This was not unexpected, of course, but for those unfamiliar with the legislation, here are the nuts and bolts of the committee-approved bill:
The Senate Judiciary Committee gave final approval Tuesday to a sweeping immigration reform bill, setting up a debate on the Senate floor for early June.
Three Republicans joined 10 Democrats to support the bill, which would create a pathway to citizenship for 11 million undocumented immigrants, invest billions in new border security measures and overhaul the legal immigration system.
The vote came after the committee deliberated for five days and considered more than 150 amendments. But the Gang of Eight, which drafted the legislation, held together and fended off all but minor changes.
Earlier in the evening, safe passage of the bill seemed somewhat uncertain when Vermont Senator Patrick Leahy refused to withhold an amendment that would, according to Politico, “allow gay Americans to sponsor their foreign-born spouses for green cards.” Certainly, it was one of the more controversial measures under consideration, and he wisely -- albeit begrudgingly -- dropped it when it became patently obvious the bill would die in committee if he didn’t.
“I don’t want to be the senator who asks Americans to choose between the love of their life and the love of their country,” he said.
Tomorrow, Lois Lerner -- director of Exempt Organizations at the IRS when all the targeting occurred -- is going to come to Capitol Hill and take the Fifth Amendment.
It will be quite a spectacle.
As a matter of law, a jury cannot use someone's invocation of the Fifth Amendment as evidence of guilt. But we are not in a court of law -- we are in the court of public opinion, as everyone in The White House knows, and Lerner wouldn't be taking the Fifth unless she was in danger of prosecution . . . or otherwise had something to hide. No one chooses this course in a public matter of this kind unless the alternatives all are far worse for someone.
It's doubtful that any prosecution of Lerner could be based on her disgraceful conduct in allowing the targeting to occur. Indeed, it is hard to see how Lerner could be prosecuted criminally for her actions as head of the EO, although the IRS could itself be sued by eligible 501(c)(3) organizations for its failure to timely process their applications.Rather, if she is truly trying to avoid prosecution herself (as opposed to simply shielding higher-ups from some other kind of disclosure), it is probably connected to her repeated untruths before Congress.
Note that Lerner can only take the Fifth in response to questions where the answer might possibly incriminate her. That means she is obligated to answer questions that do not put her in legal jeopardy. One question she might fruitfully be asekd follows up on an inquiry that Senator Baucus made today of Steven Miller. Senator Baucus asked if any of the IRS employees who had drafted the "inappropriate criteria" targeting conservatives had been disciplined. It appears none have.
But in addition, remember that -- according to the IG report, page 7 -- in June 2011, Lerner supposedly demanded that the criteria be changed after "being briefed" on them (did she know about them, incidentally, before being "briefed" on them?). That happened, according to the report, in July 2011. Yet the criteria were changed back to focusing on organizations' policy positions in January of 2012, supposedly by the "team of specialists" at the bottom of the organizational food chain. Lerner should be asked who these people were; whether she knew the criteria had been changed back (the report refers only to " without executive approval" without specifying which executive's approval wasn't obtained); and whether those "specialists" were disciplined or any action was taken after they supposedly flouted her directions in June 2011 to change the criteria for organizations applying for tax-exempt status.
Finally, it's also worth pointing out that Lerner has been implicated before in efforts to harass conservative organizations. At the Weekly Standard, Mark Hemingway reports on Lerner's tenure as head of the Enforcement Office at the FEC, especially the incredibly intrusive and inappropriate investigation of the Christian Coalition. She should be asked about that investigation and how she came to approve it, and why she thinks it was appropriate.
Here’s a significant and little-known news item from yesterday that unsurprisingly flew under the radar: Vermont became the third U.S. state -- and the first via the legislative process -- to legalize physician-assisted suicide. Life News has the details:
With Governor Peter Shumlin’s signature on a bill the state legislature approved, Vermont [yesterday] becomes the third state after Oregon and Washington to legalize assisted suicide.
Shumlin signed a bill [yesterday] legalizing physician-assisted suicide for patients deemed to have a “terminal condition.” The move immediately drew opposition from leading pro-life groups.
As it should. Catherine Glenn Foster, litigation counsel with Alliance Defending Freedom and a Townhall columnist, explained some of the problems with the bill mere hours before the initiative passed the state legislature:
Defenders of the bill contend that there is no risk of its misuse because it applies only to a person with a “terminal illness.” Yet we have seen the definition of “terminal illness” expanded “broad enough to include an 18-year-old who is insulin dependent or dependent on kidney dialysis, or a young adult with stable HIV/AIDS. Each of these patients could live for decades with appropriate medical treatment.”
And defenders say that because the bill is only for a person who has the capacity to choose life or death, its provisions will be difficult to abuse.
In saying this, they miss the fact that the person killing himself or herself takes “prescribed medication,” which necessitates the involvement of a second party—a doctor. That opens the door for people, particularly those who depend on others in some way and are most in need of care and protection, to be influenced toward death, whether by an unscrupulous physician or a well-intentioned but coercive family member.
In other words, it’s not uncommon for “terminal” patients to feel persuaded -- or perhaps even coerced -- into taking life-ending drugs. Why? Because they’ve determined that their own lives have become, well, a source of financial distress and/or inconvenience to those whom are closest to them. How sad. It’s no surprise, then, that the American Medical Association is staunchly opposed to such practices, which obviously undermine the sanctity and dignity of human life. Back to the Life News article:
The American Medical Association has also remained firm in its opposition to physician-assisted suicide. Regarding the issue, the AMA states, “Physician-assisted suicide is fundamentally incompatible with the physician’s role as healer, would be difficult or impossible to control, and would pose serious societal risks.”
And yet now this newly passed “health care” law is perhaps on Vermont’s statute books forever. Splendid. Of course, partisans on both sides of the aisle can debate the merits of physician-assisted suicide, and whether or not it is morally defensible (which I don’t believe it is), but there is absolutely no denying the fact that this loosely-worded law is in many respects deeply flawed. And, as a result, I suspect it will have devastating consequences -- not only for patients themselves who ingest these lethal and toxic substances, but for their families and loved ones as well.
Simply stunning, via the Associated Press:
U.S. officials say they have identified five men they believe might be behind the attack on the diplomatic mission in Benghazi, Libya, last year. The officials say they have enough evidence to justify seizing them by military force as suspected terrorists — but not enough proof to try them in a U.S. civilian court as the Obama administration prefers. So the officials say the men remain at large while the FBI gathers more evidence. The decision not to seize the men militarily underscores the White House's aim to move away from hunting terrorists as enemy combatants and toward trying them as criminals in a civilian justice system.
Consider the implications of this report: Our government/military/intelligence community has the information and capacity to haul in at least five of the suspected Benghazi terrorists, but eight months after the deadly raid, they remain free men entirely because of the Obama administration's ideological obsession with furnishing foreign terrorists with civilian trials. Will the American people stand for this? Remember, this is the same White House that refuses to close the door on using drone strikes to kill US citizens on American soil even if they aren't in the act of carrying out an imminent attack. They've already liquidated several Al Qaeda-linked US citizens on foreign soil. They've expanded "signature strikes" and changed the metric for calculating civilian casualties. In this case, we've identified five foreign nationals who we've determined to be responsible for participating in the sacking our Benghazi consulate and the murder of four Americans -- including a sitting ambassador -- yet they're roaming the streets indefinitely while we try to build an airtight criminal case against them. President Drone's double-standard here is completely baffling beyond the realm of political posturing. Obama feels the need to distinguish himself from his predecessor, even as he adopts and expands many Bush-era policies. So he's doubled down on civilian trials for terrorists and banning certain harsh interrogation techniques. In fairness, such techniques are only useful in wringing actionable intel from captured terrorists. Obama's policy essentially dictates that terrorists either be (a) summarily executed or (b) afforded the legal rights on US citizens. That's insane. Entire books have been written about the perils of treating global jihad and terrorism as a routine law enforcement proposition, but this new development reads like dark satire.
After the Boston bombings, we had a robust debate about the appropriate legal treatment for Dzokhar Tsarnaev, an American citizen arrested on US soil. Authorities decided not to treat him as an enemy combatant, which I thought was the right call, despite the deeply questionable and premature Miranda warning issuance. Here, we've apparently decided to not even detain a handful of foreign nationals believed to have participated in the 9/11/12 terrorist attacks because we're skittish about "rights" and other legal niceties (that arguably shouldn't even apply to foreign terrorists at all) that may complicate their run-of-the-mill civilian trials back home. Incredible. I'll leave you with this irony: Even if you share the Obama administration's view that foreign terrorists should be treated like Americans with a full panoply of legal rights, the goal of securing convictions from domestic juries was severely hampered by the Benghazi talking points flap. Because the State Department and White House contorted Susan Rice's talking points beyond recognition for political reasons, she appeared on national television and directly contradicted Libyan officials' (accurate) assessments with false information. This infuriated the Libyans, who proceeded to drag their feet on granting the FBI access to the attack site. Or the "crime scene," depending on how you look at it. In other words, one of the administration's political games (manipulating the talking points) ended up stifling the crucial evidence-gathering stage of any successful criminal investigation -- which, in turn, is a central element of the White House's highly political "criminal justice" approach to terrorism. Welcome to "accountability," Obama style. It's ad hoc, incoherent, politicized madness.
UPDATE - Allahpundit wonders if something's up and floats an interesting theory:
The fact that O’s allegedly willing to ignore all that and demand criminal procedures suggests something else is up. Theory: The Libyan government is resisting U.S. officials’ requests to either authorize a drone strike or let special forces hit the ground to round these people up. Acquiescing in a heavy-handed American military action against the locals could be dangerous for a weak regime that’s surrounded (sometimes literally) by jihadists and various militias. If O ignores their warnings and attacks the Benghazi five anyway, and the government there is consequently destabilized, he’ll take all kinds of heat for that. If he holds off at their request and blames them for obstructing him via leaks to the media, he’ll take all kinds of heat for not insisting upon justice for the murderers of an American diplomat. So, possibly, he’s chosen the middle course — hold off on attacking but claim it’s because he’s building a criminal case, which at least promises future action.
And this is only half funny: "Imagine the subpoenas being prepared at this very moment to find out who leaked them this scoop on Benghazi."
IRS offices in Flagstaff and Prescott, Ariz. were temporarily closed Tuesday as protests of IRS offices around the country were planned by Tea Party activists.
"They have a notice up that says 'temporarily closed," said Tom Case, a Lake Havasu resident.
Case drove three hours and 200 miles Tuesday with his wife to participate in the IRS protest of the Flagstaff office, located at 1633 S. Plaza Way. This was going to be Case's first rally.
"I follow the politics of the Tea Party, I'm not necessarily a hardcore tea party person," Case said. "This IRS thing to me is just a total example of an out of control government. Benghazi, the AP, Fast and Furious those are all terrible things that are happening to us but this one at this point is just beyond all reasonable doubt that this Administration and big government in general is just totally out of control and none of the people in charge seem to know what's going on. That bothers me more than anything."
The voicemail message at the Flagstaff office states that the location is open Monday through Friday from 9 a.m. to 4 p.m. and explains IRS closures for all offices on May 24th due to sequestration. The message also explains the office will "resume normal operations the next business day," which would be Monday, May 27. There is no mention of a temporary closing for Tuesday, May 21.
Townhall put in a request with the national IRS office in Washington D.C. for an explanation as to why these offices are closed, how long they have been closed and when they will re-open. Townhall also contacted Bill Brunson in the IRS media relations office for Arizona. At time of publishing, IRS officials did not respond with a comment.
Obama donor Bill Maher and wealthy filmmaker Michael Moore claimed Republicans are treasonous anti-Americans on HBO’s Real Time Friday because of their disagreements with Obama.
“What about trying to repealing it [Obamacare] for the 37th time? Is that a wise use of our resources and time? I mean, at some point obstruction becomes treason,” Maher said. “I mean they’ve also blocked Obama’s head of the EPA. There’s no head of the circuit court in D.C. You know, at some point it just becomes more about hating him [Barrack Obama] than loving your country.”
“No, they hate America. That’s really what it is,” Moore eagerly replied . “I think these conservatives and right-wingers really–for as much as they say they love this country–they hate it. They hate the government. They hate people… why is the government the big, evil bastard here?”
Maher asked Moore to clarify whether the government and the country are two different things, but Moore maintained his claim.
“No, It shouldn’t be,” Moore said. “The government is supposed to be of, by and for the people, right? So why is the government the big evil bastard here?”
“Cause, Mike, it got taken over by a Kenyan socialist, that’s why!” Maher mockingly intoned with a faux southern accent, “That’s why we need our guns. We might have to take over the government.”
Moore then said he is not depressed about the Republican Party because the next generation embraces liberal ideas like gun control and gay marriage.
“They are not bigots, they are not haters” he said and then called the GOP a “squealing dinosaur.”
They support less religion Maher added, prompting an aggressive applause from the audience.
"I'll take responsibility for that...[it] was an incredibly bad idea."
Yeah, it was. It was even a worse idea for Lerner to mislead the public about whether the question was planted (the questioner also initially denied any such arrangement). She was the one who planted it, apparently at Miller's behest. Lerner's lies continue to pile up, yet she somehow still has her job. It's also useful to recall exactly what Miller told House Members on Friday. In response to a line of questioning on this narrow matter, Miller's responses were evasive and couched in passive language. He seemed intent on keeping the provenance of the planted question as hazy as possible. Now that the media noose has tightened on the specifics, Miller apparently felt compelled to admit that it was actually his idea all along -- adding obligatory denunciations of his own brainchild for good measure. It was all just another bout malice-free, foolish incompetence, you see. In his testimony today, Miller again insisted that the widespread targeting program was not the product of partisan bias (cough), but rather arose from a desire to be more "efficient." Allahpundit flayed this talking point yesterday:
If the IRS’s big problem circa 2010 was that it was overwhelmed with nonprofit applications (or so the agency falsely claims), why did that lead to unusually onerous demands for information? The typical government response to unmanageable workloads is to cut corners, yet the agency ended up asking Engelbrecht to send them copies of every Facebook post and Tweet that she ever sent, amid hundreds of other questions. That’s odd, no? You would think the big scandal to come out of a glut of tax-exempt petitions is that those petitions were being approved unusually quickly and with little scrutiny. Instead the opposite happened. Go figure.
Basically, the "efficiency" excuse makes no sense because the IRS created more work for itself by pummeling conservative groups with insanely granular, intrusive, and frequently offensive questions and document demands. To recap: Miller told Lerner to plant a question. She did, then pretended she didn't. When that story fell apart, Miller admitted that it had taken place, but danced around questions about who ordered it. When that jig was up, he raised his hand for blame. Both he and his predecessor publicly denied that any targeting was happening, then Miller withheld the truth after he was looped in, even after members of Congress followed-up with additional inquiries. Lerner did the same. But for some reason they expect us to trust them when they tell us there was no partisan motive here, even though they've conceded that no liberal or progressive groups were targeted inappropriately. Media reports and anecdotal evidence bear out the unequal treatment, too. With all that context in place, I'll leave you with Miller's sad-face quotation about public perceptions of the agency he runs -- which he himself said is guilty of "horrible customer service:"
Outgoing IRS commissioner Steven Miller on the perception of the agency after scandal: "It breaks my heart."— Chris Moody (@Chris_Moody) May 21, 2013
I desperately want to believe Pfeiffer. I’ve known him for years. I like him. He’s never lied to me. But Pfeiffer is part of an institution that has demonstrated an inability and/or unwillingness to tell the full truth about the IRS scandal and a spate of other controversies. The White House can’t be trusted. That depressing conclusion (not unique to the Obama White House, sadly) was driven home Monday when spokesman Jay Carney used his daily briefing to announce that presidential advisers knew more about the IRS scandal a bit sooner than previously disclosed...In politics, as in life, when you constantly change your story, even on small matters, you sow doubt about your credibility and competence. In different ways, each of the so-called Obama scandals revolve around the issue of trust (as I wrote here, here, here, here, and here).
Sins of omission and real bipartisanship.
CBS Investigative Reporter Sharyl Attkisson, who has been at the forefront of the Benghazi and Fast and Furious scandals, has revealed to POLITICO that her personal and work computers have been compromised.
"I can confirm that an intrusion of my computers has been under some investigation on my end for some months but I'm not prepared to make an allegation against a specific entity today as I've been patient and methodical about this matter," Attkisson told POLITICO on Tuesday. "I need to check with my attorney and CBS to get their recommendations on info we make public."
In an earlier interview with WPHT Philadelphia, Attkisson said that though she did not know the full details of the intrustion, "there could be some relationship between these things and what's happened to James [Rosen]," the Fox News reporter who became the subject of a Justice Dept. investigation after reporting on CIA intelligence about North Korea in 2009.
Remember when Attkisson was screamed and yelled at by DOJ and White House officials for inquiring about Operation Fast and Furious? I do.
Yesterday we found out that Fox News Reporters James Rosen, William LaJeunesse and a producer were secretly monitored by the Department of Justice. Rosen's personal and work emails and phone calls were monitored in addition to his movement. In an affidavit filed by the FBI against Rosen, Rosen was named as a "co-conspirator" and treated as a criminal for gathering the news. LaJeunesse was targeted for his work on Operation Fast and Furious.
Two weeks ago, the Associated Press revealed that the Justice Department had secretly monitored 20 phone lines and dozens of reporters.
This won't stop here. It is clear Obama's Department of Justice, with Attorney General Eric Holder at the helm, has made monitoring reporters routine.
America’s most dangerous Mayor used his commencement address at Kenyon College in Ohio as a political opportunity to slam members of Congress for failing to pass background check legislation.
“Have courage to act on your hopes, don’t be paralyzed by your fears,“ Mayor Bloomberg told the graduating class. “Have the courage to think for yourself and to believe in your ideas. That kind of idea lies in the heart of human invention and progress. And a lot of it lies in the heart of our political problems today.”
The mayor then spent the better part of his 15 minute address on gun control, celebrating the occasion by attacking the NRA and highlighting recent gun violence.
“Too many members of Congress did not have the courage to stand up for the increasingly extremist views of the NRA’s Washington lobbyist,” he said. “Many of them feel that voting for common sense policy would lead to someone challenging them in a primary or hurt their chances to win their party’s nomination to higher office.”
Bloomberg told the graduates that since they were freshmen four years ago, more than 40,000 American people have been murdered with guns. He referenced a shooting last year by a 17-year-old who opened fire at an Ohio high school, killing three and injuring others.
“It was national news — for a day or two. Then came mass shootings in Pittsburgh, Miami, Oakland, Tulsa, Seattle, Wilmington, Aurora, Milwaukee, Texas A&M, Minneapolis, Brookfield, Portland, and after each one, those in Washington just shrugged,” he said.
“Then Sandy Hook Elementary School in Newtown, Connecticut -- 20 children, six faculty members, all gunned down,” Bloomberg continued. “As a parent I can tell you it is just unthinkable if it happened to one of your children. After Newtown, President Obama and some congressional leaders finally, finally stood up and said something has to be done.”
Bloomberg, co-chair of Mayors Against Illegal Guns, said Congress's failure to pass the gun control bill was "Washington at its worst -- the worst thing that it's ever done."
He justified politicizing the commencement address by reiterating that the theme was "courage."
“Why? Why do I tell you this?” Bloomberg asked. “Number one, this is one of the great tragedies happening in America and two, because I believe it comes down to one word, and that word is courage.”
The New York City mayor spent more than $14 million in support of legislation that would have required universal background checks for all gun-buyers, although the bill died in the Senate on April 17, but the mayor insists the battle isn't over.
“I believe we will win — sooner or later—because I believe in all of you,” he said.
One could have reasonably assumed that Bloomberg’s address would center around career advice for the class of 2013 due to the fact that he is after all a billionaire media mogul.
BREAKING: Senate Judiciary Committee Approves Gang of Eight Immigration Reform Bill | Daniel Doherty
Whoa: US Hasn't Detained Five Benghazi Terrorists Due to Trial-Related Evidentiary Concerns | Guy Benson
Baucus & Hatch Grill IRS Commissioners Who Don't Know Anything: "That's A Lie By Omission" | Greg Hengler