decided, after some gut-wrenching and serious contemplation, that he, too, wants a shot at the nomination. As the Post reports, he’ll likely make it official sometime mid-summer:

Ohio Gov. John Kasich, who has been actively gauging reactions to a possible campaign for president in 2016, is now moving rapidly to assemble the staff and financial resources for such a bid and is looking to declare his candidacy sometime after June 30, according to knowledgeable Republicans.

The two-term governor and former House member is running through a checklist before formally entering the race, but strategists close to Kasich and other longtime friends say there is no doubt that he will soon join the crowded field of those vying for the GOP nomination.

Kasich, for his part, is scraping the bottom of the barrel in recent polling. Recent Quinnipiac and Fox News surveys position him at … 2 percent nationally. Thus, in a field of at least 15 other candidates -- with top tier contenders like Jeb Bush, Scott Walker, and Marco Rubio sucking up all the airtime -- it will be difficult for him to find a niche. But he does have a wild card up his sleeve, I suppose: He hails from Ohio.

And why does that matter? Well, because it’s pretty much a well established fact at this point that if Republicans lose the Buckeye State, they will lose the 2016 election. Can Kasich, therefore, use his geographical roots to his advantage? As the Post emphasizes, there’s also a lot to like about Ohio's incumbent governor, namely his experience in government and his commitment to the poor. And while this might be a bit of a problem, it’ll be interesting to see if he makes a splash in 2016 -- or flames out early as expected. We'll see.

MSM: Why, This Hillary Character Seems Evasive and Flawed


The keepers of the Beltway flame don't seem terribly impressed by Hillary Clinton's aloofunavailable presidential campaign thus far. Meet the Press' Chuck Todd thinks she's engaged in awkward ideological "gymnastics" and failing to connect (via the Free Beacon):


The 'Game Change' boys see the relentless drip, drip, drip of the Clintons' financial irregulaties and serial opacity as "quite threatening" to her viability (via Grabien):


And what is Mrs. Clinton's favorite refuge when her family's multimillion-dollar slush fund is attracting unwanted attention, new details are emerging about her failures and dishonesty as Secretary of State, and her self-created email headaches just won't go away?  First! Woman! President! demagoguery:


Sigh.  Economists have found that Democrats' go-to "pay gap" issue is largely a fiction, borne not of discrimination, but of women's choices.  But since people like Hillary Clinton insist on flogging this talking point as means of scoring cheap points with under-informed voters, conservatives have no choice but to raise obvious hypocrisy questions -- applying the Left's own anti-intellectual, nuance-free standards:


Clinton's camp protests that these figures don't tell the whole story.  They're right, of course; they don't.  How much will Hillary focus on that exact same fine print as she's pounding the table about Republicans "standing in the way" of equal pay or whatever?

Townhall LIVE: Join Guy Benson for Q&A at 11:30 ET

Townhall's Guy Benson will be hosting a Facebook Q&A this morning at 11:30 a.m. to discuss his new book, End of Discussion: How the Left's Outrage Industry Shuts Down Debate, Manipulates Voters, and Makes America Less Free (and Fun), coauthored by Hot Air's Mary Katharine Ham.

End of Discussion explores the ripple effect of the outrage industry—the media frenzy orchestrated by the Left that is designed to shut down debate—and offers insightful advice to conservatives and freedom-loving Americans on how they should (and should not) fight back against this strategic effort that makes America less free, less feisty, and less fun.

Sign up for your chance to win a FREE copy of End of Discussion, signed by Mary Katharine Ham and Guy Benson!

Join in on the conversation below:

Townhall.com's Guy Benson is here to answer your questions and talk about his upcoming book, END OF DISCUSSION,...

Posted by Townhall.com on Thursday, May 28, 2015

Scott Walker Calls Ultrasound Photos 'Cool,' Media Misquotes and Demonizes Him

Question: What exactly is wrong with calling an ultrasound image of the womb "cool?" Answer: Nothing. That is, except when the media misquotes you and labels you as the new torchbearer of the War on Women.

Gov. Scott Walker (R-WI) was the latest victim of this tired and unfair characterization when defending his state's mandatory ultrasound law. The law, which requires women to have the imaging before going through with an abortion, has been a source of controversy ever since it was passed, with pro-abortion groups calling it an unfair burden on women who want no interruptions on their way to terminating their pregnancies. Walker sat down with TheBlazeTV's Dana Loesch Wednesday to discuss the benefits of the legislation. Most importantly, that it has the potential to save countless unborn lives.

"We just knew if we signed that law, if we provided the information, that more people if they saw that unborn child would, would make a decision to protect and keep the life of that unborn child.”

At one point, he provided his own personal opinion on the incredible machine.

“Most people I talk to, whether they’re pro-life or not, I find people all the time who’ll get out their iPhone and show me a picture of their grandkids’ ultrasound and how excited they are, so that’s a lovely thing. I think about my sons are 19 and 20, you know we still have their first ultrasound picture. It’s just a cool thing out there.”

That's when Politico took the last line and inserted it into a breathless headline that read, "Scott Walker defends mandatory ultrasounds: 'It's just a cool thing out there,'" suggesting that it was the enforced law he was referring to as 'cool.'

Politico has since deleted the quote from its headline (you can still their initial intention in the URL), but not before several other liberal-leaning outlets published similar titles. RedState has a roundup of several websites that ran with Politico's initial error and jumped on the chance to excoriate Walker as hostile to women's anatomical rights.

Planned Parenthood wasn't far behind.

Ultrasounds are technological advances that allow mothers to view a window to the womb. I can't think of anything cooler.

The media on the other hand...

Q-poll: 5 Way Tie Between Bush, Walker, Rubio, Huckabee, and Carson

This renders every other poll conducted to date pretty much meaningless, no? Indeed, after a short lull in polling data, a new Quinnipiac University surveys finds that five Republican presidential hopefuls are technically in first place right now, garnering 10 percent of the total vote each. They are, in no particular order, Jeb Bush, Marco Rubio, Scott Walker, Mike Huckabee, and Ben Carson.

Wow:

Image and video hosting by TinyPic

A few other notable tidbits: Ted Cruz, for his part, only took home six percent of the total vote, putting him comfortably in the middle of the pack. But with a whopping 17 percent of Tea Party support, he shows great promise and potential as a presidential candidate if he can slowly begin winning over centrist/moderate voters. Mike Huckabee, meanwhile, appears to be the hands down favorite among evangelicals and social conservatives. Indeed, he came in strongly with 17 percent of that vote, suggesting that Rick Santorum has an enormous mountain to climb if he hopes to win Iowa again. Finally, Marco Rubio, as many polls have already shown, appears to be the candidate who can best win over Tea Party and establishment support. Put simply, he won over 12 percent of Tea Partiers -- and 13 percent of moderate/liberal Republicans (with leaners). Besides Scott Walker, no one in the field seems to have the kind of double-digit, spectrum-wide appeal.

And while the only female candidate in the race, Carly Fiorina, is struggling to make a dent in the polls, the good news is that if the first Republican debate were held today, she would satisfy all criteria and therefore be invited to participate:

Rounding out the top 10 for televised debates are U.S. Sen. Rand Paul of Kentucky at 7 percent, U.S. Sen. Ted Cruz of Texas at 6 percent, Donald Trump at 5 percent, New Jersey Gov. Christopher Christie at 4 percent and Carly Fiorina and Ohio Gov. John Kasich at 2 percent each.

I’ll leave you with this:

Image and video hosting by TinyPic

Not even close.

UPDATE: I should also add that no Republican candidate does better (head-to-head) against Hillary Clinton than Rand Paul. He trails her by four percentage points (46/42).

Friendly Reminder: The USPS Has Lost More than $46 Billion Since 2007

The U.S. Postal Service has lost billions since 2007, but the move that could put it on the path towards solvency is to expand its operations into the financial sector. Oh, those aren’t my words; it’s the words of the Inspector General and Sen. Elizabeth Warren (D-MA), who thinks giving the money-losing USPS the ability to hold bank accounts, is a way to save it from its financial pickle. This expansion is just a bad idea– no wonder why Citizens Against Government Waste called the proposal “ludicrous” (via Citizens Against Government Waste):

Having lost more than $46 billion since 2007, The United States Postal Service (USPS) is having a very public flirtation with expanding its service footprint to include banking. Oddly, one of the prime cheerleaders in this effort is the Postal Service’s Inspector General (IG) David Williams. Typically, IG’s are tasked with keeping a watchful and skeptical eye on their agencies, identifying and routing out waste, fraud, abuse, and bad management practices. However, Williams frequently acts as USPS’s chief advocate on matters of expansion. Last year, his office released a white paper alleging that the USPS possesses the ability to expand into the financial services sector. On May 22, 2015 another white paper was published by the IG urging the same thing.

Ostensibly, this expansion would be designed to help the “68 million undeserved Americans who either do not have a bank account or rely on expensive services like payday lending and check cashing.” His case is weak. For example, there are nearly 100,000 bank branches and more than 400,000 ATMs compared to just 31,000 post offices. Add to that, national retailers like Walmart, Walgreens, Safeway, and others provide financial services nationwide on every street corner. Finally, the onset of the digital age has given way to banking services on smart phones that don’t require customers to travel to a bank at all.

A fellow proponent of expansion, Sen. Elizabeth Warren (D-Mass.), claimed that allowing the USPS to get into banking would help it “shore up its own financial footing.” On this point, Warren and her allies reveal their warped economic logic. The USPS is clearly in financial peril. On top of its staggering financial losses, the USPS has seen more than a quarter of its total mail volume evaporate between 2007 and 2013. This can be mostly attributed to the rapid and irreversible decline in paper mail, the demise of the brick and mortar business model, and the rise of the digital era. But, the USPS, which itself is burdened by an onerous network of bricks and mortar facilities and exorbitant labor costs, has failed to rationalize and right size to deal with its changing service base. The contention that it should expand, even as the agency careens headlong toward financial calamity, is counterintuitive and fiscally ludicrous.

Santorum: Why Yes, George, I'm Running

Somewhat bizarrely, former Pennsylvania Sen. Rick Santorum (R) agreed to give his first television interview as a presidential candidate to ABC News' George Stephanopoulos. (Read this, this, and this if you think Stephanopoulos is an objective, fair-minded journalist). In any case, after complaining that Fox News was treating him unfairly after the network announced their imperfect new debate rules, he spoke to Stephanopoulos exclusively on Wednesday about why he’s running again—and why he thinks the outcome will be different this time (despite the very long odds against him).

“I’m ready to do this again,” he intoned. “To come back home, to be at a manufacturing facility, to really reconnect to what I grew up with and understood to be an America that worked.”

He explained that the “74 percent of Americans” who never graduated from college are falling behind, and indeed, really struggling to get ahead. And thus because of his roots, and his commitment to blue collar conservatism, he hopes to bring these issues to the fore in the campaign ahead.

But he also justified his candidacy on more pragmatic grounds. After all, he said, he will be much better funded than he was four years ago.

“Number one, we’re going to have some more money—that really helps,” he said. “Obviously, we learned something from the last campaign: You got to do well in Iowa.”

Santorum, for his part, did do well in Iowa—winning it belatedly in 2012. He won almost a dozen states, too. But if he hopes to climb his way to the nomination, he'll need to broaden his base of support beyond traditional marriage supporters and pro-lifers.

Can he do it? Perhaps, my friends, he already is.

“Hillary Clinton and big business, they have called for a massive influx in unskilled labor,” he told a roomful of supporters yesterday in Butler County, Pennsylvania during his first-ever 2016 campaign rally. “Their priority is profits."

"My priority is you, the American worker,” he added.

Hm: Cuomo Casts Self as Crusader Against Sexual Assault on Campus

New York Governor Andrew Cuomo has taken it upon himself to combat sexual assault on New York’s private campuses. Flaunting misleading statistics, the liberal governor thinks he knows what’s best for schools and how they should handle reports of rape. Some of these schools have a message for him: No thanks.

Cuomo’s new campaign, entitled "Enough is Enough," is urging for the passage of legislation that would make private colleges enforce “affirmative consent” standards in campus rape allegations. This standard, which is already in place in New York's public schools, means that the accused student would have to prove that the accuser consented to engage in sexual activity. What’s more, the student reporting a rape would not be punished for violating campus policies on drinking or drugs, as a way to encourage them to come forward without having to worry about being punished.

In an effort to prop up his plan, Cuomo has cited a widely quoted, yet little proven, statistic that states one in five female students will be victimized. The New York Daily News’ Bill Hammond quickly rebutted this shocking number with one that has a bit more credibility.

The Justice Department’s more credible estimate of the assault rate for college women — based on nationwide surveys taken every year — is 6.1 out of 1,000, or less than 1%. That’s still too high, of course, but a far cry from one in five.

Unsurprisingly, colleges are not happy with Cuomo’s sweeping legislation. With one stroke of a pen, he is threatening to override the policies they had in place to combat sexual assault – ones which may have been uniquely effective to their specific schools. One provision that has been met with particular disdain, is a requirement that would throw labels on the parties involved in an alleged rape case.

“All universities have an obligation to be neutral in these circumstances,” said Assemblywoman Deborah J. Glick, a Manhattan Democrat and chairwoman of the Assembly’s committee on higher education. “You cannot prejudice the circumstances by naming one ‘the victim,’ and the other ‘the accused.’”

Cuomo may think he’s the campus hero, but he’s just causing more headaches for these schools who are trying to serve their students as best they can.

No wonder Hammond couldn’t help asking, “Have you thought this through, Governor?

Nebraska Has Abolished the Death Penalty

The Nebraska legislature has overridden Gov. Pete Ricketts (R) veto and abolished the death penalty in the state. Ricketts vetoed the bill yesterday, but that veto was overturned on a 30-19 vote.

From the New York Times:

Nebraska on Wednesday became the first conservative state in more than 40 years to abolish the death penalty, with lawmakers defying their Republican governor, Pete Ricketts, a staunch supporter of capital punishment who had lobbied vigorously against banning it.

By a 30 to 19 vote that cut across party lines, the Legislature overrode the governor’s veto on Tuesday of a bill repealing the state’s death penalty law. The measure garnered just enough votes to overcome the veto.

The vote at the State Capitol here capped a monthslong battle that pitted most lawmakers in the unicameral Legislature against the governor, many law enforcement officials and some family members of murder victims whose killers are on death row. The Legislature approved the repeal bill three times this year, each time by a veto-proof majority, before sending it to Mr. Ricketts’s desk.

Nebraska has not executed anyone since 1997. Including Nebraska, 19 states have abolished the death penalty.

Clinton Foundation Received Donations from FIFA, Qatar 2022 World Cup Committee

It seems that to donate to the Clinton Foundation, one must be a modern-day super villain.

Following the indictment of FIFA officials on corruption charges, it was revealed that the organization, along with Qatar's 2022 World Cup Committee, were both Clinton Foundation donors. While exact donation amounts were unclear, FIFA donated between $50,000-$100,000, and Qatar's World Cup Committee donated between $250,000 and 500,000.

FIFA officials allegedly accepted bribes to chose Qatar as the host of the 2022 World Cup. Qatar has come under numerous human rights abuse accusations due to the high death toll of workers constructing the stadia to host the games. Qatar's harsh summer climate has also necessitated adjusting the game schedule to winter, not summer.

FIFA has continually said that there will not be a re-vote for the 2018 and 2022 World Cup bids. The 2018 World Cup was awarded to Russia.

Corruption and FIFA have a long history together.

Is there anyone the Clinton Foundation wouldn't accept money from?

Wait–Did Hillary Tell Blumenthal To Look For Information In Libya?

ProPublica and Gawker uncovered a secret intelligence network that was feeding unsubstantiated intelligence to Hillary’s private email server. The network included former Clinton aide Sidney Blumenthal who was prevented from taking a job at State in 2009 by the Obama White House. Mr. Blumenthal had circulated some “unflattering” stories about the president during the 2008 campaign.

We also know that Mrs. Clinton used two separate email addresses (hdr22@clintonemail.com and hrod17@clintonemail.com) while she was at the State Department. Clinton’s legal team asserted that the latter address did not exist during her tenure as our top diplomat. When the initial reports of the secret intelligence network came to light, we did not know if Hillary read or even corresponded with Blumenthal’s emails. Now, it looks as if she did read them, and even forwarded a few to a State Department staffer.

Last week, in Iowa, Mrs. Clinton said the Blumenthal emails were “unsolicited” (via Politico):

Clinton downplayed Blumenthal’s influence in answers to reporters’ questions this week in Iowa, describing the emails as useful to ensure that she wasn’t “caught in a bubble” with information coming only “from a certain small group of people.”

“He sent me unsolicited emails which I passed on in some instances, and I say that that’s just part of the give and take,” Clinton said Tuesday.

“I have many, many old friends and I always think that it’s important when you get into politics to have friends you had before you were in politics and to understand what’s on their minds,” she said. “And he’s been a friend of mine for a long time.”

Now, the Washington Post’s David Ignatius wrote that someone told him that Blumenthal approached a former CIA officer, Tyler Drumheller, and said to him that "his friend Clinton" was "looking for information" on Libya [emphasis mine]:

Blumenthal’s missives on Libya appear to be mostly repackaged information from a former CIA officer named Tyler Drumheller , who is now part of Alphom Group, one of the many consulting firms in Washington that employ former spooks to harvest their old contacts for salable information. A principal of Alphom told me that Blumenthal had approached Drumheller and said his friend Clinton was “looking for information” about Libya.

Drumheller was named as someone who collected the intelligence and prepared the reports when the initial ProPublica/Gawker story broke. Yet, this nugget comes from one person at this consulting firm. If this is corroborated, it just added another notch regarding Clinton’s lack of transparency and secretiveness that confirms old biases people have against the Clintons. She’s turning into the most flawed of flawed candidates. Moreover, it could undercut any attempt to highlight her tenure at State. Such back-door communications have happened before, and often led to bad policy:

Michael Morell, a former deputy director of the CIA and author of “The Great War of Our Time,” says that Blumenthal’s missives never came to the attention of senior agency personnel and never got into the paper flow of the National Security Council. That’s good, given that it was the CIA’s job to report on Libya, for real.

But the Blumenthal papers were taken seriously at State. Clinton sent them on to her overworked aide, Jake Sullivan, with such notations as “Useful insight, pls circulate,” or “very interesting,” or, in one instance, “We should get this around asap.”

These memos recall other dubious back channels involving oil-rich Middle East nations. Libya snared President Jimmy Carter’s brother, Billy, as an emissary in the late-1970s. The Iran-contra scandal began in 1985 with an Iranian information peddler named Manucher Ghorbanifar, whom the CIA dubbed a “fabricator” but the White House embraced, anyway.

The danger of Washington’s courtier ethos is that it can lead to bad policy, or no policy. You can’t escape the feeling that Clinton and her aides were passing around Blumenthal’s e-mails when they should have been framing a better plan to deal with Libya’s disintegration.

We shall see what happens regarding Ignatius' Alphom source. In the meantime, it should come to no one's surprise that Mr. Blumenthal has been subpoenaed by the House Select Committee on Benghazi regarding these communications.

Confirmed: The State Department Knew Benghazi Was Terrorism Within Hours


This isn't a "bombshell revelation" per se, because multiple strands of evidence have pointed to this truth for some time.  For starters, then-CIA director David Petraeus told CNN that the US government knew the Benghazi massacre was a terrorist act "almost immediately," and a State Department email sent the morning after the attack accurately pinned the blame on Ansar al-Sharia.  Documents obtained by Judicial Watch last week revealed that both State and Defense quickly identified the deadly raid as the work of terrorists, citing evidence that the ambush was retaliation for the killing of a high-ranking jihadist and had been carefully planned for days.  And here's Judicial Watch's latest:

Judicial Watch today released new State Department documents showing the Benghazi attack was called a “terrorism event” almost immediately after the attack took place.  Another document suggests that Hillary Clinton tasked an official to contact the FBI, evidently not knowing that the FBI was already on the Benghazi matter under longstanding State Department counterterrorism response protocols. The new documents were forced from the U.S. State Department under court order in a Judicial Watch Freedom of Information Act (FOIA) lawsuit. ... Less than eight hours after the attacks, around 6 a.m. on September 12, 2012, the State Department Diplomatic Security “Command Center Team Site” sent out a “Benghazi Event Notification” to “ALCON:” The DS Command Center is sharing the following terrorism event information for your situational awareness…

Another interesting tidbit:

Another State Department document lists 18 Embassy and other State Department sites in the Middle East, Africa, and UK, all but one of which are listed as being targeted by “protests.” Benghazi is the only city that has no listing of “protests,” and lists instead the situation as “Attack on US Consulate.” The document is undated but seems to have been created a few days after the Benghazi attack.

A few points.  (1) That last bolded excerpt seems relevant in light of the White House's risible spin that yet another belatedly-unearthed Benghazi email (which also contradicted the administration's story) wasn't about Benghazi.  Of course it was.  Team Obama carefully calibrated and coordinated their public statements about Benghazi because, as off-the-books consigliere Sid Blumenthal warned Hillary Clinton at the time, the 9/11/12 attack threatened to pack a potent political punch. (2) JW makes this point explicitly in their press release, but it bears repeating: "The new documents were forced from the US State Department under court order" in the wake of a FOIA lawsuit.  The Obama administration, while busy dismissing Benghazi as a "phony scandal" and old news, claimed to have surrendered all pertinent emails to Congressional investigators.  And yet new emails continue to appear, often after protracted legal fights.  Remember, the public wouldn't know that Hillary Clinton's secret email server even existed if not for Trey Gowdy's select committee investigating Benghazi. (3) Despite ample available evidence to the contrary, top Obama officials -- including Sec. Clinton -- clung to the bogus "spontaneous protest/YouTube video" talking point for weeks.  Several days after various assessments concluded that Benghazi had been an orchestrated terrorist attack, Clinton was still angrily denouncing obscure online clip in public and peddling false stories to bereaved relatives in private.  Former acting CIA director Mike Morell has affirmed that the "demonstrations" line didn't come from the agency, and the late Amb. Stevens' top deputy in Libya testified that the YouTube video was a "non-event" in that country.  When Clinton was confronted over the administration's misleading tales under oath, she delivered her now-infamous "what difference, at this point, does it make?" response, a version of which she repeated over the controversial Bowe Bergdahl deal (by the way, there are a few updates on that front today).

I tend to fall into the camp that the "real" scandal of Benghazi isn't so much the cynical, political cover-up, but rather the woefully inadequate security that allowed the slaughter to take place in the first place -- in spite of repeated warnings and glaring warning signs.  The administration's catastrophically failed Libya policy should also receive more attention than it does, especially given Sec. Clinton's explicitly-stated "ownership/stewardship" of that trainwreck.  That being said, how can you not be disgusted by this?



Editor's note: A version of this item is cross-posted at HotAir.com

Everytown Using Cop Killings To Push For More Background Checks

The left has had their fair share of awful studies aimed at curbing our Second Amendment rights. According to the FBI crime statistics, violent crime has seen a precipitous decline. Between 1993-2011, there was a 39 percent drop in firearm-related homicides; Pew Research noted a 49 percent drop between 1993-2010. Given these figures, anti-gun groups have resorted to lumping suicides into the gun violence category to boost the number of fatalities. Recently, the Center for American Progress* hypothesized that gun violence was “devastating” the Millennial generation. That’s not entirely accurate. The noted racial disparity in the CAP report is due to gang violence in urban areas, which isn’t news–and while tragic–doesn’t constitute a generational struggle.

Now, Everytown is trying to exploit police deaths to push for more background checks (yes, they’re still hung up on this issue), saying that it would save police officers’ lives:

In 2013, there were 25 incidents nationwide in which law enforcement officers were killed with guns that were not their own. An analysis of FBI data shows that at least thirteen of these incidents — 52 percent — were committed by individuals who were likely barred under state or federal law from either purchasing or possessing firearms.

To conduct the analysis, researchers obtained the FBI’s Law Enforcement Officers Killed and Assaulted (LEOKA) database covering felonious deaths of law enforcement and updated it with additional incidents from press reports. For those incidents in which an officer was killed with a firearm that was not his or her own, the researchers identified the assailant and then examined state and federal criminal records as well as contemporaneous newspaper accounts to determine if the individual was prohibited by law from either purchasing or possessing firearms.

Gun violence is a persistent threat to law enforcement — and preliminary FBI data indicates that the number of officers killed feloniously with firearms rose 77 percent since 2013.1 While no single policy can completely ensure officers’ safety, strong gun laws that reduce the flow of guns to criminals can help save lives. Loopholes in our current laws make it all too easy for dangerous people who are prohibited from possessing guns to dodge a background check and buy a gun from an unlicensed seller. Expanding background checks to cover all gun sales — including those online — will protect cops. In states that require background checks for unlicensed sales of handguns, police are 48 percent less likely to be killed with handguns.

Everytown noted that felons cannot own a firearm, which is true, but they don’t say how these criminals who committed these police killings obtained their weapons. They assume that these criminals buy from an unlicensed seller; that’s not how the majority of criminals obtain firearms. They either steal them, which is a crime, or acquire them through straw purchasers, in which the person buying for the felon has also committed a felony. Another way felons get guns are from corrupt Federal Firearms Licensees (via PBS):

In fact, there are a number of sources that allow guns to fall into the wrong hands, with gun thefts at the bottom of the list. Wachtel says one of the most common ways criminals get guns is through straw purchase sales. A straw purchase occurs when someone who may not legally acquire a firearm, or who wants to do so anonymously, has a companion buy it on their behalf. According to a 1994 ATF study on "Sources of Crime Guns in Southern California," many straw purchases are conducted in an openly "suggestive" manner where two people walk into a gun store, one selects a firearm, and then the other uses identification for the purchase and pays for the gun. Or, several underage people walk into a store and an adult with them makes the purchases. Both of these are illegal activities.

The next biggest source of illegal gun transactions where criminals get guns are sales made by legally licensed but corrupt at-home and commercial gun dealers. Several recent reports back up Wachtel's own studies about this, and make the case that illegal activity by those licensed to sell guns, known as Federal Firearms Licensees (FFLs), is a huge source of crime guns and greatly surpasses the sale of guns stolen from John Q. Citizen. Like bank robbers, who are interested in banks, gun traffickers are interested in FFLs because that's where the guns are. This is why FFLs are a large source of illegal guns for traffickers, who ultimately wind up selling the guns on the street.

According to a recent ATF report, there is a significant diversion to the illegal gun market from FFLs. The report states that "of the 120,370 crime guns that were traced to purchases from the FFLs then in business, 27.7 % of these firearms were seized by law enforcement in connection with a crime within two years of the original sale. This rapid `time to crime' of a gun purchased from an FFL is a strong indicator that the initial seller or purchaser may have been engaged in unlawful activity."

FFL dealers acting in accordance with the law have to conduct a background check on a potential buyer. Those who do not are breaking the law, and placing the public at risk. Yet, expanding background checks would have zero impact in curbing illegal gun transactions. It would not cut down on the number of illegal straw purchases. Criminals don’t follow laws, and time and again we see how more gun control leads to violence and bloodshed. Baltimore and Chicago are prime examples of this awful byproduct of gun control legislation in action. Then again, this is all speculation. It would be nice to learn from Everytown how the list of convicts who killed police officers in their report obtained their firearms. If it was through straw purchases, or some shady FFL dealer, then this whole study is rendered moot since no legislation would effectively cut down on this behavior. Moreover, if it makes liberals feel good; that's fine. I just don’t think we need to set the Constitution on fire to have a sense of political achievement.

The anti-gun crowd lost after the horrific shooting at Newtown. The courts, public opinion, and Congress are on our side. Yet, in June, Everytown is launching their news organization. It’s being staffed with former members of the New York Times and the New Republic. It’s reportedly going to be an operation in the vein of the Center for American Progress’ Think Progress.

Additionally, Surgeon General Vivek Murthy had a somewhat ambiguous answer to whether he would push gun control in an interview with NPR’s Scott Simon in April:

SIMON: Dr. Murthy, your confirmation was held up in Congress after you had tweeted - I believe this is a quote - "guns are a health care issue." What did you mean by that, more gun control laws, what?

MURTHY: Here's what I would say - and here's what I meant when I wrote that tweet - violence of all kinds is a public health issue. When you have large numbers of people dying from preventable causes, that's a health care issue. That's a public health issue. That's what I said. That's, in fact, what C. Everett Koop said when he was Surgeon General, and that's what the leading medical and nursing organizations have said for many years. I want to find a way that we can reduce violence in America. And I think you wouldn't be hard-pressed to find parents or families of victims or health care practitioners who would disagree.

SIMON: Do I properly note any significance to the fact that you don't seem to be calling for more gun control laws?

MURTHY: Well, what I'm calling for is for more common sense. We may see various issues around violence as highly politicized because of how they're covered or how they're spoken about in public settings. These problems that we face are not problems that one party or one sector can solve on their own. But it's going to take real partnership and working together across the community that will help us address the great health care challenges that our country is facing.

SIMON: Dr. Murthy, I've - C. Everett Koop, he was morally opposed to abortion. He was opposed to abortion as a physician. Arguably, in part, he was even appointed surgeon general because of his opposition to abortion. But he decided, as surgeon general, that had nothing with public health, and he operated in a different way. I wonder if you take any queue from that. That you can - as a public official, there's a difference between your private convictions and what your responsibilities are as a public official.

MURTHY: Well, the responsibility of the surgeon general is to make sure that the public has access to science and access to it in a way that is understandable and that is applicable to their everyday lives. That's the approach that C. Everett Koop took because he recognized that regardless of personal beliefs, that the job of surgeon general is to make sure that we are using the best possible scientific information to benefit the public. And that will be my approach as well.

He prevaricated equally when the Washington Post interviewed him around the same time last month:

Q. Will you be raising the issue of gun violence as a public health issue?

My focus is going to be on the issues that are costing us the most in America, in terms of lives lost, in terms of disability, in terms of dollars spent. And those are on obesity and chronic diseases like diabetes and cardiovascular disease. It's on substance abuse and mental health.

While those will be my primary areas of focus, I fully recognize that issues come up all the time that are of great concern to the country, and I will be ready to address those when they do. Ebola was one example. Measles was another...And so I will continue to respond to issues as they come up, while keeping our focus on the issues that are driving the greatest suffering and the greatest health care cost for the country.

Q. So that sounded like a qualified yes. You will be raising it if there were an occasion to do so?

I'm not taking anything off of my agenda. If something is important to the country, and to the health of the people, that's the most important factor for me in determining whether to address it or not. The statements I've made in the past about gun violence being a public health issue, I stand by those comments because they're a fact. They're a fact that nearly every medical professional who's ever cared for a patient will attest to.

The truth is whenever large numbers of people are dying for preventable reasons, that's a public health issue. Whether that's because of automobile accidents, whether it's because of violence, whether it's because of toxicity from other causes.

And so my concern in this area has come from my experience as a doctor who's cared for many patients who've been the victims of all kinds of violence, and my hope is that we can come together as a country to find ways that we can reduce violence while respecting people's legal and constitutional rights. I don't think that's too much to ask for.

...I think the majority of the country recognizes that there is a middle road and the question is do we have the courage to find that road, and to walk down it.

Suffice to day we should err on the side of caution when it comes to Dr. Murthy, though we should be more worried about Everytown’s news wing. The best-case scenario is that it goes nowhere; it peddles the same weak, anti-gun talking points; and has an ineffectual impact given the level of scrutiny doled out by pro-Second Amendment advocates. Conservatives sometimes over estimate the threat, which was displayed when Scott Walker first reformed collective bargaining in Wisconsin; he survived. After Newtown, the anti-Second Amendment advocates sensed a shift in the political winds, and the NRA looked as if their clout would be severely curtailed; none of that turned out to be true.

At worst, the New York Times, NBC News, ABC News, CBS News, The Washington Post, and others pick up on some half-baked study, give it airtime, and we have to defend the citadel for a few cycles.

*CAP may be wrong on firearms, but they're doing some good work on justice reform.

Bobby Jindal: "Senator Paul is Unsuited to be Commander-in-Chief"

Shortly after Sen. Rand Paul (R-KY) blamed hawkish and pro-interventionist Republicans for the rise of ISIS in a television interview on Wednesday, Gov. Bobby Jindal (R-LA) responded in kind, mincing no words and showing no mercy towards his fellow Republican.

Jindal, who is almost certainly running for president in 2016, blasted the Kentucky senator in a statement for adopting what he uncharitably described as both “illogical” and “liberal” arguments.

"This is a perfect example of why Senator Paul is unsuited to be Commander-in-Chief,” he declared. “We have men and women in the military who are in the field trying to fight ISIS right now, and Senator Paul is taking the weakest, most liberal Democrat position.”

“We should all be clear that evil and Radical Islam are at fault for the rise of ISIS, and people like President Obama and Hillary Clinton exacerbate it,” he added. “American weakness, not American strength, emboldens our enemies. Senator Paul's illogical argument clouds a situation that should provide pure moral clarity. Islam has a problem. ISIS is its current manifestation. And the next President's job is to have the discipline and strength to wipe ISIS off the face of the earth. It has become impossible to imagine a President Paul defeating radical Islam and it's time for the rest of us to say it."

Oof. Meanwhile, Sen. Paul has also recently embarked on a crusade of sorts to allow the Patriot Act to expire, infuriating both members of his own party and the current administration. So, it would seem he's just making all sorts of political enemies nowadays, huh? Don't expect that to change, either.

New Report Details Horrors of Iran Backed Terror Group Hamas: Torture, Beheadings, Acid, Mutilation

As negotiations over Iran's nuclear deal continue, a new report from Amnesty International is details the horrors committed last summer by the regime backed terror group Hamas. Torture, murder, beheadings, violent interrogation, kidnapping and other heinous acts were carried out during the same time Hamas was launching thousands of rockets into Israel in an effort to slaughter civilians. 

"Hamas forces carried out a brutal campaign of abductions, torture and unlawful killings against Palestinians accused of “collaborating” with Israel and others during Israel’s military offensive against Gaza in July and August 2014, according to a new report by Amnesty International," the Amnesty International website says. "‘Strangling Necks’: Abduction, torture and summary killings of Palestinians by Hamas forces during the 2014 Gaza/Israel conflict highlights a series of abuses, such as the extrajudicial execution of at least 23 Palestinians and the arrest and torture of dozens of others, including members and supporters of Hamas’s political rivals, Fatah."

From the report

In every case Amnesty International has documented, it has uncovered evidence of Hamas forces using torture during interrogation with the apparent aim of extracting a “confession” from the detainee. Testimonies indicate that victims of torture were beaten with truncheons, gun butts, hoses, wire, and fists; some were also burnt with fire, hot metal or acid. In several cases family members of victims described to Amnesty International various injuries inflicted on the detainees, such as broken bones – including of the spine and neck bones – trauma to the eyes, as well as damage, punctures or burns to the skin.

An account from the brother of former Palestinian Authority police officer Atta Najjar, who was tortured, murdered an mutilated by Hamas: 

We were surprised when they called to say come and collect his body from the Katiba Square on the Friday. It was a friend who called us, nobody official informed us of his death, nor anyone from the prison. He said, “Your brother has been killed and he is thrown in the Katiba Square.” He was killed at about 8am or 9am and moved to al-Shifa hospital mortuary by an ambulance an hour later. I went to the mortuary and found they had cut off the electricity to the fridge. This was an act of oppression and aggression. Why do you want to torment him in his death? It is a sign that this was the act of a gang rather than an official body.

I found the body and on it a paper written with his name – form number one – field execution – Jabalia resident – and the identity card number.

There were marks of torture and bullet wounds on his body. His arms and legs were broken. And his body was as if you’d put it in a bag and smashed it. His bones were broken. His body was riddled with about 30 bullets. He had slaughter marks around his neck, marks of knives. And from behind the head – there was no brain. Empty.
His arms were broken. It was difficult for us to carry him. We needed six people to carry him. He was heavy, like when you put meat in a bag; no bones. His bones were smashed. They broke him in the prison.

They killed someone who was not a danger to them. He’d almost finished his sentence. He’d worn himself out for three years going to courts, and being tortured.

Hamas committed these crimes against fellow Palestinians, but yet the international community, the United Nations and yes, Amnesty International, continue to declare Israel as the problem. The report classifies Israel as an "occupying force" and holds the Jewish State responsible for damage in Gaza after counter defense attacks were launched against Hamas in response to rocket fire. Many civilians were killed as a result of Hamas putting rocket launchers and Hamas fighters in civilian areas like schools and hospitals. Ironically, Amnesty International's own report proves Hamas was using humans and hospitals as shields. 

Hamas forces used the abandoned areas of al-Shifa hospital in Gaza City, including the outpatients’ clinic area, to detain, interrogate, torture and otherwise ill-treat suspects, even as other parts of the hospital continued to function as a medical centre.

“It is absolutely appalling that, while Israeli forces were inflicting massive death and destruction upon the people in Gaza, Hamas forces took the opportunity to ruthlessly settle scores, carrying out a series of unlawful killings and other grave abuses,” Amnesty International Director of the Middle East and North Africa Programme Philip Luther said about the report's findings. “In the chaos of the conflict, the de facto Hamas administration granted its security forces free rein to carry out horrific abuses including against people in its custody. These spine-chilling actions, some of which amount to war crimes, were designed to exact revenge and spread fear across the Gaza Strip.” 

“Instead of upholding justice, the Hamas authorities and leadership have continuously encouraged and facilitated these appalling crimes against powerless individuals. Their failure to even condemn the unlawful killings, abduction and torture of perceived suspects leaves them effectively with blood on their hands,” he continuted. "By failing to halt such grave violations, the Hamas authorities are dragging the name of justice through the mud and condoning these appalling crime."

Amnesty International should accept that fact that Islamic terror groups, like Hamas and ISIS, don't believe in fair justice. Instead, they believe in torture and death. This is just a snap shot of what happens when a terror group runs a government. To think they'd ever condemn killings of those they accuse of being associated with Israel is naive.

When Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu addressed a joint session of Congress earlier this year, he argued Hamas and ISIS held the same ideology. He was right.

Meanwhile, the White House is still refusing to include Iran's funding of Hamas terrorism as part of the regime's nuclear deal. 


Pataki Calls Abortion Debate a ‘Distraction’ as He Prepares for 2016 Announcement

Social issues should take a back seat, says former New York Gov. George Pataki in a new ad airing in New Hampshire. Pataki, who is getting ready to announce a run for the presidency in the Granite State, has suggested that preserving traditional values is merely a ‘distraction’ from more pressing dangers.

“Defeating Islamic terror, shrinking government and growing the economy. These are the issues that matter most. Instead, we’re debating social issues like abortion and gay rights. They’re a distraction and will only help elect Hillary. After eight years of Obama-style socialism, we need to shrink government - not let big government tells us how to live our lives,” Mr. Pataki says in a new campaign video.

Protecting America’s national security and reining in Big Government are of course significant goals for any president, but has Gov. Pataki forgotten the “life” part in “Life, Liberty and the pursuit of Happiness?” Any conservative candidate should be equipped with the passion to protect the unborn. If he or she has no willingness to defend the weakest among us, how can we count on them to lead the nation as a whole?

Perhaps social conservatives shouldn’t be surprised by Pataki’s most recent dismissal of the pro-life movement’s efforts. As New York governor, he had a record of acting against their wishes.

In July, Pataki vetoed a bill that would have authorized a group of new specialty license plates there, including one commemorating the September 11 terrorist attacks. The governor blamed the veto on a lawsuit supporters of the Choose Life license plate filed after they were denied a specialty plate.

Last May, Pataki said he supported a bill in the legislature requiring taxpayers to spend $100 million annually on embryonic stem cell research, which requires the destruction of human life.

He also signed legislation requiring hospitals -- including religious ones -- to distribute the morning after pill and signed another bill requiring health insurance plans to do the same thing.

This is one issue where pro-life conservatives would be glad to see a candidate flip flop on an issue.

Fifty-eight percent of Americans oppose abortion in all or most cases, according to a recent CNN poll. That number increases when it comes to the inhumane practice of late-term abortion. Pro-life advocates bombarded Capitol Hill with signs, calls and protests earlier this year until legislators finally re-introduced the Pain Capable Unborn Child Protection Act, which would ban abortions after 20 weeks.

Do these sound like ‘distractions’ to you? 

Pataki is poised to officially kick off his campaign Thursday in Exeter.

Oh My: Iranian Foreign Minister Mohammad Zarif Accused Of Being A ‘Traitor’ By Hardliner Over Iranian Deal

Guy has been documenting the tenuous Iranian nuclear talks over the past couple of months. As the Congress remains divided over the deal–Democrats have enough to sustain an Obama veto of the Nuclear Agreement Review Act of 2015–we know little of the political reality in Iran. In a leaked video, we see a hardliner, who claims to speak on behalf of the Supreme Leader–Ayatollah Khamenei– accusing Iranian Foreign Minister Mohammas Zarif of being a “traitor” for agreeing to a deal with the West (via Business Insider):

Hardliner claiming to speak from the Supreme Leader heard calling Foreign Minister Zarif a 'traitor' for agreeing a deal with the West

Iranians have been captivated by a video circulating on social media that shows lawmakers arguing over the ongoing nuclear negotiations with world powers.

The video, which surfaced Monday, shows Foreign Minister Mohammad Javad Zarif, who has led the nuclear talks, and hard-line lawmaker Mahdi Kouchakzadeh in a heated exchange, apparently during a closed session of parliament.

The hard-liner calls Zarif a "traitor," claiming he speaks for Supreme Leader Ayatollah Ali Khamenei, which then prompts an angry reaction from the minister.

There are speculations that the poor-quality footage was filmed and leaked by one of the lawmakers present at the session. Several lawmakers have demanded that authorities uncover the person behind the leak and prosecute the individual.

Iranians rarely get to see an unrestrained and more personal side of their officials and leaders. Unlike open parliament sessions, closed sessions such as the one where the argument took place are not broadcast on state media.

So, it appears there might be some political disagreement amongst Iranians, though it’s a moot point given that whatever the Supreme Leader says–goes.

During the negotiations, the deal would freeze Iran’s nuclear weapons program for ten years in return for the lifting of economic sanctions, which have crippled the Iranian economy. For the first time in two decades, the Iranian economy contracted. There was still some debate about the rate of lifting such sanctions; the West wanted gradual relief, while Iran wanted immediate action.

As for dealing with the agreement, Guy wrote the most opponents of this deal could do – realistically – is to delegitimize it on every media platform available “ in order to grease the skids for a Republican president to withdraw from it in 2017.”

After all, it appears Iran is (shocker!) already skirting portions on the agreement.

General McChrystal: Yep, We Knew Bergdahl Was a Deserter Immediately

When Army Sgt. Bowe Bergdahl was traded for five high risk Taliban commanders last summer, his platoon mates quickly hit the airwaves to expose him as a deserter. They said it was known he was a deserter for years. The Obama administration, however, gave the appearance to the American people that officials were unaware of the circumstances surrounding his capture. In fact, last year State Department Deputy Spokeswoman Marie Harf said allegations Bergdahl deserted were simply "rumors." Not only did President Obama hold a Rose Garden ceremony to honor Bergdahl, but administration officials Jay Carney and Susan Rice said he "served with honor and distinction." 

But now, Army General Stanley McChrystal is confirming the accounts of Bergdahl's platoon mates and said in a recent interview with Fox News it was known Bergdahl deserted immediately after his disappearance. 

"My initial understanding, based on the reportings I got, that he had walked off intentionally," McChrystal said.

Bergdahl was officially charged with desertion and inappropriate behavior in front of the enemy earlier this year. He will stand trial at Ft. Sam Houston in Texas. He faces life in prison. 

Meanwhile, the five Taliban leaders who were traded for Bergdahl are expected to be released from Qatar custody within weeks. At least one of them has already attempted to engage in jihad against the United States.

Rand: GOP Hawks Created ISIS

That’s a bit of a stretch, no? Sen. Rand Paul (R-KY) doesn't seem to think so.

Responding to the oft-repeated charge that non-interventionist libertarians are somehow responsible for the rise of ISIS, the Kentucky senator flipped that accusation on its head Wednesday morning, laying the blame squarely instead on the shoulders of his accusers (via TWS):

“ISIS exists and grew stronger because of the hawks in our party who gave arms indiscriminately, and most of those arms were snatched up by ISIS. These hawks also wanted to bomb Assad, which would have made ISIS's job even easier. They created these people.”

That, however, is not entirely true. It’s a rather simplistic interpretation of how ISIS gained power (and territory) in Iraq so quickly. After all, the terrorist organization, as it is often labeled, is hardly a terrorist organization at all. For all intents and purposes, it is a new nation with an army. And its ability to fundraise, instill fear and terror in its subjects, and recruit Westerners have made it a formidable fighting force in the region. So clearly it is difficult to take seriously Dr. Paul's suggestion that ISIS exists solely because of hawkish Republicans in Congress. Historically, ISIS has deep ties to al Qaeda, and only became increasingly more powerful after the United States pulled out of Iraq—and we continued underestimating them.

But Paul does have a point: If Lindsey Graham got his way, and we started bombing Assad’s forces, wouldn’t ISIS be more powerful today than it already is? That is to say, wouldn’t ISIS have more arms, more soldiers, more sex slaves, and more territory?

Video: Aging Socialist Re-Announces Presidential Campaign, Flanked by Millionaires


And I'm not even talking about Hillary's big re-launch.  Those millionaires are crunchy ice cream magnates Ben and Jerry, who hail from Sanders' home state of Vermont, so I'm trolling a bit. But this is all technically accurate:


I used "re-announces" in the headline, by the way, because, uh, didn't we just do this a few weeks ago?  In any case, he's fully in now, running a hard-left campaign.  How hard-left, you ask?  Try this on for size:

SANDERS: … If my memory is correct, when radical socialist Dwight D. Eisenhower was president, the highest marginal tax rate was something like 90 percent.

HARWOOD: When you think about 90 percent, you don’t think that’s obviously too high?

SANDERS: No. That’s not 90 percent of your income, you know? That’s the marginal. I’m sure you have some really right-wing nut types, but I’m not sure that every very wealthy person feels that it’s the worst thing in the world for them to pay more in taxes, to be honest with you. I think you’ve got a lot of millionaires saying, “You know what? I’ve made a whole lot of money. I don’t want to see kids go hungry in America. Yeah, I’ll pay my fair share.”

Perhaps some "right-wing nut" types might object to the federal government forcibly confiscating 90 percent of their taxable income every year, he says, but "a lot of millionaires" are pretty excited to pay their "fair share."  First of all, the rich already shoulder an extraordinary share of the federal tax burden.  Second, millionaires who've decided they've earned enough money are more than welcome to voluntarily pay a "fairer" share of their income to the federal government, which would be the principled course of action.  Why wait around for Congress to impose your values on other people when you can be writing fat checks to Uncle Sam today?  Lead by example, people.  That suggestion is "preposterous on its face," they'll retort, without really explaining themselves.  Finally, maybe someone should acquaint Sen. Sanders with a Mr. and Mrs. Bill Clinton, who theoretically share his fairness fetish -- so long as they can still pay smart people to concoct legal tax avoidance schemes to shield their money from the government's grasp.  Oh wait, it seems as though Bernie has already heard of them:


“When you hustle money like that, you don’t sit in restaurants like this, you sit in restaurants like where you are spending hundreds of dollars for dinner...That’s the world that you are accustomed to and that’s the worldview that you adopt…that kind of wealth can, you know, has the potential to isolate you from the reality of the world.”

As I've stated on several occasions, the Clintons' legitimately-earned wealth should draw criticisms from class warriors like Sanders, not from conservatives. But it sure seems hard to authentically run as a "champion of everyday Americans" when you're deleting emails from your rules-shattering private server, simply losing track of millions of dollars, failing to report and disclose massive foreign donations, and setting up "pass through" corporations that obscure some of your (undisclosed) family earnings. That's especially true when your list of public speaking demands entails private jet specs, and when you publicly admit that you haven't driven yourself in nearly two decades.  Anyway, watch last night's clip and marvel at the fact that this disheveled grandpa may well be Hillary's most serious "competition" for the Democratic nomination.  A man who's prone to careening into rants about things like the immorality of deodorant choices when there are kids starving in the world, or whatever.  I'll leave you with Team Bernie's Memorial Day tweet, which seemed like it was less about gratitude and remembrance than it was about reminding everyone who didn't vote for the Iraq war, unlike you-know-who:


Americans actually are prepared to help our veterans, which is why the existence of the VA is strongly supported on a bipartisan basis.  Our returning warriors have earned our help.  The problem for people like Bernie Sanders is that the VA has been exposed as a microcosm of the government-run system they aspire to inflict upon the nation writ large -- and it's a corruptunaccountable disaster.  And no, Senator, the solution isn't "more money.