Click HERE to purchase Mr. Shapiro’s new book ‘The People Vs. Barack Obama: The Criminal Case Against The Obama Administration‘.
Click HERE to purchase Mr. Shapiro’s new book ‘The People Vs. Barack Obama: The Criminal Case Against The Obama Administration‘.
The IRS has stuck by its story that tax-exempt applications by conservatives got slow-rolled because of bureaucratic bungling not because the groups opposed President Obama’s policies. Now the slow drip of email evidence to congressional investigators is casting further doubt on that tale.
In 2009 the Pennsylvania group Z Street applied for tax-exempt status for its mission of educating people about Israel-related issues. In 2010 an IRS agent told Z Street that its application was delayed because the tax agency’s Washington, D.C. office was giving special scrutiny to groups whose missions might conflict with Administration policies. The IRS’s “Be On the Lookout” list that November also included red flags for groups referring to “disputed territories.”
Z Street sued in August 2010 for viewpoint discrimination and its case is headed for discovery in federal court. Now emails uncovered by the House Ways and Means Committee show that the IRS and State Department were conferring in 2009 about pro-Israel groups like Z Street and considering arguments to deny their tax-exempt applications.
In an April 16, 2009 email, Treasury attache to the U.S. consulate in Jerusalem Katherine Bauer sent IRS and Treasury colleagues a 1997 JTA News article sent to her by State Department foreign service officer Breeann McCusker. The subject was whether 501(c) groups buying land in Israel’s disputed territories were engaged in “possible violations of U.S. tax laws.” The article chronicles the controversy and whether “ideological activity” can “legally be financed with the help of U.S. [tax] dollars.”
“Thought you might find the below article of interest – looks like we’ve been down this road before,” Ms. Bauer wrote. “Although I believe you’ve said you can’t speak to on-going investigations, I thought it was worth flagging the 1997 investigation mentioned below for you if it can be of any use internally when looking for precedence [sic] for the current cases.” A Treasury spokesman declined comment on Ms. Bauer’s behalf.
The “current cases” would have been applications like Z Street’s in which Israel-related activity was apparently being scrutinized for its ideological and policy content. The government says Z Street got special scrutiny because it was focused in a region with a higher risk of terrorism, which is hard to believe and in any case doesn’t explain all of the IRS’s behavior.
It doesn’t cover, for instance, why one questionnaire we’ve seen from the IRS to another Jewish group applying for tax-exempt status asked, “Does your organization support the existence of the land of Israel?” and “Describe your organization’s religious belief system toward the land of Israel.” No matter the answers, they should not affect the processing of an application for 501(c) status. The State-IRS emails reveal a political motivation for IRS scrutiny that gives Z Street powerful evidence for its suit charging IRS bias.
On Monday the IRS filed an appeal of the judge’s decision denying its motion to dismiss Z Street’s case. The government says the action stops all discovery while the appeal is pending, a process that could take months or even years. By filing the appeal on the last possible day, the Justice Department is running out the clock on discovery during the remainder of the Administration.
This is a whole lot of effort to prevent discovery in a case that is not even seeking damages. Ways and Means uncovered the email exchange between State and the IRS only after Treasury was forced to turn over documents it had previously withheld. What else did it lose in the ether?
A police chief in Wisconsin pleaded no contest Friday to a charge that he signed a local tea party leader up on gay dating, pornography and federal health care websites.
Prosecutors charged Town of Campbell Police Chief Tim Kelemen earlier this month with one misdemeanor count of unlawful use of a computerized communication system. The La Crosse Tribune reported Kelemen entered the plea in a deal that calls for the charge to be dismissed in two years if he doesn’t commit any new crimes, continues counseling and completes 40 hours of community service.
The charge stems from a feud between Kelemen and tea party leader Greg Luce. It began last fall when the tea party began holding protests on an interstate overpass in Campbell. Concerned the protests were distracting drivers, Kelemen persuaded the town board to ban signs on the bridge.
Kelemen told investigators Luce urged tea party supporters across the U.S. to bombard his department with harassing phone calls and threats in retaliation for the ordinance.
Kelemen told investigators he tried to get back at Luce this winter by using his name, address, phone number and email address to create accounts for Luce on homosexual dating, pornography and federal health care websites. He told investigators he didn’t think what he was doing was a big deal.
La Crosse police turned the case over to Monroe County authorities.
Luce told Monroe County Circuit Judge David Rice on Friday that Kelemen is getting away with a “slap on the wrist.” He said he thinks Kelemen has suffered a psychological breakdown and shouldn’t be allowed to carry a gun or wear a badge again.
Kelemen didn’t address the court.
Luce has filed a lawsuit in federal court alleging the sign ordinance violates his free speech rights and demanding damages from Kelemen for stealing his identity. The town board has placed Kelemen on paid leave.
H/T Weasel Zippers
A great quote that sums up very well what the Left believes. H/T The Other McCain
Evan Sayet has been called “brilliant” so often by so many people that I hesitate to call him brilliant for fear of being accused of plagiarism, but to call him merely “smart” is to underestimate him. To call him “funny” — he has been a professional stand-up comedian and writer for decades — is to risk that people will miss the genuine seriousness of Evan’s insights. Did I mention that his recent book The Kindergarten of Eden: How the Modern Liberal Thinks and Why He’s Convinced That Ignorance Is Bliss is the most important book since Johannes Gutenberg invented movable type? So we must ponder Evan’s analysis of the liberal mind:
“They have actually turned thinking into a hate crime. . . .
The only way not to be a bigot is to never think at all.
So it’s not that the liberal is stupid, it’s that he’s
made thinking into something that he will not engage in.”
Via Matt Walsh. Go read the whole piece, it is excellent, but this quote is GOLD!
We have now reached a point where you are a homophobe and a scumbag if you wouldn’t hypothetically draft a negligible late round homosexual defensive prospect to your hypothetical football team. There is no reason or sanity left in the ranks of the progressive cultists. There is only absolute obedience, conformity, and hate.
As I said, go read it all.
Proving once again that it only takes a slight scratch beneath the surface of a supposedly mainstream liberal journalist to find a hardened, vitriolic radical who hates (yes, that’s the correct word) those who dare to disagree with him or her just screaming to come out, Simon tweeted the following in response to news that Texas Governor Rick Perry is calling up 1,000 National Guardsman to serve at his state’s border with Mexico (HT RedState):
Days after IRS officials said in a sworn statement that former top agency employee Lois G. Lerner’s computer memory had been wiped clean, the agency put out word to contractors Monday that it needs help to destroy at least another 3,200 hard drives.
The Internal Revenue Service solicitation for “media destruction” services reflects an otherwise routine job to protect sensitive taxpayer information, but it was made while the agency’s record destruction practices remain under a sharp congressional spotlight.
Congressional investigators of the IRS targeting of conservative groups have been hampered by the unexplained destruction of emails and other records of Ms. Lerner, the former head of the IRS tax-exempt division and a central figure in the scandal.
The loss of Ms. Lerner’s hard drive also raised broader questions about why the tax agency never reported the missing records to the National Archives and Records Administration, as required by the Federal Records Act.
While those questions remained unresolved, IRS officials signaled plans to destroy tens of thousands of additional electronic records.
“After all media are destroyed, they must not be capable of any reuse or information retrieval,” IRS officials stated in the contract papers.
Frederick Hill, a spokesman for the House Committee on Oversight and Government Reform, which is investigating the IRS scandal, said the committee has broad concerns about the agency’s record-retention practices.
Dan Epstein, executive director of the watchdog group Cause of Action, said rules require the archivist to sign off on the destruction of federal records.
“This solicitation, combined with the failure of the IRS to consult the Archivist about Louis Lerner’s hard drive, should put hesitation into any assumption that consultation with the Archivist is happening and prompt a thorough assessment of record retention at the IRS,” Mr. Epstein said Monday.
IRS officials did not respond to emails and phone calls about the solicitation, including whether the agency’s nonprofit division ever used the computers being destroyed.
Officials also declined to discuss how the IRS preserves records on computers targeted for destruction.
The agency estimates the need to destroy at least 65,464 magnetic tapes, 3,225 hard drives, 5,856 floppy disks and 708 reels, according to procurement records.
About 500,000 pieces of electronic data – including cassette tapes, reels, CDs, hard drives and USB media – have been collected since 2008, according to the IRS solicitation.
“Due to system changes, a significant amount of electronic portable media containing [personally identifiable information] and potentially sensitive but unclassified data such as taxpayer return information is being collected at IRS facilities and locked in secure storage areas awaiting destruction,” officials wrote in a statement of work attached to the solicitation.
The IRS disclosed last week that it relies on contractors to recycle computer equipment. The revelation was made in an affidavit filed in a federal lawsuit in Washington by True the Vote, a conservative group that says it has been scrutinized by the IRS.
Stephen Manning, IRS deputy chief information officer, said in federal court in Washington that officials tried but failed to retrieve Ms. Lerner’s records. He said the agency’s internal computer “help desk” received word on June 13, 2011, that the hard drive on Ms. Lerner’s laptop wasn’t working properly and subsequent efforts to preserve data “were unsuccessful.”
The computer has been wiped clean and recycled, he said, and officials have lost track of it because they don’t keep track of hard drives by serial number.
Ms. Lerner’s computer isn’t the only crash of a hard drive that congressional investigators have encountered in their attempt to reconstruct record trails.
Last week, Republican senators sent a letter to Archivist of the United States David Ferriero after receiving reports that an Environmental Protection Agency official’s hard drive had crashed just as congressional investigators began looking into questions about the EPA’s review of an Alaska mining project.
Investigators sought computer records of a former EPA official, Phillip North, who later fled the country. More than a year after his retirement, senators said, EPA officials belatedly told the National Archives and Records Administration that they failed to preserve Mr. North’s computer records.
“First the IRS, and now the EPA – these hard-drive crashes seem to be a growing epidemic throughout the administration,” Sen. David Vitter, Louisiana Republican, said in a statement. “This ‘dog ate my homework’ excuse is getting ridiculous.”
The U.S. is sending $47 million in humanitarian aid to the besieged Gaza Strip to help tens of thousands of Palestinians there who have been forced from their homes since war broke out two weeks ago.
A State Department breakdown of the aid that was released Monday said nearly a third of the money – $15 million – will go to the United Nations’ refugee mission in Gaza.
U.S. Secretary of State John Kerry was expected to discuss the aid with U.N. Secretary General Ban Ki-Moon in a meeting late Monday in Cairo.
Kerry arrived in the Egyptian capital only hours earlier in a U.S. push to help broker a truce between Israel and the militant group Hamas that controls Gaza.
President Obama’s un-Constitutional practice of lawlessly ignoring and rewriting laws to suit his left-wing political agenda has come back to bite his signature domestic achievement. Tuesday morning a federal appeals court dealt what USA Today describes as a “potentially major blow” to ObamaCare with a 2-1 ruling against the Obama administration’s end-run around Congress to disburse federal subsidies:
The appeals panel ruled that as written, the health care law allows tax credits to be offered to qualified participants only in state-run exchanges. The administration had expected most if not all states to create their own, but only 16 states did so.
The court said the Internal Revenue Service went too far in allowing participants in other states served by the federal exchange to qualify for billions of dollars in government assistance. The aid has helped boost enrollment figures to more than 8 million.
Once it became clear 36 states could not be bribed with federal dollars or bullied by the media into setting up their own ObamaCare exchanges, rather than go back to Congress to lobby for changing the law, President Obama blithely believed he could ignore and rewrite a law he signed after helping to usher it through a Congress dominated by Democrats.
If the ruling stands, those enticed into purchasing ObamaCare coverage with the help of untold billions in federal tax dollars will lose their subsidy in these 36 states. This is almost certain to force many ObamaCare recipients to drop coverage. The big question is how many of these people lost their affordable coverage after ObamaCare made the affordable insurance they were happy with illegal and cancelled those plans?
“We reach this conclusion, frankly, with reluctance,” Judge Thomas Griffith said. “At least until states that wish to can set up exchanges, our ruling will likely have significant consequences both for the millions of individuals receiving tax credits through federal exchanges and for health insurance markets more broadly.”…
Michael Cannon, a Cato Institute health economist who helped devise the legal challenge, said the refusal by so many states to create health exchanges led to the court ruling. “This is popular resistance to the law,” he said.
For now, USA Today reports, everything is on hold. The Administration has already announced that the taxpayer-funded subsidies will continue to flow.
Although the ruling will have no impact while it is appealed – either to the full appeals court, which includes four Obama appointees, or to the Supreme Court – the result could be chaotic if ultimately allowed to apply nationwide.
While the political Left and mainstream media are almost certain to wring their hands over the roughly 5 million able-bodied Americans not receiving federal monies (the sick, elderly, disabled, and truly poor are covered by Medicare and Medicaid) paid for by other able-bodied Americans, the principle here is much larger and more important: The rule of law.
Moreover, as Michael F. Cannon of Forbes points out, the winners in this decision outnumber the losers 10 to 1. As many as 57 million Americans will now be out from under the punitive ObamaCare mandate, compared to the 5 million who will not see an increase of their health insurance premiums but will lose their illegal taxpayer-funded subsidies.
Cannon also reminds that the whole idea and original intent of awarding billions in federal subsidies only to those states that built their own ObamaCare exchanges, wasn’t accidental or a technicality. Throughout the law it is made clear that those subsidies are available only “through an Exchange established by the State.”
Congress’s intent behind shaping the law in this manner was to entice/threaten the states into building their own exchanges. After 36 states wisely refused, Obama rewrote the law and illegally awarded the subsidies anyway.
The Constitution is very clear that it is the job of the legislative branch (House and Senate) to write law. The Executive branch enforces the law.
Rather than enforce the law, Obama broke it by rewriting it.
The potential danger of the court’s allowing such a precedent is staggering.
The Obama administration will continue handing out Obamacare subsidies to federal exchange customers despite a federal court’s ruling Tuesday that the subsidies are illegal.
A D.C. Court of Appeals panel ruled Tuesday morning that customers in the 36 states that didn’t establish their own exchange and use HealthCare.gov instead cannot be given premium tax credits, according to the text of the Affordable Care Act itself.
But the White House said in response that it will continue handing out the billions of taxpayer dollars in subsidies. White House press secretary Josh Earnest said that while the case continues to be battled out in the courts, the administration will continue to dole out billions in tax credits to federally-run exchange customers.
“It’s important for people all across the country to understand that this ruling does not have any practical impact on their ability to continue to receive tax credits right now,” Earnest said in a press briefing Tuesday.
A three-judge panel issued the ruling Tuesday, concluding 2-1 that the federal subsidies are illegal. The Department of Justice is seeking an en banc ruling from the appeals court, which would require all judges in the court to rule on the case. Eleven judges on the court would hear the case: seven Democrats and four Republicans.
That decision will likely also be appealed to the Supreme Court.
A Justice Department fraud prevention program came under fire Thursday for allegedly morphing into actively pressuring banks to deny financial services to businesses for political reasons.
Operation Choke Point functions as a partnership between the Department of Justice (DOJ) and various other federal agencies which deal with bank regulations, specifically the Treasury and the SEC. The objective of the project is to choke-off fraudulent businesses from accessing financial services, in an effort to protect consumers.
The controversy, however, is over allegations that the DOJ is pressuring financial institutions to decline doing business with so-called “high risk” industries which line up squarely against the political leanings of the current administration. These businesses include ammunition sales, payday loans, pornography, fireworks companies, and others – 24 industries in total, as listed by the Federal Deposit Insurance Corporation (FDIC).
“Operation Choke Point is one of the most dangerous programs I have experienced in my 45 years of service as a bank regulator, bank attorney and consultant, and bank board member. Operating without legal authority and guided by a political agenda, unelected officials at the DOJ are discouraging banks from providing basic banking services…to lawful businesses simply because they don’t like them,” said William M. Isaac, former chairman of the FDIC.
Thursday’s House Judiciary Committee hearing focused on the legality of DOJ overreach. Letters have poured in from company owners in support of these suspicions, noting startling cases where the DOJ reportedly has directly strong-armed banks into dropping clients not engaging in fraud.
Virginia Republican Rep. Robert Goodlatte revealed that one of the more egregious examples sent in to the committee was a meeting between the DOJ and a bank regarding the continued provision of financial services to a payday loan company.
The DOJ official reportedly told the banker, “I don’t like this product, and I don’t believe it should have a place in our financial system. And if you don’t agree, there will be an immediate, unplanned audit of your entire bank.”
The Justice Department has now served over 50 subpoenas on banks, and Alabama Republican Rep. Spencer Bachus expressed considerable concern that dragging banks into a long and expensive process is just an underhanded way of encouraging banks to drop clients as an easy-out.
“Subpoenas are expensive to comply with and can bring unwanted scrutiny. The natural reaction from a financial institution might be to sever relations with the merchant and be done with it,” Bachus said Thursday in a hearing at the Subcommittee on Regulatory Reform, Commercial and Antitrust Law.
Missouri Republican Rep. Blaine Luetkemeyer brought forward the End Operation Choke Point Act Tuesday to curb the DOJ’s activities in this area. The act would provide financial institutions with safe harbor to serve customers engaged in legal activities, so as to cut out politically motivated attacks on businesses deemed undesirable by the Justice Department.
“Welcome to America,” Border Patrol agent Albert Spratte says.
As politicians in Washington debate how to best deal with the influx of illegal immigrants from Central America along the southwest border, smugglers continue to transport women, children, and entire families into the country.
The Daily Signal went on a tour of the border near McAllen, Texas, with Spratte, sergeant at arms of Union 3307 of the National Border Patrol Council, to capture raw footage of the precise location of many border crossings.
In the three videos below, Spratte breaks down the illegal immigrants’ access points, revealing how easy it remains to break into America.
Along the banks of the Rio Grande Valley, illegal immigrants navigate tall sugarcane to make it onto American shore. The path is difficult and dangerous for Border Patrol agents to access, says Spratte, and easy for smugglers to direct immigrants onto U.S. soil.
Spratte describes how smugglers transport children and families from one side of the Anzalduas Dam to the other. Once in the U.S., many of them willingly give themselves up. Within the last several months, the Border Patrol agent says, the Department of Homeland Security, or “whoever controls press access” to the U.S. side of the dam, has made it more difficult for the news media to get to that spot.
“It’s really restricted the ability of the American press to report what’s going on to the public,” Spratte said. “We believe the public has a right to know what’s going on, and it’s difficult when the press is being controlled and not allowed to go to those areas.”
In a highly visible part of Anzalduas Park in the Rio Grande Valley, Spratte describes how human smugglers use jet skis to transport men, women, and children from parkland on the Mexico side of the river to the Texas side. “We don’t have a checkpoint at the park,” he said, making it “impossible” to tell whether people arrived illegally.
Eyewitnesses at dozens of points across the United States have begun working together to track down where the tens of thousands of illegal alien children from Central America are ending up, because the federal government won’t disclose many details of its handling of the immigration crisis.
Even top government leaders have been caught off guard.
Sen. Mark Kirk, a Republican from Illinois, said he did not know the locations of children being held in Illinois, Fox News reported.
He believes the White House does not want such information to be made public.
Nebraska Gov. Dave Heineman recently said he discovered that 200 of the children were sent to his state without warning or notice to his office.
Federal agency managers refused to give him the names and locations of the children, he said.
“We need to know who they are,” Heineman insisted. “And so far, they are saying they’re not going to give us that information.”
NumbersUSA’s map, which derives its information from members of Congress, eyewitnesses, reliable sources and news reports, shows children are being taken to many states, including Washington, Oregon, California, Arizona, New Mexico, Texas, Iowa, Nebraska, Illinois, Virginia, Maryland, Connecticut, Rhode Island and Massachusetts.
NumbersUSA Executive Director Roy Beck told WND it’s clear that the Obama administration’s dispersal of the children across the nation conflicts with its promise that many will be returned to their home countries.
“[They want to keep this] as secret as possible for as long as possible,” Beck told WND.
“We’ve been told by advocates of amnesty that you can never get the people here illegally to go back home… Actually, there are ways to get them back home.”
He argued that if the government intended to return them, it “wouldn’t disperse them, because it’s harder to find them.”
The secretary of the Department of Homeland Security, Beck noted, has said “the answer has to be that nearly all these people have to be moved back to Central America.”
But the administration’s actions don’t match its words, he said.
William Gheen, president of Americans for Legal Immigration PAC, told WND that Obama’s plan to handle the flood of incoming children is “to lie to us as long as possible.”
Gheen said the nation’s existing laws, if enforced, would do a great deal to resolve some of the most critical problems. But many citizens feel the need to take immediate action, including stopping buses transporting illegal aliens, a reference to protests in Murrieta, California.
One of many places where the immigration battle is coming to a head is Prince William County, Virginia.
Board of Supervisors Chairman Corey Stewart said he’s asking county staff members to investigate how many children are being brought to Virginia and left there.
Stewart said federal officials had not informed county officials of plans to relocate some of the children to his county.
“The crisis at the border has again reached Prince William County. Without providing the county any notice, the federal government is now placing illegal immigrant children at private and perhaps federal facilities in our county,” he said in a statement at the time.
“Although no county facilities are being used to house the children, I will ask the board tomorrow to direct the county executive to attempt to find out more about the location(s) where these children are being held and whether there is anything that the board can do to stop it. While it may seem cold hearted, it is important that these children be sent back home since letting them stay simply entices even more children to attempt the long and dangerous journey to the United States.”
The crisis is being blamed on Obama’s announcement that he would bend federal law and defer prosecutions and deportations of children who have come to the U.S. illegally. That message apparently is being heard in Central America as an invitation for children to come and obtain housing, schooling, health and even legal benefits as soon as they arrive.
But experts have noted that among the illegal aliens are gang members and carriers of contagious diseases, including tuberculosis.
Officials in Central America say they want “immigration reform” in the United States to make access easier, or they’ll continue sending children illegally to the nation’s border.
A recent Reuters report quoted Jorge Ramon Hernandez, a representative of Honduran President Juan Orlando Hernandez, saying as long as immigration reform is not approved, “the exodus of children to the United States will continue.”
But regarding the flood of illegals, estimated at more than 50,000 unaccompanied children already this year and forecast for more next year, Iowa Gov. Terry Branstad simply told Washington he doesn’t want them delivered to his state.
“The first thing we need to do is secure the border. I do have empathy for these kids,” Branstad said. “But I also don’t want to send the signal that (you) send your kids to America illegally. That’s not the right message.”
National Review confirmed the secrecy surrounding the handling of the children.
“Across agency lines, officials have ignored questions from the press. ICE officials referred National Review Online’s questions on to Kenneth Wolfe, deputy director of the Office of Public Affairs in HHS’ Administration for Children and Families. Wolfe did not respond to repeated requests for an interview, but did email links to the Administration for Children and Families’ website,” the publication said of its attempts to get information.
“The Army Public Affairs office in Washington also referred Judicial Watch’s questions about Fort Bliss to Wolfe. And a spokesperson for BCFS Health and Human Services, a San Antonio-based network of non-profit organizations, declined comment to the Brownsville Herald about its plans to open a shelter for illegal immigrant children in Weslaco, referring the Herald to Wolfe as well,” the report said. “Federal officials have instructed caseworkers, who identify and verify the sponsors of the illegal immigrant children, not to speak to the media under any circumstance.”
The NumbersUSA map notes that 1,200 illegals were being held at Fort Lewis, Washington, and 1,400 at Fort Sill, Oklahoma.
Its list documents where the illegals are being housed, where more are to be placed and other details.
“NumbersUSA is daily updating this interactive map to show which communities are under threat of the federal government moving large numbers of illegal aliens there from the border,” the report said. “NumbersUSA is providing its members actions they can take to help stop the government’s dispersal of illegal aliens in a way that usually means they never go back home.”
As the Obama administration tries to warn Central American parents about the dangers of exporting their children to the United States, it appears that some of those parents already know the risks.
Some parents are giving their daughters birth control before they head to the United States — “in case they’re raped along the way,” Homeland Security Secretary Jeh Johnson told Congress last week.
“I’ve met with enough of these kids now, including a 15-year old in Nogales (Ariz.) two weeks ago, who was three months pregnant, to have a real sense for what these kids go through,” Johnson told the Senate Appropriations Committee on July 10.
“We’ve heard about how before they leave Central America, some of these kids’ parents actually will give them birth control in case they’re raped along the way.”
Sen. Dick Durbin (D-Ill.) told the committee that he’d just received a report from an immigration advocacy group at the University of Chicago Law School describing the ordeal of two unaccompanied children:
“Samuel and Emily are siblings; amazingly, ages 3 and 6 — 3 and 6. They got here from Honduras. I don’t know how,” Durbin said.
“When they initially arrived in the United States, they were very quiet and they didn’t open up. They were clearly victims of trauma. After two months of care and custody of these 3- and 6-year-old children by HHS, Emily revealed that both children had been raped by members of a local drug cartel.
“I think about those children when I think about this debate. Are they the exception? God, I pray they are. But I’m afraid there are many more with similar stories.”
Durbin told the panel that President Obama’s $3.7 billion emergency spending request to deal with the flood of children coming to the U.S. illegally does not include enough money “to provide the kind of representation and advocacy to protect these kids.”
Committee Chair Sen. Barbara Mikulski said border agents are finding the children “dehydrated, malnourished, scared. Many have been abused. They come here relying on smugglers’ false promises, smugglers that are part of dangerous gangs and cartels who see women and children like commodities to be able to buy and sell them across the borders. Children leave home based on lies, endure dangerous journeys and the threat of being trafficked along the way.”
As of mid-June of the current fiscal year, the U.S. Border Patrol had apprehended more than 52,000 children at the U.S.-Mexico border. Approximately three-quarters of them originated from El Salvador, Guatemala or Honduras after traveling for weeks through Mexico.
Some die along the way, including a 15-year-old boy who was buried in Guatemala on Saturday.
The Associated Press reported that the decomposed body of Gilberto Francisco Ramos Juarez was discovered on June 15 in the Rio Grande Valley, just over the Texas border with Mexico. He apparently got lost on his way north and likely died from exposure in hot, dry brush country of South Texas.
“Around his neck was a rosary he had received as a gift for his first communion as a Roman Catholic. Scribbled inside his belt buckle was the phone number of an older brother in Chicago he had hoped to reach,” the report said.
At last week’s hearing, Sen. Susan Collins noted that the influx of Central American children began in 2012. “So we need to look at what happened that year,” she said.
“Well, on June 15th of 2012, President Obama took unilateral action and announced his Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals policy.
“Now let me make clear that I think the president’s action was motivated by compassion. But it seems clear to me that it sent the wrong message to those parents in Central America. And it demonstrates what happens when the president unilaterally decides to issue an executive order affecting immigration without securing the border.”
Collins noted that the number of children coming to the U.S. from Central America more than doubled between Fiscal Year 2011 and Fiscal Year 2013. “Yet until just recently, the president did not even speak out to warn their parents and to tell them that the journey would be horrendously dangerous for their children and that they would be sent home.
“We know that many of these children have been abused or harmed on their way here. And when the wave became evident two years ago, the president took no action at that time to try to stem the tide,” Collins said.
Rep. Kay Granger (R-Texas) recently traveled to Central America, where she met with the presidents and first ladies of Guatemala and Honduras. They “want their children back,” she said.
“And they’re willing to cooperate with us to send the children back as quickly as possible,” Granger told Fox & Friends on Tuesday.
“Did they indicate that President Obama had reached out to them? And if so, what did he say?” Elizabeth Hasselbeck asked Granger.
“No, they didn’t. They didn’t say anything about that,” Granger replied.
“I did ask them how helpful it would be if the president of the United States spoke out clearly and strongly and said, don’t send your children to the United States illegally, because we will send them back; they will not complete their journey. And they said that could be – could be very helpful. They did not indicate that that was happening.”
Nothing to see here, move along…
Dr. Michael Vickers and Chris Burgard learn a few phrases of Urdu, from an Urdu dictionary, that was dropped by a coyote on the Vickers’ ranch in Texas. Urdu is spoken in Pakistan.
Training Mexico to secure their southern border.
The United States is quietly expanding its training of Mexico’s armed forces, helping to reverse decades of mistrust that made Mexico’s military reluctant to cooperate with its northern neighbor.
The amount the Pentagon spent on training Mexico’s armed forces, though small, increased to more than $15 million last year, up from about $3 million in 2009, according to U.S. Northern Command, which oversees U.S. military contacts with Mexico.
The training comes as Mexico’s armed forces have been drawn deeper into the country’s war on drugs and organized crime.
“For decades, Mexico’s military tried to remain autonomous from the U.S. military,” said David Shirk, a fellow at the Wilson Center.
U.S. military officials are reluctant to discuss the relationship openly because of sensitivities in Mexico about appearing dependent on American help. In a statement, the Pentagon said the U.S. military participated in 150 “engagements” with Mexican troops on both sides of the border, “sharing training opportunities with more than 3,000 Mexican soldiers, sailors, airmen and Marines.”
The statement said the Pentagon’s “interactions” with Mexico’s military have expanded over the past three years. Mexican government officials declined to speak on the record about the training.
The Mexican navy and marine corps have been particularly receptive, allowing the United States to expand its training with Mexico’s armed forces and build trust.
“Our security agencies have focused heavily on cooperation with the navy and marines,” said George Grayson, a professor at William and Mary who has written a book about Mexican drug cartels.
By contrast, the army is a more “insular” institution less willing to cooperate with foreign military forces, Shirk said.
“The navy has earned a tremendous amount of trust from American authorities,” Shirk said.
The army is more susceptible to corruption, since its soldiers have been deployed throughout the country in fixed locations, where there are more opportunities to be bribed. They have direct contact with drugs through eradication efforts.
Democrat Maryland Governor (and potential 2016 Presidential candidate) Martin O’Malley’s words and actions don’t line up regarding what to do with the thousands of unaccompanied illegal alien children showing up at the border.
Just last week, at a National Governors Association meeting in Nashville, O’Malley said:
“We are not a country that should turn children away and send them back to certain death… Through all of the great world religions we are told that hospitality to strangers is an essential human dignity.”
Hours later, O’Malley was singing a different tune about a proposal to convert a former Army Reserve Center into housing for the children.
“He privately said ‘please don’t send these kids to Western Maryland,’” a Democratic source told CNN. The heated discussion between O’Malley and White House domestic policy adviser Cecilia Munoz occurred during a phone call late Friday evening, sources familiar with the conversation added.
HHS has since scuttled the plan for the Western Maryland site, an O’Malley official said.
Don’t send the children back to certain death, but don’t send them to my state either. Oh, and about that “hospitality to strangers” you referenced, Governor, have you been a part of any private relief efforts that religious organizations have been organizing to help these children, regardless of their legal status? Or is that just something somebody else should do as well?
Touting hospitality to strangers and then hours later begging the government to not send the children to Maryland sounds pretty hypocritical, Governor.
This story is about a gilded class of people and corporations enriched by the new American economy while the rest of its citizens pay the tab. The protagonists could be any number of institutional elites, but this column happens to be about a Democratic senator from West Virginia, Joe Manchin, and his daughter, Heather Bresch, the chief executive of Mylan, a giant maker of generic drugs based outside Pittsburgh.
Her company’s profits come largely from Medicaid and Medicare, which means her nest is feathered by U.S. taxpayers. On Monday, Bresch announced that Mylan will renounce its United States citizenship and instead become incorporated in the Netherlands – leaving this country, in part, to pay less in taxes.
This is the sort of story that makes blood boil in populists – voters from the Elizabeth Warren wing of the Democratic Party to libertarians who follow Rand Paul and including tea party conservatives. These disillusioned souls, growing in numbers, hate hypocrites who condemn the U.S. political system while gaming it.
Populists can’t be happy with how this story was told by Andrew Ross Sorkin of the New York Times. Under the headline “Reluctantly, Patriot Flees Homeland for Greener Tax Pastures,” Sorkin cast Bresch as a helpless victim of a system that has made her wealthy and her father powerful.
Heather Bresch grew up around politics. Her father is Joe Manchin, the Democratic senator from West Virginia and a former governor. She has heard him say repeatedly, “We live in the greatest country on Earth,” as he did in countless political advertisements. And it appeared to rub off on her: Ms. Bresch was named a “Patriot of the Year” in 2011 by Esquire magazine for helping to push through the F.D.A. Safety Innovation Act.
Ah, so she’s a patriot. Bresch told Sorkin that she engineered the company’s divorce from the United States “reluctantly,” and, the reporter added, “she genuinely seems to mean it.” That credulous line was followed by two paragraphs about corporate tax rates, an important reminder of how slowly political and business leaders are adapting to the global, tech-infused economy.
If Ms. Bresch’s deal is not a call to Washington to address what is clearly a growing trend that it has remained nearly silent on, the nation will most likely continue to lose large employers and taxpayers in droves to countries with lower tax rates. Almost 20 large United States companies have announced plans to give up their United States citizenship over the last two years. Just on Monday, the Irish drug maker Shire cleared the way for a merger with AbbVie, the drug maker based in Chicago, and Walgreen is considering an inversion through a deal with Alliance Boots, a European drugstore chain.
“It’s not like I’ve not been vocal and up there talking to anybody who’d listen to me,” Ms. Bresch told me in an interview about the crusade she had been on in Washington for years, talking to lawmakers about overhauling the corporate tax code to make United States companies more competitive. “But you know what they all say? ‘Yeah, uh huh, O.K. Uh huh.’ “
That’s ripe. The daughter of a U.S. senator and former governor – a Patriot of the Year, no less – says she got lip-service from Congress. Just like you and me.
To his credit, Sorkin says there is something “morally disconcerting” about a company bolting a country that is among its biggest customers. Still, he writes, Bresch “insists that the merger is being driven mostly by its strategic merits, and that the lower tax rate is just an added benefit.” OK, now. That’s hard to swallow. How much in taxes will she save by jilting the United States?
Ms. Bresch, who said the company’s current effective tax rate is about 25 percent, said the rate would come down to 21 percent in the first year of the deal and then move into the high teens after three to five years. Mylan will continue to pay taxes in the United States on its domestic profits, but not on its business operations abroad.
All of which raises an important question: Even if the United States were to revamp its corporate tax code, how low would the rate have to drop to be competitive and still raise enough revenue to pay for the services that citizens expect?
Corporate taxes will go as low as ordinary voters can stand it, no doubt, because their rates are determined by powerful special interests and elites like Bresch and her father. Manchin wouldn’t speak to me, but he did issue a nugatory statement to Sorkin – something about being “disappointed” when U.S. companies “feel the need to move overseas because of the U.S. tax code.”
Too bad Manchin isn’t in a postion to feel the need and find a way to keep Mylan paying taxes to the United States, the country that presumably will continue to enrich her firm via Medicare and Medicaid. Would he try to cut federal drug payments to Mylan by roughly the amount of taxes his daughter is taking to the Netherlands? I don’t know, because my call to the senator’s office was not returned.
As for Americans less privileged and powerful than these two characters, your role is clear: Just cast your votes and pay the bills.
It was the line from The Godfather that will never be forgotten: “I’m gonna make you an offer you can’t refuse.” The Chicago thugocracy of Barack Hussein Obama took that tactic with health insurance companies to make them swallow Obamacare in the first place, and is now quietly bribing them to “postpone” rate hikes scheduled to come out right before the midterms.
According to Forbes.com, ” Hidden in the midst of a 436-page regulatory update, and written in pure bureaucratese, the Department of Health and Human Services asked that insurance companies limit the looming premium increases for 2015 health plans. But don’t worry, HHS hinted: we’ll bail you out on the taxpayer’s dime if you lose money. No wonder there wasn’t a press release. The White House is playing politics with Americans’ health care – and they’re bribing health insurance companies to play along.”
Ok, let me clarify: the Obama administration has sneaked in a regulatory rule update asking health insurance companies not to do their job accurately if it means higher insurance premiums. After all Obama – aka Vito Corleone – stated Obamacare would bring about an average reduction of $2500 to healthcare premiums. Now, here is the offer the insurance companies can’t refuse: “even if you’re losing money, we’ll square it away for you” – with taxpayer dollars of course.
So in the long run, the hard-working American middle-income family gets screwed either way! Either they’ll have to pay higher premiums or pay the government through higher taxes – such as Obama’s desired higher gas taxes – in order to compensate the insurance companies. And here we thought Obama REALLY didn’t like those insurance companies.
Now, silly me, I thought bribery was a felony offense. Oops, there I go again using logic and common sense when assessing the Obama administration – heck, they’re having problems with computer hard drives, bribery is just par for the course.
And to think the Washington Post just gave President Obama three more “pinocchios” for lying. Nah, none of this matters – it’s certainly not “impeachable.” It’s just liberal progressive socialist politics as usual – fear, intimidation, coercion, lies and deception. Can you imagine what would be happening if this were a revelation occurring under a Republican president?
But be careful, you don’t want to be accused of racial animus because you’re questioning the president’s bribery policy. And I don’t think the U.S. Department of Justice will be investigating this, do you?
Why is all of this happening now? Why it’s simple. There’s an election coming in November 2014 and the last thing Obama, his personal consigliere Valerie Jarrett and the Democrats want is for 2015 healthcare insurance premium increases to be announced in September. And Obama accuses everyone else of playing politics.
As Forbes reports, “typically, insurance companies release their premium rates between summer and early fall – i.e., right before voters cast their ballots in November. If premiums skyrocket—which looks increasingly likely – then voters won’t look too kindly on Senators and Representatives who voted for Obamacare and created this problem. Hence the White House’s desperate damage control. It almost worked: No one noticed when the regulations were first released. In fact, it took days for any news outlet to find the language and then translate it into readable English. TownHall.com figured it out first. The Los Angeles Times then reported that “hold[ing] down premium increases for next year” is a “top priority” for President Obama since “rates will be announced ahead of this fall’s congressional elections.” Wow, give the LA Times a Scooby Snack for getting that one right!
Forbes says “even if the healthcare insurance industry doesn’t want to play along, it’s still in these companies’ best interests to assent to the administration’s “request.” Under Obamacare, insurers are so heavily regulated that they have to play nice with the bureaucrats who call the shots. The president isn’t the only government official who carries a big stick. If insurance companies don’t give in, regulators have powerful ways to make life hard for them. A shrewd CEO doesn’t need to look far to see what might happen if his company opts out. This administration already has a reputation for strong-arming dissenting businesses in other industries.”
Don’t believe how bad it could be? Just ask the coal industry and the small community banks. Of course, this will once again be dismissed and the White House may still get away with its attempted sleight of hand. Technically, the regulations don’t force health insurance companies to hold down their premium increases. But the White House isn’t asking nicely. Does it ever?
If the GOP can awake from its stupor and acknowledge the other side doesn’t play nice, perhaps they’ll start winning elections. This is the politics of Moose and Rocco, and exactly what Americans consented to when they voted to have Chicago come to Washington D.C.
P.S. Hillary is from Chicago too.
The House voted to block performance bonuses for senior Internal Revenue Service executives Wednesday, The Hill reported.
“Giving out bonuses is ludicrous and amounts to a slap in the face to the American public,” said Rep. Paul Gosar, who introduced the amendment. “They should not be given performance awards in the wake of one of the largest scandals in recent history.”
The amendment passed by a vote of 282-138-1, with only Democrats voting against it.
“To suggest and paint with a broad brush the whole IRS and say that everyone there at the senior level is not worthy of a bonus or not worthy of our respect is really to do a disservice to public service employees,” said ranking member Democrat Rep. José Serrano.
The House also passed an amendment prohibiting the IRS from spending money on conferences, with Rep. Ron DeSantis noting that one recent conference alone cost more than $4 million.
These are just the latest move in the House’s war on the IRS. Earlier this week it voted to slash the IRS’s budget by $1.14 billion, motivated by anger over the Lois Lerner targeting scandal.
“The IRS is guilty of targeting innocent Americans, now… I am targeting them,” said Rep. Gosar, who also sponsored of one of the amendments that dramatically cut funding.
“We need to keep in mind that the IRS is one of the most feared agencies within the federal government,” said Rep. Bill Huizenga, who introduced a separate budget-cutting amendment, which also passed. “It is up to Congress to prevent the IRS from ever slipping back into its targeting practices. The best way to do that is to force the IRS to consolidate its resources and prioritize. Congress itself has been forced to do this. Our own offices have been forced to do this and there is no reason the IRS cannot follow suit. We cannot allow the IRS to be used as a political weapon.”
Gosar’s amendment cut the IRS’s budget by $353 million, while Huizenga’s chopped off another $788 million. According to the Pittsburgh Post-Gazette, this leaves the IRS with $9.8 billion for the fiscal year beginning on October 1.
Both amendments passed by a voice vote, meaning there is no record of who did and did not support the amendments.
Both the budget-cutting and bonus-blocking amendments were made to House Resolution 5016, the fiscal year 2015 financial services appropriations bill, which “provides annual funding for the Treasury Department, the Judiciary, the Small Business Administration, the Securities and Exchange Commission, and several other agencies.”
These amendments have the White House rattled, with its budget office saying Monday that, “If the President were presented with H.R. 5016, his senior advisors would recommend that he veto the bill.”
“Reverting the agency’s funding level to FY 2008 levels would hinder IRS efforts to provide robust service to taxpayers, improve enforcement operations, and implement new statutory responsibilities,” the statement read. “The Administration also objects to provisions that unnecessarily encumber IRS operations with reporting requirements and unduly restrict the IRS’s ability to finalize regulations.”
H.R. 5016 passed Wednesday afternoon by a vote of 228-195.
“The bill totals $21.3 billion in funding for these agencies, which is $566 million below the fiscal year 2014 enacted level and $2.3 billion below the President’s request for these programs,” said an Appropriations Committee press release. “The legislation prioritizes programs critical to enforcing laws, maintaining an effective judiciary system, and helping small businesses, while targeting lower-priority or poor-performing programs – such as the Internal Revenue Service – for reductions.”
Nobody does it better…
Megyn Kelly absolutely destroyed Jon Stewart and the liberal cranks who are misleading the American public on the Hobby Lobby Supreme Court decision.
Via The Kelly File:
The Blaze wrote about the left’s many lies on the Hobby Lobby decision.
The Washington Post faulted several Democratic lawmakers for less-than-truthful assertions about the Supreme Court’s ruling in the Hobby Lobby case, most of which implied that employers could prevent employees from buying contraception.
The 5-4 court majority actually ruled that closely held companies cannot be forced to pay for select types of contraceptives for employees.
Since some Democrats – including party leaders Sen. Harry Reid of Nevada and Rep. Nancy Pelosi of California – confessed to misspeaking, and others stated they were expressing an opinion, the Post’s Fact Checker said it would not count the comments as outright lies.
“But this collection of rhetoric suggests that Democrats need to be more careful in their language about the ruling,” the Post noted. “All too often, lawmakers leap to conclusions that are not warranted by the facts at hand. Simply put, the court ruling does not outlaw contraceptives, does not allow bosses to prevent women from seeking birth control and does not take away a person’s religious freedom.”
Trouble is brewing in Washington as those who still consider legitimate the national healthcare takeover known as Obamacare try to figure out which enrollees are even eligible for coverage. A new report issued by the Office of the Inspector General (OIG) admits that nearly 1.3 million Obamacare enrollees, or about 16 percent of the overall total, cannot be verified for legal status in the U.S. – in other words, most, if not all, of them are illegal immigrants rather than American citizens.
The shocking figures can be found on page 11 of the Department of Health and Human Services (HHS) report, entitled Marketplaces Faced Early Challenges Resolving Inconsistencies with Applicant Data. According to the figures, 1,295,571 “inconsistencies” – this is a politically correct way of implying missing or fraudulent data – found on Obamacare applications involved issues of citizenship, national status or lawful presence in the U.S., meaning applicants did not or could not verify this important information.
“The Federal marketplace was generally incapable of resolving most inconsistencies,” admits the report, noting that a large percentage of these faulty applications will likely never be resolved, at least not until the eligibility verification system becomes operable. “Without the ability to resolve inconsistencies in an applicant’s eligibility data, the marketplace cannot ensure that an applicant meets each of the eligibility requirements for enrollment in a [Qualified Health Plan] and when applicable, eligibility for insurance affordability programs.”
Nearly Half Of Total Obamacare Enrollees Cannot Be Verified As Eligible
What this implies is that the entire Obamacare program is nothing but a giant free-for-all, with absolutely no checks or balances in place to ensure that abuse and fraud don’t run rampant. Between abnormalities with income, employment verification and legal status in the U.S., it appears as though the bulk of Obamacare enrollees are either criminals, deadbeats or illegal aliens who don’t even belong in the country.
Of the roughly 8 million applicants who have signed up for Obamacare as of this writing, nearly 3 million of them cannot be verified by the current system as eligible, according to the HHS. And at this point in time, there is no way to ever verify them, as admitted by the Inspector General, further proving the massive swindle that has been levied on the American people by the Usurper-in-Chief who, ironically, has his own eligibility inconsistencies.
Four State-Run Exchanges Admit They Have No Way Of Verifying If Obamacare Enrollees Are Legal Citizens
Beyond the federal debacle, at least four state-run Obamacare exchanges are also incapable of verifying applicant eligibility. The HHS report explains that four of the 15 state marketplaces – Massachusetts, Nevada, Oregon and Vermont – haven’t figure out a way to resolve their “inconsistencies,” either. Much of this is due to their enrollment systems never having been designed with the capacity to verify applicants, a major oversight (or, perhaps, a deliberate design flaw).
Three other states – Hawaii, Colorado and Minnesota – have also had problems with inconsistencies. But these states sloughed the mess onto their state Medicaid offices, which are now having to individually verify each application by hand.
“One year ago, conservatives warned that the Obama administration’s decision to use the so-called ‘honor system’ for income eligibility was merely a backdoor way to get as many individuals on the public dole as possible,” wrote Wynton Hall for Breitbart about the ongoing dilemma. “The Office of Inspector General determined that ‘the federal marketplace was generally incapable of resolving most inconsistencies.’”