tipsheet
Katie Pavlich - Sheriff David Clarke Tells AG Nominee: DOJ Must Stop Undermining American Law Enforcement Officers
Posted: 1/29/2015 12:30:00 PM EST

Testifying in front of the Senate Judiciary Committee Thursday, Milwaukee County Sheriff David Clarke called on U.S. Attorney and Attorney General Nominee Loretta Lynch to rebuild the broken relationship between the Department of Justice and local law enforcement. 

Citing Attorney General Eric Holder's involvement in Ferguson, Missouri over the summer, Clarke laid out a defense of police working in dangerous communities and called on Lynch to open lines of communication from Washington to cities around the country. 

"I want to spend some time critiquing...Attorney General Eric Holder's tenure at the Department of Justice and use it as a framework as a way forward," Clarke said. "Incendiary rhetoric used by Eric Holder created a pathway for a false narrative that then became the rallying cry for cop haters across America. It sparked and justified hatred for America's law enforcement agents and its offices. Without a shred of evidence a broad brush has been used to unfairly malign the reputation of the professional policing in the United States. The accusation has been made that our communities systematically engage in the practice of targeting young black men because of the color of their skin. That claim is patently false. I reject out of hand the mere suggestion of it. If I'm wrong, someone needs to show me the evidence. Officers at the local level put on their uniforms and go out everyday to make their communities better and safer. Without them our communities would collapse into utter chaos."

Clarke also argued that the Department of Justice and the next attorney general must ensure that a proper and fair rule of law standard will be applied at the federal level when unfortunate incidents occur at the local level.

"Are cops perfect? No, in fact far from it, but they are the community's finest. Every community is unique in what will work and what will not work," Clarke said. "For the nation's sake, stop undermining the integrity and character of the American law enforcement officer."

Clarke isn't alone in his statements. Late last year, former assistant FBI director under Holder and current Law Enforcement Legal Defense Fund President Ron Hosko, argued the same and called on President Obama to also play a role in the reestablishment of trust. 

"It is my sincere hope that Ms. Lynch, if confirmed, will take immediate steps to begin repairing the rift created between the Obama Administration and the dedicated men and women of America’s law enforcement community," Hosko said in a statement. “The mere replacement of the attorney general is not enough. President Obama should demonstrate a re-commitment to the rule of law and a retreat from words and actions that signal a distrust of our law enforcement professionals. Early in his tenure and with no understanding of the underlying facts, he accused police of ‘acting stupidly’ in an engagement with a Harvard University professor, only to later learn of details that supported the police response. More recently, he sent three White House representatives to the funeral of Michael Brown, a young man who had just robbed a store and who reports suggest violently assaulted a police officer in an attempt to disarm him. By these words and actions, the president questions legitimate law enforcement authority, encouraging like-minded people to do the same, and widening the divide between police and the people they serve."

“We look forward to Loretta Lynch’s confirmation hearings to become the attorney general, but there’s no time to rejoice – significant damage has been done and there is much work ahead to undo it. The Law Enforcement Legal Defense Fund stands ready to support important discussions between police and the Obama Administration to rebuild the trust that has so obviously been lost,” Hosko said. 

A confirmation vote for Lynch is expected next month.

Matt Vespa - AFRICOM: We Need A Counterinsurgency Plan To Fight Boko Haram
Posted: 1/29/2015 12:15:00 PM EST

Boko Haram is out of control. On top of the many issues facing Nigeria, this Islamist insurgency that Nigerian government forces have been unable to neutralize, seem poised to create serious sociopolitical problems in the upcoming elections.

As Leah wrote today, when the current Christian president, Goodluck Jonathan, won in 2011 over the Muslim Mohammadu Buhari, nearly 1,000 churches were destroyed, hundreds were killed, and more than 3,100 Christian schools, businesses, and shops were burned. With Boko Haram added into the mix, such a a massacre repeating is more than possible.

Boko Haram–a five-year old insurgency–killed 10,000 people last year. Reports of this group wiping out whole villages have been documented, and they’ve forced thousands of Cameroonians living near the border of Nigeria’s Borno state. Right now, AFRICOM’s commander– Gen. David Rodriguez–is waiting on U.S. officials to move on developing a counterinsurgency plan, not just for Nigeria; but also its neighboring nations. It would stretch across four nations (via Defense One):

U.S. Africa Command’s Gen. David Rodriguez, who previously served as the No. 2-ranking commander of the Afghanistan war, said he believes to turn the tide against Boko Haram would require a full-scale counterinsurgency plan across four countries.

The group now controls a vast territory of northeast Nigeria, Cameroon, Chad and Niger. Two weeks ago, Boko Haram fighters killed roughly 2,000 people in one attack in the region

“But I totally agree that it has to be much more effective all the way around to change what’s going on there, the negative impact on the people, the number of people displaced is just staggering,” he said, at the Center for Strategic and International Studies, a Washington think tank.

“I think it’s going to take a huge international and multinational effort there to change the trajectory of that … I think the Nigerian leadership and Nigerian militaries are really going to have to really improve their capacities to be able to handle that. … I hope that they let us help them more and more,” Rodriguez said.

Rodriguez answered critics of the international response to the terrorist groups by saying it was ultimately Nigeria’s responsibility to request additional U.S. help, which the general was eager to provide.

Regarding the ominous prediction of slaughter that Leah wrote about, other policy analysts are calling it the “perfect storm” of security threats:

“What has come together is a ‘perfect storm’ of security threats,” said Peter Pham, director of the Atlantic Council’s Africa Center, testifying Tuesday before the House Committee on Foreign Affairs. Pham listed Boko Haram’s continuing insurgency and terrorist attacks to neighboring countries beyond Nigeria, the possibly millions displaced by the conflict, and the economic pressure created by the falling price of oil.

“It’s Boko Haram version 3.0,” Pham told Defense One. “It’s a group that’s gone from being a violent extremist group, to a terrorist group carrying out attacks, suicide bombings and other acts of violence, to full-fledged insurgency, occupying territory, trying to set up a mini-government, a mini-caliphate of its own.”

Emmanuel Ogebe, manager for the Peaceful Polls 2015 Project promoting fair elections in Nigeria, said that while Boko Haram killed roughly 2,000 people in 2012, they have exceeded that in the first week of 2015.

Defense One noted that while Nigeria has a half trillion-dollar economy (thanks to oil), less than $10 billion is spent of defense. This is one of the reasons why the government has been unable to deal with this internal threat effectively and efficiently. The government severely curtailed military expenditures to prevent future coups after the last two military juntas, one lasting between 1966-79 and the other between 1983-1998.

The good news is that the U.S. is able to provide such assistance, but this looks like it will be a long operation.

Cortney O'Brien - Three Pro-Abortion Bills Were Just Defeated in Virginia
Posted: 1/29/2015 11:05:00 AM EST

It was a tough morning for NARAL Pro-Choice Virginia. Their Twitter timeline was just depressing. Three state senators introduced three distinct pro-abortion bills in Richmond, only to have them defeated one-by-one by the Senate Education & Health committee.

The first proposed bill up for debate was SB 733, which would have repealed the mandatory ultrasound law that requires women to view an ultrasound before having an abortion. Senator Mamie Locke (D-VA 2), who introduced the legislation, tried arguing that ultrasounds are unnecessary because “women have already made their decision.”

Locke’s logic is very faulty here. In reality, 78 percent of women who view their ultrasound reject abortion. So, while a woman may think she’s made up her mind to terminate her pregnancy on her way to the clinic, it’s highly likely that she’d change her mind after seeing her ultrasound. The judge seemed to agree, and defended the procedure as “informed consent.” Locke’s bill was struck down.

Strike one.

Then, there was Sen. Jennifer Wexton’s (D- VA 33) bill, SB 920, to repeal the 24-hour waiting period, echoing Locke's argument that women have already made up their mind, rendering such legislation useless. Again, the committee rejected her farfetched reasoning.

Strike two.

Finally, the legislature considered SB 769, a bill sponsored by Sen. A. Donald McEachin (D- VA 9), which would repeal the ban on insurance coverage for abortion within Virginia’s state health exchange. Despite pro-abortion advocates arguing that companies should be able to provide whatever services they chooses, McEachin’s bill had the same fate.

Strike three.

It’s true private companies should not be prohibited by the government when it comes to goods and services, but that right does need to be limited when it comes to the life of an unborn child.

These failed bills are likely to be unwelcome news for Gov. Terry McAuliffe (D-VA), who once vowed to be a "brick wall" against restrictions to women's abortion rights. 

NARAL Pro-Choice Virginia, who sent representatives to testify on behalf of these pro-abortion bills, posted a reaction to this morning’s defeat. Here’s what Jill Abbey, administrator of the Richmond, Roanoke and Charlottesville Medical Centers for Women, had to say:

"As an administrator of three women’s health centers in the Commonwealth, I have witnessed first-hand the barriers that Virginia’s mandatory ultrasounds and 24 hour waiting period requirements have on Virginia women and the doctors that serve them. Our patients are often forced to return to our facility as many as three times before accessing an abortion – which can mean additional travel expenses, child care costs, and time off work. This law is about one thing and one thing only: reducing access to safe, legal abortion and shaming the women who choose to access it.”

Abbey may think she is speaking on behalf of Virginia women, but the reality is that ultrasounds and waiting periods help to encourage a culture of life. Just one glimpse of her child in the womb, or a few extra hours to think about her decision could move a mother to choose life.

It may not look like it from NARAL’s Twitter account, but these are indeed victories.

Guy Benson - The Shameless Hackery of Harry Reid
Posted: 1/29/2015 11:01:00 AM EST

The man's an established liar, a bizarre obsessive, a remorseless slanderer -- but you already knew that.  He's also, unsurprisingly, an exquisite hack. Ever since voters demoted Prince Harry in November, his views on various Senate protocols and precedents have undergone a remarkable and dramatic evolution.  He who grinningly nuked filibuster rules in 2013 has suddenly mustered strange new respect for the practice:


In fairness, filibuster-related hypocrisy is hardly uncommon among partisans, although certain manifestations of these expedient flip-flops are uniquely hilarious in their flagrancy and transparency.  Reid's more egregious shamelessness comes in the form of his recent attacks on Majority Leader Mitch McConnell, whom he accuses of strong-arming the legislative process by limiting amendment votes on the Keystone Pipeline bill:


This is rich. Richer, in fact, than Reid himself has become during his tenure as a supposed "public servant."  The minority leader hopes Americans will forget that until very recently, he held McConnell's title.  For the full duration of calendar year 2014, Harry Reid permitted precisely 15 amendment votes* on all legislation taken up by the United States Senate.  Total.  Prior to Reid's tweet above, the new Republican-controlled Senate had already surpassed that number in one week, and had held 24 votes on amendments to the Keystone bill alone.  Democrats (who've been praising the more functional system under McConnell) have taken to griping that the Republican majority is betraying its pledge to respect an "open amendment process" by trying to place some limits on endless offerings.  They mounted a filibuster to block the latest cloture vote -- a maneuver they railed against as 'extreme obstructionism' until roughly three weeks ago -- in order to demand more votes on amendments.  According to Senate sources, nearly 30 additional amendments will have been debated between yesterday and today, bringing the total to near 50 (update: the revised number is closer to 40).  On one bill.  After Reid permitted 15 all year in 2014.  Even Democratic members who say they support the pipeline are falling in line with Reid in this procedural dispute:


That would be Sen. Bob Casey, Democrat of Pennsylvania, who voted for cloture on Keystone two months ago when it was (forcibly retired) Sen. Mary Landrieu's bill, and on which...zero amendments were allowed by Reid.  Now he, like Reid, is gripped by amendment fevah.  Having risked boring you to death with an entire post about arcane parliamentary practices, I'll double down with two more points: (1) In his precious tweet, Reid exclaims that he's never before seen "debate shut down as aggressively" as McConnell's move this week.  For an extra insight into how loony tunes this assertion is, bear in mind that as majority leader, Reid resorted to the unprecedented use of a ploy called "filling the amendment tree."  This gambit is a heavy-handed method of preventing any amendments (including some from his own party) to be offered on a bill.  By 2012, Reid had already employed this tactic more than his five immediate predecessors combined, and he continued to rely heavily on the scheme throughout 2013 and 2014.  He single-handedly blocked all amendments on a parade of bills, yet he assails McConnell's modest efforts to push for a final Keystone vote as the most "aggressive" debate-killing thuggery he's ever witnessed.  What a joke.  (2) In case you'd forgotten, this lengthy debate is over a piece of bipartisan legislation that requires the federal government to do nothing other than get out of the way of a privately-funded, job-creating infrastructure project that's been "studied" for six years, is environmentally sound, has the strong backing of a close ally, and is overwhelmingly supported by the American people.  That is what Democrats are currently delaying, and what President Pragmatism has vowed to veto.  No wonder people hate this town.


*I had a Twitter exchange with one of Reid's aides earlier in the week, who argued that this statistic was artificially gamed by Republicans.  I explained why his point was weak, while others noted that the moves he's complaining about are now being used by his own party.  Ultimately, I said, no one can successfully spin the 'three weeks vs. all of 2014' amendment scorecard, pointing out that even Huffington Post correspondents are laughing at Democrats' preposterous faux umbrage.

Editor's Note: A version of his item is cross-posted at HotAir.com

Matt Vespa - Misfire: Everytown’s ‘Hiding In Plain Sight’ Report Is Pretty Much A Lie
Posted: 1/29/2015 10:15:00 AM EST

Okay. The anti-gun movement has reached a whole new level of incompetence. Recently, Everytown for The Elimination Of The Second Amendment Gun Safety released a report called “Hiding In Plain Sight” that analyzed illegal gun sales in Vermont.

They noted how Vermont is a model for gun safety, and has a tradition of gun ownership; more than two out of five households owns a firearm in the home. Vermont actually has very good gun laws being a state with constitutional carry (i.e. you don’t need a permit to conceal or open carry).

Yet, the dark world of the Internet has cast a shadow over Vermont’s Second Amendment tradition. Here’s the report’s executive summary:

But in the 21st century, gun-owning Vermonters also go online — to a growing number of websites where anonymous buyers and sellers exchange firearms. As this investigation shows, they are more likely to imperil their fellow citizens in this virtual marketplace than perhaps anywhere else: when a Vermonter lists a gun for sale online, they have a 1-in-24 risk of transferring it to a criminal.

It doesn’t have to be this way. The bedrock of firearm safety in the U.S. is the background check system. Felons, domestic abusers, and other dangerous people are prohibited from buying guns, and federal law requires all licensed gun dealers to conduct background checks and deny gun sales to anyone that meets these criteria.

But the system in Vermont is flawed by a fatal loophole: individuals selling guns in “private,” unlicensed sales — often online or at gun shows — are exempt from the background check requirement. Today, numerous websites function like Craigslist, connecting anonymous strangers that want to meet offline to buy or trade for guns in unlicensed transfers. This gives criminals and other dangerous people an opportunity to obtain guns with no background check, no questions asked.

This investigation set out to determine how many of these unlicensed gun sales are taking place online in Vermont, and what risk law-abiding Vermont gun owners run by participating in this marketplace. By placing ads on websites where Vermonters sell or trade guns and sampling the would-be gun buyers who responded, this investigation yielded first-of-its kind findings about the volume of these transfers and the threat they pose to public safety:

  • Vermont’s online market for guns is vast. Each year in the state, an estimated 3,000 guns are transferred in unlicensed online sales on just three websites — as many as 24 percent obtained in trades for other goods rather than purchased outright.
  • One in 24 people in Vermont trying to buy or trade for a gun online is prohibited from possessing firearms, including convicted domestic abusers and illegal drug traffickers profiled later in this report.
  • This is six times higher than the share of Vermonters who try to buy a gun at a licensed dealer and fail a background check, which suggests that criminals may be intentionally exploiting this loophole.
  • The share of domestic abusers trying to illegally buy or trade for guns online in Vermont is 32 times higher than the share of Vermonters who try to buy a gun at a licensed dealer and fail a background check due to a domestic violence record.
  • At this rate, in a single year, just three websites in Vermont put an estimated 126 guns into the hands of felons and domestic abusers.

First, both sides can agree that the mentally ill and convicted felons should not be able to own firearms. That being said, as Bearing Arms’ Bob Owens aptly noted, this report does not present a shred of evidence that any firearm was sold illegally:

We now know that at least six of the firearms advertisements cited in the report were not from “unlicensed private sellers” as Everytown falsely claims, but from federally licensed firearms dealer Crossfire Arms of Mount Holly, Vermont.

I [Owens] spoke to Crossfire Arms owner Bobby Richards just a short time ago, and he is understandably livid about Everytown using images of six firearms that he had for sale on Armlist to help falsify the anti-gun group’s dishonest report.

All of the firearms Mr. Richards lists for sale on Armlist are accompanied by photos that Mr. Richards takes himself, and perhaps as importantly, Mr. Richards watermarks each image with the Crossfire Arms company logo.

Put bluntly, Everytown’s report not only drew false conclusions not supported by the data they’d acquired, but at least some of the data itself is demonstrably false.

Mr. Richards is in contact with legal counsel to investigation whether or not Everytown may be the target of a civil suit for falsely asserting that Crossfire Arms violates federal laws that require him to conduct background checks with every gun sold through his business.

Owens noted that this isn’t the first time Everytown has shown their skill at publishing shoddy reports. Remember that school shooting report that even left-leaning Politifact declared was “mostly false?” Yeah, that was Everytown. FactCheck.org and CNN also noted the inaccuracies.

In reality, the frequency of school shootings hasn’t risen above levels set in the 1990s. Oh, and mass shootings–to broaden the area of inquiry–aren’t becoming more frequent either.

Owens also provided photos of the firearms in question. He added that Richards, being a FFL dealer, is required by law to conduct a background check on all firearm sales.

Last note: Before Mayors Against Illegal Guns (MAIG) joined forced with Moms Demand Action for Gun Sense in America to form Everytown For Gun Safety, MAIG hosted a “No More Names” bus tour in 2013. Supporters would read the names of those killed by gun violence since the horrific Newtown shooting. At the Concord, New Hampshire stop, they listed Tamerlan Tsarnaev, one of the Boston Marathon bombers, as a victim, which wasn’t taken too kindly.

So, screwing up seems to be a hallmark characteristic of this group.

Vivian Hughbanks  - Immigration Policy Leaves One Dead in Arizona
Posted: 1/29/2015 9:13:00 AM EST

A man accused of shooting a convenience store employee in Mesa, Arizona last Thursday faced deportation proceedings for two years prior to his arrest, authorities announced Tuesday.

After being convicted for facilitating a second-degree burglary, 29-year-old Apolinar Altamirano was released on a $10,000 bond in January 2013, the Arizona Republic reports. Since then, Altamirano, who has claimed ties to the Mexican Mafia, has been the subject of two separate injunctions for harassment because of death threats, but has not been detained:

“Mr. Altamirano's removal case was still pending with the immigration courts at the time of his most recent arrest,” the U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement said in a statement released Monday.

Altamirano is now accused of angrily shooting 21-year-old Grant Ronnebeck, a QT store clerk, as Ronnebeck attempted to count money for cigarettes.

Deportations of convicted criminals often take two to three years to complete, and due to lack of funding for detention, ICE must prioritize detention of the convicts awaiting deportation by the severity of their crimes.

“Generally speaking, yes, there is an incredible backlog in the immigration courts,” Liz Chatham, a former chairwoman of the Arizona Chapter of American Immigration Attorneys told the Arizona Republic.

According to a document leaked from DHS last year, there are nearly 167,000 convicted criminals with final orders for deportation still in the United States. The Center for Immigration Studies reports a 34 percent decline in deportations from 2013 to 2014.

President Obama’s executive action to protect immigrants from deportation last November claimed not to change the situation for convicted criminals. But those opposed to the action remained skeptical. Nov. 19 of last year, Sen. Chuck Grassley (R-IA) voiced his concern in a letter to the Secretary of Homeland Security, referencing a prior release of immigrant convicts:

“...the threats of executive action become even more disturbing in light of the Department’s admitted failure to deport 36,007 convicted criminals—including 169 homicide convicts—who were all released back onto the streets, in Fiscal Year 2013 alone. According to the New York Times, the Administration’s response to this concern is as follows:

A new enforcement memorandum . . . will make clear that deportations should still proceed for convicted criminals, foreigners who pose national security risks and recent border crossers . . . .

>

Yet, the release of 36,007 criminal aliens in FY 2013 occurred despite the issuance of a similar enforcement memorandum in June 2011…”

Earlier this month, the House passed Homeland Security Appropriations bill (H.R. 240), which funds the DHS and reverses President Obama’s executive action on immigration. Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell announced Tuesday that the Senate will vote on the bill next week.

But McConnell may have some trouble getting it passed the way that he wants: Senate Democrats united Tuesday with a letter rejecting the anti-Obama stipulations and demanding that McConnell bring a clean bill to the floor.

Katie Pavlich - White House: The Taliban Isn't a Terrorist Group
Posted: 1/29/2015 8:05:00 AM EST

Remember when the Obama administration tried to argue that the Islamic State (ISIS) is not "Islamic." Yesterday during the daily White House press briefing, Deputy Press Secretary Eric Schultz argued that the Taliban is not a terrorist group, but instead an "armed insurgency." Schultz' comments came during discussion of a potential prison swap between the Jordanians and ISIS.

Ah I got it. So because the Taliban is an "armed insurgency" and not a terrorist organization according to the White House, the trade of five top Taliban commanders for alleged deserter Bowe Bergdahl is completely justified....except for it's not. As Guy wrote earlier this week:

The administration has insisted that the Bergdahl swap was not an instance of the US government violating its longstanding policy against negotiating with terrorists, assuring the country that it was a routine prisoner exchange. This assertion is contradicted by the nature of Bergdahl's captors, and the White House's own spin that the plan had to be hatched and executed quickly, without informing Congress (as required by law), because the terrorists had threatened to kill Bergdahl. That's not how routine prisoner exchanges work. Another one of their excuses wilted under light scrutiny. The reality is that the Obama administration has been ideologically hellbent on emptying Gitmo for years, despite Congress' repeated refusals to go along. This scenario offered the president a chance to "get rid of" five dangerous terrorists and dress it up as a happy homecoming story. So the decision was made to (effectively, if not explicitly) negotiate with terrorists, then deny that any such thing had occurred.

The White House's continued efforts to use tortuous language to justify their stance that the war on terror is over isn't fooling anyone. In fact, almost half of Americans feel less safe now than they did before 9/11/2001.

H/T Washington Free Beacon for the video

Conn Carroll - Any Republican Who Votes To Confirm Loretta Lynch Is Voting For Amnesty
Posted: 1/29/2015 8:00:00 AM EST

U.S. Attorney Loretta Lynch testified for just under three hours before the Senate Judiciary Committee Wednesday, but all any conservative needs to know about the confirmation hearing for President Obama's Attorney General nominee took place in just under ten seconds:

Sen. Jeff Sessions (R-AL): "I have to have a clear answer to this question: Ms. Lynch, do you believe the executive action announced by President Obama on November 20th is legal and Constitutional? Yes or no?"

Lynch: "As I’ve read the opinion, I do believe it is, Senator."

That's it. That's the ball game.

Lynch is now on record unquestionably defending Obama's unilateral executive amnesty. An executive action that Majority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-KY) said "is not how democracy is supposed to work" and that Speaker John Boehner (R-OH) said is a violation of the constitution

This is not some insignificant matter for a minor government official. This is the chief law enforcement officer of the United States agreeing with Obama's position that the president can rewrite federal law at his whim under the guise of "prosecutorial discretion."

And under questioning from Sen. Ted Cruz (R-TX), Lynch could not even rule out applying that same "prosecutorial discretion" guise to the nation's tax laws.

Now that Lynch is on record endorsing Obama's view of executive power, any Republican that votes to confirm Lynch as Attorney General is also explicitly endorsing that view.

There is simply no way around it. A vote for Lynch is a vote for Obama's amnesty.

Republican Senators either believe that Obama's amnesty is an unprecedented violation of the Constitution's separation of powers, one that is worth using their own Constitutional powers to fight, or they will rubber stamp Lynch and sweep the issue under the rug.

Republican Senators should think long and hard before they cast their vote on Lynch, and not just because Republican primary voters will remember this vote.

If the Senate wants to continue to be relevant at all, they must push back against Obama's unprecedented expansion of executive power.

The Democratic Party believes they have a lock on the White House for at least a generation if not longer. They also believe that while they might be able to take back the Senate, the House is lost for the foreseeable future.

That means that the only way Democrats will be able to further their progressive agenda is unilaterally through the executive branch. 

Obama's amnesty is just the beginning. If Republicans don't fight back now, Obama will walk over them for the next two years and Hillary may do so for even longer.

Conn Carroll - How Republicans Should Talk About Income Inequality
Posted: 1/28/2015 8:00:00 PM EST

Now that more Americans are beginning to feel the economic recovery, thanks largely to lower gas prices, Republicans are beginning to shift their rhetoric on President Obama's economic record. Suddenly "income inequality" is all the rage.

Mitt Romney talked about it at the Republican National Committee Meeting in San Diego.

Sens. Ted Cruz (R-TX), Rand Paul (R-KY), and Marco Rubio (R-FL) talked about it at the Freedom Partners Chamber of Commerce in Palm Springs.

And Speaker of the House John Boehner (R-OH) and Majority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-KY) talked about it on 60 Minutes.

This new line of attack could be a good one because it is true: income inequality has gotten worse under Obama.

But the message Republicans are selling on income inequality is flat footed. They are still letting liberals and their allies in the media frame the debate. They need to talk about the issue differently and they need to admit Obama isn't the beginning, or end, of the problem.

But first the facts. 

According to UC Berkeley Professor Emmanuel Saez, the share of income going to the nation's top 1 percent of earners has been rising steadily since 1970. During recessions, top earners do see their share of income plummet, but it then comes back even stronger during recoveries. Congressional Budget Office data tells the same story.

Income inequality isn't necessarily bad, especially when everyone's income is rising. But that just hasn't been the case during the last two recoveries. Median income reached an all-time high in 1999 at $56,895 (all data in constant 2013 dollars) before falling to $54,674 in 2004. It then rose again until 2007 when it reached $56,436, a little more than $400 away from the 1999 high. 

But then median income continued to fall through 2012, well after the wealthy began to see gains, finally settling at $51,758. In 2013, the last year for which data is available, median income did inch up to $51,939, but that is still more than $4,000 lower than it's pre-recession high.

The Reagan and first President Bush recoveries were completely different. Before falling in 1990, median income rose for six consecutive years beginning in 1983 and median earners found themselves $3,000 better off from the previous pre-recession high and $6,000 better off than the recession low.

The 1990s recovery, which began under Bush not President Clinton, also saw median incomes recover from a pre-recession high of $52,435 to $56,800 in 1999.

So why didn't median incomes recover during the last two recessions?

We do not really know. But we do know that income inequality is worse, and median incomes have recovered slower, in blue states governed by liberal Democrats with more of the "middle-class economic" policies that Obama now wants to force on the rest of the nation.

In California, for example, which has the higher minimum wage and generous leave policies that Obama wants, all of the wealth created during the Obama recovery has gone to the top 1 percent of earners and median income has fallen more than $1,000 (from $62,280 to $61,094).

Meanwhile, in the red state of Texas, which has fought the Obama agenda at every turn, just 86 percent of income gains during the last recovery has gone to top earners and, more importantly, the median income has risen from $49,420 to $51,900.

So the first thing Republicans need to do when journalists ask them about income inequality is remind everyone that liberal blue states with policies favored by Obama have worse income inequality and falling median incomes while red states with conservative policies have rising median incomes and more evenly distributed income gains (Rand Paul did this briefly in Palm Springs but he didn't hammer it home enough).

More importantly, Republicans need to do a better job of flipping the income inequality question on its head. Here is ABC's John Karl from Palm Springs: "And my question to you, beyond Romney, this is a much bigger issue than any one candidate is do you think that we have a problem in this country with the rising-- with the increasing gap between rich and poor and is it the job of government to try to lessen that gap?"

Note the implicit assumption in Karl's question: that we already have some type of free-market utopia that produces income inequality so the only question is what more government should do to address this problem.

Republicans must reject this premise. Yes, there is a ton government can do to lessen income inequality and government's absolute top priority in that regard should be to identify existing government policies that are already making that problem worse and change them.

That means reforming a tax code that spends $1.4 trillion on tax expenditures that go predominately to the wealthy and then using those revenues to put more money in every paycheck of every working American by cutting the payroll tax.

That means reforming a welfare system that punishes the one institution that the vast majority of Americans know is the best weapon against poverty: marriage.

That means scaling back all the ways the federal government makes it more expensive to hire Americans, like Obamacare's employer mandate.

That means stop drowning the American people in student and mortgage debt. If we want more affordable housing or lower tuition, let's remove the barriers to building more homes and deregulate higher education

That means adopting immigration policies that put American workers ahead of foreign workers

That means breaking up the banks that helped cause the last financial meltdown.

That means ending government created monopolies for taxi cabs and occupational licenses

And it means ending a drug war that puts far too many otherwise productive members of the community behind bars.

The federal government is larger now than it ever has been. It touches more of our every day lives than ever before. 

Is it really helping us? Is more government really the answer?

Republicans need to become more articulate and more specific about the ways government makes it harder for everyday Americans to get ahead. Just saying "crony capitalism" or decrying "regulation" and "lobbyists" isn't enough.

Daniel Doherty - WATCH: Team Walker Unveils Powerful, Forward-Looking 2016 Ad
Posted: 1/28/2015 7:00:00 PM EST

Our American Revival -- a pro-Walker political action committee and fundraising group -- recently unveiled its debut ad. To my knowledge, it’s the first campaign spot of its kind to be released this election cycle. It’s several minutes long and touches on a few familiar themes: the failures of “Smart Power,” the prevailing malaise and incoherence of the Obama era, the intrusive nature of the federal government, and the importance of electing a governor in 2016:

Ed Morrissey weighs in:

It’s a clever ad, on multiple levels. Its length means that it won’t air on television, at least not in paid slots, although portions of it will no doubt air on cable news over the next few days. Walker avoids snark and instead goes for a tone of sincere, Reaganesque revival — matching his “Our American Revival” campaign theme. It’s designed to boost optimism in the future rather than spend too much time looking to the past, although Walker’s team made sure to include a shot of Barack Obama bowing to the emperor of Japan when talking about “weakness abroad.”

That was certainly a striking image, purposefully placed and hard to forget.

Another point of emphasis in the spot, however, is the governor’s impressive track record of reform. The ad urges Americans to look for leaders outside of Washington, D.C in 2016 -- leaders not unlike their preferred candidate with strong resumes and accomplishments to boot. The ad also stresses how desperately the federal government needs to be reformed, and why a governor from a blue state could be the answer.

“Those groups in Washington, they tend to measure success by how many people are dependent on the government,” the ad quotes Walker saying after securing his re-re-election. “We measure success by how many people are no longer dependent on the government. We understand that true freedom and prosperity does not come from the mighty hand of the government -- it comes from empowering people to live their own lives.”

Those tired of federal solutions to every problem we face will find Walker’s message inspiring, hopeful, and refreshing. His rivals, it seems, have their work cut out for them.