Surprise: DC’s Marion Barry is working to decriminalize drugs
Posted May 16, 2013 at 1:12 pm by Meredith Jessup
The news makes sense to me — after all, he probably has more experience with them than anyone else on DC’s city council. As you might recall, Barry spent six months in federal prison after the FBI caught the DC mayor smoking crack cocaine in a sting operation in 1990.
For some reason, however, the Huffington Post calls Barry, now a city council member, an “unlikely” proponent of the decriminalization of marijuana:
The fight to decriminalize marijuana possession in Washington, D.C., just got an unlikely ally: former mayor and current city councilman Marion Barry (D-Ward 8).
Barry and fellow council member Tommy Wells (D-Ward 6) are drafting legislation that would reduce or eliminate criminal penalties for people caught with small amounts of marijuana.
“It’s time we enter the 21st century and stop criminalizing people… for what is not really a major crime,” Wells told The Washington Post.
Bob Schieffer calls government scandals ‘very, very disturbing’
Posted May 16, 2013 at 12:40 pm by Eddie Scarry
On CBS Thursday morning, Face the Nation anchor Bob Schieffer said the three scandals engulfing Washington this week are “a case of ‘is anybody home.’” (more…)
Is the IRS acting as an agent of Planned Parenthood?
Posted May 16, 2013 at 11:58 am by Meredith Jessup
As Billy reported over on the front side, a prominent professor is speaking up in the wake of this week’s IRS scandal, suggesting that the Internal Revenue Service targeted her with an audit for her work defending her Catholic faith against progressive groups.
Similarly, the nonprofit Thomas More Society is now alleging that the IRS withheld approval for tax-exempt status from two pro-life organizations because of their demonstrations against abortion provider Planned Parenthood.
In one case, the IRS withheld approval of an application for tax exempt status for Coalition for Life of Iowa. In a phone call to Coalition for Life of Iowa leaders on June 6, 2009, the IRS agent “Ms. Richards” told the group to send a letter to the IRS with the entire board’s signatures stating that, under perjury of the law, they do not picket/protest or organize groups to picket or protest outside of Planned Parenthood. Once the IRS received this letter, their application would be approved…
In another similar case, the IRS withheld approval of an application for charitable tax-exempt recognition of Christian Voices for Life, questioning the group’s involvement with “40 Days for Life” and “Life Chain” events. The Fort Bend County, Texas, organization was subjected to repeated and lengthy unconstitutional requests for information about the viewpoint and content of its educational communications, volunteer prayer vigils, and other protected activities.
Thomas More Society special counsel Sally Wagenmaker calls the IRS authority in these cases is “disturbing.”
“The IRS’s role should only be to determine whether organizations fit the section 501(c)(3) test for ‘charitable, religious, or educational’ qualification, not to inquire about the content of prayers, protests, and petitions,” she says. ”It’s high time that the IRS be called to account for its workers’ potential to trample on our constitutional rights, through such ostensibly innocuous means…what the Ways and Means committee will discuss may only be the tip of the iceberg of IRS abuses.”
For more coverage of the unfolding IRS scandal, click here.
Video: 2 guys experience what it’s like to give birth
Posted May 16, 2013 at 11:30 am by Meredith Jessup
I’ll admit: I have no idea if this is even scientifically accurate in any way, but I still enjoyed watching it…
Howard Dean: IRS scandal is just a bunch of ‘hot air’
Posted May 16, 2013 at 10:51 am by Meredith Jessup
To think, this guy was once a serious Democratic contender for president…
A top Democrat on Thursday said that as long as the unfolding Internal Revenue Service scandal doesn’t implicate President Obama, there’s no reason for the administration to panic.
“As long as it doesn’t get to the White House, it’s not going to be a problem,” said Howard Dean, former Vermont governor, presidential candidate and chairman of the Democratic National Committee, during an appearance on MNSBC’s “Morning Joe” program. [...]
“They can have as many hearings as they want. Credibility of Congress is close to zero. I think most people view this as hot air,” he said.
The IRS is a political bully
Posted May 16, 2013 at 10:07 am by Meredith Jessup
The Washington Examiner’s Tim Carney offers some more details in the IRS inquisition scandal that should make anyone think twice about the Internal Revenue Service’s objectivity when it comes to politics (emphasis mine):
Federal officials used the power of the state to intimidate and harass critics of President Obama and the federal government. When the higher levels of the Internal Revenue Service learned that one office was inappropriately targeting Tea Party groups, these officials nevertheless denied it — until they were forced to fess up.
If you needed another reason to distrust your government and oppose its expansion, the IRS just gave it to you.
Judging by available evidence and an inspector general’s report released this week, the story here is not a Nixonian White House using all of government’s tools to punish critics.
The story is instead one of government power so great that, even in the hands of nonpolitical career civil servants, politically motivated abuse is inevitable. And the ultimate problem is that our tax code and campaign finance laws put the IRS in the business of policing political speech. Politics inevitably comes into play. [...]
The Cincinnati office where the political targeting took place is much more partisan, judging by FEC filings. More than 75 percent of the campaign contributions from that office in the past three elections went to Democrats. In 2012, every donation traceable to employees at that office went to either President Obama or liberal Democratic Sen. Sherrod Brown of Ohio.
Thursday morning must-reads
Posted May 16, 2013 at 9:17 am by Meredith Jessup
Benghazi emails contradict White House claims
IRS scapegoats not taking it lying down
State Department fretted over Benghazi emails
Kathleen Sebelius skirts law by seeking private cash for Obamacare
The NYTimes is worried Obama has lost his “vision”
House Republicans threaten to quit immigration group
What could go wrong? Dem congressman brings baby grandson to Holder hearing:
Bret Baier thinks it’s possible Fox News was ‘looked into’ by DOJ
Posted May 16, 2013 at 7:49 am by Eddie Scarry
It’s well known that the relationship between the whole of Fox News and the Obama administration has been a contentious one. With the news that the Department of Justice secretly seized the phone records of Associates Press staffers in 2012, Fox News anchor Bret Baier suggested Wednesday night that things may be worse than previously thought.
Responding to a viewer question submitted online as to whether Baier thought it was possible Fox News or other news outlets have been “tapped or looked into,” Baier said yes. (more…)
Fewer Americans following Benghazi news
Posted May 15, 2013 at 4:27 pm by Eddie Scarry
Congressional hearings last week on the Benghazi incident lent more media attention to the September attack than ever before. Even so, fewer people are paying attention to it.
From Pew Research Center:
Fewer than half (44%) of Americans say they are following the hearings very or fairly closely, virtually unchanged from late January when Hillary Clinton testified. Last October, 61% said they were following the early stages of the investigation at least fairly closely.
Video: ‘Arrested (Economic) Development’
Posted May 15, 2013 at 3:25 pm by Meredith Jessup
It’s nice to know the House GOP Conference still has a sense of humor…
“And now, the story of a dysfunctional Democratic majority that’s costing American jobs, and the one president who had no choice but to make it worse”:
Geraldo has some thoughts on ‘fat’ O.J. Simpson
Posted May 15, 2013 at 2:24 pm by Eddie Scarry
O.J. Simpson reentered the public spotlight Wednesday when he appeared in court to request a do-over of the 2008 trial that ended with him being convicted of assault and kidnapping. He appeared swollen and with bloodshot eyes.
Fox News host Geraldo Rivera had some nearly intelligible thoughts on the matter… (more…)
Obama asks Congress to pass a new ‘press shield’ law
Posted May 15, 2013 at 2:17 pm by Meredith Jessup
A breaking news alert from Politico:
The White House has asked Sen. Chuck Schumer (D-N.Y.) to reintroduce a press shield law, White House officials said Wednesday.
The move comes after questions were raised about the seizure of Associated Press phone records by the Justice Department as part of a national security leak investigation.
Shield laws protect journalists from being forced to reveal sources. The version that passed the Judiciary Committee in 2009 included exemptions for national security.
Schumer praised the new push.
“This kind of law would balance national security needs against the public’s right to the free flow of information,” Schumer said. “At minimum, our bill would have ensured a fairer, more deliberate process in this case.”
So, essentially the White House is lobbying for a “press shield” bill to protect the press from… the White House? Awesome.
Axelrod: Government is just too darn big for Obama to know what goes on…
Posted May 15, 2013 at 1:29 pm by Meredith Jessup
NRO’s Andrew Johnson tips us off to this gem:
The government is simply too big for President Obama to keep track of all the wrongdoing taking place on his watch, his former senior adviser, David Axelrod, told MSNBC. “Part of being president is there’s so much beneath you that you can’t know because the government is so vast,” he explained.
Here’s a novel idea: If the federal bureaucracy is “too vast” for the President to manage, wouldn’t it make sense to shrink the government rather than grow it? Food for thought…
At another point in the same interview, Axelrod defended the Department of Justice’s decision to track the phones of reporters in order to plug a intel leak. Madeleine has more on that here.
Boehner reacts to IRS scandal: ‘Who’s going to jail over this?’
Posted May 15, 2013 at 12:45 pm by Meredith Jessup
“Clearly someone violated the law,” House Speaker John Boehner said this morning in response to the Internal Revenue Service’s admitted targeting of conservative groups and their tax statuses.
Joined by his fellow House Republicans for a Wednesday morning press conference, the Speaker demanded answers from the administration. “The IRS has admitted to targeting conservatives, even if the White House continues to be stuck on the word ‘if,’” he said, referring to President Obama’s reluctance to lay blame or consequence. “Now, my question isn’t about about who’s going to resign. My question is: Who’s going to jail over this scandal?”
Boehner certainly isn’t alone in his calls for justice. According to a poll out this week from Rasmussen, most American voters view the Internal Revenue Service’s targeting of conservative groups as politically motivated and think those involved should be punished:
Just 16% of Likely U.S. Voters believe the IRS investigations of these groups were a coincidence, according to the latest Rasmussen Reports national telephone survey. Fifty-seven percent (57%) think the investigations were politically motivated. Twenty-seven percent (27%) are not sure…
Fifty-five percent (55%) think it is at least somewhat likely that President Obama or his top aides were aware that Tea Party and other conservative groups were targeted by the IRS. Thirty-four percent (34%) consider that unlikely. This includes 36% who believe it is Very Likely the president or his top aides knew of the investigations and 13% who feel it is Not At All Likely. Eleven percent (11%) are undecided.
Only seven percent (7%) of voters believe no disciplinary action should be taken against the IRS employees involved in the investigations. Twenty-nine percent (29%) feel they should be formally reprimanded. But most (57%) think those involved should be jailed or fired, with 16% who say they should be put in jail and 41% who believe they should be fired.
In addition, the scandal and ensuing investigations also divide the country along partisan lines:
While 86% of Republicans and 60% of voters not affiliated with either major party think the IRS investigations were politically motivated, just 33% of Democrats agree.
Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell also spoke (more…)
Just a photo of Michele Bachmann in a pink dress trying on Google Glass
Posted May 15, 2013 at 12:18 pm by Eddie Scarry
— Luke Russert (@LukeRussert) May 15, 2013
Video: Jon Stewart rips Obama’s response to scandals (again)
Posted May 15, 2013 at 11:51 am by Meredith Jessup
For the second straight day, Comedy Central host Jon Stewart criticized the president for the way he’s managed this week’s ongoing scandals — from Benghazi and the DOJ to the IRS and possibly even the EPA.
Apparently President Obama’s chief advisor is now the nightly network news broadcast — it seems to be where he’s getting most of his information from. And, as The Daily Show demonstrated last night, today’s scandals aren’t the first examples of President Obama relying on media reports to keep him apprised of what’s going on in his own administration.
“I wouldn’t be surprised if President Obama learned Osama bin Laden had been killed when he saw himself announce it on television,” Stewart joked.
Additionally, Stewart extended his sympathies for “the real victim in all of this” — British PM David Cameron — who was awkwardly caught in the middle of the swirling scandals during Monday’s joint press conference.
See additional video after the jump!
Media groups protest DOJ’s AP ‘overreach’
Posted May 15, 2013 at 11:22 am by Meredith Jessup
In a letter addressed to Attorney General Eric Holder and Deputy Attorney James M. Cole Tuesday, more than 50 major media organizations — dubbed the Reporters Committee for Freedom of the Press — voiced their objections to the DOJ’s seizure of the Associated Press’ phone records. The join letter asked that the DOJ “mitigate the damage it has caused” and return the secretly subpoenaed records.
“The scope of this action calls into question the very integrity of Department of Justice policies toward the press and its ability to balance, on its own, its police powers against the First Amendment rights of the news media and the public’s interest in reporting on all manner of government conduct, including matters touching on national security which lie at the heart of this case,” the letter from The Reporters Committee for Freedom of the Press and 51 other news organizations including Advance Publications, Cox Media Group, The McClatchy Company, The New York Times Company and NPR, among many others, stated.
The media organizations also noted that no one could “remember an instance where such an overreaching dragnet for newsgathering materials was deployed by the Department, particularly without notice to the affected reporters or an opportunity to seek judicial review” in the 30 years since the department issued guidelines about its subpoena practices for journalists’ phone records.
On a related note, have you seen Media Matters’ defense of the DOJ? It is epic.
The reason Sean Hannity wasn’t fired when he first started at Fox News
Posted May 15, 2013 at 11:19 am by Eddie Scarry
The 1,000th broadcast of Fox News’s Hannity airs Wednesday night. To mark the occasion, the show’s host Sean Hannity granted an interview with The Hollywood Reporter, in which he says he was shocked he wasn’t fired just after being hired in 1996. (more…)
Bill Maher on ‘backward’ Middle East
Posted May 15, 2013 at 10:47 am by Eddie Scarry
“[N]othing compares to the Middle East, where conspiracy theories are so pervasive you’d think the whole region was entirely backward and overly religious or something.”– HBO’s Bill Maher, Real Time Blog.
Surprise: Obama brother’s charity faced no hurdles in IRS approval
Posted May 15, 2013 at 10:37 am by Meredith Jessup
While many conservative groups and Tea Party organizations are coming forward with complaints against the IRS for delaying their tax-exempt statuses, one group with a familiar name sped through the process in lightning speed with unprecedented special treatment.
The DC reports:
Lois Lerner, the senior IRS official at the center of the decision to target tea party groups for burdensome tax scrutiny, signed paperwork granting tax-exempt status to the Barack H. Obama Foundation, a shady charity headed by the president’s half-brother that operated illegally for years.
According to the organization’s filings, Lerner approved the foundation’s tax status within a month of filing, an unprecedented timeline that stands in stark contrast to conservative organizations that have been waiting for more than three years, in some cases, for approval.
Lerner also appears to have broken with the norms of tax-exemption approval by granting retroactive tax-exempt status to Malik Obama’s organization.
The National Legal and Policy Center filed an official complaint with the IRS in May 2011 asking why the foundation was being allowed to solicit tax-deductible contributions when it had not even applied for an IRS determination. In a New York Post article dated May 8, 2011, an officer of the foundation admitted, “We haven’t been able to find someone with the expertise” to apply for tax-exempt status.
Nevertheless, a month later, the Barack H. Obama Foundation had flown through the grueling application process. Lerner granted the organization a 501(c) determination and even gave it a retroactive tax exemption dating back to December 2008.
Keith Olbermann: Eric Holder ‘should resign’
Posted May 15, 2013 at 10:15 am by Eddie Scarry
During a press conference Tuesday, U.S. Attorney General Eric Holder defended the Department of Justice’s seizure of Associated Press records in 2012, citing national security reasons.
“Unacceptable,” tweeted former MSNBC and Current TV anchor Keith Olbermann. “If Mr. Holder continues to support this rogue action, he should resign.”
MSM reporters ‘fundamentally on the patriot team’
Posted May 15, 2013 at 9:28 am by Eddie Scarry
An unforeseen consequence stemming from the IRS’s unfair scrutiny of politically conservative organizations and the Justice Department’s secret seizure of Associated Press phone records: The right and the mainstream media have found themselves tucked under the same blanket.
Washington Post columnist Kathleen Parker says the two are pretty much on the same team most times anyway. (more…)
Wednesday morning must-reads
Posted May 15, 2013 at 9:07 am by Meredith Jessup
The IRS has a history of political targeting
New level of transparency for Obama administration: “Take my word for it”
Jake Tapper: Why you should care about whistleblowers
IRS scandal raises more concerns about Obamacare
Jonah Goldberg: The real Benghazi sideshow
“I probably wouldn’t be any good at” being press secretary, Jay Carney said in 2006:
‘Abuse of power’: NY Times, Wash. Post, USA Today come down on Justice Dept. for AP scandal
Posted May 15, 2013 at 8:44 am by Eddie Scarry
National papers react to the developing conflict between the Associated Press and the Department of Justice, which secretly obtained phone records of AP reporters and editors in 2012, supposedly for national security purposes…
New York Times: “We are not convinced. For more than 30 years, the news media and the government have used a well-honed system to balance the government’s need to pursue criminals or national security breaches with the media’s constitutional right to inform the public. This action against The A.P. … ‘calls into question the very integrity’ of the [Obama] administration’s policy toward the press.” (more…)
Top-ranking Democrat can’t keep all Obama’s scandals straight
Posted May 15, 2013 at 8:35 am by Meredith Jessup
One scandal, two scandal, red scandal, blue scandal…
At Rep. Steny Hoyer’s weekly meeting with reporters on Tuesday, the Maryland Democrat was asked if he was concerned about the DOJ seizing phone records from Associated Press journalists working in the House press gallery in the Capitol building.
Hoyer’s answer was well-delivered: Articulate, clear, firm and precise.
One problem: He responded to the wrong scandal.
“The IRS activity was inappropriate, inconsistent with our policies and practices as a country, very concerning, needs to be reviewed carefully,” Hoyer, one of the top-ranking House Democrats, said in response to a question from Fox News’ Chad Pergram about the DOJ. “We need to ensure that this does not happen again, and we need to find out how long it continued, when it was stopped. It is my understanding—there was a front-page story on this at the [Washington] Post—it’s my understanding that [IRS official] Lois Lerner, who was apparently overseeing this, at some point in time found out about this and said …”
When Hoyer named Lerner, Pergram interrupted.
“We’re talking about two things,” Pergram, who apparently had not heard the first mention of the IRS, said from across the table, “You said Lois Lerner and the IRS.”
Another reporter sitting closer to Hoyer, Public Radio International’s Todd Zwillich, learned over and said softly, “He’s talking about the AP story.”
“Oh, I’m sorry, I’m sorry, excuse me,” Hoyer said, pausing briefly. “Whatever happened, we need to find out why it happened. But clearly it should not have happened. I don’t know enough about whether there was a warrant sought.”
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