GAO: Yes, Obama's Taliban/Bergdahl Exchange Was Illegal


This isn't necessarily "news," per se, but it's confirmation from a respected nonpartisan source.  The 'Taliban Five' for Bergdahl trade, sans mandatory Congressional notification, was not legal.  But the Obama White House executed it anyway, over the objections of the intelligence community:


President Obama's decision to exchange captive Army Sgt. Bowe Bergdahl for five Guantanamo Bay detainees violated federal law, according to a legal opinion the Government Accountability Office sent to Congress Thursday. That's because the administration failed to notify Congress at least 30 days before the transfer, as required under a law passed in February. The Pentagon notified Congress of the deal on May 31, the same day the transfer was made. And because Congress did not authorize spending for the exchange, it also violated the Antideficiency Act, a law intended to protect Congress's power of the purse. The Department of Defense spent $988,400 on the transfer, the Pentagon told the GAO. An intentional violation of the Antideficiency Act is a crime punishable by up to two years in prison, but those criminal penalties are rarely enforced.


Partisan hackery is expected from hacks, but a number of self-respecting Democrats raised concerns about the swap at the time.  Sen. Dianne Feinstein of California raised hackles about being kept in the dark by the executive branch, in contravention of the law.  The White House's excuse -- at least for awhile -- was that they had to act quickly with no leaks, or else the terrorists were going to kill Bergdahl.  This complicated their concurrent narrative that the arrangement was a normal "prisoner exchange," with plenty of precedent in US history.  Feinstein shot back that she'd seen no evidence to back up the administration's "they were going to kill him!" excuse.  Others also noted that she and her Republican colleague kept extremely sensitive Bin Laden raid details under wraps for months.  The Obama White House broke the law, then served up contradictory excuses for doing so.  In the end, not only did we effectively negotiate with terrorists to secure the release of an American soldier held hostage (setting aside Bergdahl's record of, um, "honor and distinction"), we released five high-rankingextremely dangerous Taliban commanders (who are vowing to resume jihad) as our end of the "deal."  And how's this for timing?


In an interview with the BBC, Foreign Secretary Philip Hammond acknowledged that the apparent executioner spoke with a British accent and said the video seemed to be genuine. Hundreds of Britons are believed to have traveled to Syria to fight in the country’s civil war, including many who have joined the Islamic State...A European intelligence official said the British government was examining the video, and the speech of the purported executioner, to compare it with former Guantanamo Bay prisoners and other British residents believed to have joined the Islamic State. Both prisoners in the video are wearing orange shirts and pants, similar to orange jumpsuits worn by detainees at the U.S. military prison at Guantanamo Bay, Cuba.

Western intelligence services are exploring the possibility that ex-Gitmo detainees (the supposedly "lower threat" ones, released prior to the 'Taliban Five') may hold leadership positions within the death cult that's marauding through vast swaths of Iraqi and Syrian territory.  A former Guantanamo inmate was also implicated in the deadly 9/11/12 attack on the US compound in Benghazi, too.  It's almost as if a lot of these guys really were bloodthirsty Islamist radicals, not innocent victims of US overreach, after all.  That's why Congress has repeatedly refused to provide the funds to close the Gitmo detainment center, and why they passed a law that requires the White House to provide ample warning prior to releasing any further inmates.  The Obama administration ignored that law, and spent a lot of taxpayer money to complete the illegal transaction.  The broke the law knowingly, by their own admission, and in spite of what they knew to be the clear will of Congress.  Democrats have decried House Republicans' lawsuit against the White House's flagrant lawlessness on Obamacare, but what other recourse does Congress have to rein in an administration that ignores provisions of laws deemed inconvenient?  I know what Democratic campaign committees' answer would be, if only to touch off another round of fake hysteria, designed to extract additional millions from their gullible, paranoid base.

Richard Dawkins Defends Telling Twitter User to Abort Her Down Syndrome Child

Down syndrome is a condition in which a baby is born with an extra chromosome. Those diagnosed with the syndrome experience mental disability and a plethora of physical challenges. But, is that really justification for abortion? Ethologist Richard Dawkins thinks so. When a Twitter user asked his opinion on whether she should abort a child after learning he or she would have Down syndrome, he was harshly straightforward:

Because of the criticism he received as a result of the tweet, he wrote a response on his website, richarddawkins.net. He apologized not for the content of his tweet, but for the “feeding frenzy” it prompted, blaming the backlash on the fact that Twitter limited his response to 140 characters. So, he took the opportunity to offer a more in depth answer:

“Obviously the choice would be yours. For what it’s worth, my own choice would be to abort the Down fetus and, assuming you want a baby at all, try again. Given a free choice of having an early abortion or deliberately bringing a Down child into the world, I think the moral and sensible choice would be to abort. And, indeed, that is what the great majority of women, in America and especially in Europe, actually do. I personally would go further and say that, if your morality is based, as mine is, on a desire to increase the sum of happiness and reduce suffering, the decision to deliberately give birth to a Down baby, when you have the choice to abort it early in the pregnancy, might actually be immoral from the point of view of the child’s own welfare. I agree that that personal opinion is contentious and needs to be argued further, possibly to be withdrawn. In any case, you would probably be condemning yourself as a mother (or yourselves as a couple) to a lifetime of caring for an adult with the needs of a child. Your child would probably have a short life expectancy but, if she did outlive you, you would have the worry of who would care for her after you are gone. No wonder most people choose abortion when offered the choice. Having said that, the choice would be entirely yours and I would never dream of trying to impose my views on you or anyone else.”

His expanded explanation may have been more elaborate, but it’s no less rational. One’s quality of life should not determine whether that person lives or dies, for every life has a purpose. In 140 characters, Dawkins was simply summing up his tragic point: a life with Down syndrome is not a life worth living. I would challenge Dawkins to consider this  statistic: 99 percent of those with the condition report being happy with their lives. 

But, he tweeted this defensive follow up trying to justify that other numbers are on his side:

Again, it may be the “norm,” but that doesn’t make it morally right. Sadly, 90 percent of unborn children diagnosed with Down syndrome are aborted. Why should this be the case? Shouldn’t we be encouraging mothers that yes, their child will have obstacles, but they are strong enough to overcome them? Won’t that mother’s love for her child ultimately trump the challenges that will arise from his or her physical setbacks?

Dawkins didn’t offer any of these considerations and was unapologetic about his first argument:

To conclude, what I was saying simply follows logically from the ordinary pro-choice stance that most us, I presume, espouse. My phraseology may have been tactlessly vulnerable to misunderstanding, but I can’t help feeling that at least half the problem lies in a wanton eagerness to misunderstand.

One mother who gave birth to a child with Down syndrome isn’t letting Dawkins get away with his insensitive comments. Former Governor Sarah Palin had this to say:

“I’d let you meet my son if you promised to open your mind, your eyes, and your heart to a unique kind of absolute beauty,” Palin wrote.

“But, in my request for you to be tolerant, I’d have to warn Trig he must be tolerant, too, because he may superficially look at you as kind of awkward. I’ll make sure he’s polite, though!”

Doughy Dispute: Atheist Group Threatens Lawsuit Over Church Discount

For the owner of Bailey's Pizza in the small town of Searcy, Arkansas, keeping the Scripture and the sausage separate is something he believes he should not have to do. 

As a new business that opened less than two months ago, owner Steven Rose started to offer a discount for those who bring in their church bulletin. When the Freedom From Religion Foundation got word of this small, 10% discount, they sent a letter demanding he stop honoring the reduction saying it violates the Civil Rights Act of 1964. 

Rose, a Christian who is actively involved in his local church, told KTHV that a wall inside the store reads, "God is the center of our lives, so our scripture wall is the center of Bailey's Pizza."

Rose told Fox News:

“I’m just selling pizzas, I love my Lord and you see it expressed all over my building – but I’m just selling pizzas. To me, if making a pepperoni pizza furthers the Kingdom – well I’m excited about that."

When a North Carolina restaurant started offering a discount for those who pray before their meal, the FFRF did the same thing and got their way.

“We are no longer issuing the 15% praying in public discount,” read a sign posted at the Mary’s Gourmet Diner. “It is illegal and we are being threatened by lawsuit. We apologize to our community for any offense this discount has incurred.”

Rose told TheBlaze.com that he does not plan on getting rid of the price cut for church-goers. Conservative legal firms have volunteered to represent Bailey's Pizza in the event the FFRF takes legal action over a discount that is a mere ten cents on the dollar. 

Uh Oh: Shaheen Only Up 2 Points in NH Now?

There is, as Real Clear Politics’ Sean Trende has argued, a distinct correlation between the president's job approval rating and how his caucus performs down-ballot every election cycle. And President Obama’s sinking numbers seem to be immensely benefiting none other than New Hampshire U.S. Senate candidate Scott Brown -- a GOP hopeful many pollsters believed had little chance of winning just a few weeks ago.

In July, according to a WMUR Granite State poll, incumbent Sen. Jeanne Shaheen (D-NH) was crushing her presumptive GOP opponent by a dozen percentage points -- 50 percent to 38 percent, respectively. Now, however, the same in-state survey shows the race is very much in play:

Last month, Brown trailed Shaheen in the WMUR Granite State Poll by 12 points. The new poll shows Shaheen leading brown by 2 points, 46 percent to 44 percent.

"I feel very good because when I'm going out and about into people's businesses, holding town halls -- town halls are an important thing -- and conveying my thoughts about being an independent voice for New Hampshire, it's resonating," Brown said.

"This will go down as one of the most important days of this New Hampshire U.S. Senate contest," said James Pindell of WMUR Political Scoop. "For much of the year, this race appeared to be slipping away from Scott Brown, but now he's back and within the margin of error."

Some pollsters argue Brown’s newfound popularity is inversely proportional to the president's sliding approval ratings, which currently sit at 38 percent in New Hampshire. The candidate himself, however, disagrees. Instead, he thinks it has more do with how hard he’s working, and his willingness to hold town halls all over the state:

Either way, Mitt Romney's endorsement last month only bolstered his cause. After all, the former Massachusetts governor is fairly popular in New Hampshire and won the first-in-the-nation Republican presidential primary in 2012. And although Brown isn’t the GOP nominee yet, he is showing signs of improvement.

Still, we probably shouldn't get too far ahead of ourselves:

There is still plenty of room for movement, as the poll shows that 60 percent of voters have not definitively settled on a candidate.

Lots of undecideds out there, in other words. So keep that in mind

For what it’s worth, Republicans need to net-gain six Senate seats to wrestle majority-control of the upper chamber from Democrats.

Hagel: ISIS Is 'Beyond Anything That We've Seen'

President Obama may be in denial over the serious threat the Islamic State (ISIS/ISIL) poses to the U.S., but senior military officials are not.

Speaking to reporters at the Pentagon, Secretary of Defense Chuck Hagel described IS as an “imminent threat to every interest that we have, whether it’s in Iraq or anywhere else.”

He was also asked directly about the threat posed to the United States and if it's comparable to 9/11. 

The Islamic State is “as sophisticated and well-funded as any group we have seen,” he replied. "They are beyond just a terrorist group. They marry ideology, a sophistication of ... military prowess. They are tremendously well-funded. This is beyond anything we've seen."

Gen. Martin Dempsey, chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff, said the Islamic State has an “apocalyptic, end-of-days strategic vision” and “will eventually have to be defeated.”

General Martin Dempsey, chairman of the U.S. Joint Chiefs of Staff, said officials were worried about the possibility that European or U.S. nationals, radicalized after fighting in Iraq or Syria, would return to their home countries.

Dempsey suggested Islamic State would remain a danger until it could no longer count on safe havens in areas of Syria under militant control. [...]

"To your question, can they be defeated without addressing that part of their organization which resides in Syria? The answer is no. That will have to be addressed on both sides of what is essentially at this point a non-existent border."

It was only in January that President Obama described the group as “jayvee.”

This ISIS Terrorist Will Never Harm Anyone Again

I wrote a post about the Islamic State’s now-deceased press officer two weeks ago; he was a central figure in part 1 of Vice News’ multi-part documentary profiling the terrorist army organization and their warped ideology. You’ll recall he gracelessly insulted our men and women in uniform and vowed to "raise the flag of Allah” inside the White House.

Thankfully, that'll never happen. Why? Because he's already met his maker (via Noah Rothman):

Sen. Marco Rubio (R-FL) put it rather well this week when describing the rabidity of death-loving fanatics like the late Abu Mosa: “ISIL cannot be reasoned with, they can’t be negotiated with, and their view of the world is irreconcilable with civilized society.”

I don’t disagree. Therefore, the more Abu Mosas we send to an early grave, the better.

With Full Hearts National Religious Broadcasters Conclude Solidarity Trip to Israel

Members of the National Religious Broadcasters have landed back in the United States after concluding a four-day Christians in solidarity trip to Israel this week.


“Our purpose was two fold. One, to show the people of Israel we support them in a time of crisis because Hamas is attacking them and this isn’t a time for neutrality. Hamas is a terrorist organization, we saw that, that they were using terror and the Israelis are trying to protect innocent civilians. It was good for us to see that and just show solidarity with those who were under attack,” NRB President Dr. Jerry Johnson said at Ben Gurion airport in Tel Aviv before boarding his flight back to the United States early Friday morning. “And then also with the tourism industry just to say you know, 'We think other Americans should come, other Americans should get flights and hotels, go to the restaurants. It’s a time to support the economy and the life, the nation of Israel.'" 


Johnson brought 10 Christian broadcasters on behalf of the NRB to Israel who have a combined listening audience of 60 million people per day through religious radio and television programs. He put the trip together specifically because Israel is under attack from Hamas and to combat rising anti-Semitism not just in the United States, but also around the world. Participants included President of AnGeL Ministries and daughter of Billy Graham Anne Graham Lotz, President of the Family Research Council Tony Perkins, President & CEO of the Total Living Network Jerry Rose, Evangelical Action Director at The Institute on Religion & Democracy Chelsen Vicari, Co-Founder of Precept Ministries Kay Arthur and others.


“We want to send a message back to Christians, to churches, to Americans, this is the time for you to take a stand with Israel and to get involved,” Johnson said.

NRB board member and President of Son Broadcasting Annette Garcia, who visits Israel often, also stressed how now is an important time to visit the Jewish country.


“I think that this trip was just a magnificent way to be able to show our solidarity and I think like Israel always does, Israel unites Christians together on their behalf and that’s what I feel like we did,” Garcia said. “As our guide said, as he was leaving [after dropping off the group at the airport] he told us he had to come back in because he missed us. His heart, the way he expressed it, is the way I feel when I leave Israel. This is our family and these are the people that we support and that we love and my heart is full when I get on that plane and I feel like I’m actually leaving home instead of going home.”

Editor's note: I was in Israel this week on a trip sponsored by the National Religious Broadcasters and hosted by Israel's Ministry of Tourism.



Is The Next Front Of The 'Clinton Wars' Being Waged In Virginia?

Are we seriously going back to this drivel? Although, it’s not a national campaign, John Foust, the Democratic candidate in Virginia’s 10th congressional district, recently slammed his Republican opponent, Delegate Barbara Comstock, for not holding a “real job.” Yeah, this lunacy is back (via Ashburn Rising) [emphasis mine]:

While earlier this week in Ashburn, Comstock left much of the harsh rhetoric to her supporters, Foust took the reins of criticism in his own hands during a stop at his new campaign office in Leesburg.

On creating jobs, Foust said, “In her mind that means giving tax benefits to special interests and the super wealthy. I don’t think she’s even had a real job.

Back in 2012, Democratic strategist Hilary Rosen ignited a firestorm when she said that Ann Romney hadn’t worked a day in her life. Pretty much everyone distanced themselves from her comments and called them inappropriate, including President Obama; Rosin later apologized on CNN.

Yet, while being a stay-at-home mom is hard work, Comstock has conquered on both fronts. She’s the mother of three children and was an aide to retiring Rep. Frank Wolf. She later became chief counsel for the House Committee on Government Reform and Oversight.

And, that is why her candidacy possibly reignited the “Clinton Wars.” Foust’s supporters are probably ignorant of the fact that Comstock was the point of the lance, alongside the late Barbara Olson, in digging up information about the alleged shady dealings within the Clinton administration. As a result, the Clinton White House named them the “Barbarellas” (via Politico):

Comstock’s history with the Clintons dates back to 1993. At the time, she was working as an aide to GOP Rep. Frank Wolf of Virginia when some of his constituents lost their jobs in the White House travel office. Wolf tasked Comstock with finding out why the firings happened and whether the Clintons were trying to make room in the office for their personal allies.

Republicans won the House majority in 1994, and Comstock became the chief counsel on the Committee on Government Reform and Oversight.

Comstock’s legal training prepared her to burrow through mounds of government documents, spotting patterns in discrete facts that eluded others. She deposed countless high-level White House officials and allies, including John Podesta and George Stephanopoulos. When Democratic fundraiser Johnny Chung appeared before the committee in 1999, Comstock did the grilling.

The other trait Comstock’s admirers and critics consistently point to: a work ethic bordering on compulsive.

“Late night calls from Barbara Comstock were not unusual,” David Brock, the onetime conservative opposition researcher and Comstock confidant, wrote in his 2002 book, “Blinded by the Right: The Conscience of an Ex-Conservative.” “She often telephoned with the latest tidbit she had dug up in the thousands and thousands of pages of administration records she pored through frantically, as if she were looking for a winning lottery ticket she had somehow mislaid.”

The late Barbara Olson, Comstock’s co-investigator on the committee, wrote in her own book that the two took extraordinary measures to prevent Clinton backers from sabotaging their work.

“We changed our locks; not even the cleaning crews had access to our tiny room,” Olson wrote in “Hell to Pay: The Unfolding Story of Hillary Rodham Clinton,” published in 1999. “I generally arrived at 6:30 a.m. and tried to leave for home before 8:00 p.m. My colleague Barbara Comstock continued the vigil and wouldn’t leave until 4:00 a.m.”

Foust is quoted in the piece saying he was unaware of the dynamics of the “Clinton Wars” since he was busy getting his law firm off the ground and raising his family.  Nevertheless, the Clinton crew is fearful of Comstock returning to Congress and getting back on the “warpath,” especially with the Benghazi investigation still ongoing.

In the meantime, former Secretary of State Madeline Albright is hosting fundraisers for Foust and Jamie Gorelick, who served as Clinton’s deputy attorney general, gave him a $1,000 donation. She responded to many of Comstock’s subpoenas, according to Politico.

It looks like the Clinton people are out for a little revenge.

AFP Launches Ad in Alaska Attacking Begich's "Absenteeism"

"No excuses. Do what it takes to get the job done." That's the Alaskan way of life, according to Steve Perrins, owner of Rainy Pass Lodge, the oldest hunting lodge in the state. One person who doesn't seem to share this mentality, however, is Senator Mark Begich (D-AK). In a new Americans for Prosperity ad, Perrins questions Begich's absenteeism in the nation's capital:

"I think our state is a little ticked off that our senator, Mark Begich, is not showing up for his job."

Alaskans are being kind on the senator. Last year, Begich missed more votes than 80 percent of all senators.

AFP President Tim Phillips commented on the senator's disappearing act:

"When it comes to critical issues facing Alaskans, Mark Begich seems to have more important things to do than fight for them in the United States Senate. Missed votes means the voices of Alaskans are marginalized and unheard. With one of the worst voting records in the Senate, Begich has failed to represent Alaskans on important issues like government spending, energy regulations and agricultural policy. Unfortunately, Mark Begich just hasn't been showing up for work."

How long, really, does it take to give a 'yea' or 'nay'? Representing his constituents in Congress certainly doesn't appear to be too high on Begich's agenda.

Perrins asked the important question:

"How can we count on Mark Begich to fight for Alaskans when he won't show up to work in Washington, DC?"

Most people who don't show up to work lose their jobs. Alaskans, therefore, have more than a right to fire Begich. 

Watch the entirety of the effective ad  here:

Paul Ryan: Of Course Republicans Won’t Force Another Government Shutdown...

...before the 2014 midterm elections, that is. After that all bets are off, it seems, and there are no guarantees.

Inspiring.

And yet public opinion shows pretty convincingly that Republicans were on the losing end politically of last year’s partial-government shutdown. For two weeks, government offices, major tourist attractions, and even the open-air World War II Memorial in D.C. were temporarily closed. And while Republicans did their best to expose the White House’s calculated and incredibly petulant efforts to exploit the crisis, most Americans pinned the blame squarely on congressional Republicans. No surprises there. You might even recall that's exactly what happened the last time congressional lawmakers found themselves negotiating during a government shutdown.

Nonetheless, Rep. Paul Ryan (R-WI) recently told Roll Call that House Republicans have supposedly learned from their past missteps. To that end, he said, they are committed to passing a spending resolution funding the government at least through December:

On a possible government shutdown: In his book, Ryan calls the 2013 shutdown a “suicide mission” for the House GOP, and on Wednesday he told CQ Roll Call he agreed that Republicans were easy to blame for the events that transpired.

But House Republicans won’t repeat that mistake this September, Ryan predicted: “We will pass a clean [continuing resolution], and if for some reason the Democrats don’t take that, then they will clearly have shut the government down … it will be patently obvious … that they are playing politics with this, and trying to trigger a shutdown so they can blame us, but we’re really blameless in this particular situation.”

Ryan’s confidence that his conference will cooperate in passing a stop-gap spending bill free of controversial policy riders — ”until Dec. 11 is what we’re thinking,” said Ryan — contradicts Democrats’ cries over the past few days that the GOP is spoiling for another shutdown that could cost them the election in November.

The last thing the GOP needs, I think, is to be blamed for another government shutdown just before Election Day 2014.

What, if anything, could damage or diminish their electoral prospects more?

CNN's Lemon Battles Rapper Over Ferguson--Let's "World Run By White Supremacy" Comment Slide

Another example of the "how would this be handled if a Tea Partier were the jerk" question [Please read Mary Katharine Ham's excellent post from yesterday on this]. It sure wouldn't be patience, toleration, extended coverage in order to reconcile matters, and a long-extended bro handshake. G'me a break! Note how the "white supremacy" line is not even noticed by Don Lemon.

McCain Calls for More ISIS Airstrikes

Senator John McCain (R- Ariz.) expressed his anger with President Obama's reaction to the beheading of American journalist James Foley and called for a dramatic increase of airstrikes to the region. He believes that this tragic incident should be a "turning point" for the president's strategy in defeating the Islamic terror group. 

McCain said to Reuters:

"First of all, you've got to dramatically increase the airstrikes. And those airstrikes have to be devoted to Syria as well...We have to defeat them, not stop them."

McCain's aggressive and passionate denouncement of the ISIS group in light of Foley's murder has been much more than what American's have seen from President Obama. The president eulogized Foley yesterday in a statement, but didn't speak of how America plans to fight what McCain calls "the most vicious terrorist organization that we've ever encountered."

To The Arizona Republic, McCain said:

"This president has ignored the threat for a long period of time, and now we're paying the price."

McCain reports that ISIS is now the world's largest terror organization and has a large inventory of stolen Iraqi military equipment:

"The more he (Obama) delays and the more he acts incrementally, the more ISIS adjusts and the more difficult they will become," McCain said. "And one of the decisions that he has to make is to attack ISIS in Syria because they are moving the captured equipment there and they are fighting there and their enclaves are there. They have erased the border between Iraq and Syria. They are now an enclave larger than Indiana."

Poll: Americans Favor Criminalizing Kids Playing Unsupervised

According to a new Reason/Rupe poll, an astounding 68 percent of Americans surveyed said that it should not be legal for children under the age of nine to play outside unsupervised. A smaller, yet still sizable, percentage of people surveyed agreed that 12-year-old children should also not be allowed to be outside unsupervised.

A whopping 68 percent of Americans think there should be a law that prohibits kids 9 and under from playing at the park unsupervised, despite the fact that most of them no doubt grew up doing just that.

What's more: 43 percent feel the same way about 12-year-olds. They would like to criminalize all pre-teenagers playing outside on their own (and, I guess, arrest their no-good parents).

A woman in South Carolina was arrested for letting her nine-year-old play outside at a park while she was at work, and a woman in Connecticut was arrested for leaving her preteen alone in a car.

Growing up in Maine, I spent a decent amount of time outside by myself as a child without parental supervision. I went sledding and ice skating without my mother hovering over me—way before I ever had a cell phone. I biked through the neighborhood without parental guidance. I babysat children starting around age 11. Nobody died.

Parents should be trusted to know what's best for their children. Crime rates are at their lowest in decades, and arresting parents for letting their children play unsupervised is doing nothing but waste valuable police time. Society needs to lighten up a little, and these poll numbers are very troubling.

Unbiased: 'SNL' Team Calls Sarah Palin 'Ridiculous,' 'Pageant Winner'

A new edition of the "Saturday Night Live" oral history reveals what everyone already knew: the show has a liberal bias.

In the 200 new pages of the updated book, which first published in 2002, the writers, the cast and, heck, probably even the light technician, explain their distaste for conservatives and how they looked forward to mocking them on Saturday night. I've included just a taste of their comments.

Cast member Horatio Sanz, who I used to think was funny, explained why he had qualms about Will Ferrell's impression of George W. Bush, but loved Tina Fey’s Palin:

I always kind of felt bad when Will Ferrell did his Bush impression because he was such a good old boy that you really didn't think, "Oh, this evil little rich prick whose dad and his friends got him in office." You thought, "Oh, he's just a good old guy I'd like to drink beer with." As funny as Will's impression was, the audience as a whole, the whole country, would probably see that as, "Oh, I like Bush. Because he's Will." You know, if Will hadn't done that impression, or at least made him likable, it may have tipped it the other way. I honestly think so. We made up for it. I think Tina's impression basically killed Sarah Palin.

Whether or not the show’s interpretation of Palin did play a part in the 2012 presidential election, there’s no denying she was a favorite target at the NBC studio. Take, for instance, writer Paula Pell, who explained her confrontation with the former governor as such (emphasis mine):

I planned that I was going to come up and talk to [Palin] and shake her hand and welcome her and say, "My wife and I are very good people, and we live a very socially conscious life, and we do a lot for our community, and I just want you to know the face of gay couples and gay people," and I had this whole speech planned. Then I just kind of came up to her in the chaos in the hallway and just nodded and said "hi" and walked off. I thought to myself, "I'm such a chickenshit." I was like, "Wow, she's pretty." I just got overwhelmed by the fact that this character who was everywhere on TV was in front of me, and she was real and just ridiculous. So I didn't get my big political moment.

"SNL" Producer Lorne Michaels, who one would hope would stay nonpartisan, offended Palin by insisting he wasn't offending her:

[Palin] has wonderful manners — and I honestly don't mean this in a condescending way — but it's that pageant-winner thing.

Then, of course, we can't forget the woman who started it all. Tina Fey's opinion of the Alaska mom and governor she so hilariously, yet insultingly portrayed can be summed up by Michaels:

Tina was terrified of anything where they would be together looking like an endorsement.

But, as we all know, Palin isn't one to remain silent:

I know that they portrayed me as an idiot, and I hated that, and I wanted to come on the show and counter some of that.

As easy as it seemed to mock conservatives, "SNL" producers shared how hard it was to try and make fun of the current president, who can seemingly do no wrong. Producer-writer James Downey explained the challenge:

If I had to describe Obama as a comedy project, I would say, "Degree of difficulty, 10 point 10." It's like being a rock climber looking up at a thousand-foot-high face of solid obsidian, polished and oiled. There's not a single thing to grab onto — certainly not a flaw or hook that you can caricature. [Al] Gore had these "handles," so did Bush, and Sarah Palin, and even Hillary had them. But with Obama, it was the phenomenon — less about him and more about the effect he had on other people and the way he changed their behavior. So that's the way I wrote him.

In other words, Obama has no flaws. Downey did at least offer a rare glimpse of truth regarding the show’s agenda (emphasis mine):

The last couple seasons of the show were the only two in the show's history where we were totally like every other comedy show: basically, an arm of the Hollywood Democratic establishment. [Jon] Stewart was more nuanced. We just stopped doing anything which could even be misinterpreted as a criticism of Obama.

Downey isn’t alone. Former cast member Chevy Chase admitted to CNN’s Alina Cho he intentionally portrayed President Gerald Ford as a bumbling buffoon in the 1970s because he wanted Jimmy Carter in the White House.

For more proof of how biased the satire show is, read my article from Townhall Magazine, " Saturday Night Lies."

I'm going to give Palin the last word. Unlike the 'SNL' cast, she needs no script to throw a few zingers:

Palin: If I ran into Tina Fey again today, I would say: "You need to at least pay for my kids' braces or something from all the money that you made off of pretending that you're me! My goodness, you capitalized on that! Can't you contribute a little bit? Jeez!"

CNN Refuses Anti-Hamas ad

Put this in the "you can't make it up department." CNN refused to air an ad condemning Hamas which showcases their disdain for human life. Here is the ad, which Fox News did run, below:

The NRA Is Going After Michael Bloomberg

President Barack Obama isn’t the most helpful politician to Democrats this election cycle, but there could be another “boogeyman” in this election cycle: Michael Bloomberg. The National Rifle Association launched an offensive against this anti-gun activist earlier this week–and it’s about time (via Washington Post):

The National Rifle Association announced Tuesday that it is kicking off a multimillion-dollar campaign that will extend beyond November to tar the reputation of Michael Bloomberg, perhaps the country's most powerful gun control activist. The NRA launched a TV ad that slams Bloomberg not only on his gun policies, but also over his push as mayor of New York City to ban large sugary beverages.

In other words, they want to give you lots of reasons to dislike the guy.

The NRA is aiming at Bloomberg, not specific candidates, the organization says. But the ad campaign -- which includes both online and television components -- just happens to be headed for some of the biggest battleground states of the 2014 election, like Colorado, North Carolina and Kentucky.

Personality often complements policy in campaigns. The NRA is wagering that by casting Bloomberg as a wealthy Northeastern elitist who wants to tell people how much soda they should have, they'll arouse more anger about his gun control agenda.

With Bloomberg’s defeats in the Colorado recall and most recently in the primary for Milwaukee County Sheriff, the nation’s oldest civil rights organization sees that they can cut the Achilles tendon of the anti-gun left.

Even Milwaukee County Sherriff David A. Clarke Jr. touched upon these points in his op-ed for the Washington Times, slamming Bloomberg for his hubris and having little political acumen when it comes to pushing his agenda via his effete organization [emphasis mine]:

Mr. Bloomberg, the former mayor of New York, made a huge political miscalculation when he sauntered into my territory of Milwaukee County, Wis. — a solid-blue county that overwhelmingly votes Democrat — expecting an easy signature win for his failing crusade to disarm law-abiding Americans.

According to one Democratic Party source, Mr. Bloomberg said of his attempt to knock me off in my re-election primary for sheriff, “This one is personal with me.” That is a sign of desperation. Yes, even billionaires can be greedy. Surely, Mr. Bloomberg saw me as an easy win that he could parade around the country as a warning to other pro-gun candidates to either get in line with his anti-gun movement or face defeat at the polls. He saw picking off a big-city, pro-gun sheriff as a prize worth landing.

This was no ordinary defeat for Mr. Bloomberg’s “Mayors Against the Second Amendment” group. Losing to a local sheriff in a county dominated by Democratic Party voters just might have set his futile movement back to a point of no recovery.

BOOM!

As for Bloomberg’s hubris, it’s almost stomach churning; the guy thinks he’s earned himself a spot in heaven. Yet, the NRA could potentially disseminate a devastating narrative against the pro gun control crowd with this urban/rural dichotomy they’re aiming to highlight.

In December of 2012, then-Mediaite editor Noah Rothman noted that even squishy New York Times Republican David Brooks warned that Bloomberg being at the helm of the anti-gun movement isn't going to work:

One of the problems with this debate; it’s become a values war. It’s perceived as urban versus rural. And, frankly, it’s perceived as an attack on the lifestyle of rural people by urban people. And, I admire Mayor Bloomberg enormously – there’s probably no politician I agree with more – but it’s counterproductive to have him as the spokesperson for the gun law movement. There has to be more respect and more people, frankly, from rural and red America who are participants in this.

Given Second Amendment rights’ success–legally and legislatively–in the past couple of years, Mr. Brooks seems to have hit the bullseye with this prediction.

DOJ Launches Criminal Investigation Into Foley's Murder

Attorney General Eric Holder announced Thursday that the Justice Department has opened a criminal investigation into the execution of American photojournalist James Wright Foley.

Holder's comments were prompted by a question asked at a press conference in Washington, D.C. where he was discussing the $16.5 billion settlement with the Bank of America Corporation.

“The Justice Department is actively pursuing justice in this case. We have an open criminal investigation....

[T]hose who would perpetrate such acts need to understand something. This Justice Department, this Department of Defense, this nation — we have long memories and our reach is very wide. We will not forget what happened and people will be held accountable, one way or the other.”

In his response, Holder dubbed Foley "a symbol of what’s right about the United States." 

The FBI confirmed Wednesday that the YouTube video showing an ISIL adherent boorishly beheading Foley was authentic. President Obama even took a slight reprieve from his vacation at Martha's Vineyard Wednesday to offer condolences. In a short, but poignant, speech, he vowed that the United States would continue to "confront terrorism" and to protect its "people and timeless values."

Let us hope that the Obama administration breaks character in this situation and acts on its promise to hold this terrorist organization accountable for the barbaric beheading. 

Yes, Uber is a Highly Ideological and Political Issue

The American Prospect's Paul Waldman does not think highly of recent Republican Party efforts to expand their appeal by promoting "sharing economy" companies like Uber. It's not that Waldman has anything against Uber, he just thinks their is no political salience to the issue. Waldman writes:

I have no problem with the Republicans embracing Uber. Taxi regulations usually have a logic to them, but they can also be ridiculous. In the places where Uber is being fought, it's a pure battle of interests, with the existing businesses fighting to keep their privileged position. It's really not an ideological contest at all.

Not all progressives, however, seem to agree with Waldman. Dean Baker, co-founder of the progressive Center for Economic and Policy Research, recently wrote for The Guardian:

But the downside of the sharing economy has gotten much less attention. Most cities and states both tax and regulate hotels, and the tourists who stay in hotels are usually an important source of tax revenue (since governments have long recognized that a modest hotel tax is not likely to discourage most visitors nor provoke the ire of constituents). But many of Airbnb's customers are not paying the taxes required under the law.

Airbnb can also raise issues of safety for its customers and nuisance for hosts' neighbors. Hotels are regularly inspected to ensure that they are not fire traps and that they don't pose other risks for visitors. Airbnb hosts face no such inspections – and their neighbors in condo, co-ops or apartment buildings may think they have the right not to be living next door to a hotel (which is one reason that cities have zoning restrictions).

Insofar as Airbnb is allowing people to evade taxes and regulations, the company is not a net plus to the economy and society – it is simply facilitating a bunch of rip-offs. Others in the economy will lose by bearing an additional tax burden or being forced to live next to an apartment unit with a never-ending parade of noisy visitors, just to cite two examples.

The same story may apply with Uber. Uber is currently in disputes with regulators over whether its cars meet the safety and insurance requirements imposed on standard taxis. Also, many cities impose some restrictions on the number of cabs in the hopes of ensuring a minimum level of earnings for drivers, but if Uber and related services (like Lyft) flood the market, they could harm all drivers' ability to earn even minimum wage.

So far from a harmless and isolated "battle of interests" in the transportation sector, it turns out that "sharing economy" companies like Uber and Airbnb challenge the very legitimacy of many government fixes to supposed market failures. 

Consumers are essentially being offered two economies: 1) a traditional, highly regulated economy that supposedly ensures their safety, protects them from fraud, and promises a minimum level of quality, but at a higher cost and with limited flexibility; 2) a modern, essentially unregulated economy where people rely on information provided by their peers to ensure their own safety, protect them from fraud, and secure valuable services.

The more younger voters use, choose, and identify with the second model for organizing human behavior, the more likely they are to be sympathetic to Republican limited government messages.

Does the spread of Uber and Airbnb guarantee Republican dominance? No. But by embracing the sharing economy Republicans have found an innovative way to introduce their brand to a wider population of voters that are normally told, in Waldman's words, that Republican only like "cutting taxes" and "trying to keep gay people from getting married."

NYT: U.S. Commandos Tried to Rescue James Foley

Reportedly captured by an affiliate of the Free Syrian Army and turned over to ISIS, the late journalist James Wright Foley was held in captivity for a period of years before he was brutally executed earlier this week. But the U.S. government didn’t forget about him; on the contrary, the president himself green-lighted a top-secret operation to rescue him and other hostages in Syria. Alas, the mission failed.

The New York Times reports:

A secret nighttime military mission authorized by President Obama to rescue Americans held captive in Syria failed early this summer when a team of two dozen Delta Force commandos raided an oil refinery in the northern part of the country but found after a firefight with Islamic militants that there were no hostages to be saved, administration officials said Wednesday.

The officials — speaking a day after the Islamic State in Iraq and Syria posted a video showing the American journalist James Foley being beheaded — described what they called a “complicated operation” in which the commandos were dropped by helicopter into Syrian territory in an attempt to rescue Mr. Foley and others being held by the Sunni militant group.

The Army commandos fought their way to the spot where they believed that ISIS was hiding the hostages, the officials said. But when the team swooped in, the hostages were gone. “We’re not sure why they were moved,” a Defense Department official said. “By the time we got there, it was too late.” The official said it may have been “a matter of hours, perhaps a day or two” since the hostages had been there.

So U.S. intelligence officials had the correct location, but for some reason, the hostages were moved just before Army commandos could get to them. Devastating. Still, the article notes that although one U.S. soldier was “slightly wounded” during the attempted extraction, no Americans died. The raiders, meanwhile, took out at least a handful of Islamic terrorists.

And yet while the rescue attempt was daring, laudable, and dangerous, some at the Defense Department are questioning why the administration released information about the raid in the first place:

Two Defense Department officials, who spoke separately on the condition of anonymity because of the operation’s delicate nature, expressed anger at the administration for revealing the mission. One of the officials said the aborted raid had alerted the militants to the Americans’ desire and willingness to try to rescue the hostages, and, in the aftermath, had probably forced the captors to tighten their security.

But, the official said, the conference call on Wednesday revealed new details that ISIS is not likely to have known. “This only makes our job harder,” the official said. “I’m very disappointed this was released. We knew any second operation would be a lot harder.”

Although this, perhaps, is a plausible reason:

Caitlin Hayden, the National Security Council spokeswoman, said the administration had “never intended to disclose this operation” but had felt that its hand was forced by news media outlets that were preparing to report on the mission. “An overriding concern for the safety of the hostages and for operational security made it imperative that we preserve as much secrecy as possible,” she said in a statement on Wednesday evening.

Still, how could “media outlets” have access to this sensitive information if someone from the administration hadn't first leaked it? This explanation therefore doesn't address the underlying problem; namely, classified information continues to find its way into the hands of journalists and reporters. Why? Nevertheless, the Defense Department released this statement yesterday confirming the mission, and vowing to never leave captured American citizens behind when they can plausibly be rescued:

As we have said repeatedly, the United States government is committed to the safety and well-being of its citizens, particularly those suffering in captivity. In this case, we put the best of the United States military in harms' way to try and bring our citizens home.

The United States government uses the full breadth of our military, intelligence and diplomatic capabilities to bring people home whenever we can. The United States will not tolerate the abduction of our people, and will work tirelessly to secure the safety of our citizens and to hold their captors accountable.

Sadly, there is still another American journalist being detained by ISIS. And unsurprisingly, his fate remains uncertain.

ISIS, Mexican Drug Cartels Teaming Up?

The relationship between drug trafficking and terrorism has long existed, and can take many forms depending on the goals and needs of each party. Sometimes hybrid criminal-terrorist organizations form in which terrorist groups become involved in the drug trade to fund operations, purchase equipment, and pay foot soldiers. In return, they provide safe passageways for the drugs and give traffickers tips for circumventing customs and security forces. Other times a localized criminal organization or terrorist group lacks expertise, so increased contacts and business with major drug cartels helps advance the sophistication of their operation. Ultimately, though, both have logistical needs and working with or even talking to each other allows the groups to share lessons learned, important contacts to corrupt officials, and operational methods.

Thus, it’s not surprising to hear that the Islamic State (ISIS/ISIL) is already talking to Mexican drug cartels. Rep. Ted Poe (R-TX), a member of the House Judiciary Committee on Crime, Terrorism, and Homeland Security, said as much on Newmax TV’s “America’s Forum” on Wednesday when asked if there’s any interaction between the two.

“My opinion is yes,” he replied. “There seems to be at least a talking to each other. How much? I don’t know. But ... drug cartels use the same operational plan as terrorist groups do. They kill their opponents, they behead their opponents, they brag about it and they have operational control of many portions of the southern border of the United States. Mexico doesn’t. The United States doesn’t. Otherwise they wouldn’t be crossing daily with their drugs. They’re as vicious as some of these other terrorist organizations. We need to recognize them that this is an organized international crime group. And we have to deal with them as such.” 

Even amid all the domestic and international crises going on at the moment, it’s important that the American people and lawmakers not give up on putting pressure on this administration to beef up border security. The crisis at the Southwest border is about more than just the illegal immigration of tens of thousands of Central Americans—it’s about national security. Criminals, violent gang members, drug cartel members, and yes, terrorists, are also coming in and will continue to do so as long as this administration puts politics and political correctness ahead of security.

Romney: Heck, Even I Never Thought Obama Could Be This Bad

During the last election cycle Mitt Romney was crushed by President Obama in the Electoral College and lost by nearly 5 million popular votes. That’s to say, the public overwhelmingly decided that the incumbent president was the better and more qualified of the two candidates, and safely re-elected him.

Still, even if that’s how history ultimately unfolded, the former Republican presidential nominee isn’t putting his disagreements aside -- or rallying to his defense -- during these difficult times. On the contrary, he recently told a crowd of enthusiastic supporters in West Virginia that even he was surprised by how much of a failure President Obama’s second term has become (via The Washington Times):

The former Massachusetts governor has some pointed words for the man who defeated him two years ago, saying President Obama was doing “a good deal worse than even I expected.” He cited the U.S. economy and troubles abroad in such hot spots as Iraq, Syria and Russia.

“I was not a big fan of the president’s policies, as you know, either domestically or internationally,” he said, “but the results of his mistakes and errors, in my opinion, have been more severe than even I would have predicted.”

That’s about as uncharitable as Mitt Romney gets. Still, the past few weeks have been anything but easy for the president and his advisers. The death of Michael Brown and the subsequent rioting in Ferguson, Missouri has only added to the president’s growing list of unresolved problems. Abroad, we’ve also witnessed the slaughtering of innocent civilians in northern Iraq and the execution of the first American citizen by the terrorist organization ISIS. To make matters worse, the resumption of hostilities between Israel and Hamas -- and Ukraine and Russia -- also threaten global stability and security.

Despite these challenges, however, there’s a reason why my colleagues over at Hot Air routinely describe Obama as “semi-retired.” That’s because he often gives off the impression that he is. He frequently delivers concise statements on important subject matters, only to jet off to a fundraiser or hit the links shortly thereafter. Still, even if the president isn’t “semi-retired” as some claim, his actions suggest he’s not totally engaged, either. As ABC News openly wondered: Does he even care about optics anymore?

It’d be one thing if President Obama was merely a floundering president way over his head; it’s quite another (and a real problem perhaps) when nearly half the country thinks he’s “already checked out.”

Bernie Sanders 2016?

This certainly would be a surprise if Vermont Senator Bernie Sanders, an independent who caucuses with Democrats, runs in 2016. The self-described democratic socialist said last week we shouldn’t “anoint” Hillary just yet.

Sen. Sanders also isn’t afraid of being called a socialist. And said he had a “damn good platform” for a presidential run (via Yahoo!):

"If the American people understand what goes on in countries like Denmark, Sweden, Norway, and other countries, they will say, ‘Whoa, I didn't know that!’” Sanders said, pointing out that health care is considered a right, “R-I-G-H-T,” among even the most conservative politicians in Denmark.

Sanders described his credo as a fight to protect America’s working class from what he sees as the threat of an approaching “oligarchic form of society.”

“You have today in America more income and wealth inequality than any time in this country since 1928 and more than any major country in the world,” Sanders said. “So, you got the top one percent owning 38 percent of the wealth in America. Do you know what the bottom 60 percent own? 2.3 percent.”

“You know what that is?" he said. "That's called oligarchy."

Though Sanders isn’t making any secret of his possible 2016 presidential bid, he said he’s still determining whether he could generate a sufficient level of grassroots support on which to build a campaign.

One of Sanders’ most likely competitors, should he choose to seek the Democratic nomination, is Hillary Clinton. And while Sanders praised Clinton for a successful career, he was critical of the Democratic Party’s seeming coronation of the former secretary of state.

"She has accomplished a lot of very positive things in her career, but I'm not quite sure that the political process is one in which we anoint people,” Sanders said.

Though he stopped short of criticizing Clinton directly, he said she is not a sufficient champion of his message for the middle class.

Well, even “the most conservative politicians” in Denmark would be labeled liberal here in the U.S. Also, the senator should know that conservative means something entirely different across the pond. As for presidential ambitions, Sanders, like Warren, is hinting at making challenges so that more centrist–or perceived centrist– candidates, like Hillary Clinton, make sure their leanings veer towards the left.

Allahpundit made a note of this last June after Sen. Warren’s interview with Huffington Post Live:

What she’s really doing here, I think, is preserving a little strategic ambiguity to keep the pressure on Hillary to pander to the left. She’s not going to run and she wouldn’t win if she did, but if she starts speaking campaign-ese, she can make sure that Hillary invests in plenty of income inequality rhetoric next year that the left can hold her to later.

Alas, Sen. Warren isn’t going to run. But the progressive challenge threat remains. Hillary still hasn’t sharpened her already dull campaign skills from 2008–and don’t expect anything once 2016 rolls around. She’s not a good campaigner, who could struggle if Sanders decides to channel his inner-Warren. Even if he is in the race just to raise the issues adored by the far left of the Democratic Party.

Although, given her recent gaffes, especially about her wealth, and the outrageous demands Hillary makes when making speeches; it's not totally insane (we’re talking Democratic politics here) to say that he could siphon some of Hillary’s grassroots support. At Netroots Nation, the crowd went nuts when Sen. Warren gave her keynote address; a sign that shows she’s where the Democratic base aligns on the issues. And that’s a bit unnerving. Sen. Sanders also fits in with this crowd very well.

Additionally, Hillary also isn’t looking as invincible as she once did in February. The left-leaning Washington Post documented her precipitous decline last week:

A new poll from McClatchy and Marist College documents that decline pretty well. In hypothetical matchups with potential 2016 Republican candidates, Clinton has seen her lead decline from 20-plus points in February to the mid-single digits today. She leads Chris Christie by six points after leading him by 21 points six months ago. She leads Jeb Bush 48-41 after leading him by 20 in February. She leads Rand Paul 48-42 after leading him by the same margin early this year.

But for right now, Sen. Sanders is defending Israel, telling people to “shut up” at town halls about the Gaza conflict. I guess we can assume his position on Israel won’t be a hostile one if he mounts a 2016 campaign, right?

(Warning: mild language)

The fireworks begin around 3:15. One woman says Hamas' tunnels in Gaza were for "survival purposes."  

Grand Jurors Say Gov. Perry Is Being 'Disrespectful,' Or Something

Several members of the grand jury that indicted Texas Gov. Rick Perry on abuse of power charges are a little hurt that the governor labeled their actions as politically motivated (via Houston Chronicle):

Several members of the grand jury that indicted Gov. Rick Perry said Tuesday that his claim the indictment was based more on politics than substance is unfair and disrespectful to the months of work they put in.

The jury, which met weekly for four months, "really tried to keep an open mind and come to a fair decision given all the testimony that we heard," said Janna Bessin, one of the 12 Travis County residents appointed to serve on the grand jury.

"It's too bad," Bessin said, calling the criticism unfair. "But I guess that his side's job – to really spin it."

Perry was indicted on one count of abuse of official capacity, a first-degree felony punishable by five to 99 years in prison; and on one count of coercion of a public servant, a third-degree felony carrying a punishment oftwo to 10 years in prison.

The charges are related to Perry's threat to veto funding for the Travis County District Attorney office's Public Integrity Unit unless District Attorney Rosemary Lehmberg resigned following her drunken-driving arrest and the widely-viewed video of her booking in which she was belligerant with police officers. Lehmberg refused and Perry vetoed the $7.5 million in state funding for the Public Integrity Unit.

Gov. Perry turned himself in Tuesday, got his mug shot taken, and said outside the courthouse "I'm here today because I believe in the rule of law. And I'm here today because I did the right thing.” 

Gov. Perry has actually seen commentaries and editorials from across the political spectrum saying how this indictment is a gross exercise in overreach. Former White House adviser David Axelrod called it “sketchy.” The New York Times, which isn’t a fan of Gov. Perry, criticized the charges as “overzealous.” Jonathan Chait, former editor of the New Republic, called this whole fiasco “unbelievably ridiculous.”

Oh, as for the jurors speaking out, it seems like you're breaking the law. Bryan Preston over at PJ Media has what Texas law says about the oath of grand jurors:

Now, as to Texas law. Here’s what it says.

Art. 19.34. [365] [416] [404] OATH OF GRAND JURORS

When the grand jury is completed, the court shall appoint one of the number foreman; and the following oath shall be administered by the court, or under its direction, to the jurors: “You solemnly swear that you

will diligently inquire into, and true presentment make, of all

such matters and things as shall be given you in charge; the

State’s counsel, your fellows and your own, you shall keep secret,

unless required to disclose the same in the course of a judicial

proceeding in which the truth or falsity of evidence given in the

grand jury room, in a criminal case, shall be under investigation.

You shall present no person from envy, hatred or malice; neither

shall you leave any person unpresented for love, fear, favor,

affection or hope of reward; but you shall present things truly as

they come to your knowledge, according to the best of your

understanding, so help you God”.

Bold added. For the grand jury misconduct.

"Ice Bucket Challenge": Don't Waste Water

Scrolling through your Facebook or Twitter feed hasn't been the same in the last few weeks. 

Rich, poor, young, old, Dr. Dre, and your uncle you haven't seen in years have all been participating in the nationwide phenomena known as the "Ice Bucket Challenge." In the name of finding a cure for Lou Gehrig’s Disease (also known as ALS), the "Ice Bucket Challenge" has raised $31.5 million in just over 3 weeks. The idea is simple: donate to the ALS Association or pour ice water on your head, challenge someone else to do the same, and post to social media.

Governor Jerry Brown of California was challenged by Sacramento mayor, Kevin Johnson and instead of taking on the challenge himself, he volunteered his Welsh corgi, Sutter. Ironically, the bucket of water is poured out in front of the California Capitol Building with what appears to be a water conservation sign in the background. Watch the video here.

The "Ice Bucket Challenge" has been scrutinized by critics in California where the state is experiencing the worst drought in recored history. The Long Beach Post estimates that 6 million gallons of water have been wasted on the challenge worldwide, but any water wasted in California is intolerable. State-mandated fines of $500 are in effect for those wasting water for any reason.

Many people don't understand that the challenge is meant to be a punishment for not donating to charity. Instead it has become an excuse to post a silly video on social media. 

Will Oremus of Slate.com wrote:

"As for 'raising awareness,' few of the videos I’ve seen contain any substantive information about the disease, why the money is needed, or how it will be used. More than anything else, the ice bucket videos feel like an exercise in raising awareness of one’s own zaniness, altruism, and/or attractiveness in a wet T-shirt."

The 1.2 million "Ice Bucket" videos shared on Facebook show little knowledge of what ALS is (Amyotrophic Lateral Sclerosis) from their creators. They mostly consist of "Hi, my name is so-and-so and I challenge so-and-so." Giving a little education on the disease would at least justify those who are doing the challenge and not donating, which is what many younger people are doing. 

While there is probably people who do the challenge and donate to ALS research, the "Ice Bucket Challenge" is being called a ploy by those who claim to support a cause and aren't really doing anything. Some call it "slacktivism," a play-on-words for people who don't do much for the cause they are supporting (post a Facebook video, for example) and claim to be an activist for. 

REPORT: Fracking Doesn't Create Destructive Earthquakes

The debate is over; fracking doesn’t cause destructive earthquakes. The highly non-controversial way of extracting natural gas, which has been used since 1947, has been a focal point of some absurd claims that they’re a threat to the environment (via Associated Press) [emphasis mine]:

Man-made earthquakes, a side effect of some high-tech energy drilling, cause less shaking and in general are about 16 times weaker than natural earthquakes with the same magnitude, a new federal study found.

People feeling the ground move from induced quakes — those that are not natural, but triggered by injections of wastewater deep underground— report significantly less shaking than those who experience more normal earthquakes of the same magnitude, according to a study by U.S. Geological Survey geophysicist Susan Hough.

Fracking and natural gas exploration has been a huge issue for the environmentalists. They claim fracking contaminates water, which was disproven by the Environmental Protection Agency when they tested the water in Dimock, Pennsylvania in 2012. They said the water was safe to drink (emphasis mine):

The U.S. Environmental Protection Agency announced today [July 25, 2012] that it has completed its sampling of private drinking water wells in Dimock, Pa. Data previously supplied to the agency by residents, the Pennsylvania Department of Environmental Protection and Cabot Oil and Gas Exploration had indicated the potential for elevated levels of water contaminants in wells, and following requests by residents EPA took steps to sample water in the area to ensure there were not elevated levels of contaminants. Based on the outcome of that sampling, EPA has determined that there are not levels of contaminants present that would require additional action by the Agency.

Between January and June 2012, EPA sampled private drinking water wells serving 64 homes, including two rounds of sampling at four wells where EPA was delivering temporary water supplies as a precautionary step in response to prior data indicating the well water contained levels of contaminants that pose a health concern. At one of those wells EPA did find an elevated level of manganese in untreated well water. The two residences serviced by the well each have water treatment systems that can reduce manganese to levels that do not present a health concern.

As a result of the two rounds of sampling at these four wells, EPA has determined that it is no longer necessary to provide residents with alternative water. EPA is working with residents on the schedule to disconnect the alternate water sources provided by EPA.

Overall during the sampling in Dimock, EPA found hazardous substances, specifically arsenic, barium or manganese, all of which are also naturally occurring substances, in well water at five homes at levels that could present a health concern. In all cases the residents have now or will have their own treatment systems that can reduce concentrations of those hazardous substances to acceptable levels at the tap. EPA has provided the residents with all of their sampling results and has no further plans to conduct additional drinking water sampling in Dimock.

Dimock became the epicenter for the drinking water contamination hysteria thanks to Josh Fox’s 2010 documentary Gasland.

Right now, environmentalists and green energy advocates have to solve a few problems with their own pet projects, specifically in solar fields where 28,000 birds are bursting into flames over the intense heat emitted from the plants. Additionally, wind turbines are killing hundreds of thousands of migratory birds and turning nearly a million bats into burgers (via NRO):

California’s massive Ivanpah solar power plant can produce enough electricity for 140,000 households — but the environmental cost is nothing less than an avian slaughter.

Temperatures near the towers can reach up to 1,000 degrees Fahrenheit, heat certainly sufficient to fry a fowl.

That’s a common occurrence, the AP continues; federal investigators saw a bird burn roughly every two minutes. Ivanpah owner BrightSource estimates that “about a thousand” die each year, and one environmental group says the plant kills up to 28,000 birds each year.

Ivanpah isn’t the only green darling with a lot of bird blood on its hands, either. The American Bird Conservancy estimates wind turbines slay 440,000 birds each year, and the an analyst writing in the Wildlife Society Bulletin says it’s closer to 573,000 — in addition to 888,000 bats.

So, does this mean we should all live in teepees?