What happened during the end of the Obama Administration was a violation of the Fourth Amendment rights of American citizens by the abuse of a secret court. It is the obligation of the government to insure that never happens again. The surveillance of the Trump campaign and transition team makes the wiretapping engaged in by the Watergate burglars look like child’s play. The use of government agencies for political purposes was something that happened more than once in the Obama Administration–the IRS was eventually forced to pay fines to the conservative organizations it refused to grant tax-exempt status to. The purpose of not granting the tax-exempt status was to silence organizations engaging in conservative speech during the 2012 elections. Regardless of where you stand on the political spectrum, that is a dangerous thing. Remember, it is always possible that someday the shoe will be on the other foot. If we don’t end the practice of using the government against people who disagree with us now, it will not end.
The Hill posted a very disturbing article today about a deal with Russia that was made during the Obama Administration. Evidently the Department of Justice slow walked an investigation that had been done by the FBI and did not brief Congress on the investigation in a timely manner.
The article reports:
Federal agents used a confidential U.S. witness working inside the Russian nuclear industry to gather extensive financial records, make secret recordings and intercept emails as early as 2009 that showed Moscow had compromised an American uranium trucking firm with bribes and kickbacks in violation of the Foreign Corrupt Practices Act, FBI and court documents show.
They also obtained an eyewitness account — backed by documents — indicating Russian nuclear officials had routed millions of dollars to the U.S. designed to benefit former President Bill Clinton’s charitable foundation during the time Secretary of State Hillary Clinton served on a government body that provided a favorable decision to Moscow, sources told The Hill.
The racketeering scheme was conducted “with the consent of higher level officials” in Russia who “shared the proceeds” from the kickbacks, one agent declared in an affidavit years later.
Rather than bring immediate charges in 2010, however, the Department of Justice (DOJ) continued investigating the matter for nearly four more years, essentially leaving the American public and Congress in the dark about Russian nuclear corruption on U.S. soil during a period when the Obama administration made two major decisions benefiting Putin’s commercial nuclear ambitions.
The first decision occurred in October 2010, when the State Department and government agencies on the Committee on Foreign Investment in the United States unanimously approved the partial sale of Canadian mining company Uranium One to the Russian nuclear giant Rosatom, giving Moscow control of more than 20 percent of America’s uranium supply.
It pays to donate to the Clinton Foundation. Or at least it did.
It gets worse:
The Obama administration and the Clintons defended their actions at the time, insisting there was no evidence that any Russians or donors engaged in wrongdoing and there was no national security reason for any member of the committee to oppose the Uranium One deal.
But FBI, Energy Department and court documents reviewed by The Hill show the FBI in fact had gathered substantial evidence well before the committee’s decision that Vadim Mikerin — the main Russian overseeing Putin’s nuclear expansion inside the United States — was engaged in wrongdoing starting in 2009.
Then-Attorney General Eric Holder was among the Obama administration officials joining Hillary Clinton on the Committee on Foreign Investment in the United States at the time the Uranium One deal was approved. Multiple current and former government officials told The Hill they did not know whether the FBI or DOJ ever alerted committee members to the criminal activity they uncovered.
This is the swamp that needs to be cleaned out. Anyone involved in this investigation and the fact that it was kept secret from Congress needs to be unemployed immediately. Please follow the link to the article and read the entire story and review the documents involved. This story is an example of government corruption and that corruption needs to have consequences for those involved.
It seems as if there were some major infringements on the privacy and civil rights of American citizens during the last year or so of the Obama Administration. Fortunately, it looks as though these violations will be investigated and the guilty parties will be held accountable.
The Washington Free Beacon posted an article today about the ongoing investigation into the unmasking of the names of American citizens who were named in classified intelligence community reports. Oddly enough, many of these citizens were associated with the Donald Trump campaign for President or his transition team.
The article reports:
Rep. Devin Nunes (R., Calif.), chair of the House Intelligence Committee, which is handling the probe, petitioned Director of National Intelligence Dan Coats last week to request his help in addressing the unmasking issue.
Nunes disclosed in his letter that the former Obama administration had “easy access” to sensitive classified information and that they may have used it to “achieve partisan political purposes, including the selective, anonymous leaking of such information.”
Congressional investigators uncovered that “one official [whose] position has no apparent intelligence-related function”—now believed to be Power—”made hundreds of unmasking requests during the final year of the Obama administration.”
Little justification was provided for the request of this sensitive classified information, which government insiders described as outside the purview of a U.N. ambassador.
“Of those requests, only one offered a justification that was not boilerplate and articulated why that specific official required the personal information for the performance of his or her official duties,” according to Nunes.
One former senior U.S. official intimately familiar with the national security infrastructure told the Free Beacon that Power would have little reason to be requesting such information, particularly information that included in raw intelligence reports related to Trump and his team.
“Asking for an unmasking is rare at the [National Security Council] or the State Department. It is frankly shocking that anyone would be asking for dozens, and if there are really hundreds it is indefensible,” said the former official. “It does make me wonder why [National Security Agency] didn’t stop her [Power], by questioning this practice and getting the head of NSA to raise it with the president or the national security adviser.”
In addition to Power, the House Intelligence Committee has subpoenaed former National Security Adviser Susan Rice and other top officials as part of its investigation into these leaks.
This is NOT politics as usual. The unmasking of American citizens and then leaking classified information is an example of using a government position for political purposes. Not only is it illegal, it is a danger to our republic.
The article concludes:
One veteran congressional adviser who has been briefed by senior Intelligence Committee members told the Free Beacon that the emergence of Power’s role in these unmasking efforts could point to the improper use of this information, given her unrelated role at the U.N.
“The outrage about Obama officials spying on Americans, let alone on the Republican candidate and then incoming president, is both real and legitimate,” said the source, who would only discuss the sensitive matter on background. “But there are still a lot of known unknowns, which could make things a lot worse.”
“The Obama folks may have made a deliberate decision to use Power, even though they knew it would risk giving away their unmasking campaigns, because she had no business making those requests,” the source said. “What was so bad they had to use her for the requests, rather than someone who would have had a better excuse but may have balked?”
Stay tuned. Even if the mainstream media ignores this story, you will be hearing more about this in the future.
The article reports:
Iran is using the billions in cash resources provided under the landmark nuclear deal to engage in an unprecedented military buildup meant to transform the Islamic Republic’s fighting force into an “offensive” juggernaut, according to a largely unreported announcement by Iranian military leaders that has sparked concern among U.S. national security insiders and sources on Capitol Hill.
Iranian officials announced late last month that Iran’s defense budget had increased by 145 percent under President Hassan Rouhani and that the military is moving forward with a massive restructuring effort aimed at making it “a forward moving force,” according to regional reports.
Iranian leaders have stated since the Iran deal was enacted that they are using the massive amounts of cash released under the agreement to fund the purchase of new military equipment and other armaments. Iran also has pursued multi-million dollar arms deals with Russia since economic sanctions were nixed as part of the deal.
Iran is not our friend and has been funding weapons used against American troops in Iraq and Afghanistan since American troops got there. We need to remember that the goal of Iran is to establish a caliphate with Iran in charge. Iran is currently working with Russia to support the current regime in Syria and is working to fight ISIS. ISIS also wants to set up a caliphate. The difference is Sunni and Shiite. ISIS is the remnants of the Baathist regime that ruled Iraq with Saddam Hussein, Sunni Muslims. Iran is Shiite Muslim. A caliphate set up by either group would be ruled by a brutal regime according to Sharia Law–women would be second-class citizens, homosexuals would be killed, and freedom of religion would not be allowed. The establishment of that caliphate by Iran is what the large amounts of cash given to Iran by the Obama Administration will be used to attempt.
The article concludes:
One senior congressional source tracking the matter expressed concern about the safety of U.S. forces in the region, which already are routinely harassed by Iranian military personnel.
“This is certainly grounds for concern,” the source said. “An Iranian military buildup coupled with an offensive posture is a threat to the United States and our allies. This also serves as an important reminder of why the Obama administration’s cash infusion to Iran was so dangerous.”
The cash windfall provided by the United States and European countries is “fungible and hence can be used for everything from sponsoring terror proxies to developing ballistic missiles,” the source warned. “Congress will continue to take action to counter Iranian terrorism and ensure this regime never acquires a nuclear weapon.”
Iran’s military announcement has already sparked a renewed push on Capitol Hill to reimpose economic sanctions on Iran.
“The Iranians know that the party will end this fall, when Congress will pass bipartisan legislation that begins to roll back Iran’s military growth,” one senior congressional adviser working on the sanctions effort told the Free Beacon.
“The Obama administration avoided any serious action for years, and so Iran kept growing its arsenal and using it against our allies, against Syrian civilians, and increasingly against our military,” said the source. “Now they’re rushing to accomplish as much as they can before Congress and the Trump administration get around to reversing Obama’s policies.”
Let’s hope Congress reverses this policy. They haven’t shown the spine yet to reverse much of anything. If Congress cannot reverse a policy that puts American soldiers at risk, then they should be made to put on uniforms to get a new perspective.
The Gateway Pundit posted an article today about a lawsuit filed by the Watchdog group, Cause of Action (CoA) seeking records relating to the relationship between the FBI and Christopher Steele, a former British spy who was the lead author of the largely debunked Trump dossier.
The article reports:
Via Cause of Action:
According to a news report, Mr. Steele entered an agreement with the FBI a few weeks before the November 2016 election to investigate then-candidate Donald Trump while, at the same time, he was employed by an opposition research firm to collect information for Democratic presidential nominee Hillary Clinton.
CoA Institute President and CEO John Vecchione: “If a former spy who was being paid to do opposition research on a U.S. presidential nominee was also on the FBI’s payroll, there are serious concerns about the agency’s independence. We need to better understand this financial relationship to ensure the FBI was not misusing taxpayer money to interfere in a presidential election on behalf of one of the candidates.”
On March 7, 2017, CoA Institute sent a FOIA request to the FBI seeking access to records into whether the FBI paid money, or had plans to pay, Mr. Steele for any purpose. To date, the FBI has failed to produce any responsive records within the applicable FOIA timeframe.
The obvious questions is, “Exactly who was Mr. Steele working for–the FBI or the Clinton Campaign?”
The article concludes:
The amount of corruption in these government agencies is astounding. The FBI is damaged. Comey needs to go. Trump needs to gut these institutions! The Obama administration weaponized every agency to target his political opponents. Every person involved must be prosecuted and brought to justice.
It truly is time to drain the swamp!
Sharyl Attkisson was an investigative journalist who resigned from CBS News in 2014. She was unbiased and reported events as she saw them. In July 2012, Ms. Attkisson’s reporting on the Fast and Furious scandal received an Emmy Award. Ms. Attkisson has reported that her personal computer and work computer were illegally accessed beginning in 2012. She has posted an article on her website about some of the indications that government surveillance of Americans during the Obama Administration was not unusual.
The article includes a timeline. Here are some highlights:
Someone leaks the unmasked name of Congresswoman Jane Harmon to the press. According to news reports, the Bush administration NSA incidentally recorded and saved Harmon’s phone conversations with pro-Israel lobbyists who were under investigation for espionage. The story is first broken by Congressional Quarterly’s Jeff Stein.
December 17, 2009:
The Obama administration prosecutes FBI contractor Shamai Leibowitz for leaking documents to the media in April 2009. Leibowitz says he leaked because he felt FBI practices were “an abuse of power and a violation of the law” which he reported to his superiors at the FBI “who did nothing about them.” (According to the ACLU: “Amazingly, the sentencing judge said, ‘I don’t know what was divulged other than some documents, and how it compromised things, I have no idea’.”)
The IRS secretly begins “targeting” conservative groups that are seeking nonprofit tax-exempt status, by singling out ones that have “Tea Party” or “Patriot” in their names.
Obama Attorney General Eric Holder renews a Bush-era subpoena of New York Times reporter James Risen in a leak investigation.
Obama administration pursues espionage charges against NSA whistleblower Thomas Drake. (According to the ACLU: spy charges were later dropped and Drake pled guilty to a misdemeanor. The judge called the government’s conduct in the case “unconscionable.”)
May 28, 2010:
September 21, 2010:
Internal email entitled “Obama Leak Investigations” at “global intelligence” company Stratfor claims Obama’s then-Homeland Security adviser John Brennan is targeting journalists.
“Brennan is behind the witch hunts of investigative journalists learning information from inside the beltway sources,” writes one Stratfor official to another.
The email continues: “Note — There is specific tasker from the [White House] to go after anyone printing materials negative to the Obama agenda (oh my.) Even the FBI is shocked. The Wonder Boys must be in meltdown mode…”
Early February 2011:
After receiving an anonymous tip, CBS News investigative correspondent Sharyl Attkisson begins researching the Department of Justice “gunwalking” operation nicknamed “Fast and Furious” that secretly let thousands of weapons be trafficked to Mexican drug cartels. One of the “walked” guns had been used by illegal aliens who murdered U.S. Border Patrol Agent Brian Terry in December 2010.
February 22, 2011:
After the story airs, the government issues an internal memo that seeks to “push positive stories” to contradict the news.
Given the negative coverage by CBS Evening News last week…ATF needs to proactively push positive stories this week, in an effort to preempt some negative reporting, or at minimum, lessen the coverage of such stories in the news cycle by replacing them with good stories about ATF.
March 4, 2011:
CBS News’ Attkisson exclusively interviews sitting ATF special agent John Dodson. He gives a firsthand account contradicting government denials re: Fast and Furious.
The article continues with the timeline continuing through April 11, 2017, citing actions by the Obama Administration and by the people who remained in government positions after the Obama Administration ended. I think we have a problem. The only possible solution is to find the guilty parties and hold them accountable to the law. One wonders if we are not in a situation similar to what happened when J. Edgar Hoover headed the FBI and collected enough damaging information on everyone in government so that no one ever challenged him when he overstepped the limits of his position. If we have a similar situation now, we may not be able to solve the problem of overactive government surveillance for political purposes, and voters are simply going to have to be smart about what they believe.
On March 24th, The New York Post posted an article about the environmental impact of the Keystone Pipeline. I would like to point out that none of the environmental studies on the pipeline done during the Obama Administration ever stated that the pipeline would harm the environment. The objection to the pipeline at that point was that if President Obama allowed the pipeline to be built, the Democratic Party would lose the donations of the radical environmental groups. If they refused to build the pipeline, they would lose a large portion of donations from unions. They made a choice to keep the environmentalists happy and ignore the unions who wanted the jobs the pipeline would create.
The article points out:
Environmentalists like to tout scary spill statistics. But in actuality, oil travels most securely by pipeline, reaching its destination safely 99.999 percent of the time, according to the Association of Oil Pipe Lines and the American Petroleum Institute.
A recent study by Canada’s Fraser Institute provided more reassuring information: Of the rare spills that do occur, 83 percent happen in facilities specially equipped to handle them, not along the pipeline’s route, where they could cause environmental harm. Moreover, 70 percent of the spills that do occur amount to a total of less than a cubic meter of spilled oil.
The article explains the impact of alternative forms of transporting oil:
As energy-related rail traffic increased, 2013 alone saw more train-related crude-oil spills than the entire 37 years prior, combined. And between 2013 and 2015 alone, the United States and Canada saw 10 separate explosions involving oil-laden trains.
To understand how much riskier railway transportation can be, look no further than to Lac-Mégantic, Quebec. In 2013, a crude-oil train derailed, plowing into town at more than 62 miles per hour and exploding. Forty-seven people died, and the blaze wiped out 44 buildings.
The wreck unleashed nearly 1.5 million gallons of oil, and what didn’t char the town seeped into the soil and contaminated the nearby Chaudière River.
Transporting oil by truck also carries major risks. At the peak of the oil boom, The New York Times reported that highway fatalities were the top cause of deaths in the industry — more than 300 between 2002 and 2012. In North Dakota, highway fatalities skyrocketed as energy production soared; at one point, a person was killed in an accident every two-and-a-half days.
A 100 percent risk-free method of energy transportation doesn’t exist, and the Obama administration was well aware of the comparative risks of pipeline, rail and road. Five separate State Department studies examined safety and environmental concerns surrounding the pipeline. Their findings were consistently favorable to Keystone XL.
The most recent State Department report concluded that because of pipelines’ superior safety record, Keystone XL could prevent as many as six fatalities and 48 injuries each year.
Without the pipeline, the oil would travel by truck and rail. Both of these methods have a higher carbon footprint and a higher risk than a pipeline. It is also no coincidence that without the pipeline the Burlington Northern Santa Fe railroad is transporting large amounts of oil through the area where the pipeline will be built. The railroad is owned by Berkshire Hathaway, a conglomerate controlled by Warren Buffett, a close friend of former President Obama. The delay of the Keystone Pipeline was truly a case of ‘follow the money.’
The article reports:
Before the start of the Columbus Day holiday weekend, the Treasury Department made it easier for offshore banking institutions to make transactions with Iran, as long as the money doesn’t actually enter the U.S. financial system. Although many sanctions were lifted as a part of the Iran deal, certain “specially designated nationals,” or SDNs, are still subject to the sanctions for reasons which include their human rights record or support for terror groups.
Now, even these SDNs are no longer completely banned from transacting with U.S. businesses.
The article concludes:
Just another bad postscript to a bad deal, and we can expect plenty more of the same if people keep paying attention to the puppet shows instead of the man, or woman, behind the curtain.
The Iran deal was a really bad deal. We are financing terrorism and the development of an atomic bomb by Iran. We can expect more of the same from a President Hillary Clinton.
Generally speaking, politicians don’t like being held accountable. They don’t like being held to any standard of transparency either. This has been particularly true in the relationship between the Obama Administration and Judicial Watch. Judicial Watch is an equal opportunity government watchdog organization. The have investigated the Clinton Administration, the Bush Administration, and the Obama Administration.
Needless to say, they were more appreciated by Americans who wanted to hold their government accountable than they were by the administrations they were holding accountable. The Obama Administration, however, has reached a new low in its dealings with Judicial Watch.
Political operatives within the Obama administration wrongly punished conservative legal group Judicial Watch, stripping it of “media” status and trying to force it to pay higher fees for its open records requests, the General Services Administration inspector general said in a letter released Thursday.
The GSA botched several high-profile open records requests, delaying them for months while political appointees got involved, Inspector General Carol F. Ochoa said. The findings were released while the administration was facing charges of slow-walking open records requests for Hillary Clinton’s emails, as well as other requests.
The inspector general said the decision came at the behest of Gregory Mecher, a former Democratic campaign fundraiser who at the time was liaison to the White House. He is married to Jen Psaki, a longtime spokeswoman with the Obama administration and its election campaigns.
The same person who ruled on the initial request also ruled on the appeal, “contrary to GSA procedures,” the inspector general said.
This is disgusting. We have entered a period of unbelievable corruption in Washington that reaches all the way to the top. We have had stories this year of archives of press conferences being altered after the fact to make the administration look better, now we have press credentials pulled on people simply doing a service to America.
Please follow the link and read the entire article. It is a basic course of the relationships among the elites in Washington. It truly is time to throw them all out!
The article reports:
In the month of September alone, a Turkish immigrant allegedly shot and killed five people in a Washington State mall; an Afghan immigrant allegedly planted bombs in New York and New Jersey injuring roughly 30 innocent people; a Somali immigrant allegedly stabbed nine people at a Minnesota mall; a twice-arrested illegal alien with a prior DUI conviction allegedly murdered a Kansas sheriff’s deputy; an illegal alien and convicted child rapist allegedly shot two California corrections officers; an illegal alien with a prior drug arrest, who had been a recipient of Obama’s executive amnesty, allegedly engaged in reckless driving killing a 12-year-old girl; a three-time deported illegal alien allegedly killed two people on what was described as a crime “rampage;” and a Mexican immigrant and Arizona pastor was arrested after it was revealed that he had allegedly molested children for years, many of whom are believed to belong to his church, and for impregnating one of his victims when she was 13 years old.
In football, when you see an extremely long running or pass play, you can usually assume that someone on the defense missed his assignment. I think it is safe to say that somewhere in our immigration process, someone (or someones) has missed his assignment.
Please follow the link above to read the entire article. The people who are in charge of our safety are not doing their job. They are either incompetent or have intentionally closed their eyes to the threat. Either way, they have missed their assignment.
There have been a lot of stories told about the $400 million that was paid to Iran (coincidentally just as some American hostages were being released). Yesterday Claudia Rosett posted an article in the New York Sun that offers an interesting explanation as to where the $400 million came from.
The article reports:
Congressional investigators trying to uncover the trail of $1.3 billion in payments to Iran might want to focus on 13 large, identical sums that Treasury paid to the State Department under the generic heading of settling “Foreign Claims.”
The 13 payments when added to the $400 million that the administration now concedes it shipped to the Iranian regime in foreign cash would bring the payout to the $1.7 billion that President Obama and Secretary Kerry announced on January 17. That total was to settle a dispute pending for decades before the Iran-U.S. Claims Tribunal in at The Hague.
…The Judgment Fund has long been a controversial vehicle for federal agencies to detour past one of the most pointed prohibitions in the Constitution: “No Money shall be drawn from the Treasury, but in Consequence of Appropriations made by Law.”
The Judgment Fund, according to a Treasury Department Web site, is “a permanent, indefinite appropriation” used to pay monetary awards against U.S. government agencies in cases “where funds are not legally available to pay the award from the agency’s own appropriations.”
In March, in letters responding to questions about the Iran settlement sent weeks earlier by Representatives Edward Royce and Mike Pompeo, the State Department confirmed that the $1.3 billion “interest” portion of the Iran settlement had been paid out of the Judgment Fund. But State gave no information on the logistics.
Aside from the fact that we are funding a regime that is using the money to fund attacks against American civilians and servicemen, I would like to note that the Tribunal at the Hague decided that America owned money to a known sponsor of terrorism. Based on that decision, I don’t think the Tribunal at The Hague is force for global peace. Giving money to a known sponsor of terrorism is not a good idea under any circumstances.
ObamaCare is touted as one of the crowning achievements of the Obama Administration. Like some of the other achievements touted, the benefits are somewhat questionable. The two main promises of ObamaCare–if you like your healthcare plan, you can keep it, and if you like your doctor, you can keep him–have not really worked out as claimed. Now the claim that ObamaCare has cut the cost of health insurance seems to be in doubt as well.
Forbes Magazine posted an article on Thursday disputing the claims of Loren Adler and Paul Ginsburg of the Brookings Institution that health insurance premiums have decreased under ObamaCare. The authors cite a 2014 Brookings study that concluded premiums have increased.
The article reports:
While I will discuss the relevant evidence of the ACA’s effect on premiums in depth, there are three data points worth emphasizing. First, unlike Adler and Ginsburg’s approach, Brookings 2014 study used actual data and found that “enrollment-weighted premiums in the individual health insurance market increased by 24.4 percent beyond what they would have had they simply followed…trends.” Second, S&P Global Institute found that average individual market medical costs increased substantially between 2013 and 2015, up an estimated 69%. Third, 2014 insurer data shows that premiums for individual market Qualified Health Plans (QHPs), ACA-compliant plans certified to be sold on exchanges, were much higher than premiums for individual market non-QHPs, mostly plans in existence before 2014 that did not comply with the ACA. Relative to non-QHPs, insurers collected more than $1,000 per enrollee in higher premiums and more than $2,300 in higher premium revenue per enrollee in 2014 after accounting for large premium subsidy programs for their QHPs.
The article includes the following graph:
The data shows a huge increase in PMPM costs in the individual market between 2013 and 2015. According to S&P, PMPM costs increased 38% between 2013 and 2014, and another 23% between 2014 and 2015. The two-year increase (69%) is the product of the two single-year increases.
…It is worth noting that the individual market includes both ACA-compliant plans as well as non-ACA-compliant plans. If only ACA-compliant plans were included in the post-2013 data, the spike would likely be much larger.
I do wonder how much of this will be reported by the mainstream media. The fact that most people will experience this on a personal level means that the public will become aware of it.
The article reports:
“We urge the Obama administration to clear for public release all of the supporting evidence and documents referenced in the more than 2,100 footnotes in the report, including all of the transcripts of the committee’s witness interviews and all of the video footage from the drones operating over Benghazi during the attacks,” the committee’s Republican members said in a statement. “The administration should do this as fast as possible so the American people can see all of the evidence for themselves.”
As Americans, we are entitled to see the results of this investigation without any filters. We should be smart enough to read it and draw our own conclusions. It’s time to end secrecy in Washington.
Yesterday Paul Mirengoff at Power Line posted an article about the recent editing of a State Department press briefing on December 2, 2013. A question asked by Fox News reporter James Rosen was edited out of the archived video of the briefing.
The article reports:
The deleted segment of the briefing featured Fox News reporter James Rosen asking then-State Department spokeswoman Jen Psaki whether the Obama administration had lied about having secret talks with Iran in 2011. Psaki essentially admitted that it had.
Rosen inquired, “Is it the policy of the State Department, where the preservation or the secrecy of secret negotiations is concerned, to lie in order to achieve that goal?” Psaki responded, “James, I think there are times where diplomacy needs privacy in order to progress. This is a good example of that.”
The start date of the Iran nuclear negotiations is back in the spotlight because of a New York Times Magazine piece in which Ben Rhodes admitted that the Obama administration “largely manufactured” a narrative for the Iran deal in order to garner support for it. A key element of the manufactured narrative was that negotiations began in 2013 with the election of a “moderate” Iranian president.
It looks like the State Department tried, by editing the video, to cover up the administration’s lie about when Iran negotiations commenced (together with the admission that it is willing to lie), and then lied again by claiming that the cover up was the product of a glitch.
Remember, this video is supposed to be an accurate archived record of American history. The State Department chose to edit it to rewrite a portion of history. I thought only Communist countries did that.
The article explains the consequences for the editing of the video:
Who requested the scrubbing? The State Department claims not to know. It says that officials “tried” to determine who ordered the edit, “but it was three years ago and the individual who took the call [to edit the tape] just simply doesn’t have a better memory of it.”
Jen Psaki, who made the admission that needed to be deleted, is an obvious suspect. She denies responsibility.
Will the State Department launch an investigation? No it will not. Current spokesperson John Kirby says:
There were no rules governing this sort of action in the past, so I find no reason to press forward with a more formal or deeper investigation. What matters to me — and I take it seriously — is our commitment to transparency and disclosure.
The Obama State Department just can’t stop lying.
I have been known to complain about the mainstream media slanting the news or lying to Americans. Now we have evidence that the government is lying to us. It’s time for a new government.
Actually, there are two runaway trains–one is federal spending and the other is overreach by President Obama. Yesterday The Daily Signal posted an article that illustrates both of them. The article was written by Senator James Lankford of Oklahoma.
The article reports:
Last week, the Senate passed legislation to address and prevent the spread of the Zika virus. However, the Senate failed to pay for it, and instead approved a $1.1 billion “emergency” spending supplemental bill that is not subject to the budgetary caps that were agreed to last year.
While congressional inattention to the budget crisis is inexcusable, it is even more disturbing that the Obama administration already has the authority to pay for a Zika response from existing agency budgets, but chose not to.
…But an international medical emergency has now become a U.S. budget emergency, a major debt crisis that will impact our children as well.
If there was a way to both respond to Zika and prevent new debt spending, wouldn’t it be reasonable to do that? The Department of Health and Human Services, Department of State, and International Assistance Programs currently have about $80 billion in unobligated funds.
A small fraction of this could be reprogrammed and redirected to respond to the Zika emergency and not add any additional debt to our nation’s children. This is exactly the type of authority the Obama administration asked for in 2009 during the height of the H1N1 virus scare.
…In a floor speech last week, I also shed light on the fact that Congress last December provided the Obama administration with authority to pull money from bilateral economic assistance to foreign countries.
They can use those funds to combat infectious diseases, if the administration believed there is an infectious disease emergency. In the middle of the Zika epidemic, the administration did use their authority to pull money from foreign aid and spend it, but they didn’t use it for Zika.
You might ask—so what did the administration spend the infectious disease money on earlier this year?
You guessed it… climate change.
It gets worse.:
Congress refused to allocate funding for the U.N. Climate Change Fund last year, so the president used this account designated for international infectious diseases to pay for his priority.
While I understand that intelligent people can disagree on the human effects on the global climate, it is hard to imagine a reason why the administration would prioritize the U.N. Green Climate Fund over protecting the American people, especially pregnant women, from the Zika virus.
The U.N. Green Climate Fund is connected to the U.N. Framework Convention on Climate Change (UNFCCC), which recently accepted the “State of Palestine” as a signatory. There is currently in place a U.S. funding prohibition that forbids any taxpayer dollars to fund international organizations that recognize “Palestine” as a sovereign state. Evidently the Obama Administration chose to ignore that prohibition and also to create more debt that our children and grandchildren will have to deal with. Someone needs to stop this runaway train.
This is a brief summary of the regulation taken from the Federal Register:
This proposed rule would amend HUD regulations in 24 CFR part 5 that contain general HUD program requirements, and specifically 24 CFR part 5, subpart A, which contains generally applicable definitions and federal requirements that are applicable to all or almost all HUD programs. This rule proposes to add new §§ 5.150-5.180 under the undesignated heading of “Affirmatively Furthering Fair Housing.” These new sections will primarily provide the regulations that will govern the affirmatively furthering fair housing planning process by states, local governments, and PHAs, but reserves additional sections in subpart A for HUD to continue to provide regulations that will assist all HUD program participants in more effectively affirmatively furthering fair housing.
Purpose of Affirmatively Furthering Fair Housing Regulations (§ 5.150). New § 5.150 states that the purpose of HUD’s new regulations (AFFH regulations) is to provide more effective means of meeting the statutory obligation imposed on HUD program participants to affirmatively further fair housing. The new AFFH regulations are intended to add clarity to the goals that are at the heart of affirmatively furthering fair housing, to provide for guidance and interaction between HUD and program participants and, to the extent appropriate, inform other housing and urban development programs that are subject to AFFH requirements. The new regulations envision a process that is structurally incorporated into the consolidated plan and the PHA planning process, building upon what is already familiar to HUD program participants and thus reducing burden and connecting disparate planning processes.
So what exactly does this mean? Americans for limited government puts it in real terms:
Americans for Limited Government President Rick Manning today urged the Senate to support an amendment by Sen. Mike Lee (R-Utah), S.3897, to the Transportation and Housing and Urban Development (HUD) appropriations bill that will prohibit implementation of the HUD regulation “Affirmatively Furthering Fair Housing” (AFFH) that conditions $3 billion of yearly community development block grants on 1,200 recipient cities and counties rezoning neighborhoods along income and racial guidelines:
“There is zero excuse for allowing the federal government to dictate local zoning policy via community development block grants to impose racial and income zoning quotas on cities and counties. Zoning ordinances only determine what can be built where, not who lives there. People can move wherever they want, and rent or buy. Real housing discrimination, that is, denying housing on the basis of race, has been illegal for decades. It is not at all what is at issue in the upcoming vote in the Senate.
“The Lee amendment simply says that community development block grants, which have been around for more than 40 years, can be spent by local communities as they see fit to put affordable housing where they think it makes sense. That’s the way these block grants have always been allocated, but suddenly, the Obama Administration found some new power for HUD to condition the community development block grants based on fulfilling the department’s utopian vision of racial and income equality.
“Affirmatively Furthering Fair Housing is not about expanding the poor’s access to housing, it’s about expanding the federal government’s reach into local municipalities. Republican or Democrat, defunding this overreach should be an easy vote for every senator.”
One example of how the Affirmatively Furthering Fair Housing regulation actually works is cited at a website called Obamazone.org:
In Westchester County, N.Y., a trial run for the rule has already occurred where HUD has attempted to rezone six cities, 19 towns and 20 villages as a condition for receiving $5 million of grants. Rather than submit to federal rule, County Executive Rob Astorino simply rejected the money from 2012, and Westchester lost out on some $7 million of grants from 2011 for the same reason. Watch the video of Astorino explaining how the HUD regulation will affect your neighborhood.
This is just the beginning, and left unchecked, the impact of this regulation will be felt nationwide. In 2012, HUD dispersed about $3.8 billion of these grants to almost 1,200 municipalities. By virtue of accepting the grants, under the rule, each of these 1,200 municipalities will be forced to comply with HUD’s racial zoning edicts.
The House of Representatives has already acted, defunding implementation of the regulation two years in a row. Now, it is the Senate’s turn to act. Senator Mike Lee has introduced an amendment to the Transportation and Department of Housing and Urban Development (HUD) appropriations bill defunding implementation of the “Affirmatively Furthering Fair Housing” rule.
Zoning laws are done by local governments who understand the area they are dealing with–the infrastructure, the land, and the resources. The federal government has no business overriding local government laws and decisions.
Theoretically, the House of Representatives can limit executive power by using its control of the purse strings. According to the U.S. Constitution, the government cannot spend money unless that spending is authorized by the House of Representatives. We haven’t seen the House of Representatives use that power as much as I would have liked under the Obama Administration, but the power is there. In fact, there was one recent incident where the House of Representatives successfully used that power.
In October I posted a story about the Obama Administration attempting to spend money that was not allocated by Congress. At issue were payments to insurance companies to alleviate their losses under Obama.
As reported by the Daily Signal in October:
In January, Sessions’ committee and the House Energy and Commerce Committee had identified that the Department of Health and Human Services (HHS) lacked an appropriation for bailing out insurance companies through the risk corridors. They asked the Government Accountability Office to look into the matter. That September, the GAO issued its legal opinion: the administration would need an appropriation from Congress to make outgoing payments.
Today The Los Angeles Times reported:
A federal judge ruled for House Republicans on Thursday in their suit against President Obama and declared his administration is unconstitutionally spending money to reimburse health insurers without obtaining an appropriation from Congress.
The judge’s ruling, though a setback for the administration, was put on hold immediately and stands a good chance of being overturned on appeal.
The ruling upholds the Constitution, why would it be overturned on appeal?
The article at The Los Angeles Times reports:
The Constitution says “No Money shall be drawn from the Treasury, but in Consequence of Appropriations made by Law,” said Judge Rosemary Collyer, yet the administration has continued to pay billions to insurers for their extra cost of providing coverage for low-income Americans.
“Paying out Sec. 1402 reimbursements without an appropriation thus violates the Constitution,” she wrote. “Congress is the only source for such an appropriation, and no public money can be spent without one.”
Stay tuned to see if the Constitution will be upheld.
Owning rental property is one way to plan for your retirement. If you are handy and live close to the property, it can be a very profitable investment. If you don’t live nearby, a good rental agency can handle the details for you.
Yesterday Investor’s Business Daily posted a story about a new federal regulation that is going to make being a successful landlord more difficult.
The article reports:
The Obama administration has just made it easier for felons to move in next door. Landlords who don’t want tenants who are going to mug their neighbors or deal drugs will now be treated as racists and potentially sued.
Last week, the Department of Housing and Urban Development issued new guidelines to landlords, warning that bans against renters with criminal convictions violate the Fair Housing Act because they disproportionately affect minorities.
In effect, the Obama regime is now outlawing criminal background checks for apartment rentals, even though such screening is critical for the protection and security of tenants and property, and serves a legitimate business need.
In a newly released 10-page missive, HUD warns landlords they can be held liable for discrimination if they deny housing over criminal records.
It gets really interesting when you consider the other side of the coin:
So now landlords, real estate agents and property managers will think twice before turning away drug dealers and thieves, even rapists, who are members of this “protected class” — even though barring high-risk tenants serves a legitimate, nondiscriminatory purpose.
This puts landlords in a terrible legal bind.
To protect themselves from federal action, they would be wise to avoid even inquiring about the criminal records of prospective tenants. But if they fail to adequately screen them and rent to one who robs or hurts a neighbor, they could be sued by the victim for negligence.
No doubt many will see no option but to raise rents to indirectly exclude criminals from their rentals, which will just end up hurting everybody who rents housing — including innocent, law-abiding tenants.
In a move to protect the rights of convicted felons, the federal government has just created problems for the average American. I believe people who are renting property have the right to know the background of their renters. If a landlord feels that a former criminal has changed his ways, he should be free to rent to him. However, if there is no indication that a former criminal has changed his ways, the landlord should have the right to determine whether or not he wants to rent his property to that person.
From the beginning of the Obama Administration, one of the goals of the administration has been to remove guns from the hands of ordinary citizens. I don’t believe this goal has ever been stated in those exact words, but if you look at some of the laws attempted and the executive actions taken, that is the goal. One of the early attempts at convincing Americans that guns were really awful was the “Fast and Furious” program. We still don’t have all of the details of the program–there are ongoing legal battles to obtain information about the program, but basically we sold guns to criminals in the hopes that the crimes committed by the people who bought them would sour Americans on the idea of buying or selling guns. The program was discovered and shut down, but the consequences remain.
Fox News posted the following today:
A .50-caliber is a massive rifle that can stop a car or, as it was intended, take down a helicopter.
After the raid on Jan. 8 in the city of Los Mochis that killed five of his men and wounded one Mexican marine, officials found a number of weapons inside the house where Guzman was staying, including the rifle, officials said.
When agents from the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives checked serial numbers of the eight weapons found in his possession, they found one of the two .50-caliber weapons traced back to the ATF program, sources said.
Federal officials told Fox News they are not sure how many of the weapons seized from Guzman’s house actually originated in the U.S. and where they were purchased, but are investigating.
Out of the roughly 2,000 weapons sold through Fast and Furious, 34 were .50-caliber rifles that can take down a helicopter, according to officials.
If you are unfamiliar with Fast and Furious, please use the search engine on this site to learn about the program. It was one of the nastiest plans of the Obama Administration.
The article at Fox News concludes:
The operation allowed criminals to buy guns in Phoenix-area shops with the intention of tracking them once they made their way into Mexico.
The operation became a major distraction for the Obama administration as Republicans in Congress conducted a series of inquiries into how the Justice Department allowed such an operation to happen.
Former Attorney General Eric Holder was held in contempt after he refused to divulge documents for a congressional investigation into the matter.
This is the third time a weapon from the Fast and Furious program has been found at a high-profile Mexican crime scene.
At a House Oversight Committee hearing yesterday, a State Department official admitted the government does not know the whereabouts of thousands of foreigners who had their visas revoked over terror concerns.
Bond told the committee that the U.S. has revoked more than 122,000 visas, 9,500 of which were revoked due to terrorism concerns.
Chaffetz asked Bond where those individuals were located now, to which she responded: “I don’t know.”
The startling admission came as members of the committee pressed administration officials on what safeguards are in place to reduce the risk from would-be extremists.
At issue is how closely the U.S. government examines the background of people seeking entry to the country, including reviews of their social media postings.
“If half the employers are doing it in the United States of America, if colleges are doing it for students, why wouldn’t Homeland Security do it?” said Rep. Stephen Lynch, D-Mass. “We don’t even look at their public stuff, that’s what kills me.”
People wanting to come to America are not yet citizens–they do not have the rights of citizens. It is the government’s responsibility to vet them carefully. If the government cannot do that, we need a different government.
Yesterday The Daily Caller reported that U.N. Ambassador Samantha Power was instructed to skip Benjamin Netanyahu‘s remarks at the United Nations on Thursday. Secretary of State John Kerry was also not present at the United Nations for Netanyahu’s speech. The U.S. delegates who did attend did not applaud the speech.
Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu on Thursday delivered a fiery address here condemning the Iranian nuclear deal, largely unbowed in his opposition despite losing steep political ground to President Barack Obama over the issue this year.
In his speech to the General Assembly, Mr. Netanyahu thundered that Iranian threats to destroy Israel have been met in the world body by “utter silence, deafening silence.”
Evidently the Obama Administration did not want to hear the truth.
The Wall Street Journal further reports:
Still, Mr. Netanyahu’s supporters don’t see the debate over the nuclear agreement as over. U.S. lawmakers are drafting new legislation to target Iran’s support for international militant groups and to limit the ability of foreign companies to invest in Iran.
Much of the congressional debate over Iran is focused on trying to dry up funding for Iran’s elite military unit, the Islamic Revolutionary Guard Corps, which dominates the Iranian economy.
Israeli officials and many Iran watchers in Washington say they believe there is a high likelihood that Iran will cheat on the nuclear agreement, and that the West must be prepared to move quickly with punishments if it does.
“The next phase is not just enforcing the nuclear accord, strictly, but putting in place new mechanisms to guard against the cancer of Iran spreading across the region,” said Josh Block, president of The Israeli Project, which campaigned against the nuclear deal.
Releasing billions of dollars to a country that has supported terrorism since the 1970’s is not a path to peace. Hopefully those who support this agreement will realize that before it is too late.
Yes, you read that right. If the economic sanctions on Iran are lifted, $100 billion will flow to Iran (according to npr). A large percentage of that money will go toward funding terrorism around the world. The Republicans had the power to stop this from happening, but got outmaneuvered by President Obama and his allies.
The article details the mistakes those opposed to the deal have made which will make it very difficult to undo the damage the nuclear deal will do:
On Thursday, Senate Democrats successfully filibustered a Republican attempt to pass a futile “resolution of disapproval” against the Iran deal. Republicans had already forfeited their power to suspend the Corker review process. They would have been justified in suspending it because Obama failed to comply with the statute’s fundamental condition — the mandate that he disclose the whole agreement to Congress, including embarrassing “side deals” the administration has withheld. (These undeniably include understandings between Iran and the International Atomic Energy Agency on the critical issue of inspections; they probably also include commitments by Obama to protect several nations from “snapback” sanctions when, inevitably, Iran violates the agreement.)
Under Corker, which not only rigged the vote in Obama’s favor but also gave Democrats the option to prevent the vote by filibuster, the failed resolution authorized Obama to relieve sanctions against Iran’s nuclear program. The mullahs will get their cool $100 billion and double down — no, quintuple down — on their promotion of jihadist terrorism.
Here’s the “I told you so” part: No sooner had the Democratic filibuster succeeded than did two well-regarded legal scholars take to the pages of The Atlantic to pronounce that Obama’s Iran deal is the law of the land. Yale’s Bruce Ackerman and New York University’s David Golove contend that the agreement cannot be unilaterally repudiated by a future Republican president, no matter how much GOP congressional leaders and 2016 hopefuls bloviate to the contrary.
This conclusion will shape bipartisan conventional wisdom in Washington and the chattering class. And guess what? The progressive professors have a strong case because of the way the Corker law was written by GOP congressional leaders (in consultation with their Democratic counterparts and the White House). Corker’s law is quite plausibly interpreted as authorizing a full repeal of the sanctions against Iran’s nuclear program — meaning they could not be reinstated absent new legislation (which the Democrats and the “international community” would vigorously oppose). Certainly the odds are good that the federal courts would see it that way. (Did I mention that Senate Republicans have already confirmed over 300 Obama appointees to the bench?)
It is time for new Senate leadership. This Senate has allowed something to happen that is truly dangerous for America and for the rest of the world. I believe that what President Obama has agreed to in the Iran deal is treason and he should be impeached for it. Any Senator who voted in favor of the Iran deal should also be impeached for treason, and the Senators who allowed this to happen should be voted out of office for stupidity. The Iran lobby paid for this vote (rightwinggranny), and they will get their money’s worth (and more). The world will have to live with the consequences of lifting the sanctions–more terror, more refugees, more deaths, and eventually a nuclear Iran. Please remember this when you vote next November.
Scott Johnson posted an article at Power Line today about an aspect of the Iran nuclear deal that has not been widely discussed. It seems that one of the provisions in the Iran Nuclear Agreement Review Act (the Corker-Cardin bill) that was signed by President Obama is that President Obama is required to transmit to Congress the agreement–“including all related materials and annexes.” He is required to do this “not later than five days after reaching the agreement.”
The article reminds us:
Obama has not done so. The administration has failed or refused to submit the IAEA side deal with Iran regarding the possible military dimensions of Iran’s research at the Parchin military facility to Congress.
Indeed, the administration claim not even to have seen the IAEA side deal. Rather, administration officials claim only to have been briefed by the IAEA on the terms of the side deal. They claim it is cloaked in secrecy that prevents its disclosure. The side deal is nevertheless an integral part of the JCPOA and its disclosure expressly required by the act.
So what happens now?
The article reports:
Congress must now confront the grave issues of constitutional law prompted by the president’s failure to comply with his obligations under the act. This is not the first time this administration has disregarded clear statutory requirements, encroaching in the process upon Congress’s legislative and budgetary prerogatives. The fact that this has happened again in the context of a national security agreement vital to the United States and its allies makes the situation all the more serious.
For Congress to vote on the merits of the agreement without the opportunity to review all of its aspects would both effectively sanction the president’s unconstitutional conduct and be a major policy mistake. Instead, both houses should vote to register their view that the president has not complied with his obligations under the act by not providing Congress with a copy of an agreement between the IAEA and Iran, and that, as a result, the president remains unable to lift statutory sanctions against Iran. Then, if the president ignores this legal limit on his authority, Congress can and should take its case to court.
There is another aspect to this. Democratic Senators do not want to go on the record in terms of voting for this agreement. The agreement is not popular with the American public, who understands that the agreement paves the way for Iran to go nuclear and will start a nuclear arms race in the Middle East. So why in the world is President Obama pushing this treaty? There are a lot of guesses, but no real answer. It would be a feather in his cap to negotiate an agreement with a country that has been at war with America since 1978. The problem is that after the agreement is signed, Iran will still be at war with America. There is no financial gain for America in this treaty–Iran gets more money to fund terrorism and kill American soldiers in Afghanistan. Iran is also allowed to flood the world markets with oil, possibly crippling American efforts at energy independence. There is no upside for America in this treaty–it is a President looking for what he considers a foreign policy accomplishment. He may well get his accomplishment, but it’s a safe bet that history will not look kindly on this treaty.
The article reports:
The plan, set to be unveiled Friday by the secretary of education and the attorney general, would allow potentially thousands of inmates in the U.S. to gain access to Pell grants, the main form of federal aid for low-income college students. The grants cover up to $5,775 a year in tuition, fees, books and other education-related expenses.
Prisoners received $34 million in Pell grants in 1993, according to figures the Department of Education provided to Congress at the time. But a year later, Congress prohibited state and federal prison inmates from getting Pell grants as part of broad anticrime legislation, leading to a sharp drop in the number of in-prison college programs. Supporters of the ban contended federal aid should only go to law-abiding citizens.
Shouldn’t Congress be the group to make this decision? The goal is to educate prisoners so that they can get jobs when they leave prison. The theory is that an educated prisoner is less likely to return to prison. That is the theory, but it seems to me that this is another example of rewarding bad behavior. What about the middle-class families struggling to pay for their children’s education? Shouldn’t we make more money available to them rather than to prisoners?
The article reports:
Stephen Steurer, head of the Correctional Education Association, an advocacy group, said two Education Department officials told him at a conferenceearly this month the agency was moving to restore Pell grants for prisoners and allow many colleges and universities to participate. Money from the grants would directly reimburse institutions for the cost of delivering courses in prisons rather than go to prisoners, Mr. Steurer said.
“It will be substantial enough to create some data and to create enough information for some evaluation,” said Rep. Danny Davis (D., Ill.), who is co-sponsoring a bill with Rep. Donna Edwards (D., Md.) to permanently restore Pell grants for prisoners.
Let’s let Congress vote on this bill–it shouldn’t be done by the President.