Sarah Jean Seman - Student Paper Mocks Terrorists, University Warns Not to Disrupt 'Cultural Harmony'
Posted: 3/4/2015 8:30:00 PM EST

The University of Minnesota has warned one of its student-run publications that it needs to be more “culturally sensitive” when it comes to terrorists. Naturally, they didn’t word it quite that way.

According to Campus Reform, during the Minnesota Republic’s annual funding request, the university dug-up a cover from four years ago and used it to admonish the paper for its “overt lack of sensitivity to the Arab world.”

Anyone looking at the actual cover, however, would see the paper was merely mocking terrorists.

The headline, “The Minnesota Republic: Terrorists Hate It,” makes the paper’s point acutely clear—the paper champions free speech and freedom of the press. Apparently, however, the university’s Student Service Fees Committee (SSFC) is not fully on board with these First Amendment rights.

When students applied for funding for the Minnesota Republic, the SSFC committee came forward with the 2011 cover photo [emphasis added]:

“While reviewing one of the sample publications, committee members came across material that demonstrated an overt lack of sensitivity to the portrayal of members of the Arab world.

When pressed for information on how this piece made it into print, representatives informed the committee that, based on the date of this particular publication, the members responsible for that work are no longer in the organization and that this particular piece is not representative of the work produced by the organization today.

After assessing this information, the Student Service Fee Committee would like to emphasize for the group the significance of culturally sensitive discourse on a campus like the University of Minnesota, which prides itself on being home to a wide range of values and beliefs held by members that originate from countless cultures across the globe.

In the future, close attention may be paid to the content published by Students for a Conservative Voice to ensure that any material that is produced with student fee funds does not compromise the cultural harmony of the campus and to ensure that the material that is produced is not at odds with the criteria in place for receiving this funding.”

Why would the committee feel the need to bring this issue up now? They themselves pointed out that no one from the particular issue is likely on staff. It was nothing more than fearmongering.

More importantly: what about free speech and freedom of the press? The committee blatantly threatened the paper and for nothing less than the protection of terrorists. 

Lastly, speaking of being 'culturally sensitive,' isn't it a bit ignorant of the committee to imply that all members of the Arab world can relate to...terrorists? 

According to University of Minnesota student and Campus Reform correspondent Allison Maass, the paper habitually stirred up the embers around campus:

"Our publication, derived from the University of Minnesota’s Students for a Conservative Voice (SCV), allows students on campus to share their viewpoints no matter what—even if they are considered offensive.

And no other publication on campus can say that.

When Vice Provost of Student Affairs and Dean of Students Danita Young Brown apologized to students for a student group throwing a fiesta on the grounds that it might offend the Chicano and Latino students, we printed Goldy Gopher with a sombrero on the front cover. After the Charlie Hebdo attacks, we put a drawing of Muhammad on the cover, asking for speech over terror."

As someone who has worked as the senior news editor of my university paper, I can say from personal experience that this is an absolute outrage. I hope the students of the Minnesota Republic continue to challenge their fellow students to think deeply and to converse openly about cultural issues. 

Matt Vespa - NBC News President Could Lose Position After Williams Fiasco
Posted: 3/4/2015 8:05:00 PM EST

We go a little into the rumor mill on this one, but it seems NBC News isn’t really out of damage control yet after the Brian Williams fiasco. Williams has been given a six-month suspension after reports revealed his story about being shot down while riding in a Chinook helicopter in Iraq was a work of fiction. The authenticity of other field reports he’s filed, like in New Orleans post-Katrina and Lebanon during Israel’s 2006 incursion, is being called into question as well.

With Williams gone (temporarily), NBC News president Deborah Turness, who was already fearful of losing her job, might be on her way out of the president’s chair, though Variety  is reporting she'll probably remain employed with the embattled network in some other capacity:

Former NBC News president Andrew Lack is in negotiations to return to a top post at NBC Universal’s news division in a management shakeup following the debacle that led to the suspension of “Nightly News” anchor Brian Williams and other recent missteps.

A source close to the situation emphasized that Deborah Turness, NBC News president, is also staying with the company, though her role may change. Turness has been under fire for the division’s response to the controversy that erupted over Williams’ misleading statements on “NBC Nightly News” about his experiences will covering the Iraq war in 2003. The incident led to the anchor being suspended for six months without pay last month.

Turness took the helm at NBC News in 2013 after leaving the UK-based ITV network, where she has served as editor since 2004.

Could this be some version of a woman in a position of power falling off the "glass cliff"?  It remains to be seen, but a notable exception is that NBC News wasn't a mess (biased, yes) at the time of Williams' collapse. It was the most-watched evening news broadcast in the country.  Typically, the "glass cliff" that revolves around a woman being ushered into a position of leadership–usually in business–after some awful situation has caused a PR nightmare.  If no quick fix can be obtained, she's shown the door. 

That doesn't seem to be the case here, but I'm sure you'll see some lefty feminist criticize the network for replacing a woman with a man as president even though it was a man–Williams–who put the entire network in a vise.  Let's see how this pans out, especially since many are reporting that it's unlikely that Williams will return.    

If so, this move, along with Williams' six-month delay in being told he's been let go, is just an awkward way of keeping your network accountable.  Then again, we're talking about the liberal media.  They could be just hoping that we all might forget, like the story surrounding Hillary Clinton's use of her personal email for official business when she was Secretary of State.

Matt Vespa - Even After A Brutal Rape, She Decided To Choose Life… At Age 12
Posted: 3/4/2015 7:30:00 PM EST

You can read Leah’s excellent post about Pastor Lee Jong-rak and how he’s helping abandoned babies in South Korea, but here’s another "choose life" story that’s just as incredible.

Lianna Rebolledo was only 12-years-old when two men raped her not far from her home. The attack resulted in a pregnancy. Her doctor said she should have an abortion, but when she asked if aborting her child would wipe away the emotional pain of her assault; the doctor plainly said no. At that point, Rebolledo decided to keep her baby. She’s now 35, but has no regrets in her decision to choose life (via Life News):

She said, “If abortion wasn’t going to heal anything, I didn’t see the point. I just knew that I had somebody inside my body. I never thought about who her biological father was. She was my kid. She was inside of me.”

Now Lianna, 35, says she has no regrets about choosing life for her child and that her daughter has helped her overcome suicidal thoughts. She said, “It was really hard, but just to see that little person telling me how happy she was that I gave her her life. When she said that — and she was only four years old when she told me: ‘Mommy thank you for giving me life’ — I realized that she was the one who gave me my life back.”

She concluded, “In my situation, two lives were saved. I saved my daughter’s life, but she saved my life. Even though [the rape] was a very hard moment, if I had to go through that [again] just to know and to love my daughter, I would go through that again. She’s always been there for me. She’s the only person who has shown me a real love. And I always will be grateful.”

All life should be celebrated and protected–and this remarkable story is often underreported, or straight up ignored, in today’s media outlets when these brave women do come forward. Stories like these are great, but they’re also highly personal. I admire Lianna’s courage to come forward to discuss her harrowing ordeal and what followed afterwards. It’s beautiful.

At the same time, there are some Republicans who could use a little more tact in explaining their pro-life positions to voters.

Christine Rousselle - Feds Raid "Birth Tourism" Hotels in California
Posted: 3/4/2015 6:30:00 PM EST

I've written previously about the unsettling rise in "birth tourism"—a practice in which wealthy women from another country (typically China or Turkey) pay tens of thousands of dollars to give birth in the United States to an American citizen before returning to their home country with their child. Yesterday, federal agents raided several hotels and apartment complexes used by birth tourism rings to house pregnant women, citing suspicions of visa fraud and money laundering.

While nobody was arrested, the IRS and Dept. of Homeland Security launched the raids after two Homeland Security Investigations agents posing as pregnant Chinese women were told how to hide their pregnancies and fabricate employment histories in order to gain entry to the United States to have a child. There were also concerns that despite the thousands of dollars paid to birth tourism agencies, the hospitals where women actually gave birth were never compensated.

From USA Today:

Agents also said hospitals were defrauded. In one case, new parents last year paid just $4,080 of a $28,845 hospital bill, even though their bank account showed charges at Louis Vuitton, Rolex and Wynn Las Vegas hotel-casino.

Agents with search warrants raided about 20 locations in Orange, Los Angeles and San Bernardino counties, including a luxury apartment complex in Irvine that was home to an operation called "You Win USA Vacation Resort."

Authorities did not reveal how many women were found, or say whether any -- or how many -- might be allowed to stay to give birth. Cases will be handled on an individual basis.

The practice of coming to the United States to give birth isn't illegal, but visa fraud most certainly is.

While I empathize with people attempting to beat China's oppressive one-child policy, I think it's a tad absurd that people are able to waltz over to the United States, give birth to an American citizen, and then leave as soon as the baby is able to fly. As I've said before, citizenship should mean something, not just be used as something to exploit when it comes time to apply for college. (American citizens living abroad do not have to apply to U.S. schools through the international pool, which tend to be more competitive than the domestic pool of applicants.) While Congress has toyed with bills to restrict the "birth tourism" practice and redefine the United State's policy of jus soli citizenship, they haven't gone anywhere. The United States and Canada are the only two developed nations on earth who grant citizenship to every child born on its soil. Most countries require that one or both parents are either citizens of or legally residing in the country in order to transfer citizenship to a child. The practice of "birth tourism" should end.

Conn Carroll - White House Refuses To Say They Trust Hillary On Emails
Posted: 3/4/2015 4:15:00 PM EST

White House Press Secretary Josh Earnest refused to say Wednesday whether or not he or the president trusts Hillary Clinton's claims that she followed the law when choosing to use a personal email account to conduct official State Department business.

"I haven't seen any evidence to indicate that they didn't do what they said they did," Earnest said when asked if he had confidence in Clinton's claims that she and her employees have turned over all of her personal emails relating to official government business. "But I also just want to be crystal clear abut the fact that this is a responsibility that they assumed," Earnest continued, "to review her personal email and make sure that it was properly transmitted to the Department of State so that it could preserved and maintained."

The Obama White House has walked a fine political line on the issue since The New York Times first reveled Monday that Clinton did not use an official government email address, and instead used a personal email account to conduct all of her business as Secretary of State. 

Federal law requires all federal officials to give their employing government agencies all personal emails relating to official government business. It is then the job of the federal agency to make sure those emails are preserved and maintained. 

A follow up Associated Press story Wednesday reveled that Clinton not only used a private email, but that she and her employees created and maintained their own email server in Clinton's private residence in New York. 

Clinton and her employees claim that they have reviewed all of the emails on Clinton's private server and have given the State Department all of the emails pertaining to official government business.

But since Clinton's email server is privately maintained, there is no independent party that can verify whether or not Clinton has turned over every email she used to conduct official State Department business. The American people just have to take Clinton's word for it.

Earnest has been careful to stress that while he can say that the State Department has properly preserved all the emails Clinton has provided them, he cannot confirm whether or not Clinton has provided all the relevant emails as required by law.

"I don't mean to suggest that I somehow think they are not being honest," Earnest said, "I'm just making it clear that it is not something that, that it was not a task that was preformed an Obama administration official. It was a task the was performed by Secretary Clinton or someone on her team."

Daniel Doherty - Surprise: Keystone Override Vote Goes Nowhere
Posted: 3/4/2015 3:45:00 PM EST

Even though Republicans control both chambers of Congress their power is limited and therefore not absolute. For instance, after wildly popular legislation passed both the U.S. House and Senate last month approving the construction of the Keystone XL Pipeline, the president flexed his political muscles and vetoed it anyway. There was nothing Republicans could do about it. And while his ‘Four Pinocchios'-inducing rationale was widely panned by lawmakers on both sides of the political aisle, an override vote was always a long shot.

Today, it officially fell short by five votes:

Stay tuned for updates.

Matt Vespa - DOJ Report: Michael Brown Fought With Officer Wilson, Reached For His Gun
Posted: 3/4/2015 3:30:00 PM EST

Remember, “Hands up, don’t shoot?” It’s the gesture that some said encapsulated the shooting death of Michael Brown by then-Officer Darren Wilson in Ferguson, Missouri last summer–and now we can finally put this narrative to rest. It’s false–and the Department of Justice confirms it. Their report, which cleared Officer Darren Wilson of civil rights violations, noted that Michael Wilson fought with Wilson, reached for his gun, and then charged the beleaguered policeman, leading him to fire his weapon in self-defense (via NYT):

The Justice Department has cleared a Ferguson, Mo., police officer of civil rights violations in the shooting of Michael Brown, a black teenager whose death set off racially charged and sometimes violent protests last year.

The decision, which was announced on Wednesday, ends a lengthy investigation into the shooting last August, in which Officer Darren Wilson shot and killed Mr. Brown in the street. Many witnesses said Mr. Brown had his hands up in surrender when he died, leading to nationwide protest chants of “Hands up, don’t shoot.”

But federal agents and civil rights prosecutors rejected that story, just as a state grand jury did in November. The Justice Department said forensic evidence and other witnesses backed up the account of Officer Wilson, who said Mr. Brown fought with him, reached for his gun, then charged at him. He told investigators that he feared for his life.

“There is no evidence upon which prosecutors can rely to disprove Wilson’s stated subjective belief that he feared for his safety,” the report said.

The report found that witnesses who claimed that Mr. Brown was surrendering were not credible. “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 witnesses’ own prior statements with no explanation,” it said.

“Although some witnesses state that Brown held his hands up at shoulder level with his palms facing outward for a brief moment, these same witnesses describe Brown then dropping his hands and ‘charging’ at Wilson,” it added.

We shall see how the Ferguson community, Al Sharpton, the NAACP, and the media react to the DOJ report–and see if they continue to peddle falsehoods about the case. But I think it's safe to say that the Brown-Wilson portion of the Ferguson saga is over...finally.

Wilson has since resigned from the Ferguson Police Department.

Vivian Hughbanks  - Rasmussen Poll: Walker Beats Clinton Among Informed Voters
Posted: 3/4/2015 3:30:00 PM EST

If the 2016 presidential elections were held today, Hillary Clinton would become the next President of the United States, according to a Rasmussen poll released Tuesday.

But Governor Scott Walker would give her a run for her money.

Rasmussen asked 1,000 likely voters who they would vote for in head-to-head choices between Clinton and other likely GOP nominees. Between Clinton and Walker, 46 percent of respondents said they would support Clinton, while 41 percent would vote for Walker -- a five-point difference, and the strongest Republican lead in the poll.

Walker’s lead is even stronger among informed voters: among the 35 percent of respondents that claimed to be keeping up to date with reports about next year’s elections “very closely,” Walker beat Clinton 51 to 43 percent.

Former Governor Jeb Bush and retired neurosurgeon Ben Carson were runners up in the poll. Both took 36 percent of voter support in head-to-head pairings with Clinton, leaving the former Secretary of State with a minimum 9-point lead in both cases.

Despite heavy funding and name recognition, Bush seems to be losing popularity in the polls. After coming in 15 points behind Walker in a Quinnipiac poll last week, he came in fifth in the CPAC straw poll, having been booed throughout the conference. Bush came in eight points behind Walker in a new poll from Nevada.

He's even having trouble in his home state: the latest poll from Florida shows Walker just one point behind Bush for 2016 primaries.

The Rasmussen poll didn’t include questions about Sen. Rand Paul -- a favorite among millennials. Paul won the CPAC straw poll for the third consecutive year, taking a 5-point lead over Walker.

Leah Barkoukis - In South Korea, Abandoned Babies Find Hope in an Unusual Place
Posted: 3/4/2015 3:03:00 PM EST

"Ding-dong! Ding-dong!"

Anywhere else this would be the innocuous sound of a doorbell. But at the Jusarang Community Church in Seoul, South Korea, it’s the sound of a baby being abandoned by its mother in a makeshift drop box at the front entrance.

Appropriately inscribed above the ‘baby box’ is Psalm 27:10—“For my father and my mother have forsaken me, but the Lord will take me up.”

It’s in the wee hours of the morning, under the cover of darkness, when many mothers bring their babies to Pastor Lee Jong-rak, who’s made it his mission in life to care for these children so they are not abandoned on the streets to die. To him, every child is wanted, every child is loved, no matter the deformities, genetic disorders, or health issues.

Pastor Lee holding an orphan. Photo credit:

“Lord, thank you,” he says upon looking into the eyes of each new “delivery.”

Child abandonment in South Korea is described as a “common practice.” So common that Pastor Lee said to himself, “If I don’t do something to protect these children, I could be picking up their dead bodies at my gate.”

In a society that highly stigmatizes children born out of wedlock and those with disabilities, so many women (and sometimes their family members) feel abandonment is their only choice. The country’s birth registration system makes anonymity impossible, opening the door to public ridicule and, for teen mothers, being kicked out of high school.

While the box was set up to address this very problem, Pastor Lee says he never expected anyone to use the baby box, even praying, “God, please don’t let any baby be abandoned in the world. . . . Only if the child’s life is being threatened. Or if the baby box is their last hope. Then, Jesus, open up the door for these children.”

So far, Pastor Lee, who’s the subject of a new documentary “The Drop Box,” which is produced and distributed in partnership with Kindred Image of South Korea, Pine Creek Entertainment, Focus on the Family, and Fathom Events, has helped save more than 600 babies, many of whom have disabilities.

Pastor Lee with some of the children in his home. Photo credit:

The film tells not only the story of Pastor Lee’s heroic and selfless deeds, but also explores the emotional, physical, and financial toll associated with taking in the orphans. Most importantly, however, it’s a story about hope and love, and one which has the power to change hearts and minds about the dignity, preciousness, and value of every human life--a lesson Pastor Lee and his wife, Chun-ja, learned most intimately through their son, Eun-man, a name that means “full of God’s grace.” 

Eun-man, 26, was born with severe cognitive disabilities and physical deformities and spent more than half his life in hospitals. With twisted limbs unable to bear his weight, he is bed-ridden and in need of constant care. Yet it is this son that Pastor Lee proudly calls his teacher—it is through him, he explains, that he learned life’s dignity. And it is because of him that the baby box exists, proving that all lives have purpose.

“When Eun-man was born, I asked God at that moment ‘Why?’ Why did he give me ‘that kind of baby’? Why didn’t he give me a healthy baby? That thought immediately came to my mind,” Pastor Lee candidly recalled. “But it wasn’t even 30 seconds before I repented, ‘God, I am sorry. Thank you for giving him to me.’ So step-by-step, with faith, prayer and His words, I lived. That’s how I started this work.”

While Pastor Lee has changed an untold number of lives in South Korea through his work, the film made a profound impact on one other person: Brian Ivie, the film’s director, who became a Christian in the process.

Pastor Lee and director Brian Ivie. Photo credit:

During the March 3-5 screenings at theaters across the nation, moviegoers can hear more about his experience creating the film, as well as listen in on a brief panel discussion with Focus on the Family’s president, Jim Daly, Steven Curtis Chapman, and others. 

“The Drop Box is ultimately a story of hope," Daly said in a statement. "Even in the midst of a heart-wrenching situation, we see the heart of a father's love in Pastor Lee.

"Not everyone is called to do what he's doing or adopting a child themselves, but all Christians are called to care for orphans," he continued. "Watching this documentary changes a person; it draws you to care even more deeply for the most vulnerable among us."

For more information on the film and to find out ways you can help, visit

Guy Benson - As Swirling Scandals Take Toll, Hillary Retreats Into 'Womanhood' Narrative
Posted: 3/4/2015 2:20:00 PM EST

The New York Times' Brendan Nyhan writes an analysis today positing that Hillary Clinton's email scandal ultimately won't damage her presidential ambitions too badly. Why? Because voters have short memories, and don't much care about this sort of thing anyway.  Allahpundit thinks Nyhan is basically correct.  Ethical lapses are a central element of the Clintons' brand, he argues, and they've learned over the years that abusing power and skirting the rules rarely results in lasting consequences, politically or otherwise.  While I by and large agree that extra-legal (at best) email concealment via private server won't necessarily be a "game changer," I'm not as willing to chalk it up as a passing irrelevancy, for three reasons:

(1) Many self-stylized good government types on the Left, including a good number of journalists, already dislike Hillary.  A major contingent within the Democratic base is just itching for an Obamaesque, Liz Warren-like figure to emerge -- and they'd bolt in a heartbeat.  "Ready for Hillary" is not a universal sentiment on the Left.  This email story is ammo for them, confirming their worst suspicions about Clintonworld.

(2) Coupled with the other current -- and more potent, I think -- Hillary scandal, average Americans are being reminded of the ugliness that has followed the Clintons throughout their decades of public life.  If the electorate is in a mood to turn the page and elect someone fresh and untainted by seemingly ancient political baggage in 2016, every negative headline and unseemly revelation draws some blood.  These things build.  What voters have been hearing for two weeks is that (a) the Clintons' organization accepted big, often unvetted, gifts from foreign governments during her time as Secretary of State (and again, as her campaign ramps up) -- raising conflict of interest concerns and reminders that Hillary is uber-wealthy practitioner of cronyism and corporatism -- and (b), that she deliberately skirted transparency laws by conducting government business through an extraordinary private email system, the entire purpose of which was to avoid legitimate oversight and scrutiny.  One of her justifications for her actions has already begun to crumble.  Some experts say her gerry-rigged system maximizes her ability to slow-walk domestic investigations into her official conduct, while also opening up significant security vulnerabilities.  Her political ambitions are safe.  Her sensitive correspondence as the nation's top diplomat, not so much.  Pile these two problems atop her widely-ridiculed "dead broke" bumbling from last year, and some of her biggest forays back into the public realm have been marred by self-inflicted wounds and unforced errors.

(3) One of the bases for Hillary's inevitable presidential run will be her experience at the State Department.  Previously, the knocks on her record were that she didn't accomplish much beyond racking up miles on the jet, and, of course, the Benghazi massacre.  As the Clinton/Obama foreign policy continues to unravel across the globe -- in Russia, in Libya, in Yemen, in Iraq and Syria, etc. -- Hillary looks more and more like a central player in a parade of  dangerous, costly failures that have diminished America's standing in the world, and have made America less secure.  Now there are two new, serious broadsides against her record as Secretary of State: She intentionally violated email archiving rules to ensure that she couldn't be held accountable for her work on behalf of the American people, and her foundation vacuumed up foreign money from nations that were lobbying her in her formal, powerful role at State.  The Wall Street Journal has already established that domestic donors to the Clintons often seemed to enjoy preferential treatment from Hillary's State Department -- wouldn't the same follow for, say, Middle Eastern regimes?  Adding to the stench is the State Department's initial attempt to lie about the ethics safeguards (not) employed to vet these foreign contributions.  Oh, and by the way, the email scandal was uncovered by Congress' special committee on Benghazi, which has now gathered even more proof that the White House didn't (and couldn't have) turned over "all" Benghazi-related emails, as claimed.  Hillary's simply weren't available, because she chose not to use a (required) official government email account.  Drip, drip, drip.

Hillary surely knows that running on her record at State, and in the Senate (she was an Iraq war supporter), and as a polarizing First Lady, will be fraught with pirfalls and unflattering flashbacks. Perhaps she's been "brushing up" on foreign policy (!) in order to figure out how to distance herself from the outcomes of her own work to date.  But to the extent that she's unfazed by her recent struggles, it's because she's probably comforted by her early across-the-board polling advantages, and because her campaign will be firmly rooted in identity politics. She's a woman trying to make history, and it's time for a woman president, and did she mention she's a woman?  Everything else will be downplayed and treated as noisy, silly, and quite possibly sexist, distractions from her all-important womanhood narrative.  Expect to be inundated with these sorts of messages for the next two years, America:

At her first public event since voters learned that she used personal email to handle sensitive government business for four years, former secretary of state Hillary Clinton avoided any suggestion or shadow of the scandal, instead delivering a dress rehearsal campaign speech to an audience of pro-choice advocates. As for her long-deferred announcement about the 2016 presidential race, Clinton did no more than repeat old quips about the difficult question of whether to run for president, at one point asking: “I suppose it’s fair to say: don’t you someday want to see a woman president?”

Hillary has decided that if she turns this into the Girl Power election, she wins. And she might be right. I'll leave you with two clips. The first is Her Highness waxing poetic about -- giggle -- her commitment to transparency, followed by her 2000 admission that she doesn't "do email" because that would only help those trying to investigate her (skip ahead to the 3:30 mark on that video):

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