MRCTV’s Dan Joseph had a little thought experiment this week. He ventured onto the campus of the University of Maryland to ask students if they recognized one of the best presidents to ever occupy the Oval Office–Ronald Reagan.
With a paddle covered with Reagan pictures, Joseph found students who had no clue who our 40th president was–one student said the picture on the paddle was “George Bush.” Other guesses were “a country singer, John Wayne, Kenny Rogers, and Bush’s dad.”
Should Joseph do similar experiments by showing folks pictures of Presidents Kennedy, Clinton, or Lincoln?
Former Olympic athlete and current reality TV star Bruce Jenner admitted in an interview with Diane Sawyer last night that he is transgender and is in the process of transitioning to become a female. While this had been long speculated, Jenner also revealed another, perhaps more-shocking facet of his life: he's a conservative Republican.
When Sawyer asked if Jenner cheered when Obama became the first president to even say the word “transgender” in a State of the Union address, the 65-year-old replied that he “would certainly give him credit for that.”
“But not to get political,” Jenner continued, “I’ve never been a big fan, I’m kind of more on the conservative side.”
“Are your a Republican?” Sawyer asked in response, to which Jenner replied, “Yeah! Is that a bad thing? I believe in the constitution.”
“Do you think that would be an unsettling thing for some people in the conservative wing of the party?” Sawyer asked.
“I’ve thought about that,” says Jenner, adding that neither political party has a monopoly on understanding.
Twitter reacted accordingly:
#BruceJenner just came out... as a Republican! Now THAT's shocking!!!!!!!!— Perez Hilton (@PerezHilton) April 25, 2015
Wonder if left will commit seppuku over Jenner being a republican or will they be open minded and accept?— Dana Loesch (@DLoesch) April 25, 2015
Major revelation by #BRUCEJENNER 2nite & tho I don't approve, I respect him 4 finally coming out as a republican— Sarah Silverman (@SarahKSilverman) April 25, 2015
Love it! Jenner came out as a conservative! #BruceJennerABC— Jimmy LaSalvia (@JimmyLaSalvia) April 25, 2015
Bruce Jenner wants to become a woman and people are freaking out that he's a republican...#BruceJennerABC— Nati Aguilar (@ItsNatiAguilar) April 25, 2015
Thanks to Bruce Jenner millions of Americans can finally feel what it's like to know a Republican who lives in California.— LOLGOP (@LOLGOP) April 25, 2015
I got the gender choice- but the republican thing ?? Lol #BruceJenner abc— Lea Black (@LeaBlackMiami) April 25, 2015
All the fans Bruce Jenner just gained the past hour and a half he just lost once he said he's Republican lol— D.Rose (@Bcuzican_) April 25, 2015
Not confused that Bruce Jenner is trans. Is confused that Bruce Jenner is a Republican.— Olivia Deibler (@ohdeib) April 25, 2015
Jenner said that while this will be his last interview as "Bruce," he will not reveal his new name just yet.
The scandal at the Office of Veterans Affairs last year proved that our veterans were being shamelessly ill-treated. Among other atrocities, our former soldiers were forced to wait months to be seen by doctors and, once they were finally admitted, were often treated in unsanitary and dangerous conditions. Politicians demanded change and accountability. VA Secretary Eric Shinseki resigned. Yet, months later, new internal documents prove that the mess is hardly cleaned up at all.
The documents given this month to the House Committee on Veterans Affairs, which provided them to The New York Times, show that the department punished a total of eight of its 280,000 employees for involvement in the scandal. One was fired, one retired in lieu of termination, one’s termination is pending, and five were reprimanded or suspended for up to two months.
That means only three people have actually been fired from their positions. Three.
Oh, and the only person actually fired, Sharon Helman, the director of the Phoenix VA hospital was not fired because of her role in the scandal, but because she had accepted “inappropriate gifts,” according to the New York Times.
The Phoenix VA hospital was especially toxic. It’s reported that dozens of patients may have died awaiting care.
Former Texas Governor Rick Perry was stunned at the government's inaction.
“It is outrageous that the Obama administration has not held people accountable for manipulating wait times in VA hospitals after promising to take action against those implicated in the scandal,” said Perry.
Our vets gave their all for us, they deserve to be first in line for the best health care we have to offer. Former Governor Sarah Palin gave an important speech about our vulnerable veterans and their needs at this year’s CPAC. She felt the need to speak for them, because our humble vets are unlikely to ask for anything themselves.
"The reason you don't hear about these scandals, is because our vets don't complain."
Our veterans are too important to be sidelined. It’s time to remove anyone from the VA who believes or acts otherwise.
To get you up to speed, read Guy’s eye-opening and glass-shattering post published earlier this week. In it, he explains how a “very serious series of facts,” as Gov. Mitt Romney phrased it in his exclusive interview with Salem radio host Hugh Hewitt, is raising unsettling questions about an alleged quid pro quo agreement between the Clintons and the Russians.
Weighing in, the former Republican presidential nominee stated flatly that the scandal is very “troubling” to him – and has “every earmark of bribery.”
HH: Pleased to welcome back to the program former Massachusetts Governor and 2012 Republican nominee for president, Mitt Romney. Governor Romney, always a pleasure, welcome back.
MR: Thank you. It’s good to be with you, Hugh.
HH: Governor Romney, I know you’ve had a chance to read, I assume you’ve had a chance to read the Jo Becker/Mike McIntire New York Times piece today about the cash flowing into the Clinton Foundation from the Russians as they got control of Uranium One. What’s your reaction to this story?
MR: You know, I’ve got to tell you, I was stunned by it. I mean, it looks like bribery. I mean, there is every appearance that Hillary Clinton was bribed to grease the sale of, what, 20% of America’s uranium production to Russia, and then it was covered up by lying about a meeting at her home with the principals, and by erasing emails. And you know, I presume we might know for sure whether there was or was not bribery if she hadn’t wiped out thousands of emails. But this is a very, very serious series of facts, and it looks like bribery.
HH: I just asked Senator Lindsey Graham last hour if they would hold hearings into the donors to the Clinton Family Foundation, because if the Russians can give them that much money, is it possible the Iranians have as well, Governor Romney?
MR: Well, we don’t know who gave money, and the IRS apparently is making it known that the filings of the Clinton Foundation did not include the fact that foreign governments were making contributions. And they had misstated their filings over the past several years. This is obviously a very troubling setting. But even what we do know, based on what was written by the New York Times, and is being reported by Fox and others, it has every earmark of bribery. And this is from the office of Secretary of State. This is a very troubling set of facts, and clearly, there’s got to be some kind of investigation to find out what the truth is here, because around the world, people are going to look at Hillary Clinton, a potential candidate for president, a former Secretary of State, and say gosh, is this a person who could be trusted? And I think the American people are asking that question as well.
Indeed they are. A new poll finds that 54 percent of Americans do not believe Hillary Clinton is “honest and trustworthy.” So perhaps we can all agree this scandal isn't going to do her any favors.
Read the full transcript of the interview here.
Earlier this week, Team Clinton found itself besieged by continued questions over foreign donations to the family’s non-profit. Such inquires have lingered since the winter when it was discovered that the Clinton Foundation accepted a donation from the Algerian government when Hillary was Secretary of State, which appeared to have violated an ethics agreement with the Obama White House. Speculation intensified when Reuters reported that the Clintons haven’t disclosed their donors since 2010, despite a 2008 promise Hillary made in a move to be more transparent. Now, we have cash flowing into the Clinton Foundation from the family foundation of the chairman of Uranium One, who was in the middle of securing a deal with Rosatom, a state-owned Russian energy corporation. Bill Clinton would then receive a $500,000 speaking fee from a bank with connections to this deal. Uranium One was a mining company that was responsible for 20% of the United States’ uranium production. These transactions were not disclosed to the Obama administration during these business negotiations (2009-2013), and the review of this deal by the Committee on Foreign Investment in the United States, who “are charged with reviewing any deal that could result in foreign control of an American business or asset deemed important to national security,” according to the Times–was met with approval. All of this, just prior to Clinton’s exit as Secretary of State, who is a principal actor on the board.
As a result, the editorial boards are showing the former first lady no love. The New York Times demanded she disclose all the Foundation’s donations and donors, while chastising her for breaking her pledge regarding disclosing such donors when she became Secretary of State:
The increasing scrutiny of the foundation has raised several points that need to be addressed by Mrs. Clinton and the former president. These relate most importantly to the flow of multimillions in donations from foreigners and others to the foundation, how Mrs. Clinton dealt with potential conflicts as secretary of state and how she intends to guard against such conflicts should she win the White House.
The only plausible answer is full and complete disclosure of all sources of money going to the foundation. And the foundation needs to reinstate the ban on donations from foreign governments for the rest of her campaign — the same prohibition that was in place when she was in the Obama administration.
The donations, which included $2.35 million from a principal in the deal, were not publicly disclosed by the foundation, even though Mrs. Clinton had signed an agreement with the Obama administration requiring the foundation to disclose all donors as a condition of her becoming secretary of state. This failure is an inexcusable violation of her pledge. The donations were discovered through Canadian tax records by Times reporters. Media scrutiny is continuing, with Reuters reporting that the foundation is refiling some returns found to be erroneous.
There is no indication that Mrs. Clinton played a role in the uranium deal’s eventual approval by a cabinet-level committee. But the foundation’s role in the lives of the Clintons is inevitably becoming a subject of political concern.
It’s an axiom in politics that money always creates important friendships, influence and special consideration. Wise politicians recognize this danger and work to keep it at bay. When she announced her candidacy, Mrs. Clinton resigned from the foundation board (Bill Clinton remains on the board). This was followed by the announcement of tighter foundation restrictions on donations from foreign countries, which had resumed after she left the State Department.
These half steps show that candidate Clinton is aware of the complications she and Bill Clinton have created for themselves. She needs to do a lot more, because this problem is not going away.
The Wall Street Journal said this was nothing short of “graft.”
We’re not the first to make the comparison, but Bill and Hillary Clinton’s adventures in the uranium trade recall nothing as much as Tammany Hall’s concept of “honest graft.” Except maybe their never-ending use of power and status for personal and political gain requires a new special terminology. Dishonest graft?
The New York Times reported Thursday on the foreign cash that flowed into the Clinton Foundation between 2009 and 2013 as subsidiaries of the Russian state nuclear energy agency Rosatom acquired control of a Canada-based mining company called Uranium One. The story features the familiar Clinton touches: lucrative Kazakh mining concessions for the tycoon Frank Giustra, with Bill along as a character reference; a half-million-dollar-a-pop speech by the former President in Moscow for a Kremlin-linked bank; $2.35 million in secret donations from one family foundation to another.
All the while, Mrs. Clinton was serving in her capacity as Secretary of State on the U.S. Cabinet committee that screens foreign investment for national-security risks. The group approved the deal, despite critics who warned it would give the Russian government control over the world’s nuclear fuel—the same material Vladimir Putin is now selling to Iran. Oh, and don’t forget this was also amid the famous “reset” of relations with Mr. Putin.
Oh, and here’s the New York Post:
Thursday was a banner day in the unfolding scandal of the Clinton Foundation.
We learned that a Russian government-controlled company has taken control of one-fifth of all uranium producing capacity in the US by acquiring a Canadian firm whose chairman, Frank Giustra, has pledged over $130 million to the foundation.
Bill Clinton also got $500,000 in speaking fees from a Russian bank that had been promoting the Canadian firm’s stock. And Hillary’s State Department signed off on the acquisition, which has serious national-security implications.
Giustra also reaped huge profits when Hillary reversed her earlier “clear and firm” opposition to a trade deal with Colombia.
Her ex-president hubby, meanwhile, actively promoted the agreement the same month he accepted $800,000 for speeches, delivered after flying on Giustra’s private jet, to a pro-agreement group.
Bill also hosted a meeting in his home to introduce Colombian President Alvaro Uribe to Giustra, then eyeing Colombian oil contracts.
Meanwhile, the Clinton Foundation is now hurriedly re-filing five years worth of tax returns that somehow failed to list any of the millions it received in foreign donations. And Bill and Hillary’s family charity only acted after journalists uncovered the discrepancy.
The Clinton camp is trying to frame this as a right-wing hit job, while their supporters have seemingly begun to smear the author of the upcoming book on the Clinton Foundation’s dealings–Peter Schweizer–on the airwaves. The problem: it’s not going to work. Mainstream news outlets have begun investigating the claims made in Schweizer’s book, and it’s a fact that these news outlets– Reuters, Bloomberg, The New York Times, Politico, and The Washington Post– are not part of this “right wing” conspiracy against the Clintons. To say otherwise, is desperate and a bit nutty.
Flashback: That time Hillary said then-Sen. Obama had some questions to answer about his alleged backroom deals with a nuclear power company–Exelon–who were also one of his biggest donors. Oh, and she's Mrs. Transparency.
Florida Sen. Marco Rubio receives a five percentage-point bump after his April 13 announcement and has the backing of 13 percent in the race for the Republican nomination -- just a touch over Wisconsin Gov. Scott Walker who gets 12 percent among self-identified GOP primary voters. Kentucky Sen. Rand Paul comes in at 10 percent, former Florida Gov. Jeb Bush and former Arkansas Gov. Mike Huckabee earn 9 percent each and Texas Sen. Ted Cruz gets 8 percent.
Democratic presidential candidate Hillary Clinton on Thursday said "deep-seated … religious beliefs" have to be changed before the world's women will get full access to abortion. “Far too many women are still denied critical access to reproductive health care and safe childbirth. All the laws we've passed don’t count for much if they’re not enforced,” Clinton said. “Rights have to exist in practice — not just on paper,” Clinton argued. “Laws have to be backed up with resources and political will." “And deep-seated cultural codes, religious beliefs and structural biases have to be changed,” Clinton added.
The Friday Filibuster: The one-stop-shop for everything you need to know about this week in politics.
91%—The chance Sen. Lindsey Graham will run for president.
49%-43%--Rubio takes the lead in Florida over Hillary Clinton.
99-0—Senate finally passes anti-sex trafficking bill.
37.5% of respondents in a HotAir poll said they’d vote for Ted Cruz if the Republican primary were held today—beating out all the other declared candidates.
34% of respondents in a YouGov poll believe it’s “totally unacceptable” for a candidate to oppose same-sex marriage.
95,727 kids prove there is no link between MMR vaccine and autism.
100,000—The amount former CIA Director David Petraeus was fined for military leaks.
15% of Republican primary voters in a Q-poll chose Marco Rubio over other candidates.
56-43—The yea and nay votes, respectively, for Loretta Lynch’s confirmation.
Terror, Global Security & Foreign Affairs
The Islamic State continues to slaughter innocent Christians, again in Libya. And it’s starting to look like they might be in Afghanistan, too. The fact that its leader, Abu Bakr al-Baghdadi, has been gravely injured is clearly not slowing them down. CBS returned to the 2013 Sarin gas attack in Syria this week, reminding viewers that no one has been held accountable for the attack, which killed more than 1,400 people. And Egypt’s deposed president Mohamed Morsi has finally been sentenced to two decades in prison for his involvement in criminal acts of violence and torture during his time in office. And Iran, meanwhile, is obstinate that they’re not going to allow inspections at military sites. Oh, and the White House isn't going to require Iran release American hostages as part of nuclear deal.
HRC: Bought and Paid For?
Will Hillary’s campaign turn out to be a house of cards? After events that unfolded this week, it may be. First up, Peter Schweizer’s new book, “Clinton Cash: The Untold Story of How and Why Foreign Governments and Businesses Helped Make Bill and Hillary Rich” shines much-needed sunlight on their shady dealings. It also appears the Foundation’s largest donor has been trading with Iran, which may be a breach of U.S. sanctions on the country. To make matters worse for her, the NYT and Reuters jumped on the bandwagon with regard to exposing more foreign cash and tax scandals. Team Hillary is in damage control mode, sending former Obama WH adviser John Podesta to her defense and claiming critics can't prove corruption with a 'shred' of evidence. They’re also gearing up to smear the author of the book. The Times is actually calling Team Hillary out for their ‘misdirection and obfuscation’ surrounding the money scandal. The White House, meanwhile, continues to stand by her side. And back to Email-gate, Trey Gowdy still wants her in the hot seat.
Campaigns & Elections
Carly Fiorina will formally enter the presidential race on May 4; rapper Waka Flocka claims he is also entering the race (impossible); and Sen. Manchin says he’s running for re-election, not governor of West Virginia. Sen. Marco Rubio answers Google questions in a new campaign video, and Sen. Lindsey Graham, who’s 91 percent sure he’s running for president, took a knock at Sen. Rand Paul for being ‘behind’ Obama and Clinton on foreign policy. And the Koch brothers have not endorsed Gov. Walker yet, but they’re giving Jeb an ‘audition’—they also said they may back several candidates in the primaries. And for the latest on polling, don’t forget to check out the Closing Numbers section at the top.
It was Earth Day this week. Global warming fanatic Bill Nye celebrated with fossil fuel powered flights on Air Force One. And as a reminder, the co-founder of Earth Day killed and composted his girlfriend.
In other news
The head of the DEA is set to resign after a Justice Department OIG report revealed that several agents had engaged in ‘sex parties’ with prostitutes paid for by Colombian drug cartels; more MSNBC hosts have been slapped with tax warrants; and two hostages were killed in a US counterterrorism operation.
Graphics by Townhall Graphic Designer Feven Amenu.
As Chris Cillizza of the Washington Post wrote, we’ve seen the confirmation of Loretta Lynch (we’re not discussing whether it was a good or bad thing), the passage of a Medicare doc fix, a human trafficking bill, and fast-track authority on the Trans-Pacific trade deal, which has President Obama fighting among his fellow Democrats.
Congress is working somewhat again–and the reason seems to be because Harry Reid was toppled as Senate Majority Leader or at least that’s what Republicans on Capitol Hill told Cillizza:
I also asked a handful of longtime Republican congressional hands to explain the sudden unfreezing. The name that kept coming up in those conversations was Sen. Harry Reid (D-Nev.).
"I think there was a significant pent-up desire on both sides to return to legislating," said Billy Piper, a former top aide to Sen. Mitch McConnell and now a GOP lobbyist. "These guys don't work so hard to win elections to just come up here and be potted plants. They want to accomplish things, and the last several years they have been prevented by Leader Reid from even trying."
Added another smart Republican mind: "Following the collapse of the Grand Bargain talks in the summer of 2011, Reid essentially shut down the Senate (presumably at President Obama’s request) until after the presidential election. . . . Now, McConnell is making the Senate work again, and President Obama (in the final quarter of his presidency) would like some sort of second-term legacy. So things are moving."
It's not just Republicans who are blaming Reid. Sen. Joe Manchin (D-W.Va.), who announced this week that he will seek reelection in 2016 rather than run for governor, took a shot at Reid's tenure as leader, too. “His leadership and the things he thought would work did not," Manchin said on "Morning Joe." "So with that, you just move on.”
For the record, not all Democrats -- or even most -- blame Reid. Democrats generally insist that the reason things have begun to work better is because their side isn't willing to block legislation the same way Republicans did when they served in the Senate minority.
My sense is that it's a combination of these factors. Yes, it is true that McConnell has opened up the amendment process in the Senate, allowing more voices to be heard and members -- Republicans and Democrats -- to feel as though they are a bigger part of the process.
Vox’s Jonathan Allen, formerly of Bloomberg, wrote that there could be a “bipartisan consensus” on reauthorizing No Child Left Behind and a bill that taxes foreign earnings of corporations to finance a new infrastructure bill. Yet, Allen also noted that the thaw in the Senate since Reid was booted from the Majority Leader slot:
The biggest change is in the Senate, where McConnell's intransigence and Harry Reid’s hammerlock on the floor schedule over the past four years frustrated lawmakers in both parties. Reid didn't want Republicans to force Democrats into tough votes before the last election. The amendment process was cut off. Nothing moved. Now McConnell has opened up the floor, and that’s encouraging Republicans and Democrats to cobble together coalitions both in committee and on floor amendments.
"One of the side benefits of all the floor time is that members have more time to talk while they’re down there, and so things just start happening," said a senior GOP aide. "Budget votes ran into 4 am a few Thursdays back. McConnell fed both sides and their staffs out of his office. Stuff like that just leads to more things happening legislatively."
Yet, this can always change in a heartbeat. Case in point, the overwhelmingly bipartisan human trafficking bill that just passed hit a nasty partisan bump when Democrats pathetically tried to accuse Republicans of sneaking in Hyde Amendment language. This led to Republicans tying the passage of the trafficking bill to the Loretta Lynch Attorney General confirmation vote. Now, both cases have been resolved, but it gridlock could happen again.
At the same time, gridlock isn’t universally bad. As George Will has said repeatedly, gridlock isn’t an American problem; gridlock is an American achievement” to which he then lists the mechanisms of government (veto, veto override, supermajorities, and judicial review) that are meant to slow the pace of government.
Yet, I think we can all agree that Harry Reid not being Senate Majority Leader is quite refreshing.
Shorter Clinton Campaign: "All of this smoke is not caused by a fire." https://t.co/E6gUyAuuuj pic.twitter.com/U4Zv5fWO7Q — Logan Dobson (@LoganDobson) April 23, 2015
"Oh, did we say 'zero'? We meant 'tens of millions.' Thanks for checking our math, Reuters!" http://t.co/VtD4qtQ0fk — Guy Benson (@guypbenson) April 23, 2015
As the Russians gradually assumed control of Uranium One in three separate transactions from 2009 to 2013, Canadian records show, a flow of cash made its way to the Clinton Foundation. Uranium One’s chairman used his family foundation to make four donations totaling $2.35 million. Those contributions were not publicly disclosed by the Clintons, despite an agreement Mrs. Clinton had struck with the Obama White House to publicly identify all donors. Other people with ties to the company made donations as well. And shortly after the Russians announced their intention to acquire a majority stake in Uranium One, Mr. Clinton received $500,000 for a Moscow speech from a Russian investment bank with links to the Kremlin that was promoting Uranium One stock. At the time, both Rosatom and the United States government made promises intended to ease concerns about ceding control of the company’s assets to the Russians. Those promises have been repeatedly broken, records show.
Clinton campaign says NYT reporter "attacked" the Clintons for mentioning Clinton Foundation officials lied to her. pic.twitter.com/DlFL560stL — Elliott Schwartz (@elliosch) April 23, 2015
A plugged-in Democrat just told me he's getting the same sinking feeling he had when John Kerry was the nominee http://t.co/eC8blYdbl9 — Taegan Goddard (@politicalwire) April 23, 2015
On this week's Townhall Weekend Journal:
Hugh Hewitt and Ted Cruz on Obama's non-deal with Iran. Michael Medved on Obama squaring Iran's "death to America" mantra. Bill Bennett and and Bing West on Obama's inability to deal with aggressive Iranian war ships. Hewitt and John Kasich on Kasich's possible run in '16. Medved with Jeb Bush on why he would make a good president. Hewitt and Rick Perry's on Perry's credentials if he decides to run in '16. Prager on the non-terrorist Muslims throwing numerous Christians overboard and murdering them because they prayed to God.