Conn Carroll - Federal Judge On Obama's Immigration Program: "Can I Trust What The President Says?"
Posted: 3/20/2015 10:15:00 AM EST

A federal judge pointedly asked Department of Justice lawyers Thursday if the court should still trust the Obama administration in light of false information it provided to the court.

"Can I trust what the president says? That's a yes or no question," U.S. District Court Judge Andrew Hanen asked Deputy Asst. U.S. Atty. Gen. Kathleen R. Hartnett. 

"Yes your honor," Hartnett responded.

The questioning of President Obama's integrity stems from an overlap between the president's 2012 Deferred Action for Childhood Arrival program and his 2014 Deferred Action for Parental Accountability program.

Obama's 2012 DACA program grants certain benefits (including work permits, drivers licenses, and Social Security Numbers) to some illegal immigrants who came to the country before they were adults. But the work permits under Obama's DACA program were only good for two years.

Obama's 2014 DAPA program, however, gives illegal immigrant parents of U.S. Citizens three year work permits (in addition to drivers licenses and Social Security Numbers) and the program also expanded DACA eligibility to some illegal immigrants who missed age cut offs under Obama's original DACA program.

When 26 states sued to stop Obama's DAPA program, Judge Hanen asked Obama's Justice Department when they planned to begin implementing the new DAPA program. DOJ then told Hanen that the new benefit program for illegal immigrant parents wouldn't begin until May and that the DACA expansion wouldn't begin until February 18th.

Hanen then relied on that February 18th date when he waited until February 16th to issue an injunction preventing the new DAPA program and the DACA extension from starting. The 26 states had asked Hanen to issue an injunction before December 30, 2014.

But then, three weeks after Hanen issued his injunction stopping the DAPA program and DACA extension, DOJ notified Hanen that the Department of Homeland Security had issued over 100,000 three-year work permits under the new DACA guidelines.

"We strive to be as candid as possible," Hartnett told Hanen. "It truly became clear to us there was confusion on this point," she said.

"So you waited three weeks to tell me you were doing it?" Hanen responded.

The 26 states suing Obama to stop his DAPA program have asked Hanen to impose sanctions on Obama's DOJ for misleading the court and have asked for an order directing the DOJ to turn over more internal documents relating to the implementation of the program.

Judge Hanen gave the DOJ 48 hours to file a motion in response.

Christine Rousselle - CNN'S "Too Many Cooks" Parody Video is Actually Funny
Posted: 3/20/2015 10:05:00 AM EST

Back in October, Adult Swim released the bizarre-yet-hilarious dark comedy short film "Too Many Cooks." The short was modeled after the opening credits of various TV shows, with a pretty unexpected ending. CNN has now jumped in to the game, creating a version of the short based off of potential 2016 candidates and other political figures.

Perhaps the biggest surprise: It's actually...pretty good.

Watch for yourself here:

I don't know about you, but I was chuckling throughout most of it. I thought it was pretty even-handed and did a good job poking fun at both the left and right. It was just as absurd and zany as the original. Politics may be serious, but it's good to take a step back every now and then and laugh at the ridiculousness of it all.

Matt Vespa - Way To Not Keep That Pledge About Disclosing Your Donors, Hillary
Posted: 3/20/2015 9:30:00 AM EST

It seems the S.S. Clinton just keeps hitting icebergs in its long voyage to White House. We have lingering issues about Benghazi, the email fiasco, and now “the most transparent person in public life” has seemingly reneged on a pledge to disclose the donors of the Clinton Foundation; a process that stopped in 2010. Specifically, we’re talking about Clinton Health Access Initiative, which spends more than all the other programs in the Foundation combined  (via Reuters)[emphasis mine]:

In 2008, Hillary Clinton promised Barack Obama, the president-elect, there would be no mystery about who was giving money to her family's globe-circling charities. She made a pledge to publish all the donors on an annual basis to ease concerns that as secretary of state she could be vulnerable to accusations of foreign influence.

At the outset, the Clinton Foundation did indeed publish what they said was a complete list of the names of more than 200,000 donors and has continued to update it. But in a breach of the pledge, the charity's flagship health program, which spends more than all of the other foundation initiatives put together, stopped making the annual disclosure in 2010, Reuters has found.

In response to questions from Reuters, officials at the Clinton Health Access Initiative (CHAI) and the foundation confirmed no complete list of donors to the Clintons' charities has been published since 2010. CHAI was spun off as a separate legal entity that year, but the officials acknowledged it still remains subject to the same disclosure agreement as the foundation.

The finding could renew scrutiny of Clinton's promises of transparency as she prepares to launch her widely expected bid for the White House in the coming weeks. Political opponents and transparency groups have criticized her in recent weeks for her decision first to use a private email address while she was secretary of state and then to delete thousands of emails she labeled private.

The article also delved into donations from foreign governments that were not given to the State Department to be reviewed; another factor that could undercut Clinton’s attempt at being transparent. Clinton had an agreement with the Obama administration when she came aboard as Secretary of State, wherein State would be able to review any new, or increased, donations from foreign governments contributing to CHAI:

By the time Clinton left office in February 2013, the charity had received millions of dollars in new or increased payments from at least seven foreign governments. Five of the governments came on board during her tenure as secretary of state while two doubled or tripled their support in that time, according to data provided by CHAI spokeswoman [Maura] Daley.

Over at the Wall Street Journal, they reported the Clinton Foundation put a moratorium on donations from most foreign governments when Hillary was Secretary of State. But, they could still receive money from individuals, who in this case, had foreign government connections. And they gave generously as well:

The Clinton Foundation swore off donations from foreign governments when Hillary Clinton was secretary of state. That didn’t stop the foundation from raising millions of dollars from foreigners with connections to their home governments, a review of foundation disclosures shows.

Some donors have direct ties to foreign governments. One is a member of the Saudi royal family. Another is a Ukrainian oligarch and former parliamentarian. Others are individuals with close connections to foreign governments that stem from their business activities. Their professed policy interests range from human rights to U.S.-Cuba relations.

All told, more than a dozen foreign individuals and their foundations and companies were large donors to the Clinton Foundation in the years after Mrs. Clinton became secretary of state in 2009, collectively giving between $34 million and $68 million, foundation records show. Some donors also provided funding directly to charitable projects sponsored by the foundation, valued by the organization at $60 million.

After Mrs. Clinton left the State Department in 2013, the foundation resumed accepting donations from foreign governments. Just after she stepped down as secretary of state, it received a large donation from a conglomerate run by a member of China’s National People’s Congress.

Yes, there’s a lot of ammunition to be used against Clinton once the 2016 season kicks into high gear. She’s eminently beatable–and how she’s handling this email controversy could make her more vulnerable. The issues regarding the email and transparency are starting to be heard beyond the DC Beltway. At the same time, Republicans could botch this if they channel Rep. Rick Lazio’s “in your face” methods of taking on Hillary.

Lazio was Hillary’s Republican opponent in the 2000 New York Senate race. He got trounced, but not after making an awkward maneuver in a debate where he left the podium and tried to force the former first lady into signing New York Freedom From Soft Money Pledge. Clinton didn’t, and Lazio was viewed as a bullying chauvinist. It’s actually really awkward to watch:

Nevertheless, the results will probably be the same if the 2016 Republican candidate gets a little too belligerent in rehashing all the problems Clinton has been having as of late, and in turn; consolidate every American woman to vote Democratic in the general. The left-leaning Mother Jones wrote a pretty good piece about how the charges of sexism are just easier to stick with Republicans given how Democrats and the media feels about them. They cited Scott Brown, where he referred to now-Sen. Elizabeth Warren as “professor;” it was seen as condescending–Richard Mourdock and Rep. Todd Akin as responsible for creating a narrative that showed an insensitivity to women. Yet, sometimes the Akin–Mourdock unforced rape gaffe isn’t what destroys a male candidate running against a female; it could be how “ungentlemanly ” one comes off, which was explicitly shown when the late Ann Richards ran for governor in Texas in 1990:

Mary Beth Rogers knows this well. In 1990, she ran Ann Richards' campaign for governor of Texas. Richards' opponent, a millionaire rancher named Clayton Williams, put his foot in his mouth early in the campaign by making a joke about how rape victims should just "relax and enjoy it." But it was a physical interaction, not the rape comment, that most damaged Williams, Rogers says. That summer, Richards and Williams appeared together before a meeting of the Texas Crime Commission. "And Ann came up there on the stage, and she stuck out her hand and said, 'Well hello, Claytie!'" Rogers remembers. Williams refused to shake Richards' hand. "Fortunately for us, because this was one of their first appearances together, it was on television and it was played every newscast in the state," Rogers says. "Twenty-five years ago in Texas that was a very ungentlemanly like thing to do. We felt that that was a key turning point in the campaign."

Four years later, Richards ran for reelection. Her opponent that year was George W. Bush, a failed congressional candidate then serving as the managing general partner of the Texas Rangers baseball team. But Bush had learned from Williams' mistakes. "He was the perfect gentleman throughout the whole process," Rogers says. "A model of propriety, respectfulness, and kindness to Ann. That perception of Republicans as more insensitive to women certainly did not come through in the Bush election." Richards lost, and Bush went on to serve a term and a half as governor before becoming president in 2001.

So, does this mean we kill Hillary with kindness in 2016? We should try. The facts of these controversies speak for themselves. There’s little room for Clinton to maneuver regarding the messes, or any situation where bad optics are a concern. That’s probably why her communications team has declined to comment on her speaking fees to a non-profit Camp Association in Atlantic City yesterday, or whether the proper security protocols were installed on her personal BlackBerry since she wasn’t issued one by the State Department. The media will probably bring up sexism, but the Washington Post, New York Times, Politico, the Associated Press, Reuters, and the Wall Street Journal have all reported, at times extensively, on the Clinton email flap. Clinton feels that the media isn’t on her side–and they’re biased, which all I can say is …

Though, this usually is the reception you get when you have a history of secrecy.  If a GOP candidate has a concerted, but not overly aggressive, campaign addressing the issues of transparency–and does so while shaking her hand and smiling–it could be a lingering problem until Election Day. Heck, even die-hard Clintonites are worried about it. Guy wrote yesterday that the emails–and the security over the server–carry into the realm of national security, which should be a hot topic issue for the 2016 campaign given how this administration has been asleep at the switch. Lastly, it seems independents are starting to sour on Hillary over emailgate; 40 percent have a less favorable view of her.

We shall see how these numbers fare as we approach 2016. "They [the Clintons] are the penicillin-resistant syphilis of American politics," writes National Review's Kevin Williamson. Hillary has yet to officially announce her campaign–and these incidents can be neutralized if she has a nimble, and well-oiled, communications team to run spin. Right now, it’s a ragtag group of surrogates and pubic relations people from the Clinton Foundation to fend off attacks. It hasn’t been successful. Yet, part of turning this around for Hillary is exuding a persona that’s more likable to voters. That UN presser was a disaster, an ugly Throwback Thursday to the 1990s that was only made worse by her awkward exit upon being asked about, Scott Gration, the former U.S. Ambassador to Kenya, who resigned before a damaging State Department Inspector General report trashed his performance. One of his infractions: setting up a private email system.

The RNC made this video for the occasion:

Katie Pavlich - By The Way, ICE Just Released 30,558 More Violent Criminal Illegal Aliens Onto American Streets
Posted: 3/20/2015 7:15:00 AM EST

Back in 2013, Immigration and Customs Enforcement got ripped by Congress for releasing 36,000 violent criminal illegal aliens onto American streets. Those criminals had convictions of homicide, rape, child molestation drunk driving and more. 

In 2013, ICE freed 36,007 convicted criminal aliens from detention who were awaiting the outcome of deportation proceedings, according to a document obtained by the Center for Immigration Studies. This group included aliens convicted of hundreds of violent and serious crimes, including homicide, sexual assault, kidnapping, and aggravated assault. The list of crimes also includes more than 16,000 drunk or drugged driving convictions. The vast majority of these releases from ICE custody were discretionary, not required by law (in fact, in some instances, apparently contrary to law), nor the result of local sanctuary policies

Now, the agency has done it again and released more than 30,000 of the same type of criminal alien onto American streets last year. More from the Washington Times:

U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement, the agency that handles detention and removal of illegal immigrants, said it will no longer allow overcrowding to be the main reason a dangerous illegal immigrant is released, and will require a top supervisor to approve the cases of any serious criminals that officers want to release.

Overall, ICE released 30,558 criminal aliens in fiscal year 2014, which is down from the 36,007 criminals released a year before.

ICE didn’t release a breakdown of criminal offenses of the new 30,000 on Wednesday, but among the 36,000 released in 2013 were 193 homicide convictions, 426 sexual assault convictions, 303 kidnapping convictions and 16,070 convictions for driving under the influence of drugs or alcohol.

ICE said that most of the homicide convictions were court-ordered.

Yesterday Immigration and Customs Enforcement Director Sarah Saldana testified in front of Congress about the agency's "catch and release" program, where she made all kinds of excuses for the release of the violent illegal aliens.

Last month, the Oversight Committee invited family members of those killed by criminal aliens to testify. A man named Michael Ronnebeck testified about the murder of his nephew Grant Ronnebeck, who was working as a Quik Trip clerk when an illegal alien shot him in the face and stole cigarettes from the store. Another man, Jamiel Shaw, testified about the murder of his son Andre Shaw by an illegal alien who had taken advantage of President Obama's Dreamer program. 

Conn Carroll - Obama Lectures Netanyahu During Post-Election Call
Posted: 3/20/2015 7:00:00 AM EST

Instead of congratulating Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu on his reelection during a phone call Thursday, President Obama belittled Netanyahu's electoral accomplishments and lectured him on Iran, Palestine, and Arab Israelis. 

Obama had been supporting Netanyahu's opponent, Isaac Herzog, throughout Israel's latest election and White House officials closely followed results Tuesday in hopes that the leftist party would prevail. 

When Netanyahu did win, White House Press Secretary Josh Earnest criticized Netanyahu's campaign and said the Obama administration must "re-evaluate" their relationship with Israel.

Obama shared these concerns with Netanyahu personally when the two finally connected by phone late Thursday. According to The Jerusalem Post, Obama told Netanyahu the US  "will need to reassess our options following the prime minister’s new positions and comments regarding the two-state solution" and also "discussed" Netanyahu's "comments about Israeli Arabs."

Netanyahu assured Obama that he is, and always has been committed to a two-state solution for Israel and Palestine, but Obama reportedly told Netanyahu he did not believe him.

Netanyahu has been a vocal critic of Obama's efforts to broker a deal with Iran that will, in Obama's words, make the state sponsor of terrorism a "successful regional power."

Obama also reportedly pointedly limited his praise of Netanyahu's electoral win by noting that Netanyahu only won a "plurality" of Knesset seats.

Vivian Hughbanks  - New Jersey Congressman, Navy Chief Honored by Tragedy Assistance Program for Survivors
Posted: 3/19/2015 8:00:00 PM EST

The Tragedy Assistance Program for Survivors honored Rep. Rodney Frelinghuysen (R-N.J.) and Chief of Naval Operations Admiral Jonathan Greenert for their work assisting military surviving families at their annual Honor Guard Gala on Wednesday.

“This is just what families do,” said Bonnie Carroll, TAPS President and Founder. “When there’s a tragedy, we come together. We hold each other close, even when it’s across the miles. TAPS is America’s family of all those who selflessly serve and die. We truly love each other because we have shared the most intimate human experience. It’s about life and death, love and loss.”

Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff General Martin Dempsey presented a keynote address, after a special introduction by Landon and Liam Gilbert -- the young surviving sons of Navy Lieut. Craig Gilbert.

“You started the organization around your kitchen table in Alaska and somehow, incredibly and profoundly, it still feels that way,” Dempsey said to Carroll in his brief address. “That is such an incredible gift you have.”

Dempsey also brought the audience to their feet while singing two Irish melodies, "Red is the Rose" and "The Irish Pub."

“Our nation is freer and our world is more peaceful because of the tremendous sacrifices made by the men and women who have bravely answered the call to serve,” President Barack Obama wrote in a letter to gala attendees. “By providing survivors with unwavering support and compassionate care, TAPS helps our nation fulfill its sacred promise to our military families.”

The gala dinner drew together more than 850 attendees, including family members of fallen soldiers, TAPS staff, and service members from all branches of the military. Actor Eric Dane (Grey’s Anatomy, The Last Ship) also attended.

“As a marine corps officer, I’ve seen and experienced the heartache of losing young members of the military,” said Sen. Dan Sullivan (R-AK), while introducing survivor Pat Bye as recipient of a TAPS Award. “It’s the leadership and commitment of people like Pat that enable all of us as military families to get through such difficult times.”

Several other members of Congress also attended, including Sen. Tim Scott (R-S.C.) and Reps. Corrine Brown (D-FL),Tom Graves (R-GA), Sam Johnson (R-TX), Billy Long (R-MO), Pete Visclosky (D-IN) and Steve Womack (R-AR), among many others.

TAPS is a program dedicated to providing care for the families of fallen service members to help them through their grief. Coming alongside loved ones in their grief, TAPS organizes Good Grief Camps for children who’ve lost parents, hosts seminars for all ages to support family members of all relationships through their grieving processes.

Christine Rousselle - March Madness Fun: Georgia State Coach Mocks Obama for Not Picking His Team
Posted: 3/19/2015 6:30:00 PM EST

President Obama released his bracket picks yesterday on ESPN, following a tradition held since 2009. Obama picked the undefeated Kentucky Wildcats to beat Villanova in the finals, and he also picked Georgia State (a 14-seed) to fall to Baylor, who was seeded third in the West regional. Following Georgia State's insane victory over Baylor, Coach Ron Hunter had a few words to say to the president about his bracket picks:

(click the speaker to turn on the volume for the Vine)

Hey, Obama...I hope you make better decisions in that presidency than you did about Georgia State!

Hunter was not the only coach to poke fun at Obama's predictions for the tournament. Providence College Coach Ed Cooley (full disclosure: I graduated from PC in 2013) was not thrilled with the president's prediction that Dayton (an 11-seed) will upset the Friars. Cooley said that despite his admiration for the president, he should stick to politics, not basketball.

"Everybody has their opinions," Cooley said with a smile while meeting with some Rhode Island media Wednesday night at the team's hotel, "but I was just telling my team that nobody thinks we can win. If the President of the United States doesn't think you can win? I love Barack, I voted for him a couple times. I may take back a couple of my votes but he has to worry about foreign policy and our budget."

Congratulations to Georgia State for busting loads of brackets, and best of luck to the remaining teams in the 2015 NCAA tournament.

Matt Vespa - Good News: Hillary's Personal Blackberry Was Probably 'Less Secure' As Well
Posted: 3/19/2015 6:00:00 PM EST

Yesterday, Guy reported on the recent development regarding Hillary's email system. Shocker; it really wasn’t that secure after all. It was vulnerable to “spoofing,” where hackers imitate her in messages to her various contacts:

Not only did Hillary's overwhelming impulse for secrecy and contempt for accountability put her own emails at risk -- bad enough, given her role as the country's top diplomat -- it also endangered the integrity of her contacts' communications. This is unforgivable. Myopia, paranoia, arrogance and reckless incompetence, all rolled into one set of astounding revelations. By the way, just a few days ago, the State Department shut down large parts of its email system due to malware placed by Russian hackers who somehow burrowed into the network. Do we know for a fact that Hillary's insanely insecure email scheme compromised State's broader system? No. Is it a distinct possibility, given everything we know? Absolutely. How many State Department, White House, and foreign officials' sensitive emails were put at risk, or penetrated? That may forever remain an open question, especially if Hillary maintains her obstinate refusal to turn over the server.

Now, it’s being reported that Clinton’s Blackberry, which wasn’t State Department-issued, was probably less secure as well (via Politico):

The personal BlackBerry that Hillary Clinton used as secretary of state was likely much less secure than the State Department-issued devices used by her staff and subordinates, according to knowledgeable former officials and executives.

And the security risks were magnified because Clinton used her personal BlackBerry on travel in foreign countries where State Department employees are routinely cautioned about the use of mobile devices.

The risk of targeted theft of an official’s data is greatest in nations with telecoms that are owned or largely controlled by the government, said Martin Libicki, a cybersecurity expert and senior scientist at the Rand Corporation. That’s because state-aligned hackers could pull any unencrypted data, such as the metadata connected with a phone call, straight off the cell towers.

The security of BlackBerry systems, for instance, is dependent on roughly 600 “IT policies” — essentially security measures that can be switched on or off, according to a person with detailed knowledge about BlackBerry’s federal operations. The more switches that are turned on, the more secure the device or network of devices will be. Individuals generally turn on far fewer of those security measures and take more security shortcuts than would IT professionals charged with keeping State Department information out of the hands of foreign hackers, the source said.

The most important component for BlackBerry security is the BlackBerry Enterprise Server, a piece of “middleware” that encrypts email and securely connects other applications with the BlackBerry handset, making it significantly more secure than the basic BlackBerry an average consumer might buy.

A spokesman for Clinton declined several times to say whether the former secretary employed such an enterprise server during her tenure. In the past, her office has said making details of her email security public would aid hackers. “Robust protections were put in place,” according to a statement earlier this month, and “third party experts” were consulted and employed.

But, have no fear; the spokesperson also said, ““the State Department took technical security for the entire traveling party very seriously” when Clinton traveled overseas as Secretary of State. Politico found no evidence that Clinton used her Blackberry when she visited China or Russia, where the threat of hacking was high.

Regardless, it’s just another detail that chips away at Clinton’s narrative laid before us at the UN that her use of her personal email was 100 percent secure, and that there’s nothing to worry about. Evidently, that’s not the case. We should consider ourselves lucky–for the time being–that we didn’t have a disastrous breach of security given Madame Secretary’s communications set up. She may have set up a technological Fort Knox to avoid FOIA requests with that private email server, but she left the door open to other potential threats.

Hillary is going to have to answer for all of these concerns that have been presented in the weeks following the revelation that she used a private email address the entire time she was Secretary of State. But, those issues can’t bother her today; she had to speak about camping, life skills, and the fun deficit.

Greg Hengler - Rubio Methodically Exposes Obama's Treatment of Israel vs. Dictatorships
Posted: 3/19/2015 5:58:00 PM EST

Very powerful stuff on the Senate floor Thursday evening. [H/T: Duane Patterson.]

Christine Rousselle - Hillary Clinton Pitches Summer Camp For Adults to Reduce "Fun Deficit"
Posted: 3/19/2015 5:30:00 PM EST

Potential 2016 Democratic candidate Hillary Clinton proposed "camps for adults" today while speaking to a group of camp professionals. These camps, Clinton explained, would reduce the "fun deficit" and force people to spend time with others, teach life skills, and re-introduce people to the outdoors.

While that's all good and dandy, there's one easy way to reduce the "fun deficit," whatever the hell that is: improve the economy, lower taxes, and make it so people can keep more of their own hard-earned money to spend on things they find fun, which, may even include adult summer camps.

I'll actually agree with Clinton that we have a "fun deficit." Roughly eight out of 10 Americans are stressed. They're not optimistic about their future. They're having fewer children than past generations, and this is the first generation that may not outlive their parents. American children are idiots compared to their international peers, making them less competitive in an increasingly global job market. Rather than toss around the idea of fantasy grownup summer camps, Clinton should come up with real solutions to make American lives improve.

But whatever. Go make a gimp lanyard. Because #FunCamp, or something.