Sarah Jean Seman - VIDEO: What Politician Would You Grab a Drink With?
Posted: 3/5/2015 9:31:00 PM EST

Here's a fun one. This year at the Conservative Political Action Conference (which is known for having a robust night life), we asked Millennials what politician they would want to grab a drink with. 

Spoiler: not one person said Hillary Clinton. 

Matt Vespa - California Had A Record Year In Handgun Sales
Posted: 3/5/2015 9:15:00 PM EST

Despite being a bastion of unrestrained progressivism, Californians bought a lot of handguns in 2014. It was a record year, smashing the previous one set in 1993 when the country was experiencing high rates of crime. Like the national data on the subject, firearm-related homicides has fallen to record lows in the Golden State (via Sacramento Bee):

Dealers sold more than 510,000 handguns in California during 2014, more than double the number sold four years prior, according to new figures from the state Department of Justice.

Handgun sales in 2014 set a new California record, far outpacing the prior high of 433,000 handguns sold in 1993, around when violent crime peaked in the state.

Long gun sales slipped by 120,000 from 2013 to 2014. The 418,000 long guns sales in 2014 represent the third highest number on record, trailing behind 2012 and 2013.

Gun sales have increased dramatically nationwide and in California during the last few years following calls for more gun control in response to several mass shootings.

The rate of California homicides involving firearms continues to fall and is now at its lowest level in more than 20 years, state health figures show. Accidental deaths involving guns have also fallen.

That’s excellent news. Now, if only California became a “shall issue” concealed carry state that truly recognizes a citizens’ right to bear arms outside the home without being turned down for arbitrary reasons a la Maryland, then we’ll be talking. It’s moving in that direction. The Ninth Circuit Court of Appeals struck down the burdensome regulations in their concealed carry law as unconstitutional. A federal judge in the state also struck down the state’s 10-day waiting period as unconstitutional.

Cortney O'Brien - Sen. Sullivan Grills EPA Chief Over Offensive Comments About Alaskan Native Gifts
Posted: 3/5/2015 8:00:00 PM EST

Gina McCarthy, administrator for the Environmental Protection Agency, overstayed her welcome in Alaska last year. When Alaskan native tribes honored the EPA worker with gifts, she returned the favor by telling the Wall Street Journal she threw one of the “f-ing things away” and that the moose meat she was given could “gag a maggot.”

During Wednesday’s Environment and Public Works Committee, Sen. Dan Sullivan (R-AK) grilled McCarthy about her ‘disturbing’ comments that were featured in the largely positive Wall Street Journal profile.

“A lot of people saw that as a glowing article,” he said. “Most people in Alaska saw it as an incredible disrespect to the people of my state.”

Sullivan then offered McCarthy the opportunity to apologize for her insensitive comments. She did so, yet also insisted her words were ‘taken out of context.’

"I'm happy to apologize for those remarks,” she said. “I will tell you they were taken out of context, but it doesn't matter because they hurt individuals and tribes that I care about."

Sullivan nodded and agreed that her words had wounded the people of Alaska, but readily accepted her apology. 

During the hearing, the senator also chided McCarthy and her agency for not being accountable to the people they are supposed to serve and ‘rushing’ out rules without pausing to consider their legality. Watch the entire exchange below:

Leah Barkoukis - Flashback: HRC Slams Bush Administration For Using Secret Email Accounts
Posted: 3/5/2015 7:00:00 PM EST

This day just keeps getting worse and worse for HRC. Video footage from 2007 has surfaced of Clinton slamming the Bush administration for none other than…you guessed it, having secret email accounts.

“You know our Constitution is being shredded,” she said. “We know about the secret wiretaps, about the secret military tribunals, the secret White House email accounts.”

This revelation comes after equally hypocritical news came out today about how Clinton’s State Department forced the resignation of the U.S. Ambassador to Kenya in part for setting up a private email system for his office.

H/T: The Gateway Pundit

Matt Vespa - Walker PAC Welcomes Top Iowa GOP Officials On Their Leadership Board
Posted: 3/5/2015 6:15:00 PM EST

More 2016 grumblings: Wisconsin Gov. Scott Walker’s PAC, Our American Revival, announced today that they nabbed two top GOP officials from Iowa, Chad Airhart and Jarret Heil, to serve on the leadership board.

Via their press release:

Dallas County Recorder Chad Airhart and Marshall County Treasurer Jarret Heil joined the Iowa leadership team of Our American Revival, an organization tasked with developing an issues platform based on Governor Scott Walker’s brand of big, bold reforms.

Airhart, a Waukee Republican serving his second term, is the chairman of the Iowa Republican County Officials Association. Heil, a Marshalltown Republican elected to his second term last year, is IRCOA's co-chairman. Past leaders of IRCOA, which represents approximately 550 officials statewide, include Lt. Gov. Kim Reynolds and State Auditor Mary Mosiman.

"Chad Airhart and Jarret Heil are respected government officials and party activists who've accomplished so much on behalf of their local communities in such a short amount of time," Walker said. "They've been elected to leadership positions by their peers because they're committed to delivering efficient, effective services at the most local level of representative government."

On Feb. 1, Heil, 34, also assumed responsibilities as Marshall County auditor and recorder after the board of supervisors appointed him to fill the positions on an acting basis. He is believed to be the first Iowa official to assume simultaneous responsibilities for all three positions.

Airhart, 37, serves one of the fastest-growing counties in the United States. During his first term, the Dallas County Recorder’s Office returned more than $1.15 million in the form of a surplus to the county general fund, alleviating the need for additional property tax dollars.

Airhart and Heil were both drawn to Our American Revival by Walker's leadership as Wisconsin's chief executive and his experience as a former Milwaukee County executive.

"I support Governor Walker and Our American Revival because he is a leader that has taken on serious challenges, and by applying common sense conservative principles, has moved his state in the right direction. Those same principles are the backbone of the Our American Revival mission," Airhart said. "Being a former Wisconsin legislator, county executive, and now governor that has been elected three times in four years, he is arguably the most accomplished sitting governor in America and I am now proud to help him promote policies that restore power to the states and their people.”

Heil added, "When Governor Walker was a county official, he voluntarily returned part of his salary and has a record of results when it comes to balancing budgets, meeting service needs and coming up with innovative solutions to tackle the toughest problems. That's putting your money where your mouth is and that's real leadership. It's also inspiring. We need to share that kind of leadership and vision across Iowa and across the country, and Our American Revival was formed to do just that. I'm very happy to be involved."

Iowa is seen as a make or break state for Walker. As John Fund wrote last January, many in the state are watching the possible 2016 candidate on right to work legislation, which recently passed the Wisconsin state Senate, and gambling; there’s an $800 million casino project based in Kenosha that might hurt him in the Hawkeye State if he signs on to it. Iowa Sen. Joni Ernst and 600 other Republicans sent a letter to Walker urging him to adopt a “No Expanding Gambling” policy.

Let’s see what happens.

Daniel Doherty - Townhall/Gravis Poll: Jeb Bush is the Nominal Frontrunner in SC
Posted: 3/5/2015 4:30:00 PM EST

In 2012, former House Speaker Newt Gingrich won the South Carolina GOP presidential primary. If that election were held today, however, Jeb Bush would win it, according to a freshly released Townhall/Gravis Marketing poll:

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Almost 800 Republican primary voters participated -- an acceptable if not ideal sample. Usually, we'd like to see at least 1,000 respondents surveyed in a poll of this kind. Nevertheless, the reason Jeb Bush edges everyone else is because he does exceptionally well among crucial demographics. Despite the fact respondents were overwhelmingly white (87 percent), as Neil McCabe first pointed out, Bush is the most popular choice among women (17 percent), African-Americans (27 percent), and Hispanics (36 percent). That latter statistic is particularly impressive, although not necessarily surprising given his unrelenting support for comprehensive immigration reform.

The poll therefore suggests that if and when Jeb Bush enters the race -- that is, if he can keep his campaign afloat through Iowa and New Hampshire -- he stands a solid chance of winning the Palmetto State primary.

That’s especially true if Hispanics and African-Americans show up to the polls in greater numbers than the Townhall/Gravis poll projects:

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Conn Carroll - Department of Justice: "Hands Up, Don't Shoot" Never Happened
Posted: 3/5/2015 3:45:00 PM EST

"Hands up, don't shoot."

That was the rallying cry adopted by liberal activists after the tragic death of Ferguson, Missouri, resident Michael Brown. Entertainers embraced it. As did sports teamssupposed journalists, and of course, Democrats in Congress.

There is just one problem. 

According to the man who shot Brown, Officer Darren Wilson, the phrase is a total fiction. 

Brown never raised his hands or asked Wilson not to shoot. 

And Wednesday the Department of Justice released a report confirming Wilson's story.

From the report:

Although there are several individuals who have stated that Brown held his hands up in an unambiguous sign of surrender prior to Wilson shooting him dead, their accounts do not support a prosecution of Wilson. As detailed throughout this report, some of those accounts are inaccurate because they are inconsistent with the physical and forensic evidence; some of those accounts are materially inconsistent with that witness’s own prior statements with no explanation, credible for otherwise, as to why those accounts changed over time. Certain other witnesses who originally stated Brown had his hands up in surrender recanted their original accounts, admitting that they did not witness the shooting or parts of it, despite what they initially reported either to federal or local law enforcement or to the media. 

The DOJ report also found that, as Wilson claimed, Brown did reach inside Wilson's vehicle and strike him. The report also concluded that Brown did reach for Wilson's gun and was shot at close range in the vehicle when Wilson fought back.

In addition, no evidence was found that Wilson shot Brown in the back while Brown was running away from Wilson. All the evidence showed that Wilson only shot Brown after Brown stopped, turned around, and then charged Wilson.

In a footnote that report even notes, "The media has widely reported that there is witness testimony that Brown said, ‘Don’t shoot’ as he held his hands above his head. In fact, our investigation did not reveal any eyewitness who stated that Brown said, ‘Don’t shoot.’ ”

The closest the report comes to mentioning such a "hand up don't shoot" scenario is an account of the shooting from "Witness 101" who gave multiple interviews to the media after the incident occurred. This is what the Department of Justice concluded about Witness 101's credibility:

Witness 101 has a misdemeanor conviction for a crime of dishonesty likely admissible in federal court as impeachment evidence. As described above, material parts of Witness 101’s account are inconsistent with the physical and forensic evidence, internally inconsistent from one part of his account to the next, and inconsistent with other credible witness accounts that are corroborated by physical evidence. It is also unclear whether Witness 101 had the ability to accurately perceive the shootings. Witness 101 likely crouched down next to a white Monte Carlo as Wilson chased Brown. The Monte Carlo was facing west with a view of the passenger side of the SUV. Brown ran in the opposite direction that the Monte Carlo was facing. Witness accounts vary as to whether Witness 101 was ducking for cover on the passenger side of the Monte Carlo with his back to the shooting, or whether he fled the scene prior to the final shots being fired. Both Witness 101’s inconsistencies and his ability to perceive what happened, or lack thereof, make his account vulnerable to effective cross-examination and extensive impeachment. 

Katie Pavlich - Clinton Loses The Washington Post: "Use of Private E-mail Shows Poor Regard For Public Trust"
Posted: 3/5/2015 2:30:00 PM EST

Hillary Clinton's email scandal is getting worse and for once, the mainstream media is paying attention in the right way. 

Earlier this week it was the New York Times that broke the story exposing Clinton used a private email account to conduct all of her government business during her time as Secretary of State. Then the Associated Press piled on with a report revealing Clinton not only used a private email account, she controlled her own server from her home in Chappaqua, New York. 

Now in a scathing op-ed, the Washington Post editorial board is pummeling Clinton for her bad judgement, pointing out it's especially egregious with her consideration of a White House run. Emphasis is mine. 

HILLARY RODHAM CLINTON has served as first lady, a senator from New York and secretary of state. She is no newcomer to the corridors of power. Her decision to exclusively use a private e-mail account while secretary suggests she made a deliberate decision to shield her messages from scrutiny. It was a mistake that reflects poor judgment about a public trust.

Ms. Clinton is not the first high-ranking government official to write private e-mails about public business. But a host of questions arise from her decision to use private e-mail exclusively while serving as secretary. How secure was the private e-mail? What was her motive? Did anyone ask why the secretary of state was breaking with an announced administration policy? Why did she not turn over the e-mails promptly upon leaving office? Has she withheld anything?

It may be that Ms. Clinton used private e-mail because she anticipated Republicans would be on the prowl for scandal and wanted to control what part of her record might be scrutinized. Such fears would have had ample basis, but they do not excuse a penchant for control and secrecy that she has exhibited before — and that remains a worrying attribute as Ms. Clinton possibly enters a presidential campaign. Nor is fear of partisan criticism an even remotely valid excuse for using a private channel for official business.

If people aspire to public service, they should behave as stewards of a public trust, and that includes the records — all of them. Ms. Clinton’s use of private e-mail shows poor regard for that public trust.


The Post does give Clinton some leeway when it comes to compliance with federal records laws. The legality of Clinton's actions are very much in question. Liberal George Washington University professor Jonathan Turley has described the situtation as "certainly running against the grain when it comes to federal laws."

Conn Carroll - Is Obama Letting Iran Take Iraq?
Posted: 3/5/2015 2:00:00 PM EST

Part of the reason President Obama is so eager to give Iran a nuclear weapons deal is that he wants the regime in Tehran to become "a very successful regional power."

So it should come as no surprise then, that not only is the White House well aware that Iran is participating in the current battle for Tikrit, but that Iran is actually leading the battle. Newsweek reports:

A notorious Iranian commander is spearheading the Iraqi offensive on the ISIS-held city of Tikrit, providing tactical expertise and a key link to Tehran for supplies to the Iraqi militias advancing on the terror group’s territory.
Major General Qasem Soleimani, the shadowy former leader of the elite Quds Force, the special operations arm of the Iranian Revolutionary Guard Corps (IGRC), is directly overseeing the eastern offensive on Tikrit. The Iranian general has been pictured on the outskirts of the city in photos shared widely on social media.

Asked about Tikrit Wednesday, White House Press Secretary Josh Earnest had nothing but praise for the operation and Iran's involvement in it:

This is an operation that the United States has been aware of for some time. The United States was aware of the planning for this operation and was obviously aware when it was begun. ... The good news is that this operation includes a multisectarian force. ... So that is why we are gratified that there aren’t just Iraqi security forces involved, but there are also fighters associated with local Sunni tribes who are engaged in this effort. ... The other thing that we’re mindful of is that Iranian forces are also involved. And we have said from the beginning that the United States will not coordinate militarily with the Iranians, but the fact that some Iranian military personnel are involved doesn’t change the priority that the Iraqis can and should place on this operation to ensure that it’s inclusive and multi sectarian. 

(emphasis added) Earnest did stress that "this is an operation that is led by Iraqi security forces," but is that really true? Where do the Iranian forces end and the Iraqi forces begin and does the Obama White House even care?

Bloomberg's Eli Lake reported last month:

On the front lines of Iraq’s war against Islamic State, it’s increasingly difficult to tell where the Iraqi army ends and the Iranian-supported Shiite militias begin. ... Late last year, the U.S. formally committed to train and equip three divisions of the Iraqi army. While some senior U.S. officials have had positive words for Iran’s role in the fight against Islamic State warriors, official U.S. policy is to support the integration of Iraq’s sectarian militias into the Iraqi Security Forces.

In Diyala Province northeast of Baghdad, however, it’s the other way around. On a tour of areas recently liberated from Islamic State control, General Ali Wazir Shamary told me that ultimately his orders came through a chain of command that originated with Amiri. In other words, the Iraqi army is integrating into Amiri’s Badr Organization in Diyala as opposed to integrating the militias into the army

If it is Iranian forces, and not the Iraqi army, that ends up in control of Tikrit, that would be quite a gift to Tehran. And if the attack on Mosul scheduled for later this summer proceeds in much the same manner, and Earnest confirmed Wednesday it likely would, then it is worth asking how much of Iraq Obama will end up giving to Iran in addition to the right to build nuclear weapons.

Matt Vespa - That Time Hillary’s State Department Booted An Ambassador For Using…A Private Email Account
Posted: 3/5/2015 2:00:00 PM EST

Well, this is awkward. Sean Davis at the Federalist  wrote about a rather interesting development in the Clinton email saga by finding a State Department Inspector General report from 2012 highlighting that Scott Gration, then-Ambassador to Kenya, was booted from his position after he … set up a private email account for his office in 2011 [bold text indicates State Department IG report]:

Although Hillary Clinton and her allies may be claiming that her private e-mail system is no big deal, Hillary’s State Department actually forced the 2012 resignation of the U.S. ambassador to Kenya in part for setting up an unsanctioned private e-mail system. According to a 2012 report from the State Department’s inspector general, former U.S. ambassador to Kenya Scott Gration set up a private e-mail system for his office in 2011.

The inspector general’s report offered a scathing assessment of Gration’s information security practices — practices that are eerily similar to those undertaken by Clinton while she served as Secretary of State:

Very soon after the Ambassador’s arrival in May 2011, he broadcast his lack of confidence in the information management staff. Because the information management office could not change the Department’s policy for handling Sensitive But Unclassified material, he assumed charge of the mission’s information management operations. He ordered a commercial Internet connection installed in his embassy office bathroom so he could work there on a laptop not connected to the Department email system. He drafted and distributed a mission policy authorizing himself and other mission personnel to use commercial email for daily communication of official government business. During the inspection, the Ambassador continued to use commercial email for official government business. The Department email system provides automatic security, record-keeping, and backup functions as required. The Ambassador’s requirements for use of commercial email in the office and his flouting of direct instructions to adhere to Department policy have placed the information management staff in a conundrum: balancing the desire to be responsive to their mission leader and the need to adhere to Department regulations and government information security standards. The Ambassador compounded the problem on several occasions by publicly berating members of the staff, attacking them personally, loudly questioning their competence, and threatening career-ending disciplinary actions. These actions have sapped the resources and morale of a busy and understaffed information management staff as it supports the largest embassy in sub-Saharan Africa.

The inspector general’s report specifically noted that Gration violated State Department policy by using a private, unsanctioned e-mail service for official business. In its executive summary listing its key judgments against the U.S. ambassador to Kenya who served under Hillary Clinton, the inspector general stated that Gration’s decision to willfully violate departmental information security policies highlighted Gration’s “reluctance to accept clear-cut U.S. Government decisions.” The report claimed that this reluctance to obey governmental security policies was the former ambassador’s “greatest weakness.”

Now, to be fair, there were other things that paved the way for Gration’s exit. He was reportedly “erratic, controlling and bullying” in his management style. Josh Rogin, now with Bloomberg Viewwrote in Foreign Policy at the time that it was “one of the worst reviews of an ambassador’s performance written by the IG’s staff in several years.” Besides the private email system, Rogin added that Gration:

[S]et up private offices in his residence — and an embassy bathroom — to conduct business outside the purview of the embassy staff.

Other sources close to the embassy who worked with Gration related several anecdotes circulated by current and former embassy staff that are meant to highlight Gration’s erratic, controlling, and sometime bullying behavior.

Gration is said to have, upon entering the embassy, ordered that all heights of all the tables be adjusted and that all the clocks in the embassy be recalibrated, an indication of his eccentric style of micromanagement.

At one point in his battles with his newfound employees, Gration told embassy staff he would "shoot them in the head" if they didn’t follow his instructions, and the staff formally complained about that remark, according to one unconfirmed account.

Gration often bragged about his close ties to the White House and to the president himself, although the White House stopped returning his phone calls after the IG’s investigation results became known inside the administration.

Mark Hemingway at the Weekly Standard wrote that the standard cited in the 2012 IG report should apply to Hillary since it showed–rather explicitly–that government employees using a personal email account for official business isn’t acceptable.

Regarding Hillary’s personal email use, it’s still unclear if she broke the law, but some folks in left-leaning media outfits are saying she might have concerning the 2009 National Archives and Records Administration regulation on recordkeeping. Mother Jones’ David Corn (who appears to have moved on from the O'Reilly Falklands ordealwrote that Clinton and her staff should have known better, it was a wholly avoidable situation, and that it adds to the ongoing narrative that the Clintons are secretive and play by their own rules. Oh, and the State Department really didn’t answer his questions regarding if those personal emails were stored in the State Department’s system [bold text indicates NARA regulation]:

[A]ccording to the National Archives and Records Administration, there was a regulation in place governing Clinton's use of personal email for official business while she was secretary of state. And it seems she did not fully abide by this. In a statement issued today, the National Archives notes that it has "reached out to the State Department to ensure that all federal records are properly identified and managed." And the statement says:

Since 2009, NARA's regulations have stated that "Agencies that allow employees to send and receive official electronic mail messages using a system not operated by the agency must ensure that Federal records sent or received on such systems are preserved in the appropriate agency recordkeeping system."

This rule is clear: If Clinton used personal email to conduct official business—which apparently did not violate any federal rules at the time—all of those emails had to be collected and preserved within the State Department's recordkeeping system. That makes sense: The whole point of preserving official records of government business is to have this material controlled by the government, not by the individual official or employee. Yet in this case, Clinton and her aides apparently did not preserve all her emails within the system.

Asked whether her emails were kept within Foggy Bottom's system, her spokesman Nick Merrill replied with a terse email, "They were. State can speak to this." He did not respond to an email requesting further details. And when I asked the State Department if Clinton's emails were preserved, an official replied with a statement from deputy spokeswoman Marie Harf: "The State Department has long had access to a wide array of Secretary Clinton’s records—including emails between her and Department officials with accounts." This did not address the question at hand: Were all her emails preserved within the department's system? Finally, I heard from another State Department official who explained on background that the department had preserved some of Clinton's emails, given that her emails to and from others within the State Department (at their official email accounts) had been kept within the system. Still, official-business emails Clinton sent to and received from people outside the State Department were not captured and preserved by the department's system in real time.

This seems to be a clear violation of that law, but there are still some die-hard Clintonites, like David Brock, who shamelessly defend this whole ordeal as a nothing burger. Noah Rothman over at Hot Air was able to clip Brock’s Morning Joe appearance, where his defense of the Clinton emails drew disbelief from the show’s hosts. Joe Scarborough read the 2009 NARA regulation repeatedly, but Brock held his ground to the point where co-host Mika Brzezinski said, “I’m not sure what planet I’m on right now; are you reading [the 2009 NARA regulation] the same thing we are?”

“Sure I am, yeah,” responded Brock.

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