As The Hill reports, President Obama's trip to Hawaii this year is a part of a vacation he's been taking since before he was President - and he hasn't discontinued that while having the office of perhaps the most prestigious, stressful job in the country:
He arrived on Tuesday morning at the golf course at Marine Corps Base Hawaii, according to a pool report. He is playing with his high school friends Greg Orme and Bobby Titcomb, as well as staffer Joe Paulsen.
Titcomb and Orme are part of a group of Obama's friends who reunite in Hawaii every year, a practice that continued even after Obama became president.
Obama also made golf outings, which opponents have criticized throughout his presidency, on Saturday and Sunday, the first two days of the break.
This isn't to say that Presidents can or should never take vacations. But it's to point out that President Obama is almost never criticized for his own refusal to yield on vacations by the mainstream media, while it was a firestorm of controversy for his predecessor.
The NLRB siding with a union against a corporate parent of a franchise would completely change how business is done in the United States - and tip the balance towards unions. As Diana Furchtgott-Roth explains:
In July Griffin stated (without offering a legal argument) that McDonald’s USA was a joint employer of those workers who are employed by local McDonald’s franchises, but he waited until last week to bring charges against the parent company. Before his appointment as general counsel, Griffin was one of the unconstitutional recess appointees to the NLRB, whose appointment was overturned by the Supreme Court.
This decision to charge both the McDonald’s franchise and the parent company with these violations overturns decades of precedent. For half a century, the local franchise was considered the only employer. The NLRB defined employers as those who controlled workers’ “essential terms of employment,” namely hiring, wage rates, firing, and job description. The franchises were the employers, not the owner of the franchise.
So the NLRB unilaterally changes the law without any notice or public comment, uses the change in the law to sue a major corporation, and tells the general public that the legal reasoning behind the change cannot be revealed. That’s Kafkaesque. And this from a president who stated in a memorandum on January 21, 2009, that “My Administration is committed to creating an unprecedented level of openness in Government.”
As Furchtgott-Roth notes, this would be yet another example of the executive branch stretching its authority to get an outcome it wants. It would transform McDonald's restaurants from small businesses into organizations that must negotiate with a union like a giant corporation. As Furchtgott-Roth notes, only one-half of one percent of all McDonald's restaurants have legitimate complaints - and Obama's NLRB is using that small gap to ram through a tank.
Of course, this is absurd. Jonathan Gruber is one of Obamacare’s architects, who recently got a tongue-lashing by the House Oversight Committee over comments he made about American voters–he called them stupid–and for saying that this, along with a lack of transparency, were essential to getting Obamacare passed. House Republicans had some questions about his comments on transparency when they became known after a series of videos, featuring the MIT professor, became public.
MRCTV’s Dan Joseph decided to see if Gruber’s insanely condescending attitude towards the American electorate is true. Earlier this month, he ventured onto the hallowed grounds of George Mason University to ask students to support his “petition” to make Jonathan Gruber our country’s next Secretary of Defense.
“It’s like magic when he talks; he’s great at convincing people of things,” said Joseph to a student willing to hear him out on this outlandish proposal.
Joseph did get some signatures for the “Gruber for SecDef” campaign, which is tragic to say the least.
Yet, I’m inclined not to think that the American people are stupid, especially when the media barely mentioned him in the news when “Grubergate” was at its height.
“It’s to bring awareness to those families,” Bray tells Townhall, “to say that we are grateful for the sacrifice and what they’ve given. And not only that, but in a music form, it’s a way to get out to people who may not be affected by war, or who may not be in military families, for them to understand the amount of sacrifice people are putting into this.”
“It’s our war. It’s high time we, especially during the holiday season, we get around to these families and we really hold them close.”
Inspiration came for Bray from Karen Vaughn, whose son Aaron was a member of SEAL Team Six and was lost during “Extortion 17,” the bloodiest single event in the war in Afghanistan - when the Taliban attacked a helicopter and killed 30 Americans. The loss of Aaron Vaughn spurred the creation of Operation 300, a charity that supports children of fallen American soldiers. Proceeds from Madison Rising’s “Soldier’s Christmas” will go directly to benefit the children that Operation 300 supports.
“During our tour with Concerned Veterans for America, I’d watch Karen get up on stage and relive this painful memory to bring awareness to the real sacrifices at hand on a day-to-day basis,” Bray says. “After I finished writing the song, I took it to her and I said Karen, I want to write this song for the holidays and I want to do something special with it… I kind of needed her blessing. She is a gold star mother.”
“The reaction I got from her is that it’s a blessing. It’s the same reason she does what she does.”
The music video for the song was put together with the help of Operation 300 and Minus Red, Jim Hanon’s filmmaking outfit that also aims to bring important messages to the people. Madison Rising is also going to be continuing work with Operation 300 and Concerned Veterans for America in the coming months, hoping to bring awareness and raise money for important military causes. And the outreach they’ve received so far has been astonishing.
"We had a staff sergeant reach out the other day who was on the verge of suicide... she suffers from PTSD, horribly," Bray says. "She listened to this song, and one of her remarks was, 'I'm not sure you tried to do this or not, but this song has given me hope and given me reason to live, to continue on, because if I don't tell the story of what happened to my brothers and sisters who I've lost, then they're gone, and they're gone forever. And it's now my duty to go out and tell those stories.'"
"When you get a message like that from somebody, it'll drop your jaw," Bray says.
Watch the video here:
A federal judge dismissed Arizona county Sheriff Joe Arpaio's lawsuit challenging President Obama's executive amnesty Tuesday, a decision that has absolutely no bearing on the suit filed by Texas and joined by more than two dozen other states.
Federal District Court Judge Beryl Howell, appointed to her current position on the District Court for the District of Columbia by President Obama just four years ago, found that Arpaio did not establish a "concrete and particularized injury" sufficient to establish the legal standing needed to sue in federal court.
"The plaintiff’s case raises important questions regarding the impact of illegal immigration on this Nation, but the questions amount to generalized grievances which are not proper for the Judiciary to address," Howell wrote.
Arpaio's complaint failed to mention if he was suing in his personal or official capacity, and the judge was forced to clarify the matter at oral arguments Monday. Howell found that even in his official capacity as sheriff, Arpaio failed to identify any harms that were not "largely speculative." No one joined Arpaio in his suit.
Separately, on Monday, Tennessee became the 25th state to join Texas' challenge to Obama's most recent executive amnesty. Texas's suit will be heard by U.S. Fifth Circuit District Judge Andrew Hanen, who not only was appointed by President Bush, but also called Obama's immigration policy a "criminal conspiracy" in a 2013 case that correctly predicted the 2014 illegal immigration border surge crisis.
If Obama's amnesty does go forward, not only will states that voted against giving drivers licenses to illegal immigrants, like Oregon, be forced to to do so, but federal taxpayers everywhere will be on the hook for billions in tax credits to amnestied immigrants and their families.
Santa deliverd the weekly Republican address on Friday. Don't worry, I'm not trying to claim the big red guy is politically affiliated. I'm actually referring to Rep. Mike Kelly's (R-Pa.) Christmas message for President Obama, when he used the opportunity to discuss America's need to tap into her vast energy reserves. Holding a piece of coal, Kelly described how it is one of the most significant materials in the world:
“You see, coal is our most abundant and valuable resource. It lights our homes, it keeps our electric bills low, and it puts food on the table for countless families.”
He then cut to the chase. Our president is not taking advantage of this precious resource:
“Instead of forcing our workers to live with less, the president should let us use our God-given resources and talents to help Americans get back to work and make our nation the energy superpower it can be and, quite frankly, that it needs to be."
There's no telling if the president will take a few minutes to watch Kelly's message this holiday season (only the Elf on the Shelf will know), but considering the congressman's address, maybe coal wouldn't be such a bad thing to find in your stocking this year.
As the Associated Press reports:
Among the top 100 individual donors to political groups, more than half gave primarily to Democrats or their allies. Among groups that funneled more than $100,000 to allies, the top of the list tilted overwhelmingly toward Democrats — a group favoring the GOP doesn't appear on the list until No. 14.
The two biggest super PACs of 2014? Senate Majority PAC and House Majority PAC — both backing Democrats.
In all, the top 10 individual donors to outside groups injected almost $128 million into this year's elections. Democratic-leaning groups collected $91 million of it.
Among the 183 groups that wrote checks of $100,000 or more to another group, Democrats had a 3-to-1 cash advantage. The biggest player was the National Education Association, at $22 million. Not a single Republican-leaning group cracked the top 10 list of those transferring money to others.
This is well-known by those who pay close attention to the political process. Liberal billionaire Tom Steyer has been funding his pet causes for a long time now, but it's still the Koch brothers that the media is obsessed with.
Hopefully this will get the media to take notice. But we're not holding our breath here.
As Bloomberg reported:
Gross domestic product grew at a 5 percent annual rate from July through September, the biggest advance since the third quarter of 2003 and up from a previously estimated 3.9 percent, revised figures from the Commerce Department showed today in Washington. The median forecast of 75 economists surveyed by Bloomberg projected a 4.3 percent increase in GDP.
This is a revised rate - the Commerce Department previously estimated that the economy had grown at a 3.9% rate in the third quarter.
This doesn't mean that the economy is healthy. Far from it. But the economy has continued rebounding - even after the stimulus' effects are long over, even after the sequester took a huge chunk out of federal spending. It's also doubtful the Commerce Department is intentionally "cooking the books" - this is a revised estimate, after an earlier, more pessimistic one, and one that's dropped right before the biggest holiday season of the year. It's not something that's going to dominate headlines at a politically-potent time.
So it's mild good news. Not jump-for-joy news, but good nonetheless.
Zerlina Maxwell wrote that we should "automatically" (see the URL for the original headline) believe rape victims. That goes against everything our system of justice stands for, as we base cases on the presumption of innocence until proven guilty. I’m not going down that rabbit hole–and neither should any American who believes in law and order. Dates, names, and physical evidence, need to be analyzed, cross-examined, and pieced together to build a case against the alleged perpetrator.
Again, you probably already know this, but some liberals seem to think otherwise. Why is that? Why is it that for other crimes they believe in the process, but when it comes to rape, it’s an automatic guilty verdict for the accused.
This might the dumbest thing ever published in a mainstream newspaper http://t.co/jORAcDlRqU— Michael C Moynihan (@mcmoynihan) December 6, 2014
Right now, there seems to be this hysteria over sexual assault on campus. I’m not saying rape isn’t a serious issue, but its frequency may be overblown. We’ll get to that a little bit later.
Currently, the reforms and statues aimed at keeping campuses safe from sexual predators seem to be infringing on the civil rights of men. Emily Yoffe at Slate wrote a great long-from piece about the sexual assault epidemic that’s allegedly running rampant in higher education. She used the 2012 story of Drew Sterrett, an engineering student who used to attend the University of Michigan, as her foundation to delve into how college campuses have devolved into a clown circus when it comes to investigating sexual assaults.
Sterrett was a victim of this process; he engaged in what he says was a consensual sexual encounter with a female colleague at school. His roommate noted in a sworn affidavit that it was consensual, even mentioning his frustration that they were being too loud during the act, which was keeping him from sleeping.
Yoffe had a concise description of the legal fiasco that’s unfolding in American higher education:
Unfortunately, under the worthy mandate of protecting victims of sexual assault, procedures are being put in place at colleges that presume the guilt of the accused. Colleges, encouraged by federal officials, are instituting solutions to sexual violence against women that abrogate the civil rights of men. Schools that hold hearings to adjudicate claims of sexual misconduct allow the accuser and the accused to be accompanied by legal counsel. But as Judith Shulevitz noted in the New Republic in October, many schools ban lawyers from speaking to their clients (only notes can be passed). During these proceedings, the two parties are not supposed to question or cross examine each other, a prohibition recommended by the federal government in order to protect the accuser. And by federal requirement, students can be found guilty under the lowest standard of proof: preponderance of the evidence, meaning just a 51 percent certainty is all that’s needed for a finding that can permanently alter the life of the accused.
More than two dozen Harvard Law School professors recently wrote a statement protesting the university’s new rules for handling sexual assault claims. “Harvard has adopted procedures for deciding cases of alleged sexual misconduct which lack the most basic elements of fairness and due process,” they wrote. The professors note that the new rules call for a Title IX compliance officer who will be in charge of “investigation, prosecution, fact-finding, and appellate review.” Under the new system, there will be no hearing for the accused, and thus no opportunity to question witnesses and mount a defense. Harvard University, the professors wrote, is “jettisoning balance and fairness in the rush to appease certain federal administrative officials.” But to push back against Department of Education edicts means potentially putting a school’s federal funding in jeopardy, and no college, not even Harvard, the country’s richest, is willing to do that.
As for Sterrett, the school found him guilty of sexual intercourse without the Complainant’s consent and was suspended until 2016; the year his alleged accuser graduates. All of this after Sterrett gave a thorough rebuttal, which didn’t suggest any sexual assault had occurred. His accuser’s roommate didn’t notice any behavioral shifts until her mother discovered her diary that “contained descriptions of romantic and sexual experiences, drug use, and drinking.” Obviously, this didn’t set well with the mother, who drove Sterrett’s accuser to campus to meet with the university’s conflict resolution official. Even Sterrett’s accuser’s roommate believes that a rape story could have been “manufactured” in response to the discovery of her diary and the alleged confrontation Sterrett’s accuser had with her mother over the summer of 2012. Oh, and the accuser’s roommate also mentioned in an affidavit that the mother called her repeatedly, told her not to talk to Sterrett, and take her daughter’s side in the proceedings.
Right now, Sterrett hopes to finish his education…someday. His lawsuit is pending.
Yoffe documents this tragic story in more detail, which also includes a lengthy deep-dive into the statistics as well. Spoiler alert: they’re not accurate.
Despite what feminists and liberal Democrats have been espousing for years regarding the rates of sexual assault, it’s a little dubious to say there’s a rape epidemic. The figures they give on rape and sexual assault rival that of the Congo in Africa, where it’s being used as a vehicle of war.
Additionally, women in define sexual assault differently. In a study of over 5,000 female college student sexual assault ranged from non-consensual intercourse to “rubbing up against you in a sexual way, even if it is over your clothes.” Most importantly, Yoffe notes that we’re experiencing a great trend in this country: violent crime is down, including sexual assaults; they’re down by more than 60 percent since the mid-1990s:
The Sexual Victimization of College Women, a 2000 study commissioned by the U.S. Department of Justice, is the basis for another widely cited statistic, even grimmer than the finding of CSA: that one in four college women will be raped. (An activist organization, One in Four, takes its name from the finding.) The study itself, however, found a completed rape rate among its respondents of 1.7 percent. How does a study that finds less than 2 percent of college women in a given year are raped become a 25 percent likelihood? In addition to the 1.7 percent of victims of completed rape, the survey found that another 1.1 percent experienced attempted rape. As the authors wrote, “[O]ne might conclude that the risk of rape victimization for college women is not high; ‘only’ about 1 in 36 college women (2.8 percent) experience a completed rape or attempted rape in an academic year.”
In a footnote, the authors acknowledge that asserting that one-quarter of college students “might” be raped is not based on actual evidence: “These projections are suggestive. To assess accurately the victimization risk for women throughout a college career, longitudinal research following a cohort of female students across time is needed.” The one-fifth to one-quarter assertion would mean that young American college women are raped at a rate similar to women in Congo, where rape has been used as a weapon of war.
No one disputes that only a percentage of sexual assaults get reported, but the studies that have tried to capture the incidence of unreported rape are miles apart.
Yoffe also mentions David Lisak, who’s acted as a consultant in the military, colleges, and other institutions regarding sexual assault, and his 2002 study that’s become the foundation for curbing the frequency of such brutal attacks in our society. In essence, those who commit rapes on campuses fit the profile of a sexual predator. They’re a small group–and they’re repeat offenders. He noted in an article for Sexual Assault Report that “decent” young men do not (although he admits sometimes they do) engage in this barbarism against women since serial offenders are responsible for 90 percent of attacks of attacks. They’re “multi-faceted,” and their attacks are pre-planned and premeditated.
It’s pretty sick stuff. Lisak found in his 2002 that 6.4 percent of men “met criteria for rape or attempted rape;” Yoffe mentioned that 80 percent admitted to taking advantaged of an intoxicated partner.
Yet, while Yoffe credits Lisak for profiling these predators who are adept at evading capture, she’s quick to note that it isn’t representative of all college men. She also mentioned that his sample included more than just this demographic:
To start, though the study was of college men, it was not of college-age men (who are traditionally ages 18 to 24). Lisak’s participants ranged in age from 18 to 71. The average age of his respondents was 26.5, and more than 20 percent were older than 30. How does a study of men in college include so many older men? Lisak recruited people from where he taught, the University of Massachusetts Boston, an urban commuter school with no campus housing. Many students are older working people returning to or just starting college. Currently, 30 percent of its students attend part time and the school’s four-year graduation rate is 15 percent. By comparison, at the state’s flagship university in Amherst, seven percent of students are enrolled part time and its four-year graduation rate is 60 percent.
I spoke with James J. Cochran, professor of applied statistics at the University of Alabama. He said that because the population of male students at UMass Boston may differ in important ways from the population of male college students across all universities, we must be careful in generalizing results from the UMass Boston sample to the population of male college students across all universities.* People tend to think that a single study is definitive, Cochran told me. But generally what a single study tells you, he said, is that we have “evidence of something interesting, let’s study it more.”
Lisak conducted the study between 1991 to 1998, at several year intervals, setting up tables on campus, where he offered men $3 or $4 to complete a study on “childhood experiences and adult functioning.” In all, Lisak and his co-author recruited 1,882 participants (the school had a total of about 5,800 male students during this period). Lisak and his co-author wrote: “Because of the non-random nature of the sampling procedures, the reported data cannot be interpreted as estimates of the prevalence of sexual and other acts of violence.” I asked Lisak about this caveat in an interview and he said, “That’s a standard disclaimer for any study.”
Hence, we come back to the issue of having healthy criticism when rape claims come forward. The mantra of the feminist left is to believe alleged rape victims because women don’t lie, or something.
After the Duke lacrosse fiasco, where the three young men were allegedly involved in sexually assaulting a stripper, they were declared more than just not guilty, but innocent by North Carolina’s Attorney General Roy Cooper.
To automatically believe one person’s account and disregard others when a serious crime is committed goes against everything codified in our system of justice. At the same time, it’s doubly irresponsible to take such a position when the facts and figures on the subject of sexual assault is shaky to suggest that college is a dystopia for women. In fact, DOJ reports show that college students are less likely to be victims of sexual assault.
It does appear that institution in higher learning are not equipped for the arduous, tedious process that our system of justice takes to make sure nothing falls through the cracks, to prevent innocent people’s lives from being ruined by frivolous allegations, to get the facts straight, and allow due process.
It’s hard to do that when raw emotion and a disregard for due process sets in when it comes to investigating such heinous allegations. Feminists trust women. So do I, but investigations into allegations of sexual assault need to include–and respect– due process of law, especially at the college level.
On December 18, 2014, the State Department put Ibrahim al-Rubaysh, a senior leader of al Qaeda in the Arabian Peninsula, on a Specially Designated Global Terrorist watch list. Al-Rubaysh plays a key role in operational planning for the terrorist group and provides justification for their attacks. He’s also made public statements on more than one occasion calling for war against the United States. For these reasons, there’s been a $5 million reward offered since October for information that could lead to his capture.
The problem is not the terrorist per se, or the State Department’s decision to place him on the global watch list; it’s the fact that the U.S. already had him once—and let him go.
Judicial Watch explains:
Hundreds of Gitmo terrorists have been discharged over the years under a program that started with President George W. Bush and continued full-throttle with this administration. Intelligence report after intelligence report has revealed that many rejoin terrorist missions after leaving the military prison. In fact, Judicial Watch has been reporting this for years. Back in 2010 JW wrote about a report that the Director of National Intelligence gave Congress documenting that 150 former Gitmo detainees were confirmed or suspected of “reengaging in terrorist or insurgent activities after transfer.” At least 83 remained at large, according to the document.
Now we learn that the U.S. government is secretly admitting that it erred in at least one case, the release of a Saudi national named Ibrahim al-Rubaysh. In late 2006 the Bush administration repatriated him back home under a Saudi Arabian “rehabilitation” program that supposedly reformed Guantanamo Bay jihadists but instead has served as a training camp for future terrorists. In fact, in 2008 counterterrorism officials confirmed that many of the terrorists who return to “the fight” after being released from U.S. custody actually graduated from the laughable Saudi rehab program, which started under Bush and continued under Obama.
It turns out that al-Rubaysh is the poster child for the Saudi rehab’s failures. He’s a dangerous Al Qaeda operative based in Yemen and now, years after freeing him, the United States wants him captured.
As Judicial Watch noted, this is not exactly the first time former Gitmo detainees have rejoined the fight, no matter what type of rehabilitation programs they’re placed into upon release. And yet, this administration seems to have learned nothing. By releasing more and more Gitmo detainees, they’re continuing to place politics ahead of security concerns.
Just over the weekend, for example, four Afghan detainees were released, bringing the number down to 132. Many more transfers are expected in the coming weeks.