Commercial spaceflight company SpaceX enjoyed a triumphal moment this evening, conducting its first-ever landing of a Falcon 9 rocket on dry land after a successful launch on Monday.
Livestreams from SpaceX’s headquarters showed employees breaking into cheers as the rocket touched down at Cape Canaveral Air Force Station, Florida.
Creating reusable rockets that can land and relaunch is considered a major technological milestone that will significantly lower the cost of space travel. Multiple space companies were competing to achieve this breakthrough, but SpaceX is the first to succeed in landing a rocket for a non-suborbital trip.
Unlike previous attempts, where SpaceX landed their rockets on ocean platforms, this was the first where the Falcon 9 rocket was able to land on dry ground.
The mission’s primary objective was commercial: the company had been commissioned to launch satellites for the New Jersey-based communications company OrbComm. This was also a success, with all 11 satellites now in orbit around Earth.
However, this will likely be dwarfed by the wider significance of SpaceX’s achievement, which has brought us a step closer to cheap, reusable rockets. As this technology develops, it will make recreational space travel, new manned expeditions to the Moon, and even to Mars, considerably more cost-effective.
It’s a welcome end to the year for SpaceX, which had to deal with a debacle in June when a Falcon 9 rocket exploded shortly after takeoff, destroying a supply shipment intended for the International Space Station. According to SpaceX, the explosion was caused by a failed strut in the rocket’s upper state liquid-oxygen tank.
SpaceX is led by Elon Musk, the billionaire founder of Tesla Motors. “It’s a revolutionary moment,” Musk told the press after the landing. “No one has ever brought a booster, an orbital-class booster, back intact.”
It’s unlikely we’ll be wandering around on Mars anytime this year. But the prospect of viable, low-cost, private sector space travel suddenly seems a little less sci-fi.
The IRS did mishandle tea party and conservative groups’ nonprofit applications, but their behavior didn’t break any laws, the Justice Department said in a letter to Congress Friday that cleared the tax agency and former senior executive Lois G. Lerner of any crimes.
“Ineffective management is not a crime,” Assistant Attorney General Peter J. Kadzik said in a letter to the House Ways and Means Committee. “The Department of Justice’s exhaustive probe revealed no evidence that would support a criminal prosecution. What occurred is disquieting and may necessitate corrective action – but it does not warrant criminal prosecution.”
The decision comes more than two years after the IRS’s internal watchdog reported that auditors singled out tea party groups’ applications for special scrutiny and delayed those applications beyond reasonable timelines, preventing the groups from being able to say they were officially recognized nonprofits.
The agency initially admitted its bad behavior, and President Obama vowed an investigation – but he later said, in the middle of the probe, that there was no evidence of corruption.
Some Republicans have questioned the validity of the probe from the beginning, after learning that one of the Justice Department lawyers assigned to the investigation was a contributor to Mr. Obama’s political campaigns.
In its letter Friday the Justice Department specifically cleared Ms. Lerner, a senior executive in charge of approving the groups’ applications, who had authored a number of emails that suggested a bias against the tea party movement.
Investigators said none of the witnesses they interviewed believed Ms. Lerner acted out of political motives, and said that Ms. Lerner seemed to try to correct the inappropriate scrutiny once she “recognized that it was wrong.”
“In fact, Ms. Lerner was the first IRS official to recognize the magnitude of the problem and to take concerted steps to fix it,” Mr. Kadzik wrote.
U.S. vice-president Joe Biden will not seek the presidency, he announced in a surprise appearance at the White House on Wednesday.
The news capped months of speculation about whether Biden would challenge Hillary Clinton, his fellow Democratic lion, former Senate colleague and friend.
“As my family and I have worked through the grieving process,” he said referring to the recent death of his son Beau, “I’ve said all along that it may very well be that that process, by the time we get through it, closes the window on mounting a realistic campaign for president.
“I’ve concluded it has closed.”
Flanked by his wife, Jill, and Barack Obama, Biden thanked the president for lending him the Rose Garden, and spoke in personal terms about the loss of his eldest son to cancer in May.
“My family has suffered a loss, and I hope there will come a time… that sooner rather than later, when you think of your loved one, it brings a smile to your lips before it brings a tear to your eyes.
“That’s where the Bidens are today.”
Biden promised to be active during the campaign.
“I will not be silent. I will speak clearly and forcefully… on where we stand as a nation”, and where the country needs to go.
He made a case for the president standing beside him.
“This party, our nation, will make a tragic mistake if we walk away or attempt to undo the Obama legacy.
“Democrats should not only protect this record, or defend this record – they should run on this record.”
The plan by climate alarmists to have other scientists imprisoned for their ‘global warming’ skepticism is backfiring horribly, and the chief alarmist is now facing a House investigation into what has been called “the largest science scandal in US history.”
Rep. Lamar Smith (R-TX), Chairman of the House Committee on Space, Science and Technology, has written to Professor Jagadish Shukla of George Mason University, in Virginia, requesting that he release all relevant documents pertaining to his activities as head of a non-profit organization called the Institute of Global Environment And Society.
Smith has two main areas of concern.
First, the apparent engagement by the institute in “partisan political activity” – which, as a non-profit, it is forbidden by law from doing.
Second, what precisely has the IGES institute done with the $63 million in taxpayer grants which it has received since 2001 and which appears to have resulted in remarkably little published research?
For example, as Watts Up With That? notes, a $4.2 million grant from the National Science Foundation to one of the institute’s offshoots appears to have resulted in just one published paper.
But the amount which has gone into the pockets of Shukla and his cronies runs into the many hundreds of thousands of dollars. In 2013 and 2014, for example, Shukla and his wife enjoyed a combined income in excess of $800,000 a year.
Steve McIntyre, the investigator who shattered Michael Mann’s global-warming ‘Hockey Stick’ claim, has done a detailed breakdown of the sums involved. He calls it Shukla’s Gold.
In 2001, the earliest year thus far publicly available, in 2001, in addition to his university salary (not yet available, but presumably about $125,000), Shukla and his wife received a further $214,496 in compensation from IGES (Shukla – $128,796; Anne Shukla – $85,700). Their combined compensation from IGES doubled over the next two years to approximately $400,000 (additional to Shukla’s university salary of say $130,000), for combined compensation of about $530,000 by 2004.
Shukla’s university salary increased dramatically over the decade reaching $250,866 by 2013 and $314,000 by 2014. (In this latter year, Shukla was paid much more than Ed Wegman, a George Mason professor of similar seniority). Meanwhile, despite the apparent transition of IGES to George Mason, the income of the Shuklas from IGES continued to increase, reaching $547,000 by 2013. Combined with Shukla’s university salary, the total compensation of Shukla and his wife exceeded $800,000 in both 2013 and 2014. In addition, as noted above, Shukla’s daughter continued to be employed by IGES in 2014; IGES also distributed $100,000 from its climate grant revenue to support an educational charity in India which Shukla had founded.
The story began last month when, as we reported at Breitbart, twenty alarmist scientists – led by Shukla – wrote a letter to President Obama urging him to use RICO laws to crush climate skeptics.
Shukla’s second big mistake was to send the letter not from his university address but from his non-profit, the IGES.
But his first, far bigger mistake, was his hubris in organizing the letter in the first place. It drew the attention of Shukla’s critics to something which, presumably, he would have preferred to keep secret: that for nearly 14 years, he, his family and his friends have been gorging themselves on taxpayers’ money at IGES; and that this money comes on top of the very generous salary he receives for doing much the same work at George Mason University (GMU).
It’s the latter detail which has led former Virginia State Climatologist Pat Michaels – one of the skeptics who might have been affected by Shukla’s proposed RICO prosecutions – to describe this as “the largest science scandal in US history.”
Under federal law, state employees may not be remunerated for doing work which falls under their state employee remit. As a Professor at GMU, Shukla is definitely an employee of the state. And the work for which he has most lavishly been rewarding himself at IGES appears to be remarkably similar to the work he does at GMU as professor of climate dynamics.
If GMU was aware of these extra-curricular payments, then it was in breach of its own policy on “financial conflicts of interest in federally funded research.”
If it wasn’t aware of them, then, Shukla legally may be required to send half of that $63 million in federal grants to his employer, GMU.
For many readers, though, perhaps the biggest take-home message of this extraordinary story is: Who do these climate alarmists think they are?
Perhaps $63 million in federal grants is just peanuts if you’re gorging on the climate-change smorgasbord, but for most of the rest of us, that constitutes a serious sum of money. Especially when we know it is being taken from us in the form of taxes.
Do they really feel under no obligation to spend it well?
Do they actually feel so sanctified by the rightness of their cause that they deserve to be immune from scrutiny or criticism?
The Obama administration is just weeks away from imposing a new ozone particulate standard that manufacturers say will cripple jobs and productivity in the U.S. and leave some firms and industries clinging to life.
The National Association of Manufacturers released a study suggesting the standard would cost the U.S. 1.4 million jobs and $1.7 trillion in productivity by 2040 if the standard is lowered from 75 parts per billion to 65 parts per billion. The EPA could bring it as low as 60 parts per billion, which the study projects would be catastrophic.
For business owners like Summitville Tiles CEO David Johnson, the change would be devastating. The firm is based in Ohio, which relies heavily on manufacturing for jobs and economic growth. Johnson recently wrote a column explaining what’s at stake if the Obama administration get’s it’s way.
“We have 88 counties in this state and under this new ozone standard, all 88 of these counties would be out of compliance, just by the stroke of the pen of this executive order of the president,” Johnson said.
In addition to burdening existing manufacturers, Johnson said the new ozone standard would stifle new business.
“It would essentially stop any new projects from going forward unless there were reductions in emissions in other plants in other areas,” he said. “In other words, there’s a trade-off. If you’re going to add new emissions, you’d have to reduce emissions somewhere else. So (if you) shut down a factory or a company goes out of business, then and only then would you have a permit to expand your particular operations.”
According to Johnson, American manufacturing has never received a gut punch like this from its own government.
“This is not a bill that’s been passed by Congress, hasn’t been vetted, hasn’t been studied,” Johnson said. “It’s simply President Obama and his EPA’s effort to combat what they believe is global warming. So yeah, it would be the most expensive regulation in the history of regulations.”
The number of people not in the labor force exceeded 94 million for the first time, hitting another record high in August, according to new jobs data released Friday by the Bureau of Labor Statistics.
The BLS reports that 94,031,000 people (ages 16 and over) last month were neither employed nor had made specific efforts to find work in the prior four weeks.
The number of individuals out of the civilian work force represented a jump of 261,000 over July’s record of 93,626,000 people.
August’s labor force participation rate remained at the same level as the prior two months at 62.2 percent, the lowest level seen since October 1977 when the participation rate was 62.4 percent.
The civilian labor force also experienced a slight decline of 41,000 people, compare to July’s 157,106,000 people in the civilian labor force to 157,065,000.
In total 149,036,000 people were employed in August, 8,029,000 were unemployed, and 5,932,000 people who wanted a job.
Overall the Labor Department reported that the economy added 173,000 jobs in August. The unemployment rate was 5.1 percent, lower than July’s 5.3 percent.
U.S. stocks closed lower, after a failed attempt to rally from the Dow’s worst 3-day point decline in history, as investor confidence waned amid continued concerns about China and global growth.
The Dow Jones industrial average and the S&P 500 closed about 1.3 percent lower after rallying nearly 3 percent earlier, their biggest reversal to the downside since Oct. 29, 2008. The S&P 500 remained in correction territory after falling there on Monday. The index also posted its first six-day losing streak since July 2012.
“That crash (Monday) was so big and so long since we had one (investors) don’t want a repeat of 2008 so they bail out,” said Lance Roberts, general partner at STA Wealth Management.
The Dow fell 205 points and S&P 500 closed below 1,900 after falling into negative territory in the last half hour of trade. The Nasdaq Composite failed to hold slight gains and closed 0.44 percent lower.
The Dow traveled another 1,600 points during Tuesday’s trading session, adding to the 4,900 points the index traveled in down and up moves on Monday.
DJIA intraday moves
“Whatever triggered the consternation in the last few trading sessions is likely to be replayed again,” said Mark Luschini, chief investment strategist at Janney Montgomery Scott. He said a negative close “would be a set up to grind sideways to work out this process, if this rally and enthusiasm can’t last I think it’s an indicator (of that consternation).”
The major averages began paring gains in late morning trade after the European close.
“This is typical after a wild swing we had yesterday,” said Peter Cardillo, chief market economist at Rockwell Global Capital. “It’s just going to take some time for confidence to rebuild in the market.”
Earlier, the Dow gained as much as 441.5 points and the Nasdaq outperformed, up more than 3.5 percent. Morning leaders such as Netflix and Chinese stocks such as JD.com and Baidu still closed more than 4 percent higher. Alibaba gained 4.2 percent.
However, Apple clung to gains of just 0.6 percent after earlier surging more than 7 percent.
In the open, no S&P 500 stocks in the index hit new 52-week highs or lows, after about 200 names hit new 52-week lows Monday.
Morning gains fell short of recouping Monday’s more-than-3.5 percent plunge and the Dow remained on pace for its biggest monthly percentage loss since February 2009 and the Nasdaq since 2008. The S&P 500 was on track for its largest percentage loss since May 2010.
“It’s not as great as a bounce that many were anticipating,” said Kevin Mahn, chief investment officer at Hennion and Walsh. “I think obviously the market sold off far more than it should have.”
“We kind of dipped into that correction territory but we’re not going to stay there,” he said, noting the S&P 500 should trade more in pullback territory between 5 to 10 percent than in correction mode, between 10 to 20 percent lower.
Some of the things “bothering markets yesterday were China and collapsing commodity prices and both of those have given us some relief and when I look at China I don’t look at the Shanghai market. I look at the Hong Kong market,” James Meyer, chief investment officer at Tower Bridge Advisors, said of the morning rally.
The Hang Seng closed up 0.72 percent, while the Nikkei plunged 4 percent and the Shanghai Composite extended recent losses to fall below the psychologically key 3,000 mark, down 7.6 percent. However, European stocks surged, with the DAX up nearly 5 percent.
Crude oil futures settled up $1.07, or 2.80 percent, at $39.31 a barrel. Brent traded more than 1 percent higher to above $43 a barrel.
For the rally to be real “we have to end strong and follow-through tomorrow,” Meyer said.
In early trade Tuesday, Dow futures spiked above 600 points, implying an open of more than 450 points.
U.S. stock index futures extended gains after the Chinese central bank announced plans early in the morning ET to cut its one year lending rate to 4.6 percent, which the People’s Bank of China said was provide long-term liquidity and help support the economy.
“I’m looking for every reason to be a buyer,” said Nick Raich, CEO of The Earnings Scout, who remains bearish on equities. “We’re not upgrading our view at this point until we see topline growth… until then it’s going to be hard to sustain a rally.”
For Tuesday’s open, the New York Stock Exchange invoked Rule 48 for the second day in a row, Dow Jones reported.
The exchange used the rule before Monday’s open after futures for several major averages hit limit down. The last time the rule was used was during the financial crisis.
Stocks plummeted on Monday, with the S&P 500 joining the other major averages in correction territory. Nine of the 10 sectors are in correction territory, with consumer staples less than 1 percent away.
The Dow had its biggest intraday swing ever, falling as much as 1,089 points in the open on Monday. U.S. stocks closed more than 3.5 percent lower, off session lows in high volume trade as fears of slowing growth in China pressured global markets.
Cumulative trade volume was 13.94 billion shares as of 4:00 p.m. ET, the highest volume day since Aug. 10, 2011. Composite trade volume on the New York Stock Exchange was 6.57 billion shares, the heaviest since Oct. 27, 2011.
High-frequency trading accounted for 49 percent of Monday’s total trade volume of 14.2 billion shares, according to TABB Group. Average daily trade volume month-to-date is 7.5 billion shares, with high-frequency trading accounting for 49 percent. During the peak levels of high-frequency trading in 2009, about 61 percent of 9.8 billion of average daily shares traded were executed by high-frequency traders.
Trade volume was tepid throughout most of Tuesday’s session before accelerating into the close as the major averages sold off.
Housing data out Tuesday missed expectations slightly but continued to indicate strength in the market. New home sales figures for July came in at an annual rate at 507,000. The Case-Shiller home price indices for June showing home prices rose less than expected.
In other economic news, the Conference Board’s consumer confidence indicator for August rose to 101.5, beating expectations.
“So far it doesn’t appear that we’ve had any disease from the foreign markets (in the economy),” Luschini said.
The U.S. dollar traded about 1 percent higher against major world currencies, with the euro lower near $1.15 and the yen trimming losses against the greenback near 118 yen.
Treasury yields jumped from lows touched Monday, with the 10-year Treasury yield at 2.09 percent, off highs of near 2.14 percent, and the 2-year note yield at 0.60 percent after trading near 0.64 percent.
The Treasury Department auctioned $26 billion of two-year notes at a high yield of 0.663 percent, lower than the previous July auction. Demand was below average and the lowest since October.
Best Buy surged 12.57 percent. The electronic retailer beat estimates by 15 cents with adjusted quarterly profit of 49 cents per share, with revenue also beating forecasts. Same-store sales rose 2.7 percent, compared to the Thomson Reuters forecast of a 1.0 percent increase.
Toll Brothers plunged nearly 8 percent after reporting a decline in profits year-over-year. The luxury homebuilder did report a 12 percent rise in third-quarter orders.
Sanderson Farms closed 0.09 percent lower after the poultry producer posted earnings that fell substantially shy of the $2.90 consensus estimate with quarterly profit of $2.27, while revenue was also below forecasts. The company said a key factor in the quarter’s results was continued pricing pressure.
The Dow transports also reversed intraday gains to close down 1.7 percent, solidly in correction territory.
The S&P 500 closed down 25.59 points, or 1.35 percent, at 1,867.62, with utilities plunging more than 3 percent to lead all 10 sectors lower.
The CBOE Volatility Index (VIX), widely considered the best gauge of fear in the market, traded near 37 after spiking above 50 on Monday, its highest level since February 2009.
About nine stocks declined for every seven advancers on the New York Stock Exchange, with an exchange volume of nearly 1.3 billion and a composite volume of nearly 5.2 billion in the close.
Gold settled down $15.30 at $1,138.30 an ounce.
Joe Biden is leaning strongly toward a 2016 presidential bid, a source close to the vice president tells the Herald – news that is spurring excitement among top Democrats in Massachusetts and early voting states who are worried about front-runner Hillary Clinton’s hefty political baggage and sagging poll numbers.
An adviser close to Biden, who is familiar with the vice president’s exploration process, told the Herald that Biden will “more likely than not” jump into the 2016 race. A request for comment from Biden’s White House office was not returned yesterday.
The news of Biden’s renewed campaign activity over the weekend energized Democrats eager for a robust primary contest as Clinton faces ongoing questions about her use of a private email server and an upcoming hearing of her handling of the 2012 Benghazi attack during her tenure as secretary of state.
“I’d love to see Biden run,” said Democratic strategist Scott Ferson. “He is authentic and people are looking for that. I think people want Hillary Clinton to be more authentic.”
Advisers to Biden have reportedly begun actively reaching out to potential supporters and donors, an effort that gained momentum after the death of Biden’s son, former Delaware Attorney General Beau Biden, in May. The younger Biden, as well as his brother, Hunter Biden, reportedly had urged their father to jump into the 2016 presidential race.
The conversations between Biden aides and potential supporters reportedly grew out of the condolences and expressions of support to Biden after Beau’s death from brain cancer.
Biden already is the beneficiary of a draft movement, and wouldn’t have to start his campaign from scratch.
“We have staff on the ground in Iowa and New Hampshire, and we are bringing more people on in South Carolina,” said Will Pierce of “Draft Biden 2016,” who said he expects Biden to decide by September.
The efforts are being met with support from those who say Biden could energize the Democratic primary, providing a formidable opponent to Clinton. In a recent Quinnipiac poll, 58 percent of voters – and a whopping 87 percent of Democrats – found Biden honest and trustworthy, compared to 37 percent and 76 percent,
respectively, for Clinton.
“What is happening with the emails and all the other issues around Hillary’s campaign has not been helpful to her,” said former Massachusetts Democratic Party chairman Phil Johnston. “If anyone is in the position to beat her for the nomination, I would say it’s Joe.”
Clinton is now seriously challenged only by U.S. Sen. Bernie Sanders – wildly popular on the left, with high polling numbers in early voting states, but seen as unelectable nationally. Other candidates, like former Maryland Gov. Martin O’Malley and former Rhode Island Gov. Lincoln Chafee, have failed so far to gain traction. More competition can only help the race, strategists said.
“I think a spirited primary would be good for our nominee, whoever it is,” said Iowa-based Democratic strategist Jeff Link.
But Biden would have several obstacles to overcome, from his close ties to the Obama administration that will draw Republican fire, to his late start that leaves him at a fundraising and visibility disadvantage.
“Every day you wait, it gets harder,” Link said.
But he also has deep roots and strong support in early primary states.
“The vice president will be very welcome in South Carolina,” said state Democratic Party chairman Jaime Harrison. “I still think Secretary Clinton is the frontrunner, but if Biden got in the race he’d be formidable in his own right.”
Over the last couple of days, media outlets and some Democrats have lost their minds over the letter signed by 47 Republican Senators, sent to Iran to warn them that President Obama does not have the authority to create a lasting agreement without the participation of Congress. The New York Daily News ran a headline calling them “traitors,” a charge that has been bandied about on social media without any sense of either its legal sense or the history of Congressional influence on foreign policy. A petition on the White House website to arrest the 47 Senators has gathered over 136,000 signatures, in an apparent attempt of the ignorant to publicly self-identify.
Obviously, this situation requires a little history and perspective, as well as a civics lesson on the nature of co-equal branches of government, and on how this latest “treason” stacks up. The US and the Soviet Union conducted a 44-year “cold war” that often turned hot in places like Korea and Vietnam, and yet as Noah pointed out yesterday, Senator Ted Kennedy encouraged the Soviets to interfere in the 1984 election. Noah also mentions Nancy Pelosi’s trip to visit Bashar Assad in 2007 against the Bush administration’s express desires. But there are even more instances that speak more directly to Congressional interference with executive branch efforts on foreign policy.
Joe Scarborough pointed out one example this morning on Twitter from the Reagan era. The Reagan administration wanted to block Soviet influence in the Western hemisphere by backing rebellions against Communist dictators, especially in Nicaragua. Reagan supported the contras against Daniel Ortega, a policy which Democrats opposed and for which they later passed the controversial Boland Amendment in an attempt to restrict Reagan’s options in foreign policy (and which led to the Iran-Contra scandal.) Before Boland, though, 10 Democrats in the House – including Edward Boland (D-MA) – wrote a letter to Ortega called the “Dear Commandante” letter pledging their support to his government. See if this sounds familiar:
The 10 authors include Jim Wright of Texas, the majority leader; Edward P. Boland of Massachusetts, chairman of the House Intelligence Committee, and other senior Democrats in the foreign policy field. The letter tells Mr. Ortega that it was written ”in a spirit of hopefulness and goodwill” and voices regret that relations between Nicaragua and Washington are not better.
The writers stress that they all oppose further money for rebel campaigns against the Sandinista Government. In a veiled reference to the Reagan Administration, the letter says that if the Sandinistas do hold genuine elections, those who are ”supporting violence” against the Nicaraguan leaders would have ”far greater difficulty winning support for their policies than they do today.”
In his retort, Representative Gingrich argues that the letter writers ”step across the boundary from opposition to a policy, to undercutting that policy.”
He also notes that the members of Congress offer to discuss these issues with Mr. Ortega and the junta. In Mr. Gingrich’s view, ”This clearly violates the executive branch’s exclusive prerogative of negotiating with a foreign government.”
Not convinced? Well, let’s look to more recent events. In September 2002, the Bush administration was preparing its case for war against Saddam Hussein, both with Congress and at the UN, for continuing violations of the cease-fire agreement that had ended war operations in 1991. Hussein’s forces repeatedly locked anti-aircraft radar on US and British fighters enforcing the no-fly zones in the south and north of Iraq. Hussein repeatedly and belligerently refused to fully comply with what would eventually be 17 UN Security Council resolutions aimed at settling the conflict. In the midst of that scenario, three House Democrats flew to Baghdad to meet with Iraqi officials and lecture George W. Bush on trusting Hussein and his regime:
IT’S A RARE POLITICAL MOMENT when Terry McAuliffe says no comment. Yet McAuliffe, the garrulous chairman of the Democratic National Committee, said just that last Wednesday at the Brookings Institution after a speech by Al Gore. Asked about the trip to Baghdad taken by three of his fellow partisans – Representatives David Bonior, Jim McDermott, and Mike Thompson – McAuliffe was nonplussed…
Problem is, the elected officials aren’t saying much either. Bonior was until recently the second-ranking Democrat in the House, and yet it’s nearly impossible to get Democrats to say anything about his and the others’ trip to Baghdad.
But if other Democrats aren’t talking about the Baghdad tour, Bonior and McDermott themselves won’t shut up. And the more they talk, the more scrutiny they invite.
The controversy ignited on September 29 when Bonior and McDermott appeared from Baghdad on ABC’s “This Week.” Host George Stephanopoulos asked McDermott about his recent comment that “the president of the United States will lie to the American people in order to get us into this war.”
Last I checked, no one had the three Democrats arrested for treason, even though they hadn’t just sent a letter to Saddam Hussein but cluelessly participated in his propaganda exercise for him. Why? Because it wasn’t treason, and it wasn’t even a violation of the Logan Act. It may have been ill-advised, but Congress and its members do a lot of ill-advised things, which is why we have regular elections to deal with them.
This letter may or may not be ill-advised, too. Jazz and Noah are split on that point, and I fall somewhere in between. The deal with Iran is just terrible on multiple levels, as is the attempt by the Obama administration to bypass Congress yet again instead of engaging the Senate to develop a stronger plan. It may have been politically wiser to put it in the form of an op-ed in the Washington Post rather than a letter to Ali Khameini, but the need to speak out comes from Obama’s mindless pursuit of a deal at all costs rather than allowing sanctions to force a capitulation – and to keep their support for terrorism bottled up as much as possible. But it’s not treason, and it’s idiotic to argue otherwise, especially with the long precedents set by Democrats and progressives in Congress over the last 30-plus years.
Yesterday I interviewed Sen. James Inhofe (R-OK), one of the signatories, about his hearing today at Environment and Public Works on Obama’s Clean Power Plan. We also speak briefly about Iran and the letter toward the end of the interview.
Former Secretary of State Henry Kissinger hammered John Kerry in 1985 for interfering in diplomatic negotiations with Nicaragua’s Marxist government as a Massachusetts senator.
Thirty years later, Kerry is skewering Senate Republicans for their open letter to the Iranian leadership warning that any nuclear deal with the United States without the advice and consent of the U.S. Congress would not last beyond President Obama’s term.
Kerry and then-Iowa Sen. Tom Harkin visited Nicaragua in 1985 to cut a deal with the Sandinista government, which was close to the former Soviet Union. President Ronald Reagan, however, was already set on overthrowing the Marxist government in Nicaragua by sending aid to a group of Nicaraguan rebels – the contras.
“The Sandinista government would agree to a cease-fire and restore civil liberties if the US government ceased its support of the contras,” the Boston Globe reported.
“If the United States is serious about peace, this is a great opportunity,” Kerry said at the time.
Kissinger, though, hit back at Kerry on the CBS Sunday program “Face the Nation,” calling him a congressman rather than a senator.
“With all due respect to Rep. Kerry, he’s a congressman,” Kissinger said. “He’s not secretary of state, and if the Nicaraguans want to make an offer, they ought to make it in diplomatic channels. We can’t be negotiating with our own congressman and the Nicaraguans simultaneously. My own view is that what we want from the Nicaraguans is the removal of foreign military and intelligence advisers.”
According to the Globe, Kerry responded that he was only applying the lessons he learned in Vietnam to Reagan’s actions in Central America.
Kerry, now secretary of state, appeared before the Senate Armed Services Committee Wednesday and was asked by Connecticut Sen. Chris Murphy how he reacted to the letter.
“My reaction to the letter was utter disbelief,” Kerry said. “During my 29 years here in the Senate I never heard of nor even heard of it being proposed anything comparable to this. If I had, I can tell you, no matter what the issue and no matter who was president, I would’ve certainly rejected it.”
“No one is questioning anybody’s right to dissent,” he continued. “Any senator can go to the floor any day and raise any of the questions that were raised. You write to the leaders in the middle of a negotiation – particularly the leaders that they have criticized other people for even engaging with or writing to – to write then and suggest they were going to give a constitutional lesson, which by the way was absolutely incorrect, is quite stunning. This letter ignores more than two centuries of precedent in the conduct of American foreign policy.”
SPEECH ON OBAMA’S PERSONAL HISTORY, CHARACTER AND IDEOLOGY
Click HERE to purchase Mr. D’Souza’s many good books on subjects ranging from the greatness of Christianity and America to racism and education in the U.S.
OBAMA’S AMERICA [FULL DOCUMENTARY]
State Department spokeswoman Marie Harf suggested that “we cannot kill our way to victory” against ISIS on MSNBC last night. This flies in the face of literally the entirety of human history, through which, time and again, we have seen people killing other people lead to victory in armed combat.
But her dorm-room philosophizing did get me thinking. What if Marie Harf had access to a time machine? How would she have solved the world’s military conflicts?
MARIE HARF AT THERMOPYLAE
“This is where we hold them! This is where we discover the root causes for their anger at the western world! This is where we alleviate their poverty and increase their standard of living, thus reducing their desire to wage jihad!”
ADVICE GIVEN TO ALEXANDER OF MACEDON BY MARIE HARF
“There is nothing impossible to him who will try to reduce the impoverishment of those in other corners of the world.”
MARC ANTONY, AFTER DISCUSSING A FORTHCOMING BATTLE WITH MARIE HARF
“Cry havoc, and let slip the dogs of equitable employment opportunities.”
MARIE HARF’S DRAFT OF THE LETTER JULIUS CEASAR DELIVERED TO THE ROMAN SENATE
“I came, I saw, I provided significant social welfare benefits and jobs for the Gauls.”
MARIE HARF TOLD NAPOLEON NOT TO HALF-ASS IT
“When you set out to take Vienna, take Vienna. But first, consider providing the Viennese with employment opportunities so as to lessen their agitation and mitigate the need for taking it at all.”
SUGGESTED LANGUAGE FOR GEN. WILLIAM TECUMSEH SHERMAN PROVIDED BY MARIE HARF
“This war differs from other wars. We are not fighting armies but a hostile people, and must make old and young, rich and poor alike fat with material wealth in order to gain their support.”
MARIE HARF TELLS CHURCHILL HOW TO RALLY THE BRITISH PEOPLE
“We shall defend our island, whatever the cost may be. We shall give the Germans vacations on our beaches, we shall give them jobs in our landing grounds, we shall provide them with opportunities to work in our fields and in our streets, we shall give them places to live in the hills. We shall never surrender our commitment to the improvement of life for all!”
GEN. GEORGE S. PATTON’S ADVISER MARIE HARF ON HOW TO WIN WAR
“No bastard ever won a war by dying for his country. He won it by curing poverty in the other poor dumb bastard’s country!”
(A mighty thanks to Andrew Stiles for help with the images.)
Displaying powerful symbolic unity, in fitting and proper testament to the defense of civilization, more than 40 world leaders linked arms to lead the mass march in Paris in resolve against Islamist terror.
The United States of America, Barack Obama, President, was inexcusably absent from one of the most critical turning points in the war between radical Islam and the West since 9/11.
No Obama. No Joe Biden. No John Kerry from State. No Chuck Hagel or Ashton Carter from Defense. Not even Eric Holder from Justice, who happened to have been in Paris.
Yet there was British Prime Minister David Cameron, German Chancellor Angela Merkel, Russian Foreign Minister Sergey Lavrov, Turkish Prime Minister Ahmet Davutoglu, Jordan’s King Abdullah and so many others – most extraordinarily including Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu and Palestinian Authority President Mahmoud Abbas.
All linked arms with French President Francoise Hollande, leader of the country where terrorists killed 17 in a deliberate attack on democratic values, leader of one of America’s most stalwart allies in the war on terror.
Still worse, Obama’s abdication of leadership reflects a larger presidential failure to convey the gravity of the Charlie Hebdo attack, even if the substance of his anti-terror policy remains strong.
On Friday, shortly after the assault reached its fatal climax, Obama appeared at a campaign-style rally in Tennessee to tout economic good news. He opened with happy talk, then devoted 310 perfunctory words to the events in Paris. Two hours later, he delivered more happy talk at a second Tennessee rally.
On Saturday, he opened his weekly radio address: “Hi, everybody. About a year ago, I promised that 2014 would be a breakthrough year for America. And this week, we got more evidence to back that up.”
Bypassing Paris, the President closed, “Thanks, everybody, and have a great weekend.”
Not in Paris. Not in the U.S. Not in the world under siege.
Attorney General Eric Holder will resign on Thursday, several media outlets have confirmed. “Attorney General Eric Holder will on Thursday announce his plans to leave his post at the Justice Department once a successor is confirmed, a Justice Department official said,” Politico reported. “Holder has been in the job for nearly six years, since the start of the Obama administration.”
“Eric Holder Jr., the nation’s first black U.S. attorney general, is preparing to announce his resignation Thursday after a tumultuous tenure marked by civil rights advances, national security threats, reforms to the criminal justice system and five and a half years of fights with Republicans in Congress,” National Public Radio added.
Holder was voted on a bipartisan basis into both criminal and civil contempt of Congress for his failure to comply with a congressional investigation into the gun walking program Operation Fast and Furious, run by the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives (ATF) with oversight from senior Department of Justice (DOJ) officials. A total of 130 members of the House of Representatives called for him to resign in 2011 and 2012, as did eight U.S. Senators and every GOP presidential candidate in 2012, including the eventual presidential nominee Mitt Romney and vice presidential nominee Paul Ryan.
As the House Oversight Committee voted to hold Holder in contempt on both the criminal and civil citations, President Barack Obama asserted executive privilege over the Fast and Furious documents that Holder refused to provide to Congress pursuant to subpoenas from chairman Rep. Darrell Issa (R-CA). The U.S. Attorney for the District of Columbia, Ron Machen, declined to prosecute Holder on the criminal contempt of Congress citation, but the House of Representatives is currently pursuing ongoing legal action against the administration using the civil contempt citation to fight to have the president’s executive privilege overturned.
Sen. Chuck Grassley (R-IA) and Issa have both argued the president’s privilege assertion over those Fast and Furious documents is invalid and illegal because he used the lower form of the two types of executive privilege – deliberative process privilege – rather than presidential communications privilege. If Obama used the higher form, it would have meant that either he or his senior White House staff was aware of the gun walking tactics employed in Operation Fast and Furious, something that both Obama and Holder have denied. Usually, deliberative process privilege claims are considered invalid when there is even a suspicion of government wrongdoing – something Issa and Grassley have noted time and again – and in this case the government has admitted to wrongdoing.
Nonetheless, President Obama continues to hide these documents from the American people and from Congress.
Holder accused this reporter in November 2011 at a White House press conference of being “behind” the calls for his resignation because this reporter had contacted various members of Congress, asking if they agreed with the surging calls for him to resign.
“You guys need to – you need to stop this. It’s not an organic thing that’s just happening. You guys are behind it,” Holder said of this reporter’s efforts while working for The Daily Caller.
Calls for Holder’s resignation have continued since 2011 for reasons other than Operation Fast and Furious.
Holder’s press team also coordinated against various media outlets using far left-wing advocacy groups like the George Soros-funded Media Matters for America (MMFA). MMFA, which is led by pro-Hillary Clinton activist David Brock, used talking points and direction provided by then-Holder spokeswoman Tracy Schmaler to smear this reporter, Issa, Breitbart News reporters, ex-DOJ officials and whistleblowers, and reporters from across the media.
Emails recently uncovered via a Freedom of Information Act (FOIA) request by The Daily Caller found that Holder’s press aide Schmaler specifically singled out and targeted this reporter.
“As revealed in the FOIA docs, Media Matters Deputy Research Director Matt Gertz sent a post concerning the NRA’s growing contributions to Holder’s critics to DOJ spokeswoman Tracy Schmaler, Holder’s top press flack who resigned in March, 2013,” the Daily Caller’s Betsy Rothstein wrote.
In response to that email, Schmaler wrote back to Gertz: “Thanks, you know boyle has been doing robo calls to top members right? This is campaign mounted by daily caller. He has called 60 offices and gotten to 8 last week.”
“Yeah, that was what my original piece on the story was about,” Gertz replied.
The terminology that was provided to Media Matters by the Department of Justice about this reporter – the word “campaign” specifically – appeared in subsequent Media Matters posts about this reporter.
The efforts to silence reporting on Fast and Furious are not the only questionable activity Holder and his team have been involved in with regards to the media. The DOJ labeled Fox News’ James Rosen a “co-conspirator” in an effort used to monitor him and targeted the Associated Press by monitoring the news agency’s communications.
Holder has been a lightning rod for scandal since he was confirmed in 2009. Right off the bat, he declined to prosecute the New Black Panther Party (NBPP) for voter intimidation at voting stations in 2008 in Philadelphia, despite efforts by career prosecutors at the DOJ to do so. He has been involved in the Trayvon Martin case in Florida in 2012, the Michael Brown case in Missouri this year, and in allegations by whistleblowers that Holder stopped the prosecution of alleged financial criminals, politicians, and DOJ officials who are accused of having taken bribes in connection with a U.S. Virgin Islands telecom cooperative. Just like how the DOJ originally denied guns were walked in Fast and Furious and has since retracted that denial, the DOJ denied the Virgin Islands scandal’s early report.
The head investigator charged with overseeing the Department of Justice testified Tuesday that various government agencies have repeatedly stymied his investigation efforts, and have done so in direct violation of federal law.
Michael E. Horowitz, Inspector General of the Department of Justice, was testifying before the House Judiciary Committee hearing on investigative access to government information.
“Since 2010 and 2011,” he said. “The FBI and some other Department components have not read Section 6 (a) of the IG Act as giving my Office access to all records in their possession and therefore have refused our requests for various types of Department records. As a result, a number of our reviews have been significantly impeded.”
“It’s deeply troubling that Department of Justice leadership has stonewalled the Inspector General’s investigations several times and only produced requested documents after officials concluded that it would help them,” lamented Rep. Bob Goodlatte, the committee’s chairman. “The Inspector General’s activities should not be dependent upon the whims of a particular administration. Efforts to restrict or delay an Inspector General’s access to key materials in turn deprive the American people and their elected representatives of timely oversight information with which to evaluate an agency’s performance.”
Inspectors general are independent investigative officers whose job is to ensure that government agencies are not violating the law or engaging in fraudulent behavior. In August of this year, nearly 50 inspectors general signed a letter to Congress alerting politicians to “the serious limitations on access to records that have recently impeded the work of Inspectors General at the Peace Corps, the Environmental Protection Agency, and the Department of Justice.”
These officers “faced restrictions on their access to certain records available to their agencies that were needed to perform their oversight work in critical areas,” the letter explained. “Limiting access in this manner is inconsistent with the IG Act [the 1978 law that created the inspector general offices], at odds with the independence of Inspectors General, and risks leaving the agencies insulated from scrutiny and unacceptably vulnerable to mismanagement and misconduct – the very problems that our offices were established to review and that the American people expect us to be able to address.”
During his testimony, Horowitz cited a number of examples of administrative obfuscation, including government actions that significantly delayed their 2012 report on the notorious “Fast and Furious” scandal, in which the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives facilitated Mexican drug cartels purchasing hundreds of guns, and later losing track of them.
In each of these instances, Horowitz explained, “the Attorney General or the Deputy Attorney General granted us permission to access the records we sought… However, as I have publicly testified previously, I have several significant concerns with this process. First and foremost, this process is inconsistent with the clear mandate of Section 6(a) of the IG Act. The Attorney General and Deputy Attorney General should not have to order Department components to provide us with access to records that the Congress has already made it clear in the IG Act that we are entitled to review. Second, requiring the OIG to have to obtain the permission of Department leadership in order to review agency records compromises our independence.”
In other words, the administration is making the watchdog agencies jump through hoops to do their jobs, significantly delaying their findings, wasting taxpayer dollars, and compromising the oversight reports.
As the IGs’ original letter of complaint plainly states, “the IG Act is clear: no law restricting access to records applies to Inspectors General unless that law expressly so states, and that unrestricted access extends to all records available to the agency, regardless of location or form.”
“Our struggles to access information relevant to our reviews in a timely manner continue to cause delays to our work and consume resources,” Horowitz said. “They also have a substantial impact on the morale of the auditors, analysts, agents, and lawyers who work extraordinarily hard every day to do the difficult oversight work that is expected of them. … For the past 25 years, my Office has demonstrated that effective and independent oversight saves taxpayers money and improves the Department’s operations. Actions that limit, condition, or delay access to information have substantial consequences for our work and lead to incomplete, inaccurate, or significantly delayed findings or recommendations.”
Other investigations hindered by the government included reviewing “whether Department officials violated the civil rights and civil liberties of individuals detained as material witnesses in national security cases in the wake ofthe September 11 terrorist attacks,” FBI use of wiretaps, and sexual assault within the Peace Corps.
“The issues facing the DOJ OIG, the EPA OIG, and the Peace Corps OIG are not unique,” the August complaint stated. “Other Inspectors General have, from time to time, faced similar obstacles to their work, whether on a claim that some other law or principle trumped the clear mandate of the IG Act or by the agency’s imposition of unnecessarily burdensome administrative conditions on access. Even when we are ultimately able to resolve these issues with senior agency leadership, the process is often lengthy, delays our work, and diverts time and attention from substantive oversight activities. This plainly is not what Congress intended when it passed the IG Act.”
Extortion: Radical Democrat activist groups stand to collect millions from Attorney General Eric Holder’s record $17 billion deal to settle alleged mortgage abuse charges against Bank of America.
Buried in the fine print of the deal, which includes $7 billion in soft-dollar consumer relief, are a raft of political payoffs to Obama constituency groups. In effect, the government has ordered the nation’s largest bank to create a massive slush fund for Democrat special interests.
Besides requiring billions in debt forgiveness payments to delinquent borrowers in Cleveland, Atlanta, Philadelphia, Oakland, Detroit, Chicago and other Democrat strongholds – and up to $500 million to cover personal taxes owed on those checks – the deal requires BofA to make billions in new loans, while also building affordable low-income rental housing in those areas.
If there are leftover funds in four years, the settlement stipulates the money will go to Interest on Lawyers’ Trust Account (IOLTA), which provides legal aid for the poor and supports left-wing causes, and NeighborWorks of America, which provides affordable housing and funds a national network of left-wing community organizers operating in the mold of Acorn.
In fact, in 2008 and 2009, NeighborWorks awarded a whopping $25 million to Acorn Housing.
In 2011 alone, NeighborWorks shelled out $35 million in “affordable housing grants” to 115 such groups, according to its website. Recipients included the radical Affordable Housing Alliance, which pressures banks to make high-risk loans in low-income neighborhoods and which happens to be the former employer of HUD’s chief “fair housing” enforcer.
BofA gets extra credit if it makes at least $100 million in direct donations to IOLTA and housing activist groups approved by HUD.
According to the list provided by Justice, those groups include come of the most radical bank shakedown organizations in the country, including:
• La Raza, which pressures banks to expand their credit box to qualify more low-income Latino immigrants for home loans;
• National Community Reinvestment Coalition, Washington’s most aggressive lobbyist for the disastrous Community Reinvestment Act;
• Neighborhood Assistance Corporation of America, whose director calls himself a “bank terrorist;”
• Operation Hope, a South Central Los Angeles group that’s pressuring banks to make “dignity mortgages” for deadbeats.
Worse, one group eligible for BofA slush funds is a spin-off of Acorn Housing’s branch in New York.
It’s now rebranded as Mutual Housing Association of New York, or MHANY. HUD lists MHANY’s contact as Ismene Speliotis, who previously served as New York director of Acorn Housing.