According to court documents, federal prosecutors working on behalf of Attorney General Eric Holder and the Department of Justice misled U.S. District Court Judge Richard Berman in the case against conservative filmmaker and author Dinesh D’Souza during their pursuit of 10-to-16 months of prison time for a federal felony charge.
In a reply sentencing memo submitted to the Court on behalf of D'Souza last week, his counsel argues federal prosecutors excluded and misrepresented the facts of “similar” cases in the Government's sentencing proposal to Judge Berman, leaving out crucial facts key to fair and equal sentencing for D’Souza compared to other cases. The prosecution has a duty to present comparable cases and crimes when arguing for a prison sentence. In their presentation of “similar” cases to the Judge for consideration during his deliberation, the prosecution ignored all truly similar cases without prison time but did present cases that included prison time without a full set of facts to justify sentencing.
“The Government, in this case, has chosen to consciously omit from its submission critical facts from most of the cases they cite which make it clear that those cases are substantially distinguishable from the facts in D’Souza’s prosecution,” the memo states.
D’Souza’s counsel provided the court with a chart detailing “the 'limited’ facts from each case that the Government highlights” and then provided the missing facts the Government failed to include in order to avoid undermining their own argument against a prison sentence. With all the facts in place, the Government doesn’t have a case that adds up to a sentence that includes imprisonment.
In the chart submitted to the Judge by D’Souza’s counsel, you’ll notice the “facts” on the left submitted to the Judge by the Government to be used for sentencing consideration. On the right, you’ll find the full facts of the case the Government deliberately failed to include. Below are three of eight examples provided. You can read the rest here.
The prosecution's distortion of the facts in "similar cases" backs up long held suspicions that D’Souza was selectively prosecuted by the Department of Justice for political purposes and shows deceitful, malicious tactics being used to impose an unjust sentence.
“To be candid, counsel were surprised to see that in the Sentencing Memorandum, the Government cavalierly treats and then distorts critical issues so important to the Court’s decision. In doing so, to the Government ironically provides further support for more vigorous prosecution and now, for more severe punishment than virtually any other defendant whose crime is ‘similar’ to that of Mr. D’Souza’s, especially when his case is devoid of any element of corruption or personal greed that is at the heart of every case the Government cites,” the memo states. “Indeed, so determined is the Government in its effort to convince your Honor to imprison Mr. D’Souza, that they supplied the Court with a list of cases in support of their argument on sentence parity, but did so in a manner that was disingenuous. When one carefully examines the facts in each and every one of the case cited by the government in support of their sentence parity argument, it soon becomes clear that prison was imposed in each of those cases for a variety of aggravating factors that have nothing whatsoever to do with the prosecution of Mr. D’Souza."
The government failed to present any case, all facts included, comparable to D’Souza’s which involved illegally using two straw donors to donate a total of $20,000 to an ill-fated campaign. Back in May, D’Souza pled guilty to one count on federal charges detailed in an indictment accusing him of violating campaign finance laws and making false statements. D'Souza admitted in front of the Court that he did in fact ask two people to make contributions in their name and later reimbursed them, knowing it was not proper under the law. D'Souza submitted a plea deal on May 19 and the charge of making false statements was dropped. D’Souza’s defense team has argued that although criminally culpable, their client should not be imprisoned.“After studying the chart and cases cited, we respectfully ask that the Court completely reject the Government’s argument that sentence parity supports a prison sentence for Mr. D’Souza. Simply put, their argument on this issue must be rejected because it is not sound,” D’Souza’s counsel argues in the document. “A good man who is 53 years old, with no criminal record and a genuine scholar, should not be sent to prison for a non-violent technical violation of the Federal Election Law where he was not trying to obtain an advantage or any personal benefit and where the case is devoid of any corruption whatsoever.”
D’Souza’s counsel has asked for a sentence of probation and community service. D'Souza is set for sentencing in the U.S. District Court, Southern District of New York, today at 9 a.m. ET. Judge Berman said earlier this year he will consider D'Souza's character and history in his sentencing.
Current Maine Governor Paul LePage won the 2010 election on the slimmest of margins, with just 38.2 percent of the vote in a competitive three-way race. This time around, he's up for re-election against Democrat challenger and U.S. Representative Mike Michaud and independent candidate Eliot Cutler, and polls are showing that the 2014 election is likely going to be another nail biter.
Current polls show Michaud with a scant +1.7 lead, although a series of CBS/NYT/YouGov polls had LePage up by a point. If Michaud is elected, he will be the first openly gay U.S. governor.
Maine is an unusual state when it comes to gubernatorial elections, and has a strong tradition of viable third-party candidates. Since 1970 there have only been two gubernatorial elections in which the victor received over 50 percent of the votes.
In 2010, Democrat candidate Libby Mitchell effectively played spoiler to left-leaning independent Cutler's bid for the Blaine House, but Cutler has failed to garner the same level of support this election cycle.
Things could get very interesting as November gets nearer.
House Majority Leader John Boehner (R-Ohio) lays out 5 points he believes will restore America's economic foundation and put the United States on the right track for several generations.This event was held at the American Enterprise Institute in Washington D.C.
Last week, an Iraq War veteran, allegedly with PTSD, hopped the White House fence wielding a three-and-a-half inch pocketknife. The break-in was captured on camera and, alarmingly, the perpetrator made it all the way inside the building before he was taken into custody. Thankfully, the first family was not at home at the time of the breach -- but many of the protocols put in place to prevent against dangerous and malicious actors from accessing the White House were not followed. This failure in communication and judgment is reportedly leading top brass at the Secret Service to weigh sweeping policy changes that will ensure something like this never happens again (via the NYT):
The Secret Service is considering screening tourists and other visitors at checkpoints before they enter the public areas in front of the White House in response to the episode Friday in which a man with a knife managed to get through the front door of the president’s home after jumping over the fence on Pennsylvania Avenue, according to law enforcement officials. As part of the screening, the Secret Service would establish several checkpoints a few blocks from the White House, the officials said. The screening would likely be limited to bag checks and not include measures taken at airports by the Transportation Security Administration, which include metal detectors and body scans.
Along with giving Secret Service agents and uniformed Secret Service officers a chance to check for explosives and weapons in bags, the screening would allow them to interact with the visitors and try to identify those who may pose a problem, the officials said. The officials spoke on the condition of anonymity because they did not want to be identified discussing a continuing investigation or security measures under consideration.
In all honesty, how could this happen? That’s pretty much what everybody is asking. This man not only breached the fence; he made it inside. How?
As noted above, one reason, it seems, is because standard operating procedures were inexplicably abandoned:
According to officials briefed on the review, one of the biggest questions senior Secret Service officials want answered is why officers on the grounds did not deploy attack dogs that are specifically trained to stop intruders, even those sprinting across the White House lawn. At all times, there are several muzzled Belgian Malinois on the White House grounds, officials said. The early assessment by senior agency officials is that the dog handlers should have quickly removed the muzzles and unleashed the dogs.
Agency officials are also puzzled as to why the guard at the front door of the White House did not follow procedure and lock the door as soon as an alarm signaled that someone had breached the fence.
“[I]n my wildest dreams," David Axelrod said today on MSNBC, "I never imagined that someone could do what this guy did.”
For what it's worth, I'm sure most Americans feel the exact same way.
Wait, what? We've expressed a healthy skepticism of the administration's "official" enrollment numbers, and for good reason -- but even I must admit to being a bit flummoxed by the United States Census Bureau's new findings that America's uninsured population increased in 2014 over 2013. That data, via Phil Kerpen:
US CENSUS BUREAU: 1.25 million MORE Americans uninsured in January to April 2014 than in 2013. pic.twitter.com/TSdSHAWSYB— Phil Kerpen (@kerpen) September 19, 2014
This week’s double-barreled release of government statistics on health insurance coverage leaves us with only one question: How many Americans are insured because of Obamacare? Remarkably, the two highly regarded government surveys released this week do not even agree whether the number of uninsured increased or decreased. The survey that received a great deal of attention said there were 3.8 million fewer uninsured. The other, which was hardly noticed, found that there were 1.3 million more uninsured…The Centers for Disease Control (CDC) reported preliminary results on the expansion of health insurance coverage. Its National Health Interview Survey (NHIS) interviewed 27,000 people in the first three months of this year. The survey estimates that the number of uninsured dropped by 3.8 million since 2013. That represents a 1.3 percentage point decline in the uninsured rate, from 14.4 percent last year to 13.1 percent early this year. Estimates from an even larger survey of the uninsured from the nation’s premier statistical agency, the Census Bureau, were released a few hours later. The Census Bureau has been collecting information on health insurance for decades based on the Current Population Survey (CPS).
Data were collected from a sample of 68,000 households in February, March, and April of 2014. That survey found that 42 million—13.4 percent of the population—were uninsured in 2013. Interesting, but last year’s uninsured rate tells us nothing about how much the Affordable Care Act (ACA) expanded health insurance coverage this year. A day after the two main reports were issued, the CDC quietly placed another table on its website. The new table compares estimates from the NHIS and the CPS for the early months of 2014. It reports the NHIS result that 13.1 percent of the population lacked health insurance when they were interviewed in the January through March time period of 2014. But it also reports the CPS estimate that 13.8 percent were uninsured during the February through April interview period.
Antos calls the timing suspect and discusses the reliability and implications of the dueling surveys:
It is no accident that the administration released CDC’s estimates early on September 16 followed shortly by the Census Bureau’s routine report on last year’s insurance coverage, delaying the comparable Census estimates to the next day. Good news about coverage gains drowned out the Census report. The high reliability of the NHIS was front and center in the press coverage. The contradictory evidence from Census was buried. Although the NHIS is a highly reliable survey, the CPS is even more reliable. Its sample is 150 percent larger than that of the NHIS, which means that its estimates have significantly lower statistical variance. If the NHIS is the gold standard, then the CPS must be the platinum standard.
The difference between the NHIS estimate of the reduction in the uninsured count and the administration’s enrollment total is about 10 million. If one assumes that March enrollment would double the number of people who are newly covered by insurance, then one might guess that a survey conducted later in the year would find that the insured had declined by 7.6 million instead of the NHIS’s 3.8 million. But exchange coverage accounts for less than half of the increase in insurance according to the Administration. There is no indication of a similar surge in Medicaid enrollment, which is permitted all year around rather than being confined to an open enrollment period. If Medicaid enrollment continued at a steady pace, then the NHIS figure should be adjusted to reflect only the exchange surge. That translates to a decline in the number of uninsured of 5.4 million.
WBZ-TV’s Jon Keller, for his part, argues in his column today that although the odds are firmly stacked in Martha Coakley’s favor, he doesn’t necessarily rule out the possibility of an upset:
That’s two polls in a row showing the race for Governor of Massachusetts in a virtual dead heat. And while matching polls in September don’t prove much with the meat of the campaign still ahead, it wouldn’t surprise me if those results were right on target for the moment.
As the Democratic nominee in a state that has elected only three Republicans to statewide office in the last 20 years, you’d expect Martha Coakley to be a frontrunner in this race, and that may still happen. Massachusetts Democrats know how to organize and get out the vote, as does organized labor.
Add in the frustration many women feel about the state’s failure to ever elect a female governor and you’ve got a path to victory for Coakley that is easier than Charlie Baker’s.
But there are circumstances under which a Republican can win here.
There sure are. You’ll recall that many Democrats believed Coakley would be the next U.S. Senator from Massachusetts in 2010. That...didn't happen. Amazingly, after boasting an enormous early lead in the polls, she lost the “Kennedy seat” to a little-known Republican state lawmaker named Scott Brown. Some later questioned whether she was the right candidate for the job; perhaps some are even asking the same kind of questions today.
Nevertheless, Keller points out that many voters are not necessarily disenchanted with Coakley, per se, but with the Democratic Party establishment. “A solid 40% tell pollsters the state is going in the wrong direction,” he wrote in his Monday op-ed.
This gives outsider Charlie Baker some grounds for optimism. Whether he can channel that inner optimism into an effective campaign message, however, remains to be seen.
Wisconsin Gov. Scott Walker has surged ahead of Democratic gubernatorial candidate Mary Burke, as Burke has been forced to fire campaign staff responsible for copying her campaign's job plan from other failed candidates.
The most recent Marquette Law School Poll, conducted September 11-14, found Walker enjoying a 3-point, 49-46 percent lead over Burke. This was a marked improvement for Walker who trailed Burke in Marquette's earlier poll, conducted August 21-23, by 49-47 percent.
Burke's week only got worse after BuzzFeed's Andrew Kaczynski reported that portions of Burke's jobs plan had been copied from four other Democratic candidates, three of whom went on to lose their elections.
Burke had made her jobs plan the centerpiece of her campaign, telling reporters back in March, “I brought Gov. Walker’s plan from 2010. This is 4 pages. I’ve seen 8th grade term papers that had more work put into them."
Faced with evidence that portions of her own jobs plan had been copied from other candidates, Burke fired the consultant, Eric Schunrer, who had produced the offending passages. "The language is not the language that should have been used," Burke told the Milwaukee Journal-Sentinel.
Walker is no stranger to come from behind victories. In 2012, the same Marquette poll found Walker trailing his then-oppnenent Tom Barrett 46-47 percent. But Walker soon surged ahead of Barrett in Marquette's final poll before the election 50-44 percent, before beating Barrett easily 53-46 percent.
Secretary of State John Kerry, the world's top diplomat, is warning that
global warming climate change poses as much of a threat to the world as ISIS. More from The Hill:
Secretary of State John Kerry said the threats posed by climate change should be addressed with as much "immediacy" as confronting the Islamic State in Iraq and Syria (ISIS), and the Ebola outbreak.
During a meeting with foreign ministers on Sunday, Kerry said global warming is creating "climate refugees."
"We see people fighting over water in some places. There are huge challenges to food security and challenges to the ecosystem, our fisheries and ... the acidification of the ocean is a challenge for all of us," Kerry said.
"And when you accrue all of this, while we are confronting ISIL and we are confronting terrorism and we are confronting Ebola and other things, those are immediate," he added, using an alternate acronym for the terrorist group.
"This also has an immediacy that people need to come to understand, but it has even greater longer-term consequences that can cost hundreds of billions, trillions of dollars, lives, and the security of the world," Kerry continued.
While there isn't much evidence to support Kerry's claim that climate change is creating "climate refugees," over the past four days more than 130,000 people have fled Syria because of ISIS.
The number of Syrian refugees who have reached Turkey in the past four days after fleeing advancing ISIS militants now totals 130,000 and could rise further, Turkey’s deputy prime minister warned on Monday. “A refugee wave that can be expressed by hundreds of thousands is a possibility,” said Numan Kurtulmus warned. …
“This is not a natural disaster… What we are faced with is a man-made disaster,” Kurtulmus said. “An uncontrollable force at the other side of the border is attacking civilians.”
And then of course there was the horrifying situation last month when 40,000 Christian Yazidi refugees were stranded on a mountain top as ISIS climbed to slaughter them.
Tens of thousands of members of Iraqi religious minority groups driven from their homes for fear of the jihadist group Islamic State are dying of thirst and heat on a desert mountainside in the north of the country, according to the United Nations and human rights groups.
Some 40 children have already died from the heat and dehydration, the UN children’s organisation Unicef says, while upwards of 40,000 more are sheltering in the bare mountains, without food or water or access to supplies. It says 25,000 children may be stranded.
Back in February and prior to ISIS beheading two American journalists, Kerry made similar comments when he classified climate change as the world's "most fearsome" weapon of mass destruction.
Exit question: When Kerry will have the nerve to get out of the cushy UN board room and into a refugee camp to make his asinine climate change comments?
Today, Gov. Rick Snyder is at Gentex Corporation Headquarters in Zeeland to announce a new jobs initiative called Talent 2025. The event comes right after news broke that Michigan’s unemployment rate fell to 7.4 percent, the lowest level since 2008. Nevertheless, Michigan’s unemployment rate is still higher than the national average of 6.1 percent.
Also, First Lady Sue Snyder said she will help her husband in his re-election bid, but doesn’t like campaigning all that much. Nevertheless, with the last of her children off to college, she can be a more active First Lady, according to MLive [emphasis mine]:
She said she’d love to star in a commercial, but the campaign hasn’t asked her to yet.
She’s flown under the radar as First Lady up until a few months ago, choosing family life over the limelight. But now that the couple’s youngest child is off to college, Snyder has taken a more active role as First Lady.
She has taken on a number of causes recently, and appeared at Sparrow Hospital Thursday to talk about safe sleep. She’s also advocated for vaccinating children, gotten involved in a foster care organization and served as a spokesperson for Ele’s Place, a center for grieving children.
“Most of my issues, besides breast cancer, have a lot to do with families and kids. And I just think it’s so important that I can use my voice, my position as First Lady to raise awareness to these things, and they all so important,” Snyder said.
On some level, she’s lived and breathed issues in the state for the past four years. The governor brings his work home with him “every night,” Snyder said. She has disagreed with some of Governor Snyder’s decisions, but only until he’s fully explained them to her.
“I wish that these people could be there to understand what he tells me. Why can’t he just stand up and say ‘people this is the way it is and this is why it happened’? And I’m constantly telling him that,” she said.
One of those issues he may have to explain to conservatives regarding his decision to expand Medicaid in the state. Last week, Gov. Snyder reiterated his support for this policy initiative, saying it has helped low-income Michigan residents.
His Democratic opponent, former Congressman Mark Schauer, agreed with Gov. Snyder’s decision to expand Medicaid, but said, “it took him a long time to get it done.”
In an ad from the Democratic Governors Association, Schauer hit Snyder saying he “gave $1.8 billion in tax breaks to businesses -- even if they send jobs overseas.” That benefits the wealthy in Michigan, according to Schauer. And he noted how in Congress he supported “Buy American” laws to curb outsourcing.
A fact check noted Schauer’s claim about Snyder’s tax breaks benefiting only the wealthy wasn’t entirely accurate. Also, the claim about tax breaks for businesses even those who ship jobs overseas is “mostly true, but misleading” (via Detroit Free Press):
Claim: "Gov. Snyder gave $1.8 billion in tax breaks to businesses -- even if they send jobs overseas."
Reality: Mostly true, but misleading.
In 2011, the Republican-controlled Legislature passed, and Snyder signed, what amounted to a $1.8-billion tax cut when fully implemented by eliminating the Michigan Business Tax and replacing it with a 6% corporate tax only paid by "C" corporations, which have shareholders.
A "tax break" generally connotes a deduction or loophole allowing certain taxpayers to avoid taxes that would otherwise be owed. Elimination of the MBT was an across-the-board elimination of a tax and in that sense not a tax break. Also, the 6% corporate tax that replaced the MBT was designed as a much cleaner tax that did away with the myriad credits and other "tax breaks" that characterized the widely loathed MBT.
It's true the MBT was eliminated for all businesses, whether they move jobs overseas or not. But it's worth noting the only companies that have opted to continue paying the MBT are those who received significant MBT tax credits under the former administration of Gov. Jennifer Granholm, a Democrat, and want to be able to use them.
Claim: "That helps the wealthy, but not the rest of Michigan."Reality: Mostly false. Most businesses who paid the MBT were small businesses. Most businesses that pay the 6% corporate tax -- "C"
The race is a statistical dead heat.
“Regardless of whatever else happens, I know I did the best I could under the circumstances and am not sorry for anything I did,” former IRS official Lois Lerner told POLITICO in an exclusive interview released today.
In the piece, Lerner portrays herself as being unfairly attacked by the very groups she spent years inappropriately targeting.
Lerner, for her part, assumes she is at the center of the storm because “I was the person who announced it. I assume the other part of it is because I declined to talk, and once I declined to talk, they could say anything they wanted, and they knew I couldn’t say anything back.”
Oh, and she wants everyone to know how apolitical she is too. This is the same woman who was in contact with the Department of Justice about putting tea party leaders behind bars for "lying" about political activity and the same woman who called conservatives crazies and a**holes in an email. Speaking of those crazy a**holes, according to Lerner and her husband, Mark Levin and his listeners were the source of that comment.
They’ve released partial emails, including one after President Barack Obama’s reelection in which she and Miles bemoan far-right conservative talk radio, calling them “crazies” and “a—holes.”
The couple said the exchange was taken entirely out of context. Miles wrote the email after listening to callers on the “Mark Levin Show” rant about stockpiling food and guns to fight because Obama was going to run the country into the ground. Lerner, then in London, responded from her work email about hearing chatter about the U.S. being a broken system for its fiscal brinkmanship over the debt ceiling.
Lerner said she is “not a political person,” has voted for candidates of both parties and that the only campaign contribution she ever made was $25 to a fellow law school student running for judge.
And, let's not forget "non-political" Lerner discussing the possibility of joining President Obama's 2012 re-election machine Organization for Action.
Lerner, the director of Exempt Organizations, emailed a colleague about OFA on January 24, who noted that they would primarily operate out of Chicago - but would have an office in Washington D.C.
“Oh--maybe I can get the DC office job!” Lerner emailed back.
Unfortunately, Lerner isn't playing the victim card all on her own. EO Tax Journal Editor Paul Streckfus is helping her.
“By taking the Fifth, Lois put a sign on her back: Kick me," Streckfus told POLITICO for their story.
Lois Lerner isn't a victim, she's a bully backed up by America's most powerful federal government agency, the Justice Department and the Obama administration. People like Becky Gerritson and hundreds of regular Americans like her who were targeted by Lerner and her goons are the real victims and they deserve justice.