Guy Benson - WH: We Haven't Changed the President's Schedule Amid Crises Because it Might Scare People
Posted: 7/21/2014 10:21:00 AM EST

On Thursday, we chronicled President Obama's series of decisions to carry on with his public schedule -- a burger joint photo op, a partisan speech on infrastructure spending, and a pair of Manhattan fundraisers -- in the midst of two major international crises. First, Russian-backed and -armed separatists in Ukraine shot down a commercial airliner, killing nearly 300 innocent civilians, including one American. The attack marked a dramatic and lethal escalation of the war in Eastern Ukraine, in which Russia is a malignant and destructive actor. New evidence appears to indicate that Moscow has been highly interested in obtaining the flight's so-called 'black box' recording device, as Moscow-backed separatists restrict access to the crash site. The rebels say they'll turn that evidence over to the UN…at some point. Meanwhile, Israel launched a ground incursion into Gaza, a move that reportedly caught the White House by surprise. The conflict escalated over the weekend, as 13 IDF soldiers were killed by Hamas, and the Israeli military reports that heavily-armed terrorists entered its nation's territory wearing IDF uniforms -- allegedly with the intent of taking hostages. Pro-Hamas protesters are rioting and setting things on fire in Paris (we've already covered their proclivity toward anti-Semitic violence), and Turkey's "moderate" leader stated that Israel has "surpassed Hitler in barbarism" because of its anti-terrorist operations. And yet, the American president has chosen to forge ahead with run-of-the-mill, partisan activities, and is gearing up for a series of star-studded Hollywood fundraisers. The New York Times published a story over the weekend entitled, "Sticking to His Travel Plans, at Risk of Looking Bad -- Obama Maintains Schedule Despite World Crises." The problematic optics are readily apparent:

As smoke billowed from the downed Malaysian jetliner in the fields of eastern Ukraine on Thursday, President Obama pressed ahead with his schedule: a cheeseburger with fries at the Charcoal Pit in Delaware, a speech about infrastructure and two splashy fund-raisers in New York City. The potential for jarring split-screen imagery was clear. Reports of charred bodies and a ground-to-air missile attack from Eastern Europe dominated television screens while photographers snapped pictures of a grinning Mr. Obama holding a toddler at the restaurant. The presidential motorcade was later filmed pulling up to Trump Place Apartments, the Riverside Avenue venue for his first fund-raiser. And yet, White House aides said no consideration was given to abandoning the president’s long-planned schedule, even during the hourlong flight from Delaware to New York, when word suddenly arrived that Israel had begun a ground invasion of the Gaza Strip, providing the day’s second international challenge.

The White House's justification for its astounding public attitude nonchalance is the supposed desire to not worry the pretty little heads of the American people:

“It is rarely a good idea to return to the White House just for show, when the situation can be handled responsibly from the road,” said Jennifer Palmieri, the White House communications director. “Abrupt changes to his schedule can have the unintended consequence of unduly alarming the American people or creating a false sense of crisis.

A false sense of crisis? Sure, the US isn't under imminent threat of an alien invasion, but the current crises are no less "false" than the recent spate of administration scandals are "phony." This entire explanation is insulting. I understand that this president's political team tends to hold the public's collective intelligence in rather low regard -- they've counted on it, in fact -- but this is beyond parody. With major and combustible geopolitical events playing out across the globe, the American people are mature enough to understand if Obama had taken his burger to go, while backing out of an unimportant speech and a couple of DNC fundraisers. Such actions wouldn't have touched off widespread panic across the country, Ms. Palmieri's excuses notwithstanding. Citizens would have intuitively internalized that the president's deviation from lesser responsibilities were necessary to handle the difficult job he was hired to do. (Also, shouldn't a Russia-aided terrorist attack and thousands of rockets being fired at our closest ally in the Middle East be alarming to the American people?) This president doesn't appear interested in the hard work of governing or leading in chaotic times. At least that's the impression he's left over and over again. That list, incidentally, is not even close to comprehensive, and was published prior to the events of the last week. Republicans' complaints may be predictable, but don't think our allies and adversaries alike aren't paying attention. President Obama's overwhelming priority seems to be raising money for his political party -- a task with which he's extremely familiar, and quite prolific:

On Thursday morning, President Obama is off to a party fundraiser in New York. Next week, he’s flying to the west coast for another fundraiser with the Hollywood glitterati. When Obama was in Denver last week, he attended no less than four cash-gathering events in the space of 24 hours. In his first term, Obama attended more fundraising events than any other president in recent history. According to author Brendan J. Doherty, from 2008 to 2012 Obama went to 321 events, compared to just 80 for Ronald Reagan. And, as the chart below shows, he’s done 72 events in his second term – 34 this year alone. So far, he’s ahead of the pace of George W. Bush, who had been to 30 events at this point in 2006. In his two presidential terms combined, Bush hosted 318 fundraisers. Obama has already smashed that number with 393 events to date.

Presidents are the de facto leaders of their parties, and fundraising is part of the job. Conservatives shouldn't try to argue that Barack Obama ought not hold these events on behalf of Democrats at all, or reflexively complain when he blows off some steam on the links (which he did again just yesterday, of course). But any American Commander-in-Chief should carefully weigh how his or her public actions and activities appear within a wider context. The Obama White House's pattern of tone deaf scheduling decisions in the middle of crises has been nothing short of astonishing. By the way, those who are most aggressively defending Obama's 'no big deal' posture over the last few days are largely the same group who will never forgive President Bush for taking a few minutes to finish reading The Pet Goat to a group of elementary school students after being informed of the 9/11 attack. I'll leave you with this clip of Fox News' Chris Wallace confronting John Kerry with a 'hot mic' video in which the Secretary of State appears to deride Israel's "pinpoint operation:"

Kerry's response wasn't too bad, considering the potential for embarrassment -- and at least he seems to possess some appropriate sense of urgency. Parting note: It's been reported that Hamas rockets were being stored in a UN-backed school (which apparently handed the weapons right back to Hamas), and that top terrorists have been using a hospital as their base of operations.

UPDATE - Several panelists on MSNBC's Morning Joe burst into laughter this morning over the White House's explanation (via Noah Rothman):

Matt Vespa - Oh Look! It's The ATF Targeting Minorities In Drug Stings
Posted: 7/21/2014 9:30:00 AM EST

So, the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms, and Explosives is back in the news for possibly targeting minorities in drug sting operations. The controversial law enforcement agency has been trying to nab criminals by offering them $100,000 to raid drug stash houses that don’t exist. The problem is the number of people arrested by ATF seem to be overwhelmingly black and Latino (via USA TODAY):

At least 91% of the people agents have locked up using those stings were racial or ethnic minorities, USA TODAY found after reviewing court files and prison records from across the United States. Nearly all were either black or Hispanic. That rate is far higher than among people arrested for big-city violent crimes, or for other federal robbery, drug and gun offenses.

The ATF operations raise particular concerns because they seek to enlist suspected criminals in new crimes rather than merely solving old ones, giving agents and their underworld informants unusually wide latitude to select who will be targeted. In some cases, informants said they identified targets for the stings after simply meeting them on the street.

"There's something very wrong going on here," said University of Chicago law professor Alison Siegler, part of a team of lawyers challenging the ATF's tactics in an Illinois federal court. "The government is creating these crimes and then choosing who it's going to target."

Justice Department lawyers fought to block the disclosures. In one case in Chicago, the department refused to comply with another judge's order that it produce information about the stings. The records it has so far produced in other cases remain sealed.

Because of that secrecy, the data compiled by USA TODAY offer the broadest evidence yet that ATF's operations have overwhelmingly had minority suspects in their cross hairs. The newspaper identified a sample of 635 defendants arrested in stash-house stings during the past decade, and found 579, or 91%, were minorities.

The ATF declined to explain how it selects the stings' targets, other than to say its agents rely on criminal records, police intelligence files and confidential informants to identify people already responsible for violent robberies. Still, court records raise questions about how and where those informants go about finding suspects.

In one case in San Diego, a government informant, identified in court records only by the pseudonym "Tony," testified that he sometimes approached people on the street to see if they wanted to commit a drug robbery. Which streets, defense attorney John Kirby asked.

"Different neighborhoods. I have targeted all kinds of areas," the informant replied.

"Do you do it in La Jolla?" Kirby asked, referring to the well-to-do seaside section of San Diego.

"I'm not familiar with La Jolla," he replied.

"Scripps Ranch?" Kirby asked, referring to another.


Kirby, a former federal prosecutor, said it was clear to him ATF informants were "trolling what was almost exclusively an African-American neighborhood, and there aren't a lot of those in San Diego.

Brad Heath, who wrote the article for USA Today, also noted that this drug sting operation executed by ATF is already under legal scrutiny, with two federal judges in California saying they were unconstitutional. Heath noted that judges who signed off on some of the stings felt unnerved by them. Last year, the chief federal judge in Chicago, U.S. District Court Judge Ruben Castillo, ordered the Department of Justice to release documents relating to these stings since there was "strong showing of potential bias."

This isn’t the first squib load ATF has encountered in their efforts to enforce federal laws. As my colleague Katie Pavlich reported in April, the ATF allegedly targeted the mentally challenged in their storefront operations in Milwaukee, Wisconsin.

Pavlich also documented another ATF foul-up in Beer City, where agents and the local police forgot to remove sensitive documents after a storefront operation was shut down; those sensitive documents had the names, vehicles, and contact information of undercover ATF agents on them.

Then, there was the case that showed the ATF was losing track of the firearms issued to their agents, with some leaving their weapons in bathroom stalls, movie theaters, and hospitals. In one case, an agent left a government-issued firearm on top of a vehicle and drove away.

So, nice work, ATF; thanks for keeping our neighborhoods safe.

Katie Pavlich - Cartels Fire on Border Patrol in Texas
Posted: 7/21/2014 7:30:00 AM EST

Over the weekend Border Patrol agents were fired upon by cartels operating on the border in Texas. According to Republican Rep. Louie Gohmert, who represents Texas' First Congressional District, and Border Patrol agents, shots may have come from a high powered .50 caliber rifle. More from Fox News:

U.S. Border Patrol agents on the American side of the Rio Grande were forced to take cover Friday night when high-caliber weaponry was fired at them from the Mexican side of the river, sources told

The weapons were fired at the U.S. side of the riverbank in the area of the Rincon Peninsula across the Rio Grande from Reynosa, Mexico, at about 8:30 p.m., sources said. Bullets ricocheted into an area where Border Patrol agents were positioned, Rep. Louie Gohmert, R-Texas, told

Border Patrol sources confirmed Gohmert's account, and said the shots may have been fired by .50-caliber weapons.

"We don't have any armor that can stop a .50-caliber round, so our Border Patrol agents had to take cover when the rounds were richocheting around them," said Gohmert, who has been in the area for the last week to get a first-hand look at the border situation.

Sources said they believe the gunfire came from members of Mexican drug cartels, which include former military members trained in shooting that type of weaponry.

As the influx of illegal immigrants continues to overwhelm Border Patrol facilities and agent resources, cartels are operating with impunity. In Arizona as agents change diapers and change bed sheets, drug runners continue to operate and transport narcotics into the United States.

"We have all of these juveniles so they're pulling agents out of the field to come in and babysit them basically," a source said last month. "They're cancelling some of our specialty details for our crews who go out and work the mountains, calling them back in and telling them they have to work the processing center because there are so many people in there."

As this crisis has gotten worse, illegal immigration has become a top priority for American voters.

Kara Jones - Watch: Kerry Talks Ukraine, Gaza on All Five Major News Networks
Posted: 7/20/2014 8:50:00 PM EST

Secretary of State John Kerry appeared on five Sunday morning talk shows to discuss the Israeli-Palestinian conflict, the incursion of Gaza, and the escalating crisis in Ukraine following the attack of Malaysian airliner MH17.

He strongly defended the Obama administration's foreign policy decisions during these two international emergencies and repeatedly reiterated the legitimacy of Israel's military action.

Unbeknownst to Kerry, cameras were rolling at Fox before the show, capturing a phone call with an aide in which he sardonically described Israel’s offensive in Gaza as “a hell of a pinpoint operation.” He then added, “We’ve got to get over there. I think we ought to go tonight. I think it’s crazy to be sitting around.” On air, Fox’s Chris Wallace addressed the call, asking Kerry if he thought the Israeli pushback was going too far. He responded, “I think it’s very difficult in these situations. You have people who have come out of tunnels, you have a right to go in and take out those tunnels. We completely support that and we support Israel’s right to defend themselves against rockets that are continuing to come in...”

Catch the full exchange at the 10:45 minute mark:

Fox's "Fox News Sunday" with Chris Wallace

When questioned about enforcing stricter sanctions on Russia, Kerry responded:

“The president imposed a greater cost on Vladimir Putin the day before this shoot down took place. And what we are doing now is trying to bring our European counterparts along because [just] 4 percent of Russia's trade is with the United States. Fifty percent of their engagement is with Europe.

So, we are trying to encourage our European friends to realize this is a wake up call and hopefully they will also join us in these tougher sanctions.

The president is prepared to take additional steps, and we are discussing with the Ukrainians right now what they need, what else we can do...”

NBC’s "Meet the Press" with David Gregory

Kerry spoke to the botched investigation of the MH17 plane wreckage, saying:

"Well, what's happening is really grotesque. And it is contrary to everything that President Putin and Russia said that they would do. There are reports of drunken separatist soldiers unceremoniously piling bodies into trucks, removing both bodies, as well as evidence, from the site.

They promised unfettered access. And the fact is that, right now, they had 75 minutes on Friday, [and] yesterday, three hours. There were shots fired in the area. The separatists are in control. And it is clear that Russia supports the separatists, supplies the separatists, encourages the separatists, trains the separatists. And Russia needs to step up and make a difference here."

ABC’s "This Week" with George Stephanopoulos

When Stephanopoulos mentioned that critics say the president has not been forceful enough regarding America's current role in foreign affairs, Kerry asserted:

"The fact is that the United States of America, George, is more engaged in more places in the world, and, frankly, I think, to greater effect, than at any time in recent memory. And I can't think of a time when the United States has been engaged in more places, where people are worried not about our staying, but they don't want us to leave and they recognize that American leadership is critical."

CNN’s "State of the Union" with Candy Crowley

Note: CNN failed to include in their clip the moment when Crowley asked, "So as I understand it, what you are saying is that the U.S. is comfortable with Israeli actions thus far – but you would like to see a ceasefire?"

Kerry then snapped back, "Candy – Candy, please. No country, no human being is comfortable with children being killed, with people being killed, but we’re not comfortable with Israeli soldiers being killed either, or with people being rocketed in Israel.

So in war, it’s very difficult. There tends not to be a sort of equilibrium in terms of these things. The fact is that we’ve asked Israel and Israel has said we will try to reduce whatever we can with respect to civilian involvement, and civilians have been warned to move well ahead of time.

The fact is that Hamas uses civilians as shields and they fire from a home and draw the fire into the home, precisely to elicit the kind of question you just asked. We need to have a ceasefire."

CBS’s "Face the Nation" with Bob Schieffer

Schieffer began his interview by questioning Kerry on whether we have definitive proof that the Russians were directly involved in the downing of the Malaysian passenger jet. Kerry said:

"What we have is a lot of evidence that points in the direction, that raises very, very serious questions, including the fact that a few weeks ago, we have [a] 150-vehicle convoy coming from Russia, going into the east of Ukraine with tanks, artillery, multiple rocket launchers, armored personnel carriers, turned over to the separatists.

We know that there are Russians who are leaders of the separatists. Some, not all. Some. And we know that the Russians have armed the separatists, trained the separatists, support the separatists, and have, to date, not publicly called on the separatists to stand down or to be part of the solution."

UPDATE: The Wall Street Journal has reported that John Kerry will soon travel to Cairo to push for a cease-fire between Israel and Hamas.

Kevin Glass -  Rick Perry Continues Shoring Up 2016 Support
Posted: 7/20/2014 7:33:00 PM EST

Texas Gov. Rick Perry, who entered the 2012 GOP nomination race but exited with a whimper, has been making moves hinting at a 2016 bid for President. Most recently he's been to Iowa multiple times, and the Associated Press is reporting that he's been shoring up support with donors and strategists:

If Texas Gov. Rick Perry runs for president and loses Iowa to some other Republican again, it won't be for a lack of trying.

The 64-year-old Perry is on his fourth trip to the state in eight months, meeting Saturday and Sunday with veterans and conservative activists in the northern Iowa communities of Algona and Clear Lake.

Although he hasn't said if he'll seek the White House in 2016, Perry has been raising funds for GOP candidates and seeking advice from political insiders since November.

Perry entered the 2012 presidential race with much fanfare, but quickly stumbled. He finished fifth in the Iowa caucuses in early 2012 and quit the race two weeks later.

As Real Clear Politics' 2012 polling shows, Rick Perry had a comfortable but brief lead in the GOP nomination chase , putting a dent in Mitt Romney and flattening the other candidates. He soon stumbled in debates, though, and fell back to the pack and out of the race for good:

Perry may contend with a broader and deeper GOP field this time around, as all the candidates will be longtime politicians with established track records. If he's to make a serious run he'll need to have a better showing than last time.

Christine Rousselle - Minnesota Governor Spells "Minnesota" Wrong on Campaign Material
Posted: 7/20/2014 6:01:00 PM EST

Minnesota Gov. Mark Dayton is learning that spelling can sometimes be quite challenging:


Dayton, a member of the Democrat-Farmer-Labor party, was a member of the U.S. Senate from 2001-2007. In 2004, he shut down his office for a full month citing a "terrorist threat" on the nation's capital. (No other senator saw fit to close their office in spite of this "threat.") In 2006, Time labeled Dayton as one of the worst senators. He was elected governor of Minnesota in 2010.

Leah Barkoukis - WH Officials Were Warned About Looming Border Crisis, Dismissed as ‘Local Problem’ in 2013
Posted: 7/20/2014 5:00:00 PM EST

The White House initially claimed to be surprised by the influx of illegal immigrants crossing the Southwest border, but a January 29 employment ad placed by DHS looking for contractors to escort roughly 65,000 unaccompanied alien children challenged that assertion. Now, there's even more evidence to suggest the administration knew about the impending problem well in advance.

Fox News reports:

The Obama administration ignored a report to the Department of Homeland Security last year which predicted that a large number of unaccompanied children would arrive at America's southern border in the coming months, according to a published report.

The Washington Post reported Saturday that a team of experts from the University of Texas at El Paso (UTEP) submitted the 41-page report in August of 2013 after discovering a makeshift transportation depot manned by Border Patrol agents at the Fort Brown station in Brownsville, Texas. The report detailed how thirty agents were assigned to perform such tasks as washing the children's clothes, driving them to offsite showers, and making them sandwiches.

The report said that an average of 66 children were taken into custody each day and more than 24,000 cycled through patrol stations in Texas alone in 2013.

Former-Border Patrol station chief Victor Manjarrez Jr., who led the study, said the government dismissed the situation as a “local problem,” reports the Post. A crisis of this magnitude was “not on anyone’s radar,” he continued, although it was “pretty clear this number of kids was going to be the new baseline."

President Obama’s chief domestic policy adviser, Cecilia Munoz, told the Post that it was only this past May that federal officials realized the number of unaccompanied minors crossing the border would exceed the Border Patrol’s original estimate.

Senior officials challenge that statement, however.

[O]ne former senior federal law enforcement official told the Post that Customs and Border Protection and Immigration and Customs Enforcement had warned the White House of the potential for a significant surge of migrant children at the border as early as 2012.

The paper reported that warnings came from outside the federal government as well. The Post reports that the first ladies of Guatemala, Honduras, and Mexico cited "worrisome statistics" showing an upswing in unaccompanied minors in April of that year. That same month, Texas Gov. Rick Perry wrote a letter informing the president that the number of unaccompanied Central American minors crossing the border was up 90 percent from the previous year.

"Every day of delay risks more lives," Perry's letter read, in part. "Every child allowed to remain encourages hundreds more to attempt the journey."

One former government official told the Post that the warnings were definitely given, but were overshadowed by the Obama administration’s push for comprehensive immigration reform.

"Was the White House told there were huge flows of Central Americans coming? Of course they were told. A lot of times," the official said, reports the Post. "Was there a general lack of interest and a focus on the legislation? Yes, that’s where the focus was."

Daniel Doherty - Video: Elizabeth Warren Asked Loaded Question, Runs Away
Posted: 7/20/2014 1:00:00 PM EST

Some weekend fun for you.

Asked by Capitol City Project’s Joe Schoffstall on Friday whether or not she had a stated position on Israel's recent foray into Gaza, Sen. Elizabeth Warren (D-MA) couldn't be reached for comment. Instead, she did exactly what she did two years ago at Netroots Nation when facing tough questions from reporters: she ran away.

In a sense, one might call this the Gov. Chris Christie approach. That is, if you're a politician, never answer loaded questions about sensitive political issues unless you absolutely have to (although, in fairness, Gov. Christie doesn't always follow his own advice).

Nevertheless, better to be pilloried for running away from a question than saying something you might later regret. Right?

UPDATE: Thought you might enjoy this. If this song doesn't brighten your weekend, I don't know what will:

Cortney O'Brien - ‘Lone Star America’ Author: Rick Perry is ‘Seasoned and Prepared’ to Run for President
Posted: 7/20/2014 8:30:00 AM EST

Perhaps no state claims the sense of pride that is evident in Texas. Author Mark Davis talks about this shared sentiment in his new book "Lone Star America." This week, he spoke with Townhall about how Texas is excelling and taking the lead on just about every issue from jobs to energy to the Second Amendment. He shared some insight into policies that allow Texas to thrive economically, as well as his thoughts as to which Texans could be in the White House in 2016.

Why write this book now?

In 30 plus years of doing radio talk shows, conservatives always have the same questions: ‘What’s the best kind of leadership? How can we get to smaller government? How can we convince people that low taxes are a good idea? Or sensible regulation? Government closer to the people?’ All those good, conservative questions. For the last 20 years, I’ve had the joy of living in the state where I was born where all of these things actually are happening and they are actually working. So, the field of candidates in the 2014 elections, and a field of presidential candidates in the 2016 elections, are all going to get out there under the Republican banner and make various points about why conservatism is good and why it will work. The evidence of it is right here in Texas and has been for these past 20 years. We are a shining example of how conservative policies can lead to growth and prosperity and success.

What kinds of policies allow Texas to have such a thriving economy?

It’s easy to go first to the notions of low taxation and sensible regulation and those are good nuts and bolts reasons why our state is doing well and why we are growing while America is stumbling. But, it’s a deeper answer. It’s about the spirit in the way our state is run. We hold up high the notion of individual rights, self reliance, not turning to government to attach ourselves from cradle to grave. Texans, by and large, view the role of the citizen as to do what we can do with our talents. To work hard, and have government exist only to prevent chaos, only to provide for our basic needs, only to provide a system of laws that maintains order. Beyond that, we want government to stay out of our lives so we can rise as far as we can go. Or, if we stumble, we stumble, learn from that and move on. It is the opposite of almost every lesson that liberalism teaches.

I spoke with Rep. Kenny Marchant (R-TX), who said that Texas is not the place to go if you want to be on welfare. Why is that?

Texas has the same humanitarian concept - the caring for the truly needy that any society should have. But, we are governed by a sense of ethics that says you don’t want to be on the public dole for the rest of your life. That is one of the things that made our state great - the story of the birth of our state. People coming here, working hard, and crafting this magnificent land from some very rough territory. That took a strong work ethic. That’s the kind of thing that made America great - a strong work ethic. We’re going to do everything we can to our maximum effort to make a great state. We’re going to do everything we can to make a great country. The last thing you want to do is set up a framework of government reliance - a culture of dependency that sucks away people’s desire to work, that erodes their sense of self-worth. The better way to do this is to create an environment where people can come in and succeed, work hard and see the fruits of their labors. So, there are places in America and places around the world where you can absolutely go and the government will take care of you for the rest of your life. You don’t have to do much to earn that kind of care. That’s not the way Texas is run.

A lot of people, when they think of Texas, can’t help equating it with guns. What are some of the misconceptions about Texans and their guns?

The misconception is that somehow our embrace of gun culture makes us a less safe state. The opposite is quite true. We have concealed carry - we have open carry. The resulting lesson is that criminals probably think a little more deeply about committing crime in our culture than they do in any part of the state that has a lot of gun-free zones. Guns don’t kill people, gun-free zones kill people. The image of Texas as a gun-embracing state is accurate. We have more gun ownership here than most other states. A ton of our residents have more than one. One of the great answers to a recent poll came in a question asking how many do you own. Some said ‘none,’ some said ‘one,’ some said ‘two to five,’ some said ‘more than five.’ A good percentage of the respondents in that poll said essentially, ‘none of your business.’ What a perfect Texas answer that is. Because, not only do we believe in the right to own guns, but we believe in the right to own guns without the government messing around with us - even knowing when we acquire them, or how many we have, because we don’t consider that to be government’s business. We are a safer, saner society because we are the Second Amendment. And we spend our days cherishing that amendment, knowing that without the Second Amendment, the rest of the Bill of Rights aren’t worth a nickel.

You said that Texas challenges the environmental “alarmists.” Could you explain this?

We love our land, we love our air, we love our water. We want to live in a clean state and a clean country. But, we will be damned if we will allow extremists and tyrants from Washington to tell us how to get there. I trust Texas environmentalism, which I call high regard for the land and a proper balance between keeping the land pristine and allowing human productivity. The environmental extremism of the current federal government and other administrations at times has led to job-killing initiatives that favor the environment at the expense of human productivity. There’s no one in Texas who wants industries to run rampant over the cleanliness of our air and our water. We want to be able to live in a clean state and have clean water, clean air, and we’re doing a very good job of that, while doing regular battle with the EPA. Our big belief is, returning to the very closely held notion of states’ rights, that every state should be allowed to be able to craft its own environmental policies, but that there should not be much federal oversight at all and if Texans are left to our own devices, we will have a thoroughly clean, and wonderful and enjoyable and livable state and will actually have job creation too.

How likely is it that our next president will hail from Texas?

From the Republican Party, one of the most talked about names is Ted Cruz and one of the guys out there doing the most to make people think he’s running, is Rick Perry. So, you take those together, Perry and Cruz probably occupy fully 25 percent of the presidential buzz right now, as Chris Christie’s star fades and other people are just sort of operating on a second tier. It’s impossible to read minds, and neither gentleman is going to telegraph in the summer of 2014 what he’s going to be doing for a presidential campaign, but I’ll tell you, as soon as the midterm elections are done, anybody thinking about running for president had better have a campaign up and running. The interesting thing about Governor Perry is that some people feel that he might have come in late and he wasn’t seasoned enough at the presidential level. He’s certainly seasoned now, he’s certainly prepared now. He just wrote an op-ed in the Washington Post taking Rand Paul to task on isolationism and foreign policy and the war on terror. He is clearly marking out territory. It goes way beyond Texas issues and even way beyond states’ rights, on which he is perhaps our foremost champion. This is not a guarantee that he will run. Maybe he’s just setting himself up to write more good books after he finishes up being governor in January 2015. But, if he were to run, I can guarantee you it would go better than it did in 2012. He will guarantee you that, and he will be right. Will he be the nominee? I have no idea. Maybe his fiercest competition would come from another Texan, and that’s Ted Cruz, who is the proper recipient of an enormous amount of love, admiration, even hero worship among conservatives, because he will step out with a courage that few other people have. Does this translate to a desire to be president? I don’t know. The feeling I get from Senator Cruz in talking to him is that he loves legislating, loves being in the Senate, loves being one of the most significant politicians in America right now, without having to endure the meat grinder of a presidential campaign. He may well want to stay right where he is, but if he decides to run for president, I know a ton of people who’d be enthusiastic about it - and I would be one of them.

Did the RNC miss out by choosing Cleveland over Dallas?

I actually kind of called this. I won’t have a ‘I told you so.’ But, the arguments were, ‘the Dallas-Fort Worth area is just a better place to hold a convention in Cleveland - and that’s true. That Texas is just our area and our state is more Republican-friendly than Ohio - and that’s true. And thirdly, how wonderful would it be to have a Rick Perry or Ted Cruz nomination take place on Texas soil - and that’s true. However, none of those things were the deciding factor. The RNC going to Cleveland - you have to remember where Cleveland is - it’s in Ohio, an enormously important state. I have no idea whether holding a convention in a state is worth one or two or five percentage points come November of the election year - it’s probably not worth a thing. It allows a lot of Republicans to go into Ohio, be heard in Ohio, say nice things about Ohio. It was probably a PR move. And I don’t disagree with it. Texas is going to do just fine. We get plenty of convention business.

Leah Barkoukis - White House: A Huge Number of Illegal Immigrants Crossing Border Are Actually Adults, Families
Posted: 7/19/2014 6:00:00 PM EST

With all eyes on the crises in Israel and Ukraine this week, the administration thought Friday would be the perfect time to mention that they’ve portrayed the unaccompanied child crisis at the border a bit, shall we say, inaccurately. Turns out this isn’t just a problem of unaccompanied children coming in--very large numbers of entire ‘family units’ are crossing over the border, too.

The Daily Caller reports (emphasis mine):

The data, which was dumped by the U.S. border patrol late Friday afternoon, shows that inflow of youths and children traveling without parents has doubled since 2013, to 57,525 in the nine months up to July 2014.

But the number of migrants who cross the border in so-called “family units” has spiked five-fold to 55,420, according to the border patrol’s data, which came out amid a storm of news about the shoot-down of a Malaysian aircraft in Ukraine, delays in failed U.S. nuke talks with Iran, and on Hamas’ continued war against Israel.

In the Rio Grande area where most of the migrants are crossing the border, the number of so-called “unaccompanied children” was actually outnumbered by the inflow by adults, parents and children in “family units,” according to the data.

The much-faster growth in “family units” has been hidden by White House and agency officials, who have tried to portray the influx as a wave of children fleeing abuse and violence.

Top officials, such as Jeh Johnson, the secretary of Homeland Security, has explained the influx as a child migration, and justified the government’s welcoming response as acting “in the best interests of the children.” […]

However, that effort has largely failed. Most of the unaccompanied youths say they’re aged 14 to 17, and many are seeking jobs.

By downplaying the number of family units and emphasizing the unaccompanied children, administration officials have been able to deflect blame by simply pointing to the Bush-era Wilberforce Act of 2008, which is aimed at curbing human trafficking, as the reason they A) can’t simply repatriate the Central American children and B) are transporting them across the nation until immigration judges decide whether they can stay (that is, if they ever show up for court).

But is this law really the problem? Jessica Vaughan over at the Center for Immigration Studies says no because the Act, which was never intended to deal with an immigration crisis of this magnitude, shouldn’t even cover the majority of new illegal immigrants. The Central Americans that are crossing into the U.S. are neither victims of trafficking nor unaccompanied, she explains, since they’re coming with family units or are being reunited with families already in the U.S.

Funny how the administration insists they follow the law to the letter in this case, even if it may not really apply to the vast majority of illegal immigrants crossing our border right now.

I’ll leave you with this exchange between Rep. Mike Rogers (R-AL) and DHS Secretary Jeh Johnson at a House Homeland Security hearing in June:

"I've been down to Nogales, where they have the large detention facility and I've seen the folks that we detained be debriefed, cleaned up, put on a bus and sent back," Rogers said. "Why aren't we doing that with these children?"

"Well, first of all, Nogales is being used as a processing center for the unaccompanied children," Johnson replied. "They are leaving Nogales and they're going to HHS custody for shelter and then placement."

"Well, why aren't we putting them on a bus like we normally do and sending them back down to Guatemala?" Rogers asked.

"Because the law requires that I turn them over to HHS, sir," Johnson answered.

"Well, the law required Obamacare to be kicked in two years ago," Rogers said. "And that hasn't stopped the administration before when it wants to do something different. This is a humanitarian crisis. It's a national security crisis for our country."