By the time the VA got around to it, they’d been dead for years.
(CNN) Hundreds of thousands of veterans listed in the Department of Veterans Affairs enrollment system died before their applications for care were processed, according to a report issued Wednesday.
The VA’s inspector general found that out of about 800,000 records stalled in the agency’s system for managing health care enrollment, there were more than 307,000 records that belonged to veterans who had died months or years in the past.
In a response to the House Committee on Veterans Affairs’ request to investigate a whistleblower’s allegations of mismanagement at the VA’s Health Eligibility Center, the inspector general also found VA staffers incorrectly marked unprocessed applications and may have deleted 10,000 or more records in the last five years.
In one case, a veteran who applied for VA care in 1998 was placed in “pending” status for 14 years. Another veteran who passed away in 1988 was found to have an unprocessed record lingering in 2014, the investigation found.
Ooouuuch. My sides are still aching after last week’s comical announcement by GOP presidential candidate Jeb Bush that he had snagged the coveted endorsement of notorious electoral reject Eric Cantor, the former House majority leader kicked to the curb by disgusted voters in Virginia’s 2014 primary election.
Newsflash to GOP elites: Getting Cantor’s support is not like landing a prized marlin. It’s like hooking one of those hideous bottom-feeding blobfish named the world’s ugliest creature.
Inside the Beltway, The Washington Post reported, “Cantor remains well-liked and respected in the Virginia business community and among the Republican donor class in the commonwealth.”
But outside the Beltway, the failed Republican revolutionary-turned-Wall Street influence-peddler is a snortle-inducing spectacle on both sides of the political aisle.
In Cantor’s endorsement statement Thursday, he praised Bush as a “true conservative leader” who “can re-energize our nation and recapture our greatness.” That’s empty babble coming from the epitome of an out-of-touch, self-aggrandizing, revolving-door ruling class.
BushCantor share the same smug condescension toward Americans who believe in strict immigration enforcement and putting American workers first. Cantor fecklessly lied to voters during the campaign season about his position(s). He showered his district with anti-illegal immigration flyers that fraudulently portrayed him as standing up to President Obama on amnesty. But on Capitol Hill, he championed the DREAM Act for illegal alien students, huge H-1B visa increases to quench Big Tech’s appetite for cheap foreign tech workers, and the U.S. Chamber of Commerce/AFL-CIO’s collaboration on massive immigration expansions.
While Cantor lip-synced to the limited-government tea party message, he boogied in backrooms with his pork-barrel pals. He assailed Obama’s bloated stimulus and then celebrated the high-speed rail boondoggles in his state funded by it. As a celebrated “young gun” on the right, Cantor preached fiscal responsibility, while blowing nearly $170,000 on fancy steakhouse dinners across the country in his last year in office.
Like Bush (and Gang of Eight cheerleader Sen. Marco Rubio), Cantor was the beneficiary of – and water carrier for – generous Silicon Valley and Big Business contributors. Cantor’s biggest donors included New York financial conglomerates the Blackstone Group ($65,500) and Goldman Sachs ($26,000), and California tech company Oracle ($25,000).
By contrast, the biggest donors to Cantor’s successful challenger, libertarian economics professor Dave Brat, were Virginia couple Gerry and Karen Baugh of Baugh Auto Body ($5,400), Michigan writer and artist Louis McAlpin ($5,200), and retired Virginia couple Martha and Kenneth Schwenzer ($5,200).
One outside group, the American Chemistry Council, spent a whopping $300,000 on soft-money ads to protect Cantor – an amount that exceeded Brat’s entire campaign funding.
Likewise, while Bush fashions himself a champion of the American worker, he pompously pushes the Gang of Eight amnesty as the only “adult” plan in the room. While he poses as a champion of American parents, students and “school choice,” he trashes activist moms and zealously crusades for failed Fed Ed rackets and data-mining schemes masquerading as “higher standards.” And while he stumps for the ordinary American’s “right to rise” through conservative principles, he has parlayed his political career into a multimillion-dollar collection basket from liberal special interests and corporate cronies who fund his Common Core advocacy – including the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation, the GE Foundation, Bloomberg Philanthropies, Intel and Pearson Education.
BushCantor seem to think everyone else will suffer from Sudden Election Amnesia Syndrome and grant big-spending, open-borders Republicans blanket amnesty for their betrayals. But what Brat told voters in Virginia about Cantor goes for voters nationwide as Bush flounders. “Eric Cantor doesn’t represent you,” Brat bluntly warned. “He represents large corporations seeking a never-ending supply of cheap foreign labor. He doesn’t care about how this will affect your livelihood, your schools, your tax bills or your kids’ chances of finding a job.”
The disgraced seven-term representative from Virginia’s affluent 7th district, who turned his back on grassroots constituents in favor of cashing in on power, now promises to work closely with Bush “as they chart a course to the White House.”
Here’s to Cantor’s success in helping Jeb navigate his same path to loserdom. Bon voyage!
Immigrant-headed households in the U.S. use welfare at a much higher rate than their native-born counterparts and that trend holds true for both new and long-time immigrant residents, according to a new study.
According to a report released Wednesday from the Center for Immigration Studies, 51 percent of immigrant-headed households (both legal and illegal) reported using at least one welfare program during the year in 2012. Thirty-percent of native-headed households meanwhile used at least one welfare program.
The CIS report analyzed welfare data from the Census Bureau’s Survey of Income and Program Participation (SIPP). Included in the center’s definition of welfare is Medicaid, cash, food, and housing programs.
“If immigration is supposed to benefit the country, then immigrant welfare use should be much lower than native use,” Steven Camarota the CIS’s Director of Research and the report’s author said. “However two decades after welfare reform tried to curtail immigrant welfare use, immigrant households are using most programs at higher rates than natives.”
Camarota noted that the skill and education level of many current immigrants is contributing to their welfare use.
“The low-skill level of many immigrants means that although most work, many also access welfare programs. If we continue to allow large numbers of less-educated immigrants to settle in the country, then immigrant welfare use will remain high,” he added.
While welfare use among both new and old immigrants is high – with 48 percent of immigrants in the U.S. for more than 20 years reporting welfare use – the rates vary based on region of origin.
In 2012, 73 percent of immigrant-headed households from Central America and Mexico reported using one of more welfare program. Households from the Caribbean used welfare at a rate of 51 percent, African immigrants were at 48 percent, South America at 41 percent, East Asia 32 percent, Europe 26 percent, South Asia 17 percent.
The report further highlights that while immigrant-headed households use welfare at a higher rate than natives they also pay taxes at a lower rate.
“On average, immigrant-headed households had tax liability in income and payroll taxes in 2012 that was about 11 percent less than native households, or about 89 cents for every dollar native households pay, based on Census Bureau data. Immigrant households have lower average incomes (from all sources) than native households and are a good deal larger, giving them more tax deductions. As a result, their average income tax liability is less than native households,” the report reads
Other findings in the CIS report include:
• No single program explains immigrants’ higher overall welfare use. For example, not counting subsidized school lunch, welfare use is still 46 percent for immigrants and 28 percent for natives. Not counting Medicaid, welfare use is 44 percent for immigrants and 26 percent for natives.
• Immigrant households have much higher use of food programs (40 percent vs. 22 percent for natives) and Medicaid (42 percent vs. 23 percent). Immigrant use of cash programs is somewhat higher than natives (12 percent vs. 10 percent) and immigrant use of housing programs is similar to natives.
• Many immigrants struggle to support their children, and a large share of welfare is received on behalf of U.S.-born children. However, even immigrant households without children have significantly higher welfare use than native households without children – 30 percent vs. 20 percent.
• The welfare system is designed to help low-income workers, especially those with children, and this describes many immigrant households. In 2012, 51 percent of immigrant households with one or more workers accessed one or more welfare programs, as did 28 percent of working native households.
• The large share of immigrants with low levels of education and resulting low incomes partly explains their high use rates. In 2012, 76 percent of households headed by an immigrant who had not graduated high school used one or more welfare programs, as did 63 percent of households headed by an immigrant with only a high school education.
• The high rates of immigrant welfare use are not entirely explained by their lower education levels. Households headed by college-educated immigrants have significantly higher welfare use than households headed by college-educated natives – 26 percent vs. 13 percent.
• In the four top immigrant-receiving states, use of welfare by immigrant households is significantly higher than that of native households: California (55 percent vs. 30 percent), New York (59 percent vs. 33 percent), Texas (57 percent vs. 34 percent), and Florida (42 percent vs. 28 percent).
The family of Kate Steinle slapped federal officials and San Francisco Sheriff Ross Mirkarimi with a lawsuit on Tuesday.
They say that Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE), the U.S. Bureau of Land Management and the sheriff must take responsibility for their daughter’s July 1 death, after the man charged with her murder along a popular waterfront had been deported five times.
“We’re here to make sure that a change is made so nobody has to endure the pain that my mom and dad and I go through on a daily basis,” Brad Steinle, Kate’s brother, said Tuesday, ABC News reported. “The system failed our sister, and at this point nobody has taken responsibility, accountability. And nothing has changed.”
Juan Francisco Lopez Sanchez, 45, has pleaded not guilty to Steinle’s killing. His criminal record also includes multiple felony convictions for narcotics charges.
“It’s too late for us, that ship has sailed. But we want it for future, possible victims,” Liz Sullivan, Kate’s mother, told a local ABC affiliate.
ICE had turned Sanchez over to San Francisco authorities earlier in the year due to an outstanding drug warrant, but he was not returned upon his release from custody. The gun used to kill Steinle was stolen from a BLM agent’s car on June 27.
San Francisco is one of a number of “sanctuary cities” across the U.S. that does not pressure its local officials to abide by federal immigration laws. Sarah Saldana, director of ICE, said in July that U.S. officials released more than 66,000 criminal immigrants between 2013-2014, CNN reported.
Join us on the West Lawn of the United States Capitol in Washington, D.C. to make our voices heard on this bad Iran deal. We are working to create broad coalition of organizations and speakers to come together against the Iran nuclear deal.
Jenny Beth Martin
We have created a toolkit to help you prepare.
One of the most serious potential breaches of national security identified so far by the intelligence community inside Hillary Rodham Clinton’s private emails involves the relaying of classified information concerning the movement of North Korean nuclear assets, which was obtained from spy satellites.
Multiple intelligence sources who spoke to The Washington Times, solely on the condition of anonymity, said concerns about the movement of the North Korean information through Mrs. Clinton’s unsecured server are twofold.
First, spy satellite information is frequently classified at the top-secret level and handled within a special compartment called Talent-Keyhole. This means it is one of the most sensitive forms of intelligence gathered by the U.S.
Second, the North Koreans have assembled a massive cyberhacking army under an elite military spy program known as Bureau 121, which is increasingly aggressive in targeting systems for hacking, especially vulnerable private systems. The North Koreans, for instance, have been blamed by the U.S. for the hack of Sony movie studios.
Allowing sensitive U.S. intelligence about North Korea to seep into a more insecure private email server has upset the intelligence community because it threatens to expose its methods and assets for gathering intelligence on the secretive communist nation.
“While everyone talks about the U.S. being aware of the high threat of hacking and foreign spying, there was a certain nonchalance at Mrs. Clinton’s State Department in protecting sensitive data that alarms the intel community,” one source familiar with the email review told The Times. “We’re supposed to be making it harder, not easier, for our enemies to intercept us.”
State Department spokesman Mark C. Toner told The Times on Tuesday evening he couldn’t discuss the email because of ongoing probes by the FBI and the inspector general community. “There are reviews and investigations under way on these matters generally so it would not be appropriate to comment at this time,” he said.
The email in question was initially flagged by the inspector general of the intelligence community in July as potentially containing information derived from highly classified satellite and mapping system of the National Geospatial-Intelligence Agency. That email was later confirmed to contain classified information by Freedom of Information Act officials within the intelligence community.
The revelation, still under review by the FBI and intelligence analysts, has created the most heartburn to date about a lax email system inside the State Department that allowed official business and – in at least 188 emails reviewed so far – classified secrets to flow to Mrs. Clinton via an unsecured private email server hosted at her home in Chappaqua, New York.
The email does not appear to have been copied directly from the classified email system and crossed what is known as the “air gap” to nonclassified computers, the sources said.
Rather, the intelligence community believes a State Department employee received the information through classified channels and then summarized it when that employee got to a nonclassified State Department computer. The email chain went through Mrs. Clinton’s most senior aides and eventually to Mrs. Clinton’s personal email, the sources said.
The compromised information did not include maps or images, but rather information that could have been derived only from spy satellite intelligence.
It was not marked as classified, but whoever viewed the original source reports would have readily seen the markings and it should have been recognized clearly by a trained employee who received the information subsequently as sensitive, nonpublic information. Intelligence community professionals are trained to carry forward these markings and, if needed, request that the information be sanitized before being transmitted via non-secure means.
The discovery could affect the FBI investigation of Mrs. Clinton’s email, putting the originator of the email chain into legal jeopardy and allowing agents to pressure the employee to cooperate as they try to determine how classified information flowed so freely into Mrs. Clinton’s account and what senior officials knew about the lax system that allowed such transmissions.
As the investigation has advanced, the intelligence community has debunked many of Mrs. Clinton’s and the State Department’s original claims about the private email system.
For instance, the department initially claimed that it had no idea Mrs. Clinton was conducting government business on an insecure private email account.
But the intelligence community uncovered evidence early on that her private email account was used to coordinate sensitive overseas calls through the department’s operations center, which arranges communication on weekends and after hours on weekdays.
The coordination of secure communications on an insecure break with protocol would give foreign intelligence agencies an opportunity to learn about a call early, then target and intercept the call, U.S. officials told The Times.
The concern is in full display in emails that Mrs. Clinton originated and that the department has already released under the Freedom of Information Act.
“As soon as I’m off call now. Tell ops to set it up now,” Mrs. Clinton wrote from her personal email account on Oct. 3, 2009, to top State Department aide Huma Abedin on Oct. 3, 2009, seeking the department’s operations center to set up a high-level Saturday morning call with two assistant secretaries of state and a foreign ambassador.
The email thread even indicated where Mrs. Clinton wanted to receive the call, at her home, giving a potential intercept target.
Similarly, the very next day, Mrs. Clinton and Ms. Abedin coordinated another call over insecure email with her ambassador to Afghanistan, former Army Gen. Karl Eikenberry. The two clearly understood the potential sensitive nature of the Sunday morning call even as they discussed its coordination on an unprotected email system.
“OK. Does Eikenberry need to be secure?” Mrs. Clinton asked, referring to the need for a secure phone line to receive the call. State officials said Mrs. Clinton had a secure phone line installed at her home to facilitate such calls, which is common for Cabinet-level officials.
Mr. Toner, the State Department spokesman, told the daily press briefing on Tuesday he did not know who approved Mrs. Clinton having a private email server to conduct official business but that it was obvious from the emails now released that many people knew inside State, including some in high places.
“People understood that she had a private server,” he told reporters. “…You’ve seen from the emails. You have an understanding of people who were communicating with her, at what level they were communicating at.”
Tony Blair knew about Hillary Clinton’s private e-mail account before the American people did – and his off-the-grid e-mail exchanges with Clinton are another sledgehammer to the already crumbling edifice of excuses offered in defense of her homebrew server.
Among the thousands of Clinton e-mails released by the State Department last night were direct exchanges with foreign dignitaries such as former prime minister (and then special envoy for the Middle East Quartet) Blair and internal exchanges between State Department officials about those conversations. The conversations cover a wide range of world hot spots, including the Middle East, Afghanistan and Iran, Sudan, and Haiti. Many of them – nearly 200 in total to date – have now been classified by the State Department as “foreign government information” and redacted or withheld from release. The very nature of the communications in those e-mails established that they contained classified information from their inception. Mrs. Clinton’s defense that she did not know of the existence of such information on her server at the time is laughable.
In September 2010, Barack Obama undertook an ambitious effort to settle the ancient dispute between Israel and the Palestinian people. Direct talks took place in Washington, D.C., in early September, and follow-up discussions were planned for later in the month. But talks broke down when a moratorium on West Bank settlement construction expired and Israeli prime minister Benjamin Netanyahu sought to tie renewal of the moratorium to Palestinian recognition of Israel.
With some urgency, Hillary Clinton asked Tony Blair to cancel a speech scheduled in Aspen, Colo., to “go to Israel as part of our full court press on keeping the Middle East negotiations going.” Blair obliged, and Clinton e-mailed the organizers of the Aspen conference to explain the cancelation. She then e-mailed Blair that his schedule was now clear: “Tony – Message Delivered… I’m copying Jake Sullivan because I’ve asked him to arrange a call w you once you land so you can be fully briefed before seeing BN [Netanyahu]. We are on a fast moving train changing every hour but determined to reach our destination.”
Later that day, Blair responded: “Hi Hillary. Just spent 3 hours with BB [Netanyahu]. Ready to speak when convenient but should do it on a secure line.” There is no indication whether that secure conversation took place, but the message certainly indicates that Blair at least understood the sensitivity of the subject matter.
Blair e-mailed Clinton again the next day, copying Sullivan, Clinton’s aide, apparently on a private e-mail account of his own. The entirety of that e-mail has been redacted from public disclosure as part of the FOIA release. Why? Because it has now been acknowledged as classified information and formally marked “Confidential” by State Department reviewers. The markings that accompany the redactions (which took place just this week as part of the release) explain that the redacted portion is classified under parts 1.4(B) and 1.4(D) of President Obama’s Executive Order 13526. Thus, it falls within the categories of information classified as “foreign government information” – 1.4(B) – and information relating to “foreign relations or foreign activities of the United States, including confidential sources” – 1.4(D).
Those markings are relevant because they blow up the Clinton campaign’s insistence that Mrs. Clinton and her colleagues did not know that the information at issue was classified at the time. Clinton is, of course, correct that the e-mails were not formally marked classified at the time they were exchanged, but that is only the result of a failure by Mrs. Clinton and her staff to mark them and handle them through the proper channels used for such foreign communications. The information contained in the e-mails was plainly classified at the time they were sent and received – by order of the president.
Executive Order 13526, issued by President Obama at the beginning of his term, addresses the classification and handling of national-security information. It provides that “foreign government information” – which includes “information provided to the United States Government by a foreign government or governments, an international organization of governments, or any element thereof, with the expectation that the information, the source of the information, or both, are to be held in confidence” – must be treated as classified. The president made a determination in the Executive Order that disclosure of these confidential foreign communications “is presumed to cause damage to the national security.”
Since a reasonable expectation of harm to the national security is the threshold for whether to classify information, the president’s determination necessarily establishes the classification of any foreign communications provided to the U.S. with the expectation of confidence. The Executive Order leaves no doubt on this point, when it directs that an agency “shall safeguard foreign government information under standards that provide a degree of protection at least equivalent to that required by the government or international organization of governments that furnished the information.”
The State Department now acknowledges that the Blair communications – just like scores of other Clinton e-mails involving sensitive diplomatic communications in Africa, Afghanistan, and elsewhere – are classified “Confidential” as foreign-government communications. Their determination simply confirms that the information was classified all along and that Clinton and her inner circle should have treated the e-mails containing it with the care required by our national-security laws and regulations. Instead, they were regularly passed between insecure private e-mail addresses, handed off wholesale to the private Internet company that maintained her server, and shared with who knows how many lawyers and staff as part of her own private review process.
Putting aside the legal technicalities, Clinton’s plea of ignorance defies common sense. The very nature of our diplomatic relations requires that we closely guard information learned from foreign dignitaries. And the State Department’s secure e-mail system contains reams of such classified communications. We protect that information in order to protect our international relationships and sources. The secretary of state regularly deals in those communications, as evidenced by the growing number of e-mails now classified. Yet here we see the sitting secretary of state communicating with a foreign envoy about sensitive diplomatic communications regarding the world’s most nettlesome national-security issues. She did so on the least secure platform imaginable – a private server concealed from government oversight – and took no steps to limit the information’s subsequent distribution. Faced with such irrefutable proof of her own recklessness, the former secretary of state now claims ignorance. Her plea rings hollow.
In one of the newly-released emails from Hillary Clinton’s private email server, the former Secretary of State emailed an Obama administration special envoy and told him to send sensitive information to her “personal email.”
Republican strategist Rory Cooper made the discovery:
Clinton told Middle East envoy to send classified details from Italy’s Foreign Minister to “my personal email.”
8:06 AM – 1 Sep 2015
On July 25, 2010, Clinton sent an email to Special Envoy for Middle East Peace George Mitchell. The subject line read “Here’s my personal email,” and only had a short message: “[Please] use this for reply – HRC.”
Mitchell emailed her back two hours later. “I talked with [Italian Foreign Minister Franco Frattini] again and went over the point again. He said he understands and agrees,” he began. The rest of the email is blanked out, indicating that the State Department team releasing Clinton’s emails recognized that the information it contained was classified.
The reasons listed for the email’s classification indicates that the blanked out paragraph contained sensitive information about foreign governments or the United States’ relationship with foreign government.
Did the latest release of Hillary Clinton server e-mails uncover a “smoking gun” proving a criminal violation of the law? Chuck Todd earlier said no, but The Federalist’s Sean Davis says yes indeedy. The smokiest of these “guns” is this e-mail, written by Hillary to Sidney Blumenthal in November 2009, redacted as classified almost in its entirety:
There are other classified e-mails in this tranche that originated with Hillary and went to other State Department officials. This e-mail is more notable because of its transmission outside of State’s personnel. Sid Blumenthal did not work in the Obama administration – Rahm Emanuel expressly forbid him to be hired anywhere in the federal government, especially State – and thus was out of the need-to-know loop, especially on top-level diplomatic talks. Where was Blumenthal working when this message (and others) went out? At the Clinton Foundation.
Yet here Hillary is, sending him updates on negotiations with Germany’s Angela Merkel and Tony Blair, which are obviously too sensitive to send out over an unauthorized and unsecure mode of transmission. On top of that, she’s sharing it with someone not cleared for this information even when properly transmitted.
The bulk of Hillary Clinton’s message to Blumenthal was redacted, under codes 1.4(D) and 1.4(B) because classification authorities determined it contained classified information “which reasonably could be expected to cause damage to the national security[.]” As was the case with other e-mails where Clinton originated classified information, authorities determined that the information was classified at birth and did not allow declassification until November of 2024 – 15 years after the e-mail was written and sent by Hillary, rather than 15 years after the information was marked.
The 2009 executive order signed by Obama states that U.S. officials who negligently disclose classified information to unauthorized individuals are subject to any and all federal sanctions provided for by law.
The two codes mark this as dealing with “foreign government information” and “foreign relations or foreign activities of the United States, including confidential sources.” The declassification date is set for November 2024, fifteen years after Hillary created the document. That clearly shows that the data was classified “at birth,” and as Secretary of State, Hillary Clinton had to know that top-level diplomatic discussions would have been too sensitive to share in this manner and with this particular person.
David Freddoso also reminds us that not only was this an unsecured transmission method, we know it got hacked at least once:
And of course, we already know Blumenthal’s email was compromised by a hacker.
1:01 PM – 1 Sep 2015
All of this fills in the requisites for 18 USC 793, with or without classification. Hillary appears to have originated obviously sensitive material and transmitted it through an unauthorized system to deliver it to someone who was not authorized to access it. That person eventually had his system hacked, which almost certainly exposed that information.
Yesterday, Fox News reported that “the mystery deepens” on how classified material got onto Hillary’s server:
The Clinton campaign adamantly denies any emails traversing Clinton’s homebrew server were marked classified at the time. The intelligence community inspector general says “potentially hundreds” of classified emails may be in the mix, but acknowledges at least some were not properly marked.
So if the Clinton denial is to be believed, individuals in her inner circle would have simply typed or scanned classified information into a non-classified system without regard for its contents. In this case, emails would have started in, and stayed in, the unclassified system – albeit improperly, based on the findings of the intelligence inspector general.
But if it turns out emails literally jumped from the classified to the non-classified system — something the State Department claims cannot happen – it would seem to point to Clinton’s staff going to great lengths to create a work-around to do so.
It’s not actually that mysterious. Hillary and her aides created e-mails with classified information in them, in a few cases Top Secret/Compartmented, and sent them out on an unauthorized and unsecured communications channel – in this case to someone who wasn’t cleared to see it at all. The only mystery will be whether Hillary gets treated like anyone else who had violated the law on a systemic basis in a similar manner.
An undercover video filmed by James O’Keefe and Project Veritas purportedly shows Molly Barker – the national marketing director for Hillary Clinton’s presidential campaign – “knowingly and intentionally” violating campaign finance law.
Per Project Veritas:
During Clinton’s kickoff campaign event at Roosevelt Island, a Canadian citizen with no affiliation to Project Veritas Action attempted to make a donation to the Clinton campaign by purchasing a Hillary shirt. Barker knew that this was illegal, a fact which was confirmed by Clinton’s national Compliance Manager Erin Tibe, yet proceeded to process the contribution… Barker facilitated a straw man transaction where the Canadian citizen gave cash to an American citizen who subsequently purchased the shirt for the Canadian under Barker’s direction. Thus, Barker who was fully aware of the law didn’t merely look the other way like Tibe did, rather, she actually facilitated election illegalities.
A Clinton official told Time Magazine Monday that “the campaign is confident it upheld the law.”
A federal judge on Friday ordered the Internal Revenue Service to reveal White House requests for taxpayers’ private information, advancing a probe into whether administration officials targeted political opponents by revealing such information.
Judge Amy Berman Jackson of the U.S. District Court for the District of Columbia rejected the IRS’s argument that a law designed to protect the confidentiality of such information protected the public disclosure of such communications with the White House.
The law, 26 U.S. Code § 6103, was passed after the Watergate scandal to protect citizens from retribution by federal officials. Jackson scoffed at the administration’s claims that the statute could be used to shield investigations into whether private tax information had been used in such a manner.
“The Court is unwilling to stretch the statute so far, and it cannot conclude that section 6103 may be used to shield the very misconduct it was enacted to prohibit,” Jackson wrote in her order.
The decision was a victory for Cause of Action, the legal watchdog group that sued the IRS in 2013 seeking records of its communications with the White House and potential disclosure of confidential taxpayer information.
The group called the decision “a significant victory for transparency advocates” in a Friday statement
“As we have said all along, this administration cannot misinterpret the law in order to potentially hide evidence of wrongdoing,” said Dan Epstein, the group’s executive director. “No administration is above the law, and we are pleased that the court has sided with us on this important point.”
The lawsuit came after Treasury’s inspector general for tax administration, the IRS’s official watchdog agency, revealed that it was investigating whether Austan Goolsbee, the White House’s former chief economist, illegally accessed or revealed confidential tax information related to Koch Industries.
The corporation’s owners, Charles and David Koch, are prominent funders of conservative and libertarian groups that often oppose the White House’s policy priorities.
Goolsbee “used Koch Industries as an example when discussing an issue noted in the [President’s Economic Recovery Board] report that half of business income goes to companies that do not pay corporate income tax because they are pass-through entities and that many of them are quite large,” the White House said in 2010.
His apparent knowledge of Koch’s tax history, detailed during a conference call with reporters, “implies direct knowledge of Koch’s legal and tax status, which would appear to be a violation” of federal law, said Sen. Chuck Grassley (R., Iowa), the chairman of the Senate Judiciary Committee, at the time.
The latest batch of Hillary Clinton emails set to be released by the State Department Monday evening include 150 which contain now-classified information, a spokesman for the agency has confirmed.
Through two mass releases so far – one in June and another last month – the State Department retroactively classified 63 emails Clinton sent or received during her tenure as secretary of state.
That’s in addition to several others which the Intelligence Community inspector general discovered contained information that was classified as “top secret” at the time they were sent.
During a daily press briefing Monday afternoon, State Department spokesman Mark Toner confirmed that approximately 150 of the 7,000 emails that will be released contain information that has been “upgraded” to classified. He said that while State Department staffers are still processing the emails before publishing them online Monday night, none of the emails are believed to contain information that was classified at the point of origination.
Toner said that the new release puts the State Department ahead of a schedule mandated by a federal judge in May.
“We’re producing more documents than we have in the previous three releases,” said Toner. U.S. district court judge Rudolph Contreras ordered the agency to release Clinton’s emails on a graduated schedule at the end of each month.
Clinton has downplayed the existence of classified information in her 30,000-plus emails. When the scandal over her use of a private email account and private server first broke in March, she maintained that none of her emails contained classified information. She has since altered that claim by saying that none of the emails that traversed her server contained information that was marked classified when originated.
Bernie Sanders continues to cut into Hillary Clinton’s once-commanding lead among Iowa Democrats, closing to just 7 points of the party front-runner in the first-in-the-nation caucus state, a new poll has found.
A survey released late Saturday afternoon by the Des Moines Register and Bloomberg Politics finds that Sanders, the fiery progressive senator from Vermont, trails Clinton 37% to 30%. The former secretary of state has lost one-third of her supporters since May.
Sanders’ support owes more to voters’ enthusiasm for his candidacy than opposition to Clinton, the poll found. A whopping 96% of his backers say they support him and his ideas, with just 2% saying their vote is motivated by a desire to stop a Clinton candidacy. As for the controversy surrounding Clinton’s use of email while leading the State Department, 61% of likely Democratic caucusgoers say the issue is not important to them.
Sanders has a deeper reservoir of support, the poll found. Thirty-nine percent of likely caucusgoers say their feelings about Sanders are very favorable, with just 8% having a negative view of him. That’s a sharp contrast to Clinton: 27% view her very favorably, but 19% view her negatively.
Saturday’s poll marks a remarkable eight-month climb for the self-proclaimed Democratic socialist from Vermont, who is garnering support in part from his anti-establishment rhetoric. Back in January, half of likely Democratic caucusgoers were unfamiliar with Sanders, and he was pulling in just 5% of support.
“What this new poll shows is that the more Iowans get to know Bernie, the better they like him and what he stands for. We’ve seen the same thing in New Hampshire and across the country,” Sanders campaign spokesman Michael Briggs said in a statement.
Meanwhile, Vice President Joe Biden, who has not declared whether he’ll seek the Oval Office next year, captured 14% of the vote, easily distancing himself from former Maryland Gov. Martin O’Malley (3%), former Virginia Sen. Jim Webb (2%) and former Rhode Island Gov. Lincoln Chafee (1%).
Speculation has heated up in recent weeks about whether Biden, 72, will join the race. He faces several obstacles in a potential run, including the need to raise enough campaign cash to compete with the Clinton machine and carving out enough support among key Democratic voting blocs. And he’s still grieving over the loss of his son, Beau Biden, who died of brain cancer three months ago; in a conference call with Democrats this week, Biden said he was still determining whether he had the “emotional fuel” to run.
But the vice president’s hesitation didn’t prevent his supporters from responding enthusiastically to Saturday’s poll.
“These results are the latest sign that voters respect and trust the Vice President and are looking for a candidate who speaks authentically and openly about the issues important to them,” according to a statement from “Draft Biden.” “They make clear the Vice President would have the support needed to mount a strong, competitive campaign.”
Can you imagine a group of white people marching down the street chanting, “Michael Brown what a clown! He got what he deserved,” after he was shot by officer Darren Wilson?
I can only imagine how the #BlackLivesMatter activists would have reacted.
How many riots would it have started? It would have been considered a ‘racist chant’ and it would have gotten coverage from the Obama Administration, for sure.
But moments after Texas Deputy Darren H. Goforth, a 10-year veteran, father of two, husband, and a public servant, was murdered execution style by an African-American at a gas station while he was refueling his vehicle, we heard chants of “Pigs In A Blanket, Fry ‘Em Like Bacon” from the racist #BlackLivesMatter activists.
Yes, you heard right. I said racist.
Check it out:
* When white people say “white power”… it’s racist.
* When Mexicans say “brown pride”… it’s racist.
* But when ‘Black Power’ and ‘Black Lives Matter’ is chanted… that isn’t racist? If that’s your way of thinking, you’re an ignorant person and you are part of the problem.
In what world is it OK for such a disturbing chant to be yelled out in the streets after an innocent man was murdered?
The Obama administration has had multiple chances to bring whites, blacks and Hispanics together to possibly end racism by uniting everyone in a tragic time. But instead, they’ve picked a side and now our country is divided by race.
We need to wake up America. We need to stop the ignorant people who keep dividing us. We need to become one and do as Jesus instructed us: ‘Love your neighbor as you love yourself.’
How about instead of White, Black, Hispanic lives matter, we use #ALLLIVESMATTER?
Ben Carson and Donald Trump are tied at the top of the Republican field in a new survey of likely Iowa caucus-goers with 23 percent each, according to the results of a Monmouth University poll released Monday.
The good news continues for the retired neurosurgeon with his favorability ratings, as 81 percent said they view him favorably, compared to just 6 percent who do not. And Trump’s favorability went up as well, at 52 percent to 33 percent, up from 47 percent and 35 percent last month.
Carson has steadily gained support over the summer despite keeping a relatively low profile, especially compared to Trump. But Carson, who has never held political office, has similarly tapped into a strong anti-Washington sentiment among voters.
In the poll released Monday, the two non-establishment candidates are followed by another, former Hewlett-Packard executive Carly Fiorina with 10 percent. Following Fiorina are Texas Sen. Ted Cruz at 9 percent, Wisconsin Gov. Scott Walker at 7 percent, former Florida Gov. Jeb Bush at 5 percent, Ohio Gov. John Kasich and Florida Sen. Marco Rubio at 4 percent, and Kentucky Sen. Rand Paul at 3 percent. No other candidates registered more than 2 percent, including the last two winners of the caucus – former Pennsylvania Sen. Rick Santorum and former Arkansas Gov. Mike Huckabee (both at 2 percent).
The latest survey showed Carson making inroads on key voting blocs that Trump has been winning in recent polls. Women preferred Carson at 30 percent to 19 percent, while Trump did better with men voters, at 27 percent to 17 percent.
Among those identifying with the tea party, 27 percent pledged their support for Trump, compared to 22 percent for Carson, with Cruz behind with 16 percent. But Carson leads among non-tea-party-affiliated Republicans, taking 25 percent to Trump’s 19 percent.
Voters who described themselves as very or somewhat conservative were split between the top two, while moderate and liberals went for Trump at 26 percent, Fiorina at 18 percent and Carson at 17 percent.
Carson leads among Evangelical voters, earning 29 percent to Trump’s 23 percent, while non-Evangelicals backed Trump with 24 percent, followed by Carson at 18 percent and Fiorina at 13 percent.
Nearly a third of likely caucusgoers – 66 percent – said that the next president needs to be someone who can bring experience from outside of Washington, compared to 23 percent who indicated a preference toward candidates with government experience.
The survey was conducted Aug. 27-30, polling 405 likely caucus participants with an overall margin of error of plus or minus 4.9 percentage points.
It’s a mystery to us where President Obama or his interior secretary, Sally Jewell, gets the authority to rename in Alaska a mountain whose name was ratified by Congress a century ago as McKinley. We can understand the Democratic Party’s interest, in that McKinley, a Republican, was a particularly fine President. He was, moreover, one of four presidents felled by an assassin. We can understand, too, the sentiments of Alaska, whose legislature has wanted to change the name. Where, though, does the president come off doing this by fiat?
The question begs for an answer in light of the fact that legislation has been before Congress to change the name, but the Congress has decided not to do so. If the Supreme Court has been clear about anything it has been that the failure of Congress to act doesn’t amount to license for the other branches to act. Congress, the law supposes, had its own good reasons for not acting. One of them no doubt is that McKinley was from Ohio, which, given that Mount McKinley National Park is the locale of said mountain, has its own standing.
Our own interest in the matter lies with McKinley. We have no particular objection to, per se, Denali. That’s the name for the summit used by Alaskan Natives and, in recent years, also the federal name for the park. It’s the name the state’s senior senator, Lisa Murkowski, sought to attach to the mountain via legislation she earlier this year introduced, to no effect. Legislators from Ohio understood better, and moved to block the measure. William McKinley may never have been to the mountain, but he was an important and assassinated president.
Maybe some day a Republican president will restore to John Fitzgerald Kennedy International Airport the name of Idlewild, which is the name us native New Yorkers use for the airport (Idlewild is still a permitted reference for the airport in the “Reporters Handbook and Manual of Style of the New York Sun”). We could see the logic of it in an age of hyper-sensitivity to local sentiments. But we would object were a president to simply rename the airport after Congress had been asked and decided not to act.
In any event, let us raise a salute to Wm. McKinley. From his front porch in 1896, he ran one of the most remarkable campaigns in American history, defeating the Democrat, William Jennings Bryan, who ran for the free coinage of silver – a campaign of inflation – by attacking the Jews. It was one of the few anti-Semitic campaigns in American history. McKinley defeated it handily and gained passage in 1900 of the Gold Standard Act, which set the stage for the great boom of the 20th century. It’s a monument as majestic as the peak of Denali.
The British Empire was founded by accident, run by brilliant amateurs and wrecked by professionals. The United States was founded by design, run by the people and wrecked by professionals.
The terrible decline in the conduct of the professional classes (think lawyers or climate “scientists,” for instance) certainly leaves room for the gifted amateur. But it does not leave room for the ungifted amateur. Yet in the two most important seats of power on the planet – the White House and 10 Downing Street – sit two ungifted, inept amateurs.
World War III could be the result.
In the days of Ronald Reagan and Margaret Thatcher, both of them tough and decisive, few thought it a good idea to attack U.S. or British interests or territories. When Mr. Leopoldo Galtieri tried it on, he got an unpleasant surprise: Britain, despite having slashed its defense forces to the bone, was still able to mount a courageous campaign half across the world, utterly defeating his tyrannous regime, recovering the Falkland Islands and restoring something like democracy to Argentina.
The hand-wringers and professional-outrage merchants of the far left, of course, whined that the “militarism” of Reagan and Thatcher was a threat to world peace. It wasn’t. In fact, it led to the toppling of Soviet Communism, which was then the single greatest menace to the stability and prosperity of the planet.
The totalitarian regimes of the world, still in a majority, alas, knew full well that while Reagan and Thatcher were in charge there would be no nonsense. Si vis pacem, said the Romans, para bellum: If you want peace, be ready for war.
Not anymore. These two colossi are merry in heaven. And just look at the dismal track record of their current successors in keeping the peace.
For Obama, there was the Romneyesque flip-flopping over Guantanamo, Benghazi and the failure to do anything about the slaughter of Christians in Syria, and the capitulation to China over so-called “global warming” last December, and the recent capitulation to Iran over nuclear weapons development, and the relentless reduction of American’s military strength, and the failure to act against illegal immigrants (for they vote left).
For Cameron, there was Libya, the scrapping of Britain’s last aircraft-carrier a decade before replacements would be available, the “sharing” of aircraft carriers with France, the relentless reduction of Britain’s military strength, and the failure to act against illegal immigrants (for they come from Europe, and the European Union is sacred to Cameron, for it is the only entity other than himself that he worships with unreserved devotion).
In Britain, at any rate, the armed forces have had enough of Cameron’s notorious shilly-shallying. A fascinating biography of Cameron by Sir Anthony Seldon, official biographer du jour on this side of the Atlantic, records that Gen. Sir David Richards, while head of Britain’s armed forces, blames Cameron for the rise of the fanatical Islamic State, saying he “lacked the balls” to crush them with armed force in 2012 when they first became a threat in Syria.
Sir David bluntly told Sir Anthony: “If they had the balls, they would have gone through with it… If they’d done what I’d argued, they wouldn’t be where they are with ISIS.”
Sir David also attacks Cameron over his botched attack on Libya and his failure to take effective action to prevent Russia re-annexing the Ukraine. His overall verdict on Cameron’s approach to foreign and defense policy: “a lack of strategy and statesmanship.” Sir David says: “The problem is the inability to think things through. Too often it seems to be more about the Notting Hill liberal agenda rather than statecraft.”
The book also reveals that the “special relationship” between Cameron and Obama is not all it is cracked up to be. Obama is not often prompt in answering Cameron’s telephone calls. The Foreign Office calls Mr. Obama “Dr Spock” after the humorless character in Star Trek.
The overriding impression left by Sir Anthony’s book is that the West is not in safe hands at present. Obama and Cameron are both criticized for amateurishness and inability to reach rational decisions, as well as a lack of grasp of foreign affairs and of defense.
In my experience, it is rare for the chiefs of staff in Britain to call upon the prime minister to initiate a military campaign. It is nearly always the other way around, as it was when Galtieri invaded the Falklands. Our senior officers are not of the “nuke ‘em till they fry” cast of mind. Sir David Richards’ advice to Cameron that he should move militarily against ISIS from the outset should, therefore, have been very carefully heeded.
Cameron, however, cut and ran. Not the least of his reasons, no doubt, was that this allegedly “Conservative” government has so cut back the armed forces that they are already scandalously overstretched.
Underlying the under-funding of the military on both sides of the Atlantic is the scandalous indifference to the rapidly-mounting national debt. This perceptive book really marks the moment when it became clear to all who have eyes to see and ears to hear that the hegemony of the West, which was a blessing to humanity, is now at an end. Obama and Cameron have handed away their nations’ economic and military strength because kicking the can down the road always seems easier in the short term than picking it up.
Which brings me to the present election campaign. None of the candidates, on either side, is giving enough attention either to the national debt or to the extinction of America’s military might. The two ungifted amateurs, Obama and Cameron, have conspired to leave a dangerous economic and military vacuum, which many ambitious nations will scramble to fill. When Britain and America were strong because Thatcher and Reagan were strong, the world was by and large a less dangerous place than it is now.
World War III will not begin through the alleged aggression of a Reagan or a Thatcher. It will begin, just as World War II did, because for too long fashionable, easy appeasement was a substitute for a considered and determined foreign-policy stance.
I do not feel safe under the “leadership” of Obama and Cameron. The politics of the pre-emptive cringe have always led to disaster in the past, and may do so again in the future unless we can find leaders less fearful of actually leading.
Retired neurosurgeon Ben Carson has emerged as a leading Republican presidential candidate in Iowa and is closing in on frontrunner Donald Trump in the state that hosts the first 2016 nomination balloting contest.
The latest Bloomberg Politics/Des Moines Register Iowa Poll shows billionaire Trump with the support of 23 percent of likely Republican caucus participants, followed by Carson at 18 percent. When first and second choices are combined, Carson is tied with Trump.
Trump finds himself in a vastly better position than when the previous Iowa Poll was taken. He has become a credible presidential candidate to many likely Republican caucus-goers. The real estate mogul is rated favorably by 61 percent and unfavorably by 35 percent, an almost complete reversal since the Iowa Poll in May. He finds his highest ratings among those planning to attend the caucuses for the first time (69 percent) and limited-government Tea Party activists (73 percent). Just 29 percent say they could never vote for him, a number cut in half since May.
Although he isn’t generating the headlines enjoyed by Trump, Carson has quietly built a dedicated network of supporters in Iowa. During the past month, he also aired more ads than any other presidential candidate in Iowa. Carson has the highest favorability rating among Republican candidates, with 79 percent of likely GOP caucus-goers seeing him positively.
Those glowing views of Carson, who has a compelling life story and is seeking to become the nation’s second black president, could make it hard for Trump or other rivals to attack him as the campaign heats up this fall. Christian conservatives, who represent nearly 40 percent of likely caucus participants in the poll, may be starting to coalesce around the former director of pediatric neurosurgery at Johns Hopkins.
The poll displays the political benefit, at least for now, of not being part of the Republican establishment. When their totals are combined, Trump and Carson – two men without any elected experience – are backed by more than 4 in 10 likely caucus participants. Add in former Hewlett Packard CEO Carly Fiorina, who also has never held elective office, and Texas Senator Ted Cruz, who is running an explicitly anti-establishment campaign, and the total reaches 54 percent of the likely electorate.
“Trump and Carson, one bombastic and the other sometimes soft-spoken, could hardly be more different in their outward presentations,” said J. Ann Selzer, president of West Des Moines-based Selzer & Co., which conducted the poll. “Yet they’re both finding traction because they don’t seem like politicians and there’s a strong demand for that right now.”
Wisconsin Governor Scott Walker, the previous Iowa frontrunner, has been hurt the most by the Trump and Carson summer surges and is now backed by just 8 percent of likely caucus-goers, less than half what he recorded in the last Iowa Poll in late May. Cruz, who will need to cut into Carson’s support among social conservatives if he’s to advance in Iowa, is tied with Walker at 8 percent.
Jeb Bush, who continues to face major headwinds in Iowa, scored below Walker and Cruz. The former Florida governor is backed by just 6 percent, has one of the highest unfavorable ratings among the 17 Republican candidates tested, and has the support of just 16 percent of those who consider themselves business-oriented establishment Republicans, the group most central to his brand.
Bush’s fellow Floridian, Senator Marco Rubio, is also backed by 6 percent. He’s closely followed by Fiorina, who is supported by 5 percent after her strong showing in the Aug. 6 debate.
In the 2008 and 2012 Republican caucuses, Christian conservatives broke late in the race and helped determine the outcome in Iowa. While some of their leaders have expressed skepticism about the potential to unify behind one candidate in such a crowded race, there’s an opening for that. More than three-quarters of Christian conservatives in the poll say they could be convinced to back someone other than their first or second choice, if they could be assured that another Christian conservative would win.
At the moment, Carson is leading with voters in that bloc at 23 percent, followed by Trump at 16 percent and Cruz and Walker tied at third. If his competitors can successfully raise questions about Trump’s credentials as a Christian conservative, they could potentially peel off some of the front-runner’s support.
One major unknown for the caucuses is the size of the electorate, which has been around 120,000 on the Republican side for the past two Iowa caucuses. One of Trump’s campaign goals is to get thousands of new people to vote, a move that helped Barack Obama score an upset on the Democratic side in 2008.
First-time caucus-goers are clearly an important part of Trump’s Iowa base. Among those who say they’ll be attending for the first time, Trump is ahead of Carson, 28 percent to 20 percent.
For now, the poll suggests about a fifth of those attending the Feb. 1 precinct meetings will be doing so for the first time. That’s comparable to four years ago, when 24 percent said that on the Republican side in an October 2011 Iowa Poll.
Trump’s supporters in Iowa a have a higher level of trust in their candidate than others in the field to make the right decisions, if he makes it to the White House. Among all Republicans likely to attend the caucuses, 41 percent want their candidate to be clear about the specific policies they would address if elected, while 57 percent trust their candidate to figure it out once elected.
For Trump, nearly two-thirds of his supporters trust him to figure out the right decisions once in office. That’s in keeping with a claim he made to reporters Aug. 15, shortly after landing by helicopter outside the Iowa State Fair, saying it’s mostly the media that cares about policy papers and positions.
Among most of the subgroups measured in the poll, Trump has the advantage, although Carson beats him or comes close with several. Carson has an 11-percentage-point advantage over Trump among seniors and 7-percentage-point edge among Christian conservatives.
“I’m sick and tired of the political class,” said Lisa Pilch, 54, a middle school physical education teacher leaning toward Carson who lives in Springville, Iowa. “I just like his tone and think he’s someone who could pull us together, rather than the polarization we have right now. He has a lot of wisdom, even if he doesn’t have political savviness.”
While Carson is doing slightly better than Trump among women, the billionaire has the advantage among men, 28 percent to 17 percent.
“He’s got a no-nonsense approach,” said Patrick Messmore, 32, a construction equipment sales manager who lives near Grundy Center and plans to back Trump. “His history as a businessman is potentially a good change for our country, so that we don’t just have another life-time politician taking over as president.”
In some ways, Messmore sees Trump as an antidote to Bush. “I’m not OK with another Bush presidency,” he said. “We’ve had two of them now and I don’t see that there will be enough of a different approach than his dad or brother had. It’s just not something I’m interested in.”
The poll shows Walker and Senator Rand Paul of Kentucky, especially, aren’t performing anywhere close to earlier expectations.
Paul, who was backed by just 4 percent, was perceived a year ago to have an advantage in Iowa, given the third-place finish in the 2012 caucuses recorded by his father, former Representative Ron Paul of Texas. In October, his favorable rating outweighed his unfavorable by nearly 3-to-1.
“Whatever advantage he had has eroded,” Selzer said. “Now, more Iowa caucus-goers have negative than positive feelings about him.”
For Walker, who has been in a slump since his lackluster debate performance, the poll is certain to further reduce expectations around his performance in Iowa, which had grown to the point where anything short of a win would have been viewed as a loss. One upside for him in the poll: Besides Carson, he’s the only candidate to exceed 70 percent in favorability.
Iowa Republicans are showing little interest in re-runs. Former Arkansas Governor Mike Huckabee, who won the 2008 Iowa Republican caucuses, is at 4 percent. He’s followed at 2 percent by candidates who are governors, Chris Christie of New Jersey, Bobby Jindal of Louisiana and John Kasich of Ohio.
Former Senator Rick Santorum of Pennsylvania, who narrowly beat eventual nominee Mitt Romney in the 2012 caucuses, is backed by just 1 percent, the same level of support recorded by former Texas Governor Rick Perry, who is also struggling in his second White House bid even amid heavy spending in Iowa on the part of a super political action committee backing him.
Senator Lindsey Graham of South Carolina, former New York Governor George Pataki and former Virginia Governor Jim Gilmore all recorded support of less than 1 percent.
The survey, taken Aug. 23-26, included 400 likely Republican caucus participants. On the full sample, it has a margin of error of plus or minus 4.9 percentage points.
Besides the nearly the nearly 40 percent of likely Republican caucus-goers who say Christian conservative is the best way to identify them, “business-oriented establishment Republicans” and Tea Party activists are roughly tied as the next largest groups, at 22 percent and 21 percent. Those who feel they are most closely aligned with the “liberty movement,” a bloc associated with Paul, represent only about 8 percent.
To offer another assessment of candidate strength – something difficult to divine in such a crowded field – Selzer created an index built on multiple measures in the poll. The index takes into account first and second choices, as well as a question that was asked on whether respondents could ever – or would never – support each candidate they didn’t name as their first or second pick. First choices were given double weight, while “ever support” was given a half weighting.
Using that system, Carson is narrowly ahead of Trump, 75 to 73. Walker comes next at 55, followed by Cruz at 53 and Rubio at 50. The index and never/ever question also show some of the candidates could struggle to expand their support. Nearly half of likely Republican caucus participants, 48 percent, say they could never support Christie. For Paul, it’s 43 percent and for Bush it’s 39 percent.
Taylor Street and Delvin Trusty began dating in high school after he sent her a message on social media. They attended prom together, and three years later were expecting their first child.
When she gave birth this month, she was surrounded with support, including Trusty’s parents and brother, and her mother, sister and cousin – but not Trusty.
Their daughter, a 9-pound, 11-ounce girl named Avah, was born one month to the day that Trusty was gunned down in Northeast Baltimore. “I text his phone still,” Street said. “I send pictures of the baby.”
Trusty was among 45 people killed in Baltimore in July, a toll that matched the deadliest month in the city’s modern history and came amid a surge in violent crime surge that followed Freddie Gray‘s death. The last time 45 people were killed in one month was in August 1972, when the city had about 275,000 more residents.
The deaths occurred across the city, overwhelmingly in historically impoverished neighborhoods. All but one of the victims were male, all but two of them black. Many had serious criminal records. The victims also included a 5-month-old boy and a 53-year-old grandmother, a teen stabbed to death in a dispute over a cell phone and a carryout deliveryman killed in a robbery.
They left behind scores of grieving relatives, including dozens of children and stepchildren who will grow up without fathers – a city’s deadly legacy.
The Baltimore Sun sought to profile each of the victims, through interviews with relatives, friends, neighbors and police, as well as information on social media – and to chronicle the impact on those left behind.
Tamara Stokes hasn’t been able to break to her young children what happened to their father, Robert Lee Jackson, 33, who was killed July 13 in East Baltimore.
“She doesn’t even know that he’s G-O-N-E,” Stokes says, spelling out the word as her 3-year-old – one of two children they had together – babbles in the background at her home. “She doesn’t know what’s going on. She doesn’t know that he was K-I-L-L-E-D.”
Dechonne McNair, 22, tattooed a cross onto his arm in honor of his father, John F. Davis. The 48-year-old mechanic, who went by the nickname “Lucky,” was gunned down near his Cherry Hill home on July 6. He had eight children.
“I still feel like he’s still here sometimes. But he’s gone,” McNair said. “I miss my father.”
The daughter of Damon Tisdale, 33, who was killed July 15 in West Baltimore, wrote a message in the program for his funeral at Perkins Square Baptist Church: “I miss you so much and I just can’t take all this with me being so young Daddy. I love you so much.
“It hurts that you’re not here to see me grow-up.”
Dr. Geoffrey Greif, a professor at the University of Maryland School of Social Work, said growing up without a father can cause children to have questions about their identity, and seek out other role models. In many cases, they may find that in another relative, a coach, or pastor.
“But when positive role models are not there, sometimes it puts them at risk for getting involved with people that are not looking out for their best interests,” Greif said. “Communities have to come together and help the children to realize that while this is a significant and very upsetting and huge loss, there are people in that child’s life who are going to step up and try to support them.”
Jahi Faw, an uncle of victim Shyteak Lawrence, said he’s trying to be that role model for Lawrence’s children, who came to his home on a recent weekend for a sleepover and to make S’mores. He wants to take them camping as often as possible, “just to get them outside of the asphalt living of the city, to give them another perspective on life.”
“It’s important to understand, we have to pay more attention to the people who are alive,” Faw said. “I love [Shyteak] with all my heart, but I believe he’s in a better place. If we’re not telling people that we love them today, you may not have that chance tomorrow.”
Myron Higgins grew up without a father but said he had filled that void with uncle Gregory Tavon Higgins, who, despite being incarcerated for 20 years, was always there for him.
“I just latched on to him. Even though he wasn’t there physically, he was always there,” Myron said. “He helped me change my life.”
Gregory Tavon Higgins was released last year, and together they began pursuing business ventures including a trucking company, as well as producing music. During the protests over Gray’s death, they grabbed a video camera and filmed a video for one of Myron’s songs, a black power anthem called “Set It Off.”
Higgins, 40, was fatally shot July 11 in East Baltimore.
“We were like one person,” Myron said, “and I’m really trying to find my way, by myself.”
The spike in violence began soon after Gray died in April from an injury sustained in police custody. In May, Baltimore recorded 42 homicides which at the time was the highest monthly total since 1972. That was surpassed by July’s toll, and in August there has been an average of about one homicide per day. Already, the city has recorded more homicides this year than in all of 2014, when 211 people were killed.
In discussing the violence, city officials and police leaders have offered several theories. Among them: a dispute within the Black Guerrilla Family gang and the possible fallout in the illegal drug trade after pharmaceutical drugs were looted during the April riot.
A review of the July cases with police shows mostly petty disputes and cases being investigated as drug-related.
Capt. Donald Bauer is commander of the city homicide unit, which has handled more than 215 cases so far this year. He sits in a tidy corner office on the fifth floor of police headquarters, a stack of case folders piled neat and high on his desk. As he flips through them, he notes the long criminal records of many victims, and says police are working diligently to solve the cases.
“We take every case on its merit, and continue to investigate individually,” Bauer said. “We’re drawing some connections, using science and technology with our federal partners, and hopefully additional cooperation from the community will help us put these down.”
He notes that amid a sharply increased workload, police have solved more cases than at this point last year. Still, 11 of July’s 45 cases have been solved, and the closure rate for the year stands at 33 percent.
Fifteen-year-old Josh Burnett was one of the youngest victims in July, and the person suspected of killing him was even younger – 13.
Burnett’s parents said he was a hard worker who washed cars, cut grass and sold water to make money, and he was constantly engaged in youth sports.
He confronted the younger boy for stealing his cell phone on a Northwest Baltimore playground, and was stabbed in the heart, police say. The suspect, charged as a juvenile, has not been identified publicly.
“This, to me, is big boy stuff,” said father Remus Burnett, who thinks the suspect should be charged as an adult. “He went straight to the heart, a decision you might look at as an adult decision. If you can make an adult decision, you can do adult time.”
Bauer points to the July 24 killing of Daquan Mason, 20, as an example of another “innocent victim.” Though his family could not be reached for comment, they recalled in his obituary that he enjoyed skateboarding, playing video games and making music. They also recalled his “protective spirit.”
Police believe Mason was killed when he stood up for a relative who was getting picked on. “He steps in and intervenes, and winds up getting shot,” Bauer said. The case is unsolved.
Then there is Marcus Downer, a 23-year-old who was gunned down in Northwest Baltimore on July 26 outside a relative’s home. Downer, a graduate of the Baltimore School for the Arts, had performed in plays such as The Wiz and The Lion King as a youngster. Now, he was hoping to move to California with his mother to pursue an acting career, relatives said. Police said an argument led to his shooting death, but have yet to make an arrest.
Police attribute other homicides to drug-related issues. They are investigating whether Donte Dixon Jr., a 29-year-old rapper known as G-Rock, was killed over a drug dispute. Lamont Randall, 39, killed in a quadruple shooting that left two others dead, was a ranking member of the Black Guerrilla Family, according to police, who say at least three victims in other cases were members of the Bloods gang.
While the some of the victims’ criminal pasts were believed to be tied to their deaths, for others it was only a footnote. Eric Renard Forrester had been charged with and acquitted of murder in 2002. But the reason for his death on a basketball court in Southwest Baltimore is believed to be a robbery of a dice game, police said. Raja’ee Sincere served more than 20 years for murder, but police believe he was killed because he stepped into a dispute at a bar.
The effect on families, many of whom relied on the victims to make ends meet, has been devastating.
Dante Barnes, who was killed July 11 in East Baltimore, was the breadwinner of the family, and fiancee Andrea Young said his death forced them to move out of their home and into hotel rooms and a relative’s house, before finally finding a new residence.
Young is disappointed Barnes didn’t get to continue on his second chance after spending 14 years in prison for assault and a gun crime. He was working a janitorial job and had just gotten an HVAC certification, while serving as a mentor to her four children.
Phyllis Poole, 59, has a large photo of her youngest son, Tyrone Johnson, from his funeral hanging on the wall of her living room. Poole said authorities haven’t told her if they’ve made an arrest in his murder or what the motive was. She prays every night that the killer will turn himself in.
“This space is really empty in my heart right now,” she said. “I think that’s the only way I’ll be able to rest, is that his killer be caught… I need to ask this person in court: ‘Why did you take my child from me?'”
Poole said she is one of too many grieving mothers in Baltimore experiencing “a parent’s worst nightmare.”
“The murder rate in this city is terrible. It’s sad in my heart to see all these young men getting killed down here,” she said. “This is hurting a lot of mothers and fathers and sisters and brothers.”
Tona Burrell’s boyfriend of 11 years, Steven Justin Lewis, was killed July 12 in Northeast Baltimore.
“When I see something on the news about the amount of people, homicides for that month, I always think, ‘My baby is a part of that number…” said Burrell. “He is not just another number added to the countless homicides, he was a wonderful person with a huge heart and his family meant everything to him.”