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.”
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.
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.
Walker buzz is real and he's got a hell of a story to tell. #CPAC2015— Guy Benson (@guypbenson) February 26, 2015
“We need a leader who will stand with Israel,” he told the crowd.
"Run, Scott, Run!" #CPAC2015 chant. (Spoiler: He's running)— Guy Benson (@guypbenson) February 26, 2015
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 Walker speech, red meat rolls off the tongue: Defunding PP, signing "pro-life" bills, concealed carry, etc...— Caitlin Huey-Burns (@CHueyBurnsRCP) February 26, 2015
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.
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.
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.
- 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.
A new day, a new security threat.
According to an FBI report, the use of Thermite on an aircraft is the “greatest potential incendiary threat to aviation.” Worse yet, the Transportation Security Administration said it would be extremely hard to detect during security screenings and once ignited, there’s no way to extinguish it using conventional methods without making the reaction worse.
The Intercept, which obtained the classified documents, has the details:
Thermite — a mixture of rust and aluminum powder — could be used against a commercial aircraft, TSA warned in a Dec. 2014 document, marked secret[PDF here]. “The ignition of a thermite-based incendiary device on an aircraft at altitude could result in catastrophic damage and the death of every person onboard,” the advisory said.
TSA said it is unlikely to spot an easy-to-assemble thermite-based incendiary device during security screening procedures, and the use of currently available extinguishers carried on aircrafts would create a violent reaction. The TSA warning is based on FBI testing done in 2011, and a subsequent report.
A thermite device, though difficult to ignite, would “produce toxic gasses, which can act as nerve poison, as well as a thick black smoke that will significantly inhibit any potential for in-flight safety officers to address the burn.”
TSA warned federal air marshals not to use customary methods of extinguishing fires — the water or halon fire extinguishers currently found on most aircraft — which would make the reaction worse, creating toxic fumes. Instead, air marshals are told to “recognize a thermite ignition” — but TSA has provided no training or guidance on how to do so, according to multiple sources familiar with the issue.
TSA officers who spoke with The Intercept expressed frustrations over the security reports because they’ve been given no follow-up instructions or training on what to do if they are presented with such a threat onboard.
“We’re supposed to brief our [federal air marshals] to identify a thermite ignition — but they tell us nothing,” one TSA official told The Intercept. “So our guys are Googling, ‘What does thermite look like? How do you extinguish thermite fires?’ This is not at all helpful.”
Other aviation officials who spoke with the news site, also anonymously because they are not authorized to speak to the press, said much the same: “They say to identify something we don’t know how to identify and say there is nothing we can do,” a federal air marshal told The Intercept. “So basically, we hope it’s placed somewhere it does minimal damage, but basically we’re [screwed].”
OK, so we may all be “screwed” if terrorists can get this stuff past security and onto the plane, but explosives experts are saying the operative word is “if.”
Jimmie Oxley, a professor of chemistry at the University of Rhode Island, and an expert in explosives and explosives detection, said thermite — though a theoretical threat — seemed an unlikely candidate to slip through security, particularly since the would-be terrorist would also have to carry an igniter. “You’ve got to get a pound of something that is a really thick mass through security without anyone noticing,” she said. “I find that hard to believe.”
The problem is one of practicalities, said Oxley, who has worked with the FBI and other federal agencies on explosives testing, but was not aware of the specific TSA or FBI reports on thermite obtained by The Intercept. If the hope were to burn a hole through the aircraft, then the thermite would have to be placed on the floor, and then there’s still no guarantee it would take down the aircraft.
Setting off thermite is also impractical, according to Oxley. “Somebody has to give you time to play on the plane,” she said. “Like with the shoe bomber, people do notice if you’re doing something weird in this day and age.”
The FBI did point out in its report, however, that just because the agency has presented information about the threat doesn’t mean terrorists are necessarily interested in it. It turns out they may be more interested in “other types of incendiary materials.”
Prior to his speech at CPAC Thursday afternoon, Sen. Ted Cruz (R-TX) didn’t mince words. He bluntly told reporters how nervous he is about the president’s final 20 months in office.
“The next 20 months are going to be very dangerous,” he said. “They are going to be dangerous at home. President Obama has reacted to this last election in a way that’s unprecedented. You know, prior presidents have been repudiated [and] they’ve reacted with contrition. [P]resident Obama, instead, reacted with anger and defiance.”
“I believe the next 20 months we are going to see a degree of lawlessness that will exceed anything we’ve seen in the previous six years,” he continued. “I think we’re going to see executive order after executive order. I think we’re going to see the abuse of regulations in a way that crushes small businesses, destroys jobs. I think we are going to see the continued weaponization of the IRS in the federal government, and it is going to be dangerous.”
He expressed hope, however, that Congressional Republicans will fulfill their constitutional duties and, as he put it, “rein in that abuse of power and provide meaningful oversight.” But unfortunately, he said, there are other concerns to be worried about as well.
“And I’ll tell you as dangerous as it’s going to be at home, it’s going to be even more dangerous aboard,” he emphasized. “Every bad actor on the face of the globe, from Putin to Khomeini in Iran to ISIS, has every incentive possible to do as much damage as they can in [the next] 20 months."
Because, he argued, "the tyrants of the world believe there is no credible threat or deterrent from this president.”
Rep. Mia Love's (R-Utah) parents came to America from Haiti with $10 in their pocket in the 1970s. After holding down several jobs, they eventually earned their own way to success. Their daughter, however, said that could probably not happen today, thanks to an overbearing federal government. Love shared her personal story with attendees today at the Conservative Political Action Conference to demonstrate how important it is to take advantage of opportunities just like her parents did and work to achieve the American Dream on their own individual efforts, before it's threatened by Washington.
Love has an impressive resume. She is the first black female Republican elected to Congress, as well as the first black Republican ever elected from Utah. More impressively, she did it without relying on the nanny state. Her own personal story is why she rejects the notion that government should run our lives.
"Too many in Washington don't trust the American people. They don't want us to have opportunities to rise to the occasion."
Love has a better vision for America.
"I think it's time we need to look within. I think it's time for Washington to trust the American people."
The Utah representative can now say that the same principles that propelled her parents' success have also offered her a way forward.
"Conservative policies work. I've seen them work as a mother, as a mayor, and I use them now as a member of Congress...The American people deserve the opportunity to rise to the occasion."
Speaking of rising, Rep. Love shared a poignant and relevant story about a hot air balloon ride she took last year. As she was getting ready to board the balloon, she asked her son to join. He declined, so her daughter jumped in instead. High in the air, they enjoyed the beauty of Utah's landscape. Then, the weather changed, and the wind took them into the backyard of a neighbor. After witnessing the exciting spectacle, Love's son felt a hint of jealousy.
"Peyton watched the excitement from the ground. He runs over and says, 'I'm ready, it's my turn! But, the opportunity for him to soar and rise to the sky had come and gone. I said, 'remember this experience, remember today...If you do not take opportunities that come today, you'll never know if they'll come back."
This is especially true, she said, thanks to a ballooning federal government."
"The federal government has made it impossible for people to save. It's difficult for someone to start their own lives - we've got to change that."
Even just 52 days in Congress, Love recognizes how harmful the government's nanny programs can be.
"I see all these programs that are meant to help the poor, hurt those they vow to protect."
Love said that government has its own interests in mind, not those of the American people. Her solutions? We have to trust ourselves and hit government agencies where they hurt.
"Independent people are the ones that give back. Washington can't do that. Washington needs to get smaller so people are bigger...Their job is to keep their job. We have to cut the bloodline to these bureaucracies, which is the funding."
It is this positive belief in America that encouraged Love's consituents to give her a seat in Washinton to try and change the selfish status quo.
"I was elected because of the policies and the principles that belive in American exceptionalism. I believe in this country."
Preserve your right to make your own decisions, she added.
"Unlike Washington, I believe you're capable of doing that."
I had the opportunity to interview Rep. Love Thursday morning. She expanded on how Big Government has made it extremely difficult for immigrants to legally enter and succeed in America. Below is our full conversation:
Illegal immigrants who are given work permits and Social Security Numbers through President Obama's amnesty programs could get up to $9,182 in cash benefits from the federal government every year, according to a new later from the Congressional Research Service.
Requested by an unnamed Senator, the CRS letter details the maximum Earned Income Tax Credit and and Child Tax Credit payments a family could receive from the Internal Revenue Service without paying any income taxes to the federal government.
Families with four children who earned $23,260 would owe zero income taxes in 2014 and would be eligible for a $9,182 check from the government since both the EITC and CTC are refundable benefit programs which pay recipients benefits above and beyond any tax liability they night have.
Families with incomes above $23,260 would still receive EITC and CTC payments from the federal government, but those payments would decrease as the families income rose.
Illegal immigrants who filed tax returns using Taxpayer Identification Numbers from the IRS have been receiving billions in CTC payments from the federal government for years. Obama's Deferred Action for Parental Accountability program would make it easier for millions more illegal immigrants to receive tax benefits by giving the SSNs.
With a SSN, illegal immigrants become eligible for both CTC and EITC payments. The Congressional Budget Office estimated that if Obama's executive amnesties are kept for the next ten years, illegal immigrants will receive more than $20 billion in EITC patients over that time.
According to the CBO, under Obama's amnesty programs, illegal immigrants would also get $3 billion in health care benefits, $2 billion in Supplemental Security Income, and $1.6 billion in food stamps.
When Obama first introduced his DAPA program to the American people, he claimed it would not "offer the same benefits that citizens receive."
These official CRS and CBO letters directly contradict that statement.