Nancy Pelosi looks ENRAGED on the House floor. She shook her head and covered her eyes at one point.— Jake Sherman (@JakeSherman) March 3, 2015
…As one who values the U.S. – Israel relationship, and loves Israel, I was near tears throughout the Prime Minister’s speech – saddened by the insult to the intelligence of the United States as part of the P5 +1 nations, and saddened by the condescension toward our knowledge of the threat posed by Iran and our broader commitment to preventing nuclear proliferation.
Sen. Bob Menendez takes joy in being on the wrong side of Tehran, and he's not afraid of being at odds with his own party's White House. "When it comes to defending the U.S.-Israel relationship, I am not intimidated by anyone—not Israel's political enemies and not by my political friends when I believe they're wrong," Menendez declared to an energized crowd at the AIPAC policy conference Monday evening. A call to action for his fellow members of Congress, Menendez vowed never to back down from a brawl to defend the U.S. and Israel's "sacrosanct" and "untouchable" relationship. "As long as I have an ounce of fight left in me, as long as I have a vote and a say and a chance to protect the interest of Israel, the region, and the national security interests of the United States—Iran will never have a pathway to a weapon," Menendez says. "It will never threaten Israel or its neighbors, and it will never be in a position to start a nuclear-arms race in the Middle East. Not on my watch." Menendez's speech marked a crescendo in a long and—at times—tense relationship with the Obama administration.
Pro-lifers had reason to doubt Wisconsin Gov. Scott Walker’s pro-life credentials. During his re-election campaign this fall, the Republican incumbent was featured in a TV ad where he offered a weak defense of unborn rights. The pro-life group LiveAction described it as “mealy-mouthed equivocation.” Here’s an excerpt from the ad they’d like to forget:
Hi, I’m Scott Walker. I’m pro-life. But there’s no doubt in my mind the decision of whether or not to end a pregnancy is an agonizing one. That’s why I support legislation to increase safety and to provide more information for a woman considering her options. The bill leaves the final decision to a woman and her doctor. Now, reasonable people can disagree on this issue. Our priority is to protect the health and safety of all Wisconsin citizens.
Pro tip: Never should a politician follow up an “I’m pro-life” with a “But.”
To make matters worse, just this week Walker failed to provide a strong answer to Fox News’ Chris Wallace when the host asked about his pro-life stance. The governor avoided giving a straight answer and ultimately said it was up to the courts to decide what to do about abortion rights.
WALLACE: But ultimately it's her choice?
WALKER: Well, legally, that's what it is under the guidelines that was provided from the Supreme Court.
WALLACE: And would you change that law?
WALKER: Well, I -- that's not a change you can make. The Supreme Court ultimately has made that.
His lack of passion justifiably bristled pro-lifers yet again.
But, Walker may have soothed pro-lifers’ frustration with this one announcement:
As the Wisconsin legislature moves forward in the coming session, further protections for mother and child are likely to come to my desk in the form of a bill to prohibit abortions after 20 weeks. I will sign that bill when it gets to my desk and support similar legislation on the federal level.
Just like that, Walker seems to be back in pro-lifers’ good graces. In this open letter, Walker was referring to the controversial Pain-Capable Unborn Child Protection Act that bans abortion after 20 weeks, the point at which unborn babies can feel pain. Congress failed to take up this legislation for a vote in January after a few Republicans such as Rep. Renee Ellmers (R-NC) worried how voters would react to such a sweeping pro-life law. Hint: They would support it. Thankfully, the bill is now making its way through the states.
Marjorie Danenfelser, president of the pro-life organization Susan B. Anthony List, spoke for many pro-lifers when she responded to the Wisconsin governor’s welcome news:
His commitment to the Pain-Capable Unborn Child Protection Act in Wisconsin and nationally is the best first step for a pro-life candidate and one that is embraced by the nation. This popular legislation has been endorsed by almost every Republican hopeful for 2016.
Pro-life advocates are looking for a leader in 2016. With this new bold proclamation, Walker is proving he has what it takes to stand up for the unborn.
Speaking at the pro-abortion Emily's List 30th anniversary gala Tuesday night, Hillary Clinton all but announced a 2016 run for the White House to a friendly crowd of supporters.
Hillary wakes up the crowd: "Don't you someday want to see a woman president of the united states?"— Zeke Miller (@ZekeJMiller) March 4, 2015
Hillary: "Along life's way you make millions of decisions. Some of them are big…like do you run for office"— Zeke Miller (@ZekeJMiller) March 4, 2015
During her speech, Clinton also attempted to connect with "regular people" by telling stories about her grandfather working in a factory.
Hillary: "i'm like so many of you in this room…my grandfather was a factory worker starting at the age of 11"— Zeke Miller (@ZekeJMiller) March 4, 2015
She also talked about income inequality.
Hillary on GOP talking about income inequality "It's like watching the end of Casablanca"— Zeke Miller (@ZekeJMiller) March 4, 2015
No word yet on whether EMILY's List coughed up Clinton's standard $300,000 speaking fee for her to be there last night. EMILY's List also hasn't bothered to comment on Clinton's time at the State Department where she took millions of dollars from governments and countries that regularly abuse the human rights of women, if they're given any rights at all.
Clinton is expected to make an official announcement about running for president in April.
A solid 55 percent of registered voters oppose President Obama's most recent executive actions on immigration a new Quinnipiac University National poll released Wednesday found.
Asked, "Do you support or oppose the executive order issued by President Obama in 2014 allowing some undocumented immigrants to stay in the United States," 55 percent said they opposed Obama's policy and just 40 percent said they supported it.
Interestingly though, while a majority of Americans oppose Obama's amnesty, fewer Americans believe the program exceeds Obama's authority as president. Asked, "Regardless what you think of this immigration policy, do you think Barack Obama acted within his authority as president when he issued this executive order, or do you think his actions went beyond his authority as president," just 51 percent said Obama exceed his authority while 41 percent said his actions were legal.
Obama received poor marks from voters on a variety of issues beyond immigration, including a 35 - 55 percent negative rating on foreign policy, 39 - 54 on terrorism, and 35 - 55 on the Islamic State. Also, more Americans, 31 percent, say Obama's policies have hurt their personal financial situation, than say Obama has helped them, just 20 percent. Almost half, 48 percent, say Obama's policies has had no effect on their economic condition.
The only entity with poorer marks than Obama is the Republican Congress, who Americans disapprove of by a 22 - 69 percent margin. However, when asked to choose, "Who do you trust more to make decisions that are good for the country, President Obama or the Republicans in Congress," more Americans, 47 percent, chose Republicans in Congress than chose Obama, 42 percent.
The poll was conducted from February 26 to March 2, and had a sample of 1,286 registered voters nationwide.
The battle over Obamacare continues today as arguments in King v. Burwell kick off in front of the Supreme Court.
The case addresses whether "the Internal Revenue Service may permissibly promulgate regulations to extend tax-credit subsidies to coverage purchased through exchanges established by the federal government under Section 1321 of the Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act." Essentially, the case looks at whether federal subsidies are legal and available to people living in states that did not set up their own Obamacare exchanges. If a ruling comes down in favor of King, the Affordable Care Act could potentially be gutted. Thirty-five states have decided not to set up federal exchanges. Here's a quick summary of the details:
The plaintiffs, four Virginia residents, argue that Americans who bought insurance through the federal ObamaCare exchange are not entitled to subsidies because the law says only those who bought policies in state exchanges are eligible.Dozens of legal organizations like Judicial Watch and Landmark Legal Foundation have submitted amicus briefs in favor of King in the case.
At least 5.5 million Americans last year bought insurance on the federal exchange and received the subsidies.
Both sides in the case -- known as King v. Burwell -- generally agree that if the high court decides that millions of recipients are no longer eligible, they likely will no longer be able to afford insurance under ObamaCare and exit the system.
"This is a case about first principles. The Executive Branch has not only exceeded the boundaries of the legislative power, but has done so in an effort to circumvent the principles of representative government to avoid securing the consent of the governed," a brief submitted by Landmark Legal, which is headed by Mark Levin, states. "The Constitution separates the powers of government to protect the liberty of the American people and prevent the tyranny of a self-aggrandizing government. Attempts by the Executive Branch to assume the legislative function deprives the People of an open debate conducted by their politically accountable representatives and is antithetical to the Constitution’s design."Obamacare architect Jonathan Gruber, now infamous for calling the American people "too stupid" to understand how the healthcare law works, argued two years ago people living in states that do not set up Obamacare exchanges are not eligible for federal healthcare subsidies.
"I think what’s important to remember politically about this is, if you’re a state and you don’t set up an exchange, that means your citizens don’t get their tax credits (subsidies)," Gruber said at a lecture in 2012. "But your citizens still pay the taxes that support this bill. So you’re essentially saying to your citizens, you’re going to pay all the taxes to help all the other states in the country. I hope that’s a blatant enough political reality that states will get their act together and realize there are billions of dollars at stake here in setting up these exchanges, and that they’ll do it."
Although arguments in this case will be heard today, a decision will not be announced until June.
In case you missed it yesterday, the New York Times reported that during her time as Secretary of State Hillary Clinton conducted the entirety of her official government business through a personal email account, potentially violating the Federal Records Act and skirting Freedom of Information Act laws.
Congressman Trey Gowdy (R-SC), who is leading the Select Committee investigation into the 9/11 Benghazi terror attack, has taken notice of Clinton's personal email habit and said yesterday he will be asking Clinton's email provider to turn over necessary information.
#Benghazi Cmte Chair Gowdy on Hillary Clinton emails: It was nothing short of incredible that an official would engage in this.— Chad Pergram (@ChadPergram) March 3, 2015
#Benghazi Cmte Chair Gowdy on Hillary Clinton emails: The cmte is going to have to go to her and her email providers.— Chad Pergram (@ChadPergram) March 3, 2015
#Benghazi Cmte Chair Gowdy on Hillary Clinton emails: You don't need a law degree to understand how troubling this is.— Chad Pergram (@ChadPergram) March 3, 2015
Yesterday White House Press Secretary Josh Earnest desperately tried to justify Clinton's use of personal email for government business, saying all of the necessary information that was sent on personal email was also forwarded to the proper locations for the federal record. Earnest also argued that because Clinton was having conversations with State Department employees using their official government email addresses, her personal emails were being stored in compliance with the Federal Records Act.
Hundreds of taxis gridlocked downtown Brussels, Belgium on Tuesday, taking a stand against entrepreneurship, the free market, and the power of choice.
Unions claimed that more than 1,200 taxis -- including 100 from France -- drove through the heart of the city, slowing to block major intersections in protest of the expansion of the international ridesharing service Uber.
“We are fed up with Uber. They took 50% of our customers,” one of the protesters told the Wall Street Journal.
Taxis were emblazoned with signs reading “ceci n’est pas un taxi clandestin” (this is not an illegal taxi) and “non a Uber” (no to Uber).
The Silicon Valley-based startup that has revolutionized inner city transportation has now expanded to 55 countries around the world. Uber is often met with sharp resistance from taxi unions, who are often unhappy because Uber’s affordable pricing offers “unfair competition” to entrenched union drivers.
“It is killing all the jobs of the legal taxis who work legally and pay their taxes and so on – while the others have a complete other way of working, don’t pay their taxes and can offer less expensive services,” said a taxi driver in Brussels said, according to euronews.
Uber claims to comply with all tax laws.
“We’re totally legal, like totally legal, and the government is telling us to shut down. And you can either do what they say or you can fight for what you believe,” Uber C.E.O. Travis Kalanick told Vanity Fair last year.
The City of Brussels banned Uber from operating within the city last year, but last week Brussels Transport Minister Pascal Smet announced plans to legalize the driving service in 2016.
Uber operates freely in many European cities, but Brussels is not the first city which banned the company: Madrid, Spain has prohibited Uber within the city, and the service is highly regulated in Paris, France. Protests against the company’s expansion occurred all across Europe last summer, but Uber now thrives in more than 40 cities across the continent.
Hillary is reportedly launching her presidential campaign next month, and she’s already creating obstacles before she hits the ground running. The latest controversy surrounding the former Secretary of State was her use of a personal email account to conduct affairs of state, which appears to be a breach of the Federal Records Act. Then again, as Katie reported earlier this morning, the use of one’s personal email account for official business isn’t entirely alien to this administration:
This isn't the first time the Obama administration has been caught evading federal records laws by using personal email, which ultimately allows officials to escape scrutiny under the Freedom of Information Act and Congressional investigation. During Operation Fast and Furious, former Assistant Attorney General Lanny Breuer got caught forwarding and editing official information about the scandal to his personal email account. Former Department of Homeland Security Secretary Janet Napolitano claimed she didn't have an email account. IRS officials caught up in the targeting of conservatives, including Lois Lerner, used a personal email account to conduct official government business. Former DOJ Civil Rights attorney and current Labor Secretary Tom Perez used his personal email account during his time at DOJ for official business. Just yesterday, a federal judge ruled the EPA lied about transparency in response to FOIA requests, and in the past, EPA officials have been caught violating federal records laws by using personal email to conduct government business.
It should be noted that Rep. Trey Gowdy’s (R-SC) select committee that’s investigating Benghazi uncovered this development. Additionally, members of media, including Lawrence O’Donnell, seem stupefied, calling this story “unusual” and “a shocking breach of security” (via Mediaite):
New York Times reporter Jeremy Peters said this is definitely “unusual,” but only adds to the idea that Clinton is not very “forthcoming” and “not all business is being conducted in the open like it should be.” MSNBC senior editor Beth Fouhy also wondered, “Where were the State Department lawyers who allowed this to go forward?”
Fouhy said, “She understands rules and protocol, and for her to just willingly violate it just to preserve some semblance of privacy just really makes no sense.”
O’Donnell, meanwhile, was just baffled at how the Secretary of State could be “using a not-secure, commercial email system” the entire time. He called it a “stunning breach of security and said, “If it’s true that she never used a State Department email address, we have something that, at first read, has no conceivable rational explanation to it that is legitimate.”
On top of finding an explanation for this, if there is one, there's a frantic scramble to staff her long-awaited presidential bid. Right now, the S.S. Clinton is akin to a ghost ship, with no one really able to push back attacks against her, specifically the allegations lobbed at the Clinton Foundation, where the organization is accused of taking money from foreign governments while Clinton served as Secretary of State. At least one donation is being reported as an ethics violation.
The massive campaign machinery is in place, but for now, it’s up to “a small corps of well-regarded, loyal and badly overstretched aides who have been forced to deal with an avalanche of requests about the foundation, starting with reports that officials solicited millions in donations from foreign governments,” according to Politico:
While reporters scramble to divine the precise date Clinton will announce her candidacy (the consensus opinion since late last year is that has she’ll jump into the race later this month or in April), Clinton insiders say assembling and deploying staff is a far more important milestone.
“We have had our head up our ass,” one former senior Clinton aide told POLITICO, reflecting the general view of a half-dozen Clinton loyalists. “This stuff isn’t going to kill us, but it puts us behind the eight ball.”
Attempts by Clinton’s tiny personal PR staff have been less than effective. The revelations about the Clinton Foundation have made backers nervous, and Clinton’s inner circle has been coordinating with the foundation as it has become clear that the network of outside groups designed to defend and protect Clinton before her launch have been insufficient.
Pro-Clinton groups, like American Bridge, have also launched a counteroffensive against the email revelations, but have fallen short (via Politico):
A pro-Clinton armada of progressive groups led by David Brock – Media Matters For America, American Bridge and Correct The Record – is waging an aggressive effort to dismiss the coverage of Hillary Clinton's potential violation of federal email requirements as "deceptive."
The news of Clinton's use of personal emails for official business was first reported by The New York Times.
The Times article, by Washington-based reporter Michael Schmidt, stated that Clinton's exclusive use of a personal email address at the State Department "may have violated federal requirements that officials’ correspondence be retained as part of the agency’s record." In reports and press releases, Brock's groups argued that Schmidt's article neglected to mention that the relevant portions of the Federal Records Act pertaining to such requirement did not go into effect until November 2014, after Clinton's tenure at State.
Unfortunately for these pro-Hillary groups, the regulations that are relevant to Schmidt's report – the National Archives and Records Administration (NARA) requirements – have been in place since at least 2009, when Clinton became secretary of state.
According to Section 1236.22 of the 2009 NARA requirements, which Schmidt provided in an email, "Agencies that allow employees to send and receive official electronic mail messages using a system not operated by the agency must ensure that Federal records sent or received on such systems are preserved in the appropriate agency recordkeeping system."
Yet, earlier today, the former head of litigation at NARA, Jason Baron, said Clinton didn’t break the law–and that the Federal Records Act is “amorphous.” Though Baron said in the Times piece that “it is very difficult to conceive of a scenario — short of nuclear winter — where an agency would be justified in allowing its cabinet-level head officer to solely use a private email communications channel for the conduct of government business.”
It should be interesting how the media treats this kerfuffle to that of the Bush administration, who lost 5 million White House emails in 2007. John Podesta, Clinton’s probable campaign manager, said in the Wall Street Journal at the time “At the end of the day, it looks like they [the Bush administration] were trying to avoid the records act ... by operating official business off the official systems.”
So, does this show that Hillary doesn’t want to be president? If she does want to succeed Barack Obama in 2017, she’s been making it a lot harder for herself, especially given the fact that she’s a hyper-partisan figure whose favorability ratings sink the longer she sits in the spotlight.
Ron Fournier at National Journal wrote that the former First Lady should probably pack it in and call it a night concerning her presidential ambitions:
Perhaps Hillary Rodham Clinton shouldn't run for president.
Maybe she should stay at the Bill, Hillary & Chelsea Clinton Foundation, where the former secretary of State could continue her life's work of building stronger economies, health care systems, and families. Give paid speeches. Write best-selling books. Spend time with Charlotte, her beloved granddaughter.
Because she doesn't seem ready for 2016. Like a blast of wintry air in July, the worst of 1990s-style politics is intruding on what needs to be a new millennium campaign: Transparent, inspirational, innovative, and beyond ethical reproach.
Many senior Democrats are angry [with the Clinton Foundation and personal email account developments], though not yet mad enough to publicly confront the Clintons. "This story has legs as long as the election," said a Democrat who has worked on Capitol Hill and as a presidential campaign manager. "She will be tripping over this crap until the cows come home."
Another presidential campaign veteran who held a Cabinet-level post in Bill Clinton's White House fretted out loud about the fact that the former first lady is breezing toward the Democratic nomination.
"We can't have a coronation when she's handing Republicans an inquisition," the Democrat said.
But now I wonder whether there is a part of her that doesn't want to be president. She seems to be placing obstacles in her lane before the race begins. Is this sabotage or something else?
My concern is that Clinton does not see this controversy as a personal failing. Rather, she sees it as a political problem that can be fixed with more polls, more money, and more attacks. In a Politico story about the push to assemble a presidential campaign staff, a former senior Clinton aide said, "We have had our head up our ass. This stuff isn't going to kill us, but it puts us behind the eight ball."
Due respect, Clinton's problem isn't a lack of staff. It's a lack of shame about money, personal accountability, and transparency.
In all, this is something Team Clinton surely didn’t want weeks before the launch of her national campaign. Cheers!
With 2016 just around the corner, I asked young people attending the Conservative Political Action Conference what they believe is the most important issue for Millennials.
Days after the death of Putin opponent Boris Nemtsov, who claimed to be able to prove Russian support of the rebels in Ukraine, rebel armed forces are still moving heavy weapons and equipment into eastern Ukraine.
Meanwhile, American and European leaders are still discussing how to successfully implement a ceasefire to end the conflict. Since the Minsk Agreement last month, Ukrainian and Russian forces have had difficulty attaining the required ceasefire. As rebel forces are reportedly still moving to key cities in the east, Ukrainian troops are completing their removal of 100-mm weapons from Donbas, according to the Ukrainian Defense Ministry.
“Shooting, shelling has still been going on and people have still been killed over the course of these last days,” U.S. Secretary of State John Kerry said Monday to press in Geneva. “So there is not yet a full ceasefire... So our hope is that in the next hours, certainly not more than days, this will be fully implemented.”
President Barack Obama held a video conference Tuesday afternoon with leaders from France, Germany, Italy and the U.K. “to discuss the Ukraine crisis and global security issues,” the White House said. The U.S. has threatened further sanctions on Russia if the ceasefire is not successful.
“The concentration and movement of military equipment and personnel of the Russian armed forces, in particular tanks, armored personnel carriers, other armored vehicles, multiple rocket launchers, anti-aircraft and artillery units, continue in some areas of Donetsk and Luhansk regions,” Ukrainian Foreign Ministry Spokesman Yevhen Perebyinis said, according to ukrinform.ua, a Ukrainian news outlet.
Russian President Vladimir Putin “noted the importance of rigorously abiding by the ceasefire regime, continuing the process of removing heavy arms,” according to a readout of his telephone call with French President Francois Hollande, German Chancellor Angela Merkel and Ukrainian President Petro Poroshenko on Monday.
In addition, the Minsk Agreement requires the exchange of all prisoners connected with the conflict. During the call on Tuesday, Poroshenko highlighted the necessity of “liberation of all hostages illegally kept imprisoned in Donetsk and Luhansk regions, as well as in Russia.” After nine months, captured Ukrainian helicopter pilot Nadiya Savchenko remains in Russian custody for her alleged involvement in the death of two Russian journalists.
The area is controlled by illegal military formations, according to UN High Commissioner for Human Rights Armen Harutyunyan, and though the death toll is much lower than early “ceasefire” attempts, casualties are still common.
Tuesday, Kiev announced three deaths and nine wounded in a shelling by Russian-sympathetic opposition -- the highest death toll in several days. According to the latest reports from the United Nations, more than 6,000 people have been killed in the Ukraine conflict since April 2014.