So busted. If only there were more moms like her out last night.
After a week of protests and the funeral of 25-year-old Freddie Gray, who recently died in police custody of serious injuries, rioters took to the streets of Baltimore late Monday afternoon and rampaged through the city until the early hours of the morning burning buildings, cars, looting local stores, attacking police and reporters. Fifteen police officers were injured and the hoses being use by firefighters to put out an inferno at a CVS were cut.
Baltimore Mayor Stephanie Rawlings-Blake made several statements last night and announced a curfew...that starts tonight. Governor Larry Hogan called in the National Guard to restore order, but mostly rioters went home without arrests and the police commissioner is admitting cops were overwhelmed and overrun.
"Yes, we planned for it. That wasn't the issue," Batts told reporters late Monday. "We just had too many people out there [for us] to overcome the numbers we had." The commissioner added that the rioters had pulled his officers to "opposite ends of the city" and had "outnumbered us and outflanked us."
"These acts of violence and destruction of property cannot and will not be tolerated," Hogan said at a late-night press conference. The governor also said he was deploying 500 state troopers and had asked for 5,000 officers from neighboring states to deal with the violence.
What happened in Baltimore is being called a race riot, despite the fact that the majority of the police officers and government officials working in the city are African-American.
Yesterday, Baltimore Police released a memo about violent gangs the Crips, Bloods and Black Guerrilla family joining forces to kill cops.
Local residents and business owners are describing the situation as "heartbreaking" and are cleaning up their community this morning.
Newly minted Attorney General Loretta Lynch, who was sworn in last Friday, has sent DOJ officials to Baltimore to investigate.
After months of waiting and a close vote, Loretta Lynch was confirmed as the 83rd Attorney General of the United States last week. In her remarks today, however, after the official swearing-in ceremony, she thanked all those who helped bring her confirmation to fruition, and pledged to do her utmost to rebuild trust in America’s judicial system.
“I am honored beyond words to step into this larger role today as your attorney general, as we continue the core work of our mission: The protection of the American people,” she said.
“We can restore trust and faith, both in our laws and in those of us who enforce them,” she continued. “We can protect the most vulnerable among us from the scourge of modern day slavery, so antithetic to the values forged in blood in this country. We can protect the growing cyber world, and we can give those in our care both protection from terrorism and the security of their civil liberties. My friends, we will do this as we’ve accomplished all things both great and small: working together, moving forward, and using justice as our compass.”
Not everyone, however, is optimistic about Ms. Lynch’s coming attorney generalship. In fact, some Senate Republicans are downright worried.
“While Ms. Lynch has earned a reputation as a no-nonsense prosecutor, her consistent refusal to specify any limitations on the power of the President disqualify her from serving as our nation's chief law enforcement officer,” Sen. Ted Cruz said in a statement last week before the coming cloture vote to advance her confirmation. “In multiple rounds of testimony before the Judiciary Committee, Ms. Lynch would not identify a single instance in which her actions would differ from Attorney General Eric Holder, and she supported the Administration's boundless legal theory to justify ignoring our nation's immigration laws. In my view, this makes her unfit to be the Attorney General.”
Cruz isn't alone. Other Senate Republicans -- and conservative columnists -- agree. Nonetheless, twenty Senate Republicans voted for cloture -- and ten others voted outright to make her attorney general. Surprise.
London is in an uproar over an ad for Protein World's new weight loss collection that features a slim woman wearing a yellow bikini. Protests have been planned for next Saturday, on the grounds that the ad somehow is sexist and promotes an unhealthy body image. Further, people are also claiming that the ad perpetuates the notion that only thin people can wear bikinis.
From The Guardian:
Thousands of people have signed an online petition for the posters, for Protein World weight-loss products, to be removed from London Underground stations. Others have organised a “taking back the beach” protest, set for London’s Hyde Park on Saturday.
The Advertising Standards Authority said it had received 216 complaints with the general nature being that the ad is “offensive, irresponsible and harmful because it promotes an unhealthy body image”. The ASA said it was carefully assessing the complaints to establish if there are ground for further action.
More than 44,000 people had signed the petition at change.org by lunchtime on Monday. Others angered by the ad have shared pictures, using the hashtag #everybodysready, of defaced posters.
The petition claims that Protein World is deliberately targeting people to "make them feel inferior" to the model in the ad who has an "unrealistic" body.
Despite all of this "controversy" over the ad, Protein World has been raking it in:
I guess it's nice knowing that other countries are susceptible to the recent outbreak of "I'm-offended-so-you-need-to-stop" syndrome. There is nothing wrong with that ad. The model does not appear to be underweight (or even overly-photoshopped), and I'm failing to understand how her body is "unrealistic." In the U.K., nearly two thirds of adults are classified as either being overweight or obese. One would think/hope that this would be a much more pressing concern than a supplement company trying to sell a product, but nope. The feminists are angry. We all must protest because someone attractive is being used, presumably with her consent, to sell a product.
There's nothing wrong with a person trying to look their best while wearing an article of clothing that's generally very unforgiving. There's also nothing wrong with the opposite approach to swimwear. However, shaming either of these groups is not acceptable.
UDATE: Signing off for the night. We'll pick this story up again in the morning. I'll leave you with this:
Liberal voters tearing apart another liberal city. Can't wait to hear how this is all conservatives' fault.— jon gabriel (@exjon) April 27, 2015
UPDATE: Well said.
UPDATE: Now that church centers are being burned to the ground, this is probably for the best:
UPDATE: The blame-game begins.
Hogan says he signed order to push out guard "less than 30 seconds" after it was requested by B'more mayor. Asked why the belated response.— Noah Rothman (@NoahCRothman) April 28, 2015
UPDATE: This just in. Former Baltimore Mayor and Maryland Gov. Martin O'Malley is flying home from Europe after hearing the news.
O'Malley aide says he'll be coming back early from Europe trip for paid speeches amid riots in Baltimore— Maggie Haberman (@maggieNYT) April 28, 2015
UPDATE: This isn't helping things.
During press conference, Baltimore Mayor didn't express any support for police, blamed media, & invited Al Sharpton to come. Sigh.— Brad Dayspring (@BDayspring) April 28, 2015
Governor Larry Hogan today, at the request of Baltimore City, has signed an Executive Order declaring a state of emergency and activating the National Guard to address the growing violence and unrest in Baltimore City.UPDATE: Gov. Larry Hogan releases statement on the Baltimore unrest, says National Guard is on alert.
According to @LarryHogan office, no request has been made for National Guard. Gov. updated on situation— WBAL NewsRadio 1090 (@wbalradio) April 27, 2015
UPDATE: Capt. Eric Kowalczyk of the Baltimore Police Department addressed held a press conference at 4:30pm and said "a group of outrageous criminals attacked our officers." He called the perpetrators "a group of lawless individuals with no regard for the safety of the people that live in that community."
Freddie Gray died in police custody after suffering a spinal injury in Baltimore earlier this month. He was arrested after a "foot pursuit," according to CNN. He was not securely fastened by a seatbelt while being transported in a police van, nor did he receive immediate medical attention. His death sparked outrage, and added to the ongoing dialogue regarding community relations with the police. Over the weekend, some rioting broke out Saturday, with Camden Yards being locked down due to safety concerns. As Gray was laid to rest today, “a large group of juveniles” clashed with police around 3pm this afternoon. Several officers have been injured, some with broken bones, as objects have been hurled at police by rioters (via Baltimore Sun):
Smoke filled the air as police responded with shields and a tactical vehicle. Demonstrators pelted officers with rocks, bricks and bottles, and assaulted a photojournalist. Several officers were injured in the melee, police said via Twitter.
"The group continues to be violent and aggressive. They are disobeying dispersal orders. We are working to evacuate our injured officers," police said on Twitter.
Lexington Market, a city courthouse and businesses including T. Rowe Price and Venable LLP said police warned them of large gatherings and protests downtown, days after protests over the death of Freddie Gray turned destructive.
According to a widely circulated flier, a high school "purge" was to take place at 3 p.m., starting at Mondawmin Mall and ending downtown. Such memes have been known to circulate regularly among city school students, based on a film "The Purge," about what would happen if all laws were suspended.
The flier included an image of protesters smashing the windshield of a police car Saturday during a march spurred by the death of Freddie Gray, a 25-year-old man who suffered a spinal cord injury earlier this month after being arrested by city police.
Mondawmin Mall closed at 1 p.m. ahead of the incident. The mall's Metro stop also closed.
A post on the University of Maryland Baltimore's website said it was closing early based on a recommendation from city police. The campus will also stop shuttle service.
Katie reported earlier today that there was a "credible threat" that police would be targeted by various gangs.
LIVESTREAM: via --> WBAL
A police car has been set on fire at North Avenue and Pennsylvania Avenue.— Baltimore Police (@BaltimorePolice) April 27, 2015
A group is now looting a store in the area of North Ave and Pennsylvania Ave. Avoid the area.— Baltimore Police (@BaltimorePolice) April 27, 2015
Despite having rocks, bricks, and other items thrown at us - officers are using fire extinguishers to put out small fires in the area.— Baltimore Police (@BaltimorePolice) April 27, 2015
Despite the aggressive nature of this group - we are continuing to deploy resources to neighborhoods in the area to ensure everyone is safe.— Baltimore Police (@BaltimorePolice) April 27, 2015
The group continues to be violent and aggressive. They are disobeying dispersal orders. We are working to evacuate our injured officers.— Baltimore Police (@BaltimorePolice) April 27, 2015
UPDATE: There are reports of looting.
Looters just attacked a photographer on North. He ran to nearby MTA Bus. Media retreating now. No police here. @wbaltv11— Kai Reed (@KaiReedTV) April 27, 2015
UPDATE: Police car has been set aflame.
UPDATE: Gray family called for peace today as they laid him to rest
UPDATE: Several police officers have been injured.
Several of our officers were attacked today by criminals while trying to protect residents in the Mondawmin Community.— Baltimore Police (@BaltimorePolice) April 27, 2015
Baltimore police spox: Several police w broken bones, one knocked unconscious— Josh Kraushaar (@HotlineJosh) April 27, 2015
"This is not okay." - Baltimore Police Capt. Eric Kowalczyk.— Noah Rothman (@NoahCRothman) April 27, 2015
UPDATE: Police from Prince George's and Montgomery counties are heading into the city to reinforce Baltimore Police.
UPDATE: Police say juveniles are in this crowd and they're asking parents to help them bring their kids home.
Several juveniles are part of these aggressive groups. WE ARE ASKING ALL PARENTS TO LOCATE THEIR CHILDREN AND BRING THEM HOME.— Baltimore Police (@BaltimorePolice) April 27, 2015
1/2: We are asking for the MEDIA to assist us in relaying this message. Due to the large number of juveniles in these violent groups.....— Baltimore Police (@BaltimorePolice) April 27, 2015
2/2: ...we are asking for PARENTS to please bring your children home. We don't want to see anyone get hurt.— Baltimore Police (@BaltimorePolice) April 27, 2015
Last week we learned about the Clinton Foundation's tax problems -- including a serial failure to disclose tens of millions in donations from foreign entities -- and explosive allegations of a lucrative quid pro quo involving the Russian government's successful effort to gain control of a sizable percentage of US uranium capacity. (Mistakes were made, they magnanimously concede). Now the author of 'Clinton Cash,' upon whose work the New York Times, Washington Post and Fox News have built, is pointing to eleven "coincidences" involving Bill Clinton's speaking schedule and issues before Hillary's State Department:
Bill Clinton gave 11 speeches during his wife’s tenure as secretary of state, each connected to companies that had business pending before the State Department, according to the author of a new book on the Clinton Foundation, who notes that the business was concluded in their favor following donations to the former president’s nonprofit...Schwiezer stopped short of alleging a strict quid pro quo, but he pointed to an extensive pattern of foreign companies donating to the Clinton Foundation when they have business interest pending at the State Department. “They make large payments and favorable actions are taken,” Schwiezer said. “I don’t think that coincidences occur that frequently.”
Here's veteran Clinton spinmeister Lanny Davis doing his thing:
Lanny Davis, who worked in the White House under Bill Clinton, defended his old boss by suggesting that companies started paying him more after his wife took office because he had a track record of success as a philanthropist. “It’s more logical that right after he got out of the White House, before the foundation’s activities and before he did so much good around the world, he’s going to be less valuable,” he said. Davis also argued that the “coincidences” Schweizer noted do not suggest bad behavior. “Of course, it’s a coincidence but it’s a false inference,” he said...Fox News’ Chris Wallace asked if the private emails Hillary Clinton deleted might have pertained to the Clinton Foundation’s donations. “Look. Anything is possible,” Davis replied dismissively.
"Anything is possible," indeed. Hillary made a proactive decision to violate layers of rules, and possibly the law, by setting up a rogue email server on which conducted all of her official business. She made a conscious decision to withhold her emails from public scrutiny, ignoring a Congressional inquiry in 2012. When the stonewall began to break down, she actively chose to have her attorneys cull her emails, acting with no oversight and changing their tune about their methodology (another Clinton excuse went down the tubes a few weeks ago). She decided to have them delete tens of thousands of correspondences, and approved the server's effective destruction. In the process, she endangered national security. Mrs. Clinton isn't a stupid woman. She knew that these machinations becoming public would be damaging -- but concluded that the trade-off was worth the bad press, on balance. Why? What was lurking in her emails that made all of the dodgy malfeasance worthwhile? We will likely never know, which was precisely the point. This, perhaps above all other reasons, is why the Clintons have not earned the benefit of the doubt here; they're not getting it from Ron Fournier:
Hillary Clinton seized all emails pertaining to her job as Secretary of State and deleted an unknown number of messages from her private server. Her family charity accepted foreign and corporate donations from people doing business with the State Department – people who hoped to curry favor. She violated government rules designed to protect against corruption and perceptions of corruption that erode the public's trust in government. She has not apologized. She has not made amends: She withholds the email server and continues to accept foreign donations. That's what this is about...Clinton's crisis management team makes a big deal of the fact that "Clinton Cash" author Peter Schweizer hasn't proven a "quid pro quo." Really? It takes a pretty desperate and cynical campaign to set the bar of acceptable behavior at anything short of bribery. The Clinton team also points to errors made by news organizations investigating the email and foundation scandals, particularly the work around Schweizer's book. That is their right, but they're nibbling around the edges: The core ingredients of the Clintons' wrongdoing has not been misreported.
As for the work of the 'charitable' Clinton Foundation itself, how has the organization been spending the mountains of money flowing into its coffers from all corners of the world? Opaquely, that's how:
If you take a narrower, and more realistic, view of the tax-exempt group’s expenditures by excluding obvious overhead expenses and focusing on direct grants to charities and governments, the numbers look much worse. In 2013, for example, only 10 percent of the Clinton Foundation’s expenditures were for direct charitable grants. The amount it spent on charitable grants–$8.8 million–was dwarfed by the $17.2 million it cumulatively spent on travel, rent, and office supplies. Between 2011 and 2013, the organization spent only 9.9 percent of the $252 million it collected on direct charitable grants.
The majority of expenditures have been lumped into a broad "other expenses" category, which could mean...well, anything. That may be why an official at the nonpartisan, good-government Sunlight Foundation calls the foundation a "slush fund:"
“It seems like the Clinton Foundation operates as a slush fund for the Clintons,” said Bill Allison, a senior fellow at the Sunlight Foundation, a government watchdog group once run by leading progressive Democrat and Fordham Law professor Zephyr Teachout. … The Clinton family’s mega-charity took in more than $140 million in grants and pledges in 2013 but spent just $9 million on direct aid. …
Parting thought: As the drip, drip, drip (which I've mentioned previously) continues, are some Democratic insiders starting to get cold feet? Perhaps, but they have no viable alternative, so they'll circle the wagons, counterattack, and hope for the best. I'll leave you with Ruth Marcus casting the Clintons' behavior in the best possible light -- "slopiness and greed:"
Speaking from the White House Monday, press secretary Josh Earnest reiterated the Obama administration's position not to require the release of three American hostages being held by the Iranian regime as part of ongoing nuclear negotiations.
"Why not use this moment of leverage that you have with the Iranians to push for not just the release of [Washington Post reporter] Jason Rezaian, but of course there are four Americans held prisoner in Iran, why not use this leverage as you did with the Cuba deal to get Alan Gross released too? To get these Americans released," ABC's Jon Karl asked.
"There are three Americans that are currently held in Iran and one other American whose whereabouts are still unknown and could be Iran. The United States does on a regular basis raise the case of these individuals with our Iranian counterparts and I know that Secretary Kerry is meeting with his Iranian counterpart in New York today principally to talk about the current, ongoing nuclear negotiations. As in the past, he has taken the opportunity at those kinds of visits to reiterate our significant concerns about the treatment and well being of those American citizens and to ask for their immediate release," Earnest said. "What we have said is we are focused on the nuclear issue in the context of these ongoing negotiations. The concern is simply this, that preventing Iran from obtaining a nuclear weapon is a top priority because the long list of concerns we have with Iranian behavior would be made only worse if Iran had a nuclear weapon so when it comes to these specific U.S. citizens, it would be only harder to negotiate their release if we were talking to a nuclear armed Iran."
"We continue to inform our Iranian counterparts of the need to release these American citizens being unjustly held in their country," he said.
For weeks the White House has insisted the Iranians holding Americans hostage and the country's support of terrorism around the world should be dealt with separately from nuclear negotiations.
Meanwhile, debate over amendments to the Iranian deal has officially started on Capitol Hill. Republicans and Democrats have expressed deep. bipartisan skepticism of the current deal between the White House and Iran over the country's nuclear program.
The deadline for a nuclear deal is June 30, 2015.
In case you missed it over the weekend, race riots broke out in Baltimore. Here's some background on why:
25-year-old Freddie Gray was arrested for possessing a switch blade knife April 12 in Baltimore. According to his attorney, Gray died a week later in the hospital from a severe spinal cord injury he received while in police custody.
The usual suspects are involved in the aftermath, against the family's wishes, and the race ghouls were tweeting selfies with Gray's body at the funeral.
Disgusting media circus taking photos every 3 seconds of a casket for a 25 year old kid. pic.twitter.com/zvOzXeJMvI— Bill (@DefendWallSt) April 27, 2015
Now, the anti-police sentiment we saw in Ferguson last summer and in December when two NYPD officers were executed in their patrol cars, is raging with Baltimore gangs joining forces to kill police.
"The Baltimore Police Department/Criminal Intelligence Unit has received credible information that members of various gangs including the Black Guerrilla Family, Bloods, and Crips have entered into a partnership to "take-out" law enforcement officers," a press release states. "This is a credible threat. Law enforcement agencies should take appropriate precautions to ensure the safety of their officers."
It should be noted the man who shot and killed NYPD officers Wenjin Lie and Rafael Ramos, was part of the Black Guerrilla family gang and traveled from Baltimore to New York City in December to carry out the crimes.
Blue Lives Matter.
Establishment favorite and ex-Florida Gov. Jeb Bush isn’t officially running for president yet. But he has amassed a small fortune in the invisible primary (or so he claims). In fact, he told some of his key backers yesterday behind-closed-doors that he’s made history, subtly signaling to Republican primary voters looking elsewhere to start taking notice:
All-but-declared Republican presidential candidate Jeb Bush told about 350 donors Sunday that he had set a record in Republican politics for fundraising in the first 100 days of a White House bid.
Mr. Bush’s announcement, which was met by hearty applause according to donors in the room, came on the first night of a private, two-day gathering for his top donors at an oceanfront luxury hotel. The event will include policy, political and financial briefings by Mr. Bush and his advisers.
Naturally, as the Wall Street Journal goes on to emphasize, we must take Mr. Bush at his word as he has not yet disclosed the size of his war chest. He’ll reportedly do that in the summer. But we can at least ballpark how much money he’s made based on official and previous reported hauls:
The current fundraising record for the first 100 days of a campaign appears to have been set by Democrat Hillary Clinton, who raised $36 million in the first three months of her 2008 presidential bid. Barack Obama raised $25.7 million during that period. Mr. Bush’s brother, George W. Bush, raised $29.7 million in the first three-month fundraising report he filed after launching his 2000 campaign.
Evidently, then, Jeb Bush has raised more money than his brother did when he ran successfully for president in 2000. So he'll likely have enough money to win the nomination, but will he have enough votes? Only time will tell.
As the death toll rises in Nepal after a horrific earthquake over the weekend, the world is responding with aid missions. One of those nations is Israel, though some people see pernicious intent with this humanitarian move. Rania Khalek, an independent journalist, tweeted (maybe facetiously) to Max Blumenthal, a left-leaning writer for AlterNet, that Israel’s mission to the Asian nation was to learn how to kill better from the earthquake.
.@MaxBlumenthal Did you ever consider that maybe Israel is heading to Nepal to learn from the earthquake how to kill better?— Rania Khalek (@RaniaKhalek) April 26, 2015
Granted, this could all be troll bait, but is this real life?
Right now, the aid mission is hamstrung by logistical and safety problems. The death toll is a staggering 3,300 lives and rising, with multiple casualties and fatalities for the various mountain climbers on Mount Everest.
All in all, even if this is Israel trolling, is it appropriate during a time like this? Not to mention it’s beyond repugnant to suggest that Israel’s aid mission is a cover to sharpen their killing skills. It’s outrageous.
Both these tweets and The Core are just bad entertainment.
Oh, and here is Israel's mission (via Jerusalem Post):
The mission's goals are to locate missing Israelis, of which there are still some 150 who have not made contact with authorities, to rescue those trapped beneath rubble and to help treat the thousands of wounded Nepalese victims of the earthquake.
Netanyahu wished good luck to the Home Front Command assistance team which numbers some 260 personnel.
Three large search and rescue teams will divide up into smaller crews and scour ruins to search for survivors. A command and control team will oversee the entire effort and link up to local authorities. "At the moment, we are set to take off at 22:00 for Kathmandu," Laredo added.
The planes will carry some 95 tons of equipment, including the various components of a field hospital, which will have a ward for premature babies, a labor ward, x-ray machines, and a hospitalization area, as well as lab and surgery zones.
Rescuers are bringing with them cutting equipment, electronic devices to help find trapped victims, generators, lighting equipment, and more.
"As time passes, the focus will move from search and rescue to hospital treatment. The hospital can treat 200 patients a day," Laredo said. "We can link up with local heavy engineering vehicles," he added.
Three IDF Oketz K9 dogs and their handlers will also board one of the planes to Nepal.
Many members of the delegation have taken part in past Israeli assistance teams to natural disaster zones in Haiti, and the Philippines.
Oh, the horror! The horror!
Of course, you can always count on the Free Beacon to inject some humor–and trolling of their own–on things that are just completely absurd.
Did you ever consider that maybe Israel was trying to discern how effective their new Earthquake Weapon is? pic.twitter.com/nhAbDfgOF3— Sonny Bunch (@SonnyBunch) April 27, 2015
Last Note: A video of the avalanche hitting a base camp on Everest. [Warning: strong language]
The coercive Left's End of Discussion mob is emboldened and on the march. Four vignettes from around the country: (1) In New York, a pair gay hoteliers are facing angry boycotts because they dared to dine and chat with Ted Cruz. These men are successful businessmen, they're pro-gay marriage, and their political donations through the years have slanted heavily toward Democrats. But fraternizing with the enemy is now a punishable offense:
The two gay hoteliers whose duplex on Central Park was the site of a small dinner this week with Senator Ted Cruz are facing boycott threats to their properties. Ian Reisner and Mati Weiderpass own the apartment where the gathering for Mr. Cruz, who has been vociferously opposed to same-sex marriage, was the featured attraction on Monday night. The event focused primarily on foreign policy, but the topic of same-sex marriage came up, and during his appearance Mr. Cruz called it an issue best left to the states...Both men, in an apparent effort to play down any outrage in the gay community, put out statements making clear they disagree with the Republican senator from Texas on gay rights. “I was given the opportunity to have a candid conversation with Senator Ted Cruz on where he stood on all issues, foreign and domestic,” Mr. Reisner said. “It was just three months ago that I hosted a ‘Ready for Hillary’ event for a record turnout of 900 people at the Out Hotel.” He added: “Senator Ted Cruz and I disagree strongly on the issue of gay marriage, but having an open dialogue with those who have differing political opinions is a part of what this country was founded on. My tireless support of the gay community and its causes worldwide hasn’t changed and will not change.” Mr. Weiderpass said: “People on both sides of the aisle need to be able to communicate with one another even when they ideologically disagree. I worked tirelessly for the repeal of ‘don’t ask, don’t tell’ as a member of the board of directors for the Servicemembers Legal Defense Network and needed to reach across the aisle to make that happen. The fact that Senator Cruz accepted the invitation to my home was a step in the right direction toward him having a better understanding of who I am and what I believe in.”
Hey guys, we're gay, we're longtime and generous supporters of gay rights, and we hosted a Hillary event recently -- but we also believe in open dialogue with people who hold differing opinions, because that's what America is all about. Not good enough. Breaking bread with Cruz is a sin, and the impure must be purged. Over to you, courageously anonymous organizer of the boycott campaign:
"Shut the place down." For tolerance. The boycott has resulted in the cancelation of a charity event to fight AIDS. Think about that. Because the owners of a venue had dinner with Ted Cruz, an AIDS charity axed an entire event in a fit of pique. Sorry, AIDS patients -- priorities are priorities. One of the hoteliers has now backed away from his initial, laudable defense of free inquiry and exchange, caving to pressure with an abject apology for a "terrible mistake." (2) A panel of bureaucrats has recommended a fine of $135,000 (!) against a Christian-owned bakery in Oregon for declining to bake a cake for a same-sex wedding. Here are the supposed damages claimed by the "victims:"
This is not satire, I'm afraid. When supporters raised more than $100,000 for the family-owned bakery, gay rights activists demanded that GoFundMe shut down the page because it "violated [the organization's] policy against raising money “in defense of formal charges of heinous crimes, including violent, hateful, or sexual acts.” Heinous crimes. GoFundMe, no doubt terrified of the Outrage Mafia, complied. Fundraising efforts have moved elsewhere. (3) The student government body at Johns Hopkins University struck a blow for progress, or whatever, by banning Chick-fil-A from campus. Keep in mind that the construction of a Chick-fil-A had not even been proposed, so this was a pre-emptive strike against hypothetical future "microaggressions:"
Johns Hopkins University has banned Chick-fil-A from its campus saying that the restaurant is a “microaggression” against its students. In an 18-8 vote, the Student Government Association at Johns Hopkins voted not to “support the proposal of a Chick-fil-A, in a current or future sense, particularly on any location that is central to student life.” The anti-Chick-fil-A bill listed seven main reasons why the restaurant should be banned from campus. The first is that “the Student Government Association of Johns Hopkins University aims to provide a safe, supportive environment for all university affiliates now and in the future.” The fourth is that “visiting prospective and current students, staff, faculty, and other visitors who are members of the LGBTQ+ community or are allies would be subjected to the microaggression of supporting current or future Chick-fil-A development plans.”
Lunacy. Because the ownership of a popular chicken joint disagrees with a prevailing political opinion on campus, the thought police have swooped in to ensure that the restaurant never be permitted to serve its food to students -- because the franchise's very existence could amount to a "microaggression" (a depressing term of art Mary Katharine and I tackle in our forthcoming book on exactly these sorts of matters) for the delicate sensibilities of passers-by. Because, apparently, college campuses have been remained as "safe spaces" in which nobody must ever be subjected to anything that might offend or disrupt or challenge. It's embarrassing. For those keeping track, Johns Hopkins' silencing brigade also "protected" graduates from listening to Ben Carson -- a black, world-renowned pediatric neurosurgeon -- because of his conservative worldview in 2013. (4) Elsewhere in Maryland, another institution is covering itself in glory, taking (later-reversed) totalitarian cues from their counterparts at the University of Michigan:
University of Maryland College Park student group pulled "American Sniper" from its spring movie lineup following complaints from a Muslim student group. The group, Student Entertainment Events, announced on its web site Wednesday that it had canceled the May showings of the film...SEE said it was contemplating "an event where students can engage in constructive and moderated dialogues about the controversial topics proposed in the film." "SEE supports freedom of expression and hopes to create space for the airing of opposing viewpoints and differing perceptions," the group wrote. "While not easy, we want to start having these hard conversations." More than 300 people signed a petition started by the Muslim Student Association that describes the film as "war propaganda guised as art reveals a not-so-discreet Islamaphobic, violent, and racist nationalist ideology." "This movie dehumanizes Muslim individuals, promotes the idea of senseless mass murder, and portrays negative and inaccurate stereotypes," the creators of the petition wrote. "This movie serves to do nothing but make a mockery out of such immense pain."
American Sniper celebrates the life of an American war hero. It's seen as an "Islamophobic" orgy of "racist nationalist ideology" by a tiny fraction of Americans, many of whom would rather call names than grapple with the alarming degree to which their religion is used to justify unspeakable barbarity. Rather than watch the film and make their case during the ensuing discussion period, they'd rather censor the film altogether. End of Discussion, and Mission Accomplished. This is the direction in which our country is headed. Free people must fight it.
Over the weekend Peter Schweizer, author of the new book Clinton Cash, sat down for a series of interviews about allegations Hillary Clinton traded political favors for donations and expensive speaking fees during her time as Secretary of State.
In an interview with ABC's George Stephanopoulos, who used to work inside the Bill Clinton White House and who regularly speaks to Rahm Emanuel and James Carville about strategy, Schweizer cited former Virginia Governor Bob McDonnell and New Jersey Senator Bob Menendez as doing similar things to the Clintons and faced prosecution.
"When you ever have an issue of the flow of funds to political candidates, whether that's to their campaigns, whether that's to private foundations, whether that's to their spouse, is there evidence of a pattern of favorable decisions being made by those individuals and I think the point that we make in the book is that there is a troubling pattern. There are dozens of examples of that occurring. Some people, I think in particular the Clinton camp, might say these are all coincidence. I don't think when you're talking about 12 instances you're talking coincidence, I think you're talking trend," Schweizer said. "If you look at a couple of recent examples, for example Governor McDonnell down in Virginia or you look at Senator Menendez, in these cases you didn't have evidence of a quid pro quo, what you had was funds flowing to elected officials, some of them gifts, some of them campaign contributions, and actions that were being taken by those public officials that seemed to benefit the contributors. Certainly I think it [Clintons] warrants investigation...The evidence here is far more wide spread in terms of repeated action."
Naturally Stephanopoulos, a strong Clinton ally, said ABC News hasn't found any "direct" proof to show Clinton traded political favor for donations. It's too bad Clinton erased 50,000 emails from her personal server.
Schweizer also sat down on Fox News Sunday to talk about the book.
This isn't over.
Ivanpah is a $2.2 billion dollar solar energy projected aimed at powering up to 140,000 homes for twice the electrical cost. It also killed 3,500 birds in the first year of its operation (the Desert Sun):
More than 3,500 birds died during the 377-megawatt Ivanpah solar project’s first year of operation, a new report estimates.
Bird deaths were known at the “power tower” project, which is located in San Bernardino County off Interstate 15 just southwest of the Nevada border. But how many was unclear. Even at the 3,504 estimate, the report considers the deaths a “minimal proportion of local, regional, or national populations” of birds.
Ivanpah, the world’s largest concentrated solar project, uses thousands of mirrors that direct sunlight at boilers on top of three 459-foot tall towers, heating a liquid to create steam used to run a turbine. Carlsbad-based NRG Energy operates the Ivanpah project, which it co-owns with Google and Oakland-based BrightSource Energy.
The U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service previously called Ivanpah — the world’s largest concentrated solar project — a “mega-trap” for birds and insects, although the exact number of deaths has been a subject of fiery debate.
An executive with Abengoa–one of the project’s developers–said the bid death problem is “solvable.”
Birds are killed when they fly through the towers, which can reach 1,000 degrees Fahrenheit, according to a Wall Street Journal article published in February of 2014. At the time, the publication noted that regulators knew some birds would die, but didn’t expect the dozens of avian deaths during the project’s construction and testing phase. They’re reaching the conclusion of their two-year study on the solar farm’s effects on birds.
Nevertheless, this isn’t an isolated incident. A solar panel farm in Nevada was frying birds flying through the facility. In one test, engineers and biologists noticed trails of smoke emanating from burning birds.
Today, Maura Pally, the acting CEO of the Clinton Foundation, released this blog post addressing some of the concerns raised by the media regarding the foundations donors, donations, and tax returns. Of course, the gist of the post revolved around the good work the foundation is doing worldwide; how they’ve gone “above and beyond” what normal non-profits do regarding transparency; and noted how “donor disclosure and foreign government contributor policy is stronger than ever.” As for Clinton Giustra Enterprise Partnership, which is based in Canada, those individual donors aren’t listed since Canadian law prohibits such disclosure without express permission from each donor (via Clinton Foundation):
I also want to address questions regarding our 990 tax forms. We have said that after a voluntary external review is completed we will likely refile forms for some years. While some have suggested that this indicates a failure to accurately report our total revenue, that is not the case. Our total revenue was accurately reported on each year's form – our error was that government grants were mistakenly combined with other donations. Those same grants have always been properly listed and broken out and available for anyone to see on our audited financial statements, posted on our website.
So yes, we made mistakes, as many organizations of our size do, but we are acting quickly to remedy them, and have taken steps to ensure they don't happen in the future. We are committed to operating the Foundation responsibly and effectively to continue the life-changing work that this philanthropy is doing every day. I encourage you to read more about that good work at www.clintonfoundation.org.
To recap, The New York Times reported on a controversial energy deal regarding a Russian state-owned corporation taking over a Canadian mining company–Uranium One–which was responsible for 20 percent of uranium production in the United States. The deal had to be approved by the Committee On Foreign Investment since uranium is part of America’s national security interest; the State Department was one of the principal actors on the committee. The deal was approved, but not after interests with ties to the deal poured cash into the Clinton Foundation. During this period, Mr. Clinton received a $500,000 speaking fee from a Russian bank involved in the deal. Also, the donors who made these contributions were not disclosed, despite an agreement with the Obama White House to do so.
This image courtesy of The New York Times.
As for the Clinton Foundation’s tax returns, they were a bit off (via Reuters):
For three years in a row beginning in 2010, the Clinton Foundation reported to the IRS that it received zero in funds from foreign and U.S. governments, a dramatic fall-off from the tens of millions of dollars in foreign government contributions reported in preceding years. Those entries were errors, according to the foundation: several foreign governments continued to give tens of millions of dollars toward the foundation's work on climate change and economic development through this three-year period.
With Clinton’s approval numbers falling, and her rather poor numbers regarding trustworthiness, Pally’s letter “jumps on the grenade,” as the Washington Post’s Philip Bump wrote–and tries to divert some of the attention away from the Clintons by saying the tax return foul-up was on the foundation:
First, she needed to respond in order to clear any clouds hanging over the foundation itself. And, second, better that the foundation own the mistakes than that they be Hillary Clinton's.
Which isn't to imply that Clinton's campaign asked Pelly to write the note; it's not clear that it did. But there's no doubt that Clinton's (still very young) presidential campaign would like to keep the foundation's problems within the foundation's orbit, even as they expand outward -- and even as Clinton's trustworthiness sinks.
This week, Quinnipiac University released poll numbers showing that more than half of Americans don't consider Clinton to be trustworthy. There's a big partisan split, as you'd expect, but more than 60 percent of independent voters held that view. So too did more than half of women.
Pelly's letter hopes to dissipate some of the smoke that implies there's a metaphorical fire burning under these stories. Voters probably aren't paying much attention now, and we'll have to wait to see if other stories emerge or if these ones -- neither of which proves any improper activity on Clinton's part -- have traction. The candidate's problem is that it reinforces a perception problem that the Quinnipiac polling makes clear.
She'd probably welcome a shift that resulted in people thinking that only the foundation had made big mistakes.
We shall see if this puts out any fires, but there will probably be more stories regarding Hillary, Bill, and the Clinton Foundation that will raise the same ethical questions. We shouldn’t be shocked if more comes down the pipeline on this matter.
As expected, the president spoke to Washington's rich and famous for some 22 minutes, chiding and criticizing himself as well as politicians (and celebrities) from both political parties. Truth be told, his gags were remarkably bipartisan. Not even Hillary Clinton escaped the night unscathed.
The following, therefore, are five jokes I found particularly funny—and perhaps you will too:
1). “Being president is never easy. I still have to fix a broken education system, issue veto threats, negotiate with Iran, all while finding time to pray five times a day.”
2). “I’m so old John Boehner has already invited Netanyahu to speak at my funeral.”
3). “Let’s face it, there is one issue on every reporter’s mind, and that’s 2016. Already we’ve seen some missteps. Turns out Jeb Bush identified himself as Hispanic back in 2009. Look, I understand. It’s an innocent mistake. Reminds me of the time I identified myself as American back in 1961.”
4). “Hillary kicked things off by going completely unrecognized at a Chipotle. Not to be outdone, Martin O’Malley kicked things off by going completely unrecognized at a Martin O’Malley campaign event.”
5). “And Bernie Sanders might run. I like Bernie. Bernie’s an interesting guy. Apparently some folks want to see a pot-smoking socialist in the White House. We could get a third Obama term after all!”
That last one, of course, drew thunderous applause. Watch the full clip below:
After a week where some much-needed sunlight was shone on Hillary’s foreign cash and tax scandals, she capped it off by actually being honest about something herself.
Speaking at the Women in the World summit, Hillary explained how she believes access to abortion will open up: by
fundamentally transforming changing religious beliefs and cultural norms.
“Far too many women are denied access to reproductive health care and safe childbirth, and laws don’t count for much if they’re not enforced. Rights have to exist in practice — not just on paper,” she said.
“Laws have to be backed up with resources and political will,” she continued. “And deep-seated cultural codes, religious beliefs and structural biases have to be changed. As I have said and as I believe, the advancement of the full participation of women and girls in every aspect of their societies is the great unfinished business of the 21st century and not just for women but for everyone — and not just in far away countries but right here in the United States.”
As Matt Lewis aptly notes: “Regardless of how one feels about gay rights or the abortion debate, it is interesting that liberals are finally getting around to openly confessing something all of us sort of know — yet few will say out loud: Achieving a liberal social agenda will necessarily require first extirpating many “deep-seated” Christian values and tenets.”
Whether this becomes Hillary’s ‘clinging to gun and religion’ moment remains to be seen.
Well, it’s Sunday and the news is slow, so I figured I'd post this video, which is both heartwarming and kind of amazing—a gesture that may or may not make you weepy.
Richard Smith, as he remembers, was not given the warm welcome US veterans of foreign wars deserve when he arrived home from the war in Vietnam. Many in his generation, after all, were spit on, sneered at, and even accused of war crimes—although he makes no mention of these things actually happening to him. Nevertheless, when he found a small note inside the handle of his parked car (which, understandably, he assumed was an unwelcome missive informing him that his vehicle had been accidentally damaged) he was pleasantly surprised by its contents.
The note, which I first came across browsing Red Alert Politics, reads as follows:
“I thank you so much for fighting for our country. The dedication of your life will always, forever be appreciated. So much love to you. Have a beautiful, peaceful happy day and life, God bless.”
Well said. Watch the full clip below (via WPTM West Palm Beach):
MRCTV’s Dan Joseph had a little thought experiment this week. He ventured onto the campus of the University of Maryland to ask students if they recognized one of the best presidents to ever occupy the Oval Office–Ronald Reagan.
With a paddle covered with Reagan pictures, Joseph found students who had no clue who our 40th president was–one student said the picture on the paddle was “George Bush.” Other guesses were “a country singer, John Wayne, Kenny Rogers, and Bush’s dad.”
Should Joseph do similar experiments by showing folks pictures of Presidents Kennedy, Clinton, or Lincoln?
Former Olympic athlete and current reality TV star Bruce Jenner admitted in an interview with Diane Sawyer last night that he is transgender and is in the process of transitioning to become a female. While this had been long speculated, Jenner also revealed another, perhaps more-shocking facet of his life: he's a conservative Republican.
When Sawyer asked if Jenner cheered when Obama became the first president to even say the word “transgender” in a State of the Union address, the 65-year-old replied that he “would certainly give him credit for that.”
“But not to get political,” Jenner continued, “I’ve never been a big fan, I’m kind of more on the conservative side.”
“Are your a Republican?” Sawyer asked in response, to which Jenner replied, “Yeah! Is that a bad thing? I believe in the constitution.”
“Do you think that would be an unsettling thing for some people in the conservative wing of the party?” Sawyer asked.
“I’ve thought about that,” says Jenner, adding that neither political party has a monopoly on understanding.
Twitter reacted accordingly:
#BruceJenner just came out... as a Republican! Now THAT's shocking!!!!!!!!— Perez Hilton (@PerezHilton) April 25, 2015
Wonder if left will commit seppuku over Jenner being a republican or will they be open minded and accept?— Dana Loesch (@DLoesch) April 25, 2015
Major revelation by #BRUCEJENNER 2nite & tho I don't approve, I respect him 4 finally coming out as a republican— Sarah Silverman (@SarahKSilverman) April 25, 2015
Love it! Jenner came out as a conservative! #BruceJennerABC— Jimmy LaSalvia (@JimmyLaSalvia) April 25, 2015
Bruce Jenner wants to become a woman and people are freaking out that he's a republican...#BruceJennerABC— Nati Aguilar (@ItsNatiAguilar) April 25, 2015
Thanks to Bruce Jenner millions of Americans can finally feel what it's like to know a Republican who lives in California.— LOLGOP (@LOLGOP) April 25, 2015
I got the gender choice- but the republican thing ?? Lol #BruceJenner abc— Lea Black (@LeaBlackMiami) April 25, 2015
All the fans Bruce Jenner just gained the past hour and a half he just lost once he said he's Republican lol— D.Rose (@Bcuzican_) April 25, 2015
Not confused that Bruce Jenner is trans. Is confused that Bruce Jenner is a Republican.— Olivia Deibler (@ohdeib) April 25, 2015
Jenner said that while this will be his last interview as "Bruce," he will not reveal his new name just yet.
The scandal at the Office of Veterans Affairs last year proved that our veterans were being shamelessly ill-treated. Among other atrocities, our former soldiers were forced to wait months to be seen by doctors and, once they were finally admitted, were often treated in unsanitary and dangerous conditions. Politicians demanded change and accountability. VA Secretary Eric Shinseki resigned. Yet, months later, new internal documents prove that the mess is hardly cleaned up at all.
The documents given this month to the House Committee on Veterans Affairs, which provided them to The New York Times, show that the department punished a total of eight of its 280,000 employees for involvement in the scandal. One was fired, one retired in lieu of termination, one’s termination is pending, and five were reprimanded or suspended for up to two months.
That means only three people have actually been fired from their positions. Three.
Oh, and the only person actually fired, Sharon Helman, the director of the Phoenix VA hospital was not fired because of her role in the scandal, but because she had accepted “inappropriate gifts,” according to the New York Times.
The Phoenix VA hospital was especially toxic. It’s reported that dozens of patients may have died awaiting care.
Former Texas Governor Rick Perry was stunned at the government's inaction.
“It is outrageous that the Obama administration has not held people accountable for manipulating wait times in VA hospitals after promising to take action against those implicated in the scandal,” said Perry.
Our vets gave their all for us, they deserve to be first in line for the best health care we have to offer. Former Governor Sarah Palin gave an important speech about our vulnerable veterans and their needs at this year’s CPAC. She felt the need to speak for them, because our humble vets are unlikely to ask for anything themselves.
"The reason you don't hear about these scandals, is because our vets don't complain."
Our veterans are too important to be sidelined. It’s time to remove anyone from the VA who believes or acts otherwise.
To get you up to speed, read Guy’s eye-opening and glass-shattering post published earlier this week. In it, he explains how a “very serious series of facts,” as Gov. Mitt Romney phrased it in his exclusive interview with Salem radio host Hugh Hewitt, is raising unsettling questions about an alleged quid pro quo agreement between the Clintons and the Russians.
Weighing in, the former Republican presidential nominee stated flatly that the scandal is very “troubling” to him – and has “every earmark of bribery.”
HH: Pleased to welcome back to the program former Massachusetts Governor and 2012 Republican nominee for president, Mitt Romney. Governor Romney, always a pleasure, welcome back.
MR: Thank you. It’s good to be with you, Hugh.
HH: Governor Romney, I know you’ve had a chance to read, I assume you’ve had a chance to read the Jo Becker/Mike McIntire New York Times piece today about the cash flowing into the Clinton Foundation from the Russians as they got control of Uranium One. What’s your reaction to this story?
MR: You know, I’ve got to tell you, I was stunned by it. I mean, it looks like bribery. I mean, there is every appearance that Hillary Clinton was bribed to grease the sale of, what, 20% of America’s uranium production to Russia, and then it was covered up by lying about a meeting at her home with the principals, and by erasing emails. And you know, I presume we might know for sure whether there was or was not bribery if she hadn’t wiped out thousands of emails. But this is a very, very serious series of facts, and it looks like bribery.
HH: I just asked Senator Lindsey Graham last hour if they would hold hearings into the donors to the Clinton Family Foundation, because if the Russians can give them that much money, is it possible the Iranians have as well, Governor Romney?
MR: Well, we don’t know who gave money, and the IRS apparently is making it known that the filings of the Clinton Foundation did not include the fact that foreign governments were making contributions. And they had misstated their filings over the past several years. This is obviously a very troubling setting. But even what we do know, based on what was written by the New York Times, and is being reported by Fox and others, it has every earmark of bribery. And this is from the office of Secretary of State. This is a very troubling set of facts, and clearly, there’s got to be some kind of investigation to find out what the truth is here, because around the world, people are going to look at Hillary Clinton, a potential candidate for president, a former Secretary of State, and say gosh, is this a person who could be trusted? And I think the American people are asking that question as well.
Indeed they are. A new poll finds that 54 percent of Americans do not believe Hillary Clinton is “honest and trustworthy.” So perhaps we can all agree this scandal isn't going to do her any favors.
Read the full transcript of the interview here.
Earlier this week, Team Clinton found itself besieged by continued questions over foreign donations to the family’s non-profit. Such inquires have lingered since the winter when it was discovered that the Clinton Foundation accepted a donation from the Algerian government when Hillary was Secretary of State, which appeared to have violated an ethics agreement with the Obama White House. Speculation intensified when Reuters reported that the Clintons haven’t disclosed their donors since 2010, despite a 2008 promise Hillary made in a move to be more transparent. Now, we have cash flowing into the Clinton Foundation from the family foundation of the chairman of Uranium One, who was in the middle of securing a deal with Rosatom, a state-owned Russian energy corporation. Bill Clinton would then receive a $500,000 speaking fee from a bank with connections to this deal. Uranium One was a mining company that was responsible for 20% of the United States’ uranium production. Despite an agreement with the Obama administration, the names of the donors who made these contributions were not disclosed, and the review of this deal by the Committee on Foreign Investment in the United States, who “are charged with reviewing any deal that could result in foreign control of an American business or asset deemed important to national security,” according to the Times–was met with approval. All of this, just prior to Clinton’s exit as Secretary of State–the State Department was a principal actor on the committee.
As a result, the editorial boards are showing the former first lady no love. The New York Times demanded she disclose all the Foundation’s donations and donors, while chastising her for breaking her pledge regarding disclosing such donors when she became Secretary of State:
The increasing scrutiny of the foundation has raised several points that need to be addressed by Mrs. Clinton and the former president. These relate most importantly to the flow of multimillions in donations from foreigners and others to the foundation, how Mrs. Clinton dealt with potential conflicts as secretary of state and how she intends to guard against such conflicts should she win the White House.
The only plausible answer is full and complete disclosure of all sources of money going to the foundation. And the foundation needs to reinstate the ban on donations from foreign governments for the rest of her campaign — the same prohibition that was in place when she was in the Obama administration.
The donations, which included $2.35 million from a principal in the deal, were not publicly disclosed by the foundation, even though Mrs. Clinton had signed an agreement with the Obama administration requiring the foundation to disclose all donors as a condition of her becoming secretary of state. This failure is an inexcusable violation of her pledge. The donations were discovered through Canadian tax records by Times reporters. Media scrutiny is continuing, with Reuters reporting that the foundation is refiling some returns found to be erroneous.
There is no indication that Mrs. Clinton played a role in the uranium deal’s eventual approval by a cabinet-level committee. But the foundation’s role in the lives of the Clintons is inevitably becoming a subject of political concern.
It’s an axiom in politics that money always creates important friendships, influence and special consideration. Wise politicians recognize this danger and work to keep it at bay. When she announced her candidacy, Mrs. Clinton resigned from the foundation board (Bill Clinton remains on the board). This was followed by the announcement of tighter foundation restrictions on donations from foreign countries, which had resumed after she left the State Department.
These half steps show that candidate Clinton is aware of the complications she and Bill Clinton have created for themselves. She needs to do a lot more, because this problem is not going away.
The Wall Street Journal said this was nothing short of “graft.”
We’re not the first to make the comparison, but Bill and Hillary Clinton’s adventures in the uranium trade recall nothing as much as Tammany Hall’s concept of “honest graft.” Except maybe their never-ending use of power and status for personal and political gain requires a new special terminology. Dishonest graft?
The New York Times reported Thursday on the foreign cash that flowed into the Clinton Foundation between 2009 and 2013 as subsidiaries of the Russian state nuclear energy agency Rosatom acquired control of a Canada-based mining company called Uranium One. The story features the familiar Clinton touches: lucrative Kazakh mining concessions for the tycoon Frank Giustra, with Bill along as a character reference; a half-million-dollar-a-pop speech by the former President in Moscow for a Kremlin-linked bank; $2.35 million in secret donations from one family foundation to another.
All the while, Mrs. Clinton was serving in her capacity as Secretary of State on the U.S. Cabinet committee that screens foreign investment for national-security risks. The group approved the deal, despite critics who warned it would give the Russian government control over the world’s nuclear fuel—the same material Vladimir Putin is now selling to Iran. Oh, and don’t forget this was also amid the famous “reset” of relations with Mr. Putin.
Oh, and here’s the New York Post:
Thursday was a banner day in the unfolding scandal of the Clinton Foundation.
We learned that a Russian government-controlled company has taken control of one-fifth of all uranium producing capacity in the US by acquiring a Canadian firm whose chairman, Frank Giustra, has pledged over $130 million to the foundation.
Bill Clinton also got $500,000 in speaking fees from a Russian bank that had been promoting the Canadian firm’s stock. And Hillary’s State Department signed off on the acquisition, which has serious national-security implications.
Giustra also reaped huge profits when Hillary reversed her earlier “clear and firm” opposition to a trade deal with Colombia.
Her ex-president hubby, meanwhile, actively promoted the agreement the same month he accepted $800,000 for speeches, delivered after flying on Giustra’s private jet, to a pro-agreement group.
Bill also hosted a meeting in his home to introduce Colombian President Alvaro Uribe to Giustra, then eyeing Colombian oil contracts.
Meanwhile, the Clinton Foundation is now hurriedly re-filing five years worth of tax returns that somehow failed to list any of the millions it received in foreign donations. And Bill and Hillary’s family charity only acted after journalists uncovered the discrepancy.
The Clinton camp is trying to frame this as a right-wing hit job, while their supporters have seemingly begun to smear the author of the upcoming book on the Clinton Foundation’s dealings–Peter Schweizer–on the airwaves. The problem: it’s not going to work. Mainstream news outlets have begun investigating the claims made in Schweizer’s book, and it’s a fact that these news outlets– Reuters, Bloomberg, The New York Times, Politico, and The Washington Post– are not part of this “right wing” conspiracy against the Clintons. To say otherwise, is desperate and a bit nutty.
Flashback: That time Hillary said then-Sen. Obama had some questions to answer about his alleged backroom deals with a nuclear power company–Exelon–who were also one of his biggest donors. Oh, and she's Mrs. Transparency.
A few notes on the latest Fox News poll:
(1) President Obama's job approval rating has slipped to (42/53), sliding six net points since last month. He's underwater on all four big issues, and down double digits on three:
(2) His low marks on Iran stem from deep mistrust of that country's leadership. By a 36-point margin, Americans say the regime poses a threat to US national security, with a 51 percent majority saying that the Obama administration has been "too soft" with Tehran. Just two percent say Obama's posture has been "too hard," with one-third of respondents approving of the "balance." Multiple polls show public support for engaging in negotiations with Iran (though suspicion of the regime remains sky high -- and rightly so), but Fox words the question slightly differently, producing a noticeably different result:
(3) On the 2016 race, Fox's numbers are strikingly similar to the fresh Quinnipiac data we examined earlier in the week. Hillary has some significant image problems (a majority calls her untrustworthy), but holds modest leads over potential GOP rivals (between three and six points; hovering around 46 percent support). It also confirms the Rubio bounce:
Florida Sen. Marco Rubio receives a five percentage-point bump after his April 13 announcement and has the backing of 13 percent in the race for the Republican nomination -- just a touch over Wisconsin Gov. Scott Walker who gets 12 percent among self-identified GOP primary voters. Kentucky Sen. Rand Paul comes in at 10 percent, former Florida Gov. Jeb Bush and former Arkansas Gov. Mike Huckabee earn 9 percent each and Texas Sen. Ted Cruz gets 8 percent.
Rubio is seen as honest (+13), and a leader of the "future" vs. the "past" (+29). Clinton is (-6) and (+2) on those measures, respectively. Fox's write-up also features this nugget, which may be ominous for Jeb Bush: "The Bush dynasty is seen as a negative while the Clinton dynasty is a positive. By a 58-34 percent margin, voters say being related to previous presidents is a disadvantage for Jeb Bush, yet by a 52-39 percent margin they think it’s an advantage for Hillary Clinton." I'll leave you with Hillary Clinton lamenting that America's pro-life culture stems from deep seated" religious beliefs that "have to be changed:"
Democratic presidential candidate Hillary Clinton on Thursday said "deep-seated … religious beliefs" have to be changed before the world's women will get full access to abortion. “Far too many women are still denied critical access to reproductive health care and safe childbirth. All the laws we've passed don’t count for much if they’re not enforced,” Clinton said. “Rights have to exist in practice — not just on paper,” Clinton argued. “Laws have to be backed up with resources and political will." “And deep-seated cultural codes, religious beliefs and structural biases have to be changed,” Clinton added.
Although it's true that much of the moral opposition to abortion is rooted in faith (a great many of our societal norms and mores are derived from the Judeo-Christian tradition), Hillary ignores the numerous scientific, ethical and logical reasons to support the pro-life cause. She also breezily calls for the extirpation of deep-seated values in order to achieve political ends -- a phenomenon with which she is intimately familiar (minus the authentically "deep-seated" bit).
The Friday Filibuster: The one-stop-shop for everything you need to know about this week in politics.
91%—The chance Sen. Lindsey Graham will run for president.
49%-43%--Rubio takes the lead in Florida over Hillary Clinton.
99-0—Senate finally passes anti-sex trafficking bill.
37.5% of respondents in a HotAir poll said they’d vote for Ted Cruz if the Republican primary were held today—beating out all the other declared candidates.
34% of respondents in a YouGov poll believe it’s “totally unacceptable” for a candidate to oppose same-sex marriage.
95,727 kids prove there is no link between MMR vaccine and autism.
100,000—The amount former CIA Director David Petraeus was fined for military leaks.
15% of Republican primary voters in a Q-poll chose Marco Rubio over other candidates.
56-43—The yea and nay votes, respectively, for Loretta Lynch’s confirmation.
Terror, Global Security & Foreign Affairs
The Islamic State continues to slaughter innocent Christians, again in Libya. And it’s starting to look like they might be in Afghanistan, too. The fact that its leader, Abu Bakr al-Baghdadi, has been gravely injured is clearly not slowing them down. CBS returned to the 2013 Sarin gas attack in Syria this week, reminding viewers that no one has been held accountable for the attack, which killed more than 1,400 people. And Egypt’s deposed president Mohamed Morsi has finally been sentenced to two decades in prison for his involvement in criminal acts of violence and torture during his time in office. And Iran, meanwhile, is obstinate that they’re not going to allow inspections at military sites. Oh, and the White House isn't going to require Iran release American hostages as part of nuclear deal.
HRC: Bought and Paid For?
Will Hillary’s campaign turn out to be a house of cards? After events that unfolded this week, it may be. First up, Peter Schweizer’s new book, “Clinton Cash: The Untold Story of How and Why Foreign Governments and Businesses Helped Make Bill and Hillary Rich” shines much-needed sunlight on their shady dealings. It also appears the Foundation’s largest donor has been trading with Iran, which may be a breach of U.S. sanctions on the country. To make matters worse for her, the NYT and Reuters jumped on the bandwagon with regard to exposing more foreign cash and tax scandals. Team Hillary is in damage control mode, sending former Obama WH adviser John Podesta to her defense and claiming critics can't prove corruption with a 'shred' of evidence. They’re also gearing up to smear the author of the book. The Times is actually calling Team Hillary out for their ‘misdirection and obfuscation’ surrounding the money scandal. The White House, meanwhile, continues to stand by her side. And back to Email-gate, Trey Gowdy still wants her in the hot seat.
Campaigns & Elections
Carly Fiorina will formally enter the presidential race on May 4; rapper Waka Flocka claims he is also entering the race (impossible); and Sen. Manchin says he’s running for re-election, not governor of West Virginia. Sen. Marco Rubio answers Google questions in a new campaign video, and Sen. Lindsey Graham, who’s 91 percent sure he’s running for president, took a knock at Sen. Rand Paul for being ‘behind’ Obama and Clinton on foreign policy. And the Koch brothers have not endorsed Gov. Walker yet, but they’re giving Jeb an ‘audition’—they also said they may back several candidates in the primaries. And for the latest on polling, don’t forget to check out the Closing Numbers section at the top.
It was Earth Day this week. Global warming fanatic Bill Nye celebrated with fossil fuel powered flights on Air Force One. And as a reminder, the co-founder of Earth Day killed and composted his girlfriend.
In other news
The head of the DEA is set to resign after a Justice Department OIG report revealed that several agents had engaged in ‘sex parties’ with prostitutes paid for by Colombian drug cartels; more MSNBC hosts have been slapped with tax warrants; and two hostages were killed in a US counterterrorism operation.
Graphics by Townhall Graphic Designer Feven Amenu.
As Chris Cillizza of the Washington Post wrote, we’ve seen the confirmation of Loretta Lynch (we’re not discussing whether it was a good or bad thing), the passage of a Medicare doc fix, a human trafficking bill, and fast-track authority on the Trans-Pacific trade deal, which has President Obama fighting among his fellow Democrats.
Congress is working somewhat again–and the reason seems to be because Harry Reid was toppled as Senate Majority Leader or at least that’s what Republicans on Capitol Hill told Cillizza:
I also asked a handful of longtime Republican congressional hands to explain the sudden unfreezing. The name that kept coming up in those conversations was Sen. Harry Reid (D-Nev.).
"I think there was a significant pent-up desire on both sides to return to legislating," said Billy Piper, a former top aide to Sen. Mitch McConnell and now a GOP lobbyist. "These guys don't work so hard to win elections to just come up here and be potted plants. They want to accomplish things, and the last several years they have been prevented by Leader Reid from even trying."
Added another smart Republican mind: "Following the collapse of the Grand Bargain talks in the summer of 2011, Reid essentially shut down the Senate (presumably at President Obama’s request) until after the presidential election. . . . Now, McConnell is making the Senate work again, and President Obama (in the final quarter of his presidency) would like some sort of second-term legacy. So things are moving."
It's not just Republicans who are blaming Reid. Sen. Joe Manchin (D-W.Va.), who announced this week that he will seek reelection in 2016 rather than run for governor, took a shot at Reid's tenure as leader, too. “His leadership and the things he thought would work did not," Manchin said on "Morning Joe." "So with that, you just move on.”
For the record, not all Democrats -- or even most -- blame Reid. Democrats generally insist that the reason things have begun to work better is because their side isn't willing to block legislation the same way Republicans did when they served in the Senate minority.
My sense is that it's a combination of these factors. Yes, it is true that McConnell has opened up the amendment process in the Senate, allowing more voices to be heard and members -- Republicans and Democrats -- to feel as though they are a bigger part of the process.
Vox’s Jonathan Allen, formerly of Bloomberg, wrote that there could be a “bipartisan consensus” on reauthorizing No Child Left Behind and a bill that taxes foreign earnings of corporations to finance a new infrastructure bill. Yet, Allen also noted that the thaw in the Senate since Reid was booted from the Majority Leader slot:
The biggest change is in the Senate, where McConnell's intransigence and Harry Reid’s hammerlock on the floor schedule over the past four years frustrated lawmakers in both parties. Reid didn't want Republicans to force Democrats into tough votes before the last election. The amendment process was cut off. Nothing moved. Now McConnell has opened up the floor, and that’s encouraging Republicans and Democrats to cobble together coalitions both in committee and on floor amendments.
"One of the side benefits of all the floor time is that members have more time to talk while they’re down there, and so things just start happening," said a senior GOP aide. "Budget votes ran into 4 am a few Thursdays back. McConnell fed both sides and their staffs out of his office. Stuff like that just leads to more things happening legislatively."
Yet, this can always change in a heartbeat. Case in point, the overwhelmingly bipartisan human trafficking bill that just passed hit a nasty partisan bump when Democrats pathetically tried to accuse Republicans of sneaking in Hyde Amendment language. This led to Republicans tying the passage of the trafficking bill to the Loretta Lynch Attorney General confirmation vote. Now, both cases have been resolved, but it gridlock could happen again.
At the same time, gridlock isn’t universally bad. As George Will has said repeatedly, gridlock isn’t an American problem; gridlock is an American achievement” to which he then lists the mechanisms of government (veto, veto override, supermajorities, and judicial review) that are meant to slow the pace of government.
Yet, I think we can all agree that Harry Reid not being Senate Majority Leader is quite refreshing.