The newly elected Republican legislature in West Virginia flexed its muscles today by overriding Democratic Gov. Earl Ray Tomblin veto of an abortion law that would ban the practice after 20 weeks. In other words, late-term abortion is banned in West Virginia (via AP):
The ban provides some exemptions for women in medical emergencies, but not for rape and incest.
The bill is based on the assertion that fetuses can feel pain at 20 weeks, which is disputed in medical research.
Opponents say it's unconstitutional and intrusive into doctor-patient relationships. Ten other states ban abortions after 20 weeks.
The West Virginia law resembles one that was struck down in Arizona in 2013. The U.S. Supreme Court decided not to reconsider that case.
West Virginia is one of the few states in the country where a simple majority is needed to override a veto. Gov. Tomblin, who touts himself as pro-life, vetoed the legislation due to constitutional concerns, but even Democrats in the legislature supported the bill.
Despite what pro-aborts may say about 20-week bans, they’re popular, especially amongst American women. In a 2013 Washington Post/ABC News poll, 60 percent of women supported the measure, 56 percent amongst all adults. Polling also showed that there was immense support for more restrictions on abortion as well:
In fact, of four major polls conducted in recent weeks on the 20-week abortion ban, each one shows women are actually more supportive of the law than men.
A new Quinnipiac poll shows 60 percent of women prefer allowing unrestricted abortions for only the first 20 weeks of pregnancy rather than the Supreme Court-prescribed 24 weeks. Among men, 50 percent support the 20-week law — a 10-point gap.
A Washington Post-ABC News poll showed the gap at seven points, while two other polls (from NBC/Wall Street Journal and National Journal) showed it at six and four, respectively.
And those numbers may actually understate support among women for the new restrictions.
In the Post-ABC poll, rather than choosing between a 20-week ban and the current 24 weeks, 8 percent of women volunteered that abortion should never be legal, and 3 percent volunteered that the window should be smaller than 20 weeks. If you add them to the 60 percent of women who support the 20-week abortion ban, then 71 percent of women would seem to support the effort to increase abortion restrictions.
Granted, the GOP tripped up badly with the latest push to ban abortions after 20 weeks at the federal level last January. But, it’s still a popular measure.
Normally I don’t use expletives in my headlines but does Joe Scarborough not have a point? Skip ahead to the 4:45 mark:
“A disappointment for me this weekend is the fact that Republican Leadership isn’t going down there. And I’ve been looking at the camera more today than I have in a lot of shows. Hey Republican Leadership, get your ass down there. Put somebody on the plane and send them to Selma. Get down there. This is not hard. Don’t golf. Don’t raise money. Get somebody in the Republican leadership down to Selma to celebrate an extraordinary moment in American history.
This is a missed opportunity. The fact that television anchors have to essentially shame Republicans into attending a ceremony they should want to attend in the first place is truly mystifying. What else could they possibly be doing that is more important? The snub is especially frustrating because the House Majority Whip has actually been accused (unfairly, I might add) of being a racist for exercising poor judgment as a state legislator. This is another reason why Scarborough’s indignation and disappointment is not ill-founded.
Bottom line: This is a ceremony Republican leaders have a responsibility to attend. Let's hope that they change their minds.
According to an exclusive report published first by CNN, Democrat Senator Bob Menendez will be indicted by the Department of Justice on federal corruption charges.
The Justice Department is preparing to bring criminal corruption charges against New Jersey Sen. Robert Menendez, alleging he used his Senate office to push the business interests of a Democratic donor and friend in exchange for gifts.
People briefed on the case say Attorney General Eric Holder has signed off on prosecutors' request to proceed with charges, CNN has learned exclusively. An announcement could come within weeks. Prosecutors are under pressure in part because of the statute of limitation on some of the allegations.
The government's case centers on Menendez's relationship with Salomon Melgen, a Florida ophthalmologist who the senator has called a friend and political supporter. Melgen and his family have been generous donors to the senator and various committees the senator is associated with.
Menendez has been under fire over the past three years for allegations of hiring underage prostitutes in the Dominican Republic, for accepting suspicious campaign donations and much more. Yahoo has a rundown of the scandals surrounding Menendez here.
I should point out that the timing of the indictment is interesting. Menendez has been a harsh critic of President Obama's policy and negotiations with Iran and has been a staunch supported of Israel.
The Friday Filibuster: The one-stop-shop for everything you need to know about this week in politics.
4 - the number of Pinocchios WaPo gave President Obama for his Keystone Pipeline claims
19 - the number of Christian hostages released by ISIS.
51 percent of informed voters would choose Gov. Walker over Hillary Clinton.
55 percent of registered voters oppose President Obama's most recent executive actions on immigration.
19 percent of South Carolina Republicans would choose Jeb Bush if the S.C. Republican primary were held today.
53 percent of registered voters disapprove of the job Barack Obama is doing as president.
42 percent of voters doubt Obama’s patriotism.
“Sharknado 3” will feature Ann Coulter as vice president.
257 - the number of representatives in the House who voted to pass ‘clean’ legislation funding the Department of Homeland Security until the next budget year.
5 - the number of votes the Senate was short in order to pass a Keystone override.
In 2007, Hilary Clinton chided Bush administration officials for using “secret White House email accounts.” But apparently she didn’t really care all that much about the law or security breaches, because not only did she use (multiple) personal email accounts to conduct official State business, but she even used a server from her family home to do so, which of course gave her additional legal protections. The irony is that Clinton’s State Department forced the resignation of the U.S. Ambassador to Kenya in part for setting up a private email system for his office. The White House is squirming on how to address this one given that it's been a common practice in the 'most transparent administration in history.' Press Secretary Josh Earnest though refused to say whether or not they trust her claims that she followed the law in choosing to use her personal email, and the White House Counsel’s Office reportedly had no idea she did this. Even the liberal media are turning their backs on her. Rep. Trey Gowdy’s Benghazi Committee will be sending out subpoenas to get a closer look at her emails, and Judicial Watch is suing. Two days after the scandal was first exposed, Hillary took a belated stab at transparency and said that she wanted people to read her email … just as soon as the State Department releases them. Apparently, however, they already had 90 percent of the emails. The controversy also didn’t stop her from basically announcing that she’s running for president. But will this be a game-changer for her presidential aspirations?
Campaigns and Elections
Little doubt remains that famed neurosurgeon Ben Carson will take the plunge and run for president. Sources also indicate that Marco Rubio is growing increasingly frustrated in the Senate and unlikely to seek a second term, which paves the way for you know what. The Scott Walker PAC meanwhile made two important hires for their leadership board. And on the congressional side of things, former Rep. Todd Akin said he will not challenge Sen. Roy Blunt in a 2016 primary. I know, you’re heartbroken. Meanwhile, Democratic Sen. Barbara Mikulski is calling it quits after 2016. And taking her place may be Rep. Chris Van Hollen, who announced he will run for Senate in 2016.
Despite the ATF, DOJ, and White House’s claims that the proposed ban on commonly used ammunition for AR-15s is necessary to protect law enforcement officers from “armor piercing” ammunition, that claim doesn’t pass the smell test. And the House Judiciary Committee Chairman said the ATF’s attempt to ban the ammunition through executive order is preposterous. Breaking news on this front happened Friday afternoon, as it was revealed the "green-tip" ammunition in question has already been reclassified as "armor piercing," meaning their comment period was just for show. In other gun news, New Yorkers are launching a new strategy to chip away at the extremely anti-gun SAFE act; the Maine legislature is considering whether to allow “constitutional carry;” and California had a record year in handgun sales. Oh, and according to a DOJ report, “Hands Up, Don’t Shoot” never actually happened.
Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu arrived in D.C. this week for his much anticipated joint address to Congress about the threat a nuclear Iran poses to Israel and the United States. The White House claimed to be unhappy about the visit due to the elections, but Conn explains the real reason was because they knew he would make a forceful case against Obama’s upcoming nuclear deal with Iran. Unsurprisingly, many Democrats boycotted the speech, while those who did attend decried it as condescending and urged the Israeli PM to just go home. Nancy Pelosi said the horribly insulting speech made her want to cry. Predictably, he did slam the nuclear deal and insisted if Israel has to act alone, it will. (PS: This is how Obama will bypass Congress on Iranian nuclear arms deal.)
Despite reasons to doubt Wisconsin Gov. Scott Walker’s pro-life credentials, he did seem to make up for it by pledging to sign a controversial pro-life bill. There were also a couple of inspiring stories that made the rounds this week, one about a 12-year-old girl who was brutally raped but still chose life, and another about a photo that proves fetuses aren’t ‘blobs of tissue’ in early stages of pregnancy. An excellent documentary about one pastor’s heroic efforts to rescue abandoned babies in South Korea also hit screens this week.
In other news
President Obama is ‘very interested’ in raising taxes through executive action. And according to the GAO, the chance of a ‘path to citizenship’ was a ‘primary cause’ of the 2014 migration surge, but we already knew that. And in an effort to justify his executive amnesty, President Obama on Friday invoked the “spirit of Selma.”
Sarah Seman was busy at CPAC last week. She sat down with Guy Benson to talk about his upcoming book, “End of Discussion,” interviewed millennials to find out what the most important issue to them is, and had some fun, asking attendees which politician they’d most like to get a drink with. Also at CPAC, editors in the Townhall Media Group weighed in on whether Republicans should nominate a governor or senator in 2016.
Graphics by Townhall Graphic Designer Feven Amenu.
On Friday February 13 at 4:00 pm, the Bureau of Alcohol Tobacco and Firearms released a proposal to ban commonly used M855 "green tip" AR-15 ammunition under the guise of law enforcement safety. The same day the proposal was released, on a Friday of a three day holiday weekend, ATF opened up a shortened 30-day period for the public to submit comments about the new regulation.
But it turns out, ATF has been working on a ban of AR-15 "green-tip" ammunition for quite some time and has already issued the ban in its new, 2014 Regulation Guide. For reference, ATF Regulation Guides come out approximately every ten years.
When you take a look at the 2005 ATF Regulation Guide, you'll see an exemption for AR-15 "green-tip" ammunition, which means it exempted from the definition of "armor piercing" and therefore is legal on the federal level.
When you look at the last page of the new, most recent ATF 2014 Regulation Guide, which was published in January, there is no longer an exemption for AR-15 "green-tip" ammunition.
"The 2014 edition of the Federal Firearms Regulations Reference Guide contains information that will help you comply with Federal laws and regulations governing the manufacture, importation and distribution of firearms and ammunition. This edition contains new and amended statutes enacted since publication of the 2005 edition, as well as updated regulations and rulings issued by ATF. In addition to these updated materials, in response to inquiries received from industry members, the public, and partner agencies, the 2014 edition contains additional and amended Questions and Answers to assist with compliance," ATF Director B. Todd Jones states in the 2014 edition of the new Regulation Guide (emphasis mine). "Laws may change over time, as will information in this guide."
The Office of Management and Budget must review and approve ATF Regulation Guides, which again, come out approximately every 10 years. This can take months and changes to Regulation Guides are not easily or often made. Because of the lengthy amount of time it takes for OMB to approve a new ATF Regulation Guide, ATF's comment period is just for show. ATF officials and the White House have (and never did) no interest in actually listening to or considering comments that are currently being submitted. The exemption for the ammunition in question has already been stripped out of the regulation handbook moving forward and "green-tip" has been reclassified as "armor piercing." The rules have been changed. Further, because of local rules and regulations in different states across the country having their own "armor piercing" standards based on ATF regulations, thousands of people in possession of AR-15 green tip ammunition have essentially been turned into felons overnight.
A review of the timeline:
January 2015: ATF published a new, OMB approved Regulation Guide stripping AR-15 "green-tip" from its armor piercing exemption list.
February 2015: ATF proposes a ban (which they've already put in place through their handbook published in January) on AR-15 "green-tip" ammunition and opens up a comment period.
March 16, 2015: The comment period about the proposed/already implemented ban on AR-15 "green-tip" ammunition closes, ATF ignores tens-of-thousands of comments because they were never going to consider them in the first place, and continues with the regulations outlined in the new 2014 Regulation Guide.
ATF changed the law unilaterally, didn't tell anyone about it and has now put up a bogus comment period that means nothing. Because of these actions, ATF and the White House have not only failed to follow the Administrative Procedure Act, but has gone around Congress to violate the Second Amendment rights of Americans.
So, what' next? ATF is going to have to explain why the change was made under the radar and will also have to explain what this means for people in possession of "green-tip" ammunition after January 2015 when the new ATF Regulation Guide was published with the exemption missing. Is there no grandfathering period for possession? When will manufactures be forced to stop producing? What does this mean for buyers and sellers? States are also going to have to find a way to implement these regulations and define compliance under separate state ammunition possession laws.
Editor's note: The timeline listed above mistakenly said 2014 for all three dates. It has been corrected to 2015.
This post has been updated with additional information.
Hillary Clinton no doubt violated the spirit of the law when she set up her own private email server from her residence in Chappaqua, New York, to conduct official State Department business.
That is why Congress passed, and President Obama signed, an amendment to the Federal Records Act in 2014, that requires all federal officials who use private email accounts to conduct official business to forward those private emails to their government account within 20 days.
But when Clinton was Secretary of State that 20-day time limit did not exist.
She was, and is, still required by law to send all personal emails relating to official government business to the State Department for safe-keeping, but she is under no legal obligation to do so within a given timeframe and there is no way to verify if she has truly identified every relevant email.
Now, if it is ever revealed that Clinton did keep private emails conducting official business from the State Department, then she will be guilty of a felony.
But that would require a third party gaining access to all of her personal emails.
House Benghazi Committee Chairman Trey Gowdy (R-SC) is reportedly trying to get Clinton to agree to let a neutral third party (like a federal judge or the State Department Inspector General) review Clinton's server, but Clinton is under no legal obligation to agree to such a deal.
“It’s somewhat ridiculous that we are trusting the decisions of private citizens hired by this person to preserve the country’s records,” John Wonderlich, policy director of the Sunlight Foundation, a government transparency nonprofit, told BuzzFeed.
But, unless Clinton agrees to give her server to a third party, that is exactly the situation we are facing.
The Clinton email controversy isn’t going away, no matter how hard Media Matters’ David Brock–a die-hard Clintonite–tries to squash it. Clinton appears to have created multiple private email address, and a senior State Department official said that she was probably operating in direct violation of State Department policy regarding electronic communications for six years. Clinton’s way of executing official government business through a private server also exposed the United States to data breaches.
Additionally, it appears that 90 percent of the emails Clinton turned over could have already been in State’s hands since it was intra-department communication with employees using the state.gov email address. This pretty much kills any “she’s being transparent … because emails” talking point that some of her defenders have been peddling (via WaPo) [emphasis mine]:
Clinton did not address how she would handle records she did not submit to the State Department.
A Clinton aide would not say Thursday how many e-mails were withheld or describe the process used to decide which were purely personal.
Of the e-mails that were turned over to State, the Clinton aide said, 90 percent were correspondence between Clinton and agency employees using their regular government e-mail accounts, which end in state.gov.
The remaining 10 percent were communications between Clinton and other government officials, including some at the White House, along with an unknown number of people “not on a government server,” the aide said. The aide requested anonymity because the e-mails are not yet public.
Moreover, the policy of not using private email accounts on a routine basis for State Department officials has been in place since 2005, according to Politico. It’s been described as “clear cut.” To make matters worse, one of the reasons listed for the resignation of Scott Gration, our ambassador to Kenya, in 2012, was his use of a private email system.
The issue regarding the emails seems to be uniting left and right in media circles. MSNBC’s Lawrence O’Donnell, who describes himself as a "practical European socialist,” said, “Hillary Clinton’s [email] system was designed to defy Freedom of Information Act requests, which is designed to defy the law.”
Oh, and the reviewing process for these emails to see if they can be released to the public “could take months" (via AP):
The government will review a huge cache of Hillary Rodham Clinton's emails for possible release after revelations she conducted official business as secretary of state in the shadows of a private account. The disclosure has raised questions in the buildup to her expected presidential run about whether she adhered to the letter or spirit of accountability laws.
The matter is expected to result in the eventual release of thousands of emails from her private account, opening a new window on her tenure in high office and providing potential fodder to critics.
Officials said Thursday the review by the State Department could take months, potentially a drawn-out distraction for Clinton and an unnerving development for the many Democrats who see her as the party's presidential nominee-in-waiting for 2016.
Under the Freedom of Information Act, the government can censor or withhold emails to protect information that would hurt national security, violate personal privacy or expose business secrets or confidential decision-making in certain areas. It wasn't clear whether the State Department would automatically apply those provisions to its review of Clinton's emails, or use its discretion to release even emails that might be covered under those exemptions.
And the music plays on.
H/T Josh Rogin
On this week's Townhall Weekend Journal:
Hugh Hewitt and Peter Robinson on PM Netanyahu's speech to the U.S. Congress. Dennis Prager reacts to Netanyahu's speech. Bill Bennett and Carly Fiorina on last weekend's murder of Russian Boris Nemtsov. Hugh Hewitt and liberal Democrat/fellow law school Dean Erwin Chemerinsky can not support Hillary and her email scandal. Dennis Prager on Obama's veto of the Keystone Pipeline bill.
The DC's Matt Lewis has the scoop:
2 smart & connected sources have told me Marco Rubio is frustrated in the Senate / Both speculate he will not seek re-election.— Matt Lewis (@mattklewis) March 6, 2015
Can you blame him? Honestly, even with majority-control, congressional Republicans are still struggling to green light tremendously popular, bipartisan job and infrastructure bills. The gridlock is frustrating. For him and the American people.
And yet the general consensus -- at least as I understand it -- is that Rubio was probably rolling the dice in 2016 because he would not run for two national offices concurrently. So he had to reluctantly choose one and his gut told him to run for president. According to these sources, however, there's more to the story. Rubio's "frustrated" in his current job and thus uninterested in sticking around or becoming the next Teddy Kennedy or Bob Byrd. In retrospect, we saw hints of this as recently as last week.
“I don’t want to be in politics my whole life,” he told Sean Hannity at CPAC. “I want to serve our country and do some other things.”
Reading between the lines, what are we to make of such statements? Is this a clear indication he's ready to leave the Senate? After all, he just locked up another mega-donor, all but declaring he's laying the groundwork for a widely anticipated presidential run.
We'll know with certainty soon enough.