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Daniel Doherty - Shorter Marco Rubio: Rand Paul is Utterly Clueless on Cuba; UPDATE: Rand Responds
Posted: 12/19/2014 1:15:00 PM EST

Sen. Rand Paul (R-KY) thinks the president’s decision to “normalize” relations with Cuba is “probably a good idea.” Once again, he’s walking a lonely and desolate road as almost all Republicans and even some Democrats oppose such a policy shift. Sen. Marco Rubio (R-FL), for instance, has been sounding the alarm about appeasing an entrenched and despotic dictator, warning that doing so will not bring prosperity and self-government to Cuba as intended. On the contrary, as he stated in his much-watched press conference earlier this week, reconciliation will merely “tighten this regime’s grip on power.”

With respect to the embargo, he also reminded his colleagues last night on The Kelly File that we already trade with Cuba and send Americans there. Thus lifting the embargo, he argued, will not, in any meaningful sense, improve conditions on the island. To emphasis his point, Rubio slammed the junior Senator from Kentucky for regurgitating and believing false talking points.

“Like many people that have been opining, [Rand Paul] has no idea what he's talking about,” Rubio said. “What’s hurting the Cuban people is not the embargo. What’s hurting the Cuban people is the Cuban government.”

Watch the full clip below:

UPDATE: Well that didn't take long:

UPDATE: Read this too.

Ky Sisson - VIDEO: Rep. Bill Flores: Obama's Legacy a 'Disaster'
Posted: 12/19/2014 1:00:00 PM EST

Last week, Townhall sat down with Congressman Bill Flores (R-TX) about his new role as the Chair of the Republican Study Committee. 

Read more here.

Flores believes President Obama's attack on family values, his disregard for unborn life, and his careless defense of religious freedom attribute to what he calls a disastrous legacy the American people won't forget. 

WATCH:

Matt Vespa - Unbelievable: Rolling Stone Writer Is Re-Reporting Her Botched UVA Story
Posted: 12/19/2014 11:45:00 AM EST

Talk about sending the arsonist to put out the fire. Rolling Stone made it known that a re-reporting mission will be assembled to address the abysmal journalism in their disgraceful Nov. 19 story about an alleged gang rape at the University of Virginia. Sabrina Rubin Erdely wrote the piece and came under fire for failing, amongst other things, to reach out to the alleged attackers for their account of the night’s events. Now, it seems Erdely is re-reporting what happened on the night of the alleged assault, a night where the fraternity allegedly at fault held no social gathering.

To recap, the alleged victim named Jackie claims several men gang raped her in a darkened room on a broken glass table. When the ordeal was over, she was bloodied, beaten, and traumatized. Yet, her three friends (“Andy,” “Cindy,” and “Randall”) who also weren’t contacted by RS, claimed that they felt something traumatic had happened to her, but there were no visible injuries on her when they saw her that night. They wanted to go to the authorities, but Jackie was against this course of action.

It’s a far cry from how Erdley described them. In her piece, they were distant, apathetic, and consumed about their position on UVA’s social ladder; claims they rejected in their recent interview with ABC News. Oh, and their real names are Ryan Duffin (“Randall”), Alex Stock (“Andy”), and Kathryn Hendley (“Cindy)”

Now, Erdely is reaching out to them (via Associated Press) [emphasis mine]:

One of the friends, a 20-year-old, third-year student referred to as "Randall" in the Rolling Stone article but whose real name is Ryan Duffin, told the AP that not only did he encourage the alleged victim to go to police, but he started to dial 9-1-1 on his cellphone until she begged off saying she just wanted to go back to her dorm and go to sleep.

"I couldn't help but notice that everything that the article said about me was incorrect," Duffin said.

The AP also spoke with the other two friends portrayed in the article: third-year, 20-year-old U.Va. students Kathryn Hendley and Alex Stock, known as "Cindy" and "Andy" in the article. None of the three friends was contacted by Rolling Stone's reporter, Sabrina Rubin Erdely, before the article was published; each of them rejected multiple assertions made in the article, for which Rolling Stone has since apologized for and noted discrepancies.

All three say Erdely has since reached out to them, and that she has told them she is re-reporting the story. Hendley told the AP Erdely apologized to her for portraying her the way she did.

Erdely and Rolling Stone Managing Editor Will Dana did not respond to an email from The Associated Press on Sunday morning seeking comment.

Should we be skeptical about this effort? Yes! Alex Pinkleton, a student at UVA and a friend of Jackie, was interviewed for the original RS piece, and mentioned that Erdely had an agenda when writing this story (via Newsbusters) [emphasis mine]:

BRIAN STELTER, HOST OF CNN’s RELIABLE SOURCES: So what did you experience with the reporter? She was on campus for a long time. She interviewed you and a lot of other students. What were your impressions of her?

ALEX PINKLETON, FRIEND OF ALLEGED UVA ASSAULT VICTIM: I think she had her heart in the right place. She wanted to bring light to this issue – and it is a prevalent issue at UVA, and on campuses across the nation. However, she did have an agenda, and part of that agenda was showing how monstrous fraternities themselves as an institution are, and blaming the administration for a lot of the sexual assaults.

STELTER: What were some of the questions she asked you that made you feel that way?

PINKLETON: When she asked about my own assault, she kept asking – you know, did he feed you the drinks? Was he keeping tabs of the drinks that night? And he wasn't, and that's something that I had to keep saying over and over again, and I think – I felt like she wasn't satisfied with my perpetrator as someone who wasn't clearly monstrous.

[…]

PINKLETON: I think that she should have fact checked, and I'm really upset and angry, like a lot of people are, that that didn't happen. And now, we're in a very difficult situation....

...Again, I think her intentions were good. I just think that the job was done poorly, and I am upset with that aspect of it. But I also know that she was trying to come from a point of advocacy. But as a reporter, you can't be like an advocate and support a story and listen to it and think everything is true; and then, report on it without trying to figure out if it's true.

My job as an advocate was never to question Jackie's story or question the details, because I didn't need to. But the role that she's in, as a reporter....she needed to do that.

Matt Taibbi of Rolling Stone, who incurred the wrath of the right on social media when he penned an inflammatory obituary to the late Andrew Breitbart; said the magazine is feels awful about how this story fell apart, especially on the fact-checking side. According to Taibbi, the process for him is a slow, arduous one, but noted that he feels safe publishing pieces there since he knows everything has been looked at with a fine-tooth comb (via WaPo):

“For people like me and for a lot of the other reporters who’ve worked there over the years, this was a real shock to us because, speaking personally — people laughed at me when I said this on Twitter — what I go through normally in the fact-checking process at that magazine has always been a really difficult, long, thorough, painful process,” said Taibbi. “And that was actually one of the things that always attracted me to working there, which is that I feel safe when I publish things because I feel like it’s been double-checked and, you know, that was always a good feeling. And clearly I think in this particular situation, the controls got broken down somewhere and they’re looking into that. I’m sure they’re coming up with some answers.”

That’s fine, but Erdely’s fact-finding mission is already complete. All she has to do is read the Washington Post. After all, they did the job she was supposed to do when first reporting on this story. Red flags should have gone up when the pictures of her date that her three friends saw on the night of Jackie’s alleged assault turned out to be one of her former classmates from high school. But, Erdely never contacted them, so this tripwire was never seen.

I can only imagine what kind of Frankenstein monster-like article will come out of this re-reporting initiative on behalf of RS. Seriously RS, everyone else did the legwork for you; it’s over now.

Cortney O'Brien - Bill, Hillary Used $1.5 Million in Midterm Travel Expenses to Stump for Failed Candidates
Posted: 12/19/2014 11:15:00 AM EST

The average voter will be happy to know that the Clintons used over $1.5 million this midterm election to campaign for failed Democratic hopefuls. Democratic campaigns and political committees shelled out this exorbitant amount of money for the political duo to use private jets and the like to make speeches that, according to the polls on November 5, reached no further than their podiums.

Here’s just a taste of the waste:

The tally includes $44,360 the final weekend of the campaign for a plane in Iowa. That was when Bill Clinton did a fly-around for failed Democratic Senate hopeful Bruce Braley. There was also a $21,801 charge that weekend to Louisiana Sen. Mary Landrieu’s unsuccessful reelection campaign, a POLITICO review found.

For those who haven’t been keeping count, just know that the majority of the candidates Bill and Hillary stumped for lost – badly. In addition to Braley’s and Landrieu’s unsuccessful bids, other failed campaigns included Michelle Nunn in Georgia, Alison Lundergan Grimes in Kentucky, and Kay Hagan in North Carolina. Because of the Clintons’ terrible track record this year, Sen. Rand Paul (R-Ky.) even encouraged social media users to use the hashtag #HillaryLosers on Twitter.

I guess that Clinton charm has lost its power. 

The Clintons couldn't legally pay for their own travel, but they surely could have insisted on more reasonable travel plans and gotten rid of a few stops from their itinerary. Do they know the meaning of being frugal?

They may not be able to get candidates elected, but they proved they definitely know how to waste money!
Conn Carroll - Five Questions for President Obama
Posted: 12/19/2014 11:00:00 AM EST

Today at 1:30 p.m., President Obama is scheduled to give his end of the year press conference at the White House. Guy Benson has already posted 7 questions he would like to see asked, and here are five more.

1. Mr. President, some in Hollywood have called the canceling of "The Interview" a "tragic" loss for "freedom of speech and freedom of expression." Do you believe your administration did all it could do to let Sony and its employees know they would not be harmed despite terrorists threats?

2. Mr. President, on Wednesday you called our fifty year old policy toward Cuba an "outdated" and "failed" approach. But research shows that benefits from economic liberalization under despotic regimes almost always benefits the regimes themselves. How will we know if you're new policy isn't also a failure?

3. Mr. President, the unemployment rate has fallen and the economy is growing, all be it slowly. But the gains from this recovery seem to be going almost exclusively to the wealthy. Median income is still $2,000 lower today then when you took office. Why isn't the middle class benefitting from your recovery and what do you plan to do about it?

4. Mr. President, your unilateral executive actions are popular among your liberal base but have eroded any trust you may have had with Republicans in Congress. Are there any areas where you think you can work with Republicans to reform government, and if you pursue tax reform, will you continue to insist on new revenues?

5. Mr. President, considering that your unilateral actions on energy, immigration, and Cuba make cooperation with the new Republican Congress highly unlikely, what other areas is your administration contemplating executive action? 

Guy Benson - Year-End Presser: Seven Questions For President Obama
Posted: 12/19/2014 10:06:00 AM EST

Josh Earnest announced yesterday that President Obama will meet the media for a year-end press conference later on today. In light of the White House press corps' track record of feeble, lethargic performances at these types of exchanges in recent years, I figured I'd offer a small sampling of questions that might be appropriate to put to the president.  These aren't comprehensive, but they're a start:

(1) Mr. President, here is what you said about using executive power to suspend deportation for millions of illegal immigrants in 2011: "With respect to the notion that I can just suspend deportations through executive order, that’s just not the case, because there are laws on the books that Congress has passed...for me to simply through executive order ignore those congressional mandates would not conform with my appropriate role as President."  Then, after you unilaterally implemented DREAM Act-style enforcement discretion for minors in 2012, you said "I've done everything that I can on my own," adding, "if we start broadening that [action], then essentially I would be ignoring the law in a way that I think would be very difficult to defend legally."  Was your legal assessment of the limits of your own authority inaccurate at the time?  (Be equipped with this information for a possible follow-up).

(2) On a related note, when you were a candidate for president, a central theme of your campaign was criticizing what you called your predecessor's inappropriate arrogation of executive power, at Congress' expense.  You told a crowd of supporters, "The biggest problems that were facing right now have to do with George Bush trying to bring more and more power into the executive branch and not go through Congress at all, and that’s what I intend to reverse when I’m President of the United States of America."  Some -- including prominent liberals -- would argue that your views on that 'big problem' have evolved ever since you attained that power.  Do you agree?

(3) The Hill reported last week that consumers who selected the most popular 'Obamacare' plans last year are in for double-digit 2015 rate increases.  Many customers now face the prospect of paying even more, or once again switching plans.  A recent Kaiser study found that 41 percent of uninsured Americans are choosing to remain uninsured, with "the vast majority" citing lack of affordability.  You told Americans that your health reform law would save the average family $2,500 per year.  Has that promise, which your adviser  Jonathan Gruber dismissed as wishful thinking, been kept?   Follow up: Every major poll shows that significantly more Americans say the 'Affordable Care Act' has directly harmed their family than who say they've been helped.  Are these people mistaken in the perception of their own lives and finances?

(4) A group of former CIA directors are pushing back hard against Senate Democrats' controversial report regarding the agency's post-9/11 interrogation program.  A core disagreement is whether tough tactics were effective in extracting useful intelligence from high-value Al Qaeda detainees.  Sen. Feinstein's report -- which didn't include interviews with any CIA officials who oversaw or carried out the program -- says that the so-called "enhanced interrogation techniques" were not at all effective.  Numerous CIA officials strongly dispute that assertion, citing evidence to fortify their position.  Did 'enhanced interrogations' work, and were they appropriate at the time?  (Follow-up: Why are summary executions via lethal drone strikes in line with "our values," but harsh interrogations are not?)

(5) This week, members of the Taliban laid siege to a grade school in Pakistan, massacring 145 students and faculty.  Are you concerned that an American withdrawal from Afghanistan will strengthen these radicals lead to even more atrocities like this?  Does your administration continue to believe that direct negotiations with the Taliban can be a fruitful endeavor?

(6) Two North Korea-themed films have been cancelled in the wake of a major cyber hack and series of terrorist threats -- which the US government have linked to Pyongyang.  Does Kim Jong Un's regime now wield veto power over American consumer's entertainment choices?  Are you troubled by the potential precedent this episode has set regarding free speech and expression?  Is America prepared to retaliate?

(7) A new NBC/WSJ poll shows that fewer than one in five Americans believe you've heard, and are responding to, the message voters sent you and your party last month.  In what ways are you respecting the voters' wishes, as represented by November's Republican landslide victory?  (Be prepared with this reality check in a follow-up).

Katie Pavlich - Journalist: First Amendment Rights Mean Not Offending The North Korean Dictator, Okay?
Posted: 12/19/2014 9:10:00 AM EST

Did you know that having First Amendment rights in the United States comes with the responsibility not to offend dictators from North Korea? Had no idea? Me either. 

Last night on CNN "journalist" Sharon Waxman, who has worked at a number of media outlets including the Washington Post, argued that having First Amendment rights means we shouldn't be making fun of North Korean dictators because they might get upset. She was of course referring to the recent and massive hack on Sony pictures by North Korea as retaliation for "The Interview," a comedy about assassinating Kim Jong-Un. 

"I also want to point out something else that does not seem to be part of the discussion which is, where are our responsibilities in our exercising of the First Amendment? And I mean both those of us in the media and those of us who are making movies and those of us who are writing about the community that makes movies which is to say what is the thought process behind making a movie in which we decide to depict the assassination of a living foreign leader," Waxman said on air with someone on set in the studio agreeing by saying "good point." 

"I think common sense has to prevail when we express our artistic freedoms," Waxman added.

"Living foreign leader"? More like living, foreign, brutal dictator. What's the process behind this thought process? This is America, we say and do what we want. Period. The entire purpose of the First Amendment is to be able to speak out against tyranny. We don't restrict our First Amendment rights to appease a guy who puts thousands of people into starvation, labor camps. It's "common sense" to mock people like Kim Jong-Un, not to act like cowards and cave to his demands.  

H/T MKH

Katie Pavlich - Gutfeld: If Obama Goes to Cuba For Golf, He Should Bring Back Cop Killer Joanne Chesimard
Posted: 12/19/2014 8:45:00 AM EST

It is rumored President Obama could be taking a trip to Cuba next year to golf. If the president ends up going, Fox News' host, comedian and author Greg Gutfeld wants Obama to bring back cop killer Joanne Chesimard, also known as Assata Shakur, upon his return to the United States. 

"Unlike North Korea, Cuba is a jewel of the left because both adore marxist thugs. Those who failed at life but excel at taking it. Do you think that occurred to our President?" Gutfeld said.

As I wrote yesterday, Chesimard escaped from prison in 1979 and fled to Cuba after murdering New Jersey State Trooper Werner Foerster during a traffic stop in 1973. In 1977, Chesimard was convicted and given a life sentence. Now that President Obama has "normalized" relations between the U.S. and Cuba, many in the law enforcement community looking for justice and for Cheismard to be extradited.

Greg Hengler - History of Christmas Special
Posted: 12/19/2014 8:07:00 AM EST

On this week's Townhall Weekend Journal:

Hosted by Michael Medved and Dennis Prager.

Matt Vespa - Grimes To Paul: I'll See You In Court
Posted: 12/18/2014 5:45:00 PM EST

I already mentioned in a previous post that Sen. Rand Paul’s (R-Ky) route to the presidency isn’t clear-cut or exactly legal. You cannot run for two offices at the same time in Kentucky. To change the law, Republicans would have to go through the legislature, where the GOP failed to gain the majority in the Kentucky State House of Representatives.

Rand’s team has been working tirelessly to find legal avenues that would permit him running for both offices, but wants to avoid a court battle. But, Secretary of State Alison Lundergan Grimes isn’t moving an inch. She bluntly says that Paul cannot run for two offices simultaneously–and said she won’t be “bullied” on this issue (via Politico):

“The law is clear,” Grimes told WHAS-TV in Louisville. “You can’t be on the ballot twice for two offices.”

“We’ll look to the court for any guidance that is needed,” she added. “And at the end of the day, we’re not going to be bullied.”

Grimes also told the Louisville ABC affiliate in the interview published on Wednesday that she has not decided whether to seek a second term as secretary of State in the 2015 election.

The 36-year-old left no doubt that she continues to harbor political ambitions beyond the Bluegrass State’s chief elections official. She would be a top Democratic recruit to run for Senate in 2016 if Paul bows out.

Grimes said she knows “there’s a bigger plan in store” and pronounced herself “excited for 2015.”

She’s also been talked about as a Democratic primary challenger to Attorney General Jack Conway in next year’s Kentucky governor’s race or against GOP Rep. Andy Barr in 2016.

Grimes’ comments about Paul seem aimed as much at rallying her liberal base after a tough loss as anything else. If she doesn’t run for reelection as the state’s chief election official, she would have no legal basis to challenge Paul’s dual candidacy.

So, it seems Paul will have to go to court to settle this dilemma, or he could opt not to run and most likely cruise to re-election in 2016.