Holly Paz has been replaced as the IRS' Director of Rulings and Agreements in Washington, DC. She is, of course, most famous as the Obama donor who sat in on the interviews that the Inspector General conducted with members of the Cincinnati IRS office in the course of investigating the targeting of conservatives. SIgnificantly, she was a top manager in Cincinnati when the targeting occurred and when an initial investigation was conducted.
It's not clear whether she has been placed on (paid!) administrative leave like her erstwhile boss, Lois Lerner, or whether she has resigned, as acting commissioner Steven Miller did -- and like Joseph Grant, the commissioner for the tax exempt and government entities division of the IRS.
Gary Sinise may be a Hollywood
star, but he’s devoted every spare
moment of the past 10 years
to serving those who serve us:
veterans and active duty soldiers. Alicia Powe reports for Townhall Magazine.
He is a star who moonlights as a soldiers’ advocate. Still known to many as Lt. Dan, his Academy Award-nominated role as a platoon commander who lost both of his legs in Vietnam, this portrayal in the 1994 Oscar-winning film “Forrest Gump” helped motivate him further to do all he can to serve, honor and support our nation’s defenders, first responders and their families.
“Helping to keep our troops and veterans strong and ensuring their sacrifices are appreciated has been a great and rewarding privilege,” actor Gary Sinise told Townhall. “I have dedicated every spare moment to this work over the past 10 years.”
Sinise told Townhall that he has grown accustomed to and gained affinity for being known as his character. About a month after Sinise filmed “Forrest Gump,” he received a call from the Disabled American Veterans asking him to attend their national convention because they appreciated his performance as a disabled Vietnam veteran in the film.
“It was a very moving experience, something I will never forget, sitting in a room with thousands of disabled veterans and having them applauding me for playing a disabled veteran,” he explained. “They all wanted to call me Lt. Dan. They all related to me as Lt. Dan.”
Sinise has stood as an advocate of America’s servicemen and women for over 30 years. He created Vets Night in the early 1980s to support Vietnam veterans groups, which featured free dinners and performances for veterans at the Steppenwolf Theatre in Chicago. He also worked on behalf of the Disabled American Veterans organization, in which he still plays a role.
Sinise says he took America’s freedom for granted until 9/11, when he fully comprehended how vulnerable the United States is.
“I will never again take for granted how our freedom must be protected on a daily basis, minute by minute,” Sinise said.
Anxious to help active duty members and their families, he began by visiting a war zone, offering moral support, shaking hands, giving autographs and taking pictures with military service members. He visited the wounded in military hospitals. ...
Most voters oppose the U.S. government’s secret collection of the phone records of millions of Americans and think the feds are spying too much on U.S. citizens these days. Just 26% of Likely U.S. Voters favor the government’s secret collecting of these phone records for national security purposes regardless of whether there is any suspicion of wrongdoing. The latest Rasmussen Reports national telephone survey finds that 59% are opposed to the practice. Fifteen percent (15%) are undecided.
In an NBC/WSJ poll released Wednesday, 58% of voters said the recent scandals raised doubts about the Administration's honesty and integrity. 45% said the scandals raised "major doubts." 68% of voters said President Obama was in some part responsible for the scandals. On whether Obama is personally "honest and straightforward," voters split 42-40.
In a Bloomberg poll released this week, almost a majority of voters, 47%, said Obama was not telling the complete truth about his knowledge of the IRS scandal. 53% of Independents said Obama wasn't being truthful about the scandal.
Last week, Quinnipiac released a poll showing a precipitous erosion in views of Obama's honesty. A mere plurality, 49-47, agreed that Obama personally was "honest and trustworthy." Two years ago, 63% of voters believed Obama to be honest.
Speaking to reporters Monday, White House Press Secretary Jay Carney said the White House has no comment regarding NSA leaker Edward Snowden due to an ongoing investigation into the matter.
"I think the President's record on transparency is broad and significant," Carney said. "I cannot comment."
Carney also said that all members of Congress had been briefed on the expansive surveillance NSA has been using to view the phone and email records of hundreds of millions of Americans. Many members of Congress, including Democrats and Republicans, have refuted that point.
President Barack Obama’s chief defense of his administration’s wide-ranging data-gathering programs Friday: Congress authorized them, with “every member” well aware of the details.
Not so, say many members of Congress — Democrats and Republicans alike.
Typically, members of Congress “don’t receive this kind of briefing,” Senate Majority Whip Dick Durbin (D-Ill.) told POLITICO Friday. They wouldn’t have known about the programs unless they were on an intelligence committee, attended special sessions last held in 2011 or specifically asked to be briefed – something they would only know to do if they were clued in by an colleague who was already aware.
In addition, Carney tried to pin the NSA's vast surveillance on the Patriot Act, but according to Rep. Jim Sensenbrenner (who helped write the Patriot Act), the recent revelations of expansive surveillance of Americans goes far beyond what the law was intended for in the war on terror.
The administration claims authority to sift through details of our private lives because the Patriot Act says that it can. I disagree. I authored the Patriot Act, and this is an abuse of that law.
I was the chairman of the House judiciary committee when the US was attacked on 11 September 2001. Five days later, the Justice Department delivered its proposal for new legislation. Although I, along with every other American, knew we had to strengthen our ability to combat those targeting our country, this version went too far. I believed then and now that we can defend our country and our liberty at the same time.
The legislation had to be narrowly tailored – everyone agreed that we could not allow unrestrained surveillance. The Patriot Act had 17 provisions. To prevent abuse, I insisted on sunsetting all the provisions so that they would automatically expire if Congress did not renew them. This would allow Congress to conduct oversight of the administration's implementation of the act.
In 2006, Congress made 14 of the provisions permanent because they were noncontroversial. The three remaining provisions, including the so-called business records provision the administration relied on for the programs in question, will expire in 2015 if they are not reauthorized.
The final draft was bipartisan and passed the judiciary committee unanimously. The Patriot Act has saved lives by ensuring that information is shared among those responsible for defending our country and by giving the intelligence community the tools it needs to identify and track terrorists.
In his press conference on Friday, President Obama described the massive collection of phone and digital records as "two programs that were originally authorized by Congress, have been repeatedly authorized by Congress". But Congress has never specifically authorized these programs, and the Patriot Act was never intended to allow the daily spying the Obama administration is conducting.
We've been told for months by Democrats and Republicans that before amnesty is granted to more than 11 million illegal immigrants in the United States, the border will be secured. But over the weekend, Republican Senator Marco Rubio, who is part of the Gang of 8, told Univision legalization will be coming before border security.
The legalization is not conditional? If it isn't, then what is? And why have we been told for months the border will be secured before amnesty and citizenship processes are started? If the border being secure in order to prevent another amnesty down the road isn't conditional to amnesty for those already here, then what is the point?
Rubio, responding to the concern that legalization might be delayed and therefore be subjected to the policies of future administrations: Let's be clear. Nobody is talking about preventing the legalization. The legalization is going to happen. That means the following will happen: First comes the legalization. Then come the measures to secure the border. And then comes the process of permanent residence. Rubio, responding to the concern that legalization might be delayed and therefore be subjected to the policies of future administrations: Let's be clear. Nobody is talking about preventing the legalization. The legalization is going to happen. That means the following will happen: First comes the legalization. Then come the measures to secure the border. And then comes the process of permanent residence. What we're talking about here is the system of permanent residence. As for the legalization, the enormous majority of my colleagues have accepted that it has to happen and that it has to begin at the same time we begin the measures for [the border]. It is not conditional. The legalization is not conditional.
"Our bill says that no one who is illegally here gets to even apply for a Green Card until the border plan is fully implemented."
One of the biggest scandals in American politics is waiting to explode: the full story of the inside game in Washington shows how the permanent political class enriches itself at the expense of the rest of us. Insider trading is illegal on Wall Street, yet it is routine among members of Congress. Normal individuals cannot get in on IPOs at the asking price, but politicians do so routinely. The Obama administration has been able to funnel hundreds of millions of dollars to its supporters, ensuring yet more campaign donations. An entire class of investors now makes all of its profits based on influence and access in Washington. Peter Schweizer has doggedly researched through mountains of financial records, tracking complicated deals and stock trades back to the timing of briefings, votes on bills, and every other point of leverage for politicians in Washington. The result is a manifesto for revolution: the Permanent Political Class must goWhy is this relevant? Because the Washington Post is out with a story today about Health and Human Services employees engaging in insider trading with stocks involved in Medicare.
Hundreds of federal employees were given advance word of a Medicare decision worth billions of dollars to private insurers in the weeks before the official announcement, a period when trading in the shares of those firms spiked.More from Allahpundit on why this is a big deal:
The surge of trading in Humana’s and other private health insurers’ stock before the April 1 announcement already has prompted the Justice Department and the Securities and Exchange Commission to investigate whether Wall Street investors had advance access to inside information about the then-confidential Medicare funding plan.
Sen. Charles E. Grassley (R-Iowa) told The Washington Post late last week that his office reviewed the e-mail records of employees at the Department of Health and Human Services and found that 436 of them had early access to the Medicare decision as much as two weeks before it was made public.
The number of federal employees with advance knowledge is surely higher; the figures Grassley’s staff compiled did not include people at the White House’s Office of Management and Budget who also saw the information. The e-mail records of those employees have not been made available to Grassley.
There are two potential scandals here. One is HHS tossing around what was supposed to be sensitive information to a huge swath of employees in-house. The other scandal is who actually leaked it, assuming anyone did. It might not have come from HHS at all but rather from some old-fashioned Beltway congressional/lobbyist incest. As with most of the other Obama scandals, this story is less about O himself than about the foreseeable abuses that result as the federal whale grows. You can have bigger government or you can have more accountable government. The guy who signed ObamaCare into law has made his choiceBig government equals big problems, people. Scandalpalooza is an understatement. Lets not forget about Health and Human Services Secretary Kathleen Sebelius practically extorting funds from private companies HHS regulates in order to fund ObamaCare.
Add another scandal to the list. State Department officials in Washington interfering with Inspector General investigations to avoid bad press, accountability and scandal? You don't say:
Without specialized knowledge, it's genuinely hard to know what to think about PRISM.
On the one hand, it's deeply unsettling to know that an administration that has shown a decided tendency to harass and abuse its critics could even potentially have access to personal information about Americans. It's hard to have any sympathy for President Obama as torrents of criticism from across the political spectrum rain down on him, given his hypocrisy and exploitation of similar issues in his political campaigns.
On the other hand, none of us wants another day like 9/11/01, ever again. It's hard for any of us without special security clearances to know exactly the information to which the government has access -- whether it's metadata or actual data. And it would be tragic if conservatives' legitimate concerns about privacy and government power were simply exploited by those on the left who have long been opposed to using any meaningful methods to combat the threat of Islamofascist terrorism.
Perhaps the crowning irony would be -- as Micky Kaus posited before the emergence of the leaker -- if this were a scandal that ended up helping the President by distracting attention from entirely obvious abuses of power and wrongdoing, like the IRS scandal and Benghazi.
Some caution in evaluating the claims and counterclaims are in order. Let's make sure our quest for security doesn't end up undermining our liberty in profound and irretrievable ways -- but let's also make sure our (absolutely justified) mistrust of the President doesn't lead us to embrace policies that will ultimately result in the needless deaths of innocent Americans.
Over the weekend, NSA whistleblower Edward Snowden publicly revealed his identity and told the world he was the guy who exposed vast snooping on U.S. citizens by the U.S. government. Naturally, the White House and Congress have been asked to respond to NSA actions. Both Democrats and Republicans are defending the secret monitoring of hundreds of millions of American phone calls each day.
Republican Senator John McCain on CNN Sunday:
Democratic Senator Dianne Feinstein and Republican Senator Saxby Chambliss last week:
Arizona Senator and former GOP Presidential candidate John McCain said Sunday the threat of terrorism in the United States “is getting worse,” and this validates the government’s controversial monitoring of all telephone calls and emails placed in the country.
Appearing on CNN’s “State of the Union” McCain responded to host Candy Crowley asking if McCain had a problem with the Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Act (FISA) program, he answered, “No, not really.”
“I think we have to understand this issue in the context of what also has been going on,” McCain said. “I believe that the FISA Court system is an appropriate way of reviewing some of these policies. If this was Sept. 12, 2001, we might not be having the argument that we are having today.”
McCain continued to dismiss any concerns over privacy, saying it’s a “balancing act” and then targeted his fellows Senators.
Sens. Dianne Feinstein and Saxby Chambliss also defended the National Security Agency’s request to Verizon for all the metadata about phone calls made within the U.S. and from the U.S. to other countries. They said the information gathered by intelligence on the phone communications is “meta data” used to connect phone lines to terrorists and that it did not contain the content of the phone calls or messages.President Obama last week, "Nobody is listening to your phone calls."
“I know that people are trying to get to us,” she said. “This is the reason why the FBI now has 10,000 people doing intelligence on counterterrorism. This is the reason for the national counterterrorism center that’s been set up in the time we’ve been active. its to ferret this out before it happens. “It’s called protecting America.
President Barack Obama issued a strong statement in support Friday for the controversial National Security Agency surveillance programs that have been disclosed to the press in recent days.But the good news is, at least one Senator isn't very happy about this whole thing.
“You can shout Big Brother or program run amok, but if you actually look at the details, I think we’ve struck the right balance,” Obama said in his first remarks on the subject since the issue arose this week.
”Nobody is listening to your telephone calls,” Obama said repeatedly. “That’s not what this program is about.
Sen. Rand Paul (R-Ky.) said Sunday that he is weighing a Supreme Court challenge to the National Security Agency's controversial surveillance programs, calling the organization's collection of records an "extraordinary invasion of privacy."
"I'm going to be seeing if I can challenge this at the Supreme Court level," Paul said on Fox News Sunday. "I’m going to be asking all the internet providers and all of the phone companies: Ask your customers to join me in a class action lawsuit. If we get 10 million Americans saying we don’t want our phone records looked at, then maybe someone will wake up and something will change in Washington."
"The irony is that people voted for President Obama hoping for something different," Paul said in a statement. "That's why a lot of people I think are disappointed in the president. They're disappointed in him targeting reporters. There's just a lot to be disappointed about."
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