Saturday, May 23, 2015

Cleveland police officer Michael Brelo not guilty

CLEVELAND, Ohio – A judge ruled Saturday morning that Cleveland police officer Michael Brelo is not guilty of two charges of voluntary manslaughter in connection with the Nov. 29, 2012 police chase and shooting that ended in the deaths of two people.

Cuyahoga Common Pleas Judge John P. O'Donnell said that while Brelo did fire lethal shots at Timothy Russell and Malissa Williams, other officers did as well.

O'Donnell also concluded that Brelo was not guilty of the lesser included offense of felonious assault because he was legally justified in his use of deadly force.

Brelo, 31, was one of more than 100 police officers to participate in a 22-minute police chase, and one of 13 who shot at a 1979 Chevy Malibu. 

No Progress Since the War on Poverty Began Half a Century Ago

Eleven days ago, President Obama took the opportunity at Georgetown University to defend the government’s 50-year experiment in anti-poverty welfare programs.  The president claimed:
It is a mistake for us to suggest that somehow every effort we make has failed and we are powerless to address poverty. That’s just not true. First of all, just in absolute terms, the poverty rate, when you take into account tax and transfer programs, has been reduced about 40 percent since 1967.
The president assumes that after spending $22 trillion (in inflation-adjusted dollars) on federal and state anti-poverty programs since the Great Society’s inception in 1964, a 40% reduction in the poverty rate would be some sort of victory.  But is this statistic even meaningful?  Has there really been a substantial reduction in the rate of American poverty since LBJ declared an “unconditional war” on poverty half century ago?  Has this incomprehensibly vast sum really gone to waste?

Yes, it has.  After you take into account the transfer payments themselves, such as means-tested tax credits, food stamps, welfare checks, and other handouts, not including Social Security or Medicare, and after adjusting for inflation, there has been no significant reduction in poverty itself.   

In 2014, the Census Bureau reported that the American poverty rate was 14.5%.  In 1965, the very first year the War on Poverty programs began, it was 17.3%.  In sum, $22 trillion purchased not even a 3% reduction in real poverty.  Even this “reduction” is illusory, because the poverty rate fluctuates year by year with the rate of the economy growing or slowing.

Via: American Thinker

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Don’t Believe Voter Fraud Happens? Here’s Some Examples

In the interest of helping out the editorial writers and pundits of media outlets who don’t think voter fraud occurs, I wanted to note just a few recent cases (and readers interested in seeing almost 200 more such cases can do so here.):
  • In McAllen, Texas, two campaign workers (known as politiqueras in local parlance) who bribed voters with cocaine, beer, cigarettes and cash during a 2012 school board election have been sentenced separately to serve eight and four months in prison, respectively. U.S. District Court Judge Randy Crane called this election fraud “terrible” and said that “our country requires that our voting process be clear and free of fraud for democracy to work … it’s dangerous for this to occur without consequence.”
  • A couple in Le Sueur, Minn., was charged with felony voter registration fraud for lying about where they lived so they could vote in a school bond referendum in another town.
  • A woman in Dothan, Ala., was sentenced to six months in prison for her part in a voter fraud scheme that got a city commissioner re-elected. She was the second of the four people charged to have been found guilty of voter fraud in the case, which may have involved more than 100 absentee ballots.
  • Bronx politician Hector Ramirez has been arrested after a 242-count grand jury indictment charged him with a massive voter fraud scheme that involved tricking voters into letting Ramirez and his staff illegally vote their absentee ballots. The local prosecutor told the New York Daily News that Ramirez, who lost two prior tries at a state assembly seat, “made a decision that he was not going to lose, under any circumstance.”
  • A state appeals court upheld a ruling voiding a 2013 commission election in Weslaco, Texas, in which dozens of illegal votes were cast in an election won by only 16 votes. The illegal votes included individuals falsely claiming to reside in the city and improper “assistance” that told voters who to vote for—a great example of how even a small amount of fraud can make a difference in close elections.
  • In Philadelphia, the setting of the infamous 2008 New Black Panther Party voter intimidation case, four local election officials have been chargedwith casting multiple votes in the city’s 18th Ward in a precinct in which three of them didn’t even live and were not registered to vote. This case illustrates the importance of poll watchers, because it was a local poll watcher who saw what happened and brought it to the attention of the district attorney’s office. This is the same district attorney, Democrat Seth Williams, who indicted two Democratic state legislators last year for accepting bribes in exchange for voting against a voter ID bill after the Pennsylvania attorney general, Kathleen Kane, also a Democrat, refused to prosecute the case.
  • On May 7, the Board of Immigration Appeals of the Executive Office for Immigration Review held that a Peruvian citizen who illegally registered and voted could be deported for violating federal law. Margarita Del Pilar became a permanent legal resident of the U.S. in 2004. She promptly applied for an Illinois driver’s license and registered to vote at the same time, then cast a ballot in the 2006 congressional election. When she applied for naturalization in 2007, she admitted in the INS interview that she had voted in an American election. Of course, if she had not applied to become a citizen, she could have continued to illegally vote with almost no chance of being detected.
This case of the Peruvian woman is just another example of how easy it is fornoncitizens to vote in our elections. And there are apparently some politicians who want to ensure that they can continue to do so without getting caught.

California: Air Board Asks Courts to Create New Tax

In a landmark case before the Third District Court of Appeal, the California Air Resources Board (ARB) recently argued for creation of an unprecedented tax doctrine that could raise billions of dollars in new revenues. The ARB described the new revenue not as a tax or a fee (or any other recognized revenue-raising mechanism), but as a “byproduct” of a regulatory program.
The case, California Chamber of Commerce v. California Air Resources Board, challenges the legality of the cap-and-trade auction ARB set up as part of its program to reduce greenhouse gas (GHG) emissions to meet goals outlined in AB 32, the climate change law.
CalChamber is arguing that (1) the ARB exceeded the authority the law granted it by reserving GHG allowances to itself and auctioning those allowances to GHG emitters to raise revenues, and (2) such an auction is a “tax” requiring a two-thirds vote of the Legislature, which was not obtained.
(CalChamber is not challenging AB 32 or the cap-and-trade mechanism itself, because the goals of AB 32 can be achieved effectively using cap and trade. In fact, the efficacy of cap and trade to meet the GHG reduction goals would be unaffected in the absence of the auction.)
The lawsuit aims to prevent the powerful regulatory agency from expanding its reach beyond the boundaries set by the Legislature, and to maintain the integrity of the revenue-raising rules of Proposition 13. But the ARB has raised the stakes even higher by suggesting that the revenues raised by the auction are neither taxes nor fees.
The auctions so far have raised nearly $1.6 billion in revenues that have been deposited into state coffers. The Legislative Analyst has estimated the auction will raise tens of billions more dollars by 2020.
The ARB instead claims that the auction is a legitimate exercise of its regulatory powers and that the billions in new revenues are “incidental” to that regulation. In fact, the ARB flatly states that the auction was not enacted for the purpose of increasing revenues; therefore, it is not a tax.


When unsuccessful Texas gubernatorial candidate Wendy Davis (D) was asked this week why it was acceptable to abort a seven-pound baby, she responded, “That never happens. It never happens. It really never happens.”
As heard in a video taken by an anonymous citizen journalist who provided the recording exclusively to Breitbart News, Davis continued:
And, the only time that late term abortions occur is when something has gone horribly wrong and either the mother’s life is in danger or the child’s life is in a very precarious situation. What we can’t ever know is what people are dealing with when they make those personal choices. And, it’s not right for us to step into their shoes, is what I tell people.
Davis headlined a Planned Parenthood fundraising luncheon in Dearborn, Michigan Monday, when she was asked the question 2016 GOP contender 
Sen. Rand Paul (R-KY)
 suggested reporters ask Democratic National Committee chairwoman 
Rep. Debbie Wasserman Schultz (D-FL)

As Breitbart News reported in April, Paul was asked during a press conference in New Hampshire, “Senator, the DNC is picking up on comments you made with AP this morning on abortion, and I just wanted to know where you stand on exemptions—should there be any exemptions for abortion or no?”

ABC spokeswoman in Stephanopoulos flap worked in Clinton White House

The ABC News spokeswoman who slow-walked The Washington Free Beacon’s request for comment on George Stephanopoulos’ undisclosed donations to the Clinton Foundation also worked in the Clinton administration.
Heather Riley -- spokeswoman for ABC News programs “Good Morning America” and “This Week” -- worked in the White House press office from 1997 to 2000, according to her LinkedIn profile, and is a member of the Facebook group “(Bill) Clinton Administration Alumni.”
The Free Beacon, a conservative-leaning publication, contacted ABC News on the afternoon of May 13 to request comment on George Stephanopoulos’s previously undisclosed donations to the Clinton Foundation.
“I was just forwarded your email about George. I’m going to send you something,” Riley emailed later that night, according to The Free Beacon. “Want to make sure you get it in time.”
Riley later told the Free Beacon that she would deliver a statement by 7 a.m. the next morning. However, the statement did not arrive until 9:40 a.m., about 15 minutes after POLITICO published its “scoop” about the donations.
White House records show that Riley’s duties included serving as a press contact for then-first lady Hillary Clinton.


WASHINGTON (AP) -- There's something strange about the U.S. economy in the first three months of every year: It frequently grows at a much slower pace than in the other nine months.

And on Friday, the government agency charged with calculating the economy's growth rate said it would adjust its methods in an effort to resolve the problem.

The changes could paint a much different picture of the economy's recent performance. Concerns flared when the government said late last month that the economy expanded just 0.2 percent at an annual rate in the first quarter. But many economists have challenged the government's data, and some have argued the first-quarter figure should be as high as 1.8 percent instead.

At issue is a process known as "seasonal adjustment," which is not nearly as convoluted as it sounds. Many routine patterns affect the economy, such as the layoff of temporary retail employees after the winter holidays, or a spike in consumer spending around Easter. Seasonal adjustment attempts to factor out those patterns to get a clearer picture of how the economy is actually performing.

Via: AP

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Senate adjourns with no clear path forward on Patriot Act

The Senate failed to move forward on legislation to reform the National Security Agency or renew the Patriot Act early on Saturday morning, making it almost a sure bet that portions of the Patriot Act expire at the end of the month.
After a frenzied series of votes that were repeatedly knocked down, Majority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-Ky.) ordered lawmakers to return home for the Memorial Day weekend and return at noon on May 31 for a rare Sunday session and “one more opportunity to act responsibly.”
That would give lawmakers just 12 hours to act before portions of the Patriot Act expire — a conclusion almost everyone has said would seriously hamper national security.
“We know what’s going on overseas. We know what’s been tried here at home,’ an exasperated McConnell told lawmakers after 1 a.m.
“We’ve got a week to discuss it. We’ll have one day to do it,” he added. “But we’d better get ready next Sunday afternoon to prevent the country from the danger by the total expiration of the program.”
Starting shortly after midnight on Saturday morning, the Senate voted 57-42 to block legislation to reform the NSA, called the USA Freedom Act.
The late vote to block the USA Freedom Act — approved by the House last week in a bipartisan 338-88 vote — was quickly followed by a vote to kill a planned two-month extension of the current law from McConnell, 45-54. Sixty votes were needed to win on the procedural motion and proceed to the bill.
Then, in a dramatic turn on the Senate floor, McConnell repeatedly tried — and was repeatedly blocked — to extend the June 1 deadline of the Patriot Act provisions to June 8, then June 5, followed by June 3 and finally June 2.

The EPA’s Pebble Blame Game

The agency digs deep for excuses—and not very good ones—to explain its veto of an Alaskan mine project.

Government agencies have a certain descending order of excuses they employ as a scandal grows. When they reach the point of quibbling over semantics and blaming low-level employees, it’s clear they know they’ve got a problem.
The EPA has a problem: its pre-emptive veto of the Pebble Mine, a proposed project in southwest Alaska. The law says that Pebble gets to apply for permits, and the Army Corps of Engineers gets to give thumbs up or down. The EPA, a law unto itself, instead last year blocked the proposal before applications were even filed. The agency claims it got involved because of petitions from Native American tribes in 2010, and that its veto is based on “science”—a watershed assessment that purportedly shows the mine would cause environmental harm.
This column reported a week ago on EPA documents that tell a very different story. They reveal the existence of an internal EPA “options paper” that make clear the agency opposed the mine on ideological grounds and had already decided to veto it in the spring of 2010—well before it did any “science.” Emails showed an EPA biologist, Phil North,working in the same time frame with an outside green activist to gin up the petitions. It’s not much of a leap to suggest that the EPA encouraged the petitions so that it would have an excuse to intervene, run its science as cover, and block a project it already opposed.
None of this looks good, and in a nearby letter EPA Region 10 Administrator Dennis McLerran is already bringing up semantics. According to the EPA—and other environmental groups now picking up the same line—the agency didn’t “veto” the project, but simply put “restrictions” on it. Indeed. The “restrictions” are that Pebble can’t build its mine, or for that matter even a significantly smaller one. Veto, restrictions, it’s all the same thing. The EPA killed the project.

WSJ Reporter To Hillary: “Hill, Can I Ride On Your Lap To The White House?”

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*Updated with more e-mail reaction
An e-mail FOIA batch released by the State Department Friday included a bizarre transcript of an October 2012 interview that Wall Street Journal reporter Monica Langley had with then-Secretary of State Hillary Clinton.
The source of the email and transcript, State Department Communications  Director Caroline Alder, commented, “This will be exciting when it’s FOIA’d…but will give you a sense of the interaction.”
Langley is invited to sit on the couch with Clinton at “an appropriate distance.” However, Clinton offers her a chair to bring her “within inches of the Secretary — leaning in even further.”
The reporter agrees and midway through the interview, she “grabs HRC’s knee” and Clinton began laughing “awkwardly” as she looked over at State Department Clinton senior advisor Philippe Reines.
Langley leaned in further and asked “Oh Hillary…what do you eat? Drink? Dream about when you sleep?”
At that point she began touching Clinton’s leg again and all those present in the room, including Reines, laughed “awkwardly.”
Finally, Langley tells Clinton, “They think I’m so funny [looking at Phillipe and Adler]. Hill, can I ride in your lap to the White House?”
Adler ends the transcript saying, “…this went on for about 51 minutes. And I agree with Phillipe — whatever she does, it works. It was a really great interview.”
Politico found other e-mails from Deputy Secretary of State Tom Nides and Reines reacting to the transcript sent by Adler.
“Tom, was an awesome interview. Hrc was great, but I was really impressed by how good of an interviewer Monica is. One of the best I’ve ever seen. But she was her usual wacky self and pulled one move that I can’t even describe so I’ll let Caroline do – since you’ll appreciate it given your familiarity with Monica Langley, Hillary Clinton, and the Secretary’s chair arrangement in her outer office,” Reines said before Adler sent the transcript.
Nides responded to the transcript saying, “I may go and throw up since I am laughing so hard.”
Reines writes back, CC’ing Clinton herself in the e-mail chain:
 “Tom, she moved that yellow chair as close as it went. Knee to knee. Amazed she didn’t try knee in between knee. And if that wasn’t enough, she leaned forward. More like a pivot, as far as her torso could fold forward to minimize the space between their heads. Was like the dental hygienist rolling around the floor to get the best access to your mouth depending on what tooth she was trying to get access to I’ve never seen a Westerner invade her space like that And even the non Westerners I’ve seen do it based on cultural differences have been only briefly to greet, This went on like that for 51 minutes – unacceptable in any culture. I don’t even think you see that behavior among any type of mammal.
The touching the leg and repeatedly calling her ‘Hillary’ was just gravy.
But it was wonderful. One of the best interviews I’ve ever witnessed. Wish it were on live tv.”
Via: Daily Caller

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Report: Obama Has Severely Weakened Democrats

The Democratic Party has so severely weakened under the tenure of President Barack Obama that it is relying on former losing candidates to take them through the 2016 election cycle, according to the National Journal.

In recent years the number of Democratic officeholders in the House and statewide offices has so consistently declined that the party's chances in next year's Senate races are in peril despite seeing success on the presidential level. 

"It's awfully unusual to see how dependent Democrats are in relying on former losing candidates as their standard-bearers in 2016," the Journal said.

Wisconsin's Russ Feingold, Pennsylvania's Joe Sestak, Indiana's Baron Hill, and Ohio's Ted Strickland all lost office in 2010 but will be looking to run again in 2016, while party officials are also hoping to draft former North Carolina Sen. Kay Hagan to retake her seat. 
"All told, more than half of the Democrats' Senate challengers in 2016 are comeback candidates," the Journal said.

An analysis by Real Clear Politics supports the idea that Democrats have seen a decline in their fortunes, calculating that their position across state and federal seats is at its lowest since 1928.

The Journal said that most of these former officeholders offer the best choices available. Feingold and Strickland are each polling better than their likely GOP rivals while Hill and Hagan have in the past demonstrated some crossover appeal.

"Senate Democrats are relying on these repeat candidates for the exact same reason that Democrats are comfortable with anointing Hillary Clinton for their presidential nomination: There aren't any better alternatives," the Journal said

Via: Newsmax

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Obama wins trade victory in the Senate

President Obama won a big victory for his trade agenda Friday with the Senate’s approval of fast-track legislation that could make it easier for him to complete a wide-ranging trade deal that would include 11 Pacific Rim nations.
A coalition of 48 Senate Republicans and 14 Democrats voted for Trade Promotion Authority late Friday, sending the legislation to a difficult fight in the House, where it faces more entrenched opposition from Democrats.
The Senate coalition fought off several attempts by opponents to undermine the legislation, defeating amendments that were politically popular but potentially poisonous to Obama’s bid to secure the trade deal.
“This is an important bill, likely the most important bill we will pass this year. It’s important to President Obama,” Sen. Orrin G. Hatch (R-Utah), chairman of the Senate Finance Committee and primary author of the bill, said at the close of debate.
TPA’s fast-track provisions would allow Congress, under strict timelines, to consider trade deals with a simple up-or-down vote without any amendments or requirements of a Senate super-majority to end debate. That would help Obama complete the final details of the Trans-Pacific Partnership (TPP), with the other 11 nations, a bloc that represents about 40 percent of the global economy.

FCC's Open Internet Order Won't Stand Up To The First Amendment

Is watching Netflix on the broadband Internet more like (A) watching cable television or (B) talking on the telephone? Common sense suggests the answer is “A,” and the court that overturned the previous open Internet rules chose “A”; the First Amendment demands it. The Federal Communications Commission (FCC) nevertheless chose “B.”

In the 2015 Open Internet Order, the FCC concluded the Internet is the functional equivalent of the public switched telephone network and is subject to the common carrier regulations in Title II of the Communications Act of 1934. If it had admitted the Internet offers communications capabilities that are functionally equivalent to the printing press, mail carriage, newspaper publishing, over-the-air broadcasting, and cable television combined, it would have been too obvious that its decision to classify broadband Internet service providers (ISPs) as common carriers is unconstitutional. Like all other means of disseminating mass communications, broadband Internet access is a part of the press that the First Amendment protects from common carriage regulation.
Federal Communications Commission Chairman Tom Wheeler testifies before the House Judiciary Committee in 
March. (Photo by Chip Somodevilla/Getty Images)

The Supreme Court has upheld only government intrusions on the freedom of the press that were limited in scope and justified by detailed factual findings of scarcity or express agreement. For example, in Red Lion, the Court ruled that a scarcity of available broadcast frequencies was enough to justify a relatively limited intrusion on the editorial discretion of over-the-air broadcasters, and inTurner I, it ruled that a Congressional finding of monopoly market power was enough to justify the imposition of access rights on up to one-third of the capacity of large cable networks.

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