Sunday, May 31, 2015

CNN: John Kerry in Geneva hospital after bike accident in nearby France

By Ben Brumfield and Elise Labott, May 31, CNN

(CNN)U.S. Secretary of State John Kerry broke his right femur in a cycling accident in Scionzier, France, on Sunday morning, State Department spokesman John Kirby said.

The injury is near the site of a previous hip surgery, so Kerry will return to Boston on Sunday for treatment at Massachusetts General Hospital with his doctor who did the prior surgery, the spokesman said in a statement.

He was not, as reported earlier, en route to Boston on Sunday morning. Though a senior State Department official originally said that was the case, Kirby later said Kerry was resting comfortably at a Geneva hospital, where he would remain for the rest of the afternoon. He will depart for Boston on Sunday evening, Kirby said.


Saturday, May 30, 2015

Time: Martin O’Malley Announces Presidential Run

By Charlotte Alter and Sam Frizell, May 30, 2015, Time

"The presidency is not a crown to be passed back and forth by you between two royal families"

Two-term Maryland governor Martin O’Malley announced his presidential campaign Saturday with a swing at Hillary Clinton and Jeb Bush.

“Recently, the CEO of Goldman Sachs let his employees know that he’d be just fine with either Bush or Clinton,” he said in his campaign announcement on Federal Hill, overlooking Baltimore. “Well, I’ve got news for the bullies of Wall Street—the presidency is not a crown to be passed back and forth by you between two royal families.”

O’Malley is a longshot candidate for the Democratic nomination, polling at 1% among Democrats compared with Hillary Clinton’s 57%, according to a May 28 Quinnipiac survey, despite his frequent trips to Iowa and New Hampshire.


Friday, May 29, 2015

Latin Post: Marco Rubio Says Christianity Is in 'Clear, Present Danger' Because of Marriage Equality

By Rodrigo Ugarte, May 27, 2015, Latin Post

Sen. Marco Rubio, one of the Republican presidential hopefuls for 2016, continues to emphasize his stance against same-sex marriage and as defender of Christianity in an attempt to woo his party's conservative religious base.

In an interview with David Brody of the Christian Broadcasting Network, Sen. Rubio claimed Christianity was under fire because the country is on a path that favors marriage equality over religious belief.

"If you think about it, we are at the water's edge of the argument that mainstream Christian teaching is hate speech," Sen. Rubio told CBN News. "Because today we've reached the point in our society where if you do not support same-sex marriage you are labeled a homophobe and a hater."

The Florida Republican continued explaining his position on what he perceives to be a backlash against Christianity, arguing Christian teachings would be the next target.

MSNBC: Border reality should change GOP talking points

By Steve Benen, May 28, 2015, MSNBC

Among Republicans, certain basic truths are so widely understood, they’re not even questioned. Theyknow Obama increased the deficit. They know “Obamacare” is government-run healthcare. And theyknow the Obama administration has been woefully indifferent to securing the border.

Of course, all of these truths are plainly wrong – in fact, they’re the opposite of reality – including that last one. The Washington Post has a great piece this morning on the changing nature of the debate about border security.

As the Department of Homeland Security continues to pour money into border security, evidence is emerging that illegal immigration flows have fallen to their lowest level in at least two decades. The nation’s population of illegal immigrants, which more than tripled, to 12.2 million, between 1990 and 2007, has dropped by about 1 million, according to demographers at the Pew Research Center. […] 
Homeland security officials in the Obama and George W. Bush administrations – who have more than doubled the Border Patrol’s size and spent billions on drones, sensors and other technology at the border – say enhanced security is driving the new trends.
R. Gil Kerlikowske, commissioner of U.S. Customs and Border Protection, told the Post, “We have seen tremendous progress. The border is much more secure than in times past.”


Thursday, May 28, 2015

CBS News: Is Martin O'Malley's New Super PAC A Jab At Hillary Clinton?

By Jake Miller, May 28, 2015, CBS News

Former Maryland Gov. Martin O'Malley, like most of his declared or potential rivals for the presidency in 2016, now has a super PAC.

The group's name recalls President Obama's 2012 campaign slogan: "Forward." But it's also a nod to the younger voters O'Malley hopes to court as he positions himself as a progressive alternative to Clinton.

"We don't necessarily think Hillary Clinton will have trouble appealing to younger voters, but we do think that Martin O'Malley appeals best to younger voters," Generation Forward communications director Ron Boehmer told CBS News. He cited O'Malley's "policies, his record in Maryland - everything from supporting same sex marriage early on to holding down the cost of college tuition."


ABC News: What George Pataki's Entry Means for the 2016 Presidential Race

Jim Cole / AP
By Chris Good, May 28, 2015, ABC News

Republicans have no shortage of presidential contenders, and the field just got even more crowded.

Former New York Gov. George Pataki became the eighth Republican to officially launch a 2016 White House bid on Sunday, telling supporters at an event in Exeter, N.H., that he can pull it off, even as a longshot.

"They told me that when I ran for governor of New York," Pataki said of his doubters. "But I knew I could, and we did."

Pataki isn't on the radar of national polls, but he differs from the other GOP contenders on some major policy issues, adding a new dimension to the 2016 primary.


Just about every Republican candidate is vying to be considered the most conservative candidate in the 2016 race, from social issues to taxes and federal spending.


CNN: Kenyan lawyer offers cows, goats, sheep to marry Malia Obama

By Todd Leopold, May 28, 2015, CNN

CNN) Felix Kiprono, a lawyer in Nairobi, Kenya, has his eye on someone special: President Obama's daughter Malia.

His offer to win her hand? Fifty cows, 70 sheep and 30 goats.

"People might say I am after the family's money, which is not the case. My love is real," he told the Nairobian newspaper.

Moreover, he adds, he's been faithful to his beloved since he first became aware of her.

"I got interested in her in 2008," he said. "As a matter of fact, I haven't dated anyone since and promise to be faithful to her. I have shared this with my family and they are willing to help me raise the bride price."

He's currently working on a letter to announce his intentions and plans to give it to the local U.S. Embassy.

According to prices on Africa Farming, Kiprono's offer could be worth in excess of $90,000.


Sacramento Bee: CA Attorney General Kamala Harris disagrees with statewide police body-camera regulations

California Attorney General Kamala Harris
By Christopher Cadelago, May 27, 2015, Sacramento Bee

Joining fellow law enforcement officials Wednesday, California Attorney General Kamala Harris said she doesn’t believe there should be statewide standards regulating the use of body-worn cameras by police officers.

“I as a general matter believe that we should invest in the ability of law enforcement leaders in specific regions and with their departments to use ... discretion to figure out what technology they are going to adopt based on needs that they have and resources that they have,” Harris told reporters in Sacramento.

“So, I don’t think we can have a one-size-fits-all approach to this,” she added.

Harris, whose own department is the first statewide agency to adopt a body camera program, waded into an issue that has sparked intense debate at the Capitol. One measure, Assembly Bill 66, has undergone several revisions to permit police officers in most jurisdictions to review footage captured on the cameras before giving a report of an incident involving force.

At a recent hearing, several police testified that they favored allowing each department to set their own standards.

NBC News: Jindal Says Rand Paul 'Unsuited' to be President

By Andrew Rafferty, May 27, 2015, NBC News

Louisiana Gov. Bobby Jindal went after Republican presidential candidate Rand Paul on Wednesday, releasing a statement saying Paul is "unsuited to be commander-in-chief" for saying foreign policy hawks in the GOP led to the rise of ISIS.

Jindal, who is weighing his own GOP presidential run, blasted the Kentucky senator for saying on MSNBC that "ISIS exists and grew stronger because of the hawks in our party."

"This is a perfect example of why Senator Paul is unsuited to be commander-in-chief. We have men and women in the military who are in the field trying to fight ISIS right now, and Senator Paul is taking the weakest, most liberal Democrat position," Jindal said in a statement.

Paul's chief strategist Doug Stafford responded Wednesday afternoon: "It's ironic Gov. Jindal would level such a charge when he flip-flops on crucial issues like common core and national security, and he has cratered his own state's economy and budget. Just last week, Gov. Jindal spoke out in support of Sen. Paul and announced he now opposes the NSA's illegal and unnecessary domestic bulk data collection, after previously cheerleading for it."

Fox News: EPA unveils comprehensive water regs, critics decry 'power grab'

By Fox News, May 27, 2015

The Obama administration issued controversial new rules Wednesday aimed at protecting the nation's drinking water but decried by congressional critics as a regulatory "power grab."

The Environmental Protection Agency, in announcing the finalized Clean Water Rule along with the Army Corps of Engineers, said the changes mark a "historic step for the protection of clean water" and would help roughly 117 million Americans who get drinking water from streams not clearly protected before these regulations. The rule would clarify which smaller streams, tributaries and wetlands are covered by anti-pollution and development provisions of the Clean Water Act.

But the rules have run into deep opposition from farm groups and the Republican-led Congress. The House voted to block the regulations earlier this month, and a similar effort is underway in the Senate. Critics argue the rules could greatly expand the reach of federal regulators, making every stream, ditch and puddle on farmers' and others' private land subject to federal oversight.

ABC News: Rick Santorum Slams Rand Paul on ISIS: 'I'd Expect to Hear That From Maybe Bernie Sanders'

Reuters / Jonathan Ernst
By Erin Dooley and Ali Dukakis, May 28, 2015 ABC News

Newly-minted presidential candidate Rick Santorum today slammed fellow 2016 hopeful Rand Paul, who said he blames Republican hawks for the rise of terrorist group ISIS.

“I think that is just fundamentally a misunderstanding of the nature of the enemy we face,” Santorum said in an exclusive interview with ABC News’ Chief Anchor George Stephanopoulos.

“ISIS didn't come about because of ... the arms that America left behind. ISIS came about because they hate everything that we believe in and we stand for,” Santorum added. “I think the idea that we accept now that this tripe from the left that it’s our fault that ISIS exists -- go back to the thousand-year history of Muslim expansionism, and look at some of the horrible things that were done to spread radical Islam. That is not something that America had anything to do with.”

On MSNBC’s “Morning Joe”, Sen. Paul asserted GOP hawks “created” ISIS.

“ISIS exists and grew stronger because of the hawks in our party who gave arms indiscriminately,” he said. “They created these people.”

Wednesday, May 27, 2015

The Wall Street Journal: Rick Santorum Launches Second White House Bid

By Rebecca Ballhaus, May 27, 2015, The Wall Street Journal

Former Pennsylvania Sen. Rick Santorum formally launched his second presidential campaign on Wednesday, attempting to bolster his reputation as a social-issues warrior with an appeal as a champion of the working class.

“I am proud to stand here among you and for you, the American workers who have sacrificed so much, to announce that I am running for president,” Mr. Santorum said at his launch event in Cabot, Pa.

He criticized big government, pledged to roll back regulations seen as hurting industry, and promised to offer a “clear and conservative” vision for America.

Mr. Santorum, who opened the speech with a piece of coal in one hand and an American flag in the other, hopes that reaching out to lower-income Americans—combined with his base of support among evangelical Christians and the party’s most conservative voters—will propel him ahead of better-funded candidates with establishment backing.


Washington Examiner: Clinton Foundation hit with racketeering lawsuit

By Sarah Westwood, May 27, 2015, Washington Examiner

Bill and Hillary Clinton and the Clinton Foundation have been hit with a racketeering lawsuit in Florida court.

The lawsuit, filed by Larry Klayman of Freedom Watch, includes a legal request to have the Florida judge seize the private server on which Hillary Clinton and her aides hosted their emails while she served as secretary of state.

Klayman has filed dozens of lawsuits against the Clintons and other prominent politicians.

The racketeering, influenced and corrupt organizations, or RICO, case alleges the former first couple and their family philanthropy traded political favors for donations or generous speaking fees for Bill Clinton while his wife was the nation's chief diplomat.

"Negotiations by email about influencing U.S. foreign policy or U.S. Government actions to benefit donors to ... The Clinton Foundation or sponsors of speaking engagements would not be captured on a U.S. Government email account because her emails would not be with a U.S. Government official," Klayman said in court documents obtained by the Washington Examiner.

"Hillary Clinton deleted 32,000 email messages from her email server that included her communications arranging, negotiating, and agreeing upon speaking engagements by Bill Clinton in return for large speaking fees and donations to The Clinton Foundation," the documents, dated May 20, said.


The Des Moines Register: Six things to know about Rick Santorum

By Erin Kelly, May 27, 2015, USA Today

How much do you know about Rick Santorum, the former Republican senator from Pennsylvania who is poised to enter the 2016 presidential race Wednesday? Here are six topics to get you started.

Surprise victories

Santorum ran for political office for the first time in 1990 as a long-shot candidate for the U.S. House. He surprised most political observers when he beat seven-term Democratic congressman Doug Walgren. Four years later, at age 36, Santorum won an upset victory for Senate when he beat Democratic senator Harris Wofford. He also beat eventual Republican presidential nominee Mitt Romney in the 2012 Iowa Republican caucuses by a little more than 30 votes.


Santorum generated national controversy while a senator in 2003 with comments he made to the Associated Press that appeared to compare same-sex marriage to bestiality and pedophilia. “In every society, the definition of marriage has not ever to my knowledge included homosexuality,” he said in the taped interview. “That’s not to pick on homosexuality. It (marriage) is not, you know, man on child, man on dog, or whatever the case may be.”

Baltimore Sun: With arrests down in Baltimore, mayor 'examining' increase in killings
By Luke Broadwater, May 27, 2015, Baltimore Sun

Mayor Stephanie Rawlings-Blake said Wednesday she and Police Commissioner Anthony Batts are "examining" whether a sharp decrease in arrests is contributing to May becoming the deadliest month in Baltimore since the 1990s.

Through the first half of May, police made 828 arrests — fewer than half the 1909 made during the same time last year. This month, 36 people have been killed in Baltimore, the highest total for a month since 1999.

Batts has said police are struggling to stop violence in West Baltimore, where officers have been routinely surrounded by dozens of people, video cameras and hostility while performing basic police work since the death of Freddie Gray, the 25-year-old who died after suffering a spinal cord injury while in police custody. Six officers are charged criminally in Gray's death. Some police officers have said they feel hesitant on the job under intense public scrutiny.

The mayor said Wednesday "a lot of reasons" are contributing to the crime spike, but she believed Batts would get it under control.

The Weekly Standard: Rand Says Republicans 'Created' ISIS

By Michael Warren, May 27, 2015, The Weekly Standard


Tuesday, May 26, 2015

The Blaze: ‘Are You Really Saying?’: Ann Coulter Seemingly Stuns Host With Comment on Immigrants, Islamic State

By Oliver Darcy, May 26, 2015, The Blaze

Conservative author Ann Coulter sparred with Jorge Ramos in a video published Tuesday over her statement that immigrants from Mexico pose a greater danger to American security that the Islamic State.

“I have a little tip. If you don’t want to be killed by ISIS, don’t go to Syria. If you don’t want to be killed by a Mexican, there’s nothing I can tell you,” Coulter told Fusion’s Jorge Ramos.

“Very easy to not be killed by ISIS,” she added. “Don’t fly to Syria.”


MSNBC: Israel launches airstrike on Gaza after rocket attack

By Hasani Gittens and Paul Goldman, May 26, 2015, MSNBC

Israeli aircraft struck a handful of targets in Gaza early Wednesday morning (local time) in retaliation for a rocket attack Tuesday.

“Following yesterday’s rocket attack against #Israel, #IDF aircraft attacked 4 terrorist locations in southern #Gaza.” Israeli Defense Force Spokesman Peter Lerner said on Twitter at about 9:30 p.m. EDT Tuesday.

A rocket fired from the Gaza Strip landed near the Israeli port city of Ashdod earlier on Tuesday, but no casualties or damage were reported, police and the military said.

Israeli officials said they held Hamas responsible for the attack, which was the longest-range militant rocket strike since a truce that ended a 50-day war last year.

It was unclear if there were any casualties from the Israeli airstrike.

Meanwhile, Amnesty International said in a report on Tuesday that Islamist Hamas committed war crimes against Palestinian civilians in the Gaza Strip during last year’s war with Israel.

Read the full story:

OANN: Data Thieves Gain Access To 100,000 U.S. Taxpayers’ Information: IRS

By Brendan Pierson, May 26, 2015, Reuters/OANN

(Reuters) – Tax return information for about 100,000 U.S. taxpayers was illegally accessed by cyber criminals over the past four months, U.S. IRS Commissioner John Koskinen said on Tuesday, the latest in a series of data thefts that have alarmed American consumers.

From February to May, attackers sought to gain access to personal tax information 200,000 times through the agency’s “Get Transcript” online application, which calls up information from previous returns, he told a news conference. About half of those attempts were successful.

The breach did not affect any IRS data outside the “Get Transcript” application, and the agency said it would strengthen its security measures.

Koskinen said he could not comment on who the attackers might be, and a criminal investigation was ongoing.

“We’re confident these are not amateurs. These are actually organized crime syndicates that not only we but everyone in the financial industry are dealing with,” Koskinen said.

The data theft was largely intended to steal taxpayers’ information to submit fraudulent returns next year, he said.

Read the full story:

Fox News: Iran launches trial for US journalist on ‘absurd’ charges, renewing nuke talk concerns

By Fox News, May 26, 2015

The closed trial for a Washington Post reporter held in Iran on widely challenged espionage charges began Tuesday, drawing condemnation from American journalists and raising new questions about the regime's reliability as a partner in ongoing nuclear talks with the Obama administration.

The official IRNA news agency reported that an Iranian security court held the first hearing in the case of Jason Rezaian, on allegations of "espionage for the hostile government of the United States" and propaganda against the Islamic republic, charges that could send him to jail for up to six years.

The reporter already has been detained for more than 10 months. In recent days, his newspaper has stepped up its criticism of Rezaian's treatment at the hands of the secretive court proceedings.

Washington Post Executive Editor Martin Baron said in a written statement that Rezaian could not select his own lawyer and was given only an hour-and-a-half to meet with the attorney chosen by the court. Further, he said efforts by the Post to secure a visa for a senior editor to travel to Iran "have gone unanswered by the authorities in Tehran." 


Newsmax: Bob Woodward: Bush Didn't Lie About WMDs to Justify Iraq War

By Greg Richter, May 24, 2015, Newsmax

Former President George W. Bush did not lie about the presence of weapons of mass destruction to justify the Iraq War, journalist Bob Woodward said Sunday.

The argument has been used for years by Democrats and other detractors, but Woodward said on "Fox News Sunday" that his own 18-month investigation showed that Bush was actually skeptical that Iraqi President Saddam Hussein had WMDs as Saddam claimed.

Though plenty of mistakes were made in the invasion of Iraq, Bush actually told CIA Director George Tenet, "Don’t let anyone stretch the case on WMD," Woodward said.

The reason the United States went into Iraq was "momentum," he said.

"That war plan kept getting better and easier, and finally at the end people were saying, 'Hey, look, it'll only take a week or two.'"

Though it can be argued the war was a mistake, Woodward told host Chris Wallace, "there was no lie in this that I could find."

Read the full story:

Monday, May 25, 2015

Honoring those who served and those who gave all on Memorial Day

Sunday, May 24, 2015

ABC News: Five Stories You'll Care About in Politics This Week

By Chris Good, May 24, 2015, ABC News

It's been a week of Hillary Clinton Benghazi emails and lots of Senate floor time for Sen. Rand Paul, with a little help from his friends on both sides of the aisle.

This coming week, we'll likely see four -- count 'em -- presidential announcements, a continued fight over surveillance, and more on Clinton's emails as secretary of state.

Here's a look at some of the stories the ABC News political team will be tracking in the week ahead:


As we know, Bernie Sanders has already said he'll run for president, but he'll kick off his campaign with an announcement speech on Tuesday in his home state of Vermont. Martin O'Malley is expected to make his announcement in Baltimore, the city he governed as mayor, on Saturday. Hillary Clinton has a death grip on the Democratic nomination, but O'Malley and Sanders have proven at least nettlesome on trade and campaign finance, putting her in awkward positions on both, at times. The primary could very well be a story of Clinton being forced to the left, or of how far liberals are willing to go in expressing dissatisfaction with her.


Not one but two Clinton-email story lines will be on display. First, any fallout over her Benghazi emails: Without many campaign events over the weekend, Republicans will get their first high-profile chances to respond on Sunday, and we'll see what talking points emerge. Second, on Tuesday we'll find out when the State Department will start releasing the rest of her emails(55,000 pages, redacted), as a federal judge ordered the State Department to file a schedule on that day. The emails will be released in batches every 60 days. We won't see any more of them on Tuesday, but at least we'll find out when we will.


Saturday, May 23, 2015

CNN: Senate blocks measures to extend NSA program

By Ted Barret, May 23, 2015, CNN

Washington (CNN)Opponents of the National Security Agency's bulk collection of telephone data successfully blocked multiple attempts in the Senate early Saturday morning to extend the expiring law that authorizes the program.

The developments, coming in a rare overnight session, leave in doubt the ability of Congress to keep alive the Patriot Act program that many feel is critical to national security but has also alarmed privacy advocates for its sweeping nature.

First, the Senate blocked two separate measures. The first, a House-passed bill that would shift responsibility for holding data from the government to telecommunications companies, while also imposing stricter limitations on how authorities could access the information, failed in a 57-42 vote. The second measure was a two-month extension beyond the current law's June 1 expiration date, which was voted down 54-45.


Friday, May 22, 2015

IBT: Election 2016: Chris Christie Delivered Profanity-Laced Tirade At NJ Press Dinner (Audio)

Joseph Reynolds/AP
By Ginger Gibson, May 21, 2015, IBT

WASHINGTON -- Gov. Chris Christie, assuring reporters that he is still planning a 2016 presidential campaign, delivered a profanity-laced roast about the New Jersey press corps on Wednesday night at the annual New Jersey Legislative Correspondents Club Show, according to an audio recording of the speech obtained by International Business Times. Even attendees used to Christie's brusque demeanor thought the speech was unusually biting.

Christie told reporters at the dinner that he "just doesn't give a s---" about them. Organizers said the event was officially off the record, although many attendees, based on previous years' experience, believed it to be on the record. In any case, when you’re running for president, nothing is ever off the record. Ask Mitt Romney, whose comments about the “47 percent” at a fundraiser closed to the press went viral.


Buzz Feed: Rand Campaign Slams Scott Walker For Willingness “To Trample The Constitution”

By Andrew Kaczynski, May 22, 2015, Buzz Feed

Rand Paul’s presidential campaign is firing back at Wisconsin Gov. Scott Walker over comments he made about Sen. Rand Paul and NSA surveillance. Walker, the likely presidential contender said on Wednesday that if he were in the Senate he would not have supported Rand Paul’s Senate floor protest against the reauthorization of the Patriot Act and the the NSA’s domestic surveillance programs. “It’s a shame to see that the Washington machine has co-opted Gov. Walker on this crucial issue,” a Paul campaign spokesman said.


USA Today: State Dept. releases hundreds of Clinton Benghazi emails

By Paul Singer and Mary Troyan, May 22, 2015, USA Today

WASHINGTON — The State Department is releasing hundreds of Hillary Clinton's emails relating to the 2012 terror attack in Benghazi Friday. The emails are from the personal email account she used while she was secretary of State.

The department declared in a tweet before the files were released that "the emails we release today do not change the essential facts or our understanding of the events before, during, or after the attacks.

That is unsurprising, said Rep. Trey Gowdy, R-S.C., who chairs the House Benghazi committee that is investigating the matter, because the emails were selected and vetted by Clinton's own attorneys.

"To assume a self-selected public record is complete, when no one with a duty or responsibility to the public had the ability to take part in the selection, requires a leap in logic no impartial reviewer should be required to make and strains credibility," he said in a statement Friday.

Newsmax: Jeb Bush: My Name Is Bush — Get Over It

Rebecca Cook / Reuters
By Courtney Coren, May 21, 2015, Newsmax

Presidential hopeful and former Florida Gov. Jeb Bush has a message for those who want to make an issue out of his last name — get over it.

"I love my mom and dad," Bush said at the opening of a round-table event in New Hampshire, The New York Times reported. "I love my brother, and people are just going to have to get over that. That’s just the way it is."

The issue of Bush's last name and lineage, with a father and a brother who have both served as presidents, has been a topic he has addressed a number of times.

While the Florida Republican has made it clear that he has a lot of love for his family, he has also declared that he is his "own man" with his own ideas.

"I have a life journey, my own — one that sets me apart in some ways," he told the round-table group.

Later on, when talking to reporters, he said, "I'm a Bush, I'm proud of it," then added, "Like what am I supposed to say?"


Politico: Bush v. Bush

The aides and confidants who helped steer the George W. Bush White House aren’t pleased by Jeb Bush’s bungled remarks on Iraq. And they are saying so publicly

By Alex Isenstadt, May 21, 2015, Politico

Jeb Bush is trying to put out the fire over his bobbled answers on whether the United States was right to invade Iraq, but there’s a group of people fanning the flames: His brother’s top advisers.

In TV appearances, magazine articles and interviews, the aides and confidants who helped steer the George W. Bush White House have criticized, tweaked and prodded Jeb Bush — some more harshly than others — over his bungled remarks, which have presented the former Florida governor with the first major PR crisis of his soon-to-be announced presidential campaign.

While Jeb Bush’s team tried to calm the furor, the critiques from George W. Bush’s team helped keep the firestorm alive. “I don’t know why he said what he did,” Ari Fleischer, who as press secretary became one of the most prominent faces of the Bush White House, told BuzzFeed.


Thursday, May 21, 2015

Al Jazeera America: New form of restraining order aims to take guns from dangerous people

By Wilson Dizard, May 21, 2015, Al Jazeera America

Gun rights lobbyists in Louisiana have helped soften a state bill meant to keep firearms out of the hands of people who commit domestic abuse, even as new research published this week recommends taking weapons away from potentially volatile people before they commit acts of violence.

Federal law already bans gun ownership for people convicted of abusing domestic partners, and the Louisiana bill would have extended the scope of that law to include “dating partners." But the National Rifle Association (NRA) has argued successfully to Louisiana lawmakers that the new rule would throw too broad a net, depriving some people of rights when they have done nothing wrong.

"The NRA agrees that more can be done to protect victims of domestic abuse from their violent abusers, but HB 488 is so overly broad that it could make a felon out of a girlfriend who pulls a cell phone from her boyfriend's hand against his will,” Jennifer Baker, an NRA spokeswoman, told the New Orleans Times-Picayune, arguing that penalties for violating restraining orders should become harsher instead.

Louisiana has a gun murder rate that is more than twice the national average, according to the Center for American Progress, a left-leaning public policy think tank.

Israel National News: US Pressing Israel to Lose Its Nukes

By Israel National News, May 21, 2015

Assistant Secretary of State Thomas Countryman visited Israel, spoke to diplomats about making Middle East nuke-free.

Assistant US Secretary of State for International Security and Nonproliferation, Thomas Countryman, recently visited Israel and held talks with senior Foreign Ministry officials, about the possibility of making the Middle East nuclear-free.

Washington seeks to advance the idea after reaching agreement with Russia about the matter.

The State Department confirmed Countryman's visit and sources in the US Administration said that Israeli agreement to the idea would be a catalyst for bringing additional countries into discussions on the matter.

The Americans have been attempting to convene an international conference on the subject for some time, without success. Secretary of State John Kerry spoke about the idea with pessimism, and said it was "a very tough challenge."

The Foreign Ministry did not want to respond to the report about Countryman's visit and told Arutz Sheva that "the subject is a sensitive one, we will not talk about it."

CNN: Congressman wants a pay raise

By Alexandra Jaffe, May 21, 2015, CNN

Washington (CNN)The Democratic Party says it's the party of the working class, but congressional Democrats this week complicated that pitch by calling for a pay raise for members of Congress.

"Members deserve to be paid, staff deserves to be paid and the cost of living here is causing serious problems for people who are not wealthy to serve in this institution," said Rep. Alcee Hastings during a Monday Rules Committee hearing on the upcoming year's legislative branch appropriations bill, according to Roll Call.

The number two House Democrat told reporters he agreed with Hastings.

Rep Steny Hoyer said it was appropriate during the recession years in 2009 and 2010 to not approve any pay increases, but to continue that policy "simply will dictate that the only people who can serve are the rich and I don't think that's what the founding fathers had in mind."


Wednesday, May 20, 2015

USA Today: As Letterman says goodbye, a look at the 'Late Show' during elections

By Cooper Allen, May 21, 2015, USA Today

The 2016 presidential race will feature many traditions of modern campaigns: the Iowa caucuses, debates, conventions, to name just a few. But one forum will no longer be available for presidential hopefuls: the Late Show with David Letterman.

David Letterman bids farewell tonight, wrapping a 33-year career on late-night television (22 of those on CBS’ the Late Show).

To mark the end of a television era, we look back at notable appearances by presidential candidates over the years.

See all videos:

The Boston Globe: La. governor gives legal protection to gay marriage opponents

By Campbell Robertson, May 21, 2015, Boston Globe

NEW ORLEANS — Hours after a committee in the Louisiana Legislature effectively voted down a bill that would explicitly protect people and businesses that do not want to participate in same-sex marriage, Governor Bobby Jindal issued an executive order Tuesday to accomplish much of what the bill had set out to do.

“We don’t support discrimination in Louisiana and we do support religious liberty,” the governor said in a statement. “These two values can be upheld at the same time.”

Critics, including liberals and even some conservatives, as well influential business leaders, were sharply critical of the governor’s position, dismissing it as an attempt to court conservatives nationally in advance of his probable presidential run.

“It’s a cynical attempt to deflect from the failures of what should be the top legislative priority, what we’re dealing with every day, which is a broken state budget,” state Senator Karen Carter Peterson, a Democrat, said in a speech on the floor Tuesday. She noted that Jindal has been appearing in an ad in Iowa in which he discusses his views on religious liberty.

The governor announced the formation of an exploratory committee for a 2016 presidential run earlier in the week.

Rolling Stone: The Military-Style Equipment Obama Is (and Isn't) Banning for Police

By Sally Kohn, May 18, 2015, Rolling Stone

The Obama administration announced Monday that under new rules police departments will no longer be able to purchase certain kinds of military-grade equipment and weaponry from federal agencies or using federal funds. Other used military gear will still be made available "in accordance with new and more rigorous controls."

What kinds of things will police departments no longer be able to get, and what will they still be able to get their hands on? Here are some examples.

Newly Prohibited

Until recently, local police departments were allowed to acquire this military equipment from federal agencies, but now they can't.

Tracked armored vehicles: The federal government can no longer sell local cops armored tanks that use rolling tracks to move.

But the wheeled variety of tanks that were a source of outrage when police rolled them out during the Ferguson protests are apparently still A-OK.

Weaponized aircraft or other vehicles: According to the new regulations, such vessels cannot be purchased or transferred "with weapons installed."

That's great news, as long as someone doesn't uncover a BYOM (bring your own missile) proviso.

Grenade launchers: Congratulations, America: Your local police will no longer be able to "launch small explosive projectiles."

It's not clear if towns that already have grenade launchers — such as the hamlet of Santa Maria, California — will have to give theirs back. Perhaps President Obama can clarify this at some point: "If you like the grenade launcher you already have, you can keep it."

Bayonets: The U.S. still has bayonets? WTF.

ICYMI: National Journal: What Worries Conservatives About Marco Rubio’s New Tax Plan

By Eric Garcia, March 6, 2015, National Journal 

This week, Sens. Marco Rubio and Mike Lee introduced a GOP tax reform plan that could serve as a preview of Rubio's agenda if he makes a White House bid—but some conservatives already are skeptical.

For businesses, the plan would put the corporate tax rate at a single 25 percent rate and allow firms to deduct 100 percent of expenses, which the lawmakers say would account for the costs of capital investments the year they are made. Dividends and capital gains would not be taxed on the individual level, meaning any money made on many investments would not be subject to tax.

James Pethokoukis, a fellow at the conservative American Enterprise Institute, said while he is supportive of most of the plan, he thinks it could be difficult to sell to working families the idea that wealthy individuals would not have to pay individual capital gains taxes—even if it is more economically sound and the money still is taxed at the corporate level.

Washington Examiner: Jorge Ramos: 'It's beautiful: That no one can make it to the White House without the Hispanic vote'

By Paul Bedard, May 20, 2015, Washington Examiner

Jorge Ramos, the influential host of Univision's Noticiero Univision, said the Latino vote will decide the 2016 presidential election and that Hispanics could see a reward for providing the margin of victory.

In an interview with Harvard University's Institute of Politics following a speech to students, Ramos predicted that about 16 million Hispanics will go to the polls, likely to vote Democratic based on past trends.

He said that there is a "new rule" in politics — winning the White House can't be done without Hispanics."



ABC News: Michelle Obama Beats President in White House Workout Challenge, Shows Her Routine Is No Joke

By Jordyn Phelphs and Mary Bruce, May 20, 2015, ABC News

First lady Michelle Obama’s workout puts us all to shame.

The first lady revealed how she stays in shape (and tones those famously buff arms) in a new White House video that shows her jumping rope, pumping iron (with 35-pound dumbbells!), and even donning boxing gloves for a fierce kickboxing session.

The first lady’s impressive workout left us wondering, can the president keep up with the first lady?

For the President's workout challenge visit:

National Journal: Republicans Who Are Thinking a Lot About the 2016 Election Love Marco Rubio

By Rebecca Nelson, May 20, 2015, National Journal

Among older Republicans and those already paying close attention to the 2016 race, Marco Rubio's a hit.

Seven in 10 Republicans or Republican-leaning independents who have thought "a lot" about the election hold favorable views of the GOP presidential contender, according to a new Pew survey. And 75 percent of seniors—those over 65—rated Rubio favorably.

But there's a sharp drop-off for voters who haven't thought much about the election: Only 40 percent of those Republicans or Republican leaners hold a favorable rating of Rubio. That could have to do with name recognition; of those polled who weren't paying close attention to the race, 37 percent said they couldn't rate Rubio negatively or favorably. It stands to reason that people not following along as closely may not have heard much about the Florida senator, and therefore haven't formed opinions about him more than a year out from the election.

Likely primary contender Scott Walker faces a similar gap. Sixty-five percent of voters following the race closely say they hold a favorable view of the Wisconsin governor, while just 36 percent of those who haven't thought as much about the election say the same. Walker also shares the senior voting bloc: Only 6 percent of those over 65 have an unfavorable view of the governor, versus 65 percent who rated him favorably.

CBS Los Angeles: Local Santa Barbara DA’s Office Investigating ‘Potentially Criminal Statutes’ After Oil Spill