Conn Carroll - The Fight for the Senate Budget Committee
Posted: 12/9/2014 4:00:00 PM EST

Conservatives could lose a strong voice on both budget and immigration issues next year if Sen. Jeff Sessions (R-AL) loses his race against Sen. Mike Enzi (R-WY) for the chairmanship of the Senate Budget Committee.

Both Sessions and Enzi currently serve on the committee and both were elected to the Senate in 1996. But thanks to a random drawing of lots, Enzi is technically senior to Sessions.

However, in 2011 when the opportunity to become the Ranking Member of the Senate Budget Committee came, Enzi declined. Sessions stepped up to the responsibility and has done the job admirably. In their endorsement of Sessions for chairman, National Review wrote:

He has done an exceptional job on budget issues, explaining complicated fiscal matters to voters and colleagues. In particular, Sessions unremittingly attacked his Democratic counterparts on the Budget Committee for not writing or releasing a budget on their own, as the law required. After more than 1,000 days of lassitude, Senator Patty Murray finally relented: Sessions forced the party of tax increases and debt accumulation to go on record as such by passing a budget resolution. The senator has also made a priority of welfare reform, applying research and rhetoric to push for conservative, work-focused approaches to social spending.

The race between Enzi and Sessions will be decided by a secret ballot vote of the Republican members of the Budget Committee. There are currently 10 Republicans on the committee, including Enzi and Sessions, and only Sen. Lindsey Graham (R-SC) has said who he would vote for ("I told Jeff I would be with Jeff").

Senate Republicans will soon negotiate committee membership ratios with Democrats, and the Budget Committee will probably end up getting at least one or two more Republican members starting next year. But Senate sources tell Townhall that there is no guarantee that Republicans will wait until next year before they vote. Republicans could decide the issue by a secret ballot of current members this year. Here are the seven undecided members that will decide if Sessions will be Budget Chairman:

Sen. Kelly Ayotte (R-NH)

Sen. Mike Crapo (R-ID)

Sen. Charles Grassley (R-IA)

Sen Rob Johnson (R-WI)

Sen Rob Portman (R-OH)

Sen. Pat Toomey (R-PA)

Sen. Roger Wicker (R-MS)

Cortney O'Brien - Exclusive: Louie Zamperini’s Daughter Doubts Anyone Today Could Survive What Her Dad Survived
Posted: 12/9/2014 2:00:00 PM EST

New York, NY -- You may have heard of World War Two hero Louie Zamperini, whose story is told beautifully in Laura Hillenbrand’s 2010 New York Times bestseller, “Unbroken.” But, this Christmas, audiences will be able to watch his miraculous life unfold on screen. Director Angelina Jolie broke what some have called the ‘movie curse.’ After Zamperini’s life story was tossed around in Hollywood for years, Jolie finally committed to the project and what resulted is the two-hour heart wrenching epic, “Unbroken.” Zamperini’s daughter, Cynthia Garris, spoke with Townhall at a press junket in New York on Friday, sharing how her dad’s fortitude and faith pulled him through the toughest trials of his life, and how it took an A-list movie star to finally bring his story to the silver screen.

It’s impossible to relate his whole experience here, but here is just a taste of what Zamperini survived: A plane crash in the Pacific Ocean, floating in a life raft with two fellow airmen for 47 days, and being tortured by "the Bird," a POW guard who was ruthlessly obsessed with him, beating him every chance he had. Considering all her dad went through, Garris finds it hard to believe that anyone today who endured what he endured could come out alive today.

The making of this film was a really long process, it took years. That’s kind of a testament to your dad’s life – that patience and endurance really pay off. How did you feel when you learned the film was finally being made?

“I kept thinking it was finally being made for the last maybe five years, they first had Francis Lawrence slated to direct it. I was managing my father’s career so I was there for those meetings and I thought that was going to happen and it was just taking a long time. It was in development still and he left to do another film that was offered to him and then we waited awhile and then a Norwegian directors’ team were slated to direct it and I was very excited about them. It looked like they were going to do it and all of a sudden I got a call from Matt Baer, the film’s producer, saying, ‘You’re not going to believe this, but I just got off the phone with Angelina Jolie. We talked for two hours, she read the book twice, without stopping.’ And I’m thinking, ‘A movie star? Has she ever directed before?’”

In fact, Jolie had directed one film prior to “Unbroken,” called “In the Land of Blood and Honey.” But, her reservations were justified considering she wanted to get her dad’s story right. That’s when Baer assured her Jolie was the right person for the job.

“Matt said, ‘I haven’t spoken to one other director who had the vision that she has. She is brilliant beyond words and her passion. So, his being convinced, since he had been on the film for so many years, trying so hard to get it done, he convinced me. So I relaxed about it and then I thought, ‘Okay, I’ve got to break this to my brother. Now I’m not going to say, ‘Luke, Angelina Jolie is going to direct the movie because that will throw him off, so I called him up and I said, ‘They found their director and it’s a person with a lot of passion and fantastic vision for the whole thing, better by far than any other director’s vision, and my brother’s thinking, ‘Who is it? Who is it?’ I just wanted to kind of build it up to it to say, ‘Angelina Jolie,’ and he just loved the idea. He got behind it 100 percent.”

As for her dad’s relationship with Jolie, Garris said it was an instant connection.

“After we first met with her, we all met her the same time she met Louie and for the two of them love at first sight. She was more in love with Louie first, because he was still reeling from getting a kiss on the lips from Catherine Zeta-Jones, because they were both on the Tonight Show and so he was reeling from that. And you know, he still had it. He was 96 years old at the time, but he still had an eye for the ladies. But, it was love at first sight between them and I could tell it was going to be a fantastic journey.”

I want to ask a couple of questions about your dad’s ordeal. What role do you think his faith played in his survival? Both when he was going through the camps and after, when he was dealing with alcoholism. It seemed like finding Christ in those times got him through those ordeals.

“It’s interesting, he was raised Catholic. He didn’t become a Christian until he came home. So what he did was he noticed that Phil prayed a lot on the raft and what we’ve been told, is if you’ve ever been brought to your knees by something that happened to you in your life, that everybody will turn to God when they have no place else to turn. So, he was terrified at times during horrific storms at sea and he would pray, ‘If you get me through this, I will seek you and serve you for the rest of my life.’ When he got back from the war, he forgot about that promise. The PTSD hit him very hard. Nightmares every single night, he dreamt he was strangling The Bird and that his goal in life, even though he was newlywed, and I was his first child, I was still an infant – his goal in life was to save enough money to go back to Japan, find the Bird and kill him. He felt medicated by drinking a lot, because they didn’t even have a name for what these wonderful warriors what they were going through. Basically, you were on your own to deal with this.”

“My mother was going to leave him – take me and leave him. Then a few friends of theirs invited them to go to hear Billy Graham speak. At the time, he was an unknown evangelist traveling in a tent. And so my father wouldn’t go. My mother went, became a Christian and told my father, ‘I’m not going to leave you because I’m now with the Lord and but I want you to come with me.’ So he grudgingly went. She brought him there – he got up and walked out. He didn’t want to hear about it. She brought him back again. He was on his way out a second time, when he remembered that promise that he’d made, ‘I’ll seek you and serve you if you get me out of this.’ And, it basically humbled him and he accepted Christ that night. He says all the nightmares stopped – he never had another one for the rest of his life. It just filled his heart with what he needed the most. I never heard him swear. I heard him say, ‘damn’ once when I was an adult and I almost fell over. I was in shock. He must be really mad if he said, ‘damn!’ He never drank, he was a wonderful, dutiful father and husband. It had a powerful impact on him and I just think he needed it so desperately and if you were talking to him right now he’d be able to look back on his whole life and think of all the times he almost died but didn’t. From the time he was a little boy, all the way through. He sees it all as a series of miracles. The hand of God was guiding his life to serve a greater purpose. I often envied him and he could see exactly what it was about and knew exactly what he was here to do. It was the most important thing to him.”

There’s a great picture of Louie skateboarding. He took up skateboarding in his seventies. Are there any other adventures he pursued or risks he took that a lot of people might not know about?

“When he got back from the war, it’s in his new book, which is called, “Don’t Give Up, Don’t Give In,” you’d think he’d never want to be on a boat again, or never eat Japanese food again. But, he went right out on an amazing sailing adventure that went from San Pedro, California, all the way down to Acapulco and all of that West Coast of Mexico, it was not developed into the resort type places that it is today. So they were going to little fishing villages, they were caught in white squall and blown out to sea and the headlines said, ‘Zamperini Missing at Sea Again.’ Then, he took up skiing and it became his passion sport because he couldn’t run anymore. He could ski anything – the steepest of mountains. He loved mountain climbing, repelling, whitewater rafting, he started his own boys’ camp because he wanted to give back and he wanted to help other delinquent boys, because he had been one in his youth and he wanted to deliver the gospel to them by taking them out into the wilderness and showing them how to survive, hunt, fish, mountain climb and present his story of salvation and survival. In his last few years, he loved going and speaking on cruise ships and he had a couple of those boys who had grown up and were there.”

Do you think men and women today could have survived what your dad survived?

“No, I don’t. I don’t think during World War Two, they had the kind of training that makes a Navy Seal or a para-rescue person. These are exemplary men and women who put through the most rigorous training and they’re all eliminated until you’ve just got the few who can do anything. But, back in that day, I think my father and a lot of those men were just boys. They grew up really fast, because they grew up in the Depression and then the war came and they had to be men. Whereas these days, our young men sometimes remain boys well into their thirties. They just don’t have the kind of challenges. So, unless you are in an elite part of the military, I don’t think that your average trained military person would survive and have those skills. But, I may be wrong. But, I have a feeling it was just something very special that he had. Because of him, the other two fellows, survived. They both would have drowned. He had the resourcefulness to get the raft, pull them out of the water and keep them alive as long as he could.”

I read the book and each page my jaw dropped open. I think I was on page 300 and it read, ‘After all Louie endured, this was the worst.’

“Once he’s in the prison camp, you think, ‘Oh I wish he were back on the life raft!’ That seemed luxurious, they were free. Listen, I knew him all my life and I thought I knew everything about his story, but I was reading that book was powerfully emotional for me and my brother and we learned, the way she wrote it, it’s just such an intimate and graphic description of what he went through. Louie was not the kind of man who would talk about all his suffering during the war. We knew basically the basics of it. But, he was just too fine a person to belabor the point of all of the excruciating suffering, horrible things that were done to him. So to read that, it was really painful and awakening and enlightening for us. I felt like I was the most privileged person because I could call him up anytime I wanted and say, ‘I love you!’ And ask him more questions about what I just read.”

One of the most powerful quotes in “Unbroken” comes when Hillenbrand writes, ‘The war ended for Louie when he forgave the Bird.’ Is forgiveness something that your dad instilled in you and Luke growing up?

“He loved that saying that, ‘Hating someone is like drinking poison and expecting the other person to die.’ It only hurts you, they go on with their lives, and there’s all this hatred inside you and it’s just killing you, like it was killing him. He was losing his whole life, he was losing his young bride and his infant daughter. So he lived it. He was the embodiment of it. He was a wonderful role model for us. He would drop anything to help anyone – a stranger in need. He continued to rescue lots of people throughout our life, including me. He saved me from drowning once. I know it feels horrible to have resentment against people, so I always try to let it go. And my father would actually, he would pray for his enemies, or pray for people who had done wrong to him, and that’s a wonderful way to let it out of you. So he taught us that as well.”

“Unbroken” opens nationwide on Christmas Day.

Leah Barkoukis - The Islamic State Claims to Have 'Radioactive Device' in Europe
Posted: 12/9/2014 2:00:00 PM EST

The Islamic State has wreaked enough havoc with conventional weapons over the last several months, so the thought that they may also possess a radiological one is chilling to say the least.

According to SITE, Twitter user Muslim-Al-Britani, an alleged weapons maker for the terrorist group, has claimed on the social media site that a “Radioactive Device has entered somewhere in Europe.”

The account has since been suspended.

“Too often, counterterrorism officials plan to prevent replication of the last terror attack,” former Pentagon adviser Michael Rubin said, reports The Washington Free Beacon. “Terror groups, however, plan to shock with something new.”

Islamic State jihadists recently claimed to have built a “dirty bomb” with 40 kg of radioactive uranium that they reportedly stole from Mosul University when militants overtook the city in June.

“O by the way Islamic State does have a Dirty bomb. We found Radioactive material from Mosul university,” the same Twitter user Muslim al-Britani wrote. “We’ll find out what dirty bombs are and what they do. We’ll also discuss what might happen if one actually went off in a public area.”

He added, “This sort of bomb would be terribly destructive if went off in LONDON becuz it would be more of a disruptive than a destructive weapon.”

Iraq informed the U.N. in July about the missing uranium and warned about this very situation.

“Terrorist groups have seized control of nuclear material at the sites that came out of the control of the state," Iraq’s U.N. ambassador wrote in a letter to U.N. Secretary General Ban Ki-moon. “These nuclear materials, despite the limited amounts mentioned, can enable terrorist groups, with the availability of the required expertise, to use it separate or in combination with other materials in its terrorist acts.”

In light of the recent claims, Rubin said Western nations need to be prepared—whether or not Britani’s claims are true.

“Maybe Britani is lying, and maybe he’s not. But Western officials would be foolish to assume that just because something hasn’t happened yet, it won’t,” Rubin told the Free Beacon. “The terrorist groups have the motivation and, thanks to post-withdrawal vacuum created in Iraq, the means to strike the West like never before.”

Katie Pavlich - Watch Trey Gowdy Verbally Pummel Obamacare Architect Jonathan Gruber
Posted: 12/9/2014 1:45:00 PM EST

Tuesday morning Republican Rep. Trey Gowdy, who sits on the House Oversight Committee, had the opportunity to question MIT professor and Obamacare architect Jonathan Gruber about the lack of transparency and deception used to get the healthcare legislation passed in 2010. 

Throughout the hearing, Gruber claimed infamous comments he repeatedly made about "stupid American voters" and hiding a redistribution of wealth in Obamacare came after he attempted to "make himself look smart by insulting others." He also argued he isn't a political person and isn't well versed in the politics surrounding the passing of Obamacare. Gowdy wasn't buying it.

"You're a professor at MIT and you were worried about not looking smart enough?" Gowdy asked.

"Yes," Gruber said.

Daniel Doherty - Senate Intel Report: Enhanced Interrogation Techniques 'Not Effective'
Posted: 12/9/2014 12:30:00 PM EST

The release of this report has been in the works for many years. Republicans, of course, refused to participate in the investigation, so before you continue reading be aware that some have already shrugged it off as a partisan witch-hunt. The timing is certainly suspicious, too. Nevertheless, the revelations from the report are exceedingly disturbing, as captured in the must-read executive summary page.

On the techniques' overall effectiveness:

The Committee finds, based on a review of CIA interrogation records, that the use of the CIA's enhanced interrogation techniques was not an effective means of obtaining accurate information or gaining detainee cooperation.

On the kinds of techniques used:

Beginning with the CIA's first detainee, Abu Zubaydah, and continuing with numerous others, the CIA applied its enhanced interrogation techniques with significant repetition for days or weeks at a time. Interrogation techniques such as slaps and "wallings" (slamming detainees against a wall) were used in combination, frequently concurrent with sleep deprivation and nudity. …

At least five CIA detainees were subjectedto "rectal rehydration" or rectal feeding without documented medical necessity.

On “waterboarding”:

The waterboarding technique was physically harmful, inducing convulsions and vomiting. Abu Zubaydah, for example, became "completely unresponsive, with bubbles rising through his open, full mouth.'" Internal CIA records describe the waterboarding of Khalid Shaykh Mohammad as evolving into a "series of near drownings."

On the “conditions” at "detention sites":

Conditions at CIA detention sites were poor, and were especially bleak early in the program. CIA detainees at the COBALT detention facility were kept in complete darkness and constantly shackled in isolated cells with loud noise or music and only a bucket to use for human waste. Lack of heat at the facility likely contributed to the death of a detainee. The chief of interrogations described COBALT as a "dungeon."

There are also three separate and additional sections about how the CIA lied to -- or misled -- the Department of Justice, members of Congress, and the White House. There are “20 points” listed in the executive summary page. As a result, I have only excerpted selectivity. So be sure to read the entire report here.

It’s also worth addressing, however, some of the concerns CIA officials and supporters of enhanced interrogation techniques have with it. For example, the report itself concludes these controversial methods were “not an effective means of acquiring intelligence” during the years in which they were employed. This is a contention CIA operatives say is a lie. Not surprisingly, these charges have been challenged by none other than Jose A. Rodriguez, who explained in a recent Washington Post op-ed he would know better than most because, well, he was the very “guy" who oversaw the program:

…The report’s leaked conclusion, which has been reported on widely, that the interrogation program brought no intelligence value is an egregious falsehood; it’s a dishonest attempt to rewrite history. I’m bemused that the Senate could devote so many resources to studying the interrogation program and yet never once speak to any of the key people involved in it, including the guy who ran it (that would be me).

He also called out members of the US Congress for their hypocrisy:

The interrogation program was authorized by the highest levels of the U.S. government, judged legal by the Justice Department and proved effective by any reasonable standard. The leaders of the Senate and House Intelligence Committees and of both parties in Congress were briefed on the program more than 40 times between 2002 and 2009. But Rep. Nancy Pelosi (D-Calif.) tried to deny that she was told in 2002 that detainees had been waterboarded. That is simply not true. I was among those who briefed her.

He also -- and especially -- skewers Sens. Dianne Feinstein (D-CA) and Jay Rockefeller (D-WV). In any case, on "Fox & Friends" this morning, a former CIA legal expert called the report shortly before it was released “unfair and preposterous”:

President George W. Bush, who in many ways is the face of enhanced interrogation techniques, also defended the practice last Sunday on CNN:

There are good people on both sides of this debate. What's clear, however, is that this report, if anything, has done nothing to resolve it.

UPDATE: President Obama has issued a statement:

Throughout our history, the United States of America has done more than any other nation to stand up for freedom, democracy, and the inherent dignity and human rights of people around the world. As Americans, we owe a profound debt of gratitude to our fellow citizens who serve to keep us safe, among them the dedicated men and women of our intelligence community, including the Central Intelligence Agency. Since the horrific attacks of 9/11, these public servants have worked tirelessly to devastate core al Qaeda, deliver justice to Osama bin Laden, disrupt terrorist operations and thwart terrorist attacks. Solemn rows of stars on the Memorial Wall at the CIA honor those who have given their lives to protect ours. Our intelligence professionals are patriots, and we are safer because of their heroic service and sacrifices.

In the years after 9/11, with legitimate fears of further attacks and with the responsibility to prevent more catastrophic loss of life, the previous administration faced agonizing choices about how to pursue al Qaeda and prevent additional terrorist attacks against our country. As I have said before, our nation did many things right in those difficult years. At the same time, some of the actions that were taken were contrary to our values. That is why I unequivocally banned torture when I took office, because one of our most effective tools in fighting terrorism and keeping Americans safe is staying true to our ideals at home and abroad.

Today’s report by the Senate Select Committee on Intelligence details one element of our nation’s response to 9/11—the CIA’s detention and interrogation program, which I formally ended on one of my first days in office. The report documents a troubling program involving enhanced interrogation techniques on terrorism suspects in secret facilities outside the United States, and it reinforces my long-held view that these harsh methods were not only inconsistent with our values as nation, they did not serve our broader counterterrorism efforts or our national security interests. Moreover, these techniques did significant damage to America’s standing in the world and made it harder to pursue our interests with allies and partners. That is why I will continue to use my authority as President to make sure we never resort to those methods again.

As Commander in Chief, I have no greater responsibility than the safety and security of the American people. We will therefore continue to be relentless in our fight against al Qaeda, its affiliates and other violent extremists. We will rely on all elements of our national power, including the power and example of our founding ideals. That is why I have consistently supported the declassification of today’s report. No nation is perfect. But one of the strengths that makes America exceptional is our willingness to openly confront our past, face our imperfections, make changes and do better. Rather than another reason to refight old arguments, I hope that today’s report can help us leave these techniques where they belong—in the past. Today is also a reminder that upholding the values we profess doesn’t make us weaker, it makes us stronger and that the United States of America will remain the greatest force for freedom and human dignity that the world has ever known.

Guy Benson - Rumble: Unions Fume As Wisconsin GOP Weighs 'Right-to-Work' Law
Posted: 12/9/2014 12:01:00 PM EST

Wisconsin Governor Scott Walker has accomplished quite a lot over the past four years. He's won three elections; getting elected in 2010, decisively defeating a recall effort that attracted national attention, and prevailing by a fair comfortable margin in November's (re)-re-election campaign.  On a policy level, he's won the two biggest fights he's picked, enacting his controversial and successful 'Act 10' budget reforms in 2011 -- which touched off massive protests and the ill-fated recall push -- and signing a large tax cuts package earlier this year.  Now that he's been handed his third mandate in four years, Walker has a decision to make: Will he follow the lead of Republicans in the state legislature and champion a right-to-work law?  The governor has labeled the initiative "a distraction," but hasn't ruled out signing a bill if it ends up on his desk.  The Washington Examiner's editors urge Badger State leaders to follow through on the idea:

Elections have consequences, and Scott Fitzgerald, the Republican leader of Wisconsin's state Senate, wants one of those consequences to be a state right-to-work law. Wisconsin is one of three states without such a law where Republicans have effective control over the legislative process for at least the next two years. Right-to-work, which lets workers choose whether to pay for union representation without risking their jobs, is a good idea in Wisconsin, and a good idea everywhere else it can be tried. According to data from the Labor and Commerce Departments, both wage and job growth were significantly larger in right-to-work states between 2003 and 2013. Right-to-work states also experienced twice as much growth in real manufacturing GDP as other states. The flight of America's manufacturing base to southern right-to-work states further illustrates the point...Right-to-work, which is currently the law in 24 states, partially levels the playing field. Workers who do not want to join unions can still be forced to accept union representation, but they cannot be forced to pay for it as a condition of employment.

While declining to take a definitive position on the issue at the moment, Walker says his top priorities are passing school accountability measures, uprooting and overhauling the state's Common Core curriculum, and passing a budget.  Whether right-to-work would, in fact, serve as a "distraction" from his agenda remains to be seen.  But it is clear that a signing such a bill into law wouldn't be political suicide.  A fellow Republican governor in a similarly-situated state, Michigan's Rick Snyder, withstood immense pressure and signed right-to-work legislation in 2012.  Unions and Democrats screamed bloody murder.  Snyder was re-elected in November by more than four points.  Then again, Scott Walker is arguably the last Republican in the country who needs a lecture on political courage.  If right-to-work were to be implemented in Wisconsin, it would afford similar protections to private sector union employees as Act 10 extended to government workers.  George Will described last year the provision of Walker's budget reforms that most petrified the union bosses.  It wasn't increased contributions to pensions and healthcare, or even curtailed collective bargaining "rights," that kept them up at night.  It was the end of a coercive practice that had long guaranteed the buttering of their bread:

Act 10’s dynamite, however, was the provision ending the state’s compulsory collection of union dues — sometimes as high as $1,400 per year — that fund union contributions to Democrats. Barack Obama and his national labor allies made Wisconsin a battleground because they knew that when Indiana made paying union dues optional, 90?percent of state employees quit paying, and similar measures produced similar results in Washington, Colorado and Utah.

They knew that if given a choice, many of their own members would opt to keep more of their own money, and that some might even decide that re-certifiying their unions (now required annually) wasn't worth it anymore. And that's exactly what has happened. Here are some recent developments on that same front, via the MacIver Institute:

In elections that ended last Tuesday, government workers voted to decertify 25 school district unions that sought recertification. Plus, 100 fewer unions than last year chose to seek recertification. Last year, 408 units sought recertification. This year, the number was down to 305. Under the 2011 Act 10 reforms, the Wisconsin Employment Relations Commission (WERC) is required to hold annual recertification elections for unions associated with school districts. Unions must attain "yes" votes from 51 percent of eligible union members to continue serving as an authorized collective bargaining unit - making a non-vote essentially a vote against union recertification...While a majority of unions that sought recertification gained more than 51 percent of support in their elections, a large number of union members chose to vote against or not vote for their collective bargaining unit. In total, 14,820 union members did not vote in favor of recertification.

Walker's reforms pose an existential threat to government union bosses by injecting choice into the equation for rank-and-file members. If one wants to identify the true reason why the Left despises Walker, simply re-read the previous sentence.

Katie Pavlich - Obamacare Architect Jonathan Gruber States Under Oath: "I Am Not The Architect of Obamacare"
Posted: 12/9/2014 12:00:00 PM EST

During sworn congressional testimony in front of the House Oversight Committee Tuesday, MIT Professor and Obamacare architect Jonathan Gruber attempted to distance himself from the Obama administration as lawmakers grilled him with questions about the deception used to pass the legislation. He also tried to distinguish his comments about deception from the content and impact of the Affordable Care Act.

“I did not write Governor Mitt Romney's health care plan. I am not the architect of Obamacare,” Gruber said. "I behaved badly, and I will have to live with that, but my own inexcusable arrogance is not a flaw in the Affordable Care Act."

"Let me be very clear, I do not think that the Affordable Care Act was passed in a non-transparent fashion. The issues I raised in my comments, such as redistribution of risk through insurance market reform and the structure of the Cadillac tax, were roundly debated throughout 2009 and early 2010 before the law was passed. Reasonable people can disagree about the merits of these policies, but it is completely clear that these issues were debated thoroughly during the drafting and passage of the ACA," he added.

Before Obamacare was passed and when it was in the process of being written, Gruber visited the White House 21 times and met directly with President Obama in the Oval Office. He was praised by a number of Democrats, including former House Speaker Nancy Pelosi and outgoing Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid as the expert media should talk to about the legislation. He's known as "the man" on the Obamacare. Back in 2007 during a Brooking's Institute event, then Senator Obama said he "liberally steals ideas" from Gruber.

In his opening statement, Gruber addressed "inexcusable" comments that landed him on Capitol Hill in the first place about "stupid Americans," a lack of transparency and deception in the language of Obamacare to hide the redistribution of wealth. He issued multiple apologies throughout the hearing and attempted to claim he isn't an expert when it comes to the discussion of the healthcare law, despite being paid millions of dollars as an Obamacare consultant to the government. 

"In excerpts of these videos I am shown making a series of glib, thoughtless, and sometimes downright insulting comments," Gruber said. “I tried to make myself seem smarter by demeaning others.” 

“I made a series of inexcusable comments,” he added. "I apologize."

When pressed on the amount of money he received for his work on Obamacare, Gruber refused to state how much taxpayer funding from both the state and federal governments he personally received as payment for his work on the Affordable Care Act.

One of the main missions of the Oversight Committee is to ensure taxpayer money is being spent properly. When Gruber was pressed by different Republican Congressmen, including Chairman Darrell Issa, Jason Chaffetz and Jim Jordan, he referred questions about income statements related to taxpayer money to his legal counsel. 

According to various media sources and government documents, Gruber was paid more than $5 million in taxpayer money for his work and consultation on Obamacare through state and federal government contracts.

Conn Carroll - Judge Hearing Obama Amnesty Challenge Foresaw 2014 Border Crisis
Posted: 12/9/2014 11:15:00 AM EST

The odds that President Obama's executive amnesty will be stopped by a federal court before it starts went up Monday when U.S. District Judge Andrew Hanen was assigned to hear a challenge to the policy brought by Texas and more than 15 other states.

While Obama may have announced his new immigration policy in November, the federal agency implementing the policy, the United States Citizenship and Immigration Services office, has notified potential beneficiaries of the program that they will not be issuing any documents for at least six months. 

This implementation delay gives opponents of the program, including the state of Texas, a window of opportunity to get a court order stopping Obama's plan before it even starts. Texas filed for such a preliminary injunction motion Friday

Hanen, who was appointed to the bench in 2002 by President Bush, is no stranger to immigration-related cases. In 2013, Hanen issued an order in a child smuggling case castigating the Obama administration for completing a "criminal conspiracy."

In that case, U.S. v Nava-Martinez, an illegal immigrant living in Virginia paid defendant Mirtha Veronica Nava-Martinez $6,000 to smuggle her child from El Salvador to Virginia. Nava-Martinez, who had no relation to the mother or the child, was then caught at the border with the child by Customs and Border Protection agents.

Department of Homeland Security officials then notified the mother that they had her child and arranged for the child to be delivered to her at taxpayer expense, "thus successfully completing the mission of the criminal conspiracy," Judge Hanen wrote. "[DHS] did not arrest her. It did not even initiate deportation proceedings against her. This DHS policy is a dangerous course of action."

Judge Hanen then elaborated:

This is the fourth case with the same factual situation this court has had in as many weeks. ... The DHS is rewarding criminal conduct instead of enforcing the current laws. More troubling, the DHS is encouraging parents to jeopardize the safety of their children. ... Those who hear that they should not fear prosecution or deportation will not hesitate, and obviously have not hesitated, to act likewise. 

Hanen then noted that the number of unaccompanied alien children rose 81 percent between 2010 and 2012, adding, "If they persist in this policy, more children are going to be harmed, and DHS will be partly responsible because it encourages this kind of Russian roulette."

History then proved Hanen right. Word did get out both north and south of the border that the Obama administration was helping illegal immigrant children reach their illegal immigrant parents in the United States. The result was a humanitarian crisis at the border of Obama's own making.

In response to Obama's administration claims that "prosecutorial discretion" gave DHS authority to complete criminal conspiracies, Hanen wrote:

Finally, the Court is aware that prosecutors and law enforcement officers, including those here on the border, frequently use their discretion to defer the prosecution or arrest of individuals. This Court is not opposed to the concept of prosecutorial discretion, if that discretion is exercised with a sense of justice and common sense. Nevertheless, it is not aware of any legal principle, including prosecutorial discretion, that not only allows the Government to decline prosecution, but further allows it to actually complete the intended criminal mission. The DHS should enforce the laws of the United States - not break them.

Texas has asked for a hearing on their motion for a preliminary injunction before December 31, 2014. There has been no indication from the court yet when it plans to schedule such a hearing.

Ky Sisson - Tea Party Patriots Hand Out 'I'm With Stupid' T-Shirts Before Gruber Hearing
Posted: 12/9/2014 11:15:00 AM EST

In one of the most anticipated hearings on Capitol Hill, Jonathan Gruber's testimony before the House Oversight Committee came with party favors. 

The Tea Party Patriots handed out free t-shirts that read, "I'm With Stupid" and point to a picture of Jonathan Gruber's face. According to The Daily Caller, the TPP is handing out 250 shirts around Capitol Hill. I was given one outside the subway station nearest to House office buildings. 

Jenny Beth Martin, the cofounder of the TPP, told The Daily Caller:

“With all that’s going on in the Capitol, we didn’t want Mr. Gruber’s curtain call to go unnoticed. We commemorated his appearance, and in the spirit of the Season, we’d like to offer the Obamacare architect a dozen. He can use them as stocking stuffers for the economically unsophisticated.”

Gruber was a major architect in the formation of the Affordable Care Act and made his claim to fame when he was caught calling the American voters stupid for allowing the ACA to pass. 

Katie Pavlich - Judicial Watch Documents: Lois Lerner Met With DOJ Election Crimes Division One Month Before 2010 Midterm Elections
Posted: 12/9/2014 10:20:00 AM EST

New documents obtained through a Judicial Watch Freedom of Information Act lawsuit show former IRS head of tax exempt groups Lois Lerner met with the Department of Justice Election Crimes Division as early as October 2010, just one month before the historic 2010-midterm elections when Republicans regained control of the House and at the peak of the tea party movement. 

 From Judicial Watch:

As result of a court order, the DOJ last month produced only two pages of heavily redacted emails (832 pages were withheld in entirety) that show the Obama Justice Department initiated an October 8, 2010, meeting between the IRS and top criminal prosecutors at the DOJ Public Integrity Section and Election Crimes Division “concerning 501(c)(4) issues.” On September 29, 2010, a DOJ official (whose name is blacked out) emailed a staff assistant at the IRS (whose name is also redacted):

"As we discussed this afternoon, we would like to invite Ms. Ingram [apparent reference to Sarah Hall Ingram former commissioner, IRS Tax Exempt and Government Entities] to meet with us concerning 501(c)(4) issues, and propose next Friday at 10:00 a.m. We are located in the Bond Building, 12th Floor, New York Avenue, NW, Thank you for your assistance."

The document shows that the unknown DOJ official setting up the meeting is with the Election Crimes Division of the Public Integrity Section of the DOJ’s Criminal Division. (Judicial Watch believes the redacted name of the DOJ official is Richard Pilger, Director of the Election Crimes Division.) The DOJ email setting up the IRS meeting is cc’d to the DOJ’s Public Integrity Section Chief, Jack Smith, and Principal Deputy Chief Raymond Hulser. The documents show that Ingram was not available but arranged for her deputy, Lois Lerner, then-Director of the IRS Exempt Organizations branch, to meet with the DOJ senior officials.

On September 30, 2010, the Election Crimes prosecutor emails Lerner:

"Hi Lois-It's been a long time, and you might not remember me, I've taken on [REDACTED] duties. I’m looking forward to meeting you, Can we chat in advance? I'm a [REDACTED]"

Lerner responded on October 2, 2010:

"Sure-that's a good Idea [sic]. I have a meeting out of the office Monday morning, but will try you when I get back sometime early afternoon. You can try me at 202 283-8848."

The Justice Department has withheld in full at least 832 additional pages of documents, citing various “taxpayer privacy,” “deliberative privilege,” and other exemptions to keep the records secret.

“These new documents dramatically show how the Justice Department is up to its neck in the IRS scandal and can’t be trusted to investigate crimes associated with the IRS abuses that targeted Obama’s critics. And it is of particular concern that the DOJ’s Public Integrity Section, which would ordinarily investigate the IRS abuses, is now implicated in the IRS crimes. No wonder the Department of Justice under Eric Holder has done no serious investigation of the Obama IRS scandal," Judicial Watch President Tom Fitton said in a statement. “It is shameful how Establishment Washington has let slide by Obama’s abuse of the IRS and the Justice Department. Only as a result of Judicial Watch’s independent investigations did the American people learn about the IRS-DOJ prosecution discussions of Obama’s political enemies and how the IRS sent, in violation of law, confidential taxpayer information to the FBI and DOJ in 2010. Richard Nixon was impeached for less.”

As a reminder, previously reported emails show Lerner was in contact with DOJ officials about criminally prosecuting members of tea party groups for "lying" about political activity, with an end goal of getting at least one person thrown in prison to prove a point.

It wasn't just the IRS targeting conservative groups, DOJ was heavily involved too.