Vivian Hughbanks  - Sen. Tom Cotton: We Have To Be Willing To Go To War
Posted: 2/27/2015 12:15:00 PM EST

If America wants to defeat ISIS, the U.S. millitary must demonstrate itself to be a foreboding enemy, Sen. Tom Cotton (R-AR) and Rep. Ryan Zinke (R-MT) explained at a panel at the Conservative Political Action Conference on Thursday.

“Air operations alone will not defeat ISIS,” Zinke said. “I've been there. ISIS is evil. You're not going to reform a group that beheads children, or burns pilots in cages. They're not reformable. And ISIS is as much a battle within Islam as it is between the East and west. We have a duty to fight ISIS.”

Zinke, a retired Navy SEAL Commander and member of the House Armed Services committee, agreed that the current strategy against Islamic extremism in the middle east has not been successful.

“I think the American public is tough, but we deserve the truth,” he said. “We won't be able to win against this enemy if we conduct it from over the horizon.”

Though Zinke commented that he wouldn't have chosen to go into Iraq given what is now known, he believes that only a military operation with full support – including medivac and air support – will truly remove the threat of the terrorist group.

“America is a force for global order because we're the only global power, and have been since the beginning of our country,” Cotton said. “The alternative is not perpetual peace and stability. Without America the alternative is disorder and chaos.”

For the millitary to truly be formidible, it requires both funding and support from the government and the people. Right now, Cotton said, the millitary lacks the funding it needs to win a war.

“Too many people think our current president is not willing to fight a war to protect our interests, which are protecting our territory, defending the lives of our citizens, standing up for our allies, and protecting our commercial interest around the world,” said Cotton, who served in Iraq as an Army Ranger.

The decline of America as a strong military power has not only caused a threat to nataional security, but is a contributor to global instability, according to Cotton. This disorder has grown and festered in the Middle East during the current administration.

“If we are willing to fight a war, and are prepared to fight a war,” Cotton said, “then war is much less likely to occur, because our allies will defer to us, knowing that we take their security interests into account, our enemies will fear us, knowing that we will confront and defeat them in any manner.”

Katie Pavlich - CPAC Interview: Carly Fiorina Talks 2016
Posted: 2/27/2015 11:30:00 AM EST

I had the opportunity to sit down with former Hewlett-Packard CEO, American Conservative Union Foundation Chairwoman and potential 2016 GOP presidential candidate Carly Fiorina at CPAC Thursday afternoon. We discussed Fiorina's rise to CEO, her pursuit of the American dream, her plans to run for the White House, how to beat Hillary Clinton and more. 

Photo credit: Ed Morrissey Filming: Sarah Jean Seman.

Cortney O'Brien - Perry Shames Washington on Immigration: They Talk and People Die
Posted: 2/27/2015 10:45:00 AM EST
"At no time has the world been more dangerous," former Texas Governor Rick Perry said not long after he took the stage at this year's Conservative Political Action Conference in Oxon Hill, Maryland. Perry, who is rumored to run for president next year, had some bold words for the Obama administration and a Congress that has done little to secure not only our foreign security, but our own borders.

Perry, who served as Texas governor for 14 years, provided unwelcome news for the CPAC audience regarding America's shaky standing in the world, thanks to our weak leadership in Washington.

"We have entered a time of testing...we are failing," he said. The president, he continued, bows to political correctness and offers grave miscalculations in regards to the scope of our enemies.

"His incompetence in Iraq and Syria have allowed the rise of ISIS."

Perry said it is time for the American people to hear the truth, bluntly telling the CPAC crowd that ISIS wants an apocalypse and that we are not responding as we should.

"We didn't start this war, nor did we choose it," he said. "But we will have the will to finish it."

Just as dangerous, is how our enemies view us.

This Russian president, he said, has watched President Obama neglect to enforce his own red lines. It was conditions like those that allowed Putin to boldly enter Ukraine.

"Here's the simple truth: Our allies doubt us, and our adversaries are all too willing to test us."

No one, he added, should be surprised that dictators defy us. Why?

"Our president won't even defend the line that separates our border from Mexico," said Perry.

For America to be safer, our border must be secure, he declared. Washington is dangerously behind on this process. Tens of thousands of illegal immigrants are showing up on the border, he said, many of those being unaccompanied minors.

"They talk and people literally die," he said. "I had to make a decision on how to deal with that - the country was being impacted."

Perry met with President Obama to speak about the need to secure to border, but his warnings seemed to fall on deaf ears: "It became abundantly clear to me he was not going to address this issue."

That's when Texas took matters into its own hands. The governor increased law enforcement presence on the border, including deploying the National Guard. Since then, Texas has had a 74 percent decrease in apprehensions.

In other words, give Texas the resources, and it can secure the border.

Perry also touched on the growing national debt and uncertainty of millennials' future with the overbearing amount of student loans, yet ended with a positive message.

"I've never been more certain that America's best days remain in front of us," he said, with ingenuity and idealism of the American people being "too durable to be confused by this administration."

"We had a Great Depression - we even survived Jimmy Carter," he said. "We will survive the Obama years too."

Conn Carroll - Congress Chooses Conservative To Head Congressional Budget Office
Posted: 2/27/2015 10:35:00 AM EST

House and Senate Budget Committee Chairmen Tom Price (R-GA) and Mike Enzi (R-WY) announced today that Mercatus Center Senior Fellow Keith Hall will be the next director of the Congressional Budget Office.

Hall, who was appointed to be commissioner of the Bureau of Labor Statistics by President Bush, will replace the current director Doug Elmendorf, who served at the left-leaning Brookings Institution before coming to CBO.

Hall ran the BLS from 2008 through 2012 and served as Chief Economist on President Bush's White House Council of Economic Advisors before that.

While at Mercatus, Hall authored numerous papers on the United States labor market including a 2013 working paper titled, "The Employment Costs of Regulation." "[T]here is evidence that high levels of regulation can affect the economy dynamically and at the macro level," Hall wrote. "With respect to labor markets, this means that regulations can affect job creation, wage growth, and workforce skill mismatching with available jobs."

As the official scorekeeper of legislative proposals, the CBO is a key Washington institution whose cost estimates have a significant impact on how laws are drafted.

“[Dr. Hall] has dedicated his career to managing teams focused on strengthening the economy by providing policy makers and the public with superior economic analysis and information," Enzi said in a statement. "I thank Mr. Elmendorf for his service and look forward to working with Dr. Hall as Congress begins the difficult task of addressing our nation’s chronic overspending, which threatens America’s future.”

Daniel Doherty - Rubio at CPAC: "I Have a Debt to America"
Posted: 2/27/2015 10:30:00 AM EST

Sen. Marco Rubio (R-FL) is reportedly jumping on the 2016 bandwagon. Time and again, however, he has said that he will not run for the presidency and re-election -- he will pick one or the other -- and thus unsurprisingly recommitted to that pledge at CPAC on Friday. Nevertheless, his speech struck all the familiar chords, blending his own personal story with his deep and abiding love for a country that saved his parents from the scourge of communism.

“The question before us in November of 2016 is what kind of country are we going to be,” he began. “For over two centuries, we’ve been an exceptional country. A place founded on the belief that the every man, woman, and child is born with a God-given right to life and liberty and to pursue happiness. Sometimes you wouldn’t know we’re an exceptional nation by listening to the Left. They describe us as a people divided on lines of gender and ethnicity and race and class. Sometimes you wouldn’t know we’re an exceptional nation by listening to the president, who has described our nation as sometimes being arrogant or dictating terms to others.”

“But Americans know we’re exceptional,” he continued. “And you know who else knows we’re exceptional? The world does. After all, when was the last time you heard of a boatload of American refugees arriving on the shores of another country?”

And yet there is, he went on to say, a prevailing sense among Americans that the country has totally lost its way.

“The bad news is that today our nation is on the road to decline,” he plainly stated. “[But] here’s the good news: We are one election away from triggering another American century.”

And that American century, he continued, is something he feels both obligated and determined to secure.

“I have a debt to America that I will never be able to repay,” he said. “For me America isn’t just a country, for me it’s a place that literally changed the history of my family.”

“This is the America that you and I are now called to leave behind,” he continued. “Let us now move forward to cease our destiny [as] the single greatest nation man has ever known.”

Conn Carroll - Boehner's DHS Gambit
Posted: 2/27/2015 9:40:00 AM EST

House Speaker John Boehner (R-OH) will try to pass a three week extension for Department of Homeland Security funding Friday, claiming the extra time will be needed to conference the House-passed amnesty defunding bill with a Senate bill that is expected to pass later today.

DHS funding is set to expire at midnight Friday and the Senate is scheduled to act first at 10 AM by voting for cloture on the House-passed DHS funding bill.

At that point the Senate would need to first pass an amendment funding Obama's amnesty (that would need 50 votes) and then another vote on final passage (another 50 vote threshold).

At that point the ball would be in Boehner's court.

As of Thursday night, Boehner's new plan is to pass a three week extension of current DHS funding and then request a conference committee with the Senate on the two long-term DHS funding bills.

If the Senate agreed to go to conference, Senate Democrats would then not be able to stop the conference-approved DHS bill from being debated and they would not be able to offer amendments. But they would be able to filibuster final passage.

Boehner will need to convince most conservatives that his new plan is sincere and has a real chance of success since Democrats are planning to vote en masse against the short-term extension. Boehner also will reportedly tell members that three more weeks will allow members to find out if the 5th Circuit Court of Appeals will uphold Judge Andrew Hanen's injunction preventing Obama's Deferred Action for Parental Accountability program from going forward.

However, there is no guarantee the 5th Circuit will rule in that timeframe.

The House is not scheduled to vote on Boehner's new short-term DHS funding plan till later today.

Matt Vespa - Attendees Pack The Ballroom For Gov. Walker’s Address At CPAC
Posted: 2/27/2015 9:35:00 AM EST

Wisconsin Gov. Scott Walker, a possible 2016 presidential candidate, addressed a packed room at this year’s Conservative Political Action Conference. He entered the Potomac Ballroom at the Gaylord National Resort and Convention relaxed, no jacket on, and delivered a red meat address to the soldiers of the Republican base.

The governor was adamant that freedom and prosperity isn’t conjured from the machinations of big government, but from the people who control and decide their own destinies. Walker stressed that success should be measured by how many people are no longer dependent on the government

He also slammed Obama for drawing lines in the sand and not taking action, for his failure in Yemen, and his inability to recognize the threat of ISIS. The governor also criticized the administration for their lack of respect for Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu.

“We need a leader who will stand with Israel,” he told the crowd.

Walker asserted that America should stand for what’s right and wrong. That declaration segued into an anecdote about how he and his prayed before entering the Wisconsin gubernatorial race in 2010. They decided to jump into the political endeavor that would make him a national star amongst the right for a simple reason: he and his wife, Tonette, were worried about their sons’ future.

“As parents, that was unacceptable,” he said.

The governor mentioned how he became public enemy number one amongst Washington’s entrenched interests and that of the political left. Nevertheless, he emerged victorious, winning the 2010 gubernatorial, the 2012 recall attempt, and his 2014 re-election bid. He proudly said, “We showed we could fight and win for the hard-working taxpayers.”

On other issues, like education, Walker cited that Wisconsin’s graduation rates are up, as are their students’ reading scores. With the budget, Walker said, “after four years, we’ve reduced the burden on hard-working taxpayers by $2 billion.”

On the life issues, Walker prided in his effort to push through pro-life legislation and defund Planned Parenthood. Regarding the Second Amendment, he said, “we enacted concealed carry and passed Castle Doctrine.”

Oh, and to combat voter fraud, Walker mentioned, “You need a photo ID to vote in the state of Wisconsin.”

He also mentioned that the Republican-controlled legislature is poised to make Wisconsin the 25th right to work state in the country.

In closing, he said that we don’t go back in time to rejuvenate the American spirit. We cannot relive or replicate the conditions that spurred the birth of the ideals our society is built upon. That’s impossible. Instead, Walker said that we must use the principles of our Founding Fathers as a guide to find the way forward to a brighter, more prosperous future.

It was a "red meat" address, which the audience thoroughly enjoyed.

Walker was heckled during his speech, albeit for a quick second, before he, along with the rest of attendees, pretty much shut it down.

Katie Pavlich - IRS Being Investigated For Criminal Misconduct Surrounding Lois Lerner's 'Missing' Emails
Posted: 2/27/2015 7:40:00 AM EST

Last night Treasury Inspector General for Tax Administration Russell George and Deputy Inspector General for Investigations Timothy Camus updated the House Oversight Committee on the status of Lois Lerner's "missing" emails surrounding the IRS targeting of conservatives.

In an exchange with Congressman Jim Jordan (R-OH), Camus revealed there is "potential criminal activity" involved in the disappearance and hiding of emails belonging to IRS officials involved in the targeting of conservatives between 2010 and 2012.

“There is potential criminal activity," Camus said.

Not surprisingly, in order to stonewall the congressional investigation into the targeting of conservative groups, IRS officials never asked IT professionals to look into gathering back-up tapes or recovering emails requested by Congress.

Despite IRS Commissioner John Koskinen repeatedly saying under oath in previous hearings that Lerner's emails could not be recovered, Camus and investigators have been successful in recovering nearly 33,000 emails relevant to the IRS investigation.

"To date we have found 32,774 unique e-mails that were backed up from Lois Lerner's e-mail box. We are in the process of comparing these e-mails to what the IRS has already produced to Congress to determine if we did in fact recover any new emails. We are also in the process of having the e-mail server hard drives analyzed if there are any readable e-mails that can be recovered from these hard drives. And finally, we are continuing to determine if there are any other sources that may contain Lois Lerner's e-mails," Camus said during testimony.

“The IRS was apparently given instruction to do whatever necessary to silence those who spoke out against the Obama Administration. It became a West Wing weapon of choice. As the nation’s only pro-liberty election integrity organization, True the Vote was marked for takedown by the IRS early in 2010, along with hundreds of other organizations that spoke openly about government corruption. It took a long time, too long, for the pieces to be put together, but Americans are beginning to understand that the politics of ‘hope and change’ has an enforcement arm that operates like an organized crime syndicate. The time for choosing is now,” True the Vote Founder Catherine Engelbrecht, who was targeted by the IRS and other government agencies, said in a statement about the new revelations. “Our elected officials need to stop playing politics and use the powers we’ve entrusted to them to restore the rule of law in Washington. Stop handing out bonuses and start sending law-breaking bureaucrats to jail. If Congress doesn’t have conviction enough to get the job done, then just turn out the lights, get off the payroll, go home, and get out of the way. Enough is enough. The American people will not be silenced.” 

The investigation into the IRS by Congress and the Inspectors General is ongoing.

Matt Vespa - Chicago Police Allegedly Have A Domestic 'Black Site'
Posted: 2/26/2015 8:34:00 PM EST

It sounds like a story you would hear from a former Soviet state. The Chicago Police Department has reportedly been holding suspects at an off-the-grid location called Homan Square. Here, Americans, some as young as 15, have been denied counsel, held anywhere from 12-24 hours, and subject to beatings, according to the Guardian.

For those sent to Horman, they aren’t booked. Their records aren’t even entered in the public databases. This location is said to have been operational for years, since the late 1990s. One person is said to have died in one of Horman’s “interview rooms.” The article also discussed the arrest of Brian Jacob Church, who was arrested by Chicago police in 2012 on terrorism charges. Church is part of the “NATO Three,” who were arrested after police infiltrated their protest of the organization’s Chicago summit. The Guardian reported that Church was subject to an interrogation without being read his Miranda rights and detained for about 17 hours:

The facility, a nondescript warehouse on Chicago’s west side known as Homan Square, has long been the scene of secretive work by special police units. Interviews with local attorneys and one protester who spent the better part of a day shackled in Homan Square describe operations that deny access to basic constitutional rights.

Alleged police practices at Homan Square, according to those familiar with the facility who spoke out to the Guardian after its investigation into Chicago police abuse, include:

  • Keeping arrestees out of official booking databases.
  • Beating by police, resulting in head wounds.
  • Shackling for prolonged periods.
  • Denying attorneys access to the “secure” facility.
  • Holding people without legal counsel for between 12 and 24 hours, including people as young as 15.

At least one man was found unresponsive in a Homan Square “interview room” and later pronounced dead.

Brian Jacob Church, a protester known as one of the “Nato Three”, was held and questioned at Homan Square in 2012 following a police raid. Officers restrained Church for the better part of a day, denying him access to an attorney, before sending him to a nearby police station to be booked and charged.

Unlike a precinct, no one taken to Homan Square is said to be booked. Witnesses, suspects or other Chicagoans who end up inside do not appear to have a public, searchable record entered into a database indicating where they are, as happens when someone is booked at a precinct. Lawyers and relatives insist there is no way of finding their whereabouts. Those lawyers who have attempted to gain access to Homan Square are most often turned away, even as their clients remain in custody inside.

A former Chicago police superintendent and a more recently retired detective, both of whom have been inside Homan Square in the last few years in a post-police capacity, said the police department did not operate out of the warehouse until the late 1990s.

Jacob Church learned about Homan Square the hard way. On May 16 2012, he and 11 others were taken there after police infiltrated their protest against the Nato summit. Church says officers cuffed him to a bench for an estimated 17 hours, intermittently interrogating him without reading his Miranda rights to remain silent. It would take another three hours – and an unusual lawyer visit through a wire cage – before he was finally charged with terrorism-related offenses at the nearby 11th district station, where he was made to sign papers, fingerprinted and photographed.

In preparation for the Nato protest, Church, who is from Florida, had written a phone number for the National Lawyers Guild on his arm as a precautionary measure. Once taken to Homan Square, Church asked explicitly to call his lawyers, and said he was denied.

“Essentially, I wasn’t allowed to make any contact with anybody,” Church told the Guardian, in contradiction of a police guidance on permitting phone calls and legal counsel to arrestees.

Church’s left wrist was cuffed to a bar behind a bench in windowless cinderblock cell, with his ankles cuffed together. He remained in those restraints for about 17 hours.

After serving two and a half years in prison, Church is currently on parole after he and his co-defendants were found not guilty in 2014 of terrorism-related offenses but guilty of lesser charges of possessing an incendiary device and the misdemeanor of “mob action”.

The access that Nato Three attorneys received to Homan Square was an exception to the rule, even if Jacob Church’s experience there was not.

Some were not so lucky. On February 2, 2013, John Hubbard was taken to Homan Square, where he died due to heroin intoxication in one of the interrogation rooms.

Regardless of the crimes, in this country, even the worst of humanity deserves a fair trial, access to counsel, and other rights associated with the due process of law. Of course, we’re all for law and order and fighting terrorism, but having what appears to be a black site on American soil poses a serious constitutional question, especially when this facility allegedly neglects to book their suspects and add their information into the database. We should be wary of institutions that engage in practices that prevent accountability under the law. To safeguard the Constitution, even the lowest of the low need their day in court–at the very minimum.

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