Chicago Police Allegedly Have A Domestic 'Black Site'

It sounds like a story you would hear from a former Soviet state. The Chicago Police Department has reportedly been holding suspects at an off-the-grid location called Homan Square. Here, Americans, some as young as 15, have been denied counsel, held anywhere from 12-24 hours, and subject to beatings, according to the Guardian.

For those sent to Horman, they aren’t booked. Their records aren’t even entered in the public databases. This location is said to have been operational for years, since the late 1990s. One person is said to have died in one of Horman’s “interview rooms.” The article also discussed the arrest of Brian Jacob Church, who was arrested by Chicago police in 2012 on terrorism charges. Church is part of the “NATO Three,” who were arrested after police infiltrated their protest of the organization’s Chicago summit. The Guardian reported that Church was subject to an interrogation without being read his Miranda rights and detained for about 17 hours:

The facility, a nondescript warehouse on Chicago’s west side known as Homan Square, has long been the scene of secretive work by special police units. Interviews with local attorneys and one protester who spent the better part of a day shackled in Homan Square describe operations that deny access to basic constitutional rights.

Alleged police practices at Homan Square, according to those familiar with the facility who spoke out to the Guardian after its investigation into Chicago police abuse, include:

  • Keeping arrestees out of official booking databases.
  • Beating by police, resulting in head wounds.
  • Shackling for prolonged periods.
  • Denying attorneys access to the “secure” facility.
  • Holding people without legal counsel for between 12 and 24 hours, including people as young as 15.

At least one man was found unresponsive in a Homan Square “interview room” and later pronounced dead.

Brian Jacob Church, a protester known as one of the “Nato Three”, was held and questioned at Homan Square in 2012 following a police raid. Officers restrained Church for the better part of a day, denying him access to an attorney, before sending him to a nearby police station to be booked and charged.

Unlike a precinct, no one taken to Homan Square is said to be booked. Witnesses, suspects or other Chicagoans who end up inside do not appear to have a public, searchable record entered into a database indicating where they are, as happens when someone is booked at a precinct. Lawyers and relatives insist there is no way of finding their whereabouts. Those lawyers who have attempted to gain access to Homan Square are most often turned away, even as their clients remain in custody inside.

A former Chicago police superintendent and a more recently retired detective, both of whom have been inside Homan Square in the last few years in a post-police capacity, said the police department did not operate out of the warehouse until the late 1990s.

Jacob Church learned about Homan Square the hard way. On May 16 2012, he and 11 others were taken there after police infiltrated their protest against the Nato summit. Church says officers cuffed him to a bench for an estimated 17 hours, intermittently interrogating him without reading his Miranda rights to remain silent. It would take another three hours – and an unusual lawyer visit through a wire cage – before he was finally charged with terrorism-related offenses at the nearby 11th district station, where he was made to sign papers, fingerprinted and photographed.

In preparation for the Nato protest, Church, who is from Florida, had written a phone number for the National Lawyers Guild on his arm as a precautionary measure. Once taken to Homan Square, Church asked explicitly to call his lawyers, and said he was denied.

“Essentially, I wasn’t allowed to make any contact with anybody,” Church told the Guardian, in contradiction of a police guidance on permitting phone calls and legal counsel to arrestees.

Church’s left wrist was cuffed to a bar behind a bench in windowless cinderblock cell, with his ankles cuffed together. He remained in those restraints for about 17 hours.

After serving two and a half years in prison, Church is currently on parole after he and his co-defendants were found not guilty in 2014 of terrorism-related offenses but guilty of lesser charges of possessing an incendiary device and the misdemeanor of “mob action”.

The access that Nato Three attorneys received to Homan Square was an exception to the rule, even if Jacob Church’s experience there was not.

Some were not so lucky. On February 2, 2013, John Hubbard was taken to Homan Square, where he died due to heroin intoxication in one of the interrogation rooms.

Regardless of the crimes, in this country, even the worst of humanity deserves a fair trial, access to counsel, and other rights associated with the due process of law. Of course, we’re all for law and order and fighting terrorism, but having what appears to be a black site on American soil poses a serious constitutional question, especially when this facility allegedly neglects to book their suspects and add their information into the database. We should be wary of institutions that engage in practices that prevent accountability under the law. To safeguard the Constitution, even the lowest of the low need their day in court–at the very minimum.

TSA Worried About 'Greatest Potential Incendiary Threat to Aviation'

A new day, a new security threat. 

According to an FBI report, the use of Thermite on an aircraft is the “greatest potential incendiary threat to aviation.” Worse yet, the Transportation Security Administration said it would be extremely hard to detect during security screenings and once ignited, there’s no way to extinguish it using conventional methods without making the reaction worse.

The Intercept, which obtained the classified documents, has the details:

Thermite — a mixture of rust and aluminum powder — could be used against a commercial aircraft, TSA warned in a Dec. 2014 document, marked secret[PDF here]. “The ignition of a thermite-based incendiary device on an aircraft at altitude could result in catastrophic damage and the death of every person onboard,” the advisory said.

TSA said it is unlikely to spot an easy-to-assemble thermite-based incendiary device during security screening procedures, and the use of currently available extinguishers carried on aircrafts would create a violent reaction. The TSA warning is based on FBI testing done in 2011, and a subsequent report.

A thermite device, though difficult to ignite, would “produce toxic gasses, which can act as nerve poison, as well as a thick black smoke that will significantly inhibit any potential for in-flight safety officers to address the burn.”

TSA warned federal air marshals not to use customary methods of extinguishing fires — the water or halon fire extinguishers currently found on most aircraft — which would make the reaction worse, creating toxic fumes. Instead, air marshals are told to “recognize a thermite ignition” — but TSA has provided no training or guidance on how to do so, according to multiple sources familiar with the issue.

TSA officers who spoke with The Intercept expressed frustrations over the security reports because they’ve been given no follow-up instructions or training on what to do if they are presented with such a threat onboard.

“We’re supposed to brief our [federal air marshals] to identify a thermite ignition — but they tell us nothing,” one TSA official told The Intercept. “So our guys are Googling, ‘What does thermite look like? How do you extinguish thermite fires?’ This is not at all helpful.”

Other aviation officials who spoke with the news site, also anonymously because they are not authorized to speak to the press, said much the same: “They say to identify something we don’t know how to identify and say there is nothing we can do,” a federal air marshal told The Intercept. “So basically, we hope it’s placed somewhere it does minimal damage, but basically we’re [screwed].”

OK, so we may all be “screwed” if terrorists can get this stuff past security and onto the plane, but explosives experts are saying the operative word is “if.”

Jimmie Oxley, a professor of chemistry at the University of Rhode Island, and an expert in explosives and explosives detection, said thermite — though a theoretical threat — seemed an unlikely candidate to slip through security, particularly since the would-be terrorist would also have to carry an igniter. “You’ve got to get a pound of something that is a really thick mass through security without anyone noticing,” she said. “I find that hard to believe.”

The problem is one of practicalities, said Oxley, who has worked with the FBI and other federal agencies on explosives testing, but was not aware of the specific TSA or FBI reports on thermite obtained by The Intercept. If the hope were to burn a hole through the aircraft, then the thermite would have to be placed on the floor, and then there’s still no guarantee it would take down the aircraft.

Setting off thermite is also impractical, according to Oxley. “Somebody has to give you time to play on the plane,” she said. “Like with the shoe bomber, people do notice if you’re doing something weird in this day and age.”

The FBI did point out in its report, however, that just because the agency has presented information about the threat doesn’t mean terrorists are necessarily interested in it. It turns out they may be more interested in “other types of incendiary materials.”

Great.

Palin: "This Bureaucracy Is Killing Our Vets"

It's always a booming full house when former Alaska Governor Sarah Palin takes the CPAC stage. This year, however, the applause was saved for her son Track and his fellow soldiers and veterans who have bravely served our country.

When the country's most famous Mama Grizzly spoke at the Conservative Political Action Conference Thursday afternoon, she used her remarks to honor our nation's finest.

As a military mom, Palin knows a thing or two about the sacrifices our young men and women make every day fighting for our freedom overseas. Unfortunately, she somberly noted, our veterans face a whole new set of challenges when they return home. Be it PTSD, unemployment, or staggering divorce and suicide rates, our soldiers are in danger just as much off the battlefield as they were in combat. You only have to consider this one statistic Palin provided to understand the threats they face:

"The suicide rate among our best and our brightest is 23 a day. In these four days, 92 vets will have taken their lives."

Palin, however, knows our vets are not "charity causes," as Dakota Meyer, a former Marine Corps corporal who introduced her, noted. She knows first hand how those first deployments feel - that moment when he goes from a "son" to a "sir," as she put it.

After honoring her son and the rest of our nation's soldiers, Palin spent time shaming our bureaucrats.

"They're promised no one is left behind on battlefield...We're here to collect on the promises made. This bureaucracy is killing our vets."

With revelations that the Veterans Administration put our veterans on secret waiting lists and even dared to withhold benefits from them, that statement may be truer than we may like to believe.

As to why these scandals only recently broke, Palin knows the answer.

"The reason you don't hear about these scandals, is because our vets don't complain."

The former governor offered a few solutions as to how America could better serve our returning soldiers.

1. Offer vets treatment outside of the VA. Vets deserve the same freedom as their fellow Americans when it comes to treatment. What's more, Palin said, we must ensure that illegal immigrants don't jump in front. "We demand that the vets are first in line."

2. Let them use skills they learned in the military. She called this "common sense."

3. Secure their well earned benefits. Almost unbelievably, Congress voted to cut vets retirement benefits last year. They only relented, Palin recalled, when the American people spoke up. Notably, she added, these same legislators didn't vote to cut their own.

"We must provide our vets the political will to win."

Palin couldn't speak about our vets and national security without calling attention to the very real threat of the Islamic caliphate that our president continues to dangerously minimalize. Because terrorism is "on the march" all over the world, there is but one solution, Palin said.

"The only thing standing between us and savages, is the red, white and blue - the United States military."

Palin ended her speech by asking veterans in the crowd to stand so the audience could salute them, proclaiming, "We love you!"

Our soldiers are our suited protectors. In summary, I have to echo Mrs. Palin: "Our vets deserve better."

Cruz: "The Next 20 Months Are Going to Be Very Dangerous"

Prior to his speech at CPAC Thursday afternoon, Sen. Ted Cruz (R-TX) didn’t mince words. He bluntly told reporters how nervous he is about the president’s final 20 months in office.

“The next 20 months are going to be very dangerous,” he said. “They are going to be dangerous at home. President Obama has reacted to this last election in a way that’s unprecedented. You know, prior presidents have been repudiated [and] they’ve reacted with contrition. [P]resident Obama, instead, reacted with anger and defiance.”

“I believe the next 20 months we are going to see a degree of lawlessness that will exceed anything we’ve seen in the previous six years,” he continued. “I think we’re going to see executive order after executive order. I think we’re going to see the abuse of regulations in a way that crushes small businesses, destroys jobs. I think we are going to see the continued weaponization of the IRS in the federal government, and it is going to be dangerous.”

He expressed hope, however, that Congressional Republicans will fulfill their constitutional duties and, as he put it, “rein in that abuse of power and provide meaningful oversight.” But unfortunately, he said, there are other concerns to be worried about as well.

“And I’ll tell you as dangerous as it’s going to be at home, it’s going to be even more dangerous aboard,” he emphasized. “Every bad actor on the face of the globe, from Putin to Khomeini in Iran to ISIS, has every incentive possible to do as much damage as they can in [the next] 20 months."

Why?

Because, he argued, "the tyrants of the world believe there is no credible threat or deterrent from this president.”

Rep. Mia Love: Government Has Made it Impossible for Legal Immigrants to Start Their Own Lives

Rep. Mia Love's (R-Utah) parents came to America from Haiti with $10 in their pocket in the 1970s. After holding down several jobs, they eventually earned their own way to success. Their daughter, however, said that could probably not happen today, thanks to an overbearing federal government. Love shared her personal story with attendees today at the Conservative Political Action Conference to demonstrate how important it is to take advantage of opportunities just like her parents did and work to achieve the American Dream on their own individual efforts, before it's threatened by Washington.

Love has an impressive resume. She is the first black female Republican elected to Congress, as well as the first black Republican ever elected from Utah. More impressively, she did it without relying on the nanny state. Her own personal story is why she rejects the notion that government should run our lives.

"Too many in Washington don't trust the American people. They don't want us to have opportunities to rise to the occasion."

Love has a better vision for America.

"I think it's time we need to look within. I think it's time for Washington to trust the American people."

The Utah representative can now say that the same principles that propelled her parents' success have also offered her a way forward.

"Conservative policies work. I've seen them work as a mother, as a mayor, and I use them now as a member of Congress...The American people deserve the opportunity to rise to the occasion."

Speaking of rising, Rep. Love shared a poignant and relevant story about a hot air balloon ride she took last year. As she was getting ready to board the balloon, she asked her son to join. He declined, so her daughter jumped in instead. High in the air, they enjoyed the beauty of Utah's landscape. Then, the weather changed, and the wind took them into the backyard of a neighbor. After witnessing the exciting spectacle, Love's son felt a hint of jealousy.

"Peyton watched the excitement from the ground. He runs over and says, 'I'm ready, it's my turn! But, the opportunity for him to soar and rise to the sky had come and gone. I said, 'remember this experience, remember today...If you do not take opportunities that come today, you'll never know if they'll come back." 

This is especially true, she said, thanks to a ballooning federal government."

"The federal government has made it impossible for people to save. It's difficult for someone to start their own lives - we've got to change that."

Even just 52 days in Congress, Love recognizes how harmful the government's nanny programs can be.

"I see all these programs that are meant to help the poor, hurt those they vow to protect."

Love said that government has its own interests in mind, not those of the American people. Her solutions? We have to trust ourselves and hit government agencies where they hurt.

"Independent people are the ones that give back. Washington can't do that. Washington needs to get smaller so people are bigger...Their job is to keep their job. We have to cut the bloodline to these bureaucracies, which is the funding."

It is this positive belief in America that encouraged Love's consituents to give her a seat in Washinton to try and change the selfish status quo.

"I was elected because of the policies and the principles that belive in American exceptionalism. I believe in this country."

Preserve your right to make your own decisions, she added. 

"Unlike Washington, I believe you're capable of doing that."

I had the opportunity to interview Rep. Love Thursday morning. She expanded on how Big Government has made it extremely difficult for immigrants to legally enter and succeed in America. Below is our full conversation:

Illegal Immigrants Amnestied By Obama Eligible For Up To $9,182 In Cash Benefits Every Year

Illegal immigrants who are given work permits and Social Security Numbers through President Obama's amnesty programs could get up to $9,182 in cash benefits from the federal government every year, according to a new later from the Congressional Research Service.

Requested by an unnamed Senator, the CRS letter details the maximum Earned Income Tax Credit and and Child Tax Credit payments a family could receive from the Internal Revenue Service without paying any income taxes to the federal government.

Families with four children who earned $23,260 would owe zero income taxes in 2014 and would be eligible for a $9,182 check from the government since both the EITC and CTC are refundable benefit programs which pay recipients benefits above and beyond any tax liability they night have.

Families with incomes above $23,260 would still receive EITC and CTC payments from the federal government, but those payments would decrease as the families income rose.

Illegal immigrants who filed tax returns using Taxpayer Identification Numbers from the IRS have been receiving billions in CTC payments from the federal government for years. Obama's Deferred Action for Parental Accountability program would make it easier for millions more illegal immigrants to receive tax benefits by giving the SSNs.

With a SSN, illegal immigrants become eligible for both CTC and EITC payments. The Congressional Budget Office estimated that if Obama's executive amnesties are kept for the next ten years, illegal immigrants will receive more than $20 billion in EITC patients over that time.

According to the CBO, under Obama's amnesty programs, illegal immigrants would also get $3 billion in health care benefits, $2 billion in Supplemental Security Income, and $1.6 billion in food stamps.

When Obama first introduced his DAPA program to the American people, he claimed it would not "offer the same benefits that citizens receive."

These official CRS and CBO letters directly contradict that statement.

Phyllis Schlafly Honored at Annual Weyrich Awards

Marking the 50th Anniversary of her book, A Choice, Not an Echo, Phyllis Schlafly of Eagle Forum received the Paul Weyrich Award for her life of service to the conservative movement on Wednesday evening at the Annual Weyrich Awards Dinner.

“Paul Weyrich was a tremendous figure in the early conservative movement, and I am proud to have called him my friend,” Schlafly said in a statement. “It is truly an honor to receive an award that bears his name and I am thrilled that the dinner has chosen to highlight my updated A Choice, Not An Echo for a new generation of conservatives to see. We are facing the very same battles today that Paul and I faced in the last 50 years.”

Numerous members of Congress and conservative VIPs attended the dinner, including Sen. Mike Lee (R-Utah), Rep. Marsha Blackburn (R-TN), and former Hewlett-Packard CEO and potential 2016 presidential candidate Carly Fiorina.

During dinner, guests viewed videos featuring tribute to Schlafly by Sen. Ted Cruz (R-TX), Sen. Rand Paul (R-KY), former Gov. Rick Perry of Texas, former Speaker of the House Newt Gingrich, Heritage Foundation President Jim DeMint and Dr. James Dobson of Focus on the Family, among others.

Schlafly first self-published A Choice, Not An Echo in 1964. The book exposes Republican “kingmakers” – who picked Republican candidates and drove them to victory by funding media and staff support, feining public acclaim. More than 3.5 million copies of the book have been sold.

“She fought battles most lacked the courage to fight, and time and again she won," Dr. Ben Carson wrote in a Washington Times tribute published Wednesday.

Others awarded for their contributions to the conservative movement included FOX News host Megyn Kelly, author and former CBS investigative correspondent Sharyl Attkisson, and Live Action President Lila Rose.

Joni Ernst Honors Military Veterans at CPAC

The lights rose in the dimly lit auditorium at CPAC on Thursday afternoon, and the camera shot turned from Sen. Joni Ernst (R-Iowa) to the audience.

“At this time, if you are able, I would like to ask all of our military men and women to please rise and allow us to show our deep gratitude and appreciation,” Ernst had just said.

Across the room some three dozen veterans rose, and applause broke out.

“As we gather together for the next few days to celebrate our values, our beliefs, and our great freedom, I encourage all of you to take a moment and reach out, and thank a veteran and their family,” Ernst said, “because they help to protect those rights.”

Ernst commended America’s military for defending the “ideals, values, and freedoms that make this the greatest nation in the history of mankind.”

The newly elected senator has served in the military and is married to a retired command sergeant major.

“For more than 20 years, I had the great privilege of serving my state and my country while working alongside some of our finest soldiers,” Ernst explained. “Today I serve as a lieutenant colonel in the Iowa Army National Guard, and I’ve been privileged to have commanded many levels from company to battalion.”

Ernst served as a company commander during Operation Iraqi Freedom. Her unit was tasked with running convoys throughout Kuwait and Southern Iraq. 

“Because of the fearless men and women like these...I will always remain optimistic about the bright future of America.”

These experiences have made Ernst a fitting addition to the Senate Armed Services Committee, where she now sits.

“We are already working on a wide range of issues, including threats from ISIS, Al-Qaeda, and others who are being radicalized by them. Congress must hold President Obama accountable to ensure that he and his administration finally develop a cohesive and strong strategy to confront these and the many other threats that we face.”

The nation must do everything possible to give veterans the quality care they were promised and deserve, Ernst stated.

FCC Approves 'Net Neutrality' Regulations

If you like what Obamacare has done to health care, you are going to love what the Federal Communications Commission is about to do to the internet.

The FCC voted by a slim 3-2 margin Thursday to pass new "net neutrality" regulations that give the federal government unprecedented control over how the internet is managed.

Just as Obamacare was supposed to make health care cheaper for all Americans, net neutrality is supposed to guarantee "free and open access to the internet," according to FCC Chairman Tom Wheeler.

Wheeler's new regulations essentially turn internet service providers into public utilities the same way Obamacare turned health insurance companies into heavily regulated wards of the state. And just as Obamacare has expanded paper health coverage to millions of Americans, while making it much harder for most people to actually see a doctor, net neutrality will also bring uncertainty and stagnation to the internet in the name of providing equal access to all. 

Technology entrepreneur and Dallas Mavericks owner Mark Cuban recently explained his opposition to net neutrality regulations to The Washington Post:

If it ain't broke, don't fix it. ...  Things have worked well. There is no better platform in the world to start a new business than the Internet in the United States. ... I want there to be fast lanes because there will be applications that need fast lanes. We are just now entering a period where we are seeing new ways to create and use high bitrate applications.

People like to use movies and TV shows as a reference to issues that could occur on the Internet. [But] the real issue is that there will be many applications that we can't foresee today. [And] we need those applications to not just have priority, but guaranteed quality of service.

I want certain medical apps that need the Internet to be able to get the bandwidth they need. There will be apps that doctors will carry on 5G networks that allow them to get live video from accident scenes and provide guidance. There will be machine vision apps that usage huge amounts of bandwidth. I want them to have fast lanes.

You can read the Mercatus Centers' 5 Myths About Net Neutrality here and The Heritage Foundation's 8 Myths About Net Neutrality here.

Also like Obamacare, the FCC is expected to be sued almost immediately, causing uncertainty in the industry for years. Already in 2014, a federal court struck down a 2010 FCC regulation on this same issue.

CPAC 2015: Cruz Builds Case for 2016 Run

On Thursday at CPAC, Sen. Ted Cruz (R-TX) spoke privately to a room full of reporters on a range of issues, most crucially about how grassroots conservatives should choose the next Republican presidential nominee. He suggested that every rumored presidential candidate at CPAC will attempt to assure the base "they're the most conservative person who ever lived." For this reason, he said, grassroots conservatives should be very wary of candidates who are well spoken and inspiring, but aren't necessarily conservatives at heart.

“We’ve been burned before,” he said. “We’ve supported candidates who sound great, got into office, and didn’t stand for principles. What I would suggest to every Republican primary voter – what I’m going to suggest at CPAC this afternoon – is we say to every candidate ‘don’t tell me, show me.’” 

“So if a candidate says they oppose Obamacare, great,” he continued. “Show me where you’ve stood up and fought to stop it. If a candidate says they oppose President Obama’s illegal executive amnesty, wonderful, show me where you’ve stood up and fought to stop it.”

And so on and so forth. He argued that candidates should not just be fluent spokesmen and women for conservative principles, but have a real and genuine record to run on. In other words, someone like him.

“If we nominate another candidate in the mold of a Bob Dole or a John McCain or a Mitt Romney—and let me be clear, those are good and honorable men [who] love their country—[we won't win because] what they did didn’t work. It’s a losing strategy and if we nominate another candidate in that mold, the same voters who stayed home in ’08 and ’12 will stay home in ’16. And Hillary Clinton will be the next president.”

“So how do we win?” he asked. “We need to look for a candidate who can energize and mobilize those millions of conservatives and bring them back."

Cruz never said explicitly that he was running for president. But he implied as much. Speaking without notes for roughly 36 minutes, he built the case for why a candidate like him—who challenges the establishment, appeals to the base, and is a proven conservative—is best qualified to carry the Republican banner in 2016. We'll see.

BREAKING: Senate Committee Approves AG Nominee Loretta Lynch

The Senate Judiciary Committee has voted to approve Attorney General Nominee Loretta Lynch. Her full confirmation vote is now headed to the full Senate. During her confirmation hearing earlier this month, Lynch expressed support for President Obama's executive amnesty. She also said she believes illegal immigrants have a right to work in the United States. 

"Senator, I think the right and obligation to work is one that is shared by everyone in this country regardless of how they came here and certainly if someone is here, regardless of status, I would prefer that they be participating in the work place than not be participating," Lynch said during her confirmation hearing on Capitol Hill.

Earlier this week, more than 50 House Republicans sent a letter to the Committee urging a vote to block her confirmation.

Chairman Chuck Grassley voted against Lynch's nomination. 

“As I’ve said many times throughout the nomination process, what we need from our next Attorney General – more than anything else – is independence. The current Attorney General has permitted politics to drive decision making far too often. For that reason, the question for me has been whether Ms. Lynch will make a clean break and take the Department of Justice in a new direction. After thoroughly reviewing Ms. Lynch’s testimony, both before the committee and in written follow-up questions, I remain unconvinced she will lead the department in a different direction," Grassley said in a statement after the vote. “I sincerely hope Ms. Lynch proves me wrong and is willing to stand up to the President and say ‘No’ when the duty of the office demands it. But based on my review of the record, I cannot support the nomination.”

This post has been updated with additional information.

Stacey Dash Signs Book Deal With Regnery Publishing: "There Goes My Social Life" Out This Summer

Hollywood conservative Stacey Dash has signed a deal with Regnery Publishing to release her memoir titled There Goes My Social Life, Regnery announced today.

Best known for her role as Dionne in the 90s teen classic Clueless, Dash “came out” as a conservative when she tweeted in support of then-presidential candidate Mitt Romney in 2012.

“It made me furious that [Obama] was the first black president,” Dash said in a 2013 interview with Sean Hannity. “That should be a wonderful thing, right? He had an opportunity to unite us in such a profound way. And he did the exact opposite. … He took advantage of the disenfranchised, the uninformed. He knew that they would vote for him because of the color of his skin. And he used that. He used that. That to me is immoral. It’s wrong.”

Her tweet in 2012 made waves in Hollywood, and made her the target of extensive criticism both from colleagues in her field and from the left. The memoir will describe Dash’s conversion to conservatism, telling the story of her childhood in the South Bronx through her acting career.

A rare example of a successful conservative celebrity, Dash joined Fox and Friends last year. She regularly speaks on such topics from modern day feminism to second amendment issues, and earlier this week criticized Patricia Arquette’s “equality for women” Oscars speech.

“We need to become more on the offense,” Dash said. “We need to get out there, like the Democrats do. We need to get more celebrities to talk.”

Dash’s memoir will be released in the summer 2015 season.

DNI Chief Contradicts Obama: Terror Threat is Expanding, 2014 Deadliest Year on Record

Director of National Intelligence James Clapper said in front of a Senate Armed Services Committee today that the terror threat against the United States is expanding and revealed 2014 as the deadliest year on record for attacks around the world. 

"When the final accounting is done, 2014 will have been the most lethal year for global terrorism in the 45 years such data has been compiled," Clapper said, detailing thousands of attacks throughout the year. 

Just yesterday Secretary of State John Kerry said in front of the House Foreign Affairs Committee that the world is safer than ever from terror. 

"We are actually living in a period of less daily threat to Americans and to people in the world than normally; less deaths, less violent deaths today, than through the last century," Kerry said. 

Last summer, President Obama echoed that by saying the world is "less violent" than ever.

"[T]he truth of the matter is that for all the challenges we face, all the problems that we have, if you had to be — if you had to choose any moment to be born in human history, not knowing what your position was going to be, who you were going to be, you’d choose this time," Obama said. "The world is less violent than it has ever been. It is healthier than it has ever been. It is more tolerant than it has ever been. It is better fed then it’s ever been. It is more educated than it’s ever been."

According to an NBC/WSJ survey released in September 2014, 47 percent of Americans now feel less safe than they did before 9/11.

Martin O'Malley Comes In At Zero Percent In Iowa

On the Democratic side, the road to 2016 is quite vanilla. Hillary Clinton is just dominating the field, but it hasn’t dissuaded former Maryland Gov. Martin O’Malley, who is “very seriously” considering mounting a presidential run of his own. Yet, a new Quinnipiac poll of 619 likely Iowa Caucus goers aren’t showing him any love, according to Politico. He registered a whopping zero percent in the poll. Only three percent of caucus goers said he was their second choice. On the other hand, if Hillary decides not to run in 2016, Vice President Joe Biden’s support jumps to 30 percent:

Among 619 likely caucus-goers surveyed by Quinnipiac University, zero percent responded that they would support the former governor of Maryland in 2016. And only 3 percent say he would be their second choice.

O’Malley drew low numbers from Quinnipiac surveys in Pennsylvania, Ohio and Florida earlier this month, garnering just 2 percent in the Keystone State and only 1 percent in the other two swing states.

Hillary Clinton leads all other potential opponents by a wide margin, with Massachusetts Sen. Elizabeth Warren coming in second at 19 percent, followed by Vice President Joe Biden at 7 percent, Independent Vermont Sen. Bernie Sanders at 5 percent and former Virginia Sen. Jim Webb at 2 percent.

If Clinton does not run, 30 percent of caucus-goers responded that they would back Biden.

Still, zero percent; that hurts.

No, Obamacare Isn't Proving Its Critics Wrong


It would be a genuine challenge to identify more obsequious water-carriers for the Obama agenda than the (hilariously inept) propaganda "explanatory journalism" team at Vox. One of their ongoing projects is "Voxplaining" to Americans how Obamacare is, in fact, working quite well -- regardless of what the vulgar right-wing liars might say. Though I spent a great deal of time refuting one such effort last fall, I again feel compelled to rise on behalf of Obamacare opponents to puncture Vox's latest pseudo-factual exercise in ideological self-congratulation.  Last week, blogger Sarah Kliff, who has done some good work as a journalist on the healthcare beat, published a piece crowing that the so-called "Affordable" Care Act has been vindicated by outcomes, effectively exposing its critics as ignorant hacks.  Setting aside problems with her approach -- selecting uniquely hyperbolic predictions to "rebut," and treating shorthand critiques as granular objections, for instance -- let's examine the eight "myths" she purports to refute:

(1) Nobody wants to buy Obamacare:  Of course it's true that many people wanted to, and did, obtain coverage through Obamacare -- both on the exchanges, and through the law's Medicaid expansion.  Millions of those who enrolled through the exchanges, however, had little choice in the matter.  They have been stripped of their existing, preferred coverage, and forced to purchase new, compliant plans.  This represents an enormous violation of one of the law's central pledges.  The fact that these people were legally required to buy Obamacare is not evidence that they wanted to do so.  Kliff also asserts that it's "much worse" to be uninsured than insured. Empirical data shows that this is tragically and counter-intuitively not necessarily true, at least for those who are now covered under Medicaid.

(2) Obamacare will "never" meet its enrollment goal:  The administration's shortfall in sign-ups has, indeed, been a familiar refrain among the law's critics.  Perhaps that's because the Obamacare sign-ups did fail to meet the White House's public projections during the 2013-2014 open enrollment period.  The administration significantly inflated their stats in several ways to hide this fact. (Kliff acknowledges one recently-revealed form of malfeasance, moving the goalposts to celebrate how Obamacare "didn't completely miss" its targets). The nonpartisan Congressional Budget Office also downgraded enrollment projections for 2015 by millions of people.  At the behest of Democrats on the Hill, the White House has now added an unscheduled, on-the-fly enrollment period later this year.  Finally on this point, I repeat: It's very strange to boast that millions of people have signed up for insurance due to a law that legally requires them to sign up for insurance.

(3) Obamacare will wreak havoc on the economy: Silly conservatives insisted that Obamacare would hurt the economy and kill jobs, Kliff sighs, eagerly noting that job and economic growth has continued on an upward trajectory since the law passed.  She concedes that the healthcare law does not deserve "all" of the credit for this great news, but look at all these charts showing job growth since 2010!  The US economy's historically slow, plodding recovery has most arrows pointed in the right direction, but a strong case can be made that these positive trends have emerged despite Obamacare's impact -- and have likely been slowed down by it.  CBO's 2014 assessment determined that the ACA will reduce overall full time American employment by the equivalent of 2.5 million workers over the next ten years.  The report stated that employment gains will "be smaller than [they] would have in the absence of the ACA."  CBO cited the law's work disincentives as a "central factor in slowing economic growth," both now and in the future.

(4) The website will never work: In an especially unfortunate bit of timing for Kliff (and the president, who'd just assured his nodding supporters at Vox that Healthcare.gov was working "flawlessly"), her football spike was quickly exposed as...premature.  Within days, a spate of errors and glitches caused headaches for hundreds of thousands of Obamacare consumers.  It was also revealed that bugs in the system are blocking newborn infants from being added to coverage.  Furthermore, H&R block estimates that a majority of Obamacare subsidy recipients will be forced to pay back at least a portion of their taxpayer-funded assistance, due to miscalculations and incorrect income estimates.  These problems are so widespread because Healthcare.gov's so-called "back end," which is supposed to streamline the process of reconciling this type of data, is still incomplete.  It was supposed to be fully built by late 2013.  It's now 2015.  It's also worth pointing out that taxpayers have spent more than $2 billion on the federal website.  For $2 billion, that site really should be working "flawlessly."  It's not.  Still.

(5) Only people who had coverage are signing up:  Yes, some of Obamacare's enrollees were previously uninsured.  But millions of them were not.  There's a debate over how many "new enrollees" touted by the Obama administration already had coverage prior to their plans getting canceled, but every estimate shows it's a substantial percentage.  The White House cannot reasonably celebrate as "new" these millions of coerced enrollments.  Conservative healthcare wonk Avik Roy runs the numbers and concludes that only about five million of the administration's claimed 11.4 million exchange enrollees previously lacked coverage.  Kliff offers an array of estimates on this front, the best of which (by far) comes from...the Obama administration, which she's already acknowledged has been caught cooking the books.

(6) Obamacare would cause a net-loss of insurance: This "prediction" only applied to very limited period of time, in the midst of the infamous 2013-2014 enrollment meltdown.  Most people conceded that eventually, more people would have insurance than would not.  Once again, the law mandates that people get insurance.  Interestingly, two comprehensive government studies released late last year suggested that the ranks of the uninsured had either slightly increased (US Census Bureau), or had been reduced by far fewer people than Obamacare supporters have claimed (Centers for Disease Control).  Even on this slam dunk outcome, Obamacare is not an unvarnished success.

(7) Premiums will skyrocket: Americans were promised, over and over again, that Obamacare would substantially reduce everyone's rates.  Instead, premiums have continued to tick up overall, and they have skyrocketed by double digits for many consumers.  Kliff and others are reduced to arguing that aggregate premium increases are less steep than they have been in the past, as if that proves critics wrong.  Unless the average family is paying less in premiums ($2,500 less per year, in fact), critics are not wrong.  Various healthcare experts also argue that premium hikes have been superficially and temporarily held down by certain price control provisions within the law that will expire in the next few years.  They anticipate an additional bout of major rate increases when that happens.  Another way Obamacare plans have staved off major premium increases is by severely limiting provider and coverage networks, resulting in major frustration and "access shock" for many "beneficiaries."  Finally, the fixation on premiums also distracts from the biggest cost-related challenge facing Obamacare consumers: Unaffordable out of-pocket-costs, including huge deductibles and expensive co-pays.  Among the tens of millions of Americans who remain uninsured under Obamacare, the number one reason they cite for declining to participate in the new law is lack of affordability.

(8) Obamacare just can't work: This is a subjective statement, but it's basically correct.  Far more Americans say the law has directly harmed their families than helped, Obamacare's popularity remains significantly underwater, and the law is objectively not working the way it was marketed.  Not even close.  Kliff cites a study showing that "most" Obamacare consumers have been able to get doctors appointments within two weeks.  Even if we take this study at face value, a large minority of consumers also say they've had to wait weeks or months -- or haven't been able to see a doctor at all.  This is nevertheless presented as evidence of the law "working."  Kliff also admits that there isn't a lot of data yet on Obamacare's promise of cost-curve bending, though many supporters have misleadingly credited the law with the recent slowdown in the rate of over spending increases (which is accurately attributed to the sluggish economy).

Some Obamacare opponents overstated and exaggerated predictions about the law's deleterious effects.  Critics were virtually unanimous, however, in stating that Democrats' hugely expensive and disruptive policy experiment would fail to deliver on many of the core pledges upon which it was sold to the public.  They were unambiguously correct on the whole, and the American people know it.  Far from being "debunked," the anti-Obamacare case has been exonerated by actual outcomes, in remarkable detail and breadth -- and no tendentious Voxplanation can change that reality.

Editor's Note: A version of this item is cross-posted at HotAir.com

Epilepsy Foundation Head Urges Nationwide Medical Marijuana Availability

In 2013, a six-year-old epilepsy patient named Charlotte Figi was featured in a CNN documentary about medical marijuana following a dramatic improvement in her condition after she began ingesting a low-THC strain of marijuana named "Charlotte's Web." Figi's parents turned to medical marijuana (in the form of cannabis oil) as a last resort to treat their daughter's seizure disorder, which was causing about 300 grand mal seizures per week. Figi's seizures were reduced from 1,200 a month to just three in eight months following the beginning of her treatment. Now, the head of Epilepsy Foundation is urging for nationwide availability of the strain, saying that parents of sick children shouldn't be forced to move to Colorado to treat their children.

“There is enough evidence to suggest we should really try and study this,” said father Warren Lammert.

His daughter, Sylvie, had her first seizure at 9 months old.

“She had an implanted medical device, she’s tried the ketogenic diet but we haven’t found anything that will control her seizures,” said Lammert.

Sylvie is now 16 and despite numerous treatments still lives with daily seizures.

“She’s delayed and she’s in a special school,” said Lammert.

Lammert is chairman of the board of the Epilepsy Foundation and has enrolled Sylvie in a clinical trial of CBD at New York University.

“I feel blessed to at least have the hope of this new therapy and I feel other fathers other mothers, other families should have that hope and have that option,” said Lammert.

The Charlotte's Web strain does not result in a "high" due to its low THC content. It is distributed through oil placed under the tongue.

Epilepsy is not an easy illness to treat, and each patient will respond differently to different forms of treatment. While this particular strain of marijuana may not help every patient, it's clear that it is effective at improving the quality of life of at least some epileptics. Why should the government have the power to deny a sick child access to potentially life-changing medication?

Marijuana is currently classified as a "Schedule I" drug, which is the same level as heroin and ecstasy. Being a Schedule I drug means that there is "no currently accepted medical treatment use in the U.S." This clearly isn't true, as evidenced by the thousands of people who use marijuana to treat everything from anorexia nervosa to glaucoma. If a politician proposed banning a form of chemotherapy in some states, but not others, they'd be laughed out of the room and rightfully called a quack. Politics shouldn't get in the way of helping those who need it, and medications should be available nationwide.

Surprise: ISIS Beheader Jihadi John Came From an Affluent London Neighborhood

Jihadi John, the masked ISIS fighter shown speaking in an English accent before beheading American journalists Steven Sotloff and James Foley on video last year, came from an affluent London neighborhood according to a new report in the Washington Post.

According to friends and others familiar with his case, is Mohammed Emwazi, a Briton from a well-to-do family who grew up in West London and graduated from college with a degree in computer programming. He is believed to have traveled to Syria around 2012 and to have later joined the Islamic State, the group whose barbarity he has come to symbolize.

Just last week, State Department Spokeswoman Marie Harf argued jobs were the way to defeat ISIS fighters.

"We cannot kill our way out of this war," Harf said. "We can help them [Muslim countries] build their economy so they can have job opportunities for these people."

Thousands of fighters are pouring into Iraq and Syria from economically sound countries like Great Britain and even the United States. There are now more British volunteers for ISIS than there are for the British armed forces. It isn't poverty that is causing Muslim men to flock to ISIS, it's a dedication to radical Islamic ideology.

Mike Lee at CPAC: Beware Of Conservatives of "Platitudes"

Sen. Mike Lee helped open up CPAC 2015, taking the stage before 9 AM on the first full day of the conference, to tell the assembled crowd of conservative activists to support potential presidential candidates who have positive, specific messages, and to beware of those who speak in platitudes.

"Specificity is crucial," Sen. Lee said. "It's essential. Abstractions are the province of candidates who say one thing on the campaign trail and do quite another in office."

Lee said that a winning conservative candidate should be "principled, positive, and proven."

When it comes to principles, Lee said that conservatives shouldn't fear internecine disagreements. "Real conservatives don't run away from disagreements," he said. "They run toward them." Disagreements within conservatism about what conservatism means isn't something that conservatives should fear. It should be embraced.

There are too many conservatives in the Obama era defining themselves by what they're for and not what they're against, and Sen. Lee took aim at this kind of a "negative" agenda. "True conservatism isn't about the kind of government we don't want," Lee said. "It's about the kind of government we do want."

"We need to be willing to expect more out of our would-be leaders... our job is not just to find the guy who can shout 'FREEDOM' the loudest."

Lee said that a proven candidate would be someone who has shown an ability to win elections - and to govern in a way that proves they deserved to win that election. A candidate with, in Lee's words, the "battle scars" to prove they're capable of both winning and leading the country.

"When conservatives elevate unserious candidates–candidates who are not principled, positive, and proven–it's not the media's fault. It's not the establishment's fault. It's our fault."

Ben Carson at CPAC: "We Need to Stop Sitting Quietly By"

Dr. Ben Carson, for his part, had the honor of delivering the first CPAC speech of 2015. Despite his early morning remarks, however, he earned loud plaudits from the audience on several occasions. And while he touched on both domestic and foreign policy, he mostly discussed his dissatisfaction with the “PC police” and the current administration.

“It’s interesting to me that the Left in particular loves to re-label and rename things,” he said. “For instance, if you’re pro-life, you’re anti-woman. If you’re pro-traditional family, then you’re a homophobe…if you’re black, and you oppose a progressive agenda, you’re crazy.”

“We have to stop sitting quietly by,” he urged the audience.

He also expressed concern about the failure of Big Government, and its alarming growth and expansion since the 1960s.

“In 1969, 1.4 percent of our population was on food stamps,” he intoned. “Today, more than 14 percent are on food stamps – a ten fold increase.”

“We need to change course,” he said.

Not surprisingly, he also discussed the importance of having compassion for the poor and less fortunate.

“We are a very smart people and a very compassionate people, and we need to find out how [to] strengthen the framework of this country,” he said. “It is our responsibility to take care of the indigent; it is not the government’s responsibility.”

Most memorably, he recalled a story that recently deeply affected him. When he was at the airport several months ago, a woman approached him expressing broad support for his ideas, but wondered why he didn’t want “poor people to have health care.”

“You’ve been listening to the propaganda,” he said in reply. The truth is, he told the audience, is that he wants everyone to have health care, but the best way to do that is to first repeal a broken and unworkable law.

“[Obamacare] is absolutely about redistribution and control,” he emphasized.

Inspectors General to Update Congress on IRS Scandal Investigation, Lerner's 'Missing' Emails

Thursday night the Treasury Inspector General for Tax Administration and Deputy Inspector General for Investigations will update the House Oversight Committee on the status of former IRS official Lois Lerner's "missing" emails. 

As a reminder, last year IRS Commissioner John Koskinen said two years of Lerner's emails, between 2010 and 2012, had been "lost" in a hard drive crash. A few months later, some of those emails were recovered after Koskinen said under oath they had been lost forever. Since the announcement of the missing emails, Congress has asked Inspectors General from different departments to look into their recovery. The emails are key in getting to the bottom of the IRS' targeting of conservative groups. 

"House Oversight Committee Chairman Jason Chaffetz remains concerned the IRS potentially mislead the American people about its efforts to recover former Director Lerner’s emails. The IRS has claimed under oath that most of her emails from a key time period were destroyed by a crashed hard drive, that back-up tapes were erased, and were therefore unrecoverable," a statement from the Committee says. "Through their ongoing efforts, the Inspector General’s office has discovered that the back-up tapes do exist, the data on them was never erased, and the emails are in fact recoverable."

The hearing starts at 7 p.m. eastern. You can watch live here.

CPAC 2015 Kicks Off With Heavy 2016 Presidential Speaking Line-Up

The 2015 Conservative Political Action Conference kicks off today at the Gaylord National Harbor Hotel in Maryland, just outside of Washington D.C. This year's conference will no doubt determine the future of the Republican Party and possibly the country as potential 2016 presidential candidates hit the stage to make their case.

"The American Conservative Union has an important role to play as the Republican presidential nominating process begins at CPAC 2015. Nearly every top-tier candidate will appear and speak at the event. Our goal is to continue the tradition of bringing together the leaders of the conservative movement with activists from around the country. We want to have a meaningful discussion about conservative policy solutions while getting the first major look at those who would seek to lead conservatives and Republicans. 2015 is the critical year, due in large part to the fact that conservatives will play the largest role in picking the next GOP nominee in key states," American Conservative Union Chairman Matt Schlapp told Fox News' Dana Perino recently. "The field is large, interesting, and filled with strong candidates. I believe the most important role of ACU is to encourage a lively debate and primary process while at the same time reminding activists that the goal is to defeat the Democratic candidate. We want a conservative standard bearer, balanced with the absolute necessity to win. A Democratic win that would mirror a third Obama term would be a catastrophe for the federal judiciary, American energy production, the regulatory state and with the reemergence of the threat from radical Islam. The conservative movement needs to be ready for its close-up because the stakes are high."

Potential 2016 GOP candidates slated to hit the CPAC stage over the next three days include Carly Fiorina, Ted Cruz, Rick Santorum, Bobby Jindal, Sarah Palin, Chris Christie, Scott Walker, Rand Paul, Mike Pence, Jeb Bush, Dr. Ben Carson, John Bolton, Marco Rubio and Rick Perry. Carson will kick off the conference Thursday morning as the first speaker. 

Heavy hitting conservative radio hosts who will be speaking include Laura Ingraham, Sean Hannity, Mark Levin and others. Panel topics range on everything from intellectual property, pro-life politics to foreign policy with a heavy focus on what activists can do to make a difference.

CPAC is one of the biggest political and media events of the year. More than ten-thousand people have registered to attend this year's conference, which has been significantly growing in size since its launch back in 1974. 

Obama Tells Prosecutors They Have No Discretion On Immigration

President Obama's entire legal defense for his executive amnesty programs is that the executive branch must be afforded prosecutorial discretion when enforcing immigration laws.

So it might be a problem for his legal defense team when Obama admitted Wednesday at a Telemundo townhall that immigration officials under his policy have no prosecutorial discretion.

"The bottom line is that if somebody;s working for [Immigration and Customs Enforcement]  and there is a policy and they don't follow the policy there's going to be consequences to it."

You can watch the exchange below:

Steyer Group Linked With Kitzhaber's Downfall

John Kitzhaber has left Oregon’s governorship in disgrace. He resigned after it was discovered that Cylvia Hayes, Kitzhaber’s fiancé, received nearly $120,000 in consultant fees from other clean energy groups outside the state, while also working for Kitzhaber on green energy policy, according to the Oregonian last January:

Oregon Gov. John Kitzhaber's fiancée, Cylvia Hayes, has confirmed she collected $118,000 in previously undisclosed payments from an out-of-state clean energy group while she was advising the governor on clean energy policy.

Clean Economy Development Center of Washington, D.C., paid her $30,000 in 2011 and $88,000 in 2012.

The disclosures mean Hayes has collected at least $213,000 in consulting fees since Kitzhaber took office in 2011. She serves as first lady of Oregon.

The admitted payouts conflict with statements Kitzhaber has made regarding Hayes' consulting work, how his office handled her contracts and statements he has made in his annual ethics filings.

The income also doesn't match what's reported for those years on federal tax forms Hayes provided to The Oregonian/OregonLive. And one contractor reported Wednesday that it had paid Hayes $10,000 more for yet another contract than Hayes reported to the governor's office.

Shortly thereafter, then-Gov. Kitzhaber announced that Hayes would not work in any capacity with the governor’s office for the rest of his term; he had just won re-election in 2014. That didn’t hold the dam, as the Atlantic reported. Yet, one thing that was strange was the fact that Kitzhaber–seeing Democratic support disappear–actually was going to resign, but then changed his mind:

On January 30, in an effort to stanch the bleeding, Kitzhaber announced that Hayes would not serve in any role for the rest of his four-year term as governor. It didn't end the flap. The Oregonian, calling the press conference "disastrous," called on him to resign. Some of Kitzhaber's fellow Democrats are calling on him to resign; others, while stopping short of that, have conspicuously avoided defending him. He has also called on the attorney general to launch a full factual review, which appears to be unprecedented in state history. Meanwhile, he has pledged to cooperate with an inquiry by the state ethics commission, but apparently worked hard to prevent the inquiry from beginning in the first case.

All of this culminated in reports Wednesday that Kitzhaber was on the verge of resignation, fueled in part by Secretary of State Kate Brown ending a trip to D.C. early to return home. The truth was even stranger, according to Oregonian reporter Laurie Gunderson: Kitzhaber planned to resign, then changed his mind.

Democrats can also safely abandon Kitzhaber because of the state's succession law. The state has no lieutenant governor, but in case of a vacancy in the governor's office, the secretary of state would take over until the next biennial election, in 2016. Kate Brown, who holds that job, is a Democrat.

When the Oregonian reported that Hayes secured more money from jobs secured through Kitzhaber aides, it made it that much easier for Democrats to jump ship. Oh, and Hayes used the office of the governor for personal favors. But, no bid deal, right? Via WaPo:

The Oregonian’s Nick Budnick and Laura Gunderson reported this week that two Kitzhaber aides connected Hayes with well-paying jobs just as they joined the governor’s administration, earning Hayes $25,000 over five months for one and $118,000 over two years from another. (The latter was first uncovered by Hillary Borrud, of the Portland Tribune.) All told, Hayes has collected at least $213,000 in various consulting fees since Kitzhaber took office in 2011.

The first job was a five-month stint with Rural Development Initiatives, a nonprofit promoting rural jobs, that was arranged in part by Greg Wolf, currently Kitzhaber’s deputy chief of staff for field implementation.

We already discussed the dealings with the Clean Economy Development Center, which was secured through Kitzhaber’s campaign adviser Dan Carol. He helped get the funding for Hayes’ fellowship, according to WaPo’s Niraj Chokshi.

Oh, here’s the personal favors bit:

In 2013, the governor’s chief of staff and his general counsel both wrote in a set of conflict-of-interest guidelines that Hayes should not use the “first lady” title in her private business dealings, Willamette Week, an alternative weekly, reported in October. One month later, a new version was issued, dropping both that requirement and another that prohibited the use of the governor’s mansion for that private work. A spokesman told the publication that earlier directives were drafts and that the latter guideline was the final version.

Then, in December, a cache of public records released to the Oregonian showed that Hayes had repeatedly used Kitzhaber’s office for personal matters, including tasking them “with mundane personal responsibilities ranging from helping sneak cats into a hotel room to complaining over a delayed flight,” the Oregonian reported.

So, where does Tom Steyer come into all of this? Well, he’s pretty involved with the Clean Economy Development Center (CEDC). In fact, as Lachlan Markay of the Washington Free Beacon wrote around the time of Kitzhaber’s resignation, Steyer partially financed the CEDC himself. In fact, the CEDC just seems to be a nexus point for the various elements of the Steyer clan:

Steyer has donated millions to a group that helped finance Hayes’ position, which could ensnare one of the Democratic Party’s most prominent fundraisers in the scandal.

Hayes was reportedly a fellow at the CEDC in 2011 and 2012, but as of late as August of last year, she was still listed on a since-deleted page of its website.

Also listed on that page was Kate Gordon, a member of the CEDC’s board. Gordon leads the energy and climate division of Next Generation, an environmental nonprofit group founded by Steyer.

Another director of the group, according to the website, was Mike Casey.

Casey runs a media and public relations firm called Tigercomm that does polling and advertising work for Steyer’s Super PAC, NextGen Climate Action.

Casey reportedly wrote NextGen’s communications strategy for its involvement in elections in Massachusetts and Virginia in 2013. NextGen and another Steyer group, the CE Action Committee, paid Tigercomm $387,000 that year.

BBC Poll: 27 Percent of British Muslims Sympathize with 'Charlie Hebdo' Shooters


This seems like a solid enough news hook to revisit a theme I addressed shortly after the Paris attacks, when the Obama administration's 'radical-Islamist-violence-has-nothing-to-do-with-Islam' rhetoric was in full throat.  Via The Telegraph:

One in four British Muslims sympathise with terrorists behind the Charlie Hebdo attacks, a new poll shows. A poll reveals how a significant minority of Muslims endorse terrorist atrocities against those who mock the Prophet Mohammed. Some 27 per cent of British Muslims said they have "some sympathy for the motives behind the attacks" on the Paris magazine, according to polling by ComRes for the BBC. A further 32 per cent said they were not surprised by the attacks. Some 11 per cent said that magazines which publish images of the Prophet Mohammed "deserve to be attacked." And only 68 per cent of British Muslims said that attacks on the publishers of images of the Prophet are "never" justified, while 24 disagreed.

The BBC poll also found that 95 percent of Muslims polled express loyalty to Britain, with 93 percent agreeing that British laws must be obeyed.  I'm...not quite sure how to square those numbers with other survey findings -- like the one-in-five British Muslims who believe Islam is incompatible with Western society, the worrisome degree of sympathy for the Charlie Hebdo terrorists, and the 11 percent faction that proactively supports attacks on "those who slander the prophet of Islam" (the ultimate discussion-enders).  It would appear as though a sizable chunk of British Muslims think they can applaud, or at least relate to, stone-cold Islamist killers while also being perfectly loyal Britons.  Hmm.  According to census data, roughly 2.8 million Muslims live in the UK, so if you extrapolate the numbers, approximately 750,000 British Muslims fall into the "sympathetic" category.  More than 300,000 are in the ghoulish "attaboy" camp.  By the way, the BBC's headline on its own poll highlights the fact that most respondents "oppose Mohammad cartoon reprisals."  That's certainly welcome news, but it buries the lead.  Relatedly, when hundreds of mourners turned out to pay respects to the dead jihadi who shot up a free speech event in Copenhagen last week, Allahpundit made an incisive point about often-ignored, uncomfortable gray areas within our lexical tug-of-war over Islam and extremism:

To say that most Muslims are peaceful is true but also simplistic. There’s el-Hussein, the killer; there’s the people who stayed away from his funeral today in contempt (the Danish Islamic Burial Fund objected to el-Hussein’s burial in their cemetery); and then there’s that “circle of acquaintances,” numbering well into the hundreds, who haven’t picked up a gun themselves but for whatever reason feel sufficiently comfortable with what this degenerate did that they’ll show up in full view of news cameras to pay their respects. Obama has no problem denouncing the first group — every population has its nuts and fanatics — and no problem praising the second, but you rarely hear him talk at length about the third.

What are we to make of this third group?  Do they count as peaceable?  Radical?  One thing's for sure: They'd absolutely reject the fashionable, blithe pronouncements that they don't count as true Muslims -- as would the ISIS savages, for that matter.  I understand that Western leaders must walk something of a tightrope in distinguishing between radical Islamists and the peaceful majority of worldwide Muslims.  "We are not at war with Islam" is an important truth that must be reiterated often; Al Qaeda and ISIS recruitment propaganda makes the opposite claim for a reason.  But responsible push-back crosses into counter-productive territory when the official line bears no resemblance to reality.  Virtually nobody -- not Americans, not the terrorists, nobody -- actually believes that Islamic extremism is totally divorced from Islam. Mule-headedly peddling that fiction therefore comes across not as nuanced tolerance, but as morally-confused and dangerously naive weakness.  Western leaders should spend less time mouthing feel-goodery, and more time offering strong support for the brave and critically important efforts of Egypt's president:


While our president assures us that the jihadi cancer has nothing whatsoever to do with Islam, al-Sisi is calling for an intra-Islam "revolution" to reject and defeat the jihadi cancer within its ranks. The disconnect is striking. Parting thought: How would Western politically-correct apology brigades categorize the views of this Norwegian cleric and his congregation?


"Every now and then, every time we have a conference, every time we invite a speaker, they [the media] always come with the same accusations: This speaker supports the death penalty for homosexuals, this speaker supports the death penalty for this crime or this crime or that he is homophobic, that he subjugates women, etcetera,” said Qureshi in a video posted by the Middle East Memory Research Institute (MEMRI). "We always try to tell them,” he continued, “I always try to tell them that it is not that speaker that we are inviting who has these 'extreme radical views,' as you say. These are general views that every Muslim actually has...Every Muslim believes in these things,” said Qureshi...

Who is better equipped to discuss and decide who qualifies as a 'genuine' Muslim: Mr. Qureshi, or Josh Earnest?

Editor's note: A version of this item is cross-posted at HotAir.com

The "Less Rosy" Side of the Unemployment Rate

The official unemployment rate has been dropping, but as Federal Reserve Chair Janet Yellen conceded Tuesday, the national economic state is “less rosy” than these numbers suggest.

The authoritative report produced each month by the Bureau of Labor Statistics has created a narrow criterion for determining who is “unemployed.” For example, the report does not include “discouraged workers,” or in the vernacular, people who have become convinced there are no jobs available and have stopped looking.

The Mercatus Center explained:

The most commonly reported unemployment rate—5.7 percent in January 2015—is defined as the number of people without jobs who are available to work and are actively seeking work in the four weeks preceding the survey as a percentage of the labor force (the sum of employed and unemployed persons in the economy). At first glimpse, the 5.7 percent official US unemployment rate appears to be good news. Indeed, the early data show that the economy did add 257,000 jobs in January.

The Bureau of Labor Statistics categorizes the persons described above as the  “U-3 Persons Unemployed” and releases the data as the “official unemployment rate.” Questionably missing in their number crunching are the U-4 (“discouraged workers”), the U-5 (people who are available and are looking for work, but have not actively searched in the four weeks prior to the survey), and the U-6 (part time workers who are “underemployed").

Below is a chart showing the how these added categories of the unemployed would alter the way we view the official unemployment rate:

Screen Shot 2015-02-25 at 1.27.43 PM.png

As you can see, the government’s strict measuring stick overlooks much of the struggling workforce.

When asked about the restriction during a Senate Banking Committee hearing on Tuesday Yellen responded:

“The U-6 is a broader measure of unemployment, and it includes marginally attached and discouraged workers and also an unusually large number of individuals who are working part-time who would like full-time jobs, so it is a much broader indicator of underemployment or unemployment in the U.S. economy. And a lot of it’s come down. It was 12.1 percent a year ago. It’s come down from there to 11.3. It definitely shows a less rosy picture than U-3 or the 5.7 percent number.”

The number is certainly less rosy and also calls into question why the rubric exists as it does today. You can hear more of Yellen’s explanation below.