(The Blaze) – Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-Ky.) didn’t merely say Tea Party candidates challenging him and other established Republicans in the 2014 midterm elections don’t pose much of a threat.
McConnell’s prediction is arguably more along the lines of fighting words.
“I think we are going to crush them everywhere,” McConnell told the New York Times. “I don’t think they are going to have a single nominee anywhere in the country.”
SPECIAL: Modern Day Patriots, this is the time to stand shoulder to shoulder with our forefathers in Lexington and Concord. We need the Tea Party now more than ever.
As TheBlaze has extensively reported, McConnell’s most notable opponent is Kentucky businessman Matt Bevin, who is contrasting himself as a true conservative and blasting McConnell’s conservative credentials.
“Mitch McConnell is clearly in trouble in this primary or he wouldn’t be attacking Matt Bevin and declaring war on conservatives,” the Senate Conservatives Fund’s Matt Hoskins said in the Times’ Saturday story.
But a survey released last month by GOP firm Wenzel Strategies found McConnell with a 42 point lead over Bevin, while a Bluegrass Poll pinned McConnell’s lead at 26 points, the Huffington Post noted.
The Kentucky primary will be held May 20.
March 9, 2014
We pointed out Wednesday that the Estonian foreign minister claims that the new Ukrainian coalition deployed snipers to discredit the former government of Ukraine.
We documented Thursday that snipers are a common form of false flag terrorism.
Interestingly, while the new Ukranian coalition denies that it deployed snipers, it is now accusing someone else – Russia – of deploying the snipers as a false flag event to create chaos.
AP reports today:
One of the biggest mysteries hanging over the protest mayhem that drove Ukraine’s president from power: Who was behind the snipers who sowed death and terror in Kiev?
That riddle has become the latest flashpoint of feuding over Ukraine — with the nation’s fledgling government and the Kremlin giving starkly different interpretations of events that could either undermine or bolster the legitimacy of the new rulers.
Ukrainian authorities are investigating the Feb. 18-20 bloodbath, and they have shifted their focus from ousted President Viktor Yanukovych’s government to Vladimir Putin’s Russia — pursuing the theory that the Kremlin was intent on sowing mayhem as a pretext for military incursion. Russia suggests that the snipers were organized by opposition leaders trying to whip up local and international outrage against the government.
The government’s new health minister — a doctor who helped oversee medical treatment for casualties during the protests — told The Associated Press that the similarity of bullet wounds suffered by opposition victims and police indicates the shooters were trying to stoke tensions on both sides and spark even greater violence, with the goal of toppling Yanukovych.
“I think it wasn’t just a part of the old regime that (plotted the provocation), but it was also the work of Russian special forces who served and maintained the ideology of the (old) regime,” Health Minister Oleh Musiy said.
On Tuesday, Interior Minister Arsen Avakov signaled that investigators may be turning their attention away from Ukrainian responsibility.
“I can say only one thing: the key factor in this uprising, that spilled blood in Kiev and that turned the country upside down and shocked it, was a third force,” Avakov was quoted as saying by Interfax. “And this force was not Ukrainian.”
Musiy, who spent more than two months organizing medical units on Maidan, said that on Feb. 20 roughly 40 civilians and protesters were brought with fatal bullet wounds to the makeshift hospital set up near the square. But he said medics also treated three police officers whose wounds were identical.
Forensic evidence, in particular the similarity of the bullet wounds, led him and others to conclude that snipers were targeting both sides of the standoff at Maidan — and that the shootings were intended to generate a wave of revulsion so strong that it would topple Yanukovych and also justify a Russian invasion.
Since Russia supported Yanukovych, it makes no sense that the people who ordered the sniper attacks would want to topple Yanukovych and launch a Russian invasion. Specifically, they would either want tooverthrow the Russia-friendly Yanukovych or launch a Russian invasion to support a Russia-friendly Ukrainian government.
In any event, AP continues:
Russia has used the uncertainty surrounding the bloodshed to discredit Ukraine’s current government. During a news conference Tuesday, Putin addressed the issue in response to a reporter’s question, suggesting that the snipers in fact “may have been provocateurs from opposition parties.”
A former top security official with Ukraine’s main security agency, the SBU, waded into the confusion, in an interview published Thursday with the respected newspaper Dzerkalo Tizhnya. Hennady Moskal, who was deputy head of the agency, told the newspaper that snipers from the Interior Ministry and SBU were responsible for the shootings, not foreign agents.
“In addition to this, snipers received orders to shoot not only protesters, but also police forces. This was all done in order to escalate the conflict, in order to justify the police operation to clear Maidan,” he was quoted as saying.
In other words, everyone agrees that the snipers were false flag terrorists sewing chaos and confusion … they only disagree about who the responsible party is.
This article was posted: Sunday, March 9, 2014 at 7:00 am
ABC Keeps Ignoring Its Own Poll of Bad News for Democrats In November
By Matt Hadro | March 04, 2014 | 21:38
On Tuesday evening, ABC again skipped its own poll showing voter disapproval of both President Obama and Senate Democrats up for re-election.
Obama’s approval rating was underwater at 46 percent, while voters preferred Republican senate candidates to Democrats 50-42. The poll noted that “Anti-incumbent sentiment is largely economic in nature; as such, while there’s dissatisfaction with both parties, it’s pointed more at the Democrats, given their control of the big chair at 1600 Pennsylvania Ave.”
The poll wasn’t all positive for conservatives; the vast majority of respondents thought the GOP “out of touch with people’s concerns” and Tea Party opponents outnumbered supporters 48-40. Nonetheless, the poll clearly spelled trouble for Democratic interests in the November elections.
Tuesday’s Good Morning America skipped the news though, spending 18 minutes instead on “Dancing With the Stars.” The World News spent almost two minutes on a dog-owning couple’s quest to find owners for other dogs, and over two minutes on homemade recipe food contests.
(AZ Central) – Immigration and Customs Enforcement officials are still refusing to disclose the names, criminal histories and whereabouts of more than 2,200 detainees the agency suddenly released a year ago.
Citing public-safety concerns, an array of public officials have demanded that ICE turn over details about the detainees, more than 300 of whom were set free in Arizona.
The officials include Gov. Jan Brewer; Pinal County Sheriff Paul Babeu; Arizona’s U.S. senators, John McCain and Jeff Flake; and several other members of Congress.
But ICE officials have trickled out only limited information, including some documents obtained by The Arizona Republic that show that several detainees who were released had more serious criminal histories than ICE officials originally disclosed.
Other documents obtained by The Republic show that dozens of the detainees were later taken back into custody, including four of 10 detainees deemed Level 1, the highest risk.
Still, ICE has refused to turn over details about the vast majority of the more than 2,200 detainees released at the end of last February, including the total taken back into custody, how many remain free and whether any committed crimes after they were released.
At the time of their release, all were facing deportation.
The total included 342 detainees from four facilities in Pinal County.
ICE’s refusal to fully disclose information about the released detainees and what happened to them has frustrated critics concerned that they put the safety of Americans at risk.
The lack of information also has complicated the ongoing debate in Washington over immigration reform by providing ammunition to Republican lawmakers who say they don’t trust President Barack Obama’s administration to enforce immigration laws.
At the same time, advocates on the other side of the immigration debate are also frustrated. They believe the mass release exposed how the government is detaining immigrants who shouldn’t be held in the first place.
“What it did for us is show that detention is pretty arbitrary,” said Silky Shah, interim executive director of Detention Watch Network, which advocates for reforms of the U.S. immigration detention system. “It points to the fact that we have right now a system that is required to funnel a certain number of people into detention.”
By withholding information about the detainees, ICE is missing out on a chance to dispel some of the fears raised by critics, she said.
“I think it’s a missed opportunity, absolutely, just to say that nothing bad happened after these releases,” Shah said.
Thousands were freed
During the last week of February 2013, ICE officials said they released 2,228 immigration detainees from facilities across the country.
At the time, ICE said the number of immigrants being held in detention had exceeded the 34,000 quota mandated by Congress.
ICE officials said the agency needed to reduce the overall number of immigrants being held in order to avoid a cost overrun because funding for the year was about to end and automatic budget cuts known as the sequester were about to begin.
The officials said they reviewed the backgrounds and criminal histories of all the detainees who were released beforehand to ensure they did not pose a significant threat to public safety.
The mass release, however, prompted outrage from Arizona politicians as well as many Republicans in Congress who demanded that ICE turn over more details about the released detainees.
During House hearings, Republicans also blasted ICE officials for releasing detainees who included immigrants with criminal backgrounds that could endanger the public.
Meanwhile, some Democrats raised concerns that ICE was spending money on detaining immigrants who posed little risk to the public and were unlikely to flee.
They suggested that ICE do a better job of conducting a risk assessment of detainees to determine whether more would be better suited to less costly alternatives to detention, such as supervised release or global-positioning-monitoring devices.
The cost of detaining an immigrant is about $122 a day, or $44,530 a year.
“It pointed out that many people are being held in detention that needn’t be at a cost to tax payers,” said U.S. Rep. Raúl Grijalva, D-Ariz.
In early February of this year, The Republic wrote to ICE asking the agency to release information about the detainees who had been set free a year ago, including how many had been taken back into custody and whether any had committed any crimes after their release. The Republic also filed a Freedom of Information Act request seeking the same information.
In response, ICE officials would say only that individual detainees who remain free continue to be monitored by ICE field offices around the country to make sure they remain in compliance with the conditions of their release.
The FOIA request is still pending.
The Republic did obtain some documents ICE had previously released to lawmakers last year, including copies of letters ICE officials wrote in response to requests for information about the released detainees.
Those documents show that in Arizona, ICE officials released a detainee whose criminal convictions included felony second-degree robbery, prostitution and solicitation for lewd conduct, the documents show.
Another detainee released in Arizona had been convicted of DUI and harassment after having caused criminal damaged to property, the documents show.
Both detainees were taken back into custody by ICE in March 2013 and then released again after an immigration judge granted them bond, according to ICE officials. They continue to be monitored by ICE while their cases are pending.
A third had prior convictions for carrying a loaded firearm, DUI with controlled substance, felony possession of drugs, second-degree burglary, vandalism and trespassing, the documents show.
That detainee was deported to Mexico in May, ICE officials say.
In San Francisco, ICE officials released a detainee with a prior felony conviction for manufacturing fake IDs and a detainee with two DUI convictions and two stalking convictions.
In Houston, ICE released a detainee who had a prior conviction for felony possession of marijuana.
The Republic also obtained documents detailing the criminal backgrounds of the 10 released detainees deemed Level 1, the highest-risk detainees, and updates about their cases.
Those documents show that four of the 10 Level 1 offenders were taken back into custody, then freed again after they posted bond or their cases were terminated. Two of the 10 were deported. Four remain free under ICE supervision, including Victor Mendoza Medina, whom The Republic profiled in April after tracking him down in New York City following his release from a detention center in Eloy.
Medina, a 69-year-old Bolivian immigrant, was classified as Level 1 because he had multiple criminal convictions for drug possession, theft and possession of stolen property, but he had no convictions for violent crimes and had lived in the U.S. legally for more than 45 years.
Determining who was released
McCain attempted to find out more about the criminal backgrounds of the detainees who were released as part of his role as ranking Republican member of the U.S. Senate Permanent Subcommittee on Investigations.
He and Sen. Carl Levin, D-Mich., the panel’s chairman, did get some response, but it wasn’t “as complete as we wanted,” McCain said.
“We never really got very satisfactory answers on that,” McCain told The Republic.
“They blamed it on the local ICE people, that they had acted without authorization. They blamed it on lower-level individuals.”
In a May 2 letter to McCain and Levin, Nelson Peacock, assistant Homeland Security secretary for legislative affairs, said 2,226 immigration detainees had been released, not 2,228.
Of those, 622 had “some type of criminal conviction” and 1,604 had no known criminal conviction, Peacock said.
In his letter, Peacock also said 32 Level 1 offenders had been released. That number is three times as many as the 10 previously identified by ICE officials. Peacock offered no explanation.
He said 80 Level 2 detainees had been released. That number was half of the 159 Level 2 offenders originally identified by ICE.
Peacock also said ICE had decided to redetain 58 of the individuals released, though he did not explain why.
On Aug. 15, U.S. Rep. Bob Goodlatte, R-Va., who chairs the House Judiciary Committee, wrote a letter to acting ICE Director John Sandweg asking him to explain those and other discrepancies.
In a statement to the The Republic, Goodlatte did not say whether he ever received a response from Sandweg, though a legislative aide said ICE officials provided some details during a briefing indicating that only 10 Level 1 offenders had been released.
But Goodlatte said he remains concerned the mass release was motivated by politics.
“It’s appalling that Obama administration officials used scare tactics to promote their political agenda on sequestration by releasing unlawful aliens with criminal histories onto the streets last year,” he said.
“This decision compromised the safety of our communities and put Americans’ lives at risk.”
Flake told The Republic that he is still waiting to find out who was released and what happened to them once they got out.
“There was enough concern at the time that there were some pretty hard felons, it looked like, who got released,” Flake said. “We’ve never had a really good explanation as to why they were. We haven’t heard.”
Babeu said ICE officials never responded to his request for information about the detainees released from facilities in Pinal County, including the Pinal County Jail. Babeu contracts with ICE to hold some immigration detainees at the jail.
“There can be no legitimate justification for the federal government to refuse to provide the elected sheriff with the names of hundreds of criminal illegals they released into Pinal County,” Babeu said in a written statement.
“The feds have protected their identity, criminal history and location of these criminals. It is likely most of them have fled their supervised release.”
Shah, however, said the fears raised by critics likely turned out to be unfounded.
“We haven’t seen any reports of any issues with anyone who was released, so that tells us that it wasn’t an issue that these folks were released,” she said.
She said ICE probably hasn’t released full details about the detainees because the Obama administration received so much flak from critics.
“It’s probably because they don’t want to call attention to it again,” Shah said.
Republic reporter Dan Nowicki contributed to this article.
(Politico) – The Obama administration is dropping some new hints about how it has moved money around to fund Obamacare without Congress — but not nearly enough to put the controversy to rest.
Forced to reveal more details under a provision tucked in this year’s bipartisan budget deal, the Department of Health and Human Services declared Friday how it used Secretary Kathleen Sebelius’s authority to move about $1.6 billion in departmental funds around last year — the Cabinet secretary’s version of looking for change under the couch cushions and hitting the jackpot.
But HHS didn’t say exactly how it spent the money, and it didn’t lay out the kind of detail Republicans sought. So now the Republicans will have to decide their next move, whether it’s just more records requests or new efforts to tie the Obama administration’s hands in future appropriations bills.
And even though it will be able to get some money from fees on insurers’ selling plans on HealthCare.gov in future years, the Obama administration will still have to decide how it can keep Obamacare afloat if Congress keeps refusing to provide new funding.
Here are the lessons from Friday’s report:
What we know: The big reveal is no surprise: The Obama administration got most of the money last year from Sen. Tom Harkin’s cherished Prevention and Public Health Fund. But the report also told us more about the other couch cushions — as the administration pulled money from various all-purpose department funds to help launch the law’s new health insurance exchanges.
A one-page table from the official explanation of the administration’s HHS budget shows that federal officials diverted more than $450 million from that prevention fund — which Republicans call a “slush fund” — to finance Obamacare work, including building HealthCare.gov.
They also pulled $300 million from something called the Non-Recurring Expenses Fund, an account that allows an agency to use money left over from prior years for one-time expenses.
And they found $268 million from the general program operations account at the Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Services — the main agency within HHS that’s implementing the health law — plus another $113 million from Sebelius’s “transfer authority.”
The numbers appear on page 349 of the budget justification, which lays out the reasoning for President Barack Obama’s latest budget request. It’s there because the omnibus spending bill signed in January required HHS to use that report to detail its Obamacare spending.
What we don’t know: The report doesn’t say anything about how the money was spent — just where it came from. It also doesn’t say how much more there might be from the sources that have been tapped before. That’s likely to make Republicans re-up their demands for greater transparency.
Republicans have pressed for detailed information on the contracts issued for Obamacare implementation and the personnel used to do the work, particularly on the botched HealthCare.gov rollout and the subsequent website salvage mission. The new report gave them exactly nothing on that score.
“In their half-hearted attempt to respond to Senate language requesting detailed Affordable Care Act expenditures, the administration refused to reveal how much was spent on specific activities and projects,” Kansas Sen. Jerry Moran, the top Republican on the appropriations subcommittee responsible for HHS, said in a statement. He said he was disappointed in the “budgetary smoke and mirrors” of the new accounting.
Rep. Michael Burgess of Texas, a top Republican on the House Energy and Commerce Committee, said the new disclosures appeared to be “more repackaging of the same kind of inadequate information we’ve gotten before.”
CMS spokesman Aaron Albright said the agency’s account of the funding for its exchange work “is consistent with the law and reported in a format consistent with precedent and other routine budget requests.”
It’s also not clear how much of a special, $1 billion Obamacare implementation fund remains, if any.
When passed four years ago, the ACA included just $1 billion for HHS for actual implementation — an amount that advocates warned would be inadequate for legislation intended to make sweeping changes to a sector that makes up one-sixth of the U.S. economy.
The law provided vast amounts of money for the states setting up their own health insurance exchanges, but no one knew at the time that three dozen states would refuse to do that and rely on the federal exchange instead. That development turned the federal exchange into a bigger, and likely more expensive, project than it was supposed to be.
In March 2012 testimony, Sebelius said the implementation fund would likely be exhausted by the end of that year. Then, last April, federal health officials said that $235 million remained after all. She likely will be pushed on this when she starts her round of Hill testimony on the fiscal 2015 proposal next week.
The accounting table appears to show that only about $300 million of the fund would be spent by CMS through this year. But it doesn’t say how much has gone to the IRS and Department of Labor, which receive Obamacare implementation money from the same fund.
It also doesn’t say how much more money the Obama administration might pull from these funds in the future.
House Appropriations Chairman Hal Rogers (R-Ky.) specifically asked HHS to detail how much money has been put into the nonrecurring fund and how much more could still be moved there in future years, but the agency’s summary only shows how much has been pulled from the account so far.
Where will they get the money next time? The crunch won’t be as bad next year because there will be more money automatically coming in from fees on insurers — and because some of the start-up work for the health law is now complete. But the Obama administration will still have to find the rest of the money if Congress says no again — and this time, they won’t be able to turn to that prevention fund.
Under the 2014 budget agreement, the prevention fund is off limits. It will now be used entirely for the public health programs it was meant to support, mainly at the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. That agreement satisfied both Republicans — who wanted to cut off funding sources for the law — and Harkin, who was furious that the Obama administration kept dipping into his fund to keep the law afloat.
But now, there’s a new source of money coming in: fees that HealthCare.gov has begun collecting from insurers on the federal exchange.
In 2015, when HHS is asking for $1.8 billion for Obamacare operations, those fees are expected to fund the lion’s share of the budget — $1.2 billion. But that still means the Obama administration needs Congress to cough up the other $629 million, and so far, Republicans have refused to give the law any extra money.
Sebelius said Tuesday that if Congress fails to approve the president’s request, “we will look at other sources of funding.”
What will be the Republicans’ next move? They were mostly silent on their next steps Friday, and it’s not clear that they have any good options — other than writing better letters.
Burgess said the report proves that congressional oversight will become “even more important now.” He said Congress should ask especially tough questions about the CMS account, which is needed to run the Medicare and Medicaid programs.
“That’s worrisome” if the use of the money hurts those programs, Burgess said. And if it doesn’t, and it turns out the account was overfunded, “maybe we need to look at that,” he said.
Although Republicans have challenged the Obama administration’s authority to make some of the other implementation changes they’ve made — like the various delays and extensions — they may have a harder time disputing Sebelius’s authority to move money around in her own department. Agencies are allowed to move up to 1 percent of their budgets among accounts.
And leftover funds moved to the nonrecurring expense account, while under some restrictions, can be used in any year for many one-time expenses.
Even though they’ve tried to repeal the prevention fund in the past, that’s likely off the table now that the Obama administration won’t be able to use it for implementation money anymore.
One lesson Republicans have learned from the new account is that they need to be more exacting in their requests for information, Senate aides said.
The mandate in the 2014 budget deal asked specifically for money spent on the exchanges by CMS — the lead agency — and it got precisely that, and nothing more. Omitted was any mention of $208 million spent through another HHS agency, the Health Resources and Service Administration, to fund enrollment and outreach efforts at community health centers nationwide.
The new account also provides no information on transfers to agencies outside of HHS, including to the Department of Agriculture and several others, that Republicans suspect are funding enrollment efforts.
With few other options, the main thing Republicans can do is keep asking questions, and that’s what they’ll do, according to Jennifer Hing, communications director for the House Appropriations Committee.
“The committee will continue to press HHS for information on how and where tax dollars are being spent to implement Obamacare,” she said in an email.
Censorship of the press is now becoming commonplace within the Obama Administration. But one wouldn’t think it could happen to the media directly associated with the administration itself.
Sure, publications like The New York Times and The Washington Post are waking up to the most First Amendment-hostile presidency in generations (possibly ever), but those outlets – while certainly liberal – are independent and not directly responsive to the administration.
But some outlets – like ThinkProgress – are the mouthpiece of liberal causes. Their leadership, mission and funding all point back to liberals and Obama’s friends himself.
So it was an amazing example of arrogance – and paranoia – when the Obama Administration put the censorship squeeze on the writers at ThinkProgress
Blogger Zaid Jilani was hired to write about National Security for the liberal site. He had worked there for two years without incident until he wrote about a subject that is “entirely shielded” from criticism, the war in Afghanistan.
Jilani’s article pointed out that under Obama’s surge in Afghanistan, troop levels were actually higher than at any time under George W. Bush.
This apparently infuriated the Obama Administration enough that Jilani was called to the carpet:
“What that meeting with [the] senior staff showed me was that they viewed being closer to Obama and aligning with his policy as more important than demonstrating progressive principle, if that meant breaking with Obama,” Jilani explained.
In other words, blindly following Obama’s whimsical policies – whatever they may be – was more important than ThinkProgress’ stated purpose of promoting “progressive” causes.
The blogger eventually left ThinkProgress. One of the reasons cited: censorship.