Jim Webb, former Democratic Senator from Virginia, has launched an exploratory committee for a potential 2016 candidacy. On paper, Jim Webb looks as if he has potential; he carries himself as a centrist, he’s a military veteran, and he could get traction with blue-collar, working class whites–a constituency that is trending towards Republicans:
Last week, Webb released a 14-minute video outlining his intention to toss his hat into the 2016 ring–for now (via National Journal):
"Over the past few months, thousands of concerned Americans from across the political spectrum have urged me to run for president," Webb said in the video. "A constant theme runs through these requests: Americans want positive, visionary leadership that they can trust, at a time when our country is facing historic challenges. They're worried about the state of our economy, the fairness of our complicated multicultural society, the manner in which we are addressing foreign policy and national security challenges, and the divisive, paralyzed nature of our government itself. They're worried about the future. They want solutions, not rhetoric."
Webb is trying to define himself as a moderate whose limited political experience is a boon: He has political experience, but he's not a "career politician." He's a veteran of the Marine Corps, but he's also generally antiwar. He understands Wall Street, but will not be beholden to it.
"I learned long ago on the battlefields of Vietnam that in a crisis, there is no substitute for clear-eyed leadership," Webb said. "Each time I served not with the expectation of making government a career, but to contribute to the good of the country during a period of crisis or great change," Webb said. "In that spirit, I have decided to launch an exploratory committee to examine whether I should run for president in 2016.
Then again, while Mr. Webb is a Democrat, he never mentioned what party nomination he was vying for in the video. You can speculate, but he will probably file as a Democrat. In doing so, is Webb the anti-Clinton candidate for 2016?
Salena Zito of the Pittsburgh Tribune Review wrote that Webb isn’t a candidate who is concerned about probability for success; he was given a 15 percent chance of beating then-Sen. George Allen in 2006. She noted how he brings an “aura of leadership” to the 2016 field:
Webb has never followed any drumbeat but his own, an attribute that soured him on both political parties. Yet it fits perfectly with the populism that drove Democrats out of office earlier this month.
He uniquely reflects Main Street's frustration with Washington.
He pushed back on Republicans in 2006, when dissatisfaction with George Bush's handling of the Iraq war led him to run and win — as a Democrat — that Senate seat in Virginia. By 2010 he was as dissatisfied as the rest of the country with Barack Obama's presidency and the Democratic Party, and he quickly decided after that year's wave election that he would not seek re-election to the Senate.
In short, his disconnect with Washington mirrors yours.
The latest Wall Street Journal/NBC News poll shows that nearly 60 percent of Americans believe our political and economic systems are barriers working against them. That alienation crosses all parties, races, ages and professions; whites, blacks, Hispanics, millennials, boomers, white- and blue-collar, high-tech and poor, all are fed up.
That is not a poll that helps establishment Washington. But it is one in which Webb could shine.
Webb resigned as Ronald Reagan's Navy secretary in 1988 when he disagreed with budget cuts. He has criticized both parties, most recently Democrats; in his announcement, he did not indicate which party's nomination he will seek.
He brings a unique life experience to the race — and, if he runs as a Democrat, he gets an early jump as the anti-Hillary candidate, according to Democrat strategist Dane Strother: “As that candidate he will get more traction than most believe. He even might be able to catch lightning in a bottle.”
Zito noted that we’re going through a neo-populist wave that has yet to be defined à la the Tea Party and Occupy Wall Street movements, but if Webb has these qualities, it could be something for these unnamed voters to rally around.
The University of California-Berkeley is about as liberal an institution as they come—but how exactly would students react to seeing ISIS and Israel’s flags being waved, filmmaker Ami Horowitz wondered.
What he discovered was surprising even for him.
“There’s a whole layer cake of shock for me when it comes to what I experienced in this video and certainly, there’s nobody there that doesn’t know what ISIS is and what kind of atrocities and evil they represent, and to have nobody push back, I was pretty blown away,” he said.
Horowitz said he waved the ISIS flag for two hours and got absolutely no response from students, with the exception of one approaching him to let him know he could not smoke on campus. When he switched to Israel’s flag, however, he said it took less than 30 seconds for the “vitriol to come pouring in.”
“There’s a real disease of thought on our college campuses and I think it’s important to highlight that,” he said.
“If you look, every president – Democrat and Republican – over decades has done the same thing as I mentioned in my remarks,” he added. “George H. W. Bush, about 40 percent of the undocumented persons at the time were provided a similar kind of relief as a consequence of executive action.” When asked about using executive action, the president said his view on the issue has not changed. “If you look – the history is that I have issued fewer executive actions than most of my predecessors, by a longshot,” Obama said. “The difference is the response of Congress, and specifically the response of some of the Republicans. But if you ask historians, take a look at the track records of the modern presidency, I’ve actually been very restrained, and I’ve been very restrained with respect to immigration. I bent over backwards and will continue to do everything I can to get Congress to work because that’s my preference.”
Bush’s action in 1990 was designed to ease family disruptions caused by the landmark 1986 Immigration Reform and Control Act, which allowed nearly 3 million illegal immigrants to gain legal permanent residency...The 1.5 million [40 percent] figure is too fishy to be cited by either the White House or the media. As best we can tell, this is a rounded-up estimate of the number of illegal immigrants who were married (1.3 million became 1.5 million.) But that figure was already overstated because it included applications that were pending or on appeal...Indeed, the 100,000 estimate that the INS gave on the day of the announcement might have been optimistic. Fewer than 50,000 applications had been received before the policy was superseded by a new law. The numbers generated by that law — a little more than 140,000 — further indicate that the universe of potential applicants was much smaller than 1.5 million, especially given that the law eased restrictions even more. In the end, 200,000 amounts to about 6 percent of the illegal immigrant population at the time, not 40 percent. Small wonder the White House prefers the larger number.
This is the report that the White House apparently seized like Rose grabbing a door off the Titanic, but it doesn’t support their argument at all. That’s because the actual number of applicants under Bush’s action came to just under 47,000. That’s 1/30th of the claim made by Earnest and Obama. Within a month, Kessler notes, Congress passed an amended version of the immigration law, which Bush signed, which gave an even wider window for family members to apply for deportation protection. The total number of those who applied under the new law, over a four-year period, was about 200,000 — less than 1/7th of the numbers Earnest and Obama claimed, and only about 6% of the overall illegal immigrant population at the time. None of this was a secret, and certainly shouldn’t have been to the White House, which has access to all of this data. Apparently, all they know how to do is troll Google for any supporting argument they can find.
MSNBC host, self-proclaimed civil rights activist, professional race-baiter and shakedown artist Al Sharpton apparently owes $4.5 million to the IRS in unpaid taxes. On top of this long list of titles, Sharpton also serves as an unpaid advisor to the White House and President Obama on civil rights issues, race and politics. In fact, just three days after the 2014 midterm elections Sharpton was invited to the White House to offer advice about how to work with the GOP in the new Congress. In August, President Obama spoke for Sharpton's National Action Network. The video of Obama's speech is available on the official White House YouTube page and is watermarked with the WhiteHouse.gov logo.
"I want to say thank you to your leader, Rev. Al Sharpton, give him a big round of applause. I appreciate being an Action President."
Regardless of Sharpton's indisputably long history, partnership and many White House visits to meet with President Obama, recent news of Sharpton's massive tax bill have Obama administration officials playing dumb.
"There was a rather long story in the New York Times last week about Al Sharpton having allegedly having back taxes up to $4.5 million between personally and his for-profit entity. He has said that he's paid a bunch of it, there's some dispute about how much has been paid or not. He's here frequently at the White House as an advisor to the President, the President spoke to his organization a few months ago. Is the White House concerned he hasn't paid his taxes," Fox News' Ed Henry asked White House Press Secretary Josh Earnest Monday.
"Ed I have to be honest with you I haven't read those stories. I can tell you the question you are asking though does illustrate the kind of important and justified restrictions that there are on political interference with any sort of tax investigations or tax enforcement. I am confident that this administration is allowing whatever enforcement procedures are underway to be carried out," Earnest said.
"But an adviser to the president should pay his or her taxes?" Henry asked further.
"I think every American should pay his or her taxes” Earnest continued.
Shorter White House: Sharpton owes taxes? What?
On a related note, during a recent speech in Chicago the White House stripped out a line from President Obama about unpaid bills piling up on his desk.
During a rare trip home to Chicago, Obama on Monday lamented the life he left behind. “One of the nice things about being home is actually that it’s a little bit like a time capsule,” he told supporters at a fundraiser.
“Because Michelle and I and the kids, we left so quickly that there’s still junk on my desk, including some unpaid bills,” he joked. “I think eventually they got paid–but they’re sort of stacked up. And messages, newspapers and all kinds of stuff.”
The White House, however, left the president’s quip about his unpaid bills out of the official transcript.
According to the transcript, the president said “we left so quickly that there’s still junk on my desk, including some–newspapers and all kinds of stuff.”
This morning, the White House issued an updated transcript, but it still didn’t mention the “unpaid bills.” Instead, it included an “inaudible” in that portion.
As the old cliche goes, birds of a feather flock together.
It has arrived. The Ferguson grand jury has finally reached a decision over whether any criminal charges will be filed against Officer Darren Wilson who was involved in the shooting death of Michael Brown last summer; Brown’s death spurred days of protests and a renewed discussion about race relations.
Some schools in Ferguson have been closed, police have set up barricades and a command center, and Gov. Jay Nixon recently declared a state of emergency (via USA Today):
A St. Louis County grand jury has completed deliberations in the case of Ferguson Police Officer Darren Wilson, whose fatal shooting of an unarmed black teen in August touched off weeks of sometimes violent protests, multiple media outlets reported Monday.
Some Ferguson, Mo., schools were closed, a police command center was in place and barriers have been set up to help control protests near the courthouse in St. Louis and in downtown Ferguson, a suburb of the city.
Police officials and protest organizers have collaborated on rules of engagement. Gov. Jay Nixon has declared a state of emergency and activated the state's National Guard.
The evidence brought before the grand jury may not reach the public for some time, if at all. If Wilson is indicted, evidence presented to the grand jury would not be released because it would be used during the trial. And St. Louis County Director of Judicial Administration Paul Fox released a statement Sunday denying that Judge Carolyn Whittington had agreed to release the information if Wilson is not indicted.
Whatever the grand jury decision, authorities say they want to avoid repetition of the chaos that followed the Aug. 9 shooting, when some protests turned into violent, ugly clashes with police.
Yet, Gov. Nixon wasn’t entirely sure who was in charge of responding when it comes to protestors.
CNN reported last week that while the grand jury was deliberating, Officer Darren Wilson was considering resigning from the police force, but he could change his mind if the grand jury brings charges against him.
The grand jury is made up of nine men and five women; nine are white, three are black.
Nine of the 12 jurors must agree whether to indict Officer Wilson or not.
We will keep you updated.
UPDATE: Jurors from the grand jury have been released.
UPDATE II: Tory Russell, co-founder of Hands Up United, calls for police officers to "keep calm:"
I am urging calm. I’m urging calm for the police officers to not pepper spray me, tear gas me, mace me and shoot rubber bullets. People need to urge the police to be calm. Stop hurting kids, stop traumatizing our communities.”
By now you know that last week President Obama announced the legalization and prioritization of five million illegal immigrants who will eventually receive Green Cards and work permits thanks to his executive action. During his announcement of this plan at the White House, Obama essentially argued his move was necessary to make the "broken immigration system" more fair and to keep families together, but as usual, his rhetoric doesn't add up to the reality.
When illegal immigrants are prioritized by the federal government and given a spot at the front of the line, millions of individuals going through the proper legal channels to become American citizens or to obtain visas are pushed even farther back in the process and given longer waiting periods. In most situations, this means legal immigrants spending longer periods of time away from their families.
My colleague Conn Carroll reminded us of the numbers and harsh reality of executive action has on legal immigrants last week:
At current staffing levels, USCIS issues about 1 million green cards per year. And when Obama enacted his first executive amnesty, the Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals in 2012, wait times for legal immigrants to get their visas tripled from under five months to over 15 months.
Only about 1 million illegal immigrants were eligible to apply for DACA amnesty and only about 600,000 were given amnesty. Obama's next amnesty, however, will reportedly allow up to 5 million illegal immigrants to apply and no one knows how many will take him up on the offer.
But assuming the turnout for Obama's next amnesty is bigger than DACA, we can safely assume that legal immigration delays will get much much worse.
The New York Times published an extensive piece in February detailing the consequences of prioritizing illegal immigrants before individuals engaged in the legal process.
Many thousands of Americans seeking green cards for foreign spouses or other immediate relatives have been separated from them for a year or more because of swelling bureaucratic delays at a federal immigration agency in recent months.
The long waits came when the agency, Citizenship and Immigration Services, shifted attention and resources to a program President Obama started in 2012 to give deportation deferrals to young undocumented immigrants, according to administration officials and official data.
The trouble that American citizens have faced gaining permanent resident visas for their families raises questions about the agency’s priorities and its readiness to handle what could become a far bigger task.
With his recently announced amnesty plan, President Obama has given USCIS the "far bigger task" previously warned about and has made the system more unfair, not less. It's unfortunate President Obama's focus isn't on prioritizing the people who want to do things legally or on reforming the legal immigration system before rewarding millions of individuals for breaking the law by putting them at the front of the line.
Meanwhile, people who waited for years to get through the legal process want their money back:
In which ABC News' George Stephanopoulos presents President Obama with Allahpundit's 'shoe-on-the-other-foot' scenario regarding Obama's reimagined conception of prosecutorial discretion (video via NRO):
GS: So you don't think it would be legitimate for a future president to make that argument?
BO: With respect to taxes?
BO: Absolutely not.
[A Vox writer's] first scenario involves President Rick Perry declaring that there would be a 17 percent flat tax and instructing the Justice Department to defer all prosecutions. He cites former Solicitor General Walter Dellinger’s response: “no president can relieve any one American of a statutory obligation to pay taxes. The next president can come collecting– and interest and penalties will be accruing until he or she does.” First, Obama’s action suffers from the same shortcoming. In theory, nothing legal stops a future Republican president from using the list of individuals signed up for work permits as a sort of “illegal immigrant database” to help focus deportations. In fact, the statute of limitations for most audits is three years, with a practical limit of less than that.
Also, just as practical limitations would probably prevent a future GOP president from deporting these individuals, so too would a future Democratic president find it difficult to collect on millions of three-year-old tax bills. But more importantly, when President Perry walks out the door, he can issue a pardon for everyone who avoided taxes during his presidency. Prokop just sort of breezes past this possibility, asserting that it would provoke a massive public outrage. But what would an outgoing President Perry care? He would do so after the next presidential election. Moreover, millions of Americans would have enjoyed substantially lower tax rates for either four or eight years. The incoming president would have a hard time reverting to a 28 percent middle-class tax rate...
So how did we get from there to here? How did the man who was supposed to tame the imperial presidency become, in certain ways, more imperial than his predecessor? The scope of Obama’s moves can be debated, but that basic imperial reality is clear. Even as he has maintained much of the Bush-era national security architecture, this president has been more willing to launch military operations without congressional approval; more willing to trade in assassination and deal death even to American citizens; and more aggressive in his war on leakers, whistle-blowers and journalists. At the same time, he has been much more aggressive than Bush in his use of executive power to pursue major domestic policy goals — on education, climate change, health care and now most sweepingly on immigration...Confronted with [limiting] realities, Clinton pivoted and Bush basically gave up. But Obama can’t accept either option, because both seem like betrayals of his promise, his destiny, his image of himself. And so he has chosen to betray himself in a different way, by becoming the very thing that he once campaigned against: an elected Caesar, a Cheney for liberalism, a president unbound.
Somewhat surprisingly, Secretary of Defense Chuck Hagel tendered his resignation on Monday. He was reportedly forced out. Nevertheless, shortly after the news broke, the president spoke movingly at the White House about his years of public service and many accomplishments.
“Chuck Hagel has been no ordinary Secretary of Defense,” he said. “As the first combat veteran to serve in that position, he understands [its challenges] like no other.”
He “established a special bond” with the troops, he added, reminding the nation that their “safety -- their lives -- have always been at the center of Chuck’s service.”
“I am grateful Chuck has agreed to stay on until I [find his successor],” he continued. “For now let me just say this: Chuck Hagel has devoted himself to our national security and our men and women for more than six decades.”
He also thanked Hagel for accepting the job in the first place.
“We come from different parties,” he emphasized. “But, in accepting this position, you sent a special message: We are all Americans first.”
At which point Hagel himself stepped up to the microphone and said a few words.
“I want to thank the entire leadership team at the Pentagon,” he said. “It’s been the greatest privilege of my life [to] serve with the men and women of the Defense Department and support their families.”
“We’ve launched important reforms,” he added, “reforms that will repair this institution.”
He also invoked his warm relationship with the president and vice president and thanked them for their “leadership and friendship.”
Overall, the mood wasn't exactly cheerful but it wasn't bitter or uncomfortable, either. Both men warmly embraced after the ceremony ended.
Hagel's resignation will take full effect after his successor is chosen and confirmed by the United States Senate.
New Orleans, LA -- Saturday kicked off the first round of early voting in Louisiana's runoff election between Sen. Mary Landrieu (D-LA) and her GOP opponent Dr. Bill Cassidy. At an enthusiastic (packed house) rally in Kenner, LA, Saturday afternoon, the likes of Gov. Bobby Jindal (R-LA) and Sen. Marco Rubio (R-FL) lent their support to the Republican. Before he took the stage, Cassidy spoke with Townhall about what his first initiative as senator would be, his refusal to become complacent even with his current double digit lead, and the president and his party's failed agenda.
There’s exactly two weeks to go. What’s going to be your main focus to drive voters to the polls?
“We have a great ground game and everybody understands we’re going up against the Obama ground game and so if you will, we’re taking on the best. On the other hand, we have issues that support us and they do not. We have enthusiasm supporting us, they do not. And we have an organization that we’ve been working on for a year, which has been augmented by folks just volunteering, coming down to help, that we think will match and exceed theirs. Not taking it for granted, we got two more weeks, we’re going to push it hard.”
Speaking of the other campaign, the DSCC has pulled ads for Mary Landrieu, she’s not getting much help down here. Are you surprised by the lack of support she’s getting from her own party?
“I can’t comment on that party. I just cannot. I can’t guess what’s in their mind. They have a failed agenda. They knew Barack Obama’s agenda was on the ballot – this state has rejected that agenda. Senator Landrieu, as much as she tries to hide from it, supports that agenda 97 percent of the time, so I can’t really comment on what they’re doing, except to observe that, if I were trying to support a failed agenda, I’d be dispirited too. They clearly are dispirited.”
It’s been 18 years – do you think that’s more than enough time to get all your goals accomplished? Do you think she’s overstayed her welcome?
“You know, there’s a new paradigm. She would like to pretend that she was going to bring earmarks home, even though earmarks are no longer allowed. We’ve got big problems in this country that take someone willing to dig, dig, dig, know issues at the granular level, work with others in order to advance solutions. Her record in doing that sort of work over the last 18 years is pretty thin. And so, we work hard to taking that approach to the office and we think we’ll be successful.”
What will you miss most about campaigning and what’s going to be your first initiative as senator?
“In terms of campaigning, people of Louisiana are fantastic. They really are. In campaigning, you have an excuse to walk up to someone who’s about to take a bite, and say, ‘Excuse can I introduce myself?,' and they understand it, they expect it, and they even appreciate it. Now that’s the good thing – that you get to meet people all across the state and this is a great state. Really good people. People who just care passionately for our country. That’s been a real thrill.”
Louisianans will go to the polls on December 6 to determine whether or not Landrieu gets to keep her job, or if Republicans will gain a 54th Senate seat in Congress.