Charlie Crist: C'mon Guys, I've Always Been a Democrat

It must feel good to be Charlie Crist. Four short years after flaming out in the GOP US Senate primary (he lost to Marco Rubio, as it happens) the former Republican-turned-independent-turned-Democrat finds himself once again nominated (albeit from a different party) to be Florida’s next governor. (He previously served in that official capacity from 2007 to 2011).

In any case, he secured the Democratic nomination without a sweat last night, and offered these words of wisdom while marveling in his victory:

Crist said the strong showing is a sign that Democrats believe in him. “Frankly, I think I was on their side when I was in the other party,” he said as he prepared a victory speech. He said a friend once told him, “Charlie, you’ve been a Democrat your whole life, you just didn’t know it.’ Well, now I know it.”

Good Lord. Meanwhile, the Associated Press gently reminds us that only a few shorts years ago (an eternity in politics, I suppose) he aligned himself with such progressive juggernauts as Ronald Reagan and Jeb Bush:

Crist, 58, previously won three statewide races as a GOP candidate, and it wasn’t that long ago that he called himself a Ronald Reagan/Jeb Bush Republican. He was once considered a potential running mate for 2008 Republican presidential nominee John McCain and had the backing of GOP leaders in a 2010 bid for Senate — until Rubio used an image of Crist hugging Obama to chase Crist from the primary. Crist then ran as an independent, but he ended up a distant second. In 2012, he endorsed Obama for a second term.

So he went from being a possible Republican veep choice in 2008...to endorsing Barack Obama in 2012. That should pretty much tell you everything you need to know about him.

Nonetheless, a freshly-released SurveyUSA poll out this month indicates that the race is very much a dead heat:

In this 10th tracking poll for WFLA-TV in Tampa, SurveyUSA adds the name of Libertarian Adrian Wyllie to the "who would you vote for" question, and finds the results largely consistent with previous releases, where survey respondents could select an option for "some other candidate" to express support for Wyllie.

Today, it's incumbent Republican Rick Scott 44%, Democratic challenger Charlie Crist 41%, Wyllie 4%. Wyllie appears to take ever-so-slightly more votes from Scott than from Crist, an analysis of the results reveals. That's because in 8 out of the 9 previous WFLA-TV tracking polls, Scott has led among independent voters, but today, with Wyllie siphoning off 12% of the independents, Crist leads among independents 37% to 30%.

Well, Crist used to be an independent, so it only make sense that he would eventually capture some of this crucial voting bloc, especially with a third party candidate in the mix. Also, guess what? If he wins, he will be the first politician in American history to occupy the state’s top executive job as both a Democrat and a Republican.

Can't you just feel the excitement in the air?

Ha! Canada Tweets 'Geography Guide' For 'Lost' Russian Soldiers

Leave it to our neighbours to the north to gently, hilariously, tell Russia to back off of Ukraine:

The tweet is from an account for Canada's NATO delegation.

Yesterday, 10 Russian soldiers were captured in Ukraine. They claimed that they had "accidentally" crossed the border while on patrol.

"These servicemen really did take part in a patrol of a section of the Russian-Ukrainian border, crossing it likely by mistake at an unequipped and unmarked point, as far as we are aware they offered no resistance to the Ukrainian armed forces when arrested," a Ministry of Defence source told Russia's state-owned RIA Novosti news agency.

This isn't the first time Russian soldiers have miraculously appeared in places their government claimed they were not stationed in. In late July, a selfie-addicted Russian soldier/Instagram fanatic published several posts that were geotagged in locations in eastern Ukraine, where Russia had vehemently denied sending troops.

Whoops.

Let's hope Russia heeds @CanadaNATO's advice and stays out of Ukraine. Or learns borders. Or something.

Joe Biden Tweets Absurd Claim His Granddaughters Somehow Lack Rights

Poor Joe Biden's granddaughters. While the rest of the country has granted women full rights as citizens to vote, drive cars, own property, sign documents, play sports, etc., apparently these unfortunate girls are stuck in the 19th century.

Biden did not elaborate further as to which rights his granddaughters lack compared to his grandsons.

As our friends at Twitchy pointed out, quite a few CEOs are women—as is a fifth of the U.S. Senate—and the next president of the United States could quite likely be a woman. But none of that applies to the Biden granddaughters, apparently.

As the proud granddaughter of a stonemason and a hardware store owner, I can't really say that I have any fewer rights than my little brother. Granted, my grandfathers weren't former senators or vice presidents or college educated, so I may be a tad privileged when I'm making this claim compared to Biden's granddaughters. Anyhow, as a female growing up in the United States, I've had basically every opportunity open to me. I can vote and be elected to public office. I'm not required by law to cover my hair or face. I don't have to dress in disguise as a male to see a sporting event. I'm not at risk of having my genitals mutilated, and gendercide of females is not accepted nor encouraged in this country. I wasn't forced to study a "traditionally female" subject in college. I didn't have to worry about being kidnapped by militants who don't believe in educating girls when I was in elementary school. If I eventually marry, have children and decide to stay at home with them, it will be my choice to do so, not a legal requirement nor a societal expectation. These are all actual issues that women face in different countries. What, pray tell, am I missing here that I somehow do not have access to in the United States due to my chromosomal makeup?

American women, such as myself and Biden's granddaughters, have it better than just about every other woman in the world. To suggest that somehow we are disadvantaged due to our genders or that we're lacking in rights compared to our brothers is flat out wrong. Biden needs to remove himself from the 1800s and rejoin the 21st century.

CBO Report: Obamacare Denting Labor Force

The Congressional Budget Office is out with its long-term budget and economic projections, updated from their April 2014 report. Not a lot has changed in the intermediate months, but a few aspects of the report stick out.

First, the deficit this year is slightly larger. Slower-than-expected economic growth has lowered the CBO's projections for revenue this year. Second, their long-term deficit projections over the 2015-2024 period has been lowered by $69 billion.

What's interesting is the CBO's analysis of the makeup of the labor force. Over the next ten years, the CBO doesn't project a return to the size of the labor force that we saw pre-2007 recession. In fact, the size of the labor force from 1984-2007 now looks to be a historical outlier:

What the CBo does write, though, is that one of the downward pressures on the labor force is Obamacare. As the report finds:

Over the next few years, CBO expects that the rate of labor force participation will decline about 1/2 percentage point further... the most important of those factors is the ongoing movement of the baby-boom generation into retirement, but federal tax and spending policies will also tend to lower the participation rate. In particular, certain aspects of the Affordable Care Act will tend to reduce labor force participation, with the largest effect stemming from the subsidies that reduce the cost of purchasing health insurance through the exchanges. Because the subsidies decline with rising income (and increase with falling income) and make some people financially better off, they reduce the incentive for some people to work as much as they would without the subsidies.

We won't rehash the debate here over whether or not it's a good thing for the welfare state to provide so much that people will choose not to work - but it's pretty undeniable at this point that ACA is disincentivizing work for Americans in an era where we're wondering if the decline in labor force participation is the new normal.

PBS To Air Documentary Sympathetic to Abortionists

How did we go from Barney to this? 

On Monday, PBS will be airing the documentary "After Tiller," which paints late-term abortionists in a sympathetic light. (You may recall our piece on this film from last year.) 

The documentary claimed these abortionists are "victims" of pro-life aggression. The message was questionable enough, but even more egregious was the fact that the film was released on the heels of convicted murderer and abortionist Kermit Gosnell’s sentencing. Gosnell was guilty of killing babies, keeping their feet in jars and putting mothers’ lives in danger in his clinics. He performed late-term abortions - the same practice the people in “After Tiller” are trying to save. Now, PBS is airing the documentary as a part of their "POV" series, or “Documentaries with a point of view.”

Here is a description of the film from the PBS.org:

Martha Shane and Lana Wilson's After Tiller is a deeply humanizing and probing portrait of the only four doctors in the United States still openly performing third-trimester abortions in the wake of the 2009 assassination of Dr. George Tiller in Wichita, Kansas—and in the face of intense protest from abortion opponents. It is also an examination of the desperate reasons women seek late abortions. Rather than offering solutions, After Tiller presents the complexities of these women's difficult decisions and the compassion and ethical dilemmas of the doctors and staff who fear for their own lives as they treat their patients.

Clearly, the film has chosen sides in the pro-life/pro-choice debate. So, since PBS has chosen to air this more or less pro-abortion documentary, surely they’ll give airtime to pro-life films or documentaries like “The 40 Film,” right? Or, how about the upcoming Gosnell: The Movie? Filmmakers Phelim McAleer and Ann McElhinney succeeded in reaching the funds necessary in their crowd sourcing campaign to produce a movie exposing Kermit Gosnell and the atrocities in his filthy abortion clinics. PBS will gladly accept that submission, right? Yeah, I won’t get my hopes up either.

Some have charged PBS with pushing a liberal agenda for years. In his book “Primetime Propaganda: The True Hollywood Story of How the Left Took Over Your TV,” author Ben Shapiro got executives to admit that even shows seemingly as innocuous as “Sesame Street” have included bits of progressive propaganda.

This time, however, their agenda isn’t so subtle. If you are upset about PBS’s decision to feature a sympathetic film about abortion, write or call the station and insist you don’t want this kind of film to air on the same channel your children are learning their ABCs.

Brutal: Dems' MT Senate Candidate Freezes in TV Interview, Is a Revolutionary Socialist


Believe it or not, this clip is probably the least of Montana Democrats' problems with their newly-minted Senate candidate.  But let's watch it anyway.  Her train of thought chugs to a cringe-worthy standstill midway through her rehearsed answer, leading to an awkward silence. After several seconds, the reporter takes pity on his interview subject and gamely bails her out with a lay-up question (via the Free Beacon):



Curtis: "It’s my honor to travel around the state now for the next nine weeks and continue talking and listening to Montanans about the issues that are important to them. And…"

[Five Seconds of silence, Curtis looks at the ceiling, blinks, cracks embarrassed smile]

Interviewer: Where are you from?

There are a lot of things Ms. Curtis doesn't seem to know, such as her positions on major issues.  From a CNN profile:  "When asked her position on the situation in Iraq, Curtis told CNN, 'Give me a little more time.' On the border crisis, 'I'll need more time, you know only 11 days ago I was painting my storm windows.'"  What she does know is that she's against "the one percent" and hates Paul Ryan's budget.  Democrats' chances of holding this seat sustained a major blow when placeholder Senator John Walsh dropped out of the race, following damning plagiarism revelations.  Walsh had been hand-selected to replace longtime incumbent Sen. Max Baucus, who was flagging badly in polls, and who was tossed a lifeline by the White House when he was selected as US Ambassador to China.  Scrambling to field someone in the race, the party settled on Curtis, whose political views (the ones that she doesn't need 'a little more time' to determine) don't inspire confidence. Phil Kerpen does some digging:


Montana Democrats nominated in his stead State Rep. Amanda Curtis, a member of the radical, revolutionary socialist group Industrial Workers of the World (IWW). Rep. Curtis was nominated for the United Stated Senate by the Montana Democratic Party on August 16, 2014. Less than two weeks earlier, on August 4, she tagged herself in [a] photograph featuring IWW banners and identifying Curtis as an FW, or “Fellow Worker,” the term used in IWW for group members...On August 7, 2014, Rep. Curtis changed her Facebook profile photograph to a picture of former Communist Party USA chair Elizabeth Gurley Flynn, who received a state funeral from the Soviet Union in 1964...One post of Mr. Curtis’s that Rep. Curtis shared on July 31 suggests that, in the event she and her allies cannot accomplish their objectives through electoral victories, they will resort to “sterner means.”

Also known as "violence."  Curtis' group advocates the abolition of "wage slavery" and "eventually end[ing] the capitalist system."  Montana's unions have eagerly endorsed her, natch.  When asked about these radical Socialist viewpoints, a campaign aide told CNN, "Amanda grew up in a family that struggled to put food on the table so she knows first hand the struggles of Montana working families...we must put working Montana families ahead of corporate special interests."  A sanitizing dodge, not a denial. Elsewhere in 2014 Senate races, Sen. Kay Hagan hugged President Obama upon his visit to North Carolina, while trying to distance herself from him (she's voted with Obama 96 percent of the time), a new ad from Sen. Mark Pryor intimates that his Republican opponent is soft on Ebola, and Alaska's Republican nominee shoots a television set -- literally -- in a new television spot:

Report: First US-born ISIS Terrorist Dies in Combat

Douglas McAuthur McCain, from the San Diego area, is reportedly the first and only American citizen to die waging jihad with ISIS. NBC News has the scoop:

The battle in itself seemed tragically normal. Two Syrian opposition groups fought and there were heavy casualties on both sides. Then victorious rebels rifled through the pockets of the dead. One contained about $800 in cash -- and an American passport.

Douglas McAuthur McCain, of San Diego, California, was killed over the weekend fighting for the Islamic State of Iraq and al-Sham (ISIS), according to the Free Syrian Army. Photos of McCain's passport and of his body -- which feature a distinctive neck tattoo -- have been seen by NBC News. According to an activist linked to the Free Syrian Army who also saw the body and travel document, McCain was among three foreign jihadis fighting with ISIS who died during the battle.

Given the group’s well-cultivated reputation as a known terrorist organization more brutal than al Qaeda, it’s certainly jarring to read Western nationals, let alone American citizens, would join their ranks. Perhaps this is why McCain’s own cousin has denied the rumors, claiming instead he was “a loving person” who would never “support a terrorist group like that”:

Maybe not. But either way, he’s dead. And what’s more, his own uncle (and US officials) believe he was a terrorist (via CNN):

The man's uncle, Ken McCain, said that his nephew had gone to fight as a jihadi and that the U.S. State Department told the family Monday about the death. Like U.S. officials, the group characterized McCain as an ISIS fighter and said he was killed battling al-Nusra Front, an al Qaeda-linked organization that the U.S. government has blacklisted as a foreign terror organization.

He was also writing empathetic posts on Facebook about the organization, according to one expert familiar with the case, which is why he was clearly on terrorist watch lists:

U.S. counterterrorism investigators had been looking into McCain's activities for some time before his death, one U.S. official said. He was on a list of Americans who are believed to have joined militant groups and who would be stopped and subjected to additional scrutiny if he traveled, according to the official.

Meanwhile, McCain is almost certainly not the only American defending and fighting for ISIS, although it’s difficult to gauge just how many actually are. As of last June, Richard Engels reported that the number is estimated to be somewhere around 70:

But more recently, the US State Department believes maybe more Americans have openly declared war against the stars and stripes:

"Dozens of Americans, perhaps up to 100," are among those who have tried to join various militant groups there, State Department spokeswoman Marie Harf told CNN.

Needless to say, these defectors speak English, possess US passports, and have deep ties to the country.

Let us hope they never come back.

ISIS to Iraqi Christians: You Have One Week to Convert to Islam or Die

This situation for Christians in Iraq has grown even direr. ISIS is now giving the religious minority an ultimatum: convert within one week’s time or face the sword.

World Watch Monitor documented the case of Mikha Qasha, an elderly and paralyzed Iraqi Christian. ISIS came to his home, WWM reports, and gave him the options of fleeing, converting or death. They gave him one week to think about it.

Fortunately, Qasha, along with his grandson, were able to go to a safe haven in the capital area of the Kurdistan region.

Many others are still at risk, however.

According to MCN Direct, others who fled from a district in Nineveh, and from Qaraqosh and Bartella, said IS is now imposing a conversion deadline of one week for any non-Muslim. Qasha’s neighbour, a young man who fled the city this week, said he was hiding in his home with his father when IS members found them on August 17. They gave them a week, until August 24, to convert to Islam or be killed.

70,000 Christians have arrived in Ankawa, the Christian neighbourhood in Erbil and some 60,000 displaced people are in Dohuk, said Louis Sako, Patriarch of the Chaldean Catholic Church in Iraq.

Dohuk, mainly inhabited by Kurds and Assyrians, is in the north in the autonomous region of Iraqi Kurdistan while Qaraqosh, a town of about 50,000 people in Nineveh Province, sits between Mosul, Iraq's second-largest city, and Erbil, the capital of the Kurdish region, to the east.

The Islamic State took over Mosul in June. At the time there were 3,500 residing Christians who fled east to Qaraqosh, which is often referred to as the Christian capital of Iraq. Of the 3,500 about 25 people decided to stay home in Mosul. Since then nine have converted to Islam, while the others are paying jizya - the Islamic tax for non-Muslims.

The UN has launched a major aid operation: UNHCR said tents and other goods will be sent to Erbil via air, land and sea beginning Wednesday, August 20.

Archbishop Justin Welby of Canterbury described the slaughter of Christians and Yazidis as “off the scale of human horror.”

“In a globalized world where even distant nations are our ‘neighbor,’ we cannot allow these atrocities to be unleashed with impunity,” he continued. “The international community must document the human rights abuses in northern Iraq so that the perpetrators can later be prosecuted."

Cuomo Loses NYT Primary Endorsement

When you’re the liberal governor in the progressive capital of the country and lose the endorsement of the New York Times, you know you screwed up. But Governor Cuomo is lucky; New York is so blue that he’ll probably win the September 9 primary and a second term come November. Nevertheless, his ethics commission to root out corruption in state politics devolved into a fiasco, which even has the U.S. Attorney’s office looking into why the Moreland Commission was shut down so abruptly (via NYT):

Mr. Cuomo became governor on that platform and recorded several impressive achievements, but he failed to perform Job 1. The state government remains as subservient to big money as ever, and Mr. Cuomo resisted and even shut down opportunities to fix it. Because he broke his most important promise, we have decided not to make an endorsement for the Democratic primary on Sept. 9.

The worst moment of all came when Mr. Cuomo blocked the progress of the independent commission he set up to investigate corruption after the panel began to look into issues that may have reflected badly on him and his political supporters. As The Times reported in July, Mr. Cuomo’s closest aides pushed back every time the commission began looking at the governor’s own questionable practices, including a committee set up to support his agenda, which became Albany’s biggest lobbying spender and did not disclose its donors. Now a United States attorney is pursuing the questions the commission raised, including the ones the governor wanted dropped.

Mr. Cuomo says the purpose of the commission was the leverage it gave him to push an ethics law through the Legislature and that he disbanded the panel when the law, agreed to in March, achieved roughly nine of 10 goals. But the missing goal — a strong public finance system that cut off unlimited donations — was always, by far, the most important method of reducing corruption, a much bigger reform than the strengthened bribery laws he settled for.

While the Times credited Cuomo with legalizing gay marriage, trampling on the Second Amendment, and raising the minimum wage, they suggested that voters who are disappointed with him might want to vote for his opponent in the Democratic primary, Fordham Law School Professor Zephyr Teachout.  She's the only person running who isn’t under investigation. Cuomo’s Republican opponent, Rob Astorino, is also under the microscope regarding ethics violations during his re-election bid as Westchester County Executive.

Team Pryor: Tom Cotton is Pro-Ebola, or Something

As they say, desperate times call for desperate measures.

And since Sen. Mark Pryor (D-AR) is trailing his Republican opponent in every single poll conducted this past summer, time is of the essence. You’ll recall that Pryor was roundly criticized earlier this election season when he suggested Rep. Tom Cotton (R-AR), his opponent, was suffering from a “sense of entitlement” because of his military laurels. But his most recent ad is arguably worse. In it, he suggests that Tom Cotton’s entire congressional declaration dutifully and effectively declared war on the virulent Ebola virus -- everyone, that is, except him:

Naturally, Team Cotton was quick to respond:

"Senator Pryor's desperation is comical," David Ray said in a statement. "In Senator Pryor's world, he doesn't have to take responsibility for rubber-stamping the Obama agenda over 90% of the time, but wants Arkansans to believe Tom Cotton is responsible for everything from Ebola to crabgrass and male-pattern baldness."

What’s more, this recent dust-up comes mere days after Team Pryor released an ad singing the praises of Obamacare. For obvious reasons, most Senate Democrats have carefully tiptoed around this issue. Pryor, however, is doing the opposite:

Apparently, Team Pryor believes alarmist and pro-Obamacare ads are exactly what Arkansans want to hear for the next two and half months. Hmm.

That, my friends, is news to me.

Surprise! D.C. Lawyers Want To Reinstate Carrying Ban

For a brief time, concealed carry permit holders could exercise their Second Amendment rights by bringing their firearms into Washington D.C.; a right that was previously denied until the Palmer decision. Granted, if you were a D.C. resident, you had to have the gun registered. For outsiders, you couldn’t open carry your rifles or shotguns, and your handgun couldn’t have a magazine with more than ten-rounds.

Until recently, the District of Columbia was the last place where citizens were banned from carrying their firearms outside of their homes. A stay, which was agreed upon by both parties in the Palmer case, was issued to allow the city council to draft legislation in response to the ruling. But D.C. lawyers are trying to get the carrying ban reinstated (via Washington Free Beacon):

D.C. lawyers cited the District’s “unique character” as justification for the handgun ban.

“The District, in addition to being the seat of the federal government and home to the President, is host to thousands of foreign dignitaries each year and the site of many mass demonstrations,” the city argues. “The potential for armed mischief is thus perhaps greater in the District of Columbia than in any other American city.”

The city also argues the ban does not impede the Second Amendment right to bear arms.

“The Court should find that the District’s prohibition on the public carrying of firearms is constitutional, in that ‘it does not seriously impact a person’s ability to defend himself in the home, the Second Amendment’s core protection,” the city argues. “It does not ban the quintessential weapon—the handgun—used for self-defense in the home. Nor does it prevent an individual from keeping a suitable weapon for protection in the home.”

[U.S. District Judge Frederick] Scullin declared D.C.’s blanket ban on carrying guns in public to be unconstitutional in July and gave city officials until Oct. 22 to craft new regulations in line with his ruling. D.C. has also appealed that deadline and asked for more time.

Bring it on, D.C.  

Bye-Bye Burger King: High Taxes to Blame

Burger King is yet another major corporation that has bought a one-way ticket to less taxes and more profit. Why? Well, because the United States is expensive to do business in.  

The Fortune 100 company is merging with Canada-based donut shop Tim Hortons, and will move its headquarters up north with their new partner--who has a much lower tax bill.

The United States has the highest corporate income tax rate in the world at a whopping 40 percent. Canada, on the other hand, is around 26.3 percent. When you are running a soon-to-be $23 billion company, that 13.7 percent isn't exactly an item on the dollar menu. 

Large American companies such as Pfizer, Walgreens, and AbbVie are all seeking out lower taxes in foreign countries in what is called "corporate inversions." Even though the companies claim the potential moves are to advance their growth strategy, it is really because taking over a foreign company and moving to their headquarters betters the bottom line.

Stephen Moore, chief economist at The Heritage Foundation, said:

Expect a blizzard more of these tax moves if the U.S. corporate tax isn’t reduced quickly to at most the average in the industrialized world of 25 percent. Better yet would be to abolish the corporate tax altogether and tax the shareholders on these profits. This would cause a flood of companies to come to the U.S. rather than leave.

Since 2003, Burger King is the 48th company to leave the United States. When asked what the government is doing to stop corporate inversions, President Obama said the Treasury Department is working "as quickly as possible" to slow the bleeding. He also said, "We don't want to see this trend grow." Unfortunately, avoiding devastating loss after devastating loss to the American business community isn't on the liberal agenda--as that would mean lowering taxes for the job creating, investing class...and that would be a travesty. 

ISIS Earning $2 Million a Day from Oil Fields

The terrorist organization ISIS runs a flourishing black market economy and is believed to be raising more than $2 million every day from oil production. The organization, described by president Obama as a “cancer,” currently occupies a region of Iraq and Syria that is larger than the United Kingdom.

Over the past few months, ISIS has seized oil fields, border crossings, military bases, and Iraq’s largest electric-generated dam. As Luay Al-Khatteeb of the Brookings Institution wrote, this form of self-financed terrorism poses a major long-term threat to global security:

ISIL is no longer desperate for donors' funding to continue and expand their operations given they now possess a loosely integrated and thriving black economy consisting of approximately 60 percent of Syria's oil assets and seven oil producing assets in Iraq. It has successfully achieved a thriving black market economy by developing an extensive network of middlemen in neighboring territories and countries to trade crude oil for cash and in kind.

ISIL's estimated total revenues from its oil production are around $2 million a day! Put simply, ISIL is in a position to smuggle over 30,000 barrels of crude oil a day to neighboring territories and countries at a price of between $25 to $60 per barrel depending on the number of middle men involved.

This is hardly the only way the group raises revenue. In addition to oil, ISIS is gathering funds through kidnapping, robbery, smuggling, taxes, and extortion. According to former intelligence official at the U.S. Department of the Treasury Matthew Levitt:

“The Islamic State is probably the wealthiest terrorist group we’ve ever known.”

So what is the solution to the burgeoning threat of ISIS? Take action immediately before the “cancer” grows.

Pavlich: “Hillary Clinton is America’s Most Famous Enabler of Abusive and Powerful Men”

Townhall News Editor Katie Pavlich gave the keynote speech at this year’s Network of enlightened Women (NeW) conference in Washington, DC. In her remarks, she lambasted radical feminists for their hypocritical heroism of figures such as former US Senator Ted Kennedy (D-MA) and Hillary Clinton, who are anything but “women’s rights” champions.

First, Pavlich recalled her experience at the 2012 Democratic National Convention. In between speakers, she was frustrated that organizers aired a flattering, 5-minute video dedicated to Ted Kennedy, which plastered the words “women’s rights champion” across the screen:

“For some reason, during this beautiful portrayal of his life, they skipped over one of the most iconic moments of his life – the time when he drove drunk off a bridge, wandered away, and left 28-year-old, loyal campaign staffer Mary Jo to die in his car. Nobody dared to utter the word, ‘Chappaquiddick that night.’”

These details, however, didn't interest the DNC. Kennedy wasn’t Pavlich’s only target. For defending a child rapist in the 1970s, Hillary Clinton also made Pavlich’s list of poorly characterized "women’s rights advocates." 

The Washington Free Beacon exposed the shocking story in June that Clinton once defended a man who raped a 12-year-old girl. The audio tapes reveal her laughing while discussing the case. Egregiously, Clinton went on to accuse the young girl of being “unstable” and desiring relationships with older men. Pavlich attacked Clinton for such callous comments:

“She went out of her way to attack a 12-year-old child in the case. Sure seems like a champion for young women, right?”

But, as Pavlich points out, that wasn’t the end of Clinton choosing to brush sexual assault under the rug for personal or political gain:

“For decades, Hillary willingly helped destroy the women who her husband, former President Bill Clinton, was accused of sexually assaulting or raping. Time and time again, instead of holding her husband accountable, she defamed his female accusers as mentally unstable loons looking for money. Clinton repeatedly allowed women to be lied about, smeared and manipulated so that her philandering husband could hold on to power, which eventually led to her own power as a senator from New York, a presidential candidate and President Obama’s Secretary of State.”

Leaving out facts that don’t fit their agenda is par for the course for radical feminists.

Pavlich concluded her speech by outlining feminism’s true goals and explaining that Marxism is the centerpiece of the modern feminist agenda:

“Progressive women’s rights movements have hardly been about women’s rights, but instead a transformation of America and its society and the transfer of wealth through government force.”

Pavlich encouraged students to bring this material and knowledge to their college campuses and help to defeat the liberal ideology that often depends on ignorance.

Watch her entire passionate speech here:

Video: DOJ Says Retrieving Lerner Emails From Back-Up System 'Too Hard'


Quick history lesson: As various investigators dug into the IRS targeting scandal, they discovered that a large cache of emails sent and received by key agency figure Lois Lerner were missing.  The emails in question were sent between 2009 and 2011, the time period in which the abusive scheme was concocted and implemented.  We were told that the lost emails were a result of a "hard drive crash" that happened to occur just ten days after a Republican Congressman made the first inquiry into alleged targeting practices. Those who've expressed doubts about the "crash" claims -- namely, a super majority of the American people -- were mocked and dismissed by the White House as adherents to a "conspiracy theory."  Lerner's suspicious efforts shortly after the scandal broke in 2013 to determine whether the IRS' internal instant messaging system was archived anywhere  are also indicative of nothing, the administration insists. Also shunted aside are the facts that email storage guidelines (based on federal law) were ignored, as was the requirement that the agency immediately report the loss of emails to the National Archives.  

IRS Commissioner John Koskinen testified repeatedly that his agency made every attempt to recover Lerner's emails after the supposed 2011 crash -- an assertion that has been contradicted by Koskinen himself, and by subsequent reports. One such report was the late July bombshell that Lerner's hard drive had only been "scratched," and that in-house IT professionals at the IRS had recommended enlisting "outside experts to recover the data," which they believed to be possible at the time.  For some odd reason, the IRS declined to do so, and instead destroyed Lerner's hard drive permanently.  Which brings us to the latest twist, reported by Dan last night: A Justice Department attorney told the Watchdog group Judicial Watch that the federal government does, in fact, back up all electronic records.  So the emails exist somewhere, according to this lawyer, but it'd be really hard to track them down.  Judicial Watch president Tom Fitton described the bewildering interaction on Fox News yesterday:



"They say it would be too hard to go and get Lois Lerner's emails from that back-up system. Everything we’ve been hearing about scratched hard drives, missing e-mails of Lois Lerner, other IRS officials, other officials in the Obama administration–it’s all been a pack of malarkey."

To recap, we've gone from "they ceased existing altogether after the hard drive crash," to "they may have existed after the scratch, but they're gone now," to "well, they're still floating around somewhere, but it's too difficult to retrieve them."  Lie upon lie.  That final excuse is redolent of Koskinen's deer-in-the-headlights moment in June when Rep. Jason Chaffetz (R-UT) asked why the IRS hadn't at least accessed the six-month "back up tape" to recover a portion of those emails immediately after the alleged hard drive incident.  If the agency really did take "extraordinary" measures to restore those emails, why wasn't that obvious step taken?  Koskinen ended up muttering about how it would have been "costly and difficult" to do so.  In other words, it was just "too hard."  The federal government had the capacity to take concrete steps to recover many of Lerner's emails, and they chose not to.  This new development suggests that they still have that ability, but are making a decision not to act.  This information may strike you as profoundly suspicious -- it might even rise to "smidgen of corruption" levels -- but that would make you a conspiratorial paranoiac, according to the administration.  

Shock Poll: ISIS' Approval Rating in France is...16 Percent?

In my opinion, that’s 16 percentage points too high (via Vox and Weasel Zippers):

Image and video hosting by TinyPic

Nonetheless, these numbers send shivers down my spine. In essence, the poll suggests that a growing number of French citizens sympathize with ISIS, a group known, among other things, for using terrifying acts of cruelty and other forms of barbarism to expand their Islamic caliphate.

“No just God would stand for what [ISIS] did yesterday and what they do every day,” President Obama recently said, referring to the brutal slaying of an American photojournalist last week. And yet what we’re finding out is that thousands and thousands of impressionable would-be radicals (including children) are joining their ranks and participating in their bloodlust. The notion therefore that ISIS was ever a “jayvee” team (as the president once implied) has been sufficiently disproved.

Meanwhile, ISIS is threatening to execute another American aid worker if the U.S. doesn’t capitulate to their demands:

A third American hostage held by ISIS has been identified as a 26-year-old American woman who was kidnapped a year ago while doing humanitarian relief work in Syria. The terror group is demanding $6.6 million and the release of U.S. prisoners for the life of the young woman, who the family requested not be identified.

She is the third of at least four Americans who were known to be held by ISIS, the Islamic State of Iraq and Syria. American journalist James Foley was executed by the group in a video that appeared online last week. Another writer, Steven Sotloff, was seen alive but under duress in the same footage.

The rise of ISIS is a terrifying and global phenomenon. But what’s more terrifying, perhaps, is that a plurality of Western Europeans actually support what they're doing, and what they stand for.

Wow: Iron Dome Intercepts Fifteen Rockets at Once

The Iron Dome is truly an incredible piece of technology. Watch as it takes down 15 Quassam rockets launched by Hamas—at once.

(Warning: video is loud and you may want to turn down your speakers)

Just a reminder: If the Iron Dome didn't exist, those 15 rockets would have each hit a populated area of Israel, potentially killing dozens of civilians. Hamas' charter explicitly states that they seek to "obliterate" Israel, and they have extensively used women and children as human shields.

Israel, on the other hand, has been praised for their proactive efforts to prevent civilian casualties.

The Israelis have used such telephone calls and leaflets for years now, in a stated effort to reduce civilian casualties and avoid charges of indiscriminate killings or even of crimes against the rules of war.

It's clear one side will stop at nothing to kill or maim innocent civilians—it's only thanks to amazing technology such as the Iron Dome that these attempts aren't successful.

H/t to this Reddit post.

Photobombed: Boehner's "Monkey in The Room"

When Speaker John Boehner (R- Ohio) joked about how his busy schedule made him feel like a wind-up toy, his staff decided to give him a little gift. 

On Boehner's 62nd birthday in 2011, the toy was moved into his Capitol Building office, and has been seen photobombing 29 times since then. The monkey is the "second most photographed subject" from Boehner's office and Flickr page.

Boehner's toy monkey made its first YouTube appearance on the Speaker's channel today.

"Every 15-30 minutes, they wind me up, and I do my thing," said Boehner in the video:

Mission Creep? Obama Approves "Surveillance Flights" in Syria

How intelligible is American foreign policy? Not very as Guy explained in his post yesterday: “During last summer's debate,” he wrote, “we were discussing strikes against the Assad regime. Today, we're talking about entering the country to defeat ISIS, which is intent on overthrowing the Assad regime and expanding its Islamist caliphate. The butcher we threatened to bomb last year now stands to benefit from our anti-ISIS campaign.”

This of course makes any discussion of expanding military airstrikes into Syria all the more complicated. On the one hand, if the president approves intervention, he could insulate and embolden Syrian President Bashar al-Assad even more -- a known despot. On the other hand, if we do nothing, ISIS’ dream of an Islamic caliphate stretching from Iraq’s northern border across all of Syria isn’t wholly out of the question. Neither of these outcomes, in other words, is particularly desirable.

For now, however, the New York Times confirmed yesterday that the president is slowly but surely inching towards military intervention:

President Obama has authorized surveillance flights over Syria, a precursor to potential airstrikes there, but a mounting concern for the White House is how to target the Sunni extremists without helping President Bashar al-Assad. Defense officials said Monday evening that the Pentagon was sending in manned and unmanned reconnaissance flights over Syria, using a combination of aircraft, including drones and possibly U2 spy planes. Mr. Obama approved the flights over the weekend, a senior administration official said.

The flights are a significant step toward direct American military action in Syria, an intervention that could alter the battlefield in the nation’s three-year civil war. Administration officials said the United States did not intend to notify the Assad government of the planned flights. Mr. Obama, who has repeatedly called for the ouster of Mr. Assad, is loath to be seen as aiding the Syrian government, even inadvertently.

But that doesn’t necessarily mean the president has made up his mind about what to do yet, either:

Mr. Obama met Monday with Secretary of Defense Chuck Hagel and other advisers to discuss options, but the White House said Mr. Obama had not yet decided whether to order military action in Syria. The White House made clear that if the president did act, he had no plans to collaborate with Mr. Assad or even inform him in advance of any operation.

“It is not the case that the enemy of my enemy is my friend,” said Benjamin J. Rhodes, a deputy national security adviser. “Joining forces with Assad would essentially permanently alienate the Sunni population in both Syria and Iraq, who are necessary to dislodging ISIL,” he said, using the group’s alternative name, the Islamic State in Iraq and the Levant.

Not surprisingly, this might be a bit of a problem (via The Guardian):

Syria has declared it is ready to help confront the rising threat from the Islamic State group but warned the US against carrying out air strikes on its territory without the consent of Damascus, saying any such attack would be considered an aggression. Walid al-Moallem, the Syrian foreign minister, said his government was ready “to co-operate and co-ordinate” with any side, including the US, or join any regional or international alliance against Isis. But he said any military action inside Syria should be co-ordinated with the Syrian government. “Any strike which is not co-ordinated with the government will be considered as aggression,” he said.

So, as far as I can tell, the current administration is only leaving themselves with two outs: (1) Do nothing militarily and risk more Syrian government losses to ISIS forces as they expand their caliphate. Or (2) conduct limited military airstrikes in the region unilaterally, thus possibly aiding Assad and fanning the flames of mistrust between Washington and Damascus.

What a mess.

If Obama's Bombing of Libya Was Legal, His Bombing of Syria Would Be Too

President Obama has already ordered reconnaissance flights over Syria and is currently deliberating whether or not to authorize military strikes on Islamic State bases in that country. But whatever Obama decides to do, do not expect him to wait for a vote in Congress authorizing his actions.

In 2013, as HotAir Noah Rothman notes, Obama promised he would seek a vote in Congress before bombing the Assad regime in Syria. But now, Rothman also notes, the White House is claiming they have no need to seek congressional approval before such a campaign. 

Asked to explain the discrepancy yesterday, White House Spokesman Josh Earnest claimed bombing Syria in 2014 "was a different situation" than bombing Syria in 2013 and then noted that Obama did not seek permission from Congress when he approved the killing of Osama bin Laden in Pakistan in 2011.

And it is true that Obama did not seek congressional approval to enter Pakistani airspace and kill bin Laden. But that short and small strike was perfectly in line with past presidential uses of executive war powers. From Townhall Magazine's June 2014 issue:

Before launching Operation Odyssey Dawn against Libya on March 19, 2011, Obama secured authorization from both the Arab League and the United Nations. But at no point did he ever push for a debate, or vote, in the United States Congress.

Now it is true that presidents have taken military action without specific authorization from Congress in the past. In 1986, for example, President Reagan also bombed Libya. And in 1998, President Clinton launched cruise missiles into Afghanistan and Sudan.

But those actions were both brief and limited responses to specific terrorist attacks on Americans. Reagan bombed Libya for a single day as punishment for their involvement in a bombing of American servicemen in Berlin. Clinton’s cruise missile attack was also limited to a single day and was in direct response to the bombings of American embassies in Kenya and Tanzania.

Obama’s attack on Libya, however, lasted seven months, one week, and five days. Countless Libyan military personnel were killed during the campaign, as well as more than 60 civilians according to the United Nations Human Rights Council.

But unlike Reagan and Clinton, who were responding to specific attacks on Americans, Obama acted without any provocation. Libya had not recently attacked America, and was not threatening to, when Obama started bombing the country.

There simply is no constitutional justification for Obama’s unilateral bombing of Libya. Which is why top lawyers at both the Pentagon and the Justice Department told Obama he had no legal right to attack Libya as broadly as he was planning without authorization from Congress.

But instead of deciding the issue democratically, Obama overruled his lawyers and ordered the DOJ to write a new legal memo justifying his decision.

If Obama can bomb Libya for over half a year, when that country presented no threat to the United States, then there is no stopping him from launching a similar, even larger, campaign against Syria as well. 

And Obama's expansive view of executive power does not end at the water's edge. In 2011, Obama told Hispanic journalists at a White House roundtable, "This notion that somehow I can just change the laws unilaterally is not true. The fact of the matter is there are laws on the books I have to enforce. And there is a great disservice done to the cause of getting the DREAM Act passed and comprehensive immigration reform passed by perpetuating the notion that somehow by myself I can just go and do these things.”

But just months later Obama did "just change the laws unilaterally" when he announced his June 2012 Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals program. DACA functionally turned the failed DREAM Act legislation into executive action reality.

Then in 2013, when amnesty activists pushed Obama to expand DACA, Obama insisted, "If, in fact, I could solve all these problems without passing laws in Congress, then I would do so. But we’re also a nation of laws. That’s part of our tradition. And so the easy way out is to try to yell and pretend like I can do something by violating our laws."

But now, of course, Obama is, again, planning to do act unilaterally on immigration, this time granting temporary amnesty to as many as 8 million illegal immigrants


Obama does not have to face the American people at the ballot box ever again. What political checks there are on his power are diminishing everyday and he seems increasingly to believe there are no legal limits to what he can do either.

Government-Funded Science: Monitoring What You Say On Twitter

The Washington Free Beacon yesterday reported on researchers at Indiana University, supported by a National Science Foundation grant, creating a database of "political smears, astroturfing, misinformation, and other social pollution" - called "Truthy":

The National Science Foundation is financing the creation of a web service that will monitor “suspicious memes” and what it considers “false and misleading ideas,” with a major focus on political activity online.

...

“This service could mitigate the diffusion of false and misleading ideas, detect hate speech and subversive propaganda, and assist in the preservation of open debate,” the grant said.

There might be a good reason to do this study. Scientists are often interested in all sorts of ways that modern technology affects communication. What does seem clear is that this is, at best, on the fringes of what should be considered for publicly-funded research. If there's a public goods angle here, it's difficult to see.

This represents a major PR problem for government-funded science. On the one hand, many people think there's value in government money being used for science research. On the other hand, stretching it to funding databases of hate-tweets and shrimp treadmills sure makes it seem like there's probably a better use for public money.

That there's also a role for private science research is beyond the grasp of a lot of people. Sam Stein at the Huffington Post, riffing off Buzzfeed's Andrew Kaczynski, finds it notable that politicians voluntarily donated money to scientific research while at the same time voting to cut a small amount of money from some government science agencies - like the very same National Science Foundation that funded the Twitter hate-tweet study.

Even in the face of silly-sounding research, members of Congress are accused of being "anti-science" when they vote to trim science funding. There's little agreement on what the optimal level of science funding is, but the U.S. isn't exactly trailing the rest of the world here:

Perhaps there's more and better research that the U.S. could be doing. But the fastest-growing portion of scientific research has been government funding:

That second image is from National Science Foundation data. The first is from R&D Magazine. Both come from this Science article.

In a hypothetical world in which the government instituted a 100% effective tax rate on everyone and, after defense and transfers, spent the rest of GDP on scientific research, we should all aspire to be anti-science. But we live in a world where we are slightly above the OECD pack in research spending/GDP, and a certain amount of that spending looks a little ludicrous to the public's eyes. And there's nothing at all hypocritical about acknowledging a separate role for applied science in the form of ALS research while representing a public that raises its eyebrows at duck phallus research.

Fraud: Virginia County Finds 17 Repeat Voters From 2012 Election

Virginia County officials have discovered multiple instances of voter fraud from the 2012 presidential election. Seventeen to be exact. The Virginia Voters Alliance and Election Integrity Maryland launched the investigation in Fairfax County, Va. and Maryland. Here's how they revealed the fraud and pursued a follow up inquiry:

Officials from Fairfax and Montgomery County, Md., identified dual voters by matching first and last names, dates of birth and Social Security numbers.

Brian Schoenemann, secretary of the Fairfax County Electoral Board, said he sent letters and evidence to county Commonwealth Attorney Ray Morrogh, state Attorney General Mark Herring, U.S. Attorney Dana Boente and the Public Integrity Section of the Department of Justice requesting further investigation.

Oh yeah, and one of those people charged with fraud has reportedly been voting twice for over a decade.  

In response to these findings, Reagan George, president of the nonpartisan VVA, criticized political progressives for insisting voter fraud is an unfair invention intending to keep minorities away from the polls:

George said the presence of dual voters demolishes the argument by political “progressives” that voter fraud doesn’t exist.

“Their next point will be that voter fraud is such a small percentage that such voter fraud should be ignored. What percentage of the overall vote is tolerable for progressives?” George asked.

“VVA believes we should have zero tolerance for voter fraud in our elections,” he said in a statement.

Cathy Kelleher, president of the nonpartisan Election Integrity Maryland, says that her group has not been asked to help find additional dual voters, presumably because election officials intend on keeping Virginia blue:

Kelleher said EIM sent names of 164 alleged duplicate Virginia-Maryland statewide voters to Mary Wagner at the State Board of Elections.

“She passed them on to the State Prosecutor Emmett Davitt. We have not received any response to the inquiry,” Kelleher said.

Illegal voting isn't an anomaly for Virginia. In last year's gubernatorial race, voting irregularities and several cases of intimidation at the polls were found in 13 districts across the state after Democrat Terry McAuliffe won the election. Some votes were found cast by people who had moved out of the district or were deceased.

Voter fraud is real. Who knows how many more illegal votes were cast throughout Virginia's elections and the country as a whole. Hopefully this will be a wake up call to progressives who often choose to look the other way.

WH: Unlike Some Other People, We Don't View Things Through a Political Lens


Show of hands: How many of you literally laughed out loud at this instant classic from White House Press Secretary Josh Earnest? (Skip ahead to the 1:37:20 mark of yesterday's eventful briefing for this exchange. UPDATE - It seems as though the White House has taken down this video, but you can view the clip by clicking the Buzzfeed link above): 



White House officials don’t view things through a political lens, according to the White House press secretary. "I think understandably people look at a lot of things that happen in this town through a political lens. That’s an understandable pursuit. That’s just not that we look at them," [he] said.

Oh yes, far be it from this White House to "look at a lot of things" through a "political lens." Team Obama politicizes everything they touch. When attempting to divine the intent behind any given action or choice made by the administration, the surest mechanism for cracking the code is often to adopt a mindset fixated on winning or surviving the immediate news cycle.  It's routinely that simple-minded and short-sighted. The Obama crew is regularly guided by a callow elixir of ideological fervor and political expediency.  Victor Davis Hanson wrote a lengthy piece lamenting the "politicization of everything" last year, and it continues to hold up well today.  The clearest and most cynical example I can think of is the administration's sales pitch and and implementation of Obamacare.  They knowingly offered a parade of utopic, un-keepable promises to the public in order to drag the unpopular legislation across the vote tally finish line, then ensured that critics' vindication wouldn't materialize until after the president's re-election campaign had concluded.  Indeed, the administration delayed a number of key decisions until post-November 2012 for the same reason, recklessly compacting the implementation timeline, causing the roll-out fiasco. As the law's policy outcomes violate presidential vows while harming both consumers and the overall economy, the White House has scrambled to unilaterallydelayalterpostpone and waive various provisions, "fixes" that expire...beyond the next election cycle.  It's all done "through a political lens."

Interestingly, Earnest's answer above came in response to a question about the optics of Obama condemning the beheading of an American citizen by an ascendant fighting force of Jihadi savages before promptly returning to the golf course. Days earlier, the president's team was criticized for tweeting that "a good time was had by all" at an opulent party on Martha's Vineyard in the midst of racially-charged riots in Ferguson, Missouri.  Obama also came under fire for jetting to a pair of fundraisers right on the heels of commenting on the downing of a jumbo jet by Russian-backed rebels over Ukraine, killing hundreds of civilians.  The most recent disconnect between the president's actions and the gravity of world events was glaring enough to attract the scorn of people (including yours truly) who typically find golf/vacation criticisms to be petty and frivolous:




"Jarring," declared USA Today's Susan Page.  They should have seen it coming, intoned NBC's Chuck Todd.  The irony is that in these cases, Earnest is telling the truth. The White House has decided not to give a damn about 'optics' failures in situations like this.  If they weren't going to cancel a Vegas fundraiser the day after an ambassador was assassinated by terrorists in 2012, they sure as hell aren't going to let a mere beheading disrupt Obama's plans while he's on holiday.  Contra Todd, they did see this uproar coming. They just didn't care. They've made the calculation that they'll get dinged in certain quarters, but that most people will never hear about it.  Which is why White House aides felt free to serve up this garbage in response to early complaints about the decapitation/golf juxtaposition:


"Aides said the golf game did not reflect the depth of his grief over Mr. Foley..."
 
His inner grief was overwhelming, you see:



In case you're wondering, yes, that photo was snapped during the round immediately following his beheading statement.  Our colleague, Allahpundit, has been snarkily describing Obama as "semi-retired" in recent weeks.  I suspect he's only half kidding.

Captive Journalist Steven Sotloff is Focus of New ISIS Propaganda Campaign

ISIS began a new social media campaign on Sunday featuring Steven Sotloff, the American journalist being held captive. On the heels of the brutal beheading of James Foley, ISIS is using this campaign to get the United States to back off. The jihadist warned at the end of Foley's execution that the president’s “next move” would decide Sotloff’s fate.

The well-planned campaign—which includes pre-formulated tweets, images and instructions for dissemination, all under the hashtag #StevensHeadInObamasHands—is being rolled out in Arabic in an ISIS forum called al-Manbar, where the group tends to post publications and instructions.[…]

In a forum post, the group offered 13 different phrases to be published and tweeted, all of them using the #StevensHeadInObamasHands hashtag, along with a variety of images relating to the threat.

The tweets are often cross-tagged with popular tags to inject them into conversations in particular demographics. For example, several images we spotted are tagged with #AskRicky, which usually refers to Ricky Dillon, a teen YouTube star with over 1.6 million YouTube followers and similar numbers on Twitter and Instagram. Users scanning that hashtag will now, intermittently, see ISIS propaganda tweets in the same stream. [...]

The group behind the new campaign seems to be dedicated to English language propaganda for ISIS, and its use of odd cross-hashtags shows an understanding of how to connect with hitherto out-of-reach demographics.

Although the exact demands of the group are unclear, the suspension of air strikes, the release of high-profile prisoners, and several million dollars are thought to be what ISIS is seeking.

H/T: Twitchy

Hearings On The Militarization Of Police Are Coming

While the unrest in Ferguson, Missouri has somewhat subsided, it’s nice to see that there’s a bipartisan consensus to review the militarization of police. It’s a controversial trend whose first vestiges were seen in the 1980s with the War on Drugs. After the 1033 program was established in the 1990s, which allowed the Department of Defense to give local law enforcement excess military equipment; the trend was accelerated.

In the post-9/11 era, the Department of Homeland Security has injected steroids into police militarization by issuing billions in terrorism grants. Missouri Democratic Sen. Claire McCaskill said hearings would be held on the subject (via Roll Call):

The Missouri Democrat, chairwoman of the Homeland Security and Government Affairs Committee’s subcommittee on Financial and Contracting Oversight, plans to take a broad look at programs like the Defense Department’s 1033 program that have steered surplus equipment to local police departments.

That DOD program has come under particular scrutiny from other lawmakers.

Sen. Carl Levin, D-Mich., chairman of the Armed Services Committee, last week said he would review the program, which is part of the defense authorization bill, before it gets to the Senate floor “to determine if equipment provided by the Defense Department is being used as intended.”

McCaskill “plans to gather stakeholders from all sides in order to hear several perspectives, including those of local law enforcement,” the release said. “Details of McCaskill’s hearing will be available in the coming days.”

Additionally, President Obama wants a review of the role the federal government has in transferring military equipment to local law enforcement, according to Fox News:

President Obama has directed a review of federal programs and funding that allow state and local law-enforcement agencies to acquire surplus military equipment, a senior administration official said Saturday.

The review will include whether the programs are appropriate, if the agencies are getting enough training and guidance to use the equipment and whether the federal government is sufficiently auditing the use of the equipment.

The president hinted Monday that a review was likely in the aftermath of an unarmed Ferguson, Mo., teen being fatally shot by a police officer, which was followed by local law enforcement using military equipment to try to control the ensuing protests and riots.

“I think it's probably useful for us to review how the funding has gone, how local law enforcement has used grant dollars, to make sure that what they’re purchasing is stuff that they actually need, because there is a big difference between our military and our local law enforcement and we don't want those lines blurred,” Obama said. “And I think that there will be some bipartisan interest in reexamining some of those programs.”

Conn wrote a good piece about some of the equipment police have acquired through these programs. Additionally, in an investigation conducted by the Associated Press last summer, Michael Kunzelman noted that a disproportionate amount of 1033 equipment was going to parts of the country–usually rural– with little crime and few officers. He also cited the “scant” oversight regarding this program. The report by the American Civil Liberties Union also noted the lack of oversight with the militarization of our police.

This is a legitimate debate. As conservatives, we support the rule of law and want police to have all the necessary tools in order to protect the public and nab criminals. But, there’s also a question about tactics, the use of force, and how special weapons and tactics (SWAT) teams are being used. We’re experience a 50-year low in violent crime, a 39% reduction in gun-related homicides between 1993-2011 alone. So, why have SWAT raids increased astronomically from an average of 3,000 per year in the 1980s to 45,000 by the mid-2000s?

Is deploying a SWAT team necessary to break up poker games, or serve warrants for non-violent offenses, like credit card fraud and underage drinking? In most cases, SWAT teams are used when there isn’t a situation that justified their deployment, like a hostage situation or an active shooter on the loose.

That’s not supporting the rule of law; that’s the state running amok.