Awkward: Iowa Dems Are Refusing to Release Raw Vote Totals
Tuesday, February 9
By Christine Rousselle
After last Monday's ridiculously close caucus in Iowa, many Bernie Sanders supporters were crying foul at the results. Now, they have another reason to be suspicious: the Iowa Democratic Party has announced that they will not be releasing the raw vote totals from the caucuses. The party did, however, release the vote totals in 2008.
Despite calls to simplify the caucus process and prevent the errors that plagued this year's caucuses, Iowa Democrats are holding firm to their current system.
Sanders' boost brought him to a quarter of a percentage point within Clinton's number. The winner of the popular vote, meanwhile, remains unclear as state party officials have declined to release raw votes.
The mistakes have also led to calls for the Iowa Democratic Party to change its process, which differs from the Republican Party's method of conducting a simple, secret straw poll. The Democrats use complex math formulas, coin tosses and past voter turnout to calculate numbers from a series of headcounts.
On Sunday, The Des Moines Register quoted a news release by Iowa's Democratic Party Chairwoman Andy McGuire, who promised to convene a committee that would "improve on our caucus process while preserving what makes it special."
Many, however, are drawing the obvious conclusion that refusing to release the numbers indicates that Clinton didn't win the popular vote in Iowa.
Hundreds of thousands of New Hampshire voters are expected to flock to the polls today. Secretary of State William M. Gardner predicts that 282,000 Republican ballots will be cast, along with 268,000 Democratic votes. There are also over 389,000 Independent voters who can vote in either primary (via CBS Boston):
New Hampshire Secretary of State Bill Gardner said he never expected to see anything like the 2008 voter turnout for the state’s first-in-the-nation primary for a long time–but this year, he says, there may be even more activity.
“I expect that we’ll exceed 500,000,” Gardner told WBZ NewsRadio 1030. “I think we’ll get up into even 550,000.”
Independent voters, officially known as “undeclared,” make up 44 percent of registered voters. They can vote in either primary, making them a key group on Tuesday.
Besides Independent voters, USA Today also mentioned that out-of-state college students could declare residency in New Hampshire, which should boost Sen. Bernie Sanders’ (D-VT) numbers, given that young voters are overwhelmingly backing him in this primary.
The publication added that there would be something of a “political earthquake” if either Sanders or Trump should lose. The chances of that, albeit very slim, is more on the Republican side, though that still doesn’t mean that people will be watching who will be the runner-up in the GOP contest. The historic high turnout could also help the anti-establishment wings of both parties, and if Christie, Fiorina, Carson, Kasich, and Bush do poorly tonight, they should all consider doing something else rather than running for president.
Top Clinton Aides Abedin and Sullivan Sent Classified Info on Personal Email Accounts, Too
Tuesday, February 9
By Katie Pavlich
When former Secretary of State Hillary Clinton was busted last year for using multiple private email accounts and a private home-brew server to conduct all of her official government business, she claimed all email was reviewed and that emails containing personal information were deleted upon her departure from the position. The rest, she reassured, was turned over to the Department as required.
Now that we know Clinton hosted thousands of pages of top secret, classified information on her server, including extremely sensitive human source information, the looming question has become whether the aides she assigned to go through her email, not to mention those who received classified information through email, had the required security clearance to do so. Considering the Inspector General reviewing the case had to obtain special clearance to handle a number of Clinton's emails because of the high level of sensitive material contained within them, the answer to that question is likely no.
Today, Judicial Watch is out with a report showing not only did top Clinton aides Huma Abedine and Jake Sullivan also use unsecured, personal email accounts to communication with Clinton during her time at the State Department, but they received classified information from her on those accounts.
Judicial Watch today released nearly 70 pages of State Department records that show that former Secretary of State Hillary Clinton and her top aides, Deputy Chiefs of Staff Huma Abedin and Jake Sullivan, received and sent classified information on their non-state.gov email accounts. The documents, also available on the State Department website, were obtained in response to a court order from a May 5, 2015, lawsuit filed against the State Department (Judicial Watch, Inc. v. U.S. Department of State (No. 1:15-cv-00684)) after it failed to respond to a March 18 Freedom of Information Act (FOIA).
The new documents show that Hillary Clinton used the clintonemail.com system to ask Huma Abedin (also on a non-state.gov email account) to print two March 2011 emails, which were sent from former British Prime Minister Tony Blair (using the moniker “aclb”) to Jake Sullivan on Sullivan’s non-state.gov email account. The Obama State Department redacted the Blair emails under Exemption (b)(1) which allows the withholding of classified material. The material is marked as being classified as “Foreign government information” and “foreign relations or foreign activities of the US, including confidential sources.”
The newly released Abedin emails include a lengthy exchange giving precise details of Clinton’s schedule using unsecured government emails. The email from Lona J. Valmoro, former Special Assistant to Secretary of State Clinton, to Abedin and Clinton reveals exact times (including driving times) and locations of all appointments throughout the day. Another itinerary email provides details about a meeting at the United Nations in New York at 3:00 on Tuesday, January 31, 2012, with the precise disclosure, “that would mean wheels up from Andrews at approximately 12:00pm/12:15pm.”
“These emails show that Hillary Clinton isn’t the only Obama official who should be worried about being prosecuted for mishandling classified information. Her former top State aides (and current campaign advisers) Huma Abedin and Jake Sullivan should be in the dock, as well,” Judicial Watch President Tom Fitton said about the findings in a statement. “The Obama State Department has now confirmed that Clinton, Abedin, and Sullivan used unsecured, non-government email accounts to communicate information that should now be withheld from the American people ‘in the interest of national defense or foreign policy, and properly classified.’ When can we expect the indictments?”
Yesterday the FBI officially confirmed what we already knew: Hillary Clinton is under criminal investigation for a number of reasons. One of them is due to her use of a private email server to store and share classified information. Her closest aides may soon be under FBI criminal investigation as well, if they aren't already.
North Korean Scientists Have Outsmarted the Global Community
Tuesday, February 9
By Justin Holcomb
In what started last month as a hydrogen bomb test, and then progressed into to an actual missile launch on Sunday just hours before the Super Bowl, has become something more than just another crazy outburst from North Korean leader Kim Jong Un. In recent days, many believed that Sunday's missile would come crashing down after the launch and be salvaged for study and that the satellite released into orbit would simply tumble through space without direction. Both of these rumors may be false.
In a statement Tuesday, South Korea's Defense Ministry said it believes the North deliberately blew up the rocket's first stage after burnout to prevent South Korea from retrieving rocket debris. It was deliberately rigged to blow up after separation Sunday, for the express purpose of confounding foreign analysts.
Additionally, Western analysts initially believed the satellite itself was "tumbling" and not stable enough to transmit data back to its controllers and fulfill its official mission as an Earth observation satellite. However, Pentagon officials told CBS News correspondent David Martin the North Koreans have stabilized the satellite.
With all that is going on in the world, I would not put it past our incompetent leaders to have botched this whole ordeal. The constant underestimation of our enemies is going to eventually put American lives at risk.
Report: Hillary's Wall Street Speech Transcripts Would 'Bury Her'
Tuesday, February 9
By Guy Benson
In my piece this morning examining the floundering and mildly desperate state of Hillary Clinton's presidential campaign, I asked this question: "We know she was reckless in her handling of national security secrets, but she's assiduously protective of whatever she said in those speeches. Why?" The assumption is that rather than corroborating her implausibly revisionist characterizations of what she said to those elite bankers who paid her six-figures per speech (her typical fee), the hidden transcripts would reveal a very chummy posture toward her supposed mortal enemies, or whatever. Such a revelation would further undermine her credibility among the Democratic base's rabidly anti-Wall Street base, buttress one of Bernie Sanders' central lines of attack, and again expose her as self-serving and genetically incapable of ruthful candor. Which brings us to this Politico story.Drip:
When Hillary Clinton spoke to Goldman Sachs executives and technology titans at a summit in Arizona in October of 2013, she spoke glowingly of the work the bank was doing raising capital and helping create jobs, according to people who saw her remarks.
Clinton, who received $225,000 for her appearance, praised the diversity of Goldman’s workforce and the prominent roles played by women at the blue-chip investment bank and the tech firms present at the event. She spent no time criticizing Goldman or Wall Street more broadly for its role in the 2008 financial crisis. “It was pretty glowing about us,” one person who watched the event said. “It’s so far from what she sounds like as a candidate now. It was like a rah-rah speech. She sounded more like a Goldman Sachs managing director.” ... Clinton spokesman Brian Fallon dismissed the recollections as “pure trolling,” while the Clinton campaign declined to comment further on calls that she release the transcripts of the three paid speeches she gave to Goldman Sachs, for which she earned a total of $675,000.
Why not produce the transcripts to prove that this is "pure trolling"? No comment. Got it. Vanity Fair notices an intriguing quote from one of Politico's sources:
If the transcript came out, “it would bury her against Sanders,” the source added later. “It really makes her look like an ally of the firm.” The drip-drip of quotes characterizing Clinton’s comments will only increase the pressure on the candidate to redefine her strategy against Sanders, who is running away with the lion’s share of young voters, particularly women, who overwhelmingly favor the Vermont senator’s populist campaign. Clinton retains her dominant position in the primary states after New Hampshire. But her seeming inability to hold off the brutal attacks on her cozy relationship with Wall Street speaks to a startling lack of foresight.
That last bit is key. Bernie Sanders isn't going to "bury" Hillary Clinton, nor is anything in those transcripts. The party establishment simply won't allow it, as the recent torrent of "sexism" bullying demonstrates. They're just getting started against him; plus, the race will soon shift to more favorable Clinton terrain. But Hillary and her team will have to get their hands dirty in destroying Sanders, which isn't likely to go over well with his hordes of young fans, whose antipathy toward her already poses a potential general election problem. More worrisome for Democrats, though, is Hillary's stunning unpreparedness to handle questions about her high-dollar speeches to financial firms. For all the attention paid to Marco Rubio's repetition of a canned (but correct) line at the latest debate, that was a tactical misstep. Clinton's responses on this issue belie a shocking strategic blind spot, both before and after delivering those lucrative addresses. She's been awkward and unconvincing overall, and on the question of releasing the contents of her remarks, she's careened from unresponsive cackling, to signaling an openness to doing so, to demanding that other candidates do the same first. Stated bluntly, Hillary Clinton is not a very good or appealing political candidate. She is off-puttingly calculating, painfully inauthentic, and often flatly dishonest. Questions of influence peddling aren't going anywhere. The FBI's criminal investigation is real. Her unfavorability rating is high. Her trustworthiness numbers are low. Her relatability is weak. And yet, she'll be Democrats' nominee, because they have no other choice. Hence the appearance of some hilariously accurate swag at a recent Clinton rally. Oof:
As New Hampshire votes today, the gifted neurosurgeon is registering near the bottom of the barrel concerning the polls, and there isn’t much hope he will do better as this primary continues. Granted, his campaign insists he’s going to stay in the race, but executed a Thursday Night Massacre last week, slashing staff as his campaign war chests aren’t as full as they were when he was a top tier candidate (via WaPo):
Ben Carson, the famed neurosurgeon whose bid for the Republican presidential nomination has struggled to keep pace with rivals, will cut more than 50 staff positions Thursday [Feb. 4] as part of an overhaul and downsizing of his campaign.
Salaries are being significantly reduced. Carson’s traveling entourage will shrink to only a handful of advisers. And instead of flying on private jets, Carson may soon return to commercial flights.
Campaign officials, who confirmed the moves after The Washington Post obtained an internal memo about the layoffs, stressed that key aides in upcoming GOP primary contests will remain in place and that Carson is determined to stay in the 2016 race.
But they acknowledged that Carson’s funds have diminished as he has fallen from the top tier, forcing him to make sweeping changes to a campaign that had swelled into a bustling operation of about 125 people.
While he finished fourth in Iowa, Carson is projected to garner three percent of tonight’s vote for an eighth place finish–behind Fiorina and Gov. Chris Christie:
Trump holds 31%, down two points from the February 3-6 release, but within the poll's margin of sampling error.
Behind him, Florida Sen. Marco Rubio earned 17% support -- within the margin of sampling error of Texas Sen. Ted Cruz at 14%, but significantly ahead of the fourth and fifth place candidates in the poll, Ohio Gov. John Kasich at 10% and former Florida Gov. Jeb Bush at 7%.
Behind Bush, Carly Fiorina stands at 5%, New Jersey Gov. Chris Christie at 4% and retired neurosurgeon Ben Carson at 3%.
As we head into South Carolina, he’s trailing Bush, but maintaining another fourth place standing.
So, things don’t look better going into the Palmetto State, and they’re probably not going to get better heading into Super Tuesday. There doesn’t seem to be much of an avenue to clinch his way back into the top tier. It’s a solid three-man race between Trump, Cruz, and Rubio, though a small handful of polls are showing Bush at second (we’ll see about that … if true, it could be too little, too late). Even with Rubio’s less than stellar debate performance last Saturday, his campaign saw a surge in fundraising over his answer about abortion and social issues. Concerning Carson, his performance was soporific, though dotted with the usual quips. In other words, and this is for a long time now, the man just doesn’t have a presence that should get people excited about him. Maybe primary voters were excited about him for a hot second, given his incredible life story and anti-establishment sentiments, but as this marathon dragged on–people jumped ship.
We’ll see what happens after tonight.
Clapper: North Korea Could Recover Plutonium 'Within Weeks'
Tuesday, February 9
By Cortney O'Brien
Director of National Intelligence James Clapper said Tuesday morning that North Korea has restarted their plutonium reactor. In a testimony in front of the Senate Armed Services Committee, he detailed what is likely to happen next:
#NorthKorea has restarted plutonium reactor & can recover plutonium from spent fuel "within a matter of weeks to months" - DNI Clapper
The confirmation is perhaps no surprise. North Korea launched a rocket over the weekend as Americans were prepping for their Super Bowl parties.
The National Intelligence director also warned that we may see an increase in homegrown terror threats:
“The perceived success of attacks by homegrown violent extremists in Europe and North America, such as those in Chattanooga and San Bernardino, might motivate others to replicate opportunistic attacks with little or no warning, diminishing our ability to detect terrorist operational planning and readiness," he said.
Clapper weighed in on the Iran threat as well, calling the nation “the foremost state sponsor of terrorism" and that the White House's nuclear agreement will only act as a means for Iran "to remove sanctions while preserving nuclear capabilities.”
Clapper’s comments will not sit well with President Obama, who has repeatedly tried to ensure Americans that his nuclear deal with Iran is a peaceful one. The agreement, he declared at the UN last year, successfully prevented a potential war and has kept our world safe.
One of these men is telling the truth.
Flop Sweat: Seven Reasons Why Hillary's Campaign Is A Mess
Tuesday, February 9
By Guy Benson
MANCHESTER, NH -- On primary day here in the Granite State, please consider the current state of Hillary Clinton's presidential campaign: (1) She is about to get beaten handily by a disheveled Socialist in a state she carried over Barack Obama in 2008, on the heels of a virtual tie in Iowa. According to recent polling, she trails Marco Rubio in New Hampshire, and is underperforming Sanders by double-digits against Ted Cruz and Donald Trump. She's trailing Sanders among all Democratic age cohorts aside from her own -- senior citizens -- and getting absolutely blown out with voters under 40:
(3) In an effort to signal that the contents of the dozens of (non-deleted) top-secret-and-above emails found on her unsecure server were "innocuous" (false), Hillary's campaign is asking that the emails be released publicly -- knowing full well that isn't possible, for national security reasons. It's her own former agency that has deemed those messages so sensitive that they cannot even be disclosed in redacted form.
(4) Meanwhile, while cynically urging the release of national security-endangering emails, Team Clinton is resisting publishing the transcripts of her six-figure speeches to Wall Street firms. She claims she used those addresses to speak truth to power, warning bankers about mortgage crisis before the 2008 crash. Really? Let's see the proof of that self-serving tale. She also says she accepted the financials firms' high speaking fees because "that's what they offered." No, it's what she charged. By the way, how do we know these withheld transcripts even exist? Because she herself required them, along with other elaborate speaking demands. We know she was reckless in her handling of national security secrets, but she's assiduously protective of whatever she said in those speeches. Why?
(5) Relatedly, Clinton insists she can't be bought, yet serious unanswered questions remain about the dodgy and unreported donations to the Clinton Foundation "slush fund" (and lucrative speaking fees) from people and entities that were actively lobbying her State Department. Also, Sen. Elizabeth Warren has raised the issue of Hillary's 2001 switched vote in the Senate, for which Hillary has an incoherent explanation.
(6) Frustrated by Bernie Sanders' insolent refusal to instantly bow to her coronation, Hillary Clinton and her allies have ratcheted up their cries of "sexism." Gloria Steinem suggested that young women supporting Sanders were only doing so to chase boys (hooray, feminism), Madeline Albright said there's a "special place in hell" for women who don't help other women (she must've strongly supported Sarah Palin, right?), and accused rapist and serial harasser Bill Clinton scorched Sanders' supporters with charges of misogyny. The Clintons no doubt expected they'd be able to hold off on playing this card promiscuously and shamelessly until the general election, but desperate times call for desperate measures. When Hillary finally wheezes across the nomination finish line and begins turning this garbage against the Republican ticket, the GOP would be wise to remind voters over and over again that she used the same divisive tactics against a far-left member of her own party...and his supporters, many of them women.
(7) And it wouldn't be a Hillary Clinton presidential campaign without rumors and reports of a staff shake-up in the face of underwhelming results. Your thoughts, David Axelrod?
When the exact same problems crop up in separate campaigns, with different staff, at what point do the principals say, "Hey, maybe it's US?"
No worries, Clinton supporters. She'll eventually steal America's hearts with her breezy relatability and remarkably lifelike spontaneity:
Obama Lied: $750 Million in Taxpayer Funded Obamacare Subsidies Went to Illegals in 2015
Tuesday, February 9
By Katie Pavlich
Remember this moment from 2009 when President Obama was trying to reassure Americans that Obamacare would not benefit illegal immigrants?
"There are also those that claim our reform efforts would insure illegal immigrants. This too, is false. The reforms I am proposing do not apply to those who are here illegally," Obama said.
"You lie!" South Carolina Congressman Joe Wilson shouted out.
Well, it turns out Congressman Wilson was absolutely correct. According to a new report illegal immigrants received nearly a billion dollars in Obamacare subsidies last year, a far cry from being barred from using the government healthcare program.
Illegal immigrants and individuals with unclear legal status wrongly benefited from up to $750 million in ObamaCare subsidies and the government is struggling to recoup the money, according to a new Senate report obtained by Fox News.
The report, produced by Republicans on the Senate Homeland Security and Governmental Affairs Committee, examined Affordable Care Act tax credits meant to defray the cost of insurance premiums. It found that as of June 2015, “the Administration awarded approximately $750 million in tax credits on behalf of individuals who were later determined to be ineligible because they failed to verify their citizenship, status as a national, or legal presence.”
The review found the credits went to more than 500,000 people – who are illegal immigrants or whose legal status was unclear due to insufficient records.
Keep working America, bloated and irresponsible bureaucracy depends on it, as do those who are in the country illegally.
On another note, not only are illegal immigrants obtaining hundreds of millions of taxpayer dollars in the form of Obamacare subsidies, they're also voting in elections.
Christie in NH: Rubio’s Super PAC ‘Cuts People’s Throats’
Tuesday, February 9
By Cortney O'Brien
In a Manchester, NH diner Tuesday morning, the “Fox and Friends” anchors showed New Jersey Governor Chris Christie a clip of his rival Marco Rubio attacking his record of supposedly donating to Planned Parenthood and pushing gun control. "Of course he doesn't want to talk about his record," Rubio concluded.
“At least I have a record,” the governor responded, before insisting the accusations were untrue.
The only thing Rubio will be remembered for in the Senate, Christie added, will be pushing for amnesty with his “arm around Chuck Schumer.”
The governor has been relentless in his targeting of Rubio ever since last Saturday’s debate. In that 3-hour slugfest, Christie exposed Rubio's tendency to regurgitate the same talking points. Rubio fell right into the trap by repeating himself – multiple times.
Christie continued his criticism of the Florida senator Tuesday, accusing him of smiling and spouting out his scripted speeches, before his Super PAC goes out and “cuts people’s throats.”
Donald Trump is still well in front in New Hampshire polls, but John Kasich and Jeb Bush appear to have received bumps from last weekend’s strong debate performances.
So, while Trump is more or less guaranteed the top spot, there is a level of uncertainty about who will round out the second through sixth places. The real question is: Was Rubio’s momentum hampered by Christie’s attacks?
Wow: 40 Percent of Driver's Licenses Given Out in California Last Year Went to Illegals
Tuesday, February 9
By Katie Pavlich
In January 2015, California officially approved a measure allowing illegal immigrants to obtain a driver's license in the Golden State. Some background:
California on Friday will start taking driver's license applications from the nation's largest population of immigrants in the country illegally.
California officials say they can't predict how many people will line up immediately to apply, but the number of people making appointments for a license more than doubled when immigrants were allowed to sign up. Appointments are required to apply for a license except at four newly-created DMV offices.
California is one of 10 states that now provide licenses to immigrants in the country illegally. The licenses issued to immigrants without legal status will include a distinctive marking and are not considered a valid form of federal identification.
Since California implemented Assembly Bill 60 last January, an estimated 605,000 driver’s licenses were issued to undocumented immigrants in the Golden State, with 400,000 of these licenses issued during the first six months of 2015. The licenses have “federal limits apply” printed on them – meaning that federal officials and law enforcement officers in other states are not required to accept them as a valid form of identification.
Opponents to issuing illegal immigrants driver's licenses argue not only does the practice overload the system, but it gives people in the country illegally, violating federal law, an advantage and privilege that should be reserved for those who go through the proper legal channels for residency or citizenship.
Dixville Notch, a small unincorporated community of nine registered voters nestled in New Hampshire's White Mountains, is the first place in the state to vote during each election. The midnight voting tradition dates back to 1960, making it the longest continuous streak of midnight voting in the country. While two other small New Hampshire communities will also vote at midnight this year, Dixville Notch's teeny-tiny election has the most notoriety and is referred to as the first vote in the nation.
Dixville Notch voters filling out their ballots now. They'll officially open the poll at midnight. Close it shortly after the count.
FBI: Yeah, We’re Looking Into Hillary Clinton’s Private Email Server
Monday, February 8
By Matt Vespa
Katie or Guy will have more on this in the coming days, but the Federal Bureau of Investigation has publicly stated that they’re looking into Hillary Clinton’s private email server, and that it’s an ongoing process. They wouldn’t give specifics. Such confirmation was made public after Judicial Watch filed a lawsuit over release of the Clinton emails (via The Hill):
The FBI formally confirmed that its investigation connected to Hillary Clinton’s private email server remains ongoing in a letter released on Monday.
The letter from FBI general counsel James Baker comes one day before the New Hampshire primary.
The message does not offer new details about the probe, which the bureau has been reluctant to discuss. However, it represents the FBI’s formal notification to the State Department that it is investigating the issue.
Since last September, “in public statements and testimony, the Bureau has acknowledged generally that it is working on matters related to former Secretary Clinton’s use of a private e-mail server,” Baker wrote to the State Department.
“The FBI has not, however, publicly acknowledged the specific focus, scope, or potential targets of any such proceedings.
“Thus … we remain unable [to] provide [details about the case] without adversely affecting on-going law enforcement efforts,” he concluded.
The letter was sent on Feb. 2 but released on Monday as part of an ongoing lawsuit related to the disclosure of Clinton’s emails from conservative watchdog Judicial Watch.
There’s been a lot of talk about indictments handed down over Hillary Clinton’s use of a personal server, which had classified information sent through it. Twenty-two recent emails are so sensitive that they’re not being made public, and the former first lady’s position was made more precarious (or at least to it should) when it was discovered that she had instructed a staffer to remove the classified markers on a document and send it unsecure. CIA informants and deep cover agents were possibly exposed through the server.
Updates are sure to follow.
Obama’s $10–a-Barrel Oil Tax Will Do Nothing To Fix Infrastructure–And It Could Mess With Hillary
Monday, February 8
By Matt Vespa
President Obama is planning $300 billion in infrastructure and other green energy-related projects over the next ten years, which is part of a string of last minute budget requests that have zero chance of passing Congress. The president's plan to pay for it all: a $10-a-barrel oil tax (via Politico):
The biggest chunk of Obama’s proposed new spending, about $20 billion a year—roughly equivalent to the EPA and Interior Department budgets combined—would go to “enhanced transportation options,” especially alternatives to driving and flying. That would include subways, buses, light rail, freight rail modernization projects, and a major expansion of the high-speed rail initiative that Obama launched in his 2009 stimulus bill. It would also include a 150 percent increase for a more popular stimulus program known as TIGER, which provides competitive grants for multi-modal transportation projects with measurable economic and environmental benefits.
Obama’s plan will also include about $10 billion a year to encourage local, regional and state governments to plan and build smarter infrastructure projects, including incentives to reduce carbon emissions through land-use planning, public transit, electric-vehicle charging, and other strategies. There would be a Climate Smart Fund to reward states that make greener choices with existing federal dollars, as well as competitive grant programs to promote region-wide planning, more livable cities, and infrastructure projects with greater resilience to climate impacts.
Finally, Obama will call for more than $2 billion in annual investments in clean transportation research and development, including efforts to deploy self-driving cars, charging stations for electric vehicles, greener airplanes, and other climate-friendly technologies.
As with most policies emanating from this administration, it won’t nearly be enough to ameliorate America’s infrastructure woes (via Wired):
The new law “falls far short of the level needed to improve conditions and meet the nation’s mobility needs and fails to deliver a sustainable, long-term source of revenue,” according to Trip, a private nonprofit research think tank. Last year, Trip found that clearing the epic backlog of repairs to roads, highways, and bridges would cost $740 billion. Even Obama’s relatively aggressive proposal doesn’t get there. According to The Washington Post, once the tax is fully phased in, it will generate about $65 billion annually—but not all of that is going toward infrastructure repair. And even if it were, we’re looking at more than a decade just to fix the stuff that’s broken now.
And it could screw Hillary Clinton on the campaign trail:
…[B]y raising the specter of new taxes on fossil fuels, it could create a political quandary for Democrats. The fee could add as much as 25 cents a gallon to the cost of gasoline, and even with petroleum prices at historic lows, the proposal could be particularly awkward for Hillary Clinton, who has embraced most of Obama’s policies but has also vowed to oppose any tax hikes on families earning less than $250,000 a year.
Hillary’s proposed agenda for America is projected to cost us $1 trillion in new spending. The promise of tax hikes not being impacting families who make less than $250k is also a long lost promise; Obama included a cigarette tax to pay for State Children's Health Insurance Program (SCHIP). Also, there’s the Obamacare tax slapped on those who remain uninsured under the new Affordable Care Act. More Americans are remaining uninsured since paying that tax is often cheaper than paying the premiums for the plans under Obamacare. Oh, and premiums are set to spike just before Election Day.
Infrastructure is part of the economy; it’s in bad shape. The president has a plan, albeit a bad one, to fix it–and you can bet that the press will be asking her if she would undertake a gas tax to pay for such projects if she’s elected come November. Additionally, does she support the president’s dead on arrival tax hike?
Yes, this policy could spur debate, which seems to be the intention, but it could also allow voters (and the media) to ask her about how she would pay for her own infrastructure agenda as well. Yet, given the hollow promises of no tax increase for the middle class made by Democrats, you can bet that Clinton will duck, dive, dip, and dodge on this gas tax question to further avoid alienating voters. Either way, it could end up being a pickle for her, as she would have to defend a tax and spend policy that usually doesn't turn out well for Democrats. Not to mention, detrimentally impact millions the home budgets of millions of hard working Americans who will have to eat the tax.
Speaker Paul Ryan was quite adamant that this proposal is a non-starter.
"Once again, the president expects hardworking consumers to pay for his out of touch climate agenda. A $10 tax for every barrel of oil produced would raise energy prices—hurting poor Americans the most. This announcement, the latest in a series of regulatory attacks on the energy sector, proves President Obama is still on a mission to destroy a major backbone of the U.S. economy. The president should be proposing policies to grow our economy instead of sacrificing it to appease progressive climate activists. The good news is this plan is little more than an election-year distraction. As this lame-duck president knows, it's dead on arrival in Congress, because House Republicans are committed to affordable American energy and a strong U.S. economy."
Monday, February 8
By Leigh Wolf
Congratulations on your successful Super Bowl Halftime show. It was many things to many people, but it certainly wasn't a transparent political hit job designed to perpetuate the lies and influence of the Black Lives Matter movement. I want to share with you a very simple solution I have developed that solves the problem of police shootings in the United States. While it may not work in every single situation, this one weird trick for every citizen would prevent the vast majority of officer involved shootings. Enjoy.
In Bloom: Former NYC Mayor Says He Might Enter 2016 Race
Monday, February 8
By Matt Vespa
Oh, here we go; former New York City Mayor, and rabid gun control advocate, Michael Bloomberg hasn’t changed his stance from last month on a possible presidential bid. He’s only made it public (via the Hill):
Former New York City Mayor Michael Bloomberg said publicly for the first time that he is considering a 2016 presidential run.
Bloomberg told the Financial Times for a story published Monday that he was "looking at all the options" regarding a bid.
“I find the level of discourse and discussion distressingly banal and an outrage and an insult to the voters,” Bloomberg told the newspaper, saying the public deserved "a lot better."
The Hill added that the billionaire has an early March deadline for setting up an exploratory committee, and could set aside more than $1 billion of his own money to fund the effort. GOP pollster Frank Luntz suggested in January, that if Bloomberg should toss his hat into the ring–there is an avenue of victory for him.
In one match-up, Bloomberg receives 29 percent of the vote, compared to Republican primary front-runner Donald Trump’s 37 percent support and Democratic primary front-runner Hillary Clinton’s 33 percent support.
In a race against Clinton and Republican primary hopeful Ted Cruz, Bloomberg receives 28 percent of the vote, compared to Clinton’s 37 percent and Cruz’s 35 percent.
And in a scenario in which Republican primary hopeful Marco Rubio wins his party's nomination, Bloomberg receives 28 percent of the vote, compared to Rubio’s 38 percent and Clinton’s 35 percent.
These results, according to Luntz, give Bloomberg a real shot at mounting a successful White House run.
“The key takeaway? There’s more than a political lane available to the former mayor; it’s an interstate highway,” he said.
Former Mexican President: Yeah, We're Not Going To Pay For That Wall
Monday, February 8
By Christine Rousselle
Former Mexican President Felipe Calderon mocked Republican presidential candidate Donald Trump's claim that Mexico will pay to build a wall on the U.S. border.
The GOP presidential hopeful insisted in October that if elected, he would build a wall aloing the Mexican border and get Mexico to pay for it. But Calderon, Mexico's president from 2006 to 2012, told CNBC on Saturday that there was no way that Mexico would pay for it.
"Mexican people, we are not going to pay any single cent for such a stupid wall! And it's going to be completely useless," Calderon said.
"The first loser of such a policy would be the United States," he said. "If this guy pretends that closing the borders to anywhere either for trade (or) for people is going to provide prosperity to the United States, he is completely crazy."
Despite Trump's repeated claims that Mexico will build the wall (and pay for it), he has offered vague explanations as to how this would actually happen.
NARAL Freaks Out Over Doritos Super Bowl Commercial 'Humanizing Fetuses'
Monday, February 8
By Leah Barkoukis
If you were one of the millions of Americans who watched Super Bowl 50 Sunday night, you likely noticed two baby-themed ads in the first quarter. One, the “Super Bowl Babies Choir,” was a heartwarming pro-family ad about how winning cities see a rise in births nine months after a Super Bowl victory.
The other was a Doritos ad featuring a mother getting an ultrasound, her Dorito-munching husband, and the baby on the monitor, which eagerly reaches for the Dorito as the husband holds it closer. Eventually, the mother gets upset and throws the chip across the room. The baby then propels itself out of the womb to go after the chip.
You might’ve laughed, you may have thought it was weird, but it’s unlikely you got as upset over it as pro-choice group NARAL did.
Newsflash, NARAL: Fetuses always turn into babies, thereby making them human from the moment of conception. The source of their outrage is likely because ultrasounds have been one of the most important technological advancements that has helped the pro-life movement, and thus saved countless babies from abortion. Thus, showing an ultrasound on one of the most-watched television events annually does not help their ‘cause.’
As for the first commercial about the spike in births in winning cities, NARAL’s Ohio branch sent out a tweet suggesting women get on birth control.
In a follow-up tweet, however, the group insisted they liked the ad (and babies!) because they tagged it #MediaWeLike. Could’ve fooled me.
That's Rich: Bill Clinton Accuses Sanders Supporters Of Being Sexist
Monday, February 8
By Matt Vespa
Christine wrote about Democratic National Committee chairwoman Rep. Debbie Wasserman Schultz's complete lack of self-awareness over her tweet mocking the GOP for hiding their New Hampshire debate on a weekend, or something. Now, we have Bill Clinton accusing Sanders supporters of sexism. Folks, you just can’t make this up (via Time):
Bill Clinton did not mince words when it came to his wife’s Democratic rival at an event in New Hampshire on Sunday.
At an event in Milford, the former President blasted Sen. Bernie Sanders’ positions on health care, his assertion that Hillary Clinton is a part of the establishment during his fiercest attack on the candidate ahead of Tuesday’s pivotal primary.
“When you’re making a revolution you can’t be too careful with the facts,” Clinton said, the New York Times reports.
Clinton also called attention to a collection of male Sanders supporters dubbed ‘Bernie bros’ who launch vitriolic attacks on Clinton supporters online in solidarity with the Senator’s cause. Though the Sanders campaign has distanced itself from the “bros,” Clinton suggested that Sanders supporters made it difficult for women to speak freely about his wife’s campaign online.
Bloggers “who have gone online to defend Hillary, to explain why they supported her, have been subject to vicious trolling and attacks that are literally too profane often, not to mention sexist, to repeat,” Clinton said Sunday.
True as these claims may be, Bill Clinton—you know, the guy who screwed his intern—is probably not the right guy to be making them. It’s also not hard to remember what happened when Bill attacked Barack Obama in 2008, calling his campaign “the biggest fairytale I’ve ever seen.” Video of Bill delivering that choice comment was all over the news for weeks, and it didn’t do much to actually help Hillary’s campaign.
It’s not the only thing falling flat. Bill might be losing his edge on the campaign trail; his ability to communicate and energize democrats–the secret weapon–might be fading, providing yet another indicator that the Clinton-era of American politics is coming to an end. Such observations were made during Iowa (via NYT):
He seemed perfunctory, looked gaunt, didn’t seem to captivate the crowd,” said Jon Ralston, a veteran political commentator in Nevada, who attended the Las Vegas event last Friday. “I have seen him speak many times, and he just didn’t seem to be the same guy. He could still summon stats and an anecdote or two, but not with the same verve.”
Mr. Clinton still shows flashes of brilliance. On Wednesday night, he acknowledged the appeal of the fractious Republican race in one breath, then eviscerated its candidates in the next.
“It may be entertaining, but it doesn’t have a lick of impact on how you live,” Mr. Clinton said, emphasizing those last three words and pausing between each one.
It is still early enough in the race for Mr. Clinton to warm up. (And he can take some time to warm up.) A more subdued Bill Clinton may not be such a bad thing either, say some Democrats, who cringe as they recall the distraction of his piping-hot words about Barack Obama in the 2008 race.
Yet the Clinton of lore, the once-in-a generation political natural who fought back to win his party’s nomination in 1992 and came through in clutch moments with great speeches over the years, has yet to appear.
New Hampshire votes tomorrow; it’s just a question of how bad Clinton loses to Sanders.
Obama Sees No Cause for Panic Over Zika, Yet Asks for Nearly $2 Billion in Emergency Funds
Monday, February 8
By Cortney O'Brien
The Zika virus, which originated in Brazil, now has several confirmed cases in the United States. The infection has forced thousands of people to cancel their travel plans and is even threatening to disrupt the summer Olympic games in Rio De Janeiro. Yet, President Obama is trying assure Americans that the virus is not as scary as it sounds.
Zika is spread through mosquito bites and causes fever-like symptoms, yet only in rare cases does it require hospitalization. During an interview with CBS this Sunday, Obama insisted there is no cause for alarm and that the threat is nowhere near as serious as Ebola:
"There shouldn't be panic on this. This is not something where people are going to die from it. It is something we have to take seriously," he said.
Yet, that doesn’t mean the president isn’t taking precautionary measures.
President Obama will ask Congress for $1.8 billion in emergency funding to combat the Zika virus through mosquito control programs, vaccine research, education and improving health care for low-income pregnant women, the White House said Monday.
As for where the money is going to come from, White House Press Secretary Josh Earnest said Congress will “have to work out” how to pay for the funding.
In the same CBS interview, Obama reiterated how Zika pales in comparison to the severity of contracting Ebola, yet he did note that pregnant women are especially at risk:
"The good news is this is not like Ebola. People don't die of Zika. A lot of people get it and don't even know that they have it," Obama said. "What we now know, though, is that there appears to be some significant risk for pregnant women or women who are thinking about getting pregnant."
The nations of Colombia, Ecuador, El Salvador and Jamaica all urged women to delay pregnancy, noting the high rate of birth defects in Brazil, reportsUSA Today.
If we are spending $2 billion on the effort to combat Zika, is the president dangerously downplaying the threat?
So Much For 'Hiding': GOP Debate Ratings Highest for 2016, Crush Democratic Debate
Monday, February 8
By Christine Rousselle
On Saturday, DNC Chairwoman Debbie Wasserman Schultz invented the holiday of Super Bowl Eve and accused the RNC of attempting to "hide" their debate in the buildup to the big game.
As it turns out, Republicans are terrible hiders: the debate drew 13.2 million viewers, and was the highest-rated debate of 2016.
Conversely, the hastily-planned, last-minute DNC debate, on a weekday, drew about a third of that total: 4.5 million viewers, the lowest of any debate by any party this election cycle.
In response to the pushback to her accusation that the Republicans were trying to hide their debate during a football game (something she'd be familiar with considering the Democrats literally did just that) Wasserman Schultz tweeted an odd claim that her party's debates "set viewer records."
.@TheDemocrats debates set viewer records. Both parties' broadcast network debates on wknds. Replies to SuperBowl #GOPdebate make my point.
November Surprise: Obamacare Rate Hikes to Hit Just Before Election
Monday, February 8
By Guy Benson
One of the biggest reasons why Congressional Republicans' successful effort to defund the so-called Obamacare bailouts to insurers was so important -- aside from saving taxpayers billions, of course -- is that it guarantees voters will feel the law's impact in 2016. The "risk corridor" programs were designed to use taxpayer dollars to paper over insurers' Obamacare-related losses early on in the program, in order to delay the inevitable reckoning on costs and rates. The new, more transparent reality is that many Americans will learn of their new premium increases just before heading to the polls in November. The Washington Examiner's Philip Klein has the details:
In trying to stave off a challenge from socialist Sen. Bernie Sanders, former Secretary of State Hillary Clinton has whole-heartedly embraced Obamacare, promising to build on it. "Before it was called Obamacare, it was called Hillarycare," she has been saying regularly on the campaign trail. She'll own Obamacare and its problems going into the general election assuming she's the nominee, and according to the schedule put out by HHS, insurers who wish to participate in Obamacare will have to submit their initial rates in the late spring. After back and forth with HHS over the summer, they'll start to become finalized in the fall. That means for months leading up to the election, voters are going to be hearing more and more about staggering rate increases coming in 2017. And this year, open enrollment – when individuals shopping for insurance can start to go online and see the premiums on new plans -- begins on Nov. 1, or just one week before the election. This means that for the months, weeks, and days leading up to the election, the Democratic presidential nominee and all of the party's Congressional candidates are going to have to contend with news of sky-rocking rates coming from Obamacare as insurers struggle to make the business profitable. Considering that Republicans owe their current House and Senate majorities to Obamacare, this should be a scary thought for Democrats.
On Thursday, the Department of Health and Human Services reported that fewer than 13 million individuals signed up for Obamacare plans for 2016. Though the administration is trying to argue that this 12.7 million number beat expectations, nobody is buying it...This is significantly lower than the 21 million individuals the Congressional Budget Office initially projected the law would signup in 2016, below the downwardly revised 13 million CBO projection, and effectively flat from a year ago. Perhaps even more significant than the headline number, HHS also revealed that just 28 percent of those who signed up for coverage are between the ages of 18 and 34 – which is the same proportion as last year, and well south of the 40 percent target that HHS said was crucial to the exchanges remaining viable...During the initial botched launch of Obamacare in late 2013 and early 2014, there was a theoretical debate about whether the risk pool would be stable. But that is no longer theoretical. Insurers have now had a chance to look at actual claims data from Obamacare enrollees, and it isn't encouraging for insurers.
Because of these low enrollment numbers and older, sicker risk pools, an adverse selection problem is developing. This, in turn, is costing (non-bailed-out) insurers, some of whom are hinting that they'll exit the marketplace. Because of the law's additional provisions, premiums are continuing to increase, often sharply; a central political promise destroyed. And it's not just the rising rates that are the problem. For many consumers, the worst part of this raw deal is the sticker shock of unaffordable out-of-pocket costs that must be paid out before insurance coverage even kicks in. The New York Timesreports:
Deductibles and other forms of cost-sharing have been creeping up in the United States since the late 1990s. A typical employer health plan now asks an individual to pay more than $1,000 out of pocket before coverage kicks in for most services. The most popular plans on the Affordable Care Act exchanges require customers to pay several times as much. Even Medicare charges deductibles...The other problem with high deductibles is the obvious one: Many Americans simply do not have the savings to afford them. In partnership with the Kaiser Family Foundation, we recently conducted a survey of Americans struggling with their medical bills. A substantial fraction of them could not pay their deductibles and were left with tough choices about how to cut thousands of dollars from their household budgets to pay for health care. For those people, deductibles often seem like an unfair trick, or a feature that makes insurance worthless. More than 3,000 readers wrote us about that medical debt article, many deploring high deductible health plans that had put them in financial distress.
The "Affordable" Care Act forces people to pay for very expensive coverage that they can't even use until they blow through thousands in out-of-pocket expenses, which they already can't afford. According to the Kaiser study referenced in the piece, 62 percent of those who says they can't pay their medical bills are insured. I'll leave you with the healthcare portion of Saturday night's debate, in which Donald Trump dissembled his way through a clumsy answer trying to explain why his vision for universal, government-paid-for healthcare doesn't place him closer to Bernie Sanders than even Hillary Clinton on this issue:
Seeing Red: Clinton Considers Axing Staff In New Hampshire
Monday, February 8
By Matt Vespa
Hillary Clinton, the prohibitive nominee for the Democratic Party, barely pulled through in Iowa, and is expected to be slaughtered by her primary opponent, Sen. Bernie Sanders (D-VT), in New Hampshire by double-digits. It should come as no surprise that Hillary isn’t too pleased; mulling whom to possibly cut pending her more than likely defeat tomorrow night. Yet, the street goes both ways. Politico published a piece today, which used mostly unnamed sources, that indicated the Clinton staff is equally frustrated, especially with how the former first lady dragged her feet on the email controversy. Yet, Clinton could just add more staffers to make the ones she has a problem with irrelevant, but let's not kid ourselves about her potentially axing a few folks. After all, as the publication added, there was going to be some sort of Red Wedding event if Clinton lost New Hampshire back in 2008:
“The Clintons are not happy, and have been letting all of us know that,” said one Democratic official who speaks regularly to both. “The idea is that we need a more forward-looking message, for the primary – but also for the general election too… There’s no sense of panic, but there is an urgency to fix these problems right now.”
The focus of their dissatisfaction in recent days is the campaign’s top pollster and strategist Joel Benenson, whom one Clinton insider described as being “on thin ice,” as the former first couple vented its frustrations about messaging following Clinton’s uncomfortably close 0.25 percent win in last week’s caucuses. Benenson, multiple staffers and operatives say, has been equally frustrated with the Clintons’ habit of tapping a rolling cast of about a dozen outside advisers – who often have the candidate’s ear outside the official channels of communication.
The result is a muddled all-the-above messaging strategy that emphasizes different messages – and mountains of arcane policy proposals – in stark contrast to Bernie Sanders’ punchy and relentless messaging on income inequality.
But from the beginning, there have been deeper issues simmering within the cheerfully-decorated Brooklyn headquarters -- and much of that had to do with a disconnect between the candidate and her campaign. Over the summer while her campaign was bogged down in the email controversy, Clinton was deeply frustrated with her own staff, and vice versa. The candidate blamed her team for not getting her out of the mess quickly, and her team blamed Clinton for being stubbornly unwilling to take the advice of campaign chairman John Podesta and others to apologize, turn over her server, and move on. The entire experience made her a deeply vulnerable frontrunner out of the gate, and underscored a lack of trust between Clinton and her operatives, many of whom were former Obama staffers that she didn't consider part of her inner circle of trust.
As with many situations with the Clintons, the drama level is high. It’s a soap opera. And from these reports, a loose confederacy of top dogs botching the messaging, which probably explains why she’s gone down in the polls–along with why she’ll have trouble getting out. Last August, the Des Moines Register noted that her support had dropped by a third–and that the old Obama coalition seemed to be drifting to Sanders. A disorganized staff, coupled with a candidate who is already a bad campaigner, is a recipe for lackluster results, which is what we’re seeing.
Yet, this staff shakeup also seems to show signs that Clinton is thinking of her firewall in the South, where the electorate is more diverse and favorable to her. By the numbers, she should be able to trounce Sanders onward from South Carolina primary, but this double-digit blowout might have her preparing a shake up just in case some more cracks in her firewall appear in the days to come. Regardless, while some might note how Trump has caused chaos in the GOP primary, Democrats have a fragile frontrunner and a disheveled democratic socialist with horrible ideas vying to be the left’s standard-bearer this year.
Chris Christie Not Afraid to 'Get on One Knee' for a Vote
Monday, February 8
By Justin Holcomb
Governor Chris Christie was in New Hampshire Monday campaigning for the GOP primary on Tuesday and was willing to do just about anything to get one woman's vote.
At one point during his town hall event in Hudson, New Hampshire, a woman introduced herself as an undecided voter who was leaning toward supporting him but wasn’t quite convinced. The New Jersey governor proceeded to kneel down on one knee, proposal-style, and ask for her vote.
"I hope she votes for me. I’ve got dirt all over my pants,” Christie said after listening to her.
Christie gave the woman his plans to cut the Social Security debt which includes eliminating Social Security benefits for Americans who bring in more than $200,000 per year in retirement.
"Do you need a $1,200 Social Security check a month if you're making $200,000 a year in retirement? I don't think so," Christie said.
After Getting Police Escort, Beyonce Spews Black Lives Matter Message at Super Bowl
Monday, February 8
By Cortney O'Brien
Former New York City Mayor Rudy Giuliani was no fan of the Super Bowl 50 halftime show – particularly the part where Beyoncé showed up. Appearing on “Fox and Friends” Monday morning, he was outraged that the artist clearly used her performance to convey an anti-police message. Her backup dancers, it appeared, were dressed as members of the Black Panther Party. Fox News offers a detailed explanation of their controversial outfits:
Clad in a black leotard with a gold embellished jacket, Beyoncé was flanked by dancers who sported afros and black berets, reportedly in reference to the Black Panther Party. Beyoncé’s outfit was also a nod to Michael Jackson.
The dancers also appeared to make a symbol that paid tribute to Malcolm X.
Giuliani responded to her performance by insisting politics has no place on the football field:
"Can't you [the Super Bowl organizers] figure out who you're putting on? I mean this is a political position, she's probably going to take advantage of it. You're talking to middle America when you have the Super Bowl, so you can have entertainment. Let's have, you know, decent wholesome entertainment, and not use it as a platform to attack the people who, you know, put their lives at risk to save us."
The controversy actually began a day before Beyoncé’s Super Bowl performance, when she released the music video for her new single, “Formation.” The video appeared to make references to the Black Lives Matter movement and featured a young man who resembled Trayvon Martin, an African-American male killed by George Zimmerman in Florida a few years ago. In 2013, a jury acquitted Zimmerman of any wrongdoing, ruling he had acted in self-defense. The decision resulted in rioting and looting. Similar scenarios played out in Ferguson, Missouri and Baltimore, Maryland, where angry rioters threatened police and torched their cities.
Citizens have no right to act like criminals when a court case doesn’t go their way. Yet, this appears to be exactly the kind of behavior Black Lives Matter encourages. Katie wrote an important piece on the controversial movement last year, equating it to a “racist, violent hate group” that promotes cop killing. She had plenty of evidence to back up her claim.
One final point: “Fox and Friends” host Anna Kooiman noted that Beyoncé “got a police escort there” before she saluted the Black Lives Matter movement.