September 30, 2014

Dinesh D'Souza: Holder's Next Job: Crime Boss!

Conservative filmmaker and author Dinesh D’Souza told Breitbart News that the federal government was “out to get me” and tried but failed to “put me away” during a wide-ranging interview at the National Security Action Summit on Monday.

“I know that the government was not only out to get me but to put me away—and put me away in such a significant way that if I got a sixteen-month sentence, for example, I’d be in a federal prison camp from now until the end of next year,” D’Souza said in the interview, conducted for Breitbart News Radio for Sirius XM Patriot Channel 125 and available on demand.

“The chances that I could film in the presidential election year of 2016 would be very low,” D’Souza said. “But interestingly, the zealous prosecution ran into a wall and that wall was called a judge. Interestingly, this was a liberal Democratic judge—a Clinton appointee—and it was way too much for him. He looked at the facts and he decided that what the prosecution wanted was not going to happen.”

D’Souza faced prosecution from the U.S. Attorney’s office for the Southern District of New York for violating campaign finance laws by illegally donating over federal limits and making false statements to the Federal Election Commission. The office of the U.S. Attorney for that district, Democrat Preet Bharara, recommended that after D’Souza pled guilty to the charges he spend 10 to 16 months in prison for his actions. However, U.S. District Judge Richard Berman sentenced D’Souza to no jail time, five years probation, weekly therapy, one day of community service per week of probation time, and he has to pay a $30,000 fine.

When asked if he’s happy with the terms of the sentence he received, D’Souza told Breitbart News, “I am.”

“I think it’s a fair sentence,” D’Souza said. “It’s kind of a tough sentence. But look, I did do something wrong, and I do deserve to be punished. My issue from the beginning was that I need to be punished in the same manner as anyone else who did it who isn’t me. I think that I got a fair judge, so I’m thankful to him for not going along with a very powerful Justice Department and a very powerful U.S. government that would have liked to put me away.”

D’Souza said that if Bharara is nominated by President Barack Obama to replace outgoing Attorney General Eric Holder—as some have suggested Obama might in the wake of Holder’s resignation announcement this week—Republicans in Congress should fight it. 

“Let’s just say that if that happens, I hope the Republicans take the Senate in November because then they can hold government officials accountable in the way that they should be,” D’Souza said.

As for Holder, D’Souza said he might land a post-government job with a “criminal syndicate.”

“I’m really worried about Eric Holder’s job prospects,” D’Souza said. “I just don’t think he’s going to land—but I don’t know maybe there’s a criminal syndicate somewhere looking for a boss with government experience.”

Administration-wide—not just on his specific case—D’Souza said congressional Republicans need to investigate political targeting, and officials in the Obama administration need to “go to jail” if they did engage in such behavior.

“It’s now time to look at this. In civil rights cases you can tell, for example, if blacks are being systematically discriminated against,” D’Souza said. “You look at all the studies and then look at the rate at which someone commits an offense and then you look at the amount of time they’re prosecuted. For example, if blacks commit 10 percent of the crime but are prosecuted 50 percent of the time, that’s very suspicious and that’s prima facie evidence of discrimination. I think we need to study all the IRS audits and look to see if these audits are falling randomly on liberals and conservatives or if there’s a pattern. If there’s a pattern here, then lots of people need to go to jail. This needs to be vigorously prosecuted and so this is where the Republicans have to step up to the plate. This is not a case where it’s simply kind of just speculating and whining. It’s time to hold the government accountable in the way the founders intended.”

D’Souza said the government’s attempts to shut him down have failed, and he is currently planning a major film for mid-2016 release.

“I am definitely going to make a big film in 2016,” D’Souza said. “I’m going to release it in the summer, just like the movie ‘2016’ which came out in 2012. I’m in a very early stage—I’ve been preoccupied with legal problems and I’ve been trying to dodge a bullet, and I’m very glad I’ve been able to do that and so I’ve been pulling blueprints and starting to think about what that movie will look like.”

During the interview, D’Souza laid out how America is currently facing a political “pathological moment,” in large part thanks to the mainstream media—which hasn’t aggressively investigated the Obama administration or vetted the president’s political agenda. 

“The press does not want the first African-American president to fail, and for that reason, the normal lens of analysis and criticism—which is part of what keeps our democracy healthy—is not properly functioning,” D’Souza said. “Obama knows that and therefore he knows he can get away with things. The great line from Julius Caesar is ‘he would not be a wolf if we were not sheep.’ He knows that, from the press’s point of view, they’re being sheep, and therefore he can run amok.”

D’Souza said that the political left has institutionalized itself in America, taking over education, Hollywood, and other entertainment distribution channels and other parts of the culture.

“The left is dominant in that it has the huge institutions on its side,” D’Souza said. “What helps us is we are at a huge moment of opportunity at which the business models of these institutions are obsolete. These gigantic studios, these tyrannical unions, colleges cost way too much, a lot of the old media models are crumbling. So out of this chaos comes hope, and what I’m hoping to do is to create some new institutions in these areas, take advantage of the free market system and technology to not only make rival movies but create a business model that works better than theirs.”

Because of the left’s dominance in American culture, D’Souza said that the right needs to expand its influence on the culture as well—and do things like his documentary films rather than just writing books or fighting day-to-day political and policy battles.

“My last two books, for example, were both number one on the New York Times bestseller list—they sold between 100,000 and 200,000 copies, which is a lot, and I’m certainly happy to be outselling, say, Hillary’s book,” D’Souza said. “But on the other hand, 7 million people saw ‘2016.’ We put one and a half million people in the theater to see ‘America,’ and it’s coming out on DVD in October. So you have a different level of reach. The left has been really effective while conservatives are kind of huddled on ‘how do we take the Senate?’ The left has been moving in higher education and media and Hollywood and taken over the high ground of the culture. So what I’m trying to do is create institutions and megaphones to be able to get out a rival message and contest the leftist hegemony on its own grounds.”

D’Souza said that he’s not thrilled with the GOP establishment, a party that seems to be “slumbering” and “incompetent at best.”

“The 2012 election was the Republicans’ election to lose, and they lost it,” D’Souza said. “This election is a Republican election to lose—I don’t know how it’s going to come out. I sometimes feel like I’m out on the front lines on these battles, and I look around for the RNC and it’s nowhere to be found. So we have a Republican Party that’s slumbering, incompetent at best. The donors who give to the Republican Party need to hold the party accountable. I’m not saying not to help or not to contribute—we need the Republican Party—but we need the Republican Party to fight.”

Moving forward and heading into the 2016 presidential cycle, D’Souza said the Republicans will lose the White House yet again if the GOP keeps shunning the different elements of the conservative movement—national security conservatives, social conservatives, and libertarians or fiscal conservatives.

“There’s no way to win elections without national security conservatives, without social conservatives, and without libertarians,” D’Souza said. “We need all those groups. That coalition, I strongly believe, can be put back together. By and large, entrepreneurs and business guys—big money—they’ve got wives, they’ve got small kids, they are socially conservative. But the social conservative issues need to be articulated in a little bit of a new way, sort of like national security—there’s a little bit of weariness over the way it was done under Bush. So it’s important for conservatives to say we’re not just against Obama and that Bush was right. We have learned some lessons under Bush, and we’re going with a sort of new prudence but also a new idealism into the future.”

September 29, 2014

Iowa VA patients not told of Legionnaires' bacteria in hospital water: Report

Patients at a Department of Veterans Affairs hospital in Iowa were not told that deadly Legionella bacteria was found at the facility, the Des Moines Register reported Sunday.

VA officials plan to spend $6.5 million to rid the Iowa City VA hospital of Legionella, which was found in the water pipes. Patients were not told of the presence of the bacteria that causes Legionnaire’s disease, the Register reports.

“There is a very, very low risk involved at these levels,” VA pathologist Stacy Klutts told the Register.

But that was of little comfort to a veteran and former VA hospital employee quoted by the Register, who said he learned of the outbreak from friends who still work there.

“I’m not looking to blame anybody,” Vietnam veteran Dick Allison said. “I only fault them for not telling people about it.”

All plumbing in patient care areas of the 600,000-square-foot facility will be replaced starting next year, according to agency plans cited by the newspaper.

Meanwhile, the Pittsburgh Tribune-Review reports VA officials are investigating whether a Pennsylvania veteran diagnosed with Legionnaires’ might have contracted the disease at an agency healthcare facility.

So far, tests of the medical center in Oakland, Pa., have tested negative for the bacteria.

A Legionnaire’s outbreak in 2011 and 2012 at VA facilities in the Pittsburgh area led to the deaths of six patients and the sickening of at least 22 others.

Subsequent investigations have blamed management failures for the outbreak.

September 26, 2014

No Senator Should Vote for Holder Replacement Who Doesn't 'Firmly Reject' Executive Amnesty

Senate Budget Commitee ranking member Sen. Jeff Sessions (R-AL) told Breitbart News exclusively that the replacement for the outgoing Attorney General Eric Holder should publicly “firmly reject” President Barack Obama’s planned executive amnesty, or every U.S. Senator should vote against him or her.

In a Thursday evening statement, Sessions said:
The Attorney General is the top law enforcement position in government. But Mr. Holder’s DOJ has taken numerous actions that have weakened the rule of law in America, and none more dramatically than his political actions that have undermined the immigration laws of the United States. Amazingly, he declared amnesty to be a "civil right" for individuals who entered or remained illegally in the country. Behind the back of the American people, the Justice Department negotiated an agreement with the ACLU to allow deported illegal immigrants to return to the U.S. He reduced prosecutions of illegal immigrants required by the proven Operation Streamline program. He is using tax dollars to provide lawyers for unlawful immigrants. And the President has stated that he is depending on the Attorney General, along with Homeland Security Secretary, to advise him on developing and implementing an executive amnesty.
Sessions noted that the Senate Democrats have played as a team to protect Obama's planned executive amnesty—something the president delayed until after the upcoming midterm election so as to not hurt vulnerable Senate Democrats seeking re-election—but if the president carries through with his plans it would cause an even greater surge in illegal immigration.

"This illegal executive amnesty—which the Senate Democrat Caucus has worked together to protect—would destroy immigration enforcement in America," Sessions said. “It would wipe away the moral authority for our immigration laws and invite a flood of new illegal immigration.”

For those reasons, Sessions said every U.S. Senator should oppose that nominee unless the forthcoming nominee to replace Holder explicitly rejects Obama's planned executive immigration actions.

"We need someone at the Department of Justice who will restore fidelity to our national laws and boundaries," Sessions said. "No Senator should vote to confirm anyone to this position who does not firmly reject the President’s planned executive amnesty—or any other scheme to circumvent our nation’s immigration laws—and who does not pledge to serve the laws and people of the United States.”

With Sessions throwing down the gauntlet like this, this type of a pledge against voting for any attorney general nominee who doesn’t explicitly and publicly reject Obama's planned executive amnesty as a Holder replacement could become a wedge issue in the final 40 days of the 2014 midterm election season. 

September 25, 2014

Report: Actually Cost Over $2.1 Billion — And Counting alone has cost federal taxpayers $2.1 billion so far, according to a Bloomberg Government analysis — and the feds still aren’t finished building it.

The Obama administration’s most recent estimate on spending related to was just $834 million through February 2014. Health and Human Services secretary Sylvia Burwell projected in May that through fiscal year 2015, additional costs would bring’s grand total to just above $1 billion. 

“The way in which Obamacare has been rolled out has been very messy,” Peter Gosselin, the study author, told Bloomberg News. “One of the reasons it has been implemented in the way it has been, financially, is precisely to deny opponents of the law a clear target.”

Federal officials intentionally spread out spending across “dozens of contracts,” according to the report, in a concerted effort to prevent transparency on the health-care website’s true cost.

The bungled process of building was characterized by infighting between federal agencies and constant misdirection to federal contractors, according to many emails obtained by Congress.

And despite the massive cost, remains woefully incomplete. The back-end operations of the website are reportedly still not finished and the GAO reported this month that continues to lack basic security measures.

“Expenditures related to the Affordable Care Act are publicly available and widely known,” Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services spokesman Aaron Albright told Bloomberg. “CMS takes its responsibility for spending taxpayer dollars seriously.” 

The nonpartisan General Accountability Office took aim at CMS this week for failing to keep track of $3.7 billion so far this year, including spending on Obamacare. The agency failed to document and verify money spent on advertising and public relations efforts, according to the GAO report.

“CMS’s processes are inconsistent with certain federal accounting and internal control standards,” the report concluded.

And that’s just The Obama administration also splashed out hundreds of millions on the 14 states and Washington, D.C. that built their own Obamacare exchanges (or at least attempted to). CMS oversees and approves spending for the state marketplaces as well as

Nevada and Oregon are joining permanently beginning in November, after spending millions on failed websites. Massachusetts and Maryland also took advantage of millions in federal grants for sites they gave up on — both states are debuting their second tries at Obamacare exchanges in the fall.

While states are rushing to get their own exchanges ready in time (much like last year), the administration still doesn’t have ready either. Andy Slavitt, CMS’s new number two, has already warned the public that the second open enrollment period will again be “bumpy.”

September 24, 2014

Climate Summit: UN Exempts World's #1 Polluter from Stricter CO2 Enforcement

The European Union and United States government-funded Global Carbon Project (GCP) released their latest Atlas that tracks annual CO2 emissions by 196 countries in cooperation with Sunday’s People’s Climate March and President Obama’s keynote speech at the United Nations Global Climate Summit Tuesday. The GCP report warns that man-made global warming is accelerating and names China as the chief culprit. However, GCP blames consumption in Europe and the United States for high levels of CO2 emissions and supports continued UN exemptions from enforcement for China.

GCP complains that a record 36 billion tonnes of carbon from all human sources were emitted in 2013 due to the global economic recovery. They point out that China is not only the world’s largest emitter of CO2 with a 29% share but also now exceeds the emissions on a per capita basis by the 28 countries in the European Union.

The GCP warns that 66% of the CO2 budget “scientifically established” to limit the man-made global warming to a maximum rise of 3.6 degrees Fahrenheit (2 degrees Celsius) established at the 1992 Earth Summit at Rio de Janeiro is being expended faster than expected.

But according to former high-ranking Obama Administration official Dr. Steven Koonin, who is a computational physicist, such climate science and the implications of global warming are not “settled,” and such “misguided’ claims have been used to stifle debate on the matter. He adds, “We often hear that there is a 'scientific consensus' about climate change. But as far as the computer models go, there isn't a useful consensus at the level of detail relevant to assessing human influences.”

The United Nations' setting of mandated CO2 levels has an interesting background. Since the 1992 Rio Earth Summit gave each of the 196 UN attendees an equal vote on the future of CO2 enforcement, the negotiating position for the large number of emerging countries was favored over the smaller number of developed nations. The emerging nation caucus used their voting majority to successfully negotiate their own CO2 exemptions as a competitive advantage. The final Earth Summit protocol set per-capita CO2 restrictions that economically hammered the EU and U.S.

When George W. Bush was elected U.S. president in 2000, he was asked by former U.S. Senator and current Defense Secretary Hagel what his administration's position was on climate warming. Bush replied that he took climate change “very seriously” but opposed the proposed Kyoto global warming treaty, because “it exempts 80% of the world, including major population centers such as China and India, from compliance, and would cause serious harm to the US economy”.

The United States in 1992 was the world’s biggest CO2 emitter and still is the largest on a per capita basis. But since 1992, China has grown from 3% to 29% of world’s annual CO2 emissions. China now produces twice the U.S. amount, triple the EU amount, and over four times India’s CO2 emissions.

At the U.N. climate change committee meeting in Warsaw last November, China and India were virtually exempted from having to make annual CO2 reduction “commitments.” The two fastest-growing CO2 emitters will be allowed to continue making loosely defined “contributions” toward reducing CO2 emissions for the next two years.

The reason China is the world’s largest and fastest growing CO2 emitter is that their production and consumption of coal as an energy source has tripled since 1990. China now relies on coal power for approximately 70-80% of its energy needs. According to the International Energy Agency’s Clean Coal Centre, China operates 620 of the 2,300 coal-fired power stations worldwide. China approved 15 new coal mines to support expanded coal-fired electrical generation in July.

Carbon Project researcher Professor Corinne Le Quere from the UK’s University of East Anglia tried to justify China’s CO2 exemption by blaming consumption in Europe and the United States. “In China, about 20% of their emissions are for producing clothes, furniture, even solar panels that are shipped to Europe and America.” He added, “If you look at the emissions in Europe with that perspective, they would be 30% higher if we accounted for those goods that are produced elsewhere.”

This type of bizarre rationalizing of blame for the rise in CO2 emissions on Europe and the United States, no matter what the facts are, explains why manufacturing jobs and wages are booming in China and India and shriveling in Europe and the United States.

President Obama told the UN at the climate summit meeting Tuesday that “We are the first generation to feel the impact of climate change and the last generation that can do something about it.” Mr. Obama promoted the executive action he announced this year that mandates cutting pollution from the nation’s power plants by 30% from 2005 levels by 2030. He emphasized that the United States would also meet its previous pledge to reduce the nation’s overall carbon emissions by 17% from 2005 levels by 2020.

Although the climate summit focused on China as the world’s largest CO2 emitter, Chinese President Xi Jinping chose not to attend. He sent Vice Premier Zhang Gaoli, who presented his own figures to make the case that China was “doing its part.” 

September 23, 2014

Biden Promises Obama Will Strike GOP with 'Lightning' via Executive Amnesty

On Monday, Vice President Joe Biden promised that President Barack Obama would "do an awful lot" for illegal immigrants with executive actions toward amnesty. He said if Republicans don't "see the lord" on immigration after the midterm elections, then they will feel some "lightning."

According to pool reports, Biden spoke at a Hispanic Heritage Month reception at his residence and reportedly called up a student who had received temporary amnesty due to Obama's Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals (DACA) program. Biden then said that Obama is going to enact executive amnesty before the end of the year if Congress does not pass comprehensive immigration reform, "and he's going to do an awful lot." He said Obama has a chance to change the country "in a way like we haven't had for a long, long time."

Even though a plurality of Americans are less likely to vote for candidates who favor a pathway to citizenship and Obama's approval rating on immigration has hit all-time lows, Biden said that Republicans are irrational for not backing comprehensive amnesty legislation.

"They will either act rationally, or we will act for them, and if we have to act for them, they will not be around a whole lot longer to act in large numbers," Biden said of Republicans, though amnesty legislation would likely create more Democratic voters, as an Eagle Forum study found. "I’m not offering any false hope about what they’ll do between now and the election, but… I can tell you, when this election [is] over in the lame duck session, they just may see the Lord. It is possible. But if they don’t they will see some lightning.”

Rep. Luis Gutierrez (D-IL) recently said that when the White House asked for forbearance for missing Obama's self-imposed "by the end of summer deadline" on executive amnesty, he demanded interest when Obama enacts his executive amnesty by the end of the holiday season. The Congressional Hispanic Caucus had demanded executive amnesty by Thanksgiving but have given the White House by the end of the holiday season, most likely because the Louisiana Senate runoff that could decide control of the Senate may take place after Thanksgiving.  

The White House was reportedly considering granting amnesty to at least five million illegal immigrants and giving them temporary work permits "by the end of summer," but Obama delayed it after Senate Democrats urged him to help them save their majority in the Senate.

Obama complained to Chuck Todd on Meet the Press that the politics had changed on the illegal immigration issue over the summer, which was when Breitbart Texas published leaked photos of illegal immigrant juveniles being warehoused that forced the mainstream press to cover the issue. Since then, according to Gallup polling, illegal immigration has been the top issue among Republicans and increased threefold among Americans as the top concern. 

September 22, 2014

US has 'legal basis' for strikes against ISIS in Syria, Power says

President Obama has the authority to launch strikes against Islamic militants in Syria, even without a stamp of approval from the United Nations, the U.S. ambassador to the U.N. said Sunday.
Samantha Power said that, while there's broad support among U.N. Security Council members for taking the fight to the Islamic State in Iraq and Syria (ISIS), also known as ISIL, the United States has the legal right to launch Syrian strikes without the group's explicit backing.
"Consistent with the U.N. charter, we [think] – it would depend on the facts and circumstances of any particular strike in Syria – that we have the legal basis we need," Power said on ABC's "This Week" program.
Asked specifically about the possibility that Russia would veto such authority, Power suggested the Russians would back the United States.
"Russia has vetoed in the past, but on very different issues," Power said. "Russia has made clear, for a long time, its opposition to ISIL."
Power said a meeting of the U.N. Security Council, convened by Secretary of State John Kerry on Friday, left U.S. officials confident that the international community is universally supportive of the fight against ISIS.
"It showcased just how much support there is on the Security Council and in the broader international community for the anti-ISIL effort," she said.
Obama on Wednesday will be in New York to address the U.N. General Assembly in a bid to rally more international support behind that effort.
"Because we’re leading the right way, more nations are joining our coalition," Obama said Saturday in his weekly radio address. "Over 40 countries have offered to help the broad campaign against ISIL so far – from training and equipment, to humanitarian relief, to flying combat missions."
While France last week joined the ISIS fight by launching direct air strikes on the terrorist militants in Iraq, no country has yet committed to helping the United States should Obama expand those strikes into Syria.
Power acknowledged that no other country has said explicitly that they would join an aerial campaign in Syria. But she strongly suggested that such support is forthcoming.
"It will be up to each country to announce for itself whether it's prepared to participate in a combat role or can provide military equipment," Power said. "I will make you a prediction … which is that we will not do the airstrikes alone."

September 19, 2014

Onerous ATF rules threaten to put gun dealers out of business

Doug Stockman always has had a passion for firearms, so 20 years ago he made a business out of it.

Today, his shop, SSG Tactical, is one of the largest gun dealers in Virginia, with 10 employees, training classes and concealed-carry fashion bags.

Mr. Stockman and co-owner Kurt Sebastian are part of an industry that adds $31.8 billion to the U.S. economy — roughly equivalent to Nigeria’s national budget.

But Mr. Stockman and others in the industry worry that heightened federal scrutiny and government regulations will put them out of business.

Last year, when an inspector from the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives dropped by SSG Tactical’s Fredericksburg shop for an unannounced audit, Mr. Stockman thought he was prepared.

Each of the roughly 7,500 guns his business sold that year required a Form 4473, the federal document that the purchaser and seller must complete, in addition to a background check.

The Form 4473 asks questions such as where the purchaser lives and whether the person has ever committed a crime.

Leaving one of the 132 items on the six-page questionnaire blank, or filling it in incorrectly, is an ATF violation. One violation can lead to a license revocation, which would put Mr. Stockman out of business.

Out of SSG Tactical’s 7,500 guns sold, the company could have made as many as 990,000 mistakes from the Form 4473 alone.

Turns out, Mr. Stockman’s team made about 180 errors — a 99.98 percent accuracy rate.

The majority of the violations were on the 4473 and included incorrect information on ethnicity, wrong dates and leaving a box empty when the city and county go by the same name, Mr. Stockman said.

“These mistakes were anything but willful — they were simply human error,” he said. “Now, if anything more turns up, in any future audit, we could lose our license — our business.”

Federal law obligates licensed firearm dealers to record all transactions so guns connected to crimes can be traced. In addition to 100 percent compliance on the Form 4473, dealers must log all “acquisitions and dispositions” by manufacturer, purchaser, model, serial number and caliber, and the date the dealer bought and sold each gun.

All paperwork needs to be kept for 20 years and be made available for inspection. Mr. Stockman’s audit took about seven months to complete and required him to make one of his full-time employees available to help ATF’s compliance officer sift through the shop’s records.

“The government is making it virtually impossible to grow a business,” said Mr. Stockman. “The amount of oversight and regulations has only grown over the years and in this administration.”

Read the entire article

September 18, 2014

Spike in energy costs could push 840,000 Americans into poverty

A 10-percent increase in home energy costs would push 840,000 more Americans below the poverty line, according to a new report from two Republican senators.

Sens. Lisa Murkowski of Alaska and Tim Scott of South Carolina released their report on energy insecurity to highlight some of the repercussions from regulations that they say could raise energy costs, although the study does not advocate a specific policy.

"The lack of affordable energy disproportionately impacts minorities and the working poor, and many families feel the sting of higher energy costs," wrote Scott and Murkowski, the top Republican on the Energy and Natural Resources Committee. They are set to introduce the report Thursday at a Washington event hosted by the Manhattan Institute.

The report also said that for nearly one-fifth of American families of four, a 10-percent hike in energy costs would equal the amount spent on groceries for two to three weeks.

"Any policy proposal that would tend to increase the cost of energy should therefore be fully evaluated for its impact on energy insecurity, in order to give policymakers a complete picture of its potential consequences," the report said.

Energy insecurity means that people lack access to fuel, can't afford to keep their home at a reasonable temperature or have their service cut off for failing to pay bills, the senators said.
Whether it's realistic to assume a 10-percent increase in energy costs is a matter of debate.

The U.S. Energy Information Administration, the statistics arm of the Energy Department, forecasts an average 3.1 percent increase in electricity prices this year — but those projections take only current policies into account. Implicit in the analysis from Murkowski and Scott is that proposed Environmental Protection Agency regulations will further raise those rates.

"A 10-percent increase in energy costs was chosen because it is realistic, and could be the result of the enactment of public policies, shifting market conditions, or unexpected events. Higher increases are also possible," they wrote.

The report examined the effect of household energy spending increases in three areas: The number of homes that see a reduction in "spendable budget"; the number of households pushed into poverty; and the amount a household spends on energy as a percentage of average gross income, which the senators called the "average household energy burden."

Murkowski and Scott found that Midwest and Southeastern states — the ones conservatives and industry groups said would be disproportionately hit by the EPA's proposal to cut emissions at power plants — are more likely to have a "high household energy burden" and be in poverty than others. For Southeastern states, that ranged between 12-18 percent of homes. In the Midwest, the spread was between 9 and 12 percent in states such as Indiana, Ohio and Michigan.

The EPA, however, has said its proposed power plant rule — due for finalization next June — would reduce electricity bills 9 percent by the time it is fully implemented in 2030. That's because it expects states to improve energy efficiency at an annual clip of 1.5 percent, driving down energy use.

The EPA also says the proposal would save billions of dollars in medical costs by pushing older, dirtier coal-fired power plants into retirement — many families who are most susceptible to emissions from those power plants are lower-income as well. The agency also says its proposal would blunt the effects of climate change by reducing use of greenhouse gas-emitting fossil fuels, which most climate scientists say drives global warming.

September 17, 2014

Steve Scalise Lobbyist Adviser: GOP Must Pass Amnesty 'Pronto' After Midterms

A GOP lobbyist who has been advising House Majority Whip Steve Scalise (R-LA) is urging Republicans to pass comprehensive amnesty legislation "pronto" if they gain control of Congress after the midterms.

Even though Republicans may take back the Senate by running against President Barack Obama's executive amnesty, John Feehery argued that Republicans must not oppose Obama and ram through amnesty if they control Congress. 

"They should pass immigration reform, pronto," he wrote in Tuesday's The Hill.

Though former House Majority Leader Eric Cantor (R-VA) was ousted because of his support for amnesty, House Speaker John Boehner (R-OH) has reportedly told Obama that there would be a "good chance" of comprehensive amnesty legislation passing in the next Congress. 

As Breitbart News has noted, "Feehery has supported Arlen Specter over Pat Toomey and favored Charlie Crist over Marco Rubio," and he "works at a lobbying firm founded by a Bill Clinton adviser who persuaded Clinton to infamously pardon Marc Rich."

Feehery wrote that "Republicans will gain more for their brand by proving they can govern than they will in continuing to oppose the president," and that is why they should no longer view Obama as the enemy. Feehery's theory is that Republicans will take back the White House in 2016 only if they "prove they can run the country in 2014 — and they can only do that with the cooperation of President Obama."

Breitbart News previously reported that Feehery, who has referred to conservatives and Tea Partiers as "haters" and the "bad guys," also "worked for former House Minority Leader Bob Michel (R-IL), whom Rush Limbaugh has described a 'sweetly irrelevant' pushover who was the 'most compliant loser on the face of the earth.'"

Michel infamously used to tell freshman Republicans, "Every day I wake up, I look in the mirror, and I say to myself, 'Today you're going to be a loser.' And after you're here awhile [freshmen], you'll start to feel the same way. But don't let it bother you. You'll get used to it.'" 

As Limbaugh noted, Newt Gingrich "refused to get used to it, and instead spent ten years methodically recruiting and training his own private army" and eventually took back the House for Republicans in the historic 1994 "Contract with America" election. But Feehery doesn't like Republican winners, and he said the Contract with America "was an exercise in overpromising and underdelivering." 

This is nothing new for Feehery, who, as Breitbart News noted, "has a history of being critical if not outright hostile about the Tea Party":
“It is time to get rid of the Tea Party. They are an embarrassment,” he wrote in a January post titled, “Tea Party Must be Crushed” 
Feehery described he modern Tea Party as ”a collection of wing-nuts, racists, hucksters, extremists, con-men and front-men, who collaborate with Hollywood and left-wing organizations to plot the demise of Republicans in good standing.” 
Chief among the “good” Republicans, he wrote was Mitch McConnell, who he described as “probably the most conservative leader of either party in the history of the Senate.”

September 16, 2014

GAO: EPA Rules To Retire More Coal Plants Than We Thought

The number of coal-fired power plants slated to be shut down in the coming years is higher than the federal government anticipated, according to the Government Accountability Office.

GAO found that power companies have already or plan to retire 13 percent of the country’s coal-fired power capacity through 2025 due to federal environmental rules — above the GAO’s 2012 prediction that only between 2 and 12 percent of the country’s coal capacity would retire through 2025.

But the retirements could go even further, GAO noted, as the Energy Department’s statistics arm projects retirements “from 2012 through 2020 could reach approximately 50,000 MW or about 16 percent of net summer generating capacity available at the end of 2012.”

These planned coal plant retirements are, at least in part, due to Environmental Protection Agency Regulations governing air and water emissions from power plants. In particular, the EPA’s Mercury Air Toxic Standard, or MATS, was estimated to shutter 4.7 gigawatts (about 11 percent) of coal-fired power — a low-ball estimate at this point.

The government watchdog also found that federal agencies have only taken “initial steps” to make sure EPA rules wouldn’t harm the reliability of the electrical grid.

The GAO notes that federal agencies “have taken initial steps collectively and individually to monitor industry progress responding to EPA regulations including jointly conducting regular meetings with key industry stakeholders,” but past and upcoming “actions on the four existing regulations, as well as EPA’s recently proposed regulations to reduce carbon dioxide emissions from existing generating units, may require additional agency effort to monitor industry’s progress in responding to the regulations and any potential impacts on reliability.”

The GAO’s report has reinforced concerns from Republicans that the EPA’s air pollution rules are closing down too many coal plants and threatening the viability of the electrical grid.

“Plant retirements are higher than projected. Electricity prices are rising,” said Alaska Republican Sen. Lisa Murkowski, who asked the GAO to investigate agency actions on grid reliability. “Even factors beyond our control – such as last winter’s weather – are on a collision course with the shutdowns caused in part by new federal regulations.”

Last winter parts of the U.S. were in peril of going dark when frigid weather and snowstorms ravaged the country. As more coal plants are shut down, parts of the country heavily reliant on the fuel for electricity could find themselves in a tough position if generating capacity is taken offline without any consideration for its effect on electricity service.

“Despite it all, the agencies in charge still have not fully adopted GAO’s recommendation for a formal, documented process to protect reliability,” Murkowski said. “In reading this report, their actions come across as a check-the-box exercise, rather than a robust effort to protect families, consumers, and businesses across the country.”

The GAO’s report, however, did not take into account a recent EPA rule that regulates carbon dioxide emissions from existing coal-fired power plants. The EPA’s own analysis found this rule would force up to 19 percent of the U.S. coal-fired capacity to shut down and cut coal production by up to 28 percent. The rule would also raise retail electricity by as much as 6.5 percent by 2020.

“Under the provisions of this rule, EPA projects that approximately 46 to 49 GW of additional coal-fired generation (about 19% of all coal-fired capacity and 4.6% of total generation capacity in 2020) may be removed from operation by 2020,” the EPA says in its regulatory impact analysis.

The EPA denies that all the closures are the result of its regulatory actions.

“EPA’s analysis focuses on the amount of capacity that may retire in response to our actions, it is a reflection of what we think is caused by the regulation itself, and not intended to be an estimate for the broader trends in the industry,” an agency spokeswoman told The Daily Caller News Foundation. “There are a number of contributing factors that have led to recent announcements of retirements.”

“For example, average natural gas prices delivered to the electric power sector hit a 14 year low in 2012, while average coal prices hit a 25 year high (according EIA),” the EPA continued. “At the same time, electric demand has been flat, and new renewables and NGCCs were brought online.”

“The final MATS was released at the end of 2011, just as this transition was occurring,” the EPA told The DCNF. “All these factors contributed to economic decisions to retire some plants, who could no longer compete as they once had.”

The agency spokeswoman concluded, “GAO itself acknowledges that these factors contributed to why their own estimate of retirements is below what we’re seeing today.”

September 15, 2014

Obama sought repeal of Bush war resolution now used to justify Islamic State strikes

President Obama’s first initiated war against an Islamic terrorist group is authorized, the White House says, by George W. Bush-signed legislation that Mr. Obama has criticized and wanted to repeal since last year.

Since beginning airstrikes last month against the Islamic State, also known by the acronyms ISIS and ISIL, the White House has said it does not need congressional approval to carry out such missions.

Last week, on the 13th anniversary of al Qaeda’s attacks on the United States, the administration announced why, saying President Bush’s Authorization for Use of Military Force resolution in 2001 is all the authority Mr. Obama needs.

In a May 2013 speech to a military audience at the National Defense University, Mr. Obama portrayed the law as dated and as a potential blank check to get the U.S. into wars.

“The AUMF is now nearly 12 years old,” he said. “Unless we discipline our thinking, our definitions, our actions, we may be drawn into more wars we don’t need to fight, or continue to grant presidents unbound powers more suited for traditional armed conflicts between nation states.”

Last week, The Washington Times asked a National Security Council spokeswoman whether the president still wants to repeal the authorization, given the rise of the Islamic State terrorist group.
“On the 2001 AUMF, we remain committed to engaging with Congress and the American people to refine, and ultimately repeal, the AUMF,” the spokeswoman said. “The president has made clear that he wishes to take America off a permanent war footing.”

Two days later, the White House cited the authorization as Mr. Obama’s go-ahead for airstrikes on the Islamic State.

Said Charles “Cully” Stimson, a national security law analyst at the Heritage Foundation: “There’s not only a disconnect but a failure to clearly articulate in a public forum the legal basis for the strikes.”

White House press secretary Josh Earnest defended the irony of the president’s reliance on a war authorization law that he has wanted to be changed and repealed since at least 2013.

Mr. Earnest did not repeat the call for repeal Thursday as he explained to reporters why the 2001 resolution applies to the Islamic State.

“The president is ready to engage in a conversation with members of Congress as it relates to this specific AUMF,” he said. “And we welcome or would welcome a show of support from the United States Congress for the strategy that the president has laid out.”

Mr. Obama went on national TV Wednesday night to announce a counterterrorism campaign to destroy the Islamic State over time. The U.S. will provide airstrikes, intelligence, training and advice. Iraqis and Syrians will muster their ground forces.

Mr. Obama campaigned for re-election as a president who was put into office to “end wars, not start them.”

The Obama administration has not given a name to the military operation, a departure from past Pentagon practices.

Congressional aides said that, by relying on a law tied to the Bush administration, Mr. Obama avoids signing new legislation that would officially and historically link him to the war against the Islamic State.

Mr. Stimson believes the constitutional lawyer in Mr. Obama “would prefer to work with Congress for a narrowly tailored ISIS-specific AUMF that has a ‘sunset’ provision within it.”

“But the political reality is that if he were to ask for one and not get it, that would be politically damaging,” the national security analyst said. “If he were to ask for one and get it, then he would be the author, the owner, of an Obama AUMF, which probably, according to their political calculus, would hurt them even more.”

The 2001 law authorizes military force against al Qaeda and its associated groups. The Obama administration argues that the Bush authorization applies to the Islamic State group, a version of al Qaeda in Iraq, which waged war against U.S. troops and the Baghdad government beginning in 2004.

“It is the view of this administration that the 2001 AUMF continues to apply to ISIL,” Mr. Earnest said.

Although al Qaeda and the Islamic State have had public disagreements over how and whom to kill, and in what numbers, some al Qaeda fighters view the offshoot as the one created in Osama bin Laden’s image.

“So these ties between ISIL and al Qaeda persist,” Mr. Earnest said.

As for Mr. Obama’s call to repeal the authorization he now embraces, Mr. Earnest said the president has always said, “Our systematic effort to dismantle terrorist organizations must continue.”

In August, the White House justified its bombing campaign in Iraq as the prerogative of the commander in chief. It also has sent at least seven notifications to Congress about actions against the Islamic State to comply with the 1973 War Powers Act.

Mr. Stimson said the letters “are a direct reflection of the administration’s public stated position that these are more like counterterrorism operations and not war, like against Taliban and al Qaeda and associates. I think that’s a tough one to swallow for some people.”

September 12, 2014

The Nuclear Option: A Foreign Policy Conducted in a Drug-Addled Haze

See, kids, this is why you don’t do drugs. And this is why you will always eventually regret voting for somebody who boasted of all the coke and dope he did while smoldering about his absentee father.

President Choom Gang has demilitarized our military. He sends the Department of Health and Human Services to the Mexican border to welcome and take care of tens of thousands of illegal children streaming across. And now he wants to deploy American troops into West Africa to combat the Ebola virus.

Boy, is this confusing.

Mr. President, with all due respect: Are you still smoking dope?

Just when you thought things could not get any more disastrous, President Obama announces plans to drag America back into some degree of the war on terrorism.
It is a war we would not need except for his utter malfeasance as commander in chief and blithe disregard for already-spilled American blood and treasure.

It is a war he ran two political campaigns promising to get us out of.

It is a war he has always argued we did not need.

Worst of all, it is a war America’s soldiers will have to fight every step of the way with one eye cast behind them to see if the politicians in Washington — especially their commander in chief — are still with them. Will those politicians once again abandon the troops and their deadly mission as soon as the political winds shift?

In an honest world without all the pot haze, confusing munchies and addiction tremors, Mr. Obama would now admit what the majority of Americans already realize, according to latest polling: This presidency is a failure.

If Mr. Obama was elected on any cogent platform other than the vague and hip promise of “hope and change,” it was because of his credentials as the anti-war candidate.

It was this single claim that gave him the opening to challenge Hillary Rodham Clinton for the 2008 Democratic nomination in the first place. It also vaulted him well past all the other Democrats in the field who had voted for the Iraq war.

And against the original mad warrior John McCain, the general election was a breeze for the anti-war crusader.

So even before Mr. Obama won the White House, he was telegraphing to our entire world of enemies that he would beat a hasty retreat if elected. Once he became president, he began withdrawing from the fields of battle. He all but deserted Iraq.

Now, everybody acts all surprised that into this vacuum marched new enemies even fiercer and more deranged than the last ones.

That the president is even considering renewing the war on terrorism is a convincing exoneration of his predecessor’s “strategery” for combating terrorism. And it is a crushing repudiation of the entire premise of the Obama presidency.

What is heart-wrenching about all of it is that it will be America’s brave men and women in uniform who will, dutifully, carry out this zany, rearguard mission launched entirely to provide political cover for a bunch of politicians back home before another election.

Seriously, it was better when Mr. Obama did not have a strategy. And even better when he was loafing around with the Choom Gang smoking weed and snorting coke.

Remember, kids: Don’t do drugs.

September 11, 2014

This time, Obama didn't ask for permission on airstrikes

One year after he abandoned a bid for congressional approval of Syrian airstrikes, President Obama saved himself from another rebuke in an address to the nation Wednesday.

Instead, Obama told lawmakers he didn’t need their support to extend airstrikes from Iraq to Syria, showcasing a major shift for a commander in chief that once argued such actions must include authorization from Capitol Hill.

“My administration has also secured bipartisan support for this approach here at home. I have the authority to address the threat from [the Islamic State of Iraq and Syria],” Obama insisted in a rare prime-time address.

The president said he would “welcome” support for his efforts but in no way was asking for a permission slip from lawmakers who balked at his previous call to conduct a military strike against the regime of strongman Bashar Assad.

It was a striking difference from 2013, when the president had no interest in taking on a campaign of Syrian airstrikes by himself.

“Even though I possess the authority to order military strikes, I believed it was right, in the absence of a direct or imminent threat to our security, to take this debate to Congress,” Obama explained last year.

“This is especially true after a decade that put more and more war-making power in the hands of the president, and more and more burdens on the shoulders of our troops, while sidelining the people’s representatives from the critical decisions about when we use force,” he added.

While lawmakers could authorize the arming and training of Syrian opposition forces, Obama will continue airstrikes in Iraq and start them in Syria regardless of whether Congress specifically endorses such an action. It is unlikely that lawmakers would unite behind military strikes ahead of competitive elections in November.

A senior administration official, previewing the speech to reporters, claimed that a post-Sept. 11 authorization of force against al Qaeda gave Obama the authority to conduct airstrikes in Iraq and Syria. Some Democrats adamantly disagree with that legal interpretation, however.

White House officials said that because Obama is pursuing airstrikes against the Islamic State and not the Assad regime, he is not bound by the same obligations this time around.

But others warned that the president was laying the foundation for an open-ended commitment without congressional oversight, the very development he warned against just a year ago.

“Congressional force authorizations should be limited to situations that truly require war, not a free pass to use the full wartime power of our military wherever there is any potential terrorist threat around the world,” said Heather Hurlburt, a senior fellow in national security at the nonprofit Human Rights First.

“Obama can’t indefinitely continue a bombing campaign using his inherent authorities,” she added. “The White House now needs to work with Congress to ensure any force authorization from Congress is narrowly tailored to [the Islamic State].”

But for a president repeatedly burned by an uncooperative Congress, philosophical shifts were less concerning than showcasing a concrete plan to combat the Islamic State.

“How long do you think it would take Congress to unite behind [airstrikes]?” asked a former senior administration official. "If the president waited around for lawmakers, it would be ‘Why is he dragging his feet?’ This was the right thing to do, and I think even most Republicans acknowledge that.”

September 10, 2014

Cruz Letter: Why is the IRS Auditing Breitbart News?

U.S. Sen. Ted Cruz, R-Texas, today sent the following letter to the Internal Revenue Service regarding its decision to audit Breitbart News Network, LLC.

The full text of the letter is available here.

Dear Commissioner Koskinen:

I write to express deep concern over the recent announcement by Breitbart News that the Internal Revenue Service recently notified the Breitbart News Network, LLC that it would be subject to a far-reaching, burdensome, and open-ended audit.

As you know, the Breitbart News Network LLC is a conservative-leaning press outlet. It has editors and reporters who cover daily political news and regularly breaks stories that are critical of the Obama Administration's policies. To conduct this audit, Breitbart News Network, LLC was asked to provide the IRS with all of its organizational documents, financial records, W-2s, W-4s, 1099s, and K-1s filed, personal income tax returns for each member of the company, payroll tax forms, information regarding properties and assets acquired by the company, bank statements, and array of other records documenting revenues, expenses, and depreciation costs.

This media audit, coupled with the recent proposal of 49 Senate Democrats to amend the Constitution to give Congress plenary power to regulate political speech, paints a disturbing picture of a coordinated assault on the First Amendment.

In another time, under another Administration, the decision to audit a conservative news organization might not have risen to a worrisome level of concern. However, given the IRS's disturbing track record of illegally targeting conservative organizations-including the IRS recently paying a $50,000 settlement for having wrongfully leaked a conservative group's confidential tax information-and the persistent refusal by the current Department of Justice to meaningfully investigate or prosecute those crimes, the decision to audit Breitbart News Network, LLC appears highly questionable.

For the IRS to behave like a partisan political organization, targeting media organizations whose views differ from the President's, would represent a gross abuse of power. It would undermine the statutory mission and integrity of the IRS. And it would likely subject IRS employees to criminal prosecution.

I very much hope that is not the case.

I would therefore like to ask you the following questions:

How many other news organizations have been audited since President Obama has been in office?
How many of them could be identified as conservative- or liberal-leaning?

Have any other news organization been subjected to this sort of far-reaching and oppressive inquiry, including requesting the personal tax records of editors and reporters?

At what point does the IRS decide to take action to audit a news outlet?

Does the IRS worry that its extremely burdensome auditing process could effectively silence the press?

Previously, Senator Durbin wrote the IRS asking that it examine the tax-exempt status of Crossroads GPS, a Republican organization that spends money electing Republicans. Did the IRS ever receive any communications from any elected official asking it to examine Breitbart News Network, LLC?

Who, precisely, is responsible for making the decision to audit Breitbart News Network, LLC?

I appreciate your timely response.


Ted Cruz
United States Senator