"Propaganda is a strong word but..."
Conservative activists determined to keep federal spending as low as possible are not happy about the emerging deal between House Budget Committee Chairman Paul Ryan (R-WI) and Senate Budget Committee Chairman Patty Murray (D-WA).
The deal, according to reports, would raise federal discretionary spending from a scheduled $967 billion in 2014, to as much as $1.015 trillion. In exchange for raising spending today, Democrats would promise to cut spending years from now.
Heritage Action for America Communications Director Dan Holler comments:
Heritage Action cannot support a budget deal that would increase spending in the near-term for promises of woefully inadequate long-term reductions. While imperfect, the sequester has proven to be an effective tool in forcing Congress to reduce discretionary spending, and a gimmicky, spend-now-cut-later deal will take our nation in the wrong direction.”
Scholars at the libertarian Cato Institute are not happy about the deal either. "If Republican leaders up-end the budget caps this year," Cato Director of Tax Policy Studies Chris Edwards writes, "they will empower big-spending Democrats, liberal Republicans, and appropriators to completely blow up the caps in later years."
The House of Representatives is scheduled to adjourn for the rest of the year this Friday. Perhaps the best conservatives can hope for is that Ryan runs out the clock, and the House adjures with no budget deal.
If that happened, the House would still need to pass another continuing resolution before January 15, when the deal struck to open the federal government in October, expires.
At times, it's easy to be skeptical of the "scoops" obtained by journalist Seymour Hersh. There's been a lot he's wrong about. Even so, when he was a Bush critic, his work was given wide and respectful coverage by the MSM.
So it will be interesting to see what happens with his latest claims -- that President Obama withheld information that Syrian rebels in the (al Qaeda-friendly) al Nusra Front had the capacity to produce chemical weapons, and that Obama manipulated the timing and sequence of intelligence about the use of chemical weapons in Syria:
A former senior intelligence official told me that the Obama administration had altered the available information – in terms of its timing and sequence – to enable the president and his advisers to make intelligence retrieved days after the attack look as if it had been picked up and analysed in real time, as the attack was happening.
According to Hersh, the administration had decided that Assad was responsible, and then went looking for evidence to justify that assessment. Keep in mind, of course, that the President was calling for American military action based on what Hersh clearly considers to be "cherry-picked" intelligence (ironic, given the left's criticisms of the Iraq War, where no "lie" by the President actually existed, contra the MSM narrative). Hersh writes:
The administration’s distortion of the facts surrounding the sarin attack raises an unavoidable question: do we have the whole story of Obama’s willingness to walk away from his ‘red line’ threat to bomb Syria? He had claimed to have an iron-clad case but suddenly agreed to take the issue to Congress, and later to accept Assad’s offer to relinquish his chemical weapons. It appears possible that at some point he was directly confronted with contradictory information: evidence strong enough to persuade him to cancel his attack plan, and take the criticism sure to come from Republicans.
If true, Hersh's reporting would explain a lot.
It may not be exactly the type of show you would expect, but Sarah Palin will be hosting her very own show. She is slated to host a reality show on the Sportsman Channel starting in April of next year. The show will be called “Amazing America with Sarah Palin.”
“Amazing America with Sarah Palin explores and experiences the coolest and most original people, places, businesses, and gadgets that appeal to Red, Wild and Blue America. Former Governor Sarah Palin takes viewers into the life of those living the American dream,” reads the website.
This will be Sarah’s second time on a reality show since she left office. The Sportsman Channel CEO said, “Governor Palin is one of America’s most popular leaders, whose powerful love of country and passion for the great outdoors is inspiring to millions and millions of people.”
Everyone, get your DVRs ready. Sarah Palin will be on a TV near you, very soon.
As the debate over religion in American political spaces rages on, Oklahoma state's legislature recently approved a monument of the Biblical Ten Commandments on public ground. A group called The Satanic Temple has followed suit, claiming Oklahoma's actions have paved the way for a "public-friendly" Satan-related monument "for young children."
The move is a clear attempt to make a statement, a fact highlighted by the fact that The Satanic Temple is based in New York even though they are petitioning for a monument in Oklahoma.
The Satanic Temple has launched a crowd-funding campaign on Indiegogo in an attempt to procure the financial backing to construct the Satanic monument. If the organization does succeed in raising the money, its bid will certainly be rejected by Oklahoma lawmakers. In that case, "all funds will go toward efforts to appeal or contest the rejection, and/or place another Satanic monument in another relevant location." As of the writing of this article, the campaign has only raised $120 of its $20,000 goal - but it only began yesterday and will run for 40 days.
Advocates claim that the benefits of erecting their Satanic monument next to the Ten Commandments would include:
The ACLU is on the same page as The Satanic Temple. Brady Henderson, legal director for ACLU Oklahoma, said (emphasis mine):
"We would prefer to see Oklahoma's government officials work to faithfully serve our communities and improve the lives of Oklahomans instead of erecting granite monuments to show us all how righteous they are. But if the Ten Commandments, with its overtly Christian message, is allowed to stay at the Capitol, the Satanic Temple's proposed monument cannot be rejected because of its different religious viewpoint."
Lucien Greaves, the man behind the push for a Satanic monument, launched an unsuccessful effort a few months ago to garner support for The Satanic Temple's participation in New York's Adopt-a-Highway Campaign. Amazingly, that venture found 67 funders and raised $2,244.
The AP reports that Greaves credits Republicans and Rep. Mike Ritze in particular for furthering the Satanic cause (emphasis mine):
"He[Rep. Ritze]'s helping a satanic agenda grow more than any of us possibly could," Greaves said. "You don't walk around and see too many satanic temples around, but when you open the door to public spaces for us, that's when you're going to see us."
The Satanic Temple's attempts to become relevant and make a statement on religious freedom will likely drag on far beyond the monument bid.
Moms Demand Action for Gun Violence in America is using the Sandy Hook tragedy to promote its "No More Silence" campaign. Monday marks the first day in the group's "week of action" leading up to the anniversary:
“On Saturday, December 14, Moms will gather in more than 35 states to honor the victims of the tragedy in Newtown, and the thousands of Americans lost to gun violence every year. All events will include a communal bell-ringing to remember the victims, and to show our resolve to never be silent again about gun violence.“
The gun law advocacy group released, what HuffPo described as, a “searing new commercial, timed to the one-year anniversary of the Newton school shooting”:
As noted by HuffPo:
“The ad, which was co-produced with the Michael Bloomberg-backed group Mayors Against Illegal Guns, shows a ticking clock and images of children in a classroom, and a presumed shooter entering a school building. A voice intones, ‘On December 14th, we'll have a moment of silence for Newtown. But with 26 more school shootings since that day, ask yourself -- is silence what America needs right now?’”
Obama’s Organizing for Action is already using the day to promote its training and information to make each community’s remembrance day a "success."
The nation’s creepiest former mayor has finally been sentenced for his crimes. He won’t go to prison, naturally, but he can’t run for (or hold) political office ever again. That might be music to some San Diegans’ ears:
Bob Filner was sentenced Monday to three months of home confinement and three years of probation for harassing women while he was mayor of San Diego, completing the fall of the former 10-term congressman who barely a year ago achieved his long dream of being elected leader of the nation's eighth-largest city.
What crimes, specifically, did he confess to? Oh:
Filner, who resigned amid widespread allegations of sexual harassment, pleaded guilty in October to one felony and two misdemeanors for placing a woman in a headlock, kissing another woman and grabbing the buttocks of a third.
Nearly two dozen women have come forward and accused him of unwanted sexual advances. And he won’t serve any prison time:
Nearly 20 women have publicly identified themselves as targets of Filner's unwanted advances, including kissing, groping and requests for dates. His accusers include a retired Navy rear admiral, a San Diego State University dean and a great-grandmother who volunteers answering senior citizens' questions at City Hall.
The charges do not involve Filner's former communications director, Irene McCormack Jackson, who expedited the mayor's downfall by becoming the first to go public with sexual harassment allegations in July. She has filed a lawsuit against Filner and the city, claiming her boss asked her to work without panties, demanded kisses, told her he wanted to see her naked and dragged her in a headlock while whispering in her ear.
The guy obviously has some serious, serious mental issues if he allegedly creeped on someone’s poor great-grandmother, not to mention 19 other women. Thus, it’s probably a good thing he won’t be able to (legally) leave his home for the next three months. Women in his city might feel a bit safer.
If you don't already know by now, the Bureau of Alcohol Tobacco and Firearms can't even run a store without royally screwing up. Nearly one year ago, the Milwaukee Journal Sentinel reported on an ATF sting gone bad when the bureau tried to catch bad guys by setting up a store. The sting ended in a damaged rent space, $35,000 in stolen goods and with a fully automatic machine gun lost on the city streets.
Now it appears ATF failed during another store front sting and is punishing teenagers they convinced to help them by throwing them in jail. We're talking about ATF agents convincing mentally disabled kids to get giant squid neck tattoos, having them participate in a sting operation, arresting them for participating and then calling it a success. You can't make this up:
Aaron Key wasn't sure he wanted a tattoo on his neck. Especially one of a giant squid smoking a joint.
But the guys running Squid's Smoke Shop in Portland, Ore., convinced him: It would be a perfect way to promote their store.
They would even pay him and a friend $150 apiece if they agreed to turn their bodies into walking billboards.
Key, who is mentally disabled, was swayed.
He and his friend, Marquis Glover, liked Squid's. It was their hangout. The 19-year-olds spent many afternoons there playing Xbox and chatting with the owner, "Squid," and the store clerks.
So they took the money and got the ink etched on their necks, tentacles creeping down to their collarbones.
It would be months before the young men learned the whole thing was a setup. The guys running Squid's were actually undercover ATF agents conducting a sting to get guns away from criminals and drugs off the street.
The tattoos had been sponsored by the U.S. government; advertisements for a fake storefront.
The teens found out as they were arrested and booked into jail.
In an effort to cover their behind for this insane and reckless behavior, ATF has tried to pin failed storefront incidents and the abuse of the disabled on the "this was an isolated incident," argument. The Sentinel further reports these kinds of incidents are hardly isolated and are happening all over the country.
Earlier this year when the Milwaukee Journal Sentinel exposed a botched ATF sting in Milwaukee — that included agents hiring a brain-damaged man to promote an undercover storefront and then arresting him forhis work — ATF officials told Congress the failed Milwaukee operation was an isolated case of inadequate supervision.
The Journal Sentinel reviewed thousands of pages of court records, police reports and other documents and interviewed dozens of people involved in six ATF operations nationwide that were publicly praised by the ATF in recent years for nabbing violent criminals and making cities safer.
Agents with the U.S. Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives employed rogue tactics similar to those used in Milwaukee in every operation, from Portland, Ore., to Pensacola, Fla.
Among the findings:
¦ ATF agents befriended mentally disabled people to drum up business and later arrested them in at least four cities in addition to Milwaukee. In Wichita, Kan., ATF agents referred to a man with a low IQ as "slow-headed" before deciding to secretly use him as a key cog in their sting. And agents in Albuquerque, N.M., gave a brain-damaged drug addict with little knowledge of weapons a "tutorial" on machine guns, hoping he could find them one.
¦ Agents in several cities opened undercover gun- and drug-buying operations in safe zones near churches and schools, allowed juveniles to come in and play video games and teens to smoke marijuana, and provided alcohol to underage youths. In Portland, attorneys for three teens who were charged said a female agent dressed provocatively, flirted with the boys and encouraged them to bring drugs and weapons to the store to sell.
¦ As they did in Milwaukee, agents in other cities offered sky-high prices for guns, leading suspects to buy firearms at stores and turn around and sell them to undercover agents for a quick profit. In other stings, agents ran fake pawnshops and readily bought stolen items, such as electronics and bikes — no questions asked — spurring burglaries and theft. In Atlanta, agents bought guns that had been stolen just hours earlier, several ripped off from police cars.
You can read about more egregious incidents here. ATF was also teaching people how to illegally saw off shotguns so they could turn around with an arrest for sawing off a shotgun. The same scenario played out with machine gun.
Guillermo Medel was a heroin addict and drug dealer hoping to make some cash to support his habit when a friend brought him to Jokerz Traderz pawnshop in a strip mall in a working-class neighborhood on San Mateo Blvd. in Albuquerque.
When they asked for a machine gun, Medel thought he had one for them [agents].
One problem: he didn't know what a machine gun was.
Medel had brain damage. Hit by a drunken driver when he was 7, Medel had spent months in the hospital and never fully recovered.
Agents took advantage of that and his drug addiction when they offered such high prices for guns, Medel's attorney, Brian Pori, said in court.
Pori told the Journal Sentinel he is "certain that the agents were aware that Guillermo was a drug-addicted, brain-damaged street hustler who never trafficked guns in his life."
"He wouldn't know how to use a machine gun to save his ass," Pori said.
Pori said agents gave Medel a "tutorial" in the back room of the pawnshop to help him distinguish a machine gun from a semiautomatic weapon.
ATF whistleblower John Dodson talks all about ATF's habit of creating a problem in order to solve it in his new book , The Unarmed Truth: My Fight to Blow the Whistle and Expose Fast and Furious, Dodson describes these types of situations as, "government bureaucracies manufacturing problems so they could take credit for solving them."
Newly minted ATF Direct B. Todd Jones is refusing to comment on these cases despite promising before his confirmation that he would clean up the agency.
This post has been updated.
During a recent town hall meeting, Democratic Congresswoman Annie Kuster of New Hampshire was asked by constituents to address the issue of Benghazi in relation to HR 36, legislation that would authorize a select committee to investigate the attack. Naturally, as Democrats have done since the terrorist attack on September 11, 2012, Kuster refused to address the question and flat out told constituents she was "certainly" not there to discuss Benghazi. Flustered, Kuster puts back the microphone and leaves the podium as a moderator tries to explain why she shouldn't address the issue.
REP. KUSTER: (Reading) First, can you please let me know your position about on HR 36 that would authorize a select committee to get to the bottom of Benghazi….um, I don't have…that's a Senate, I think…I don't think we have anything about that in the House….
CONSTITUENT: Yes you do.
REP. KUSTER: And the rest of this is also on Benghazi, so…
CONSTITUENT: Can you address Benghazi? What are you going to do about Benghazi? Why isn't Benghazi at the top of your issue?
REP. KUSTER: Well, I'm certainly not here to talk about it. We're here to talk about the Middle East.
CONSTITUENT: That is the Middle East!
CONSTITUENT #2: Libya is like right in the middle of the Middle East.
CONSTITUENT: Benghazi is the Middle East!
House Oversight Committee Chairman Darrell Issa and House Foreign Affairs Committee Chairman Ed Royce sent joint letters to the State Department, Defense Department and CIA over a month ago pressing for answers about a lack of response from rescue teams.
Creepy Uncle Sam, a character launched by Generation Opportunity in order to encourage young people to "opt out" of Obamacare, has joined Snapchat in a new campaign to reach out to young people.
Snapchat is a mobile application and social network that allows a user to send a picture or video to someone that self-destructs after a set number of seconds. Once the picture or video has been viewed, it is not able to be viewed again. The CEO of Snapchat made headlines recently for turning down a $3 billion acquisition offer from Facebook. Snapchat is very popular among teens and young adults.
It is believed that Generation Opportunity is the first organization to use Snapchat to communicate with young people.
Here's the promo:
While Generation Opportunity certainly is being innovative in this new campaign, I'm not sure how it's going to work. Except for the TeamSnapchat account (the creators of the app) it is impossible to mass-message everyone using the app. A person would have to add Creepy Uncle Sam as a contact in order to receive messages--and those who take the time to actually add Creepy Uncle Sam as a Snapchat contact are likely not Generation Opportunity's target audience of uninformed young people. Still, though, I must applaud Generation Opportunity for thinking outside of the box on this one.
Update: After sending Creepy Uncle Sam a Snapchat, he replied with this:
Well played, Creepy Uncle Sam.