Late last night the Department of Justice complied with a court order and turned over a list to government watchdog Judicial Watch , known as a Vaughn Index, of Fast and Furious documents being held from Congress and the American people under President Obama's assertion of executive privilege.Those documents show Obama asserted executive privilege to protect Attorney General Eric Holder's wife and to protect information showing Holder helped to craft talking points during the fallout of the scandal. What a preliminary review of Vaughn Index by Judicial Watch shows:
Numerous emails that detail Attorney General Holder’s direct involvement in crafting talking points, the timing of public disclosures, and handling Congressional inquiries in the Fast and Furious matter.
President Obama has asserted executive privilege over nearly 20 email communications between Holder and his spouse Sharon Malone. The administration also claims that the records are also subject to withholding under the “deliberative process” exemption. This exemption ordinarily exempts from public disclosure records that could chill internal government deliberations.
Numerous entries detail DOJ’s communications (including those of Eric Holder) concerning the White House about Fast and Furious.
The scandal required the attention of virtually every top official of the DOJ and the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco and Firearms (ATF). Communications to and from the United States Ambassador to Mexico about the Fast and Furious matter are also described.
Many of the records are already publicly available such as letters from Congress, press clips, and typical agency communications. Ordinarily, these records would, in whole or part, be subject to disclosure under the Freedom of Information Act. Few of the records seem to even implicate presidential decision-making and advice that might be subject to President Obama’s broad and unprecedented executive privilege claim.
Keep in mind the White House has denied any involvement with Operation Fast and Furious when it was active between 2009 and 2010. The documents described in this list indicate otherwise.
“This document provides key information about the cover-up of Fast and Furious by Attorney General Eric Holder and other high-level officials of the Obama administration. Obama’s executive privilege claims over these records are a fraud and an abuse of his office. There is no precedent for President Obama’s Nixonian assertion of executive privilege over these ordinary government agency records. Americans will be astonished that Obama asserted executive privilege over Eric Holder’s emails to his wife about Fast and Furious," Judicial Watch President Tom Fitton said in a statement. “Once again, Judicial Watch has proven itself more effective than Congress and the establishment media in providing basic oversight of this out-of-control Administration. This Fast and Furious document provides dozens of leads for further congressional, media, and even criminal investigations.”
More information will be added to this post. Stay tuned.
Bristol Palin was pushed to the ground. She was dragged across the grass. She was called a “slut.” She was robbed.
CNN’s Carol Costello thought that was hilarious.
In what was perhaps the worst moment of Bristol’s life, the media treated her as a laughingstock. Outlets couldn’t wait to report on the “Palin family brawl” or the “thrilla like Wasilla” that occurred at a party in Anchorage, Alaska, and turn it into a TMZ segment. Heck, it was probably even on the verge of becoming a Saturday Night Live skit. MSNBC’s Joy Reid referred to it as a “stunt” and said John McCain should apologize for putting Sarah Palin on the ballot in 2008. But, the worst “report” of all, had to be this insensitive segment from CNN’s Costello.
CNN obtained the audio from the unfortunate incident. In the clip, an exhausted and shaken Bristol describes how a stranger pushed her sister Willow, then assaulted her. To make matters worse, Bristol had her five-year-old son Tripp in the car and she was clearly concerned for his safety as well. It is this audio clip that Costella told her viewers to “sit back and enjoy:”
When the Ray Rice scandal broke and that terrifying video surfaced of the football player knocking his fiancé to the ground and dragging her out of an elevator, Costello slammed Fox News for supposedly making light of it. She also made sure to inform her viewers about the very real dangers of domestic assault. Here she is reading off a few statistics, for instance, that 1 in 4 women experience domestic violence and women 20 to 24-years-old are at greatest risk.
Fast forward a month later, Costello is openly mocking Bristol Palin for…being a victim of physical assault. You’d think she’d change her mind about making jokes about the encounter after listening to the troubling clip, but at the end, she merely says, “You can thank me later.”
Shame on Costello and her fellow media outlets for taking a horrible moment in Bristol’s life and turning it into a farce. Bristol and her family were in serious danger. You can hear the terror in Bristol’s voice when she’s speaking to the police.
It is for this reason that Bristol decided to respond to the media on her blog and share the real story: She and her sister Willow were brutally attacked and Bristol only “took a swing” at the attacker to defend herself. In a separate post, she asked how anyone could be so cruel as to call the disturbing police clip (which she refuses to ever listen to) as the "best audio" they've ever heard in their life? Bristol also wasn’t afraid to pinpoint the reason why the media is treating the incident so lightly: they are biased against conservative women.
Thankfully, we have journalists like the Daily Caller's Matt Lewis who are willing to go on TV and shame the media. Kudos to some media for admitting their mistakes as well, like Morning Joe’s Mika Brzezinski, who acknowledged the show had initially reported the story with a humorous tone.
Costello has yet to apologize.
Over the past few weeks Democrats have expressed great frustration with the White House and President Obama's desperate attempts to tie himself to vulnerable candidates. Democrats have done everything possible to distance themselves from President Obama, whose 60 percent disapproval rating among voters is proving toxic. Candidates don't want Obama campaigning for them and won't even admit to voting for him in 2008 or 2012 when asked by reporters.
Democrats are running from Obama's agenda just ahead of the midterm elections and the President is chasing them.
First, during a speech at Northwestern University President Obama said his agenda is absolutely on the ballot for the midterms as Democrats have desperately tried to argue this election isn't about him. Then Obama said on Al Sharpton's radio program that "the bottom line is" vulnerable Democrats support his agenda and have repeatedly voted for it. And most recently, President Obama said during an interview earlier this week on Atlanta's Ryan Cameron Morning Show it is crucial Democrat Senate Candidate Michelle Nunn win her race against Republican David Purdue so "good work" and his agenda can continue in Washington with a Democrat majority and Harry Reid at the helm.
"If Michelle Nunn wins that means Democrats keep control of the Senate and that means that we can keep on doing some good work and so it is critically important to make sure folks vote," Obama said.
If Democrats keeping the Senate depends on keeping President Obama at a distance, then why is Obama continually inserting himself into places where he is not welcome? Over to you, Lou Dobbs.
"How much punishment can a practicing narcissist suffer?"
President Obama, just leave the Democrats alone!
Rewind the tape to February of 2013, when the Obama administration was ramping up its machinations to make the federal government run as poorly as possible in order to terrify the public about the looming (microscopic) sequester cuts -- which were, we'll remind you, President Obama's own idea. The plan was to make the "consequences" of sequestration as unavoidable and unpalatable as possible -- deliberately at the expense of responsible, priorities-oriented governance. The White House's cynical ploy faltered, as they failed to fool most Americans, and as fact-checkers took them to task for their intentional, endless mendacity. The sequester went into effect, and the earth did not implode. But don't say they didn't try. Team Obama was earnestly committed to hurting as many people as possible as a means of turning voters against the concept of fiscal responsibility. One of their most reckless gambits over the course of their calculated 'parade of horribles' was the mass release of hundreds of illegal immigrants being detained for various reasons. The federal government couldn't afford to hold them any longer, we were informed at the time, thanks to those "draconian" budget cuts:
Federal immigration officials have released hundreds of detainees from detention centers around the country in recent days in a highly unusual effort to save money as automatic budget cuts loom in Washington, officials said Tuesday. The government has not dropped the deportation cases against the immigrants, however. The detainees have been freed on supervised release while their cases continue in court, officials said. But the decision angered many Republicans, including Representative Robert W. Goodlatte of Virginia, who said the releases were a political gambit by the Obama administration that undermined the continuing negotiations over comprehensive immigration reform and jeopardized public safety...A spokeswoman for Immigration and Customs Enforcement, or ICE, an arm of the Department of Homeland Security, said the detainees selected for release were “noncriminals and other low-risk offenders who do not have serious criminal histories.” Officials said the releases, which began last week and continued on Tuesday, were a response to the possibility of automatic governmentwide budget cuts, known as sequestration, which are scheduled to take effect on Friday.
New records contradict the Obama administration's assurances to Congress and the public that the 2,200 people it freed from immigration jails last year to save money had only minor criminal records. The records, obtained by USA TODAY, show immigration officials released some undocumented immigrants who had faced far more serious criminal charges, including people charged with kidnapping, sexual assault, drug trafficking and homicide. The release sparked a furor in Congress. Republican lawmakers accused the Obama administration of setting dangerous criminals free. In response, U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement said it had released "low-risk offenders who do not have serious criminal records," a claim the administration repeated to the public and to members of Congress. The new records, including spreadsheets and hundreds of pages of e-mails, offer the most detailed information yet about the people ICE freed as it prepared for steep, across-the-government spending cuts in February 2013. They show that although two-thirds of the people who were freed had no criminal records, several had been arrested or convicted on charges more severe than the administration had disclosed. ICE spokeswoman Gillian Christensen acknowledged the discrepancy. She said "discretionary releases made by ICE were of low-level offenders. However, the releases involving individuals with more significant criminal histories were, by and large, dictated by special circumstances outside of the agency's control."
Uh huh. And what, pray tell, were those "special circumstances"? And who was calling those shots? The story reminds readers of the extent of the administration's deceit:
In hearings last year, Republican lawmakers pressed then-ICE Director John Morton for specifics on the criminal records of the people the agency had freed. At one, Rep. J. Randy Forbes, R-Va., asked Morton directly, "No one on that list has been charged or convicted with murder, rape or sexual abuse of a minor, were they?" Morton answered, "They were not." He told lawmakers that, to his knowledge, none had faced child pornography charges. White House spokesman Jay Carney similarly described them as "low-risk, non-criminal detainees." A spreadsheet ICE officials prepared listing the detainees includes one person in Texas charged with aggravated kidnapping and sexually assaulting a child, as well as others charged with armed assaults or assaulting police officers. Another immigrant released from Miami had been charged with conspiracy to commit homicide. Two detainees from Boston had been charged with aggravated assault using a weapon. One in Denver had a sexual assault charge.
It is anyone’s game in the Colorado governor’s race. Democratic Gov. John Hickenlooper and GOP Rep. Bob Beauprez are in a dead heat (45-44) and only eight percent of likely voters remain undecided, according a Quinnipiac University poll released Thursday.
Tim Malloy, the assistant director of the poll, noted:
"In just a few weeks, what looked like a slide toward political oblivion for Gov. Hickenlooper morphs into a down-to-the-wire Rocky Mountain slugfest with Bob Beauprez.
Let's see who's still standing when the bell rings on Election Night. Will they be talking about Hick the Comeback Kid of 2014, or Bob 'The Bomber' Beauprez?"
Some voters are turning away from Hickenlooper due to public safety concerns. Dave Maney, chief executive officer at Deke Digital LLC, told Bloomberg he donated to Hickenlooper in 2010, but will cast his ballot this year for Beauprez:
"I saw a guy I thought matched up with the way I looked at the world who failed to stop a runaway legislature. He went from being happy to drink fracking fluid to somehow being willing to brook this giant discussion on drilling near communities. Then he moved to restrict peoples’ personal freedoms with guns."
In addition to restricting Coloradans' ability to defend themselves, Hickenlooper’s softness on crime is raising concerns. The governor intends to grant clemency to convicted death-row inmate Nathan Dunlap, a man who murdered four Chuck E. Cheese employees and seriously wounded a fifth in 1993. Family members of the victims are speaking out on the issue.
Here is a video with Dennis O'Connor, whose daughter Colleen was murdered:
This is not an isolated example of public safety dereliction, according Beauprez’s campaign manager Dustin Olson:
"Hickenlooper has a long list of public safety failures, including the release of dangerous prisoners into our neighborhoods, an understaffed Parole Division, policies that discourage accountability for parolees even for serious violations, and an inability to lead his party on common sense legislation like a Felony DUI law."
Mail in ballots began flooding in last week, and more than 330,000 Colorado voters have already made their decision.
Where do we fit in the universe? Is Earth significant? These are questions the new film, “The Principle,” attempts to answer. The low budget independent movie examines the Copernican Principle, the concept that humans are not “privileged observers of the universe,” making the case that perhaps humans are a key piece in the universe’s puzzle.
Rick Delano, writer and producer of “The Principle,” says he decided to make the film five years ago after studying surveys of the cosmos.
“They were shocking and there was a great movie in that,” he told Townhall.
His is the first documentary ever produced on the Copernican Principle. Civilization, he said, has been shaped by two things: The Scriptures and science. In Genesis, he explained, we’re at the center of everything, until science suggested we weren’t. Don’t worry if you’re not an expert on the cosmos; Delano ensures that the film is condensed into these two simple stories:
“One puts us in the center, the other says we’re insignificant. Both turn out to be correct.”
The film challenges American astronomer Carl Sagan’s notion that Earth is nothing more than a “pale blue dot,” making the case that perhaps we humans do have a unique significance in the universe.
Because of the profound questions asked in “The Principle” it is being advertised as what could be the “most controversial” movie of our time. Indeed, a slew of media outlets have already attacked the film as being too geocentric, suggesting Earth is at the center of the universe. Delano responded to these attacks:
“You have to deal with [geocentrism],” he explained. “The entire world was geocentric for 1,000 years. It’s incorrect to tell me what my film is about. Those media outlets have never seen the film.”
“The Principle” will not only challenge long held scientific beliefs, but it will challenge audiences’ faith, perhaps urging them to ask, was Earth made for us?
“There’s something in the film to challenge everyone," he said. "It’s not meant to preach to any choir. It forces the audience to think and it challenges deeply held assumptions.”
“I ask them to bring their worldview, but to consider all arguments. Make up their own mind at the end. It’s a film that will cause them to question things.”
“The Principle” will be circulated by Rocky Mountain Pictures, the same distributor behind the films Obama 2016 and Expelled: No Intelligence Allowed, and will open in Chicago this weekend, followed by a national release. For more information, check out the trailer below:
Democrat Ann Kuster has been representing New Hampshire's 2nd congressional district since 2013. As our own Matt Vespa has extensively covered, New Hampshire State Republican Marilinda Garcia is challenging Kuster for her seat. At this point, the race is a toss up with less than two weeks to go until Election Day.
Yesterday Kuster's campaign held a pro-abortion, pro-choice event in an effort to rally liberal voters and forgot to take down the Halloween decorations portraying death in the background.
Yikes. No need to point out the obvious, the situation speaks for itself.
It's been a tough week for North Carolina Senator Kay Hagan, who's clinging to a razor-thin lead in her re-election fight. She chose not to attend a 'debate' this week, ceding an hour of statewide airtime to her surging Republican opponent, Thom Tillis. Her chair sat empty throughout the forum. What didn't she want to discuss? Perhaps it was her decision to skip a key classified briefing on ISIS in favor of a New York City fundraiser. Or maybe it was the explosion of reports that her immediate family benefited directly from the "stimulus" law she voted for. It could have been President Obama's endorsement of candidates like Hagan as strong supporters of his agenda in Washington; the extent of Hagan's fealty was underscored again in yesterday's CQ analysis of 2014 voting records:
North Carolina's largest health insurer says rates will rise by more than 13 percent on average next year for buyers of individual Affordable Care Act policies. Blue Cross and Blue Shield of North Carolina discussed the prices Wednesday. As an example, the insurer cited a typical rate for a 45-year-old man in the Raleigh area who doesn't smoke...Aside from ACA plans, the insurer is maintaining pre-existing plans that don't conform to the Affordable Care Act's requirements but customers wanted to keep. Rates for those plans will rise by an average of 13 to 19 percent, depending on when they were sold.
With companies set to face fines next year for not complying with the new mandate to offer health insurance, some are pursuing strategies like enrolling employees in Medicaid to avoid penalties and hold down costs. The health law’s penalties, which can amount to about $2,000 per employee, were supposed to start this year, but the Obama administration delayed them until 2015, when they take effect for firms that employ at least 100 people. Now, as employers race to find ways to cover their full-time workers while holding a lid on costs, insurance brokers and benefits administrators are pitching a variety of options, sometimes exploiting wrinkles in the law...the company, which is based in Hartford, Conn., hopes to reduce its costs by offering eligible employees a chance to enroll in Medicaid, using a contractor called BeneStream Inc. to help them sign up. The government program is more affordable for employees and saves money for Locals 8, said Chief Executive Al Gamble. “The burden gets shifted to Medicaid,” he said.
By this time in 2012, Democrats had turned in 56,908 more ballots than Republicans, on their way to a 52 percent to 46 percent win for President Obama.
But this year, it is Republicans who have the upper hand. As of yesterday, according to Iowa Secretary of State data tabulated by AOS HQ, Republicans had turned in 105,347 ballots compared to the Democrats 104,984, giving the GOP a 363 ballot lead.
That is far better than the GOP's 2010 pace when they still trailed Democrats by more than 16,000 ballots at this point, but still managed to elect Republican Gov. Terry Branstad by 53 percent to 43 percent margin.
According to Iowa Republican officials, this is the first time Republicans have led in early balloting since 1998 when Sen. Chuck Grassley (R-IA) crushed Democrat David Osterberg 68 percent to 31 percent.
In other good news for Republican Senate candidate Joni Ernst, yet another poll now shows her beating Rep. Bruce Braley (D-IA). This time it is Quinnipiac which shows her up 48 percent to 46 percent. The Quinnipiac poll is the 5th poll in a row showing Ernst beating Braley.
The official autopsy is in and it suggests that the gunshot wound to Michael Brown’s hand indicates that he was reaching for police officer Darren Wilson’s firearm during an altercation, which ended in with his death last summer. The event sparked mass unrest in Ferguson, Missouri and a discussion about race relations in America.
Moreover, the autopsy’s results come into conflict with eyewitness reports, which said that Brown was shot while running away from Officer Wilson (via St. Louis Dispatch) [emphasis mine]:
The St. Louis medical examiner, Dr. Michael Graham, who is not part of the official investigation, reviewed the autopsy report for the newspaper. He said Tuesday that it “does support that there was a significant altercation at the car.”
Graham said the examination indicated a shot traveled from the tip of Brown’s right thumb toward his wrist. The official report notes an absence of stippling, powder burns around a wound that indicate a shot fired at relatively short range.
But Graham said, “Sometimes when it’s really close, such as within an inch or so, there is no stipple, just smoke.”
The report on a supplemental microscopic exam of tissue from the thumb wound showed foreign matter “consistent with products that are discharged from the barrel of a firearm.”
Dr. Judy Melinek, a forensic pathologist in San Francisco, said the autopsy “supports the fact that this guy is reaching for the gun, if he has gunpowder particulate material in the wound.” She added,
Sources told the Post-Dispatch that Brown’s blood had been found on Wilson’s gun.
Melinek also said the autopsy did not support witnesses who have claimed Brown was shot while running away from Wilson, or with his hands up.
She said Brown was facing Wilson when Brown took a shot to the forehead, two shots to the chest and a shot to the upper right arm. The wound to the top of Brown’s head would indicate he was falling forward or in a lunging position toward the shooter; the shot was instantly fatal.
A sixth shot that hit the forearm traveled from the back of the arm to the inner arm, which means Brown’s palms could not have been facing Wilson, as some witnesses have said, Melinek said. That trajectory shows Brown probably was not taking a standard surrender position with arms above the shoulders and palms out when he was hit, she said.