Even After A Brutal Rape, She Decided To Choose Life… At Age 12

You can read Leah’s excellent post about Pastor Lee Jong-rak and how he’s helping abandoned babies in South Korea, but here’s another "choose life" story that’s incredible.

Lianna Rebolledo was only 12-years-old when two men raped her not far from her home. The attack resulted in a pregnancy. Her doctor said she should have an abortion, but when she asked if aborting her child would wipe away the emotional pain of her assault; the doctor plainly said no. At that point, Rebolledo decided to keep her baby. She’s now 35, but has no regrets in her decision to choose life (via Life News):

She said, “If abortion wasn’t going to heal anything, I didn’t see the point. I just knew that I had somebody inside my body. I never thought about who her biological father was. She was my kid. She was inside of me.”

Now Lianna, 35, says she has no regrets about choosing life for her child and that her daughter has helped her overcome suicidal thoughts. She said, “It was really hard, but just to see that little person telling me how happy she was that I gave her her life. When she said that — and she was only four years old when she told me: ‘Mommy thank you for giving me life’ — I realized that she was the one who gave me my life back.”

She concluded, “In my situation, two lives were saved. I saved my daughter’s life, but she saved my life. Even though [the rape] was a very hard moment, if I had to go through that [again] just to know and to love my daughter, I would go through that again. She’s always been there for me. She’s the only person who has shown me a real love. And I always will be grateful.”

All life should be celebrated and protected–and this remarkable story is often underreported, or straight up ignored, in today’s media outlets when these brave women do come forward. Stories like these are great, but they’re also highly personal. I admire Lianna’s courage to come forward to discuss her harrowing ordeal and what followed afterwards. It’s beautiful.

At the same time, there are some Republicans who could use a little more tact in explaining their pro-life positions to voters.

Feds Raid "Birth Tourism" Hotels in California

I've written previously about the unsettling rise in "birth tourism"—a practice in which wealthy women from another country (typically China or Turkey) pay tens of thousands of dollars to give birth in the United States to an American citizen before returning to their home country with their child. Yesterday, federal agents raided several hotels and apartment complexes used by birth tourism rings to house pregnant women, citing suspicions of visa fraud and money laundering.

While nobody was arrested, the IRS and Dept. of Homeland Security launched the raids after two Homeland Security Investigations agents posing as pregnant Chinese women were told how to hide their pregnancies and fabricate employment histories in order to gain entry to the United States to have a child. There were also concerns that despite the thousands of dollars paid to birth tourism agencies, the hospitals where women actually gave birth were never compensated.

From USA Today:

Agents also said hospitals were defrauded. In one case, new parents last year paid just $4,080 of a $28,845 hospital bill, even though their bank account showed charges at Louis Vuitton, Rolex and Wynn Las Vegas hotel-casino.

Agents with search warrants raided about 20 locations in Orange, Los Angeles and San Bernardino counties, including a luxury apartment complex in Irvine that was home to an operation called "You Win USA Vacation Resort."

Authorities did not reveal how many women were found, or say whether any -- or how many -- might be allowed to stay to give birth. Cases will be handled on an individual basis.

The practice of coming to the United States to give birth isn't illegal, but visa fraud most certainly is.

While I empathize with people attempting to beat China's oppressive one-child policy, I think it's a tad absurd that people are able to waltz over to the United States, give birth to an American citizen, and then leave as soon as the baby is able to fly. As I've said before, citizenship should mean something, not just be used as something to exploit when it comes time to apply for college. (American citizens living abroad do not have to apply to U.S. schools through the international pool, which tend to be more competitive than the domestic pool of applicants.) While Congress has toyed with bills to restrict the "birth tourism" practice and redefine the United State's policy of jus soli citizenship, they haven't gone anywhere. The United States and Canada are the only two developed nations on earth who grant citizenship to every child born on its soil. Most countries require that one or both parents are either citizens of or legally residing in the country in order to transfer citizenship to a child. The practice of "birth tourism" should end.

White House Refuses To Say They Trust Hillary On Emails

White House Press Secretary Josh Earnest refused to say Wednesday whether or not he or the president trusts Hillary Clinton's claims that she followed the law when choosing to use a personal email account to conduct official State Department business.

"I haven't seen any evidence to indicate that they didn't do what they said they did," Earnest said when asked if he had confidence in Clinton's claims that she and her employees have turned over all of her personal emails relating to official government business. "But I also just want to be crystal clear abut the fact that this is a responsibility that they assumed," Earnest continued, "to review her personal email and make sure that it was properly transmitted to the Department of State so that it could preserved and maintained."

The Obama White House has walked a fine political line on the issue since The New York Times first reveled Monday that Clinton did not use an official government email address, and instead used a personal email account to conduct all of her business as Secretary of State. 

Federal law requires all federal officials to give their employing government agencies all personal emails relating to official government business. It is then the job of the federal agency to make sure those emails are preserved and maintained. 

A follow up Associated Press story Wednesday reveled that Clinton not only used a private email, but that she and her employees created and maintained their own email server in Clinton's private residence in New York. 

Clinton and her employees claim that they have reviewed all of the emails on Clinton's private server and have given the State Department all of the emails pertaining to official government business.

But since Clinton's email server is privately maintained, there is no independent party that can verify whether or not Clinton has turned over every email she used to conduct official State Department business. The American people just have to take Clinton's word for it.

Earnest has been careful to stress that while he can say that the State Department has properly preserved all the emails Clinton has provided them, he cannot confirm whether or not Clinton has provided all the relevant emails as required by law.

"I don't mean to suggest that I somehow think they are not being honest," Earnest said, "I'm just making it clear that it is not something that, that it was not a task that was preformed an Obama administration official. It was a task the was performed by Secretary Clinton or someone on her team."

Surprise: Keystone Override Vote Goes Nowhere

Even though Republicans control both chambers of Congress their power is limited and therefore not absolute. For instance, after wildly popular legislation passed both the U.S. House and Senate last month approving the construction of the Keystone XL Pipeline, the president flexed his political muscles and vetoed it anyway. There was nothing Republicans could do about it. And while his ‘Four Pinocchios'-inducing rationale was widely panned by lawmakers on both sides of the political aisle, an override vote was always a long shot.

Today, it officially fell short by five votes:

Stay tuned for updates.

DOJ Report: Michael Brown Fought With Officer Wilson, Reached For His Gun

Remember, “Hands up, don’t shoot?” It’s the gesture that some said encapsulated the shooting death of Michael Brown by then-Officer Darren Wilson in Ferguson, Missouri last summer–and now we can finally put this narrative to rest. It’s false–and the Department of Justice confirms it. Their report, which cleared Officer Darren Wilson of civil rights violations, noted that Michael Wilson fought with Wilson, reached for his gun, and then charged the beleaguered policeman, leading him to fire his weapon in self-defense (via NYT):

The Justice Department has cleared a Ferguson, Mo., police officer of civil rights violations in the shooting of Michael Brown, a black teenager whose death set off racially charged and sometimes violent protests last year.

The decision, which was announced on Wednesday, ends a lengthy investigation into the shooting last August, in which Officer Darren Wilson shot and killed Mr. Brown in the street. Many witnesses said Mr. Brown had his hands up in surrender when he died, leading to nationwide protest chants of “Hands up, don’t shoot.”

But federal agents and civil rights prosecutors rejected that story, just as a state grand jury did in November. The Justice Department said forensic evidence and other witnesses backed up the account of Officer Wilson, who said Mr. Brown fought with him, reached for his gun, then charged at him. He told investigators that he feared for his life.

“There is no evidence upon which prosecutors can rely to disprove Wilson’s stated subjective belief that he feared for his safety,” the report said.

The report found that witnesses who claimed that Mr. Brown was surrendering were not credible. “Some of those accounts are inaccurate because they are inconsistent with the physical and forensic evidence; some of those accounts are materially inconsistent with that witnesses’ own prior statements with no explanation,” it said.

“Although some witnesses state that Brown held his hands up at shoulder level with his palms facing outward for a brief moment, these same witnesses describe Brown then dropping his hands and ‘charging’ at Wilson,” it added.

We shall see how the Ferguson community, Al Sharpton, the NAACP, and the media react to the DOJ report–and see if they continue to peddle falsehoods about the case. But I think it's safe to say that the Brown-Wilson portion of the Ferguson saga is over...finally.

Wilson has since resigned from the Ferguson Police Department.

Rasmussen Poll: Walker Beats Clinton Among Informed Voters

If the 2016 presidential elections were held today, Hillary Clinton would become the next President of the United States, according to a Rasmussen poll released Tuesday.

But Governor Scott Walker would give her a run for her money.

Rasmussen asked 1,000 likely voters who they would vote for in head-to-head choices between Clinton and other likely GOP nominees. Between Clinton and Walker, 46 percent of respondents said they would support Clinton, while 41 percent would vote for Walker -- a five-point difference, and the strongest Republican lead in the poll.

Walker’s lead is even stronger among informed voters: among the 35 percent of respondents that claimed to be keeping up to date with reports about next year’s elections “very closely,” Walker beat Clinton 51 to 43 percent.

Former Governor Jeb Bush and retired neurosurgeon Ben Carson were runners up in the poll. Both took 36 percent of voter support in head-to-head pairings with Clinton, leaving the former Secretary of State with a minimum 9-point lead in both cases.

Despite heavy funding and name recognition, Bush seems to be losing popularity in the polls. After coming in 15 points behind Walker in a Quinnipiac poll last week, he came in fifth in the CPAC straw poll, having been booed throughout the conference. Bush came in eight points behind Walker in a new poll from Nevada.

He's even having trouble in his home state: the latest poll from Florida shows Walker just one point behind Bush for 2016 primaries.

The Rasmussen poll didn’t include questions about Sen. Rand Paul -- a favorite among millennials. Paul won the CPAC straw poll for the third consecutive year, taking a 5-point lead over Walker.

In South Korea, Abandoned Babies Find Hope in an Unusual Place

"Ding-dong! Ding-dong!"

Anywhere else this would be the innocuous sound of a doorbell. But at the Jusarang Community Church in Seoul, South Korea, it’s the sound of a baby being abandoned by its mother in a makeshift drop box at the front entrance.

Appropriately inscribed above the ‘baby box’ is Psalm 27:10—“For my father and my mother have forsaken me, but the Lord will take me up.”

It’s in the wee hours of the morning, under the cover of darkness, when many mothers bring their babies to Pastor Lee Jong-rak, who’s made it his mission in life to care for these children so they are not abandoned on the streets to die. To him, every child is wanted, every child is loved, no matter the deformities, genetic disorders, or health issues.

Pastor Lee holding an orphan. Photo credit: TheDropBoxFilm.com

“Lord, thank you,” he says upon looking into the eyes of each new “delivery.”

Child abandonment in South Korea is described as a “common practice.” So common that Pastor Lee said to himself, “If I don’t do something to protect these children, I could be picking up their dead bodies at my gate.”

In a society that highly stigmatizes children born out of wedlock and those with disabilities, so many women (and sometimes their family members) feel abandonment is their only choice. The country’s birth registration system makes anonymity impossible, opening the door to public ridicule and, for teen mothers, being kicked out of high school.

While the box was set up to address this very problem, Pastor Lee says he never expected anyone to use the baby box, even praying, “God, please don’t let any baby be abandoned in the world. . . . Only if the child’s life is being threatened. Or if the baby box is their last hope. Then, Jesus, open up the door for these children.”

So far, Pastor Lee, who’s the subject of a new documentary “The Drop Box,” which is produced and distributed in partnership with Kindred Image of South Korea, Pine Creek Entertainment, Focus on the Family, and Fathom Events, has helped save more than 600 babies, many of whom have disabilities.

Pastor Lee with some of the children in his home. Photo credit: TheDropBoxFilm.com

The film tells not only the story of Pastor Lee’s heroic and selfless deeds, but also explores the emotional, physical, and financial toll associated with taking in the orphans. Most importantly, however, it’s a story about hope and love, and one which has the power to change hearts and minds about the dignity, preciousness, and value of every human life--a lesson Pastor Lee and his wife, Chun-ja, learned most intimately through their son, Eun-man, a name that means “full of God’s grace.” 

Eun-man, 26, was born with severe cognitive disabilities and physical deformities and spent more than half his life in hospitals. With twisted limbs unable to bear his weight, he is bed-ridden and in need of constant care. Yet it is this son that Pastor Lee proudly calls his teacher—it is through him, he explains, that he learned life’s dignity. And it is because of him that the baby box exists, proving that all lives have purpose.

“When Eun-man was born, I asked God at that moment ‘Why?’ Why did he give me ‘that kind of baby’? Why didn’t he give me a healthy baby? That thought immediately came to my mind,” Pastor Lee candidly recalled. “But it wasn’t even 30 seconds before I repented, ‘God, I am sorry. Thank you for giving him to me.’ So step-by-step, with faith, prayer and His words, I lived. That’s how I started this work.”

While Pastor Lee has changed an untold number of lives in South Korea through his work, the film made a profound impact on one other person: Brian Ivie, the film’s director, who became a Christian in the process.

Pastor Lee and director Brian Ivie. Photo credit: TheDropBoxFilm.com

During the March 3-5 screenings at theaters across the nation, moviegoers can hear more about his experience creating the film, as well as listen in on a brief panel discussion with Focus on the Family’s president, Jim Daly, Steven Curtis Chapman, and others. 

“The Drop Box is ultimately a story of hope," Daly said in a statement. "Even in the midst of a heart-wrenching situation, we see the heart of a father's love in Pastor Lee.

"Not everyone is called to do what he's doing or adopting a child themselves, but all Christians are called to care for orphans," he continued. "Watching this documentary changes a person; it draws you to care even more deeply for the most vulnerable among us."

For more information on the film and to find out ways you can help, visit www.thedropboxfilm.com

As Swirling Scandals Take Toll, Hillary Retreats Into 'Womanhood' Narrative


The New York Times' Brendan Nyhan writes an analysis today positing that Hillary Clinton's email scandal ultimately won't damage her presidential ambitions too badly. Why? Because voters have short memories, and don't much care about this sort of thing anyway.  Allahpundit thinks Nyhan is basically correct.  Ethical lapses are a central element of the Clintons' brand, he argues, and they've learned over the years that abusing power and skirting the rules rarely results in lasting consequences, politically or otherwise.  While I by and large agree that extra-legal (at best) email concealment via private server won't necessarily be a "game changer," I'm not as willing to chalk it up as a passing irrelevancy, for three reasons:

(1) Many self-stylized good government types on the Left, including a good number of journalists, already dislike Hillary.  A major contingent within the Democratic base is just itching for an Obamaesque, Liz Warren-like figure to emerge -- and they'd bolt in a heartbeat.  "Ready for Hillary" is not a universal sentiment on the Left.  This email story is ammo for them, confirming their worst suspicions about Clintonworld.

(2) Coupled with the other current -- and more potent, I think -- Hillary scandal, average Americans are being reminded of the ugliness that has followed the Clintons throughout their decades of public life.  If the electorate is in a mood to turn the page and elect someone fresh and untainted by seemingly ancient political baggage in 2016, every negative headline and unseemly revelation draws some blood.  These things build.  What voters have been hearing for two weeks is that (a) the Clintons' organization accepted big, often unvetted, gifts from foreign governments during her time as Secretary of State (and again, as her campaign ramps up) -- raising conflict of interest concerns and reminders that Hillary is uber-wealthy practitioner of cronyism and corporatism -- and (b), that she deliberately skirted transparency laws by conducting government business through an extraordinary private email system, the entire purpose of which was to avoid legitimate oversight and scrutiny.  One of her justifications for her actions has already begun to crumble.  Some experts say her gerry-rigged system maximizes her ability to slow-walk domestic investigations into her official conduct, while also opening up significant security vulnerabilities.  Her political ambitions are safe.  Her sensitive correspondence as the nation's top diplomat, not so much.  Pile these two problems atop her widely-ridiculed "dead broke" bumbling from last year, and some of her biggest forays back into the public realm have been marred by self-inflicted wounds and unforced errors.

(3) One of the bases for Hillary's inevitable presidential run will be her experience at the State Department.  Previously, the knocks on her record were that she didn't accomplish much beyond racking up miles on the jet, and, of course, the Benghazi massacre.  As the Clinton/Obama foreign policy continues to unravel across the globe -- in Russia, in Libya, in Yemen, in Iraq and Syria, etc. -- Hillary looks more and more like a central player in a parade of  dangerous, costly failures that have diminished America's standing in the world, and have made America less secure.  Now there are two new, serious broadsides against her record as Secretary of State: She intentionally violated email archiving rules to ensure that she couldn't be held accountable for her work on behalf of the American people, and her foundation vacuumed up foreign money from nations that were lobbying her in her formal, powerful role at State.  The Wall Street Journal has already established that domestic donors to the Clintons often seemed to enjoy preferential treatment from Hillary's State Department -- wouldn't the same follow for, say, Middle Eastern regimes?  Adding to the stench is the State Department's initial attempt to lie about the ethics safeguards (not) employed to vet these foreign contributions.  Oh, and by the way, the email scandal was uncovered by Congress' special committee on Benghazi, which has now gathered even more proof that the White House didn't (and couldn't have) turned over "all" Benghazi-related emails, as claimed.  Hillary's simply weren't available, because she chose not to use a (required) official government email account.  Drip, drip, drip.

Hillary surely knows that running on her record at State, and in the Senate (she was an Iraq war supporter), and as a polarizing First Lady, will be fraught with pirfalls and unflattering flashbacks. Perhaps she's been "brushing up" on foreign policy (!) in order to figure out how to distance herself from the outcomes of her own work to date.  But to the extent that she's unfazed by her recent struggles, it's because she's probably comforted by her early across-the-board polling advantages, and because her campaign will be firmly rooted in identity politics. She's a woman trying to make history, and it's time for a woman president, and did she mention she's a woman?  Everything else will be downplayed and treated as noisy, silly, and quite possibly sexist, distractions from her all-important womanhood narrative.  Expect to be inundated with these sorts of messages for the next two years, America:

At her first public event since voters learned that she used personal email to handle sensitive government business for four years, former secretary of state Hillary Clinton avoided any suggestion or shadow of the scandal, instead delivering a dress rehearsal campaign speech to an audience of pro-choice advocates. As for her long-deferred announcement about the 2016 presidential race, Clinton did no more than repeat old quips about the difficult question of whether to run for president, at one point asking: “I suppose it’s fair to say: don’t you someday want to see a woman president?”

Hillary has decided that if she turns this into the Girl Power election, she wins. And she might be right. I'll leave you with two clips. The first is Her Highness waxing poetic about -- giggle -- her commitment to transparency, followed by her 2000 admission that she doesn't "do email" because that would only help those trying to investigate her (skip ahead to the 3:30 mark on that video):



White House Squirms Over Hillary's Email Scandal, Forgets Embrace of Regular Law Breaking

The email scandal surrounding Hillary Clinton's time at the State Department is only getting worse, with new revelations she set up a "home brew" email server at her house and went around federal records laws by conducting all of her official State Department business through a personal email account. 

In light of Clinton's latest scandal, the White House is attempting to justify the use of a personal email account while distancing itself from the practice. 

"That I can tell you is that very specific guidance has been given to agencies all across the government, which is specifically that employees of the Obama administration should use their official email accounts when they’re conducting official government business. However, when there are situations where personal email accounts are used, it is important for those records to be preserved consistent with the Federal Records Act," White House Press Secretary Josh Earnest said yesterday at the daily briefing. "the policy, as a general matter, allows individuals to use their personal email address as long as those emails are maintained and sent to the State Department -- which, if you ask Secretary Clinton’s team, that’s what they completed in the last month or two."

But a look at the history of Obama's "most transparent administration in history" reveals the use of private email accounts to evade federal records laws is and has been standard practice. The Obama administration is notorious for using personal e-mail accounts, and even fake alias accounts, to conduct official government business as a way to avoid Freedom of Information Act laws and congressional investigations.

IRS: 

Former head of tax exempt groups at the IRS Lois Lerner, who was a key player in targeting conservatives between 2010 and 2012, used a personal email account to conduct official government business.

"Through the course of the investigation, we have learned that you sent documents related to your official dendrites from your official IRS e-mail account to an msn.com e-mail account labeled 'Lois Home.' This raises some serious questions concerning your use of a non-official e-mail account to conduct official business. Accordingly, we write to request documents related to your official duties that are housed in non-official e-mail accounts," former Chairman of the House Oversight Committee Darrell Issa and former Subcommittee Chairman Jim Jordan sent in a letter to Lerner last year. "The use of non-official e-mail accounts to conduct official business implicates federal records requirements. Use of a non-official e-mail account to conduct government business raises the prospect that records -- as defined by the Federal Records Act -- are not captured by official government e-mail archiving systems. It also creates difficulties in fulfilling the IRS' obligations under the Freedom of Information Act and other litigation requests. You use of non-official e-mail account also frustrates congressional oversight obligations."

Are we really surprised she plead the fifth? 

Department of Justice: 

During Operation Fast and Furious, former Assistant Attorney General Lanny Breuer got caught forwarding and editing official information about the scandal to his personal email account. Former DOJ Civil Rights attorney and current Labor Secretary Tom Perez used his personal email account during his time at DOJ for official business. From 2013:

Today, House Oversight and Government Reform Committee Chairman Darrell Issa sent a letter to Department of Labor nominee Thomas Perez reminding him that has he not met his legal obligations to produce documents related to official business in his personal e-mail account pursuant to a subpoena issued by the committee. Documents viewed by the committee and an admission from the Justice Department show that Perez used his private e-mail account to leak non-public information about official business outside of compliance with the Federal Records Act.

“You have a personal responsibility to comply with the Committee’s subpoena,” wrote Chairman Issa in today’s letter. “To date, you have not personally complied with the Committee’s request or the terms of the subpoena. In addition, you have not personally certified the veracity of the statements made by the Department in this matter and you have not certified that the Department’s assertion about the volume of responsive communications is accurate and complete. The Department has an unfortunate history of misleading Congress, and you have a personal record of providing incomplete testimony to the U.S. Commission on Civil Rights… Given this previous experience, the Committee requires the production of all responsive records to ascertain the true degree of your compliance with the Federal Records Act.”


Environmental Protection Agency: 

Former EPA Administrator Lisa Jackson engaged in the practice of conducting official government business through a personal email account under a made up name thousands of times. From National Review's Chris Horner

Not one but two former fairly senior EPA officials have contacted me to provide the alias used by Obama’s EPA administrator, Lisa Jackson, to keep her mail secret. I was told it was “one of the alternate email addresses she used.” 

Ms. Jackson is the “eco-warrior”, “most progressive EPA chief in history” — pushing Obama’s backdoor march (other ways “of skinning the cat”) toward cap-and-trade. Or, as you may come to know her, “Richard Windsor.” 

This morning, we proceeded with a request under the Freedom of Information Act (in-boxes don’t close on federal holidays) in order to find out what she was saying in private about her radical plan to avoid public scrutiny. “Richard Windsor.” That is the name — sorry, one of the alias names — used by Obama’s radical EPA chief to keep her email from those who ask for it.

Most recently, a federal judge ruled the EPA has deliberately delayed or deliberately failed to comply with information requests made by conservatives. 

A federal judge warned the EPA on Monday not to discriminate against conservative groups in how it responds to open-records requests, issuing a legal spanking to the agency that he said may have lied to the court and showed “apathy and carelessness” in carrying out the law.

Judge Royce C. Lamberth said he couldn’t prove that officials intentionally destroyed documents, but he described as “absurdity” the way the Environmental Protection Agency handled a Freedom of Information Act request from the Landmark Legal Foundation and then the court case stemming from it — including late last week admitting that it misled the court about how it went about searching for documents.

In a scorching 25-page opinion, the judge accused the agency of insulting him by first claiming it had conducted a full search for records, then years later retracted that claim in a footnote to another document without giving any explanation for how it erred.

“The recurrent instances of disregard that EPA employees display for FOIA obligations should not be tolerated by the agency,” the judge said. “This court would implore the executive branch to take greater responsibility in ensuring that all EPA FOIA requests — regardless of the political affiliation of the requester — are treated with equal respect and conscientiousness.”

Department of Homeland Security: 

In 2013, former Secretary of Homeland Security Janet Napolitano claimed she doesn't do email or have an email address because "it's a time suck." She made this claim right in the middle of the Fast and Furious gunrunning scandal, when Congressional investigators were looking for answers, and shortly after the Department was directly tied into the tactics of the fatal operation. 

On how she thinks about email:

"I think email just sucks up time ... in a job like mine [it's] inefficient."

On how she gets information without it:

"I have a variety of ways. Uh, uh, I'm constantly getting reports and emails throughout the day that come in through my headquarter staff that get to me. ... I do a lot of my own work by phone."

On the last time she used email:

"I stopped using email when I was the Attorney General of Arizona. Because I was just getting, I was starting to get hundreds and hundreds of things all the time and I was like: 'Why I am spending the time scrolling through this and responding to stuff that doesn't really need to be responded to?' "

On how email can come back to bite you:

"I also don't like the process where people could send you an email and then say: 'See, you were told, or you know this.' And then it comes back two years later to say: 'Hey you got this email among the thousands you got every day.' "

In other words, Napolitano didn't want to be held responsible for her statements or what she was told. Whether she really didn't have an email account is still up for question and there's no proof at this point she was using private email, but I don't buy it. After all, Hillary Clinton once said she doesn't do email, too.

State Department: 

The New York Times reported earlier this week former Secretary of State Hillary Clinton went around federal records laws by conducting all, not some, all, of her government business through a personal email account. 

Hillary Rodham Clinton exclusively used a personal email account to conduct government business as secretary of state, State Department officials said, and may have violated federal requirements that officials’ correspondence be retained as part of the agency’s record.

Mrs. Clinton did not have a government email address during her four-year tenure at the State Department. Her aides took no actions to have her personal emails preserved on department servers at the time, as required by the Federal Records Act.

It was only two months ago, in response to a new State Department effort to comply with federal record-keeping practices, that Mrs. Clinton’s advisers reviewed tens of thousands of pages of her personal emails and decided which ones to turn over to the State Department. All told, 55,000 pages of emails were given to the department. Mrs. Clinton stepped down from the secretary’s post in early 2013.

Her expansive use of the private account was alarming to current and former National Archives and Records Administration officials and government watchdogs, who called it a serious breach.

To make matters worse, Clinton went out of her way to make sure the server she used for that account was one she could control from home.

The computer server that transmitted and received Hillary Rodham Clinton's emails — on a private account she used exclusively for official business when she was secretary of state — traced back to an Internet service registered to her family's home in Chappaqua, New York, according to Internet records reviewed by The Associated Press.

The highly unusual practice of a Cabinet-level official physically running her own email would have given Clinton, the presumptive Democratic presidential candidate, impressive control over limiting access to her message archives.

These are just some of many examples and surely there are many more instances of public officials evading federal records laws that we just don't know about yet. A culture of non-transparency and corruption doesn't stop with Hillary Clinton, but in fact can be found in nearly every major federal government agency the Obama administration has turned into a political tool to unilaterally change policy over the past six years.The questions now are 1) Will anyone be held accountable for breaking federal records laws? 2) Will the culture change? 

Sadly, the answer to both is probably no.

Clinton Used Server From Family Home For Personal Emails, Gave Her Additional Legal Protections

As Katie reported earlier this morning, Rep. Trey Gowdy, who chairs the House Select Committee on Benghazi, will probably ask former Secretary of State Hillary Clinton–and her email providers–about those electronic communications in the coming days–and it may take more than one visit. Now, while this might not be a blatant violation of the Federal Records Act, it does bring questions about transparency and accountability; things that Clinton she said was a model for and wanted those characteristics implemented in Washington during the 2008 Democratic primaries (via the Hill):

“What she did was not technically illegal,” said Patrice McDermott, a former National Archives staffer and the head of the Open The Government coalition, a transparency group.

However, “it was highly inappropriate and it was inappropriate for the State Department to let this happen,” she said.

The New York Times on Monday reported that Clinton did not use an official government email account while serving in Obama’s Cabinet, nor did she back up the messages to a government server.

John Wonderlich, the policy director at the Sunlight Foundation, agreed that the practice “seems like it’s not unlawful, which suggests to me that we’re in pretty serious need of a legal reform.”

“When the secretary of State of the United States is using personal email exclusively, that suggests a pretty serious public accountability program,” he added.

Also, it seems the server that Clinton used for her personal email address was based in her family’s home in Chappaqua, New York. This location actually gives her extra legal protections from government and private subpoenas from criminal, civil or administrative cases since her lawyers could object, according to the Associated Press. The publication also noted that the Secret Service (and/or the Diplomatic Security Service who are responsible for the Secretary of State’s security) guarded the residence, so no fear of theft or physical hacking. Yet, there still was a huge risk for a cyber security breach [emphasis mine]:

The computer server that transmitted and received Hillary Rodham Clinton's emails — on a private account she used exclusively for official business when she was secretary of state — traced back to an Internet service registered to her family's home in Chappaqua, New York, according to Internet records reviewed by The Associated Press.

The highly unusual practice of a Cabinet-level official physically running her own email would have given Clinton, the presumptive Democratic presidential candidate, impressive control over limiting access to her message archives. It also would distinguish Clinton's secretive email practices as far more sophisticated than some politicians, including Mitt Romney and Sarah Palin, who were caught conducting official business using free email services operated by Microsoft Corp. and Yahoo Inc.

Most Internet users rely on professional outside companies, such as Google Inc. or their own employers, for the behind-the-scenes complexities of managing their email communications. Government employees generally use servers run by federal agencies where they work.

Operating her own server would have afforded Clinton additional legal opportunities to block government or private subpoenas in criminal, administrative or civil cases because her lawyers could object in court before being forced to turn over any emails. And since the Secret Service was guarding Clinton's home, an email server there would have been well protected from theft or a physical hacking.

But homemade email servers are generally not as reliable, secure from hackers or protected from fires or floods as those in commercial data centers. Those professional facilities provide monitoring for viruses or hacking attempts, regulated temperatures, off-site backups, generators in case of power outages, fire-suppression systems and redundant communications lines.

It’s this abject disregard for the values of government openness and transparency that were touted by Clinton in prior years that will not make this story go away any time soon. And it shouldn’t.

VIDEO: Should Republicans Nominate a Governor or Senator in 2016?

Is there an inherent danger in electing a freshman Republican senator to the American presidency in 2016? After all, if one of the biggest criticisms then-candidate Obama faced from conservatives in 2008 was that he was too inexperienced, why should Republicans turn around and nominate someone like Ted Cruz, Marco Rubio or Rand Paul this election cycle? If we’re being honest with ourselves, are they really any more qualified than he was?

As it happens, this is a question some of my colleagues debated last week during a panel discussion at CPAC:

I agree with Katie that successful governors have a much better case to make for why they deserve the nomination than senators. I also agree with Erick that it’s somewhat hypocritical for conservatives to endorse a freshman Senator in 2016 after assailing then-Sen. Obama’s resume (or lack thereof) during the 2008 campaign. But these kinds of questions are almost peripheral to what matters most; namely, nominating a candidate who can win the general election.

As Mitt Romney’s candidacy painfully showed us, Republicans can consolidate behind the most qualified person in America to serve as president. But if that person loses, their credentials, business acumen, and potential matter naught. Of course, there is a real risk in nominating a candidate who is (ahem) appealing to the base but lacks true leadership qualities and executive experience. But wouldn't you rather nominate a candidate who is unproven and can win than suffer the consequences of four or eight years of President Hillary Clinton?

By the way, there is no proven litmus test for what makes a good president. History demonstrates that candidates with little experience in government (see Abraham Lincoln) can exceed all expectations whereas presidents with all the experience in the world have failed miserably (see his successor). So while I’m inclined to support a governor in 2016—after all, they know how to “get things done,” as Katie put it—if Cruz, Rubio, or Paul prove electable and up to the task, that candidate will earn my support.

It’s as simple as that.

GAO: Chance Of "Path To Citizenship" Was A "Primary Cause" Of 2014 Migration Surge

The belief that President Obama would give illegal immigrants a "path to citizenship" was a "primary cause" of the 2014 migration crisis a new Government Accountability Office report concluded recently.

"Some Hondurans believed that comprehensive immigration reform in the United States would lead to a path to citizenship for anyone living in the United States at the time of reform," the report found. These beliefs were "a primary cause of UAC [unaccompanied alien children] migration," the report continued.

The report also noted that many Central Americans also believed that "unaccompanied children would be reunited with their families and allowed to stay in the United States."

These beliefs, the report does not mention, were well founded in fact. It is, in fact, the policy of the Obama administration to deliver unaccompanied minor children to family, whether those family members are legally in the United States or not. And The New York Times has since reported that most migrant children were in fact  delivered to relatives in the United States. 

Once any illegal immigrant is in the United States it is only a matter of time before amnesty advocates will push to give them full citizenship.

When the DREAM Act was first introduced in Congress in 2001, only illegal immigrants in the country before 1996 were eligible for a path to citizenship. The most recent legislative DREAM Act moved that cut off date up to 2006, a full ten years later. Then Obama's first unilateral executive Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals program, which does by executive fiat what the DREAM Act would do by legislation, moved that cut off date up even further to 2007.

Obama's second unilateral executive immigration program, the Deferred Action for Parental Accountability program, then moved that original DACA cut off date up again, making any illegal immigrant who entered the country as a minor before 2010 eligible for a work permit, a Social Security Number, and a driver's license.

The lesson for anyone paying attention to U.S. immigration policy is clear: come now, stamp your time card, and wait for the inevitable amnesty. 

Pelosi: I Almost Cried During Netanyahu's Horribly Insulting Speech


Allahpundit nails it: Faced with the dilemma of ticking off pro-Israel Democrats and donors versus ticking off her party's left-wing, hostile-to-Israel base, House Minority Nancy Pelosi decided to split the baby. She'd show up to Benjamin Netanyahu's speech to rebuff the "boycott" crowd (representing a sizable chunk of Congress' remaining Democrats), but she'd also cartoonishly flaunt her displeasure with the Prime Minister's message. Her angry theatrics were so ostentatious that reporters in the gallery couldn't help but take notice:


Here's the key bit of her ridiculous post-speech statement, accusing the leader of one of America's closest allies of "insulting the intelligence of the United States:

…As one who values the U.S. – Israel relationship, and loves Israel, I was near tears throughout the Prime Minister’s speech – saddened by the insult to the intelligence of the United States as part of the P5 +1 nations, and saddened by the condescension toward our knowledge of the threat posed by Iran and our broader commitment to preventing nuclear proliferation.

All in all, Pelosi actually had a pretty good day, which makes this spectacle even more unseemly.  But such is life as an elected Democrat these days. Fulsome praise of Israel's leader signals insufficient loyalty to The One, who made it a point of not watching the address -- with his Vice President attending to an important scheduling conflict.  AP reminds us of a fun 2007 episode in which Pelosi jetted over to Damascus for a photo-op with this guy, against the wishes of the Bush administration.  Her show of righteous indignation yesterday was, shall we say, complete rubbish, and entirely misplaced.  In fairness, that same guy was later described as a "reformer" by Hillary Clinton (she said so in public, not in her unlawfully private emails, so we know this for a fact).  But that was before he started butchering his own people in earnest, prompting President Obama to draw a red line from which he'd eventually retreat in an episode of abject, embarrassing weakness.  Smart Power.

Speaking of which, O weighed in on Netanyahu's speech after it happened, taking pains to note that he merely read the transcript.  His bottom line takeaway: Nothing to see here, folks.  No "news," no viable alternatives to the Obama administration's rumored deal with Tehran's evil regime.  Setting aside the fact that the White House was previously warning Bibi not to break any news in the way of intelligence, the president was wrong on both fronts.  Netanyahu's speech was itself highly newsworthy, and his platform generated much more attention and coverage than it would have if the White House hadn't spent months throwing tantrums and personally trashing the Israeli leader.  Smooth, guys.  His clear, powerful words also spelled out the extent of Iran's crimes against humanity, genocidal intentions, and long history of cheating and lying to the international community.  The administration's foreign policy team was likely unfazed by Netanyahu's rhetoric, but most people watching had never heard these arguments before.  And the arguments were very persuasive.  More than anything else, Netanyahu emphasized that the rumored agreement's ten-year "sunset" provision is totally unacceptable, and that, if necessary, Israel will stand alone against the Iranian menace.  That's news, Mr. President.  It's just not the news you wanted Americans to hear.  Secondly, Netanyahu did offer an alternative to striking a terrible deal with Iran: Striking no deal at all, applying stepped up pressure and leverage to demand a course correction in Tehran, and a refusal to reward the regime's despicable conduct.  These aren't just the sentiments of Israel's Prime Minister, or the (nearly) unanimous Republican caucus.  Some prominent Democrats are savaging the administration's position because the stakes are enormous:

Sen. Bob Menendez takes joy in being on the wrong side of Tehran, and he's not afraid of being at odds with his own party's White House. "When it comes to defending the U.S.-Israel relationship, I am not intimidated by anyone—not Israel's political enemies and not by my political friends when I believe they're wrong," Menendez declared to an energized crowd at the AIPAC policy conference Monday evening. A call to action for his fellow members of Congress, Menendez vowed never to back down from a brawl to defend the U.S. and Israel's "sacrosanct" and "untouchable" relationship. "As long as I have an ounce of fight left in me, as long as I have a vote and a say and a chance to protect the interest of Israel, the region, and the national security interests of the United States—Iran will never have a pathway to a weapon," Menendez says. "It will never threaten Israel or its neighbors, and it will never be in a position to start a nuclear-arms race in the Middle East. Not on my watch." Menendez's speech marked a crescendo in a long and—at times—tense relationship with the Obama administration.

Menendez is immersed in these issues, and has been alarmed by what he's seeing for some time. I leave you with the Free Beacon's superb two-minute recap of Netanyahu's forceful address to Congress. This is what Team Obama didn't want you to see:



UPDATE - Oh my:



Scott Walker Pledges to Sign Controversial Pro-life Bill

Pro-lifers had reason to doubt Wisconsin Gov. Scott Walker’s pro-life credentials. During his re-election campaign this fall, the Republican incumbent was featured in a TV ad where he offered a weak defense of unborn rights. The pro-life group LiveAction described it as “mealy-mouthed equivocation.” Here’s an excerpt from the ad they’d like to forget:

Hi, I’m Scott Walker. I’m pro-life. But there’s no doubt in my mind the decision of whether or not to end a pregnancy is an agonizing one. That’s why I support legislation to increase safety and to provide more information for a woman considering her options. The bill leaves the final decision to a woman and her doctor. Now, reasonable people can disagree on this issue. Our priority is to protect the health and safety of all Wisconsin citizens.

Pro tip: Never should a politician follow up an “I’m pro-life” with a “But.”

To make matters worse, just this week Walker failed to provide a strong answer to Fox News Sunday’s Chris Wallace when the host asked about his pro-life stance. The governor avoided giving a straight answer and ultimately said it was up to the courts to decide what to do about abortion rights.

WALLACE: But ultimately it's her choice?

WALKER: Well, legally, that's what it is under the guidelines that was provided from the Supreme Court.

WALLACE: And would you change that law?

WALKER: Well, I -- that's not a change you can make. The Supreme Court ultimately has made that.

His lack of passion justifiably bristled pro-lifers yet again. 

But, Walker may have soothed pro-lifers’ frustration with this one announcement:

As the Wisconsin legislature moves forward in the coming session, further protections for mother and child are likely to come to my desk in the form of a bill to prohibit abortions after 20 weeks. I will sign that bill when it gets to my desk and support similar legislation on the federal level.

Just like that, Walker seems to be back in pro-lifers’ good graces. In this open letter, Walker was referring to the controversial Pain-Capable Unborn Child Protection Act that bans abortion after 20 weeks, the point at which unborn babies can feel pain. Congress failed to take up this legislation for a vote in January after a few Republicans such as Rep. Renee Ellmers (R-NC) worried how voters would react to such a sweeping pro-life law. Hint: They would support it. Thankfully, the bill is now making its way through the states.

Marjorie Danenfelser, president of the pro-life organization Susan B. Anthony List, spoke for many pro-lifers when she responded to the Wisconsin governor’s welcome news:

His commitment to the Pain-Capable Unborn Child Protection Act in Wisconsin and nationally is the best first step for a pro-life candidate and one that is embraced by the nation. This popular legislation has been endorsed by almost every Republican hopeful for 2016.

Pro-life advocates are looking for a leader in 2016. With this new bold proclamation, Walker is proving he has what it takes to stand up for the unborn.

Hillary Clinton Pretty Much Announces a Run For President

Speaking at the pro-abortion Emily's List 30th anniversary gala Tuesday night, Hillary Clinton all but announced a 2016 run for the White House to a friendly crowd of supporters. 

During her speech, Clinton also attempted to connect with "regular people" by telling stories about her grandfather working in a factory. 

She also talked about income inequality.

No word yet on whether EMILY's List coughed up Clinton's standard $300,000 speaking fee for her to be there last night. EMILY's List also hasn't bothered to comment on Clinton's time at the State Department where she took millions of dollars from governments and countries that regularly abuse the human rights of women, if they're given any rights at all. 

Clinton is expected to make an official announcement about running for president in April.

Poll: Majority Of Americans Oppose Obama's Executive Amnesty

A solid 55 percent of registered voters oppose President Obama's most recent executive actions on immigration a new Quinnipiac University National poll released Wednesday found.

Asked, "Do you support or oppose the executive order issued by President Obama in 2014 allowing some undocumented immigrants to stay in the United States," 55 percent said they opposed Obama's policy and just 40 percent said they supported it.

Interestingly though, while a majority of Americans oppose Obama's amnesty, fewer Americans believe the program exceeds Obama's authority as president. Asked, "Regardless what you think of this immigration policy, do you think Barack Obama acted within his authority as president when he issued this executive order, or do you think his actions went beyond his authority as president," just 51 percent said Obama exceed his authority while 41 percent said his actions were legal.

Obama received poor marks from voters on a variety of issues beyond immigration, including a 35 - 55 percent negative rating on foreign policy, 39 - 54 on terrorism, and 35 - 55 on the Islamic State. Also, more Americans, 31 percent, say Obama's policies have hurt their personal financial situation, than say Obama has helped them, just 20 percent. Almost half, 48 percent, say Obama's policies has had no effect on their economic condition.

The only entity with poorer marks than Obama is the Republican Congress, who Americans disapprove of by a 22 - 69 percent margin. However, when asked to choose, "Who do you trust more to make decisions that are good for the country, President Obama or the Republicans in Congress," more Americans, 47 percent, chose Republicans in Congress than chose Obama, 42 percent.

The poll was conducted from February 26 to March 2, and had a sample of 1,286 registered voters nationwide.

Obamacare Battle Over Subsidies in Front of Supreme Court Wednesday

The battle over Obamacare continues today as arguments in King v. Burwell kick off in front of the Supreme Court. 

The case addresses whether "the Internal Revenue Service may permissibly promulgate regulations to extend tax-credit subsidies to coverage purchased through exchanges established by the federal government under Section 1321 of the Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act." Essentially, the case looks at whether federal subsidies are legal and available to people living in states that did not set up their own Obamacare exchanges. If a ruling comes down in favor of King, the Affordable Care Act could potentially be gutted. Thirty-five states have decided not to set up federal exchanges. Here's a quick summary of the details

The plaintiffs, four Virginia residents, argue that Americans who bought insurance through the federal ObamaCare exchange are not entitled to subsidies because the law says only those who bought policies in state exchanges are eligible.

At least 5.5 million Americans last year bought insurance on the federal exchange and received the subsidies.

Both sides in the case -- known as King v. Burwell -- generally agree that if the high court decides that millions of recipients are no longer eligible, they likely will no longer be able to afford insurance under ObamaCare and exit the system.

Dozens of legal organizations like Judicial Watch and Landmark Legal Foundation have submitted amicus briefs in favor of King in the case.

"This is a case about first principles. The Executive Branch has not only exceeded the boundaries of the legislative power, but has done so in an effort to circumvent the principles of representative government to avoid securing the consent of the governed," a brief submitted by Landmark Legal, which is headed by Mark Levin, states. "The Constitution separates the powers of government to protect the liberty of the American people and prevent the tyranny of a self-aggrandizing government. Attempts by the Executive Branch to assume the legislative function deprives the People of an open debate conducted by their politically accountable representatives and is antithetical to the Constitution’s design."

Obamacare architect Jonathan Gruber, now infamous for calling the American people "too stupid" to understand how the healthcare law works, argued two years ago people living in states that do not set up Obamacare exchanges are not eligible for federal healthcare subsidies.

"I think what’s important to remember politically about this is, if you’re a state and you don’t set up an exchange, that means your citizens don’t get their tax credits (subsidies)," Gruber said at a lecture in 2012. "But your citizens still pay the taxes that support this bill. So you’re essentially saying to your citizens, you’re going to pay all the taxes to help all the other states in the country. I hope that’s a blatant enough political reality that states will get their act together and realize there are billions of dollars at stake here in setting up these exchanges, and that they’ll do it."

Although arguments in this case will be heard today, a decision will not be announced until June.

Gowdy: We'll Be Asking For Clinton's Personal State Department Emails

In case you missed it yesterday, the New York Times reported that during her time as Secretary of State Hillary Clinton conducted the entirety of her official government business through a personal email account, potentially violating the Federal Records Act and skirting Freedom of Information Act laws. 

Congressman Trey Gowdy (R-SC), who is leading the Select Committee investigation into the 9/11 Benghazi terror attack, has taken notice of Clinton's personal email habit and said yesterday he will be asking Clinton's email provider to turn over necessary information.

Yesterday White House Press Secretary Josh Earnest desperately tried to justify Clinton's use of personal email for government business, saying all of the necessary information that was sent on personal email was also forwarded to the proper locations for the federal record. Earnest also argued that because Clinton was having conversations with State Department employees using their official government email addresses, her personal emails were being stored in compliance with the Federal Records Act. 

Uber Über Alles

Hundreds of taxis gridlocked downtown Brussels, Belgium on Tuesday, taking a stand against entrepreneurship, the free market, and the power of choice.

Unions claimed that more than 1,200 taxis -- including 100 from France -- drove through the heart of the city, slowing to block major intersections in protest of the expansion of the international ridesharing service Uber.

“We are fed up with Uber. They took 50% of our customers,” one of the protesters told the Wall Street Journal.

Taxis were emblazoned with signs reading “ceci n’est pas un taxi clandestin” (this is not an illegal taxi) and “non a Uber” (no to Uber).

The Silicon Valley-based startup that has revolutionized inner city transportation has now expanded to 55 countries around the world. Uber is often met with sharp resistance from taxi unions, who are often unhappy because Uber’s affordable pricing offers “unfair competition” to entrenched union drivers.

“It is killing all the jobs of the legal taxis who work legally and pay their taxes and so on – while the others have a complete other way of working, don’t pay their taxes and can offer less expensive services,” said a taxi driver in Brussels said, according to euronews.

Uber claims to comply with all tax laws.

“We’re totally legal, like totally legal, and the government is telling us to shut down. And you can either do what they say or you can fight for what you believe,” Uber C.E.O. Travis Kalanick told Vanity Fair last year.

The City of Brussels banned Uber from operating within the city last year, but last week Brussels Transport Minister Pascal Smet announced plans to legalize the driving service in 2016.

Uber operates freely in many European cities, but Brussels is not the first city which banned the company: Madrid, Spain has prohibited Uber within the city, and the service is highly regulated in Paris, France. Protests against the company’s expansion occurred all across Europe last summer, but Uber now thrives in more than 40 cities across the continent.

Hillary, What Are You Doing?

Hillary is reportedly launching her presidential campaign next month, and she’s already creating obstacles before she hits the ground running. The latest controversy surrounding the former Secretary of State was her use of a personal email account to conduct affairs of state, which appears to be a breach of the Federal Records Act. Then again, as Katie reported earlier this morning, the use of one’s personal email account for official business isn’t entirely alien to this administration:

This isn't the first time the Obama administration has been caught evading federal records laws by using personal email, which ultimately allows officials to escape scrutiny under the Freedom of Information Act and Congressional investigation. During Operation Fast and Furious, former Assistant Attorney General Lanny Breuer got caught forwarding and editing official information about the scandal to his personal email account. Former Department of Homeland Security Secretary Janet Napolitano claimed she didn't have an email account. IRS officials caught up in the targeting of conservatives, including Lois Lerner, used a personal email account to conduct official government business. Former DOJ Civil Rights attorney and current Labor Secretary Tom Perez used his personal email account during his time at DOJ for official business. Just yesterday, a federal judge ruled the EPA lied about transparency in response to FOIA requests, and in the past, EPA officials have been caught violating federal records laws by using personal email to conduct government business.

It should be noted that Rep. Trey Gowdy’s (R-SC) select committee that’s investigating Benghazi uncovered this development. Additionally, members of media, including Lawrence O’Donnell, seem stupefied, calling this story “unusual” and “a shocking breach of security” (via Mediaite):

New York Times reporter Jeremy Peters said this is definitely “unusual,” but only adds to the idea that Clinton is not very “forthcoming” and “not all business is being conducted in the open like it should be.” MSNBC senior editor Beth Fouhy also wondered, “Where were the State Department lawyers who allowed this to go forward?”

Fouhy said, “She understands rules and protocol, and for her to just willingly violate it just to preserve some semblance of privacy just really makes no sense.”

O’Donnell, meanwhile, was just baffled at how the Secretary of State could be “using a not-secure, commercial email system” the entire time. He called it a “stunning breach of security and said, “If it’s true that she never used a State Department email address, we have something that, at first read, has no conceivable rational explanation to it that is legitimate.”

On top of finding an explanation for this, if there is one, there's a frantic scramble to staff her long-awaited presidential bid. Right now, the S.S. Clinton is akin to a ghost ship, with no one really able to push back attacks against her, specifically the allegations lobbed at the Clinton Foundation, where the organization is accused of taking money from foreign governments while Clinton served as Secretary of State. At least one donation is being reported as an ethics violation.

The massive campaign machinery is in place, but for now, it’s up to “a small corps of well-regarded, loyal and badly overstretched aides who have been forced to deal with an avalanche of requests about the foundation, starting with reports that officials solicited millions in donations from foreign governments,” according to Politico:

While reporters scramble to divine the precise date Clinton will announce her candidacy (the consensus opinion since late last year is that has she’ll jump into the race later this month or in April), Clinton insiders say assembling and deploying staff is a far more important milestone.

“We have had our head up our ass,” one former senior Clinton aide told POLITICO, reflecting the general view of a half-dozen Clinton loyalists. “This stuff isn’t going to kill us, but it puts us behind the eight ball.”

Attempts by Clinton’s tiny personal PR staff have been less than effective. The revelations about the Clinton Foundation have made backers nervous, and Clinton’s inner circle has been coordinating with the foundation as it has become clear that the network of outside groups designed to defend and protect Clinton before her launch have been insufficient.

Pro-Clinton groups, like American Bridge, have also launched a counteroffensive against the email revelations, but have fallen short (via Politico):

A pro-Clinton armada of progressive groups led by David Brock – Media Matters For America, American Bridge and Correct The Record – is waging an aggressive effort to dismiss the coverage of Hillary Clinton's potential violation of federal email requirements as "deceptive."

The news of Clinton's use of personal emails for official business was first reported by The New York Times.

The Times article, by Washington-based reporter Michael Schmidt, stated that Clinton's exclusive use of a personal email address at the State Department "may have violated federal requirements that officials’ correspondence be retained as part of the agency’s record." In reports and press releases, Brock's groups argued that Schmidt's article neglected to mention that the relevant portions of the Federal Records Act pertaining to such requirement did not go into effect until November 2014, after Clinton's tenure at State.

Unfortunately for these pro-Hillary groups, the regulations that are relevant to Schmidt's report – the National Archives and Records Administration (NARA) requirements – have been in place since at least 2009, when Clinton became secretary of state.

According to Section 1236.22 of the 2009 NARA requirements, which Schmidt provided in an email, "Agencies that allow employees to send and receive official electronic mail messages using a system not operated by the agency must ensure that Federal records sent or received on such systems are preserved in the appropriate agency recordkeeping system."

Yet, earlier today, the former head of litigation at NARA, Jason Baron, said Clinton didn’t break the law–and that the Federal Records Act is “amorphous.” Though Baron said in the Times piece that “it is very difficult to conceive of a scenario — short of nuclear winter — where an agency would be justified in allowing its cabinet-level head officer to solely use a private email communications channel for the conduct of government business.”

It should be interesting how the media treats this kerfuffle to that of the Bush administration, who lost 5 million White House emails in 2007. John Podesta, Clinton’s probable campaign manager, said in the Wall Street Journal at the time “At the end of the day, it looks like they [the Bush administration] were trying to avoid the records act ... by operating official business off the official systems.”

So, does this show that Hillary doesn’t want to be president? If she does want to succeed Barack Obama in 2017, she’s been making it a lot harder for herself, especially given the fact that she’s a hyper-partisan figure whose favorability ratings sink the longer she sits in the spotlight.

Ron Fournier at National Journal wrote that the former First Lady should probably pack it in and call it a night concerning her presidential ambitions:

Perhaps Hillary Rodham Clinton shouldn't run for president.

Maybe she should stay at the Bill, Hillary & Chelsea Clinton Foundation, where the former secretary of State could continue her life's work of building stronger economies, health care systems, and families. Give paid speeches. Write best-selling books. Spend time with Charlotte, her beloved granddaughter.

Because she doesn't seem ready for 2016. Like a blast of wintry air in July, the worst of 1990s-style politics is intruding on what needs to be a new millennium campaign: Transparent, inspirational, innovative, and beyond ethical reproach.

Many senior Democrats are angry [with the Clinton Foundation and personal email account developments], though not yet mad enough to publicly confront the Clintons. "This story has legs as long as the election," said a Democrat who has worked on Capitol Hill and as a presidential campaign manager. "She will be tripping over this crap until the cows come home."

Another presidential campaign veteran who held a Cabinet-level post in Bill Clinton's White House fretted out loud about the fact that the former first lady is breezing toward the Democratic nomination.

"We can't have a coronation when she's handing Republicans an inquisition," the Democrat said.

But now I wonder whether there is a part of her that doesn't want to be president. She seems to be placing obstacles in her lane before the race begins. Is this sabotage or something else?

My concern is that Clinton does not see this controversy as a personal failing. Rather, she sees it as a political problem that can be fixed with more polls, more money, and more attacks. In a Politico story about the push to assemble a presidential campaign staff, a former senior Clinton aide said, "We have had our head up our ass. This stuff isn't going to kill us, but it puts us behind the eight ball."

Due respect, Clinton's problem isn't a lack of staff. It's a lack of shame about money, personal accountability, and transparency.

In all, this is something Team Clinton surely didn’t want weeks before the launch of her national campaign. Cheers!

VIDEO: What is the Most Important Issue for Millennials?

With 2016 just around the corner, I asked young people attending the Conservative Political Action Conference what they believe is the most important issue for Millennials.


Russians Bring More Guns to Ukraine, Kerry Hopes for Ceasefire in "Days" If Not "Hours"

Days after the death of Putin opponent Boris Nemtsov, who claimed to be able to prove Russian support of the rebels in Ukraine, rebel armed forces are still moving heavy weapons and equipment into eastern Ukraine.

Meanwhile, American and European leaders are still discussing how to successfully implement a ceasefire to end the conflict. Since the Minsk Agreement last month, Ukrainian and Russian forces have had difficulty attaining the required ceasefire. As rebel forces are reportedly still moving to key cities in the east, Ukrainian troops are completing their removal of 100-mm weapons from Donbas, according to the Ukrainian Defense Ministry.

“Shooting, shelling has still been going on and people have still been killed over the course of these last days,” U.S. Secretary of State John Kerry said Monday to press in Geneva. “So there is not yet a full ceasefire... So our hope is that in the next hours, certainly not more than days, this will be fully implemented.”

President Barack Obama held a video conference Tuesday afternoon with leaders from France, Germany, Italy and the U.K. “to discuss the Ukraine crisis and global security issues,” the White House said. The U.S. has threatened further sanctions on Russia if the ceasefire is not successful.

“The concentration and movement of military equipment and personnel of the Russian armed forces, in particular tanks, armored personnel carriers, other armored vehicles, multiple rocket launchers, anti-aircraft and artillery units, continue in some areas of Donetsk and Luhansk regions,” Ukrainian Foreign Ministry Spokesman Yevhen Perebyinis said, according to ukrinform.ua, a Ukrainian news outlet.

Russian President Vladimir Putin “noted the importance of rigorously abiding by the ceasefire regime, continuing the process of removing heavy arms,” according to a readout of his telephone call with French President Francois Hollande, German Chancellor Angela Merkel and Ukrainian President Petro Poroshenko on Monday.

In addition, the Minsk Agreement requires the exchange of all prisoners connected with the conflict. During the call on Tuesday, Poroshenko highlighted the necessity of “liberation of all hostages illegally kept imprisoned in Donetsk and Luhansk regions, as well as in Russia.” After nine months, captured Ukrainian helicopter pilot Nadiya Savchenko remains in Russian custody for her alleged involvement in the death of two Russian journalists.

The area is controlled by illegal military formations, according to UN High Commissioner for Human Rights Armen Harutyunyan, and though the death toll is much lower than early “ceasefire” attempts, casualties are still common.

Tuesday, Kiev announced three deaths and nine wounded in a shelling by Russian-sympathetic opposition -- the highest death toll in several days. According to the latest reports from the United Nations, more than 6,000 people have been killed in the Ukraine conflict since April 2014.

Single Tear: Todd Akin Rules Out 2016 Primary Challenge

One imagines Republicans everywhere are jumping for joy:

Former Rep. Todd Akin (R-Mo.) said Monday he will not challenge Sen. Roy Blunt (R-Mo.) in a primary in 2016.

"In response to various questions: I will not be running for the U.S. Senate in 2016," Akin said in the statement, according to The Associated Press.

Let’s be clear: it’s impossible for candidates seeking high national office, who routinely speak in front of live television or studio audiences, to not make mistakes. The nominal 2016 Republican frontrunner made a (semi) big one last week that liberals are already running with. This sort of thing happens. But the unscientific and offensive way Akin answered a question about a woman’s right to choose after being raped was one of the most egregious and outrageous moments of the 2012 campaign. He was rightly criticized by everyone.

But perhaps it was a pardonable offense (at least in Republicans' eyes) if he got out. His refusal to throw in the towel afterwards, however, was a costly mistake. Unhelpfully, there were at least three other GOP candidates who could have filled the void had he dropped out in time (see previous link). For his intransigence—and inability to see the writing on the wall—voters of Missouri rewarded him accordingly.

Parting thought: Thankfully, Akin is not so ambitious as to primary an incumbent Senator so soon after ticking off every Republican in America. But should his political career be over? After all, the guy made one stupid comment. As Guy wrote at the time, liberals have said and done terrible things in the past and yet seem to be prospering. So I wonder: Can Akin restore his reputation and become a viable GOP candidate sometime down the road? Or is this line of thinking totally naive and unrealistic because the damage is already done?

BREAKING: House Passes Final Homeland Security Bill Funding Obama's Executive Amnesty

After passing a week long, temporary and emergency spending measure last Friday, the House of Representatives has passed legislation funding the Department of Homeland Security until the next budget year 257-167. The legislation includes funding for President Obama's executive amnesty and is on its way to his desk for a signature. 

“Let us remember that it was the president himself who said at least 22 times that he did not have the authority to unilaterally grant amnesty to illegal immigrants. Despite our best efforts in the House, we simply were not able to break the logjam of Democrats in the Senate who insisted on funding the president’s illegal actions as a prerequisite to an agreement on DHS appropriations," Rep. Lou Barletta (R-PA), who voted against the measure, said in a statement. “Requiring the funding of executive amnesty places illegal immigrants ahead of the national security concerns of the United States. I cannot understand the argument that providing work permits and federal benefits to those who have broken our laws is more important than funding the defense of our country. We have immigration laws for two basic reasons: to protect American jobs, and to preserve national security. The president’s executive actions violate both of those principles."

Two weeks ago U.S. District Judge Andrew Hanen of Texas halted the implementation of executive amnesty, arguing the "case examines complex issues relating to immigration which necessarily involve questions of federalism, separation of powers, and the ability and advisability, if any, of the Judiciary to hear and resolve such a dispute." Last week U.S. District Court Judge James Boasberg of the District of Columbia, who was appointed by President Obama, also issued an injunction against the executive action.


This post has been updated. 


Maine to Consider Constitutional Carry

For the second time in a little under a year, Maine's legislature is debating whether or not to allow the "constitutional carry" of guns. A bill submitted by Sen. Eric Brakey (R-Auburn) would allow people to carry concealed weapons without a license. Open carry is legal in Maine, and Maine is currently described as a "shall-issue" state for concealed carry permits.

From WMTW:

Sen. Eric Brakey, R-Auburn has submitted a bill that he said he would restore Second Amendment rights.

The bill has bipartisan support in the state legislator, with 96 sponsors.

"We criminalize the act of putting on a jacket or a coat that conceals that. All we're doing, is saying we're not going to treat you like a criminal if you put a jacket on. If you can already, legally, open carry a handgun," Brakey said.

A similar bill failed in March 2014. Six other states permit (law-abiding) gun owners to carry concealed without a permit.

I think this law makes sense. As long as a gun is legally owned and the owner is law-abiding, it should not make a difference as to how the gun is carried. While some may squirm at the concept of "concealed carry without a license," I think Brakey phrased it well when he explained that under current law, wearing a jacket over ones weapon (turning an open carry situation into a concealed carry situation) could potentially make someone a criminal. Given the bill's bipartisan support, this seemed to resonate well with members of the legislature.