There Are Flawed Candidates, And Then There’s Hillary Clinton

There were a lot of things wrong with Mitt Romney in 2012. He was stiff, overcompensated on some issues (immigration/self-deportation) to win over the conservative base, and his nomination prevented Republicans from speaking honestly about health care. Romneycare was the blueprint for Obamacare, and it was infamously invoked when Mitt’s press secretary, Andrea Saul, said it could have saved Joe Soptic’s wife from succumbing to cancer if the couple had lived in Massachusetts. Soptic, a former steelworker, was featured in a nasty political ad, which basically accused Romney of killing his wife after he was laid off from the company he worked for upon its acquisition by Bain Capital. Now, don’t get me wrong; Mitt Romney was probably the best we had to work with in 2012. Yet, when I compare what made Romney a flawed candidate to Hillary, there simply is no comparison.

She has to be the gold standard for flawed candidacies. She had unsubstantiated intelligence sent to her private email system; from an address her lawyers said did not exist when she was at State. That was a lie. She claims to be the most transparent (chuckle) person in public life, yet we find little nuggets every day about her non-profit failing to disclose donations, botching tax forms, and allegedly being the nexus for foreign governments to cash in on their favors from their donations to the Foundation. She had a private email system, which she used to conduct all her business while at the State Department, even though it was pretty much against government regulation to do so–and served as judge and jury for emails on that server that were work-related and personal. Oh, and she deleted the personal emails and wiped the server clean.

Regarding her finances, we now know that Bill Clinton established a shell company, which wasn’t disclosed since its assets were less than $1,000. The arrangement was designed to “pass-through” payments to the former president, but “the precise amounts of Bill Clinton's earned income from consulting have not been disclosed, and it's not known how much was routed through WJC, LLL [the company in question], according to the Associated Press. They’re also loaded, like Romney, which isn’t necessarily a bad thing. This is America; I’m all for people making money. But there is a level of disconnectedness that people thought Romney displayed in 2012. Bill Clinton incredulously said getting paid $500k per speech was necessary because he has bills to pay. Romney tried to make a $10k bet with Gov. Rick Perry on a debate stage. The fact is not many Americans can bet $10,000 on much of anything. Regarding the Clintons’ speaking fee rates, if either of them delivers just three speeches, they make more money than most Americans do in their entire lifetimes. On top of that, there’s the “dead broke” remark that Clinton uttered last June, which highlighted another aspect of her flawed candidacy: she’s an abysmal campaigner. If there’s anything that will carry over into next year, it’s this remark, which Maggie Haberman noted is still fresh in a lot of voters’ minds–and possibly the alleged shady dealings surrounding the Foundation. Recently, these dealings veered into the world of arms deals, where foreign governments got billions worth of military equipment that was approved by Clinton’s State Department after they gave the Foundation millions of dollars. There’s not a concrete timetable, but the International Business Times, which reported on the story, wrote, “news reports document that at least seven foreign governments that received State Department clearance for American arms did donate to the Clinton Foundation while Hillary Clinton was serving as secretary: Algeria, Oman, Qatar, Kuwait, Thailand, Norway and Australia."

Oh, and Bill Clinton was getting paid to deliver speeches to countries that gave the Foundation money around the same time their arms sales were being approved by the Clinton State Department.

Back to their finances, the truth is that the Clintons were obviously never going to be “dead broke.” The earning potential for a former president is astronomical, and Bill Clinton was making, on average, $24,000 a day in the first few months after he left the White House. Prior to that, the Clintons occupied the governor’s mansion in Arkansas pretty much since 1978. Bill lost re-election in ’80*, but came back with a vengeance in 1982, remaining the state’s governor until he ran for president in 1992. So, neither of them have really been a power couple for the people, which they’re trying to cast themselves in this election cycle. Moreover, the Clintonomics of the 1990s comprised of being pro-Wall Street and reducing capital gains taxes; two things that are anathema to the Democratic Party base today. Another reason why Hillary plans to run on Obama’s economic record since that’s really the only option, though she could do whatever she wants since she already has the nomination in the bag.

Now, forget Mitt Romney for a second. Could you imagine any Republican candidate surviving the media scrutiny upon learning any of the things we now know about the secretive world of the Clintons? Replace the Clintons with any Republican family that’s run for president, and I guarantee you the media would be saying how any of these issues (email system, Libya, wealth, and non-profit dealings) disqualify that person from being the next president. When the news of the private email server broke, pretty much every major news outlet reported on it. They continued until it began to impact Clinton in the polls regarding favorables and trustworthiness, and the coverage virtually collapsed.

Current incarnation of the Hillary email story is going, going, gone. pic.twitter.com/bb2DpaZL4l

As I’ve written before, even before the Clinton Foundation dealings became more explicit, Hillary is eminently beatable. There’s nothing people can really say about her that doesn’t boil down to the fact that she’s a Clinton, a woman, and she has strong leadership qualities. Yet, voters in key states also view her as dishonest, which sort of cancels out the high marks on leadership. Oh, and as for her tenure at State, we now have renewed Russian aggression, Yemen collapsing, the rise of ISIS, and lingering questions about Benghazi. In short, smart power has been a disaster.

Yes, Mitt Romney was flawed, but he pales in comparison to Mrs. Clinton. It’s as stark as North and South Korea, minor and major league baseball, or Godfather and Godfather Part II. She’s truly the Willie Mays of bad candidates, but we all know the media have different standards.

Last note: Yahoo!’s Matt Bai noted that maybe Clinton’s wealth isn’t the problem; it’s the fact that she doesn’t seem to think of herself that way. Moreover, insecurity is the problem:

…if there’s anything voters should fear about Clinton, perhaps, it’s not that she’s rich but that she doesn’t seem to regard herself that way. Having come from modest means and devoted most of their lives to public service, the Clintons seem to spend an awful lot of time these days focused on accumulating money, as if they still don’t have very much of it.

The speeches that have recently netted them $30 million, the foundation that sucks up cash from foreign governments, the first-class tickets for a two-hour flight from New Hampshire to Washington — all of it speaks to some underlying need to live in the rarified world they could only hope to glimpse as career politicians.

I don’t buy that Clinton is hopelessly out of touch with the lives of these “everyday Americans,” and I doubt that voters will, either. But I do wonder if she harbors some persistent insecurity about her own financial wherewithal after all these years spent in the company of staggeringly rich contributors.

Where insecurity lurks, bad decisions follow.

Yet, given all of this, Hillary could be the next President of the United States (Lord, save us!). Will it be because of gender politics, the media providing exceptional political cover, or American voter apathy regarding the enormous ethical issue of a family-owned non-profit accepting donations from foreign governments, in which case the mother is the President of the United States?

*In 1984, Arkansas' Amendment 63 extended statewide officers' terms to four years. 

"I'm Running For You"

Another day, another long-shot candidate enters the race. This time it’s former Maryland Gov. Martin O’Malley, who announced his candidacy Saturday morning at a park overlooking the Baltimore harbor.

The overarching theme of his speech was about rebuilding the American dream—the progressive way, of course.

He touted passing the DREAM Act and marriage equality as governor, nailed Wall Street for its role in the financial crisis, and touched on climate change, income inequality, education, and the economy.

“No matter how long the odds, no matter how large the challenge, and no matter how tough the fight,” O’Malley said, “this is the urgent work calling us forward today: to rebuild the truth of the American Dream for all Americans.”

O’Malley, however, will have just as long odds and just as great of a challenge in actually winning the presidency, let alone the Democratic nomination.

FiveThirtyEight explains:

The barriers between O’Malley and the Democratic presidential nomination are virtually endless, but here are four:

1.Hillary Clinton.

2.O’Malley has essentially zero support from Democratic office-holders.

3.He’s garnering just 2 percent support in Iowa, New Hampshire andnational primary polls — far worse than Barack Obama at this pointeight years ago.

4.O’Malley made some noise about running to Clinton’s left, but Vermont Sen. Bernie Sanders is already occupying that ideological space. Meanwhile, O’Malley has been attacked from the left for his policing strategy during his time as Baltimore mayor.

But there’s a far simpler reason for why I’ve doubted O’Malley’s ability to compete: The people who know him best don’t like him. O’Malley is starting way down in the polls, and he’s not well known. And we have evidence that more O’Malley exposure doesn’t equal more O’Malley support. He earned just 3 percent (compared to Clinton’s 63 percent) in a poll of Democratic voters in Maryland conducted in October by The Washington Post and the University of Maryland.

If this strikes you as a surprisingly low percentage for a two-term Maryland governor and former mayor of the state’s most populous city, it should. It speaks to the fact that O’Malley was unpopular enough in deep-blue Maryland that by the end of his second term, Republican Larry Hogan came out of nowhere to defeat O’Malley’s lieutenant governor in the 2014 governor’s race.

Regardless, O’Malley’s in, making him the third Democratic candidate to announce so far.

“I declare that I am a candidate for president the United States,” he concluded, “and I am running for you.”

House Democrat: I Want A Liability Insurance Mandate For Firearm Sales

Rep. Carolyn Maloney (D-NY) has introduced another piece of legislation that requires any American looking to exercise their Second Amendment rights to have liability insurance before purchasing a firearm. It would dole out a $10,000 fine to anyone who does not have proof of insurance, but, of course, law enforcement and members of the military are exempt from this law (via the Hill):

We require insurance to own a car, but no such requirement exists for guns," Maloney said in a statement. "The results are clear: car fatalities have declined by 25 percent in the last decade, but gun fatalities continue to rise.”

Maloney said auto insurance carriers incentivize drivers to take precautions to reduce accidents, but no such incentives exist for firearm owners.

“An insurance requirement would allow the free market to encourage cautious behavior and help save lives,” she said. “Adequate liability coverage would also ensure that the victims of gun violence are fairly compensated when crimes or accidents occur."

This is the second time Maloney, who is one of the biggest gun control advocates in Congress, has introduced the legislation. A few weeks ago she reintroduced legislation that would require sellers to obtain a background check for all guns sold at gun shows.

First, driving a car is a privilege in America, whereas owning firearms is a right. Second, her data is just wrong. The Bureau of Crime Statistics noted that firearm-related homicides are down 39 percent between 1993-2011. Pew Research had a higher figure, noting a 49 percent decrease in gun homicides between 1993-2010. In fact, America has never been less violent. We are safer, and violent crime continues to go down (via NYT):

To be precise, the F.B.I.'s count of violent crimes reported to law enforcement has declined from a rate of 747 violent incidents per 100,000 people in 1993 to 387 incidents per 100,000 people in 2012, which is the most recent year for which it has published complete data. This reflects the fact that over this period, the homicide rate has fallen by 51 percent; forcible rapes have declined by 35 percent; robberies have decreased by 56 percent; and the rate of aggravated assault has been cut by 45 percent. Property crime rates are also sharply down.

These trends aren’t caused by changes in our willingness to report crime to the police. We see an even more significant decline in violent crime in data derived from surveys asking people whether they’ve been the victims of certain crimes over the past year. The National Crime Victimization Survey reports that the rate of violent victimizations has declined by 67 percent since 1993. This reflects a 70 percent decline in rape and sexual assault; a 66 percent decline in robbery; a 77 percent decline in aggravated assault; and a 64 percent decline in simple assault. This survey has nothing to say about the decline in homicide, for obvious reasons.

It’s also a bit disconcerting that Democrats continually trust the police with firearm safety and responsibility when they haven’t displayed any of those qualities as of late. Capitol Police are leaving their firearms in public bathrooms. The ATF has experienced similar situations, though there were many other venues where agents misplaced their government-issued firearms.

In all, buying a gun is a right in our Constitution. Buying a car is certainly permissible if you have the resources, but a driver’s license is a privilege. Moreover, automobiles kill more Americans than firearms, especially when you remove suicides from the data. Progressive groups do this to inflate the number of the dead. Suicide is horrible, but an act that hardly constitutes gun violence.

Rep. Maloney’s bill is just another onerous regulation, and one that is built on poor data and false equivalency.

Hastert Indictment: Former Speaker Reportedly Paid Individual Not To Disclose Past Sexual Abuse

UPDATE: It looks like the $3.5 million in cash payments made by Mr. Hastert to this individual were meant to hide his alleged sexual abuse that occurred decades ago. Hastert resigned from the lobbying firm he was working upon leaving Congress–Dickstein Shapiro–last night. The FBI has declined to comment on the case, but the New York Times reports that it occurred around the time Hastert was a wrestling coach and teacher in Yorkville, Illinois between 1965-1981.

J. Dennis Hastert, the former speaker of the House of Representatives, was paying a man to not say publicly that Mr. Hastert had sexually abused him decades ago, according to two people briefed on the evidence uncovered in an F.B.I. investigation into the payments.

Federal prosecutors on Thursday announced the indictment of Mr. Hastert on allegations that he made cash withdrawals designed to hide those payments and for lying to federal authorities about the purpose of the withdrawals.

The man – who was not identified in court papers — told the F.B.I. that he had been inappropriately touched by Mr. Hastert when Mr. Hastert was a high school teacher and wrestling coach, the two people said on Friday. The people briefed on the investigation spoke on the condition of anonymity because they did not want to be identified discussing a federal investigation.

It was not clear when the alleged behavior occurred. But according to court documents, Mr. Hastert was a high school teacher and coach in Yorkville, Ill., from 1965 to 1981. The F.B.I. was not able to substantiate the allegations beyond the man’s statements.

It makes the circulated video of Hastert’s appearance on C-SPAN’s Washington Journal in November of 2014 all the more intriguing.

**Original Post**

Former Speaker of the House Dennis Hastert has landed himself in hot water with federal authorities for lying to them about cash transactions that were being made to someone blackmailing him (via Chicago Tribune):

Former U.S. House Speaker Dennis Hastert has been indicted on federal charges alleging he agreed to pay $3.5 million in apparent hush money to a longtime acquaintance blackmailing him, then lied to the FBI when asked about suspicious cash withdrawals from several banks, federal prosecutors said.

The stunning indictment of the longtime Republican powerhouse alleged he gave about $1.7 million in cash to the acquaintance, identified only as Individual A in the charges, to “compensate for and conceal (Hastert’s) prior misconduct” against Individual A that had occurred years earlier.

Hastert, a former high school teacher, served eight years as House speaker and has been working as a lobbyist in Washington since stepping down from office in 2008.

Hastert, 73, of Plano, was charged with one count each of structuring currency transactions to evade Currency Transaction Reports and making a false statement to the FBI, according to the U.S. Attorney’s Office. He will be arraigned later at U.S. District Court in downtown Chicago.

According to the seven-page indictment, Hastert withdrew a total of $1.7 million in cash from various bank accounts between 2010 and 2014 to give to Individual A. In December, Hastert began structuring the cash withdrawals in increments less than $10,000 to evade bank reporting requirements, the indictment said.

When questioned by the FBI about the withdrawals, Hastert lied and said the cash was for his own use, according to the charges.

“Yeah, I kept the cash. That’s what I’m doing,” the indictment quoted Hastert as telling agents.

You can read the indictment here.


Awful: Afghan Interpreter Awaiting US Visa Tortured and Murdered by Taliban


Apologies for ending the week with such a downer of a story, but this man's story and grisly fate deserves to be told. America owes him that, at least, given how terribly we failed him:

An Afghan interpreter for the United States military who had been waiting for over four years on the U.S. visa list was tortured and killed by insurgents earlier this year, raising concerns that other translators could meet a similar fate as American forces withdraw from Afghanistan. Sakhidad Afghan worked as a translator for the U.S. Marines and Air Force since around 2008. Four years ago, he applied for a U.S. visa under a program for at-risk military translators. He was still on the waiting list when the Taliban reportedly kidnapped him from a bazaar this spring and executed him in the back of a trailer truck. Each year, thousands of Afghan interpreters under threat from anti-American militants sit in bureaucratic limbo, waiting for visas they were promised by the U.S. military. Advocacy groups said it is unlikely Sakhidad Afghan was the first translator killed while on the list, although the deaths are often difficult to confirm.

The photos, needless to say, are appalling (content warning).  Setting aside our often-fractious debate over immigration in this country, shouldn't courageous people like Mr. Afghan be at the very top of the list for entry?  Yes, they must be vetted, but they don't deserve to languish "in bureaucratic limbo" awaiting the help they were promised in return for putting themselves at grave risk to help our troops.  These brave souls ought to be rewarded, taken care of, treated with gratitude; not hung out to dry for the barbarians.  A buddy of mine helps run a charity called 'No One Left Behind,' which is specifically devoted to honoring America's word by helping the Iraqi and Afghan interpreters who've risked everything to assist our guys:


Click through for more information, if you're so moved.  RIP, Sakhidad Afghan.

Donate to the Bernie Sanders Save the Children Fund*

*I mean, don't, as this fund doesn't exist. But this hilarious video, from our friends over at ReasonTV, most certainly does:

Background: In an interview with CNBC, Sanders displayed his *mastery* of economic theory when he said the following, completely mind-boggling quote:

You don't necessarily need a choice of 23 underarm spray deodorants or of 18 different pairs of sneakers when children are hungry in this country. I don't think the media appreciates the kind of stress that ordinary Americans are working on.

Uh, perhaps the reason we have 23 varieties of underarm spray deodorants is that people are, well, different, and have different needs and preferences. Same with shoes. Not all shoes work for all kinds of feet, and the wrong shoe can lead to serious knee problems. Furthermore, eliminating choice in the marketplace does not necessarily mean that children will suddenly be fed. Take a gander at Venezuela.

Some on Twitter were quick to point out the hypocrisy of Sanders being introduced at his campaign kickoff by ice cream moguls Ben & Jerry, who produce well over 100 varieties of their product.

Sanders has also called for a return to the 90 percent tax rate on the rich from the Eisenhower era.

Yes, A $15/Hour Minimum Wage Will Hurt Workers, But Not Republicans

We’re back to the minimum wage, with Los Angeles voting to increase their wage law to $15 per hour, which proponents say will help workers and boost the local economy. It should come to no one’s surprise that neither of those things will happen. In fact, FiveThirtyEight noted that the real increase for workers from raising LA’s minimum wage from $9 to $15 is a whopping $10. Bloomberg’s Megan McArdle noted that there won’t be a tsunami of business closures, but the law could prolong unemployment for many Americans:

When the minimum wage goes up, owners do not en masse shut down their restaurants or lay off their staff. What is more likely to happen is that prices will rise, sales will fall off somewhat, and owner profits will be somewhat reduced. People who were looking at opening a fast food or retail or low-wage manufacturing concern will run the numbers and decide that the potential profits can't justify the risk of some operations. Some folks who have been in the business for a while will conclude that with reduced profits, it's no longer worth putting their hours into the business, so they'll close the business and retire or do something else. Businesses that were not very profitable with the earlier minimum wage will slip into the red, and they will miss their franchise payments or loan installments and be forced out of business. Many owners who stay in business will look to invest in labor saving technology that can reduce their headcount, like touch-screen ordering or soda stations that let you fill your own drinks.

These sorts of decisions take a while to make. They still add up, in the end, to deadweight loss -- that is, along with a net transfer of money from owners and customers to employees, there will also simply be fewer employees in some businesses. The workers who are dropped have effectively gone from $9 an hour to $0 an hour. This hardly benefits those employees. Or the employee's landlord, grocer, etc.

There are secondary effects beyond the employment market too. Proponents of a higher wage are claiming that this will boost the local economy by putting more money into the pockets of workers. This is the same sort of argument you frequently hear for the construction of massive new sports complexes. But of course, the money has to come from someone else's pocket -- the customer and the employer. What were those people doing with it? If the answer is "buying stuff from Amazon," then maybe diverting more money to wages is a net gain for the Los Angeles economy. But if the answer is mostly "buying stuff produced in LA" -- for example, paying rent, or buying services performed by low-wage workers -- then this is like trying to get rich by picking your own pocket.

There's no question that the wage increase will transfer money around within the economy -- out of the pockets of commercial landlords, for example, and into the pockets of folks who own real estate in low-rent districts. But little evidence has so far been offered that any boost in local spending will cancel out the deadweight loss, much less exceed it.

The long-term result will be higher wages for many low-wage workers, but the desperation of unemployment, or a forced relocation, for many others.

More from FiveThirtyEight:

Oh, sure, the headlines in Wednesday’s papers all said the council raised the wage floor to $15 an hour. That’s what the actual ordinance says, too. But $10 is a more accurate reflection of what low-wage Angelenos will actually experience.

There are two reasons for this. The first is inflation: Los Angeles’s minimum wage won’t go up to $15 tomorrow. Instead, the hike will be phased in over the next five years. Assuming inflation holds more or less steady, $15 an hour in 2020 will be worth the equivalent of about $13.75 today.

But the bigger issue is that $15 doesn’t go as far in Los Angeles as it does in most of the rest of the country. Not even close. According to data from the Council for Community and Economic Research, it costs workers about 40 percent more to live in Los Angeles than in the average American community. That means that $15 in LA is the equivalent of less than $11 in the U.S. overall.

Put the two together and LA’s new minimum wage of $15 in 2020 is worth about $9.75 to the typical American worker today.

Besides the obvious counterpoint that minimum wage increase proposals are nothing but liberal window dressing aimed at mobilizing their bloc of voters who earn less than $49,000, that, in turn, does little to help their current economic situation; do Republicans need to think about the ramifications of opposing such measures?

Some have argued that then-Sen. Jim Talent’s (R-MO) response to such a question cost him votes–and a new term–in his tight re-election bid against Claire McCaskill in 2006. That year, Missouri had a ballot initiative aimed at increasing the minimum wage; it passed with 76 percent of the vote.

Yes, these policy positions are incredibly popular with people across the socioeconomic and political spectrum–Rick Santorum is in favor of increasing the minimum wage.

It’s also one of the few issues, where white working class men actually side with Democrats on a policy issue. They represent a substantial share of the electorate, which has been tilting towards the GOP, and Democrats might see the minimum wage as an avenue to bring at least some of these voters back into the fold. So, the fallout would be immense, right?

No, not really (via NYT):

Here’s the thing about the minimum wage: Most voters don’t live in households where anyone earns it, or are even close enough to it to get a raise when it goes up. If you ask people whether they favor a higher minimum wage, most will say yes, and even vote that way on a binding referendum. But if a politician opposes raising it, middle-class voters won’t necessarily get angry, and their votes may not be moved.

The lesson of Tuesday’s minimum wage votes is that Democrats can do more on the minimum wage, not that they can help themselves politically by talking about it more. Just because a proposal is popular does not mean it can be a keystone in your economic agenda. As Kevin Drum of Mother Jones has noted, Democrats have an economic agenda that is heavily attuned to the poor; it’s much less clear what they would do for the middle class.

Many policies that help the poor are favored by the middle class. But if politicians want to win the votes of the middle class, they have to campaign on issues that affect them directly. Minimum wage increases do not serve that political end.

At the same time, Republicans should craft a cogent narrative against such minimum wage increase talking points (hurts workers, doesn’t energize local economy, etc.) since this issue isn’t going away. After all, the thing that improves the economic future for any American is a good education–and school choice is part of that discussion. It’s also an issue that has 70 percent of Americans’ support.

The Friday Filibuster: Blocked

The Friday Filibuster: The one-stop-shop for everything you need to know about this week in politics.

Closing Numbers

2-1—the vote by the Fifth Circuit Court of Appeals to block an Obama administration request to lift a stay issued earlier this year on the implementation of the president’s executive action on illegal immigration.

46% of Americans want Stephanopoulos to stay away from 2016 election coverage.

$15 an hour for thee but not me--Los Angeles' unions request exemption from the state’s new wage law.

1,400+ high security TSA badges are missing.

53% of Democrats believe illegal immigrants should have the right to vote in U.S. elections so long as they pay taxes.

30—the number of votes in the Nebraska legislature that overturned Gov. Ricketts’ veto of a bill that abolishes the death penalty in the state.

“19 Kids and Counting”—major advertisers have dropped their ads from the show after Josh Duggar’s admission that he molested five girls as a teen.

$10,000—the amount the Clinton Foundation paid Sidney Blumenthal per month while he was ‘fact-finding’ in Libya.

10%--a new Q-poll shows there’s a five-way tie between Bush, Walker, Rubio, Huckabee, and Carson.

Safety, Security, and the Second Amendment

The fall of Ramadi shows that ISIS has ‘tactical awareness.’ As they continue their march through Iraq and Syria new details have emerged regarding their treatment of women –as Guy noted, it’s ‘surreally repugnant,’ a true war on women. And Iran-backed Hamas isn’t much better. A new report details the horrific violence the group employs including torture, beheadings, use of acid, and mutilation.

Back in the U.S., Baltimore residents who once decried the presence of police in their neighborhoods are now wishing they’d come back. But after a bloody Memorial Day weekend in the city, the White House has a different plan: gun control. Everytown, meanwhile, is using cop killings to push for more background checks. And while we’re on the subject of the Second Amendment, in Maine, the Senate passed a constitutional carry bill, and over in D.C., a judge has denied the District’s request for a stay after the city’s carry law was ruled unconstitutional.

Campaigns & Elections

Who’s in (or suggested they will be) this week? Long shot candidates George Pataki (who thinks the abortion debate is a ‘distraction’), Rick Santorum (who’s already complaining about the debate rules), and Gov. John Kasich. Paul thinks Republican hawks basically created ISIS—one of the reasons Gov. Bobby Jindal believes Paul is unsuited to be commander in chief. And as we look ahead to congressional campaigns in 2016, it looks like Sen. John McCain will have a Democratic challenger

HRC Happenings:

The scandals continue for the Clintons. The State Department under Hillary approved arms deals to governments who gave millions to the foundation; State also knew Benghazi was terrorism within hours; the Clinton Foundation received donations from FIFA and the Qatar 2022 World Cup Committee; and today, the NYT shed light on another sketchy financial dealing: an award for Bill Clinton came with a $500k donation to the Clinton Foundation. Even though the MSM isn’t all too enthused with her campaign so far, people will have her back through anything. Just take a look at recent statements by Julian Castro who dismissed her email violations as ‘besides the point’. One other interesting story worth noting: the Associated Press pointed out this week that Bill Clinton has a shell company that was never disclosed.  

Memorial Day

We remembered and gave thanks to our nation’s veterans who made the ultimate sacrifice so that we may be free and others around the world may have a better life. In case you missed it, there are a couple of great videos we posted on Monday that are well worth watching. One speaks with veterans to hear what Memorial Day means to them and the other is a tribute video by Concerned Veterans for America. Of course, Democrats totally missed the point of the holiday on Twitter.

In other news

You should order a copy of Guy Benson and Mary Katharine Ham's new book, "End of Discussion: How the Left’s Outrage Industry Shuts Down Debate, Manipulates Voters, and Makes America Less Free (and Fun)." Here's an excerpt you can check out. 



Graphics by Townhall Graphic Designer
Feven Amenu.

Essay by Progressive Presidential Candidate Bernie Sanders: A Woman Fantasizes About Being Gang Raped

Socialist and declared presidential candidate on the Democrat ticket Bernie Sanders, reportedly wrote an essay back in the 70s that is....really bad. Warning: graphic. 

In the essay Sanders not only writes that a woman fantasizes about being raped, but about being gang raped by three different men. The Washington Examiner has the story: 

The 1972 article "Man — and Woman," published in the Vermont Freeman, displays Sanders' views on gender and sexuality at the time of its publishing.

"A man goes home and masturbates his typical fantasy," wrote Sanders. "A woman on her knees, a woman tied up, a woman abused."

When in comes to female fantasies, Bernie also knows all.

"A woman enjoys intercourse with her man — as she fantasizes being raped by three men simultaneously," the essay reads.

What Sander's wrote is horrifying and it's inexcusable, but lets put this into perspective. 

Hillary Clinton, the Democrat Party's most probable nominee, is married to a former President Bill Clinton. Bill Clinton was accused of actually raping a woman. Bill Clinton didn't simply write about rape, he was accused of engaging in it. Not to mention his long history of sexual abuse toward women. 

So, there's that. Good jobs Democrats. And to think this is the Party that claimed in 2012 Republicans were (and still are) waging a war on women.

Friday Fun: Jon Stewart Mocks Hillary’s Fake Southern Accent

Former Secretary of State Hillary Clinton grew up in Chicago, Illinois. She attended school in Massachusetts and Connecticut. She then served as a US Senator from New York. Considering she earned her education in New England and served on the East Coast, Hillary's southern accent during a recent campaign stop in South Carolina was heard by some very confused ears.

Mrs. Clinton seems to have a knack for borrowing the regional dialect of wherever her tour bus parks. Her pit stop South Carolina is just the latest example. The Daily Show's Jon Stewart couldn't help mocking her clearly fabricated southern tone.

"I'll do the Lindsey Graham impressions around here thank you very much."

Stewart also took the opportunity to contrast Clinton with a candidate who has a much bleaker chance of earning the Democratic nomination, yet a seemingly more authentic campaign, Sen. Bernie Sanders (D-VT). Although Sanders has championed progressive ideals such as reining in Big Banks and expanding Social Security, he has often characterized him as a bit too eccentric for the White House. 

“The problem here isn’t that Bernie Sanders is a crazy-pants cuckoo bird,” Stewart said. “It’s that we’ve all become so accustomed to stage-managed, focus-group-driven candidates that authenticity comes across as lunacy.”

Clinton has already been criticized for her staged campaigning after reports claimed that her staff had bussed in supporters to a campaign stop in Iowa. As for her insistence that she and husband Bill were "dead broke" after leaving the White House in 2001, one look at their speaking fees proves she and the American people have a much different interpretation of the word "broke."

Staged events and fake accents are doing Hillary no favors. If she is the best candidate the Democrats have to offer, their party may be in for a rude awakening next year.

Y'all come back now, y'hear?

NYT: Bill Clinton's 'Distasteful' $500,000 Charity Shakedown


Just so we're clear, today's New York Times story about shady Clinton financial practices is separate from the undisclosed foreign cash revelations, apart from the international influence peddling allegations, distinct from the unreported foreign income story, different than the quid pro quo access-buying accusations, unique from the misreporting taxable income as charitable donations "mistake," and unrelated to the undisclosed "pass through" shell corporation report.  No, this is a new one:

To commemorate the 10th anniversary of the 2004 Indian Ocean tsunami, Petra Nemcova, a Czech model who survived the disaster by clinging to a palm tree, decided to pull out all the stops for the annual fund-raiser of her school-building charity, the Happy Hearts Fund. She booked Cipriani 42nd Street, which greeted guests with Bellini cocktails on silver trays. She flew in Sheryl Crow with her band and crew for a 20-minute set. She special-ordered heart-shaped floral centerpieces, heart-shaped chocolate parfaits, heart-shaped tiramisù and, because orange is the charity’s color, an orange carpet rather than a red one. She imported a Swiss auctioneer and handed out orange rulers to serve as auction paddles, playfully threatening to use hers to spank the highest bidder for an Ibiza vacation. The gala cost $363,413. But the real splurge? Bill Clinton. The former president of the United States agreed to accept a lifetime achievement award at the June 2014 event after Ms. Nemcova offered a $500,000 contribution to the Bill, Hillary and Chelsea Clinton Foundation. The donation, made late last year after the foundation sent the charity an invoice, amounted to almost a quarter of the evening’s net proceeds — enough to build 10 preschools in Indonesia. Happy Hearts’ former executive director believes the transaction was a “quid pro quo,” which rerouted donations intended for a small charity with the concrete mission of rebuilding schools after natural disasters to a large foundation with a broader agenda and a budget 100 times bigger. “The Clinton Foundation had rejected the Happy Hearts Fund invitation more than once, until there was a thinly veiled solicitation and then the offer of an honorarium,” said the former executive director, Sue Veres Royal, who held that position at the time of the gala and was dismissed a few weeks later amid conflicts over the gala and other issues.

Team Clinton will surely dismiss Ms. Royal as a "disgruntled former employee with an ax to grind" -- they have a long history of impugning critics' character and motives -- but this arrangement does seem odd.  Here we have a relatively small charity eclipsing the entire budget for its major fundraiser in order to secure an appearance from Bill Clinton, in exchange for a $500,000 donation to the Clinton Foundation.  As the Times story notes, this fee amounted to a quarter of the evening's proceeds, and represented money that could have been put to good use in pursuit of the organization's laudable mission.  Instead, it landed in the Clintons' allegedly 'charitable' bank account, supposedly earmarked for "yet undetermined" relief work in Haiti.  Keep in mind that the Clinton Foundation has been described as a "slush fund" by an official at the Sunlight Foundation, has been placed on a "watch list" by the watchdog group Charity Navigator (which, in turn, has been pressured and bullied by the Clinton people), and was once explicitly characterized as "not charity," and in fact a "commercial proposition," by one of its founders.  But this is how the racket operates:

Never publicly disclosed, the episode provides a window into the way the Clinton Foundation relies on the Clintons’ prestige to amass donors large and small, offering the prospect, as described in the foundation’s annual report, of lucrative global connections and participation in a worldwide mission to “unlock human potential” through “the power of creative collaboration.”...“This is primarily a small but telling example of the way the Clintons operate,” said Doug White, who directs the master’s program in fund-raising management at Columbia University. “The model has responsibility; she paid a high price for a feel-good moment with Bill Clinton. But he was riding the back of this small charity for what? A half-million bucks? I find it — what would be the word? — distasteful.”

The Clintons might argue that they're capable of putting that cool half-million to better use than the much smaller and more targeted charity.  But is that really true?  The Clinton Foundation spends a fortune on overhead and operating costs, and appears to spend precious little on actual charity (see again, this quote).  Although it's tough to tell, given how opaque and apparently sloppy the entity's bookkeeping is.  I'll leave you with this little nugget mined from a slobbering Politico column intended to mount a defense of the Clintons by invoking the "phony scandals" talking point.  Here's why the foundation was paying political hatchet man Sidney Blumenthal $10,000 per month to work for their "charity" (while gathering unreliable, off-the-books intel for Sec. Clinton, as an end-round past the Obama administration's refusal to hire him):



So, What’s Become of Colorado’s Pot Legalization?

On this week's Townhall Review:

Dennis Prager on Ireland's vote to legalize same-sex marriage. Hugh Hewitt and Ron Fournier on Hillary's PR blunders. Hewitt and Mark Steyn on Obama's ISIS disaster. Hewitt and Rick Perry on the Patriot Act. Michael Medved and Scott Walker on the Patriot Act. Bill Bennett and MD/Psychologist Leonard Sax on the affluent city of Palo Alto, California's recent epidemic of teen suicides. Hewitt and Wayne Laugensan, lead writer and editor for the Colorado Springs Gazette discusses his series on the effects of marijuana legalization in Colorado titled, "Clearing the Haze."

Poll: Majority of Democrats Think Illegal Immigrants Should Have Right to Vote in U.S. Elections

According to a new poll from Rasmussen Reports, 53 percent of Democrats believe illegal immigrants should have the right to vote in U.S. elections so long as they pay taxes. Although the number is significantly lower, 21 percent of Republicans believe the same. The majority of the country, 60 percent, believe illegal immigrants should not have the right to vote. From the survey:

The latest Rasmussen Reports national telephone survey finds that one-out-of-three Likely U.S. Voters (35%) now believes that illegal immigrants should be allowed to vote if they can prove they live in this country and pay taxes. Sixty percent (60%) disagree, while five percent (5%) are undecided. (To see survey question wording, click here.)

Fifty-three percent (53%) of Democrats think tax-paying illegal immigrants should have the right to vote. Twenty-one percent (21%) of Republicans and 30% of voters not affiliated with either major political party agree.

Earlier this year, secretaries of states from Kansas and Ohio sounded the alarm over President Obama's December 2014 executive action giving illegal immigrants the ability to vote in elections. 

"I want to bring to your attention my concern that the President’s recent Immigration Accountability Executive Actions will make it more difficult for elections officials to determine if all voters meet the primary standard for voting – U.S. citizenship. I am not here to debate immigration policy or the President’s executive actions. However, I am here to emphatically say that we cannot follow both the federal law and the executive action and ensure the integrity of the elections process without further assistance from Congress and the Obama administration," Ohio Secretary of State Jon Husted said to the House Oversight Committee in February. "For an estimated four to five million non-citizens, the President’s executive actions provide access to Social Security numbers and driver’s licenses. These are the same documents that federal law requires the states to recognize as valid forms of identification for voter registration. Under federal law, anyone with a valid Social Security number or driver’s license number can register to vote, provided they attest that they are a U.S. citizen. However, there is no way for us to validate this citizenship statement, since under the executive actions previously undocumented non-citizens will have access to the same documents as U.S. citizens. The issue becomes especially complicated in states like Ohio where millions of dollars are spent on third - party voter registration drives where no election official would be present to make clear the eligibility requirements for voting." 

"The problem of aliens registering to vote is a massive one, nationwide. And I have seen it firsthand in Kansas. Because there is no way of scanning a state's voter rolls and identifying which of the registered voters are aliens, determining the exact number of aliens on the voter rolls in virtually impossible. But we know that the number is significant, because specific election episodes present evident of aliens voting and because we gain some information by matching driver's license databases against voter rolls," Kansas Secretary of State Kris Kobach said during the same hearing. "Based on the empirical evidence that I have seen as the Kansas Secretary of State, it is a certainty that the Administration's executive actions will result sin a large number of additional aliens registering to vote throughout the country, in violation of state and federal law. These are irreversible consequences, because once an alien registers to vote, it is virtually impossible to detect him and remove him from the list of registered voters." 

And as a reminder

A Cooperative Congressional Election Study released in October 2014 found, "more than 14 percent of non-citizens in both the 2008 and 2010 samples indicated that they were registered to vote. Furthermore, some of these non-citizens voted. Our best guess, based upon extrapolations from the portion of the sample with a verified vote, is that 6.4 percent of non-citizens voted in 2008 and 2.2 percent of non-citizens voted in 2010."

You can bet Obama's executive amnesty wasn't simply about "bringing people out of the shadows." Instead, it was about bringing illegal immigrants to the polling booth to vote for Democrats.

Anheuser-Busch Temporarily Stops Beer Production To Supply Water To Texas Flood Victims

The historic rains pounding Texas has been nothing short of extraordinary. At the same time, it’s been incredibly tragic. Julie Shields spoke with her sister, Laura McComb, as a flood caused by the intense rain destroyed McComb's house.

"She called me, she said 'I'm in a house. I'm floating down the river. Tell mom and dad I love you and pray,'" said Shields. Laura McComb and her two children are still missing. Her husband, Jonathan, was rescued with severe injuries. In Dallas, around 200 people had to be rescued from their cars as flooding intensified.

To aid with relief efforts, Anheuser-Busch has halted beer production to bring water to Texas residents (via NBC News):

Beer giant Anheuser-Busch stopped production at its Georgia brewery this week to instead produce drinking water for those affected by a deadly bout of historic flooding and storms in Texas and Oklahoma.

Anheuser-Busch said it had stopped beer production at its Cartersville brewery in Georgia late Wednesday night to produce 50,000 cans of water for the American Red Cross.

"Right now our production line is running emergency drinking water instead of beer," Cartersville brewery manager Rob Haas told NBC News.

The Cartersville brewery produces cans of emergency relief water a few times a year, Haas said, partnering with the American Red Cross to provide to places in need within the United States.

"It's something we're uniquely positioned to do in a very timely period," he said.

About 2,000 cases, each carrying 24 cans, are en route to communities in Texas and Oklahoma, he added. The water is expected to reach those areas within the next few days.

Perspective: More People Have Died from Abortion Than Recorded in 1880 Census

Update: A new Gallup poll just released has revealed that 54 percent of Americans want all or most abortions illegal. This statistic further corroborates the fact that the country is souring on Big Abortion.

Original post:

In 1880, 50,189,209 people lived in the United States, according to the US Census Bureau. In a somber comparison, it turns out that is about the same number of individuals that has now been lost to abortion.

Columnist Terrence Jeffrey provided the research over at CNS News.

The Guttmacher Institute has estimated the number of abortions in the United States in each year from 1973 through 2011. They add up to 51,376,750—or 1,187,541 more than the entire population of the nation as of 1880. In each of the last 36 straight years for which Guttmacher has published an estimate of the number of abortions, the number has exceeded 1 million.

Imagine that. That means no census workers needed, no population, no one. An entire generation – evaporated.

As Jeffrey points out in the article, still living in 1880 were American icons such as Mark Twain, Thomas Edison and Booker T. Washington. It kind of makes you wonder, how many more inventors, writers and talented trailblazers have we lost to abortion?

If there is any good news, it’s that fewer abortions are occurring each year. In fact, in 2014, they declined to an historic low. The country as a whole, is also becoming more pro-life. A Gallup poll from 2013 revealed that a sound majority of Americans want all or most abortions illegal. The advances in technology, such as incredible ultrasound imaging that allows mothers to see their unborn children in the womb, is a major factor in the debate. The recently exposed horrors of the late-term abortion industry have also left people sick to their stomachs. The atrocities of Kermit Gosnell will be hard to shake from Americans' minds.

We can’t bring back those unborn babies who have already been massacred since the 1973 Supreme Court ruling in Roe v. Wade, but the number of changed hearts and declining rates prove that we can start turning those numbers around. All we can do is try and save those future generations.

Yikes: GDP Shrank to .7 Percent For First Quarter of 2015

Based on the latest GDP numbers, which were released today, the first quarter of 2015 was rough for the economy. New numbers show the economy shrank during the first months of the year, putting the GDP at an abysmal .7 percent. More from

AP
The U.S. economy went into reverse in the first three months of this year as a severe winter and a widening trade deficit took a harsher toll than initially estimated.

The overall economy as measured by the gross domestic product contracted at an annual rate of 0.7 percent in the January-March period, the Commerce Department reported Friday.

The revised figure, even weaker than the government's initial estimate of a 0.2 percent growth rate, reflects a bigger trade gap and slower consumer spending. It marked the first decline since a 2.1 percent contraction in the first three months of 2014, a slump that was also blamed on winter weather.

The silver lining

Economists expect a rebound in the current quarter to growth of around 2 percent and expect the economy to strengthen later this year.

Meanwhile, a record number of people aren't in the workforce.

Bergdahl Teammates Asked to Stay Quiet About Desertion With Non-Disclosure Agreements

According to a new report from Fox News' Catherine Herridge, teammates of Army Sgt. Bowe Bergdahl were asked to sign non-disclosure agreements years ago after discussing his desertion with the Joint Chiefs Chairman in Afghanistan. 

According to Herridge's reporting and General Bob Scales, asking soldiers to sign non-disclosure agreements is unprecedented.

"I can't remember, ever, have an enlisted soldier sign a non-disclosure agreement for anything. This is completely unprecedented," Scales said. "These non-disclosure agreements have got nothing to do with military justice."

Further, new information shows Bergdahl not only deserted, but started planning for his departure by sleeping on the floor and prepared himself for life outside of the military.

Earlier this week, General Stanley McChrystal admitted he knew Bergdahl had deserted immediately after leaving his post in June 2009. The White House maintains officials weren't and still aren't sure about the circumstances surrounding his capture by the Taliban.

Bergdahl will stand trial at Ft. Sam Houston later this year.

Federal Judge Not Impressed With DOJ Attempts to Get Lawsuit Against Obamacare Thrown Out

Since Obamacare was passed in 2010, dozens of changes have been made to the legislation by executive fiat, not through Congress. One of those changes includes the Obama administration going around Congress to issue payments from the Treasury Department directly to health insurance companies. Another change is President Obama's February 2014 action to delay the Obamacare employer mandate, which requires companies with more than 50 employees to provide health insurance under the law. By implementing the delay, the administration effectively altered the law without a vote from Congress. 

In November 2014, the House of Representatives sued over the changes coming directly from the White House. Liberal George Washington University Law Professor Jonathan Turley has been hired by the House to lead the lawsuit against the administration. The administration wants the lawsuit thrown out.

Yesterday the case was argued in front of U.S. District Judge Rosemary Collyer, who seriously questioned the administration's actions of going around Congress to fund parts of Obamacare that the legislative body rejected. She also scolded DOJ attorney Joel McElvain for failing to provide a legitimate argument about why the lawsuit should be tossed. From Reuters

U.S. District Judge Rosemary Collyer, appointed by Obama's predecessor, Republican George W. Bush, repeatedly interrupted U.S. Justice Department lawyer Joel McElvain during the hearing in the U.S. District Court for the District of Columbia.

Justice Department lawyers argue that the House lacks standing to sue, citing a section of U.S. law that means the House would have to prove it has been directly harmed.

"So it is your position that if the House of Representatives affirmatively voted not to fund something ... then that vote can be ignored by the administration, because after all, no one can sue them?" she asked.

McElvain argued that the merits of the case were not being discussed at the hearing, and that any perceived injury was "abstract."

"I'm not asking you to give me your brief. I want you to explain ... why it's not an insult to the Constitution?" Collyer said.

McElvain argued that the House could pass new legislation if it disagreed with the administration's changes, which he said were legal under "pre-existing permanent appropriation."

At another point, Collyer admonished McElvain: "You can't just shake your head and not deal with the question."

Collyer will make a decision about whether the lawsuit from the House against the administration can proceed within the next few weeks.

Fifteen Dollars an Hour for Thee, but Not for Me: California Unions Request Exemption from New Wage Law

Los Angeles recently passed a wage-increase mandate that will eventually raise the minimum wage in the city to $15 an hour--backed by the support of several major labor unions. Those very same labor unions now want an exemption from the wage law.

From the L.A. Times:

But Rusty Hicks, who heads the county Federation of Labor and helps lead the Raise the Wage coalition, said Tuesday night that companies with workers represented by unions should have leeway to negotiate a wage below that mandated by the law.

"With a collective bargaining agreement, a business owner and the employees negotiate an agreement that works for them both. The agreement allows each party to prioritize what is important to them," Hicks said in a statement. "This provision gives the parties the option, the freedom, to negotiate that agreement. And that is a good thing."

Earlier this year, Rusty Hicks co-wrote an editorial at Huffington Post titled "Raise Los Angeles' Minimum Wage and Enforce It."

Nowhere in that editorial is the "leeway" to negotiate a sub-15 dollar wage mentioned. In fact, supporting a law that would raise the wage to a certain price and then backtracking on this support to pay employees something lower sounds eerily similar to the "wage theft" described in the article.

Clearly, there's an economic advantage when non-unionized competitor businesses are forced to pay their employees six dollars more than California's nine-dollar minimum wage. Employers seeking to avoid the higher wage (which has already threatened the survival of some small businesses elsewhere in the state) now have an incentive to join the union, who gains the new union dues and money from these previously non-unionized employees. The unions are the only winners in this (incredibly sneaky and backhanded) wage arrangement. (Or, alternatively, employers will seek out illegal immigrant labor to be paid under the table at a lower wage than 15 dollars an hour.)

L.A.'s minimum wage law hasn't gone into effect yet, and won't reach $15/hour until 2020, but the furious backpedaling has already begun.

Judge: There’s No ‘Good Reason’ To Issue A Stay On DC's Carry Law Ruling

A judge has denied Washington D.C’s request for a stay after the city’s carry law was ruled unconstitutional last week. Judge Frederick J. Scullin ruled that a provision in DC’s concealed carry process, which included a requirement for applicants to show “a good reason to fear injury to his or her person, which shall at a minimum require a showing of a special need for self protection distinguishable from the general community” was unconstitutional. Applicants had to document the threats made against them as well. Two D.C residents and one Florida resident filed a lawsuit over the provision. On May 18, Judge Scullin issued an injunction over the provision, but kept in place other portions of the city's concealed carry law, like areas where carrying was banned, like libraries, government buildings, public transportation, and bars. Permit holders–all eight of them–also have to be at least 1,000 feet away from any foreign or U.S. dignitary.

The Second Amendment Foundation praised the ruling:

The federal district court judge handling the Second Amendment Foundation’s challenge to the District of Columbia’s “good reason” concealed carry permit requirement has denied the city’s request for an immediate administrative stay of his ruling last week granting a preliminary injunction against further enforcement of the requirement. The District is also seeking a stay pending appeal.

Judge Frederick J. Scullin Jr., announced his decision this morning, and set two important dates. By June 22, SAF and its co-plaintiffs must file papers opposing the city’s stay pending appeal request, and the city must respond by June 26. This development is seen as a clear win by SAF founder and Executive Vice President Alan M. Gottlieb.

“The Second Amendment Foundation is pleased that the court ruled immediately against the city and has forced them to start issuing carry permits,” Gottlieb said. “By now they should realize that when we say we will do everything in our legal power to force them to recognize that people have Second Amendment rights we mean it.”

The city has required concealed carry applicants to provide justification for wanting a permit to carry firearms outside the home for personal protection. Judge Scullin ruled last week that the requirement “impinges on Plaintiff’s Second Amendment right to bear arms.”

“Bearing arms is a civil right,” Gottlieb observed, “not a government-regulated privilege subject to arbitrary discretion. This case isn’t about making a political statement, but about making the District of Columbia comply with an earlier court ruling, and with the constitution.

“The city is running out of wiggle room,” he added, “and should immediately start issuing permits to all citizens who meet the legal qualifications.”

The case is Wrenn v. District of Columbia.

Judge Scullin also ruled in the Palmer case, which struck down DC’s law banning carrying firearms outside one’s home last summer. In that case, both parties agreed to a stay in order for the DC City Council to draft a carry law in accordance with the ruling. Every Second Amendment-loving American knew that DC’s carry law was going to be as onerous as any “may issue” carry law could get given the city’s strong anti-gun sentiments.

Baltimore Residents Who Decried Police in Their Neighborhoods Now Want Them Back

In the wake of Freddie Gray’s death in police custody, arrests in Baltimore have dropped significantly. Police are no longer “arresting everybody for every little thing,” according to Baltimore City Councilman Brandon Scott, which he says “led to the underlying issues that we have been dealing with in the city.” In other words: distrust of police.

But more than that, officers are “fearful at doing their jobs,” according to Wicomico County Sheriff Mike Lewis. And that has meant they are no longer being proactive.

And now, of course, we’re seeing a big spike in violence, which has some residents wishing the police would come back.

Antoinette Perrine has barricaded her front door since her brother was killed three weeks ago on a basketball court near her home in the Harlem Park neighborhood of West Baltimore.

She already has iron bars outside her windows and added metal slabs on the inside to deflect the gunfire.

“I’m afraid to go outside,” said Perrine, 47. “It’s so bad, people are afraid to let their kids outside. People wake up with shots through their windows. Police used to sit on every corner, on the top of the block. These days? They’re nowhere.” […]

Now West Baltimore residents worry they’ve been abandoned by the officers they once accused of harassing them. In recent weeks, some neighborhoods have become like the Wild West without a lawman around, residents said.

“Before it was over-policing. Now there’s no police,” said Donnail “Dreads” Lee, 34, who lives in the Gilmor Homes, the public housing complex where Gray, 25, was arrested.

“I haven’t seen the police since the riots,” Lee said. “People feel as though they can do things and get away with it. I see people walking with guns almost every single day, because they know the police aren’t pulling them up like they used to.”

It's not that officers have completely backed down, it's just that they're trying to do their jobs in much different conditions. “Our officers tell me that when officers pull up, they have 30 to 50 people surrounding them at any time,” Police Commissioner Anthony Batts said, reports the AP.

As Lewis said about the violence, “I hope this is a shot fired across the bow of mayors and urban leaders across this country. Once you disembowel your law enforcement officers, then you cannot no longer expect them to go out there and protect you, or protect your communities. This is very troubling, the worst I’ve ever seen in 31 years of law enforcement.”

Maine Senate Passes Constitutional Carry Bill

The Maine Senate has passed a "Constitutional Carry" bill with a vote of 21-14. The bill would permit gun owners to legally carry their weapons concealed without a permit. This is the second time in two years that the Senate has considered this type of bill.

While the votes were mostly split along party lines, three Democrats sided with the Republicans in voting for the measure.

The Senate voted 21-14 to approve the bill, L.D. 652, a heavily lobbied measure that pits gun rights activists against groups seeking more oversight over individuals who carry firearms. Three Democrats joined the Republican majority to support the bill. Two Republicans voted against it.

The bill now moves on to the House of Representatives.

Vermont, Alaska, Arizona, Kansas, and Wyoming all have Constitutional Carry laws that allow permit-free concealed carry within the state. The Brady Campaign gave Maine an "F" grade on its state scorecard in 2013, yet also noted that the state has one of the lowest gun death rates in the nation.

Clinton Foundation Paid Blumenthal $10K Per Month While He Was Fact-Finding In Libya

Recap: Sidney Blumenthal was involved in a secret intelligence network that fed Mrs. Clinton unsubstantiated information to her private email address–the one that her lawyers insisted didn’t exist when she was at State, but that turns out to be another lie. At the time, we didn’t know if Mrs. Clinton read or even responded to the emails. Now, we know she did read some of them and forwarded a few to a State Department staffer. The House Select Committee on Benghazi has subpoenaed him. He’s a die-hard Clintonite, who circulated some of Obama’s dirty laundry that prevented him from taking a job at State after the 2008 election. And he might have received a request from Clinton to find information on Libya, as reported by the Washington Post’s David Ignatius. If this is true, then Clinton’s claim that Blumenthal sent her “unsolicited” emails on Libya really isn’t true.

Yet, one question remained: who bankrolled this whole network? The Atlantic’s Conor Friedersdorf noted that one trip cost this little network tens of thousands of dollars. He wondered if the money came from the Clinton’s personal fortune, or some buried figure within the State Department. We still don’t know, but what we do know is that the Clinton Foundation paid Blumenthal $10,000 per month while he was on his little intelligence gathering trips in Libya (via Politico):

Sidney Blumenthal, a longtime confidant of Bill and Hillary Clinton, earned about $10,000 a month as a full-time employee of the Clinton Foundation while he was providing unsolicited intelligence on Libya to then Secretary of State Hillary Clinton, according to multiple sources familiar with the arrangement.

Blumenthal was added to the payroll of the Clintons’ global philanthropy in 2009 — not long after advising Hillary Clinton’s presidential campaign — at the behest of former president Bill Clinton, for whom he had worked in the White House, say the sources.

While Blumenthal’s foundation job focused on highlighting the legacy of Clinton’s presidency, some officials at the charity questioned his value and grumbled that his hiring was a favor from the Clintons, according to people familiar with the foundation. They say that, during a 2013 reform push, Blumenthal was moved to a consulting contract that came with a similar pay rate but without benefits — an arrangement that endured until March.

A Clinton loyalist who first earned the family’s trust as an aggressive combatant in the political battles of the 1990s, Blumenthal continues to work as a paid consultant to two groups supporting Hillary Clinton’s 2016 presidential campaign — American Bridge and Media Matters — both of which are run by David Brock, a close ally of both Clinton and Blumenthal.

Blumenthal’s concurrent work for the foundation, the Brock groups and a pair of businesses seeking potentially lucrative contracts in Libya underscores the blurred lines between her State Department work and that of her family’s charitable and political enterprises

In his own statement last week, Blumenthal suggested that he did not write the memos on behalf of the foundation or any other entities with which he may have been associated, but rather as “a private citizen and friend” of Clinton’s.

Sources: John Kasich To Enter 2016 Fray

I can’t even keep track anymore. Seriously, now that Rick Santorum is already in, and George Pataki is about to be, the list of seemingly no-shot candidates running for president grows bigger by the day. The latest scoop, via the Washington Post, indicates that Ohio Gov. John Kasich (R) has decided, after some gut-wrenching and serious contemplation, that he, too, wants a shot at the nomination. As the Post reports, he’ll likely make it official sometime mid-summer:

Ohio Gov. John Kasich, who has been actively gauging reactions to a possible campaign for president in 2016, is now moving rapidly to assemble the staff and financial resources for such a bid and is looking to declare his candidacy sometime after June 30, according to knowledgeable Republicans.

The two-term governor and former House member is running through a checklist before formally entering the race, but strategists close to Kasich and other longtime friends say there is no doubt that he will soon join the crowded field of those vying for the GOP nomination.

Kasich, for his part, is scraping the bottom of the barrel in recent polling. Recent Quinnipiac and Fox News surveys position him at … 2 percent nationally. Thus, in a field of at least 15 other candidates -- with top tier contenders like Jeb Bush, Scott Walker, and Marco Rubio sucking up all the airtime -- it will be difficult for him to find a niche. But he does have a wild card up his sleeve, I suppose: He hails from Ohio.

And why does that matter? Well, because it’s pretty much a well established fact at this point that if Republicans lose the Buckeye State, they will lose the 2016 election. Can Kasich, therefore, use his geographical roots to his advantage? As the Post emphasizes, there’s also a lot to like about Ohio's incumbent governor, namely his experience in government and his commitment to the poor. And while this might be a bit of a problem, it’ll be interesting to see if he makes a splash in 2016 -- or flames out early as expected. We'll see.

MSM: Why, This Hillary Character Seems Evasive and Flawed


The keepers of the Beltway flame don't seem terribly impressed by Hillary Clinton's aloofunavailable presidential campaign thus far. Meet the Press' Chuck Todd thinks she's engaged in awkward ideological "gymnastics" and failing to connect (via the Free Beacon):


The 'Game Change' boys see the relentless drip, drip, drip of the Clintons' financial irregulaties and serial opacity as "quite threatening" to her viability (via Grabien):


And what is Mrs. Clinton's favorite refuge when her family's multimillion-dollar slush fund is attracting unwanted attention, new details are emerging about her failures and dishonesty as Secretary of State, and her self-created email headaches just won't go away?  First! Woman! President! demagoguery:


Sigh.  Economists have found that Democrats' go-to "pay gap" issue is largely a fiction, borne not of discrimination, but of women's choices.  But since people like Hillary Clinton insist on flogging this talking point as means of scoring cheap points with under-informed voters, conservatives have no choice but to raise obvious hypocrisy questions -- applying the Left's own anti-intellectual, nuance-free standards:


Clinton's camp protests that these figures don't tell the whole story.  They're right, of course; they don't.  How much will Hillary focus on that exact same fine print as she's pounding the table about Republicans "standing in the way" of equal pay or whatever?