On free trade, tea partyers and the left want the same thing

They’re both trying to stop the Obama administration from fast tracking a deal — but they don’t coordinate to make it happen.

“…America wins because we do a better job of creating those products, we have better innovation and we have smarter marketers. That’s what we think of when we think of free trade,” says Rick Manning, president of Americans for Limited Government. “We don’t think of, ‘you’re allowed to sell another 100,000 chickens into Japan.’ That’s just cutting a deal for how much of a market you’re allowed to infiltrate.” Manning has tried to bring other tea party groups into the anti-fast track campaign by arguing that Obama shouldn’t be trusted negotiating trade deals in secret — calling it “Obamatrade,” in a reference to the derisive term for the Affordable Care Act — and got most of the major organizations to sign on to a letter to that effect in mid-January. But when it comes to burning up the phone lines on Capitol Hill, they just don’t care about trade as much as they do about things like immigration and the national debt. “It’s not a real hot issue, frankly,” said Tea Party Patriots spokesman Kevin Broughton…”





HealthCare.gov improving as New York seeks $69M tax for its Affordable Care Act website

“As New York debates a new tax on health insurance to help pay for the Affordable Care Act, federal regulators say a website attached to the law is improving. That is according to the new report from the Government Accountability Office, which outlined management of HealthCare.gov, the website handling the federal Affordable Care Act marketplaces, called exchanges. Meanwhile, New York is among the 16 states that run their own exchange website, NYstateofhealth.ny.gov. Gov. Andrew Cuomo has proposed a new tax on health insurance to help run that website and related Affordable Care Act programs in New York. Health insurers are fighting that proposed tax, saying it seeks to collect $69 million and would likely pass along cost hikes to consumers. As for the federal website, the new report details how and why regulators botched the rollout of HealthCare.gov, which crashed under the weight of millions of people shopping for health insurance. The report also describes upgrades in the infrastructure tied to the website running more smoothly during the enrollment for 2015, which ended last month…”



Why the Supreme Court should scrap ObamaCare’s federal exchange subsidies

“Yesterday’s oral arguments for King vs. Burwell, the latest legal challenge to ObamaCare before the Supreme Court, confirmed one thing: The law, as written, is a complete mess. The justices might be tempted to take it upon themselves to straighten it out to avoid disrupting coverage for millions of Americans, but that’s really not their job. The Obama administration will no doubt disagree, but the most appropriate — and the least political — course for the justices would be to overrule the contested portion of the law and let Congress rewrite it. At issue in the lawsuit is the legality of the billions of dollars in subsidies that the Internal Revenue Service is doling out through federal exchanges in about 35 states that refused to set up their own exchanges. The challengers claim that the law explicitly limits these subsidies to state, not federal, exchanges. As evidence, they point to Section 1311 of the Affordable Care Act, which states that subsidies should flow through exchanges “established by the State” — not “for the State” or “within the State” or myriad similar constructions. The logic behind this, they note, was to give states an incentive to establish their own exchanges, saving Uncle Sam the herculean task of doing so in 50 states. Also, the administration was eager to avoid the impression that it was engineering a federal takeover of the health care system, something that might well have scared away enough legislators to derail the law, given that it squeaked through narrowly on a strict party line. The administration hotly disputes this. It notes that Section 1311 can’t be interpreted in isolation from the broader purpose and structure of the law. Federal exchanges that are barred from handing out subsidies are doomed to fail, they point out, hardly something Congress could have intended. Why? Because they would attract only sick patients, especially since the cost of coverage on them is fairly high — thanks to ObamaCare’s mandates requiring insurance companies to offer guaranteed coverage, regardless of pre-existing conditions. Hence, young and healthy patients, despite being mandated to purchase coverage, could well decide to simply pay a penalty and sit it out, sending the exchange into an adverse selection death spiral as coverage prices rise, driving more healthy people out of the market…”



As Supreme Court Weighs Health Law, G.O.P. Plans to Replace It

“The legal campaign to destroy President Obama’s health care law may be nearing its conclusion, but as the Supreme Court deliberates over the law’s fate, the search for a replacement by Republican lawmakers is finally gaining momentum. Senior Republicans in Congress hope that by June, the Supreme Court will invalidate the subsidies that 7.5 million Americans in 34 states have been given to purchase health insurance through the federal Healthcare.gov website. But the prospects of legal victory have also raised practical and political fears that Republicans will take the blame for the health care crisis that would follow. A legislative scramble is underway. On Monday, Representatives Paul D. Ryan of Wisconsin, Fred Upton of Michigan and John Kline of Minnesota, the chairmen of the powerful committees that control health policy, proposed what they called an “off ramp” from the Obama health act that would let states opt out of the law’s central requirements. On the other side of the Capitol, Senators John Barrasso of Wyoming, Lamar Alexander of Tennessee and Orrin G. Hatch of Utah, all Republicans, offered their own plan this week to provide temporary assistance to those who would lose their subsidies and new freedom to all states to redesign their health care marketplaces without the strictures and mandates of the health care law. Even a freshman, Senator Ben Sasse of Nebraska, proposed a major but temporary expansion of Cobra — the program that allows workers to extend their employer-based health benefits after leaving a job — to ensure that people do not lose insurance coverage as Washington rushes to find an alternative. “Finally there are a whole bunch of people stepping up to the plate,” Mr. Sasse said on Thursday. These bridge plans would evaporate if the Supreme Court sides with the administration, but many of their ideas — and even broader plans that are emerging — will live on regardless of the court’s verdict. Aides to senior House Republicans said Thursday that committee chairmen were meeting now to decide whether a budget plan — due out the week of March 16 — will include parliamentary language, known as reconciliation instructions, that would allow much of a Republican health care plan to pass the filibuster-prone Senate with a simple majority. Representative Tom Price of Georgia, the House Budget Committee chairman, said that reconciliation language would be kept broad enough to allow Republican leaders to use it later in the year however they see fit, whether that is passing health care legislation over a Senate filibuster or focusing on taxes or other matters. “We are fully prepared to say there is a better way to solve this problem than force people to buy insurance they don’t need or don’t want,” he said Thursday. Advocates of the president’s health care law — and some health care experts who have analyzed the Republicans’ proposal — say the emerging plans would simply put the health care system back to where it was before the law, with too many people uninsured and too many sick people driving the system toward collapse.”



Study: No Shortage Of Free-Market Alternatives To Obamacare

“As the Supreme Court considers whether to restrict Obamacare subsidies, a new report seeks to refute the false perception that conservatives have not offered any credible alternatives. The Supreme Court began hearing oral arguments Wednesday in the case of King v. Burwell, which hinges on a provision of Obamacare stipulating that only plans purchased through state-based exchanges are eligible for subsidies. President Obama and his supporters contend that the restriction is a simple linguistic oversight, but lawmakers who participated in the law’s creation said it was very much intentional. Should the Court invalidate subsidies for millions of policies purchased through federal health care exchanges, Congress will face significant pressure to create an alternative to Obamacare, and with newly minted majorities in both chambers, Republicans will bear the brunt of the responsibility. In a study released Wednesday, Dr. David Hogberg, health care policy analyst at the National Center for Public Policy Research, summarized a dozen free-market health care proposals — four advanced by Republican politicians and eight originating from conservative think tanks—that could end up performing that role.  “There are a lot of great ideas out there, from the Heritage Foundation and the Cato Institute to Rep. Tom Price and the Republican Study Committee,” Hogberg said in a press release. “Unfortunately, most of the media has ignored them, so most Americans are unaware that free-market alternatives to Obamacare exist.”…”




“In a recent interview, Supreme Court Justice Antonin Scalia said conservatives and Republicans could move quickly to eliminate parts of Obamacare after the Court issues a decision in a case being heard this month, causing some to hope that the decision might end up dealing a blow to the president’s take over of the nation’s health care system. Scalia noted that lawmakers could move very quickly to amend and eliminate parts of Obama’s health care insurance law if the Court strikes down the subsidies issued by the federal insurance exchange. At issue is the straight language in Obamacare that maintains that government subsidies to help citizens afford the more expensive coverage forced on them by the president’s law are only available to states that set up state-based Obamacare exchanges. Lawmakers wrote Obamacare expecting that every state would set up the exchanges, but a later Supreme Court decision determined that the federal government could not force the states to create an exchange if they didn’t want to. 37 states ended up opting out of the state-based Obamacare exchanges. The law is clearly written to provide only those states with state-based exchanges with subsides. But when 37 states opted out of the exchanges, Obama decided on his own that all citizens would be eligible for subsidies through the federal exchange. It is this unilateral decision that the current case, King v. Burwell, seeks to overturn. Republicans in both the House and the Senate have already offered basic ideas on how to replace subsidies if they are lost by a Supreme Court decision that invalidates Obama’s subsidies. House members have proposed tax credits to help citizens in non-exchange states to pay for their health care insurance policies forced upon them by Obamacare. The exact amount of that tax credit has not been decided. The House is also proposing to allow states to fully opt out of the Obamacare mandates. For its part, the Senate has proposed a temporary program of financial assistance for lower income insurance buyers so that they can keep their insurance while Congress works out a solution to the issue. Democrats, though, claim that neither house will be able to muster the votes to put dents in Obamacare no matter what the Court decides. Regardless, both houses of Congress are in a waiting game until the Supreme Court releases its ruling in June…”



Did Samuel Alito Throw Republicans An Obamacare Lifeline At The Supreme Court?

“As we await a decision in the big Obamacare Supreme Court case, King v. Burwell, progressive pundits have continued to predict a health care apocalypse if the Court sides with challengers to the Obama administration. That’s a wild exaggeration. But there will be some disruption, and Republicans in Congress have been debating the best way to mitigate that disruption. That’s where Associate Justice Samuel Alito comes in. At oral arguments on Wednesday, Alito hinted at another way to overturn illegal subsidies while avoiding near-term problems for the newly insured…”



Justice Scalia boosts Republican hopes in ObamaCare challenge



Left’s strategy on Obamacare case: Attack rather than argue

“One side in the debate over the latest Obamacare lawsuit claims that the word “state” includes the federal government and that a reference to Section 1311 of the law should be read to include Section 1321. And get this: that’s the side sputtering about opponents’ “absurd,” “preposterous” and “dishonest” arguments. The King v. Burwell case is odd, and the jurisprudence around it is complex. The Obama administration needs to defend the IRS’s decision to extend tax credits to insurance plans bought on the federal exchange, although the law as written provides for tax credits only for plans purchased through “through an Exchange established by the State under 1311” of Obamacare. Section 1311 describes state establishment of exchanges. Section 1321 explains that the federal government will set up an exchange for the people in states that don’t create their own. At one point in Tuesday’s oral arguments, Justice Alito asked Solicitor General Donald Verrilli, “So you’re saying that by cross-reference to 1311, they really mean ‘1311 and 1321’?” Verilli replied, “Yes.” Beyond the plain text of the legislation, Justices need to weigh many factors, such as proper deference to executive interpretation, the importance of legislative history. Obscure but crucial doctrines of jurisprudence come into play, such as the Pennhurst doctrine and the principle of “constitutional avoidance.” It’s a tough case. But if you read the liberal press, you would think the court has the choice between ruling for the government and simply selling its soul to the devil. One liberal journalist wrote that plaintiffs “are trying to kill” patients who benefit from Obamacare. Read the New Republic, Slate, or other liberal websites, and they call the plaintiff’s arguments “preposterous,” “dishonest,” “ludicrous” and other adjectives unfit for print. Some write that a ruling for the plaintiffs would undermine “the legitimacy of the court.” This is standard fare from the Left today. It’s what they did on the last big Supreme Court case, and it’s the way they wage the culture war. Rather than try to persuade, they castigate the other side as lying wretches and try to make people afraid to associate with views they find distasteful. Much of the liberal commentariat is simply done arguing with the Right. Paul Krugman, the economist-turned liberal blogger, is very upfront about this. In a recent article headlined “The Closed Minds Problem,” Krugman declares (with some unintended irony) that the time for “a genuine intellectual dialogue,” over economic policy is behind us. “I don’t know of any economics or politics sites on that side that regularly provide analysis or information I need to take seriously,” Krugman has written…”



7 Best Moments from the Oral Argument in King v. Burwell



More on Parsing Justice Kennedy

“In addition to the posts and essay I recommended yesterday, anyone wanting to sort through the federalism concerns that Justice Kennedy expressed at oral argument in King v. Burwell might find of interest these Forbes pieces by Avik Roy and Michael F. Cannon. Roy, in offering seven reasons why Obamacare subsidies for state exchanges are not coercive, concludes that “if you understand how Obamacare’s insurance markets work, it’s clear that Kennedy should side with Obama’s challengers.” Cannon points out that the IRS, in testimony to Congress, conceded that Obamacare “has some contradictory language in it” on exchange subsidies—and thus took a position that conflicts with the Obama administration’s current litigation stance that the text is somehow clearly in its favor…”



New Hampshire strikes deal for Medicaid expansion

“New Hampshire on Friday became the sixth state to earn approval from the federal government to launch its own version of the ObamaCare Medicaid expansion. The plan will help about 35,000 uninsured people to buy private insurance plans. The program was negotiated by both the state’s Democratic governor, Maggie Hassan, and its GOP-controlled legislature. “The New Hampshire Health Protection Program is reducing health care cost-shifting onto our families and businesses, strengthening the health of our workforce, and boosting our economy,” Hassan wrote in a statement. Medicaid expansion, which became optional for states after a Supreme Court ruling in 2012, has been opposed by most conservatives for fear of federal overreach and rising costs. Under ObamaCare, all costs of an expanded Medicaid program are covered by the federal government for the first several years. But conservatives fear that states will be left with a far bigger budget problem. States face no deadline to expand Medicaid, though healthcare experts have said 2015 is the best chance of convincing the remaining dozen states that have not yet expanded the program before the 2016 election. The state is the sixth to earn a waiver from the federal government for the Medicaid expansion, just weeks after Indiana Gov. Mike Pence, a Republican, announced that he’d also struck a deal. Pence had spent more than a year negotiating with the Obama administration.”



Franken offers bill to reduce VA backlog

“Sen. Al Franken (D-Minn.) has reintroduced legislation to cut down the backlog for disability claims at the Department of Veterans Affairs.  The Quicker Veterans Benefits Delivery Act of 2015 would allow veterans who have backlogged claims — those pending for more than 125 days — to visit local, non-VA doctors for their initial disability exam. The VA currently has more than 214,000 backlogged disability claims. The department has vowed to end the backlog by the end of 2015, though some veterans advocates are skeptical. Franken suggested that his legislation would help veterans who are waiting “far too long” by cutting down on wait times at VA facilities and speeding up disability diagnoses. “We know that our veterans’ battles don’t always end when they return home,” Franken said in a statement. “Too many return with mental and physical disabilities incurred while protecting our freedoms. “Our legislation would help the VA speed up the claims process that is making far too many veterans wait far too long to get help they need,” he added. The legislation would also require the VA to issue a report in approximately six months tracking the department’s implementation of the legislation. The department would also have to issue an annual report tracking what disabilities from exams by local doctors were commonly being rejected by the VA.  Rep. Tim Walz (D-Minn.), a former soldier, is also reintroducing companion legislation in the House.  “I recognize this problem was not created, nor will it be solved, overnight, but we can and must do better,” he said. “Our bipartisan legislation will enhance the VA’s current efforts to break the backlog by helping them become more efficient, and will help veterans get the benefits-and the care-they deserve quicker.” The VA has been under a congressional microscope after allegations surfaced last year at a Phoenix facility that VA officials had created a secret list to hide the wait times of veterans seeking medical treatment.  Walz and Franken introduced similar legislation in 2013…”





Bill would prevent illegal immigrants from using tax credit

“Rep. Patrick McHenry (R-N.C.) unveiled a bill this week that would prevent illegal immigrants from qualifying for the earned income tax credit. Conservatives have been warning of “amnesty bonuses” for illegal immigrants who are shielded from deportation through President Obama’s executive actions. Illegal immigrants eligible for the delayed deportation programs through the executive actions would receive Social Security numbers and could therefore qualify for the earned income tax credit (EITC). Therefore, it is possible for some immigrants who have obtained work permits through the program could receive thousands of dollars in tax credits if they file tax returns.  The measure offered by McHenry, the chief deputy House majority whip, is titled the “No Free Rides Act.” “This is simply unacceptable. By introducing the No Free Rides Act we ensure these illegal immigrants will not receive any more benefits intended to help American families,” McHenry said in a statement. Families with three or more children could receive maximum tax credits of $24,000 over four years in certain circumstances. But individuals who qualify for the EITC are more likely to receive smaller amounts.”



Obama Administration Asks Judge to Expedite Consideration of Immigration Order Stay (continuation of previous article)



House Dems vow to protect Boehner from a conservative coup

“After Tuesday’s big cave on amnesty, with more than two-thirds of his own caucus opposing the bill he brought to the floor, it’s really the least Democrats can do. John Boehner, Democratic Speaker of the House. Democrats from across an ideological spectrum say they’d rather see Boehner remain atop the House than replace him with a more conservative Speaker who would almost certainly be less willing to reach across the aisle in search of compromise. Replacing him with a Tea Party Speaker, they say, would only bring the legislative process — already limping along — to a screeching halt. “I’d probably vote for Boehner [because] who the hell is going to replace him? [Ted] Yoho?,” Rep. Bill Pascrell (D-N.J.) said Wednesday, referencing the Florida Tea Party Republican who’s fought Boehner on a host of bipartisan compromise bills… “Then we would get Scalise or somebody? Geez, come on,” said [Rep. Raul] Grijalva, who referenced House Majority Whip Steve Scalise (R-La.). “We can be suicidal, but not stupid.”… Other Democrats suggested they would side with Boehner for one simple reason: They’re hoping to move bipartisan legislation this Congress and see Boehner as a more moderate leader with a penchant for compromise.  It takes a majority of the whole House to oust him so if Democrats aren’t willing to play ball with tea partiers on this, there’s not a prayer of dumping him. But … why wouldn’t Democrats play ball? If I were Pelosi and staring at five more years of Republican rule in the House (at a minimum), I’d be thinking less about ways to entrench the GOP majority with successful bipartisan bills and more about how to convince voters that the party’s at war with itself and incapable of governing. The obvious way to do that is to join in ousting Boehner, see him replaced by a conservative like Scalise (or a squishier conservative like Kevin McCarthy), and then watch the new Speaker dig in against everyone — including Mitch McConnell, who’ll be pushing back against tea-party pressure by urging House Republicans to compromise with the Senate, and with Democrats, on major legislation. The worst-case scenario for Pelosi after all that is that the new Speaker quickly betrays the right and joins her, McConnell, and Reid to get bills to Obama’s desk, leaving conservative morale crushed. Best-case scenario: The new Speaker ends up butting heads over and over with McConnell and his Senate caucus, producing 18 more months of gridlock but jumpstarting a juicy media narrative about Republican civil war and paralysis which Democrats can run on in 2016. That won’t put Pelosi back in the majority (yet) but it’s something to build on in 2018 and 2020…”’ http://hotair.com/archives/2015/03/06/house-dems-vow-to-protect-boehner-from-a-conservative-coup/


Dems vow to protect Boehner from conservative coup

“Tea Party Republicans contemplating a bid to oust Rep. John Boehner (R-Ohio) shouldn’t count on Democrats to help them unseat the Speaker. And without their support, there is no chance to topple Boehner in this Congress. A number of right-wing Republicans, long wary of Boehner’s commitment to GOP efforts attacking President Obama’s policy priorities, have openly considered a coup in an attempt to transfer the gavel into more conservative hands. But Democrats from across an ideological spectrum say they’d rather see Boehner remain atop the House than replace him with a more conservative Speaker who would almost certainly be less willing to reach across the aisle in search of compromise. Replacing him with a Tea Party Speaker, they say, would only bring the legislative process — already limping along — to a screeching halt. “I’d probably vote for Boehner [because] who the hell is going to replace him? [Ted] Yoho?” Rep. Bill Pascrell (D-N.J.) said Wednesday, referencing the Florida Tea Party Republican who’s fought Boehner on a host of bipartisan compromise bills.  “In terms of the institution, I would rather have John Boehner as the Speaker than some of these characters who came here thinking that they’re going to change the world,” Pascrell added. Liberal Rep. Raúl Grijalva (D-Ariz.) agreed that, for Democrats, replacing Boehner could lead to a worse situation.   “Then we would get Scalise or somebody? Geez, come on,” said Grijalva, who referenced House Majority Whip Steve Scalise (R-La.). “We can be suicidal but not stupid.” Boehner, who has grappled with dissent from the Tea Party wing since he took the Speaker’s gavel in 2011, has seen opposition to his reign grow this year, even as he commands the largest GOP majority since the Hoover administration. That’s led to talk of a new coup, something that is more difficult to pull off after the election of a Speaker on each Congress’s first day of business. Any lawmaker can file a motion to “vacate” a sitting Speaker, a move that would force a vote of the full House. The effort would almost certainly fail, as the conservatives would need the overwhelming support of Democrats to win a majority. But it would be an embarrassing setback to Boehner and his leadership team, who entered the year hoping their commanding new majority would alleviate some of the whipping problems that had plagued them in the past. The new push back against Boehner began in the earliest stages of the new Congress when 25 conservatives voted in January to strip him of the Speaker’s gavel. Boehner’s troubles have only mounted since then, as conservatives have thwarted a number of his early legislative priorities, including a border security bill, an anti-abortion measure and a proposal to limit the federal government’s role in public education — all considered by GOP leaders to be easy-pass bills that would highlight their new power in Obama’s final two years in the White House. More recently, Boehner’s decision this week to pass a “clean” bill funding the Department of Homeland Security (DHS) has exacerbated conservatives’ concerns about his leadership. As proof of the discontent, 167 Republicans bucked their leadership by opposing the DHS package. Their votes protested Boehner’s move to strip out provisions undoing Obama’s executive actions shielding millions of immigrants living illegally in the U.S. from deportation.  Rep. Matt Salmon (R-Ariz.) called Boehner’s capitulation “a sad day for America.”



Pelosi shows Democrats how to wield power despite House GOP majority



Boehner Shouldn’t Expect Pelosi’s Help on Immigration Policy

She isn’t likely to extend a helping hand on a Republican strategy for rewriting border and interior security laws that Democrats consider costly and ineffective, and that don’t address immigrants already in the U.S.



26 States Want Investigation Of Obama’s Amnesty

“Texas Attorney General Ken Paxton is asking a judge to allow an investigation of the closed-door workings of President Barack Obama’s executive amnesty, following the discovery that 100,000 illegal immigrants had secretly been given three-year amnesty documents well before a promised start date. “The Obama Administration appears to have already been issuing expanded work permits, in direct contradiction to what they told a federal judge previously in this litigation,” Paxton said in a Thursday statement describing his legal request, which was signed by the governors or attorneys general of 26 states. “The circumstances behind this must be investigated, and the motion we seek would help us determine to what extent the Administration might have misrepresented the facts in this case,” he added. The judge has frozen Obama’s amnesty since Feb. 16, pending the future decisions of appeals court judges. Without the judge’s decision, Obama’s deputies already would be preparing work permits and tax rebates for illegals. Paxton’s hardball response was cheered by Texas Gov. Greg Abbott. ”I commend Attorney General Paxton for continuing to hold the Obama Administration accountable, and I’m confident an investigation would find the Administration knowingly or recklessly misled a Federal Court in issuing thousands of amnesty documents illegally,” he said Thursday. “President Obama has continued to show complete disregard for the Rule of Law by acting beyond his Constitutional authority at every stage of this process,” he added. The judge, Andrew Hanen, showed his skepticism about the administration in a 2014 case, when he said border officers were being used by the administration to illegally transfer foreign children from Central America to their parents living illegally in U.S. cities. On Feb. 16, Hanen froze Obama’s two-part amnesty, which was intended to provide residency, work permits and tax rebates to at least four million illegals, after concluding it likely violated the federal government’s rule-making process. The amnesty for roughly 1 million younger illegals is called the Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals, and it was launched in June 2012, five months before the 2012 election. Obama’s November amnesty extends the work permits given to the younger illegals from two years to three years. The amnesty for roughly 4 million parent illegals is called DAPA, or Deferred Action for Parents of Americans and Lawful Permanent Residents. Obama’s plan would give them work permits, tax rebates, Social Security numbers, drivers’ license and a fast-track to citizenship…”



States say Obama administration misled judge on immigration

“A coalition of states suing to stop President Barack Obama’s executive action on immigration alleges the government misled a judge about not implementing part of the plan before the judge temporarily halted it. The allegation was made in court documents filed Thursday in response to a Justice Department filing that acknowledged some deportation reprieves were granted before the Feb. 16 injunction. Government attorneys had previously said officials wouldn’t accept such requests under Obama’s action until Feb. 18. However, the DOJ claims in its court filing Tuesday that the 100,000 immigrants who were granted three-year reprieves and work permits were already eligible under a previous immigration plan from 2012. The states are asking the judge for access to more information about the actions…”



Mexican Drug Cartels Caused the Border Crisis

And the Obama administration falsely took credit for stopping it.

“Mexico’s warring drug cartels helped orchestrate the massive influx of unaccompanied alien children that streamed through the Rio Grande Valley last summer, according to a leaked report from the Texas Department of Public Safety. Contrary to the narrative articulated by the Obama administration and promoted by major news organizations, the children did not enter the country entirely “unaccompanied.” How, when, and where the alien children crossed into the United States appears to have been determined by transnational criminal organizations who exercise control over much of the southern border, according to the leaked report first obtained by the Houston Chronicle. Intelligence gathered by the Texas Department of Public Safety shows the cartels were making strategic decisions at the border in response to the actions of former Governor Rick Perry. When Perry deployed the National Guard to the border in the middle of the crisis in late-July of 2014, the cartels immediately responded. “As of August 2014, the cartels had told the “river bosses” to stop sending unaccompanied alien children across from Mexico to the U.S. due to the deployment of the military to the U.S. border,” the report says. “Illegal alien family units were still being sent.” The Obama administration immediately began taking credit for this development the very next month. U.S. Customs and Border Protection commissioner Gil Kerlikowske celebrated the news of fewer unaccompanied alien children crossing the southern border as directly attributable to President Obama. “The President and his Administration responded with an aggressive, coordinated Federal response focused on stepped up deterrence, enhanced enforcement, stronger foreign cooperation, and greater capacity for affected Federal agencies to ensure that our border remained secure,” Kerlikowske wrote. “As a result, and as Secretary Jeh Johnson reported last week, the number of Central American migrants trying to illegally cross the Southwest border continues to decline including unaccompanied children and families.” But the leaked report demonstrates that it was Perry who played the biggest role in stemming the tide of illegal immigrant children flowing into the U.S., not the Obama administration. In response to Perry’s efforts to secure the border, the cartels stepped up their surveillance and scouting activities to uncover vulnerabilities in the system. The report says the cartels began conducting “reverse interviews of law enforcement” to learn the officers’ working schedules and the scope of their operations. Further inland, a “network of spies for the cartels” observed the officers and conducted photographic and video surveillance at hotels where some illegal immigrants were being stashed. The report finds that the cartels used houses, ranches, hotels, apartments, and businesses located inside the U.S. to move illegal immigrants into the country without gaining attention. While the stash houses for humans, drugs, and other contraband were most prevalent near the border, one Houston-area stash house held 115 illegal aliens who were held captive by gang members wielding guns, Tasers, paddles, and other weapons. Despite the elaborate gang activities detailed in the report, the Obama administration continues to describe the southern border as becoming more secure each and every day. Soon after the massive influx tapered off last year, Kerlikowske said, “Our border has been and remains more secure than it has been in decades.” But the leaked report shows the spurious nature of the Obama administration’s claim…”



7,000 immigrant children ordered deported without going to court

“More than 7,000 immigrant children have been ordered deported without appearing in court since large numbers of minors from Central America began illegally crossing the U.S. border in 2013, federal statistics show. The high number of deportation orders has raised alarm among immigrant advocates, who say many of those children were never notified of their hearing date because of problems with the immigration court system. In interviews and court documents, attorneys said notices sometimes arrived late, at the wrong address or not at all. In some cases, children were ordered to appear in a court near where they were initially detained, rather than where they were living, attorneys said…”



Rowe business group rallies forces for immigration reform






“The month of February tied December’s record number of Americans not participating in the workforce, according to data released Friday by the Bureau of Labor Statistics. According to the BLS, last month 92,898,000 Americans ages 16 and over were neither employed nor had made “specific efforts to find employment sometime during the 4-week period ending with the reference week.” The number of people out of the workforce increased by 354,000 last month and the labor force participation rate dipped slightly to 62.8 percent. While participation in the workforce declined — due to varying factors from potentially discouraged workers to baby boomers hitting retirement age — the BLS said the economy added 295,000 jobs last month and the unemployment rate was 5.5 percent, down from 5.7 percent in January. The White House boasted about the jobs gains but noted that more needs to be done to increase middle class wages. “With another strong employment report, we have now seen twelve straight months of private-sector job gains above 200,000—the first time that has happened since 1977,” Jason Furman, Chairman of the Council of Economic Advisers, said in a statement. “Moreover, 2014 was the best year for job growth since the late 1990s and 2015 has continued at this pace. But additional steps are needed to continue strengthening wages for the middle class.” House Speaker John Boehner (R-OH) used the jobs report as an opportunity to promote the recently vetoed Keystone pipeline and criticize Obama’s proposal to tax 529 college savings plans. He argued that the middle class has been “left behind by the president’s policies.” “Simply put, most Americans aren’t seeing the positive economic news translate into improvements in their daily lives,” Boehner said in a statement.”



Jobless claims rise to 320,000

“First-time claims for unemployment benefits rose to 320,000 for the week ending February 28, the Labor Department reported Thursday. The number was well above the roughly 295,000 expected by Wall Street and higher than the 313,000 reported the previous week. It was the highest mark since May of 2014. The four-week moving average for claims rose from294,500 to304,750. The weak readings for the past two weeks come amid tough winter conditions in some states that may have slowed commerce. Just one state, however, with an unusual number of unemployment claims in the latest week attributed the rise to inclement weather: Kentucky. One concern would be if the slight rise in jobless claims reflects a slowing in the jobs recovery, which accelerated through the end of 2014 and into 2015, with over 300,000 jobs created on average in the past three months. The Bureau of Labor Statistics is scheduled to release the jobs report for February on Friday morning. Private-sector economists expect roughly 230,000 new payroll jobs, down from 257,000 in January, and for the unemployment rate to tick down by a tenth of a percentage point to 5.6 percent…”



62.8%: Labor Force Participation Has Hovered Near 37-Year-Low for 11 Months

“The labor force participation rate hovered between 62.9 percent and 62.7 percent in the eleven months from April 2014 through February, and has been 62.9 percent or lower in 13 of the 17 months since October 2013.  Prior to that, the last time the rate was below 63 percent was 37 years ago, in March 1978 when it was 62.8 percent, the same rate it was in February.”




“On the eve of the commemoration of the 50th anniversary of the civil rights march in Selma, Alabama, the unemployment rate among African Americans remains more than twice that of white Americans and nearly twice the national average. According to the latest jobs figures released Friday by the Bureau of Labor Statistics, the African American unemployment rate for the month of February was 10.4 percent, compared to the white unemployment rate of 4.7 percent and national average of 5.5 percent. The latest African American unemployment rate represents a slight uptick over the January figure of 10.3 percent. Whites experienced a slight decline in unemployment from January’s rate of 4.9 percent and the national average also dipped from 5.7 percent. While the White House boasted about February’s job gains of 295,000 jobs and its 5.5 percent unemployment rate Friday morning, it did acknowledge the “unacceptably high” unemployment rates among African American and Hispanic populations. In a statement about the jobs data Jason Furman, Chairman of the Council of Economic Advisers, argued that while the African American and Hispanic unemployment is nearly down to pre-recession levels, it is still too high. He pointed to proposals from President Obama as efforts to help. “This is why the President has proposed a number of policies—including the My Brother’s Keeper initiative for young men of color and tax relief for working families—to help reduce disparities in labor market outcomes,” Furman said…”



Economy adds 295,000 new jobs, unemployment at 5.5 percent in February

“The U.S. economy added 295,000 jobs in February and the unemployment rate fell from 5.7 percent to 5.5 percent, extending the winter’s mounting labor market gains. The February jobs report released by the Bureau of Labor Statistics exceeded investors’ expectations, which were generally for 230,000 new jobs created. Revisions for December and January subtracted 18,000 jobs from those months. The past three months have seen job gains average nearly 290,000, above the 272,000 pace for the past 12 months and nearly a third higher than the rate for 2013. At 5.5 percent, the unemployment rate is the lowest it’s been since May of 2008. Friday’s report, however, did not contain the hints of wage growth accelerating that many analysts were looking for. The household survey conducted by the Census Bureau showed that average hourly earnings were up 2 percent on the year, below last month’s mark. An uptick in wages could be the first sign of a tightening labor market finally translating into bigger take-home pay, after half a decade of mostly stagnant average earnings. Job creation has surged even despite some factors that could have stalled a broader economic recovery during the winter. “Inclement weather over the past month, which has coincided with unseasonably cold temperatures across much of the country, could have been a factor weighing on economic activity over the past few weeks,” Deutsche Bank economists Joseph LaVorgna and Brett Ryan wrote before Friday’s release. Disruptions over a labor dispute at West Coast ports also slowed down work. But those factors did not appear to weigh down February’s payrolls…”



US added 295,000 jobs in February as unemployment rate dips to 5.5 percent



February jobs report shows 295,000 jobs added, jobless rate 5.5%

“The US economy had another month of relatively strong job creation, adding 295,000 jobs in February while reducing the nominal unemployment level to 5.5%. It’s the fourth month in a row of good numbers, although January’s previous 257,000 level was revised downward to 239,000 by the BLS. The status of workforce participation didn’t budge from its 36-year low, however, and recent economic indicators may signal tighter times ahead for American workers: Total nonfarm payroll employment increased by 295,000 in February, and the unemployment rate edged down to 5.5 percent, the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics reported today. Job gains occurred in food services and drinking places, professional and business services, construction, health care, and in transportation and warehousing. Employment in mining was down over the month. Both the unemployment rate (5.5 percent) and the number of unemployed persons (8.7 million) edged down in February. Over the year, the unemployment rate and the number of unemployed persons were down by 1.2 percentage points and 1.7 million, respectively. (See table A-1.) Among the major worker groups, the unemployment rate for teenagers decreased by 1.7 percentage points to 17.1 percent in February. The jobless rates for adult men (5.2 percent), adult women (4.9 percent), whites (4.7 percent), blacks (10.4 percent), Asians (4.0 percent), and Hispanics (6.6 percent) showed little or no change. The US economy needs to add around 150,000 jobs a month to keep up with population growth. Until 2014, job creation had largely only done that — kept pace. Over the last several months, though, we are seeing actual job growth, even if it’s not spectacular. One would expect to see that impact the workforce participation rate, but so far it hasn’t. The labor force participation rate didn’t change at all, though, even with the boost in job creation: The civilian labor force participation rate, at 62.8 percent, changed little in February and has remained within a narrow range of 62.7 to 62.9 percent since April 2014. The employment-population ratio was unchanged at 59.3 percent in February but is up by 0.5 percentage point over the year. The numbers of those not in the labor force, seasonally adjusted, continued to grow as well (Household survey, A-1). In February it hit 92.9 million people, up 1.5 million people from a year earlier and 3.45 million from February 2013. It rose 354,000 just in the past month, outstripping the 295,000 jobs added. This tends to grow anyway, but the rate at which it’s growing shows why the U-3 and even U-6 may not be capturing the real scope of the labor problem in the US…”



A winter break: 295,000 more jobs in Feb.



Seasonally Adjusted Jobs Numbers Offer Cold Comfort

The tradition of modifying employment data based on the weather is obsolete.

“The U.S. economy lost more than 2.7 million jobs between the middle of December and the middle of January, but the big news from the January jobs report was that the economy added 275,000 jobs during the same period. Why the discrepancy? The Bureau of Labor Statistics touts “seasonally-adjusted” figures, which attempt to measure how recurring seasonal events affect employment. The raw figures are available to researchers, but the adjusted figures are the priority in public announcements. Yet reporting a statistically adjusted figure as if it were original data is a mistake, and a significant distortion of reality that only adds to public distrust of the government and the media. People know that jobs were scarcer in January than in February, even if the government told them the opposite. Seasonally adjusted figures also contribute to less effective policy-making. The Labor Department reported on Feb. 26 that applications for unemployment benefits unexpectedly rose to a six-week high. This would not have been a surprise if observers had paid attention to the drop in employment between December and January. Seasonal-adjustment factors were developed seven decades ago for an economy that predominantly produced goods. Construction shut down in winter and automobile manufacturing closed in January. So employment fell and the monthly estimates were adjusted upward for an annual rate. Today’s economy is a service economy, with far less weather-related employment variation. For example, when seasonal adjustment began, total American employment fell almost 10% due to bad weather in the winter months. Now it is less than 2%. January’s seasonal adjustment implies that reduced levels of employment and output will automatically return to higher levels when spring arrives. There will be nothing automatic about the return of the almost three million jobs lost. In fact, the largest declines in employment were in retail trade and professional service, neither of which is weather related…”



56,023,000: Record Number of Women Not in Labor Force

“A record 56,023,000 women, age 16 years and over, were not in the labor force in February. Not only was that a record high, but it’s also the first time the number has exceeded 56 million, according to data from the Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS). To be counted as ‘not in the labor force,’ according to the BLS, one must not have a job or have looked for one in the past four weeks. In January 2015, there were 55,756,000 women not in the labor force, which means that 267,000 women dropped out of the labor force since then. The labor force participation rate, which is the percentage of those who are participating in the labor force by either having a job or looking for one in the past four weeks, declined in February. According to the BLS, 56.7 percent of women were participating in the labor force in February, a drop from 56.8 percent in January. In the last year, since February 2014, the labor force participation rate for women has fluctuated within a range of 56.6 percent to 57.2 percent, and February’s percentage of 56.7 falls on the low end of that scale. The BLS labor force numbers begin with the nation’s civilian noninstitutional population, which consists of all people 16 years or older who were not in the military or an institution. For women, that number was 129,252,000. Of those people, there were 73,230,000 women in the labor force, meaning they participated by either having a job or looking for one. This brings the participation rate to 56.7 percent. Of those 73,230,000 women participating in the labor force, 69,291,000 had a job in February, and 3,939,000 did not – making them the nation’s unemployed. The 3,939,000 job seekers were 5.4 percent of the 73,230,000 women actively participating in the labor force bringing the unemployment rate to 5.4 percent. While the number of unemployed women decreased over the month from 4,076,000 in January to 3,939,000 in February, the number of employed women also decreased from 69,332,000 in January to 69,291,000 in February…”



Improper payments jumped $125 billion for federal government last year

“The federal government lost ground last year in reducing improper payments from programs such as Medicare, Medicaid and tax credits for the working poor, experiencing a nearly 18 percent increase in the costs. A report this week from the Government Accountability Office said the U.S. government forked over an estimated $124.7 billion to ineligible recipients in 2014, representing the first jump in four years. The highest amount for the Obama administration occurred in 2010, with an estimated $125.6 million in losses. Medicare reported the highest number of improper payments last year, with the program accounting for nearly $60 billion in incorrect disbursements. Rounding out the top three were the Earned Income Tax Credit with $17.7 billion in lost revenue and Medicaid at $17.5 billion. “With outlays for major programs, such as Medicare and Medicaid, expected to increase over the next few years, it is critical that actions are taken to reduce improper payments,” the report said. However, the GAO also said federal agencies “continue to face challenges, such as statutory limitations and compliance issues” in stemming the losses. Congress has taken steps in recent years to address improper payments, namely through legislation from 2002 that requires agencies to report how much the problem costs the government. Agencies must also try to recoup the incorrect disbursements and take action to reduce them under a pair of amendments enacted during the Obama administration. Some efforts to fix the problem have raised created controversy. A Washington Post report last year revealed that the Social Security Administration and Treasury Department have intercepted taxpayers’ refunds to settle their parents’ decades-old debts, raising questions about whether the practice is just…”



Lew to Congress: US hits debt limit on March 16, needs to be raised ASAP

“Unless Congress takes action, the U.S. will hit its debt limit on Mar. 16, but will begin taking “extraordinary measures” on Mar. 13 to finance the government on a temporary basis, according to the U.S. Treasury. In a Friday morning letter to House Speaker John Boehner and other House and Senate leaders, Treasury Secretary Jack Lew said that his office will be forced to suspend the issuance of State and Local Government Series securities on Mar. 13 unless the debt limit is decreased. “Accordingly, I respectfully ask Congress to raise the debt limit as soon as possible,” Lew wrote in his letter. The Treasury secretary emphasized that “increasing the debt limit does not authorize new spending commitments,” but rather “simply allows the government to pay for expenditures Congress has already approved.” Congress passed the Temporary Debt Limit Extension Act in February 2014, which suspended the statutory debt limit through Mar. 15 of this year.”



Jack Lew officially asks for a debt ceiling increase

“Treasury Secretary Jack Lew on Friday initiated the first move in what is likely to be a long and contentious showdown over the federal debt ceiling, calling on House Speaker John Boehner to lift the limit before March 16, when it becomes binding. “I respectfully ask Congress to raise the debt limit as soon as possible,” Lew said in a letter to Boehner dated Friday. Congress suspended the debt limit in a deal last February, with the federal debt at $17.2 trillion. The suspension ends on March 15, and the new limit will be whatever the national debt is on Monday, March 16, meaning that the limit will be binding on that day. The Congressional Budget Office estimated this week that the debt subject to the limit is now roughly $18.1 trillion. After March 16, the Treasury will be able to avoid default by effectively moving money around in federal accounts. It has enough “extraordinary measures,” which have been used routinely in debt limit fights in recent years, to continue paying the government’s debts into October or November, the Congressional Budget Office projected…”



Treasury chief begins ‘extraordinary measures’ to avoid debt default

“Treasury Secretary Jack Lew is preparing to deploy “extraordinary measures” to avoid default as the nation’s debt limit again takes effect. In a letter to Speaker John Boehner (R-Ohio) sent Friday, Lew called on Congress to quickly raise the borrowing cap for the nation’s $18 trillion debt “without controversy and brinkmanship.” “Increasing the debt limit does not authorize new spending commitments. It simply allows the government to pay for expenditures Congress has already approved, thereby protecting the full faith and credit of the United States,” he wrote. Boehner’s office responded to Lew’s letter with a rebuke of President Obama’s fiscal policies. “This is a sad reminder that President Obama’s proposed budget will never, ever balance,” said Boehner spokesman Michael Steel. “House Republicans believe there is a better choice than endless taxing, borrowing, deficits and debt.”



Debt fight looms as Obama about to face new limit

“The Obama administration officially informed Congress on Friday that it will begin to bump up against the debt limit in little more than a week, starting the clock on the next debt showdown. Under last year’s debt deal, the ceiling set by law was suspended and President Obama was able to borrow without any dollar limit until March 15 of this year. At that point the total debt accumulated by the government, which is about $18.1 trillion right now, will be locked in as the new legal limit. Treasury Secretary Jacob Lew said he has “extraordinary measures” he can use, such as borrowing from other federal funds, which will keep funds afloat through later this year, but Congress will have to tackle the issue in the upcoming months. “I hope that Congress will address this matter without controversy of brinksmanship,” Mr. Lew said in his letter officially information Congress. The letter throws yet another thorny issue on Republicans’ already overloaded plate. Top GOP leaders in both chambers have already been forced to break their pledges after the 2010 election that every dollar of debt increase be coupled with a dollar in spending cuts…”



Lee-Rubio Is Far from Fully Baked



Can Republicans reclaim the political high ground on taxes?

“How do you replace a political legend? It isn’t easy, but Mike Lee and Marco Rubio are trying. Republicans have been grappling with how to replace Ronald Reagan’s 35 year-old conservative clarion call for lower taxes without abandoning the economic principles that undergird the policy and helped the GOP win quite a few elections before the message grew stale and ran out of steam in the 2012 presidential contest. Reagan won the presidency in part by promising to take a machete to marginal income tax rates for rich and poor alike, and succeeded, reducing the rate on top earners from 70 percent to 28 percent. This week, two Republican senators who were 10 years old when Reagan pulled that off took a stab at updating his iconic policy and the message that carried it. The comprehensive tax overhaul pitched by Utah’s Lee and Florida’s Rubio, a potential presidential candidate, triggered what is sure to be a lengthy policy debate. But just as significant were the plan’s political implications. The Generation X senators are attempting to recast a 1980s Republican pillar with policies and messaging better suited to the political and economic circumstances of 2016. “What Lee and Rubio have proposed here is striking,” said Rick Wilson, a Republican political consultant based in Florida. “It directly addresses a lot of the very fundamental, middle-class concerns that the tax code is full of provisions for the connected and powerful, and has become the driving engine of a crony capitalist economy.” Reagan took office at a time when taxes and big government had been on the march for half a century. The former California governor’s proposals to slash corporate and personal taxes were considered radical by some, but the ideas felt fresh. More than three decades later, supporting lower taxes and opposing any increases are still prerequisites for winning a Republican primary, particularly for nomination to the presidency or a seat in Congress. But the policies are no longer bullet-proof or inspiring. Democrats have been successful at demonizing tax cuts as a giveaway to the rich at the expense of the middle class, while even Tea Party conservatives who support limited government and loath the Internal Revenue Service wonder what’s in it for them. In the midst of a slowly recovering economy, many Americans view the tax code as rigged toward moneyed interests…”



Taxpayer-funded Job Corps centers found dangerous for students and staff

“A government program created during the 1960s war on poverty and designed to provide free job training to disadvantaged young people has systematically covered up the illegal and sometimes dangerous offenses of its students in order to keep them enrolled. Local officials with Job Corps, a $1.6 billion project of the Department of Labor, failed to report “potential serious misconduct infractions” like assault and drug abuse to the program and downgraded violent infractions to lesser violations when they did, according to an inspector general report. “This exposed other students and staff to avoidable harm and prevented more committed at-risk youth from utilizing the training slots,” the report said. “These deficiencies occurred because center management wanted to provide students who committed serious misconduct with second opportunities.” The program’s 60,000 students typically live on one of the Job Corps’ 125 campuses around the country while they receive free vocational training. After receiving multiple allegations that 12 Job Corps centers were refusing to investigate or punish dangerous students, the inspector general discovered substantial flaws in the program’s enforcement of its own “zero-tolerance” disciplinary policy. Staff at the Job Corps centers under the inspector general’s review failed to report 21 percent of the serious incidents involving students. When officials did report the violations, the program failed to investigate them 26 percent of the time. Congress raised concerns about Job Corps’ overall safety in 1995, prompting the program to adopt a zero-tolerance stance against violence and drugs. A number of inspector general reports have questioned the program’s commitment to the disciplinary policy in the years since. But officials continue to ignore requirements that they punish or expel students that break the rules. For example, at one center, a group of students faced no consequences for assaulting and injuring another student on campus. The victim, who sustained injuries to his jaw and hands, dropped out of the program the day after the attack…”



Harry Reid Secured Subsidies for Aides’ Donors

Nevada Dem brags about support for green energy companies as ethics watchdogs suggests influence-peddling

“Corporate donors to a green energy nonprofit operated by Senate Minority Leader Harry Reid’s (D., Nev.) former staffers and a current campaign operative have received billions of dollars in federal loan guarantees and grant money as a result of Reid’s advocacy. Fulcrum Bioenergy began contributing to the Clean Energy Project (CEP) in 2013. One year later, the Nevada Democrat steered tens of millions of dollars in federal grant money to the California biofuel company. Fulcrum is one of at least nine corporate donors to the Clean Energy Project (CEP) that have secured federal financing for themselves or a client due in part to Reid’s behind-the-scenes advocacy—activity that watchdogs warn could be construed as unethical. Rebecca Lambe, Reid’s top political strategist who has been directed by Reid to take the lead in hiring for his 2016 reelection campaign, founded CEP in 2008 and served as its executive director. Reid’s former chief of staff Susan McCue served as CEP’s president at that time. Lambe is now an adviser to CEP, according to her official bio. McCue is a member of its board. McCue and Lambe also run Senate Majority PAC, a powerhouse Super Pac with close ties to Reid that spent $67 million to elect Senate Democrats last year. Far from denying a role in steering subsidies to donors to aides’ group, Reid’s office brags about it. “Senator Reid’s leadership on creating clean energy jobs in Nevada is something we like to talk about at every opportunity and we are glad you have chosen to cover this topic,” Reid spokesman Adam Jentleson said in an emailed statement. Jentleson pointed to his office’s 2013 staff report on the benefits that green energy companies such as Ormat Geothermal, which Reid helped secure a $350 million loan guarantee, were bringing to Nevada. A news release on the staff report quoted Lydia Ball, until February CEP’s executive director, about the benefits of an “aggressive clean energy path for Nevada.” It didn’t mention that Ball is a former Reid aide, that Ormat has donated to her organization, or that the company’s president has donated to Reid. While on Reid’s staff, Ball was in charge of advising Nevada companies on how to obtain financing through the American Recovery and Reinvestment Act, better known as the stimulus…”



Our House Of Cards Economy





Principal to parents: ‘We don’t need to get used to this. We need to stop it.’

“Troy LaRaviere is the principal of Chicago’s Blaine Elementary School and a leader of the Administrators Alliance for Proven Policy and Legislation in Education. He has been outspoken about school reform policies that he thinks are harmful to children or a waste of Chicago Public Schools money. Here’s an example, from  this interview with him: CPS just spent $20 million that should be going to the children of Chicago and put it towards principal training to be provided by an organization called SUPES Academy. Now I don’t know a principal who hasn’t said that it’s horrible. It’s poor quality and it’s a waste of our time. I believe in training when it’s effective but this is ineffective. Here’s another example of how outspoken LaRaviere is, from this post published b y LaRaviere in 2014, about Chicago Mayor Rahm Emanuel: The administration’s interaction with principals is often insulting. During the debate over the longer school day, some principals questioned its merits. CPS officials were then dispatched to tell the principals their opinions didn’t matter. Here’s something new from LaRaviere: a letter he wrote to parents of students at his school about the Common Core test known as PARCC,  created by the Partnership for Assessment of Readiness for College and Careers, one of two new Common Core tests created by two multi-state consortia with some $360 million in federal funds. Illinois is a PARCC state, and the new tests are being given this spring. In mid-January, Chicago Public Schools district chief Barbara Byrd-Bennett said that the system would not give all students the PARCC, as expected, but instead would give it in a fraction of the more than 600 schools in CPS. She said that she had big questions about the value of the test, as well as about whether the district had the technological capability to give the computer-administered test to all students. But this week, shortly before the PARCC was to be given in Illinois, she said that pressure from state officials had persuaded her to reverse position and give the test to all students. The Chicago Tribune quoted her as saying: “There are huge, huge financial sanctions that have been very clearly delineated to us. It would be irresponsible for me to even put us in that position of danger, of losing the funds, given our financial conditions now. … I continue to personally and professionally believe that to administer PARCC this year is absolutely not in the best interests of our students. However, given the threat from [the Illinois State Board of Education], there is absolutely no choice that I can present to this board and to our community.”…”



2016 prospect Jeb Bush defends Common Core school standards





Race relations deteriorate on Obama’s watch: poll

“A day ahead of President Obama’s trip to Selma to commemorate the 50th anniversary of Bloody Sunday, a new poll shows that nearly half of Americans believe race relations have worsened over the course of his presidency. Thirty-nine percent believe relations between blacks and whites have worsened since Mr. Obama took office, while 15 percent say race relations have improved and 45 percent say they have stayed the same, according to the CNN/ORC poll. Forty-five percent of whites and 26 percent of blacks think they have worsened. The survey of 1,027 American adults was conducted Feb. 12-15 — before a Department of Justice report released this week found systemic racial discrimination in the Ferguson, Missouri, Police Department. The Justice Department also announced that it would not bring federal civil rights charges against white police officer Darren Wilson for the shooting death of black 18-year-old Michael Brown last summer in a case that ignited widespread protests and renewed debates over relations between law enforcement and the African-American community, as well as police militarization in the country. Mr. Obama said in a new radio interview that while he doesn’t think the situation in Ferguson is typical, it’s not isolated, either. “I don’t think that is typical of what happens across the country but it’s not an isolated incident,” he said in an interview on Sirius XM’s “Urban View” with Joe Madison. “I think there are circumstances in which trust between communities and law enforcement have broken down, and individuals or entire departments may not have the training or the accountability to make sure that they are protecting and serving all people and not just some,” he said…”



Obama downplays Keystone, ignores State Department research on pipeline

“President Obama on Friday ignored his own State Department’s research on the Keystone XL oil pipeline, dismissing the project and casting it as both economically unimportant and potentially harmful to the environment. Speaking at a town-hall meeting at Benedict College in Columbia, S.C., the president defended his recent veto of legislation that would have approved Keystone. Mr. Obama said he vetoed the bill for technical reasons and has not yet made a final decision on the project. “Its proponents argue that it would be creating jobs in the United States. But the truth is … it will probably create a couple thousand construction jobs for a year or two,” he said. “We’re not going to authorize a pipeline that benefits largely a foreign company if it can’t be shown that it is safe and if it can’t be shown that, overall, it would not contribute to climate change.” But Mr. Obama’s own State Department contradicts his claims. The department’s environmental review of Keystone already has determined the pipeline would not significantly increase greenhouse-gas emissions or contribute in a measurable way to climate change because, the federal governmentpredicts, Canada will extract its oil and send it to market with or without the project. Mr. Obama also seriously downplayed the State Department’s job-creation estimates. Government analyses of Keystone found the project will support about 42,000 jobs, including about 16,000 jobs created as a direct result of the pipeline itself. About 4,000 of those would be construction jobs to physically build the pipeline. Another 26,000 jobs would come as an “indirect” result of Keystone. Those jobs would include, for example, retail and service positions in areas around the construction zone…”



Obama Emphasizes Risks and Minimizes Benefits of Keystone XL



The Keystone Copout

Nothing Obama says to justify his pipeline veto is true.

“The Senate on Wednesday failed to override President Obama’s veto of Congress’s bipartisan bill authorizing the Keystone XL pipeline, falling five votes short of the necessary two-thirds majority. The vote was nonetheless a bipartisan rebuke of the President that shows how captive his Administration is to green billionaires. In an interview last weekend with a North Dakota TV station, Mr. Obama said: “I’m happy to look at how we can increase pipeline production for U.S. oil, but Keystone is for Canadian oil to send that…”



EPA Scrambles To Finish ‘Global Warming’ Regulations Before Obama Leaves Office

“EPA Chief Administrator Gina McCarthy claims she is “busier than [she’s] ever been” as the agency rushes to finish major carbon dioxide regulations on power plants before President Obama leaves office. “One of the main focuses of the White House right now is to make sure that the administration is coordinated, so that the entire breadth of the climate action plan can be basically realized before the president leaves office,” McCarthy told the Hill in an interview published Thursday. With only 22 months left in Obama’s second term and the departure of climate adviser John Podesta, McCarthy has been meeting with the president more than ever in a rush to finalize the administration’s legacy: the first-ever carbon dioxide regulations on power plants. As part of Obama’s “Climate Action Plan,” the EPA proposed two new regulations capping carbon dioxide emissions from power plants. The first, proposed in fall 2013, is a de facto mandate that new coal-fired power plants install carbon capture technology to meet new emissions standards. The second regulation, and most contentious, was announced summer 2014. The rule, also called the “Clean Power Plan” of 111-D, forces states to cut carbon emissions from power plants 30 percent below 2005 levels by 2030…”



Biden: Climate skepticism ‘like denying gravity’

“Vice President Joe Biden blasted climate change skeptics like Sen. Jim Inhofe (R-Okla.), saying their opinion is akin to denying gravity. In an interview the HBO series “Vice” released Friday in advance of the premiere of its third season, Biden said it’s increasingly difficult for climate skeptics to intelligently argue their case. “I think it’s close to mindless. I think it’s like, you know, almost like denying gravity now,” Biden told host Shane Smith when he asked about Inhofe, chairman of the Senate Environment and Public Works Committee and a high-profile skeptic who called climate change “the greatest hoax” perpetrated on mankind. “The willing suspension of disbelief can only be sustained so long,” he continued. “The expression my dad used to always use is ‘reality has a way of intruding.’”…”



House Energy chairman aims to brush EPA back with two new bills

“House Energy and Power Subcommittee Chairman Ed Whitfield is readying a series of bills that could place a damper on President Obama’s plans to regulate carbon dioxide from power plants. And the Kentucky Republican says the legislation could draw enough bipartisan support to pass. “We are going to be introducing [the bills] in the next couple of weeks. I would say before the end of March,” Whitfield told the Washington Examiner following a hearing this week on new grid innovations. Whitfield is working up two bills, both targeting Environmental Protection Agency power plant rules that seek to limit CO2 pollution that are already built and running today, as well as plants that may be built in the future. Critics say the EPA rules could prohibit building of new coal plants or modifying older plants to limit carbon emissions that the administration argues cause global warming. “But I think our approach is reasonable. And I think because of the extreme position taken by EPA in these two areas that we have strong arguments to make,” Whitfield says. One of the bills will be a reintroduction of legislation Whitfield sponsored in the 113th Congress that sought to change the “parameters” by which a new coal plant can be permitted under the “new source” rules. “One bill addresses the new source, the other bill addresses the existing,” Whitfield explained. “The original new source bill is what we had last time, it sets parameters that if you meet this criteria you can build a new coal plant,” he said. But the new bill will have some tweaks compared to last year’s version, he said. Whitfield suggests the tweaks may be part of a political maneuver to gain votes, but was coy on details…”



EPA’s toxic mess on transparency

“In August 2012, the conservative watchdog group Landmark Legal Foundation made a Freedom of Information Act request for records at the Environmental Protection Agency — specifically seeking records of any efforts to slow down the issue of new regulations until after the 2012 election. FOIA requests are supposed to be acknowledged and complied with very promptly. In this case, EPA bureaucrats did precisely what the Freedom of Information Act is intended to prevent — they slow-walked Landmark’s request past the 2012 elections, so that voters could not use the information to make their decision. They used one form of government opacity (foot-dragging) to protect another (a secretive regulatory process). The incident raises an important question about government transparency in general. As the Roman poet Juvenal famously asked, “Who will guard the guards themselves?” Can bureaucrats be trusted when they are tasked with providing records of their own behavior? In this case, the answer is evidently no. After more than two years of legal wrangling, Landmark finally asked a federal court to sanction the EPA for spoliating (or destroying) evidence. Even as he opted not to impose such sanctions, Judge Royce Lamberth this week issued a 25-page spanking of the agency for its “shoddy,” “offensive” and “insulting” attitude toward transparency in general and this FOIA request in particular. One employee, Nena Shaw, was singled out for providing a “fuzzy” account of her foot-dragging conduct and possibly “lying” about it. At the very least, Lamberth noted, she displayed “utter indifference” to her obligations under FOIA. “Two possible explanations exist for EPA’s conduct,” the judge wrote. “Either EPA intentionally sought to evade Landmark’s lawful FOIA request so the agency could destroy responsive documents, or EPA demonstrated apathy and carelessness toward Landmark’s request. Either scenario reflects poorly upon EPA and surely serves to diminish the public’s trust in the agency.”…”



Lynch’s AG nomination slowly moving past bipartisan hurdles

“Loretta Lynch, poised to make history as the nation’s first African American female attorney general, has been caught in a bipartisan political trap that has left her nomination lingering for a historically long time. She has been a near-certain lock to win confirmation since her nomination hearings went smoothly in late January, but that’s not made her path to running the Justice Department any easier. Both parties share the blame. On Thursday, Senate Democrats decried the languishing pace of the nomination, suggesting that Republicans had delayed her bid as part of their ongoing attack on President Obama’s immigration policies. “It makes no sense at all,” said Sen. Patrick J. Leahy (Vt.), the ranking Democrat on the Judiciary Committee, which approved her nomination last week…”



Immigration Fight Shouldn’t Stall Vote to Confirm Lynch, Democrats Say



Republican bill aims to limit consumer bureau’s power

“Republicans kicked off an effort to limit the power of the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau this week, starting with a House bill to replace the bureau’s single director with a five-member commission. Rep. Randy Neugebauer, a Texas Republican and chairman of the House Financial Services subcommittee overseeing consumer credit, introduced the legislation, which represents one of the goals for Republicans in scaling back the power granted to the new agency by the 2010 Dodd-Frank financial reform law. A five-member commission would make it similar to the Securities and Exchange Commission or the Commodity Futures Trading Commission. Republicans also have expressed a desire to give it a dedicated inspector general and subject the bureau to congressional appropriations. It is currently funded by the independent Federal Reserve, depriving legislators of one form of control. “Republicans have been consistent in their efforts to refocus and restructure the [Consumer Financial Protection Bureau] including replacing the single director with a five-person bipartisan commission, subjecting it to the congressional appropriations process, and creating a safety and soundness check,” said Adam Rice, a spokesman for Neugebauer, who was traveling Thursday after Congress closed because of a snowstorm in Washington. “Chairman Neugebauer’s bill would address one piece of a much-needed structural reform to bring transparency and accountability to the bureau,” Rice added. The bill’s introduction came as House Republicans this week ramped up their ongoing campaign against the agency. “The CFPB undoubtedly remains the single most powerful and least accountable federal agency in all of Washington,” Financial Services Committee Chairman Jeb Hensarling told bureau Director Richard Cordray Tuesday in a hearing. “We need the CFPB on budget and led by a bipartisan commission,” Hensarling said. The Republican-led House has previously passed legislation to overhaul the agency. What’s new this year is that Republicans also control the Senate. Senate Banking Committee Chairman Richard Shelby, R-Ala., has been a critic of the bureau since it was proposed by then-Harvard Law professor Elizabeth Warren. Neugebauer’s bill received support this week from a range of financial industry groups, including ones representing banks, credit unions and businesses. But the legislation is exactly what liberal groups fearful of the new GOP majorities have been raising alarms to try to prevent…”



Majority of House members sign letter blasting Obama bullet ban proposal

“Opposition to the Obama administration’s proposal to ban a popular bullet is gaining steam in the House of Representatives, where more than half of the lawmakers have signed a letter opposing the move. The Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives says it wants to ban popular .223 M855 “green tip” ammunition because the bullets can pierce bulletproof vests used by law enforcement. Although the ATF previously approved it in 1986, the agency now says that because handguns have now been designed that can also fire the bullets, police officers are now more likely to encounter them.Some 239 members of the House have now put their names to the letter opposing the ban, which they say would interfere with Americans’ Constitutional rights. “This attack on the Second Amendment is wrong and should be overturned,” Rep. Bob Goodlatte, (R-Va.), who started the petition, said in a statement to FoxNews.com. “A clear, sizeable majority of the House agree,” he noted. White House Press Secretary Josh Earnest backed up the agency’s proposal at a press conference on Monday. “We are looking at additional ways to protect our brave men and women in law enforcement… This seems to be an area where everyone should agree that if there are armor-piercing bullets available that can fit into easily concealed weapons, that it puts our law enforcement at considerably more risk,” Earnest said. But gun-rights groups such as the National Rifle Association note that almost all rifle bullets can pierce armor, and say that this is just an excuse for limiting civilian gun use. “The claim that this is done out of a concern for law enforcement safety is a lie. The director of the Fraternal Order of Police has said this is not an issue of concern. And according to the FBI, not one single law enforcement officer has been killed with M855 ammunition fired from a handgun,” Chris Cox, executive director of the NRA Institute for Legislative Action, told FoxNews.com. Some law enforcement groups reached by FoxNews.com also say that they no need for the regulation. “The notion that all of a sudden a new pistol requires banning what had long been perfectly legal ammunition doesn’t seem to make a lot of sense to many officers,” William Johnson, executive director of the National Association of Police Organizations, told FoxNews.com…”



Obama Complains It’s Easier to Buy a Gun Than a Book or Fresh Vegetable

“President Barack Obama launched a rhetorical assault on guns in one of the most gun friendly states in the nation while speaking at a town hall event in Columbia, South Carolina, Friday. “As long as you can go in some neighborhoods and it is easier for you to buy a firearm than it is for you to buy a book, there are neighborhoods where it is easier for you to buy a handgun and clips than it is for you to buy a fresh vegetable, as long as that’s the case, we’re going to continue to see unnecessary violence,” Obama said in a response to a question at the town hall meeting at Benedict College…”



Obama Claims It’s Easier To Buy Guns Than Books And Vegetables; That Some Want Machine Guns In Bars [VIDEO]




“The undergraduate governing body at the University of California, Irvine, voted this week to remove the American flag and all other flags from its lobby, after arguing in part that flags are “symbols of patriotism or weapons of nationalism.” According to Campus Reform, R50-70, authored by Social Ecology Representative Matthew Guevara, was passed by the Associated Students of University of California Irvine (ASUCI) by a vote of 6-4, with two abstentions. The language of the bill claims that flags “construct cultural mythologies and narratives that in turn charge nationalistic sentiments,” and further charges that “flags construct paradigms of conformity and sets homogenized standards for others to obtain which in this country typically are idolized as freedom, equality, and democracy.” The bill’s long case against the hanging of American flags includes the accusation that it “has been flown in instances of colonialism and imperialism,” and that “symbolism has negative and positive aspects that are interpreted differently by individuals. “[F]reedom of speech, in a space that claims to be as inclusive as possible can be interpreted as hate speech,” the bill continues…”



Documents: Hillary Clinton Told Employees Not to Use Private Emails

Hypocrisy confirmed.

“Fox News has confirmed that former Secretary of State Hillary Clinton prohibited her employees from conducting official government business via their personal email addresses—even though Clinton herself flagrantly broke this rule, in violation of federal policy. Catherine Herridge of Fox News reports that an official State Department document from 2011 made clear that the use of personal email addresses was strictly forbidden: Fox News has exclusively obtained an internal 2011 State Department cable that shows Secretary of State Clinton’s office told employees not to use personal email for security reasons, while at the same time, HRC conducted all government business on a private account.   Sent to Diplomatic and Consular Staff in June 2011, the unclassified cable, with Clinton’s electronic signature, makes clear to “avoid conducting official Department from your personal e-mail accounts”  and employees should not “auto-forward Department email to personal email accounts which is prohibited by Department policy.” Clinton did not abide by this rule. She frequently made use of a private email address shielded from federal recording practices, as Reason’s Peter Suderman reported earlier. The fact that Cinton now wants to make amends by releasing some of the emails is irrelevant. Whichever ones her staff doesn’t approve for public consumption are exactly the ones the American people need to see most desperately.”






State Dept. Says Hillary Clinton’s Use of Personal Email Somehow Didn’t Violate Her Own Rule Against Using Personal Email

“In a stunning display of logic avoidance, a State Department spokeswoman on Friday insisted that while former Secretary of State Hillary Clinton used her personal email during her tenure, that does not mean she violated her own rule that department employees should not use personal email. Fox News uncovered an unclassified cable from 2011 that instructed State Department workers to “avoid conducting official department business from your personal email accounts.” That cable ends with Clinton’s electronic signature at the bottom, indicating that she backed the policy guidance on emails. As a result, it would seem clear that by using her own personal email system while serving as secretary, Clinton went against her own guidance to other officials. But Friday, State Department spokeswoman Marie Harf refused to connect those two dots when she was asked if she thinks Clinton violated her own guidance. “I don’t,” Harf told reporters. “I think that’s an oversimplification of what’s going on here.” “I understand there’s a cable that in general has some guidance and best practices in it, but I think drawing that conclusion is going a step too far,” she added. Harf also sought to put some distance between the cable and Clinton, by saying it was not “her” guidance at all, even though Clinton clearly approved it…”



FOIA Request for Hillary Clinton’s Email Address Went Missing

CREW says it never received response from State Dept to 2012 request



Valerie Jarrett Doesn’t Know If Hillary Ever Emailed ANYONE In Obama Administration [VIDEO]

“Senior Obama adviser Valerie Jarrett said on Bloomberg TV’s “Market Makers” that she doesn’t know if anyone in the entire administration ever received an email from Secretary of State Hillary Clinton in her four years as a cabinet member.

CO-HOST ERIK SCHATZKER: Valerie, we need ask about State Department e-mail policy. I’d have to imagine while the Hillary Clinton was Secretary of State, you received e-mails from her. The president even…

JARRETT: I actually did not.

SCHATZKER: You did not?

JARRETT: I did not. No, I did not receive email from Hillary Clinton

SCHATZKER: Did members of the administration receive e-mails from Hillary Clinton while she was Secretary of State?

JARRETT: That, I don’t know. I do know the president as a very firm policy that e-mail should be kept on government systems. He believes in transparency. I know the State Department is currently working with the national archives to make sure all of Secretary Clinton’s e-mails are captured.

CO-HOST STEPHANIE RUHLE: Does that mean she broke the policy?

JARRETT: I defer totally to the State Department for that. We established the policy, but we leave it up to every single agency to determine how to adhere to that policy.

RUHLE: What would you do — if someone on your staff was conducting White House business using their personal e-mail account, would you fire them?

JARRETT: I don’t want to get into a hypothetical. I do know we have training at the White House on the continuing basis to make sure our staff understand the importance of keeping it on the system so it is there. We believe in transparency and we believe in the public records, that they need to be captured. So we constantly are having trainings for our team to make sure they know what is going on and we encourage the other agencies to do the same.”



Valerie Jarrett: ‘I Don’t Know’ If Hillary Ever Sent Emails to the White House



Valerie Jarrett on Hillary’s Private Email Account: “We Believe In Transparency” At The White House



White House: ‘No idea’ when Obama learned of Clinton email scandal

“Despite reports the White House learned six months ago that Hillary Clinton exclusively used a private email server during her time as secretary of state, administration officials said Friday they have “no idea” when President Obama learned of the situation. The New York Times first reported this week that Mrs. Clinton, the Democratic party’s frontrunner for the 2016 presidential nomination, did not use an official government email account during her entire four-tenure at the State Department. Her use of private email surfaced after the State Department requested former secretaries turn over all emails as part of a larger records-gathering project. Mrs. Clinton has turned over about 55,000 pages of email, including 300 messages related to the 2012 Benghazi terrorist attack provided to House Republicans investigating the incident. Politico on Friday cited sources familiar with the situation in reporting that “key people” in the White House first learned of Mrs. Clinton’s private account six months ago. Still, administration officials clearly want to keep the president far away from the growing scandal, which could complicate the former secretary of state’s expected presidential bid. “I have no idea when the president first learned,” White House press secretary Josh Earnest told reporters aboard Air Force One. “I wouldn’t be surprised, however, if he had learned about that by reading the newspaper. The president has a lot of things on his plate. I’m not sure the details of a senior administration official’s email arrangement lands on the president’s desk with any regularity.”



Chuck Todd: Obama White House probably didn’t know about Hillary’s secret email address UPDATE: They knew

“Chuck Todd, the moderator of NBC’s Meet the Press, is pretty sure that the president’s hands are clean when it comes to the scandalous revelations about former Secretary of State Hillary Clinton’s private email accounts. And he makes a reasonably good case for why he believes Barack Obama was personally out of the loop (hat tip to Mediaite for flagging this clip):.. “They’re not very forgiving on this,” Todd said of Obama’s core 2008 staffers who have made conspicuous efforts to distance themselves from Clinton of late. “This was sort of, at the core, of how they went after candidate Hillary Clinton in ’07 and ’08; on issues like transparency, on issues like good government issues.” “You’ve got to think the Obama White House didn’t know – I’d like to know if they knew about this email server in advance,” Todd added. “I would be surprised if they did because if they did, I got to think: knowing how they raised so many objections to even individual hires, that she attempted to make, like Sidney Blumenthal, I got to think if the White House knew about it at that time, they would have raised a red flag.”…”



Chuck Todd: ‘I Would Bet’ Obama And Hillary Exchanged Emails [VIDEO]

“Host of NBC’s “Meet the Press” Chuck Todd said on MSNBC’s “Andrea Mitchell Reports” that it was likely that President Barack Obama and former Secretary of State Hillary Clinton exchanged emails, raising the question of how much the president knew about Clinton’s privately-controlled email accounts. “Another question, people are asking me– and you would know this better than I– Barack Obama had his Blackberry, did he ever e-mail his Secretary of State?” asked host Andrea Mitchell.  “Well, I think that is — I’m interested in that question myself,” Todd said. “I would bet they did. And I have a feeling the president is doing a few interviews over the next few days with different folks. Why do I have a feeling that question’s going to come up?” “Because her address was never HillaryClinton@state.gov,” Mitchell pointed out. “It wasn’t,” Todd agreed…”



White House suggests Obama learned about Clinton emails by ‘reading the newspaper’

“The White House Friday implied that President Obama learned former Secretary of State Hillary Clinton exclusively used a private email account only after “reading the newspaper.” “I have no idea when the president first learned,” White House press secretary Josh Earnest told reporters of the simmering controversy. “I wouldn’t be surprised, however, if he had learned about that by reading the newspaper. The president has a lot of things on his plate. I’m not sure the details of a senior administration official’s email arrangement lands on the president’s desk with any regularity.” Clinton, the presumptive Democratic frontrunner for the 2016 presidential nomination, has faced immense pressure in recent days after a GOP investigation revealed that she relied exclusively on personal email during her tenure at the State Department — and even established a private server to handle the digital messages…”



Clinton Email Domain Hosted by a Company That Was Hacked in 2010 and Had Data Redirected to Ukraine

“As news of Hillary Clinton using a private email during her tenure as Secretary of State continues to emerge, TheBlaze has learned that the email domain was hosted by a “consumer grade” company whose data was hacked in 2010, with information being sent to Ukraine. Additionally, data reveals that the domain was hosted at one point in the British Virgin Islands. This, experts say, is a big security no-no…”



‘How secure could it have been?’ IT crowd questions if Hillary email could have been targeted

“Then-Secretary of State Hillary Clinton, by using her own email address and server for official business, was not only skirting government guidelines but taking serious cybersecurity risks as well, IT professionals tell FoxNews.com.  While secretary, as the Associated Press first reported, Clinton was using her own private clintonemail.com domain, as well as doing government work on personal email.  IT consultant Bruce Webster, who has been digging into the mystery of the private Clinton emails, says that while government servers are certainly vulnerable, they still have highly maintained controls and 24-7 monitoring for potential breaches. He said Clinton’s emails would have been less protected than if they went through the State Department networks. “The most secure way would have been to actually use the State.gov servers,” he told FoxNews.com. “[The government] takes security very seriously. They have whole platoons of people dedicated to ensuring their servers aren’t hacked. “If she has a private server running somewhere and she was doing everything on it, the question is, how secure could it have been?”  He said it’s unclear whether Clinton ran a personal server in her Chappaqua, N.Y., home, as suggested Thursday by the Associated Press, or she maintained a dedicated one through a hosting service elsewhere. Webster said while Clinton may have had her own server, it could have been hosted externally. He found at least two Internet Protocol (IP) addresses associated with the clintonemail.com domain were also linked to two hosting services, Planet and Confluence Networks, “for the entire duration of the domain’s existence.”  But even with an outside hosting service, he said, “you’re really opening the doors for a security breach,” depending on where the servers were, who had access to them, and whether the services were reputable.  The level of security would depend on several factors.  James Turner, a software engineer and freelance technology journalist, told FoxNews.com that using your own dedicated server for email – unlike a Gmail or Microsoft account – gives one “absolute control of it, and it’s not likely to be the target of someone looking for a large score…”



Internal State Department Memo Spells Bad News for Hillary Clinton as She Fights Email Controversy



Servergate Revelations Stick to Hillary

Her support seems a continent wide, a cracker deep, and just as prone to crumble.

“Like snowflakes on a frozen sidewalk, the latest damaging revelations about Hillary Clinton are starting to stick. More than that, Servergate raises the question: Why, precisely, should she become president anyway? This week brought news that then–secretary of state Clinton never had a State Department e-mail address. Instead, she exclusively used a private account to e-mail others in the Obama administration, including some of her staffers who communicated via their own private accounts. Clinton did not simply keep using an old account. She launched hdr22@clintonemail.com as her Senate confirmation hearings opened. Rather than have her e-mails automatically available on government computers for permanent scrutiny, Team Clinton gave State 55,000 pages of handpicked e-mails. What they may have withheld is anyone’s guess. Clinton already has angered the Washington Post. As it editorialized Wednesday: “If people aspire to public service, they should behave as stewards of a public trust, and that includes the records — all of them.” Even worse, Clinton’s e-mails were not stored on a computer at State or in a secure facility deep inside a Utah salt dome. Instead, The Associated Press reports, they resided on a private server at her Chappaqua, N.Y., mansion. This story swiftly has mushroomed from yet another example of Clinton’s obsession with secrecy into fears of a possible breach of national security. “Unless Hillary Clinton had an information-security professional sitting in Chappaqua 24/7, or she had contracted with a network-security firm to provide both proactive and reactive monitoring, it is highly unlikely that the contents of her e-mail server could be guaranteed secure,” says Pierson Clair, a cybersecurity expert and lecturer at the University of Southern California’s Viterbi School of Engineering. “High-profile targets require increased vigilance and protection. That server could have been compromised without Clinton’s knowledge by a foreign nation seeking Washington’s political and diplomatic perspectives. E-mails to or from Clinton’s home server could have been viewed by a third party. This adds another vector by which sensitive communications may have been compromised.”…”



Hillary Just Failed Her First Test as a Candidate



First on CNN: Feds prepare criminal corruption charges against Senator Bob Menendez

“The Justice Department is preparing to bring criminal corruption charges against New Jersey Sen. Robert Menendez, a Democrat, alleging he used his Senate office to push the business interests of a Democratic donor and friend in exchange for gifts. People briefed on the case say Attorney General Eric Holder has signed off on prosecutors’ request to proceed with charges, CNN has learned exclusively. An announcement could come within weeks. Prosecutors are under pressure in part because of the statute of limitation on some of the allegations. The case could pose a high-profile test of the Justice Department’s ability to prosecute sitting lawmakers, having already spawned a legal battle over whether key evidence the government has gathered is protected by the Constitution’s Speech and Debate clause. The FBI and prosecutors from the Justice Department’s public integrity section, have pursued a variety of allegations against Menendez, who has called the probe part of “smear campaign” against him…”



Report: Justice Dept. to Bring Corruption Charges Against a Sitting Democratic Senator



Oh my: DOJ preparing to file criminal corruption charges against Democratic Sen. Bob Menendez



Holder declines comment on possible charges against senator

“Attorney General Eric Holder is declining to say if he has approved the filing of corruption charges against New Jersey Democratic Sen. Bob Menendez. Nor is Menendez shedding much light on the situation. CNN first reported that the Justice Department is preparing to bring criminal corruption charges against the lawmaker centering on his relationship with a Florida ophthalmologist, Dr. Salomon Melgen. A statement issued by the senator’s office Friday says many false allegations have been made about his ties with Melgen, who is a friend and donor to Menendez’s campaigns. The statement from an aide to the senator acknowledges that a public investigation is ongoing and says Menendez can’t respond to anonymous allegations…”



Feds to Charge Menendez With Corruption

The New Jersey Democrat is one of the top critics of Obama’s Iran deal.



Menendez: White House’s least favorite Dem

“Sen. Robert Menendez might be a senior Democrat but he’s no friend of the White House. In fact, he’s emerged as one of the most troublesome obstacles to President Barack Obama’s legacy-building effort to end decades of U.S. estrangement with Cuba and Iran. He’s also poked the administration on its troubled relationship with Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu, with whom he shares a hawkish outlook towards Tehran. But the senior senator from New Jersey, 61, is now in the news for a different reason, after CNN first reported Friday that the Justice Department is preparing to bring criminal charges against him. People briefed on the case say prosecutors plan to allege that Menendez used his Senate office to push the business interests of a Democratic donor and friend in exchange for gifts. The charges, which are expected to be formally laid within weeks, threaten to seriously imperil Menendez’s political prospects at a time when his influence in Washington has rarely been greater. Menendez is currently the ranking Democrat on the Senate Foreign Relations Committee, after serving briefly as chairman when his predecessor John Kerry left to become Secretary of State and before Democrats lost the Senate majority last year. But his position in the minority belies his influence. Menendez has joined Republicans to threaten Obama’s top-second term foreign policy priority, a nuclear deal with Iran. He is currently crucial to the administration, despite his distance from the White House, as some Democrats are likely to take his lead as they consider how to respond in the event an agreement is reached. Politically, Menendez, who fashioned his rise to the powerful post at Foreign Relations slowly, deliberately and largely out of the public spotlight, might be the antithesis of Obama, who appeared almost from nowhere and rocketed to the pinnacle of U.S. politics. But he is respected on Capitol Hill for making it to the top after years of striving, serving as mayor of his home town and in the New Jersey state assembly before winning election to the House of Representatives in 1992. He masterminded the Senate Democratic election campaign in 2010 in which the party clung onto the chamber despite stiff political headwinds that erased the party’s grip on the House. It is unclear whether the charges being prepared against Menendez will lead to political pressure that could throw his position on the Foreign Relations committee into question. He is not up for re-election until 2018. His spokeswoman, Tricia Enright, said that all of Menendez’s actions were “appropriate and lawful and the facts will ultimately confirm that.”



Obama warns Ferguson: Clean up your act or face federal lawsuit



Battenfeld: Clinton email scandal may elevate former Maryland Gov. Martin O’Malley

“If you want to know what life without Hillary looks like, drive up to a tiny coffee shop in

Concord, N.H., tonight and look for the bland guy speaking awkwardly to a handful of curious customers. That would be Martin O’Malley, the former governor of Maryland. Chances are you wouldn’t know him if you tripped over him, yet he could become the accidental front-runner if Hillary Clinton’s campaign continues to implode. The disclosure of Clinton’s secret email account as secretary of state has not only severely damaged her presidential prospects, but exposed the Democrats’ complete lack of a bench — assuming U.S. Sen. Elizabeth Warren stays out of it. A race without Hillary would be like the Wizard of Oz without Dorothy. Sure, the Tin Man’s a nice guy, but not exactly great box office. Democrats are hoping Clinton’s email problem goes away, but that seems very unlikely. That leaves the Democratic D-list of presidential hopefuls, led by O’Malley. The two-term governor has been traveling around the country for the last few years to boost his presidential prospects — sort of a Democratic version of Mitt Romney — but because of Clinton, no one has taken him too seriously. That could change this weekend in New Hampshire, where O’Malley will speak at a series of events and probably get a closer look from voters who aren’t so sure anymore that Clinton is the inevitable nominee.”



How could a U.S. ambassador be so vulnerable, given Obama’s vows?

“It’s almost 30 months exactly since that awful, murderous night in Benghazi when the United States ambassador was killed, the first such fatality in three decades, along with three other dedicated government workers. President Obama has never deigned to tell his countrymen where he was and what he was doing during that long, deadly darkness that saw no military response or rescue attempt. Nor has Hillary Clinton explained why, despite repeated pleas for more security, she actually allowed cuts in consulate protection a month before the 9/11/12 attack. But Obama aides proudly informed media that upon learning of the consulate attack, the first thing the chief executive did was order enhanced security for American diplomats around the globe. Let’s see how that’s working out. Thursday morning at a downtown cultural center in Seoul, South Korea Amb. Mark Lippert had just been seated in the ballroom for the breakfast event celebrating possible peace and one of the United States’ more enduring friendships.

From behind came a shabbily-dressed man who slashed at Lippert with a razor-blade knife. The ambassador got a protective cut on a hand and a long-deep wound on his face that took 80 stitches to close. He’ll be OK, thank goodness. But if the slash was a couple of inches lower on the carotid artery, this country would this morning be mourning the terrorist murder of its second ambassador during the Obama administration. And there’s no anti-Muslim video to blame. News coverage of the attack shows Koreans immediately subduing the assailant, a North Korean sympathizer who previously attacked Japan’s ambassador and boasted of being a terrorist while being carted away. But there is no evidence of an ambassador’s protective detail.

Holding his face where blood gushed to soak his shirt red, Lippert was surrounded by TV cameras as he pleaded for a ride to a hospital. Kind Koreans shepherded him down a hall out the front door through a gathering sidewalk crowd and into a car. In an age of ISIS threatening the Pope and Obama and lone wolf attacks erupting in France, Australia and even Canada, you do not need to be an alert Diplomatic Security Service agent to suspect such an attack might really be a kidnapping. And that those helpful Koreans and their car out front were actually part of a plot to snatch the former Obama aide…”



Fox News Poll: Walker seen as strong leader among GOP, Clinton’s honesty ratings drop

“The latest Fox News poll asks voters whether a variety of traits describe some of the 2016 contenders. Overall, there’s general agreement that former Florida Gov. Jeb Bush (+54 points), former Secretary of State Hillary Clinton (+40), Florida Sen. Marco Rubio (+34) and Wisconsin Gov. Scott Walker (+24) are patriotic. For comparison, those margins all beat President Barack Obama’s (+11) on this measure. On the other hand, “strong leader” is not a trait that lots of voters see in the GOP candidates tested.  More voters perceive Clinton as a strong leader (+16 points) than Walker (+11), Rubio (+7) and Bush (-1). And many more see her as a strong leader than say the same of Obama (-12). More self-identified Republicans think “strong leader” describes Walker (+35 points) than Rubio (+33) and Bush (+18). “Walker is in a nice position right now,” says Democratic pollster Chris Anderson, who conducts the Fox News Poll along with Republican pollster Daron Shaw. “Republicans who know him overwhelmingly think he is a strong leader, and there are very few in the base who hold negative opinions toward him.” While Clinton performs well on leadership, she’s underwater on honesty (-8 points).  Just 44 percent say the label “honest” describes her, while 52 percent disagree.  A year ago, by a 54-42 percent margin, voters said Clinton was “honest and trustworthy” (April 2014). That rating suggests recent revelations about Clinton — especially concerning the activities of the Clinton Foundation — may be taking a toll. Sixty-one percent of voters say if recent allegations are true and the foundation accepted contributions from foreign governments while Clinton was secretary of state — it was the wrong thing to do. More voters than not say “honest” describes Rubio (+9 points), Walker (+8) and Bush (+7). Among all voters, Bush does best on “patriotic” and “caring.”  His trouble spot is “strong leader,” as he’s underwater on that — albeit by just one point. “It’s interesting and potentially important how well Bush scores on the caring trait,” says Shaw.  “Empathy is something recent GOP candidates have not scored well on, and reducing this gap is essential for them to do well in 2016.” Each of the candidates receives positive ratings on “caring”:  Bush (+24 points), Clinton (+22), Rubio (+17) and Walker (+10). Among those familiar with them, Walker does best on “patriotic” and “strong leader” and Rubio’s top traits are “patriotic” and “caring.”  Both of these candidates are less well known than either Bush or Clinton…”



More voters side with Benjamin Netanyahu than Obama on Iran nuclear deal: poll

“That speech before Congress may have worked: More U.S. voters appear to support Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu’s tougher approach over President Obama’s more conciliatory strategy when it comes to negotiations with Iran. A Rasmussen Reports poll released Friday found 45 percent of likely voters agreed with Mr. Netanyahu’s statement during his Tuesday speech that “if the deal now being negotiated is accepted by Iran, that deal will not prevent Iran from developing nuclear weapons. It will all but guarantee that Iran will get those nuclear weapons — lots of them.” Only 30 percent disagreed, and 25 percent said they were not sure. Mr. Netanyahu’s name was not mentioned in the poll question. Meanwhile, the poll found more voters than not oppose the Obama administration’s effort to secure “a 10-year freeze on Iran’s nuclear development program in exchange for lifting some sanctions on the Iranian economy.” The survey found 39 percent opposed to the freeze strategy, with 35 percent in favor of the plan and 25 percent undecided, “which isn’t surprising, given that the deal is being negotiated in secret and not many of the details are known,” noted the poll’s analysis. Mr. Netanyahu spoke Tuesday to a joint session of Congress on his opposition to the potential deal being negotiated by the Obama administration and the dangers of a nuclear Iran. An estimated 56 House and Senate Democrats, along with independent Sen. Bernie Sanders of Vermont, boycotted the speech, which was characterized as an affront to Mr. Obama…”



Netanyahu’s Churchillian warning