With midterm elections looming, Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid and kind are still feeding their Koch habit, employing all the rhetoric they can to scare Americans into believing that the conservative billionaire Koch brothers are intent on buying out the government so they can bend Washington to their nefarious will from behind the solid gold walls of their supervillain lair, or something.
However, numbers don’t lie, and so far this summer Democrats have won the Super PAC donation game to the tune of millions. Perhaps it’s because they know the Party is in deep you-know-what…
Tom Steyer. In July, the environmental activist gave a whopping $7.5 million to his own NextGen Climate outfit. Unfortunately for him, his $2.6 million ad buy to target Republican Joni Ernst in Iowa turned on him when fact-checkers called out the ads for being completely false.
George Soros. This summer, Soros has donated more than a million dollars to Democratic Super PACs, including $500,000 each to House Majority PAC (ha!) and the League of Conservation Voters Victory Fund. His daughter, Andrea Soros Colombel, also gave $250,000 to Planned Parenthood Votes.
Steve and Amber Motsyn. I know what you’re thinking: Who? Steve Motsyn is a Texas trial lawyer who made most of his money from taking advantage of hurricane damage in his home state. They’re long-time Democratic donors who funded the Super PAC ad that falsely accused Mitt Romney of giving a woman cancer. Amber donated $250,000 to Planned Parenthood’s Super PAC in July.
Michael Bloomberg. Most recently, the wealthy former mayor of New York City donated $2 million to the EMILY list Super PAC Women Vote!, the largest donation it has ever received.
Haim Saban. Saban is, unfortunately for my childhood, the media mogul behind the Mighty Morphin’ Power Rangers. He donated $250,000 to Senate Majority PAC in July, and dreams of a Hillary Clinton presidency.
Peter Angelos. The billionaire owner of the Baltimore Orioles donated $100,000 to Senate Majority PAC. Also, once upon a time he got drunk with future Virginia Gov. Terry McAuliffe and gave him $1 million.
Eric Schmidt. The Google chairman donated $250,000 to Senate Majority PAC in July. In June, he gave $1 million to a Super PAC supporting Sen. Mark Warner (D-VA).
When Edward Snowden dropped the atomic truth bomb last spring that Obama’s National Security Agency is spying on everything with a pulse, people the world over looked for ways to secure their privacy online. One such safe haven is Tor, an anonymous web browser. However, it didn’t take long for the NSA to begin keeping tabs on Tor users — assuming that they must only want online privacy because they’re up to nefarious things — and Tor isn’t very happy about it:
In an interview with The Guardian, Tor’s chief executive Andrew Lewman expressed some of his concerns about the internet in the post-Snowden era. Lewman basically told the paper that Tor is struggling to scale and suggests that spy agencies are part of the problem. “It’s been co-opted by GCHQ and the NSA that if you’re using Tor, you must be a criminal,” said Lewman. “I know the NSA and [British spy agency] GCHQ want you to believe that Tor users are already suspect, because, you know, god forbid who would want their privacy online, they must be terrorists.”
We already knew this, but it’s interesting. Authorities’ interest in tracking Tor users is only getting more aggressive. The FBI has recently been busy planting malware in Tor users’ computers. It’s for a good cause! But still. It’s part of a larger movement that’s peeling back the layers of an anonymous internet tool that many non-criminals now depend on to stay safe, and the idea that government hackers could strip them of their anonymity is very scary. We know that it’s possible.
The good news is that more awareness is being raised about Tor. Musician Aphex Twin teased his first album in a decade over Tor last week, drawing over 133,000 views. However, the question remains: Will we every be allowed to browse in privacy again?
There’s been a lot of speculation as to whether Mitt Romney will take a third crack at the presidency, but he’s denied the possibility of a 2016 run every step of the way. During a joint interview with Rep. Paul Ryan on Fox News Thursday night — their first since their failed 2012 campaign — he made this abundantly clear when he stated that it’s Ryan’s turn to run for president:
Mitt Romney on Thursday night said Rep. Paul Ryan (R-Wis.) should make his own run for president in 2016.
“He’s very generous. But I had my turn. It’s his turn now,” Romney, the 2012 GOP nominee, said about his former vice presidential running mate.
After the interview, Romney and Ryan appeared together at an event in Chicago where Romney helped Ryan to promote his new book, The Way Forward. Ryan also helped Romney to complete the ALS Ice Bucket Challenge:
Romney seems adamant that he won’t run for president, but Ryan’s potential candidacy is still up in the air. Nevertheless, there’s a long road yet to 2016.
Wednesday, Sen. Rand Paul took a break from performing charity eye surgeries in Guatemala to attend a closed-door meeting with the country’s president, Otto Perez Molina, and the discussion inevitably turned to illegal immigration. However, while Guatemala’s “coyote” culture is widely considered to be at the root of the immigration issue, Paul told Molina that he believes the actual problem “resides” in the White House:
“I told him, frankly, that I didn’t think the problem was in Guatemala City but that the problem was in the White House in our country, and that the mess we’ve got at the border is frankly because of the White House’s policies,” Paul said in an interview.
“It comes from the president basically offering unilaterally without congressional approval beacons or magnets without securing the border,” Paul said. “He seems to be doing this again because he doesn’t have what it takes to get Congress to pass legislation. So it all starts, as many conservatives say, you can’t have immigration reform without first having a secure border. But I think what’s happened at the border is all squarely at the president’s lap. The problem and the solution aren’t in Guatemala. The problem and solution reside inside the White House.”
Paul is supportive of the House immigration bill, which passed just before the recess, that would block Obama’s plan to continue or expand the Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals (DACA) executive amnesty. He has joined Sen. Jeff Sessions (R-AL) and Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-KY) in urging Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid (D-NV) to allow a vote on the bill in the upper chamber. The House also passed a companion bill that would deal with asylum and funding issues for the border crisis.
Rand Paul is a humanitarian who still puts the best interests of America first. Click here to Reboot American and Draft Rand Paul for President!
Democratic Sen. John Walsh dropped his re-election bid for Montana’s Senate seat out of disgrace due to a plagiarizing scandal, and the Dems have replaced him with a socialist who wants to end capitalism.
No, seriously. Her name is Amanda Curtis, she’s currently a Montana state representative, and she may be even too radical for the Left:
A self-described “punktuator” who has been seen sporting a mohawk and studded denim jacket with the iconic anarchist “A,” Curtis is certainly distinct from most Montana politicians.
In 2008, Curtis penned two articles for the monthly newspaper of the Industrial Workers of the World, a far-left labor group.
One of the pieces, which reported on IWW recruiting activities at a Montana folk music festival, quoted “IWW member Kevin Curtis,” who is Ms. Curtis’ husband (that fact was not disclosed in the article).
Mr. Curtis is the Butte delegate for IWW’s Montana affiliate, the Two Rivers General Membership Branch.
According to that group’s website, it is “working to organize the people of Montana into the One Big Union to end wage slavery and eventually end the capitalist system.”
The umbrella IWW organization has a similar goal. “It is the historic mission of the working class to do away with capitalism,” the preamble to its constitution states.
“The army of production must be organized, not only for everyday struggle with capitalists, but also to carry on production when capitalism shall have been overthrown. By organizing industrially we are forming the structure of the new society within the shell of the old.”
But wait — there’s more! Throughout an extensive series of YouTube commentary videos, Curtis has mocked Christianity and concern over the U.S. federal debt, and proclaimed that “you have to have an abnormal brain” to vote against Medicaid expansion in the state. Oh, and on the same day that Walsh dropped out of the race she changed her Facebook profile picture to a photo of Elizabeth Gurley Flynn. Flynn was the chairwoman of the National Committee of the Communist Party of the United States. When she dies in 1964 during a visit to the Soviet Union, Soviet premier Nikita Khrushchev gave her a state funeral in Red Square.
How is plagiarism unacceptable, but socialist and communist ideals a-ok?
According to a report from the Government Accountability Office, the Pentagon broke the law when it swapped five Taliban detainees from Guantanamo Bay for the release of POW Army Sgt. Bowe Bergdahl:
The Government Accountability Office said the Pentagon violated the 2014 Defense Appropriations Act, which requires the Pentagon to give certain congressional committees 30 days advance notice before any detainee transfer from the Guantánamo Bay detention facility.
The law also prohibits the Pentagon from using appropriated funds to conduct any detainee transfer, unless the Defense secretary gives the 30 days of advance notice.
The Pentagon said it spent $988,400 on the detainee transfer, according to the report.
“As a consequence of using its appropriations in a manner specifically prohibited by law, DOD also violated the Antideficiency Act,” the agency found. “DOD should report its Antideficiency Act violation as required by law.”
That report, outlining the violation and any measures taken by the Pentagon in response, would then go to Congress and the president, according to a GAO spokeswoman.
Unfortunately, according to the spokeswoman the report is only a legal opinion and will not lead to further measures. However, the report could lead to renewed scrutiny of the Obama administration’s decision to make the swap, just in time for the Army to complete its investigation into whether Bergdahl deserted his post in Afghanistan or was AWOL. That investigation is expected to wrap up in september.
Barack Obama momentarily interrupted his vacation on Wednesday to issue a statement on the shocking beheading of American journalist James Foley at the hands of ISIS/ISIL. He declared that the Islamist extremist group will “ultimately fail” because its ideology is bankrupt, and asserted that, ”The one thing we can agree on is a group like ISIL has no place in the 21st century.”
Obama’s supporters were quick to applaud this “tough” response and proclaim that he “all but [declared] war on ISIL,” but the fact of the matter is that the whole situation has made Obama’s Iraq policy look all the murkier. After all, actions speak a hell of a lot louder than words; and if Obama’s taking action, he sure isn’t letting on:
Wednesday’s statement was the sixth on that subject since Aug. 7, when Obama announced that he had ordered U.S. warplanes to strike at Islamist extremist targets in Iraq, and we don’t know any more about his plan to combat the ISIS now than we did two weeks ago.
Obama noted that “the United States of America will continue to do what we must do to protect our people. We will be vigilant and we will be relentless,” but gave no specifics.
On Monday, the president made clear that his current approach of limited military operations was designed only to contain the group until a coalition of regional actors could be built to counter it — a hope he repeated on Wednesday.
Many Americans don’t want to get involved in another war in Iraq, and for good reason. But experts agree that ISIS poses a significantly greater threat to U.S. security than al Qaeda, as it’s better-armed, better-funded, and has control of oil-rich territories. Their crimes against humanity are well known to Obama, but he seems to be waiting for someone else to take the lead on eradicating the threat:
It’s no secret that Iranian forces are helping the Iraqi government fight the Islamic State, after having backed Syrian dictator Bashar Assad all along, and European leaders, tired of waiting for the United States, are exploring the possibility of drawing Tehran into a coalition.
That may be what Obama is counting on. After all, he’s worked hard to use the ongoing talks over Iran’s nuclear program to open the door to rapprochement with Tehran — even to the point of keeping other issues off the table. Achieving a deal on Iran’s nuclear ambitions is one of the top two priorities of his policy in the Middle East.
But deeper Iranian involvement may drive away other potential allies in the fight against the Islamic State — most notably Saudi Arabia — and there are many Sunnis in the region who fear Iran more than they fear the extremists.
Some further explanation on why waiting for Iran to take care of business isn’t a good idea: the Sunni-Shia divide is vitriolic in the Middle East. The Shia-led government of former Iraqi Prime Minister Nouri al-Maliki caused many Sunni Iraqis to feel like second-class citizens, and as a result many of them embraced the change brought by the Islamic State, as extreme as it is. Iran’s government is a Shia theocracy, so it’s not hard to explain why Sunni Iraqis would side with ISIS over a coalition lead by Iran. That being said, it would take a serious U.S.-led effort to build up an effective anti-Islamic State coalition in the region anytime soon; and Obama doesn’t seem willing to commit forces to that effort.
So what are we do? As the Washington Examiner’s Charles Hoskinson writes, “The world is not big enough for the U.S. and violent Islamist theocracy to coexist. One of them has gotta go, and it ain’t us.” But if Obama isn’t willing to do anything — or at least, to do enough — to eradicate the problem, then how will the problem be eradicated?
This time last year everyone was talking about Obamacare. These days, however, Barack Obama’s legacy legislation has found itself drowned out by the tidal wave of other scandals, crises, and embarrassments plaguing the federal government, from Iraq, to illegal immigration and amnesty, to the chaos in Ferguson, Missouri, to Obama single-handedly dragging his entire party down with him. But with election season — and open enrollment — right around the corner, Republican politicians would do well to shine the spotlight on Obamacare once again:
Now, the GOP should circle back. There are nine Senate seats described as “toss-ups” by Real Clear Politics, and Obamacare could move the needle in some of those races. The ACA is still a political stink bomb, with Kaiser Family Foundation polling showing only 37 percent of the country views the law favorably – one of its lowest ratings since it passed in 2010. Some 53 percent of Americans have an unfavorable opinion of the ACA – up a shocking 8 points since June.
Democrats everywhere are running scared from Obamacare, and for good reason. As laid out by The Fiscal Times’ Liz Peek, here are six reasons why renewed focus on this unpopular mandate can win back the Senate for the GOP:
1. Premium hikes are coming in 2015. The Health Research Institute (HRI) at PricewaterhouseCoopers recently estimated that Obamacare insurance premiums in 27 states and the District of Columbia are set to increase by an average 7.5% next year — but the average hardly paints a full picture. HRI found that some consumers in Nevada could see prices go up a staggering 36%. Even more damning for Democrats are the rate increases expected to hit key election states: insurance companies in North Carolina, Iowa, Louisiana, and Arkansas have requested 10.8%, 11.5%, near 20%, and near 12% increases, respectively.
2. The Obama admin is probably fudging enrollment numbers. If you ask the White House, 8 million Americans are enrolled in Obamacare. If you ask insurers, that’s not exactly the case. Aetna reported that only about 600,000 of its 720,000 enrollees have paid their premiums, and they expect the number to drop another 500,000 by year-end.
3. People are livid about the narrow doctor networks. Ironically and completely counterintuitive to its entire purpose, Obamacare has made it more difficult for customers to obtain care thanks to narrow doctor and hospital networks. For example, Anthem Blue Cross and Blue Shield is the only participating insurer in New Hampshire, and it promptly eliminated 10 of the state’s 26 hospitals from its network. Since the start of 2013, more than 70 bills have been introduced in 22 states to clarify the network rules, and multiple lawsuits have been filed in California.
4. The legislation is inherently flawed. See Halbig v. Burwell, the court case that could be Obamacare’s undoing.
5. Obamacare reeks of Obama’s imperial tendencies.
Mr. Obama has single-handedly changed the ACA some 24 times, delaying important provisions such as the employer and individual mandates. The president has rigged the rollout of the ACA to political advantage, putting off the most painful aspects of the bill and front-loading the goodies. Republicans should remind voters we have yet to encounter, for instance, the 40 percent Cadillac tax, which has been pushed back until 2018, but which is expected to raise as much as $214 billion by 2023.
6. Obamacare discourages job creation. Yes, it does. Companies have already limited hiring new employees and cut back current employee hours in order to avoid the dreaded employer mandate. Additionally, the ACA has made it possible so that Americans no longer need to work to have health insurance, which is completely disincentivizing.
Unless you’ve been living under a rock the past few weeks, you’ve probably heard about the ALS Ice Bucket Challenge. But just in case, here’s a refresher on how it works: If you’re challenged, you have 24 hours to dump a bucket of ice-cold water over yourself and donate at least $10 to the American Lateral Sclerosis (ALS) Association — and forward the challenge on to someone else. If you don’t compete said challenge within that time frame, however, you must donate $100. As you can see, it was designed to raise some serious cash — and it’s done just that, making the rounds from your next door neighbor to A-list celebrities alike. Even yours truly has taken the challenge.
Believe it or not, a few politicians have also taken the challenge — but none of them took it as “coolly” as Rep. Trey Gowdy (R-SC). Gowdy decided to take the challenge after Barack Obama failed to do it himself after being challenged by both Robert Kennedy’s widow Ethel and basketball star LeBron James:
At least someone in Washington is willing to do something fun for a good cause.
Washington Post columnist Ed Rogers gave Republicans something delightful to read on Tuesday. According to him, with just 11 weeks until the midterm elections, “nothing suggests that the Democrats have reached the bottom of the political trough they are in,” and it doesn’t look like they’ll be digging themselves out of their hole anytime soon:
The calamities, distractions and scandals we’ve seen during the Obama administration all come in such rapid succession that the half-life of any one is relatively short. But still, Obama and the Democrats cannot seem to get in front of any current events. They are in a permanent state of crisis, being tossed around on the waves of the daily news cycle. Any day with no new bad news is considered a good day for the White House and the Democrats generally.
The Democrats are on their back foot on every front — from the violence in Ferguson, Mo., to developments in Iraq and Afghanistan to uneven economic data to the now-ancient IRS scandal. Politically, the Democratic Party seems to be in more turmoil than President George W. Bush and the Republicans were before the debacle of the 2006 midterm elections.
Ouch. But that’s not even the worst of what Rodgers says. In his sign-off, he declares that Republicans won’t even have to try to destroy the Democrats — they’re doing it for them:
As with football, we are still in preseason, but we are fast approaching Labor Day and the official kickoff of the 2014 campaign season, and Republicans wouldn’t dare trade places with the Democrats. The bottom line is, Democrats are reacting to events rather than becoming the master of them. As this campaign season gets underway, the old adage definitely applies: Never interfere with your opponents when they are in the process of destroying themselves.
It looks like it will be a happy election season for the GOP.