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An Overview of Stories in the News

This Page was last updated on:March 28th
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March 28: Fox News: Head of House Benghazi Probe Says Clinton Wiped her Email Server Clean:
Hillary Clinton wiped her email server "clean," permanently deleting all emails from it, the leader of the House committee investigating the 2012 terror attacks in Benghazi said Friday.  Meanwhile Congressman Gowdy (R-SC) has revealed that Mrs. Clinton has failed to produce a single new document in recent weeks and has refused to relinquish her server to a third party for an independent review. "It is not clear precisely when Secretary Clinton decided to permanently delete all emails from her server, [but] it appears she made the decision after October 28, 2014, when the Department of State for the first time asked the secretary to return her public record[s] to the Department," Gowdy said. “Not only was the secretary the sole arbiter of what was a public record, she also summarily decided to delete all emails from her server ensuring no one could check behind her analysis in the public interest,” the Congressman contended.

March 28: The Hill:  RNC: “Even Nixon Didn’t Destroy the Tapes!”
Republican National Committee Chairman Reince Priebus blasted Hillary Clinton on Saturday for wiping her server and permanently deleting all emails.  "Even Nixon didn't destroy the tapes," Priebus said in a statement.
Clinton's lawyer informed the House Select Committee investigating Benghazi on Friday that Clinton no longer had copies of any emails from her four-year tenure as secretary of State, ending in 2013.   Rep. Trey Gowdy (R-SC), the chairman of the committee, said in a statement Friday that "Clinton unilaterally decided to wipe her server clean and permanently delete all emails from her personal server."

March 27: The Washington Post: Lots of Showmanship as Senate Passes Budget:
For the second time in the past seven years, the U.S. Senate passed a budget, this time under Republican leadership. But not to be outdone some senators attempted to score political points by offering amendments on such issues as same sex “marriage,”  Iran sanctions, and defense spending.  In the end, the Republican budget proposal passed, 52-46, with all Democrats voting against it. Senate Republicans say their budget would achieve balance in 10 years and a $3 billion surplus in year 10.   Senators Ted Cruz (R-TX) and Ran Paul (R-KY) were the only Republicans to vote against the bill.

March 26: Washington Free Beacon: U.S. Caves to Key Issues in Iran Nuke Deal – A Deal At Any Price?
The Obama administration is giving in to Iranian demands about the scope of its nuclear program as negotiators work to finalize a framework agreement in the coming days, according to sources familiar with the administration’s position in the negotiations.  U.S. negotiators are said to have given up ground on demands that Iran be forced to disclose the full range of its nuclear activities at the outset of a nuclear deal, a concession experts say would gut the verification the Obama administration has vowed would stand as the crux of a deal with Iran.  Until recently, the Obama administration had maintained that it would guarantee oversight on Tehran’s program well into the future, and that it would take the necessary steps to ensure that oversight would be effective. The issue has now emerged as a key sticking point in the talks. Some are contending that the President wants a deal at any price.

March 26: Fox News: Hamas Accused of War Crime while the Media Blamed Israel at the time:
A horrific missile attack that killed 11 children in Gaza during last summer’s war between Israel and Hamas, for which Israel was broadly condemned at the time, was actually caused by a Palestinian missile misfiring and killing its own people, Amnesty International charged in a report released Thursday.  “In the deadliest incident believed to have been caused by a Palestinian armed group during the conflict, 13 Palestinian civilians – 11 of them children – were killed when a projectile exploded next to a supermarket in the crowded al-Shati refugee camp in Gaza on 28 July 2014, the first day of Eid al-Fitr,” Amnesty's report said. “The children had been playing in the street and buying crisps and soft drinks in the supermarket at the time of the attack.”

March 26: The Daily Caller: MSNBC to Press Secretary: Is Yemen Still a Success Story?
A cadre of MSNBC personalities challenged White House press secretary Josh Earnest Thursday morning over the administration’s refusal to dial back its propping up of Yemen as a counterterrorism “success story.”  “Should we dial back on the words that it is a success story, when you have the president fleeing on a boat?” asked an MSNBC reporter, who asked if the state is a success multiple times.  “The fact is that even though U.S. personnel is no longer in Yemen, the United States continues to have the capacity and resources and reach to be able to take strikes when necessary against extremists operating there,” Earnest said.

The March 23: Politico: Obama Administration says Israeli “Occupation” must End:
White House Chief of Staff Denis McDonough made clear in a speech to a left-leaning Israel advocacy group that President Barack Obama isn’t letting Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu off the hook for his dismissal of a two-state solution.  That stance, as well as Netanyahu’s suggestion also made in the closing days before last week’s Israeli elections that he’d approved settlements in contested territory in Jerusalem for the strategic purpose of changing the borders are “so very troubling,” McDonough told J Street’s annual conference in Washington. He called the pro-Israel group, which opposes some of Netanyahu’s policies, “our partner.”

March 23: The New York Times: Inside Hillary Clinton’s In Box:
Mrs. Clinton’s aides used their private email accounts to communicate with Hillary Clinton while she was Secretary of State. Not only was Mrs. Clinton corresponding from a private email account, four of her closest advisers were doing so as well. That raises questions about whether State Department servers were colllecting and storing official emmails as Clinton has claimed. From those emails that have been released it is clear that after the Benghazi attacks Clinton was closely monitoring the news media coverage and how it impacted the State Department (and her) image.

March 21: Associated Press: Gowdy’s Benghazi Committee Formally Requests Clinton’s Email Server
The chairman of a House committee investigating the deadly 2012 attacks in Benghazi formally requested Friday that Hillary Rodham Clinton turn over her email server for an independent review.  Rep. Trey Gowdy (R-SC) sent a letter requesting that Clinton, a likely Democratic presidential candidate, turn over to the State Department inspector general or other third party the server she used for official business while serving as secretary of state. The aim would be to have a third party determine what records should be made public.  "Though Secretary Clinton alone is responsible for causing this issue, she alone does not get to determine its outcome," Gowdy said in a statement. His request to turn over the server is "in the interest of transparency for the American people," Gowdy said. [See the related column by the Three Musketeers]

March 21: The Washington Free Beacon: New Russian Cruise Missile Could Threaten the U.S.
Russia is developing a long-range cruise missile that poses a new threat to the United States, the commander of the U.S. Northern Command warned this week.  “Russia is progressing toward its goal of deploying long-range, conventionally-armed cruise missiles with ever increasing stand-off launch distances on its heavy bombers, submarines, and surface combatants, augmenting the Kremlin’s toolkit of flexible deterrent options short of the nuclear threshold,” Adm. William Gortney, Northcom chief who heads the U.S.-Canadian North American Aerospace Defense Command (NORAD) said Thursday.  “Should these trends continue, over time NORAD will face increased risk in our ability to defend North America against Russian cruise missile threats,” he said in prepared testimony to the House Armed Services subcommittee on strategic forces.

Denmark F-16 Scrambling to intercept Russian Bear Aircraft approaching Denmark Soverign TerritoryMarch 21: The Telegraph: Russia Warns Denmark Not to Join NATO’s Missile Defense Shield or it will become a Nuclear Target!
The Danish military scrambled fighter aircraft over 58 times in 2014 to head off Russian Aircraft Intrusions.  Now Russia has gone on the offensive in the Baltic, warning Denmark that if it joins Nato’s missile defense shield, its navy will be a legitimate target for a Russian nuclear attack.   “I don’t think that Danes fully understand the consequence if Denmark joins the American-led missile defence shield. If they do, then Danish warships will be targets for Russian nuclear missiles,” said Mikhail Vanin, the Russian ambassador to Denmark, to the Jyllands-Posten newspaper.  

Denmark’s Foreign minister, Martin Lidegaard, reacted strongly to the comments, calling the ambassador’s statement “unacceptable”.   “If that is what he has said, then it is unacceptable. Russia knows full well that Nato’s missile defense is defensive and not targeted at (Russia).

March 21: The Daily Caller:  Putting you Money where your Mouth is: Climate Change
News reports out of Hawaii indicate that the President may have just purchased a beachfront home in Hawaii. But isn’t he worried about the sea level rising from global warming?  Obama has long warned that the rise of sea levels caused by man-made global warming will make storm surges and flooding worse for coastal communities. In his 2015 State of the Union speech, Obama said “we’ll continue to see rising oceans, longer, hotter heat waves, dangerous droughts and floods.” Hawaii’s KTV4 News reports that a man connected to Obama purchased the multi-million dollar beachfront home featured in the show “Magnum P.I.” — the property was then sold to a limited liability corporation in Colorado.

March 21: USA Today: Local Police Departments Turning to Immigrants to Fill Vacant Positions:
Law enforcement agencies struggling to fill their ranks or connect with their increasingly diverse populations are turning to immigrants to fill the gap. Most agencies in the country require officers or deputies to be U.S. citizens, but some are allowing immigrants who are legally in the country to wear the badge. From Hawaii to Vermont, agencies are allowing green-card holders and legal immigrants with work permits to join their ranks.

March 20: KRGV.com(ABC News):  Undocumented Immigrants the fail to appear at hearings Jumps by 150%
The federal government said the number of undocumented immigrants failing to appear at deportation hearings is on the rise.  According to the Executive Office of Immigration Review, the number of people who did not show after being released on bond or on their own recognizance grew by 153 percent in the last four years.  Immigration judges ordered deportations for those no-shows. About 30 to 40 percent of undocumented immigrants failed to appear at their hearings last year.  The statistics also show that judges grant asylum less than 50-percent of the time while immigrants from Central American countries get asylum an average of 2-percent of the time.

March 20: Yahoo News: Federal Judge Warns Justice Department of Possible Sanctions
over Actions in Obama’s Immigration Lawsuit

A federal judge who blocked President Barack Obama's unilateral immigration executive action suggested on Thursday he could order sanctions against the Justice Department if he rules it misled him about when exactly the administration began implementing one of the measures.  The crux of the discussion is whether federal officials had misled the judge so they could give more than 108,000 people three-year reprieves from deportation before the stay went into effect. Hanen chided DOJ attorney Kathleen Hartnett on Thursday for telling him in January -- before the injunction was issued --that nothing would be happening until Feb. 18. "Like an idiot I believed that," Hanen said. The DOJ attorney repeatedly apologized for any confusion.   But Hanen asked DOJ  "Can I trust what the president says? That's a yes or no question." The DOJ attorney responded  "Yes your honor!"

March 19: The National Journal:  Make Leadership Mandatory, Not Voting!
President Obama is like the half-baked doctor who diagnoses what's wrong with you and prescribes the wrong medicine. Good call, bad doctor. Take two major ails of the U.S. political system:  1. Declining voter participation, particularly among young and minority voters who are most likely to feel disenfranchised.  2. An unhealthy approach to financing campaigns after the Citizens United case where the Supreme Court nullified restrictions on political spending.

Obama's prescription? Force everybody to vote.  Nearly half of all eligible voters blew off the 2012 president election. The turnout for last year’s midterm elections was the worst in more than 70 years.   The problem is with the leadership.  People want to vote for someone they can trust but they are hard pressed to find those people.  No, Mr. President: "Some folks" [code word Republicans] didn't force millions of potential votes to stay home. Most Americans just don't think their votes matter and that their leaders aren’t listening to them. Sadly, they're right.

March 18: The Hill: House Democrats Open to Medicare Deal
House Democrats say they are open to supporting an emerging Medicare deal despite concerns about provisions that would make some beneficiaries pay more.   Democratic Leader Nancy Pelosi (D-CA) has been in negotiations with Speaker John Boehner (R-OH) over a permanent stop to automatic spending cuts for doctors under Medicare known as the Sustainable Growth Rate.  There had been concerns brewing among some Democrats about ways to pay for the deal, including making wealthier Medicare beneficiaries pay more and introducing a deductible for some supplemental Medigap plans.  Rep. Keith Ellison (D-MN), co-chairman of the Congressional Progressive Caucus, said he would oppose the deal and the AARP opposes the measure as well. A key moment came on Wednesday, though, when Pelosi signaled at her press conference that the deal is going forward.

March 18: The Daily Caller: Netanyahu Beats Obama!
The nationalist coalition led by Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu has snagged at least 54 seats in the country’s March 17 elections, while the leftist coalition backed by President Barack Obama’s allies has won less than 44 seats, according to Israeli media reports.  That’s a defeat for the U.S. president, whose DC-based allies funneled support to Netanyahu’s Israeli rival, Isaac Herzog.  “They’ve done everything they can to shape a Netanyahu defeat,” former U.S. Ambassador to the UN John Bolton told Fox News.  “That’s something I think Congress should definitely look into.”

March 18: Fox News: New Rift between Obama and Netanyahu after latter wins big!
After staying mum on Israeli issues in the run-up to the election, the White House on Wednesday broke its silence -- answering Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu's victory with fresh criticism and making clear that a new rift has opened between U.S. and Israeli leaders, this time over Palestinian statehood.   In its first public response to Netanyahu's election triumph, White House Press Secretary Josh Earnest said President Obama still believes in a two-state solution. This was after Netanyahu, shortly before the vote, reversed his stance and stated he would not allow the creation of a Palestinian state. 

March 18: Myway.com: Netanyahu Scores Resounding Victory
Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu's Likud Party scored a resounding victory in Israel's election, final results showed Wednesday, a stunning turnaround after a tight race that had put his lengthy rule in jeopardy.  Netanyahu surged ahead after a last-minute lurch to the right in which he opposed Palestinian statehood and vowed continued settlement construction, setting the stage for fresh confrontations with the White House just weeks after criticizing U.S. talks with Iran in a divisive address to Congress.  With nearly all votes counted, Likud appeared to have earned 30 out of parliament's 120 seats and was in a position to build with relative ease a coalition government with its nationalist, religious and ultra-Orthodox Jewish allies. 

March 18: The Hill: Republicans move closer to ObamaCare Alternative
Budget proposals from the House and Senate are moving the GOP closer to a fallback plan if Supreme Court strikes down billions of ObamaCare subsidies later this spring.  Both chambers’ budget proposals include an obscure but powerful budget tool known as "reconciliation," which allows committees to write bills that can’t be filibustered in the Senate -- much like how the Democrats got Obamacare passed in the first place.  GOP leaders had been eyeing reconciliation as a way to show the Supreme Court that they have a plan of action in case King v. Burwell goes in their favor, while buying themselves several months to hammer out details.

March 18: The Hill:  Outgoing AUSA failed to act on Lerner Contempt Charges
Ronald Machen, the U.S. attorney for the District of Columbia appointed by President Obama and set to step down next month, has not acted on a contempt of Congress charge for former IRS official Lois Lerner.   Machen, who announced at the beginning of the week he'd step down April 1 to return to private practice, has not referred Lerner's case to a grand jury. Her contempt citation for not testifying at two hearings has been in Machen's hands since May 2014.  “Under Lois Lerner’s direction, the IRS became a political tool used to systematically target and undermine Americans’ First Amendment rights," said Rep. Jim Jordan (R-OH) who accused Machen of using "his own post for political ends" by not referring the case to a grand jury for months "as he is legally bound to do." 

March 18: The Washington Times:  Obama Blames the IRS for bad ObamaCare Customer Service
The IRS is unable to answer most taxpayers’ calls this year because it’s had to put money into getting up and running for Obamacare, agency Commissioner John Koskinen told Congress on Wednesday.  Koskinen said his agency has had to shift tens of millions of dollars from customer service over to build the computer systems and get ready to handle questions this year about Obamacare and the law’s tax penalty, which kicks in for the first time this year. Apparently the IRS is answering just 43 percent of taxpayers’ calls so far this year, which is a huge drop in customer service for the agency.   Congress has cut the agency’s funding, in part as a signal of disapproval of the IRS’s activities such as the targeting of TEA Party group’s applications for nonprofit status. 

March 18: The Hill: Hawks back GOP Budget
Republican defense hawks said Wednesday they expected to fall in line behind the House budget, which would likely give GOP leaders the breathing room they need to pass another fiscal framework.    Senior Republicans on the House Armed Services Committee had declined to endorse the first budget from Rep. Tom Price (R-GA) over concerns that Congress would have to find offsets for a portion of the $90 billion in extra defense spending that is set aside in an account for overseas wars. But defense hawks said Wednesday that Price had given them assurances that lawmakers wouldn’t have to find a way to pay for any of those funds. 

March 17: Orlando Sentinel Single Columnn

Transparency Can Mend A Lack of Credibility March 16: The Daily News:
Transparency Can Mend a Loss of Credibility:
The President said if you like your doctor you can keep your doctor and if you like your health plan you can keep your health plan, repeating this over and over again as if repeating them would make them come true, but it didn't.  Benghazi: The Administration spun the tale that it was because of a video, even though they knew differently.  Then they stonewalled Congressional investigations into the facts surrounding the incident. 

The current Administration has a credibility problem.  They don’t seem to know truth when it is presented to them and when confronted with the truth they either deny it outright or stonewall efforts to reveal the truth.  It’s time for us to demand that all public officials – regardless of party -- conduct the public’s business in a transparent way, tell the truth, and stop spinning the story line to their own advantage.  We need to remind our elected officials they’re in office to serve us and not the other way around. 

March 16: Forbes: Hillary Clinton’s Defense of Personal Email Server Controversy Doesn’t Add Up
Last week Clinton held a press conference where she addressed the email server controversy and responded to questions from the media, and some of the points she made don’t really make sense.  Clinton told the audience, “I opted for convenience to use my personal email account, which was allowed. I thought it would be easier to carry just one device for my work and for my personal emails instead of two.” But the truth is it’s actually not easier to set up and manage your own personal server.  You probably don’t know how to do it and Mrs. Clinton doesn’t either.

March 16: The Daily Mail: Hillary’s “email-gate” now linked to Whistle Blower’s description
of boiler-room operation set up to Hide Documents after Benghazi!

The latest twist in the alleged cover-up of former secretary of state Hillary Clinton's private emails involves a former senior diplomat who said State Department officials conspired to prevent investigators from seeing documents related to the 2012 Benghazi, Libya terror attack.   Some of those documents may have been emails that went through the now-infamous private email server Clinton kept at her Chappaqua, New York home.  If they still exist, they could shed light on Clinton's actions following the deadly Benghazi raid by militants acting with Ansar al-Shariah, an Islamist terror faction linked to al-Qaeda. Raymond Maxwell, a former DAS for Near Eastern affairs, last year said that a room in the basement of the State Department was converted to a makeshift document review center where a secret boiler-room operation had been organized in order to keep damning documents from the prying eyes of an internal Accountability Review Board. 

March 13: The Daily Caller: Krauthammer: “It’s not over” either Hillary committed a felony or perjury:
In an appearance on Fox News’ “Special Report” Charles Krauthammer said the issues facing Hillary Clinton about her emails is “not over” and has “long legs.” Citing the impending lawsuit against the State Department by the Associated Press and investigations by the House, Krauthammer says the problems facing the former secretary of state won’t be going away any time soon.  He added that Clinton either committed a felony or perjury, depending on whether she signed government documents or not, echoing a point made by fellow panelist Judge Andrew Napolitano.

Clintons quieting crowd at an awards ceremonyMarch 12: Business Insider:
Hillary Email Deal Gets Bigger that just email

Hillary Clinton is being bombarded on all sides after her exclusive use of a personal email address while she was secretary of state became public last week. Her belated explanations have not sufficed, and experts on all sides are wondering whether the former first lady and likely 2016 presidential candidate may have jeopardized US interests by using a vulnerable form of communication and deleting many of her emails.  But don't expect all that to stop Hillary, who is treating the flap like many of the events that have defined her political career.

"The Clintons play by their own set of rules. And in this case, the former Secretary of State explained, those rules bless her decision to erase some 30,000 emails from the family server despite knowing that the emails had become a subject of intense interest to congressional investigators," David Von Drehle wrote in Time.  After Clinton had finished taking questions at her press conference, her staff disclosed that no one actually read through those 30,000-odd documents before she 'chose not to keep' them."

March 12: The Daily Caller | Associated Press: Hackers reveal Hillary’s Private Server was very insecure
Fox News chief Washington correspondent James Rosen has once again joined up with a team of hackers to dig deeper into Hillary Clinton’s use of private emails, this time demonstrating that there were multiple security lapses when maintaining her private server.  One of the anonymous hackers, who has “long experience in the U.S. intelligence community,” had previously revealed that Clinton had registered multiple email accounts. The team used legally obtained information about the server to create a virtual replica, and from there, used software to test the entire system for vulnerabilities. The hackers began by confirming reports where Clinton’s server was located in even down to an exact intersection. Another problem was that clintonemail.com was run on outdated versions of Microsoft software and, they contend, it would be child’s play for a hacker to take advantage of security vulnerabilities in that software. 

[Related Story] At a State Department briefing, Associated Press reporter Matthew Lee grilled State’s spokeswoman Jen Psaki asking why Russian hackers had more access to State Department records than the American public and Congress.

March 12: The Daily Caller: The EPA will take 100 years to fulfill a Conservative Group’s FOIA request
The free-market Competitive Enterprise Institute (CEI) is suing the EPA over its extremely slow release of emails related to chief Lisa Jackson’s alias email account.  CEI says that at its current pace, EPA will fulfill the group’s government records request in 100 years.  In 2012, CEI requested records regarding Jackson’s alias email account under the name “Richard Windsor” — an address she used to communicate with government officials and green groups while avoiding federal transparency laws. CEI sued and eventually got 3,000 “Richard Windsor” emails from EPA, but that was only the tip of the iceberg.

The EPA says there are about 120,000 records related to CEI’s Freedom of Information Act request, but the agency claims it can only process about 100 records per month — meaning CEI’s FOIA request will be fully processed in about 100 years.  “We have shown this administration using whatever tactics it can – even violating the law – to hide what is going on in our federal agencies,” said CEI senior fellow and attorney Chris Horner in a statement, “whether it’s Hillary Clinton’s personal email account, Lisa Jackson working with lobbyists on her own private account, utilizing text messages then destroying them, or this slow-rolling production of Richard Windsor emails for a century.”

March 12: CNN News: State and County Law Enforcement take over Security in Ferguson
With tensions running high after the shooting of two officers in Ferguson, Missouri, state and county police are once again taking over protest security in the St. Louis suburb.  St. Louis County Police and the Missouri State Highway Patrol will "assume command of the security detail regarding protests" at 6 p.m. St. Louis County Police said in a statement.   Ferguson Police will remain responsible for routine policing services in the city, the statement said.  The takeover comes less than a day after two police officers standing guard outside Ferguson police headquarters were shot in what St. Louis County Police Chief Jon Belmar called an "ambush," spurring a manhunt for those responsible for targeting the line of officer.

Meanwhile InfoWars.com reports some in Ferguson celebrated the shooting of police officers.    Two cops were seriously injured when shots were fired during a rally outside the Ferguson Police Department just after midnight following the announcement that Ferguson Police Chief Thomas Jackson planned to resign.  “These police officers were standing there, and they were shot–just because they were police officers,” St. Louis County Police Chief Jon Belmar told reporters.  In video footage which captures the moments before and after the shooting, one protester is heard to say, “Acknowledgement nine months ago would have kept that from happening,” a reference to the death of Michael Brown.  Further justification of the shooting emerged on Twitter, with some even expressing their satisfaction that the officers were targeted.

March 11: The Washington Times: Clinton could face criminal charges and lengthy legal challenges:
The Obama Administration will soon find itself in court having to explain to federal judges why it never told anyone former Secretary of State Hillary Clinton’s use of a secret email address, potentially spoiling dozens of open records requests. And Clinton, herself, could face up to three years in prison per message if she is found to have broken her word and handled classified information on the secret account, one open records expert told The Washington Times.  The legal challenges have already begun, with The Associated Press filing a federal lawsuit saying the State Department has foiled five years’ worth of requests for Clinton’s emails, but never told them or the court that she kept her own server — meaning that her emails weren’t being searched. Mrs. Clinton’s office remained silent a day after the former first lady and potential 2016 presidential candidate held a press conference admitting she kept a private email server out of “convenience,” belatedly went through and found public records among her emails and then deleted nearly 32,000 emails she and her lawyers deemed private. [Read More]

March 11: International Business Times:Clinton press conference did not staunch the bleeding
Former Secretary of State Hillary Clinton attempted to put the latest controversy behind her by addressing the media Tuesday regarding her use of her private email account to conduct State Department business. But her “convenience” explanation -- namely, that she thought it would be easier to use one device for both her private and public email communications using the same account -- wasn’t sufficient, according to political observers. “She did not staunch the bleeding,” George Arzt, who runs a New York City communications firm and served as press secretary for late New York City Mayor Ed Koch, said. “This is a story that will continue to run because there’s so many holes in Hillary’s defense yesterday and it doesn’t match up with previous statements.” [Read More]

March 8: The Hill: Clinton could face Criminal Charges over emails
Rep. Darrell Issa (R-CA) on Sunday suggested that Hillary Clinton could face criminal charges if she knowingly withholds emails from congressional investigators. Appearing on CNN's "State of the Union," Issa noted that "voluntary cooperation does not guarantee that it's a crime not to deliver all" requested emails. Clinton last week called on the State Department to release the 55,000 pages of her emails that she self-selected and turned over. State has turned over about 900 pages to the committee.  Issa argued that Clinton "wasn't forthcoming two and a half years ago.  She, in fact, hid the very existence of this until she was caught."

March 8: Fox News & Associated Presss:
McConnell Vows No Shutdown, but what about limiting the ever increasing Debt?
Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell said Sunday that the Republican-controlled Congress won’t allow the government to default as the Treasury Department quickly approaches its so-called “debt ceiling.”  “I made it clear after November that we won’t shut down the government or default on debt,” the Kentucky Republican told CBS’ “Face the Nation.”  McConnell’s promise came two days after Treasury Secretary Jack Lew told Capitol Hill that the government loses its authority after March 15 to borrow money to cover approved congressional spending and that his agency would have to resort to “extraordinary measures” as a short-term solution. The debt limit has been suspended for the past year, meaning that Treasury could borrow whatever it wanted in order to keep the government running. But the limit will go back into effect on March 15 at whatever level of debt exists at that point.  The question is do we want to keep allowing the ongoing and seemingly never ending increase of debt around our necks and the necks of our children?  The nation's debt currently stands at $18.1 trillion.

March 8: Yahoo News:Huge Gaps” reported in Clinton email record
Huge gaps exist in the emails former U.S. Secretary of State Hillary Clinton has provided to a congressional committee investigating the 2012 attack on a U.S. consulate in Benghazi, Libya, the panel's chairman said on Sunday.  Republican Representative Trey Gowdy said his committee lacked documentation from Clinton's trip to Libya after the attack despite a popular photo image of her using a handheld device during a flight to that country.  "We have no emails from that day. In fact we have no emails from that trip," said Gowdy "There are huge gaps."

March 8: National Journal:
More Clinton Emails may be key to addressing “pay to play” whispers at family foundation:

"Follow the money." That apocryphal phrase, attributed to Watergate whistle-blower "Deep Throat," explains why the biggest threat to Hillary Rodham Clinton's presidential dreams is not her emails. It's her family foundation. That's where the money is: corporate money, foreign money, gobs of money sloshing around a vanity charity that could be renamed "Clinton Conflicts of Interest Foundation."  What about the emails? Hillary Clinton's secret communications cache is a bombshell deserving of full disclosure because of her assault on government transparency and electronic security. But its greatest relevancy is what the emails might reveal about any nexus between Clinton's work at State and donations to the Bill, Hillary & Chelsea Clinton Foundation from U.S. corporations and foreign nations.  Under fire, Bill Clinton said his namesake charity has "done a lot more good than harm"—hardly a ringing endorsement. One of his longest-serving advisers, a person who had worked directly for the foundation, told me the "longtime whispers of pay-to-play are going to become shouts."  This person, a Clinton loyalist and credible source, has no evidence of wrongdoing but said the media's suspicions are warranted. "The emails are a related but secondary scandal," the source said. "Follow the foundation money."

March 8: Fox News: GOP Battles for Veto on Iran Nuke Deal
Democrats and Republicans sparred Sunday over congressional involvement in the Iran nuclear agreement, as President Obama attempted to assure critics that the U.S. won’t accept a bad deal.  The debate intensified as the United States and five other world powers are set to resume negotiations next week with Iran. The GOP-led Congress wants to be able to vote on a final deal before it’s accepted.   “The Iranian parliament will get to say yes or no on this deal,” said Sen. Ron Johnson (R-WI), a member of the Senate Foreign Relations Committee.   “I think the United States Congress should have that exact same input into the process.” 

March 8: The Daily Caller: New Zealander: Amnesty is Obama’s Trump Card to Transform America:
New Zealander Trevor Loudon, author is spending a lot of time lately telling Americans that “amnesty is the trump card” for President Obama to permanently transform America.  Citing a 2010 speech by White House consultant and radical leftist, Eliseo Medina, Loudon implores Americans to wake up before it is too late in this video interview. He says, with Mitt Romney losing to Obama in 2012 by 2 and ½ million votes, if Obama can succeed in legalizing “10, 15 or 20 million more votes, almost all of whom will vote Democrat,” Obama can lock in progressive electoral victories for the foreseeable future and “make it practically impossible for the Republicans to ever elect another president.” 

March 8: Fox News:  Fashion Show on how to safely conceal weapons:
Hundreds of women packed an event hall Saturday in Indianapolis for a different kind of fashion show – one on how to safely conceal guns.  “There are ways to carry, whether you’re wearing a cocktail dress, shorts and a tank top,” Cathy Brown, the co-chair of the Fashion and Firearms Concealed Carry Extravaganza, told Fox 59.  Event organizers said the idea of the show is to make sure women have fashionable options while carrying. More than 300 women attended, raising money to support local Well Armed Woman chapters. 

March 8: The Guardian: EU Commission President: Calls for a European Army
The European Union needs its own army to help address the problem that it is not “taken entirely seriously” as an international force, the president of the European commission has said.  Jean-Claude Juncker said such a move would help the EU to persuade Russia that it was serious about defending its values in the face of the threat posed by Moscow.  However, his proposal was immediately rejected by the British government, which said that there was “no prospect” of the UK agreeing to the creation of an EU army. 

March 4: Fox News: If you cross Putin you end up dead?
Enemies of Vladimir Putin have a way of winding up dead!  Whether they are poisoned, gunned down on the streets of Moscow or blown to bits in their homes, people who have crossed or merely criticized the Russian president have turned up dead around the world. Putin political adversary Boris Nemtsov, who was shot and killed near the Kremlin last week, is only the latest in a long line that includes hundreds of journalists, human rights activists and businessmen.  “I believe Vladimir Putin is a stone-cold killer,” said Bill Browder, author of “Red Notice, A True Story of High Finance, Murder, and One Man's Fight for Justice.” “Anyone who gets in the way seems to be arrested, exiled or killed.”[See some of the more notable cases]

March 4: Fox News: Supreme Court Split on “Four Little Words” in the Obamacare law
The Supreme Court appeared divided Wednesday along ideological lines after hearing a challenge of ObamaCare tax subsidies that, if struck down, could affect up to 8 million policy holders. The liberal justices peppered Michael Carvin, the lawyer for the health law challengers, with skeptical questions almost from the outset over his argument to limit the subsidies.  When Solicitor General Donald Verrilli Jr. -- who represents the Obama administration -- stepped to the lectern, the liberal justices fell silent, and Justices Alito and Scalia took over.  But Chief Justice John Roberts, who was the deciding factor in the last major ObamaCare case in 2012, said almost nothing in nearly 90 minutes of back-and-forth. And the questions posed by Justice Anthony Kennedy, often a key swing vote on the bench, did not make clear how he will come out. During the hearing, Kennedy posed tough questions to both sides. 

March 4: The Washington Post | Fox News:
House Committee subpoenas Clinton’s email from personal email account and Internet providers:

The Select Committee investigating the attack on Benghazi has issued a subpoena for all the Clinton personal emails related to her knowledge of what happened related to the Benghazi attack.  It also issued an order telling Internet Service Providers to save and protect any of these emails they have.  Making difficult the retrieval of these documents is the fact that a week prior to Clinton’s confirmation as Secretary of State, she set up a personal email server in her home that was, and is, not under the control of the Department of State. During her four years in office she used almost exclusively this personal server and a personal email account linked to it.  This means that no government entity has control over what was, and is, on that server.  It also raises the question that if she wanted to delete critical or sensitive emails who would ever know?

March 3: The Hill: Benghazi Committee Chair: Clinton personal email account is “troubling”
A key House Republican is calling Hillary Clinton’s use of a private email account as secretary of State “troubling,” and suggests it could prompt lawmakers to ask her to testify multiple times before a panel investigating the 2012 terrorist attacks in Benghazi, Libya.  Rep. Trey Gowdy, the chairman of the House Select Committee on Benghazi, said the panel learned late last summer that Clinton used a personal email address exclusively while serving at the nation’s top diplomat.  “You do not need a law degree to understand how troubling this is,” he said at a press conference attended by five other Republicans on his panel.  He called the fact that Clinton did not use a government email “nothing short of incredible.”

March 3: The Daily Caller:
Krauthammer on Hillary Clinton using personal email address for official Dept. of State business  [Video]
Appearing on “Special Report” Tuesday night, syndicated columnist Charles Krauthammer blasted the recent news that Hillary Clinton used a personal email to do her business at the State Department during her tenure.  The conservative commentator called the revelation “so Clintonian,” while adding that it’s “as if Clintons are entitled to their own rules…  …Look, when you hear these stories about the Clintons, it’s all of a pattern. Whether or not it was illegal, how scandalous it is, yes, it was a breach of secrecy, it established a security risk and, of course, it allows the Clintons complete control over what is known and what’s not known, which is not supposed to be the case. But it is so Clintonian. 

March 3: The Hill: Administration Threatens Veto over EPA Secret Science Bills
The White House on Tuesday threatened to veto a pair of Republican bills aimed at changing the way the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) uses science to justify regulations.  The first bill would attack the EPA’s use of “secret science.”  In response to common Republican accusations that the EPA is not transparent enough, it would require the agency to publicly release the details of any scientific research that it uses for regulations. The second bill would reform the EPA’s Scientific Advisory Board, a panel of independent experts that make recommendations on science, regulations, standards and other subjects to the agency.  The White House argued that both of the bills would prevent the EPA from protecting human health and the environment, and said that President Obama’s advisers would recommend that he veto them.

March 3: The Daily Caller: Obama Admin is going after gun dealers
The Obama administration’s Operation Choke Point program targets gun and ammunition dealers and tries to make life “miserable” for businesses that it doesn’t like, a payment processor told a Choke Point victim in jarring new audio.  Operation Choke Point is a program by which the Department of Justice works with other administration agencies, including the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau, to force banks to shut down accounts of businesses that it objects to. The program purports to fight fraudulent businesses, but has instead targeted many gun and ammunition dealers and other lawful businesses.

March 3: Fox News: Netanyahu Addresses House and Senate on Iran Nuclear Weapons Program (Transcript)
Before lifting sanctions Prime Minister Netanyahu said “the world should demand that Iran do three things.
First, stop its aggression against its neighbors in the Middle East.
Second, stop supporting terrorism around the world.
And third, stop threatening to annihilate my country, Israel, the one and only Jewish state.”
The Prime Minster also said Israel is prepared to stand alone if need be, but that it doesn't stand alone because the American people have, and will continue to, stand with the state of Israel.

March 3: The Hill: Wyndham takes on FTC over enforcement authority
A federal consumer watchdog has overstepped its authority by punishing companies for weak cybersecurity, lawyers for Wyndham Worldwide argued Tuesday The 3rd Circuit Court of Appeals heard 90 minutes of spirited oral arguments Tuesday, as Wyndham’s lawyers sought to reverse a district judge’s decision endorsing the FTC’s enforcement authority.  Since 2002, the commission has brought more than 50 legal actions against companies purported to have weak cyber defenses that put consumer data at risk.   Wyndham, which suffered a severe data breach in 2008-2009, is seeking to dismiss the FTC complaint by arguing, in part, that the commission’s action is illegal. “The commission has simply anointed itself a roving cybersecurity prosecutor — but, unlike other prosecutors, one that seeks to define the offense and to do so after the fact,” Wyndham argued in a court brief.  The case highlights a legal gray area that has become more relevant to companies, as threats from hackers explode in frequency and severity.

March 2: The Daily Caller: President Unveils National “ObamaLaw” Plan
President Barack Obama today introduced his plan for a progressive takeover of state and local policing.  “We have a great opportunity… to really transform how we think about community law enforcement relations,” he said Monday.  “We need to seize that opportunity… this is something that I’m going to stay very focused on in the months to come,” Obama said, as he touted a new interim report from his Task Force on 21st Century Policing.  Obama also instructed his media allies to help a federalization of policing, and to sideline critics of centralized policing rules. “I expect our friends in the media to really focus on what’s in this report and pay attention to it.” Obama’s strategy matches the progressive playbook, which continuously expands progressives’ power by gradually adding more conditions to federal dollars. That same strategy has been implemented in education via the “Common Core” education plan, in the health-sector via Obamacare, in the banking industry via the mortgage rules that caused the damaging property bubble and in housing via Obama’s  “regionalism” plan.

March 2: The Daily News:
High School Understanding of American History? 56% of States get a "D" or "F" Grade:
Recently the American Bar Association Journal published an article on “Why America’s Kids Know So Little.”  Only South Carolina earned an “A” in American History.  In January, Arizona started to require high school students to pass a 100-question civics test in order to graduate.  The Arizona State Senate Majority Leader said “How can we expect them [high-schoolers when they grow up] to protect the principles on which this country was founded, if we are not preparing them for that task right now?”  There are efforts in other states to improve the understanding of U.S. history.  Meanwhile, in Texas the State Legislature is considering eliminating the 28-year old high school graduation test requirement altogether. 

March 2: The Daily Caller: House GOP unveils replacement plan for Obamacare if it goes down
Three House Republican chairmen on Monday night outlined a healthcare plan to replace ObamaCare, if the Supreme Court guts the president's signature healthcare initiative. The court is this week hearing arguments in a challenge to key ObamaCare subsidies.  The plan would roll back ObamaCare's mandates to buy insurance while also providing tax credits to help people afford coverage.

  • Gone would be the requirement for individuals to buy insurance and for employers to provide it.
  • This plan guarantees that people who already have coverage are able to renew it.
  • It also includes some elements of ObamaCare, such as letting people stay on their parents' plans until they are 26 and prohibiting lifetime limits on benefits.
  • The second main element of the plan would offer people in states losing ObamaCare's subsidies some tax credits to help them buy insurance. The size of the refundable credits would be adjusted for age, with the elderly getting more support.

Israeli Military Jet Taking OffMarch 1: Arutz Sheva (Israel National News.com): REPORT:
Obama Threatened to Shoot Down Israel Air Force Jets in 2014:
Related Report: The Daily Caller

Kuwaiti paper claims unnamed Israeli minister with good ties with the US administration 'revealed the attack plan to John Kerry.'  The Bethlehem-based news agency Ma’an has cited a Kuwaiti newspaper report Saturday, that President Obama thwarted an Israeli military attack against Iran's nuclear facilities in 2014 by threatening to shoot down Israeli jets before they could reach their targets in Iran.  Following Obama's threat, Prime Minister Binyamin Netanyahu was reportedly forced to abort the planned Iran attack.  According to Al-Jarida, the Netanyahu government took the decision to strike Iran some time in 2014 soon after Israel had discovered the United States and Iran had been involved in secret talks over Iran’s nuclear program and were about to sign an agreement in that regard behind Israel's back.

February 27: The Washington Post:
Obamacare threatens to end Robert’s dream of a nonpartisan Supreme Court:
The first time the Affordable Care Act (ObamaCare) came before the Supreme Court, its constitutional foundation under attack, John G. Roberts Jr. was its unlikely savior. In a spectacular display of spot-welding, the chief justice joined fellow conservatives on some points and brought liberals on board for others. Roberts was the only member of the court to endorse the entire jerry-rigged thing, and even he made sure to distance himself from the substance of the law. (“It is,” he wrote, “not our job to protect the people from the consequences of their political choices.”) Still, his efforts rescued President Obama’s signature achievement on grounds that many had dismissed as an afterthought.

February 27: The National Journal: 
Congress may consider Defunding the FCC in light of the so-called “Net Neutrality” decision.

As Internet activists celebrated their net-neutrality win Thursday, Republicans were already plotting their revenge.  GOP lawmakers were virtually unanimous in expressing their outrage about the Federal Communications Commission's vote to reclassify the Internet as a utility. But there is widening disagreement within the ranks about just what flavor of revenge the party should ultimately pursue, such as compromise legislation, a congressional resolution of disapproval, or a fight over FCC funding.  Twenty-one House Republicans sent a letter to FCC Chairman Tom Wheeler vowing to push a resolution of disapproval under the Congressional Review Act—which only needs a simple majority in both houses—to nullify the agency's actions and prevent any future reliance on Title II of the Communications Act. The president can still veto such a resolution.  "We will not stand by idly as the White House, using the FCC, attempts to advance rules that imperil the future of the Internet," the Republicans, led by Judiciary Chairman Bob Goodlatte, wrote. They added that they intended to "take every action necessary to ensure that the Internet remains a free, competitive marketplace."

February 27: United Press International: Congress passes last-minute one week DHS funding bill:
The U.S. Congress passed legislation late Friday to fund the Department of Homeland Security for an additional week -- a move to give lawmakers more time to find a long-term solution and avoid a partial shutdown of one of the nation's most vital national security agencies.  The Senate earlier Friday approved $40 billion to fund the Department of Homeland Security through September, but the House of Representatives ignored it because it did nothing to nullify the President’s immigration directives.  In the meantime Congress passed a week-long extension while the House is asking the Senate to form a conference committee to work out the differences, thereby avoiding a shutdown in the short term.  Earlier the House attempted to pass its own bill, funding DHS through March 19th, but the measure suffered a humiliating defeat 203-224, defeated in part because of a lack of support by conservative Republicans. The week long extension passed by a vote of 357-60.

February 26: MRCTV News:  President:  I have just expanded my authority
In a town hall meeting the President said: “So in the short term, if Mr. McConnell, the leader of the Senate, and the Speaker of the House, John Boehner, want to have a vote on whether what I’m doing is legal or not, they can have that vote.  I will veto that vote, because I’m absolutely confident that what we’re doing is the right thing to do.”  Obama argued that he has merely “expanded my authorities” – not broken any laws:  “What we’ve done is we’ve expanded my authorities under executive action and prosecutorial discretion as far as we can legally under the existing statute, the existing law.  And so now the question is, how can we get a law passed.”  Obama called the “political process” a “separate track”:  So we’re going to have to keep on with the political process on a separate track.  But in the meantime, we’re going to do everything that we can to make sure that we implement executive actions as we’ve discussed.

February 26: National Review: 
Clinton’s Aides Knew within Minutes the Benghazi Attack was from Terrorist, Emails disclose:

From the very first moments of the terrorist attack on the U.S. compound in Benghazi on September 11, 2012, then-Secretary of State Hillary Clinton and her top aides were advised that the compound was under a terrorist attack. In fact, less than two hours into the attack, they were told that the al-Qaeda affiliate in Libya, Ansar al-Sharia, had claimed responsibility. These revelations and others are disclosed by a trove of e-mails and other documents pried from the State Department by Judicial Watch in a Freedom of Information Act lawsuit.

February 26: The Washington Times: Lerner Missing Emails Now Subject of Criminal Investigtion
The IRS’s inspector general confirmed Thursday it is conducting a criminal investigation into how Lois Lerner’s emails disappeared, saying it took only two weeks for investigators to find hundreds of tapes the agency’s chief had told Congress were irretrievably destroyed.  Investigators have already scoured 744 backup tapes and gleaned 32,774 unique emails, but just two weeks ago they found an additional 424 tapes that could contain even more Lerner emails, Deputy Inspector General Tim Camus told the House Oversight Committee in a rare late-night hearing meant to look into the status of the investigation.  “There is potential criminal activity,” Camus said.

February 26: The Washington Examiner: Obama to ban bullets by executive action: Threatens AR-15s
As promised, President Obama is using executive actions to impose gun control on the nation, targeting the top-selling rifle in the country, the AR-15 style semi-automatic, with a ban on one of the most-used AR bullets by sportsmen and target shooters.  This month ATF revealed that it is proposing to put a ban on 5.56 mm ammo on a fast track, immediately driving up the price of the bullets and prompting retailers to urge sportsmen to urge Congress to stop the president.  Wednesday night, Rep. Bob Goodlatte (R-VA) Chair of House Judiciary, stepped in with a critical letter to the bureau demanding it explain the surprise and abrupt bullet ban.

February 26: The Intercept: TSA issues warning of potentially catastrophic aviation threat
The Transportation Security Administration (TSA) said it is unlikely to detect and unable to extinguish what an FBI report called “the greatest potential incendiary threat to aviation,” according to a classified document obtained by The Intercept. Yet despite that warning, sources said TSA is not adequately preparing to respond to the threat.  Thermite — a mixture of rust and aluminum powder — could be used against a commercial aircraft, TSA warned in a Dec. 2014 document, marked secret. “The ignition of a thermite-based incendiary device on an aircraft at altitude could result in catastrophic damage and the death of every person onboard,” the advisory said.  TSA said it is unlikely to spot an easy-to-assemble thermite-based incendiary device during security screening procedures, and the use of currently available extinguishers carried on aircrafts would create a violent reaction. The TSA warning is based on FBI testing done in 2011, and a subsequent report.

February 26:  The Daily Caller:
Byron Allen takes on Sharpton, Obama, and Comcast over the future of Black Media
Legendary TV talk show host Byron Allen is taking on Al Sharpton, President Obama, and the most powerful media corporations in the world in a battle to spotlight the crisis at the heart of American race relations. It’s a daunting mission. But for some reason he doesn’t sound scared.  Allen told The Daily Caller that top media interests are actively freezing out and in some cases destroying black-owned media companies — and they’re paying Al Sharpton to give them racial cover to do it.  As for Washington politicians like Obama? According to Allen, they’re bought out by the very same interests, and they’re playing a part.

Allen, 53, is the chairman and CEO of the production company Entertainment Studios, which joined with the National Association of African-American Owned Media to file a $20 billion racial discrimination lawsuit this week against Comcast, Time Warner Cable, Sharpton’s National Action Network, the NAACP, the Urban League, and former FCC commissioner Meredith Attwell Baker. Allen and his fellow plaintiff also filed a $10 billion suit against AT&T and DirectTV.  “It’s cheaper to give Al Sharpton money than it is to do business with real African-American owned media,” Allen said. “What Comcast does is they give Al Sharpton money so he doesn’t call them racist. That is the issue here.”

February 24: Fox News: VA Secretary Admits Lying about Special Forces Service
Veterans Affairs Secretary Robert McDonald has admitted that he lied about serving in the special operations forces in a conversation with a homeless veteran that was caught on camera earlier this year.  McDonald made the claim in January while he was in Los Angeles as part of the VA's effort to locate and house homeless veterans. During the tour, a homeless man told McDonald that he had served in the special operations forces.   "Special forces? What years?" McDonald responded. "I was in special forces." The exchange was broadcast on the CBS Evening News  Jan. 30.  McDonald graduated from the U.S. Military Academy at West Point in 1975 and completed Army Ranger training before being assigned to the 82nd Airborne Division until his retirement in 1980.

February 23: Yahoo News:  Obama-Kerry Iran Deal may give them the bomb!
Edging toward a historic compromise, the U.S. and Iran reported progress Monday on a deal that would clamp down on Tehran's nuclear activities for at 10 years but then slowly ease restrictions on programs that could be used to make atomic bombs.   Officials said there were still obstacles to overcome before a March 31 deadline, and any deal will face harsh opposition in both countries,  not to mention U.S. ally Israel. It also would be sure to further strain already-tense U.S.-Israeli relations.   Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu is expected to strongly criticize the deal in an address before Congress next week.

February 23: CNSNews: Gov. Abbott: 20,000 illegals have crossed the border in the last 60 days:
"We all saw what happened on the Texas border last summer, but we need to understand that the problem is not going away," Texas Gov. Greg Abbott told CBS's "Face the Nation" with Bob Schieffer on Sunday.  "Already this calendar year, since January 1, we have had more than 20,000 people come across the border, apprehended, unauthorized. And so we have an ongoing problem on the border that Congress must step up and solve."   All told in fiscal year 2014, U.S immigration officials removed 213,719 individuals apprehended while attempting to unlawfully enter the United States. 

February 23: The Washington Post: Give us your fingerprint or we’ll cut off your cell phone service:
Cell phones didn’t just arrive in Pakistan. But someone could be fooled into thinking otherwise, considering the tens of millions of Pakistanis pouring into mobile phone stores these days. In one of the world’s largest — and fastest — efforts to collect biometric information, Pakistan has ordered cell phone users to verify their identities through fingerprints for a national database being compiled to curb terrorism. If they don’t, their service will be shut off, an unthinkable option for many after a dozen years of explosive growth in cell phone usage here.  Prompted by concerns about a proliferation of illegal and untraceable SIM cards, the directive is the most visible step so far in Pakistan’s efforts to restore law and order after Taliban militants killed 150 students and teachers at a school in December.

February 21: The Hill:  DHS  may shutdown next weekend if Senate Democrats Don’t Lift Threat of Filibuster
The fight over funding for the Department of Homeland Security (DHS) will dominate the Sunday talk shows, as DHS Secretary Johnson makes the rounds to press for lawmakers to act.  The department will shut down on Feb. 28 if Congress does not pass new funding.  At the center of the fight are President Obama's executive actions on immigration.   Republicans are looking to tie measures halting the moves to the new funding, while Democrats insist on a "clean" bill. With the two sides at an impasse, there is no clear path forward as Senate Democrats repeatedly blocked votes on the House funding measure.

February 21: Associated Press: White House “Unwelcome Mat” for Israeli Prime Minster
In what is becoming an increasingly nasty grudge match, the White House is mulling ways to undercut Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu's upcoming trip to Washington and blunt his message that a potential nuclear deal with Iran is bad for Israel and the world.   There are limits but the following options remain on the table:
- a presidential interview with a prominent journalist known for coverage of the rift between Obama and Netanyahu
- multiple Sunday show television appearances by senior national security aides and
- a pointed snub of America's leading pro-Israel lobby, which is holding its annual meeting while Netanyahu is in Washington, according to the officials. [See related story: Rudy Giuliani Video on ISIS]

February 21: The Washington Post:
Walker: Press question on President’s Religion Speaks Volumes about Washington and the News Media:

In response to reporter’s questions about the President’s religion, Governor Scott Walker said “I’ve actually never talked about it or I haven’t read about that.  You’ve asked me to make statements about people that I haven’t had a conversation with about that. How [could] I say if I know either of you are a Christian?”  Walker said such questions from reporters are reflective of a broader problem in the nation’s political-media culture, which he described as fixated on issues that are not relevant to most Americans.  “To me, this is a classic example of why people hate Washington and, increasingly, they dislike the press,” he said. “The things they care about don’t even remotely come close to what you’re asking about.”  Walker said Saturday that if he runs for president, he will focus on problems affecting the country, from tax policy and the economy to confronting Islamic State terrorists.  He was critical of Obama for not conveying strongly enough the breadth and depth of the threat from Islamic militants, mentioning the videos of beheadings and other barbaric acts.  “If I were in position to be commander in chief,” he said, “I would take nothing off the table. I would firmly say to the American people that I will do whatever it takes to make sure that no American’s son or daughter . . . will ever have to deal with the kind of horror we’ve seen on these kinds of videos.”

February 21: The Daily Caller:  VA reinstates benefits to Vet they claimed was dead, but wasn’t!
Mark Ellis Jr., a very much alive Marine veteran from Michigan, has had his VA benefits restored months after the agency cut them because it believed he was dead.  Earlier this week, Fox News in Detroit reported on Ellis’s story.  The former F-18 mechanic from Dearborn, who was honorably discharged from the Marines in 2011, went to the news station after he was having a difficult time getting his VA benefits restored.  The trouble started when his wife Meghan received a letter from the agency in November informing her that benefits for a Mark S. Ellis would come to an end since he was dead.  But that was news to the living and breathing Ellis who had actually visited a VA hospital the day before the letter came in the mail. Ellis is rated 60 percent disabled and receives GI Bill and other benefits.

February 20: The Hill: Feds sent incorrect tax info to 800,000 people on ObamaCare
The administration sent the wrong tax information to 800,000 people who have enrolled in ObamaCare, officials announced Friday.  The information used to calculate subsidies was wrong on about 20 percent of tax forms, an error that could delay tax refunds for thousands of people.  Administration officials stressed that the vast majority of HealthCare.gov customers received the correct forms, and White House spokesman Josh Earnest said the issue impacted “a very small fraction of people.”  But the tax glitch quickly provided new ammunition for Republicans, who continue to argue that the healthcare law is fatally flawed.  “Surprise, surprise, the Obama administration still does not have its act together,” Rep. Marsha Blackburn (R-TN) vice chair of the House Energy and Commerce Committee, wrote in a statement.  She said the new problems offer more proof that the IRS should be kept out of healthcare, and pledged to redouble her efforts to repeal the ObamaCare insurance penalty entirety.

February 20: Reuters/Yahoo News: Putin: No Military Force has the strength of the Russian Military
Russian President Vladimir Putin said on Thursday other countries should not have the illusion that they can attain military superiority over Russia, Interfax reported.  "No one should have the illusion that they can gain military superiority over Russia, put any kind of pressure on it. We will always have an adequate answer for any such adventures," he was quoted as saying in an address dedicated to the Defenders' of the Fatherland Day holiday next week.

February 20: The New York Times: Caracas (Venezuela) Mayor Arrested, county in turmoil
The abrupt arrest of the mayor of Caracas on accusations that he had plotted an American-backed overthrow of the government threatened to plunge Venezuela into new political convulsions on Friday, as his supporters rallied in the capital and pockets of protest erupted elsewhere.  The arrest of the mayor, Antonio Ledezma, on Thursday evening by intelligence agents who fired weapons in the air, was viewed by the opposition as the kidnapping of a political rival to President Nicolás Maduro.

February 19: Fox News: Guiliani speaks frankly about President, Terrorism, and Iran (Video)
Former New York City Mayor Rudy Giuliani blasted President Barack Obama, saying in a recent speech that Israeli Prime Minster Bejamin Netanyahu is a “a man who fights for his people, unlike our president.”  Guiliani’s comments came during a Feb. 13 speech on countering Islamic extremism.

February 19: The Daily Caller:  Senator may face discrimination law suit with a Veterans Administration Twist
Sen. Tammy Baldwin (D-WI) may soon feel the heterosexual heat from firing a staffer over a VA scandal in Wisconsin. Local news reports indicate that the staffer, who is straight, may file suit against Baldwin, who is gay, for “sexual discrimination” over the firing.   Marquette Baylor, Baldwin’s ex-deputy state director, isn’t taking the news of being fired quietly. The former chief of Baldwin’s Milwaukee office, according to the Milwaukee Journal Sentinel, has “lawyered up” for a possible wrongful termination suit involving sexual discrimination.  Baylor declined a severance package that would, in effect, muzzle her. By taking the deal, Baylor would be unable to reveal what she knows about troubling reports that hit Baldwin’s desk concerning the Tomah VA Medical Center last August.   According to news reports, Baldwin received warnings of high opiate prescriptions rates but did nothing for several months.  Three vets dying eventually got her attention. She ultimately called for a federal investigation.

February 19: The Daily Caller: Woman shoots intruder with gun her son bought for her a week ago:
A concerned son’s decision to buy his mother a gun just last week out of fear for her safety proved wise Thursday morning.   The woman, a widow who lives alone in a crime-plagued Columbus, Ohio neighborhood, grabbed her gun after a man broke through her front window at around 5 a.m.  “She was armed and apparently fired multiple shots at him,” Columbus Police Sgt. Dave Sicilia told the news outlets.  The unnamed suspect had attempted to rob a house across the street. After residents there forced him out of the upstairs window, he broke into the widow’s home through her window.  After the woman shot him, he was rushed to the hospital and pronounced dead at around 7 a.m.

February 19: The Hill: Paul eyes debt ceiling fight/Audit of the Federal Reserve
Sen. Rand Paul (R-KY) is mulling attaching his Audit the Fed legislation to a vote to raise the debt ceiling, Paul spokesman Brian Darling has said.  Darling said Paul  fully expects to get a vote on the measure in the Senate this year and that "there are numerous options to get a bill passed by itself or combined with other legislation."  "The strategy going forward will be to use regular order," Darling said.   "If regular order does not work, Audit the Fed would be a great amendment to a debt-limit increase or any other piece of must pass legislation that hits the Senate floor."

February 18: Fox News: Train Derailment Reignites Keystone Pipeline Debate Aerial photo of derailed crude oil tanker railroad cars
The derailment of a train in West Virginia that sent flames soaring and at least some of the 3 million gallons of crude oil onboard into a Kanawha River tributary has prompted a renewed call for the approval of the Keystone XL pipeline as a safer alternative to rail transportation.  “Any time you make more trips -- whether it’s trains, trucks or buses -- accidents increase,” Daniel Kish, an Institute for Energy Research vice presiden said. “I’m not trying to scare people. But the records show that if you move more stuff there will be more problems.” [See Related Column]

February 18: Tax Professor Blog: The IRS Scandal: Day 650
Attorney General Eric Holder said on Tuesday he expects the Justice Department to soon release a list of final recommendations stemming from its probe into whether the Internal Revenue Service wrongfully targeted conservative groups.   "I am satisfied with the progress that the criminal division has done; the civil rights division as well," Holder told reporters at a press conference. "I expect that we will have some final recommendations coming up relatively soon.

February 18: The Washington Examiner: Lawmakers:  Atlanta Fire Chief Fired for Believing the Bible
Six Georgia House members have jumped to the defense of the former Atlanta fire chief, claiming he was fired for believing in the Bible — and should be reinstated.  In a move that escalates the fight between the Atlanta Mayor Reed and supporters of former Chief Cochran, lawmakers this week said the firing robbed the former chief of his religious freedom to speak and write his view.  “Your action against Chief Cochran appears to violate fundamental principles of free speech and religious freedom,” they wrote to Reed. “As fellow Georgians, we are extremely troubled that a capable and long-standing public servant in our state can be targeted for retaliation and dismissed solely because of his religious views,” they added.   The Chief’s supporters claim the firing was retaliation for a book he published over a year ago that, among other things, equates homosexuality with bestiality.

February 18: Yahoo News: Texas judge’s Immigration Rebuke May be hard to Challenge
President Obama's administration faces a difficult and possibly lengthy legal battle to overturn a Texas court ruling that blocked his landmark immigration overhaul, since the judge based his decision on an obscure and unsettled area of administrative law, lawyers said.  In his ruling on Monday that upended plans to shield millions of aliens from deportation, U.S. District Judge Andrew Hanen avoided diving into sweeping constitutional questions or tackling presidential powers head-on. Instead, he faulted Obama for not giving public notice of his plans.  The failure to do so, Hanen wrote, was a violation of the 1946 Administrative Procedure Act, which requires notice in the Federal Register as well as an opportunity for people to submit views in writing.  The ruling, however narrow, marked an initial victory for 26 states that brought the case alleging Obama had exceeded his powers with executive orders that would let up to 4.7 million illegal immigrants stay without threat of deportation.

February 17: The Daily Caller: Judge Napolitano: Obama Amnesty is Absolutely Dead
Reacting on “The Kelly File” Tuesday to a federal judge’s blocking of President Obama’s executive action on immigration, which was set to award work permits to four million illegals, Judge Andrew Napolitano called the court’s decision “devastating” for the Obama administration’s agenda.  “This is a preliminary injunction which means the court viewed the court’s documents and challenger’s documents…and he made two conclusions. 1) At the end of the case, the challengers will probably prevail, meaning the president probably overstepped his bounds and he has ordered the Department of Homeland Security to create new law.  “And 2) if he does not impose the temporary restraints that he imposed last night, actually, irreparable harm will be visited upon the 26 states,” Napolitano explained.  “In my opinion, the Obama amnesty plan is dead. Absolutely dead.”

February 17: Yahoo News: Federal Judge Stalls Obama’s  Action on Immigration
The White House promised an appeal Tuesday after a federal judge in Texas temporarily blocked President Obama's executive action on immigration and gave a coalition of 26 states time to pursue a lawsuit aiming to permanently stop the orders.    U.S. District Judge Andrew Hanen's decision late Monday puts on hold Obama's orders that could spare from deportation as many as 5 million people who are in the U.S. illegally. In response, the U.S. Department of Homeland Security said it would halt preparations for a program to protect parents of U.S. citizens or legal permanent residents until further notice. 

February 17: Fox News: Related Story on Federal Judge’s Order Re: Obama’s Unilateral Immigration Policy
House and Senate Republican leaders pointed to the judge's decision on temporarily blocking the Administrations unilateral immigration policy in amplifying calls to advance a stalled bill that would both fund the Homeland Security department and undo Obama's immigration plan. The bill passed the House, but is stuck in the Senate. "This ruling underscores what the President has already acknowledged publicly 22 times: He doesn't have the authority to take the kinds of actions he once referred to as 'ignoring the law' and 'unwise and unfair,'" Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-KY) said in a statement. "Senate Democrats -- especially those who've voiced opposition to the President's executive overreach -- should end their partisan filibuster of Department of Homeland Security funding."

February 17: The Wall Street Journal:
Foreign Donations to Clinton Foundation on the Rise – Raise Ethical Questions:
The Clinton Foundation has dropped its self-imposed ban on collecting funds from foreign governments and is winning contributions at an accelerating rate, raising ethical questions as Hillary ramps up her expected bid for the presidency.  Recent donors include the United Arab Emirates, Saudi Arabia, Oman, Australia, Germany and a Canadian government agency promoting the Keystone XL pipeline.   In 2009, the Clinton Foundation stopped raising money from foreign governments after Mrs. Clinton became secretary of state. Former President Bill Clinton, who ran the foundation while his wife was at the State Department, agreed to the gift ban at the behest of the Obama administration, which worried about a secretary of state’s husband raising millions while she represented U.S. interests abroad.

February 17: The Hill: Holder wants a halt to the Death Penalty until Supreme Court Rules:
Attorney General Eric Holder called Tuesday for a national moratorium on the death penalty until the Supreme Court weighs in on the issue later this year.  “Our system of justice is the best in the world. It is comprised of men and women who do the best they can, get it right more often than not, substantially more right than wrong. But there's always the possibility that mistakes will be made,” he said.  “It is one thing to put somebody in jail for an extended period of time, have some new test that you can do and determine that person was, in fact, innocent. There is no ability to correct a mistake where somebody has, in fact, been executed. And that is from my perspective the ultimate nightmare.”

February 16: Associated Press: Dems Seek Relief from Obamacare Taxes
The official sign-up season for President Barack Obama's health care law may be over, but leading congressional Democrats say millions of Americans facing new tax penalties deserve a second chance.  Three senior House members told AP  that they plan to strongly urge the administration to grant a special sign-up opportunity for uninsured taxpayers who will be facing fines under the law for the first time this year.  The three are Michigan's Sander Levin, the ranking Democrat on the Ways and Means Committee, and Democratic Reps. Jim McDermott of Washington, and Lloyd Doggett of Texas. All worked to help steer Obama's law through rancorous congressional debates from 2009-2010.

February 14: Fox News: State-Led Efforts to pass a Balanced Budget Amendment Gains Steam
A state-level campaign to rein in the federal government spending by calling an unprecedented convention to amend the U.S. Constitution is gaining steam, picking up support from two high-profile Republicans as more states explore the idea. The latest figures to endorse the effort are retired Oklahoma Sen. Tom Coburn and Ohio Gov. John Kasich.  Coburn, a legendary government-waste watchdog, announced this week that he has joined the effort by becoming a senior adviser for the group Convention of States Action, which wants states, not just Congress, to pass constitutional amendments. A primary goal is to get an amendment to the Constitution requiring a balanced federal budget, in which spending does not exceed revenue. So far, the Alaska, Florida and Georgia legislatures have each passed a resolution in support of a convention, and 25 more are considering one, according to the group.  “Our founders anticipated the federal government might get out of control,” Coburn said Tuesday. “And they gave us a constitutional mechanism to rein it in.”

Article V of the Constitution says amendments can be ratified either by Congress or by states if two-thirds of them petition Congress to call a convention. Then, any amendment proposed at the convention must be ratified by three-fourth, or 38, states.  But Beware!  Unless such a convention is limited to only focusing on a Balanced Budget Amendment then other measures could also be considered opening a Pandora’s box.  For example: Beyond getting Congress to pass a balanced budget, supporters of the largely Republican-backed effort are also focused on such issues as campaign finance reform and making sure the Environmental Protection Agency doesn’t over regulate.

February 16: The Daily News: A Look at U.S. Foreign Policy:
The President hasn't had an ally-friendly foreign policy or a clear and effective strategy for dealing with ISIS.  “You can’t defeat an enemy that you don’t admit exists!”  After much criticism from military leaders and allies he has asked Congress for a limited declaration of war against ISIS. Meanwhile Israeli officials claim that the White House has already given Iran eighty percent of what it wants, while still allowing them to continue to develop nuclear weapons while the negotiation process continues. In Cuba the Administration failed to follow the Helms-Burton Act which has specific benchmarks that must be reached prior to the normalization of relations. In the Ukraine the Administration is unwilling to make available the antii-tank/anti-mortar weapons they need in order to withstand the Russian onslaught. The list goes on! So the question needs to be asked, why is this Administration doing things that are not granted to it under The Constitution: IRS targeting of conservative organizations, common core, etc. and why is this Administration not doing what it is required to do -- which is to protect our nation through a sound foreign policy?

February 14: Fox News: State-Led Efforts to pass a Balanced Budget Amendment Gains Steam
A state-level campaign to rein in the federal government spending by calling an unprecedented convention to amend the U.S. Constitution is gaining steam, picking up support from two high-profile Republicans as more states explore the idea. A group called the Convention of States Action, wants states, not just Congress, to pass constitutional amendments. A primary goal is to get an amendment to the Constitution requiring a balanced federal budget, in which spending does not exceed revenue. But Beware!  Unless such a convention is limited to only focusing on a Balanced Budget Amendment then other measures could also be considered opening a Pandora’s box. Article V of the Constitution says amendments can be ratified either by Congress or by states if two-thirds of them petition Congress to call a convention. Then, any amendment proposed at the convention must be ratified by three-fourth, or 38, states.  

February 14: The Hill: Social Security Entitlements focus of Debate as 2016 Election Year nears
Social Security is surging to the forefront of the political debate ahead of the race for the White House in 2016.  The entitlement program has been thrust into the spotlight by a fight over the Social Security disability fund, which is expected to run dry by the end of next year. The looming shortfall is stirring a burst of activism on the left, with Sen. Bernie Sanders (I-VT), a likely 2016 candidate, and liberal hero Sen. Elizabeth Warren (D-MA) warning of an assault on the program from Republicans in Congress.  Republicans have pushed back hard, and say they are the ones seeking to fix a broken program.

February 14: Fox News:  Both Sides Claim Violations Hours into the Ceasefire in Ukraine
A cease-fire was declared in east Ukraine at a minute after midnight Sunday, kindling slender hopes of a reprieve from a conflict that has claimed more than 5,300 lives.  But within two hours of the cease-fire's scheduled start, the warring sides were already trading accusations of fresh attacks.  International attention will be focused in the coming days on the strategic railway hub of Debaltseve, where Ukrainian government forces have for weeks been fending off severe onslaughts from pro-Russian and Russian-backed separatists.  The U.S. State Department said images from eastern Ukraine offer "credible pieces of evidence" that the Russian military has deployed larger amounts of artillery and multiple rocket launchers around Debaltseve to shell Ukrainian forces.  "We are confident that these are Russian military, not separatist systems," State Department spokeswoman Jen Psaki said in a statement Saturday.

February 14: Reuters:
Shelling in Ukraine Stops under Ceasefire: Germany: High Price to pay for violators
Shelling suddenly stopped at midnight in the eastern Ukrainian city of Donetsk after President Petro Poroshenko gave the order to government forces to halt firing in line with a ceasefire agreement reached last Thursday.  Poroshenko said in a televised address that there was still "alarm" over the situation around Debaltseve, a key transport hub, where government forces are hard pressed by encircling Russian-backed separatists.  And he warned that Ukraine, if it was slapped once, would not offer the other cheek.  The ceasefire, negotiated in four-power talks in Belarus last Thursday, foresees creation of a neutral "buffer zone" and withdrawal of heavy weapons responsible for many of the 5,000 deaths in a conflict that has caused the worst crisis in Russia-West relations since the Cold War a generation ago.

February 14: The Daily Caller: Should Employers be allowed to give bonuses to productive workers?
Advocates for right-to-work policies are pushing a bill for reform of labor laws so that employers can reward employees without having to ask a union’s permission.  The Rewarding Achievement and Incentivizing Successful Employees Act, which was introduced Thursday by Sen. Marco Rubio and Rep. Todd Rokita, is designed to amend the National Labor Relations Act so employers can give merit-based compensation increases to individual employees, even if those increases are not part of their collective bargaining agreement.  “Currently, if an employer wants to reward particularly hard-working employees, in almost all cases, the union can and will block any bonuses to those workers, which then makes it difficult to keep the best employees,” Patrick Semmens, the vice president of the National Right to Work Foundation said.  “The bill would stop unions from being able to block such merit bonuses.”  Current law, which requires unionized companies to negotiate wage increases through the union. 

February 14: The Hill: Five Decisions Hillary Can’t Duck:
Hillary Clinton will have to made decisions about where she stands on a number of controversial issues as she nears a presidential campaign.  Clinton so far has been picking and choosing what issues to weigh in on, something easier to do as an unofficial candidate.  Republicans have sought to make Clinton’s silence an issue arguing she’s in hiding. 
- Military Force and ISIS: The question of how Congress should authorize military action against the Islamic State in Iraq and Syria is an impossible one for Clinton to avoid and is difficult since she supported legislation authorizing the Iraq War which hurt her in her 2008 campaign.
- Keystone XL Pipeline:  While Secretary of State, Clinton failed to move this project forward and has repeatedly refused to wade in on the subject.  The House and Senate have now moved to approve it with an almost certain veto by the President.
- Medical Device Tax: Speaking to a conference of medical device manufacturers in Chicago last fall, Clinton refused to firmly state where she stands on whether this controversial tax included in the healthcare law should be repealed.
- Social Security:  Senator Warren wants to raise the caps on contributions, Clinton has yet refused to take a position.
- International Trade:  This may be the trickiest issue for Clinton because Republicans have been portraying her as a flip-flopper on this issue.  Husband Bill won passage of NAFTA and as Secretary of State Hillary backed free-trade policies.  But there are those within her party who want greater protections against the loss of U.S. jobs.

February 14: Valley Central News: Border Patrol apprehends Middle Eastern man crossing the border:
Border Patrol agents Thursday took a Middle Eastern man into custody. The unauthorized immigrant was caught south of Pharr, according to Border Patrol. An order for expedited removal back to his country of origin is being processed.  Middle Eastern countries are not part of the statistical breakdown of U.S. Border Patrol apprehensions by country of nationality, based on the DHS from fiscal years 2005 through 2010.  It classifies apprehensions of unauthorized immigrants from the Middle East into an "all other countries" category,  which make up fewer than 1 percent of apprehensions on average. 

February 14: Fox News: Obamacare signups hit snag on Big Weekend
Consumers trying to sign up for health insurance ahead of a looming deadline are getting snagged by technical difficulties, the Obama administration said Saturday.  Administration spokeswoman Katie Hill said some people trying to get coverage under President Barack Obama's health care law haven't been able to get their income information electronically verified.  That's crucial because the amount of financial assistance to help pay premiums is based on people's income. The health care law offers subsidized private insurance to people who don't have coverage on the job. More than 8 in 10 of those who apply qualify for help. Without it, most can't afford the coverage.

February 14: The Daily Caller: Legal Expert: Gun Rights are Human Rights
By controlling the guns, you can easily control your opponents. This is the core argument Stephen Halbrook, an attorney and expert on gun laws, delivered before the eighth Students for Liberty Conference. “Although it may not be the explicit intent of governments at the time gun registration is enacted that it will be used against the people, history shows otherwise.”  The law professor, who’s authored several books and articles defending gun rights, gave the easy example of gun registration in Germany in the early 1930s.

February 13: The Daily Caller: Bloomberg Keeps Speech on Keeping Guns from Minorities
from being Posted Online

Former New York City mayor Michael Bloomberg has successfully blocked video from a controversial talk he gave at the Aspen Institute last week from being posted online.  At the Institute’s Feb. 5 event, the pro-gun control multi-billionaire suggested keeping guns out of the hands of young, male minorities. Ninety-five percent of murders are attributed to the group, said Bloomberg. “These kids think they’re going to get killed anyway because all their friends are getting killed,” Bloomberg said at the summit. Various national media outlets jumped on the pointed comments, for both the pro-gun control sentiment and the racial aspect which may be the reason Bloomberg asked that the comments not be posted. 

February 13: The Daily Caller: Caucus Member Didn’t Know Illegal Aliens will Get a Tax Break
Illinois Congressman Luis Gutierrez said Friday that he didn’t know that illegal immigrants are eligible for tax refunds — even if they haven’t paid taxes.  IRS Commissioner John Koskinen told members of Congress Wednesday that illegal immigrants who did not pay taxes will be able to claim back-refunds once they are issued social security numbers.  “Under the new program,” Koskinen told members of the House oversight committee Wednesday, “if you get a Social Security number and you work, you’ll be eligible to apply for the Earned Income Tax Credit.”  “If you are an individual working and applying for the Earned Income Tax Credit, the maximum you can get is in the range of 500 to 600 dollars.” But that is apparently for just one year and could be applied retroactively for up to four years or a maximum of $24,000.

A-10 Tankbuster Thunderbolt AircraftFebruary 12: United Press International: Pentagon Sending 12 A-10 Warthogs to Europe because of Ukraine Conflict
The U.S. Air Force has announced it is sending twelve A-10 Thunderbolts, also known as Warthogs, to Europe in support of Operation Atlantic Resolve, a response to Russia's actions in Ukraine.  The A-10s will be sent to Spangdahlem Air Base, Germany, and deployed to partner nations in Eastern Europe – not the Ukraine.  The 1970s-era aircraft was designed for close-air support for ground troops. Called "tankbusters" for their iconic nose-mounted Gatling guns, capable of quickly dispatching enemy tanks, the A-10s can carry a variety of munitions.   

February 12: The Washington Times:
Loophole in Obama’s Amnesty Actions May allow Illegal Aliens to Vote
President Obama’s temporary deportation amnesty will make it easier for illegal immigrants to improperly register and vote in elections, state elections officials testified to Congress on Thursday, saying that the driver’s licenses and Social Security numbers they will be granted create a major voting loophole.  While stressing that it remains illegal for noncitizens to vote, secretaries of state from Ohio and Kansas said they won’t have the tools to sniff out illegal immigrants who register anyway. And after all they entered the country illegally.  What is to stop them from also registering to vote illegally?

February 11: Reuters: President asks for Congress to Authorize War on Islamic State
The President asked Congress on Wednesday to authorize military force against Islamic State that would bar any large-scale invasion by U.S. ground troops and limit operations to three years.  Republicans, who control Congress, put up swift resistance to the proposal. They say Obama's foreign policy is too passive and want stronger measures against the militants, also known as ISIS.  With Obama's fellow Democrats wary of another Middle East war, it could be difficult for the White House to win enough support to pass the bill, even though six months have passed since the military campaign began.  Some lawmakers predicted a vote as soon as March but others anticipated debate could last for months.

February 11: The Washington Examiner:  FCC Explore Regulating Websites: Freedom of Speech?
Claiming that thousands of public comments condemning “dark money” in politics can’t be ignored, the Democrat-chaired Federal Election Commission (FEC) on Wednesday appeared ready to open the door to new regulations on donors, bloggers and others who use the Internet to influence policy and campaigns.  During a broad FEC hearing to discuss a recent Supreme Court decision that eliminated some donor limits, proponents encouraged the agency to draw up new funding disclosure rules and require even third-party internet-based groups to reveal donors, a move that would extinguish a 2006 decision to keep the agency’s hands off the Internet.  Noting the 32,000 public comments that came into the FEC in advance of the hearing, Democratic Commissioner Ellen L. Weintraub said, “75 percent thought that we need to do more about money in politics, particularly in the area of disclosure. And I think that's something that we can't ignore.”  But a former Republican FEC chairman said in his testimony that if the agency moves to regulate the Internet, including news voices like the Drudge Report  many thousands more comments will flood in in opposition of regulation.

February 11: The Hill: House Sends Keystone Pipeline Bill to the President
The House voted Wednesday to approve legislation authorizing construction of the Keystone XL pipeline, setting up the first major veto of the Obama presidency.  Passage fell largely along party lines in a 270-152 vote, with 29 Democrats joining all but one Republican  in supporting the pipeline.  The White House has repeatedly said President Obama will veto the legislation, and Republicans do not appear to have the two-thirds majority in either chamber to override him.  The only mystery left is when and how Obama will announce the veto.  It could be a tricky situation for the president, who may not want to be overly confrontational with Democrats and labor groups that back constructing the pipeline.

February 10: The Daily Caller
FCC Commissioner: Unprecedented Executive Branch involvement in Decision Making:
Republican Federal Communications Commission Commissioner Ajit Pai hosted a press conference on Tuesday to discuss with reporters his concern about President Obama’s proposal “to regulate the internet.” Pai cited concerns ranging from the proposal causing heavy-handed FCC regulations on the internet to the plan being a “gift to trial lawyers.” Under the idea of net neutrality the president, along with FCC Chairman Tom Wheeler, is pushing the plan forward prior to the Feb. 26 FCC vote on the matter. However, Sen. Ron Johnson (WI) appears concerned about the influence the White House may have on the agency decision making with this policy. 

Johnson sent a letter to the commission asking for information on the issue, as did House Oversight Chairman Jason Chaffetz.  Johnson told reporters after Pai’s press conference, “We certainly want to find out to what extent [Wheeler's] change of heart was actually his own or whether there was influence by the White House.  [The FCC] is supposed to be an independent agency and so we’re trying to find the information. We want to find the communication between himself and the White House—his agency and the White House and see whether this truly was an independent act.” [Related Story]

February 10: USNI News: NORAD Head: Russians are Increasing their arctic long range air patrols
While Russian military aircraft have stepped up their activity everywhere from the North Sea to the Baltic to the Black Sea in the last year they have also been spotted more frequently closer to the U.S. territory in the Arctic, the head of U.S. Northern Command (NORTHCOM) and North American Aerospace Defense Command (NORAD) said on Tuesday.  In particular – flights of Tupolev Tu-95 Bear ‘H’ Bombers have increased recently NORTHCOM’s Adm. Bill Gortney said.  “They’ve been very aggressive for us in the Arctic…  in the amount of flights we are seeing, not aggressive in how they fly,” he said. 

February 10: The Washington Examiner: Illegal Immigrants Squeeze School Budgets
Recent reports show Washington-area schools are facing budget crises as a result of an influx of immigrant students.  Since the 2005-06 school year, the percent of students enrolled in English proficiency classes in the D.C. area has increased by an average of nearly 70 percent across seven school districts in the metro area, according to a report by the advocacy group, Federation for American Immigration Reform, which promotes tighter border security, an end to illegal immigration and reduced levels of legal immigration.  Those classes cost an average of about one quarter of each district’s budget, and the chunk is getting larger as new students, many of them illegal immigrants or children of illegal immigrants, enroll in English-as-a-second-language classes.  “Education programs are being cut,” said the report’s author, Eric Ruark. “We’re not saying that [English proficiency classes] are the cause, but it’s certainly taking money away from them.”  However, a policy analyst at the Migration Policy Institute, an independent think tank that tracks international migration and refugee trends, maintains that such a correlation just isn’t that clear. 

February 9: Breitbart News:  The President’s Internet Neutrality is not Neutral!
Ajit Pai, one of two Republican Commissioners on the Federal Communications Commission (FCC), inferred in a tweet that President Barack Obama’s secret, 332-page “Net Neutrality” document is a scheme for federal micro-managing of the Internet to extract billions in new taxes from consumers and again enforce progressives’ idea of honest, equitable, and balanced content fairness.  FCC Chairman Tom Wheeler recently acknowledged that the three Democrats on the commission had decided to avoid Congressional input regarding the Internet by following the  1934 Communications Act to regulate the Internet in the same way this Act was used to in Franklin Roosevelt’s time against the phone companies.  In order to ensure that the contents of the document was not made available to its opponents, Chairman Wheeler “embargoed” release of any of the specifics in the new administrative “policy” that will act as law has been published.

Do you remember the “Fairness Doctrine” that was used to keep broadcast media license holders to tow the line or lose their license?  Apparently what the FCC is now considering pales by comparison, taking on the Internet that has taken over the free expression and exchange of ideas.  Pai claims that “President Obama’s plan marks a monumental shift toward government control of the Internet. It gives the FCC the power to micromanage virtually every aspect of how the Internet works,” he said. “The plan explicitly opens the door to billions of dollars in new taxes on broadband… These new taxes will mean higher prices for consumers and more hidden fees that they have to pay.”

February 8: The Daily Caller: Democrat Strategist: My Party is a “Dictator to the Common Man”
[This report is a little longer than I normally include but you may find it worth the read]
Famed Democrat strategist Pat Caddell is one of the most unvarnished, independent critics of Washington elites. Last December he issued a stunning three-part poll of Republican voters [National Survey of Republican Voters | Key Findings | and  Views on Immigration and Healthcare ]. The survey revealed what Caddell calls a “large Grand Canyon chasm” between Republican voters and their leaders in Congress. Stunningly, “60% wanted someone new to lead them.”

Amnesty and repeal of Obamacare were pivotal issues for these voters, as well as their hostility to the budget negotiations on the Continuing Resolution. Rank and file members of Congress find their constituents and supporters back home growing anxious and frustrated, while Republican leaders dismiss these citizens.  One Republican leader confidently told a dinner companion last year that he can ignore the tea party agenda, as it is “only 8% of his base.” Caddell has news for the mistaken leader and others who are ignorant of those who put them in office. Caddell confirms, “It ain’t 8%. It’s about 40% of his voters.” He is stunned at the disconnect that seems to be growing in the Republican Party, and this is a Democrat strategist talking. He even relayed a warning that “1/4 to 1/3 of Republicans appear ready to bolt their party.”

Caddell discusses a “donor, lobbyist, establishment class” of Republicans who “have lost election after election” while lining their own pockets, abusing donors and destroying candidates. “They have no message,” he declares. “The problem with Republicans is that as long as they can keep their hands on their goodies in this town, a lot of these lawyers, lobbyists and others, they don’t care whether the Republican Party wins or what happens to the country.” To Caddell, the country is in decline, politicians are self-absorbed and President Obama is in a dangerous “twilight zone” without media scrutiny.

The strategist recalls “when the Democrat Party was the voice of the common man, not the dictator to the common man.” Today, Democrats “have become a tool totally controlled by special interests. The left doesn’t care about ordinary people.” He says big environmental funders like “Tom Steyer basically control the White House and other people.” He detests hypocrites who “fly around in private planes but think the rest of us have to have bicycles.”

February 8: The Daily Caller: Obama Former Intel Chief: Terrorism Strategy Clearly Not Working”
President Obama’s former Defense Intelligence Agency director Lt. Gen. Michael Flynn came out against the current U.S. strategy against terrorism across the board, saying it is “clearly not working,” adding that the U.S. needs a “much broader” strategy to combat the threat.  He told Fox News’ Chris Wallace this administration seems unable to define the enemy and “…you can’t defeat an enemy that you don’t admit exists.”

February 8: Fox News:  Biden: Ukraine has a right to defend itself – Nothing about weapons
Vice President Joe Biden, was in Germany this weekend to help reach a diplomatic solution to Russian aggression in Ukraine. Biden said the Ukrainians “have a right to defend themselves" but did not address the possibility of the United States sending anti-tank, anti-motar, or other desperately needed weapons systems to them.  Biden said he and other U.S. leaders think they should “attempt an honorable peace."   He suggested that the impact of economic sanctions imposed on Russia for its actions will get worse if leaders refuses to accept a peaceful resolution and continue to escalate the conflict, the White House said Saturday. Meanwhile Russia has said any attempts to provide arms to the Ukrainians would be viewed as a threat to Russian national security!

Can we learn from history?  Neville Chamberlain was the Prime Minister of Britain who is perhaps best known for his appeasement in foreign policy and in particular for his signing of the Munich Agreement in 1938, conceding the German-populated area of Czechoslovakia to Germany.  And we all know how that turned out in 1939 as Hitler continued his aggressive policies.  Is there a parallel that can be drawn between this Administration and the Chamberlain approach to foreign policy?

February 8: BBC News: Greenspan Predicts Greece Exit from Euro Inevitable
Greenspan said he could not see who would be willing to put up more loans to bolster Greece's struggling economy.  Greece wants to re-negotiate its bailout, but Greenspan said "I don't think it will be resolved without Greece leaving the eurozone".   Greenspan has long been a critic of the European single currency.

February 7: Yahoo News: Benghazi panel plans to interview Susan Rice and others:
A House panel investigating the deadly 2012 attacks on U.S. diplomatic facilities in Benghazi, Libya, plans to interview at least 20 officials including National Security Adviser Susan Rice, former Pentagon chief Leon Panetta and ex-CIA head David Petraeus, the committee said Friday.  The list of interviewees - a veritable "who's who" of U.S. foreign policy and national security officials - emerged as Democrats complained about the "unlimited" budget of the Select Committee on Benghazi and its open-ended schedule, as it covers similar ground to earlier investigations.  Democrats say the committee's efforts are politically motivated while Republicans say that the Department of State under the headship of Hillary Clinton, failed to protect U.S. diplomatic personnel, including the Ambassador.

February 7: The Daily Caller: Obama’s National Security?  Well at least we are not in fear of being nuked?
The Russia bear is eating Ukraine, the Middle East’s jihadis are role-playing Mohammad’s own wars, China’s wealthy nerds are tunneling through the Internet to steal anything they can find, unskilled Latin-American migrants are rushing the border and young Americans can’t get decent jobs, but President Obama’s national security adviser says Americans shouldn’t worry. “What’s missing here in Washington is a sense of perspective,” Susan Rice said at a Feb. 6 briefing intended to explain her boss’ national security strategy.  “Yes, there’s a lot going on,” but it’s not as threatening as during the Cold War when the nation faced the prospect of utter nuclear annihilation, she said. 

February 6: Reuters: Justice Department Charges Six with supporting Islamic Militant Groups
Six people have been charged with providing money and equipment including U.S. military uniforms, combat boots, tactical gear, and firearms accessories to foreign fighters joining al Qaeda, Nusra Front and Islamic State in Syria and Iraq, the U.S. Justice Department said on Friday.  The six are Bosnian natives living in Missouri, Illinois and New York. Five of them were arrested in the United States and charged with conspiring to provide material support and resources to terrorists. The sixth person is overseas, the department said in a statement.  The Grand Jury indictment said people in Turkey and Saudi Arabia acted as intermediaries who received the money and property from the defendants in the U.S. and transferred them to militants fighting with groups in Syria, Iraq and elsewhere.  It was also disclosed that two of the accused parties discussed buying a night-vision optic with a built-in camera for recording killings while fighting in the Middle East, according to the indictment.  All those indicted were charged with conspiring to provide material support and resources to terrorists, and with providing material support to terrorists. 

U.S. Navy's Big Rail Gun RevealedFebruary 6: The Daily Caller: Navy’s New Gun fires projectiles
at up to Mach 7 – No Powder or Explosives Needed!

The U.S. Navy publicly unveiled its latest futuristic weapon at the Future Force Science and Technology Expo in Washington, D.C. this week — the electromagnetic railgun, which can fire projectiles at an air-splitting 5,300 miles per hour.  By using electromagnetic pulses to generate a magnetic force between two rails, the latest prototype of the railgun developed by defense contractor BAE in conjunction with the Office of Naval Research can accelerate a projectile up to Mach 7 within 10 milliseconds. The gun uses no gunpowder to generate propelling force for its shots, which hit with such destructive force, they don’t need to carry any explosive ordinance.  “It’s like a flux capacitor,” chief of Naval research Rear Admiral Mathias Winter said in a video posted on YouTube. “You’re sitting here thinking about these next generation and futuristic ideas, and we’ve got scientists who have designed these, and it’s coming to life.”

February 6: Yahoo News: Israeli Official: Netanyahu may have been misled by House Speaker
A senior Israeli official suggested on Friday that Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu may have been misled into thinking an invitation to address the U.S. Congress on Iran next month was fully supported by the Democrats.  He was invited by Speaker Boehner to address the House on March 3rd. The move angered the White House, which is upset about the event coming two weeks before Israeli elections and that Netanyahu, who has a testy relationship with Democratic President Obama, is expected to be critical of U.S. policy on Iran. 

February 6: International Business Times: Colorado Revives Gun Control Debate in State Legislature:
Lawmakers in Colorado this week wrangled over a slate of bills aimed at rolling back restrictions on gun ownership and the sale of firearms. Colorado policymakers debated seven bills over gun control this week, with narrow defeats for four proposals in the Democrat-controlled House. Republicans, who won a slim majority in the Senate during last November’s elections, advanced two Senate bills -- one repealing a requirement for background checks for anyone transferring possession of a firearm, and another authorizing concealed carry for anyone authorized to carry a handgun. The measures are expected to fail in the House or be vetoed by the Democratic governor, however. Republican lawmakers in Colorado said they were committed to the ideology of gun ownership championed by the party.

February 5: The Washington Post:
President’s Comments about Christians vs. ISIS and Muslims Offensive to many Christians
Some Republicans are outraged. “The president’s comments this morning at the prayer breakfast are the most offensive I’ve ever heard a president make in my lifetime,” said former Virginia governor Jim Gilmore. “He has offended every believing Christian in the United States.” 

February 5: Fox News: Obama: Christians have done wrong things too!
The President called on people of faith to reject those who use religion to justify evil – and in doing so – reminded people about the terrible things done in the name of Jesus Christ.  Speaking at the National Prayer Breakfast in Washington the President issued a word of warning to Christians.  “And lest we get on our high horse and think this is unique to some other place – remember that during the Crusades and the Inquisition committed terrible deeds in the name of Christ,” the president said.  He also chided the United States, “our home country.”  “Slavery and Jim Crow all too often was justified in the name of Christ,” he added. He mentioned those who try to justify terrible acts in the name of religion, but as has been his practice the President never mentioned radical Islam or jihadists or Islamic extremists. He did, however, call ISIS a “brutal, vicious death cult that in the name of religion carries out unspeakable acts of barbarism.”

February 5: Fox News:  Shocked Jordanians Rally Behind King to Fight ISIS
The shocking images of a Jordanian Air Force pilot being burned alive in an outdoor cage by ISIS terrorists have galvanized the country, once seen as possible fertile recruitment ground for the group, behind King Abdullah II's calls for a stepped-up military campaign.  Jordan's monarch has vowed to wage a "harsh" war against ISIS after consulting with his military chiefs Wednesday. In a statement, the king said Jordan is waging a war of principles against the militants. He said that Jordan's response to the killing of the pilot "will be harsh because this terrorist organization is not only fighting us, but also fighting Islam and its pure values." Abdullah pledged to hit the militants "hard in the very center of their strongholds."  The NY Times reported the king was greeted warmly upon his return Wednesday by thousands of people who lined the main roads to and from the airport.

February 5: Fox News: GOP unveils plan for ObamaCare Replacement:
Congressional Republicans are unveiling what they say is a new plan to repeal and replace ObamaCare, but the ‘blueprint,’ as they call it, looks an awful lot like what’s been floated before.  The Patient Choice, Affordability, Responsibility and Empowerment – or CARE – Act provides for targeted tax credits to individuals and families up to 300 percent above the poverty line to encourage people to buy plans in the market place.  It also allows insurers to sell plans across state lines and caps the amount of monetary damages that can be awarded in medical malpractice litigation.   Like the Affordable Care Act, dependents are able to stay on their parents’ healthcare plans until they’re 26, and no one can be denied coverage for pre-existing conditions -- although this plan calls for a specific ‘continuous coverage’ protection where individuals moving from one plan to another cannot be denied.

February 5: Fox News: Gallop CEO Calls Jobless Rate another White House Lie:
The chairman of the venerable Gallup research and polling firm says the official U.S. unemployment rate is really an underestimation and a “big lie" perpetuated by the White House, Wall Street and the media.  Gallop CEO and Chairman Jim Clifton says the “cheerleading” for the 5.6 number is “deafening.”  But says Americans out of work for at least four weeks are “as unemployed as one can possibly be” and argues that as many as 30 million of them are now either out of work or severely underemployed.  He points out that an out-of-work engineer, for example, performing a minimum of one hour of work a week, even mowing a lawn for $20, also is not officially counted as unemployed.  In addition, those working part time but wanting full-time work -- the so-called “severely underemployed” -- also are not counted.  “There's no other way to say this,” Clifton says. “The official unemployment rate … amounts to a big lie.”

February 4: Stars and Stripes: 
Don’t Believe Everything You Hear on Television: Brian Williams NBC Anchor Busted!
NBC Nightly News anchor Brian Williams admitted Wednesday he was not aboard a helicopter hit and forced down by RPG fire during the invasion of Iraq in 2003, a false claim that has been repeated by the network for years.  Williams repeated the claim Friday during NBC’s coverage of a public tribute at a New York Rangers hockey game for a retired soldier that had provided ground security for the grounded helicopters, a game to which Williams accompanied him. In an interview with Stars and Stripes, he said he had misremembered the events and was sorry.  The admission came after crew members on the 159th Aviation Regiment’s Chinook that was hit by two rockets and small arms fire told Stars and Stripes that the NBC anchor was nowhere near that aircraft or two other Chinooks flying in the formation that took fire. Williams arrived in the area about an hour later on another helicopter after the other three had made an emergency landing, the crew members said. Williams apologized, well kind of, by saying his falsehood was done as an attempt to show support for the troops.  But, apparently, this is not the first time he has stretched the truth.  The actions NBC will take after these revelations is still under consideration. 

February 4: CNN News:  Jeb Bush Comments on Immigration Shock Conservative Voters:
During a "Family Reunion" conference hosted by the Hispanic Leadership Network in April 2013, Jeb Bush spoke freely on the promise immigrants hold for America and his views on reform.  He said, during a discussion with Univision, that it was "ridiculous" to think that DREAMers, children brought to the U.S. by their parents illegally, shouldn’t have an “accelerated path” to citizenship. As he moves towards a probable presidential run his 2013 comments are certain to deepen already developing headaches for him — on both the left and especially the right, as conservatives react in a mixture of bewilderment and eye-rolling when confronted with some of Bush's resurfaced lines on immigration.

February 4: Computer World:
California Utility Company forcing IT workers to train emigrants from India who will replace them:
Information technology workers at Southern California Edison (SCE) are being laid off and replaced by workers from India. Some employees are training their H-1B visa holding replacements, and many have already lost their jobs.  The employees are upset and say they can't understand how H-1B guest workers can be used to replace them.  The immigration laws clearly state that people are not to be allowed to emigrate if by doing so it will adversely impact American jobs.  But that is exactly what seems to be happening under this current administration.  In this instance, the IT organization's "transition effort" is expected to result in about 400 layoffs, with "another 100 or so employees leaving voluntarily," SCE said in a statement.

February 4: Breitbart News: Rand Paul  to oppose Lynch AG Nomination
Sen. Rand Paul will oppose—very publicly—the nomination of U.S. Attorney Loretta Lynch to replace Eric Holder as Attorney General of the United States.  When Paul heard about her non-answer to a Ted Cruz (R-TX) question during the confirmation —she wouldn’t commit that the federal government does not have the authority to take the immigration actions it did — he was incredulous. He told his office staff he’s going to oppose her and aim to derail her nomination chances. “Oh, she’s going down,” Paul said. 

February 2: National Review:
Over 5.5 Million Work Permits Issued to Foreign Nationals since President took office – Impact on U.S. citizens seeking employment?
More than 5.46 million foreign nationals have received work permits from the federal government since 2009, according to a new report from the Center for Immigration Studies. Data uncovered from the U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services agency reveal that approximately 982,000 work permits were given to illegal immigrants and other foreign nationals unqualified for admission, most of whom crossed the border without inspection. USCIS is the DHS agency responsible for issuing work permits and processing applications related to President Obama’s executive action on immigration. The remarkable number of work permits granted by the federal government to law-breaking aliens better explains how all net jobs growth since 2007 has gone to immigrants.

Related Story:  The Daily Caller: President Barack Obama has quietly handed out an extra 5.46 million work permits for non-immigrant foreigners who arrived as tourists, students, illegal immigrants or other types of migrants since 2009, according to federal documents released by a Freedom of Information Act request.  “The executive branch is operating a huge parallel work-authorization system outside the bounds of the [immigration] laws and limits written by Congress [and which] inevitably reduces job opportunities for Americans,” said Jessica Vaughan, the policy director at the Center for Immigration Studies. 

February 2:  Americans for Tax Reform:  Obama’s Budget crates a second Death Tax
The Obama budget calls for a stealth increase in the death tax rate from 40% to nearly 60%. Here's how it works:  Your dad buys a house for $10,000.  He dies and leaves it to you. The fair market value on the date of death is $100,000. You sell it for $120,000. Under current law, you have a capital gain of $20,000 (sales price of $120,000 less step up in basis of $100,000).  Under the Obama plan, you have a capital gain of $110,000 (sales price of $120,000 less original basis of $10,000).  There are exemptions for most households, but this misses the larger point: the whole reason we have step up in basis is because we have a death tax. If you are going to hold an estate liable for tax, you can't then hold the estate liable for tax again when the inheritor sells it. This adds yet another redundant layer of tax on savings and investment. It's a huge tax hike on family farms and small businesses.
February 2: Yahoo News:  Behind President’s Budget Proposal is a “Gloomy” view of the future:
Beneath President Barack Obama's plan to fight income inequality lies a gloomy view of an economy that is growing slower and creating fewer rewards for its workers than it did in much of the last century.  In a budget proposal unveiled on Monday, the White House cut forecasts for an array of economic variables, depicting less growth, weaker inflation and lower interest rates than officials expected only a year ago.   This comes despite an unemployment rate that the Obama administration expects to hit the 5.2 percent level considered to be roughly in line with full employment sometime this year.   The administration's take on the economy is one of close to a prolonged period of stagnation.

February 2: The Washington Times:
Secret Tapes of Hillary Clinton’s Role in War in Lybia to be reviewed by Benghazi Committee:

The chairman of a special House committee created to investigate the 2012 Benghazi tragedy on Monday instructed his staff to review secretly recorded tapes and intelligence reports that detail Hillary Clinton’s role in advocating and executing the war in Libya, opening the door for a possible expansion of his probe.  Chairman Gowdy’s decision to seek a review of the materials carries potential consequences for the 2016 election in which Clinton is expected to seek the presidency. It could also move the committee to examine the strained relationship between the State Department and Pentagon, which sharply disagreed over the 2011 war in Libya and the response to the terrorist attack on the U.S. compound in Benghazi a year later.

January 31: Jerusalem Post:
Obama has agreed to 80% of Iran’s Nuclear Talk Demands, Israeli Officials Claim:

Israeli officials told Israeli media on Friday that they are convinced the Obama Administration has already agreed to most of Iran’s demands in the P5+1 negotiations over the Islamic Republic’s nuclear program.  According to unnamed officials, Washington “has given the Iranians 80 percent of what they want” out of the negotiations, local media reports.  Jerusalem officials appear alarmed at the prospect that the United States will soon strike a deal with the Iranian regime that will leave it with a “breakout point” of months before it can gallop toward the bomb.  Meanwhile an Obama Administration official dismissed the claims as “complete nonsense.”  But then again these are the same people who brought you if you like your doctor you and keep him and if you like you plan you can keep it!

January 31: The New York Times:  White House Seeks to Limit Health Law’s Tax Troubles!
Obama administration officials and other supporters of ObamaCare say they worry that the tax-filing season will generate new anger as uninsured consumers learn that they must pay tax penalties and as many people struggle with complex forms needed to justify tax credits they received in 2014 to pay for health insurance.  The White House has already granted some exemptions and is considering more to avoid another political firestorm. 

January 30: The Washington Post: The CIA/Mossad killed senior Hezbollah figure in car bombing:
On Feb. 12, 2008, Imad Mughniyah, Hezbollah’s international operations chief, walked on a quiet nighttime street in Damascus after dinner at a nearby restaurant. Not far away, a team of CIA spotters in the Syrian capital was tracking his movements.  As Mughniyah approached a parked SUV, a bomb planted in a spare tire on the back of the vehicle exploded, sending a burst of shrapnel across a tight radius. He was killed instantly.  The device was triggered remotely from Tel Aviv by agents with Mossad, the Israeli foreign intelligence service, who were in communication with the operatives on the ground in Damascus. “The way it was set up, the U.S. could object and call it off, but it could not execute,” said a former U.S. intelligence official.

January 29: The Washington Times:
Senate Demands Obama Administration Turn Over All Communications with the IRS:

Senate Finance Chair, Orrin Hatch and 13 other Republicans on the Committee  demanded that President Obama turn over all communications he and his aides have had with the IRS since 2010, hoping to find out whether the tax collection agency shared private taxpayer information with political operatives at the White House. The request, made in a letter,  is specifically addressed to the President and is an attempt to determine whether any White House or IRS officials  employees broke the law by acquiring or sharing private information

January 29: Fox News:
DOD opened back channel with Qaddafi to keep U.S. & Clinton from getting involved with Libyan Civil War:
Pentagon officials were so concerned with then-Secretary of State Hillary Clinton's push in 2011 to back Libyan rebels against Muammar Qaddafi that they opened their own back-channels with Qaddafi to try and prevent the U.S. from entering the civil war, according to a report that cited newly uncovered audio tapes. According to a report Thursday in The Washington Times, Pentagon officials used an intelligence "liaison" to communicate with Qaddafi's son and a top Libyan leader outside of White House or State Department knowledge. A senior Democratic congressman also reportedly was involved. Recorded conversations said  "You should see these internal State Department reports that are produced in the State Department that go out to the Congress. They're just full of stupid, stupid facts," the U.S. intermediary reportedly told the Qaddafi regime in 2011. The paper said the liaison was "specifically dispatched by the Joint Chiefs of Staff." Eventually the U.S. helped topple the Qadddafi regime and in the aftermath of the civil war the U.S. ambassador was murdered during the attack on Benghazi in 2012 while under Mrs. Clinton's watch. The Washington Times story suggests that the Obama Administration's efforts, led by Clinton, were focused on regime change, not a negotiated settlement, during the lead-up to the war. 

January 29: The Weekly Standard:  White House Netanyahu Ratchets Up Rhetoric
The Obama Administration is angry with Israel for accepting a Republican Congress' invitation to address both houses in a joint session and for doing so without checking with the White House first! The outrage the episode has incited within President Obama’s inner circle became clear in unusually sharp criticism with statements like the Israeli ambassador, who helped orchestrate the invitation, had repeatedly placed Mr. Netanyahu’s political fortunes above the relationship between Israel and the United States. This is not the first time unnamed Administration officials have made derogatory statements about Israeli officials, such as last summer when one called Prime Minister Netanyahu a "coward" and a "chickens--t". But there is no reason to think those unnamed angry officials do not speak for an angry president.  The Obama White House usually prides itself on not getting angry. Its self-image is that it's cool, calm, and collected. And it doesn't get angry at, for example, the Islamic Republic of Iran. The Obama White House understands and appreciates the complexities of the Islamic Republic's politics and history. It seems it is only with respect to the Jewish state that the Obama White House is impatient, peremptory, and angry.

January 29: The Daily Caller: Obama Administration Advisors caught “Green-Handed”
In 2013, John Podesta was paid $87,000 by a “shadowy” foreign billionaire whose passion is preventing energy exploration on American land.  Just two years later, Podesta is a member of President Obama’s inner circle, and the driving force inside the White House to block 12 million acres of land in Alaska’s Artic National Wildlife Refuge from oil drilling.  The circumstances suggest Podesta may have run afoul of Obama’s highly-touted ethics pledge, which requires political appointees to disqualify themselves in matters relating to the interests of a former employer or client.  Podesta — who is preparing to leave the White House to take a top position with Hillary Clinton’s presidential campaign -- has largely avoided public scrutiny during his time as a White House Counselor. But his work came into fuller view earlier this week when he emerged as one of the architects of the new White House policy that seeks to end any future drilling for oil on Alaska’s coastal plain.

A public ethics controversy for the White House Counselor involving Hansjorg Wyss, the second wealthiest man in Switzerland, could be awkward for Podesta as he prepares to kick off Hillary’s campaign.  The ethical questions could also force into the open the relationship between Podesta and Wyss — including why a left-wing foreigner is wielding influence over how Americans use their land.  Wyss, a Swiss citizen, has been a generous donor to Podesta’s Center for American Progress, giving $4 million to the group during Podesta’s tenure. Podesta has returned the favor by rewarding Wyss with a coveted seat on CAP’s board

January 29: Sky News: UK Summons Ambassador over Russian Bomber Overflights
Two Civilian Aircraft needed to be Diverted as Russian Bomber flew over the English Channel.  Britain has summoned Russia's ambassador after RAF Typhoons were scrambled when two Russian bombers flew over the English Channel.  The British fighter jets were scrambled on Wednesday when the Russian TU-95 'Bear' long-range bombers flew near UK airspace.  A Foreign Office spokesperson said while the planes stopped short of entering British airspace, the incident was part of an "increasing pattern of out of area operations by Russian aircraft".  A spokesperson said: "While the Russian planes did not enter sovereign UK airspace and were escorted by RAF Typhoons throughout the time they were in the UK area of interest, the Russian planes caused disruption to civil aviation.  "That is why we summoned the Russian Ambassador today to account for the incident."

January 29: The Hill: Senate votes to build the Keystone XL Pipeline
The Senate on Thursday voted 62-36 to build the Keystone XL oil sands pipeline, delivering Republicans the first legislative achievement of their new majority.  Nine Democrats joined with Republicans in voting to approve the $8 billion project, five votes short of the two-thirds majority that would be needed to override a promised veto from President Obama.  The bill now heads to the House, where Republicans are determined to act quickly to force Obama into taking what they believe will be a politically unpopular stand against a project that would carry oil sands from Canada to refineries on the Gulf Coast. While the House voted to build the pipeline earlier this year, the Senate added several amendments to the legislation. The earliest the Keystone bill could reach Obama would be next week — just as the State Department receives final comments on the proposal to build the pipeline.

January 29: The Hill: Obama Budget $74 Billion over caps:  
President Obama will propose in his 2016 budget request to raise discretionary spending by $74 billion above the caps in sequestration, a White House official said Thursday.  Obama, who will formally unveil his next budget blueprint on Monday, will ask Congress to increase discretionary spending by 7 percent above caps set by the Budget Control Act of 2011.   White House press secretary Josh Earnest called the budget “the beginning of a negotiation,” but argued it was an important marker for the president’s priorities.

January 28: The Daily Mail:
CBO report says Obamacare program costs taxpayers $50,000 for every person covered:

It will cost the federal government [Taxpayers, that is] $50,000 for every person who gets health insurance under the Obamacare law, the Congressional Budget Office (CBO) revealed on Monday.  The best-case scenario described by the CBO would result in 24-27 million more people being insured but it also will require an estimated bank-busting $1.35 trillion – or $50,000 per head - to cover the cost of the subsidies.  Not addressed is what would happen if the Supreme Court decides this summer that health insurance subsidies only apply to states that have their own healthcare exchanges (e.g., not including most of the states where the Federal government, and not the state, established the exchanges).

Israeli Defense Forces Tank Crew Member on top of his tankJanuary 28: Jerusalem Post:
IDF strikes Syrian army targets following Golan rocket attacks:

The Israel Air Force (IAF) struck Syrian army artillery targets late on Tuesday night in response to an earlier rocket attack carried out on the Golan Heights and Mount Hermon.  "The IDF views the Syrian regime as responsible for what occurs in its territory, and will act at any time and any way it sees fit to protect the citizens of Israel," the IDF said. The targets were accurately struck, the IDF added. Two rockets launched from Syrian territory exploded in open territory, failing to cause injuries or damages.

January 27: Yahoo News:
Arabs in Israel banding together to try and defeat Netanyahu

Israel's Arab political parties are banding together under one ticket for the first time ever ahead of national elections in March, hoping to boost turnout and help unseat Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu.  The result is an awkward political marriage of communists, Palestinian nationalists, religious Muslims, feminists and even one Jew. But Arab politicians say it will improve chronically low Arab voter turnout and help block Netanyahu from forming the next government.  "We will be a central player in politics like never before," said Ayman Odeh, a first-time parliamentary candidate and the leader of the combined Arab list.

January 27: Fox News: Senate to start hearings on Lynch nomination to AG position: Immigration and IRS expected to be focus of the meeting:
Senate hearings begin Wednesday on whether to confirm U.S. Attorney Loretta Lynch as President Obama’s next attorney general, with Judiciary Committee members set to question her aggressively on such issues as immigration law and potential overreaches by the IRS and federal law enforcement.  The hearings in the GOP-led Senate Judiciary Committee are expected to begin with Republican members asking Lynch, the U.S. attorney for the Eastern District of New York, about whether she thinks Obama has overstepped his executive authority by deferring deportation for millions of illegal immigrants.   “It will be a long first day, because my approach … is to allow for as many questions as necessary to ensure that members have a chance to receive answers in person if they’d like,” said committee Chairman Sen. Chuck Grassley, (R-IA)

January 27: Fox News: Ex-military Intel Officer says White House is delaying announcement that Bergdahl will be charged with desertion:
A former military intelligence officer claimed Tuesday that the White House was delaying the announcement of its decision to file desertion charges against Sgt. Bowe Bergdahl, who was released by Taliban-aligned militants last year in exchange for five Guantanamo prisoners.  In defending claims he originally made Monday on "The O'Reilly Factor" that Bergdahl would be charged, retired Lt. Col. Tony Shaffer told Bill O'Reilly that there was "no doubt" the White House was dragging out its decision.  Shaffer, who believes the White House's alleged decision to delay its announcement is politically motivated, added that he stands by "all of those facts," referring to his report on Monday that Bergdahl's lawyer has been given a statement of charges.

Hillary Clinton: Who Cares?January 27: The Hill:   Clinton Willing to testify on Benghazi:
Hillary Clinton is willing to testify before the House Select Committee that is investigating the 2012 terrorist attacks in Benghazi, Libya, according to the panel’s top Democrat.  Congressman Cummings (D-MD) on Tuesday said he has spoken to Clinton about the possibility of testifying at the request of Chairman Gowdy (R-SC), and she “did not hesitate for one second.  She said ... I’ll do it, period,” Cummings said.

January 27: The Daily Caller: 
State Benghazi witness takes withering questions for criticism of conservatives
A State Department witness was confronted during a Capitol Hill hearing on Tuesday about his past comments questioning the motives of conservatives for investigating the 2012 terrorist attacks against Americans in Benghazi.  During a hearing of the Benghazi Select Committee, Congressman Roskam (R-IL) repeatedly questioned Joel M. Rubin, the deputy assistant secretary for House affairs, about past op-eds he authored suggesting that Republicans were only investigating the attacks for partisan reasons.  “You don’t think that this a frivolous, partisan investigation, do you?” Roskam asked Rubin Tuesday.

January 27: Washington Free BeaconPhotos Show China Military Base Near disputed Japanese Island:
Recent satellite photos of an island off the coast of China confirm Beijing’s buildup of military forces within attack range of Japan’s Senkaku islands. Construction of a helicopter base on Nanji Island was observed by a commercial spy satellite in October.   “China’s new heli-base on Nanji Island demonstrates that the PLA is preparing for an offensive military operation against the Senkaku/Daiyoutai Islands,” said Rick Fisher, a senior fellow with the International Assessment and Strategy Center. “If you want to rate the level of tension, this is the PLA reaching for its holster. When forces start deploying to Nanji Island, that means the hammer is cocked.”

January 26: The Daily News: Congressional Deadlines May Determine the Course of the Nation:
It is time for Congress to get its job done, taking actions that are fiscally sound and based on sound policies.  If the President vetoes such actions and parts of government are shutdown, let the blame fall upon the Administration!  Fiscal restraint and sound policy are not an option, they’re an imperative!

January 25: Fox News:  Grassley to Hospitals: Why are you suing poor patients?
Sen. Charles Grassley  (R-IA) is calling out nonprofit hospitals who are suing poor patients over unpaid bills and says they could be breaking the law. Grassley said the hospital had stretched the law to the breaking point. He was concerned that “… patients who would qualify for financial assistance…”  have been subject to abusive billing and collection practices.  "The practices appear to be extremely punitive and unfair to both low-income patients and taxpayers who subsidize charitable hospitals' tax breaks."

January 25: Sky News: Change in Greek Leadership may see them leave the EuroZone
Greece was forced by the Euro bailout to make deep budget cuts and fiscal reforms as part of the deal.  The current leadership is insisting that its actions are about to bear fruit, but exit polls indicate that Samaras – current leader of Greece – is about to be relieved of duty by the leftist candidate (Syriza) who wants to soften the burden of the cuts.  If this happens it looks as though Greece will be cut loose from the European Union’s EuroZone and allowed to fail on its debt payments.  What is happening in Greece  is a picture of what could happen in the United States if it doesn’t start dealing with its thirst for spending and its continual increasing of the national debt. 

January 25: Reuters: Aggression in Ukraine Continues – Obama Promises Steps Against Russian-backed Rebels but Taking Military Option Off the Table:
Pro-Moscow rebels, backed by what NATO says is the open participation of Russian troops, pressed on with their offensive on Sunday after restarting the war in eastern Ukraine with the first all-out assault since a truce five months ago.  President  Obama said Washington was considering all options short of military action to isolate Russia. The European Union called an emergency meeting of foreign ministers of its 28 member states. 

January 25: Fox News: TSA: Record Number of Guns seized in 2014
Government screeners at airport checkpoints seized a record number of guns in 2014.  Air travelers caught trying to board a plane with a weapon included a 94-year-old man at New York’s LaGuardia Airport. The man had a loaded .38-caliber revolver clipped to his belt.  The LA Times reported Friday on a new Transportation Security Administration study that found a significant increase in the number of firearms seized in carry-on bags at 224 airports. The TSA said it confiscated 2,212 firearms in 2014, compared to 1,813 in 2013. That’s a rise of 22 percent.

January 25: The Daily Caller: George Will: Obama goes out of his way to show disdain for Congress:
When asked about President Barack Obama’s refusal to meet with Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu during his trip to Washington to address Congress, syndicated columnist George Will said on “Fox News Sunday” that Obama often goes out of his way to “show disdain” for Congress and Netanyahu. When asked if Boehner was wrong to invite Netannyahu without consulting the White House and whether the Prime Minister should have accepted the invitation, Will responded neither was wrong.

January 24: The Times of Israel: Iran Vows to Attack Israel from the West Bank
Iran has threatened to attack Israel from the West Bank, in retaliation for an alleged Israeli airstrike in Syria on Sunday that left 12 Iranian and Hezbollah operatives dead. The airstrike has been attributed to Israel and though Jerusalem has not officially confirmed it, anonymous government sources have admitted as much.   Deputy head of Iran’s Revolutionary Guards Lt.-Gen. Hossein Salami vowed Saturday to “open new fronts [against Israel] and change the balance of power.” In an excerpt of an interview with Salami, the IRGC’s number two said that Iran and Hezbollah would provide a “special reprisal” to the strike, according to the Tasnim News Agency, adding that opening a new front in the West Bank was in the works.

January 24: The Hill: Walker Wows the Conservative Crowd in Iowa
Gov. Scott Walker (R-WI) delivered a fiery speech in Iowa on Saturday, wowing the conservative crowd with a passionate argument for small government and his own lengthy resume.  The Wisconsin governor, in rolled-up shirtsleeves, paced the stage as he blasted big government and touted a long list of conservative reforms he's pushed through in blue Wisconsin -- touted his three victories over Democrats and recall win as well as his state-level education reforms.  Each new policy he helped pass drew cheers: Voter ID laws, education reforms, tax cuts and defunding Planned Parenthood. The governor also showed a rhetorical flourish that's largely been absent from his previous campaigns, drawing the crowd to its feet multiple times.  "There's a reason we take a day off to celebrate the 4th of July and not the 15th of April," he said, almost yelling as his voice grew hoarse. "Because in America we value our independence from the government, not our dependence on it."

January 24: The Telegraph:  The EU Dream is Dying one State at a Time:
Europe is being swept by a wave of popular disenchantment and revolt against mainstream political parties and the European Union.  In 2007, a majority of Europeans - 52 per cent - trusted the EU. That level of trust has now fallen to a third.   In Greece, a far-Left Socialist party candidate, Syriza, is poised to win elections with a political program that would overturn eurozone policies.  Many believe the Greek revolt against the loss of their economic sovereignty by eurozone is only the beginning.  France, Italy, Spain, and even Germany are beginning to show cracks in the European political order are beginning to show. [Related Story]

January 23: The Daily Caller: NY Gun Store to Close: Restrictive Gun Laws Cited:
A New York gun dealer says he will shut down two stores he operates near Rochester and move to North Carolina because of onerous regulations on the sale of firearms and ammunition.  “The SAFE Act killed us in terms of business,” Kordell Jackson, who owns Jackson Guns and Ammo, said.  “It was very difficult with sales and regulations with transferring and obtaining firearms, so I decided to close up,” Jackson said.

January 23: The Hill: GOP to IRS: Why hire the company that botched Healthcare.gov?
A Republican lawmaker is asking the Internal Revenue Service (IRS) why it hired a contractor to help with ObamaCare that was previously fired for its shoddy work on HealthCare.gov.  Rep. Peter Roskam (R-IL), who leads the Ways and Means subcommittee on Oversight, called on the IRS Friday to explain how CGI Federal was chosen and what work the company will perform.  "The American people should know why the IRS spent millions of taxpayer dollars to hire the same company responsible for the botched HealthCare.gov rollout," Roskam said in a written statement.  "From an agency clamoring for more funding, this isn’t a confidence-inspiring use of resources," he said

Congressmen Gowdy & Cummins of the Select Committee on Benghazi January 22: The Daily Signal:
Federal Agencies Continue to Stonewall Benghazi Investigation:
Some federal agencies continue to stonewall when it comes to the ongoing investigation into the Benghazi terrorist attacks, according to insiders familiar with the process. They say the House Benghazi Select Committee isn’t getting access to all relevant documents and witnesses.  That will be the topic of the committee’s first public hearing of 2015 called for Tuesday next week.  Most of the committee’s work since a (slightly) bipartisan vote created it May 8, 2014, has quietly focused on the massive task of gathering information. The committee has provided relevant federal agencies a list of several dozen witnesses it wishes to interview. But Republican staff members are encountering some of the same roadblocks that other committees met as they investigated pieces of the events surrounding the Sept. 11, 2012, terrorist attacks on U.S. facilities in Benghazi.

January 22: The Hill:  House approves anti-abortion bill  but not by a veto-proof margin [242 For, 179 Against]
House Republicans on Thursday passed an alternative anti-abortion bill after pulling their originally planned legislation from the floor in a last-minute scramble.  The new bill, unveiled less than 24 hours earlier, would prohibit taxpayer funding for abortion. Passage fell largely along party lines by a vote of 242-179. Rep. Richard Hanna (R-NY) was the only Republican to oppose the measure, while three Democrats — Reps. Henry Cuellar (TX), Dan Lipinski (IL) and Collin Peterson (MN) — voted in favor of it.

GOP leaders scheduled the vote for the same day as the annual March for Life, when thousands of anti-abortion-rights demonstrators descend upon the National Mall on the anniversary of the Roe v. Wade Supreme Court decision.   But leadership yanked the original measure slated for a vote after complaints from House GOP women and centrists who objected to language granting the victims of rape an exception from the ban on abortions after 20 weeks of pregnancy only if the rape was reported to police.

January 22: MCR Television: Head of Immigration Officer’s Union Blast Amnesty and Immigration bill
“We admit individuals who have no business being admitted,” the head of the immigration officers’ union said today, blasting both Obama’s amnesty and the new border bill.  The new “border security” bill is “a global joke,” he said.   Those who arrived in the 2014 border run are still here, often living on US support and even applying for US jobs.  The bill also delays by years the implementation of biometric exit-entry to police the rising overstay catastrophe.”

January 22: Fox News: GOP base: Repeal Obamacare or go home!
[Republican lawmakers are facing rising pressure from conservative groups and activists to go big – or potentially go home].
After taking control of Congress, Republicans who ran in part on their opposition to the law are starting to roll out legislation undoing pieces of it. But the party is stuck in an internal debate over how far they can really go – risking a potential backlash from the party’s right flank if they don’t go far enough.  Tea Party activists say they are frustrated with the pace of progress toward conservatives’ goal of upending the Affordable Care Act. So far, several Republican lawmakers, like Senate Finance Committee Chairman Orin Hatch (R-UT) have indicated they’d have better luck chipping away at the law “piece by piece.”  On Wednesday, Senators Hatch and Alexander (R-TN) introduced legislation to repeal the health care law’s individual mandate requiring most people to obtain insurance. The legislation is backed by 20 GOP senators.  They are also pushing a bill to scratch the law’s controversial 2.3 percent tax on medical devices.

January 22: The Daily Caller: DOJ Won’t File Against Wilson in Ferguson Case – It’s Over!
The Justice Department is preparing to clear Ferguson, Missouri police officer Darren Wilson of violating the civil rights of Michael Brown.  Federal law enforcement officials are putting the finishing touches on a legal memo recommending that Wilson not face charges, which would have required the Justice Department to show that Wilson intended to violate the civil rights of Brown — who is black — when he opened fire.  They can’t build a case against him because there is no case against him. They knew that going in. This was a purely political move. Now that it’s safe to drop it, they’re dropping it.  Darren Wilson shot Michael Brown in self-defense. It’s over. You can whine all you want, you can blurt out as many stupid, dishonest slogans as you want, but it’s over.

January 22: Associated Press: President passes on meeting with Netanyahu:
Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu's planned trip to Washington in March is kicking up a diplomatic dust storm in the nation's capital.  On Thursday, the White House said President Barack Obama would not meet the prime minister when he comes to the U.S. to address a joint session of Congress. The White House appeared stunned by what it saw as a breach of diplomatic decorum by Netanyahu, a leader with whom Obama has a history of tension.

January 22: Israel National News: Fury in Israel over Obama’s Mossad Lies:
Senior Israeli says 'friends don't act like this' after Mossad Head denies US claim that he opposed Iran sanctions in talk with senators.  A senior Israeli official delivered an uncommonly harsh attack on US President Barack Obama's administration Thursday evening, following the American report that alleged that Mossad Head Tamir Pardo had warned US senators against further Iran sanctions, in contradiction of Israel's official stance.   Israeli government officials said they had gone over the minutes of the meeting between Pardo and the delegation of senators, and that Pardo had not said what was attributed to him.

January 20: The Washington Examiner:
President’s proposed tax credit will pay for about two weeks of childcare:

Among the highlights of President’s State of the Union address plans to pull the American family out of economic plight is a $500 tax credit for two-earner families.   Here’s how the White House presented it in a fact sheet: “Provide a new, simple tax credit to two-earner families. The president will propose a new $500 second earner credit to help cover the additional costs faced by families in which both spouses work — benefiting 24 million couples.”  The provision is included in his effort “to help middle class families get ahead.” Like who? Administration officials said families earning up to $210,000 would get a piece of the tax credit. That is four-times the earning of the “typical” middle class income of $51,939 calculated by the Obama-supporting Center for American Progress.  The $500 annual tax credit would also only cover about two weeks of childcare costs.

January 20: The Hill: Keystone marathon begins as two Democrat amendments fail:
The Senate on Tuesday began what is expected to be a weeks-long debate over the Keystone XL pipeline by holding a trio of amendment votes. An amendment by Senator Portman (R-OH) that is a trimmed down version of an energy efficiency bill passed (95 to 4). Two other amendments -- one that would ban the export of oil shipped to Texas through the pipeline and another that would require the project to be built with U.S. steel products – both failed to pass. Sen. Joe Manchin (D-WVA), a co-sponsor of the underlying Keystone bill, said he didn't mind having votes to table amendments. "It is the first time we have got to vote very much since I have been here in four years, so the vote to table something is a vote," Manchin told reporters.  Senators on Tuesday agreed to take up another six amendments, with votes set to begin Wednesday.

January 20: The Daily Caller: NY Sheriff:  Handgun renewal permit going into the garbage
“because that is where they belong”

Fulton County, N.Y. is home to a strong hunting and fishing tradition. Guns are commonplace.  But they are about to come head to head with the New York state government.   With tough state  gun control laws in place, New York is attempting to crack down on gun ownership and permits.  But Thomas Lorey, Fulton County Sheriff with 45 years of law enforcement under his belt is fighting back.  Fulton County is poised to defy a governor that has forced unreasonable gun restrictions on law-abiding citizens – in this case paying the state for the right to keep your handgun.

January 20: The Hill: Obama threatens another veto: Opposes bill to eliminate abortions after 20 weeks:
The Obama administration on Tuesday threatened to veto the GOP-backed bill to ban abortions after 20 weeks, calling it a “direct challenge” to a court-protected right for women.  The House is planning to vote on the bill Thursday, the anniversary of the landmark Supreme Court abortion case, Roe v. Wade, and the same day that thousands of anti-abortion advocates will participate in the March for Life.

January 19: United Press International:Kurdish forces take control of strategic hill near Kobane
Kurdish militia have taken control of a strategic hilltop that overlooks the city of Kobane, Syria, as the fight for the city rages on.   The capture of Mishtenur hill now puts Islamic State resupply routes within the line of fire of Kurdish troops. "The military operation led to the deaths of at least 11 Islamic State fighters, and the seizure of large quantities of weapons and ammunition," the Syrian Observatory for Human Rights said.   In Kobane, hundreds have died and more than 200,000 have fled to Turkey.  Kurdish troops have been advancing to take control of Kobane with the support of air strikes by the U.S.-led coalition against the Islamic State.

January 19:  Reuters: Separatists renew attacks on Airport as Russia and Ukraine bicker
Pro-Russian separatists renewed attacks on Ukrainian forces at an airport complex in the east on Monday after Kiev launched a mass operation to reclaim lost ground there that Russia called a "strategic mistake".  Ukrainian officials said three soldiers had been killed and 66 wounded over the past 24 hours, during which they said they had returned battle lines at the airport outside Donetsk to the status quo under a much violated international peace plan.  Ukrainian Prime Minister Arseny Yatseniuk said Ukrainian intelligence had confirmed Russian cross-border arms deliveries to the separatists were continuing.

January 19: The Daily News: Reaching Dreams Through Self-Reliance
When a nation chooses to live completely beyond its means citizens need to start managing their money before it manages them; to develop self-discipline and be self-reliant with respect to their own spending; to learn and value the principle of hard work and eduction; to make wise choices about life and health; and to plan for emergencies, both natural and financial. Individually, we may not possess the power to change the direction of our nation, but history speaks loudly that those who prepare ahead of time survive! 

January 19: The Hill:  Possible Secret Weapon for fighting unilateral actions by the Administration
Republicans believe they have identified a potent weapon in their fight against President Obama’s regulatory agenda.  GOP lawmakers plan to employ the seldom-used Congressional Review Act (CRA), which gives lawmakers the power to formally disapprove of major agency rules, as they seek to ratchet up their attacks on federal red tape.  "It hasn’t been possible to use this in a divided Congress,” House Judiciary Committee Chairman Bob Goodlatte (R-VA) told The Hill, "but now that it is, we certainly are interested in reviewing regulations to make sure they meet with congressional intent.”

Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-KY) began threatening to use the CRA to stop regulations last year, after the EPA proposed a rule aimed at cutting carbon emissions from new power plants. “That’s why I, along with about 40 Republican co-sponsors ... intend to file a resolution of disapproval under the Congressional Review Act to ensure a vote to stop this devastating rule,” he said at the time. The fly in the ointment is that they will need the President’s signature for the resolution to go into effect, a signature they are unlikely to obtain.  But by acting, they can at least continue to apply pressure on the Administration.

January 19:  Fox News:GOP establishment forgets the power of the party’s conservatives
The 2012 election has had a searing effect on the Republican Party. The Rommney 126-electoral-vote defeat of its nominee to  an incumbent thought to be highly vulnerable may have altered the trajectory of the GOP.   It left Republicans stunned and searching for answers, a quest that very much continues today. Meanwhile Senator Ted Cruz (R-TX) said “If we nominate another candidate in that mold the same people who stayed home in 2008 and 2012 will stay home in 2016 and the Democrats will win again…”  The GOP goal should be to find a charismatic candidate who will excite the conservative wing of the party while not alienating those who are more moderate.  Without the backing of the conservatives, Ted Cruz’s statement will be correct.  The problem is that there doesn’t seem to be a viable candidate on the horizon who will stick to his/her conservative principles and who will excite the majority of the GOP electorate. 

January 19: The Weekly Standard:  Obamacare: Democrats having second thoughts – buyer’s remorse?
Republicans have gone from 41 percent of the House seats after the 2008 election to 57 percent and after 2014 and from 40 senators to 54.  Inevitably, some Democrats have begun to disparage Obamacare. Half of the 60 Democratic senators who voted for the Affordable Care Act in December 2009 are no longer in the Senate. These ex-senators include eight who were defeated by Republicans, and eight more who chose not to run again and were succeeded by Republicans.  In the wake of the new reality, some Democrat Senators are claiming Obamacare was a mistake or needs to be redrafted to fix the problems that are becoming more evident on a daily basis.

January 18: The Washington Times: Obamacare taxes are likely to be more than $95
Those Americans who didn’t get health insurance last year could be in for a rude awakening when the IRS asks them to fork over their Obamacare penalty [“tax” according the U.S. Supreme Court]  — and it could be a lot more than the $95 many of them may be expecting. It could be from $95 up to 1% of their household income [If a person has no health insurance and earns $70,000 a year the tax penalty could be $700] And next year it gets worse.

January 18: Yahoo News: Middle Class Decline: Legacy of Six Years of Obama Rein
President Obama enters the final two years of his presidency with a blemish on his legacy that looks impossible to erase: the decline of the middle class he has promised to rescue.  The revival of middle-class jobs has been one of his mantras since he took office in 2009.   It was a major theme of his last State of the Union address and is expected to feature in the one scheduled for Tuesday.  Administration officials said on Saturday the president would propose higher capital gains taxes, new fees on large financial firms, and other measures to raise $320 billion for programs and tax breaks aimed at the middle class.

January 18: Yahoo News: Netanyahu shifts focus to Asian markets as European Cities become anti-Israel:
Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu said on Sunday a wave of anti-Semitism and what he called "Islamisation" in Western Europe are factors in a Jewish state push to expand trade with Asia. Europe is Israel's biggest trading partner, but deepening diplomatic disputes over policy toward the Palestinians and anti-Jewish incidents such as a Jan. 9 attack by an Islamist gunman on a Paris kosher deli have triggered Israeli worries. Netanyahu, who is also finance minister and a free-market champion, cast his courting of China, India and Japan over the past two years as a partial response to European developments.

January 18: The Washington Examiner: Harry Reid may retire instead of facing a tough challenge in 2016
Senate minority leader Harry Reid is the most vulnerable Democrat up for re-election in 2016, and may retire to duck a humiliating defeat, according to a new analysis of the 2016 race.  “We identified Reid as probably the most vulnerable Democratic incumbent in this Senate cycle,” said a “Crystal Ball” report from the University of Virginia’s Center for Politics.  It’s also possible that he will retire, although his heavy fundraising and public comments suggest that he’s running again,” said the latest report from analyst Geoffrey Skelley. Recent reports suggest Reid is going for his sixth term.  The analysis found that of all senators ever to seek a sixth term, Reid’s ratings and margin of victory in past races puts him on the endangered list.

January 18: Fox News: Graham: Giving Senate a vote on Iran Sanctions
Senator Lindsey Graham (R-SC) said Sunday that he would set aside efforts to impose more sanctions on Iran if President Obama allows Congress to vote on a final deal with that country over its nuclear program.  “I'm willing to forgo that vote with the understanding that any deal he negotiates will come to the Congress for our approval or disapproval as a check and balance,” Graham said on NBC’s “Meet the Press." Imposing sanctions on Iran to force the country to curtail its nuclear enrichment program, presumably to build a nuclear weapon, has bipartisan support in Congress.  This weekend, Senate staffers confirmed some details about upcoming legislation sponsored by Senators Mark Kirk (R-IL) and Bob Menendez (D-NJ) both members of the Senate Banking Committee. 

January 15: Bloomberg.com: President set to ask Congress for a 7% budget busting increase:
President Barack Obama will ask Congress for as much as $68 billion more than current budget limits in fiscal 2016, according to two people familiar with the administration’s proposal. The request sets up a fight with the Republican-led House and Senate over whether to reverse part of the spending limits that the U.S. Congress and the White House agreed to in fiscal deals earlier this decade.  The new spending would mean as much as $34 billion each for the national security and domestic sides of what will be a budget of almost $4 trillion. It will be detailed in the budget proposal Obama will send to Congress on Feb. 2.  

January 15: Arizona Family.com:Arizona becomes the first state to require students to pass a civics test:
Arizona became the first state in the nation on Thursday to enact a law requiring high school students to pass the U.S. citizenship test on civics before graduation, giving a boost to a growing nationwide effort to boost civics education.  Both the Arizona House and Senate quickly passed the legislation on just the fourth day of the legislative session, and newly elected Republican Gov. Doug Ducey signed it into law Thursday evening.  The swift action in Arizona comes as states around the country take up similar measures. Arizona's law requires high school students to correctly answer 60 of 100 questions on the civics portion of the test new citizens must pass.  The test is being pushed nationally by the Arizona-based Joe Foss Institute, which has set a goal of having all 50 states adopt it by 2017, the 230th anniversary of the U.S. Constitution. The institute says legislatures in 15 states are expected to consider it this year.

January 15: National Journal: McConnell: Senate will try to pass the House Immigration Bill:
After hearing a week's worth of complaints from his conservative members, Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell said Thursday that the Senate will attempt to approve a House-passed bill that guts President Obama's executive actions on immigration.  But McConnell affirmed at a joint House and Senate Republican retreat in Hershey, Pa., that he will work to get the House's bill—which passed that chamber Wednesday—to the president's desk. "We're going to try to pass it," he told reporters Thursday.

January 15: Breitbart.com: Congressman Denham says GOP is quietly crafting an immigration bill:
The GOP’s most outspoken proponent of comprehensive immigration reform let loose in an interview with reporters here, detailing quiet efforts to draft far-reaching legislation, saying House leadership is “committed” to bringing the hot-button topics on the floor and criticizing President Obama for carrying out too many deportations. 

January 14: Yahoo News: Need help with your tax return? Don’t bother calling the IRS!
Filing a federal tax return is about to get more complicated for millions of families because of President Obama's health law. But they shouldn't expect much help from the IRS. The IRS is experiencing budget woes caused by cut backs in funding. These budget cuts were in response to the IRS targeting of conservative groups and the Administration’s (IRS’s) stonewalling of the Congressional investigation to the Democrat use of this agency for political purposes.  The emails from Lois Lerner and her associates have still not been provided to the Congress. Meanwhile the commissioner blames Congress and not the actions of his own agency for the problems the IRS is facing.

January 13: The Daily Caller:  White House: Obama will fight media to stop anti-jihad articles
The White House Press Secretary said yesterday that President Obama has a moral responsibility to push back on the nation’s journalism community when it is planning to publish anti-jihadi articles that might cause a jihadi attack against the nation’s defenses forces.  Presidential spokesman Josh Earnest’s disclosure during the regular White House morning briefing was an unprecedented reversal of Americans’ civil-military relations, and of the president’s duty to protect the First Amendment.  Earnest tried to excuse the administration’s opposition in 2012 to the publication of anti-jihadi cartoons by the French satirical magazine Charlie Hebdo.

January 13: The Daily Caller:   Former Secret Service Agent:
Obama a Petulant Child, Blaming Secret Service for Skipping Paris Trip:
Former Secret Service agent Dan Bongino blasted the President’s decision to blame security concerns for his decision not to attend an anti-terrorism rally in Paris.  The White House blamed security concerns for Obama’s decision not to attend the “March Of Unity” in Paris after a deadly Islamic terrorist attack on the satirical magazine Charlie Hebdo in Paris. The Secret Service said that it was never asked to prepare for a presidential visit to Paris.

January 13: McClatchy DC News:  GOP and White House Set Stage for Immigration Debate:
Congress and the White House are heading toward a high-stakes showdown over immigration, with financing for the crucial Department of Homeland Security at stake at the very moment that terrorist attacks in Paris last week have Americans on edge.  The House is expected to vote Wednesday on a $39.7 billion bill to keep the department open after money runs out Feb 28, but with language attached that would aggressively roll back several of President Barack Obama’s immigration actions.  Obama says he wants to sign a bill to keep funding the department but that he’ll veto it if takes on his immigration orders. 

January 13: National Journal: Obama Backs Government-Run Internet; Of Course He Does!
President Obama will travel to Cedar Falls, Iowa, on Wednesday to tout the ability of local governments to provide high-speed Internet to their residents. And he will urge the Federal Communications Commission to strike down state laws around the country that restrict the ability of cities to build their own broadband networks. The move is likely to draw fire from Republicans, who argue that states should be free to set their own policies—including restrictions on local governments.  Telecom and cable companies have been lobbying for the state laws, arguing that it's not fair for them to have to compete with government-owned Internet providers. The companies claim the city projects discourage private investment and are often expensive failures. House Republicans passed legislation last year to protect the state laws from FCC action.

January 11: Fox News: Senate needs four more votes for Veto-Proof Passage of XL Pipeline
The Senate still needs four votes to pass veto-proof legislation to build the Keystone XL oil pipeline, Senator Hoeven (R-ND), who sponsored the legislation, said Sunday.  Hoeven, said the Senate remains shy of the 67 votes needed to override a presidential veto.  All of the chamber's 54 Republicans and nine Democrats are expected to support the legislation, which needs a two-thirds majority to override a veto.  “But we're going to the floor with an open amendment process, trying to foster more bipartisanship,” Hoeven said.  He also suggested Senate Republicans might attach the bill to other legislation that would get 67 votes.  The upper chamber could hold a preliminary vote on the legislation as early as Monday.

January 11: The Hill: White House in Trouble over only sending Ambassador to Paris Unity Rally:
The Obama administration was criticized on social media Sunday for the lack of high-ranking U.S. officials at the unity rally in Paris, where more than 40 world leaders marched in commemoration of the lives lost to terrorism last week.  Attorney General Eric Holder was in Paris for talks on combatting terrorism and was scheduled to attend the rally. He was replaced by U.S. Ambassador to France Jane Hartley, according to reports.

January 11: Fox News: Four Million March for Unity in France following Terrorist Attack
At least 3.7 million people including more than 40 world leaders are marching throughout France on Sunday in a rally of national unity to honor the 17 victims of a three-day terror spree that took place around the French capital.  Missing was a high ranking representative from United States.  The French Interior Ministry said the rally for unity against terrorism is the largest demonstration in France's history, more than the numbers who took to Paris streets when the Allies liberated the city from the Nazis in World War II.

January 11: Fox News:
Dempsey things more can be done to combat terrorism; But Backs Closing of GITMO
Army Gen. Martin Dempsey, chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff, suggested Sunday that the United States could do more to fight terrorism but predicted eventual defeat for the new-but-extremely-violent Islamic State group.  Dempsey said that defeating terrorism will require an increased group effort that includes the U.S. military and intelligence community.  Meanwhile others have made the observation that instead of killing militant leaders and the information they have with them, that it might be more productive to capture leaders and put them in GITMO where we can learn more future attacks and methods.  But Dempsey disagrees, giving his support for the closing the U.S. prison in Guantanamo Bay, Cuba, saying the facility, opened in the aftermath of the 9/11 terror attacks, is a “psychological scar” on the American psyche. 

January 11: The Hill: Democrats suit up for Tax Reform Debate
More and more congressional Democrats are insisting that they cannot sign on to a tax overhaul that only helps businesses despite the potential to give a legacy achievement to the President.  Obama and GOP leaders have pointed to taxes as one of just a handful of areas for potential agreement over the next two years, and the White House has long said it wants to limit the focus of reform efforts to streamlining the tax code for U.S. companies.   But liberal lawmakers say there's no way they can agree to a deal that would favor powerful corporations over individuals and families that have yet to feel the economic recovery, especially after Democrats fought unsuccessfully to extend expanded tax breaks for the working poor late last year.
January 10: The Daily Caller: Milwaukee Barber Shop Customers Takes on Armed Robber
A would-be armed robber who stuck up a Milwaukee barber shop on Friday received more than a haircut when an armed patron pulled out his own gun and fatally shot the criminal.  “He asked some questions about how much a haircut costs, then went into the bathroom to put his mask on and get his gun ready or whatever,” a man identified as Ty told WISN News. “The robber took his eye off the guy that he originally robbed first. I guess he didn’t check him good enough because he had a gun on him,” Ty explained. 

January 8: The Washington Post: 25 Republicans Defect Speaker Boehner
In the biggest defection from an incumbent speaker in at least 100 years, 25 House Republicans voted for someone other than John Boehner to serve as speaker in the 114th Congress.  Of the 25 there are three from Texas, Brian Babin (voted present), Louie Gohmert (voted for himself), and Randy Weber (voted for Louie Gohmert).  There were also four Democrats who voted against their nominee, House minority leader and former speaker Nancy Pelosi (D-CA).

January 8: National Journal: Boxer out of the Ring
Barbara Boxer (D-CA) who has served in the Senate for 21 years, announced Thursday she will retire at the end of her term at the end of 2016.  This  will open a Senate seat in California for the first time since 1992.  In an interview with her grandson Zach Rodham (who is also Hillary Clinton's nephew), Boxer said that while she will be leaving Congress, she will continue her work on Democratic politics. [This is the same Senate seat vacated by Aaron Augustus Sargent in 1879, the man who first introduced the language of the 19th Amendment that gave women the right to vote.]

January 8: The Daily Caller: A New Year, 300 New Obama Administration Regulations
This year is already seeing a wave of new regulations being published in the Federal Register as the Obama administration unveils 300 new rules in the first seven days of 2015.  According to the Regulatikons.gov Website, they have published 300 final rules, proposals for new rules and regulatory notices in the seven days since the new year began. The bulk of these new regulations are notices, which can lead to rulemakings, meetings and other government activities.  Rules having to do with energy, environment, public lands and agriculture make up the largest share of new regulations. Included in these new rules are proposed EPA air quality standards for lead, reforming coal and oil leases on Indian lands and adjustments for the total amount of fish people can catch off Alaska’s coast.

January 8: The Washington Examiner: IRS issues 21 pages of ObamaCare Tax Instructions:
The complicated process of signing up for Obamacare is now being matched by IRS instructions to help Americans figure out how much in healthcare taxes they owe Uncle Sam.  The agency has issued 21 pages of instructions, complete with links to at least three long forms and nine tip sheets.  It is geared to those who have Obamacare or who owe a fine, dubbed “shared responsibility payment,” for refusing to get health insurance. The IRS warned that everybody must have health insurance or pay the tax.

January 8: The Weekly Standard: President’s Motorcade passes right by scandal-ridden Phoenix VA Hospital
President Obama is in Phoenix Thursday, and his motorcade drove past that city's Veterans Affairs hospital without stopping. Politico's White House correspondent reports.  Obama is spoke at Central High School, about a mile from the VA hospital, but did not visit the VA hospital during his trip to Phoenix.  Dovere of Politico also reported that the president did have time to stop at a nearby home, purchased with federal assistance, while avoiding an opportunity to highlight the importance of fixing the problems with the VA medical service.

January 7: Associated Press: President issues three veto threats in two days:
The White House threatened more vetoes Wednesday against top-priority legislation of the two-day-old Republican-controlled Congress; the Keystone XL pipeline, to make changes to the health care law they also have vowed to repeal, and to delay a key provision of a 2010 financial regulation law.  The conflict comes at a time when the president and the two Republican congressional leaders have all stressed the opportunity for bipartisanship in the two years ahead, and polls generally indicate the public wants divided government to produce compromise instead of gridlock. By approving measures with bipartisan support — the pipeline legislation has well over 60 supporters from both parties in the Senate — it appears Republicans are trying to make the president pay at least a short-term political price if he makes good on his veto threats.  Far larger and more partisan fights likely lie ahead, particularly if, as expected, Republicans attempt to seek large savings in government benefit programs as part of an attempt to balance the budget.

January 6: The Telegraph: Greece verses Europe: Who will blink first?
The Eurozone stands on the brink of another crisis as Athens confronts Brussels and Berlin.  Everybody thinks everybody else is bluffing, all of them betting that a calamitous chain reaction will be averted.  But this time, Berlin seems almost eager to evict Greece from the EU. Greece, on the other hand believes the EU has so much already invested they will not walk away from the 245 billion in loans already dispersed since the crisis erupted in May 2010.

January 5: The Daily Caller: Florida: Constituents tell Congressman to vote against Boehner
Congressman Ron DeSantis (R-FL) dodged and ducked as his constituents pushed him at a Jan. 3 constituency meeting to vote against the re-election of House Speaker John Boehner.  “Are you going to vote for him or not? I mean, that’s the question,” a Florida constituent asked DeSantis at the meeting in Palm Coast, Florida. DeSantis tried to deflect the pressure, partly by suggesting that no major rival to Boehner has emerged before the first ballot, which is scheduled for Tuesday, Jan. 6, and also by suggesting that Boehner has enough votes to win.  But the constituent pushed back, even as DeSantis said an anti-Boehner vote would provide no gains.  “I’ll tell you what it does. It gives you some political capital with people like us. Even if you lose once or twice, at least we know you are fighting for us,” he said. ”But when you say ‘Oh, if I don’t vote for it,’ then you’re not fighting for us. What you’re doing is you’re bending. We didn’t put you there to bend.”

January 5: Fox News: Attkisson Sues Obama Administration over Computer Hacking
Former CBS News correspondent Sharyl Attkisson has sued the Justice Department over the hacking of her computers, officially accusing the Obama administration of illegal surveillance while she was reporting on administration scandals. In a series of legal filings that seek $35 million in damages, Attkisson alleges that three separate computer forensic exams showed that hackers used sophisticated methods to surreptitiously monitor her work between 2011 and 2013. "I just think it's important to send a message that people shouldn't be victimized and throw up their hands and think there's nothing they can do and they're powerless," Attkisson said in an interview.  The award-winning reporter says she and her attorneys have "pretty good evidence" that these efforts were "connected" to the Justice Department. She said she was caught in a "Catch-22," forcing her to use the lawsuit and an administrative complaint to discover more about the surveillance through the discovery process and to learn the identities of the "John Does" named in the complaints. 

January 5: The Daily News: "Normalizing" Relations with Cuba?
On December 17th the President announced plans to “normalize” relations with Cuba and opening a U.S. embassy in Havana.  There’re a number of questions worth considering in the wake of the President’s unilateral actions. First, were the sanctions working? Will this new policy accomplish our long-term goal of freedom and liberty for the Cuban people?  What is motivating U.S. business support?   Did we get a fair (balanced or a good) deal?  And finally, did the President follow the law? We favor of normalizing relations with Cuba  but only under certain circumstances. Embedded in the Helms-Burton Act is a provision giving the Congress (House and Senate) the authority to override any unilateral Administration actions to recognize Cuba.  We encourage the Congress to exercise this authority until a better deal that helps the average Cuban is negotiated.

January 5: ABC News: Cuban Human Rights: Dissident Detentions on the Rise:
The Cuban government carried out a record number of detentions of dissidents and political activists last year, an independent Cuban human rights group said Monday.  The Cuban Commission for Human Rights and National Reconciliation recorded 8,899 short-term detentions of dissidents and activists in 2014. That was about 2,000 more than the previous year and four times as many as in 2010, said the group's head, Elizardo Sanchez. A U.S. official said on condition of anonymity Monday that the release of all the dissidents wasn't a prerequisite for planned talks in Cuba between the Obama administration and Cuban officials later this month

January 4: Fox News:Retired COP & Navy Vet sues NY over Gun Confiscation
A decorated retired New York cop who served in the U.S. Navy is challenging New York’s tough new SAFE Act gun control law, claiming in a lawsuit that his guns were confiscated after he was mistakenly diagnosed as mentally unstable after he sought treatment for a sleeping problem.  Donald Montgomery’s lawsuit contends that Gov. Andrew Cuomo and other state officials violated his Second Amendment rights when his guns were seized after a brief hospital stay for insomnia. Montgomery, a cop for 30 years and a U.S. Navy veteran, brought the lawsuit in Rochester Federal Court on Dec. 17.  Montgomery was the owner of four guns -- a Colt .38 handgun, a Derringer .38, a Glock 26 9-mm. and a Smith & Wesson Bodyguard 380.

January 4: The Hill: Thune: We won’t shutdown the government but we will use the power of the purse:
John Thune (R-SD) said on "Fox News Sunday" that Republicans would use their budget power in order to fight back against President Obama's executive orders, which GOP lawmakers argue is an overreach of power.  "We're not going to shut the government down," Thune said. "We'll use power of the purse to challenge the president."  Meanwhile, Sen. Bob Corker (R-TN.) said on "Fox News Sunday" that "on bigger issues, we absolutely need him to be involved."  "We look forward to that opportunity," Corker said.

Air Crew loads Sonobouys into wing of an ASW aircraftJanuary 4: KOMO News: Navy’s CINCPACFLT considers
hundreds of Sonobouys Off the U.S. West Coast

The U.S. Navy could significantly increase the number of sonobuoys it plans to deploy off the Pacific Coast.  The floating, acoustic surveillance devices are used in anti-submarine warfare.  The Oregon reports that in a modified environmental assessment for Northwest training and testing, the Navy increased the number of planned sonobuoys from 20 to 720.  They would be in areas at least 12 miles offshore from Alaska, Washington, Oregon and Northern California.  In addition to more buoys, the document also details additional "maritime security operations" that weren't reviewed in the earlier environmental assessment, possibly including escorts for submarines, search-and-seizure exercises, and anti-piracy missions.

January 4: Fox News: Gohmer (R-TX) to challenge Boehner for Speakership
Louie Gohmert (R-TX) said Sunday that he will challenge House Speaker John Boehner for his post when Congress returns this week to Washington. Congressman Ted Yoho (R-FL) has also thrown his hat in the ring.  “We have heard from a lot of Republicans that said, ‘I would vote for somebody besides speaker Boehner.’ But nobody will put their name out there,” Gohmert said. “That changed yesterday with Ted Yoho.”  Boehner once again returns to Capitol Hill amid challenges to keep his post, largely from the conservative members who most recently say he caved in by agreeing last month to a $1.1 trillion temporary federal spending bill, which averted another partial government shutdown.

January 4: Politico:  GOP House and Senate Leadership Staring at Cliffs
[GOP Leadership has big plans but also big obstacles]
Republican leaders think 2015 is their year.  They just won control of the Senate and have a historic majority in the House. The presidential election hasn’t yet begun. President Barack Obama says he wants to engage with Capitol Hill. For the first time in a while, there seems to be a genuine thirst for getting something done.  But guess what: Congress is running straight into another series of cliffs --  legislative fights spread throughout the year, which could give House and Senate leadership nearly monthly headaches as they seek to preserve the improving economic climate in the U.S.   The legislative land mines range from tricky transportation issues to the ever-explosive debt ceiling.  These problems can’t be ignored, and GOP leadership will have to decide if it wants to set up short-term solutions or negotiate permanent fixes to these long-lingering problems. These deals don’t come together quickly and could require leaders to spend their hard-earned political capital on brokering compromises.  The first of these issues is the funding of DHS by February 28th which will include the debate about securing our boarder against illegal immigrant aliens. 

January 4: The Daily Caller: Krauthammer: I’m a recovering Democrat who was mugged by reality
Appearing on Fox News “MediaBuzz,” conservative commentator Charles Krauthammer spoke about his political transformation from a Democrat to a conservative, and how he was “mugged by reality.”  He was working at “The New Republic” in his 20-30s and was a Democrat.  Then Krauthammer describes what happened: “It was a slow-motion mug, and I came out of it intact and a conservative a decade later.” He said his writing at the New Republic were on foreign policy issues and that these articles were always conservative.  “People don’t remember that in the 1970s, there was a strong conservative wing of the Democratic Party,” he said, and he was part of that.

January 4: The Hill:
McConnell: Jobs, Keystone Pipeline and Regulatory Expansionism will Head the Senate Agenda:
Soon-to-be Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-KY) said on Sunday that the GOP agenda will be focused on “voting on things I know [President Obama is] not going to like.”  He said that jobs would be the number one focus, also lumping in the Keystone XL pipeline project and rolling back strict environmental and healthcare regulations.  The incoming majority leader also took a softer tone than in years past when it came to working with the administration.  “You know, the first two years, he had huge majorities in the House and Senate. The last four years, he controlled the Senate. They guaranteed he never got anything he didn't like,” he said on Sunday.  “Now he needs to talk to us,” McConnell continued. “And that's good, because when the American people elect a divided government, they're not saying they don't want anything done. What they are saying is, they want things done in the political center, things that both sides can agree on. We talk about the things where there may be some agreement.”

January 3: Fox News: Huckabee Leaves Fox, Considering a run in 2016
Fox News host and former Arkansas Gov. Mike Huckabee announced Saturday that he is leaving the network after six and a half years as the host of “Huckabee,” and will make a decision on a possible 2016 presidential run by late spring.  The former governor expressed thanks for what he called “the ride of a lifetime.”  "I have never had so much fun in my life,” Huckabee said. "But I also realize that God hasn't put me on earth just to have a good time or to make a good living, but rather has put me on earth to try to make a good life.”  Huckabee said that he would not rule out running for president in 2016, and that it is not possible for him to openly determine political and financial support to justify a race while doing the show.

January 1: The Hill: ObamaCare Faces New Challenges in 2015
As ObamaCare enters its fifth year, there are still major components of the law to be worked out for the first time.  Both the individual mandate and the employer mandate – which are considered vital pillars of the president’s landmark healthcare law – will confront new challenges in 2015.  Doctors and hospitals will also face new penalties for failing to comply with federal rules such as those requiring the use of e-records.  The stakes are high in 2015. The administration will be hoping that ObamaCare regains ground after a muddy patch over the last few weeks that included controversies around the administration’s famously blunt former adviser Jonathan Gruber, an inflated enrollment tally and a new legal threat to the law’s subsidies.

January 1: The Hill: The Budget will be one of the conflicts between the White House and Congress in 2015
The federal budget is likely to be the central battleground between the President and the new Congress in 2015.  The Republicans have vowed to slash the size of government.  The President has threatened to use his veto. Here are the dates to watch as the conflict unfolds.

  • February 2: Obama’s budget deadline:
  • February 27: DHS funding runs out: 
  • March 15: Debt limit suspension expires:
  • April 1: GOP budget resolution: 
  • September 30: Shutdown deadline:

January 1: The Daly Caller:
Armed Robber holds up fireworks stand, clerk shows him a different kind of firecracker:
An employee at a fireworks stand near Houston used a special kind of firecracker in response to an armed robbery attempt that occurred Tuesday night.  Two men pulled up one of the men got out and pulled a gun on the employee on duty and demanded money from the store.  But the clerk thought fast and remembered he had something that goes “Boom” in the store’s office.  He had a gun of his own and fired it several times at the armed man, hitting him in the face, wrist, and back.  The would-be robber was air-lifted to a nearby hospital and is listed in critical condition. His accomplice fled the scene in the getaway car. The clerk was not injured.

Go to the Chronology of News Stories 2014