PPP: Public Split On Whether Williams Should Return To NBC

The controversy surrounding Brian Williams and his non-“RPG hit my helicopter” story might not have impacted NBC’s favorability numbers with the public, but it has hurt Williams personally. In a D+6 poll by the left-leaning Public Policy Polling (PPP), 31 percent of viewers have a positive opinion of him, 39 percent have a negative one. Moreover, there’s a split between whether he should be allowed to return to the anchor’s desk, or if he should be shown the exit–immediately; 39 percent think he should be reinstated, while 36 percent say fire him.

The poll also noted two other things. If the interim anchor of Nightly News, Lester Holt, replaces Brian Williams, likability won’t be much of a factor since both Williams and Holt have the same favorability numbers. At the same time, Holt doesn’t have nearly as many haters as Williams:

Voters are evenly divided, with 40% saying they trust NBC News and 40% saying they don't. Those numbers are virtually identical to what we found on the 2014 iteration of this poll, when 39% said they trusted NBC and 39% said they didn't.

Even though the controversy hasn't affected perceptions of NBC much overall, it's definitely impacted feelings about Williams. 31% of voters have a positive opinion of him to 39% with a negative one. There's close division about whether he should be able to return- 39% say yes while 36% think he should be fired. There are big partisan divides in attitudes towards Williams. Among Democrats 52% think he should be allowed to come back to just 24% who believe he should be fired. But among Republicans only 32% support his return with 45% saying he should be let go.

If NBC does decide to replace Brian Williams with Lester Holt they won't see much of a drop off in popularity. Holt's favorability rating of 30% falls just below Williams' 31%, but he doesn't have near the quantity of voters who dislike him with only 15% giving him a negative rating to Williams' 39%.

The rest of the poll was grounded in partisan trust of media outlets. Shocker; more Republicans hate MSNBC than do Democrats who actually like the network. Democrats are also more likely to trust ABC, NBC, PBS, MSNBC, CNN, and NBC News. Less than 25 percent of Republicans can’t say the same, though they’re split 37/39 regarding trust and distrust of PBS.

Phil Robertson on Faith, the Founding Fathers, and STDs

Believe it or not, Duck Dynasty star Phil Robertson actually managed to discuss each of these items, at length I might add, during a speech on Friday at the Conservative Political Action Conference. Robertson was there to accept the Andrew Breitbart Defender of Free Speech Award. 

"All of us ought to be able to speak freely so we don't have to be awarded," he began his speech before pulling out a large, weathered-looking family Bible bound together with duct tape. 

"I'm a God-loving, Bible-believing, gun-toting capitalist," he declared, before delving into other topics, such as the Founding Fathers, STDs, marriage, ISIS, and the moral decline of America. 

While Robertson's speech was unpredictable, long, and a bit strange at times, he did make many valuable points, particularly about religion's role in America today. 

Addressing criticisms he hears that he's "too religious," Robertson pulled several quotes from our Founding Fathers that showed how important religion was in not only their personal lives, but in guiding the decisions they made as politicians. 

"[I]t is religion and morality alone which can establish the principles upon which freedom can securely stand. The only foundation of a free constitution is pure virtue," he read, quoting John Adams. 

"You lose your religion and you lose your morality and we're almost there," he said before going into a tangent about how 110 million Americans now have an STD. Diseases he referred to as "revenge of the hippies." 

The "safe" option, he argued, was "one man, one woman, married for life." 

Robertson concluded (because the event's organizers finally had to begin blasting 'exit' music) by talking about the importance of having God-fearing politicians in office. 

"If you don't have spiritual men making political decisions, you're going to lose this country," he said.  

"Presidential Madness": Salem All Stars Debate 2016 Candidates

National, Harbor, MD -- On Friday afternoon, Salem Media Group hosted a five-person, break out session at CPAC with Townhall’s Political Editor Guy Benson titled “Presidential Madness: The Road to Sweet 16.” Ed Morrissey, Erick Erickson, Mary Katharine Ham, and Katie Pavlich, all of whom write for websites under the Townhall Media empire, weighed in and discussed the pros and cons of 16 different potential 2016 GOP hopefuls. Check out the bracket below:

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To be clear, none of the panelists endorsed candidates—as this was, as Benson put it, merely a “fun” exercise. There were, however, some interesting issues raised. Most intriguing to some attendees, perhaps, was the impending candidacy of Dr. Ben Carson. Does his lack of political experience disqualify him for the nation’s highest office, Benson asked the panel, or can he navigate a path to the nomination despite having never served in government?

Mary Katharine Ham offered some cautious analysis.

“I don’t like to say disqualifying,” she intoned. “I think the problem Carson is going to have is one of a disciplined message.” She added that, while he is a tea party darling and capable messenger, his delivery can sometimes veer off track.

“He’s an electric speaker, people gravitate towards him, but that electricity can ultimately shock,” she added. “So he has to be careful.”

He also addressed what one might call the inevitable “senators vs. governors” dilemma. That is to say, how do relatively inexperienced federal legislators—like Sen. Rand Paul (R-KY), for example—convince grassroots activists they are more qualified to be president than seasoned and proven state chief executives?

“Everyone knows that governors are usually better presidential candidates than senators,” Townhall's Katie Pavlich said. “Because they often have to negotiate with people on the other side of the aisle. [They] have to come to terms with getting things done in their state.”

“So although we have these incredible candidates in the Senate who quite possibly might be running for president,” she added, “they are brand new.”

She pointed out that leaders like Gov. Scott Walker (R-WI) and Gov. Chris Christie (R-NJ) have tangible and impressive accomplishments attached to their names, which might give them an advantage early in the nomination process.

Still, Hot Air's Ed Morrissey underscored an X factor that could alter the dynamics of the race.

“We are seeing in both parties a real impulse for populism, and significantly, anti-establishment populism,” he said. This is why primarygoers may take a hard look at candidates a la Sens. Marco Rubio, Rand Paul, and Ted Cruz, he suggested, despite their relatively thin resumes. This is also a reason why Hillary Clinton may struggle in the general election, he said.

“She is the ultimate Washington insider,” Morrissey continued, a point RedState’s Erick Erickson quickly seconded. Erickson, however, went a step further, and actually predicted Hillary Clinton will lose the Democratic nomination in 2016.

“I do not think that Hillary Clinton will be able to run a machine, and figure out what the rest of the party hasn’t,” he said. That [base of support] is not the Democratic coalition; it is Barack Obama’s coalition. And good luck letting the Secretary of State run as the world goes to hell in a hand basket—and she has to own it.”

“I think Hillary’s absolutely running and will be the nominee and is probably the nominee at this moment in time,” Benson later added. “But she’s going to keep coming back to the raison d'etre of her campaign, which is ‘woman.’ It’s going to be a gender election.”

At the end of the discussion, the panelists were asked to weigh in on potential 2016 presidential tickets. The following are the match ups they found “most intriguing”:*

Ed: Scott Walker, Susana Martinez

Erick: Marco Rubio, Susana Martinez

Mary Katharine: Scott Walker, Susana Martinez

Katie: Scott Walker, Susana Martinez

Guy: Scott Walker, Marco Rubio or “something like” Jeb Bush, Ted Cruz

*These are not endorsements.

Boehner's Gambit Fails

The House of Representatives rejected a three-week funding bill for the Department of Homeland Security Friday, creating the possibility for a limited shutdown of the agency starting at midnight Friday night.

Earlier in the day, the Senate passed a DHS funding that fully funds both of President Obama's executive immigration programs through the end of September.

Speaker John Boehner (R-OH) had hoped to pass his three-week DHS funding bill, which would stop Obama's amnesty programs, thus giving time for a conference committee between the Senate and House bills.

More than 50 Republicans joined with Democrats to vote no against Boehner's short-term bill while just 12 Democrats voted with Republicans. The finally tally was 203-224.

The House is now currently in recess while Boehner's team figures out their next move. But the most likely outcome is a House vote on the Senate DHS bill which would most likely pass with unanimous Democratic support.

You can see which Republican senators voted with Democrats to fund Obama's amnesty here.

You can see which Republicans voted against a short-term DHS bill here.

It’s No Big Deal, But Top Hillary Advisers Knew Right Away That Benghazi Was A Terrorist Attack

The Select Committee on Benghazi was established and recently extended last month. The five Democrats on the committee were irked that the vote on reauthorization in early January pretty much gave the body an unlimited amount of time and money to investigate the circumstances of the death of Ambassador Chris Stevens and three other Americans, who were killed in a terrorist attack in Benghazi, Libya on September 11, 2012 (via NYT):

The move to reauthorize the politically charged panel was included in a rules package for the new Congress that passed 234 to 172, mostly along party lines.

Five Democrats on the select committee lamented the reauthorization, which set no limit on the committee's budget or time frame, which means it could last well into the presidential election year. Hillary Rodham Clinton, a possible Democratic presidential candidate, could be called to testify about the attack, which occurred while she was secretary of state.

A report by the House Intelligence Committee found that the CIA and the military acted properly in responding to the 2012 attack. Debunking a series of persistent allegations hinting at dark conspiracies, the panel determined that there was no intelligence failure, no delay in sending a CIA rescue team, no missed opportunity for a military rescue and no evidence the CIA was covertly shipping arms from Libya to Syria.

The panel will probably be reviewing the latest FOIA request from Judicial Watch that revealed top Clinton advisers immediately that Benghazi was a terrorist attack: [bold text represents email exchanges]

On September 11, 2012, at 4:07 PM, Maria Sand (who was then a Special Assistant to Mrs. Clinton) forwarded an email from the State Department’s Operations Center entitled “U.S. Diplomatic Mission in Benghazi is Under Attack (SBU) [Sensitive But Unclassified]” to Cheryl Mills (then-Chief of Staff), Jacob Sullivan (then-Deputy Chief of Staff for Policy), Joseph McManus (then-Hillary Clinton’s Executive Assistant), and a list of other Special Assistants in the Secretary’s office:

The Regional Security Officer reports the diplomatic mission is under attack. Tripoli reports approximately 20 armed people fired shots; explosions have been heard as well. Ambassador Stevens, who is currently in Benghazi, and four COM [Chief of Mission] personnel are in the compound safe haven. The 17th of February militia is providing security support.

On September 11, 2012, 4:38 PM, State Department Foreign Service Officer Lawrence Randolph forwarded Mills, Sullivan and McManus an email from Scott Bultrowicz, who was the former director of the Diplomatic Security Service (ousted following review of the attack), with the subject line, “Attack on Benghazi 09112012”:

DSCC received a phone call from [REDACTED] in Benghazi, Libya initially stating that 15 armed individuals were attacking the compound and trying to gain entrance. The Ambassador is present in Benghazi and currently is barricaded within the compound. There are no injuries at this time and it is unknown what the intent of the attackers is. At approximately 1600 DSCC received word from Benghazi that individuals had entered the compound. At 1614 RSO advised the Libyans had set fire to various buildings in the area, possibly the building that houses the Ambassador [REDACTED] is responding and taking fire.

Nearly seven hours later, at 12:04 am, on September 12, Randolph sends an email with the subject line “FW: Update 3: Benghazi Shelter Location Also Under Attack” to Mills, Sullivan, and McManus that has several updates about the Benghazi attack:

I just called Ops and they said the DS command center is reporting that the compound is under attack again. I am about to reach out to the DS Command Center.

This email also contains a chain of other, earlier email updates:

September 11, 2012 11:57 PM email: “(SBU) DS Command reports the current shelter location for COM personnel in Benghazi is under mortar fire. There are reports of injuries to COM staff.”

September 11, 2012 6:06 PM (Subject: “Update 2: Ansar al-Sharia Claims Responsibility for Benghazi Attack (SBU): “(SBU) Embassy Tripoli reports the group claimed responsibility on Facebook and Twitter and call for an attack on Embassy Tripoli”

September 11, 2012, 4:54 PM: “Embassy Tripoli reports the firing at the U.S. Diplomatic Mission in Benghazi has stopped and the compound has been cleared. A response team is on site to locate COM personnel.”

The DOS emails reveal the first official confirmation of the death of Ambassador Stevens. On September 12, 2012, 3:22 AM, Senior Watch Officer Andrew Veprek forwarded an email to numerous State Department officials, which was later forwarded to Cheryl Mills and Joseph McManus, with the subject line “Death of Ambassador Stevens in Benghazi”:

Embassy Tripoli confirms the death of Ambassador John C. (Chris) Stevens in Benghazi. His body has been recovered and is at the airport in Benghazi.

Two hours later, Joseph McManus forwards the news about Ambassador Stevens’ death to officials in the State Department Legislative Affairs office with instructions not to “forward to anyone at this point.”

Despite her three top staff members being informed that a terrorist group had claimed credit for the attack, Secretary of State Hillary Clinton, issued an official statement, also produced to Judicial Watch, claiming the assault may have been in “a response to inflammatory material posted on the Internet.”

Cheryl Mills asks that the State Department stop answering press inquiries at 12:11 am on September 12, despite the ongoing questions about “Chris’ whereabouts.” In an email to State Department spokesman Victoria Nuland, Jacob Kennedy, and Phillipe Reines (then-Deputy Assistant Secretary of State for Strategic Communications and Senior Communications Advisor), Mills writes:

Can we stop answering emails for the night Toria b/c now the first one [Hillary Clinton’s “inflammatory material posted on the Internet” statement] is hanging out there.

Earlier in the chain of emails, Nuland told Mills, Sullivan, and Patrick Kennedy (Under Secretary of State for Management) that she “ignored” a question about Ambassador Steven’s status and whereabouts from a CBS News Reporter.

In 2013, eyebrows were raised when it was discovered that the Obama administration scrubbed some information from the talking points, revising them twelve times. Susan Rice, then-Ambassador to the UN, delivered the final set when she did the Sunday morning talk shows, which omitted references to the al-Qaeda affiliated Ansar al-Sharia and CIA warnings about terrorist activity in the area in the months before the assault (via ABC News) [bold text indicates writings of then-State Dept. Spokesperson Victoria Nuland]:

ABC News has obtained 12 different versions of the talking points that show they were extensively edited as they evolved from the drafts first written entirely by the CIA to the final version distributed to Congress and to U.S. Ambassador to the U.N. Susan Rice before she appeared on five talk shows the Sunday after that attack.

White House emails reviewed by ABC News suggest the edits were made with extensive input from the State Department. The edits included requests from the State Department that references to the Al Qaeda-affiliated group Ansar al-Sharia be deleted as well references to CIA warnings about terrorist threats in Benghazi in the months preceding the attack.

That would appear to directly contradict what White House Press Secretary Jay Carney said about the talking points in November.

“Those talking points originated from the intelligence community. They reflect the IC’s best assessments of what they thought had happened,” Carney told reporters at the White House press briefing on November 28, 2012. “The White House and the State Department have made clear that the single adjustment that was made to those talking points by either of those two institutions were changing the word ‘consulate’ to ‘diplomatic facility’ because ‘consulate’ was inaccurate.”

Summaries of White House and State Department emails — some of which were first published by Stephen Hayes of the Weekly Standard — show that the State Department had extensive input into the editing of the talking points.

State Department spokesman Victoria Nuland raised specific objections to this paragraph drafted by the CIA in its earlier versions of the talking points:

The Agency has produced numerous pieces on the threat of extremists linked to al-Qa’ida in Benghazi and eastern Libya. These noted that, since April, there have been at least five other attacks against foreign interests in Benghazi by unidentified assailants, including the June attack against the British Ambassador’s convoy. We cannot rule out the individuals has previously surveilled the U.S. facilities, also contributing to the efficacy of the attacks.”

In an email to officials at the White House and the intelligence agencies, State Department spokesman Victoria Nuland took issue with including that information because it “could be abused by members [of Congress] to beat up the State Department for not paying attention to warnings, so why would we want to feed that either? Concerned …”

The paragraph was entirely deleted.

Like the final version used by Ambassador Rice on the Sunday shows, the CIA’s first drafts said the attack appeared to have been “spontaneously inspired by the protests at the U.S. Embassy in Cairo” but the CIA version went on to say, “That being said, we do know that Islamic extremists with ties to al-Qa’ida participated in the attack.” The draft went on to specifically name the al Qaeda-affiliated group named Ansar al-Sharia.

The latest foray of this administration tripping over itself badly was when they tried to explain how Obama’s remarks about parts of the horrific Paris shootings being "random," specifically the attack on the Kosher deli, last January wasn't a big deal.

Friday Filibuster: Preparing to Punt

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

Closing Numbers:

19% of Texans would choose Gov. Scott Walker for the GOP presidential nominee—one percentage point shy of Sen. Ted Cruz.

21 – the number of Coptic Christians who were recognized by the church as martyrs after being beheaded by ISIS.

70% of Americans view Israel very favorably.

19% of likely U.S. voters think America and its allies are winning the War on Terror.

27% of British Muslims sympathize with the Charlie Hebdo shooters.

81% is PETA’s shelter kill rate in Virginia.

25% of the Iowa Republican Caucus would choose Gov. Scott Walker as their presidential candidate, leading the pack.

DHS & Immigration

Senate Republicans caved earlier this week in the DHS funding/executive amnesty fight, which paved the way for passage today in the upper chamber of a ‘clean’ DHS funding bill, 68-31, that would keep the department running through Sept. 30. The House, meanwhile, is closing in on approving a short-term spending bill that would avert a partial shutdown. The House had already passed a bill that fully funds DHS with the exception of Obama’s amnesty programs, but Senate Democrats filibustered the introduction of that legislation on multiple occasions, which prevented it from being debated or amended in the upper chamber. Meanwhile, another federal judge struck down one of Obama’s executive actions on immigration that helped end a wave of illegal immigration from Central American countries last summer.

Other Major Stories:

The Senate Judiciary Committee voted to confirm AG nominee Loretta Lynch, so her full confirmation vote now heads to the entire Senate. Earlier this week, more than 50 House Republicans sent a letter to the Committee urging a vote to block her confirmation.

Meanwhile, if you like what Obamacare has done to health care, you’ll love what the Federal Communications Commission is about to do to the Internet. The Commission narrowly passed ‘net neutrality’ regulations on Thursday, which is supposed to guarantee "free and open access to the internet."

Finally, President Obama vetoed the Keystone XL Pipeline, just as he threatened he would.

Townhall Exclusives:

I had the chance to catch up with Ohio Treasurer Josh Mandel to hear about the state’s new Online Checkbook, which allows citizens, journalists, and lawmakers alike to browse through more than $408 billion in state spending over seven fiscal years.

Cortney spoke with actor Ted McGinley about his role in a new faith-based film “Do You Believe?”

Townhall managing editor Kevin Glass explains on video the downside of news that the deficit is expected to drop to the lowest point it’s been since Obama took office.

CPAC exclusive interviews:

Ambassador John Bolton

Rep. Mia Love

Carly Fiorina

Gov. Bobby Jindal

Check out our Townhall Media YouTube page for the latest out of CPAC this week and more.

Gov. Bobby Jindal Talks Common Core, Obamacare, and ISIS in CPAC Speech

Louisiana Governor Bobby Jindal (R) stuck to three big themes during his speech yesterday at CPAC: Obamacare must be repealed, Common Core and the federal government have no business in the classroom, and radical Islam is a dangerous threat to America that needs to be handled by a competent leader.

Jindal emphasized that "we must repeal every single word of Obamacare," and hit on Republicans in Congress for "waving the white flag of surrender" on amnesty and Obamacare. Jindal made it clear that the 2014 elections were about "taking our country back," which, according to the governor, begins once Obamacare is repealed.

Jindal's focus then shifted to Common Core, and he noted that he's suing the federal government over the regulations. He said that he believes that parents and teachers at the local level do a far better job of dictating curriculum content than the federal government does. Additionally, Jindal was concerned as to what would happen if Common Core standards were applied to the U.S. History curriculum, saying that American exceptionalism would be replaced with victimization.

Jindal's third point was the threat of ISIS and other radical Islamic groups throughout the world, saying that Americans need to face the reality of "the evil that is radical Islamic terrorism." He criticized President Obama's failure to properly identify radical Islam as the motivating force behind ISIS, and said that he was "tired of hyphenated Americans"--meaning that he feels as though identifying as a united American population is more beneficial than dividing amongst ethnic backgrounds.

As for 2016, Jindal said that he expects to have a decision made about his potential run in the next couple of months, and that he has been praying over the matter with his wife.

Livestream: NRA's Wayne LaPierre Addresses CPAC

Executive Vice President for the National Rifle Association, Wayne LaPierre, addresses the Conservative Political Action Conference. Updates to follow.

Priebus on 2016 Debates: "Conservative Media Will Have a Voice"

Hopefully, those of us who watched the 2012 election cycle can all agree on the following points: There were too many Republican debates, too many unfriendly moderators, and too many “gotcha” questions.

To that end, at the Conservative Political Action Conference (CPAC) on Friday, Republican National Committee (RNC) Chairman Reince Priebus announced he's already taken steps to address voters' understandable concerns.

“The days of the media calling the shots in our primary debates are over,” he said. “You know, in the past, the media got to decide when, where and how many debates there were. Not anymore. At the RNC, we created a new system for a reasonable number of debates.”

“This time we’re going to assist in choosing debate partners and panelists, not the other way around,” he continued. “Conservative media will have a voice in the process. For example, we just announced that Salem Radio—the home of Hugh Hewitt and Bill Bennett—will partner for the debates with CNN. So the field day for the liberal media is over.”

The first GOP presidential debate is officially scheduled for this August.

Editor's note: This post has been updated for clarity purposes.

RNC's Priebus on GOP Debates: Conservatives Will Interview, Liberal Media Is Done

On this week's Townhall Weekend Journal:

Bill Bennett and AEI's Michael Rubin on Obama's remarks that "no religion is responsible for terrorism" remark. Hugh Hewitt and Donald Rumsfeld on the President's handling of Islamic terror. Dennis Prager responds to a CNN column written by Cornel feminist professor Dr. Peggy Drexler asking, why no Sports Illustrated swimsuit issue with men posing? Hugh Hewitt with RNC Chair Reince Priebus on Salem's role in the up-and-coming Republican presidential primary debates (Hugh Hewitt will be hosting) and the changes Priebus is making regarding the liberal media's inclusion (or lack thereof) and the frequency in which the debates occur. Bill O'Reilly appears with Hewitt discuss the media's attempt to "Brian Williams" him. Dennis Prager on the hard-left approach to this year's Academy Awards.

RNC Chairman Questions Clinton On Foreign Donations, Praises Wisconsin Right To Work Legislation

Yesterday, RNC Chairman Reince Priebus held a 20-minute sit down to answer questions from media members at the Conservative Political Action Conference. In a suite in the Gaylord National Resort and Convention Center, our own Guy Benson asked the chairman about the revelation that millions of dollars were given to the Clinton Foundation–an organization that’s raised $2 billion since its creation in 2001– by foreign governments while she was serving as President Obama’s Secretary of State and the passage of right to work in his home state of Wisconsin.

On February 26, the Wisconsin State Senate passed a right to work bill by a slim 17-15 vote. The law would prohibit forced dues to unions by private sector employees working under labor union contracts, according to Reuters. It now heads to the Republican-held State Assembly for final passage.

On both of those issues, the chairman said:

I don’t know how Hillary Clinton is going to take a 3 ‘o’clock call– 3am call from Libya, or Yemen, or Algeria, or Saudi Arabia when she was willing to have her foundation take potentially millions of dollars from those governments… Which country gave money? Who authorized the money to go there? Who did the negotiating because people just don’t–as you know and I know from raising money every day for the RNC– most of the time people just don’t wake up in the morning, saying I’m going to write a check for $25,000 without talking to somebody. Somebody solicited a donation, somebody made that donation happen, somebody collected the check, or gave wire transfer information to these other countries to make all of this happen.

Do you know what disqualifies someone from being president? It’s not having 50 articles about whether Barack Obama is a patriot or not, or whether he’s a Christian; the issue is how is it possible that the frontrunner of the Democrat Party is going to be President of the United States when she’s taking money while she’s representing the United States as Secretary of State.

Now, as far as right to work, it’s going to create jobs in Wisconsin. Look you can’t run an economy in Wisconsin when you’ve got Indiana, Michigan, and Iowa, as right to work states, taking their jobs. So, this is about competition and being competitive; it’s also about freedom.

It was recently reported that one of those foreign donations violated an ethics agreement (via WaPo):

The Clinton Foundation accepted millions of dollars from seven foreign governments during Hillary Rodham Clinton’s tenure as secretary of state, including one donation that violated its ethics agreement with the Obama administration, foundation officials disclosed Wednesday.

Most of the contributions were possible because of exceptions written into the foundation’s 2008 agreement, which included limits on foreign-government donations.

The agreement, reached before Clinton’s nomination amid concerns that countries could use foundation donations to gain favor with a Clinton-led State Department, allowed governments that had previously donated money to continue making contributions at similar levels.

The new disclosures, provided in response to questions from The Washington Post, make clear that the 2008 agreement did not prohibit foreign countries with interests before the U.S. government from giving money to the charity closely linked to the secretary of state.

In one instance, foundation officials acknowledged they should have sought approval in 2010 from the State Department ethics office, as required by the agreement for new government donors, before accepting a $500,000 donation from the Algerian government.

The money was given to assist with earthquake relief in Haiti, the foundation said. At the time, Algeria, which has sought a closer relationship with Washington, was spending heavily to lobby the State Department on human rights issues.

That year, Algeria spent $422,097 lobbying U.S. government officials on human rights issues and U.S.-Algerian relations, according to filings made under the Foreign Agents Registration Act. Data tracked by the Sunlight Foundation shows that while the Algerian government’s overall spending on lobbying in the United States remained steady, there was an increase in 2010 in State Department meetings held with lobbyists representing the country — with 12 visits to department officials that year, including some visits with top political appointees. In the years before and after, only a handful of State Department visits were recorded by Algeria lobbyists.

A 2010 State Department report on human rights in Algeria noted that “principal human rights problems included restrictions on freedom of assembly and association” and cited reports of arbitrary killings, widespread corruption and a lack of transparency. Additionally, the report, issued in early 2011, discussed restrictions on labor and women’s rights.

A State Department spokesman referred questions about the ethics-office reviews to the charity. Nick Merrill, a Clinton spokesman, declined to comment.

Sen. Tom Cotton: We Have To Be Willing To Go To War

If America wants to defeat ISIS, the U.S. millitary must demonstrate itself to be a foreboding enemy, Sen. Tom Cotton (R-AR) and Rep. Ryan Zinke (R-MT) explained at a panel at the Conservative Political Action Conference on Thursday.

“Air operations alone will not defeat ISIS,” Zinke said. “I've been there. ISIS is evil. You're not going to reform a group that beheads children, or burns pilots in cages. They're not reformable. And ISIS is as much a battle within Islam as it is between the East and west. We have a duty to fight ISIS.”

Zinke, a retired Navy SEAL Commander and member of the House Armed Services committee, agreed that the current strategy against Islamic extremism in the middle east has not been successful.

“I think the American public is tough, but we deserve the truth,” he said. “We won't be able to win against this enemy if we conduct it from over the horizon.”

Though Zinke commented that he wouldn't have chosen to go into Iraq given what is now known, he believes that only a military operation with full support – including medivac and air support – will truly remove the threat of the terrorist group.

“America is a force for global order because we're the only global power, and have been since the beginning of our country,” Cotton said. “The alternative is not perpetual peace and stability. Without America the alternative is disorder and chaos.”

For the millitary to truly be formidible, it requires both funding and support from the government and the people. Right now, Cotton said, the millitary lacks the funding it needs to win a war.

“Too many people think our current president is not willing to fight a war to protect our interests, which are protecting our territory, defending the lives of our citizens, standing up for our allies, and protecting our commercial interest around the world,” said Cotton, who served in Iraq as an Army Ranger.

The decline of America as a strong military power has not only caused a threat to nataional security, but is a contributor to global instability, according to Cotton. This disorder has grown and festered in the Middle East during the current administration.

“If we are willing to fight a war, and are prepared to fight a war,” Cotton said, “then war is much less likely to occur, because our allies will defer to us, knowing that we take their security interests into account, our enemies will fear us, knowing that we will confront and defeat them in any manner.”

CPAC Boos Jeb Bush and Chris Christie, Cheer Walker

CPAC Interview: Carly Fiorina Talks 2016

I had the opportunity to sit down with former Hewlett-Packard CEO, American Conservative Union Foundation Chairwoman and potential 2016 GOP presidential candidate Carly Fiorina at CPAC Thursday afternoon. We discussed Fiorina's rise to CEO, her pursuit of the American dream, her plans to run for the White House, how to beat Hillary Clinton and more. 

Photo credit: Ed Morrissey Filming: Sarah Jean Seman.

Perry Shames Washington on Immigration: They Talk and People Die

"At no time has the world been more dangerous," former Texas Governor Rick Perry said not long after he took the stage at this year's Conservative Political Action Conference in Oxon Hill, Maryland. Perry, who is rumored to run for president next year, had some bold words for the Obama administration and a Congress that has done little to secure not only our foreign security, but our own borders.

Perry, who served as Texas governor for 14 years, provided unwelcome news for the CPAC audience regarding America's shaky standing in the world, thanks to our weak leadership in Washington.

"We have entered a time of testing...we are failing," he said. The president, he continued, bows to political correctness and offers grave miscalculations in regards to the scope of our enemies.

"His incompetence in Iraq and Syria have allowed the rise of ISIS."

Perry said it is time for the American people to hear the truth, bluntly telling the CPAC crowd that ISIS wants an apocalypse and that we are not responding as we should.

"We didn't start this war, nor did we choose it," he said. "But we will have the will to finish it."

Just as dangerous, is how our enemies view us.

This Russian president, he said, has watched President Obama neglect to enforce his own red lines. It was conditions like those that allowed Putin to boldly enter Ukraine.


"Here's the simple truth: Our allies doubt us, and our adversaries are all too willing to test us."

No one, he added, should be surprised that dictators defy us. Why?

"Our president won't even defend the line that separates our border from Mexico," said Perry.

For America to be safer, our border must be secure, he declared. Washington is dangerously behind on this process. Tens of thousands of illegal immigrants are showing up on the border, he said, many of those being unaccompanied minors.

"They talk and people literally die," he said. "I had to make a decision on how to deal with that - the country was being impacted."

Perry met with President Obama to speak about the need to secure to border, but his warnings seemed to fall on deaf ears: "It became abundantly clear to me he was not going to address this issue."

That's when Texas took matters into its own hands. The governor increased law enforcement presence on the border, including deploying the National Guard. Since then, Texas has had a 74 percent decrease in apprehensions.


In other words, give Texas the resources, and it can secure the border.

Perry also touched on the growing national debt and uncertainty of millennials' future with the overbearing amount of student loans, yet ended with a positive message.

"I've never been more certain that America's best days remain in front of us," he said, with ingenuity and idealism of the American people being "too durable to be confused by this administration."


"We had a Great Depression - we even survived Jimmy Carter," he said. "We will survive the Obama years too."

Congress Chooses Conservative To Head Congressional Budget Office

House and Senate Budget Committee Chairmen Tom Price (R-GA) and Mike Enzi (R-WY) announced today that Mercatus Center Senior Fellow Keith Hall will be the next director of the Congressional Budget Office.

Hall, who was appointed to be commissioner of the Bureau of Labor Statistics by President Bush, will replace the current director Doug Elmendorf, who served at the left-leaning Brookings Institution before coming to CBO.

Hall ran the BLS from 2008 through 2012 and served as Chief Economist on President Bush's White House Council of Economic Advisors before that.

While at Mercatus, Hall authored numerous papers on the United States labor market including a 2013 working paper titled, "The Employment Costs of Regulation." "[T]here is evidence that high levels of regulation can affect the economy dynamically and at the macro level," Hall wrote. "With respect to labor markets, this means that regulations can affect job creation, wage growth, and workforce skill mismatching with available jobs."

As the official scorekeeper of legislative proposals, the CBO is a key Washington institution whose cost estimates have a significant impact on how laws are drafted.

“[Dr. Hall] has dedicated his career to managing teams focused on strengthening the economy by providing policy makers and the public with superior economic analysis and information," Enzi said in a statement. "I thank Mr. Elmendorf for his service and look forward to working with Dr. Hall as Congress begins the difficult task of addressing our nation’s chronic overspending, which threatens America’s future.”

Rubio at CPAC: "I Have a Debt to America"

Sen. Marco Rubio (R-FL) is reportedly jumping on the 2016 bandwagon. Time and again, however, he has said that he will not run for the presidency and re-election -- he will pick one or the other -- and thus unsurprisingly recommitted to that pledge at CPAC on Friday. Nevertheless, his speech struck all the familiar chords, blending his own personal story with his deep and abiding love for a country that saved his parents from the scourge of communism.

“The question before us in November of 2016 is what kind of country are we going to be,” he began. “For over two centuries, we’ve been an exceptional country. A place founded on the belief that the every man, woman, and child is born with a God-given right to life and liberty and to pursue happiness. Sometimes you wouldn’t know we’re an exceptional nation by listening to the Left. They describe us as a people divided on lines of gender and ethnicity and race and class. Sometimes you wouldn’t know we’re an exceptional nation by listening to the president, who has described our nation as sometimes being arrogant or dictating terms to others.”

“But Americans know we’re exceptional,” he continued. “And you know who else knows we’re exceptional? The world does. After all, when was the last time you heard of a boatload of American refugees arriving on the shores of another country?”

And yet there is, he went on to say, a prevailing sense among Americans that the country has totally lost its way.

“The bad news is that today our nation is on the road to decline,” he plainly stated. “[But] here’s the good news: We are one election away from triggering another American century.”

And that American century, he continued, is something he feels both obligated and determined to secure.

“I have a debt to America that I will never be able to repay,” he said. “For me America isn’t just a country, for me it’s a place that literally changed the history of my family.”

“This is the America that you and I are now called to leave behind,” he continued. “Let us now move forward to cease our destiny [as] the single greatest nation man has ever known.”

Boehner's DHS Gambit

House Speaker John Boehner (R-OH) will try to pass a three week extension for Department of Homeland Security funding Friday, claiming the extra time will be needed to conference the House-passed amnesty defunding bill with a Senate bill that is expected to pass later today.

DHS funding is set to expire at midnight Friday and the Senate is scheduled to act first at 10 AM by voting for cloture on the House-passed DHS funding bill.

At that point the Senate would need to first pass an amendment funding Obama's amnesty (that would need 50 votes) and then another vote on final passage (another 50 vote threshold).

At that point the ball would be in Boehner's court.

As of Thursday night, Boehner's new plan is to pass a three week extension of current DHS funding and then request a conference committee with the Senate on the two long-term DHS funding bills.

If the Senate agreed to go to conference, Senate Democrats would then not be able to stop the conference-approved DHS bill from being debated and they would not be able to offer amendments. But they would be able to filibuster final passage.

Boehner will need to convince most conservatives that his new plan is sincere and has a real chance of success since Democrats are planning to vote en masse against the short-term extension. Boehner also will reportedly tell members that three more weeks will allow members to find out if the 5th Circuit Court of Appeals will uphold Judge Andrew Hanen's injunction preventing Obama's Deferred Action for Parental Accountability program from going forward.

However, there is no guarantee the 5th Circuit will rule in that timeframe.

The House is not scheduled to vote on Boehner's new short-term DHS funding plan till later today.

Attendees Pack The Ballroom For Gov. Walker’s Address At CPAC

Wisconsin Gov. Scott Walker, a possible 2016 presidential candidate, addressed a packed room at this year’s Conservative Political Action Conference. He entered the Potomac Ballroom at the Gaylord National Resort and Convention relaxed, no jacket on, and delivered a red meat address to the soldiers of the Republican base.

The governor was adamant that freedom and prosperity isn’t conjured from the machinations of big government, but from the people who control and decide their own destinies. Walker stressed that success should be measured by how many people are no longer dependent on the government

He also slammed Obama for drawing lines in the sand and not taking action, for his failure in Yemen, and his inability to recognize the threat of ISIS. The governor also criticized the administration for their lack of respect for Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu.

“We need a leader who will stand with Israel,” he told the crowd.

Walker asserted that America should stand for what’s right and wrong. That declaration segued into an anecdote about how he and his prayed before entering the Wisconsin gubernatorial race in 2010. They decided to jump into the political endeavor that would make him a national star amongst the right for a simple reason: he and his wife, Tonette, were worried about their sons’ future.

“As parents, that was unacceptable,” he said.

The governor mentioned how he became public enemy number one amongst Washington’s entrenched interests and that of the political left. Nevertheless, he emerged victorious, winning the 2010 gubernatorial, the 2012 recall attempt, and his 2014 re-election bid. He proudly said, “We showed we could fight and win for the hard-working taxpayers.”

On other issues, like education, Walker cited that Wisconsin’s graduation rates are up, as are their students’ reading scores. With the budget, Walker said, “after four years, we’ve reduced the burden on hard-working taxpayers by $2 billion.”

On the life issues, Walker prided in his effort to push through pro-life legislation and defund Planned Parenthood. Regarding the Second Amendment, he said, “we enacted concealed carry and passed Castle Doctrine.”

Oh, and to combat voter fraud, Walker mentioned, “You need a photo ID to vote in the state of Wisconsin.”

He also mentioned that the Republican-controlled legislature is poised to make Wisconsin the 25th right to work state in the country.

In closing, he said that we don’t go back in time to rejuvenate the American spirit. We cannot relive or replicate the conditions that spurred the birth of the ideals our society is built upon. That’s impossible. Instead, Walker said that we must use the principles of our Founding Fathers as a guide to find the way forward to a brighter, more prosperous future.

It was a "red meat" address, which the audience thoroughly enjoyed.

Walker was heckled during his speech, albeit for a quick second, before he, along with the rest of attendees, pretty much shut it down.

IRS Being Investigated For Criminal Misconduct Surrounding Lois Lerner's 'Missing' Emails

Last night Treasury Inspector General for Tax Administration Russell George and Deputy Inspector General for Investigations Timothy Camus updated the House Oversight Committee on the status of Lois Lerner's "missing" emails surrounding the IRS targeting of conservatives.

In an exchange with Congressman Jim Jordan (R-OH), Camus revealed there is "potential criminal activity" involved in the disappearance and hiding of emails belonging to IRS officials involved in the targeting of conservatives between 2010 and 2012.

“There is potential criminal activity," Camus said.

Not surprisingly, in order to stonewall the congressional investigation into the targeting of conservative groups, IRS officials never asked IT professionals to look into gathering back-up tapes or recovering emails requested by Congress.

Despite IRS Commissioner John Koskinen repeatedly saying under oath in previous hearings that Lerner's emails could not be recovered, Camus and investigators have been successful in recovering nearly 33,000 emails relevant to the IRS investigation.

"To date we have found 32,774 unique e-mails that were backed up from Lois Lerner's e-mail box. We are in the process of comparing these e-mails to what the IRS has already produced to Congress to determine if we did in fact recover any new emails. We are also in the process of having the e-mail server hard drives analyzed if there are any readable e-mails that can be recovered from these hard drives. And finally, we are continuing to determine if there are any other sources that may contain Lois Lerner's e-mails," Camus said during testimony.


“The IRS was apparently given instruction to do whatever necessary to silence those who spoke out against the Obama Administration. It became a West Wing weapon of choice. As the nation’s only pro-liberty election integrity organization, True the Vote was marked for takedown by the IRS early in 2010, along with hundreds of other organizations that spoke openly about government corruption. It took a long time, too long, for the pieces to be put together, but Americans are beginning to understand that the politics of ‘hope and change’ has an enforcement arm that operates like an organized crime syndicate. The time for choosing is now,” True the Vote Founder Catherine Engelbrecht, who was targeted by the IRS and other government agencies, said in a statement about the new revelations. “Our elected officials need to stop playing politics and use the powers we’ve entrusted to them to restore the rule of law in Washington. Stop handing out bonuses and start sending law-breaking bureaucrats to jail. If Congress doesn’t have conviction enough to get the job done, then just turn out the lights, get off the payroll, go home, and get out of the way. Enough is enough. The American people will not be silenced.” 

The investigation into the IRS by Congress and the Inspectors General is ongoing.

Chicago Police Allegedly Have A Domestic 'Black Site'

It sounds like a story you would hear from a former Soviet state. The Chicago Police Department has reportedly been holding suspects at an off-the-grid location called Homan Square. Here, Americans, some as young as 15, have been denied counsel, held anywhere from 12-24 hours, and subject to beatings, according to the Guardian.

For those sent to Horman, they aren’t booked. Their records aren’t even entered in the public databases. This location is said to have been operational for years, since the late 1990s. One person is said to have died in one of Horman’s “interview rooms.” The article also discussed the arrest of Brian Jacob Church, who was arrested by Chicago police in 2012 on terrorism charges. Church is part of the “NATO Three,” who were arrested after police infiltrated their protest of the organization’s Chicago summit. The Guardian reported that Church was subject to an interrogation without being read his Miranda rights and detained for about 17 hours:

The facility, a nondescript warehouse on Chicago’s west side known as Homan Square, has long been the scene of secretive work by special police units. Interviews with local attorneys and one protester who spent the better part of a day shackled in Homan Square describe operations that deny access to basic constitutional rights.

Alleged police practices at Homan Square, according to those familiar with the facility who spoke out to the Guardian after its investigation into Chicago police abuse, include:

  • Keeping arrestees out of official booking databases.
  • Beating by police, resulting in head wounds.
  • Shackling for prolonged periods.
  • Denying attorneys access to the “secure” facility.
  • Holding people without legal counsel for between 12 and 24 hours, including people as young as 15.

At least one man was found unresponsive in a Homan Square “interview room” and later pronounced dead.

Brian Jacob Church, a protester known as one of the “Nato Three”, was held and questioned at Homan Square in 2012 following a police raid. Officers restrained Church for the better part of a day, denying him access to an attorney, before sending him to a nearby police station to be booked and charged.

Unlike a precinct, no one taken to Homan Square is said to be booked. Witnesses, suspects or other Chicagoans who end up inside do not appear to have a public, searchable record entered into a database indicating where they are, as happens when someone is booked at a precinct. Lawyers and relatives insist there is no way of finding their whereabouts. Those lawyers who have attempted to gain access to Homan Square are most often turned away, even as their clients remain in custody inside.

A former Chicago police superintendent and a more recently retired detective, both of whom have been inside Homan Square in the last few years in a post-police capacity, said the police department did not operate out of the warehouse until the late 1990s.

Jacob Church learned about Homan Square the hard way. On May 16 2012, he and 11 others were taken there after police infiltrated their protest against the Nato summit. Church says officers cuffed him to a bench for an estimated 17 hours, intermittently interrogating him without reading his Miranda rights to remain silent. It would take another three hours – and an unusual lawyer visit through a wire cage – before he was finally charged with terrorism-related offenses at the nearby 11th district station, where he was made to sign papers, fingerprinted and photographed.

In preparation for the Nato protest, Church, who is from Florida, had written a phone number for the National Lawyers Guild on his arm as a precautionary measure. Once taken to Homan Square, Church asked explicitly to call his lawyers, and said he was denied.

“Essentially, I wasn’t allowed to make any contact with anybody,” Church told the Guardian, in contradiction of a police guidance on permitting phone calls and legal counsel to arrestees.

Church’s left wrist was cuffed to a bar behind a bench in windowless cinderblock cell, with his ankles cuffed together. He remained in those restraints for about 17 hours.

After serving two and a half years in prison, Church is currently on parole after he and his co-defendants were found not guilty in 2014 of terrorism-related offenses but guilty of lesser charges of possessing an incendiary device and the misdemeanor of “mob action”.

The access that Nato Three attorneys received to Homan Square was an exception to the rule, even if Jacob Church’s experience there was not.

Some were not so lucky. On February 2, 2013, John Hubbard was taken to Homan Square, where he died due to heroin intoxication in one of the interrogation rooms.

Regardless of the crimes, in this country, even the worst of humanity deserves a fair trial, access to counsel, and other rights associated with the due process of law. Of course, we’re all for law and order and fighting terrorism, but having what appears to be a black site on American soil poses a serious constitutional question, especially when this facility allegedly neglects to book their suspects and add their information into the database. We should be wary of institutions that engage in practices that prevent accountability under the law. To safeguard the Constitution, even the lowest of the low need their day in court–at the very minimum.

TSA Worried About 'Greatest Potential Incendiary Threat to Aviation'

A new day, a new security threat. 

According to an FBI report, the use of Thermite on an aircraft is the “greatest potential incendiary threat to aviation.” Worse yet, the Transportation Security Administration said it would be extremely hard to detect during security screenings and once ignited, there’s no way to extinguish it using conventional methods without making the reaction worse.

The Intercept, which obtained the classified documents, has the details:

Thermite — a mixture of rust and aluminum powder — could be used against a commercial aircraft, TSA warned in a Dec. 2014 document, marked secret[PDF here]. “The ignition of a thermite-based incendiary device on an aircraft at altitude could result in catastrophic damage and the death of every person onboard,” the advisory said.

TSA said it is unlikely to spot an easy-to-assemble thermite-based incendiary device during security screening procedures, and the use of currently available extinguishers carried on aircrafts would create a violent reaction. The TSA warning is based on FBI testing done in 2011, and a subsequent report.

A thermite device, though difficult to ignite, would “produce toxic gasses, which can act as nerve poison, as well as a thick black smoke that will significantly inhibit any potential for in-flight safety officers to address the burn.”

TSA warned federal air marshals not to use customary methods of extinguishing fires — the water or halon fire extinguishers currently found on most aircraft — which would make the reaction worse, creating toxic fumes. Instead, air marshals are told to “recognize a thermite ignition” — but TSA has provided no training or guidance on how to do so, according to multiple sources familiar with the issue.

TSA officers who spoke with The Intercept expressed frustrations over the security reports because they’ve been given no follow-up instructions or training on what to do if they are presented with such a threat onboard.

“We’re supposed to brief our [federal air marshals] to identify a thermite ignition — but they tell us nothing,” one TSA official told The Intercept. “So our guys are Googling, ‘What does thermite look like? How do you extinguish thermite fires?’ This is not at all helpful.”

Other aviation officials who spoke with the news site, also anonymously because they are not authorized to speak to the press, said much the same: “They say to identify something we don’t know how to identify and say there is nothing we can do,” a federal air marshal told The Intercept. “So basically, we hope it’s placed somewhere it does minimal damage, but basically we’re [screwed].”

OK, so we may all be “screwed” if terrorists can get this stuff past security and onto the plane, but explosives experts are saying the operative word is “if.”

Jimmie Oxley, a professor of chemistry at the University of Rhode Island, and an expert in explosives and explosives detection, said thermite — though a theoretical threat — seemed an unlikely candidate to slip through security, particularly since the would-be terrorist would also have to carry an igniter. “You’ve got to get a pound of something that is a really thick mass through security without anyone noticing,” she said. “I find that hard to believe.”

The problem is one of practicalities, said Oxley, who has worked with the FBI and other federal agencies on explosives testing, but was not aware of the specific TSA or FBI reports on thermite obtained by The Intercept. If the hope were to burn a hole through the aircraft, then the thermite would have to be placed on the floor, and then there’s still no guarantee it would take down the aircraft.

Setting off thermite is also impractical, according to Oxley. “Somebody has to give you time to play on the plane,” she said. “Like with the shoe bomber, people do notice if you’re doing something weird in this day and age.”

The FBI did point out in its report, however, that just because the agency has presented information about the threat doesn’t mean terrorists are necessarily interested in it. It turns out they may be more interested in “other types of incendiary materials.”

Great.

Palin: "This Bureaucracy Is Killing Our Vets"

It's always a booming full house when former Alaska Governor Sarah Palin takes the CPAC stage. This year, however, the applause was saved for her son Track and his fellow soldiers and veterans who have bravely served our country.

When the country's most famous Mama Grizzly spoke at the Conservative Political Action Conference Thursday afternoon, she used her remarks to honor our nation's finest.

As a military mom, Palin knows a thing or two about the sacrifices our young men and women make every day fighting for our freedom overseas. Unfortunately, she somberly noted, our veterans face a whole new set of challenges when they return home. Be it PTSD, unemployment, or staggering divorce and suicide rates, our soldiers are in danger just as much off the battlefield as they were in combat. You only have to consider this one statistic Palin provided to understand the threats they face:

"The suicide rate among our best and our brightest is 23 a day. In these four days, 92 vets will have taken their lives."

Palin, however, knows our vets are not "charity causes," as Dakota Meyer, a former Marine Corps corporal who introduced her, noted. She knows first hand how those first deployments feel - that moment when he goes from a "son" to a "sir," as she put it.

After honoring her son and the rest of our nation's soldiers, Palin spent time shaming our bureaucrats.

"They're promised no one is left behind on battlefield...We're here to collect on the promises made. This bureaucracy is killing our vets."

With revelations that the Veterans Administration put our veterans on secret waiting lists and even dared to withhold benefits from them, that statement may be truer than we may like to believe.

As to why these scandals only recently broke, Palin knows the answer.

"The reason you don't hear about these scandals, is because our vets don't complain."

The former governor offered a few solutions as to how America could better serve our returning soldiers.

1. Offer vets treatment outside of the VA. Vets deserve the same freedom as their fellow Americans when it comes to treatment. What's more, Palin said, we must ensure that illegal immigrants don't jump in front. "We demand that the vets are first in line."

2. Let them use skills they learned in the military. She called this "common sense."

3. Secure their well earned benefits. Almost unbelievably, Congress voted to cut vets retirement benefits last year. They only relented, Palin recalled, when the American people spoke up. Notably, she added, these same legislators didn't vote to cut their own.

"We must provide our vets the political will to win."

Palin couldn't speak about our vets and national security without calling attention to the very real threat of the Islamic caliphate that our president continues to dangerously minimalize. Because terrorism is "on the march" all over the world, there is but one solution, Palin said.

"The only thing standing between us and savages, is the red, white and blue - the United States military."

Palin ended her speech by asking veterans in the crowd to stand so the audience could salute them, proclaiming, "We love you!"

Our soldiers are our suited protectors. In summary, I have to echo Mrs. Palin: "Our vets deserve better."

Cruz: "The Next 20 Months Are Going to Be Very Dangerous"

Prior to his speech at CPAC Thursday afternoon, Sen. Ted Cruz (R-TX) didn’t mince words. He bluntly told reporters how nervous he is about the president’s final 20 months in office.

“The next 20 months are going to be very dangerous,” he said. “They are going to be dangerous at home. President Obama has reacted to this last election in a way that’s unprecedented. You know, prior presidents have been repudiated [and] they’ve reacted with contrition. [P]resident Obama, instead, reacted with anger and defiance.”

“I believe the next 20 months we are going to see a degree of lawlessness that will exceed anything we’ve seen in the previous six years,” he continued. “I think we’re going to see executive order after executive order. I think we’re going to see the abuse of regulations in a way that crushes small businesses, destroys jobs. I think we are going to see the continued weaponization of the IRS in the federal government, and it is going to be dangerous.”

He expressed hope, however, that Congressional Republicans will fulfill their constitutional duties and, as he put it, “rein in that abuse of power and provide meaningful oversight.” But unfortunately, he said, there are other concerns to be worried about as well.

“And I’ll tell you as dangerous as it’s going to be at home, it’s going to be even more dangerous aboard,” he emphasized. “Every bad actor on the face of the globe, from Putin to Khomeini in Iran to ISIS, has every incentive possible to do as much damage as they can in [the next] 20 months."

Why?

Because, he argued, "the tyrants of the world believe there is no credible threat or deterrent from this president.”

Rep. Mia Love: Government Has Made it Impossible for Legal Immigrants to Start Their Own Lives

Rep. Mia Love's (R-Utah) parents came to America from Haiti with $10 in their pocket in the 1970s. After holding down several jobs, they eventually earned their own way to success. Their daughter, however, said that could probably not happen today, thanks to an overbearing federal government. Love shared her personal story with attendees today at the Conservative Political Action Conference to demonstrate how important it is to take advantage of opportunities just like her parents did and work to achieve the American Dream on their own individual efforts, before it's threatened by Washington.

Love has an impressive resume. She is the first black female Republican elected to Congress, as well as the first black Republican ever elected from Utah. More impressively, she did it without relying on the nanny state. Her own personal story is why she rejects the notion that government should run our lives.

"Too many in Washington don't trust the American people. They don't want us to have opportunities to rise to the occasion."

Love has a better vision for America.

"I think it's time we need to look within. I think it's time for Washington to trust the American people."

The Utah representative can now say that the same principles that propelled her parents' success have also offered her a way forward.

"Conservative policies work. I've seen them work as a mother, as a mayor, and I use them now as a member of Congress...The American people deserve the opportunity to rise to the occasion."

Speaking of rising, Rep. Love shared a poignant and relevant story about a hot air balloon ride she took last year. As she was getting ready to board the balloon, she asked her son to join. He declined, so her daughter jumped in instead. High in the air, they enjoyed the beauty of Utah's landscape. Then, the weather changed, and the wind took them into the backyard of a neighbor. After witnessing the exciting spectacle, Love's son felt a hint of jealousy.

"Peyton watched the excitement from the ground. He runs over and says, 'I'm ready, it's my turn! But, the opportunity for him to soar and rise to the sky had come and gone. I said, 'remember this experience, remember today...If you do not take opportunities that come today, you'll never know if they'll come back." 

This is especially true, she said, thanks to a ballooning federal government."

"The federal government has made it impossible for people to save. It's difficult for someone to start their own lives - we've got to change that."

Even just 52 days in Congress, Love recognizes how harmful the government's nanny programs can be.

"I see all these programs that are meant to help the poor, hurt those they vow to protect."

Love said that government has its own interests in mind, not those of the American people. Her solutions? We have to trust ourselves and hit government agencies where they hurt.

"Independent people are the ones that give back. Washington can't do that. Washington needs to get smaller so people are bigger...Their job is to keep their job. We have to cut the bloodline to these bureaucracies, which is the funding."

It is this positive belief in America that encouraged Love's consituents to give her a seat in Washinton to try and change the selfish status quo.

"I was elected because of the policies and the principles that belive in American exceptionalism. I believe in this country."

Preserve your right to make your own decisions, she added. 

"Unlike Washington, I believe you're capable of doing that."

I had the opportunity to interview Rep. Love Thursday morning. She expanded on how Big Government has made it extremely difficult for immigrants to legally enter and succeed in America. Below is our full conversation: