President Asshat Bullied Bank To Pay Racial Settlement Without Evidence

Obama Bullied Bank To Pay Racial Settlement Without Proof: Report – New York Post

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Newly uncovered internal memos reveal the Obama administration knowingly exaggerated charges of racial discrimination in probes of Ally Bank and other defendants in the $900 billion car-lending business as part of a “racial justice” campaign that’s looking more like a massive government extortion and shakedown operation.

So far, Obama’s Consumer Financial Protection Bureau has reached more than $220 million in settlements with several auto lenders since the agency launched its anti-discrimination crusade against the industry in 2013. Several other banks are under active investigation.

That’s despite the fact that the CFPB had no actual complaints of racial discrimination – it was all just based on half-baked statistics.

A confidential 23-page internal report detailing CFPB’s strategy for going after lenders shows why these companies are forking over millions of dollars in restitution and fines to the government despite denying any wrongdoing.

The high-level memo, sent by top CFPB civil-rights prosecutors to the bureau’s director and revealed by a House committee, admits their methods for proving discrimination were seriously flawed from the start and had little chance of holding up in court. Yet they figured they could muscle Ally, as well as future defendants, with threats and intimidation.

“Some of the claims being made in this case present issues, such as use of [race] proxying and reliance on the disparate-impact doctrine, that would pose litigation risks meriting serious consideration prior to taking administrative action or filing suit in district court,” the Oct. 7, 2013, memo addressed to CFPB chief Richard Cordray acknowledges.

“Nevertheless,” it added, “Ally may have a powerful incentive to settle the entire matter quickly without engaging in protracted litigation.”

At the time, the Detroit-based bank was seeking permission from the Federal Reserve to remain a financial holding company. Without regulatory approval, Ally risked losing key business lines, primarily its insurance subsidiaries.

“Protracted litigation” would present “a high hurdle” to Ally retaining such status, the CFPB lawyers conspired.

Prosecutors also sought to use the Community Reinvestment Act as leverage against Ally. At the time, the FDIC was reviewing the bank’s compliance with the anti-redlining law.

They huddled with FDIC and Federal Reserve officials to get them on board with their scheme; and the Fed assured them it would look favorably upon “a prompt and robust” settlement by Ally, while the FDIC confirmed that a quick resolution would help Ally pass its CRA exam.

So CFPB applied the screws to Ally, saying it had “statistical evidence” showing its participating dealers were “marking up” loan prices for blacks and Hispanics vs. whites (by an average of $3 a month). Ally fought back, insisting non-discriminatory factors, such as credit history, down payments, trade-ins, promotions and rate-shopping, explained differences in loan pricing. After conducting a preliminary regression analysis, the bank found these factors alone accounted for at least 70 percent of the “racial disparities” the government was claiming.

CFPB admits in the memo that it never considered these or other legitimate business aspects of the car deals it investigated: “Such factors were excluded as controls from the markup analysis.”

Also in its initial rebuttal, Ally complained CFPB’s entire case was based on “disparate impact” statistics, not actual complaints by consumers, and that those estimates relied on guesswork about the race of the borrowers. (The auto industry does not report borrower race, so CFPB tried to ID race by last name and ZIP code, a so-called “proxy” method that is wildly inaccurate.)

“The evidence of discrimination on the basis of race and national origin is strictly statistical,” the agency confessed in a report footnote.

With all these machinations hidden from public view, Cordray held a press conference to announce “the federal government’s largest auto-loan discrimination settlement in history.” He claimed that 235,000 minorities had been harmed by Ally, even though he didn’t know the race of a single borrower or whether they had actually been harmed.

“He had no idea how many actual victims there were because their whole case rested entirely on statistical estimations they admitted internally were inaccurate,” said a senior staffer for the House Financial Services Committee, which recently obtained the internal documents from CFPB.

In fact, CFPB still has not been able to definitively ID the race of any borrower it claims Ally victimized – which is why it has taken more than two years to send remuneration checks to alleged victims. Desperate to find them, the bureau recently had to mail 420,000 letters to Ally borrowers to coax at least 235,000 into taking the money, and to allow Cordray to save face.

Checks started going out this month to the fictitious victims – just in time for the election. So what if some recipients are white? They will all no doubt thank Democrats for the sudden, unexpected windfall of up to $520 in the mail.

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Thanks Barack… Illegal Aliens Benefitted From Up To $750M In Obamacare Subsidies

Senate Report: Illegal Aliens Benefitted From Up To $750 Million In Obamacare Subsidies – Weasel Zippers

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Didn’t Obama say illegal aliens would not be getting subsidies?

Via Fox News:
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Illegal immigrants and individuals with unclear legal status wrongly benefited from up to $750 million in ObamaCare subsidies and the government is struggling to recoup the money, according to a new Senate report obtained by Fox News.

The report, produced by Republicans on the Senate Homeland Security and Governmental Affairs Committee, examined Affordable Care Act tax credits meant to defray the cost of insurance premiums. It found that as of June 2015, “the Administration awarded approximately $750 million in tax credits on behalf of individuals who were later determined to be ineligible because they failed to verify their citizenship, status as a national, or legal presence.”

Keep reading

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Obamanomics Update: President Asshat Releasing $4 Trillion-Plus Budget For 2017

Obama Releasing $4 Trillion-Plus Budget For 2017; New Taxes And Spending – CNS

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President Barack Obama is unveiling his eighth and final budget, a $4 trillion-plus proposal that’s freighted with liberal policy initiatives and new and familiar tax hikes – all sent to a dismissive Republican-controlled Congress that simply wants to move on from his presidency.

The budget will be released Tuesday morning, the same day as the New Hampshire primary when it’s likely to get little attention. It comes as the deficit, which had been falling over the duration of Obama’s two terms, has begun to creep up, above the half-trillion mark.

The White House is countering the worsening deficit outlook with a proposed $10-per barrel tax on oil that would finance “clean” transportation projects. It also is sure to propose taxes on the wealthy and corporations.

Long gone are proposals such as slowing the automatic inflation increase for Social Security benefits and other ideas once aimed at drawing congressional Republicans into negotiations on a broader budget deal.

Now, Obama has broken out a budget playbook filled with ideas sure to appeal to Democrats: A “moonshot” initiative to cure cancer; increasing Pell Grants for college students from low-income backgrounds; renewed incentives for GOP-governed states to join the expanded Medicaid system established under the health care law, and incentives to boost individual retirement accounts.

The $10-per-barrel tax hike proposal comes as the price of crude has dropped to the $30 per barrel range.

“We’re going to impose a tax on a barrel of oil – imported, exported – so that some of that revenue can be used for transportation, some of that revenue can be used for the investments in basic research and technology that’s going to be needed for the energy sources of the future,” Obama said. “Then 10 years from now, 15 years from now, 20 years from now, we’re going to be in a much stronger position when oil starts getting tight again, prices start going up again.”

Republicans, however, immediately rejected the idea after its release last week and it will meet the fate of prior dead-on-arrival proposals such as increasing capital gains taxes on the wealthy, imposing a fee on big banks, and cutting the value of charitable deductions for upper-income taxpayers. Higher cigarette taxes and a minimum 30 percent rate for wealthier filers have also gone nowhere.

Obama’s proposed tax increases also mean that he can present relatively reasonable deficit estimates without having to go for painful cuts to benefit programs such as Medicare, health care subsidies under the Affordable Care Act, food stamps, and Medicaid health care for the poor.

The budget deficit, after hitting a whopping $1.4 trillion in Obama’s first year, dropped to a relatively manageable $439 billion last year. But a softening economic outlook, combined with a round of tax cuts and increased spending enacted by Congress last year, will make the deficit problem about $1.5 trillion worse over the coming 10 years, according to the latest Congressional Budget Office estimate.

CBO’s “baseline” deficit – what it expects would occur if Congress does nothing – would now total almost $10 trillion over the coming decade.

The White House hasn’t revealed what, if anything, Obama will propose to address the worsening deficit picture. In its budget roll-out, the White House has instead focused on new spending initiatives. The plan is also likely to call for a comprehensive overhaul of immigration laws, highly unlikely in an election year.

On Monday, Obama proposed $1.8 billion to combat the Zika virus, asking for the money immediately as emergency spending on top of the $1.1 trillion catchall spending bill that passed in December. The virus is spreading rapidly through Latin America. While most people experience either mild or no symptoms, Zika is suspected of causing a devastating birth defect – babies born with abnormally small heads – and the funding is aimed at fighting its spread both abroad and in the U.S.

Obama has largely shifted his focus elsewhere. After winning a higher income tax rate in 2013 on couples earning more than $400,000 per year, Obama and Republicans have battled over relatively small increases to the less than one-third of the budget passed by Congress each year. Republicans seeking higher spending for the Pentagon have been forced to accept Obama’s demands for additional funds for domestic agencies.

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*AUDIO* Mark Steyn And Howie Carr Discuss The Presidential Primaries (02/05/16)

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What If The Democrats Held A Debate And Nobody Watched It?

Last Night’s Democrat Debate Was The Lowest Rated One To Date – Weasel Zippers

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Nobody wants to watch Communists argue over who’s the rightful heir to Marx.

Via CNN:
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MSNBC’s feisty debate between Bernie Sanders and Hillary Clinton received high marks from political observers, but not high ratings from ordinary viewers.

It was the lowest-rated debate of the 2016 election cycle by far, according to preliminary Nielsen data. The debate had a 3.3 household rating in Nielsen’s metered markets.

The prior low was a 6.0 household rating for ABC’s Democrat debate on the Saturday night before Christmas.

Keep reading

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Obamanomics Update: All U.S. Job Gains Since December 2007 Have Gone To Foreign-Born Workers

All Job Gains Since December 2007 Have Gone To Foreign-Born Workers – Zero Hedge

With the Fed on the verge of a full relent and admission of policy error, the Fed’s “data (in)dependent” monetary policy once again takes on secondary relevance as we progress into 2016. However, even with the overall job picture far less important, one aspect of the US jobs market is certain to take on an unprecedented importance.

We first laid out what that is last September when we said that “the one chart that matters more than ever, has little to nothing to do with the Fed’s monetary policy, but everything to do with the November 2016 presidential elections in which the topic of immigration, both legal and illegal, is shaping up to be the most rancorous, contentious and divisive.”

We were talking about the chart showing the cumulative addition of foreign-born and native-born workers added to US payrolls according to the BLS since December 2007, i.e., since the start of the recession/Second Great Depression.

As usually happens, it is precisely this data that gets no mention following any job report. However, with Trump and his anti-immigration campaign continuing to plow on despite the Iowa disappointment, we are confident that the chart shown below will soon be recognizable to economic and political pundits everywhere.

And here is why we are confident this particular data should have been prominently noted by all experts when dissecting today’s job report: according to the BLS’ Establishment Survey, while 151,000 total workers were added in January, a number which rises to 615,000 if looking at the Household survey, also according to the same Household survey, a whopping 567,000 native-born Americans lost their jobs, far less than the 98,000 foreign-born job losses.

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Here is a chart showing native-born non-job gains since the start of the depression:

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Alternatively, here are foreign-born worker additions since December 2007:

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Putting the two side by side:

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And the bottom line: starting with the infamous month when it all started falling apart, December 2007, the US has added just 186,000 native-born workers, offset by 13.5x times more, or 2,518,000, foreign born workers.

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If Trump wins New Hampshire and South Carolina, and storms back to the top of the GOP primary polls, expect this chart to become the most important one over the next 10 months.

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One Dead, 15 Injured In Manhattan After Massive Crane Plummets At Least 15 Stories Onto Parked Cars

Massive Construction Crane Collapse In Lower Manhattan Smashes Line Of Cars And Leaves At Least One Pedestrian Dead, 15 Injured – Daily Mail

One 38-year-old pedestrian has died after a construction crane collapsed in lower Manhattan at 8:24am, leaving at least 15 more injured, authorities said.

The crane, at 57 Worth Street between Church Street and West Broadway in Tribeca, was swinging a wrecking ball when it fell between 15 and 18 stories, clipping buildings as it fell on at a line of parked cars.

One victim, who was trapped in a vehicle, has been rescued, authorities say. At least two are seriously injured,and three have been taken to Bellevue Hospital Center.

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It is unclear why the crane fell, but a permit was issued for it to move generators and air conditioning equipment at the former Wester Union building at 60 Hudson Street.

The crane was parked on Worth Street, and the incident occurred as the crane was being lowered in order to secure it during the snowy and windy conditions.

Officials had already directed people away from the area as they were lowering the crane.

Mayor Bill deBlasio said it was a sad situation, but added: ‘Thank God it was not any worse. It’s something of a miracle that there wasn’t more impact.’

The NYPD’s Sergeants Benevolent Association was across the street, and members of the union rushed out, making them the first on the scene.

Vice President Bob Ganley of the association said: ‘It was surreal. It was like a war zone when it first happened.’

One witness told ABC7: ‘I could hear the bending of metal. I think it hit the side of the building.

‘I didn’t know what was happening because it was happening so fast.’

CBS Local reported another witness said: ‘I couldn’t believe it. The other day, I was just thinking I hope this doesn’t fall and then it happened. It bounced off two buildings and crushed every single car on that block.’

Other witnesses said the collapse ‘felt like a bomb’ or an earthquake.

The cab of the crane can be seen completely flipped over on Worth Street as ambulances and firefighters are on the scene

The stability of nearby buildings is being checked since the collapse may have affected a water and gas main.

ConEdison is on the scene, since a gas odor was detected at 57 Worth Street, authorities say.

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Subways are bypassing the Franklin Street and Chambers Street stops. Buses and traffic are bypassing the area, with officials advising drivers to avoid roads south of Canal Street.

Mayor deBlasio will be arriving to hold a press conference.

The crane has ‘Bay Crane’ listed on the side. It is a crawler crane mounted on caterpillar tracks and not a tower crane. Authorities say the crane was revewed yesterday morning and approved.

Three people have been taken to Bellevue Hospital Center, two of them are in serious condition.

DeBlasio added it would take at least several days to get things in the immediate area ‘back to normal’.

This is the first crane collapse in the city since 2008.

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Federal Dumbassery Alert!

Congress Wants To Turn The US Postal Service… Into A Bank – Zero Hedge

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It’s news that seems ripped from the pages of The Onion. Or perhaps Atlas Shrugged.

But incredibly enough it’s actually true: earlier this week, Congress proposed a new law authorizing the US Postal Service to provide banking and financial services.

It’s called the “Providing Opportunities for Savings, Transactions, and Lending” Act, abbreviated as… wait for it… the POSTAL Act.

And it provides explicit authorization for them to provide banking services including checking and savings accounts, money transfers, and “other basic financial services as the Postal Service deems appropriate in the public interest.”

Bank of the Post Office. It’s incredible when you think about it.

The US Postal Service hasn’t turned a profit in a decade.

As a matter of fact, its total accumulated losses now exceed $51 billion, easily ranking it among the least successful companies in history.

And the only way USPS can continue to maintain its operations is with regular bailouts from the American taxpayer.

The statistics are just horrendous. Mail volume is down dramatically, which means that revenue continues to fall.

Yet the Postal Service’s expenses and pension costs keep growing, along with its debt.

Just like the US government, the US Postal Service has its own debt ceiling that’s set by Congress.

USPS reached this debt ceiling back in 2012 and has remained at that level for years.

The only way they survive is by moving liabilities off-balance sheet and regularly going back to Congress with hat in hand.

Wow, talk about a responsible financial partner – this sounds like EXACTLY the place we should want to deposit our hard-earned savings!

Seriously, why would these people even consider an idea so absurd as to let an organization with a history of failed operations take over people’s savings?

Simple. It’s a cheap source of capital.

The Postal Service desperately needs cash. So what better way to raise capital than to sucker unsuspecting Americans into opening up Postal bank accounts?

When you deposit money in a bank, you are effectively loaning the bank your money.

In exchange, they pay you a whopping 0.01% interest.

This is what almost all banks do – they borrow money from depositors and (hopefully) make credible investments and loans with other people’s money.

Except in this case, the Postal Service needs to ‘borrow’ depositors’ savings to cover losses from its other operations.

There’s a term for this. It’s called a Ponzi Scheme.

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Government Incompetence Update: TSA Cannot Verify Employees’ Criminal Histories

Disclosure: TSA Cannot Verify Employees’ Criminal Histories – Washington Free Beacon

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Government oversight officials informed Congress on Wednesday that the Transportation Security Administration continues to operate in disarray, failing to record basic security details for thousands of employees and not tracking official IDs and badges that allow access to the most sensitive areas of an airport.

Lawmakers described the security agency as operating “in chaos” and expressed frustration with Obama administration officials as they informed the House Oversight Committee about a range of security shortfalls that continue to endanger the nation’s 450 commercial airports.

TSA’s inability to properly screen and track employees has been well documented for years. However, the administration has failed to enact multiple reforms aimed at tightening security and making it more efficient, lawmakers said.

TSA still cannot verify their employees’ criminal histories and immigration statuses, according to disclosures made by the Department of Homeland Security inspector general.

“Even 15 years” since the 9/11 terror attacks, “we still see a system that has not complied with the laws we have passed multiple times… and we see failures,” said Rep. John Mica (R., Fla.), chair of the House Transportation Subcommittee.

Following the discovery last year of 73 aviation employees who also were listed on the nation’s terror watch list, TSA has struggled to implement reforms aimed to remedy these security gaps, Mica said.

“TSA employees are not properly vetted,” he said. “We’ve found that tens of thousands of incomplete records are even lacking full names. They [TSA] had 14,000 immigrants listed in the database that did not have alien registration numbers and 75,000 of these records lacked passport numbers. This is not acceptable.”

Officials additionally could not account for “hundreds and thousands of IDs” that had gone missing, including TSA security badges, airport identity badges, and officer identification.

“Everything you can imagine stolen, or missing, or unaccounted for,” Mica said. “Here we are in 2016, 15 years after 9/11, and we don’t know who’s going in and who’s going out. There’s no way to ensure it.”

John Roth, the Department of Homeland Security inspector general, provided a list of security flaws and inefficiencies in the TSA’s employee screening process.

In addition to still not having full access to the U.S. terror watch list, TSA is incapable of verifying employees’ criminal records.

“TSA is considerably challenged when it comes to verifying workers’ criminal histories and immigration status,” Roth said. “TSA does not recurrently vet airport workers’ criminal histories after they are initially cleared to work, but rely on individuals to self-report disqualifying crimes.”

Most employees do not follow this policy, he said.

“TSA cannot systematically determine whether individuals have been convicted of disqualifying crimes,” Roth said, noting that commercial airports also do not hold onto these records. “Due to the large workload involved, this inspection process looked at as few as one percent of all aviation workers applications.”

Additionally, the records TSA uses for vetting individuals is “not reliable, as it contains incomplete or inaccurate data,” Roth said.

At least 87,000 active aviation workers, or 10 percent of the total workforce, do not have social security numbers listed in their records, according to Roth.

An additional 75,000 active employee credentials listed the worker as a non-U.S. citizen but did not include passport numbers. Of that number, 14,000 workers also did not list an alien registration number, meaning they could potentially be undocumented.

“TSA did not have appropriate checks in place to reject records from such vetting,” Roth said. “Without complete and accurate info TSA risked credentialing and providing unescorted access to secure airport areas for a worker who could potentially harm the nation’s air transportation system.”

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Seven More Hitlery E-mails Too Secret To Release

Seven More Hillary Server E-mails Too Secret To Release In Any Form – Hot Air

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The State Department has decided to withhold seven more e-mails from Hillary Clinton’s unauthorized and nonsecure homebrew system as too sensitive to release even in redacted form. That brings the total number of such messages to 29, and one member of Congress who has seen them is aghast at what may have been exposed:
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“There are more than 22, and it’s not just one or two more,” Rep. Chris Stewart told the Washington Examiner, referring to the 22 emails deemed top secret by the State Department last week. “It’s a more meaningful number than that.”

Stewart said the State Department has classified seven additional emails as “top secret.” The agency will now withhold 29 emails from the public due to their sensitive content.

“These were classified at the top secret level, and in some cases, above that,” he said.

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Yesterday, Stewart told Fox News what kind of information went through the server – and it’s every bit as bad as one would imagine:
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“They do reveal classified methods, they do reveal classified sources, and they do reveal human assets,” he said during an appearance on Fox’s “America’s Newsroom” earlier in the day.

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Be sure to watch it, as Stewart uses a hypothetical that should have eyebrows raised. “My heavens,” he tells Martha McCallum, “if I received an e-mail saying, ‘here are the names and addresses and phone numbers of ten of our undercover agents in Pakistan,’ I would know … that was classified. I wouldn’t look for a heading.” Stewart then says that his hypothetical isn’t what was found in the e-mails, but clearly Stewart believes it to be as obvious as the hypothetical suggests. And if these messages disclosed human assets, as Stewart explicitly accuses in this interview after having seen the e-mails, then it would be obvious that they could not be transmitted through or retained within an unauthorized and non-secure system.

It’s no surprise, then, that the House Oversight Committee will start an investigation into exactly what went wrong and how much damage has been done to American intelligence by the State Department – and perhaps to put some pressure on the Department of Justice:
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House Oversight Chairman Jason Chaffetz says he’s forging ahead with an investigation into the federal government’s record keeping – a probe he acknowledges could put Hillary Clinton in the cross hairs.

But Speaker Paul Ryan and House Majority Leader Kevin McCarthy have been clear: They believe the FBI and Justice Department should handle the investigation into Clinton’s use of personal email for government business, and that congressional involvement could disrupt the criminal probe and appear overly partisan. Taking that cue, the House Science Committee, which had planned its own investigation into Clinton’s email server, on Wednesday opted to delay its inquiry and defer to the FBI, an aide on the panel told POLITICO.

As for Chaffetz, Ryan (R-Wis.) is giving him the green light to proceed – with caution. The speaker authorized Chaffetz to investigate systematic problems within his committee’s broad jurisdiction, while making clear his preference that Chaffetz steer clear of Clinton personally.

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A House probe will put the FBI’s efforts under a microscope, whether Chaffetz chooses to avoid taking on Hillary directly or not. It will also send a signal to the DoJ that simply running out the clock will not suffice. Chaffetz could choose to work on this as a probe to determine the amount of damage done by the mishandling of classified information at State – methods that had to be changed, opportunities lost, agents who had to be recalled, or even sources who might have dried up or vanished altogether. Making the damage clear will undercut any claims from Clinton and the White House of “no harm, no foul,” but more importantly will actually emphasize the need to properly protect national-security data pour encourager les autres.

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*VIDEO* Juan Ellis Bush Begs His Audience For Applause

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Another Record-Setting January For Gun Sales In U.S.

January Gun Sales Set Yet Another Record – Washington Free Beacon

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The FBI conducted more gun-related background checks this January than in any other January since the system was created.

With 2,545,802 checks processed through the National Instant Background Check System, January 2016 beat the previous record, set in January 2013, by 50,326 checks. Though January’s number represents a drop from the all-time single month record set in December 2015, it is also marks the ninth month in a row that has set a record. It is also the third month in a row with more than two million background checks.

The number of background checks conducted by the FBI is widely considered the most reliable estimate for gun sales in the country since all sales conducted through federally licensed gun dealers and some sales conducted by private parties are required by law to obtain a check.

However, the number is not a one-to-one representation of gun sales. Many private sales are not included in the system. Also, in some cases a single background check can apply to the sale of multiple guns. Some states use background checks for their gun carry permitting process, which does not involve the sale of a gun.

The new record comes in the wake of President Obama’s executive action targeting gun sales. The White House had signaled that those selling even one firearm in their lifetime could be subject to federal licensing requirements, though it was later revealed that the written guidance issued by the ATF was at odds with the administration’s public comments.

A steady stream of comments supportive of gun control by Democratic presidential candidate Hillary Clinton may also have contributed to record sales.

A move by Virginia Democrats to unilaterally eliminate gun carry reciprocity agreements with 25 states also received national attention in January. The policy was instituted by the state’s attorney general after the party failed to recapture the state Senate despite millions from gun control advocates. The backlash to the plan was strong enough that the state’s Democratic governor reversed it in a deal with Republicans.

The Second Amendment Foundation said the continued spike in gun sales was in line with other indicators from around the country.

“The Boston Globe reported last week that tens of thousands of new gun licenses were issued in Massachusetts last year,” Alan Gottlieb, the group’s founder, said in a statement. “In New Jersey, with tough gun laws, applications for gun purchases last year nearly tripled over what they were in 2005. One Missouri county reported a three-month back-up in processing permit applications. A county sheriff in North Carolina is so overwhelmed, he’s asking that citizens make appointments.”

“Add to this the fact that scores of sheriffs and police chiefs have encouraged citizens to arm themselves. Suddenly, gun ownership sounds like a very good idea to people concerned about personal safety,” Gottlieb said.

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President Asshat Continues His Shame-The-Infidels Tour In Baltimore

Obama Visits Mosque: ‘Islam Has Always Been Part Of America’ – Big Government

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President Obama spoke warmly about Islam during his speech at a mosque today, highlighting the contributions that Muslims had made to the fabric of American society.

“Islam has always been part of America,” he said, detailing the beginnings of the religion among African slaves brought to America. He also pointed out that Thomas Jefferson wrote in the Virginia statute for religious freedom that the “Mohammedan” should have his faith protected in the United States.

Obama met with Muslim leaders during a visit to the Islamic Society of Baltimore, before delivering a speech there. This is Obama’s first visit to a mosque as president – although George W. Bush also visited a mosque in New York City after the attacks of 9/11.

During his speech, he praised the religion for being a religion of peace – not the hate preached by groups like ISIS.

“The very word Islam comes from ‘Salam’ – peace,” he said. “The standard greeting is ‘As-Salaam-Alaikum’ – ‘Peace be upon you,’” he explained. “Like so many faiths, Islam is rooted in a commitment to compassion and mercy and justice and charity. “Whoever wants to enter paradise, the prophet Mohammad taught, let him treat people the way he would love to be treated,” he said as the audience applauded.

“For Christians like myself, I’m assuming that sounds familiar,” he continued.

Obama has frequently defended Muslim Americans – even meeting with leaders at private event at the White House last year. This is the biggest public display of support for the Muslim American community – cited by White House aides as a response to the anti-refugee and anti-Muslim rhetoric on the campaign trail from Republicans like Donald Trump.

Obama reminded the audience that political opponents of Thomas Jefferson accused him of being a Muslim. “So I was not the first,” he said lightly as the audience laughed. “It’s true. Look it up. I’m in good company.”

Obama pointed out that the founding fathers also supported the religion of Islam.

“Jefferson and John Adams had their own copies of the Koran,” he said. “Benjamin Franklin wrote, that even if the Mufti of Constantinople were to send a missionary to preach to us, he would find a pulpit at his service.”

He also recalled the history of mosques in America – pointing out that the oldest surviving mosque was in Iowa and that the first American mosque was built in North Dakota.

Obama also urged Christians to defend Muslim-Americans when their religion was under attack.

“If we’re serious about freedom of religion – and I’m speaking now to my fellow Christians, who remain the majority in this country – we have to understand, an attack on one faith is an attack on all our faiths,” he said.

He demanded that Americans stop profiling Muslims and treating them differently because of their faith – criticizing political rhetoric for inflaming hatred against the Muslim community.

“We have to reject a politics that seeks to manipulate prejudice or bias and targets people because of religion,” he said.

He specifically addressed young Muslim Americans, urging them not to grow cynical.

“Let me say it as clearly as I can, as President of the United States, you fit in here. Right here. You’re right where you belong. You’re part of America too,” he said.

According to photos on Twitter of the speech, the audience in the mosque was segregated – men in one section and women in a special balcony.

As Obama concluded his speech, he said, “May God’s peace be upon you and God Bless the United States of America.”

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Rick Santorum Takes His Ball And Goes Home

Rick Santorum Dropping Presidential Bid – CNN

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Former Pennsylvania Sen. Rick Santorum is ending his presidential bid, two Republican sources told CNN.

He is expected to make the announcement Wednesday night and will endorse a candidate.

Santorum won the 2012 Iowa caucuses and ended that race with the second-most number of delegates to eventually GOP nominee Mitt Romney. But he was unable to capture any momentum this year, despite extensive barnstorming efforts in Iowa.

He is the third Republican presidential candidate to drop out after Monday’s caucuses. Mike Huckabee ended his campaign that night, and Rand Paul suspended his campaign Wednesday morning.

The Santorum sources did not say whom Santorum would endorse. When asked about a possible endorsement, Florida Sen. Marco Rubio said he hasn’t spoken to the former Pennsylvania senator on Wednesday.

“I think he’s fantastic,” Rubio told CNN’s Dana Bash.

Santorum faced a drastically different landscape this year than he did in 2012. A crowded field of 17 Republicans and lackluster early polling kept him off the main debate stage for each of the GOP debates. He also faced competition for the hearts evangelical voters, particularly from Ted Cruz.

His retail politics were also no match for the media-centric, playbook-defying campaign of Donald Trump, the brash billionaire who left little room for candidates to win a moment in the spotlight.

Still, Santorum’s campaign was poised to learn from elements that overshadowed his bid in 2012, when the Pennsylvanian focused on social issues almost to a fault. He made a pointed effort to not get dragged down by controversial comments about homosexuality – which included a comparison to bestiality – that helped hamstring his earlier bid.

Without abandoning his socially conservative views, Santorum devoted more time to talking about his economic plans to revitalize American manufacturing and leaned heavily on his foreign policy knowledge to make the case he could best serve as president in an age of heightened global threats from terrorist groups like ISIS.

Santorum will endorse a candidate for the nomination, two GOP sources said. He, along with Huckabee, previously appeared with Trump at the billionaire’s event for veterans that was held opposite the Fox News debate in Des Moines, Iowa, on Thursday.

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Rand Paul Calls It Quits

Rand Paul Dropping Out Of Presidential Race – WCTI

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Rand Paul, the libertarian-minded freshman senator who was once viewed as a formidable presidential contender, is suspending his White House bid.

Paul discussed the matter with staff Wednesday morning and sent out a statement confirming the decision to drop out of the Republican presidential primary.

“It’s been an incredible honor to run a principled campaign for the White House,” Paul said in the statement. “Today, I will end where I began, ready and willing to fight for the cause of Liberty.”

Paul, a Kentucky Republican, is expected to instead place his focus squarely on his Senate reelection bid, where he faces a wealthy Democrat, Lexington Mayor Jim Gray, who has the money to partially finance his campaign.

Paul finished a disappointing fifth place in Monday’s Iowa caucuses, registering just 4.5% of the vote despite placing a heavy emphasis on the state’s college towns to bring out younger voters inspired by his libertarian-minded message. He promised that night to continue his campaign.

Paul will not make an endorsement in the GOP presidential race before next week’s New Hampshire primary, his spokesman Sergio Gor told CNN.

But sources close to Paul said a morning-after review made clear to Paul that there was not a viable path to winning the Republican nomination and that fund-raising was becoming extremely difficult.

Indeed, as the New Hampshire primary approaches, where his father Ron Paul won 23% of the vote in 2012, polls have found the younger Paul struggling to gain traction.

Paul’s calls for a less aggressive foreign policy, which his critics have dubbed as “isolationist,” failed to connect with GOP voters at a time of growing national security fears. Moreover, Paul had a hard time reestablishing his father’s libertarian coalition because he had sought to broaden his appeal to more establishment-minded Republicans, hurting his credibility with some in his core base of supporters.

Dropping out this early is a disappointment for Paul. He had engineered a major change in Kentucky’s primary system to allow him to run for two offices at the same time, a move aimed at circumventing a prohibition in state law prohibiting candidates from doing so. The state party agreed to change its traditional paper ballot primary to a caucus system in early March, in order to let him avoid the restriction that he couldn’t appear on the ballot twice.

Still, as he now focuses on his Senate race, he remains the heavy favorite in a state that has grown increasingly red.

“The Democrat Party in Kentucky has been very wounded by President Obama,” Paul told CNN Sunday when asked if he were concerned about Gray’s candidacy.

Paul’s campaign account tweeted a reminiscent video Wednesday morning, thanking his supporters and featuring highlights from the senator’s presidential bid.

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*VIDEO* Move Over Pajama Boy, Sticker Boy Is Newest Democrat Star

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Cleveland Browns To Cut Johnny Football ASAP

Browns Blast Johnny Manziel, Will Cut Him ASAP – New York Post

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Now, it’s just a matter of time before Johnny Manziel is an ex-Brown.

Johnny Football is almost officially a cautionary tale after the Browns released a harsh statement Tuesday condemning the troubled quarterback’s recent actions – and making clear their intention.

“We’ve been clear about expectations for our players on the field. Johnny’s continual involvement in incidents that run counter to those expectations undermines the hard work of his teammates and the reputation of our organization,” Browns executive vice president Sashi Brown said in the statement.

“His status with our team will be addressed when permitted by league rules. We will have no further comment at this time.”

Under league rules, Manziel cannot be cut until Feb. 8, the day following the Super Bowl. However, according to ESPN, salary cap math means the Browns will wait until March 9, when the NFL calendar flips to a new year and the cap goes up. Releasing Manziel will count $4.6 million against the cap.

Manziel has spent most of the offseason being documented at various parties in cellphone videos, but the final straw came over the weekend. Manziel is being investigated by police in Fort Worth and Dallas for potentially assaulting ex-girlfriend Colleen Crowley in an incident early Saturday. The police used a helicopter to search for the former Heisman Trophy winner until he was found.

The league is now investigating the incident. Crowley was uncooperative with officers, but said she was involved in a disturbance with an ex-boyfriend.

The Browns gave Manziel multiple chances over his first two seasons in the league, but he wasted them all. Manziel entered rehab last offseason, following a wasted rookie season, and earned the respect of his teammates even as he was named the backup behind Josh McCown.

Manziel was on the field intermittently throughout the 2015 season as McCown battled injuries, and was given a four-game audition to end the season and prove he should be the starter heading into the 2016 season. On the field, he showed sparks of the playmaker that made him a first-round by the Browns. Off the field, he showed why he was a risky first-round pick.

After suffering a concussion in Week 16 against the Chiefs, Manziel went AWOL and missed a checkup with Browns doctors, earning him a fine. He was reportedly wearing a disguise and going under the alias “Billy” while clubbing in Las Vegas.

Since that time, he has been partying in Texas amid reports new Browns coach Hue Jackson only accepted the position on the condition the team would part ways with Manziel.

There is no doubt that will happen now.

This weekend’s alarming report was not the only time Manziel and Crowley were allegedly involved in a domestic dispute. When the two were still dating in October, police in Avon, Ohio, received an emergency call after she and Manziel were spotted fighting as they drove near the quarterback’s home on the west side of Cleveland. Manziel was not arrested, but the matter prompted an NFL investigation into whether he violated the league’s personal conduct policy.

If Manziel can clear his legal hurdles, the question will then become: Is another team willing to take a risk on him?

Manziel has been linked to the Cowboys since owner Jerry Jones had to be talked out of drafting him to be Tony Romo’s predecessor. But even Jones must be wary of giving Manziel a second chance after he so badly screwed up his first.

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*VIDEO* Yes, Bernie Sanders’ Supporters Are Dumber Than Dirt

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Carson Accuses Cruz Of Spreading Fake Story About Him Dropping Out Of Race Before Iowa Vote

‘This Is Horsesh*t’… Carson Camp Accuses Cruz Of Foul Play In Iowa – Daily Caller

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Following Ted Cruz ‘s Monday victory in Iowa, Ben Carson’s campaign claimed the Texas senator leaked information that the former neurosurgeon was suspending his campaign just before the votes were cast.

According to Time, several members of Carson’s staff have brought forward evidence “alleging misconduct by the Cruz campaign.”

Carson’s Iowa director Ryan Rhodes reportedly received text messages from Mike Huckabee supporters claiming “the Cruz speakers at our caucus announced Carson was suspending his campaign for a while after caucus. They did this before the vote. Same thing happened at another caucus. Sounds like slimy Cruzing to me.”

Additionally, a precinct chair in Muscatine sent Carson’s team an email claiming that a Cruz supporter told the precinct “Ben Carson was taking a break after Iowa, and then stated, ‘so you might want to rethink wasting your vote on him.’”

“That is really quite a dirty trick,” Carson told reporters late Monday night. “That’s the very kind of thing that irritated me enough to get into this quagmire.”

Furthermore, campaign manager Ed Brookover called Cruz’s alleged actions “the lowest of low in American politics,” while Carson’s Iowa co-chair state representative Rob Taylor noted that, “this is horseshit.”

The Cruz campaign has denied any wrongdoing.

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Cruz Camp: ‘It’s Just False’ We Hurt Carson In Iowa – The Hill

Ted Cruz’s presidential campaign is rejecting Ben Carson’s assertion that it torpedoed his chances in Iowa’s Republican caucuses Monday night.

“On the Ben Carson allegation, it’s just false,” said Rick Tyler, the Cruz campaign’s communications director, on MSNBC’s “Morning Joe.” “We simply as a campaign repeated what Ben Carson had said in his own words,” he continued. “That’s not a dirty trick.”

“He said after Iowa he was going to go back to Florida for a couple of days and then he was going to go to D.C. for the prayer breakfast,” Tyler added. “And what that told us was he was not going to New Hampshire.

“That was really surprising by a campaign who was once leading in Iowa saying he’s not going to come to New Hampshire. That’s a news item.”

Carson criticized his Republican presidential rivals, without naming names, for “dirty tricks” in Iowa.

The retired neurosurgeon lashed out following tweets from Rep. Steve King (R-Iowa), who also serves as co-chairman of Cruz’s national campaign. King said departing Iowa is “the equivalent” of suspending an Oval Office bid after Carson returned home to Florida that evening.

Tyler also argued that GOP presidential front-runner Donald Trump made several decisions that blunted his own Iowa momentum.

“It hurt him,” he said of Trump’s decision to skip the last Republican presidential debate before the Iowa contest. “I don’t think it hurt him badly, but it definitely hurt him.”

Tyler then charged that Sarah Palin’s endorsement of the outspoken billionaire last month did not boost his standing with voters.

“[It gave him] no real bump,” he said of the backing from the former Republican vice presidential nominee.

Cruz celebrated his win in Iowa as a “victory for the grass roots” late Monday after conquering the first-in-the-nation caucuses there.

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Mike Huckabee And Martin O’Malley Throw In The Towel

Huckabee, O’Malley Suspend Presidential Bids Following Iowa Caucuses – Fox News

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Former Arkansas Gov. Mike Huckabee and Democratic presidential long-shot Martin O’Malley both called it quits Monday night after poor showings in the Iowa caucuses.

The candidates’ campaigns both confirmed they would suspend their 2016 White House runs.

“I am officially suspending my campaign,” Huckabee tweeted. “Thank you for all your loyal support.”

Huckabee, who won the Iowa caucuses in 2008, failed this time around to strike a chord with evangelical voters in the Hawkeye state.

The former Arkansas Baptist Convention president had struggled for months to compete with higher-polling and more headline-grabbing Republicans like Iowa caucus winner Sen. Ted Cruz and runner-up Donald Trump.

Playing up his cultural conservatism, Huckabee strongly opposed abortion rights and same-sex marriage, declaring that “the Supreme Court is not the supreme being, and they cannot overturn the laws of nature or of nature’s God.”

His campaign took a hit in December after Alice Stewart, Huckabee’s senior communications director, left. Stewart’s departure came a week after Huckabee’s friend Bob Vander Plaats, head of the influential Iowa conservative group The Family Leader, endorsed Cruz instead of Huckabee.

On the Democratic side, O’Malley announced he, too, would be suspending his presidential campaign.

The decision comes as he pulled about 1 percent support in the Iowa caucuses.

The former Maryland governor, who made an official announcement Monday night, also had a rough time gaining traction in a race where Hillary Clinton and Vermont Sen. Bernie Sanders got most of the media attention.

O’Malley campaigned as a can-do chief executive who championed gun control, same-sex marriage and an increase in the minimum wage in Maryland.

On Monday, The Washington Post reported O’Malley’s staff had been working without pay and secured a half-million-dollar loan in December to remain solvent.

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