Another day, another big name stopped by “The Late Show With David Letterman” to salute the host’s career and wish him well in retirement. This time, the big name was George Clooney.
Instead of joking with Letterman about his post-Late Show life, Clooney found a way to prevent him from leaving — he handcuffed himself to the host.
Clooney followed the cuffing by tossing “the keys” into the audience.
Watch the clip from CBS:
Follow Mike Opelka (@Stuntbrain) on Twitter.
The House approved legislation on Thursday that gives Congress a chance to review any Iran nuclear agreement reached by the Obama administration this summer, and lets members reject it if they don’t think it goes far enough to stop Iran’s nuclear program.
Legislators passed the bill that the Senate approved a week earlier in a 98-1 vote. The House passed it 400-25, an overwhelming show of support for a bill that ends months of fighting over the precise role Congress will play if an Iran agreement is finalized.
Nearly every Senate Democrat who’s anybody at all voted against a bill Thursday that would give President Barack Obama the authority to negotiate trade deals that can’t be amended by Congress, showing the continuing distrust that Democrats have toward their own president when it comes to trade policy.
The Senate held a procedural vote a bill to give Obama trade promotion authority (TPA), a day after reaching a deal that first had the Senate vote on two trade bills favored by Democrats. The Senate easily passed those earlier in the day — one to extend trade preferences to sub-Saharan Africa, and another to boost enforcement of U.S. trade laws.
The Senate passed legislation on Thursday that would give the U.S. government the power to impose duties on imports from countries when those countries are deemed to be devaluing their currencies in order to gain a trade advantage.
Senators voted 78-20 in favor of the legislation, a broad bill that also looks to extend various U.S. efforts to enforce trade laws and trade agreements. All of the “no” votes were Republicans.
A senior procurement official at the Department of Veterans Affairs told a House subcommittee on Thursday that VA management has willfully ignored his warning that the VA continues to spend billions of dollars a year in violation of federal procurement law.
“Today I find myself in a position I never envisioned myself to be in,” Jan Frye, deputy assistant secretary for acquisition and logistics at the VA, said in prepared testimony to a House Veterans’ Affairs subcommittee. “I am testifying as a whistle blower.”
“I am here before you, because I have been unsuccessful in my persistent attempts to bring massive violations of federal acquisition and fiscal laws and regulations to a halt in VA,” he added.
Frye outlined his latest attempt to tell VA Secretary Bob McDonald that the VA was illegally buying $6 billion worth of goods in the absence of a competitive bidding structure, which he said likely resulted in millions of dollars wasted. Frye wrote a 35-page memo to McDonald back in March, but said McDonald has done nothing.
He also said he tried to report “massive, illegal acts” to Congress in 2013, but said he was thwarted in part by a senior VA official.
Rep. Mike Coffman (R-Colo.), who chairs the subcommittee, said at the start of the hearing that the VA appears to be continuing to try to ignore and silence Frye. Coffman said the VA tried to prevent Frye from testifying today, and only appeared after the committee insisted several times that Frye appear.
“Over the past five years, some senior VA acquisition and finance officials have willfully violated the public trust while Federal procurement and financial laws were debased,” Frye said. “Their overt actions and dereliction of duties combined have resulted in billions of taxpayer dollars being spent without regard to Federal laws and regulations, making a mockery of federal statutes.”
“I am not aware of a single senior acquisition leader being held accountable for wrongdoing or dereliction in the nearly 10 years I’ve been in my present VA position,” he added.
He said that when the VA buys off contract, it gives up legal protections that it would have if it used a contract. But instead of buying through contracts and competitive bidding, the VA has been buying billions of dollars worth of goods on the fly.
In one example cited by the Washington Post, the VA spent about $1.2 billion worth of prosthetics over the last 18 months, using “purchase cards” that were supposed to be used for small purchases.
He also warned the committee that VA officials would try to downplay these issues, even when asked directly by Congress.
“If you happen to ask us about what we’ve failed to tell you, we hope we can answer your questions in such a way as to quickly extinguish potential follow-on questions,” he said in his prepared remarks. “In short, obfuscation is our game.”
“I will no longer be a party to these VA games,” he added. “The vaunted Veterans Affairs ICARE values, with Integrity being first, make an attractive lapel pin, but little else if we don’t live these values daily.”
Hillary Clinton vowed to “stand up for women and our rights to access reproductive health care,” in a fundraising email after the House voted to pass the Pain Capable Unborn Protection Act.
Former U.S. senator from Wisconsin Russ Feingold announced he’s running for the seat he once held, pitting him against the Republican who beat him in 2010, Ron Johnson.
“People tell me all the time that our politics and Washington are broken. And that multi-millionaires, billionaires and big corporations are calling the shots,” Feingold said in an announcement video.
“Let’s fight together for change. That means helping to bring back to the U.S. Senate strong independence, bipartisanship and honesty,” he added.
The poll numbers actually bode well for Feingold who held the seat for 18 years.
According to a Marquette University poll in April, Feingold led Johnson by 16 points in a hypothetical showdown.
The government watchdog for the Department of Homeland Security has concluded that two Secret Service agents probably had too much to drink the evening of March 4, when they disrupted an active bomb threat investigation at the White House.
The DHS Office of Inspector General released a report Thursday on the incident that is one of several that have shaken Congress’ confidence in the Secret Service. Among the others are a shooting incident at the White House in 2011, the 2014 White House fence-jumping episode, and new allegations from this year that a senior Secret Service officer sexually assaulted a colleague.
Senate Democrats on Wednesday gave in to demands from the Obama administration and Senate Republicans, and agreed to allow a series of votes on a handful of trade-related bills starting on Thursday.
Democrats caved just hours after Senate Minority Leader Harry Reid (D-Nev.) insisted that four major trade bills would have to be considered as a single bill, instead of in a few separate votes as Republicans had demanded.
It was meant to be a quick Twitter post commenting on history. But it ended up being the kind of small gaffe that blows up during presidential campaign season.
Monday afternoon, a tweet sent from Scott Walker’s account (but signed “TW,” indicating it wasn’t the Wisconsin governor authoring it) talked about settlers arriving in Jamestown in 1607. But the write-up mentioned it happened 505 years ago. That, however, is bad math.
About an hour later, the account issued a correction:
Twitter typo from Team Walker. Last post should have been 408 years. -TW
— Scott Walker (@ScottWalker) May 13, 2015
Welcome to campaign season!
Rep. Scott Rigell (R-Va.) on Tuesday introduced legislation that would let military spouses buy handguns in the state where their husbands and wives are on permanent duty.
Rigell said this change is needed after the Islamic State released a “hit list” of military targets, which puts military families at risk of attack. He said that threat means it’s critical to ensure that military families have access to guns wherever their service member spouses are serving.
House Democrats on Wednesday pushed for more funding for Amtrak, the government-run rail service, just hours after a fatal derailment in Pennsylvania that so far has claimed seven lives.
Democrats have routinely argued in favor of more infrastructure spending, and early Wednesday were pointing to the crash as another reason why more money is needed. But even as they were making these arguments, reports were filtering out that bad infrastructure may not have been the problem, and that the crash happened after the train was traveling at 100 m.p.h. around a curve where the recommended speed was 50 m.p.h.
The government watchdog for the Department of Homeland Security released a report this week saying that U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement released nearly 13,000 illegal immigrants in fiscal year 2014, because ICE deemed they were not enforcement priorities.
The same report from the DHS’ Office of Inspector General found that DHS is not gathering and assessing enough data on its various policies of prosecutorial discretion, even though it had promised to do so.
Every Republican presidential candidate has derided former Secretary of State Hillary Clinton’s record, and none have praised it — except for one. That makes Jeb Bush unelectable in a general election, one conservative group contends.
ForAmerica released a video showing the Republican field criticizing Clinton, contrasting that with the former Florida governor presenting her with a public service award and talking about her accomplishments.
“Mr. Bush is unelectable and there are several better options for conservatives and Republicans if they want to win in 2016. Period,” ForAmerica Chairman Brent Bozell said in a statement. “By heaping praise on Hillary Clinton, Mr. Bush has handed her the ammo to bury him…and she will. No other potential GOP nominee has that fatal disadvantage.”
ForAmerica is not affiliated with a campaign, but says it has 119,037 supporters in Iowa, 32,978 backers in New Hampshire, and 146,090 South Carolina supporters, all major early contests for the GOP presidential nomination, as well as thousands of supporters in other states.
Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-Ky.) said Wednesday that he won’t agree to Democratic demands to combine several trade bills into one, and said doing so would only end up killing the effort to give President Barack Obama the authority to negotiate trade agreements.
McConnell spoke a day after almost every Senate Democrat voted against giving Obama trade promotion authority, or TPA — a huge loss for Obama, who seemingly had no ability to convince any significant number of Democrats to support him.
When he isn’t writing commentary for TheBlaze or torturing his political foes on Twitter, Brad Thor continues to churn out some of the world’s best and most eerily predictive thrillers at a dizzying rate.
His next book, “Code of Conduct,” which pits counterterrorism operative Scot Horvath against a nefarious secret committee within one of the world’s most powerful organizations, is due out July 7, 2015.
Below is a sneak peek in the form of a trailer, as well as an excerpt.
Stay tuned for more on “Code of Conduct” coming soon.
Note: The link to the book in this post will give you an option to elect to donate a percentage of the proceeds from the sale to a charity of your choice. Mercury One, the charity founded by TheBlaze’s Glenn Beck, is one of the options. Donations to Mercury One go towards efforts such as disaster relief, support for education, support for Israel and support for veterans and our military. You can read more about Amazon Smile and Mercury One here.
Did he or didn’t he? That’s the question swirling around Green Bay Packers quarterback Aaron Rodgers after Tuesday’s appearance on “Celebrity Jeopardy.”
Of course, the social media world picked up on the alleged “fleeting expletive.”
— Laura Jones (@Lajoneslajones) May 12, 2015
“Someone else” did notice. Lots of individuals and media outlets caught it and posted tweets about it.
— SportsGrid (@SportsGrid) May 13, 2015
The Green Bay Packers star quarterback and two-time NFL MVP added another championship to his long list of accomplishments as he ended the episode the winner. For his victory over astronaut Mark Kelly and Kevin O’Leary from ABC’s “Shark Tank,” Rodgers’ charity, Midwest Athletes Against Childhood Cancer (the MACC Fund) picked up a $50,000 check from the show.
— Green Bay Packers (@packers) May 13, 2015
Host Alex Trebek was impressed with Rodgers’ win and saluted him with the quarterback’s signature “discount double check move”:
Did he or didn’t he? Take our Blaze poll and share your comments below.
Follow Mike Opelka (@Stuntbrain) on Twitter.
Alternate headline: Never trust a Faith editor—ever
Don’t fall for Hallowell’s hype.
A veteran allegedly committed suicide in parking lot in the Department of Veterans Affairs’ parking lot in Phoenix, Arizona, an event that is being seen as a protest against the failure of the VA to provide adequate treatment to veterans.
Fox News affiliate KSAZ reported early Tuesday morning that 53-year-old Thomas Murphy drove to the VA lot, and left a note in the car before apparently taking his life with a gun. The report said a witness watched as Murphy drove into the lot, and then heard a gunshot.
Brandon Coleman, a Marine Corps veteran who is a VA employee and a VA whistleblower, told KSAZ that he believes Murphy’s suicide was a protest against the VA.
“I don’t think there’s anything more symbolic than to complete suicide on VA grounds,” Coleman said. “I think he would want to speak with us about this, I think it was an ultimate show of disregard and just frustration with a broken system.”
Both Republicans and Democrats have blasted the VA for more than a year now about the VA’s failure to get veterans the medical care they need, and have said more care for veterans with suicidal thoughts is also needed. But the VA remains a broken agency even after Congress passed a bill to fix things up — wait times are still long for health care, whistleblowers still face retaliation from the VA, huge bonuses continue to be paid to top officials, and no one has been fired yet for their role in the scandal.
Coleman himself has been the subject of retaliation for being a whistleblower. He told TheBlaze last month that VA officials went through his medical files, and he told KSAZ that he has been put on paid leave after complaining about this unauthorized access.
The Phoenix VA is seen by many as the center of the VA’s problems, and the former director there, Sharon Helman, was finally removed earlier this year. However, Helman is now suing the VA to get her job back.
One of her lawyers is Debra Roth, a lawyer who also serves as general counsel to the Senior Executives Association. That group has opposed legislation making it easier to fire senior officials for corruption or negligence, has dismissed the idea that the health care access problem at the VA is a “scandal” at all, since no one has been fired because of it.
Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-Ky.) said Tuesday that he would give Senate Democrats a chance to amend legislation giving President Barack Obama the authority to negotiate trade deals, in an effort to convince Democrats to support the bill in a key procedural vote later today.
But amendment votes don’t guarantee that those Democratic priorities will make it onto the final bill, which means it’s still unclear whether there are enough Democrats to advance the legislation.
Senate Minority Leader Harry Reid (D-Nev.) slammed the NFL on Tuesday for obsessing about “Deflategate” more than the use of the name “Redskins” for the Washington, D.C., franchise, a name he said is racist.
“I find it stunning that the National Football League is more concerned about how much air is in a football than with the racist franchise name that denigrates Native Americans across the country,” Reid said on the Senate floor.
In a new book titled “The Floating Kilogram,” former long-time Wall Street Journal editor and founder of the New York Sun Seth Lipsky makes an impassioned, reasoned, common sense case for returning America to sound money in the form of the gold standard.
Much like Steve Forbes and Jim Grant with whom we have touched on this issue before, as Seth and I discussed during an in-depth interview, Lipsky believes there is significant economic and moral merit to backing currency with a tangible asset, with benefits for all Americans.
One of his more interesting and overlooked arguments concerns some of the devastating consequences for the country since we officially severed the link between the dollar and gold under President Nixon in 1971. Lipsky explains:
From 1947 when [the] Bretton Woods System really got operating to 1971, when the dollar was convertible into gold at a 35th of an ounce, unemployment in America averaged 4.7 percent. And then we got rid of the Bretton Woods system — we defaulted on it — we went to fiat money, and in the years from 1971 to today, unemployment has averaged significantly above 6 percent. Low unemployment: gold standard. High unemployment: fiat money.
Title: The Floating Kilogram: ... and Other Editorials on Money from the New York Sun
Author: Seth Lipsky
But it’s not just unemployment. The bankruptcy rate which Elizabeth Warren likes to focus on was one point something per thousand for years, and suddenly it shot up. When did it do that? The mid-1970s when we went off the gold standard and moved to the age of fiat money.
And you’ve no doubt read about this economic Thomas Piketty who likes to warn about the inequality rate. It was trending gently downward for years and suddenly it began to shoot up. That was the mid-1970s when we abandoned the gold standard and went to a system of fiat money.
So there are a lot of reasons to start looking at this and to see whether the absence of a sound dollar is the root cause of our system of growing inequality and high unemployment and lack of jobs and high bankruptcy rate, and to see whether something can be reformed so as to bring us back to a system of sound money. [Links ours]
The title for Lipsky’s book, “The Floating Kilogram,” reflects an editorial published in 2011 in his New York Sun, in which Lipsky asked the question, “Why don’t we let the kilogram float?” The implication is that if weights and measures are no longer defined, why shouldn’t the kilogram — a man-made measure which the New York Times noted may have been losing mass — fluctuate just as a dollar fluctuates in value. Lipsky wrote:
[H]ere in the modern age, the members of the Federal Reserve Board don’t worry about how many grains of silver or gold are behind the dollar. They couldn’t care less. And when the value of a dollar plunges at a dizzying rate, the chairman of Federal Reserve, Ben Bernanke, goes up to Capitol Hill and, in testimony before the House, declares merely that he is “puzzled.” No “new urgency” to redefine the dollar for him. The fact is that we’ve long since ceased to define the dollar, and it can float not only against other currencies but against the 371 ¼ grains of pure silver.
So why not the kilogram? After all, when you go into the grocery to buy a pound of hamburger, why should you worry about how much hamburger you get — so long as it’s a pound’s worth. A pound is supposed to be .45359237 of a kilogram, of course. But if the Congress can permit Mr. Bernanke to use his judgment in deciding what a dollar is worth, why shouldn’t he — or some other PhD from Massachusetts Institute of Technology — be able to decide from day to day what a kilogram is worth?
During our interview which you can listen to in full below, we discuss the fundamental flaws in and immorality of floating fiat money and several other topics including: (more…)
Senate Democrats this week called on the Departments of Transportation and Commerce to investigate whether two Middle East airlines are discriminating against passengers in the U.S. because they are Jewish or gay.
The senators noted that one passenger who is a dual citizen of the U.S. and Israel, and another who is openly gay, have recently filed complaints that they were met with discrimination while trying to board flights on Saudi Arabian Airlines.
The Obama administration insisted Monday that Saudi Arabia’s King Salman isn’t snubbing President Barack Obama with his decision not to attend a Camp David meeting this week, despite widespread speculation that his absence seems to be a rebuke to Obama’s effort to reach a nuclear deal with Iran.
Obama had invited King Salman to meet at the White House and Camp David on May 13 and 14, and the White House had indicated that the two would meet in private before a meeting of other Gulf Cooperation Council states.
Two Republican lawmakers have proposed legislation that would prevent mortgage giant Freddie Mac from hiring a CEO at a salary of millions of dollars a year.
Federal Housing Finance Agency Director Mel Watt has asked Freddie Mac to propose a legislative package for a CEO who could earn more than $7 million each year to run the agency. But Reps. Ed Royce (R-Calif.) and Bruce Poliquin (R-Maine) put forward a bill last week to ensure taxpayers never pay that much.