tipsheet
Cortney O'Brien - Bombshell: So Far, Only Three People Have Been Fired After VA Scandal
Posted: 4/25/2015 1:00:00 PM EST

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.

Daniel Doherty - Mitt Romney: You Know, It Sure Looks Like Hillary Was Bribed at State
Posted: 4/25/2015 9:00:00 AM EST

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.

Matt Vespa - NYT, WSJ Editorial Boards Hit Clinton Over Foundation Dealings
Posted: 4/24/2015 6:15:00 PM EST

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. These transactions were not disclosed to the Obama administration during these business negotiations (2009-2013), 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, who is a principal actor on the board.

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.

Guy Benson - Poll: Majority Says Obama 'Too Soft' on Iran, More Evidence of Rubio Surge
Posted: 4/24/2015 4:19:00 PM EST

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:

april2015Foxpoll

(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:

apr15iranQ

(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).

Leah Barkoukis - The Friday Filibuster: Bought and Paid For?
Posted: 4/24/2015 3:00:00 PM EST

The Friday Filibuster: The one-stop-shop for everything you need to know about this week in politics.

Closing Numbers

52% of Americans believe defending gun rights is more important than gun control, as opposed to 46% who believe gun ownership should be restricted.

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. 

Earth Day

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. 

Matt Vespa - Congress Is Legislating Again Because Harry Reid Is No Longer Majority Leader
Posted: 4/24/2015 2:05:00 PM EST

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.

Guy Benson - Team Hillary: Critics Can't Prove Corruption With a 'Shred' of Direct Evidence
Posted: 4/24/2015 1:37:00 PM EST

Perhaps not the the most effective messaging in the history of politics, but this is the corner in which Team Hillary finds itself, in the wake of two major bombshells that detonated this morning:


The New York Times (building on reporting in the forthcoming book 'Clinton Cash') revealed the sordid web of cash and coziness wherein the Clintons and their foundation found themselves much richer, and the Russian government found itself in possession of a very large percentage of American uranium capacity. Reuters blew the whistle on Clinton organizations'  -- shall we say -- incomplete tax filings dating back years, which failed to report tens of millions in overseas cash, including from foreign governments.  These "mistakes", evidently unnoticed by the Clintons' bookkeepers and the savvy professionals at the IRS, are prompting Clintonworld to re-file at least five years' worth of returns:


The Clinton campaign's response to these scandals, aside from the standard "old news" / attack the messenger playbook, is to tout their own transparency (!), and loudly point out that there isn't smoking gun proof that can directly connect the millions flowing into Clinton Inc's coffers to State Department favors orchestrated by Hillary Clinton. Let's set aside all of the financial bread crumbs and obvious interests at play in the Times story, and layer in several additional pieces of compelling circumstantial evidence. Exhibit A, from that same Times article:

As the Russians gradually assumed control of Uranium One in three separate transactions from 2009 to 2013, Canadian records show, a flow of cash made its way to the Clinton Foundation. Uranium One’s chairman used his family foundation to make four donations totaling $2.35 million. Those contributions were not publicly disclosed by the Clintons, despite an agreement Mrs. Clinton had struck with the Obama White House to publicly identify all donors. Other people with ties to the company made donations as well. And shortly after the Russians announced their intention to acquire a majority stake in Uranium One, Mr. Clinton received $500,000 for a Moscow speech from a Russian investment bank with links to the Kremlin that was promoting Uranium One stock. At the time, both Rosatom and the United States government made promises intended to ease concerns about ceding control of the company’s assets to the Russians. Those promises have been repeatedly broken, records show.

Deliberate opacity and broken rules. Exhibit B, raised by Allahpundit earlier (toggle ahead to the 5:20 mark):


The Clinton camp flat-out denied that a key meeting held at the couple's private home had ever occurred…until they were confronted by photo evidence from a New York Times reporter, at which point they were forced to admit that the nonexistent meeting actually did happen after all. This is called "lying." And Exhibit C is the ever-present fact that Hillary Clinton flouted every rule in the book by setting up a secret, private email server in her basement, on which she conducted all official business at State. When people started sniffing around, Hillary's lawyers examined the emails without any oversight (later shifting their story about how they culled "personal" missives from public documents), and deleted more than 30,000 of them. Before wiping the server clean, of course. It is not unreasonable to infer that perhaps some of the concrete evidence of quid pro quo corruption Clinton loyalists are demanding doesn't exist anymore because Clinton loyalists actively destroyed said evidence. Between the smell test, the facts laid out by several news outlets, the lack of required disclosures of foreign donations, the very shady tax "errors," the Chappaqua meeting lie, and Hillary's eradicated paper trail, the Clintons have not earned the benefit of the doubt on any of this. Quite the opposite. I'll leave you with the Clinton machine desperately slinging mud until enough time has passed to allow them to declare all of this "old news" again:


Ah yes, the infamous Fox News/New York Times alliance is conspiring to victimize the clean-as-the-wind-driven-snow Clintons. Sure. Also, hmmmm:


Addenda: WaPo's Jennifer Rubin points out that the lack of smoking fun evidence does not provide political or legal salvation for the Clintons in this case -- which I discussed with Gretchen Carlson yesterday:


Editors Note: A version of this item is cross-posted at HotAir.com

Greg Hengler - GOP Hopefuls Make Their Case
Posted: 4/24/2015 1:07:00 PM EST

On this week's Townhall Weekend Journal: 

Hugh Hewitt and Ted Cruz on Obama's non-deal with Iran. Michael Medved on Obama squaring Iran's "death to America" mantra. Bill Bennett and and Bing West on Obama's inability to deal with aggressive Iranian war ships. Hewitt and John Kasich on Kasich's possible run in '16. Medved with Jeb Bush on why he would make a good president. Hewitt and Rick Perry's on Perry's credentials if he decides to run in '16. Prager on the non-terrorist Muslims throwing numerous Christians overboard and murdering them because they prayed to God.

Matt Vespa - Good News: North Korea Has More Nukes Than We Thought
Posted: 4/24/2015 12:58:00 PM EST

His imperial majesty, Kim Jong-un, has more nuclear weapons than originally assessed by U.S. officials, and they could double their nuclear arsenal by next year. Currently, the country has at least 16, maybe even 20, nuclear warheads. By 2020, this communist dictatorship could have as many as 100 nuclear warheads (via USA Today):

The Chinese experts believe North Korea has a greater domestic capacity to enrich uranium than previously thought, Siegfried Hecker, a Stanford University nuclear expert and former head of the Los Alamos National Laboratory, told the Journal.

The Chinese estimates were shared in a closed-door meeting with U.S. nuclear specialists in Beijing this February, said the report. The growing stockpile will complicate international efforts to halt Pyongyang's nuclear program, said Hecker, who attended the February meeting.

U.S. Rep. Ed Royce, R-Calif., chairman of the House Foreign Affairs Committee, said the revelations cast a shadow on the pending nuclear deal the United States and other world powers are negotiating with Iran to curtail that country's nuclear program.

Zhu Feng, a leading Chinese security expert at Peking University, could not confirm the numbers given by the Journal, but agreed North Korea is expanding its nuclear arsenal. "There are a lot of signs indicating North Korea is working very hard on their bomb-making and it is quite likely their warheads and bombs are increasing," Zhu said.

North Korea currently has up to 16 nuclear weapons and could build as many as 100 by 2020, according to a February report by the U.S.-Korea Institute at Johns Hopkins University's School of Advanced International Studies. The country can put these on at least medium-range missiles capable of hitting most targets in Japan and South Korea, and it is developing longer-range missiles to reach the USA, the report said.

Earlier this week, the United States has re-negotiated a deal with South Korea, who will not be able to reprocess spent nuclear fuel or enrich uranium (via Jennifer Rubin):

The U.S. and South Korea on Wednesday signed a new nuclear-energy cooperation pact that approves Seoul’s nuclear research but doesn’t allow the Asian nation to produce its own fuel.

During nearly five years of negotiations, South Korea has been pushing for U.S. approval to make its own fuel for its fleet of 23 nuclear reactors. Washington has been resistant, concerned about nuclear proliferation in Northeast Asia.

In a compromise, the deal allows Seoul to research a nascent nuclear-reprocessing technology known as “pyroprocessing” that may eventually provide fuel for reactors. The technique is considered by some scientists hard to use to make nuclear weapons.

The Wall Street Journal noted that nuclear technology has been a contentious issue between Seoul and Washington, as the latter is concerned about nuclear proliferation, while the former notes that its neighbor–Japan–is allowed to reprocess spent nuclear fuel from their reactors, but they can’t.

Concerning Japan, there was probably little hesitation over allowing the island nation reprocessing spent nuclear fuel. It’s the only industrialized nation to reject nuclear weapons. It’s also the only country to have suffered multiple nuclear strikes–and the scars remain deep. Yet, it was partially responsible for the creation of one of the most memorable movie monsters of all time. Its armed forces are confined to a self-defense capability only–and the notion of nuclear armament is such a toxic issue that it forced its Vice Minister for Defense to resign in 1999, for suggesting that they do so.

Yet, as the Washington Post’s Jennifer Rubin noted, South Korea is an ally, a trade partner, and a rational actor in the diplomatic realm. We have nearly 30,000 troops stationed along the 38th parallel to aid in their defense from invasion, yet we can’t trust them on the enrichment of uranium, but with Iran; it’s okay. Something is off here.

Daniel Doherty - Jake Tapper Gets Big Promotion at CNN
Posted: 4/24/2015 12:00:00 PM EST

Jake Tapper, who has a reputation for objectivity and asking tough questions, will permanently replace Candy Crowley as anchor of CNN’s flagship weekend television program "State of the Union." The network released a promotional video accompanying the news – and the journalist himself released a statement.

"I couldn't be more excited about this election season and the new platform I will have at CNN to cover it," he said, according to CNN. "'State Of The Union' has a rich tradition and I hope to not only build on its history but expand the definition of what a Sunday show can be."

Tapper, for his part, will also keep his current job as the host of CNN’s "The Lead", which airs weekdays at 4:00 PM EST.

“With his new position, Tapper will become the second man to work weekdays and Sunday mornings,” CNN reports. “ABC's George Stephanopoulos is both a co-host of "Good Morning America" and the moderator of "This Week."

And yet Stephanopoulos is also one of the few Sunday talk show hosts to actually be sticking around. Chuck Todd, after all, recently replaced David Gregory as the anchor of NBC’s "Meet the Press," and John Dickerson will take the reins over at CBS’ "Face the Nation" after Bob Schieffer retires this summer.

Change, as they say, is in the air.